Hello again.

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Here is the next chapter for you. I hope you enjoy it.

Good reading everyone.

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CHAPTER 9 - THE CLOSER WE GET THE FURTHER WE FALL

It was around two in the morning when Harry woke with a start. Looking around, it took him several minutes to recognize Severus' living room. His whole body ached because his muscles were sore from the ordeal last night. He thought he needed to check on Severus and without any hesitations or second thoughts he opened his bedroom door and let himself inside the room. But he regretted not knocking the door first as soon as he stepped inside and saw his mother and Severus sleeping. Together! They actually seemed very peaceful, their arms curdled around eachother.

"Damn!" Harry sweared under his breath. At that moment Lily opened her eyes to see Harry's baffled expression.

"Oh, Harry!" Lily sat up immediately, waking Severus with her movement.

"I... I... I'm sorry..." Harry stuttered, "I..."

"Oh, Harry. Harry, I swear nothing happened. We were just sleeping!"

"No, no... It's alright. I just... I... Sorry!" Harry couldn't say anything more. He turned around on his heels and threw himself out of the room with light speed.

"Shit! Shit!" Severus yanked the quilt aside and jumped out of the bed, hissing with instant pain which spread all over his body as he moved.

He caught Harry just before he stepped out of the main door of his quarters.

"Harry, wait!" he placed his hand on Harry's shoulder in an attempt to make Harry turn around and look at him. But Harry insisted and kept his back to Severus.

"I'm glad you're alright, Severus." he spoke coldly, "I just wanted to check. I'm sorry."

"Harry, look at me, please."

"Severus, I really don't want to do this now."

"Harry, it's not what you think."

"What do I think, Severus?" Harry turned around and looked Severus straight in the eye.

The man could see Harry's hurt inside his furious eyes.

"Harry, nothing happened. We are just really good friends."

"Severus, it's not..."

"Do you realy think I would do anything without you knowing?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Severus. What will you do? Ask my permission to sleep with my mother?!"

"Don't do that, Harry. You know that's not what I meant." Severus was offended.

Harry lowered his eyes.

"I'm sorry, Severus. It's not that, really. I know you love eachother. That's okay."

"How do you know that?"

"It's obvious," Harry smirked, "I'm okay with it. I'm actually happy for you two."

"But still, you have to know, nothing happened between us last night."

"But it should happen, Severus. You're in love. My problem is not love."

"Then what is, Harry?"

"Hatred. The problem is hatred."

"Hatred?"

"I just can't stand the idea that my father is the bad guy here."

"He's not the bad guy, Harry."

"But you both hate him."

"Harry look, James was not a bad man. He was a real jerk, okay, when he was at school. I accept. But he grew out of it. He'd grown to be a really good husband and father. He died protecting his loved ones. I didn't hate him because he was a bad man, Harry. I hated him because of his stupid actions. But I don't anymore."

"But actions define people."

"Sometimes they don't."

"They do!"

"I've done so many bad things as well. Do the crimes I committed in Dark Lord's circle define me?"

"But that's different. You're a spy. You act there!"

"It was not always my intention to spy for Dumbledore. I've joined the Dark Lord because I wanted to. And also, does being a spy and pretending as a death eater justify the crimes I've committed while pretending? I actually hurt people while pretending."

Harry was at a loss of words for a moment.

"So Harry, sometimes actions don't define people."

"I don't know what yo say to you, Severus."

"Don't say anything. Just believe me when I say this: James Potter was a good man, a good husband and a good father."

"So you've forgiven him?"

"Don't push it, Potter!"

"Don't call me Potter now!"

"I'm sorry."

"Okay."

"Harry, there is nothing to forgive. We were young and we did stupid things, that's all."

"But all she can remember is James being a bully. She doesn't know that he had grown to be a good man. She hates him."

"Yes, but it's just temporary. Eventually she will remember that she loved him."

"And that she hated you?"

"Well... yes... eventually..."

"But it's not fair. I don't want that, either."

"Life's not fair, Harry. Whatever happened happened. We cannot ignore the consequences of our actions. I made a mistake, not one actually, so many... And I have to live with it. So it's alright. Don't worry too much. Things will get better for you and your mother."

"What about you?"

"What about me? You'll get your second chance with each other. And I will return to my miserable life."

"But you deserve your second chance too, Severus!"

"No, I don't!" Severus curtly said.

"What?" Harry was puzzled.

"This, Harry. This is my second chance. With you and with Lily. I'm having my second chance right now. There won't be any other chances for me."

"But..."

"You're going to say that it is temporary. I know. But that's what I deserve. An illusion is what I get. I'm glad that I have it."

"Severus..."

"Please let me have it as long as I can," Severus pleaded, "Don't leave now, Harry!"

Harry outstretched his arms and threw himself onto the man, fisting his shirt in his hands. Severus returned the hug.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry!"

"Don't be. It's going to be alright."

They parted. Severus' delicate hands were still holding Harry's weak shoulder.

"Harry, I have an idea."

"What is it?" Harry asked with concern.

"I think three of us should take some time off and go somewhere else. What do you think? We can hide and keep Lily away from Dumbledore."

