“If she means so much to you,” said Dumbledore, “surely Lord Voldemort will spare her? Could you not ask for mercy for the mother, in exchange for the son?”
“I have – I have asked him – “
“You disgust me,” said Dumbledore, and Harry had never heard so much contempt in his voice. Snape seemed to shrink a little. “You do not care, then, about the deaths of her husband and child? They can die, as long as you have what you want?”
Snape said nothing, but merely looked up at Dumbledore.
“Stand aside. Stand aside, girl.”
Tiring of her insolence, Voldemort cast Impedimenta and with a flick of his wand, slammed her into the wall.
Lily, lying motionless but wide-eyed on the floor, could only stare at the toy broom that Sirius had given Harry, which had fallen under the crib. She heard the final cry of her child – the boy who was the center of her world – and a green flash illuminated the toy. Lily’s mind stopped its wild, animalistic fight against the binding spell and lost consciousness.
Lily woke and before her eyes opened, she felt a pillow cradling her head. She heard James’s footsteps, and as sleep fell away, she wondered if Harry was awake.
Lily jumped up out of the bed in the darkened room and froze. This was not Godric’s Hollow. The threadbare curtains let little light in but enough so she could make out a four-poster bed in a cramped room. Someone had dressed her in a long, white satin nightgown, but she did not have time to wonder about this; she had to find Harry and James. How long had she been in this house? Her head ached. Had she been drugged? Whose footsteps had she – ?
Lily whipped around toward the familiar voice and saw a young man she had not seen since their last day at school. Severus, watching from the shadows, stood against a wall. He was dressed in Muggle clothes, and she realized they must be in his family home down Spinner’s End.
“Severus.” She strode to him, grabbing him by the shoulders. “Where is my son? What did he do to my baby?” Severus’s eyes widened.
“Lily, I’m – “ He gently placed his hands on her waist. “I’m so sorry.” He had not anticipated how the panic in her eyes would affect him.
“James is dead…and so is Harry.”
Lily released Severus and her hands flew to cover her mouth. He thought she was going to unleash a scream that not even the Dark Lord could rival, and he braced himself. Instead, to his surprise, she did not wail. Looking into her beautiful green eyes that had haunted him for half his life, he saw something else; he saw a light go out. Severus’s initial impression was that her soul died.
He expected her to rage and sob and want to kill the Dark Lord. Severus would then explain how it was he who told Dumbledore about the Dark Lord’s plan; he would take her hands, kneel at her feet, and promise to fight by her side. Over time, once she finished grieving, he would propose. Severus had not foreseen how their deaths would utterly destroy her. Lily, her eyes no longer seeing him or her surroundings, crumpled to the floor like a marionette whose strings were cut. Severus carried her to the bed and laid her on her back. He reclined next to her on his side, smoothing out the nightgown and brushing her dark red hair from her eyes that were fixed on the ceiling of his bedroom.
For the thousandth time with Lily Evans, the moment he planned for had gone wrong. However, it was not completely lost, as he could still use reason. She was an intelligent woman after all.
“But you’re alive,” he whispered in her ear. “You can carry on.”
She did not answer.
“I can protect you,” he said. “I have protected you.”
His words meant nothing to her and that angered him.
“Did you hear me? I even tried to save your family. I told Dumbledore what the Dark Lord was planning. I – I regretted being a Death Eater the moment I learned you were a target.”
Lily’s brow slightly furrowed.
“It’s not my fault Dumbledore failed to save them, but you’re still here.”
Lily took a deep breath. “I wish I were dead.”
Severus reached across her chest to grab her shoulder and pull her closer. “Don’t say that! Don’t ever say that!” Her skin was so soft in his hand, and he could not help pressing his lips to her neck. He breathed in her scent.
“I want to be with them,” she said softly. “I want to be with my son.”
“No.” His grip became tighter and his nails dug into her. “I won’t let you.”
She had been his friend from childhood until…the incident. After, he realized he had never told her how he felt. How could she know? Potter was so blatant, and when Severus first saw them holding hands in their seventh year, he bitterly thought if only he had said something. Surely everything would have been different. He may have missed his opportunity before, but now, he was in control.
Severus had never been this intimate with her, and his sallow skin began to redden. Her physical softness masked her ferocity as a warrior, which even the Death Eaters begrudgingly admitted was impressive. Severus’s hand rested on her hip, but Lily did not move; she was slack as if her flesh did not matter to her anymore.
“Remember when we were best friends? It can be like that again. And I know you’ll miss…“ He paused, not wanting their names on his lips. “…James and Harry, but now the Dark Lord is in control and the Order has been destroyed. Only I can ensure your safety.”
“But I’m a Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different than those the Death Eaters are probably rounding up as we speak?” It was a huge effort to speak, but she needed him to do one last thing for her.
Choking back a cry, he pulled her on her side to face him. He could not help reaching up her back to tangle his fingers in her long hair. Her eyes were no longer bright and sparkling but like ghosts.
“Because,” he said. “From the moment I saw you I wanted to make you mine.”
