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A/N: So you know, I am not rushing through this. I did read chapter ten three times and the entire story all the way through to ensure continuity and sense. Thank you.
Everyday life took on a surreal quality after Lily learned of the prophecy. Waking beside Severus seemed like a gift. Eating a meal with him made tears come to her eyes. She knew her hormones were causing most of her mood swings, but she was at their mercy. It made for beautiful, sweet moments with Severus and awful, frightening depression when he was away. She hated the need she was developing for him - she could not even nap without him nearby - but fighting it seemed to make it worse.
The evening before Severus was to meet with Dumbledore again, Lily lay in his bed, watching him pace. Every few moments, he would stop and stare at her, then begin pacing once more.
Lily sighed heavily, wiping the tears from her eyes. She had to try and get ahold of herself. She adjusted her nightgown, pulling the blanket tighter around her. She kept getting hot, then cold - it was infuriating.
"Severus, please come to bed," she said softly, her voice barely rising above the sound of his boots on the floor. He was still dressed, but after a moment of contemplation, he sat on the bed to remove his shoes and socks. He stood to remove his trousers and shirt before slipping under the covers beside her. They had to lay intertwined due to lack of space, but Lily preferred it that way. His thin leg between hers as they lay facing each other made her think dirty thoughts. Or maybe it was another part of him pressing against her. Or the hormones.
Either way, Lily slid her hands into his hair, fingers pressing against his scalp with steady pressure. She let her thumbs linger over his temples, his eyes sliding shut. His face relaxed under her fingers and she moved to kiss him. He kept his lips shut as she tried to push her tongue in his mouth and she pulled back, surprised.
His eyes opened and she was held by his gaze. "Tomorrow we find out where we will be hiding. Aren't you concerned at all?"
She was surprised by his response, but did not change her intentions. She slid her hands from his head to pull his body closer to hers. "Of course. However, worrying about it won't change a thing, Sev."
"If we aren't pleased with his offer, we could leave on our own."
She kissed from his chin to the corner of his mouth, taking her time. "Perhaps," her voice huskier than she intended - her body was almost acting separately from her mind, "but we would be safer with Dumbledore's support."
His eyes closed as their lips met and he let her sweep her tongue into his mouth. She slid her tongue over his crooked tooth - for old time's sake, if nothing else - and felt his grasp tighten on her. He seemed to be relaxing even more and she couldn't help but smile as he kissed her back. Her body's response to his lips and tongue still surprised her. After the weeks together, the hormones she couldn't control and the news that their happy accident was to vanquish the darkest wizard in the world...well...the entire situation was overwhelming to say the least. Instead of pushing them apart, however, it had brought them closer together. Lily could breathe easier when able to feel Severus's firm flesh under her hand.
She briefly wondered if her dependence on him was right. She quickly dismissed the thought. Their relationship was not normal by any standards and so new rules would have to be applied to their family - her hands going to her belly...the word echoing in her head...family.
Severus seemed to consider the conversation at an end by the way he was kissing her, his hands sliding under her nightgown with expertise Lily was very pleased he had acquired. She ignored all her other thoughts as the nightie was flung to the floor.
Lily waited anxiously for Severus to return from Hogwart's. She found it nearly impossible to stay awake sitting in the stiff chairs in the sitting room, so she had moved to the kitchen - the small table just big enough for two. Severus had given her a book to read while he was away. She smiled as she re-read the title, A Witch's Guide. It was an older book - thick and dusty, but she was looking forward to reading it - even if it was not completely current. There was a drawing of a flower on the opening page. She thumbed through it, laughing at the old-fashioned ideas and careful avoidance of words such as "pregnant" or "uterus." She heard the sound of the floo and jumped up to meet Severus.
He was standing before the tiny liquor cabinet (a part of a cabinet really), pouring what appeared to be his second slug of amber liquid into a glass. He put it back quickly before turning to her. His eyes were red and his face was pale, but Lily couldn't tell if he was angry or sad. She stepped toward him, arms outstretched.
"How did it go?"
Severus laughed. It made Lily's blood run cold. She lowered her arms and stopped short of him.
"Dumbledore has a cottage we can stay at until after the birth - apparently, one of the Order members will come to help with labor and then..." He finished his third drink and slammed the glass onto the table. "Then I will take a job at Hogwart's. That will keep our child - and us, I suppose - neatly under Dumbledore's thumb." His eyes were blazing, his fists clenching and unclenching.
She reached for him slowly - afraid to scare him off or upset him. His eyes shut when her hands wrapped around his wrists and she put them around her, stepping into his arms. She reached up, sliding her hands around his neck. "And that troubles you?"
