A/N: I strongly suggest you read "Death & Rebirth - Redux" before beginning this story. It lays the groundwork for how this AU broke off from the normal timeline. And even though I said I wouldn't write this until after I finished "Aftermath", the sequel to the original "Death & Rebirth", it seems the peoples want Sev/Lily. And who is Strongbad to argue with the peoples?
I must also put out there that this is partially inspired by Didodikali's fanart, particularly "Lemondrop? Veriatiserum?", wherein Severus Snape looks decidedly more relaxed and at ease with himself. Something that might ordinarily be out of character, unless...g
It goes without saying that I do not own Harry Potter or any of JKR's characters, settings, made-up words and/or stories. Nor do I own Strongbad. He owns himself, obviously.
Their eyes met often over the long table where the Order of the Phoenix met.
They had been engaged in assisting the Ministry for the last four months, rounding up the errant Death Eaters, and while they still were lacking a very important follower in Bellatrix Lestrange, her husband Rodolphus was in custody. And while many of them lamented not being able to incarcerate Lucius Malfoy, who with the assistance of his family, was able to clear his name, he did provide the Ministry with some very important information, and their spy in the Death Eater ranks had never actually witnessed him killing or cursing anyone, simply running around being Voldemort's pet.
But the looks that lingered between Lily Potter and Severus Snape were always cut short, and then there would be a week before they would meet each other's gaze again.
Lily was no coward, however, she was a Gryffindor, and after five months of mumbled greetings and furtive glances, she approached him, and broke their tense peace.
"Sev?" She called him by a name he hadn't heard in years, the name she had called him when they were children, before he pushed her away, and she had begun calling him by his last name, like those demented friends of hers.
He turned to face her, uncertainty in his eyes.
She cringed. It was her name, true, but he said it with such a coldness. She remembered that he had called her 'Lily' that day. Were they such strangers now that he wouldn't do it again?
"Sev, please. Talk to me."
"Why?" He leaned away from her, his body language screaming that he wanted out of this conversation. But she wasn't going to let him. She had lost her best friend once, and then again five months ago. She wanted back the only one she could have.
She couldn't think of a reply. She bit her lip in thought. "I just…I forgive you, okay?"
He pulled his neck in, like a turtle, and narrowed his eyes at her. "For what?"
"For what you said."
"What I…what the devil are you talking about Evans?"
His use of her pre-marriage surname caught them both by surprise, and they both looked away from each other, as though burned by the surge of memory.
"I mean," he began softly, "forgive me for what, Mrs. Potter?"
He stared at her, his flat, analytical stare that she had seen several times before, but had never been the subject of except in jest.
"There's nothing to forgive," he said simply, and turned away from her.
Anger flared in her blood, and her pale skin flushed. She might have been grateful that they were the only people in the room if she had given enough thought to it. Instead, she charged forward and grabbed a black-cloaked arm, and spun the taller man towards her.
"Nothing to forgive?! I'm trying to offer you an olive branch Severus, and you think you did nothing wrong?! Gods, how stupid can a person get?! Blame the fact that I lost my husband on my sudden flight of fancy from everything good sense! Augh!"
He just stared at her, slightly surprised, but vaguely remembering a conversation they'd had as children about red-heads and tempers. He was once familiar with that temper, once knew how to counter it. But now he had no words, he just shrank from her touch, trying to pull his forearm back from her grip, but she had her teeth bared at him, and did not let go.
"Mrs. Potter, I…"
"Stop calling me that!"
Her jaw was still tense, but her voice dropped into a lower register, one that was considerably more dangerous.
"Severus Snape. You broke my heart that day, and I lost my best friend. I don't know what was going through your fool head, but you hurt me. And then I watched as you and those friends," she seethed the very word, and he looked at her warily, his lips pressing together as his own ire rose in response to hers. "Those Death Eater friends, played around with dark magics and you buried yourself in them."
Her pause gave him the opening to rip his arm from her grasp, and sneer at her. "Oh, and your friends were better, Potter? Do you know what those bastards did to me?! DO YOU? Death Eaters treated me better! I admit, I got my fair share of jabs in on the small issues, but they left me with scars you can't even imagine!" This time he grabbed her arm, and pulled her close to his face, and spoke quietly and sharply, his rasp making her spine twitch. "Have you ever been afraid of the dark, Potter? Have you?! I'm twenty-two years old, and I'm afraid of what lurks in the darkness because of those little…children."