"Where will we go?"

"I don't know. Away from Hogwarts."

"I really don't know, Severus."

"My parents used to go to a little cottage, in Corwald Forest. It's small but really out of sight. And safe. Noone knows about it."

"What are we going to tell Dumbledore?"

"Well, we're going to tell him what he needs to know. And that is absolutely nothing!"

Harry nervously smiled. Severus continued:

"I'll tell Minerva that we need somewhere quiet for our occlumency lessons. She will inform Albus. I don't know. I don't care. I really don't want to see that old coot now."

"Okay. Yes." Harry agreed, smiling.

"Yes?"

"Yes. Let's go immediately!"

Severus smiled back as he put his arm around Harry's shoulders and playfully messed his hair.

"Very well then..."

Lily watched them from accross the hall, smiling. This picture was her ideal family.


Sidonia Cottage was located in the middle of Corwald Forest, with no neighboring houses. It had a shabby roof and walls made of stones and sat almost obscured by the green forest, seeming to blend into the heavenly landscape. It had a porch covered with wisteria and beautiful blue diamond roses climbed up the walls, framing the little wooden windows. It seemed so quiet and peaceful.

"This is so beautiful." Lily murmured, her beautiful green eyes were shining with joy.

"I'm glad you like it. It's old but it's covenient. There is also a little pond behind the house. It has a really beautiful view." Severus started showing them around the house.

A while later, when finally Harry and Lily walked inside, Severus stood in front of the cottage and looked at it with eyes full of fear and sorrow. Was he really ready to go inside? He'd thought he was. But now, actually standing in front of this hell hole, he was not so sure.

Noticing that Severus was still standing outside, Lily walked back and slowly touched Severus by the shoulder in order to wake him up from his thoughts.

"Sev?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. It's just... too many bad memories. Horrible, to be honest."

Lily carefully lowered her hand and grabbed his hand, urging him to look at her eyes. Severus' hand held onto hers for dear life. She patiently waited until Severus' shiny black eyes met hers. When they did, she started speaking:

"Sev, I know. But it's people who make memories horrible. It's not houses or places. You know that, Right?"

"I know..."

Severus turned his head and kept staring at the house straight ahead. His face was tense, his jaw flexed as he kept squeezing Lily's hand in his own.

"You're here with us now, Sev. Harry and me... Your new family? Your father is not here anymore."

Family... It was an unfamiliar term for Severus. Yes, of course he had a family but he never knew what it really meant. And now Lily was volunteering to be his family. As a matter of fact, she had already been his family once. But that was too many years ago and before she had given up on him. Now she was only having an illusion. Severus was starting to hate that word, really. As soon as she remembered what had really happened, she would hate him again, and leave him with his own lonely miserable life. Severus didn't want to be fooled again. He didn't want to continue with this conversation anymore.

"Let's go inside." he said instead. Pulling Lily by her hand, he swiftly walked inside.

The inside of the cottage was like stepping back into simpler times. Old furniture and dark wooden walls made it seem darker. The main room was a small living area with a kitchen on the corner. Behind the kitchen counter, there was a small wooden table with four chairs. The long shelf on the wall contained some old and broken plates and pans.

The opposite end of the room had a small sitting area. There were a ragged sofa and a little armchair with an end table on the far corner of the room. A large wooden window stood next to the main door, and a smaller one at the next wall. The walls were dirty and bare except some landscape posters and various spots. The floor had no carpets or rugs and many of the floorboards were rotting. An old brick fireplace took up almost one entire side of the living area.

There were two small bedrooms on each side of the main room. One of them contained a large double bed and a wooden dresser. The other room was even smaller. This was Severus' old room. It had a single bed, a ridiculously small bookshelf and an old desk which had carvings and drawings on.

Harry was beaming around from room to room with a satisfied expression on his face. When he arrived at Severus' old room, he excitedly spoke:

"This is not bad at all, Sev. Where do I get to sleep? Can I choose? Can I sleep in this room?"

Lily smiled at the fact that Harry was actually happy and excited. She turned her smiling face to Severus to listen to his answer. But Severus seemed like he wasn't there mentally. His weary black eyes were fixed on the bed, glittering with unshed tears. His jaw was clenched tight. His breathing became labored like he was carrying something heavy. Lily watched the muscles in his throat working, his Adam's apple moved as he swallowed, hard.

"Severus?"

"This is where everything happened..." Severus whispered, keeping his gaze fixed on his old bed.

Understanding sank into Lily's heart as Severus turned his gaze from the room to meet her beautiful green eyes.

"I... I don't want it anymore!" Harry stated, his voice almost sounded like an apology.

"I must step outside... for the protective enchantments..." Severus excused himself awkwardly shaking his head, he moved his eyes from Lily to Harry and then back to Lily again.

"Okay..." Lily replied nervously.

Severus spun on his heels and left without saying anything else.

Harry and Lily looked at each other with confusion written all over their faces.

"You know what he meant, don't you?"

"Yes, I do. He told me."

"He must trust you very much. He didn't even tell me." Lily stated.

"But, how do you know then?" Harry was puzzled.

