"I'm sorry."

"I'm not interested."

"I'm sorry!"

"Save your breath."

It was night time. Lily, who was wearing a dressing gown, stood with her arms folded in front of the portrait of the fat lady, at the entrance to Gryffindor Tower. Her face was contorted into a disdainful expression, unnatural and rare to see upon visage of Lily Evans

"I only came out here because Mary told me you were threatening to sleep here."

"I was. I would have done. I never meant to call you Mudblood, it just-"

"Slipped out?" There was no pity in Lily's voice. "It's too late. I've made excuses for you for years. None of my friends can even understand why I talk to you. You and your precious little Death Eater friends - you see, you don't even deny it! You don't even deny that's what you're all aiming to be! You can't wait to join You-Know-Who, can you?

He opened his mouth and then closed it, his gaze dropping ashamedly to the floor.

"I can't pretend anymore. You've chosen your way and I've chosen mine."

At those words, Severus froze, but had a sudden change of heart in the matter. He relaxed his body, pulling his shoulders back. He wasn't going to let her go. He lifted his gaze and stared, determined, into her brilliant green eyes, willing not to break contact.

"I will change."

The steadiness and certainty in his voice and the intensity and energy charged into his eyes disconcerted Lily, her eyebrows rising slightly and green eyes widening. Gathering herself, she snapped her eyes into a narrow glare.

"It's too late, Severus Snape. You can't take back the word, and it shows you for who you really are. Don't lie, you can't change, it's over."

Lily was about to turn her gaze away from Severus' still focused eyes when he said, "I will change."

Lily Evans was shocked at her former best friend's confidence. Severus had drawn himself up to full height, only a couple of inches taller than her and Lily found she was rooted to the spot in bewilderment as Severus strode away from the portrait and left Lily, staring wide eyed at the steadily departing mop of black hair until he turned the corner into the next corridor and was no longer apparent in her view.

Severus Snape felt anguish which he only revealed to the surrounding tapestries and portraits when he turned and concealed his expression from Lily Evans.

Lily had relinquished their relationship. All his walls were coming down, his heart pounding in his ears, biting back tears which threatened to fall from his watering eyes. He didn't care about the risk of meeting a teacher after hours, or even encountering pesky Peeves, the poltergeist. Nothing mattered now. If anyone had tried to use Legilimency on him at that point, he would have conceded his thoughts, unprotected and vulnerable for the intruder to easily explore. Either way, the only things they would see were images of Lily: her reassuring smile; her deep crimson hair; the milky glow of her pale skin; her inquisitive green eyes, and especially those last, painful words she had conveyed.

"You can't change. It's over."

Severus fired up and his expression transformed. His eyes still watered, half-closed, but his teeth were clenched, hidden by his thin lips, which were becoming impossibly thinner. The bridge of skin between his eyebrows creased with anger. The portrait of an old man rocking in his chair paused in his activity to ask if Severus was alright. Snape stalked on - ignoring the old man trapped on canvas who shrugged and resumed rocking - commencing the journey down the marble staircase. Each step he took down the stairs echoed hauntingly in the stark silence, excepting his own heavy breathing.

Change, he thought, furious, change, that isn't hard. I can change. I will change. I'll show her. I'll show all of them. I don't need this Dark Arts crap. I'll live either way. I can change. It'll all be worth it if Lily could look at me decently again…

He followed this trail of thought until he reached the Slytherin portrait.

"Apocalypse," he spoke absent-mindedly. The portrait swung forward and Severus walked through the thin passage to the common room. He was headed straight for his dormitory, passing Mulciber and Avery on the way.

"Hey Severus," called Mulciber, "Nice going today, you gave it to that Mudblood good, aye? Her reaction was hilarious, to see that look on the damn filth's face, haha…"

Mulciber and Avery sniggered heartily as Severus stopped in his tracks.

"Don't say that word."

"What…haha…what word?" Mulciber said between bursts of laughter, "Mudblood?" He said, teasing.

"SHUT UP!"

A few students scattered around in armchairs turned at the shout. Avery and Mulciber froze simultaneously, silencing themselves only to gawk at their supposed friend.

"What does it matter?"

"It matters everything," said Severus in a deep, deliberately slow voice, "It matters more than you two Death Eater wannabe idiots could ever comprehend. Don't talk to me again," Severus hissed the last word at them.

"That's rather asinine of you to insult my intelligence," said Mulciber in a low voice as he rose from his chair. Avery looked on, eager for a fight. A couple of first years gathered their things and scurried off to their dorm, foreseeing the coming chaos. Sixth and seventh years stuck around, delighted at the sight of the potential fight stirring up between the towering Mulciber and scrawny Snape. Severus' hand travelled slowly to his wand and pulled it from beneath his robes, just as slowly, holding Mulciber's eyes all the while. The gesture caused Mulciber to imitate the action, but with one last fiery gaze, Severus turned and walked away, towards the fifth-year dormitory.

