Why do you always cry when you come to see me?

I'd always die to see you smile. (Toyah Wilcox, "Angel")

All I ever wanted was to see you smiling (Basshunter, "All I Ever Wanted")

The first time he sees her is straight after the Welcoming Feast the year the Potter brat starts at Hogwarts.

He has just sat down with a glass of firewhiskey – the first night back always gives him a dreadful headache – when something pale appears in his peripheral vision. Turning his head sharply, he discovers the pale, slim figure of Lily Evans, floating just in front of the door that leads into his office.

He drops the glass as his hands go numb, and he wonders whether there was something in his food at the Feast that he missed. Yes, the castle has ghosts . . . but not this one!

He opens his mouth – although he has no idea what on earth he will say – when the apparition glides forward into the light of the fire. It is obviously a bit hard to say for certain, but he thinks she is even paler than she was in life, and her luminous green eyes are sparkling.

But not with joy.

His stomach clenches as he realises that she is crying. Soft, slow tears that glide down her cheek one at a time and fall from her chin, fading into nothing before they reach the floor.

He stretches out a hand to her, beginning to rise to his feet, desperate to comfort her some way, any way.

But before he touches her, she opens her mouth in a soundless wail of anguish, and disappears.

The second time he sees her is after the brat's first Potions lesson.

He has retreated to his quarters to try and calm himself. The lesson was a particular act of torture to him. He spent the whole time vacillating between seeing the warm green eyes of the girl he loves, and the all-but-identical ghost of the boy that turned his school years into a living hell.

He's actually quite surprised he didn't burst a blood vessel.

Still, he at least took points from the brat, even if it wasn't nearly as many as he would have liked to. Minerva would skin him alive if he'd taken that many from one of her Lions in the very first week – and from a first-year, no less.

Drink in hand, he turns away from his liquor cabinet . . . and starts. Lily's phantom is standing right in front of him, her eyes glistening yet again. She is biting her lip, and giving him a look of such betrayal that his heart skips a beat. Has she finally learned just what part he played in her death?

Just as he opens his mouth – to plead for forgiveness? To attempt to justify the choices that her husband drove him to? – the phantasm lifts a hand and brushes it over his heart. She gives him a look filled with sorrow, then slowly, sadly, shakes her head and fades away.

At least this time, he has managed not to drop his drink. He wastes no time in downing it and returning straight to the bottle.

After that, the visitations get more frequent, until by mid-December he is seeing her multiple times a day. The visits never last very long – Lily appears to be looking for something in him, but whatever it is, she never seems to find it.

The sight of her constant tears is beginning to drive him mad.

He does not know why she is crying, and therefore he cannot make her stop. He has wracked his brain over and over and over, and yet cannot fathom what she wants. She never gives any hint, so it is apparently something he must learn for himself.

He has tried forgiveness, both for her and begging for his own, anger, his own sorrow, joy, exasperation, laughter, secrecy, drunken nonsense.

She is not after any of them.

He tries to release some of his stress on the pathetic crop of Gryffindors – especially the useless first years. Neville Longbottom is a disaster with a cauldron, and he delights in the numerous opportunities to berate him. The Potter brat's attitude grates on him, too, and he relishes the taking of points every lesson.

Sometimes, after he has been particularly vicious, Lily will appear more tear-stained than before, her shoulders shaking with her silent sobs. He has no idea why.

After one explosion and three near-misses, he has come to realise just how distracting a ghost haunting you can be whilst brewing. As a result, his private laboratory is now thoroughly warded – against all ghosts, not just her – so that he can brew in peace, and not have to worry that he'll bring the castle down around his ears.

It completely throws him, therefore, to turn around in a lesson with first year Gryffindor and Slytherins one day just before Christmas, and discover what he thought was his private vision floating behind the Potter brat.

She is peering over the brat's shoulder into his cauldron, and for once, is actually smiling. The shock of this is so great that he just stands there as Draco Malfoy starts jeering about 'parents not wanting' those who were staying at the castle for the holidays. He does not join in, nor does he curb the boy's tongue, which is really rather prone to wagging for what is supposed to be a discrete Slytherin.

He manages to get himself together with nothing more than a mental shake of the head, and the reminder to himself that this class contains not only Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, who barely even make half a brain cell between them, but Seamus Finnigan, who delights in blowing things up, and Neville Longbottom, who seems to blow things up without even trying.

When he finally feels calm enough – and safe enough – to look at the ghostly intruder in his classroom, she is looking over the brat's shoulder at him, those damnable tears pooling in her eyes again! She smiles wistfully at the back of the brat's head, brushes a hand over his unruly hair – which makes the brat shiver briefly and huddle closer to the fire under his cauldron – then looks up at him and shakes her head, as though completely exasperated with his obtuseness.

With a last, pointed glance at the brat, her tear-drenched eyes spear him, and then she vanishes like a popped soap bubble.

Lily's visits continue like clockwork until Christmas Day. Late that night, just as he is contemplating getting ready for bed, she appears in the doorway, her wet eyes wide and frantic, clearly pleading for something.

He has no idea what it is, and, for what has to be the first time in his life, is in no mood to placate her.

