DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter. The flashbacks from the Deathly Hallows (The Prince's Tale) contain dialogue by JK Rowling.
Chapter One- Her Name Was Lily Evans
The scarlet and gold that smothered the walls of Sirius Black's room seemed to disappear as Severus Snape hurled a book across the room in agitation. His black eyes, normally cold and calculating, had an almost frantic hunger. "This can't be it," Snape muttered to himself, reaching for another worn book. His fingers sifted through the pages violently before abruptly casting it aside with the rest.
"This can't be it," Snape repeated, his voice growing with loud frustration. There had to be something. Anything. With renewed anger, Snape kicked aside a towering stack of old school textbooks. To his astonishment, several papers floated to the ground in the midst of dust. Snape promptly snatched them, his hands trembling in anticipation.
"Useless… Useless..." Snape tossed aside the first few sheets with impatience, letters from various people that he could not care less about. Then he froze, his eyes catching a familiar glint of dark red hair. He would recognize that red anywhere.
It was Lily Evans.
Snape refused to think of her as Lily Potter. The Lily he had known, his Lily, has been Lily Evans. He would never know her as anything else. Before he could linger on the photograph for long, the last two papers caught his eye. He knew that handwriting better than his own. It was a neat script, quite unlike his untidy scrawl. But Lily Evans had been hardly like him.
No, Snape reflected, she had been better.
He studied the letter. He wanted to snarl when he spotted mentions of a life that he had not been included in, but he could not. A more powerful emotion was threatening to overwhelm him.
A teardrop splattered on the signature, and he realized it already had. His fingertips traced the familiar letters that spelled out Lots of love, Lily. The rest of the letter already faded away as he absorbed the signature.
Recollecting what little remained of his control; Snape hastily stuffed the last page into his robes. His hands greedily took the photograph and tore it. The half that contained a jovial James and Harry fell to the carpet. He did not need any more reminders of Lily Potter. He only wanted Lily Evans.
Before he could tuck away the photograph, he could not help but gaze upon the face of the woman that he had betrayed. She was laughing. He could remember the first time he had heard her laugh.
Snape closed his eyes.
Nine-year-old Severus Snape crouched down in the bushes, unconcerned about the dirt that was staining his already grimy jeans. His attention was focused elsewhere, on the playground. More specifically, on the familiar redhead that he had been watching for nearly a year. She was not like anything he had seen before, yet she was just like him.
She had magic.
Her name was Lily. The one swinging beside her was her sister, Petunia. She was a Muggle that Severus felt nothing but disdain for. Lily was the one that fascinated him.
All of a sudden, Lily leapt off the swing midair, her laughter ringing throughout the playground. Severus usually loathed laughter. He heard laughter when his drunken father thrashed him. He heard laughter when the Muggle children mocked his filthy clothes. This laughter was different. It was…nice.
Severus watched for a few more minutes, tuning out the Muggle's constant screeches. But when Lily's magic became clear once more with the curious flower she was holding, he could not keep silent.
"It's obvious, isn't it?" Severus stood up from the bushes, causing the Muggle to squeal once more. Even though it had been the Muggle who had questioned Lily's magic, Severus's focus was directed to Lily.
"What's obvious?" Lily said, speaking to Severus for the very first time.
Severus had imagined this day, thousands of times, ever since he had first realized the truth about Lily Evans. He reddened slightly as he finally registered their surprise. He had not meant to reveal his hiding place. Despite his embarrassment, his words were eager. "I know what you are."
"What do you mean?" Lily frowned. But she had recovered from her shock and was studying him with wary curiosity. Her sister, on the other hand, had fled to a safe distance.
"You're….you're a witch," Severus said excitedly, watching her face. But as many times as he had pictured her reaction, her actual response was nothing like he had envisioned.
Lily's emerald green eyes narrowed. "That's not a very nice thing to say to somebody." She spun on her heel with a dignified air. He was left standing behind, gaping at the back of her shining red hair.
"No!" Severus called out quickly. Lily paused, turning around with visible reluctance. He was becoming worried; mentally scolding himself for ruining something he had wanted so desperately to be perfect. "You are a witch. I've been watching you for a while. But there's nothing wrong with that- My mum's one, and I'm a wizard." He was babbling on at an incredible rate, saying anything that he hoped would make her want to stay.
The words spilled out thoughtlessly. Severus did not realize how they sounded until he heard the cruel sound of the Muggle's giggles.
"Wizard!" The Muggle exclaimed with glee. It was clear that Severus no longer intimidated her, and she moved haughtily in front of her younger sister. "I know who you are. You're that Snape boy."
Severus flushed as the Muggle continued her proud rant. He stared at the toes of his badly scuffed sneakers, becoming all too aware of the heat of the sun. It felt like a suffocating spotlight on him, and he remembered why he had always preferred the shadows.
"Haven't been spying," Severus retorted defensively when the Muggle had finished blathering. "Wouldn't spy on you, anyway. You're a Muggle." The acid in his words could not be missed, and the Muggle's mouth twisted into a scowl.
"Lily, come on," The Muggle promptly seized her sister's arm. "We're leaving."
Lily had fallen quiet during the exchange, but her green eyes had clouded with indignation at Severus's tone toward her sibling. She did not even protest the Muggle's bossiness. Instead, she glowered at Severus and followed.
As Lily and the Muggle walked away, Severus could not help but watch. A sickening feeling lurched in his stomach. He had waited so long for this very day, and he could not have imagined a worse ending.
Despite his disappointment, a tiny flicker of hope remained. Lily Evans was a witch, whether she liked it or not. Once she accepted that fact, he could finally have a friend. Then maybe, just maybe, there would be a glimmer of light in his dark world.