Lily did not fight his soft kiss on her lips. This kiss he always thought would have happened – should have happened – in their youth at Hogwarts. It should have been a stolen moment in Hogsmeade or under the Quidditch stands. It should have been tender: young sweethearts trembling in each other’s arms. But now his tears wet her cheeks as he pressed kiss after unreturned kiss to her face. Severus pushed her on her back as his mouth traveled down her neck to the top of her chest. Lily continued to stare at the ceiling. Sighing, he pressed himself up on his hands and knees and hovered above her motionless figure. Severus hung his head, his greasy hair falling around his face.
“Lily,” he said. “Look at me.”
“You know I’ll do anything for you. Doesn’t that matter?”
There was a pause, and the only sound was his shallow breath. Lily then looked straight into his black eyes.
“Then send me to my son and husband.”
Severus’s features twisted in rage, but he savored her gaze on him, even though it was hard and cold.
“No!” he shouted before he pulled off his long-sleeved shirt. “I’ve waited too long for this.” How dare she throw away this second chance. His next kiss was harsh and punishing. As he laid his body down on her, he forced his tongue past her lips and teeth. Again she remained still even as one hand pulled at her hair to get some reaction, even a cry of pain. He sucked hard on her tongue before he broke the kiss.
“I can be your husband.” Severus’s breath came fast. “You can have another son, but this one will have my face. Not his.”
Lily’s shock wore away; she wailed. She cried out as a mother and wife who realized she was not going to walk into her home and see her baby and his father waiting. Lily’s back arched as if the sob was not in her throat but a living creature inside her chest. Severus jumped back onto his knees, his look of raw desire replaced by fear. Lily sat up as best she could, her face still beautiful but worn and furious.
“Look at what you’ve become.” Her eyes narrowed. “What the hell is this? This bed? This nightgown? Believe me, James didn’t have to force me on our wedding night.”
Severus looked away as his face flushed.
“Is this how you always wanted it? You want to make me – “
“No,” he croaked.
Lily kept looking at the side of his face, which was obscured by his hair. When he could not hold back the sobs any longer, her hand reached up to touch his cheek.
His name on her lips never failed to thrill him.
“Let me remember you as the boy who was my friend. My best friend. Not – “ Her eyes ran down his bare chest past fresh scars and rested on the Dark Mark. She flinched. “Not this.”
His eyes were wet with tears and he nodded, ashamed of how far he had fallen into a world where power and dominance were prized above love. Severus moved off of her to sit on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands. Lily remembered seeing him for the first time in the playground, looking eager yet forlorn. They were two misfits who only wanted somewhere to belong; not so different from anyone else really. She thought about how people like Voldemort exploit that hunger without caring how it consumes people’s souls. Severus, now a twenty-one-year-old man, was no longer an innocent boy, but Lily knew in her heart that he was not completely lost.
Lily crawled off the bed, looking for something as she spoke.
“You have to understand,” she said. “That when you look at me…I feel like you want to lock me in a cage and keep me from the world. I’ve felt that way since we were ten.”
She ran her hands over the dust on the dresser, but it was not there.
“But James,” she continued. “When he looked at me…I felt free…like I was soaring.”
Lily found Severus’s wand on the vanity. He heard her bare feet on the wood floor as she returned, but he could not bring himself to move. He thought he did not deserve to look into those eyes ever again. Severus felt her hands on his, pulling them down. His wand was next to him on the bed, and Lily knelt at his feet.
“I can’t stay in this world any longer,” she said with such calm and poise that he cried harder. “But if I mean anything to you, you will continue my fight for all that’s good.”
“He’s so powerful.” Severus shook his head.
Lily gripped his hands tighter. “Dumbledore told us about a prophecy that a Death Eater overheard.”
Severus inhaled sharply.
“He didn’t say who,” Lily continued. “But this person told Voldemort – “
“Please don’t say the Dark Lord’s name!” Snape cried.
Lily ignored him. “Voldemort figured it applied to Harry. However, there is another it could be about: Neville Longbottom. Frank and Alice’s son. You must protect him.”
“How?” Severus asked.
“He’ll have to go to Hogwarts eventually,” she said. “Maybe if you ask Voldemort to give you a teaching position there, you can better watch over him and prepare him to fight one day.”
“Voldemort has to be defeated, Severus.” She pressed his hands to her lips. “He destroys all that’s good, and it devastates me to see what he destroyed in you.”
Severus was silent and stared at her hands holding his. She watched him. Finally, he looked into her almond-shaped eyes and was brought back over a decade to when he saw her jump off the swing. She had held there in the air, and the look of joy and delight on her face made him feel like he was above it all too.
“I’ll help defeat him, Lily,” he whispered. “For you.”
Severus stood over Lily’s kneeling figure.
“I love you.”
She smiled at him like she used to before it all had gone wrong.
“After all this time?” she asked.
He raised his wand at her, mentally preparing to deliver the Killing Curse.
“Always,” he said, as he looked into her green eyes one last time.