"Oh, Mum, this is far too nice for me to wear – I just know I'll ruin it or lose it or something," said Lily Evans quickly, attempting to hand the old family heirloom back to her mother.
Mrs. Evans only smiled at her youngest daughter. "Honey, this brooch has been in the family for years, ever since your great-great-grandmother came here from Europe and wed your great-great-grandfather. Each bride on our side of the family has worn it since then. It's tradition. And you won't lose it. You're responsible, sweetheart; I trust you."
"But if I did – "
"Then I would forgive you," said Mrs. Evans. She took Lily's hands in her own, and looked into the young woman's anxious eyes carefully. "This isn't really about the brooch, is it?" she asked quietly.
Lily bit her lip. "I am a bit . . . nervous . . ."
Mrs. Evans pulled her daughter into a hug. "Everything will be fine," she murmured. Lily clung to her mother tightly and shut her eyes, pressing back the tears she would not release. "Oh, Lily, it's normal to be nervous before your wedding. Not a single woman in the world hasn't been a little apprehensive, I am sure."
"I want to be married," Lily whispered fervently, the leaves suddenly rustling outside in the summer breeze seeming to mirror the feelings rolling through her insides: the calm disturbed by a storm. "I want to be a bride tomorrow, I want to be James' wife. I do. It's just . . ."
"I know," said Mrs. Evans softly, stroking her daughter's hair. "I know."
They squeezed each other for a few more long minutes, then Mrs. Evans pulled back, scrutinizing Lily with watery eyes and a beaming smile. "Well," said Mrs. Evans in a cheery voice, seeming determined to lighten the mood, "now you have something old, as well."
"Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue," Lily recited, smiling gently, her fears numbed for the moment by her mother's comforting arms. "Julia let me borrow the necklace she wore to her wedding, the new item is my wedding dress, and the old family brooch. Except I don't have – "
"Something blue," said Mrs. Evans. "I know."
Lily frowned. "I just can't think of a thing . . ."
"I didn't have something blue at my wedding, either," Mrs. Evans told her daughter reassuringly. "And my marriage turned out just perfect. It's just an old good luck charm, dear: what really matters is the love you and your fiancé share."
"I love James," said Lily quickly. "I just . . . have always liked that old saying. I thought it was just a really wonderful idea, having something that all these brides would have, something we are all going through, at different times and places but still together . . ."
"If it's that important to you, dear, we can always just put a dab of blue ink on your wrist," said Mrs. Evans teasingly. Lily's frown only deepened. "Oh, Lily, it's late, and tomorrow's your big day – just go off to bed; there's no reason to be fretting now."
"Okay," said Lily, quickly embracing her mother again. "Good night, Mum."
"Good night, Lily."
Lily drew away and went up the small staircase towards her room, and Mrs. Evans moved towards the kitchen. Neither woman had observed a shadowed figure lurking outside the window during their whole conversation. Nor did they notice the figure watch the younger woman stroll up the staircase, and then move around the side of the house.
Lily emerged from the bathroom some twenty minutes later, freshened up and wearing her favorite nightgown. Combing out her hair absently with her fingers, she stood over her dresser for a long moment, gazing into her mirror's reflection. Tomorrow, this reflection would be entirely different. This reflection would look exactly the same, it was true, yet it would be completely altered. Tomorrow, this reflection would be the reflection of a married woman. She expected the thought to release a fresh wave of worries, but instead found a genuine smile breaking over her face: she was going to be married. She sighed lightly, and, with the full intention of flicking off the light and going to bed, turned around. On turning around however, she gasped audibly and stumbled back a step from sheer shock.
"S – !"
The dark figure standing in the corner of her room held up a hand for her to be quiet, then with a quick flick of his wand cast a spell. "Silencing Charm," he explained, lowering his wand. "Since you are going to be loud about my abrupt appearance."
"What did you expect me to do?" Lily snapped, her hands wandering backwards to her dresser so as to steady herself. "Welcome you into my house when you were uninvited? When we haven't been friends in years?"
"I thought you would at least be a little more pleasant, but frankly, your mood makes no difference to me."
"Oh, really?" she sneered, grappling with her right hand for her wand.
Severus noticed her meandering hand, and a familiar smirk appeared on his face. "Feel the need to protect yourself?"
"I don't generally house uninvited guests willingly."
"I know. And I'm sorry for entering in such a fashion. But I knew you would never let me in willingly, so I had to force you to speak to me somehow."
"We haven't been friends since we were sixteen, Severus," she said, her voice softer, but still firm. "And I'm sorry, but I don't think we ever can be again."
He squared his shoulders, pretending indifference to this comment. "I'm not leaving until you at least listen to what I have to say."
