A/N: This is a thoroughly revised edition of the previous work, and I hope that it makes more sense to the reader. The song in italics is "Something I Can Never Have," by Nine Inch Nails. The rating is for slight language, and implied abuse, and violence.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, especially not Harry Potter or the lyrics by Trent Reznor
The Secrets of Severus Snape
Severus Snape was trucking up the gently rolling hills of the castle grounds, heading for the dungeons. He grumbled to himself, utterly miserable and already late for class, as he reflected upon the letter he had received this morning. His mother had owled him, saying that she was moving out of the house for good, and he would visit his father on certain holidays. He had received no gifts, but then again he wasn't surprised, as much as he was disappointed – it was his birthday, after all.
Severus suddenly felt a drop of water fall on his long, crooked nose, and he looked up into the dull, cloudy, grey sky. Another drop fell into his eye, and he blinked, scowling as the rain began to downpour hard. He sprinted to the big oak doors of the castle, holding his book over his head, and tugged on the handle, but the door appeared to be locked. He knew exactly who had locked the door.
"Damn you, Black," Severus growled as he stepped back down the steps and onto the grass.
Mud sloshed around his ankles and his visibility went from slim to none as the rain began to fall in grey sheets. He let his arms fall to his sides, holding his book limply in his hand. His greasy black hair was plastered to his forehead and his clothes were sodden and heavy. Severus let his head fall back on his shoulders and closed his eyes against the rain now beating his face as he asked himself what he had done to deserve his miserable life. As he stood there, face to the sky, he prayed to drown.
> > > > > > > > >
Severus burst open the dungeon door and walked in, his drenched shoes making a slapping, squeaking noise and he moved. Several people sniggered, for he looked as if he had dived into a pool, and Professor Slughorn turned to him with a concerned expression.
"What's going on, Mr. Snape?" he boomed, "Though I doubt your late arrival will hold you back from your potion making!"
Severus muttered something inaudible and slumped over to his desk, but not before giving James Potter and Sirius Black a very nasty look. The two dry boys shared a look of glee as Severus sat down in his chair with an odd squelching noise. Severus looked over at the board for information on the potion they were to start when someone tapped him on the shoulder from beside.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, ready to hex the person who dared to taunt him when his patience had run thin, and turned around. However, he did not meet the cruel faces of the fellow boys, but a pair of electrifying green eyes. His heart skipped a beat, and he realized how stupid he must look, for he could hear the sound of water hitting floor coming from his robes.
"Felix Felicis," she whispered to him softly, and Severus could not help but notice that her face was inches away from his, and that her breath smelled of strawberries.
"Wha…? Oh!" he said, and then realized she was talking about the assignment.
She raised her eyebrows at him and smiled, and Severus' stomach swam. A strand of red, shiny hair escaped from her ponytail as she scooted back away from him and began working on her potion. Severus, who had been rendered speechless, merely turned to face his potion.
Lily Evans. Just feeling the name course from his lips as he whispered it in the dark was ecstasy all in its own right. She was the only woman who had the power to exercise control over him, and yet she didn't, and she possibly did not know. She didn't know that he would answer to her every beck and call, and he was glad for it.
Severus took an elastic band off his wrist and pulled back his semi-long, dripping hair into a ponytail, where it would be safely away from his potion. He lit a fire under his cauldron and began adding ingredients as if he had memorized the potion itself. However, his eyes often darted to the beautiful woman sitting a few feet beside him; her jacket was cast aside, and her sleeves were rolled up to her elbows, though her tie remained perfectly straight.
She appeared to be working with lightning speed that matched Severus', who had already caught up with and was beyond the rest of the class. Lily was chopping her beans with a disgruntled look on her face, as if she couldn't get enough juice out of them. Severus coughed, and she looked at him. He caught her eye and lifted his silver dagger, and she gave him a questioning look. He said nothing, but pressed firmly down upon his beans, and they emitted an alarming amount of juice. He looked back at Lily, and her expression was surprised.
"How…?" she started, but Severus gave a jerk of the head and placed a finger to his lips, fighting the urge to smile.
