A/N: This fic wasn't beta'd. I really wouldn't even consider it a fic... I just wanted to write something other than SKOM, and I REALLY love the song, so I randomly wrote this thing in a matter of hours. Also, it's not exactly a songfic... It's inspired by "Gotta Go My Own Way", but rather than just posting the lyrics, I changed them a little bit and made them into a dialogue between Lily and Snape. Hence, some of the things they say to each other don't flow that smoothly. Warning: EXTREME CHEESINESS UP AHEAD.
Turned to Grey
Lily chewed her lip as her gaze swept the group of students sitting around the table for what felt like the hundredth time in the past hour. Avery, Rosier, Wilkes, Lestrange, Gibbon, and – Lily noted his presence with a shudder – Mulciber. Severus was also there, sitting right next to her, but he was too engrossed in the story Avery was telling him to pay much attention to her.
"…cried and ran off to the headmaster when she found out what I had done." Avery smirked, and all the other boys, including Severus, laughed. None of them noticed the nauseous expression on Lily's face. "Anyway, how's that curse you're working on coming along, Sev?"
"You're working on a curse?" said Lily sharply, speaking up for the first time since Severus had persuaded to join the table of Slytherins. Rosier sniggered and nudged Avery, but Lily ignored them, keeping her eyes determinedly fixed on her friend.
Severus turned to her, excitement and smugness glinting in his dark eyes. "Yeah, I am. Mulciber gave me the idea, now I've just got to perfect it. I'll test it on Potter" – he spat out the name as if it were something filthy – "when it's done. You can watch, Lily!"
Lily swallowed. "What – what does it do?" she asked, not sure if she wanted to hear the answer. Severus, however, seemed only too glad to divulge.
"Oh, well, like I said, it's Mulciber's idea," said Severus modestly. "We're trying to come up with a curse that'll cut through human flesh. He thinks we should base it on the Cruciatus Curse, since the essential ideas of both are – What's wrong, Lily?"
For Lily had stood up abruptly, causing her chair to fall over and hit the carpeted floor with a dull thud, gathered her books, and shouldered her book bag. She could feel the other members of the tables staring at her, but once again, she paid them no heed. Instead, she shot Severus the coldest look she could muster and said stonily, "I'm leaving."
Shutting her ears to Severus' protests, Lily stormed out of the study room, for once not caring that she might get in trouble with Madam Pince for making so much noise in the library. Fury brewed in the pit of her stomach, making her see flashes of red; she had not been this angry since Sirius Black switched Mary Macdonald's essence of belladonna for Erumpent fluid.
Severus was trying to invent a curse! And not just any curse – a real one, not like Levicorpus, which had only been used for harmless schoolboy pranks. Whatever Severus was working now on sounded like it had the potential to be an Unforgivable. Worst of all – and Lily's stomach turned over at the memory – Severus had sounded genuinely happy when he described his efforts. If Lily hadn't known what he was talking about, she would have thought he was on the brink of discovering a cure for dragon pox!
Fuming, Lily paced the length of the hallway outside the library twice before turning into a narrower corridor. A colourful tapestry hung halfway down the corridor, concealing a staircase that Lily knew led to another hallway two floors below. She and Severus had discovered it while wandering around the castle at the beginning of their first year.
The thought of Severus sent a pang through her heart, this one less angry than sad. How had things ended up like this, with Severus pleading his awful friends to let Lily study with them because that was the only way they could spend time together anymore? They had promised to never let anything come between them on their very first ride on the Hogwarts Express, but now Severus spent more and more time with his housemates, playing cruel jokes on other students and whispering, no doubt, about You-Know-Who. These days, Lily hardly even recognised the person Severus had become.
Lost in her thoughts, Lily didn't notice the boy standing near the tapestry until she nearly ran into him. The near collision jolted her back to the present.
"I'm so sorry, I didn't see –"
A good look at the boy she had almost bowled over cut her sentence off short. Her eyes narrowed as she took in the familiar tousled black hair, round glasses, and infuriating smirk.