"Oh," she said quietly, her eyes taking on a more dangerous glint again, "so now you're threatening me. I should have known – "
He was right standing in front of her within two seconds, reaching out and touching her shoulder. "Lily, please."
She took a step back; the edge to her face had not disappeared, but at least she did not seem about to kick him out. "All right. Say what you are so desperate to say, then. But do make it brief and get straight to the point."
"Get to the point?" Severus repeated, and with effort, a sneer appeared on his face. "That quite goes against my usual mannerisms and patterns, Lily."
"I guess you'll have to break your patterns, then," she replied, her features not altering in the slightest as she stared at him.
He took a deep breath, preparing himself for what he had been trying to ready himself for since before he had arrived. He had been quite ready – yet now that the time was here, the time to truly convince her – the concept seemed much more difficult.
"You . . . can't get married tomorrow, Lily."
Her eyebrows raised. "Oh, I can't, huh?"
He decided to ignore the fact that she had not held to her own agreement of silence. "No, you can't."
"What gives you the right to tell me this?"
"Because I – " he faltered " – because Potter is an arrogant numskull."
"You snuck into my house and into my bedroom to continue ranting about James?"
"You hated him too, Lily."
"Yes, I did, I did hate him. Once. Not anymore. He's grown up, and so have I – I know you can't see that he's different, I know that you can't let go of the past. But for Merlin's sake, if you are my friend like you claim to be, can't you just be happy for me?"
He jerked his head once. "You don't understand, he's a – "
"No, I don't want to listen to you!" Lily cried, flaring up in anger, her cheeks coloring red to match her hair. "You've always hated James, I know that – I know you think he's a terrible person and a jerk, but I don't. And if you just came here tonight to ridicule him, then you had better just leave right now, because I don't want to hear it. I love James, I'm going to marry him, and that's that."
"And what about me?"
He had not meant to say the words, had not meant to detract from the carefully planned and deliberated speech he had crafted in his mind weeks earlier. But they broke out before he could stop them, and once in the air, they hung there like little germs, infesting their talk, polluting it, drenching everything in silence.
The furious blush in her cheeks had not left, and her eyes were still flashing, but the anger was quenched slightly by mild confusion. "What do you mean, Severus?" Lily asked him.
He felt suddenly light-headed and short of breath as he looked at her. "What – what about me?" he whispered.
She stared at him, uncomprehending.
"I – I love you, Lily."
There was a thick silence. Then Lily took a step backwards, looking dazed. "Severus – I'm getting married tomorrow – "
"It's not too late," he persisted, a huge weight off his chest now that he had told her. Though now came the other part: convincing her. "You aren't tied in yet, you can still back out – "
"I don't want to back out, Sev," said Lily softly.
"You would have a good life," said Severus earnestly, "we would have a good life – I can provide everything Potter can't, and – "
"Severus, please, listen to me. I don't – I'm not in love with you."
"With time, maybe you would be – "
"No," said Lily, more firmly. "No, Severus, look, I love James, all right?"
"He'll never be able to give you what I can," Severus insisted, dogged to make her see his side, to make her believe, to have her be his. "He'll never care about you nearly as much as I do."
"Severus – " Her face had hardened again with anger.
He was losing her, he knew it. Desperate, he stumbled across the small gap bridging them, grasping her hands in his. "I'm not lying," he said fiercely. "Lily, I love you more than he ever possibly could – if you just give me another chance – "
"Give you another chance?" Lily wrenched her hands away from his and grabbed his left arm. Before he could comprehend what was happening, she jerked up the sleeve of his robe, exposing his forearm, tattooed with the Dark Mark. She stared down at the marking for a long moment, then her glare lifted up to his eyes, stabbing right through to his soul.
"Give you another chance?" she said again, in a soft, angry voice. "To do what, Severus? You've done what I've known you were going to do for years, you've become a Death Eater and joined Voldemort." He flinched; she ignored this. "So how many times have you done his bidding? How many murderers have you committed?"
"It – that doesn't change how I feel about you – "
"Well, it changes how I feel about you," she said flatly. "You weren't willing to see the mistakes in your actions back at school, and judging from appearances – " she spared the Mark another disdainful glance " – you still don't see them. You aren't going to change for me, or for anyone else. And I can't waste anymore time pretending you will – it's too painful. So please, just leave now." She dropped his arm, and stood there, waiting.
"Lily – Lily – please – "
"I asked you to leave my home, Severus, do not make me force you out."
"But Lily – I am – I lo – "
"If you love me like you claim to, you wouldn't have done that." She gestured at his arm, clearly indicating his Mark.
"You – you don't believe me, do you?" he asked quietly.
