Author's note: I'm not going to lie, I felt damn sorry for Snape by the end of the series. I've always imagined that the scene we witnessed in the fifth book was Snape's worst memory, the one that haunted him for years even before Lily died. That doesn't mean I think that "Albus Severus" thing should have been done, but still. It was sad. I can see why he held a grudge against Harry: he was a reminder of the union that probably broke his heart.

He had called her a Mudblood.

He closed his eyes and ran a hand over his face, as though wiping away the sweat born from the hot spring day would wipe away the despicable act. He didn't know what had possessed him. Except he did. He had been angry at her, seeing him... like that. Upside down, mocked, tormented. He was embarrassed, ashamed. And there had been pity in her eyes. He hated pity.

So he called her a Mudblood.

He opened his eyes and leaned his head back with such force that it banged against the stone walls of the clock tower and he winced. But he didn't curse or swear. He deserved the pain; deserved more of it, and he deserved it at the tip of Lily's wand. He deserved to feel an inkling of what she was feeling when that mask of shock and hurt and anger and pain that had hidden the empathetic, intelligent, caring girl who had rushed to his aid when she had seen what was taking place. He deserved her hatred.

He had called her a Mudblood.

It was an insult worse than all other insults, in their world. He deserved whatever awful things she could think of after saying such a word to her. She had been his best... his only real friend, the only one who knew anything at all about his parents, about the fighting and the misery he felt every summer vacation. She was the only one he knew in all of Gryffindor house who didn't sneer at him just because he was sorted into Slytherin. She had shrugged, as if to say "Well, whatever." and still smiled at him in the halls and when walking past his table, even after she had heard all the terrible things the entire school had to say about his House, except of course for Slytherin House itself.

And after all that, he had called her a Mudblood.

He – The entire school, really – would be going home tomorrow. For him, it would be the last time. He'd gotten excellent scores on his N.E.W.T.s and no longer had classes or anything to worry about. He'd be entering the world, moving out, doing something... He ought to have been celebrating. Most of the seventh years were; he could hear their laughter carrying to him from the court yard and the Black Lake, where some were having one last swim before the they had to board the train with all their belongings tomorrow. He knew that Lucius was probably going to be annoyed, wondering where he had gotten off to. "Lap dog", the idiot foursome called him, and he hated it... but he didn't know how to argue it. He loathed Lucius, loathed being mocked and bullied more. Lucius had offered him protection after the incident by the lake, and he had taken it.

He had called her a Mudblood.

That was what had made Lucius smile that cold, snake-like smile that made Severus want to vomit. Or maybe it was the reason that made him feel sick. He had tried to talk to her afterwords, but apologies weren't enough. Nothing was. She had turned to look at him – a painful, burning look – before sighing and running to catch up with her friends. She didn't talk to him when they were partnered up in class. She didn't look him in the eye; she wouldn't. And he was too proud to beg, too proud to tell her he hadn't meant it, he really hadn't, because he l-...lo-...

He had called her a Mudblood. He didn't deserve to love her.

But that didn't mean Potter did either, that arrogant, conceited,... Severus forced himself to inhale deeply and release it before the string of insults could continue, but he still felt angry. He hated him. Merlin, how he hated him. It made his blood run cold and his eyes see red, and nothing really made sense when he saw Potter because all that ran through his head were the long string of spells and curses in his arsenal. But Lily, lately, would always be no more than a foot away from him... and he forced himself to leave his wand in his pocket and turn away, not meeting her eye because he knew that was the last thing she wanted, to see him.

After all, he had been her best friend, and he had called her a Mudblood.