Letters From The Dark
Chapter 26
Avoiding
Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling, nor do I own the Harry Potter Series.

...many parents are livid, claiming that Dumbledore's aims to institute a fund to help support Muggleborn students attending Hogwarts and the schools around are discriminating against similarly in need members of our community. Between this and his previous stance that students attending Hogwarts will only go towards those who possess certain criteria, regardless of whether or not they are part of the Wizarding community, many are calling for a change in direction.

Abraxus Malfoy, a respected member of the Wizarding community, has gone so far as to declare, "Headmaster Dumbledore continues endlessly to undermine the birthrights of our children, preventing them from being able to even attend school and get the educations they deserve. Some may question the Dark Lord's aims, but..."

"Lily, it is impolite to read at the kitchen table during breakfast. Close the newspaper until you have finished eating." said Marigold, who frowned at her youngest, her head barely visible over the Daily Prophet.

Lily pursed her lips, but folded the newspaper up and set it down beside her, ignoring Petunia's muffled laughter. "I was just reading an article about how some 'upstanding citizens' want to put down Muggleborns...again. I mean, it's already bad enough I can't practice for my Apparition test..."

"Oh, so you're complaining about it being hard for you to learn to teleport. Nothing's good enough for dear Lily, is it?" muttered Petunia, a sour expression on her face, before returning to her tea.

Rather than retort, Lily took a bite of her breakfast, slowly chewing the buttered toast. She also tried to ignore the empty seat that should have belonged to her dad...something which took more effort.

Marigold gave her eldest a stern look, but instead said, "You said that you were going to go out with Vernon this afternoon. Do you know what time you'll be back?"

Petunia eyed her mother warily, but said, "Around seven, I think. Is that alright?"

Marigold seemed to consider. "That should be fine. I'll keep tonight's dinner simmering a bit longer so you'll have something warm to eat." She turned to Lily. "We're going to be having company this afternoon. Mr. Potter will be stopping by to see you."

Upon hearing this, Lily choked on a fried egg. After coughing for some time, she managed to force it down, before shouting, "James is coming here!?"

"No shouting at the breakfast table," snapped her mother, before continuing in a more level tone of voice, "Yes, James will be coming, but I was referring to his father, Edric Potter. He wanted to meet the girl who will be touring Europe with his son."

"But mom, I had plans!" cried out Lily, although keeping her voice below shouting volume...barely. "Severus and I were going to see if we could look up anything on Apparition. The test is the day after tomorrow!"

"Well, Lily, I'm afraid there isn't much to be done," said Marigold in a testy voice. "Now, no more back-talk. He is going to be here in a couple of hours, so you'd best get ready. You still have that dress your father bought you for Christmas, right? The yellow one."

"Yes," said Lily sullenly. "Would you like me to wear it, mother?"

Marigold gave her daughter a warning look, but said, "Yes, now go. put it on"

Lily obeyed, and by noon, not only had she gotten herself ready, dressed in her best clothing and fully made up, but she had even cleaned the house with a flurry of charms. Her mom had been thrilled to have her working so hard, but Lily had done it only to vent her ever-growing anger at being put upon to do this.

By now, her glare seemed to have become part of her face as she watched the door. Tapping her fingers grimly, she heard a giant cracking noise ripping it's way through the air, signalling the arrival of James and his father.

"Oh, they're here." Marigold had similarly dressed perfectly, wearing a lovely green dress which brought out the emerald eyes on her barely-lined face. She called her eldest daughter, "Petunia, did you prepare the tea?"

"Yes, mother," came Petunia's voice, taut like a perfectly-tuned violin. "Everything is ready."

Even though she detested so-called freaks, Lily had noticed her determination and care as she prepared the refreshments. She could honestly say that she had never seen any biscuits that were quite so appetizing to behold.

She supposed that Petunia just didn't have it in her to appear uncouth in front of an invited guest.

A knock came at the door, then another and another, each knock in a precise, even tempo.

Lily opened the door, behind which stood James in a royal blue set of dress robes, giving her a roguish wink. Beside him stood a tall, willowy sort of man, with thin grey hair and an obvious bald patch.

The man, obviously James' father, spoke in a quiet, measured tone of voice, "Hello, you must be Lily Evans. Correct?"

"Uh, yes. I'm Lily," replied said girl, rather taken aback. "You must be James' dad."

He nodded. "Indeed, I am Edric Potter." He looked her over from head to toe, examining her with brown eyes so like his son's. "Tell me, do you enjoy a game of Gobstones?"

Lily blinked. "Uh...I'm not particularly fond of it myself."

"A shame, a shame," said Edric in a solemn voice. "I so rarely meet someone to match wits with in that most noble of games. It has been very long indeed.

