The air was redolent of her perfume from the moment he walked in. Severus smiled and paused in the doorway, eyes closed as he breathed in the light rose scent that never failed to arouse his senses. It wafted around him and caressed his body like invisible fingers; every muscle in his body tensed in response. The scent could only belong to one person. He heard the soft pat of her steps across the floor just before he felt the first light touch of her fingers on his arm.

"I've been waiting for you," Lily whispered.

Fighting down a spreading grin, he opened his eyes and gazed down into hers. His breathing quickened as the wide green eyes gazed at him, lit from the sliver of pale moonlight coming through the lone window next to the door. She licked her lips and leaned closer, standing on tiptoe until their mouths were a hairsbreadth apart.

"I know how long you've waited for this." Lily looked down and traced her fingertips over the pale skin of one of his arms, leaving goose bumps everywhere she touched. Slowly, she guided her fingers back up until they rested lightly on his shoulder. Her eyes returned to his. "But, what you don't know is how long I've been waiting for this."

Turning her head slightly, she leaned up further, pressing the front of her body against his. She whispered in his ear, her breath warming the skin there. "This is a night for firsts. Yours. Mine." The fingers of her other hand slid up his arm and came to rest at the base of his neck. "The first of many nights together." There was a slight brushing of her lips against the sensitive skin below his ear and then Lily began walking away, her long hair swaying to the small of her back over the short black dress she wore.

A few seconds after she disappeared into the darkness of his house, Severus began to breathe again. He could do nothing about the pounding of his heart, but this, he could control. He took a few deep breaths, then forced himself to go after her slowly, pausing in the doorway of his dark bedroom before he entered.

She wasn't there.

Inwardly, he cursed himself for waiting too long. But, he couldn't have come into the room knowing his normally tightly reigned self-control was hanging by a tenuous thread.

A soft touch on his shoulder from behind stopped his internal harangue and he turned swiftly, his breath catching as he caught sight of her. In the full light from his bedroom window, the dress became a sheer confection, the dark fabric molded to the curves of her body, only betraying the hidden treasures beneath by the slightest impression of color and distended flesh against black silk.

Severus began licking his suddenly dry lips and his traitorous body stumbled back a few steps, only stopping when the backs of his knees made contact with his bed.

Lily smiled and stepped forward slowly. The dress seemed to tighten and shift over her skin; the smooth silk whispered a beckoning call. "You're not afraid of me, are you?" she asked softly. She reached one hand towards Severus as she stopped in front of him, letting her fingertips come to rest just beneath his chin. "Never be afraid to go after exactly what you want, Sev."

"I'm not afraid," he said. His voice came out hoarse and shaky. Even he didn't think that had sounded believable. "I just wonder if you're sure about this. I'd heard that you and what's-his-name were getting serious."

Lily chuckled and stepped forward a bit, using her legs to separate his knees. "Oh, Sev. We all make mistakes. At the end of the day, I could never choose someone else over you." She stepped into the space between his legs and pushed at his shoulder until he leaned back, giving her room to sit on one knee. The dress slid up, allowing her bare thighs to warm the fabric over his leg like an iron branding the feel of her into his body.

Lily began tracing the contours of his jaw with her fingertips. "You know, just like in chess, one person can't make all the moves in order for the game to continue." Her hand slid from his jaw, down his neck and began playing with the collar of his shirt. "That is, unless you don't want to play with me…"

After a barely perceptible pause, Severus closed the distance between their mouths, covering her lips with his in a clumsy kiss. Willing himself to slow down, he pulled away for a few seconds then took her lips again, pressing his mouth to hers firmly. Lily shifted on his lap and straddled his legs; her knees sank into the bed on either side of him. Her hands moved lower, buttons were undone, fabric slid over hips and stomach and head and then Severus found himself laying on his back looking up at the realization of his greatest fantasy.

Warm flesh slid against his bare chest. Soft lips and questing fingers teased, tantalized and tortured the nearly shaking man on the bed. "Touch me," she demanded and he complied, running his long fingers over every curve he could reach. "Taste," was her next command and he came close to losing control again as warm, supple flesh was brought to his mouth to savor, to nibble and lose himself in.

Lily sat back and stretched; moonlight glanced over her body, it's caress as intimate as that of a lover. A smile touched her lips and she looked down at Severus, her eyes catching the light again and holding him in place, hypnotizing him. They breathed in tandem as he lost himself in her eyes. She mouthed the three words he felt like he'd been waiting his entire life to hear and then she moved one hand slowly over his sensitized skin, from his chest to his stomach, the light touch of her fingers teasing him into a state of surrender.

Her eyes caught his again. Slowly, her soft, sensual smile seemed to melt on her face, twisting and morphing until the face itself became that of someone else. Someone younger, with the same sweet eyes and a decidedly different effect on the person looking into them.

