A.N. Alright, I've never done anything from Lily's POV before, and I'm worried that it might come off sounding too stilted or something—you don't see into her inner thoughts very much and I can't decide whether that's bad or not. To be honest, this fic is more about Snape than it is about Lily.
All rights, excluding plot, reserved to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury and Scholastic Press.
Rated T for language and some sexual references.
Disagreed with both Horace Slughorn and Libatius Borage on the aesthetics of brewing potions.
He'd read Advanced Potion-Making at thirteen… hauled the dusty schoolbook from his mother's dilapidated closet one uninspiring summer afternoon. Even then he'd thought the Introduction's laconic definition of a potion not as a finished product, but as the hardnosed mathematical procedure surrounding it was mind-numbing. He'd proceeded over the coming years to methodically vandalize Borage's volume with the scribbled fruits of his casual experimentation and improvisation.
Professor Slughorn thought too that the result was artistically negligible; he'd told them in their first lesson of their first year that they must learn that the true reward lies in the opulent haze of colored steam, the subtleties in the sound of simmering liquid, the almost imperceptible taste of herbal smoke. Potions should be governed by two things according to Slughorn: instinct and one's physical senses. Like life, he always said. Yes, children, potions—poisons even—are the stuff of life.
Severus didn't like to philosophize about the methodology at all. Potions required no contemplation; he saved that for other things. He strove for nothing more or less than results. He navigated skillfully and callously through it all, working fluently through every possibility—every combination of strategies—in a few unconscious, silent seconds. Like life. Everything was undertaken in stride, in boredom, sometimes in thinly restrained horror and panic… but he took no pleasure and no satisfaction in calculation or in spinning webs. All Severus ever wanted was to see the end because then he could look down at what he'd made and know whether it was right or not. Like life
Watched, from the corner of her eye, as Snape bound a new metal nib to the point of his quill. The feather was Spartan and black and oily-looking.
"Keep moving, everyone! Some of you are so close I can taste it." Professor Slughorn licked his lips comically and ruffled his mustache. He bustled corpulently between the work-stations, prodding at piles of ingredients and sniffing cauldrons and offering advice. "Mr. Black, stop that this instant—the coltsfoot petals must be added whole. Here, Miss Tillinghast, stoke that fire a smidgen more."
Lily returned to ignoring Snape as he was ignoring her and looked at her notes.
"Were you going to add the quicksilver or not?"
She turned a slightly frosty gaze on the question's source. "Yes. I will. In another—" she consulted the tiny hourglass between them—"thirty seconds. Or you can do it if you don't trust me. Whatever." She extended a slender vial of mercury toward him.
Snape snorted. "No. Just pay attention."
For the last assignment of the term, the class had been paired off in twos to collaborate on a common potion. The extreme rarity of some of the required components dictated that they at least halve their utilization of them. For almost a week, Lily and Snape had been developing their shared potion and been doing it in near-silence. It was Friday morning and they needed to finish within the next half-hour.
"Oh, very good, m'dear," beamed Professor Slughorn, appearing at their table and giving the concoction an investigational stir. "Ideal consistency. And good job flaying that wolf spider, Severus."
"Thank you, professor," murmured Snape, throwing Lily an impatient look. She sighed and dumped in the quicksilver to get him off her back about it.
"Really, everyone, look at what Miss Evans and Mr. Snape have done here. You should take a leaf out of their book! I don't need to remind you again that that Mnemosyne Tonic frequently appears in the N.E.W.T. examination!" The class looked slightly resentful.
"I hate it when he does that," whispered Lily to herself, mildly uncomfortable.
"Yeah. I'm sure you really hate it," countered Snape cynically, smoothly whisking the thin potion between them. The substance was the translucent green of equatorial salt water.
"Saying that I'm some sort of attention-whore?" she snapped.
"I didn't say that. But, in my experience, you are all the same," he answered. Lily assumed that by "you," he meant "Gryffindors."
Some minutes later Snape, with a curt nod from Lily, measured an amount of their potion into a small beaker, covered it, and deposited it on the front desk along with similar-looking submissions as well as the consequences of various stages of ineptitude. She watched him skulk to a dank corner of the dungeon room where he started to wash his hands in a broad stone basin. She bit her lip in a moment of indecision—this might be her last chance to conveniently talk to him on his own…
"What? Oh, actually I'm not very hungry right now. And I have some things—er—" she spluttered, spinning around and coming face to face with James Potter's long nose and hazel eyes. Sirius Black stood a few paces behind him, tapping his foot in trite impatience loudly enough that James would have to have been half-deaf not to hear him.
