Author's Note: This is a one-shot written in response to Snarkyroxy's request for a story featuring Snape and Dumbledore, taking place November 1, 1981, with the keyword of "why." Thanks also to Snark for beta-reading!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. JK Rowling owns the Potterverse. I'm just shamelessly feeding off of her. I make no money from my writing.
Summary: Severus returns to Godric's Hollow one day after Lily Potter dies.
At Godric's Hollow
A One-Shot by: labrt2004
The barest hint of light was starting to creep over the eastern horizon of Godric's Hollow when Severus Snape Apparated into existence under the ample shade of a gnarly oak tree. It was the time of day that most people referred to as dawn, but Severus never thought of it as such. Dawn implied hope and expectations and the sanguine belief that with each new day, better things were sure to come. For Severus, however, the first few hours of morning signified endings rather than beginnings. His nights were dedicated to bloodshed and carnage; the return of the sun simply put an end to his efforts.
This particular morning was different. Though none would have guessed unless they knew where to look, for the blithely singing birds and sparkling beads of dew upon the grass lent a deceptive air of perfection to the grove surrounding the Potter estate. As Severus surveyed the scene grimly, he was still unsuccessfully attempting to devise a reason for his own presence there.
Severus took a tentative step away from the shadows, towards the direction he thought lay the main house. Here at the Apparition boundary, Severus could see nothing but the tall fir hedges that formed the perimeter of the property, and he had nothing but his own memory from two years before to lead the way.
Severus tried to part the dense foliage, hoping that the other side of the hedge afforded a better view of the Potter mansion, but as expected, he found himself rebuffed by property warding spells. Large chunks of snow fell from the branches and Severus blinked irritatedly as they melted into cold water and obstructed his vision. He quickly put some distance between himself and the boundary; the last thing he needed was for the spells to sense his continued presence and alert Potter. Instead, after casting a spell to cover his own tracks in the snow, he turned and walked along the perimeter, which he knew would eventually lead to some sort of drive.
Pulling his cloak tightly about him, Severus bowed his head against the swirls of snow that were being driven against him by the cold December wind. It was Christmas Eve, a day one generally spent near the warmth of a blazing hearth, with one's close friends and family. Severus was never one for conventions, however, and he had chosen to spend the day trekking through the biting cold on what he knew could very well be a fruitless mission. But he knew that of all the days in the year, the chances of him succeeding were highest on this day. The holiday meant that the Potters would likely return to their family estate, where there was more cover to shelter him from prying eyes than there would have been if he had chosen to visit them in their split-level house on the outskirts of town.
Severus was now facing the main gates that formed the entrance to the estate. He peered through the ornately carved iron bars and glimpsed the sprawling manor. From this distance, he was able to make out its graceful neo-classical architecture, with its many elegant columns that formed the façade. Tendrils of smoke wafted up from the many chimneys, and outside, Severus was left to imagine what cheerful domestic scenes were unfolding around each of the fireplaces inside. The Potter house had a warmer and more gracious grandeur than that of Malfoy Manor, and as Severus took it all in, he once again felt the bitter stirrings of jealousy. Was this why she had left him? Because Potter offered a name, an estate, and all the luxurious trappings afforded by wealth?
He had tried to put her from his mind after she had announced her engagement to Potter, and with the full schedule of a newly anointed servant of the Dark Lord, it had not been difficult to distract himself. Nothing could come of a dalliance with her kind, he had told himself. Her worthlessness was apparent in her choice of husband. She had discarded all vestiges of pride when she married that arrogant, spineless fool Potter for mere material gain. This, Severus had told himself, and any number of other things, too. But still, the very thought of her always managed to bring that painful, burning sensation to his throat. She was a ghost that haunted him—he needed to put her to rest, which was why he was here now.
He took a place beneath a tree, cast a Disillusionment Charm, and waited, wand gripped tightly, just in case it was Potter that came strolling down the path rather than Lily. It was a rare chance indeed to commit murder in the absence of witnesses, he thought darkly.
An hour later, with none but his own brooding thoughts for company, Severus finally discerned activity at the front door of the house, and drawing deeper into the shadows in spite of the Disillusionment Charm, he watched as a solitary figure made its way down the path toward him. A few tense moments passed, and then with a tightening feeling in his chest, Severus saw that it was her. Lily. His Lily.
Though he had not seen her for nearly six months and had not spoken to her for close to a year, she still looked exactly as he remembered. Her fiery red hair, spilling out from underneath the fur-lined hood that she had pulled over head, was truly a sight to behold against the stark white backdrop of winter.
And then he saw it. The slight rounding of her belly that protruded from beneath her flowing robes. Severus blinked and staggered back a step as if someone had slapped him across his face. The smoldering resentment in him suddenly ignited into a hot, roaring flame of rage. Knowing she had married the Gryffindor was one thing, but seeing the evidence of their union snapped any control he had left within him. He watched as she continued to make her way down the lane, his wand hand shaking at his side.
She stopped suddenly, as if she had heard something. Her green eyes swept over her surroundings suspiciously, passing over where he stood invisible to her. Right as she whipped out a wand, Severus dove forward and grabbed her from behind, one hand carefully protecting her abdomen and the other hand slamming over her open mouth as he dragged her into the trees. To his dismay, her muffled screams, her writhing form, and the familiar scent of her body singed his already-taut nerves and awakened a hunger in him that he hadn't known in a long while.
She struggled, kicking and clawing, one booted foot narrowly missing his groin.
"Lily! Stop it!" he commanded, the words emerging from him with a flood of emotion.
She froze then, leaning stiffly against the embrace of her invisible assailant. "Severus?" she asked incredulously. Twisting about, she turned to face him, though of course she still saw nothing.
