Chapter 21: The World

Severus was reluctantly packing, but he had at least accomplished his goal of making sure Lily Evans could go on and live a life free from evil and prophecy; at least as far as he was currently aware. It was important to him to see her alive and happy. He had always found that to be more important to him than his own happiness anyway. He had long ago resigned himself to unrequited love. It didn't mean he had to stick around and see her being happy at his expense though.

"Sev, what are you doing?"

The hesitant question made him spin suddenly with his wand trained on the owner of the voice, as he backed the person against the wall. It was a defensive reaction. When he realized it was Lily, he lowered his wand and smiled ruefully. He didn't back off very far from her though.

"Leaving."

He felt no need to elaborate. He wasn't entirely certain he could explain in a way that didn't sound foolish anyway.

Lily began fiddling with a strand of her hair nervously. "Oh? Where are you off to then? You hadn't mentioned anything."

She even managed to look very glum at the prospect of his imminent departure, the damned enticing witch.

Severus' eyes were firmly trained on the beautiful witch in front of him. He'd always remember her like this, with the way the sunlight from the window made her hair glow like fire, her brilliant green eyes sparkling, looking at him like she was actually going to miss him. He was certainly going to miss her.

The silence stretched out in front of them awkwardly before he decided to respond. "I thought I'd travel around a bit. I'll make my way to Gringotts in Geneva before too long- for a laugh- just to see if Lucius' idea of paltry and mine coincide. Thought I'd try my hand at being a potioneer for some of the more discerning apothecaries. If it goes well, I may start my own, you know? I've got a few potions in mind to patent that could bring in quite a bit, anyway. Maybe I'll keep developing my own spells on the side too. It sure as hell beats the prospect of teaching. Step one is to get out of Manchester though."

He used to mention it often when they were younger. It had always been Severus' dream to start his own business one day. He knew he could pull it off too. Well, Lily once expressed similar goals before she had decided to exchange that dream for one of a life with Potter. But, if Potter made her happy…

Lily smiled at him shyly. It had to be his imagination that she seemed a little wistful. "You'll do well no matter what you decide to do. I'm happy for you, Severus. At least one of us gets to fulfill their dreams. I used to think that I was going to, but I find myself quite at a loss just now."

Severus narrowed his gaze on her and had to admit that she did seem quite lost to his eyes. "What's this? I thought you and Potter had worked things out."

Lily sighed. "We had a long talk. We've decided that we need a longer break than previously thought. He finally agreed that we're a bit young to get married. It's really me that's the problem though- to tell the truth. I don't know what I want anymore. The more he talks about marriage, the more I'm afraid I don't want it. And, for all his faults, James Potter is a good man who deserves a devoted wife and not a flighty individual who doesn't know her own heart."

Severus snorted. Personally, he thought Potter deserved nothing. He would always be biased on that count. "My dear, you are hardly a flighty individual. I've always found you to be a rather resolute woman who knew exactly what she wanted. You just dislike admitting uncomfortable truths about yourself."

And wasn't that one of the boldest and most Gryffindorish things he'd ever said to her! Dumbledore had once told him that they sort too soon. Severus shook his head to clear his thoughts.

"Wh-what? Severus! Honestly, what do you mean by that?"

The red-headed witch looked like the proverbial Slytherin caught hexing the Quaffle before a game of dirty Quidditch. Lily rarely lost her composure around him in the past, but Severus had noticed it happening more and more frequently since his reintroduction into her life. He smirked knowingly and moved even closer to the flustered witch than he already was. He was actually hoping that she was too flustered to realize that he had her against the wall, and whispered in her ear.

"Lily Evans isn't all roses and sunshine. She isn't all Gryffindor goodness and bravery. She's got a fair amount of ambition. She might play at being perfect and above reproach, but she isn't. She flirts with the dark and she likes it."

Lily was blushing terribly and Severus lifted her chin with his finger so she was looking directly into his eyes.