"Father," said James, seeming to fight the urge to laugh. "We're supposed to be making a good impression here, not a...bit of a lame one."

Edric seemed to consider, before giving his son a rather fond, paternal ruffle of the hair. "This is true, son." He turned back to Lily, who by now was rather confused. "I apologize for my rude badgering. Might my son and I invite ourselves inside."

"Certainly you may," said Marigold warmly, offering both of the Potter men a bright smile as they walked inside the Evans home. "How have you been, James?"

James grinned. "I've been doing very well, Mrs. Evans. How about you and Daisy?"

"That's 'Petunia'," said the woman in question, somehow managing to look down her nose at James even though he was a good six inches taller. "And although it has been stressful in the wake of my father's death, we have been enjoying a quiet, normal summer." She smirked. "You do remember the funeral, don't you?"

"Petunia!" said Marigold, scandalized.

"Of course I remember," said James, frowning at Petunia and saying solemnly, "I know he meant a lot to Lily, and I was downright honored to be a support to her when I came."

"I'm sure you were," replied Petunia in a tone that suggested she didn't mean a word of it. "Would you like to sit down, Edric, Jamie?"

"That would be splendid, Petunia," said Mr. Potter brightly. "Oh, you have some biscuits set already. How lovely. Let's go sit, Jamie."

"Yes...father." James had a twitch in his eye as he nodded.

Lily covered her mouth, having to try particularly hard to keep in her laughter.

They all sat down, save for Petunia, who went to the kitchen to fetch a pot of tea.

"So, Lily," said James with a grin. "Are you looking forward to seeing Europe? I'll bet you've never gone to Antwerp before, have you?"

"No, I haven't," replied Lily, unable to keep the sour expression from her face as she was forcibly reminded of what was bothering her. Nonetheless, she tried to stay polite. "Have you been there before?"

"Yeah, once or twice...although I was only two the first time so I don't really count it. All the same, I can't wait to go there again." He grimaced a bit. "I am going to miss Peter and Remus though."

"I'm going to miss my friends a lot too," said Lily in an understanding voice. "I'm only going to see Mary once or twice before we go back to Hogwarts, and Sabrina not at all." She looked down, saying quietly, "And I'll barely get to see Severus at all."

She heard James let out a groan, and barely heard him mutter, "Why is it always Snape?"

However, before she could say anything else, Petunia returned with the tea, a sour look upon her face as she poured, first for the elder Potter, who took three spoonfuls of sugar in his, in contrast to the one of everybody else-Lily wondered if he would have happier drinking sugar-water.

Once everyone, even Petunia, had started sipping their tea, Edric turned to Lily and asked, "So, Lily Evans...tell me about yourself. I don't know much about you, save for what his mother and I overhear him discussing with young Sirius."

"Lily is a model student," said Marigold with a smile. "She's adored by her friends and-"

Edric held up a hand, interrupting Lily's mom. "Not to be rude, Ms. Evens, but I wanted your daughter to answer."

Lily's face flushed. "Well, like my mum said, I do well in classes, although Severus usually does a bit better in Defense Against the Dark Arts. I like quidditch, although not as much as some people." She gave a significant look at James, who grinned.

"That sounds quite lovely, Miss Evans," said James' father with a solemn nod of the head. "However, I'm curious, what's it like being a Muggleborn in Hogwarts? I know that when I was young, there was a great deal of dislike for those like you. Why, this one young woman ended up deciding to quit the Gobstones club!"

Lily fought the urge to snort. The way he spoke made it clear that he found it a most heinous of crimes. Swallowing her amusement, she said, "Apart from the morons who are planning to join You-Know-Who after Hogwarts, it hasn't been too bad."

"She's right, although You-Know-Who's little minions don't do too much with me and Sirius keeping an eye on them," said James proudly. "They know that if they take a step out of line, Bam! We'll get them, no matter what Dark Magic they might have."

"Dark Magic?" said Edric with a frown. "James, you should know better than that. Dark Magic is not to be dealt with lightly. If you see anyone using it, let the teachers know immediately." He shook his head. "If you ask me they should all be expelled from Hogwarts. Dark Magic...really. In my day..."

"I'm not afraid of them, Dad," said James, smirking.

Lily frowned, something niggling at the back of her mind. "Is using Dark Magic worth expulsion though? Is it really?"

Edric looked at her strangely. "Certainly, Miss Evans. If Dark Magic is used upon another human being, it can cause terrible pain and suffering, even if there is a cure for it."

"But not all Dark Magic is that bad..." Lily snapped her fingers, finally remembering. "Edric...do you have a relative named Charlus by any chance?"

Both Potters seemed to go rigid. James' father looking as if he swallowed a cockroach. With a long sigh, he said, "I once had a brother by that name, yes."