Severus sat up in bed suddenly and uttered a string of colorful swear words into the cool air of his bedroom. Finding the bed empty save for his own tense body, he disentangled himself from his sheets and swung his legs over the edge of the bed and onto the floor. He stopped there and closed his eyes briefly, immediately haunted by the vision of those eyes gazing into his again. He snapped them open again.

"And people wonder why I'm so angry," he said, before cursing himself again for speaking aloud. He was already close to the edge these days, he didn't need to prove to himself that he truly had gone around the bend.

Getting dressed quickly, he grabbed his wand and headed out of his quarters into the waiting darkness.

It had become a ritual, this torture he'd created for himself. The dream, or more accurately, the nightmare in which the Lily he'd known just as she'd reached adulthood came to her senses and changed his life. Severus had lived it in his mind so many times that he'd memorized every curve of her body and could sometimes swear the scent of her perfume still hung in the air when he woke, clinging to his clothes and warming his skin as easily as her touch.

The dream had come to him more and more often lately, and he knew exactly why, but chose to ignore it. Instead, he stalked the halls of Hogwarts in a desperate attempt to rid his mind of the imagined feel of her lips on his, the touch of her skin beneath his hands and the warmth that filled his heart when she confessed her feelings to him. It was madness, but he reveled in the few minutes they spent together before reality came crashing down into the cold dark of his bedroom.

He listened to the steady drip-drip of water somewhere in the distance before walking up the stairs and into the warmer air of the ground floor. Walking blindly through the hall, Severus let his steps carry him along the usual path and his thoughts lead him into a still-painful past.

It was the what-ifs that really got to him. Severus knew that and hated himself for acknowledging their effect on his present state of mind. On the nights when the dream robbed him of whatever peace he had managed to attain, he was haunted by thoughts of what might've been if he and Lily had talked one last time, if he'd changed, if he'd finally gotten her to understand and accept his apologies and they'd moved on, together. The thoughts of how she could've come to him and eased the pain in a heart that had ached for her for years swarmed through his mind and lulled a broken man into a state of first elation and then returning bitterness over what was forever lost.

It was a cycle he couldn't break, but he knew it was his burden to bear for his part in the way her life had ended. His request for her to be spared had come too little, too late and this torture was his penance for a mistake he couldn't take back. He didn't deserve peace in this life when hers had ended because of him.

He stopped suddenly, just becoming aware of the sound of movement in the hall. Raising his wand, he lit the end and looked into the eyes that never failed to make his breath catch in his throat. For a brief moment, all of the sympathy, the heartache, and a touch of jealousy came to the forefront of his consciousness, making him acutely aware of all that he'd lost and all that was lost to those who had been left behind. There was a moment in which he wanted to reach out to the person in front of him, touch his shoulder and whisper the apology long owed to the woman who'd been lost—the one to which no apology could be made or would even suffice.

Seconds later, Severus came back to himself and one word dominated his new thoughts. Detention. He lowered his wand and studied the boy's face closer. Harry flinched back from the sudden brightness and blinked hard.

"What are you doing in the hall, Potter?"

"I—" His eyes darted around briefly. "I was sleepwalking."

Liar, Severus thought. "Empty your pockets," he demanded, impatience adding itself to the growing anger in his voice. Of all the arrogant, shallow children he'd come across at Hogwarts, Harry James Potter was the last one he would've guessed had been born to Lily Evans. Then again, the boy had always shown more of his father than mother in his every deed. In spite of what Dumbledore claimed. No, Severus thought, he is nothing like Lily.

When Harry responded with an insult—an insult he could well remember hearing before as if the person spouting it were not the insolent child in front of him but a tormentor 17 years in his past—Severus clenched his fingers around his wand briefly. He had to remind himself that he couldn't hex the boy, no matter how justified. Though, if anyone deserved to pay for the sins of a previous generation, it was the selfish child before him, not even worth the sacrifice that had left him standing there, a scar the only reminder that his life had once been touched by a love Severus would've given his own life to experience for just one day.

His eyes narrowed on Harry's face. Before Severus could gets his lips to form the beginning of his hastily planned punishment, his gaze caught on the boy's eyes and he paused again, words of rebuke and retribution left unsaid. In a flash, he was again looking into the eyes of the woman he loved, angry and defiant, as she'd been the day she'd walked out of his life. Shaking the brief memory from his mind, he cleared his throat and ordered the boy to come to his office the following night after dinner.

There was no joy in prescribing this punishment, no satisfaction gleaned from earning the disdainful look from those eyes before Harry turned and walked back in the direction of Gryffindor Tower.

After a long moment, Severus Snape turned back the way he'd come, put out the light from his wand and merged with the darkness.

Author's Note: To discuss this and other fics, click the How To Read How to Read a Harry Potter Fanfiction link in my profile.