Title: Four Times Severus' Love Was Unrequited (And One Time It Wasn't)
Rating: PG
Warnings: slight angst, a bit of fluff, slight AU because I added some events that didn't happen in canon. Nothing really major.
Characters/Pairings: Severus Snape/Lily Evans, James Potter/Lily Evans, Petunia Evans
Summary: Four times things were never really understood, and one time he hoped for everything.
Disclaimer: Characters, the magical world, etc, is property of J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros, not me. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: This is chronicled from the time Severus was seventeen to the time he was about ten. To be accurate: 17 (18, if you will), 16, 14, 11, 10. Many thanks to Kat who agreed to beta this for me at the last minute. Written for the hp-fivethings community at livejournal. Sev/Lily is the pairing closest to canon that I love. I haven't written this long a one-shot for HP in so long, so I hope you like it! :)

ooo

It ends in wistful thoughts.

In not the first time that he feels broken, it is Petunia who watches him unfold, beneath the shade, upon the dewy grass.

"She's brought home a new boy, you know," she tells him quietly, unaware of how tightly he's gripping his too big shirt at the news.

He doesn't even turn to look at her. "Why are you telling me this?"

Tuney scowls, a light tinge of pink upon her bony cheeks. Reluctantly, she replies, "I just thought it was a bit strange that you two haven't been hanging out since summer started. You've been inseparable for so long now, and all of a sudden she hasn't said a word about you since she came back, and she used to prattle about you before, but now she's got a new boyfriend—"

"Shut up." Somewhere nearby, a branch breaks off from a tree, and Tuney is reminded of when they were younger and the same thing had happened. She flinches all too visibly, but she's still there, stubborn and yet all too unlike her pretty sister.

"Well, he is, isn't he? At least he's better-looking, and he seems to have fancied Lily for so long now."

Another crack. This time, Petunia merely sneers.

"But then again, you have, too, ever since you saw her flying on the swings. My sister may not have seen it, but I have. You love her like a dog loves its master, but she doesn't notice, does she? Or maybe she has, but perhaps she won't allow herself to fancy the wretched boy over the one with the glasses? Have you ever told her, Snape? Have you—"

A third branch breaks somewhere on her left, missing her by a foot. "I'm warning you, you nasty Muggle," he hisses, and the air is crackling with magic. "Leave me alone, or I'll hurt you enough to scream." And he means it, too, because someone, anyone, had to cry, at least right now.

She takes a step back, eventually, but just before she disappears behind the bushes, she stops, looking at him with hardened eyes. "I only really came here to tell you that because I thought I felt sorry for you. Even I thought she'd choose you eventually, but I suppose you're just too much of a coward. Lily's better off without you."

She doesn't see his fingers clutching at the grass, doesn't hear the faint sob that escapes his lips.

The next time he sees Lily, he remembers her sister's words. Her pretty eyes are trained upon Potter, and somehow, somehow—he wonders if it has always been that way.

But she doesn't notice, does she?

It is all about growing up.

He thinks she, of all people, would have understood that there are things a boy wants at the age of sixteen, but she doesn't. He, an unwanted boy, a half-blood, a traitor – he has always needed acceptance.

He thinks, at sixteen, that it is important to gain friendship with Avery, acknowledgment from Mulciber, power within the Common Room, and an amount of pride before Potter.

But he sees it in her eyes: anger, disappointment, a lingering question hanging over the green that reminds him always of something only theirs. But at my expense, Severus?

He thinks that she, of all people, would have understood. She knew him best, after all.

"But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different?"

There are things a boy at sixteen wants. Ambition. Success. Power. Everything his heart desires, just to get the girl. To impress her, to make him, the worthless, unwanted boy, an inch worthier to have her.

He loves her. The words are at the tip of his tongue, at the brim of his heart.

"Lily, I—"

His lips quiver, his hands try desperately to reach hers, but she is gone, gone, into the Portrait Hole, and out of his life, almost, forever.

It is always the small things.