Lily avoided the strange boy for nearly a week. She would never admit it to Petunia, but his words had worried her. Strange things kept happening to her that she could not explain. Even if it was really magic, she did not want to be a witch. The witches in the stories she had read about terrified her. They were wicked and hideous and locked princesses up in towers. But on the sixth day, when she slipped down the staircase and ended bouncing back up, Lily decided she needed answers.
Petunia had said that he lived in the last house on Spinner's End. Lily knew the one. It was a grimy brick house, two stories high, with cracked windows resembling cobwebs. Like most of the houses on Spinner's End, it had a dreary feel about it that made Lily shiver.
"Hurry up, Lily. I want to go to the playground," Petunia stood in the doorway of the sunny room that she and Lily shared, tapping her foot impatiently. She had clearly forgotten about the previous encounter with the Snape boy. Petunia had a habit of pushing away thoughts she did not like to think about, such as Lily's supposed magic.
"I can't go," Lily lied, not wanting to meet her sister's eyes. Lying made her uncomfortable, but she didn't have any other choice. If Petunia knew what Lily had planned, she would try to stop her, or worse, tell their mum. "My stomach hurts."
"You shouldn't have eaten so quickly at breakfast," Petunia said in her usual imperious tone. "Didn't I tell you?"
Lily nodded, biting her tongue to keep from protesting. She was relieved that Petunia seemed to believe her, but then again, why wouldn't she? Lily never lied to her. At that thought, Lily felt an uneasy twinge of guilt.
"You should rest. I'll be on the swings if you feel better." Petunia skipped off before Lily could say anything else. That suited Lily, who counted silently to two hundred before leaving the room.
The walk to the Snape boy's house was not far, but was much too long for Lily's liking. Each step brought new questions, and by the time she had approached the end of Spinner's End, she had almost convinced herself that magic really did exist.
Lily was just about to knock on the door when a loud whisper stopped her.
"What are you doing? Don't!"
Lily jumped at the sound of an unexpected voice, immediately lowering her fist. She whirled around to see that the strange boy was lurking in the shrubbery. "Do you always hide in bushes?" Lily demanded defensively, her cheeks pink from frightening so easily.
The boy reddened too, but before he could retaliate, a shrill scream pierced the air. Lily jumped again, but the boy quickly seized her by the hand and pulled her toward the bushes. Just then, the front door swung open.
"Bloody women," A man growled, his footsteps heavy. One glance at the Snape boy's fearful eyes, and Lily knew to be silent. Lowering her head into the thorny leaves, she watched the man without a sound, not daring to shift into a more comfortable position.
He had the boy's smoldering dark eyes and hooked nose, but the differences ended there. The man was good deal rounder with a ruddy complexion. Even from a distance, there was the distinct scent of alcohol, and in his left hand, a bottle swung lazily. "Where is that damn boy?"
Beside her, the boy stiffened. Lily noticed their hands were only a few inches apart and she hesitantly touched his hand as a gesture of comfort.
The boy flinched and Lily, self-conscious, immediately tore her hand back.
The man eventually stumbled back into the house, mumbling incoherently. Neither of them dared to breathe until the door had slammed shut. After a minute of relieved silence, Lily turned to the boy. "Was that your dad?"
There was a shout from inside the house and the boy winced. "Yeah." Then his face transformed into a guarded expression. His dark eyes suddenly flashed, oddly similar to the man with the bottle. There was no trace of fear, only proud defiance. "What are you doing here?"
Lily wanted to question him further about his father. The man she had seen was so unlike her kind father that she could not help but be curious. A second glance at the boy's steely features told her she would regret it. Feeling unexpectedly uncertain, Lily searched for the right words. "I've come to ask you about magic."
The boy's eyes gleamed again, but this time, it was not a motion of defense. It was excitement. "What about it?"
"Is it real?"
"You saw what you did to that flower."
Lily bit her lip to keep it from trembling. Tears were threatening to spill from her almond shaped eyes. "But I don't want to be evil."
"Witches aren't evil," he waved his hand indifferently. "You've been reading too many of those Muggle stories."
His quiet confidence consoled her and Lily began to smile, feeling reassured that being a witch might not be such a terrible thing after all.
"I'm Lily Evans," Lily spoke with sudden shyness, realizing they had not been properly introduced.
"I know," The boy said before catching himself. He flushed again, shoving his hands into the pockets of his ragged jeans. "I mean…I'm Severus Snape."
"That's a funny name. I like it," Lily sank back onto the browning grass, forgetting the apprehension that had followed her the entire way to Severus's house. She tilted her head hopefully, her emerald eyes pleading. "Will you tell me more about magic?"
"Sure," Severus brightened. No longer was he an intimidating boy dressed in strange, tattered clothing. He was someone that Lily instinctively trusted, a friend. "But you learn it all at Hogwarts."
"Hogwarts," Lily echoed curiously. She let the word roll off her tongue, liking the sound of it. "What's that?"
"A school for people like us."
"A school of magic?" Lily could hardly believe such a foreign concept, but as strange as it was, she felt a flutter of anticipation. "Are there really others like us?" Before Severus could reply, her face fell. "But I'm not going to Hogwarts. I'm going to school with Tuney."
Severus shook his head assertively. He did not seem the least bit bothered. "Hogwarts will send you a letter. But not yet."
"When?" Lily asked, feeling a rush of eagerness despite her doubts. For as long as she could remember, she had been following Petunia's example. Schools of magic did not fall into that category.
"When we're eleven."
"But that's not for two years," Lily complained, disappointed. Two years seemed a remote distance, nearly unbearable. "It might as well be a hundred."
"I know," Severus said, his lips twitching in a rare smile. "But I'll teach you everything I know until then. We can do potions and stuff."
Lily perked up considerably and she beamed back at him. "Promise you'll teach me everything?"
Suddenly, two years did not seem so far away.