Lily whispered, "Sev, you don't…"

He cut her off by kissing her. His heart just about stopped. He felt like a drowning man, as cliché as the thought was, but then she was kissing him back and he couldn't think anymore at all. Kissing her was even more brilliant than he ever thought it would be. He breathed her in, his hand in that glorious hair of hers, and then he reluctantly broke it off to rest his head against hers. "I need to leave."

He had never seen her look so devastated even when he called her a Mudblood, or was arrested, or almost got killed by Voldemort. Well, he obviously had moments he could compare this to.

"When will I see you again?"

At that moment Severus entertained a foolish notion. She'd turn him down, he was sure, but he had to take the chance or he'd regret it forever.

"Well, that depends on you," he stated cryptically.

"Me? You're the one leaving, Severus!"

"You're the one who has to decide if she's going to come with me or not."

"But, Severus! Are you mad?"

Severus couldn't help himself. He started kissing Lily's neck. "Quite possibly. Come with me, Lily. I'm not proposing marriage, girl." Not unless she wanted him to. Personally, he wouldn't hesitate. "You can help reform me- I am apparently a dark wizard. I may even let you succeed this time- if I don't corrupt you first."

"Merlin! I must be mad for even seriously considering this! I can think of a million reasons why I shouldn't come with you."

Severus started whispering in her ear again, and his hands were definitely in places she should smack them away from. However, she didn't. He pulled her flush against him.

"Me too. But how can you honestly give up the opportunity to bottle fame, brew glory, stopper death, and gallivant around with me, doing God knows what, while living in sin?"

Lily gasped and was shaking like a leaf. "You're incorrigible, Severus! Nobody is likely to approve."

Severus didn't bother to smother his smug smirk at her reaction.

She timidly brought her arms up around his neck.

Severus pulled back and looked at her intently through his curtain of dark hair. "You're right, Lily. They won't. And you might even grow to resent me when everyone refuses to associate with you anymore because of your association with me."

It was true. Severus' reputation was very public and very questionable. If Lily was going to agree to go with him, she had to be aware of how people would see it. He wouldn't have her going into things with her eyes closed.

She bit her lip in thought and then set her jaw stubbornly. Her eyes flashed.

That's when Severus knew he'd won her over. Thank God for teenage hormones and dithering around when it came to long-term commitments when smacked with reality, after the glow of the perfect wedding faded into perspective, Severus thought. But then, he was a pathetic sod who would take what he could get and who had his own hormones with which to contend.

She shook her head in the negative. "I won't. Besides, if they don't accept my choices, then fuck those toe rags anyway!"

Severus grinned wickedly. "Language, Miss Evans! Ten points from Gryffindor," he said silkily.

"Are you sure you don't want to be a teacher, Severus? If I were a student, you'd be one schoolmaster I certainly wouldn't mind having detention with," Lily saucily replied.

Severus didn't get the chance to say anything else because Lily decided that was the opportune moment to kiss him hungrily. He certainly didn't mind.

Finally, she pulled back and looked at him with her lovely green eyes. They were a hair's breadth from each other. "You had me at reform, by the way."

"And here I was thinking it was my living in sin line that did the trick," Severus said dryly. "I should have known it was my appeal to your Gryffindor do-gooder side that would have done it."

She grinned at him. Seriously though, Sev, you're very good at this Professor business. All authoritative…and who knew you could ever make your voice sound quite like that."

Lily looked a little breathless to him. Even the way her blush was clashing with her hair was endearing to him. Severus smirked and looked to her slyly. If she only knew!

"Don't get any ideas, Lily. Only for you will I play the Professor to your Head Girl. It wouldn't be nearly as fun otherwise."

It was then that Lily truly looked at what Severus was wearing.

Her eyes widened. "You're dressed like a Muggle!"