Lily immediately did the same to her own beans and added them to her potion, her eyes wide with astonishment at her results.
A little while later, Severus had gotten the most progress with his potion, and Professor Slughorn was having a field day boasting about the talents of Severus and Lily.
"Two of the most talented students I have ever taught!" Slughorn said, but Severus chose to ignore him, "You would have the brightest children!"
Severus could not ignore this, as the room instantly filled with laughter. Lily blushed and Severus did, too, but he kept his head bent low over his potion.
If only… he thought to himself bitterly as he added another ingredient to his bubbling cauldron with unnecessary vigor.
When the laughter subsided, Severus felt something nudge his arm. He looked down at the desk and saw that Lily's book was next to him. He opened it, and in the immediate inside cover was a note. He looked around to check that nobody was watching, and then read it to himself as discreetly as he could.
Meet me under the beech tree during lunch.
As confused as he was, Severus merely nodded seemingly to himself to show Lily that he had received and accepted the invitation. He pushed the book back down the table to her, and she took it wordlessly. Severus could feel James watching him angrily, but he did not care; his mind was filling with scenes in which Lily confessed her feelings to him and they started dating. As much as he knew this wasn't going to happen, he still felt slightly curious about what was going on. An overwhelming weight seemed to have lifted from the pit of his stomach.
When the bell rang, Severus gathered his belongings and left the classroom. He was halfway down the corridor when he felt himself go rigid, and he fell face-first onto the floor, unable to move. He dropped everything as he fell, and he knew he could not undo the petreficus totalus without his wand. Someone kicked him in the rib and laughed as Severus saw white lights blink in his eyes from the pain. A hand grabbed onto Severus' ponytail and jerked his head up so someone could talk to him better.
"Hurry up Prongs! The grease is seeping into my hands!" said the voice of Sirius Black.
James Potter got down on his hands in knees in front of Severus and leaned his face close to the latter's.
"Stay away from Evans, Snivellus," James hissed, "She's mine, and I don't care how smart your children would be."
And with that, James drew his wand and pointed it at Severus' face. Blood gushed out of Severus' nose, and Sirius and James left, laughing. Severus was forced to lay there until someone came to help him, and that was not for ten minutes. Remus Lupin came into the corridor and undid the charm. Severus immediately stopped the flow of blood, picked up his belongings, and stalked off without a word of thanks. Severus hated being dependant on other people.
Severus had been standing under the beech tree, writing in his potions book when he saw a flash of red hair coming toward him. He snapped his book shut to watch as Lily came bounding toward him, her feet sinking in an inch of mud every time she took a step, for the rain had ceased hours before. She stopped in front of him, panting, and her hair slightly askew.
"Hi!" she said breathlessly, her face flushed.
Severus shuffled his feet.
"'Lo," he replied quietly, "What do you want?"
"Let's walk," Lily said, and they began to do so.
They sauntered for a while on the grounds, not really saying anything. Finally, Lily broke the long silence.
"Why were you late to class today?" She asked casually.
"Locked outside," Severus replied, scowling and not wanting to continue the subject.
"By Filch, or someone else?" She pushed.
"Black and Potter," he answered, feeling his face flush slightly, and was glad he could hide behind his sheets of black hair.
"I thought that much," Lily said quietly, and then added, "Why do you hate each other so much?"
"Potter and Black and arrogant numbskulls who think they're something special!" Severus replied angrily, sounding defensive.
Lily glared at him, and he felt his heart melt.
"No need to be angsty," she snapped with equal angst, and Severus quieted. "Why are you so angry all the time anyway?"
Severus shrugged and kicked a rock with his foot.
"Always, you've been angry, since the first week of school," she paused, "Though you've never hexed anyone other than Potter or Black, or done anything to me. Well, I mean, besides…"
Her voice drifted off, but Severus knew what she was talking about. It was possibly one of his worst ever memories, and it involved being hung upside-down by the ankle by Potter, and Severus himself calling the girl that was now standing beside him a mudblood. He didn't like to think about it, because it brought back other bad memories from his past. Not to mention he was ashamed of what he had said.