"Right, okay. Well, I'll see you around," said James, hiding whatever disappointment he might have been experiencing and backing away somewhat. He smiled warmly and trotted out the door with the rest. He'd done a lot of growing up in the last two years, or at least had appeared to do so; this year Lily had seemed to almost accidentally find herself on friendly terms with him. He'd stopped making catcalls in the corridors, stopped pulling elaborate stunts and laughing outrageously at his own jokes as she passed, started looking at her face during conversation rather than her breasts and, really, stopped chasing her altogether. It was a welcome relief and an unexpected development that had prompted Lily to appreciate everything about him more and more. In fact—no, she couldn't think about that right now, she'd promised herself she'd tend to other matters today.
For months she'd been floundering in uncertainty and she was tired—physically tired—of not knowing what she wanted; so today she would settle it.
Lily slung her bag over her shoulder and walked purposefully, quietly, toward Snape and the granite sink, quickly slipping her hands under the glacially cold gush streaming from its gargoyle faucet's mouth. Snape shied instantly away, snatching his right hand back from where it had come in brief contact with her wrist.
"Do you mind?" he hissed through clenched teeth. He, for one, hadn't done much growing up.
"No," Lily returned.
As Snape was spinning away, edgily wiping his hands dry on his robes, Lily saw her opportunity dying. "Listen, Snape," she said abruptly. "Do you think that—well, do you think we could talk?"
"Excuse me?" he said in a strange voice, still facing the damp, mossy dungeon wall.
"I asked if you would talk with me." She felt a little queasy and added, "It doesn't have to be right now."
Lily was getting a touch impatient. "Because I have something to say. And that's what people do when they have things to say. Talk." It was a sarcastic remark but, in some corner of her brain, she had her doubts that Severus Snape actually understood that concept.
He finally deigned to turn around, staring at her intently as though her eyes were a distant target he needed very much to hit. Lily found the look distinctly unsettling—as though he were trying to pry into her mind—and blinked.
"Alright," he assented after an eerie pause.
"Good," she replied readily though she couldn't manage to summon a smile. "One-o-clock, in the Entrance Hall. That gives you time for lunch."
"Fine." His monosyllabic reactions weren't very reassuring. Lily leaned uneasily on the rim of the sink while Snape hefted his mass of books in his arms and exited the classroom rather more hurriedly than was necessary.
Why she put so much thought and effort into him, Lily, at that moment, really wasn't sure.
She hadn't lied to James when she said she wasn't hungry; Lily found the aroma of food wafting out from the Great Hall mildly stomach-churning. She was sitting on the sizeable base of a statue of a proud-looking badger and reading a book—or, rather, pretending to read a book considering that she'd been staring at page 194 for the past half-hour.
From her angle, she could see a sliver of the activity beyond the Great Hall's ajar doors. Every few minute or so, her gaze would wander to where she could make out a corner of the Ravenclaw table and a significant slice of Slytherin's. Sitting next to a brooding Silas Avery in apparent silence, Snape was eyeing a salver of pink-frosted cupcakes as though debating whether or not he could eat one with dignity.
He seemed to decide that he couldn't and slouched down on the bench. Lily watched him extract a watch on a chain from an inside pocket and frown at it. Suddenly he turned his face sharply to the door and Lily sat upright, snapping her book shut. Having noticed her, Snape stood, said something short to Avery and left the Hall.
"Hello," he said softly and proceeded to look about himself in a wary circle, a suspicious scowl creeping over his features.
"What, do you think I've lured you out here into a trap or something?" Lily asked as he glared meticulously at every door and tapestry.
"Looks like you haven't," Snape said more to himself than to her, satisfied with his inspection. "So? What is it you have to say?"
He sighed, as though she were being particularly difficult. "Where then?"
"I don't care. Wherever you feel most comfortable—the dungeons, even," she replied.
"You know, contrary to popular belief, I wasn't born in a dungeon." Snape sneered a little. "Why not the forest?"
"Oh!" Lily found herself caught off-guard. "To be honest, I've never been more than a few meters into the Forbidden Forest."
"Of course, if you think it wouldn't be fitting for Head Girl…" he scoffed.
"It's nothing to do with that."
"So you're just scared."
Lily didn't even stoop to respond, only held her head a little higher and stepped out the castle's front doors. She refused to let his hostile nature get the better of her during this encounter; she'd simply either have to be immune to it or manage to tear it down.
For a minute she thought he didn't mean to follow her at all until she heard his footsteps descend the steps behind her.
It was an iron-colored November day, still and sterile. Though not freezing, it was certainly not a time to venture outside cloakless; Lily hugged her black wool robes to her chest as the dormant brown grass crunched, brittle, under their feet. Not a soul was about to see them heading toward the restricted woods. When the edge of the forest's leafless trees loomed above them, Lily halted and gestured for Snape to take the lead. She wasn't afraid of the Forbidden Forest (looking at it now, she found it neither attractive nor particularly intimidating) she'd merely never had occasion to enter it or anyone with whom to explore it. "Not my territory."