He hugged her tightly then, her breath leaving in a gasp. She clutched back with matched fervor without knowing why. Finally, he whispered into the silence. "Regulus Black is dead."
She stilled in the embrace - unsure what to do. She was honestly not sure of Severus's relationship to the young Slytherin, but her thoughts immediately went to Sirius. For all his posturing and blustering, she imagined he would be upset to have lost his younger brother.
"What happened?" she asked softly, not releasing her tight grip on him.
His voice was soft, but angry. "All I know is he was...unhappy with his choices - there was something he wanted to discuss with me, but I...I didn't have the time and then I was with you and then..." She thought a sob escaped Severus, but she wasn't sure. "All they know is he left and did not return. His house elf appears to know Regulus won't be returning to Grimmauld Place, but refuses to say why. Dumbledore suspects..." This time, Lily could not deny the emotion choking his words. She was definitely not aware of Severus's relationship with Black.
She held his head against her, trying to impart comfort. He pulled back to meet her eyes and Lily was surprised to see he was not crying. He looked furious. She must have appeared frightened. He smiled at her, but it was forced and they both knew it. It left his face immediately, replaced by nothing at all. He no longer appeared angry or sad...simply blank. That frightened her far more than the anger.
He seemed to snap out of it, turning to meet her eyes. She sighed with relief to see the affection in his gaze. "I should have spoken to him. I could have--"
Lily stopped him with her hand on his mouth. His eyes widened and she hid a sad smile. "There was nothing you could do, Sev. I am so sorry. He was so young...but...I hope you don't regret spending the time with...me..."
He shook his head. "No no no...I just..." He sighed and tucked her hair behind her ear, kissing her softly before smiling sadly. "I can't help but think of what will happen when I am nowhere to be found come Halloween, Lily. What if I disappear like Regulus? What if you disappear?" At this, his eyes seemed to gloss over - Lily realised it was tears.
"We're going to do something to prevent that, Severus. All we can do is try our best."
He nodded, but buried his face in her neck. She didn't feel the wet tears she expected, just his soft lips and the pointed tip of his nose. She held him that way for quite some time - aware of the way he held her, clung to her, kissed her neck. She couldn't think of anything but comforting him - in truth, she was beyond relieved at Dumbledore's suggestion. It was not ideal, but she and Severus together - alone - for six months - safe - or as safe as could be expected - she was almost excited.
Regulus's death was a frightening development. It was not a good sign. She knew it would weigh on Severus and that alone caused her heart to ache. The idea their family might end up the same way made her want to be ill. She couldn't help but think of Regulus - her last memory of him was vague, but he had been so small - and the idea of his life ending so early caused tears to well in her eyes.
Severus took a small step back - black eyes locked to green, and knelt, still holding to her hand. Her eyebrows pulled together and her head tilted to one side.
"Lily, despite the terror and uncertainty of our future, I cannot imagine spending it with anyone else. Please forgive me for not doing this sooner. Marry me and you will make me the happiest wizard in the world."
The grin on her face was almost painful and her hands were shaking as she reached for him - lowering onto her knees to meet him, to hug him, to kiss him. She could see nervous he was - he was trembling - but he began to relax as they snogged, her hands forcing their way through his robes and shirts to his skin. She exposed his firm, flat stomach, then quickly yanked up her own shirt to press her noticeably softer stomach against his. She adored the skin to skin - needed it, especially now. She was kissing him, trying to undress him, but he grabbed her wrists suddenly, almost painfully.
"Well?" he said abruptly, his eyes suddenly unfamiliar. She simply stared back at him - feeling momentarily irritated.
Then she remembered where she was and what he was asking. "Of course, yes."
He hugged her to him, his long arms wrapping around her, pinning her against him. He murmured into her hair, softly, voice deceptively calm. She wished she could see his face. "Lily, nothing would please me more than to make you my wife, but I will not marry you simply because you are pregnant with my child."
She thought she would choke on her next words, but she forced them out somehow. "Would you really refuse to marry me, Severus?" What was she doing? She was poking the dragon - kicking the hinkypunk...definitely asking for trouble.
He seemed genuinely surprised at the question, but she could hear the effort in his soft tone of voice. "I am in love with you, Lily. Perhaps you love me, but aren't in love." She felt his arms tighten around her - probably so she wouldn't look at his face. "There is no reason to marry if you would rather not. Convention cannot dictate our lives. We could raise...him or her...together - unmarried."
