Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters were used without permission. They are the copyright of J.R. Rowling and Warner Bros. They are used with consideration and with no intent to make money. My thanks to Ms. Rowling for the many hours of entertainment her writing has afforded me. And out of respect for her, will withdraw this story if anyone finds it offensive. PLEASE DO NOT copy any part of this story or use the ideas from this story in your own work. That is considered plagiarism

Ch 1

Lily placed the tip of the quill against the paper and watched the blue ink spread across the fibers of the parchment. She lifted it and did it again. It was a chance to postpone writing the words that seemed to want to fight their way onto the page. She was searching her heart and knew the answer to her own question before it ever formed completely; she knew she loved James.

She also loved his friends, Remus, Sirius and Peter, each in their own way. She'd become part of their world and adopted as their friend. She knew it would be a lifelong friendship, almost like family. Lily welcomed this for she knew that she had no family left anymore. Her own parents, at least her mother and her sister, were ashamed of her, afraid of her. Her father had been the only one who had understood. She had left them all and hadn't seen them since she had started Hogwarts. She sat musing on that. Like Sirius, she had abandoned her family. It was not something she had wanted to do and it still hurt deeply.

Lily stared out at the Hogwarts grounds and the people arriving for the graduation ceremony. She sat alone in Gryffindor tower while her friends gathered outside with their families. She stared out the mullioned window. Distant charcoal-blue thunderclouds were piled high in the early summer skies.

The quill dropped to the parchment again, hovering just above the surface. She pushed back the sleeves of the scarlet-red and gold graduation robe and began to write. A faint breeze was blowing through the partially opened window and stirring her chestnut-colored hair.

Dearest James, she wrote carefully, making curls of each letter. You stole my heart, and I love you dearly. Before I can make a life with you there is something that I have to do…

The quill scratched in the silence of the room and she glanced periodically out of the window to make sure that she would be on time. The grounds were emptying as people spilled into the castle and gathered in the Grand Hall.

I must try at least one more time to make contact with my parents, tell them of our marriage and to warn them of the danger. I can at least make sure they understand that Voldemort is attacking muggles. I could not live with myself if they were harmed because of me, especially after what happened….

Lily looked down and examined the contents of her trunk, which lay at her feet. Her entire life could be read in each item that she had carefully packed. There was very little there that spoke of her muggle background except for the picture in the simple frame, a picture that did not move. Her parents and her sister were sitting in a triangle, not smiling at the photographer. She was not part of the picture, and never have been, she thought. Her father had been supportive, but in the Evans household it was her mother's opinion that had always counted and Lily knew that they had been happy to have her attend Hogwarts because it would mean that she would be out of the house.

Lily turned to the paper stretched out over the desk and read it over, shaking her head. It wasn't like her to not copy the page after making such a mess of it. 'But it's too late,' she considered as she dropped the quill to the paper once again.

.Our world is falling apart because of this monster. I've heard that he has even killed muggles and I have to make sure that my family is on guard; that they understand.

Lily shook her head even as she wrote. They aren't going to understand. Dad will try and be sympathetic but mother will argue him down and he'll agree with her just to shut her up. Lily remembered all the times he'd tried to stand up for her.

The one and only victory had been the day she'd gotten her letter from Hogwarts. That was seven years ago and she remembered how he had taken her to the station, kissed her goodbye, and she had stepped through the wall onto Platform 9 ¾ all by herself. She remembered his parting words; "Be brave my sweet girl. The world is a hard place, but there is beauty in it too. Just try to do the right thing."

I know that you will worry, James. Just know that no matter what, my heart is always with you

Looking at the letter, she hurriedly signed her name, writing Lily at the bottom. Not Love Lily, or With All My Heart, Lily- just, Lily. If she had written anything else James would not have recognized it. She was just, Lily, and always had been. Then rolling the parchment up she rose from her chair.

The invitations to her wedding were rolled neatly and stacked on the table next to her bed. They were on white parchment tied with silver ribbon and stamped with pink wax and a lily-of-the-valley flower seal. She laid the parchment inconspicuously on top of the stack, let her hand trail over the invitations and then moved out of the room quickly. The letter would be sent after graduation and just before she gathered her belongings and moved in with the Potters.

It was late in the evening when she walked up the cement walk to the house of her parents' house, dressed in muggle clothes and carrying a small valise. The hot glow of the setting sun was reflected in the crystal clean windows of the two story house. The porch was empty and she could hear the sound of the television set blaring from the front room. The windows were wide open allowing the summer air to enter and cool. Lily hesitated at the door, wondering if she should knock or walk in.

