A/N- Er...hello. This is a response to the Severitus challenge. I love those fics! If you've written one, I'd either love to read it or already have. Um...I'm also a budding writer whose self-esteem isn't too great. I'd love reviews, but please be gentle. Thanks for reading. This chapter is mostly just little memories that are important two chapters from now. Oh yeah, and I don't own any of this. If I did, I'd probably still be here though. Wouldn't it be AWESOME to write fanfiction for your own story? If I ever finish one of the dumb stories I write and someone actually publishes it, I'm SO going to write fanfiction for it. Or...authorfiction.

So anyway, please don't sue me. I own only a pencil and a jumbo bag of Skittles. You can have the pencil, but the Skittles will be gone by the time you get here.

This fic takes place just after fifth year, but all the random stuff we learned in the sixth and seventh book still apply. Like the past and what old Voldie's been up to. And, of course, Lily and Sev.

Chapter One

When the tall, black haired man opened his front door in a temper, he expected to find someone he could snap away with a patented glare. Unfortunately, he saw the only person he'd always regretted his single unkind word to standing in the harsh March wind. The cold breeze whipped her ember-red hair, hiding her face. It didn't matter. He could recognize her in the dark with his hands behind his back. "Lily…" he breathed, stepping aside to allow her to join him in the entryway of his small home. Once he had planned to buy a larger one, but…he didn't need it anymore.

"Severus," she murmured in answer, brushing her hair behind her ear.

He shut the door behind her, wishing with whatever heart he had left that he could leave her on the other side of it. "What are you doing here? Where's that-" he paused for a moment, trying not to use the proper adjective, "-Potter boy?"

She sighed, looking slightly annoyed, but mostly resigned. He could tell she'd been expecting this. "Sev. Potter-James- is not who you think he is. Nor is he who you think he is to me."

He glared, not even registering the hope as an emotion. "You mean your fiancé? Your other fiancé? Oh, so he isn't what I think? You aren't marrying that-" his mouth moved for a moment, but no sound came out, "him?!"

She sighed and shifted her weight a little. "I guess I deserved that. Particularly since I can't even tell you why this is the only choice." Her eyes searched his helplessly, despairing at the misery she saw in them.

He tried to look away, but, as they had when he was 11, meeting the first young witch or wizard he had ever seen, her eyes wouldn't let him. As much as he wanted not to lose everything in the perfect infinity of green, as angry as he was, he had to admit that he didn't want to look away. "You told me once, 'Saying something is the only choice only means you won't consider the others.' Is marrying me really such a terrible thought?"

Her eyes clouded with liquid emotion as she whispered, "Oh, Sev…no. Never think that. Never ever. But there's a reason…it wouldn't be safe for either of us or…someone else." She sighed again, "This is too hard. I thought it would be better if you thought I loved James, that maybe you'd move on. I can see that was silly."

His eyes flashed, but he couldn't quite muster up a patented glare. "No-" here he said a word his 11 year old self would not have known, "-it was!" Then something changed in his expression, "Wait…what did you say about James?"

She smiled, but the tears started to fall, "You didn't honestly think I loved James, did you? Didn't you listen to anything I told you in the last 9 years? James is doing this as a favor to me. And you, though he doesn't like to think about that."

The whole time they'd been talking, the two had unconsciously been moving closer together, and he finally noticed when he felt a warm drop of water hit his shoe. He knew it wasn't his. His tears were cold. He closed his eyes for a moment, protecting himself from the terrible green gaze he'd spent so long longing for.

They were so close. He could feel her semi-even breath on his chin.

"Lily…" he breathed, "Can you tell me something?"

She looked deeper into his black eyes, "What?"

He stared back, "Can you tell me-honestly tell me-even now, that you love me?" Their foreheads touched, and her breath caught. He was glad his breathing was already so ragged, so it hid his own reaction to the familiar electric shock.

She answered, unconsciously keeping her voice quiet, mostly to hide the tremor in it. "Sev…that is the one thing I will be able to honestly tell you until the day I die," She leaned closer, until their noses touched too. This time he was sure she could feel his heart jump. "Whether it's before or after you do."

He sighed at the almost audible reaction when the tears on their noses fused. This time he leaned closer, and just before his mouth gently brushed hers, he murmured, "I'll always love you too."

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It had been almost a year since Severus had last seen Lily. Even if he counted the glimpse of her hair and flowing white dress at her wedding, it had still been much too long. So when he saw the flash of red through the glass door that day in late August, he didn't hesitate. Maybe, if he had known, he would have paused to gather his thoughts, but, oblivious, the man yanked open the door in one motion and pulled her inside.

She laughed happily at the joy on his face, and he laughed just because she was here and glad to see him. Severus started to pull her into a hug, but stopped when he noticed what Lily held in her arms.

Following his gaze, she found the tiny green bundle of cloth with the splash of black hair. Little Harry had managed to sleep through the laughter, and only curled up in his mother's arms a bit more while Severus stared at him. "Sev…this is…my son, Harry." Lily whispered.

Severus found he was having trouble breathing. "Your son…James's son?"

Lily smiled and asked quietly, "Do you want to hold him?"

Severus's eyes widened and he raised them to Lily's face. "What?"

She smiled again, sadly. "I know you always wanted a family. Since it didn't turn out the way we'd hoped, I thought maybe you could share mine."

