Time was running out.
And for whatever strange reason, he was here, Lily's son. Severus couldn't be sure that the boy would even bother to look at the memories he had given him, couldn't be sure that anyone would care enough to want to know the truth.
But he was here. It was all he had. All he would ever have.
Snape's black eyes narrowed slightly as he concentrated, as he tried to burn the image into his retina, into his soul. Green eyes. Lily's eyes.
The image hung in front of his mind's eye, even as his body went slack, even as the boy got up and left. He expected it would fade to black any second now, ebbing away with his life.
Instead, a silvery light materialized around them, becoming more solid by the minute, taking on substance, taking on color and texture.
Fair skin, slightly freckled. Red hair. A straight nose and a small chin.
"Lily?" he whispered.
"No." The figure kneeling next to him shook her head regretfully as she reached out to gently touch his face.
"Then what are you?"
"I am what you want. What you need me to be." She trailed her hand lightly over his cheek, then over his neck. The wounds the snake's fangs had left closed up without a trace. "How do you feel?"
"Fine," he said in surprise. The agony of Nagini's poison coursing through his body had stopped. So had the awful, bone-crushing cold. He was warm now, comfortable. "Am I dead, then?"
"Yes," she answered. "And no."
He paused. "So what happens next?"
The woman stood up and held out her hand. "You come with me."
It felt right. She might not be Lily, but she was Lily the way he'd dreamed she would be. There was to her the feel of comfort, of kindness, of acceptance, of love. More than he had ever had from the real woman.
Taking her outstretched hand, he stood up as well. "Where are we going?"
"Further up and further in." She smiled at him. Lily's smile. Her fingers closed tightly around his as her face grew serious. "You've fought so long and so well, Severus. You've served the Light faithfully. Yet your own life has been darkness and misery and pain." Green eyes full of warmth looked up into his. "Now you'll find out what the real Light is like. It's beautiful. You'll see."
"Will you stay with me?"
She nodded. "I will. Always. – Are you ready?"
"Then kiss me." She stood quietly, a small smile parting her lips, waiting. Hesitantly he bent down as her face, lit up with expectancy, tilted toward his.
Their lips met. He kissed her slowly – a gentle kiss, filled with wonder, a kiss made of waiting for close to thirty years. As he kissed her, the dark shack around him grew lighter and lighter, the dirty walls disappearing in a glow that grew more intense with each passing moment.
He could feel her arms closing around him as the brightness built and built, and just as the light swallowed them up in a wave of radiance, he could feel her lips move against his, whisper soft, could feel the smile as she spoke.
A/N: "Further up and further in" is from the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.