anathema, n. -
an imprecation; a curse; a malediction.
You always wanted to be someone. The blood from one of the higher wizarding lines wasn't enough. No, you had to prove that you were born into the role, that you - Severus Snape, would live up to your name. The muggles believe in something called destiny, and somehow, you and I, were fated to make the choices we did.
I stood up for you countless times. In the common room when James and his little gang made fun of you behind your back, outside on the grounds when they did cruel jokes, I tried to make amends for what they did, for reasons I could not understand. Even though you tossed out words that stung, Mudblood, filthy Muggleborn. It was like a movie that played over and over again, the same scenes repeated, the same harsh names spoken. I reacted to those words, we all did. I would snap back, only to stand up for you yet again. James would retaliate in some effort at gallantry, or get his friends to attack. They were out for blood when you were around, and perhaps it was an attempt to recreate the old feud. It had been Slytherin v.s. Gryffindor, two houses that would never understand each other.
After several years when the glitz and glamour of the wizarding world faded away, when I stood back and watched the Sorting ceremony with my own eyes instead of the mind of an awed First Year, I knew that the process was wrong. Stepping into each house that was your dream, your goal, one felt a tremendous pressure to live up to those four noble founders. You crumbled so easily under that pressure, Severus, you took the burden harder than the others ever would.
And wasn't it funny, that it was the Slytherin house that allowed our first meeting?
At least I thought of it as our first meeting, our first true meeting. We knew of each other's existence easily, since James constantly called my presence to anybody's attention, and although flattering, was irritating to a certain degree. But we had never talked, really talked in a conversation, whether good or bad...until that day, with the appearance of a door I had not seen before.
The knob had turned easily under my hands, and filled with a sense of curiosity, I had stepped inside only to meet a pair of dark eyes angry at the intrusion. You had the beginning of the scowl back then, although not as deeply carved as it was in adulthood, after years of tribulation. You were bent over a pile of books, a quill in one hand. There was a sudden flurry of parchment, as you tried in a vain attempt to conceal what captured your attention so completely before. It might have been the lapse of vulnerability across that usually distant face, it might have been the moment of wanting to make amends for the embarrassment James caused you that afternoon that was simply for the fact that a stupid hat placed you into an enemy house. In spite of myself, I stepped inside the dusty room and closed the door behind me. The click was loud in its sense of finality, and turning to face you, you were sputtering in indignation. Not the best with words.
It must have been shocking to you then, a Gryffindor stepping into your personal domain. I could see the emotions flying across your face, from anger to thoughtfulness to a kind of determination. You decided to face it with your usual indifference, the stoic side that was characteristic of self.
Wouldn't you like to see what I'm working on? You said with a sneer, the expression I could see right through because of your panic mere minutes ago.
I stepped closer, I called your bluff and I saw the alarm return again, your arm flung across to cover the parchment on top. The movement had enhanced the content even more, an image forever emblazoned in my memory. It was a picture, done in a few slashes of black. My eyes caught a curl of hair, a curve of mouth, and it was the care of shading, of shadow bringing out pale that I recognized myself. We must have been there, frozen for who knows how long, while your face said too late, and my own said I never knew.
Now that I think back, it wasn't quite a conversation was it? But it opened a Pandora's box in all of our lives.
We spent so many hours, so many wasted efforts, avoiding each other. Somehow I knew inside that it was inevitable for us to be drawn together again, that even though wrong and impossible, the results were eventual. It became a habit to seek you out in every room I step into, and in the Great Hall my heart would call out your name, and give a lurch when I catch sight of you sitting there, focus distant towards the sky superimposed on the ceiling. As the seasons changed, the stars grew cold, the clouds tinted with grey, I had to hide from the rest of the girls in the year. It was their bright chatter, their whispers about Sirius or other Gryffindor boys, that bothered me. How could they laugh and giggle while I wondered if there was something wrong with me, if this feeling growing inside of me was appropriate?
The next stage for our melodrama was the library. I was focused on homework, hearing the scratch of quills, the hushed conversations. A strange noise, and harsh tones propelled me to investigate. I could remember that moment clearly, my hands on the smooth wood of the shelves, my head tipped to one side to see what was going on. There was James, holding a struggling dark haired boy to the shelf by the wrists, the very epitome of fury.