His eyes widened more, but a small smile crept through his features, and he held out his arms for the baby. Lily gently shifted Harry so Severus was holding him, and the boy let out a soft sigh as he nestled into the black robes.

"He looks so like James." Severus whispered.

Lily looked down at Harry, and nodded. In Severus's opinion, she looked far prouder of this than was natural. "Yes. But he has my eyes."

Severus glanced down at the boy, who seemed to sense his eyes were being talked about and opened them. Severus looked from Harry to Lily, unconsciously holding the child closer. They did have the same eyes.

Suddenly, Severus realized what he was doing. He, one of Voldemort's most trusted Death Eaters, could not stand in his front hallway with a muggleborn witch, holding the half-blood son of his only love and his worst enemy.

He gently, but very quickly, shoved Harry back into Lily's arms. "You shouldn't be here," he muttered, then looked at Harry. "It isn't safe…for either of you."

Lily watched him, partly bewildered, but mostly sad. As much as she hated it, she understood. "Ok. But…I hope this isn't the end."

His face told her it probably was, but once the door closed behind them, he murmured to himself, "I hope not, too."

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It wasn't the end, not quite. Lily visited once more, and left Harry with James. It was mid-October, and she just wanted to see him.

"Severus?" she asked, stepping into his house, "Something's going to happen."

He stared at her.

"Sev, you know I can feel things like this sometimes! Something is going to happen, and it's not good," she paused, "I think it has to do with Harry."

Severus was quiet for a moment, thinking. "Ok. I believe you. What do you think it is?"

"I don't have the slightest clue! Just that it's bad, and it's coming, and it involves my son!"

"So what do you want to do?"

"Severus…that's not all."

He raised his eyebrows, "Oh?"

"I also think it involves James and me. I think…Severus, I think this may be the last time I get to see you," she waited for him to laugh, to tell her to stop being dramatic, but she should have known better. Severus Snape didn't laugh. Not at her. "Sev, can you promise me something?"

He was wary, "Depends."

"If James and I…die, I want you to promise me you'll look after Harry. That you'll…protect him, watch over him, whatever. Just help him, Severus. For me."

He took a deep breath. She watched him. "Ok, Lily. If anything happens to you and James, I swear I will protect your child," he caught her hand in his, "But you have to promise me something, too."

Lily retaliated by capturing his eyes, "Anything."

He didn't mind, "Promise me that, if you can, you'll stay safe and alive," he stepped closer, resting his forehead on hers, "Promise me you won't leave me."

She caught his lips in a soft, tender kiss, the kind that sent shivers through their entire nervous system and lingered for long moments, even after it was broken. "I'll come back. I promise you, if I can, I'll come back."

She didn't.

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The black robes billowed threateningly as the man they swirled around swept through the hall. Some could look at him and see nothing unusual in the sneer and bat like movement. Only those very, very few who knew Severus Snape could tell there was something different, could detect a fear in the cold, black eyes, a certain hesitancy to the steps. Luckily, the sole surviving person who knew Severus was elsewhere, and the tall, foreboding figure could hide his thoughts in peace.

It was early evening on the first day of September, and it was the evening Severus had been waiting for for a very long time. It was the day Harry Potter, the son of his only love and his worst enemy, would come to Hogwarts.

This man, the terror of students for nearly 12 years, settled into his seat next to the very temporary current Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and began a conversation about the many uses of garlic in dangerous potions.

He was waiting. Waiting for that idiot Hagrid to bring the first years into the hall.

At last, the line of terrified looking 11 year olds filed into the room, and Severus broke off his talk with Quirrill abruptly.

There. At the back of the line, just behind yet another Weasley child, was the black haired boy Lily had brought to see him so long ago. He did look just like James. He seemed to be trying to hide his worry, and doing a reasonable job of it, too (not up to Lily's standard, but Lily had been the bravest person Severus had ever met). Only Severus, who knew Lily so well, could recognize that trace of her fear on James's features.

After a moment, Harry was called. He trembled as he walked toward the hat, and closed his eyes as it slipped over his face.

The potions professor closed his eyes as well, and sighed. He made his decision. Without the eyes, the boy was indeed a small James Potter. To Severus, that was when Harry ceased to be Lily's son. That was when he became just an extension of James.

After that, he was merely the reason Lily had died.

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Severus had to get out of there. It was the staff Christmas party, and one of Dumbledore's daughters had brought her family. Her baby son, in particular, cut Severus. He'd wanted a son. And a daughter or two, as well. What was so special about Dumbledore's daughter that she deserved a family when he didn't?

Was it because he was a Death Eater? Was becoming a spy and suffering almost daily not enough penance for his past sins? Could he never pay for what he'd done wrong back then?

Was it because he couldn't save Lily? Because he'd thought that with both Dumbledore protecting her and Voldemort not killing her if she stepped aside, that she'd be safe? Because he hadn't been there to help her?

Or was it simply his fate? Was he simply meant to be alone forever, miserable and bitter, living in the past? Was there nothing he could do but bear it?

His mask was slipping. The sneer was gone. He'd been watching the small boy for much to long, with a wistful look on his face. Minerva was staring at him curiously. He had to get out of there.

With a glare at that meddling Transfiguration teacher, Severus swept from the room and back to his quarters, where he could be miserable, bitter, and alone in peace. Where he didn't need his mask anymore.

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What Severus didn't know was that very soon, he'd be receiving a letter. And armed with the information it contained, he'd learn he had never been alone.