A/N: We've reached the end, my dear readers. This rewrite has been enlightening, and I only wish it had been done after I read On Writing by Stephen King, which has been quite helpful in the art of improving my work. Oh well. thanks for sticking around, thanks for reviewing, thanks for everything!
Disclaimer: I own nothing. If I did, this ship would exsist in the canon world and cause an uproar in book seven.
Chapter Four - That Awful Boy
Lily sat in the kitchen of her house by herself four months later. Petunia was in the sitting room, watching TV, but the two sisters hardly spoke anymore anyway. Lily had graduated with the rest of her class but had not seen nor heard of Severus since their sorrowful parting. She often wondered where he was, but she knew not where to find him and knew better than to apparate at his side. Lily wondered if Severus had been hurt, or if he had left her, or if he was working hard trying to earn money. The doorbell rang and she nearly jumped out of her skin. Petunia made to get off the settee, but by that time Lily had already gotten up and was heading towards the door.
"I got it," Lily announced dully, and opened the door.
Standing there, draped in long black robes and looking grave, was Severus. Lily gasped and threw herself upon him in a tight embrace. Severus didn't hug her back, however, and this scared her.
"Come in, Severus!" Lily said hastily and stepped back to allow him entry.
He moved swiftly into the house, robes billowing behind him, and she closed the door slowly, not exactly knowing what to say or do. Petunia looked up quickly at him, back to the TV, and then did a double-take. She turned off the TV and stalked out of the room, as if having Severus in her house had offended her in some way. Lily offered Severus a seat and he took one with a word of thanks, and she sat down next to him. She could tell that he was bearing ill news; his troubled echoed in the wake of his silence as if he had been yelling.
"How are you, Severus?" Lily asked quietly.
He clasped his hands convulsively together on the table and stared down at them as if they were mildly entertaining.
"I was visited shortly after I got back to my house," he said, still staring at his hands, "by the Dark Lord himself."
Lily gasped, not noticing nor caring that Petunia was listening on the other side of the wall with interest.
"What did he want?" Lily pressed.
"He wanted me to join his Death Eaters."
"I can't believe it!" Lily exclaimed. "You didn't say you would, did you?"
Severus said nothing, but kept his eyes on his hands. Lily clasped her hand over her mouth in horror.
"I can't believe you!" She shouted.
"He threatened me," Severus said, "with you."
"Yes. You're incredibly gifted with potions, you know, and would be incredibly valuable to him. And then he knew about our relationship somehow, don't ask me, I don't know how, and he threatened to set the dementors on you if I didn't comply. I don't think he expected me to object at all at first; everyone knows that I was famous for being fascinated with the Dark Arts at school. Do you know what dementors are, Lily?"
Severus looked up at Lily for the first time and she swallowed uncertainly.
"Yes and no," she said, "I've only heard so much about them – you know people don't like to discuss them in school."
"They're among the most terrible creatures that walk this earth," Severus said coldly. "They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban, and suck the happiness and life out of anyone who comes too close. They'll kiss you if they get the chance."
"Kiss you?" Revulsion was etched on Lily's beautiful features.
"The dementor's kiss," Severus said with grim relish, "is when they suck your soul out through your mouth. It's said to be nearly impossible to watch and hardly ever done."
"So they kill you?" Lily said, astounded.
"No, you can live without your soul, but you are just an empty shell," Severus said, "It is a fate worse than death. Needless to say, I did not need telling twice. I agreed right at once as if I had been dreaming about it for years and the Dark Lord was most pleased."
Lily eyed him with shock. Her gaze fell upon his arms.
"So," She said quietly, "Do you have one of those… things on you now?"
Severus nodded and pulled back his left sleeve. Lily gave another gasp and felt tears well up in her eyes as she saw the terrible Dark Mark burned upon his flesh.
"Oh Sev," Lily breathed, "What are we going to do?"
Severus looked up at her as if he had been expecting this reaction all along.
"We aren't going to do anything," Severus said, rolling his sleeve back down to hide his Dark Mark. "I have to do as the Dark Lord says now, I am bound to him. I have come here without telling him so I can tell you this, and to end our relationship."
Lily's mouth dropped open and she felt her heart plummet.
"You can't!" She exclaimed, more tears springing to her eyes. "You can't do that!"
"No!" Lily burst into tears and slipped to the floor upon her knees.
"The Dark Lord would have you worse than killed!"
"Then let him come!"
"No! I couldn't let that happen! You must move on in life – you can't hold on forever!"
"But I love you!" Lily choked, sobbing and staring up at him through curtains of fiery hair.
Severus rose from his chair and turned his back to her. He strode swiftly to the door and opened it.