"I…" he started, but he didn't know what he was supposed to say. "I just…" Severus continued, "I guess I…"
He was, perhaps for the first time in his life, lost for words and without a comeback. Lily gave him a strange look – she seemed to be reading his mind.
"Home life not so… pleasant?" Lily inquired quietly, but she already knew.
Severus nodded, his stringy hair swaying about his face. Next to Lily Evans, he looked very odd. She walked with her head held high, with confidence, and he was clumsy and round-shouldered next to her, though he was much taller. They stopped walking abruptly.
"Did he…" Lily started, but seemed to need to correct herself, "I mean, I'm not saying it was your father but—"
Severus cut her off with another sharp nod of the head and he swallowed hard. He lifted the arm of his sleeve up to his shoulder to reveal not only deathly pale skin, but also a series of strange scars on his arm. Severus turned his head away form Lilly, not wanting to see her reaction. She gasped, and he forced himself to look at her. Tears had welled up in her eyes, and her hand was over her mouth. The only word to describe the look on her face as a single tear escaped down her cheek was terror. She slowly reached up and lightly touched the scars on his upper arm, and he felt goosebumps spread down his body. He rolled his sleeve down with a growl, and they started walking again.
"Are there others?" Lily asked, but he didn't reply to her question.
"I ran away once," he said gruffly, looking down at his shoes, "And when he found me, I hexed him so badly that he was at St. Mungo's for a year. One hex for me, and one for…"
He trailed off.
"They're getting a divorce soon, took them long enough," he said, his voice filled with loathing, "I got the letter this morning."
Lily remained silent. Severus looked at her and saw that she, too, had been staring at her feet as they walked along, but she had tears trickling silently down her face.
"I have a cheerfulness potion on me, if you want it," Severus said formally, opening the front of his robe and withdrawing a tiny vile, "It would neutralize your emotions."
She gave him a look of disbelief, but couldn't help but smile.
"You are infatuated, aren't you?" she said incredulously, "With school?"
Severus shrugged and replied, "I might become a teacher someday."
Lily laughed, and Severus gave her a malicious look.
"What? A potions teacher?" She egged him on, but he merely shrugged.
"No, Defense Against the Dark Arts," he replied quietly.
"You don't seem much of a people person to me," Lily observed.
"You don't say…" he replied sarcastically, and she laughed out loud.
Severus smiled a tiny bit; it was more of a reluctant smirk, but he still couldn't remember smiling for a good reason in most of his previous life.
"There you go!" Lilly exclaimed at the look on his face, "Everyone needs to smile sometimes."
He struggled to hide his smile, and she laughed.
"You are impossible!" she said, laughing harder still.
"I am not the one who tracked down the friendless, greasy-haired git," Severus replied, now smirking.
A voice from behind sobered both of them up at once.
"You leave her alone, Snivellus!"
Severus plunged his hand into his robes and spun around, wand at the ready. There he met James, both of their faces were full of fury and loathing, and their wands were pointed at each other's throats.
"What do you want, Potter?" Severus growled menacingly.
"I want you to stay away from Evans!" James yelled, his wand shaking in his hand.
"I may speak to whom I please," Severus sneered, "But it just so happens that I was finished here anyway, so have it your way."
With that, Severus gave James a hard jab in the throat with his wand, turned on his heel with a last glance at Lily, who looked angry, and stalked off.
> > > > > > > >
Severus blasted open the door to the seventh year boy's dormitory and stormed into the room. Chris Green, the only person in the room, took one look at Severus' expression, snatched up his belongings, and scampered past Severus and out of the room.
Severus, now alone, gave a frustrated yell and kicked his bedpost, and then gave another exclamation as his foot began to throb. Limping slightly, he hobbled into the bathroom and locked the door behind him. He turned the shower on all the way and stepped in, completely forgetting to undress in his anger. He gave another exclamation and jumped out of the shower, slipped on his wet robe, and fell to the floor. Cursing, he pulled himself off the ground and tossed off his robe. He peeled his shirt off, all the while thinking that he'd like to try out a new curse he'd invented on a certain James Potter.
