D/c: I do not own any of the characters you recognize. Everything else is original and mine =)

Chapter Eighteen: Moving On

Severus was up and moving only a day later. By then, Lily's grief had hit full force, so crippling that she couldn't get out of bed. That left Severus to run around the mansion to get her food and tea, which she drank an abundance of when she was upset. He didn't mind, but it meant that once again, he was subject to running into James and his cronies.

He met Remus first, to his relief. The worn down boy looked startled, but was more curious than intent on harming Severus.

"Snape," he frowned. "What are you doing here?"

Severus returned his look. "Potter's parents didn't tell you? Death Eaters attacked Lily's house last night and then went after her when they realized she wasn't home."

Remus' tired eyes popped open wide. "Is she okay? What happened?" he demanded.

"She's fine physically," Severus answered. "I took the curses meant for her, so she wasn't harmed. Emotionally, she's a wreck. I can't get her out of bed."

Remus swallowed hard. "Who did she lose?"

"Her parents," Severus murmured, realizing how hard the news would hit. Even the Marauders were well acquainted with Lily's parents after their summer trip. This would be difficult for them all to get past.

Remus' gaze dropped to the floor as a display of his own grief. "I was afraid you'd say that," he murmured, his tone heavy with sorrow. "Can I do anything?"

"I don't know, honestly," Sev sighed, rubbing his face. "I'm doing the best I can, but it hasn't helped a lot so far. I doubt she'll eat, but I'm going to bring her some food and tea. Maybe company would help right now? You always seemed to be good at cheering her up. Seeing you might get her talking again, at least."

"I'll give it a shot," Remus assured. "And I'll tell James and Sirius to cool it for a few days so she doesn't have to deal with them."

Sev nodded. "I really appreciate that."

"Well, don't thank me. Christmas season, good cheer and all that," the teen wolf muttered before walking off.

Sev paused and smiled as Remus faded from sight. That kid wasn't so bad, for a wolf.

"Sev, come on. I don't want to," Lily groaned, tossing aside the dress that had been laid out for her. She buried her face back in the pillow, curling up in bed.

"Lil, you're not staying up here while everyone else is having fun. It's Christmas Eve!"

"I don't want to go to a party. I'll just drag everyone else down," her muffled voice whined against the pillow's fabric.

"Lily Elizabeth, get out of bed. I am not going down there to deal with Potter by myself," Severus scowled. "Get dressed and let's go."

After a moment, she peeked up at him. "Fine," she muttered as she pushed herself upright and snatched the dress off the bed.

Severus couldn't help being proud of himself for standing up to her. As far as he was concerned, his days of being a pushover were gone. From now on, he was going to do what was best for her even if she didn't want him to.

He adjusted his own dress clothes for the night, a gift from the Potters. Normally, he would have hated the charity, but it was his first really good set of dress robes and he wanted to look nice for Lily. He straightened his bow tie as he stared into the mirror, grinning. Even his hair looked good, cut short and grease-free. Who knew switching to a decent shampoo could do so much?

Lily cleared her throat behind him and he turned, mouth dropping open. She was a vision, standing before him in a glittering gold gown with her hair curled and cascading down over one shoulder.

"Well?" she asked, biting her lip nervously.

He realized he'd been silent and staring for too long. "Uh, well," he cleared his throat. "Wow. You look incredible, Lily."

"Stop it," she blushed, although it looked like she was trying to resist the involuntary act.

"Truly," he promised, taking her hand to kiss it. "The belle of the ball, as always."

"It's not a ball, and shove off," she huffed. "Sev, I don't want you to make me smile."

"Then you shouldn't have come out tonight," he teased, hugging her. "Now come on! It's Christmas Eve!"

She sighed and allowed him to lead her out, down to the main hallway, and to the top of the ballroom's grand staircase. There, they paused and surveyed the high class party taking place in the room below.

"Shall we, m'lady?" Sev grinned as he offered her his arm.

"If I have to," was her bleak response as she took his arm and the two descended.

The gala was as dull an affair as Lily feared it would be. Severus seemed to be having fun living the high life, but Lily really wasn't interested. She thought it was too excessive, wasteful almost. She stood next to the refreshment table as her boyfriend mingled, gaining admirers of his revolutionary potions practices each time he spoke of them.

"He really should start an apothecary," Remus murmured in her ear as he sidled up beside her.

"We've talked about it," she replied as she sipped at her champagne. "We'll need some seed money, but I think we're going to do it."

"Is that what you want to do, though?"

"Are you kidding? Organizing inventory, working with people, helping them heal? I would love it," she assured, eyes glued to Severus. "And I know it would make him happy. He deserves that."

Remus smiled, glad she was talking about the hopeful future instead of fixating on her recent tragedies. "Good. As long as you're happy too, Lily. That's all we want for you, you know. That's all Severus wants for you too. As much as I hate to admit it, he's a decent guy."

He glanced over just in time to see her crack a smile. He never thought he'd be so glad to see that grin again, but he felt a huge swell of relief when he noticed it. It was such a natural part of Lily's personality that he often took it for granted.

"I am glad to see that after six years, you are coming around," Lily informed. "He's a very sweet man. None of you could see that in the past because of James' unhealthy crush on me, though." She looked around the room before asking, "Where is he? I haven't seen him once since I arrived."

"Chelsea came for a visit," Remus grinned. "He's been with her nonstop. I think they're dancing right now."

"She's here?" she repeated in surprised, her gaze settling at last on the couple. "Are they dating yet?"

"He's planning to ask her tonight," Remus confirmed.

"Good," Lily nodded. "They need to be together. They're so sweet." She watched James whisper something in Chelsea's ear and the two moved toward the exit, pausing only to grab their coats. "He's going to do it now, I'll be you anything."

"Who's going to do what?" Severus asked as he walked over and greeted her with a kiss on the cheek.

"James is asking Chelsea to be his girlfriend," Lily filled him in. "I never thought I'd see the day."

"Nobody did," Remus added. "About time, though."

"You're not kidding," Lily smirked, and for the rest of the evening, the light returned to her eyes.

A/n: Guys, I am so sorry that took almost two months to get this up! Things got crazy busy and I'm in the process of editing my own original novel to be published but, well, it's a novel. It's really long and there's a lot of work that goes into editing it. So I don't know when I'll have the next one up, but I hope you enjoyed this one! =)