What the hell do you think you're doing, Snivellus? He had snarled, and the faces of the other two Siamese triplets were standing guard in case anybody paid attention. I did not know what had possessed me to do it, but I dragged James from that body with a few well-placed jabs into the chest, and hissed something I can't remember. I had given him a piece of my mind that afternoon, even though he stated he hadn't done anything wrong, that he caught you staring at me through the shelf of books. I told them to go away, to mind their own business.
When I turned back, you were still there by the books, even though I expected you to have left the very minute I pulled James off you. You were the picture of ease again, straightening the arm of one robe, gathering your fallen books on the floor.
Was it true? I went up to you and asked. Were you staring at me?
You seemed to consider that for a moment, the way you weighed your words before speaking if it wasn't James you spoke to. That pensive, contemplative look which gave you the appearance of depth beyond all of the other seventeen-year-old boys.
You look very beautiful when you're angry, Lily. You said softly, and then went off before I could say a word.
The gifts came in a trickle. They were slipped into a book when I was not looking, dropped into my lap when you passed me in the Great Hall. You seemed content to stay this way, a one way conversation, with pictures and notes and muggle books with lines underlined in careful hand. You seemed to love poetry the most, as poems were copied into notes, credits given. The books lent out from the library marked Muggle Studies appeared, and I would hover around those shelves, hoping to catch a glimpse of you. You avoided me even more then, and it was a time I could not understand. You drew pictures of me with my hands clasped behind me, waiting for the staircase to spin around. You drew pictures of me laughing at a joke with my friends out in the garden, or reading a letter in the Great Hall. There was even one of a day in the Owlery, when I was certain you were there, but you refused to answer my inquiring voice into the rustle of wings.
And when I finally confronted you about these gifts, you inclined your head gravely. A gesture that wasn't a yes, wasn't a no, wasn't anything. Except you quoted one line.
Only by you my heart always moves. And it was the answer I waited for.
You were my anathema then, because you cared about muggles even though it would have been death to you if your father found out, death to you because your heritage spoke otherwise.
There were rainy days when nobody was around but we braved the water to go outside. We were huddled under one cloak, your eyes shining and your lips so soft under mine. The secret room that we found when we needed it, that opened and allowed us to spend many an evening studying, or to sit there and listen to you quote poetry.
There was that poem, our poem, by that muggle e.e. cummings who spoke about the ocean. Your voice was husky those days, the power of them escaping to run up my arms. You would recite it by my ear, while I was sitting down and you stood behind, your arms around me, your breath warm on my neck.
here is the ocean,this is moonlight:say
that both precisely beyond either were-
so in darkness ourselves go,mind in mind
You would kiss my hair, run your fingers down my shoulders, and the lights would slowly go dim, as if in preparation.
which is the thrilling least of all(for love's
secret supremely clothes herself with day)
i mean,should any curious dawn discuss
our mingling spirits,you would disappear
unreally;as this planet(understand)
forgets the entire and perpetual sea
I suppose I could like Hogwarts in a way, for the building seemed to allow us to have our trysts, to guide us to pathways that we would least likely to be found. Our feet would be led to places where no eyes would watch accusingly, and our sneaked kisses behind statues did not fall on curious ears.
-but if yourself consider wonderful
that your(how luminous)life toward twilight will
dissolve reintegrate beckon through me,
i think it is less wonderful than this
only by you my heart always moves
You took such a delight in free verse, finding wizarding rhyme and meter dreadfully dull. You grasped muggle studies and potions wonderfully, but struggled with the rest. How I watched you, by candlelight, your face scrunched up, intense, hunched over a multitude of notes. As if NEWTs were not enough, you took on other challenges in order to prove that you were better than the rest, than them, that nameless force you could not place.
We had no security similar to other couples, who could hold hands and dance at the ball. We were unable to keep up the mask of enmity, only settled for distance. We were afraid of looking at each other in fear of setting the air between us on fire. We joked; we pretended it was a game even though it was more serious than we ever dared to admit. I supposed the idea of a game was more dangerous, more daring and it was exciting in a sense. We had that room to ourselves, my hand on your left as your right speeded across the notes. Your hair was softer than it looked, curled against my fingertips. You were softer than you looked, a gentler boy, who could speak with the sound of the night, a haunting breath. And convinced I was in love, in love, we gave ourselves each other that night with the fireplace burning cheerily in the background, and our bodies wrapped in a warm blanket.