When the remainder of his clothing had been thrown in a pile, Severus stepped back into the steaming shower and began to scrub viciously at his hair. He hated his hair possibly more than any of his other features; more so than his small, angular frame; more so than the round-shouldered, twitchy way in which he walked; more so even than his long nose. He hated his hair because it was greasy, uncontrollable and unmanageable, as it always had been. Severus grabbed a handful of soap and attempted to work it into his tangled mass of his hair, and maybe get rid of the grime that people teased him about so often.
When he figured that he could do no more for his cause, and only when his scalp began to hurt, he rinsed his hair, all the while thinking of – who else – Lilly Evans. He didn't much like the name "Lily", but for some reason, it was beautiful on her. He wasn't exactly sure why he nursed a soft spot for her anyway. She was muggleborn, firstly, and obviously wasn't interested in him anyway.
Severus froze where he stood, his hands still intertwined in his hair. Was she interested in him? Why else would she have asked him to meet her and have an in-depth discussion about his feelings and his abusive father? Severus touched his upper arm, and then absently moved to his chest, where he traced four long, white scars with his fingertips. He sighed, again wondering what he had done to deserve what he had received.
"She just wants to be my friend," Severus said aloud to himself, "She just feels bad for me, and she probably likes Potter anyway."
Scowling, he finished rinsing his hair, turned off the water, and stepped out of the shower. He wrapped a towel around his waist and strode into the dormitory, which was still empty. Severus liked it best when the dorm was empty anyway; the people he had been forced to share a room with for all these years were pathetic and cruel. He grabbed a freshly laundered uniform and walked back into the bathroom, where he dressed himself and dumped his old clothes unceremoniously into his hamper and sealed it shut.
At dinner, Severus was sitting by himself at the end of the Slytherin table, absently eating his Shepard's pie as he poured over his potions book. He looked down at the page that had many crossed out words, and thoughtfully scratched his chin with the end of his quill. Then, he wrote down the finished curse Sectumsempra. As an after thought, he scribbled "For enemies" next to the curse.
Someone sat down next to him, but he took no notice, thinking that it was just another Slytherin. Then suddenly, the smell that he always picked up when he was near Amortenia came to his nose, and he had half a second's warning before —
Severus was startled into dropping his fork, where it landed on his plate with a clatter. Several people turned to look, but when they saw nothing interesting, they went back to their conversations. He slammed his potions book shut quickly, but she had already seen what was written.
"Sectumsempra?" she asked hesitantly, "Doesn't that mean 'to cut' or something? Sounds a bit like dark magic to me. Where did you hear about it?"
Severus stuffed his book back into his bag and whipped around to look for James or one of his cronies. When he didn't see any of them, he turned back to Lily and gave her a blank look.
"You should get back to your table," he drawled icily, "Potter will be here any minute, and you don't want to be seen with me."
Lily's expression was unreadable as she opened her mouth.
"Severus…" she started, but Snape got up and turned on her.
"I do not believe that Potter would be approving of you sitting next to Snivellus," Severus sneered before shouldering his bag and stomping off.
Why? Why did he have to be such a prat? Severus swiftly moved down into the dungeons and into his dormitory, where he changed into an old pair of grey pajama pants and a loose black shirt and crawled into bed.
"Happy birthday to me," Severus said moodily, shutting the hangings around him with a snap!
> > > > > > > >
The next week had been proving to be Lily Evans free, and Severus really had nothing to worry about besides class and his random hallway duels with James and his gang. On Wednesday, however, Severus had been sitting by the lake when he heard someone call his name. He looked up from his Charms essay to see Lily running towards him, her right hand clamped over her left forearm. Severus stood, alarmed, for Lily was crying, which was something he had seen more of in these past few weeks than ever. James Potter jumped down from the beech tree in an attempt to grab her and ask what was wrong, but she blew by him and ran up to Severus. Severus, though concerned, couldn't help but feel a bit pleased that she had ignored James for him. She stopped before him, but said nothing as she looked up at him. He looked back down, his dark eyes glistening forebodingly, as if she had interrupted something important.
"S-Severus," she choked, her tearstained face flushed, "I need help."