"Oh, is that so?" asked Lily. "Wait, you 'once had'...did he die?"

"No," replied Edric. "He is no longer considered to be part of the Potter family. I disowned him ten years ago."

Lily glared at the old man, gritting her teeth as she said in a falsely polite tone, "Oh, so apparently it's worth disowning one's brother, then?"

"Quite so," said Edric sagely, nodding his head in agreement.

"He wrote a book on the Dark Arts, it's classification and use," stated Lily, even as her mother made a shushing gesture. Ignoring it, she continued scathingly, "You thought it was worth it to disown your own brother because of that?"

"I certainly considered it at the time," said the elderly man with a sad smile. "It took me a while to make my decision, too long, one might say."

"Of course you did..." said Petunia with no small amount of sarcasm.

James sent a stony glare Petunia's way, before trying to change the subject, "So, Lily, what would you like to do first when we go to Europe?"

Lily ignored him. "I suppose I can see where James gets his attitude on Dark Magic from, Mr. Potter."

"It's quite probable," said Edric, sighing. "It was quite difficult for me to watch my brother be sent to Azkaban for all those murders. James may have taken his cue from me." He paused, giving Lily a piercing look, showing that he was not quite as senile as he might have appeared. "There are those that make excuses for the Dark Arts. They are wrong. It is inherently corrupting and destructive in nature, and those that think they can use it in a benign and safe manner...they are fools indeed."

Silence filled the air, none knowing quite what to say.

Edric then spoke. "The biscuits were delicious, by the way. Can I ask for the recipe?"


"...and that's how it ended?" asked Mary, she and Lily conversing quietly in a corner of the field where the apparition tests were to be held. Her long, brown hair tied back in a pony-tail, she wasn't much affected by the windy weather. "He just said that, and the discussion ended?"

"Well, there wasn't much else I could say to that. I mean, how would you have responded? In the end, I excused myself." In contrast to Mary, Lily had to hold her hair to keep it from blowing about. "He's wrong though, isn't he?"

"I don't know. Probably. I don't think that Dark Magic is any more 'corrupting' than any other type, really. You should have heard what Sabrina told me some of the other girls were doing with Love Potions. It'd make your head spin." Mary shook her head. "James' father is a real character though. Explains a lot about James, really. I wonder what kind of effect your father has on...ooh, right." She winced, noticing Lily's frozen face. "I didn't mean to...sorry."

"Don't worry about it," said Lily, forcing a smile. "It's alright."

It wasn't quite alright, not when breakfasts seemed so much quieter, not when her mother always seemed a bit more tired, not when there were no offerings of trips for ice cream. That wasn't something Lily really wanted to go into right then though, and not with Mary.

Lily quickly changed the subject, "I was half-hoping that after the way our little get-together had gone, he'd call off the whole trip to Europe thing-I'd do it myself, but mom refused to budge on it."

Mary laughed. "Oh come on, don't you at least want to see the Eiffel tower once? Or the Arc de Triomphe...or the beaches of Italy?"

"Well, maybe," admitted Lily. "It's more the company that's the problem than the destination."

"Is it James or Sirius?" asked Mary, still chuckling.

"Honestly, both. I mean, I don't mind James at school. He's gotten better, after all. He's someone you might say 'hi' to, or 'how're classes going?', not someone I'd want to spend two weeks straight with." She shuddered. "All that is twice as true for Sirius."

Mary nodded. "That I can definitely see."

Smiling, Lily said wistfully, "I wish Severus were coming instead. That would fix it. I'm sure he'd know all kinds of interesting places to go to." She wondered if he might kiss her in those places, too.

Mary rolled her eyes. "'Interesting places', I'm sure. Speaking of Severus, how does he feel about you going to Europe with two Marauders? I'll bet he's absolutely thrilled..."

Lily rubbed her temples, sighing. "Well, when I told him, he was quite angry, but since then, he's avoided the subject completely. It might have been because he felt odd talking about it in front of my mom or something, though."

"Your mom?"

"Yeah, we've been meeting at my house for studying. Haven't had any real time alone to ourselves since the day we left Hogwarts. It's a shame too. I don't think I'll be able to see him much this Summer." Grimacing, she muttered, "Stupid Evelyn."

"What do you mean?" asked Mary?

"Well, you see-"

"Quiet everybody, it's time to start," said the instructor, causing both Mary and Lily to stop talking. He was an elderly-looking wizard, seemingly as old as Dumbledore and wearing a strange mixture of orange suspenders and purple robes. "Now, to begin with..."