"Fancy meeting you up here, Evans," said James Potter, his smirk widening. It took a great deal of effort for Lily to refrain from slapping him.
"I'm not in the mood right now, Potter," she growled, shouldering past him and continuing on her way.
Potter, however, refused to take the blatant hint. "I'm off of prefect duty right now, so why don't we take a walk around the grounds?"
"Where's the rest of your gang?" said Lily scathingly, ignoring Potter as he fought to keep up with her. "Don't tell me Black's started letting you run around on your own now. Last I heard, you were still trying to learn 'sit'."
Potter beamed at Lily, as if she had not just insulted him, and opened his mouth to reply, but just then, a distant voice called out Lily's name. Recognising it as Severus', Lily groaned and shoved Potter into the nearest stairwell. "Get out of here," she hissed at him, before turning around and hurrying back down the corridor.
They met up at the bend. Severus was breathing hard and looking like he had just run a long way, but Lily was not moved. Folding her arms, she leaned against the wall and glared up at him.
"What do you want?" she asked icily.
Severus looked rightfully abashed. Ducking his head so that his curtain of black hair partially hid his face, he said hoarsely, "I'm sorry, Lily. I didn't mean – you don't understand, that's not what I –"
Lily sighed. "I understand more than you think I do, Sev," she said quietly. She flushed when he took a step closer to her, and shook her head. "No, Sev, stop. This isn't going to work out."
"How do you mean?" he demanded, drawing back so that he could meet Lily's gaze. The green eyes found the black, and Lily felt a lump rise in her throat as she prepared to say the words she had known she would have to say someday ever since their Sorting.
"Sev, listen... I've got to say what's on my mind," she said shakily, as Severus' fingers closed tightly around her wrist. "Something about us doesn't seem right these days. Life keeps getting in the way, and whenever we try, somehow the plan is always rearranged."
In her mind's eye, she saw her fourteen-year-old self sitting with a picnic basket under a willow tree by the lake, unshed tears turning her eyes glassy as she waited for a friend she knew would not show up.
It seemed that Severus was remembering the same memory, because the little colour in his pale face drained away and a pained look came over his sallow features. Lily winced as his grip on her wrist tightened, but now that she had gotten over the barrier of the first few words, she knew she couldn't let Severus stop her until she had made him see the reality of the situation.
"I don't want to leave it all behind, but I… I can't keep getting my hopes up and watching them fall every time," she said softly, and Severus made a strangled noise, deep in his throat. Lily fought the impulse to lay a comforting hand on his arm. She had to keep going.
"And now it's like... another colour's turned to grey, and it's just too hard" – she swallowed, fighting the tears threatening to shatter her composure – "to watch it all slowly fade away."
Severus looked as though Lily had just uttered his death sentence. The expression on his face was enough to make Lily's heart wrench, but then she remembered Severus' excitement over the idea of inventing a curse simply to inflict pain on other human beings, and her resolve hardened.
"This needs to end today, Sev. I've got to do what's best for me. You'll be okay, but I… I've got to move on and be who I am. I just don't belong here." Lily gestured at the space between her and Severus, only vaguely aware of the tears now falling down her cheeks. Severus looked utterly horrified. "Don't give me that look," she added, "I know you understand."
She paused, willing herself to find the strength to not break down yet. "We might find our place in this world some day," she whispered, and again, she knew that she and Severus were thinking of the same thing: this time, a life after You-Know-Who's defeat. Severus shook his head rapidly; he tried to speak, but all that came out was a pitiful croak. Lily took the opportunity to shake his hand off, wipe away the tears blurring her vision with the sleeve of her robe, and start walking away.
"At least for now, though," she said gently, pausing a few feet away and looking over her shoulder, "I've got to go my own way."
The word "go" seemed to turn Severus' temporarily disabled ability to speak back on. He lurched forward and grabbed Lily's forearms, pulling her close to him. She tried to push him away, but his hands were like steel manacles, holding her in place.