She exposed the arm she had been grabbing, and he stepped back a half-pace, semi-revolted at what he saw. Running down her arm was a long gash, bleeding profusely and also oozing a kind of green pus.
"What happened?" Severus inquired calmly, his eyes narrowing.
"I was experimenting with a potion theory and when I was cutting up my charmed scorpion stingers, something fell and I jumped and my knife slipped."
Severus' brow arched slightly as he realized why he was so scared. Charmed scorpion venom was incredibly poisonous.
"Here, sit," Severus commanded, and they both sank to their knees, "It just so happens that I have the necessary from class today. You are lucky; I can stop the poison, most probably, but why didn't you go to the infirmary?"
She looked up at him, fearful.
"I've already received a warning not to experiment," she whispered to him, "You won't tell, will you? I'll be in so much trouble; they'll take away my badge!"
Severus' eye flickered down to her Head Girl badge, and his lip curled as he withdrew a vile from his robe and set it down on the grass.
"Maybe I should," he said, "After all, aren't you supposed to be a role model?"
She gaped at him, and he smirked.
"No, I wont tell," he said, taking his wand out from his pocket and ignoring the look that Lily gave him.
A circle had formed around the two of them made up of curious students, excluding James, who was watching from the beech tree with Sirius and Lupin. Severus took Lily's arm and held it to its full length. He pushed back her sleeve and examined the wound carefully before nodding and picking up the vile and uncorking it. He poured a little of the potion onto his cold fingertips and then spread it over her gash. Lily made a small gasping noise and bit her lip; the potion, Severus knew, was painful as it ate away the poison and traveled through her bloodstream. The gash hissed and steamed as the green pus bubbled and then disappeared. He corked the potion and stuffed it back in his robe.
Severus next took his wand and ran it over her wound, muttering an incantation that sounded like a lullaby of sorts, or even a song. Lily looked up at him in wonder, her eyes now dry, as he ran his wand over her wounds over and over again, his eyes closed in concentration. The gash was stitching itself, and finally healing itself.
Severus opened his eyes and looked down at the wound; only a small, white line remained.
"I am no Healer," Severus said quietly, "There will be scarring."
He took hold of her hand gently with one hand, and rolled her sleeve back down with the other, both of his hands covered in Lily's blood. They didn't move for a good ten seconds from where they knelt in the center of the circle of students; Lily's warm hand in Severus' cold one. Severus thought his heart might explode. Surely he was shaking, even though he showed no other physical sign of fear. They stared at each other, man and woman, for a few seconds. Lily seemed to come-to and pulled her hand away. The two of them stood up, the expression on Severus' face was blank, except for the very slight arch in his left brow. A student from the circle started singing the chorus of 'Beauty and the Beast," but shut up the instant that Severus shot him an ominous glare.
"Thank you," she said quietly, and kissed Severus on the cheek.
Severus felt his face burn a delicate shade of pink as Lily smiled at him and walked away, where she was almost instantly confronted by James, who walked with her back into the castle.
As much as he wanted to sing in joy at that moment, he ambled back to his spot by the lake, pausing to wash his hands in the cool water.
Severus remained by the lake for the remainder of the afternoon until he had completed all of his homework. By this time, the sun was low on the horizon and the clouds were a brilliant shade of purple. Severus had just gathered up his belongings and was heading back to the castle when he felt a piercing pain in his head and blacked out.
When Severus regained consciousness, he was sprawled out on the forest floor, incredibly dizzy. A barking laugh came from behind him, and he struggled to his feet, plunging his hand into his robes. His eyes widened as he realized that his wand was no longer in his possession. Severus spun around to face up to his attackers. James and Sirius were standing behind him, and when he turned around, James punched Severus in the nose.
"Snivellus, I told you to stay away from Evans!" James yelled angrily, "I don't want her hanging around with a dark wizard like you!"
"She came to me, Potter," Severus spat, his hand over his bleeding nose, "And if I am a dark wizard, than what are you? I always thought that ambushing someone was a bit on the dark side. Besides, is having a friend a crime?"
James pounced onto Severus and started to beat him.
