A/N: Well, this is it my dear readers. We come to the end of another fanfiction journey together. This has provided me with much pleasure so I hope you enjoy the final chapter.
Thanks to SomethingBorrowed who always seems to pick up on the little things, LokiSymphony who always tolerates my manic moments, Tristan for being wondering, and Megan for removing commas and providing me with constructive criticism which enables me to make things perfect :)
Disclaimer: I did not originally create Harry Potter. There is no need to sue.
Lily and Snape confront the mistakes from the past and their feelings for one another. But where does that leave them?
The space in which Lily and Snape had found themselves trapped was more of a large closet than a room. They had very quickly discovered that the door through which they had entered was the only way out. A tiny, slit of a window provided the only outside light. It appeared that it had been sometime since anyone had entered; a thick layer of dust coated the few items of broken furniture that lay disregarded, making it cramped. Perhaps only the suits of armour and the ghosts knew of the chamber's existence, Snape mused, considering how long they could realistically be stuck for. Lily conjured some bluebell flames, confining them to an empty, smeary jar she found amongst the broken bric-a-brac, helping them to see. Yet she refused to speak to Snape and an hour past in painful silence.
Finally, sheer boredom and fatigue won over awkwardness and Snape watched as Lily finally moved, pressing her back to the wall and sliding down to the floor. Snape followed suit, finding being seated a welcome rest from standing so long in one position in the dark. Lily drew her knees up under her chin and buried her head into her folded arms, mumbling something under her breath. Snape felt urged to speak; to say something, anything, but found himself suddenly paralysed, focusing instead on her inarticulate utterances and the sound of the wind whistling as it licked against the window.
"Why can't you just accept it?" Lily asked quietly, talking down at the floor, and Snape watched her as she turned her head very slowly to look at him. "Why can't you let it go?"
Snape's mouth was dry and he swallowed hard before attempting to answer, "Because I know what I did was wrong. And I want you to know that I'm sorry..." He kept his eyes focused on her as he stressed, "I am sorry, Lily."
The flickering blue fames bathed everything in an eerie, preternatural light and made her expressions very difficult to read. She sighed softly, rubbing her hands over her shins and picking at a hole she found in her knee-length grey socks she replied, "I know you're sorry. But it's not enough."
"I never meant it..."
"Perhaps not..." Lily said, regarding him with her penetrating, green eyes. "But you said it, just the same."
Snape suddenly felt very cold and, wrapping his arms around himself, he said, "I will never forgive myself for what I said. And I know that it is too much to ask to expect forgiveness from you but..."
Snape was interrupted by the sound of Lily laughing and she shook her head and said, "Of course I forgive you."
"But then why...?"
"I know that you regret it. And forgiving you is the easy part..." Snape dared to hope but before he could become too optimistic Lily had continued to speak, "but what I can't ignore is why you said it. Why you chose to say something that you knew that would hurt me and humiliate me more than anything else."
"I have no excuses," was all Snape could say.
"I know," Lily rested her head back against the wall. "And that's what worries me." Snape suddenly found himself unwilling to listen; if the Felix Felicis was supposedly on his side why was this becoming so painful? But there was nothing he could do but avoid her eyes as she continued, "For a long time I'd chosen to not listen to what other people would say about you. I'd defend you, try and explain to them that you weren't always yourself around other people, that that wasn't the Sev that I knew." Snape winced. It hurt him to hear her use the name she had used for him when they were children. "But the more I'd try to convince them, the less convinced I would be. I didn't know who you were anymore...I don't know who you are."
"I haven't changed," Snape attempted to reassure her. "Not with you..."
"Just with everyone else, then?" Lily flared up, her eyes flashing dangerously and she rose to her feet very suddenly and tried, and failed, to open the door. "And I suppose that's okay?"
"I don't care what anyone else thinks!" Snape's frustration got the better of him as he too leapt to his feet. "I just care about you!"
Lily looked stunned and watched as Snape struggled to compose himself. "That's not the way to be." Lily's voice had noticeably softened but she still remained adamant as she stressed, "Things aren't the way they were...they can't be...not anymore..."
"But why not?" Snape pleaded, surprising both himself and Lily. Desperation was not an emotion he made a habit of expressing but it seemed that he had little choice.