Unfortunately, ignoring her doesn't turn out to be an option. No sooner has he turned his head than she is there in front of him. There is nowhere for him to turn that she won't appear. It turns out even the bathroom isn't safe.

And all the time she is looking between him and the door that leads out of his quarters. Eventually, the message becomes very clear – there is something that she wants him to see somewhere else in the castle.

Growling under his breath, he throws on his teaching robes and stalks out. This is getting beyond a joke now. What is the point of this haunting? If Lily wants him to do something, she hasn't given even the hint of a clue.

He is considering yelling at Lily, demanding that she explain what she wants from him, when he runs into Argus Filch, who was apparently coming to inform him that there are students out of bed.

He's positive he can guess which one!

Sending Filch one way, he goes another. Apparently it is still in the direction that Lily wishes him to go, but he still cannot see anything that would justify her level of franticness, and she is unable – or just plain unwilling – to tell him.

He meets up with Filch again just down the corridor from the library. Whatever student is out of bed was in the Restricted Section. Foolish child, whoever it is. Shaking his head, he stalks towards the library with Filch trailing after him like an eager puppy.

He barely manages to prevent himself from yelling out in shock, as Lily appears in front of him so suddenly that he ends up walking right through her. She is looking down a corridor to his right, but strangely, she then begins to flicker in and out of view. It is almost as if something is draining her . . . or she's trying to be in two places at once.

When he finds nothing in the library apart from an extinguished lamp lying on its side, he gives up in exasperated frustration and goes back to bed, ignoring the semi-transparent Lily's silent but no less eloquent entreaties.

He leaves her standing alone in the middle of a corridor, her head bowed and the ever-present tears flowing down her face.

He does not look back.

The next night Lily is back, silently demanding that he go and search the castle for . . . something. When he finds nothing, it is all he can do to hold on to his temper.

On the third night, he has barely set foot out of the dungeons before Albus finds him, and assures him that he will deal with the matter. Whatever the matter may be. Shrugging, he turns and heads back to his own chambers.

Some time later, his persistent phantasm returns. She is fully solid again now, so obviously the situation has been resolved. She stands before his fireplace, giving him a look of such aching disappointment.

Unfortunately, he has seen this look so much over the past four months that it no longer inspires any guilt in him whatsoever. Instead, it just aggravates him. It is obviously that she is expecting him to do something, but he is not a mind reader – if she has any mind for him to read – and all his guesses so far have come to naught.

He thinks it's a good thing that her tears fade before they hit the ground, otherwise his rooms would be flooded by now.

Someone up there doesn't like him. He snorts at the thought. Someone down here obviously doesn't like him too much, either. He has been informed by Albus – and it wasn't a request, no matter what Albus likes to think – that he will be the referee for the next Quidditch game . . . which just so happens to be Hufflepuff against Gryffindor.

His arguments against it have been in vain. Albus is under the impression that he and only he can save the Potter brat if his broom is jinxed again as it was in the brat's first match in November. He protested that surely he couldn't be the only one to know counter-curses to things like that, but Albus is insistent – he is the best one for the job, and closer is better.

He eventually has no choice, and storms out of Albus' office, knowing that he will be taking to the skies along with the teams.

He is so infuriated that he completely misses the tearfully delighted smile that Lily is giving him.

He releases some of his frustration in his classes, especially the ones with the Potter brat in them. It is all his fault – if the brat didn't need protecting, Albus wouldn't be forcing him to do this.

Of course, it's likely Lily wouldn't be haunting him, either, but at this point, he'd consider that a good thing.

To his relief, nothing happens during the game, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Gryffindor wins. Afterwards, he heads off for his . . . meeting with Quirrell. He knows there is something not right about the Defence professor, but cannot prove it. Albus has refused to take any action so he is planning to make an end-run around the headmaster.

Once again, he all but passes straight through Lily. He can tell she is trying to turn him back, or make him pay attention to something else, but he has no time for her games today. She is dead. She cannot understand the danger to everyone in the castle generated by the very presence of the Philosopher's Stone. If he can warn Quirrell away from it, even if just for a few more weeks, or months, then so much the better. Why in Merlin's name Albus thought it was a good idea to hide the Stone in a castle full of vulnerable inquisitive children, he will never know.

Quirrell pretends not to know what he's talking about, but he knows better. He treads a very careful line with the Defence professor. He doesn't want the man running to Albus to complain, after all.

The Potter brat is . . . up . . . to something. He knows it. He can feel it.

And, of course, Lily's shade is once again attempting to create a lake of tears in his quarters. Thank goodness it never works!

But besides that, the biggest clue is the fact that the brat and his cohorts have been watching him for the past few days, almost as if they think he is up to something.

To be honest, he's insulted by that. The day that he gives enough hints that eleven-year-olds get suspicious of him is the day that he rejects his Slytherin colours and calls himself a Gryffindor.

However . . . someone has obviously given them reason, and by the encouraging looks the Potter brat keeps giving Quirrell, he doesn't have to look too far.

He is therefore not too surprised to jerk awake one night and discover his ever-persistent ghost floating so close to the side of his bed that she's practically standing in it. Her wet eyes are darting frantically towards his outer door.