"I know friendship is not the only thing in that greasy head of yours!" James shouted, still punching every bit of Severus he could reach.
Severus used his last bit of strength to throw James off him and attempt to run, but Sirius gave a strangled yell and pointed his wand at Severus, who was thrown into a tree. Severus felt himself fall back to the ground, cutting his face on the bark of the tree and breaking his hand as he tried to stop his fall. Severus tried again to get up and fight back, but his body felt as if it was on fire, and he couldn't help himself. Several of the buttons on his shirt had torn off, leaving his chest exposed and vulnerable.
James hoisted Severus up by the collar of his shirt and slammed him into the tree with one hand and presumed to hit him in the head with the other hand. Severus grunted in pain, wishing that James would stop, or maybe die on the spot.
"If you ever talk to her again, I swear on my broom that you will have more than a few cuts to deal with," James said, and then let Severus slide down the tree into a heap on the ground.
After kicking Severus one last time in the bare chest, James and Sirius stormed off, seething.
Severus rolled over onto his side and coughed mercilessly. He tried to get up, but he could not support his own weight, so he rolled over onto his back and lay there, spread-eagled in the dirt. Staring at the patch of starry sky that he could see through the trees, he wondered if anyone would find him before he was eaten by a wild animal or something equally as gruesome. He supposed if did get eaten, or bled to death here, at least Lily wouldn't have to see him hex James like he had hexed his own father.
Severus had been drifting into a pained, spiteful sleep when he heard a noise. His eyes snapped open and he peered around the best he could. It seemed that every muscle in his body was in terrible agony, and his hand had gone numb.
He heard the noise again; it sounded as if someone was calling out into the night. The third time he heard it, he knew exactly what was going on; Lily was looking for him. Severus tried to call out to her, but he could not make any loud noises. He groaned and closed his eyes, but just as he did so, he saw a flash of light. He opened his eyes wearily and saw Lily running towards him. He moved his head so that he could see her better.
"Oh my god!" She exclaimed in a shocked whisper when her wandlight fell upon the figure on the ground.
She fell to her knees by his head, gently lifted it off the ground, and placed her folded cloak under it. Severus groaned softly.
"Evans…" he said in a pathetically hoarse whisper, "I need a remedial potion."
"I know, I've got one," she said, drawing a bottle from her pocket.
Lily unscrewed the cap of the bottle and lifted Severus' head so he could drink. She poured the potion slowly down his throat, and he spluttered as he tried to swallow, for his throat was swollen. However, the potion seemed to kick in fast, because Severus hoisted himself off the ground with a little help, staggered, and finally stood.
"How did you know?" He asked, leaning back against a tree for support.
"I noticed that James and Sirius weren't around, so I went into the boy's dormitory and found a map on the bed," explained Lily, "And when I looked at it, I saw that you, Sirius, and James were all in the forest. I knew it couldn't be good, so I grabbed a remedial potion out of the hospital wing when the matron wasn't looking and came down here as fast as I could. On my way, I overheard James saying that you were right, and he had done something terrible; he wanted to go back, but Sirius said that they'd get caught or you'd kill them. I didn't approach them 'cause I knew you were still out here somewhere, so I just came straight down to the forest. Then I found this and I knew you must be around here somewhere."
She held up what Severus recognized to be his wand. He took it from her and pocketed it, and then walked in a circle to determine whether he could make it back to the castle. After deciding that he could, in fact, walk on his own, he slumped back against the tree and closed his eyes. Lily lifted her wand and bathed him in light, and he sighed, too tired to make any comments, and too grateful that someone found him to be snide. But something did not seem right to him; if James was so sorry, then why hadn't he come back down? Severus knew that if James had come back, he would have refused his help anyway.
"You look terrible, Severus; you've been beaten horribly," Lily said, reaching up and pushing a strand of hair away from his face and behind his ear.
"I'm used to it by now," Severus replied bitterly, and yet feebly, "It doesn't hurt me anymore."
"Oh Severus," Lily said, shaking her head as her green eyes sparkled with tears, "Don't say that."
"It's true," he said without expression, and gestured to his ripped shirt, "See those four scars? That was the worst beating of my miserable life, and this doesn't compare."