He stepped obligingly out ahead of her and they wound their way through webs of bramble undergrowth. His twitchy gait was surprisingly difficult to keep up with. After five minutes of staggering through sticks and thorns, Lily couldn't help but ask how far Snape intended to go.
"A little more."
"If you're just stalling—"
"I'm not," he interrupted, shoving branches of waxy green pine needles to the side and ducking through them. When Lily followed suit she found herself abruptly released into the space of a small, irregular clearing. The dry, mossy ground sloped gently inward, forming a funny, shallow bowl-shape in the woods and a colossal, dusky-barked tree towered at one end of the tiny dell. Slightly unnatural-looking whorls of minute white flowers bled out in lissome eddies from its roots.
Snape took a ginger seat near the base of the tree. His manner seemed to suggest he'd been here more than once before.
She too rested under the tree. It had a greater diameter than any tree she'd every encountered; she wondered what it was and why she'd never before noticed it protruding from the forest tree-line. Lily stared at her lap for a moment before turning an eye on the boy next to her. He sat scrunched up and was plucking at a frayed spot on his sleeve. Strands of neglected hair draped down over his eyes; it worked in a protective sort of way as though Snape wanted to ensure no one could every make completely unobstructed eye-contact with him unless he wanted them to. Lily finally registered the fully oddity of the scene—to be here with Severus Snape was really enormously unlikely, especially since they'd probably shared more words just today than in the past six years combined. She picked at the anemic-looking flowers around her. Their tiny petals were so thin, they appeared as though they'd been spun a little haphazardly from spider's silk. The place suited Severus Snape in a disturbing sort of way.
"Go on. With whatever it is you want. I really don't think you came out here just for the pleasure of my company."
Lily felt slightly indignant. "You have no idea why I'm here right now, so maybe you shouldn't make assumptions."
"You're right. You're right about that, Lily Evans," he muttered darkly, "I don't know why the most popular girl at Hogwarts wants to talk to me." His didn't say it as though he was at all flattered.
Her first instinct was to contest his comment about her being the most popular girl, but stopped herself, knowing that he wasn't in the mood to hear her claim modesty.
"I've been watching you a lot, Severus," she sighed, consciously using his first name. He looked at her as though she were something entirely alien, but didn't interject. "And I wonder if, after we finish school, I'll ever see you again."
"Why would you care?"
"Because I think you're interesting, and I have a… feeling that, if we do ever meet again out there—" she waved a hand at nothing in particular as though trying to indicate the whole of the outside world, the future, "—it's going to be from different sides of… well, of everything."
"Don't play with words. Just say 'the War' if that's what you mean."
Lily snapped to attention and looked at him, searching for signs of anger; she hadn't expected him to be so blunt about such a dangerous subject. His face, however, was closed and deadpan.
"Yes, actually. That is what I mean."
"Goddamn," snorted Snape. "Is that it? You're concerned about me crossing over?"
"I'm not stupid. Everyone knows you've got more knowledge of the Dark Arts than the rest of the school put together." Goosebumps were breaking out on her arms both as the result of the air's chill and the mental superimposition of a white mask over the face of the person beside her.
"A fair assessment. But your lot thinks all Slytherins are chomping at the bit to be kissing the Dark Lord's arse. Whether that's true or not, it doesn't explain why you want to talk specifically with me about it."
That was hard for Lily to say exactly. Snape did stand out from the other thugs and Death Eater spawn at Hogwarts. She sensed that he was infinitely more dangerous, and probably even smarter than he let on in class. She also felt innately that there was something utterly undeveloped about him—while it was difficult to envision him as a small child, he sometimes seemed more like one than a seventeen-year-old. Lily liked to know people. That's not to say that she craved popularity, or went all giggly and stupid over a good shred of gossip, but that she liked knowing what made people tick. One thing that had drawn her to Snape was that she could not figure him out. She didn't think she'd ever know, but yet continued to feel that there was something in this petulant, offensive bastard of a boy that was worth saving. Something that the Death Eaters didn't deserve.
But, for Heaven's sake, she could hardly tell him all that.
"Well, because... because I think there's something more to you than the rest of them, Severus, and I wanted you to know. Since I don't believe there's ever been anyone else to tell you." It came out fast and a little clumsily.
Snape gaped at her, looking as though he was trying to determine whether he was embarrassed or insulted. It was very clear that people were not in the habit of attempting to engage in heart-to-hearts with him. Lily was beginning to feel foolish and even a little naïve for undertaking this endeavor.
