A/N: Okay, I wrote this yesterday in the time span of about three hours and wanted to post it for the Winter Solstice. However, my Internet had other ideas and refused to let me do so. I'm posting it now, a day late, and without anyone beta-ing it, so I'm sorry if there are any conspicuous errors.

This two-shot was written because I wanted to do something for the Winter Solstice. This half is a little angsty with some unrequited LE/SS, so don't read it if you don't like it (or just wait for the second part, which should have some fluff). I just can't accept that Lily and Sev never talked after the Mudblood incident. Anyway, please read and review!

Disclaimer: If I were J.K. Rowling, I would not be posting on a fanfiction website, now would I? ;)

The Darkest Hour

The wind whipped at him, chilling him to the bone, but it was nothing, nothing compared to the cold in his heart, in the place where his soul had once been. It promised power, revenge, retribution. When he was young, that had been everything he had ever wanted. Now, it would never give him what he truly wanted. Not when what he wanted was an escape from the icy confines, from the suffering he was forced to place on the innocent. Not when all he wanted was warmth, comfort, acceptance.

To feel love. He remembered it. He remembered it well. He remembered that warm feeling which arose every time he saw her. He remembered how he had seen it reflected in her own eyes several times when she looked at him. He remembered how he had erased it as he shouted the unspeakable: "Mudblood!" It had been banished from her eyes then, and it had remained locked away until another came with the key. And of all the boys it could have been, it had been his tormentor.

He watched the scene before him, drinking in the warmth and the light with his eyes as hungrily as a starving man devoured food. The little house seemed to glow with her beauty, or so he thought. It was a stark contrast to the frigid weather outside, to the sleet which drenched him, to the gale which chilled him. It was poetic justice that the angel would reside in warmth while he stood outside in the rain.

She sat beside her sister and mother, her dark red hair glowing in the light from the fireplace. They all chattered happily with each other, the sisters not ignoring or arguing with each other for once. Their fair-haired father moved into view and gave both girls a hug. His lips moved, forming words that he could not hear through the glass which separated him from the happy family. He watched hungrily as the man gently kissed his wife, struggling to remember if his parents had ever acted that way around each other. No. For his family, it was always beatings and tears, as his drunken father abused him and then his mother while he was helpless to defend himself.

That was what drove him to join the group of friends he joined. The allure of strength, of power blinded him to the way his dearest friend had recoiled from what he had become. He did not see how the cause was controlling his life, his decisions, his every word and action, until it was too late. He did not see how the power drove a wedge between their friendship, cracking it with each time they spoke until it broke into a splintering mess.

It could have ended there, he supposed. He could have realized what went wrong and changed. But then he would have had nothing left. So he continued. He dove deeper into the blackness that was the Dark Arts. He went further than he had ever gone, ever intended to go. And when the Dark Lord noticed him, had offered for him to join the ranks of his followers, the Death Eaters, he had accepted with pride. He shuddered as he remembered the feelings with had swamped him after several meetings, the knowledge that his own Lily could be the next one they attacked. But she was no longer his, had not been his since the day he had taken the first step into the exploration of Dark Magic. After all, the pure and innocent would never mix with the vile and soiled.

The wind seemed to recognize his mood, pulling harder at him, so that he shivered ceaselessly in the cold air, suddenly feeling rather dizzy. Distracted by a sudden rush of memories and a ringing sound in his own ears, he failed to notice when the blond-haired girl turned to her sister and pointed out the window at the pitiful figure he made, huddled against the elements. He did not notice when she leaned over, her red hair rippling down her shoulder, to share some words with her mother. He did not notice when she alighted and hurried from the room. The wind and his own dizziness held his attention.

Once again, he felt himself losing control, the weather and his own lack of will catching up with him and causing him to stumble. He did not care as he tripped a few steps, buoyed by the rain and ice. He cared of nothing but that the life he witnessed was not his own, would never be his own.

Giving in to the forces which propelled him, he stopped fighting and let his body moved as it would. Again, he staggered but this time, he collapsed, soaked and shivering. He heard a familiar voice cry "Severus!" and a gentle touch caught him before he hit the ground, but then he knew no more.