I've had this idea for MONTHS, literally. And I could never find the right words to write it. Now, I think, I've found a way to put this idea into a story. :D. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
"You must do the thing which you think you cannot do" - Eleanor Roosevelt
It was a quarter to nine, and Severus Snape was waiting impatiently outside the dungeon doors for the idiot third-years to come trooping in. Unfortunately, the bell would not ring for another forty-seven seconds, and he couldn't call them in without a reason. So, he waited in bitter silence, watching as the brats giggled to one another out in the corridors.
He was also waiting for them.
It was everyday, now. It started about three months ago, and even now it was still a shock to see them, walking side by side and smiling at each other. Right now, Severus knew, she walked him to the Slytherin common room, where he most likely spent his free period with Blaise. Then, she would turn left down the first hallway and continue down to Arithmancy. He would leave exactly seven minutes before the end of the class, and would no doubt meet her outside the door.
The bell rang.
"Lily, you don't have to walk me to my own class."
"I just wanted to say hello to Professor Slughorn, though!" she had protested, blushing a light red. Severus smiled slightly, secretly enjoying the fact that she was walking him to Potions.
"Where are you going next?" he asked, knowing full well it was Transfiguration. Lily made a face.
"McGonagall. Don't tell me you forgot."
"I didn't," he replied, not bothering to explain why he kept asking. He just wanted to hear her talk. He just wanted to hear her talk to him.
"I'll meet you after this period, okay? We can go to lunch then," he said cautiously, always waiting for the day when she said no.
"Okay! I'll see you then, Sev."
Every single time, his heart nearly thumped out of his chest.
Severus watched with a heavy heart as Draco Malfoy shot a semi-smirk to Hermione Granger, and jogged down the steps. Hermione stood there for a fraction of a second, before turning down the left corridor and heading to her next class. She was going to be late, but Severus somehow knew she could care less.
He clutched at the door handle, pulling the hefty door closed behind him. He took a breath, steadied his nerves, and called out to the classroom to shut up.
One class later, it was lunchtime. Severus pinned his eyes to the doors, almost fearing that they wouldn't show up together. Minerva tried to start a conversation twice, but he ignored her efforts and instead drank deeply from his goblet, staring straight at the double doors.
They opened – his heart leapt – but it was Finnigan and Thomas. He glowered at the two Gryffindors, and in his annoyance, he almost missed the duo trooping in ten steps behind.
Draco was laughing – how come Severus had never seen a Malfoy look so free? – and his hair was mussed up, sticking up at the back. Granger was smirking broadly, arms wound around two books. About fifteen yards within the Great Hall, they had to split. Severus watched intently. Draco said something, Granger replied. He smiled. She smiled.
"Are you ever going to sit with me at breakfast?" Severus asked bravely, fighting the blush that threatened to erupt over his face. Lily blinked in surprise.
"I – I'm not a Slytherin..." she said quietly.
"Doesn't matter," Severus frowned, sensing an unease coming from her. Was she scared, was that it?
Her eyes flickered to the Gryffindor table. "Maybe some other time, sorry," she murmured, "I'll see you around."
He watched her walk away, feeling as though she had rejected him. In a way, she had. "Lily!" he called out impulsively. She turned, bright green eyes curious.
"I'm sorry," he said, determined not to break their locked gaze, "but I just wanted you to know, if you're ever scared... er, don't be. I'm here." It was dumb and completely lame, but Lily smiled brightly and her cheeks tinged pink.
"That's why you're my best friend, Sev," she said, winking at him with those emerald eyes.
Severus didn't know when the shift happened, but it had. It must have been a tremendous shift, with the strength of an earthquake. He now saw the looks of wistfulness is Draco's eyes, and he saw the sad little turns of Granger's lips as she stared at the back of Draco's head during class.
Maybe it had been there the entire time.
"Do you think it's weird when people date out of their Houses?" Severus asked as casually as he could. Lily didn't even look up from her book.
"Of course not."
"Even a Gryffindor and a Slytherin?"
This time, there was the slightest pause. Then:
There shouldn't have been an awkwardness, an air of inappropriateness. But there was. No matter the year, the decade, the century, Slytherins did not have relations with Gryffindors. Especially not the war hero Hermione Granger and altogether difficult and wayward Draco Malfoy. Especially not 'Mudblood' scar-riddled Hermione Granger and Dark Mark toting Draco Malfoy. No. Especially not them.
Severus found a quick hug, a hasty and spontaneous lack of self-control. It lasted maybe a second and a half, but he saw Draco's hands wind around her waist. He saw Hermione touch his neck for the tiniest of seconds. And it was over, Draco straight-faced and Hermione blinking rather quickly.
Lily let go of Severus quickly, surprise and hurt floating in her eyes. She obviously was put-off by the fact that he remained stiff and cold.