She grasped the suitcase tighter wondering if she'd even be allowed to stay the night or if she would have to Apparate back to Hogsmeade to stay in an Inn. She was searching her heart when the front door opened unexpectedly. It was her sister, Petunia.

The non-descript gray eyes recognized her immediately and the mouth thinned out into a line. Lily stared at her and thought, 'You look just like mother.'

"What are you doing here?" Petunia hissed. She carried a purse and had a sweater over her arm; it was clear she was leaving.

Lily set the valise down on the porch and smelled the aromas of dinner wafting towards her from the open door. "Hello Petunia."

Petunia smirked and looked back into the darkened house, stepped out and let the screen door slam behind her. Lily could see her sister 's desire to torment her written on her face.

"You are not welcome here," Petunia said, and stared out across the lawn, leaning against the painted railing of the porch.

Lily nodded and felt the strong desire to reach out and touch Petunia on the arm. "I'm sorry you feel that way," she said wanting to call her by the name she had used when they were small children, long before their mother had had the opportunity to teach her sister how to be bitter and envious. "I may not see you again for a while sis. But I came because I wanted to tell them," she looked at the door, "that I'm getting married. And…and that there are some troubles brewing…and to…to be careful." She could hear the sounds of the TV and the bluish glow from it emanated out from the corner of the sitting room. She wasn't watching Petunia's expression.

Lily turned back to her sister. Petunia was studying her up and down. Lily saw the kaleidoscope of expressions; of fear, anger, envy and something else; something just barely visible- a yearning. Lily caught it. She stepped forward and Petunia didn't move away. "I missed you Pet."

Petunia flinched and shook her head. For a moment she looked sad and then regrouped and stepped away. She raised her chin and said haughtily, "I'm also marrying in a month."

Lily smiled slightly, "Are you? How wonderful for you!" She reached out awkwardly as if to hug her and Petunia ducked her shoulder to avoid the touch. Lily dropped her arms. A car pulled up to the curb and a man waved. Petunia started down the steps. "Pet, don't ever forget…" Lily began in a whisper.

Petunia hesitated at the bottom step but didn't turn. "That I love you," Lily finished. She watched as her sister continued walking towards the car and climbed in. It pulled away with the taillights glaring back like two red angry eyes in the deepening twilight.

Lily turned and stared at the screen door. Taking a deep breath she opened it and stepped in.

She left ten minutes later in the taxi that pulled up to the house. She watched the front door as the car pulled away, turning only as the car took the corner. She did not see the dark figure that stepped from between the houses; it was darker than the shadows that were growing and lengthening between the buildings. Moments later a green light flashed eerily through the windows.

A neighbor across the street caught sight of it and stared through her white starched curtains. The neighbor shook her head and thought, Must be watching something strange on the telly tonight. She would, however, remember the color of the light when the police arrived later in the evening after she had rang them up. A shriek had blasted her from her bed. I know that voice, the neighbor thought, her heart pounding in her chest, that's Petunia Evans.

Lily was stepping into the Leaky Cauldron when a hand pulled her into the shadows.

"Who? What?" she gasped, taken by surprise. "Severus, you frightened me!"

The figure of the boy was barely recognizable; he was cloaked all in black and only the paleness of his skin allowed her to see his features in the gloom. A misty fog was rolling around the street at knee level and the street lamps were just coming on.

"What is it Severus?" She shivered in the sudden chill.

"You were followed tonight Lily," he mumbled, stepping in close.

Lily had established a strange kind of friendship with the boy that James and Sirius, Remus and Peter had never liked. She had always felt that there was something beneath the surface, beyond the poor grooming and churlish manner. She'd invested time over many months in getting him to talk to her. Now he was here.

"How did you find me?" she gasped, and then, "What do you mean I was followed?"

"It's too late," Snape groaned, "He found your parents. He's been there already." The dark smoky eyes lowered and avoided hers.

The light from the overhead street light was beaming down a sickly yellow on his face. Lily heard the words, and then, understood them. She started to turn and he grabbed her by the arms.

"No!" He held her as she struggled to break free. "Listen to me, listen to me!" He shook her roughly and his fingers bruised her flesh. 'They are gone. He…the Dark Lord killed them."

Her thick heavy hair fell over her face as she tried to pull away. Her hands were clenched into fists pulling at his clothing, tearing at him and yet he held on. She reached up and tried to scratch him. He spun her around and pulled her into his belly and a tight hug.

Someone stepped into the street from the pub and Snape pulled her into the nearby alley, almost carrying her; hugged her close, talking quietly into her ear. "Stop! You must stop struggling or I will have to silence you. I don't want to hurt you Lily." He'd searched his robe for his wand with one hand as she went to her knees and broke his feeble grasp.