Lily looked, horrified and shocked, at the long scars that ran diagonally down Severus' pale chest. She ran her finger along one of them, and then gently touched the bruise that James' shoe had left on Severus' chest. He inhaled sharply and winced at the touch, and she drew her hand away as if it had been burned. Severus looked into her eyes, breathing heavily.
"I am going to kill him," Severus said angrily, teeth clenched.
"Oh Severus, can't you see that he was sorry for what he'd done? Everyone loses their temper sometimes, and he wanted to apologize to you. In fact, I'll bet he will apologize to you tomorrow." Lily said with a look of desperation on her face.
"Fat chance," replied Severus.
There was a significant pause in which Lily watched Severus with fear in her eyes. Severus pushed himself away from the tree.
"Let's go," he said suddenly, "I can walk. You start and I'll follow."
Lily, not knowing what else to do, nodded and began to lead him out of the forest. They walked for a minute or two before reaching the edge of the forest. The two of them walked into the castle and up the stairs until they reached the infirmary. Severus and Lily stood at the door for a moment, and as Lily turned to walk away after saying goodbye, he suddenly knew.
Severus knew that if he didn't tell her what he felt for her, she might go and find someone else, so he reached up and grabbed her hand with the one that wasn't broken. She spun around, surprised, and then he did the thing he had been longing to do for the longest time. He pulled her close to his wounded, bruised body, put a hand to her face, and kissed her.
Severus had never kissed someone before, but he was truly amazed. He had often heard his roommates talking about their latest snog, but he had never expected, not in a million years, for it to be like this. She was so beautiful, and she tasted like strawberries, just as he had always imagined. However, his thoughts of perfection were broken with the taste of something warm and salty – the taste of tears. He pulled away from her, his brows furrowed in confusion, for Lily was crying.
"Severus," she whimpered, "I can't."
He stared at her.
"Severus, I never… I never knew you felt…that way. I honestly never had more than friendship on my mind, and," Lily paused to wipe a tear away with her finger, "And I'm with James. He asked me out today after you fixed my arm."
Severus stared at her numbly as the words she had just said sank into full reality.
"Go," he said harshly, his face full of frustration, "I'm here now, just go. I can take care of myself… I don't need your help."
Lily clapped a hand to her mouth and backed away from Severus, who looked incredibly frightening. She turned and ran away down the corridor, still crying, and left Severus alone.
Severus turned and numbly opened the door of the infirmary. The place was empty apart from the matron, who instantly ceased cleaning the windows and took him in. He allowed her to tend to his wounds, but he did not speak a word as she healed his wounds. When she asked what had happened, he lied.
"I climbed a tree to get my Fanged Frisbee, and I got stuck. Eventually, I fell down," he said, knowing that this could possibly be the worst excuse he had ever given.
Apparently, the matron thought so, too, but she did not press the subject. She merely tutted and told him he would be staying over night so that she could check his injuries in the morning. Severus, for a moment, was not sure why he had lied. But it seemed that by pigeon stooling James, Severus would be accomplishing nothing – or at least, nothing that meant anything to him.
She ushered him into his bed and closed the hangings, then went into her room. Once Severus heard the door click shut, he lay on the bed and stared at the white ceiling. Everything was so wrong; he could have sworn Lily felt the same way – he wouldn't have kissed her if he hadn't been sure. Then again, looking back, maybe he had just been overwhelmed by meeting someone that actually cared. Maybe if Potter had never existed, he would have had a chance.
Severus felt one hot tear slide down his face and he wiped it away viciously with the heel of his hand, disgusted with himself.
"I hate you, James Potter," he said out loud, "I hate you so much."
> > > > > >
The next day, Severus was discharged from the hospital wing with his hand bandaged. He was walking down to the great hall when someone stepped out of a passage pretending to be a solid wall and stood before him. Severus looked up from his book and saw none other than James Potter standing before him. Severus' hand twitched toward his wand, but James spoke.
"Snape!" James exclaimed hastily, seeing that Severus was going to hex him, "Hear me out, alright?"