"What about us?" he said harshly, grief reducing his voice to something barely human. "What about everything we've been through?"
"What about trust?" Lily shot back, finally managing to wrench her arms out of his iron grip.
Severus looked stung. "You know I never wanted to hurt you!"
"Then what about me?" said Lily, refusing to give in. Severus knew what she believed in and how she felt about his friends, about his participation in the sick, evil things they did.
"What am I supposed to do?" Severus pleaded.
Roused by Severus' refusal to give up his horrible obsession, Lily's earlier rage blazed into life. Clenching her fists at her sides, she turned away from him, taking deep breaths to try to still her temper. A small part of her deep down inside knew that it wasn't entirely Severus' fault. His broken family was to blame. His parents had abused him and whittled him down to a boy who'd had nothing left to turn to but the Dark Arts.
But this right now... this was all down to Severus. Lily had already given him so many chances to give up his attraction to the Dark side, and he had turned every single one of them down. How could he even dare try to bargain with her now?
Just then, Lily became aware of Severus' familiar presence right behind her. He had approached her while she was struggling to calm down, and she had not noticed. She started to turn around, but stopped when she felt his arms encircle her waist and the brush of his chest against her back. Right there in the middle of the hallway, Severus held her as he might hold a lover: gently, tenderly, as if Lily was the most precious and valuable thing in the world to him at that moment.
It made Lily's breath catch in her throat.
Her mind, however, had been made. Slowly, she covered Severus' hands with hers and leaned back very slightly against him, so that she could just barely make out his heart racing through the layers of clothing between them. "I've got to leave, but I'll miss you," she murmured.
And with that, she wrenched away from Severus and dashed down the corridor, blinded by a fresh round of tears. As she ran, she heard Severus calling out desperately, "Lily – no, please – I want you to stay!"
Her chest tightened painfully, but Lily didn't look back; she ran to the end of the hallway, stumbled up the nearest stairwell, and, for the second time that day, nearly ran straight into James Potter.
"Lily?" he said, and his tone of voice made it clear that he had been listening to Lily and Severus' conversation. He seemed to realise this, because he coughed sheepishly and ran a hand through his hair.
Lily shook her head. "Not right now, Potter," she said weakly, trying to step around him, but he grabbed onto her shoulder.
"No, wait, Lily, I'm sorry. I – I didn't mean to eavesdrop."
"But you did anyway," she snapped, though her heart wasn't in it. Sighing, she glanced at Potter's hand on her shoulder. "Go away, Potter – I need to be alone right now."
For once, Potter ignored her. "Sniv – Snape is a git, Lily, don't let him get to you," he urged. "He's not worth it."
"Oh, and you are?" said Lily sarcastically. The hurt look that flashed across his face made her regret her words almost immediately. As much as she despised James Potter and his friends, she wasn't a cruel person. "Sorry," she said quietly, looking away.
"No, it's fine, I guess I deserved that one," said Potter, smiling at her. His hazel eyes were warm and kind, two qualities Lily would never have associated with him, and in spite of it all, a small smile tugged at Lily's lips.
Potter seemed to notice the smile at once, because his eyes widened in surprise and delight behind his glasses. "Padfoot is not going to believe this!" he crowed, punching the air victoriously.
Laughter bubbled up in Lily's throat; surprised at herself, she suppressed it. Now was not the time, she reminded herself. Thinking of Severus standing in the hallway alone, staring at the spot where she had disappeared, quickly put a damper on her spirits and erased her smile.
Shrugging off Potter's hand, Lily nodded at him. "See you around, Potter," she said softly.
This time, Potter let her go, though not without a few last words. "Does this mean you'll go out with me now, Lily?" he called out, as she began ascending the steps.
Lily paused. She pretended to think for a moment, then glanced over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow at Potter's hopeful expression. "No, Potter, it doesn't. And I don't recall giving you permission to use my given name."
Potter grinned up at her. "Okay... Evans."