I won't let you close enough to hurt me

Standing at the top of the astronomy tower, Snape closed his eyes. The entire grounds lay snow-white before him. Only the lake differed from the otherwise sparkling sight, pitchblack as if someone had dug a huge hole in the ground. Breaking the illusion of endless darkness was the moon, casting it's silverglow over the frozen surface, making it gleam. Snape sighed. It wasn't a snarl, the kind of sigh that usually slipped the man's thin lips when he was irritated about a Longbottoms incompetence, that seemed to stem out of pure fear more than stupidity. It was a heavy sigh, filled with longing and old pain that remained fresh. The Fisherkings wound. Never healed.

(So dramatic. Like there was an audience listening to your every word. You're not in class you know, you don't have to impress anyone.)

Severus Snape drew in the cold December night air with his eyes closed. It felt less cold that way, when he couldn't see the glistening snow in front of him. It hurt his eyes really. To look at something so needless. So… Pretty. Even the word was disconcerting.
(Lily would like it.)
That voice. Softly spoken at the back of his head, it always arouse at the most irritating of times. It felt like something someone else would think. Someone more nostalgic. Romantic. Less Snivelly. Shivers went up his spine at the thought. Had he sunk so low? Did he even call himself that dreadful name inside his own head? Although his father had beaten Potter to the punch years before, it stung harder when it came from that horrid brat.
An infamous smirk spread across his face. So many years ago, and still. Still the memory of the Potters
(Evans she'd always be Evans)
hit him like a bludger to the stomach each time they popped into his skull. .
"I must be going mad."
Snarling he shook his shoulders. The dark eyes gave every bit of landscape a soft stroke. Soon they stopped at the lake. The reflection of the full moon was so bright that it hurt his eyes. And looking at it, he remembered.

Late spring. The air had taken on a full, flowery quality it only had this special time of year. The time that for most of the students on the school meant exams, quick goodbyes for the swiftly passing summer months, just the end of another year. For others, it was the end of the world. The seventh years where ready to be thrust out into the world as the trained witches and wizard they where supposed to have become. And for Severus Snape, this meant being forever parted from the woman of his dreams.

A dark eyed young man with crooked nose and greasy hair sat under a big tree by the lake. His slender hands where writing in a potions handbook, making small notes along the recipes. The minds of some people… If you tried to pluck the legs of a live Scruff-beetle they would likely bite your finger of, unless you pressed their stomach three times. Luckily, these where things that he was very well aware of, and it became a note in the book. Before each class he had a habit of trying on the potions, those he could get a hold of, and he had noticed he had quite a knack for it.
(Severus Snape. Potionsmaster.)

The words fluttered before his eyes, engraved in a wooden door, like the one Slughorn had. The already troubled forehead wrinkled in a way that gave a small hint of what he would look like when he was older. He didn't know if he wanted to be a potionsmaster. It didn't really appeal to him. The thought of standing in front of a class, telling them what to put in a cauldron, and what not to, being responsible for them not burning their eyebrows up if it exploded or make sure they didn't impale themselves on the burner… No, no never.

"What are you doing?"
From behind him came a voice that made the hairs on his arms and neck stand up. From greasy top to ill-sized foot he froze, at the soft, melodic, sweet sound of Lily Evans voice. Slowly, almost scared of it being a daydream, he turned around. But, alas, when he lifted his gaze, there she still where, smiling at him like there was no tomorrow. The auburnhair covered the sun, and it rays made it look like the forbidden forest in the fall, only caught on fire. The kind mouth smiled at him, but the eyes. Those where what made his stomach melt its way down his knees. Those green, almond-shaped eyes that had always, always looked at him with kindness.
"Bat got your tongue?"
Smiling she sat down next to him, and Snape felt his stomach make several knots at the same time. Lily looked out over the lake and gave out a small sigh, her arms locked around the long legs, her head slightly tilted so that her soft cheek rested against her upper arm.
"It's beautiful this time of year? Right Sev?
Severus nodded, tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth.
"It's so strange to think I'll never be back here. Never stroll down these corridors. Never eat in the Great hall."
She chuckled throatily.
"Never get yelled at for snogging by the statue of Horrendous Hodric."
Ice filled his stomach, but he smiled at her still. Nothing , not even the hot and cold stab of jealousy could stop him from smiling at her. Lily peered at him, seemingly suddenly aware of his silence.
"You're coming back though. Aren't you?"
The tongue loosened from its bonds in one instant, out of pure chock.
"What?"
She laughed, a high laugh that could pierce through walls and through his heart without any troubles.
"Oh Sev… You think I've missed it."
She put her chin against her arm, and shrugged a little.
"You're going to be a teacher."
"That's… Ridiculous. It's… Laughable! Snivellus Snape, Potionsmaster, can't you just hear the stu-"
His tongue, blasted thing, once again got stuck to his mouth when Lily moved. She put her hand on his arm, on the otherwise smooth forehead now a wrinkle.
"Don't ever say that. Don't ever let me hear you call yourself that. It's a foul name, and I'm still mad at James for making it up."
Severus swallowed a thick lump that got caught in his throat, made out of fire and ice. Fire because of her kindness. Ice because of the name James. Not even the sweetness of her voice could make the name sound less horrible to him. But he couldn't deny her anything, as usual.
"I promise I won't say it anymore."
The frown disappeared, and she once again clutched her knees, sighing softly.
"Good. And you know, you wouldn't be a Potionsmaster. You'd be…Defense against the Dart Arts! Yeah, that's more like it. Don't you think?"
How did she do that? How could she read his minds, at all times, at every moment she was inside his head.
And heart.
"I can see that. I'd love that actually…"
Again she laughed, at stroke away some hair from her face. His fingers ached to replace hers. Just a touch. Just a touch of that silky hair. If he concentrated he could almost feel the warmth of it on his skin, like heated silk, like unicorn hair, like-
"James asked me to marry him."
Thousands of spears hit him in the stomach at the same time. Again, and again, he could feel every drop of blood leave him at the same time, leaving nothing but an empty shell behind, a shell that was staring at her. She took his silence as a sign to continue.
"I said yes. We're moving away… We've already made plans, we've found this cute little place. In London. I know I said I wanted to move away from Petunia but I don't like that new boyfriend of hers. She hasn't been acting right. It's like she's.. Hiding something from me."
Again she chuckled, less happy now, and covered her face.
"I'm getting of topic. I just… I wanted to tell you. Don't be a stranger. I don't care what James says. I want you to visit. A lot."
Severus looked at her, and opened his mouth to respond. To tell her exactly what he thought of it all.
"That sounds lovely Lily.