Confused at what had just happened, Mulciber did not react to Snape and instead exchanged looks with Avery who was equally as baffled. Spectators dropped their gazes disappointedly, and Severus slammed the door shut.

Severus felt a sense of pride in himself for not acting violently; he knew he had come out the better wizard and was victorious in his inaction. He had finally dismissed his so called friends, his precious little Death Eater friends…

If Lily only saw that, he thought.

Severus slowly changed into his night wear, head buzzing with the day's horrid events and what caused them.

I called her mudblood, he thought acidly, rebuking himself, why in the bloody hell would you ever do that you idiot?

He settled himself into his bed, drawing his curtains around him and finally lying down with his head resting on his palms. He decided to cast some protective spells on his bed, just in case Mulciber and Avery had figured out that he had just disowned them as friends. He knew he would have to do it more often, he was now a target. All the sixth and seventh years had witnessed his disloyal outburst.

As Severus lay in deep thought, he realised he knew that it wasn't just calling her that terrible word which broke it up. She was right. It was much more than that. It was many years of doing things that hurt her. He listed mentally all the things that upset Lily in the past involving himself: dropping a tree branch on her daft sister; becoming friends with potential Death Eaters; condemning everyone but her; refusing to socialise with her Gryffindor friends; showing blatant disdain towards Gryffindor; laughing at all Mulciber's cruel jokes about Mudbloods and the Dark Arts; mingling in the Dark Arts; contemplating joining the Death Eaters; calling her a Mudblood.

He felt disgusted with himself. He pulled his hands from the back of his head and covered both of his reddening eyes. So much pain…that he had caused…and he didn't even realise…he was her best friend…

He pulled himself from his reverie, rolling onto his side and curling up like a ball.

He didn't even understand anymore. Why did he want to get involved with the junior Death Eaters? The Dark Arts? Why didn't he show the least bit of respect for himself?

He only grouped with the Death Eater gang because being in Slytherin meant expectations, and meeting them and not meeting them meant you were done for, especially if you were a half-blood pretending to be pure. Being a Prince meant expectations, he had to redeem himself after his mother's horrible mistake of marrying a Muggle, right?

And the Dark Arts…his mother had always told him of the great power they held, the magnificent things you could do, he realised this too. They had always fascinated him, they were so alluring, so thrilling…

But he knew he had to shut that from his mind.

He rolled onto his other side, staring into the emerald curtain.

Lily was much more than all of it. She was everything. She was his whole world, Muggle and Wizarding. She was always there. Any torture the Slytherins inflicted upon him would bearable as long as Lily was by his side.

If he changed his being, she would congratulate him, be proud, reward him with a hug even, something Sev had been devoid of his whole life. A much better reward than anything the Dark Lord could offer. What, another chance to live? He sneered and let go of the thought.

And she'd call me Sev again. A dreamy expression crossed his face.

And what did it mean to serve You-Know-Who anyway?

Nothing, he thought, just more pain and suffering, and having people hate you, fear you. There is no love.

Severus Snape had a revelation.

Love.

He wanted love. He wanted to love. He wanted to be loved. And he wanted it with Lily Evans. The idea was frightening. More so then He Who Must Not Be Named himself.

He knew from that moment onwards he would never join the Dark Lord.

I have to stop calling him the Dark Lord…

Severus knew he had to begin his change. Calling Voldemort the name everyone else did would be the first step, probably the easiest too. He contemplated it in his head: he had to atone for all the sins he had committed in the past, all the ones he had listed.

Make up with Petunia; separate myself from the death eaters, well I've already sort of done that…try not to make any remarks about anyone; try to talk to the Gryffindors, especially Mary, Lily would like that; leave Muggleborns alone; disassociate myself with the Dark Arts; never communicate with You-Know-Who; take back what I said.

But Severus knew it wasn't as easy as that. He couldn't just take it all back, he had to go through steps. He already tried to apologise, and Lily didn't take it. She didn't believe him for one second…he would have to try harder, take a different approach.

He rolled back onto his back, hands back behind his head once more. He had lived his life this way for fifteen years, delving into the Dark Arts for the majority of the fifteen. It would be a long and hard process, he knew it. And painful. He knew there would be rejection; there would be physical and emotional pain. But he would endure.

I need to start tomorrow, I need to prove to Lily that I've already change. Yeah…I've already changed…

Severus began to plan and scheme for the coming weeks on how best to sort things out…his mind drifting into unconsciousness as his hands slid from the back of his head and his body lay splayed on top of the covers, a pleased smile touching his lips.

Lily Evans would be his best friend.

And he would never stop to make it happen.

Never.

Mulciber and Avery entered the dormitory past midnight, not bothering to try and keep the volume down even though three of his roommates already had their curtains drawn and were likely to be dozing off. Mulciber strode straight to the right of the room and went to rip open the curtains of Severus Snape's four-poster, but found his hands incapable of passing within an inch of the curtain.

Deadly in tone and expression, he muttered towards the place where Snape would be lying, "You're done."