He looked up from the smoking wreckage of his home – his true home – when he was in the castle he had power, respect, and all the necessities of life. He’d never been able to tell them that he’d cared, and now almost all of them were dead. His friends, though many of them would have gaped openly to hear he word, were gone and his home destroyed.
Those who had lived were pulled to their wits by the sound and magic of the one least-expected voice howling his despair. The living dead and the dying living simply lived with that call, though none could say quite why. The dead, though, continued to lie still.
He had let a great amount of his life from himself in that moment, and it flooded those who needed it most. He was lost to himself. He intended to lay down and die.
As he lay upon the stone wreckage, he smelled something oddly familiar. An old smell, a sweet smell, a smell he thought he’d never smell again. A smell untainted by the grave it should have been confined to. He sat up in abject horror and skittered backward from the hallucination. She couldn’t be real. She couldn’t be here. She was dead, and while it wasn’t by his hand she died, he had certainly killed her. His death, then, would not be the pleasant release he’d hoped for. She glided closer, her feet barely touching the mangled rock, and he could finally make out her face. Oh, yes, it was Lily. She had come for him. He calmed the pounding of his heart, and sat perfectly still. He would pay for his sins with his eyes open. There was nothing he could do about them now.
She closed the final distance, and placed her hand upon his face, turning it up to her. “Severus.”
He was terrified, mostly. This surely wasn’t going to end pleasantly. Crucio was bad, but he had the distinct impression that there were, in fact, worse things than Crucio. Simultaneously, though, he loved her. He had been angry with Potter, and she had suffered for it, but he hadn’t meant for her to be hurt. He had just wanted her for himself, which was, he admitted, terribly selfish. Ah, the confessions a man makes to himself on his deathbed… The thought skimmed across his mind as he wrestled with his absolute inability to decide on a course of action. Finally, he simply spoke her name. Looked up into her eyes, and spoke her name.
“You remember my face. I thought you would.” She looked pleased. He opened his mouth to speak, but she placed her finger across his lips and shook her head. “I cared, Severus. I didn’t know what to do, but I cared. You were never so short on action. You’ve saved my son’s life more than once.”
He spoke against the finger that was still on his lips. “He had your eyes, Lily. Even if I didn’t owe James, I loved you.” With that, he turned his head to the side as tears began to slide down his face. “I’m a cruel and bitter man, Lily, but I loved you. Only you.”
She slid her hand around the side of his face, and turned it back to her. “I’m sorry I couldn’t love you, Severus.” She looked into his eyes, which were becoming black and resentful, a look they both remembered from his youth. “You’re not dying. I know you meant to, but that’s not going to happen.”
The resentment slid away to be replaced by shock. That had been a complete non-sequitur, and he was confused by the change of thread.
“Don’t look so surprised. You called me. You brought me here. Your love. Your pain. I know you, Severus. I know you more completely than the handful of risen on the field who now possess parts of your life.” She smiled down at him, beneficent and benevolent.
He understood that she forgave him, but that that was not what she had come to offer. “Then you know that I ache for you, and I always have.” He was blunt; he knew not what else to do.
She spread her arms slowly, and spoke again. “There’s only one woman in the world – one woman with many faces. Go to her, Severus. She needs you.” With that she began to fade.
“No!” he screamed, “Not again! You can’t leave me again!” He sank to the stone clutching his knees to his chest. As he cursed himself for losing her again, her last words began to sink in. One woman in the world… Go to her… She needs you… Lily hadn’t abandoned him at all. She had given him instruction to find her, and find happiness, in someone else. He knew, he thought, how to do just that.
Straightening his singed and scalded robes, he strode out into the field, looking through the survivors for the one he knew he would find – for the one who would be capable of loving him, and willing to take that chance. He knew her name, but he wouldn’t dare speak it until he saw her face.
A/N: I know that "There is only one woman in the world. One woman, with many faces." is from The Last Temptation of Christ. It just keeps repeating itself into my mind, and thusly my stories. "The living dead / And the dying living" is from a Stromkern song that came on while I was writing this. I don't recall the title.