Atonement

Oct 31, 1995

"Get out, get out, I don't want to see you in this office ever again!" Severus yelled!

Wearily, Severus sat down exhausted as Potter exited from his office. He breathed heavily as thoughts of the past echoed through his mind. He had vowed to never think of that memory again, but thanks to Potter's defiance and Protego spell, he had to live out his worst memory again.

"Why must that moment continue to haunt me?" he irritatedly mused to himself. "It sickens me to think that I still feel chills when I live that moment."

Severus thought of his school years and the Marauders torment of hanging him upside down or calling him Snivellus and his foul disposition worsened. He remembered how much he hated Potter; both of them. However, he knew he was fortunate, Potter had not seen the aftermath of the incident, the reason that it was his worst memory. Potter had only seen Lily's actions towards him, but didn't see what he did later on for Lily; apologize.

The expression on his facing softened to a pensive, thoughtful one. He sighed, looked up at the ceiling, and closed his eyes remembering what happened on that fateful day.

He was sitting under a tree at the time studying his OWL paper, unaware of the approach of the Maraunders

"All right, Snivellus?" James calls out

He quickly drops his bag and makes a desperate move to try and grab his wand, as James shouts, "Expelliarmus!"

Sirius howls with laughter, as James's taunting smirk widens. As he feebly attempts to retrieve his wand, James again shouts, "Impedimenta" and he is knocked to the ground. Helpless, Severus feels nothing else at this point but utter hatred and loathing at James Potter.

"How'd the exam go, Snivelly?" said James

"I was watching him, his nose was touching the parchment," Sirius sneers. "There'll be great grease marks all over it;, they won't be able to read a word."

Several spectators nearby laughed as he struggled against the curse, trying to get up. He pants, "You — wait! You — wait" with an expression of pure loathing.

"Wait for what?" said Sirius smirking, "What're you going to do, Snivelly, wipe your snot on us?'

Severus vehemently screamed out a barrage of swear words and hexes, but without his wand, nothing happened.

"Wash out your mouth," said James coldly. "Scourgify!"

Pink soap bubbles streamed from Snape's mouth at once; the froth was covering his lips, making him gag, choking him, -

"Leave him ALONE!"

James and Sirius both turned around to see an upset Lily Evans coming towards them.

"All right, Evans?" James said, and the tone of his voice was suddenly pleasant, deeper, more mature.

Lily glares at James,

"Leave him alone," Lily repeated, with every sign of great dislike. "What's he done to you?"

"Well," said James, appearing to deliberate the point, "it's more the fact that he exists, if you know what I mean…"

Many of the surrounding watchers laughed, Sirius and Wormtail included, but Lupin, still apparently intent on his book, didn't, and neither did Lily.

"You think you're funny,' she said icily. "But you're just an arrogant, bullying toerag, Potter. Leave him alone."

"I will if you go out with me, Evans," said James quickly. "Go on… go out with me and I'll never lay a wand on old Snivelly again."

Severus could feel the Impediment Jinx was wearing off and was inching towards his falling wand, spitting out soapsuds as he crawled.

"I wouldn't go out with you if it was a choice between you and the giant squid," said Lily disgustedly.

"Bad luck, Prongs," said Sirius briskly, and turned back to Severus. "OY!"

But too late; Severus had directed his wand straight at James and hexed him; there was a flash of light and a gash appeared on the side of James's face, spattering his robes with blood. James whirled around, raised his wand, and immediately Severus was hanging upside-down in the air, his robes falling over his head to reveal skinny, pallid legs and a pair of greying underpants.

Many people in the small crowd cheered; Sirius, James and Wormtail roared with laughter.

Lily, whose furious expression had twitched for an instant as though she was going to smile, said, "Let him down!"

"Certainly," said James and he jerked his wand upwards; Severus fell into a crumpled heap on the ground. Disentangling himself from his robes he got quickly to his feet, wand up, but Sirius was quicker, "Petrificus Totalus!"and Severus kneeled over again, rigid as a board.

"LEAVE HIM ALONE!" Lily shouted. She had her own wand out now. James and Sirius eyed it warily.

"Ah, Evans, don't make me hex you," James said sincerely.

"Take the curse off him, then!" Lily snapped

James sighed deeply, then turned to Severus and muttered the counter-curse.