You hid many things within you, a dream of following, not your father's footsteps, but to work for the good of all, for the Ministry of Magic. We planned, those nights, sleepy in each other's arms, we planned and perhaps that was our folly. I watched you put steel around yourself. Your mouth turned into a thin line that I had to coax to curve. You kissed with a desperate insistence that demanded my response, as if you wanted to draw my soul out of my body and into yours. Your hands on my hips, your tongue working their own personalized magic as you traced my lips. We were passion and agony, the brief lapse of insanity that burst from us in sparks at our peak. The others saw a hard man, an ambitious, cruel and power driven Slytherin. I saw the other side, the thin body that had scars, the scraps your well to do family left you to pick up. I knew the way your breath would leave your body in a violent hush when I run a hand down your side, or the way you could make my toes curl when you placed your lips on my shoulders.
You were my anathema because of the way your back looked, vulnerable in the moonlight. And because of the way you were indefinitely mine.
There was love in that room. Love reflected in the old mirror, warped by age. Love within the very cobwebs and dust-laden surfaces, the artifacts that still hummed with power. Those three words, so prominent in muggle literature ¡V romance, that were passed eagerly from hand to hand in the common room, didn't find their way to our mouths. We didn't need them. The words 'Mudblood' faded out of your vocabulary, and you stopped responding to James' jibes.
James, of course, hasn't a clue, and in the end it was Sirius who grew suspicious, Sirius who was always a tricky little devil too smart for his own good. He convinced Remus to come into his plot and in pretence of showing me an extraordinary sight, we 'stumbled' across Sirius accusing you of loving me. You scoffed at that, just like we agreed, just like we said, that the population would have a field day with us if they found out. And as you spat out name after name, ending with a final convincing laugh that said you wanted me solely for the purpose of making James jealous, solely for the purpose of having something he can't have. And damn you for being such a good actor, for causing me to burst into tears like some ridiculous five year old, with you calling my name Lily! After me in a cry.
Sirius and Remus swore to secrecy, nothing to hurt their precious James. I drifted about without meaning, without anchor, and ignored the barrage of notes that found their way into my post. I even dated James, allowed him to kiss me, just to see what it was like. But I knew I was fooling myself.
I needed you. Your heartbeat against my ear, your limbs tangled with mine. The way your lashes trembled in sleep, the way I was able to make you lose control, rip from your body a ragged gasp. I needed you to brush a stray curl away from my face and to call me your Christmas Girl, all red and green and rose.
You said I was your shelter, Severus, your home, and did you forget that so easily?
How could James, with his joking ways and boyish attitude understand? How could I return to him after knowing what we had?
I ask these questions, and the answers remain out of my reach.
I chose James in the end.
You were the boy who wanted to be an Auror, the boy who wanted to do great things. But the man you became said that you were going to join the Dark Lord, that with him, you could have the command you seek to hurt all those who have ever hurt you. When they told you that you would never make it, that you didn't have the marks, the aptitude, the possibility, something inside of you broke. There were slivers in your eyes then, those beautiful eyes that held so much tragedy and tenderness have been changed, maybe forever. You marred your body with the mark of that wizard.
Even though you chose that path and I chose the other, there was a tug at my heart whenever I caught a line of poetry, a strand of song. A Severus would have liked this, an I wonder if...I found myself becoming more and more James' girl, I still wanted you.
It was the last day at Hogwarts, I must have been mad to traverse down this path again. I counted the steps, made the right turns, followed the correct paintings, and there the door was, as solid as these very walls. When I opened it, the hinges gave sigh, a strong sense of déjà vu invaded my thoughts as I peeked in.
You glanced up, black eyes strangely empty, and I had one hand on the frame, ready to flee. We were caught again, not a Slytherin and a Gryffindor, but Lily and Severus. When the ink splattered your fingers, and you looked down, attention diverted, the door shut behind me with its usual announcement of the end.
You are my anathema not because I loved you when I should have hated you, you were my anathema because, in spite of all that happened, at that moment, I could have forgiven you anything.