"Exactly," He said quietly, and walked outside, leaving a sobbing Lily Evans by herself to cry on the kitchen floor, knowing that they would never meet again.
They say that it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, but Severus was not sure that he agreed with that statement. If he had never loved Lily Evans, he probably would have joined the Death Eaters anyway and would have saved himself the pain and sorrow of walking away. But the one thing that Severus knew now was that walking away was his only option for dear love's sake.
Severus stumbled into the Headmaster's office with a half-empty bottle in his hand. Dumbledore stood up from his desk and hurried over to Severus. Severus swayed on the spot and Dumbledore managed to coax him into a chair. They both sat down, Severus in front of the desk and the Headmaster at his normal spot.
"I have a feeling that I know why you are here," Dumbledore said calmly.
With shaking hands, Severus raised the bottle to his lips and drank deeply. He slammed the bottle back down on the desk and coughed manically. Dumbledore looked slightly disgusted for a moment, but then drew his wand.
"I think," Dumbledore said with a flick of his wand and the bottle disappeared. "That you have had enough," He flicked his wand again and a glass of water appeared on the table in front of Severus. "To drink."
Severus hiccupped and let his head fall down on the desk in front of him. His breathing was heavy and his chest heaved. He looked quite a mess; unshaved, with his hair all over the place and his eyes bloodshot; he looked as if he hadn't showered in a while and was unseemly intoxicated. Though his appearance was frightful and he was drunk beyond approachability, Dumbledore allowed him to sit before him.
"Talk to me, Severus," Dumbledore said quietly, his fingertips touching together in front of his face.
When Severus spoke, his words were slurred and clumsy.
"The guilt," Severus said slowly, "The guilt is eating me alive. I wish to live no longer. I can't."
"The prophecy," Dumbledore said quietly, though he sounded grave.
Severus picked up the glass of water and drank deeply, then nodded as he did so. Water splashed down his front, seeping through his black robes. He didn't seem to notice that he had done so, however.
"I joined to protect her," Severus slurred tearfully, resting his head on his arms. "I joined because I loved her. And now I've killed her."
He broke down and began to sob uncontrollably on the desk. This startling image did not seem to faze Dumbledore, however, for he patted Severus on the arm and sighed.
"How often we destroy the things we love," Dumbledore said dolefully. "But you can get out of this with your life, Severus. You were placed here, as I understand, to spy on me for Voldemort?"
Severus twitched at the name, but sniffed and nodded without raising his head from his arms.
"Then stay here, Severus," Dumbledore said. "Stay here and ease your grief. I am sure that Lily would have understood that you had no idea what relaying the prophecy would have done. If you work for the Order you can begin to change your fate."
"It took her years, but she eventually moved on and married Potter. But I loved always her, Albus, even after she got married. I loved her," Severus choked, "And I still do."
"I know you do, Severus," Dumbledore said sadly, "I know."
"And what the ruddy hell are dementors?"
"They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban," said Aunt Petunia.
"How d'you know that?" Harry asked her, astonished.
Petunia looked quite appalled with herself. She glanced at Uncle Vernon in fearful apology, then lowered her hand slightly to reveal her horsey teeth.
"I heard – that awful boy – telling her about them – years ago," she said jerkily.
"If you mean my mum and dad, why don't you use their names?" said Harry loudly, but Aunt Petunia ignored him. She seemed horribly flustered.
Narcissa began to cry in earnest, gazing beseechingly all the while at Severus.
"That's because he is sixteen and has no idea what lies in store! Why, Severus? Why my son? It is too dangerous! This is vengeance for Lucius' mistake, I know it!"
Severus said nothing. He looked away from the sight of her tears as though they were indecent, but he could not help but remember another woman that had cried on the floor for fear of losing someone that they loved. He wondered painfully what it would have been like to have his own son; would he have done the same as Narcissa, and beg to save his son's life? He would never know, for the time in which it was possible for him to be wed and love freely had passed.
"And you'd turn my inventions on me, like your filthy father, would you? I don't think so… no!"
Harry had dived for his wand; Severus shot a hex at it and it flew feet away into the darkness and out of sight.
"Kill me then," panted Harry, the boy that had caused him more grief than Voldemort himself, "Kill me like you killed him, you coward –"
Severus was thrown once again back into the terrible flashbacks of his youth; giving up everything to save her; finding out the prophecy he had relayed had cost him the one thing he fought for in this miserable life; standing in the back of the Potter's funeral, cloaked and hidden; he himself on his knees in front of Lily's grave, apologizing between gasps of breath; the single white lily that he had left at her grave along with a note:
I told you so.
- Your secret admirer.
"DON'T CALL ME COWARD!"