"There you go," he said, as Severus struggled to his feet. "You're lucky Evans was here, Snivellus –"

Here was the part he regretted. The one word that was the breaking of what could have been; One simple word.

"I don't need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!"

Lily blinked.

"Fine," she said coolly. "I won't bother in the future. And I'd wash your pants if I were you, Snivellus."

"Apologise to Evans!" James roared at Severus, his wand pointed threateningly at him.

"I don't want you to make him apologise," Lily shouted, turning on James."'You're as bad as he is."

"What?" yelped James. "I'd NEVER call you a - you-know-what!"

"Messing up your hair because you think it looks cool to look like you've just got off your broomstick, showing off with that stupid Snitch, walking down corridors and hexing anyone who annoys you just because you can - I'm surprised your broomstick can get off the ground with that fat head on it. You make me SICK."

She turned on her heel and hurried away.

"Evans!" James shouted after her. "Hey, EVANS!"

But she didn't look back.

Severus opened his eyes for a moment to reflect. He remembered promising he would never allow himself to be humiliated in such a fashion ever again. However the most tragic part, the moment that deserved the prize of worst memory was his confrontation with Lily. He remembers that all too clearly, and hurts him more than the teasing and taunting of James Potter or the Marauders could ever have. He closes his eyes once more, as his facial expression again changes from thoughtful to melancholy.

Severus waited outside the portrait hole for Lily. He hoped that his plea of sleeping outside the tower would be enough incentive for Lily to come out so he could apologize. He had nearly dozed off when a familiar voice said his name,

"Severus," said Lily abruptly, and he quickly opened his eyes

"Lily, I waited out here hoping you'd show up. I wanted to tell you –"

"Severus" Lily interrupted "It's over between us. You personally ended the friendship that we had. There's nothing more you can say to bring it back. I suggest you go back to your dormitory before I call Professor Mcgonagall"

He could not remember the last time he had heard such cold words from her mouth.

"Lily please, I'm sorry" Severus said desperately, imploring to those emerald eyes for forgiveness.

"I'm not interested," she answered crisply

"I'm sorry!" Severus repeated, his voice taking on a greater urgency than before

"Save your breath!" Lily exclaimed with indignation. She wasn't going to let him persuade her which such excuses. Excuses he made time and time again, in which she had always been so lenient and understanding. She couldn't take it anymore.

"Look, I never meant to call you Mudblood, it just –"

'Slipped out?' She said hotly "It's too late. I've made excuses for you for years. None of my friends can understand why I even talk to you. You and your precious Death Eater friends." Lily knew this was one of the main reasons she could not forgive him. She had told him, urged him, to give up those "friends" for her sake, but he refused

Silence echoed through the hallway as Severus had no reply to Lily

"See!" She cried, throwing up her arms in the air. "You don't even deny it! You don't even deny that's what you're all aiming to be! You can't wait to join You-Know-Who, can you?"

Severus opened his mouth slightly to speak, but he couldn't think of anything to say. Lily watched this spectacle becoming even more annoyed. She wanted to finish this conversation and never see his face again.

"I can't pretend anymore. You've chosen your way, I've chosen mine." Lily said as she made a move to go back through the portrait hole

"No, listen –" Severus pleaded frantically to Lily 'I didn't mean –'

"– to call me Mudblood?" She said coldly, glaring back into his eyes "But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different?"

Severus struggled to think, but could not find an answer that Lily would accept; An answer that would make her understand. Severus could only watch as Lily stepped back through the portrait hole, without a further glance back at him, and disappeared. For the first time, Severus felt truly miserable as a coldness engulfed him.

Severus slowly opened his eyes and felt so very old as if all the world's woes had suddenly all been put on his shoulders. He got up from his chair, exited his office, to head off for bed. He sometimes wondered if he got some sort of twisted pleasure from hurting himself. He did not need to recollect all these petty memories.

"Sleep will wash away these childish thoughts and I can deal with Potter in the morning. Maybe I'll give a surprise test for the Gryffindor's only?" Severus thought smirking.

As Severus finally feel asleep, his childish thoughts did not vanish and another dream of his past started to play. It was the dream of the last time he and Lily had spoken before leaving Hogwarts; the last time he ever saw those emerald eyes.