She felt the wrenching sobs as they tore from her throat. "No, no…" she gasped. "It can't be. I was just there!" The faces of her parents swam before her eyes, her mother's surprised expression as she walked through the door and her father's evident pleasure and joy at seeing her.

Then there had been the fight and argument. Her mother's words, "If you've come back home then you are not welcome. You're old enough to be on your own now, Lillian. You have your…your own ways, your own people." Lily saw her father's sad expression and she felt her heart sink.

Snape crouched down in the dark beside her. "The Dark Lord is going after anyone that sympathizes with Dumbledore. You were too outspoken Lily. You and anyone around you became a target."

"But why not me?" she cried. They were in the darkness of the alley and she had reached for his robes and pulled him closer. "I was there. Why didn't he kill me? Why did he go after my parents?"

There was silence and Lily looked into the dark eyes across from her. Severus finally spoke, "He wanted it to hurt."

Lily looked at her own pale hands grabbing at his robe and then jerked her head up. "Did he send you to deliver the message?" she snarled.

He drew back in horror, gasping, "No, no. I am not his servant!"

She turned loose and sat back in the damp earth on the side of the alleyway, suddenly suspicious. "No?" she asked calmly. "Then how would you know what he did?"

Snape was on his knees, leaning back on his heels and the hand holding his wand dropped to his lap. "I followed you."

She sat staring at him in shock. She knew what he was saying, something he had never shared. She knew that he cared about her. Her elbows rested on her knees and her hands knotted in her hair. Overwhelmed and in pain she squeezed her eyes shut and pounded on her head. He killed them! her internal voice screamed at her.

"I have to go back…" she began, choking on her feelings of anguish.

He was shaking his head even before she spoke. "You cannot go to them. The muggle law enforcement people are there. They think that you killed them."

Lilly looked up slowly, astounded. "Me?!"

He nodded. "Your sister found them…"

"Aghhhhh!" she cried, bursting into tears and rocked, holding herself against the newest onrush of pain.

They stayed that way for a long time, Severus kneeling helplessly in front of her and she wailing silently at the moon as it rose over the fence. The damp fog swirled and danced around them like a party of waltzing ghosts.

An hour later she stood and waited until he got to his feet. "I'm going after Voldemort!" she said.

Snape was again shaking his head.

"I will do this, Severus, and you will help me find him."

"You escaped tonight," he said. "He did this because you revealed to the world that he is half-muggle. But you will not escape if you pursue him."

Lily knew what he was saying. Her letter to the Daily Prophet was in defense of people like her who were being forced into the open and harassed by the pureblood community. She had been protected because she was at Hogwarts, but she had watched older witches and wizards tormented out in the wizarding world.

James, Remus, Sirius and Peter had all argued against speaking out. But then you are all purebloods, she had thought at the time. They had always been sympathetic but had never really understood. Sometimes discrimination was so subtle and yet so harmful. The wizarding world had even started using a term for 'her' kind. They call us Mudbloods, she thought. Even the young man in front of her had used it. It was such an ugly word.

With her usual diligence she had researched the history of Tom Riddle, also known as Voldemort. People were becoming more and more fearful of him every day. Atrocities were now credited to him without any denial on his part. Lily had sent the letter to the Daily Prophet. "People need to know," she told James when he argued with her. "He's dangerous. "

"Yes, Lily he is dangerous," James said. "And there are people who know it. Let them take care of this. We are still in school. We have no business getting involved in these affairs. There are older wiser wizards who know how to handle him."

She had shaken her head in disbelief. "How can we all just watch him do this? They say he's even using the unforgivable curses! The ministry is doing nothing!"

He tried to pull her to him. Lily remembered it. She had been angry with him for taking the situation so lightly.

Now she stood in the dark alley shivering not only from the chill in the air but from her rage. Severus stood before her.

"He's a deadly predator and we are the prey," she said, her teeth chattering. "I have to make sure my sister is safe and then I'm going after him.

"You can't do it Lily," Snape said, his voice low and cold. "He is too powerful a wizard."

"He's going to grow more powerful if someone doesn't stand up to him," she almost shouted into his face. He stepped back, anguish etched on his features.

She saw it and stopped. "I'm sorry. I am, really. I know that your parents support him. You have enough to be dealing with at home."

"I have something I have to show you," he said. He stood in his black robes, in the fetid depths of the alley and turned his face away from her. "I could not stop it from happening, you must believe me," he groaned.

"What is it Severus?" she asked, her voice suddenly gentle. She thought of the many times that she had coaxed and gently urged him to speak to her. It had been difficult. Severus was inherently paranoid and distrustful of her since she was always with James and the others. Lily reached out now, her hand unsteady. "Tell me."

