A Loving Hatred

Disclaimer: Okay, if I owned Harry Potter, I would not be writing fanfiction and wishing I was at least a tenth as good a writer as J.K. Rowling! Nevermind, if I owned Harry Potter, I would be J.K. Rowling (I'm not).

A/N: Okay, I read Deathly Hallows, and damn, am I impressed! It was so damn good, that it made me stop writing all my Pirates of the Caribbean humor fics, and write this little tribute about Snape's love for Lily. The quotes (in italics) are from the chapter The Prince's Tale.

"After all this time?"

"Always."

Yes, Lily always. Snape had always loved her. From the minute he first saw her. Now that she was gone, every look, every gesture, every word was treasured, like a priceless gem, like a priceless emerald. Emerald… emerald green, the color of her eyes. He remembered how they had looked, trusting, fascinated, as he told her about the gift of magic she was born with. He felt a certain sense of pride at that. He was the first person to tell her about magic, and no one could take that from him.

She was the only thing he loved. His love for her was always there, in a life full of hatred, until his love for her became a sort of hatred too, a hatred directed at the whole world. But most of all, his hate was directed at James Potter. The man who finally won her. When he found out that Lily had a son, he was enraged. And yet he was glad, too. He was glad because he knew she was. Her happiness and his happiness were the same. If she was happier with James Potter than him, let her live on with Potter, as long as she was happy.

When she died, he thought he would die too. He wanted to die too. He didn't think he could live knowing that she was no longer in the world. The only thing that kept him alive was guilt. He was responsible for the death of the only woman he had ever loved. The guilt never left. He knew that had to do something. He had to fight. After that, there was no good side or bad side for Severus Snape, there was only the side Lily had fought and died for, and the side she despised. Dumbledore was the only one who helped him. He was the only one who understood.

And yet whatever Dumbledore said, love wasn't pure. Love and hatred, what was the difference? He knew that his love for Lily held too much hatred and bitterness to be pure. Love was poison, a sweet, intoxicating poison that made his head spin in a dizzy mix of hatred, jealousy, resentment, obsession… Yes, it was a poison, that never went away, but always flowed in his blood, clung to him wherever he was.

His guilt was like love too. It was part of him, and he could as easily get rid of it and cut off his head.

When he first saw her son, he saw James. Hatred blazed inside him. He enjoyed humiliating and punishing him, because it felt like having James in his power. But when Harry looked at him, he saw Lily's eyes. They seemed to be saying, What are you doing to my son, Severus? Why? And he would turn away.

"You see what you expect to see,"

Yes, in Harry he imagined he saw James, arrogant, swaggering, confident, careless, attention-seeking, hungry for fame, slightly cruel. When he really thought about it, he knew that Harry was really none of those things. He was really very much like Lily, if only he didn't look so much like James. If only Snape would let himself see Lily in Harry. He had saved Harry's life many times, all for Lily. Not for James, as Dumbledore had told Harry, but for Lily. He couldn't stand by and watch Lily's son die. At those moments, Harry wasn't James's son, he was Lily's.

"Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?"

Of course he had, he couldn't not care for Lily's son, with her brilliant green eyes and her selfless nature. It hurt to know that Harry hated him, and he wondered if Lily hated him too. But he had brought all of this about himself, made Harry hate him. There it was again, his hatred for James and his love for Lily were equally mixed in Harry.

At last, Snape understood why love was the most powerful force in the world. It was because it wasn't just love, there was no such thing as just love. It was because love was every other emotion possible combined it one.

But Harry never knew that as Dumbledore watched over him, so did his most hated teacher, Severus Snape. He would never have believed it if he had known. Yes, he had watched over and protected Harry from afar, to drown the guilt of Lily's death. It never went away, but he hoped that Lily would understand and forgive. Please, Lily! You know I did right! Did I?

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