Chapter 3: The Feeling
The early morning hours of November 1, 1981
Nightmares and grief were apparently not a good combination for Lily, because they led to something that she had not experienced ever in her life. She had never been a sleepwalker and yet, she found herself mysteriously sitting on the front steps outside of Hogwarts, the moon driven away by the light rain that was falling.
Getting to her feet, Lily looked around wildly. Everything was dark; it was clearly still night, but what had possessed her to leave the castle, even in her sleep? She ran up the rest of the steps and pulled on the door, although she knew it was locked. How had she gotten outside then?
Soaked to her very skin, Lily cried out in frustration. She didn't have her wand and apparating on Hogwarts grounds was only allowed in very rare and special situations. So she slowly stepped back down the slippery steps and began to walk around the castle. It wasn't that she really expected to find an alternative way in, but she had to try. Her skin tingled with the wet cold and her mind was exhausted.
And then, she thought of it…Hagrid's hut! She knew it was late, but surely Hagrid would let her stay with him until morning or at least he could maybe get her back into the castle…
Lily began to run across the grounds. She had never felt so stupid before. Sleepwalking and getting locked out of the castle, in the pouring rain! She was almost halfway to Hagrid's when she tripped over a heavy object and fell to the ground.
The rain was coming down in sheets now and at first, she couldn't even see what she had fallen over. She crawled over to it and squinting through the rain, was repulsed to see a large, fat, black snake curled in the grass.
Lily immediately moved away, wondering if such a creature was a product of the Forbidden Forest, which was not far away. And just as the snake spotted her with its red eyes and rose to look her in the face, Lily's stomach gave a wild lurch.
The strange, awful feeling from earlier that night returned. She felt her revulsion and fear slip away as a sense of calm and command washed over her. She stared at the snake in return and moved closer, until her face was only inches away from it. And very suddenly and unexpectedly, Lily began to speak to it.
It was like her real self was watching from a distance and unable to control what was happening. Lily could not stop the stream of words that were rushing from her mouth. She wasn't even aware of what she was saying to it, only that it continued to stare and that it seemed to understand.
The wind pounded in her ears. It was the loudest thing she could hear.
And then the uncomfortable feeling vanished and the snake bared its fangs. Frozen in fear, Lily could only stare.
That's when a voice shouted "Vipera Evanesca!" and the snake gently unraveled into flame and nothingness. Stunned, Lily spun around.
Snape was standing behind her and holding his wand, with a look of shocked alarm on his pale face. He fell onto his knees before Lily and careful not to touch her – because he knew she still didn't trust him and she was still angry with him – he looked into her frightened eyes.
He couldn't even find the words to ask her what had just happened.
Lily's mind was absolutely reeling. She couldn't understand anything that was happening. She stared at Snape for a moment, before remembering something…he had given her a potion, hadn't he? Very odd that shortly after, she had sleepwalked for the first time ever and ended up outside the castle walls…
"What kind of potion did you give me?" Lily asked him desperately, reaching forward and grasping his wet cloak.
"A simple sleeping potion -"
"But I never sleepwalk…" She trailed off, letting the accusation hang in the air between them.
"How did you get out of the castle, Lily?" Snape asked in a low voice.
"I don't know, Severus!"
Snape was momentarily silent. Something was wrong, so wrong. He took Lily's trembling hands and helped her to her feet. Holding onto her hand securely, he led her back to the unlocked front door of Hogwarts at an urgent pace, his cloak and long, black hair whipping wildly in the wind. Once they were back inside and the locks had been redone and everything was once again safe, he pulled out his wand and pointing from her head to her toes, muttered, "Siccus!" Lily felt a warmth spread through her entire body and she realized she was slowly drying, the water no longer dripping from her body.
Up the numerous staircases they went, moving steadily towards Dumbledore's office. Everything was dead silent and dark except for the occasional flicker of a torch and they ran into no difficulties until they were on one particular staircase very close to their destination. They were halfway up it, almost to the top, when it suddenly began to move. This fact in itself was not alarming, because the staircases often did move, but what was frightening was the fact that the staircase stopped in midair, hovering over nothingness. It did not connect to another landing; the bottom end merely hung somewhere in between.
It gave a great jolt and Lily and Snape were thrown backwards, falling down the rest of the staircase and almost tumbling right over the edge. Snape managed to grasp the banister with his right hand and with his left, he grabbed desperately for Lily.
Lily caught Snape's arm just in time, but the force of her clinging nails caused the fabric of his sleeve to rip right off. Lily's hand slipped down to Snape's and she was left staring at his now visible arm, with the Dark Mark branded into it.
And then the Feeling – as Lily was coming to know it as – returned. There was the lurch and the discomfort and Lily suddenly let out a sharp, maniacal laugh that rang throughout the corridor. It was a laugh that loved danger and thrived with uncomfortable and desperate situations – something very un-Lily. And just as soon as the Feeling had come, it left, and Lily's eyes widened in terrible confusion as she realized what she had just done.
In quiet, desperate horror at everything that had happened, Snape found the strength to heave Lily back onto the staircase and they fall back onto the stairs with an ungraceful thump. Lily crawled off of Snape, not wanting to face him after all the mortifying things she had done in front of him that night, and instead focused on a soft, comforting light that was moving closer.
Dumbledore had arrived, to their rescue, at last.
Lily and Snape both wanted to talk to Dumbledore, but not while the other was present. Lily went first, talking to Dumbledore outside his office, where he apologetically filled her in on everything that had happened, including Snape's return to their side. Feeling rather dizzy from all the information she had received, Lily went back into the office and passed Snape, who was sitting silently in an armchair and awaiting his turn to speak to the Headmaster.
Lily felt more trusting towards him now, but at the foot of the stairs that led to the guestroom, she turned back. He wasn't looking at her, but was staring into the fire, unseeing. His ripped sleeve was very visible, showing his Dark Mark fully, and it was like another presence in the room.
And although Lily was more trusting now, she wasn't fully comfortable. She still longed for her best friend and couldn't believe that he was somewhere inside the grown, sullen man who sat before her now, evil burned into his skin and silence radiating from every pore.
Finally, Snape stood and moved towards the door for his own meeting with Dumbledore. Lily could stay silent no longer as her burning question burst out.
"Why did you?"
Snape turned quickly, his hand on the door knob.
"Why did you turn back to our side?" Lily whispered.
Snape studied her carefully, before stating his answer.
And then in a swirl of black cloak, he left the room.
A/N: Thank you so much for the reviews thus far! I'm so glad that people seem interested in this. Also, "Sicco!" means "dry" in latin, so I made a little spell out of it. And I know I used another "Lily-and-Severus-Hanging-Over-The-Edge-Of-Something" like I did in another fic of mine, but it seemed to fit :)
I hope this chapter didn't seem too rushed. I know there wasn't too much conversation between them, but I didn't expect there would be because Lily doesn't trust him, Snape knows she doesn't trust him, and two pretty weird and frightening things just happened. So, therefore, silence.