"They just can't!" Lily snapped, frustrated at Snape's inability to see things from her point of view. "Why can't you understand that? Everything is shifting and I can't stand by your side and watch the way you're changing. You're a Death-Eater, Severus!" These words seemed to have been forced, with great reluctance, from her and Snape could feel himself shaking with some indescribable emotion as she continued to rage, "Do you not think I know what that means? What will happen in the end? You can't choose a side like that and not expect me to despise you! What other choice do I have?" As she had spoken Snape had noticed the doubt that had inflected her voice as she had expressed her loathing of him and he realised, for the first time, that this was not true.
"You don't hate me, Lily," Snape said with a confidence that caused Lily's blood to boil. "You wish you did, but you can't..."
"But I don't like you; I can't care for you..." Lily was speaking now without thinking, carrying on regardless of the connotations of her words.
"And Potter?" Snape spat venomously, more to wound her than anything else.
"Suppose I care for James, so what?" Lily advanced on him, unafraid, and even though he was beside himself in the back of his mind Snape could not help but admire her. "He may have his flaws but he's honest and loyal! He'd never dream of the things that you and Avery and Mulciber must hope for! Whatever you may think of him, he's kind and I trust him." Snape scoffed at this causing Lily to persist, "He loves me, Severus! You saw it more clearly than anyone and that's why you hate him, really, isn't it? Because he's brave enough to confess how he feels without feeling weak; something you would never allow yourself to do you...you coward!"
"No!" Snape cried, grabbing Lily's shoulders and gripping them hard. "Don't call me that!"
"But that's what you are!" Lily said hotly, struggling to manoeuvre herself away from Snape's grasp.
"I...you don't..." Lily's words had rendered him inarticulate and he dropped his hands when he suddenly realised the pain her was inflicting. "Please Lily...I..." The more he tried the more speechless he became. He wanted to hide his face from her. He didn't want her to see the impact her accusation had on him, how much her words had hurt him. But there was nowhere to hide, she was too close to him now, and he was powerless to stop the angry, hot tears welling up and blinding his eyes.
"Snape..." Lily said, her voice completely devoid of anger, as she moved closer towards him, trying to guide him towards the light.
"Go away!" Snape hissed, retreating away from her hands as they reached up towards his shoulders.
"Severus..." she said in a compassionate whisper that caused Snape to turn away from the wall and face her. In the inconstant, blue light Lily could clearly see the shameful tears that Snape had desperately tried to hide and she slowly reached up to wipe them away with her hands.
"Don't," Snape growled through gritted teeth, his eyes fluttering closed as he felt her hand press softly against her cheeks, her body swaying closer towards his. "Don't touch me." His words seemed useless, however, and he stood as though immobilised as he felt Lily very tentatively press herself against him, twisting her body so her head was resting against his chest. He opened his eyes and looked down. She was staring out into the bluish-blackness in silence, as though listening to the sound of his heart beat, and as though it was the most natural thing in the world Snape slowly moved his hands from by his sides to slowly stroke her hair.
Lily exhaled as though she had been holding her breath for quite some time, her eyes closing as she allowed her body to relax against his. Snape was terrified of moving, frightened that even the slightest alteration in his stance would break the spell of the moment. But he could not resist allowing his hands to roam the length of her back, soothing her, reassuring her, communicating in a way he could never have done with words.
"You hurt me so much, Sev," Lily's fragile voice broke the silence and Snape said nothing in response and simply continued to trail his fingertips in the small of her back. "I cried so much at first, when we weren't talking, I felt so alone..." She shifted and through the fabric of her shirt Snape could clearly feel the flexing of her muscles. He moved his hands to her hair and very softly smoothed it down over her shoulders, allowing himself the indulgence of taking a deep breath and smelling how sweet she smelt. "But I couldn't hate you," her breath was a hot whisper upon his robes and Snape tried desperately to suppress as shiver as she continued, "I could never hate you." A slight movement against him caused Snape to open his eyes and look down to see that Lily had moved and was now looking up at him, her bottom lip trembling slightly as she said, "Or don't you know that yet?"
For once in his life Snape did not think before acting and before he had considered what he was doing he lowered his head and pressed his lips against hers. She started and inched backwards, breaking the fleeting kiss, her green eyes desperately searching his face for an answer to a question she dare not ask. He had no words, no excuses to offer and the only explanation he found he could offer was to close his eyes and kiss her again.