"I don't want that. I want to marry you, Sev," she couldn't help but force him to look at her - to meet her eyes. He was not hiding his fear and she knew how incredibly afraid he must be. "The bond of marriage would better protect us both, as well as junior." She rubbed her cheek against his before meeting his eyes again. He seemed to have relaxed minutely, but she continued to nuzzle him, whispering to him, ("I love you" "I can't live without you") and finally, his mouth met hers - and she knew he understood - he must have. His tongue moved possessively in her mouth, his hands tightening on her, hips pressed against her.
"I'm sorry, Lily, so sorry..." His hands moved into her hair as he brought his lips to hers. "I am a fool - you know me too well." His kisses were getting hotter, deeper...Lily could feel her body responding to him even though she wanted to ask him one more thing - just one last question. But her mouth was occupied and she listened to him whisper to her. "I would marry you if you wanted me to...even if you refused to speak to me...if you despised me...if you were carrying the child of a bloody Hufflepuff...I am yours, Lily..." The dull ache in her chest sharpened as they sank further to the floor. She sat on his lap, her knees smacking the wood floor.
She didn't feel it - his hand had found it's way into her knickers - all she could focus on was the tension building within as his long, slightly rough fingers stroked her. She pressed against him - needing to feel more - to feel whole before losing herself completely.
Suddenly he stopped - moved her off of him - stood and gave her a sweet, crooked smile - one she hadn't seen in far too long.
"I love you." It gushed from her and he took her hand, pulling her toward the stairs leading to the second floor. She resisted, instead pulling him into her arms. "Maybe we could light a fire...put out a few blankets."
He seemed resistant for a moment, but nodded and moved away from her.
Within five minutes, Severus and Lily sat before a warm fire - the chairs in the sitting room moved away to make room for a blanket Severus laid out. They settled onto it together - his arms around her, their lips meeting with passion and warmth.
"So we'll be married?" She said it softly - wanting nothing more than confirmation - to hear him say it.
"Whenever you would like."
His head pulled from her neck, lips slightly parted. "Really?"
"Absolutely. Why wait? Dumbledore can perform the bonding."
He scoffed at the name, looking away. "I wish I could give you the large wedding in white robes--"
Her hand covered his mouth and she shook her head. "There are more important things, Sev." She grabbed his hands, bringing them to her stomach. "Please believe me."
He searched her eyes - she let him - it was easier than shying away now. "As self-deprecating and self-sacrificing as I can be, as you have pointed out, if you want me, I...I cannot say no." His gaze was so steady it made her uncomfortable for a moment.
She smiled uneasily, her hands sliding into his hair. "I figured."
His eyes darted to the fire so she couldn't see his face. She tried tugging his head to her, but he put up resistance. She just kneaded his scalp...waiting.
When he finally looked at her again, his face was blank. She kept her face as neutral as she could. She wasn't struck by how nervous she was about what he might say.
"If you break my heart now, Lily..." He trailed off. She met his eyes defiantly - with a confidence she hadn't tapped into in some time.
"I know exactly what I am doing. Tomorrow, I will marry the father of my child - an important child...not because of some prediction or unique circumstances. Our child is important because it is ours." She squeezed him to emphasize - he was trembling. "I haven't lost my mind or given up anything I truly wanted for this. I will go away willingly - with you."
Lily saw the tear fall from Severus's eye and couldn't help but grab it with her fingertip. "Don't be sad," she whispered.
He shook his head, his lips nuzzling her jawline. "I...ah, my dear, sweet Lily, you have no idea what you have gotten yourself into."
She smiled. "I have a pretty good idea."
He kissed her, his hands moving back into her knickers, her small hands pushing his shirt off of him - desperate for skin contact - the fire warm, but his skin seemed so much warmer. She needed to feel it.
He moved away, peeling off his shirt, then hers with quick, efficient movements. "Come here..." he growled at her, pressing his torso to hers and his lips to her face. "...I love you, Lily."
She smiled, returning his kisses and thrusting hips. "I love you, too." Her eyes slid shut and she focused on how much fun it was going to be to christen this depressing, gray room - to come home forever after (however long that might be) and think of her and Severus moving together - as one - his soft moans bouncing off the fireplace, then absorbed by the books lining the walls. Her sighs were becoming groans, but all she could hear was his voice - his pleasure.
Approaching the gates of Hogwart's, Lily straightened her robes. During dinner hour, Dumbledore would perfom the bonding - basically an Unbreakable Vow - by the lake.
The short hair and stature of the wizard at the gates made it clear Severus had not come to meet her.
She held her head high as she approached Potter, but did not meet his eyes. He waited silently until she touched the gates before opening them for her.
It had not been all that long since Lily had last seen Potter, but he looked even worse, if that was possible. She was struck by how old he appeared...as if he had taken to smoking giant cigars in a tiny room or taking a rotten aging potion...both of which Lily knew he wouldn't do.
