Disclaimer: You know the drill, people! I don't own Harry Potter or the characters, setting, plot, etc, which of course is owned by the brilliant J.K. Rowling. However, the word sequencing is mine, so please, no plagiarism:)

Chapter 4- The Good Man Scorns the Wicked

Goodness knows, the wickeds' lives are lonely.

Seeing James again...it opened my eyes—it opened my eyes to how powerless I am. It resurrected my yearning for freedom and stability, and it reminded me how lonely I am. I have no one—save Severus—to depend on, to talk to, or to enjoy life with. Even then, Severus isn't a big talker.

Wouldn't you agree we take our lives for granted? Look what I had; a fiancé, a group of close friends, my parents and stupid sister, and even a career as an Auror lined up. Ironic, isn't it? Now alone, no friends, my parents are dead, and I am the personification of wickedness.

The life of a death eater isn't easy, you know.

-Lily Evans

The sky outside was clear, a few clouds dusting the landscape that morning. James Potter often wondered how it was possible the Ministry of Magic, located underground, had windows. He was restlessly leaning back in his office chair, his tie askew and his dress-shirt wrinkled, drowning out the sound of his best friend, Sirius Black, chatting away to him.

"Would you look at that? You've made the front page." Sirius Black commented lightly, throwing the Daily Prophet at James, who was intensely staring out the magical window in his office, "I'm going to start counting, you know."

James didn't answer, anxiously running his fingers through his hair.

"Oi, Prongs? Did the deatheaters addle your brains last night? Hello?" Sirius stood up and crossed the room, unkindly slapping James on the back of the head.

"What's your problem?" James barked, snapping back to reality and regarding Sirius, "I had a long night...cut a wizard a break, would you?"

"You've been off in muggleland since you got back to headquarters last night." Sirius continued, taking a seat again and staring hard at James, "Is there something you're not telling me?"

"Of course not." James replied shortly, massaging the back of his head, "I told you: I awoke in the forest hours after the encounter in the field. That... deatheater blindsided and disarmed me before I could take her to the Ministry."

"I still don't understand how your dear fiancée didn't see you." Sirius grumbled bitterly, earning a frown from James, "Nor do I understand how she ended up unconscious in your apartment."

"I don't either, so stop bringing it up." James replied curtly, feeling strangely uncomfortable discussing Marlene, "What do you have against Marlene, anyway? You've never seemed fond of her, and I'm sure she's noticed."

Sirius looked up at his friend uncertainly, almost hesitant to answer, "She's no Lily Evans."

James felt a knot in his stomach tighten at the mention of Lily: He couldn't stop thinking about her, wondering if she'd received the wrath of Voldermort or if she was hurt. He must've devised hundreds of faulty ways to recover her from the Dark Lord; the thought of her alive and a deatheater had been driving him mad all morning...

"I know, Padfoot." was all James said, taking him off guard; Sirius had expected him to defend Marlene.

"But listen, mate, I know you love her—" Sirius began uneasily.

"I don't want to talk about it, Sirius." James abruptly cut him off, inwardly reprimanding himself for sounding angry, "Look, I've got lots of paperwork to finish and—"

"Hello, boys!" Marlene McKinnon chirped happily, suddenly popping her head into James' office with a dazzling smile upon her face, "Glad you're both here; I've the date of our next Order meeting."

"Why don't you just announce it to the whole Ministry?" James demanded in angry disbelief, glaring at his betrothed as he got up and shut the door behind her, "The Order is a secret, try and keep it that way, would you?"

"Sorry James..." Marlene murmured in befuddlement, taken aback by James' uncharacteristic fury, "I didn't mean...anyway...tonight, 6:00 o'clock, basement of Hogshead. It concerns our next assignments."

Marlene stood at the doorway, unmoving; she seemed to be expecting something.

"Anything else?" James asked unkindly: He was still resentful that Marlene's intrusion into his apartment was the reason for Lily's quick departure the night before, "I don't exactly have time to stare at you all day."

"Well...I just thought I'd suggest we have drinks tonight—"

"Out of the question. I have too much work, plus this Order meeting." James explained quickly, oblivious to Marlene's crestfallen expression, "See you later, alright?"

Without another word, Marlene stormed out of James' office, hurt and anger apparent on her face. Sirius watched in silent awe as the situation unfolded, turning to his friend incredulously, "Wake up on the wrong side of the broomstick this morning?"

"I just don't have time." James insisted, frustration welling in his stomach as Lily continued to dominate his thoughts, "I...I need some time to think, Sirius. I'll see you at the meeting tonight, alright?"

"See you at the meeting." Sirius nodded emotionlessly, turning to leave, than stopping at the door, looking severe, "Look Potter, I've known you since you were eleven. I know when something is bothering you. I'm not stupid."

James sighed and ran his hands through his hair in frustration, looking submissively up at his friend, "I'm fine, Sirius."

Sirius exited James' office without another word, leaving him with his thoughts about his lost love.

He wasn't fine. Not even close.