As he started explaining the step for apparition, the 'three D's', Lily felt her mind wandering. She had already gone over all this with Severus anyway. Instead, she found herself glancing in Severus' direction, who seemed to be equally distracted, as whenever she peeked over, she found him looking back.

She winked at him, enjoying the pink color spreading across his pale cheeks at the sight, then felt her own face flush as he smirked back at her.

In response, she mouthed 'Can't wait to see you again' to him.

His blush deepened, and she couldn't resist miming a kiss, causing him to go positively red.

"So, how are things going with your boyfriend," asked Mary casually, causing Lily's head to whip around, only to see her friend casually watching her.

"What...we're not. I'm not..." Lily tried to stammer some sort of denial in the face of the brunette's knowing smile. "Ok, we are. Happy?"

"What you do with Severus behind closed doors is none of my business," said Mary without concern. She seemed to consider. "Well, unless it gets you up the duff."

"Mary!" whispered Lily, blushing furiously as she glanced around to make sure no-one else heard. "Severus isn't...I'm not...we're not...I'm not...too soon!"

"Ah well, just be careful, alright?" Mary seemed to consider. "What did you mean earlier about not being able to see him for much of the Summer?"

"It's Evelyn bloody Matthews," replied Lily, before grimacing. "Sorry, I shouldn't be cursing. It'll be good for Severus anyway. He needs this opportunity."

"Opportunity? What are you on about?"

"Apparently Evelyn's father is a Potions Master, and she got him to offer a full apprenticeship, pay, room and board. All of it." Lily rubbed her temples again. "It's really good of her, and a really good way to make up for what happened a couple months back. Severus desperately needs a break like this. It'll be good for him," said Lily sourly.

Mary gave her a look, saying, "Lily, I know you too well. You're trying to convince yourself. What's bothering you?"

"The Evelyn part of it," said Lily with a grimace, giving her hair up as a lost cause and letting it flow freely in the breeze. "I just...don't like her."

"Huh," Mary glanced up at the front momentarily. "Good, we have another couple minutes. He's still on the second 'D'." Turning back to the Lily, she said, "Look, Lily, I know that Evelyn and Severus are good friends, and you know it. She isn't a pureblood maniac supporter of 'You-Know-Who', and she isn't deliberately trying to hurt him or anything."

"I know," admitted Lily. "She's a bit, well, slaggy, but nothing too awful."

"Perhaps you're a mite jealous."

Lily's eyes widened, then narrowed as she hissed, "I am not jealous! She's just an awful influence on him. That's all!"

"Huh, thought that might be it." Mary shrugged, before grinning fiendishly. "However, I do have an idea to handle the Europe situation."

"What?" Lily was still reeling from the accusation.

Mary's grin widened. "Never you mind. Just tell Severus that he's got to show me some more of his spells in return for this."

"What sort of spells are you talking about?" asked Lily guardedly, as Mary simply laughed.

"Don't worry about that. we're up now, anyway. Now, three 'D's' time!"

Shaking her head, Lily began her first attempt at apparition.

She nearly splinched herself that time, and the time after that, she was still missing a lock of hair, but the third time, she did it without error.

Now, she could apparate.


Dear Medusa,

I'm sorry for having taken so long to reply. My life has been quite hectic of late.

As for my mother, I disagree completely.

Someone should have been there for her, someone should have protected her. I should have. I didn't. Happiness has nothing to do with it.

In short, you are wrong.

However, you make a valid point in regards to my friend. Perhaps I was committing a classic 'Sunk Cost Fallacy', as the Muggles might say. And I do feel more and more content with my choice as time goes on.

It still feels like I wasted much of my life...but perhaps that is because I wasted it to begin with. Hmm, I have much to think about, it seems.

On another note, it has been some time since you mentioned the book we were discussing, due to our getting side-tracked. Have you had any further progress?

Your friend,

Perseus

P.S. I've managed to obtain an apprenticeship, and will be leaving on the morrow. Wish me good fortune.


The day he was to leave, Severus got up, conducted his daily ablutions, then went to the Evans family home to say goodbye to Lily. He left the key under the doormat like he did in January, just in case Tobias Snape showed up.

He knew he probably wouldn't, but wanted to make sure all the same.

Either way, he was careful to arrive long before Lily was able to head to his house like she had told him she planned to do. He couldn't risk them being alone again.

Glancing down at his hands, he grimaced.

It just wouldn't be safe.

Author's Note: Sorry once more for my very long hiatus. This chapter was very difficult for me, as I wasn't sure where I was going with it many a time. Plus, work has been quite stressful.

I want to especially thank Rago Dragovian for his review, as his was the one that finally got me off my bottom and writing. Thank you, Sir or Madam, and I hope you enjoy this chapter as much as the previous ones.

After this chapter, I hope you all have plenty to think about :).