"I don't know what to believe. For all I know, you could be here on Voldemort's orders, ready to capture and kill me at the opportune – "
Lily closed her eyes briefly, and shook her head. When she opened them, she turned around on her heel and started to walk away. She didn't believe him. She didn't believe the words he had told her. Or maybe she did believe them, and simply did not want to. Whatever the case, he was losing her, yet again. And he knew that if he lost her this time, it was final. He had to show her, prove to her, that it was her, that it had always been her, that she was all he wanted, that he could not live this life without her.
"Lily," he said, and he reached out, taking her hand, at the same instance drawing his wand.
"I knew it!" she snarled in a hiss, her eyes flashing with fury as they glanced his wand over. He didn't bother trying to explain that he was not going to curse her; there was no time for that. She tried to twist out of his grip, but he would not let her go. He needed to make it clear, make it inescapably clear. This was the only way, the only path he had left to turn, and there was no possibility of her not believing him or trying to avoid him after this.
And, from the tip of his wand burst a silvery shape, the shape of a doe. The shape of a patronus. His patronus. Her patronus. Their patronus. It was his patronus because it was her patronus. He would always be hers, he had always been hers, just as he had told her; and here was the proof, the proof of the doe that lived within him.
The doe cantered around the room once, twice, and then vanished, leaving a streak of the misty substance in its wake. He watched it disappear, then sought out her gaze. They looked at each other. The anger in her face was gone; now her face was pale, blank, her eyes round. Vaguely he realized he was still holding her hand, but he did not let go, and she did not struggle to get away anymore.
"Severus . . ." she said, her voice cracking gutturally against the syllables, her eyes moistening.
"It's you, Lily," he told her. "It's always been you. I can't lie – my patronus – my soul – can't lie."
"Severus," she said again, her voice barely above a whisper. "I'm sorry . . . I could never . . . I can never. . . . I do love you, Severus, despite all that you've done wrong. I just don't love you . . . like that." Her voice broke; she looked down at the floor.
"But maybe – if we – "
She gently slid her hand out of his, looking back up to meet his eyes. "I love James Potter, and I'm going to marry him tomorrow."
And it finally settled into his chest that he had been beaten, that it was over: she had seen the truth, and she did not care enough about him, would still not be with him. His insides knotted; his breath became short and light; his head pounding, throbbing, ready to burst.
She doesn't love you.
The onslaught of emotions was too much. He turned away from her, looking down hard at the floor, his body shaking hard in the sudden cold.
"I'm sorry," Lily said to his back softly.
He laughed bitterly, but didn't answer, merely stood in silence for a few minutes, trying to collect himself. At last he turned back around to face her, put one hand into his pocket, and then withdrew it, pressing something into the palm of her hand. "Here," he said gruffly. "I heard you still needed something blue. I'm sure you would have preferred something with more finery, but marriages are all about being symbolic anyway, aren't they? And what better symbol of moving on to a new, better life with your husband than having something so destroyed and flattened?" He smiled wryly.
Lily didn't answer, but opened up her fingers to see what he had given her. A dried and rather pressed flower lay against her pale palm, a blue iris.
"I hope you're happy with your new husband," he said, sincerely – for he always wished for her life to contain the utmost happiness, even if he was not a part of it.
"Severus – " she began, but did not seem to know what to elaborate with.
He hesitated for a second, then leaned towards her, brushing his lips against her soft cheek fleetingly – and then he was striding across the room, vaulting through her open window, and reentering the night outside, reentering the darkness.
She walked up the aisle alongside her father, beaming at every face she passed. The familiar song of 'Here Comes The Bride' was being played all around her. Up at the end of the walk stood James, his face spread in a wide grin, and she sparkled back at him as she continued walking.
The dried, blue flower was tucked against her hand, secured next to her bouquet. She had considered not wearing it, had considered tearing it into a thousand little pieces and then throwing them in the fire – but knew that she could not. It was from Severus, her Severus, her best friend. She couldn't do that to him, couldn't trample on the last piece of himself that he had given to her. She had already trampled on the rest of him unknowingly. No, not really unknowingly . . . a small part of her had always known, deep down, how he really felt about her. But what she had told him was true – she did care about him, she did love him. Just not as he did her, just not romantically. Perhaps she could have, perhaps she might have, when she was younger . . . had he not changed so, had he not joined Voldemort. But he had, and she had fallen in love with James, and that was that.
She reached the end of the walk, and stood opposite James as the minister went through the ceremony and over the vows, her heart swelling with happiness at every word, every word that brought her closer to being James' wife. She kept the blue flower against her skin, just as she would keep Severus' memory against her skin forever – but it was James whom her soul soared for, and it was he she would keep closer to her heart.
A/N: Credit for the amazing title goes to my friend 'Mary Jane' – it was the title that inspired me to write this little story, in fact. :) This was my first attempt at Severus/Lily, and I hope you enjoyed it. Please leave a review and let me know your thoughts, good or bad.