She had known something had happened. Had known because instead of coming to her for a sympathetic ear and with an apology in tow like he had for so many lesser transgressions, he simply stopped speaking to her.
She thought it meant he wasn't sorry, and she cried herself to sleep more than one night because of it.
But he was a grown man now, as much as she was a grown woman, despite their ages. People grew up fast in the midst of a war. And she thought he had changed. Thought he would at least have the decency to admit he'd made a mistake.
"And that meant it was okay to insult me and run off, abandoning me?" She gave as good as she got, and narrowed her gaze to meet his, green eyes flashing.
He let her arm go and leaned back, displeasure still on his face, but also a trace of confusion.
"Abandoning you? How do you figure? Those…Marauder friends of yours were more than company. Hell, you married one of them."
The words fell into awkward silence, and he bit his tongue, wishing he could take them back.
Her anger cooled somewhat, as the battlefield was littered with misread intentions and unspoken words. Seven years and they still couldn't sort themselves out.
"Severus, we were friends, don't you get that? Friends. Close. Friends." She stuttered on the last two words, a strange feeling gripping her heart as she remembered how, once or twice, they were never as close as she wanted. And then she felt guilty, horribly completely guilty, because she had buried her husband less than half a year ago, and here she was, dredging up feelings that were long dead. Or so she had thought.
"And?" He waited for her to finish her thought, impatient at her far-off look.
"And I would have forgiven you. If only you had asked. I forgave you everything else, didn't I?"
His shoulders slumped, as though in defeat, and he let out a sigh. He wasn't going to fight anymore. He was sick and tired of fighting.
"I never got the chance, Lily," he said softly. "Sirius Black made sure I knew where the line was drawn, and that you and he and Potter and Lupin and Pettigrew were on one side of that line, and I was on the other. I may be slow when it comes to people, but I'm not stupid. I had no desire to test him after what I found he was capable of that night."
"And what about me?"
"What about you?" He knew he didn't want to fight, but somehow she thought herself innocent in all this. "You didn't try either. You knew how they treated me in the light of day, and you didn't try either."
"I defended you!"
He nodded once, giving her that. "You did. And most of the time I was equal to the task, giving what I had gotten. But wasn't it suspicious in the least that there was no more mostly-harmless hexing and word-slinging? It didn't strike you as at all strange that they suddenly left me completely alone?"
She realized she had never thought on it. She had watched as he walked past her, or avoided her entirely, never meeting her gaze, and she had only thought of how much it had hurt, and it had, a lot, but never noticed that aside from the usual, though reduced, complement of mild name calling, they had left him alone.
"What did they do to you?" She asked quietly, her own pain forgotten as she came to realize how something outside themselves had pushed them apart.
He stared at her for a moment, before looking away, crossing his arms across his chest and leaning back against the wall. "Nevermind."
"No, not nevermind. What did they do, Severus?"
He tried to avoid her gaze, he felt it burning into his face. He turned slowly to face her. "I said forget about it. It's in the past. And frankly, as you have so aptly brought back to my attention," he waved his hand idly in the air, "my past is not all puppies and rose petals. I would much rather forget about it entirely."
"No, Lily. Leave me alone." He turned away from her entirely this time, and swept out of the room.
She stood there, alone, tears threatening at her lids, and realized this was not the conversation she had meant to have. She had meant to say "I forgive you, thank you for being there, thank you for trying to save him", and thought they might part on amiable terms, leaving room to rebuild the friendship they once had as children, despite the lives they led that drove them apart.
But they weren't children anymore. And the wounds were apparently still very fresh.
A/N: Well, if you want more you have to leave a review. :) And tell me how you think it's going, theories and what not, and definitely correct me if I've gotten something amiss. It's been awhile, and my HP books are three thousand miles away. I know, I know, there's no excuse! In the meantime, check out the original "Death & Rebirth" and its sequel, "Aftermath". Do some comparisons. It's amazing how one tiny event can change a person entirely...