Is it safe?

Severus hesitated as he stood in front of the mirror; a few more steps forward, and bliss would be his. Yet it was not the Mirror of Erised itself he feared. Even after all this time – these achingly long years – Severus was in the habit of guarding his emotions.

To see her again…

Severus would give anything to see Lily again.
He had spent a long time during Voldemort's power, guarding his love for Lily. The Dark Lord had had terrible powers, able to enter someone's mind and manipulate them at will. Severus had vowed he would never allow Voldemort to see that far inside his mind, never allow him to use his love for Lily against him. So he had put up walls, and not allowed himself to feel freely.

Voldemort had been gone for a decade now, and yet, Severus still didn't feel quite secure. Old habits stuck, and seeing her again could – would – make him vulnerable.

Trembling, Severus stepped forward.

There she was – Lily. His beautiful, beautiful Lily. She smiled at him, rested her head on his shoulder, wrapped her arms around his waist. Severus knew it wasn't real, knew he was really alone, but that didn't stop him putting his arm around her in return.

Lily's green eyes flashed in the moonlight as they met his own dark ones. I love you, she mouthed silently. I love you, Severus. Just the two of us, forever.

Severus couldn't even feel the tears rolling down his cheeks. All he could see was Lily.

Click.

Jolted out of his reverie, Severus spun angrily – to look straight into another pair of eyes: the piercing blue eyes of Albus Dumbledore.

"So you could not resist, Severus?" he said sadly. "It is fair enough, there are few who could resist the lure of this mirror."

"I was doing my rounds of the castle, headmaster," Severus replied, his heart still pounding. "The door to this classroom was open, and I entered in order to investigate why all the desks and chairs had been placed aside."

"The mirror will be moved in the morning, Severus," said Dumbledore. "I will advise you as I advised Harry – not to seek out the Mirror of Erised again."

"I didn't – Potter has been here?" Severus attempted to order his thoughts. "Headmaster, you must not tolerate the boy's disobedience…" he trailed off as Dumbledore raised a hand to stop him.

"The mirror will be moved in the morning," said Dumbledore. "Goodnight, Severus." Then he walked off, leaving Severus staring in his wake.

Severus turned slowly back to the mirror, but did not step close enough to see his heart's desire. After Dumbledore's words, the mirror now seemed… tainted to him. Revulsion shuddered through Severus as he realised the Potter boy must have stood in the same spot that he had. Did the Boy Who Lived see the same person in the Mirror of Erised as he, Severus did? Curse him, curse the little scar-face who bore her eyes. Must he intrude on this, too? It seemed that even this one thing, a moment of fantasy, was not allowed to Severus without being encroached upon. Even this fantasy, of Severus and Lily together, he was not allowed to keep purely his own.

Severus stalked back to his office. After locking the door, he sat in the chair behind his desk.

Tonight had been close – too close. If Dumbledore had seen that Severus had been crying, he hadn't mentioned it. Severus had been lucky tonight; anyone could have walked into that classroom and seen him more vulnerable than he'd allowed himself to be in years. It could not happen again. Severus wouldn't allow it. It was just as well the mirror was being moved; then nobody could use it against him.

Closing his eyes, Severus allowed himself one more time to see Lily. Her smile, her green eyes… but then the vision faltered. Lily's eyes remained, but in her place was her son. Curse him! Severus's eyes snapped open, and he blinked several times. Again, tears fell from his eyes.

Enough.

Severus shook his head. He must not allow himself to be weakened like this again.