This time Lily was not startled. She allowed him to kiss her once, just softly, to pull back and to regard her face carefully before kissing her again. This time she was not frozen, her lips cautiously met his, and when he slowly returned his hands to her back he found that she was kissing him back.
Snape's mind plunged into the abyss; there's was nothing else except him and Lily and the bluebell flames. He wrapped her in his arms and held her greedily to him, deepening the kiss, frightened that at any moment she would pull away. But instead she simply melted against him, kissing him with a passionate ferocity that spoke of desperation and of shame. Her hands were at his collar, his hands were in her hair, he could feel the curvaceous contours of her body against his and he trembled. He was lost, doomed forever now to relieve this moment, lost in Lily's arms. Every kiss sealed his fate. He knew that this marked not the beginning but the end but oh how he wanted it to last forever!
"Stop," Lily moaned, attempting to push herself backwards, her breathing unsteady as Snape continued to trail persuasive kisses along her neck.
"No, Lily, please..." Snape pleaded, unable to exert any self-control now the walls he had carefully constructed for himself had come smashing down. He grasped her tightly to him and, pressing his forehead against hers, her gazed deep into her eyes as he confessed desperately, "I love you Lily! I've always loved you. I love you." As he spoke Lily kissed him again fervently as he continued to whisper against her mouth, "I love you..."
"I know," Lily said. "I've always known. And I love you..." As she kissed him she exhaled hotly, "...I do...I can't help it...but it isn't enough, Severus." She drew away then and held his face tightly between her hands, preventing him from looking away as she repeated adamantly, "It isn't enough."
"Why can't it be?" Snape asked, his hands hungrily roaming her back. "What else is there?"
"We live in a world inhabited by more than just us...and the choices we've made...they've taken us away from each other. We're on different paths now. There's no going back. Things aren't that easy anymore..." With a great deal of effort Lily peeled herself away from him, increasing the distance between them.
"But Lily you don't understand..." Snape persisted, trying and failing to embrace her once more. "With your love I could become a man you'd be proud of, a man that you'd want me to be...without it..." Words failed him and Lily interrupted, "You should want that regardless of how I feel. You're a good man, Severus, but I've never understood why you've needed me to remind you of it. If I could choose whether to love you or not I would stop the way I feel for you but I can't. But I can't pick and chose the parts of you I want, Severus. I either accept all of you or not at all. And...I just can't do that anymore..." As she had spoken Lily had moved to try the handle of the door once more and Snape's heart sank as he heard the distinctive click of the lock turning. Yet she hesitated and turning back round to face him, she said, "I love the part of you that knew me as a child and shared things with me...that recognised who I was before I even knew myself and opened my eyes to a world I could have never imagined without you...I love the part of you that only I can see..." Lily sighed and Snape knew that he was losing her, that this was goodbye. "B...but I hate the way that bitterness and vengeance have twisted your heart and clouded your judgement. The reason I can never forgive you for what you said to me is not because of what you called me: it's because, for the first time, I realised how cruel you could be. I'd never be happy with you and you'd never allow yourself to be happy with me." She paused, fixing Snape with her fathomless, green eyes and articulated slowly, "I've seen the way you look at me and I hate the way I look through your eyes. I won't allow myself to love you. I cannot love a man like that."
"How can you do this?" Snape asked in disbelief, his head swimming with regret and anger and guilt. He could still taste her lips on his mouth. "How can you deny this?" Snape took a step forward but, thinking better of advancing, hesitated as he hissed bitterly, "You'll regret this, Lily!"
Lily turned as the door opened and Snape caught the powerful regret in her eyes before the bluebell flames were extinguished and she whispered, "Goodbye" and with that she closed the door behind her. He leant back against the wall, listening to the storm raging outside, glancing down at his watch in the gloom to see it was five minutes past midnight. Snape's luck had run out.
Reviews are what writers thrive on. Please let me know what you think. I shall be continuing on with my other Lily/Snape centric story "No Coward Soul is Mine" so please come over and read if you enjoyed this story. Also, for more of your Severus Snape needs, also see my story "Patient Potions Master". Thanks xxx