Severus looked down at his ensemble of black t-shirt, black trousers, black combat boots, black trench coat, and shrugged. "I can't travel around Muggles dressed like a wizard. You know as well as I do that Portkeys have too many regulations involved. I thought taking the train was the better option."

"Well, we'll have to head to my parents' house to pick up my things first." She stopped and wrung her hands. "And, Severus- I don't have any money." She looked embarrassed.

Also, because she was running off with him, her family probably wouldn't give her any either. Like that made any difference to him. He'd take Lily poor or rich. He felt like such a pathetic sap. He shrugged again. "I don't either, really. It's alright though- I nicked enough from the old man's stash to last a while."

"Sev! You can't mean to say that you stole from your own father!"

"He was only going to use it to drink anyway. I'm doing him a favor. It's just a shame I won't be around to have a laugh when he discovers what I've done."

He gave Lily a disarming smile that stopped any protests she might have had. With a flick of his wand he levitated his trunk to float behind him and offered an arm to her. He was gratified when she linked her arm with his.

"Shall we?"

She nodded and then rolled her eyes in exasperation at herself and at him. "If you were anyone other than my best friend, Severus Snape-"

Yes, best friend, indeed- with the distinct possibility of there being benefits in the very near future. He took care not to leer at her as it might ruin the moment- it only benefitted him to tread carefully.

"I don't think you realize how glad I am to hear you say that, Lily."

Severus escorted Lily down the small rickety staircase at Spinner's End and walked into the main room to see Tobias Snape sitting on the sofa watching television and drinking lager. There was nothing in the tableau to miss or be nostalgic about.

"I'm leaving. I won't be back."

His old man looked up at him and snarled. "Piss off!-"

Severus gave his father the two-finger salute as he escorted Lily out the door. They barely dodged the bottle thrown at them and they definitely didn't miss the rest of Tobias Snape's goodbye tirade.

"-You goddamned c ck sucking wanker!"

Lily looked appalled.

Severus couldn't help it- he burst out laughing. The sun was shining, and for once, Severus was in a fantastic mood. It was a start and he had a chance- and that was all he could ask for.

Severus knew that life wasn't going to be easy for them, and he knew that Lily wasn't naïve enough to think it would be either. There would be new challenges and adversities to overcome. They would fight and she could always change her mind and wind up leaving him. Severus knew there would be no perfect ending, because in real life perfect endings didn't exist. However, Severus was hardly complaining. He was more than willing to grab this chance and hold on while it lasted. This ending was far preferable to their previous ending. Severus was bound and determined that he and Lily would live out their own twisted fairy tale for as long as they wanted it to last. All was well. Finally.


Notes:

This story is written entirely from Severus Snape's point of view. It was not my intent to showcase the characters from any other perspective. So, what Lily may or may not have thought about James Potter is mostly irrelevant to the tale. The only thing regarding James Potter and her thoughts on him that are important are her doubts. I always pictured Lily as being mostly keen on James Potter, but that doesn't mean they would always get along, or that they would have worked out in the end had they both lived.

I like to think that I portray Severus and his views in a very true to canon fashion- maybe even a touch more realistically- because it bears noting that all of the HP books were written mostly from Harry Potter's perspective- which is quite skewed on the subject of all things Severus Snape.

In the end, my story became more about Severus Snape making it through yet another set of horrible circumstances with other misunderstood people and having a real second chance with getting the girl- who got to see him as the cool hero and bad boy for once- instead of being overwhelmingly impressed by his old bullying rival with whom she's had ample time to be familiar and not-so-impressed with anymore. Lily is a good girl, a nice person, a smart person, but she's flawed, fickle, as worried as Petunia about how others view her, and definitely capable of being persuaded to give a bloke another chance, especially one who was her best friend forever and always. Whether or not Severus will get to keep Lily now that he has his chance is another story altogether, and I purposely left it open-ended, though it was on a positive note.

Thank you very much for reading and I do hope you that enjoyed my story.