"Yes, it is me," he said, loosening his hold a little.
"You—what are you doing?" she demanded angrily now. "Let me go and for Merlin's sake, show me your form!"
"And risk getting hexed by your worthless husband?" Severus spat.
"James is not home, Severus. The nerve of you to show up at my house after you haven't spoken to me for a year and attack me like this!"
Severus hesitated, and in a flash, Lily dove for her wand, pointed it at him, and whispered, "Finite!"
He felt the Disillusionment Charm lift, and stripped of his disguise, he greeted her in the only way he knew how: a sneer. Then he quickly took his hands off her.
Lily, who never seemed to be affected by his sullenness, did not seem so now and eyed him with what appeared to be a genuinely pleased expression. "Severus! I'm so glad to know you're all right, though next time, perhaps you can just owl me and I'll meet you somewhere, instead of getting ambushed…"
Her happy chatter served only to fuel his frustration. "Once again, I remind you that you are married to Potter."
Now Lily was glaring. "I never understood why two grown men could never put their childhood grudges aside, but just so you know, James, though he still does not hold you in high regard, knows about our past and has agreed that I have the right to associate with whomever I please," she said.
"How noble of him," Severus answered disdainfully. "Is that why you married him, Lily? Because he found the generosity in his large Gryffindor heart to allow his wife to associate with the filthy, nasty Slytherin, but I wouldn't allow you to do the same with him?"
"You know that wasn't what I meant! I meant that you should…" She trailed off, as if her mind had just been shoved off course. "This…this is what it's all about, isn't it? Is this why you're here, Severus? You've still not moved past James?"
"This is not about James. This is about you. This is about you banishing me from your presence the minute you found something better—"
"I beg your pardon?" she interrupted, shrieking. "Who was the one who ignored all my owls in our seventh year? Who was the one who avoided me like the plague in the corridors? And who, may I ask, was the one who completely disappeared from Hogwarts after Easter break? I can only imagine what you left school to do, Severus, and against all better judgment, I am still speaking to you!"
Obsidian eyes flashing, Severus extended his left arm and yanked his robe sleeve up, allowing Lily to see the ugly, burnt flesh that was the Dark Mark. "Yes," he bit out. "I took the Mark. While you were out cavorting with Potter and his sycophant friends, I became rather bored."
"Don't you dare blame anyone else but yourself for your own foolishness! I did not have a role in your marking anymore than Dumbledore did! Stop running away, Severus, and stop throwing up barriers the minute someone starts to care about you!"
He was silent now. She breathed heavily, her breath emerging from her in white puffs.
Her passionate temper, the same one that gave her her illustrious reputation back in their Hogwarts days, was back in full force. And now, he was being broadsided by that breathtaking fury, by the wild beauty that for the past year, he had beheld only in his dreams. Once again, he felt nothing but aching, empty despair for what he had lost.
Extending his arms to her, he whispered raggedly, "Why, Lily, why?"
This time, she came into his embrace willingly, her slight form cradled against him just like before, her head resting in the crook of his neck.
"Severus, you wanted to possess me, not love me," she whispered softly into his shoulder. "We were wonderful friends, but when you became my lover, you could never trust me, you saw only how James was attracted to me but not how I loved you. I couldn't live like that," she finished gently. He could feel the warm moisture of her breath against his neck.
"And Potter?" he inquired, his chin coming to rest atop her head.
"Well, you wouldn't reconcile with me, and James, Remus, Sirius, and Peter were my other good friends. Naturally, I would turn to them. Then James pursued me, and he seemed decent enough and was able to provide what I needed," she answered evenly.
"He was decent, and he gave you what you needed," he repeated in a low voice. He tightened his arms around her then, and felt her breasts flatten against him. He felt the child, too, or rather the swelling in her that signified its presence, and that merely drove him further on. With almost violent force, he tilted her head back and seized her lips with his own. She emitted a surprised grunt, but then after only a moment, she acquiesced and parted her lips to admit the entrance of his hungry tongue.
He kissed her thoroughly, raking in her taste, laving the inside of her mouth as she moaned softly against him. She felt exactly as he remembered—soft, yielding, pliant to his caresses. His blood heated, and he felt his own need straining against his clothing.
When he finally ended the kiss, he found her eyes, which were now wide and hazy with desire. "Mine. You are mine," he said with conviction.
Her eyes suddenly filled with tears, and she looked away.
With one last parting stroke of her cheek, Severus Disapparated from the Potter estate.
The snow had gone, but everything else remained the same. The leaves on the trees had turned, and many had already drifted to the ground, mimicking the year's descent from autumn to winter.
Severus peered at the distant manor, empty now, looking foreboding rather than inviting,. His eyes were bleakly shadowed, as he now understood why he had come.
He realized he needed another memory, the memory of their last meeting, to force out the horror of the new ones he had just made. On the other side of Godric's Hollow, where the final battle had taken place, he had seen the charred remains of the Potter residence. Not the Potter Estate, Snape thought as he continued to gaze at the proud, magnificent mansion. The Potter Dynasty still appeared intact, but the house that had contained Lily was gone. And with it, Lily.
He tried not to think about the terror that must have been her last minutes. He had heard that she had died protecting a child. And the child had lived. Brave and defiant to the end, Severus thought, swallowing hard.
He now came upon the spot where he had held her, and they had kissed in the snow…
It took only a minute to make the decision. After all, the decision had been years in the making.
After what seemed to be an interminable amount of time spent facing his window, the headmaster finally turned and made his way back to his desk.
Severus had not moved from where he had stood in Dumbledore's office for the past hour.
Dumbledore once again scanned the contents of the letter Severus had sent.
"Why, Severus?" the headmaster asked.
"Because the Dark Lord took what was mine."
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