Beautiful Eyes Haunt You
"I don’t need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!"
You next see her two days later, outside the library alone. You stop dead in your tracks, every muscle suddenly inexplicably paralysed. You are convinced that this time you have ruined everything, that you have taken your carefully engineered deception, the lies you tell for her, too far. Your heart leaps into your throat when she speaks first.
You make a soft sound of incredulous disbelief, shaking your head with a quirk of your lips.
"Lily, I’m sorry. I mean I didn’t – I wouldn’t –"
She glances around her to make sure you are alone, then softly presses a finger to your mouth. She smells like vanilla. How you adore that scent. Your eyes meet for an instant, and your pulse quickens as she swiftly pulls you into an embrace.
"You did what you had to, Severus. Lucky for me you’re such a good actor, eh?"
You are drowning in the smell of vanilla, in the closeness of her body. In the near ecstasy of being held and holding her in your arms, a thought you have had often comes to the front of your mind. Lost in the moment, you voice it, even as the rational part of you laughs and mocks the very notion.
"I love you."
She does not break your embrace; neither does she hold you any tighter. A ringing silence stretches between you for what seems like an eternity, and you are grateful that she cannot see your face, cannot see the tears that are welling in your black, empty eyes. Fool, you think to yourself. You wonder, in an idly detached kind of way, just how angry your father would be if he knew his son was crying over some girl. She will always be so much more than that to you, you realise, even as you think it.
"I love you too," she whispers, her breath soft against your neck. "But not in the same way. You know that."
Whenever you recall that day, even in decades to come, the pain is never dulled. You can remember, with terrible clarity, the precise moment that something inside you fractured, an indefinable region in your very core, broken beyond hope of repair.
You skulk in the shadows at the back of the church, black robes melting seamlessly into the darkness surrounding you. You hadn’t planned on coming. You certainly had no desire to see that arrogant prick Potter and his fan club ever again. But she had asked you to be there, and you never have been able to say no to those beautiful eyes, which seem to become even more impossibly so when she wants something. So you are there, seething with thinly veiled jealousy and resentment that she chose Potter, Potter of all people, over you.
She deserves so much more, and you have said so – although not to her face. You can’t bring yourself to hurt her, and much as you hate Potter, your love for Lily outweighs it all. You wonder at precisely which point it was that your hatred for Potter stopped having anything to do with what he did to you, and became about what he took from you. What you lost to him.
She, standing at the altar with her hands clasped in the other’s, is nervous. You can tell. She trembles visibly as the minister asks the question.
"Do you, Lily, take James to be your husband?"
As he speaks, her eyes dart around the family and friends watching the proceedings with tearful joy. And then it happens. She sees you, standing against the wall with an expression almost like grief on your face, contrasting unpleasantly with the delight of everybody surrounding you. It is the barest of glances, for the briefest of seconds, but you know she will understand you. The two of you have not needed words to communicate for a long time.
"Tell him no," you beg, with no exterior movement to betray your entreaty.
She blinks and turns back to Potter, her eyes sparkling with tears. It is the last time she ever looks at you. "I do," she says.
The part of you that she split in two, a little over three years ago, shatters into a thousand shards, indelibly stained with your misery, as you watch Potter throw back her veil and kiss her. You disappear before anyone notices your presence.
The room is dimly lit by several sputtering candles. Through the hair falling forwards over your face, you watch the shadows twitch as you wait, apprehensively, shifting uncomfortably under your master’s scrutiny, as you wonder why the Dark Lord wanted to see you alone. You shiver, although it is a warm night, as the high, sibilant voice pronounces your name.
"Severus. Step forward."
You drop to your knees before the Dark Lord, bowing to kiss the hem of his robes.
"Master," you murmur, not raising your eyes lest something other than complete devotion should be visible in them. Best to avoid the possibility wherever you can.
"Your Lord is pleased with you, Severus. You have recently been proven most useful to me."
You do not move, afraid that your heart will stop. You desperately cast your mind about, frantically trying to work out what the Dark Lord is talking about. A cold sense of dread begins to fill you as you are struck by a terrifying thought.
He knows I’m the spy. He’s going to torture me to death. Oh God. It’s over.
