Title: The Apprentice

Author: Deborah Peters

Pairing: Severus/Lily

Rating: PG-13, with the occasional burst of R

Genre: Drama

Disclaimer: If Harry Potter belonged to me, there are at least a half dozen characters who would still be alive.

Summary: In 1998, Severus Snape was given a second chance. In 1976, he has to figure out how to take it.


June, 1976

And then, suddenly, the pain cleared, and all his blood rushed to his head.

As previously all his blood had been gushing out of a ragged wound in his throat, this could only be considered an improvement.

And then he opened his eyes, and saw that he was being dangled, in midair, by his ankles, courtesy of Harry Potter, who seemed to have lost his glasses.

Harry Potter, who seemed to have gained the company of a two-years-dead, twenty-years-younger Sirius Black, as well as a less-scarred Remus Lupin and Wormtail

That wasn't Harry Potter. And this was all too familiar. And a young redhead who was not, in fact, Ginny Weasley, said, "Let him down!"

Severus Snape groaned, muttered, "For Merlin's sake, not this again," and wordlessly Summoned his wand, which smacked satisfyingly into his hand. He countered the jinx and righted himself, floating to the ground with as much grace as a hallucinating dead man can muster. He landed in front of—well, he might as well admit it—the late James Potter, who was staring at him, mouth open.

Severus pulled his wand on him. Potter froze.

How satisfying.

"Potter," he spat, fifteen years' teaching instinct kicking in. "I have had quite enough. You will immediately stop this nonsense. If you attempt to surprise me again in such a manner, you will immediately find yourself in multiple pieces with no hope of restitution and as I can only presume Mr and Mrs Potter would, for whatever reason, miss you," he sneered, "let us both strive to prevent that unfortunate, but by no means inevitable, scenario, shall we?"

Potter's mouth hung open stupidly. He barely managed to muster a weak, "Whaa?"

Severus stared him down over the tip of his wand. Potter didn't move. Neither, strangely, did Black, Lupin, or Pettigrew—or any of the other students gathered for the spectacle. In fact, every single person on the shore of the lake was staring at him in silence.

It was disconcerting.

Severus nodded at the still-gaping Potter, tried (and failed) to avoid glancing at the young redhead, and stalked off towards the castle with a customary flourish of his (worn, graying, too-short) robes.

This was the strangest dream (near-death hallucination?) he had ever had.

He had almost reached the castle when the voice he'd never managed to forget called out from behind him. "Sev?"

He stopped.

"Sev, wait a second."

Severus turned around, and there she was.

"What the hell was that?" she demanded.

Severus raised an eyebrow. "I beg your pardon?"

"You know very well what I mean," Lily said. "How did you—since when could you put Potter in his place like that? What happened to you—" She gestured vaguely at his face. "—all red faced and sputtering and 'bloody' and inappropriate suggestions about his mother and everything? How are you so calm? Did someone cast a soapmouth hex on you? And that's putting aside the wandless accio—where has that been hiding all this time?"

It had been twenty years since he'd heard one of Lily's disjointed speeches, and yet his subconscious was still somehow capable of providing one for him. It was almost amusing, really.


Unless somehow—

"Lily?" Severus asked, before he could stop himself.

"Yes, what?" Lily replied, a little testily.

"It's not actually you you," Severus said slowly. "It's not. Is it?"

"What?" Lily repeated. "Severus, you didn't hit your head when Potter flipped you upside down, did you?"

The response was so perfectly Lily, so completely outside anything he would ever think to say, that Severus did something he hadn't done in at least five years. He laughed. Lily blinked at him.

"I am exploring new depths of my subconscious," he said by way of explanation, and he couldn't help himself—he reached out a hand to her.

She took it.

A/N: This story wouldn't exist without the inspiration of Sindie's The Moment It Began. If you haven't read it, you really ought to—it's one of the best in this subgenre.