He hauls himself upright, but then – with the kind of Aha! Wait . . . what? moment that only ever seems to happen when woken abruptly in the disgustingly-early hours of the morning – he wonders what in Merlin's name is he doing? For someone who's dead, and has been dead for the past decade, this phantasm has become an expert at pulling his strings.

Why, he wonders out loud, does he feel the need to jump every time she cries? For goodness' sake, she never stops crying! Yes, he felt guilty over her death, and his part in it, but he was not – and, most importantly, is not – the kind of man who is usually easily manipulated by a woman's tears, since they seem to turn on the waterworks far too easily for his peace of mind.

And besides, if he let the guilt overwhelm him every time a tear rolled down Lily's fair cheek, he'd never leave his quarters at all.

He also doesn't think it fair to the memory of their friendship. What kind of friend would torment him this way?

Much to his shame, he ends up begging her again. Begging her to tell him just what it is she wants from him. Begging her to show him some sign of what it is he has to do. Begging her to please, just once, couldn't she appear and smile at him instead?

Still gently weeping, Lily shakes her head slowly, and fades away, just as a loud knock and McGonagall's voice sounds from outside his quarters.

Surprisingly, it is a week before he sees her again, although he catches a few glimpses of her now and again, trailing behind her brat like a lost puppy or a balloon.

Given the way three of the Houses are treating the brat over the loss of Gryffindor House points, it doesn't surprise him.

He sneers at the very thought. All this fuss over points. Anyone would think the brat had come out and admitted he was the next Dark Lord. It is laughable, the way they all expect the brat to topple Slytherin, as if he is single-handedly going to take both the House and the Quidditch Cup away from them. He supposes the Gryffindors' enmity was to be expected, but Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff are reacting the same way. If they don't want Slytherin to win, then why aren't they trying for the Cups, rather than relying on a short, scrawny first-year Gryffindor brat?

With one week to go before the end of year exams, McGonagall informs him of his Snake's detention that night. Knowing it is expected of him, he throws a fit, knowing – even if the emotion is genuine – that it will not work. The Powers That Be have decided, and will not be foresworn. Despite the warnings at the beginning of every year about how the Forest is Forbidden, into the Forest will go the four first-years. But, he is told, he shouldn't worry; after all, Hagrid will be with them.

He barely suppresses the urge to bellow at them, or the urge to knock some sense into them. Hagrid thinks a creature like Fluffy is cute, and his wand was snapped when he was expelled . . . how, precisely, will he protect the students?

He doesn't really need Lily appearing that night to tell him that something has gone wrong. Nor is he surprised that she has appeared not only crying, but screaming. No doubt the brat is right in the thick of it – whatever it is. Gryffindor to the core, no thought of running away.

Bah! Thankful for the discrete monitoring charm that he's placed on Draco, he stomps off to see the Headmaster.

A few short minutes later, he is back in his quarters, pacing to try and quiet the rage that is bubbling in him. The Headmaster barely let him finish speaking before sending him off with platitudes and lemon drops. He is not supposed to worry – the centaurs in the Forest will deal with the problem.

He throws his arms up in the air again, longing to punch something. Now that he knows the centaurs will help – because they are always so helpful – he will immediately stop worrying. Now. This instant.

Growling, he spins on his heel, and jerks to a halt with a yelp. Lily is standing in front of him, the ever-present tears overflowing again.

There's no point her crying at him, he shouts at her. What is he supposed to do, go and search the entire Forbidden Forest until he finds the brat?

Her gaze just becomes more sorrowful.

Wonderful. How lovely, he sneers. It's so nice to know that even in death, she cares more for the brat's life than she does about his. Well, he may still feel guilty over causing her death in the first place – although the constant weeping is beginning to drown that – but sacrificing his life for nothing won't change a thing. It will not bring Lily back to life. It will not do a thing except deprive Dumbledore of his spy, if the unthinkable happens and his Dark master returns.

Apparently though, Lily does not care. It seems strangely similar to his conversation, if it could be called that, with Dumbledore.

Until Draco and the other first-years are finally brought back to the castle, he can do nothing but pace, and watch Lily's tears roll down her face.

Something is definitely being plotted by the Potter brat. The look on their faces when he tries to shoo them outside . . . they are strangely terrified, and yet defiant. Just what niffler has invaded their brains now?

An hour or so later, when McGonagall recounts her encounter with the trio, just moments before his own, it explains it all. As does the appearance of Lily, her whole being wavering as though she is underwater. She is doing everything but actually taking hold of him to drag him to where she wants him.

Scorch Dumbledore for allowing himself to be lured to the Ministry. Surely there are easier ways to get Quirrell to show his true colours?

And blast those brats for thinking they need to throw themselves head first into danger!

He is stalking after Lily's ghostly figure when he almost runs into Dumbledore and McGonagall. A few verbal pats on the head later, and he is left standing in the corridor, looking at Dumbledore's retreating back with frustration.

The ghost beside him throws back her head and wails in despair, then slowly fades away.

The last sight he has of her is a shimmering tear-drop, falling towards the stone floor.