"What...?" she asked awkwardly, shuffling. "Er. I'm sorry?"
"Don't be," he said automatically, immediately feeling like a prick. "Here," and he enclosed her in a tight, warm hug, enveloping her small frame. His eyes burned, knowing that most likely, their relationship was probably never going to escalate further than this moment. He had seen Potter watch her walk, he had seen him wolf-whistle. And he had seen Lily blush harder than he himself had ever made her blush.
As he hugged her, a tear slipped out and fell onto Lily's shoulder. It left a small wet spot, but she never even noticed.
"Just ask her out!" Potter snapped irritably. "I'm tired of you mooning over her and not doing anything about it."
Weasley glared at him, looking around the library secretively. "Shut up," he hissed, "what if someone's listening?"
"Like who?" challenged Potter. "Someone who doesn't already know? You'd be hard-pressed to find someone–"
"Malfoy," came the interruption. Severus felt his heart thump a little harder than usual. He pulled back, so the two boys were no longer in sight. "Do you see how they talk now? It's bloody weird."
There was a slight ruffling sound, and Severus, from his hidden spot behind the bookshelf, assumed Potter was shrugging. "They're Heads together. It's natural for them to stop being mortal enemies, right?"
"I should have been Head Boy with her," Weasley sulked. "What does Malfoy have? He's a Death Eater! He's a greasy little Slytherin with no friends and practices Dark Magic under his covers at night, I bet."
Severus stepped out from behind the bookshelf, livid. He approached the table, eyes flashing dangerously and face drained of all color. Both Gryffindors flinched noticeably.
"Do you know why I hate you?" he snarled nastily, leaning halfway over the table.
"I –" started Potter, but Severus cut through swiftly.
"Because you're like your damn father, Potter," Severus growled brusquely. "And you," he swiveled his head to Weasley, who jerked back in his chair, "because you are James fucking Potter!"
And he swept out, knocking over several stacks of books and shoving Neville Longbottom out of the way. All the way out, the area was silent, the occupants no doubt wondering what he just meant by that.
Draco reminded Severus of himself. Honestly though, not completely himself, for despite the fact that Draco proudly displayed his Dark Mark with rolled-up sleeves, the seventeen-year-old young man was immensely popular. And, Severus even allowed grudgingly, he was unusually and incredibly handsome.
Granger, of course, reminded him of Lily Evans so much it ached. The way her eyes lit with delight as she corked her flask, the way her nose was always in a book, the way she reserved a smile just for one person. In Severus's days, it had been himself. Years later, it transferred to James Potter.
Severus was determined not to make this transfer now. He was insistent on it: there was no way that Weasley or Potter would steal another Lily Evans away from Severus. Or, in reality, Draco.
The way that Severus saw it, if Weasley took Granger away from Draco, he would win. Since Weasley and Potter were friends, if Weasley won, Potter won. Essentially, another Potter would win another Lily Evans from another Severus Snape, and that was disgraceful. Severus would not allow it.
But Severus was at loathe to step in. He didn't want to scare Granger back into Weasley's pathetic arms, but he didn't want her to jump in them on her own.
Draco, for the most part, was doing exactly as Severus did.
He was hesitant, uncertain, and self-brooding. He didn't deserve her, and he knew it. He was ashamed of his Dark Mark only around her, and not once did Severus ever see the black skull while Draco was with Granger. He backed off when Potter and Weasley came around, knowing – thinking – he'd never win in a fight of choice: him or them.
He needed a push.
Severus had needed a push. He had needed that shove to pluck up the courage and take Lily for himself – before Potter swept her off her feet. Severus thought he didn't deserve her, and he was right. But he was even less worthy of her when he meekly stepped back and watched as James Potter slipped on that wedding ring.
So, Severus pushed. He pushed, because he was Draco, and he needed to do the one thing – that one damn thing – he thought he could not do.
This time, he succeeded.
Three years later, he saw the baby. A tiny toddler, blond with honeyed eyes and sickeningly cute.
Idly, Severus wondered what would have happened if it had been his finger the baby was pulling on, and if had been Lily that was holding her newly swollen stomach. He saw the trio (soon to be quartet) and unsurprisingly, couldn't find a memory of the happiness that simply radiated from them.
Still, as he looked at Draco and Hermione and baby Malfoy, he couldn't help but think that his memory was in the present instead of the past. He missed his chance, but gave Draco his second one. Draco did what he couldn't: he fought, and he fought hard.
And Severus never felt more fucking proud of his godson.
I wanted to write a Snape-fic where he rooted for Draco/Hermione purely because it was also his situation: Death Eater bad-boy Slytherin falling for goody-two-shoes Gryffindors, loveable Gryffindor man cleanly intercepting the blossoming romance. It's almost like a movie summary.
But anyway, I hoped you enjoyed! :D