"I figured it out myself and asked him. That's when he confessed everything."

"Maybe it was a bad idea to come here." Harry was already regretful about coming to this cottage, "I didn't know this house was where... I mean, where..."

"I knew. But Sev told me that he was over it and it was alright anymore. Now, I feel so bad, Harry. Maybe we should have told Dumbledore and stayed at Hogwarts."

"No! No, we couldn't have stayed at Hogwarts. We can't trust Dumbledore."

"Why not?"

"Dumbledore was the one who had tried to obliviate you. And there was a malfunction and you ended up in a coma."

"Are you serious? But why? Why would he do such thing?"

"I don't know."

"Does Severus?"

"No, he doesn't know, yet. But he's going to find out, don't worry."

"So we're stuck here for a while, aren't we?" Lily asked hopelessly leaning against the wall.

"I'm afraid we are." Harry replied. He reached out his hand and grabbed the door handle, "I'm not stepping into this room again!" he declared as he slammed the old door shut.

The rest of the day passed with minimal interaction between three of them. The room was not mentioned again. When it was dinner time Harry and Lily prepared a soup and chicken salad as Severus was set to scourgify the fireplace and stacked some logs before setting them on fire.

After dinner, they finally settled on the old ragged sitting area.

"So anyone wants hot chocolate?" Lily tried to ease the tension but there was no use. Neither Severus nor Harry was in the mood for a conversation.

"Okay," she gave up, "I just want both of you to know that I am much obliged to you for your efforts and sacrifices for protecting me. I'm really flattered, thank you."

"Don't mention it." Harry replied, "We're actually very happy that you're alive. I mean it's like a miracle."

"Harry, I know I haven't been polite from the beginning. But everything was a shock for me. I'm so sorry that I still can't remember you, but I'm very sure that I must have loved you very much. You're a good boy."

"Thank you. It means a lot to me."

"I really would like my memory back." Lily stated and turned her attention to Severus who had been sitting on the far end of the sofa, quietly watching the flames, "So Sev, when do you think I get my memory back?"

But Severus was lost in thoughts. He didn't notice the two pairs of emerald eyes watching him with concern.

"Sev?"

"Sorry, what?"

"My memory... When do you think I get it back?"

"I uh... I'm actually working on it, Lily. I've brought some books and potion ingredients. I have a couple of possibilities in my mind. I will try everything to make it right. Please, trust me on that."

"Sev, I trust you on every matter!"

"Thank you." he forced a fake smile, didn't think he was fooling anyone now.

"Sev, are you alright?" Harry asked this time with worry in his voice.

"Yes..." Severus' voice sounded heavy and he turned away. Harry could see his sorrowful profile silhouetted by the dim lighting from the fire.

"I'm just very tired," Severus continued, "If you don't mind, I really want to try to get some sleep."

"Yes, sure," Lily replied, "We all should try to get some rest."

Three of them looked at each other awkwardly. They had to figure out how they would share one bedroom and one living room to settle down for the night. Since Severus' old bedroom was not an alternative anymore.

"You know what," Harry finally broke the silence which had been hanging over the room, "I'll take the sofa. You two can take the double bed and get some rest, okay?"

Severus looked at Lily. He knew he couldn't bring himself to sleep on his damned father's old bed either, even if he tried to. But he could lie down on a blanket on the corner of the room and Lily could comfortably take the bed.

"Are you sure you're okay with that, Harry?" Lily asked, secretly pleased with the idea.

"Absolutely," Harry smiled sincerely, "Go get some rest."

"Thank you." Lily smiled back as she took Severus by his arm and walked him into the room, "Good night, Harry."

"Good night."


"You really don't need to do this, Severus. I don't want you to be sore in the morning. It's quite cold and a blanket on the floor can't be more comfortable than the bed." Lily protested when she learned Severus' plan for the night.

"Lily..."

"We can sleep side by side, Sev. I'm totally alright with that."

"Lily, that's not it."

"What is it then?"

Severus looked down. His face was grim, his frame tense. Lily noticed that there was something dark behind his eyes.

"Talk to me, Sev."

"It's... It's his bed, Lily. My father actually slept in this bed. It... No matter how clean the sheets are, it's always filthy to me!"

"Oh... well... then I'm not sleeping in it, either!"

"Lily, don't be ridiculous!"

"Sev, please..."

"No!"

"Let me lie down with you on the floor, at least until you fall asleep?"

"But you'll go get comfortable after that, okay?"

"Okay." Lily smiled.

"Promise me!"

"I promise."

"Alright..."

Lily sat down on the blanket and leaned her back on the wall, inviting Severus to her lap. Severus settled down, his face resting on her knees. Lily reached and took one of his hands.

"It's going to be alright." she whispered.

Severus closed his eyes, savouring the moment. They stayed like this until Lily heard his sleepy voice, saying "Come lie with me."

With that, Lily carefully got up and slowly lay down next to him, putting her head on his shoulder and placing her hand on his chest feeling his heart beating slow and steadily underneath her palm. They lay like that for a while. Quiet. Content. Drifting along until their hearts and breathing were as one.


END OF CHAPTER 9

by NICKKA