"Look, I'm not saying 'Oh, poor you, nobody ever hugs you enough'," she clarified hastily, feigning her characteristic confidence. "I just—"
"Good, because I would hate to think you pitied me, Lily Evans," he hissed suddenly. "Because I don't have time for shit like that. What is it about girls like you that makes them think everyone in the world secretly craves their approval?" His expression was as cold as it had been all day.
"I don't think that!" she countered immediately.
Snape made as if to get up, but Lily made a noise of protestation and took a determined hold of his forearm, guiding back to where he'd been. He seemed momentarily taken aback that she'd touch him so offhandedly.
"Shut up and sit still," she said, her attitude flaring. "I don't mean to patronize you, Severus, and I don't mean to get all sentimental on you either. I'm just telling you that I think you're... worthwhile, alright?" Lily stared him down, refusing to retreat from the high ground she'd gained.
"You know, no one's going to play the violin when I die. Maybe you should stop wasting your time." It was a cryptic thing to say, and Lily wasn't sure of how to respond for a second.
"No you don't. Because half the universe will break down if anything ever happens to you and you know it." His voice was clipped.
They hunched in silence in the odd clearing. Absently crushing one of the little gossamer flowers between her fingers, Lily sucked in her breath and extended her other hand toward Snape. He shied away at once.
"Stop it," she snapped, and cautiously touched his cheek. His black eyes widened ever-so-slightly, but she did not relent, hazarding an attempt to move her hand across his sallow skin and lightly cup his jawline. When he didn't bat her away as she had expected, Lily shifted closer, inclined toward him, and pressed her lips to his before he could have had time to think.
He did not return the kiss, but started back a few inches after a mere second or so.
"What do you think you're doing?" Snape questioned hoarsely, looking openly startled. He peered at her as though looking for symptoms of Befuddlement or subjection to a potion, his eyes then darting sideways like half the school might abruptly thunder out of the shrubs, pointing and laughing.
What was she doing? thought Lily. She'd felt that it might be nice to kiss Severus Snape for some time now, but hadn't actually expected herself to do it, especially considering that the conversation had not been going smoothly at all. But still she asked quietly, "You do like me, don't you, Severus?"
His gaze flitted back to her, but he didn't respond or nod or smile, only swallowed hard.
So she moved near him again, hovering near his mouth. She wasn't sure if she was surprised or not when he kissed her this time. His lips were cold, she noted. Snape put a hand on either side of her neck, pressing just a little, his fingertips in her hair. It should have been a threatening action, but it wasn't. The kiss was long, but not uncomfortably so. Neither was it passionate, but Lily thought it felt good in a detached sort of way.
stood up when they parted. So did he.
going now," Lily said, hoping she was not flushed.
"I thought you might." He looked down at her, his face unreadable. "Did you accomplish what you meant to?"
not sure," she replied truthfully.
Snape took a deep breath as though to say something, but did not. Lily took a few paces toward the edge of the dell and turned back to face him. Great flat sheets of clouds stole over the weak sun and stained the air dark as twilight.
Lily smiled at Snape for the first time in their entire lives. "This isn't a beginning. And I don't expect we'll really see each other much. You understand that, from now on, I'm probably going to be with him." She felt sure he'd know who she meant.
"I know," came his answer. He leaned against the tree, watching her through curtains of lifeless black hair until Lily shouldered her way through the brush and branches, trudging back to the castle in the cold.
Quickly came to a conclusion about that day's events. It was not remotely unexpected when, after the Christmas holiday that year, Lily Evans could be observed leaving the Hogwarts Express with James Potter, chatting happily all the way in to dinner. Neither was it shocking when, a fortnight later, they were going places arm in arm and kissing in the corridors. Severus Snape cared about Lily Evans. But he wasn't irate, he wasn't envious, and he wasn't saddened.
He only felt that the incident had confirmed something he'd suspected all along. Human relationships were very, very peculiar and fluid. Unlike magic, you could focus all your thought on one matter, but it didn't mean that it would amount to anything. But you could love the Dark Arts like a woman, and she'd always show you beautiful things, never fail you for inexplicable, emotional or unfair reasons, never merely grant consolation prizes. No, she'd always deliver results. The Dark Arts, of course, were very, very peculiar and fluid as well. Except that Severus understood how they thought and evolved. If you knew what you were doing, a potion always worked. If you concentrated hard enough, a spell always did as it should have. All Severus ever wanted was to see the end because then he could look down at what he'd made and know whether it was right or not. Like life
A.N. The end. I don't really think of this as a romance. I wanted that kiss to demonstrate brief intimacy more than attraction, so I hope that came through. I don't have extremely strong feelings about Lily and Snape as a ship, but I feel that there's a least a little something interesting or odd between them. Also, I think I just wanted a way to articulate my feelings about Snape through Lily: I don't necessarily know what he's all about, but I'll be damned if it's not something worthwhile finding out. You'll have my undying love if you review.