A high, piercing laugh slices through the gloom.
"Surely you haven’t forgotten?" The genocidal megalomaniac pauses, and watches you for several heartbeats. Fast heartbeats. "A little while ago, Severus, you gave me a very interesting report on something you’d – overheard – one night in the Hog’s Head." He chuckles. The sound makes your blood run cold. "You seem to possess a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, wouldn’t you agree, my little serpent?"
Two unnaturally long, white fingers brush the bottom of your chin and gently tilt your face upwards. You fight a wave of nausea, and fervently hope that no one has worked out yet that there must have been a second half to the prophecy which you neglected to mention.
"Yes, my Lord, I remember," you reply quietly, injecting as much reverence into your voice as you possibly can as you look at the floor, and making no attempt to be subtle; the Dark Lord likes piety. "I live only to serve you, Master."
"The child born as the seventh month dies, to parents who have thrice defied me … " The long fingers twist suddenly; sharp nails dig into the sensitive skin on your neck. You gasp with shock, which turns to fear as the owner of the hands which are roughly caressing your face looks straight into your eyes. For a fraction of a second, you are certain that those eyes flashed red. You must be imagining things. A trick of the light, perhaps.
"I have found him!" the Dark Lord hisses triumphantly. "And tonight, the world will bow before my power in awe as I destroy him and his family. There will be no more obstacles in my way!"
He releases you, and you fall to the side, trembling. Remembering your place, you scramble quickly to a kneeling position, grazing your knees on the flagstones in your haste.
You speak tentatively, gaze cast downward. "Master … please, I would be honoured to know … of whom do you speak?"
Your master smiles; it is one of the most frightening and unnatural things that you, at twenty-one, have ever seen.
"They were old school chums of yours, Severus, I believe," he says, still with that disturbing smile. "I do hope you weren’t close to James Potter and his Mudblood bitch?"
"N-no, my Lord," you falter, as Lily’s green eyes come swimming into view in your mind’s eye. You hurriedly replace the thought with the memory of what pink bubbles taste like – just in time, as you find your mind invaded. Your features twist into a mask of loathing. When the Dark Lord has lifted his Legilimency spell, smirking sadistically at your thoughts and memories, you whisper:
"They deserve no mercy, my Lord."
After being dismissed, you race back to Hogwarts as fast as your magic and your legs will allow. Desperation and dread force you to keep running, until finally you have breathlessly told the Order members you find there that the Potters are next, and collapsed on the floor of Dumbledore’s office, conscious but shocked.
Even as the others rush off at top speed to find Sirius Black, the Potters' Secret Keeper and the only man who can take them to Godric’s Hollow, you know it’s too late. You know the exact, heart-wrenching moment when Lily breathes her last, because the part of you that will forever belong to her – that tiny, broken, bloodstained part – dies with her.
You kneel on the carpet, weeping for the woman that you will never see alive again. The woman that died for your selfish mistakes, while cruel fate dictates that you must live still. You stay there, and sob in the darkness, all night.
You have no trouble at all spotting Potter’s boy among the throng of terrified first-years waiting to be Sorted. He is the spitting image of his father, right down to the same-shaped glasses and the scruffy black hair. You catch Dumbledore giving you one of his twinkly-eyed looks, and scowl at him.
If Dumbledore thinks that you’re going to get matey with the offspring of your arch-nemesis, he’s got another thought coming. You barely hear a word Professor Quirrell says to you throughout the whole of dinner, glaring instead at the next generation of troublemakers. To nobody’s surprise, Potter has been placed in Gryffindor.
Without warning, Potter looks up at the staff table, directly at you. You feel the blood drain from your face and your heart beat hard against your ribs as you stare back at the boy. Potter isn’t a complete carbon copy of his father after all – he has almond-shaped green eyes. Lily’s eyes. Of all the things she could have passed on to her son …
Somewhere deep inside of you, the part that belongs to her, even in death, begins to ache afresh. A grief you had thought long ago buried suddenly resurfaces, and you know, with a dreadful certainty, that those beautiful eyes will never cease tormenting you.
A moment later, Potter looks away. You cannot.