Severus, who was about an inch taller than James, looked down at James over his nose in disgust.
"Make it quick, Potter. It just so happens that I cannot decide which hex to use on you first," Severus sneered.
Potter looked slightly taken aback, but opened his mouth to speak.
"Look, Snape, I got ahead of myself last night. I was… out of control. I'm… I'm sorry," James said, and then held out his hand, "Could we call a truce?"
Severus opened his mouth to tell James exactly where he could shove his apology when he saw Lily standing behind him in the reflection of James' glasses. Severus closed his mouth and grasped James' hand for a brief second, and then let go. He stepped around James and left, not wanting to look at Lily.
A week later, Severus sat at his desk in his Human Studies class, a class that would not be continued after this year for lack of interest. His hand was healed, as was the rest of him. Well, all of his physical injuries, at least. He could not bring himself to look at Lily and James when they walked down the corridors, hand in hand, though during these times his hand often itched for his wand so he could hex the happy couple. James and his friends had not spoken to Severus since James shook Severus' hand, probably under the request of Lily. It hurt Severus to know that he had not stood a chance, and that he would never be the one walking down the halls with Lily Evans, her fingers intertwined in his.
"Today we will be looking at some poetry by an unknown author," the professor said, interrupting Severus' thoughts of remorse, "So please open your book to page 235 and follow along. Also, because poetry is a form of art, I will permit for the reader to say the swear word in the poem."
The professor scanned the room, and his eyes came to rest on Severus.
"Uhm, alright, Mr. Snape, if you would please read the poem aloud," the professor said concludingly.
Severus groaned inwardly.
"Sir, I don't really want to," Severus said politely.
"Well, I didn't ask if you wanted to, so do it. Page 235, or I will be forced to take points from Slytherin," the professor replied a bit more sternly.
Not wanting to give his fellow Slytherins any more reason to hate him, he grudgingly opened his book and began to read without enthusiasm.
"I still recall the taste of your tears,"
Severus started, but then stopped as he felt that the poem was forcing him to relive the week before.
"Go on, Mr. Snape," Said the professor with a touch of impatience in his voice, and Severus had no choice.
"Echoing your voice just like the ringing in my ears.
My favorite dreams of you still wash ashore.
Scraping through my head 'till i don't want to sleep anymore."
Severus froze in his chair, thinking that the poem seemed to connect with him like no other had ever done. He took a breath and continued.
"You make this all go away.
I'm down to just one thing,
and I'm starting to scare myself.
You make this all go away.
I just want something,
I just want something I can never have."
Severus paused again, really not wanting to read any more. He wanted just to crawl up in the fetal position, or maybe hex the teacher into oblivion. Severus' eyes watched Lily for a moment, who was sitting straight in her chair, unmoving.
"You always were the one to show me how.
Back then I couldn't do the things that I can do now.
This thing is slowly taking me apart.
Grey would be the color, if I had a heart.
Come on and tell me."
Again, he paused, this time because he had distinctly heard a sniffle coming from the seat in front of him. In his chest, Severus' heart was like lead; he had worn his heart on his sleeve, and everything had come crashing down around him.
"In this place it seems like such a shame.
Though it all looks different now,
I know it's still the same.
Everywhere I look you're all I see.
Just a fading fucking reminder of who I used to be.
Come on and tell me."
Severus was truly and officially creeped out; he suddenly felt himself reciting the poem and not just saying it, knowing that somehow, it was a part of him.
"You make this all go away.
I'm down to just one thing,
and I'm starting to scare myself.
You make it all go away.
I just want something..."
Severus paused this time not because he heard a sniffle or because he was creeped out, but because his ability to speak had been momentarily stopped by a large lump in his throat. Lily's head was on her desk, her shoulders were gently shaking. Severus realized that her tears were for him and his sorrow and grief. He realized that nothing would ever go his way, never, and that the life he had always imagined was silently falling apart around him. He pushed a strand of greasy black hair away from his face and forced himself to admit the truth to himself once and for all.
"I just want something I can never have."
And he knew he could never forgive himself for that.
A/N: I hope that this version of the story is a bit better than the old one. I certainly think so.