A fowl stench wafted about the stone-walled, windowless room Severus Snape inhabited. It was lit by a few cheap candles dribbling wax and contained shelf upon shelf of dusty bottles and old instruments. In the middle of the rectangular room was a shabby table constructed of chopping block, a simmering pewter cauldron atop it. There Snape sat in the dark, carefully fingering through ancient looking scripts whilst stirring the potion he was meticulously working on.

He could barely concentrate, his thoughts awry. His flawless hands were clammy from grasping his stirring spoon too tightly and—to his annoyance—his black hair fell over his eyes, giving him a fatigued appearance. Snape dropped his spoon and ran a spidery hand through his unmanageable hair, sweat beading on his forehead.

Suddenly, the door cracked open, light spilling in, and a hooded figure entered and disappeared behind a bookshelf. Snape immediately rose from his seat, his keen black eyes critically sweeping over the room. He did not raise his wand in defense; instead, with the flick of his wrist the door was shut and sealed, submersing the room back into gloom.

"What is that you're making?" Lily Evans appeared stealthily behind Snape—her hood down—and approached the table, "Looks to me like bruise-removal paste. What do you need that for?"

"He has not harmed you?" Snape asked sceptically, more emotion than usual permeating in his voice as he grabbed Lily's wrists and pulled back the sleeves of her cloak, revealing unmarked skin—save her dark mark, "What happened? You never returned to Spinner's End."

Lily looked troubled as she dropped into Snape's chair and grabbed the ladle on the table, idly twirling it between her fingers, "It was just me and the Dark Lord in the room...not even Lucius was permitted to be there while he questioned me."

Snape dropped to his knees and turned the chair toward him, boring into Lily's emerald eyes, "Just the two of you? Did you stick to the story? Did you practice Occlumency?"

"Yes...I did everything." Lily said, her mouth twitching into a frown and her eyes beginning to well up, "It was strange...he seemed to believe what I was telling him right from the start. He was in an unnaturally good mood...very pleased that I had returned and not been captured."

"Did he ask you many questions?" Snape continued to probe, an uneasiness settling in his stomach.

"Just what had happened...if I recognized any Aurors." Lily whispered, her gaze dropping to the ground, "I said I'd been knocked unconscious in the forest and when I'd awoken I'd apparated back to headquarters. Mentioned I saw Marlene McKinnon and that it had been her who had cursed me."

"I see..." Snape whispered, pausing for a moment to cross the room and extract an ingredient from one of the many shelves, "His reaction unsettles me. As you are aware, he punishes death eaters for the smallest of mistakes. That he has spared you...it makes me very suspicious. He is never so lenient."

"You wanted him to hurt me?" Lily voiced sceptically, her emerald eyes questioning as they matched Snape's black, indistinguishable ones.

"No. However, it is what I expected." Snape said slowly, motioning his head toward the bruise-removal potion he had busied himself brewing, "Why did you not return to tell me this last night?"

"The Dark Lord requested I stay at headquarters. Apparently I will be assisting in a new operation that will be designed this afternoon: I dread finding out what this mission will be." Lily sighed, folding her arms on the table and resting her head atop it, "I hope I won't be working with Bellatrix or Rodolphus."

Snape rose to his feet, his passive face suddenly mangled in quiet apprehension, "Are you certain he intends you to go on this mission?"

Lily looked taken aback by Snape's anxious reaction, "Yes, it's what he said. What do you know of it?"

Snape scowled and turned away from the concerned girl, trying to hide the mixture of worry and antagonism plaguing his face. He knew the Dark Lord had plans for Lily, but he could not ascertain what they were. Snape feared Lily's mistake the previous night would be her undoing...

"The Dark Lord has been planning to infiltrate the Department of Mysteries for months. There is something there he wants, though I know not what it is. He intends to go himself, along with Malfoy, Rockwood and Crouch." Snape whispered dangerously, knowing he could suffer greatly for telling Lily top secret information, "I don't know what purpose you will serve. You were not originally intended to go."

Lily's heart caught in her throat, her eyes widening in horror, "The Dark Lord himself is going? And Malfoy...Rockwood...they are some of his highest ranking death eaters. Why would he not ask you to go, rather than me?"

"The Dark Lord does not require my talents." Snape replied curtly, stiffening as Lily distractedly paced past him and accidentally brushed up against his hand, "He...he likely needs your charm-work."

Snape carefully watched Lily—whose face suddenly became transparent with resentment—swiftly cross the room and head for the door. Before she opened it, she looked over her shoulder at Snape, her eyes raw with guilt and pain, "I wish he'd killed me today."

Snape stared back at her, unblinking. When she closed the door, he angrily pushed all the contents of the table to the floor, rage coursing through his veins.

After three years, Lily had just begun to except her fate—just started to emerge from her protective shell. Snape could see the school girl he had observed from afar awakening again; yet now, she was slipping back into the self-loathing, broken women she had been when she was first forced to become a deatheater—the cold, emotionless girl that wanted death over power.

Snape slammed his fist against the table, his eyes ablaze. He knew exactly whose fault it was.

James Fucking Potter.

Author's Notes

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-pratty prongs princesse