Her curiousity got the better of her. "Are you all right, Potter?"
His eyes narrowed and the corner of his mouth twitched. It drew her attention immediately - she stared at the spot - waiting for it to happen again. Instead, he spoke - the words turning his mouth ugly. "Imagine my horror to be requested as a witness for the bonding of my..." She watched him swallow heavily - and his lip twitched. "...of you and...and him."
His words were meant to wound, but Lily felt nothing. No, she wanted to feel nothing. She was sad...and angry. She couldn't bear to see James so hurt - the dark circles beneath his hazel eyes, the stubble on his chin - even the way his slightly pouty lip twitched - it projected exactly what she could feel emanating from him - pain.
She deserved it, though. It was all her fault.
"James, I'm sorry you were asked. I can't fathom why Dumbledore--"
"Longbottom and I are the only ones available." He stepped forward. "I'm sure he knew that."
"No," she said softly, searching his eyes for a glimmer of the old James Potter - the young man who was more than ready to live life to the fullest and could have fun in any situation. He was known for his easy smiles. Where was the lighthearted laugh despite the grim circumstances?
He was so close now - she felt the panic, but was frozen to the spot by the look in his eyes.
"I chose the date," she whispered.
James stepped forward again, grabbing her wrist in his overly warm hand. "It would be easier if he was using you." She felt her face twist, but he didn't stop. "Then there might be hope. Have you ever tried to live without hope, Lily?" He released her wrist and stepped back, averting his eyes in the process. "I hope you know what you're doing. I can't let you get hurt."
She pulled her shoulders back. "Please don't worry about me, Potter. I am no longer your concern." His eyes snapped to hers so quickly, she almost looked away. Instead, she held his gaze - letting the moments tick by, letting her words sink in.
A voice behind her forced her to break eye contact with the wizard before her...who showed no sign of looking away.
"Time to go, Lily." Turning to the voice, her face as blank as possible, she headed for Severus's outstretched arms. She couldn't imagine what was occurring - silently - between the two men, but after only a moment or two, she and Severus began the walk to the lake.
Lily knew his silence was a bad sign - his face gave it away. His lips were compressed into a thin line, eyes narrowed. When her feet started to drag and she felt him pulling on her arm, she stopped in her tracks. He sighed heavily, his hands becoming fists as they fell to his sides.
"Nothing happened, Severus."
He glared at her - anything sweet or soft gone as if it had never been there at all. His voice was as harsh as she'd ever heard it.
"Are you still in love with him?"
"Of course with Potter! Is there someone else I need worry about?"
"No? I saw how he was looking at you - and for how long. I admit I am a fool, but I'm not bloody stupid."
"I don't like to see him like that, Severus. Surely even you can see how he's hurting."
He scoffed. "You seem to forget I was in his place not long ago. I was looking at the remainder of my life without you." His eyes widened - something obviously snapping into place - and the tension he held began to ease. He reached for her and she went to him - feigning reluctance. As soon as his arms were around her, she couldn't help but hug him tightly. "It would be me in his place if not for..."
"We would've been friends again eventually, Sev. I doubt I could go my entire life without you - at least as my friend."
His arms tightened around her. "That wouldn't be enough for me now, Lily." His serious tone surprised her. "I...I would be nothing without you." He kissed her cheek. "How can you not see how you affect me...or...Potter?"
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, Lily..." His long fingers slid over her cheek as he tucked her hair behind her ear. "So beautiful...so naive."
"I am not!" Severus raised one eyebrow. "Oh and you are so mature, aren't you, Severus Snape?" She fought her frustration - a noise coming from her not unlike a growl. "You never answer my questions!"
He seemed slightly uncomfortable, but wrapped his arms around her tightly. "Lily, my love, my dearest...he is still in love with you."
She shook her head. "I think he's sore he lost his girlfriend to someone he sees as an enemy. That is a serious blow to his ego."
Severus was fighting a smirk - it made her smile. "I am certain. For that reason, as well as others, I would think he is waiting for the right time to try again...to try to take you away from me again."
She ran her hands over his robes. "Oh stop."
He hugged her tightly, pinning her arms, her face smashed against his chest. "Once was enough."
Glancing up, she was mesmerized by his eyes. She could stare into them for days and never find a bit of color. Now she saw the sunset reflecting in his eyes and couldn't look away.
"I won't let you go again."
"You won't need to, Severus."
A/N: So, I was going to end the chapter after the ceremony, but boy is this one long chapter! Plus, the next part is written but not typed and it's getting late and blah blah blah. There is a direction here - and an ending. Thanks so much for reading and Happy Valentine's Day!