They're fourteen, and he doesn't understand how they fight almost every day over matters involving other people: Avery, Mulciber, Macdonald, the Dark Lord, Potter and his friends. If anything, he thinks it's stupid, because whenever he is with her, there is no one else worth thinking of.

But the more she speaks of Potter, the more he feels her slipping from his grasp.

She doesn't think he notices, but he does. Every time he enters the room, he sees the way her eyes gleam just a little bit more, and the way her cheeks redden just a bit too lightly. He only hopes it isn't because of anything else but contempt.

"You don't like him, do you, Lily?" he asks her one day, again. His black eyes are upon her, wide, desperate and almost pathetically earnest for her answer, because he knows the way Potter looks at her, and it is only a matter of time before, before

"I told you, Sev, I don't," she reiterates, annoyed. "Even if he were the last boy on earth, alright? Believe me."

He isn't convinced at all, no matter how elated he feels that she still somewhat resents the boy. But he knows, he knows, how he's slowly losing her, no matter what he does, no matter how close he tries to keep her, no matter how hard he tries to be better than him.

He alone will never be enough for her, he later realizes, because they are growing up, because of this brewing war, because of their ambitions, because of all the rest of the world who didn't even matter, not at all, to him.

It is always what's unsaid.

He almost panics that he won't catch her just in time.

He doesn't.

James Potter does, instead, with a magnificent dive on the school broomstick. He catches her perfectly in his thin arms, his glasses askew, as Lily clutches at his robes and hangs on.

It doesn't take seconds to find another reason to resent him, the already too perfect, popular boy-turned-hero. Flying lessons has made him even more likeable to everyone else, and even more bigheaded than he already is.

When they're finally alone, he talks to her properly, somewhere by the lake, in between heartbeats and sundown.

"I didn't ask to be saved by that jerk," she starts, flipping her hair angrily. "I'd rather have my arm broken than be caught by Potter."

He doesn't respond. But I saw the way you clung to him, Lily, he wants to say, I saw how frightened you were. But he doesn't; instead, he takes her hand and traces the slight bruise that she'd gotten from the incident.

"I meant to save you, Lily," he murmurs slightly, looking shyly up at her, "But he was faster."

"It wasn't your fault, Sev."

"I wanted to catch you." And he remembers running, running across the pitch, not caring at all that Slytherins weren't supposed to save Gryffindors, forgetting that there was such a thing as magic. She was falling, falling, and he wanted, so badly, to be the one she clung onto.

"Well, I most certainly don't need any saving," Lily says defiantly, stubborn and independent as she always was. "I'm not some helpless damsel, and Madam Pomfrey can fixany injury, anyway."

She pulls back her hand and smiles bravely. But he watches, frowning, as she makes her way to the shore, her fiery hair billowing lightly in the breeze.

I want to be the one to catch you, always, Lily, he wants to say, but he doesn't; somehow he knows she'll never let him. If there is anything that terrifies him, it is losing her, but she doesn't understand that—not yet.

It starts with forever.

She always cries about Tuney, whom he knows is only really envious of what they have, of where they'll go, together. Her pretty green eyes are wet with tears, and a boy like him knows nothing about comforting a girl like her.

But he tries anyway, stroking her hair awkwardly, wishing she'll stop soon. He hates seeing her sad, because, if anything, he is already sad enough for the both of them.

"But I'll be with you, Lily," he says uncertainly, his pale cheeks flushing, "We'll be together in Hogwarts, and during the holidays, and—" And you'll forget Tuney, and I'll never make you cry.

Her small arms find their way around his neck, and he falls, with her, upon the grass, beneath the shade, in their small hideaway by the riverbank. His heartbeat stammers, and his shirt is wet from her tears.

"You promise?" She mumbles, and he nods against her hair, his hands slowly finding their way across her back.

"You know we'll be together, Lily."

"Always?"

She hugs him even tighter, closer, and he knows he'll remember this for the rest of his life.

"Always."

end