He stuck his arm out so that the light of the street lamp shone on it and the rest of him remained in the darkness. It created an illusion of a detached arm hanging in thin air. Slowly the sleeve was pulled up until it revealed the rail-thin arm. Emblazoned on it was a skull that was so vividly etched there that it appeared to be smoking as if recently branded into the skin.

"What…What?!" she cried in shock and stepped back. "It's his mark! It's his mark Severus!" Her voice was loud and strident.

"Shhh!" he said and stepped out into the light quickly pulling his sleeve down. "They made me take it tonight."

"Who? Who made you take it?" she asked, feeling suddenly feverish and ill. "Oh Severus!"

"It doesn't mean anything Lily," he argued, his thin face frowning. "He can't make me do anything."

She studied the face before her, suddenly afraid for herself and for him. "Nobody believed me. He's taking over, he's taking control. He's doing it out in front of everyone and… and in secret too. It's true isn't it?"

Severus nodded.

"My parents?" she asked.

"He has drawn up a list. He has followers that he calls his Death Eaters," he said quietly and reached for his arm, holding it where the mark was. "When he wants us, he summons us with this."

She stared at him in horror. "You are to do his dirty work for him?"

He nodded again, and replied, "Those are his plans."

"Tonight…" She couldn't go on, her heart was beating rapidly wondering if the young man in front of her had betrayed her. "You…"

He shook his head violently. "I followed you Lily, only you. He didn't send me. I didn't know he was going there."

"What about other people? James, Remus, Peter and their families?" She reached out once again and shook him. "Are they on the list too?"

"Eventually," Severus began. "But it's you and others who have tried to embarrass him in public. There are still wizards who just play lip-service to him, and they are to be dealt with later." The boy dropped his head, his hands folded together in front of him. He was so still he looked like a statute.

She thought about what he was saying and the feelings of guilt threatened to once again overwhelm her. Lily pinched her nose and wiped away the moisture there and from her eyes with the back of her hand. She stared out towards the dark street, growing ever more angry. "He's evil, Severus. Trust me, he will be known as the most evil wizard ever known in our time. He just destroyed what family I had and he's marked you. Will you follow him or will you help me?"

"I will not help you to find the Dark Lord," Severus said shaking his head in sorrow. "He would kill us both without hesitation, as he did with your parents this evening."

"Then at least help me protect my sister," Lily pleaded. She drew closer. From afar they looked like two lovers standing in the alley. She looked into his eyes and held his hands. "If you feel anything for me you will help me with that at least."

He stared at her hands clasped around his and nodded slowly. He finally looked back at her. "There is something," he breathed. "But it is dark magic, Lily. It will protect your sister and…and any children that you bear," he choked on the words, "but it will not protect Potter. It is a blood charm. It is only for those that are related to you."

She nodded eagerly. "Yes, yes. That's it. I trust that you will do what you need to do."

He glanced down the alley at the street that was dimly lit by the single lamp. The eerie shrieking of the pub sign swinging in the breeze sent chills down Lily's back and she shivered involuntarily. Both of them knew that they were entering dangerous territory.

Severus sighed deeply. "I am very inexperienced, Lily. It could go horribly wrong."

She looked back at him, their hands still clasped. "I know it in my heart that this man is evil beyond all measure. Nothing will stop him, Severus. I am deeply saddened that he has placed his mark on you, and I will never forgive him for that and what he has done to my family. But I warn you now; this will not be the end of it, it will be only the beginning. I am not afraid for myself. I am afraid that no one is taking this seriously. Whatever steps we take tonight will have consequences, I know that; but I believe in you." She withdrew her hands and stood straight. "Remember that, Severus. If there ever is a moment in your life when you feel that no one believes in you or that you cannot believe in yourself-then remember my words."

She took his hand and started walking to the street to more clearly see his face. They stood a moment under the street lamp in the circle of light.

"An oath then; to each other." She took out her wand and tapped it twice against her palm "May my blood spill on the ground before I betray my friends. We will always stick together and fight him for as long as we live."

Severus took out his own wand, taking the second oath he would take this evening; this one willingly. He spoke the words and the two clasped hands once again and then stepped apart. "In two days I will be ready with the incantation and potion," he said, head down.

Lily nodded." Don't make it longer. My sister is in danger." She turned to leave. "And Severus?"

"Yes?" he responded.

"She must never know," Lily said, knowing that what she was about to do would cost her dearly. She heard the faint pop as he Apparated as she proceeded to cross the street and enter the Leaky Cauldron.