(I would give you everything. I would give you every dime I have in my pocket if you as much as implied that you wanted it. I'd fly to the bloody moon and back on a broomstick if you said you wanted it. I'd tie it in a rope and bring it here, if you just)

I know how much you wanted to live in London, I'm glad you found something there. To bad

(LET me. Is that too much to ask? That you LET me love you the way you deserve to be loved? That Potter boy is a joke. A simple human trying to love a Goddess. I'm not saying I'm more than human but I adore you Lily Evans. And even if you)

that I won't be able to visit you as often, you know how it is with money… But we'll write, won't we. We've always written.

(stomped me down in the ground, even if you spat on me, even if you hated my trembling, coward guts I'd still adore you. Can James Potter say the same? I love you Lily Evans. I'll always love you.)

So I guess I wanted to say that… Congratulations."
Lily looked at him, blinking a little. It was more than he had said to her the entire year, and he felt his face getting flushed. And then she smiled, and he knew everything was alright again. Everything but his severed heart.
"I'm glad that you said that. And yes, we'll write. Ofcourse, why wouldn't we."
He could tell she was relieved when she stood up, and gave him one of her bone-melting smiles.
"I'm glad we sorted this out Severus. I'm late for class… But I'll see you later?"
Like the gentleman he was, he stood up when she was about to leave. But then something strange came over her face as she was about to turn, and she did something she hadn't done in years, not since that Potter entered the stage. She put her arms around him, and gave him a hard hug. Severus closed his eyes. The smell of her hair, flowers and fruit mixed with the smell of budding woman, was so intoxicating that his knees almost buckled. Trembling, he put his hands on her back, and held her close. So close it was almost painful. The lake glittered in the sun of late spring. Classes would soon be over. And she'd move away. As she put her hot cheek next to his, he was afraid she'd feel the warmth of his tears. But she just let him go, and gave his hands a tight squeeze. He opened his eyes, just in time to see tears in her eyes too, before she wiped them away with the back of her slender hand. Coughing a little to regain her voice, she once again stroke away her auburn hair.
"I'll… I'll see you at dinner?"
He nodded. He could do nothing else.
"Bye Severus Snape."
It wasn't until he saw her disappearing into the castle, the hair burning, hips softly swaying, the absolute human form of grace, that he realized that she had used his full names.
And in his mind he was left with one, hovering, trembling word.

(Always.)

That had been the last time. Not the last time they'd met, not the last time they'd talked. But the last time they'd really seen each other. She started slipping away the minute she moved. She got pregnant. And she asked him to come. To visit. To meet the baby. That was the one thing he had ever denied her. The only thing, he could not bear. And that ended the friendship.
Snape drew a breath, and scratched his cheek, but instead of skin and stubble he was met by something wet. Blinking he looked down at his fingers, and realized he was crying. The tears found their way down his crooked nose and he let them. No point in trying to stop them, that he had learned from years of painful experience.

The Hogwarts ground lay peaceful before him. The lake glittering in the light of a silver moon and star-filled sky. Godrics Hollow would be covered in snow now. Her grave would be as it always where in winter. He should visit it. The magic lily's he had put there the last time would have withered away by now. A soft sigh escaped him. As soon as this was over he would go back. As soon as the war was over he was going back to visit her grave. When he could mourn her in peace. Love her in peace.
Severus Snape closed his eyes, and turned around. Making his way down from the astronomy tower, to the headmasters office to talk to Dumbledores portrait, he thought of that day. The smell of her hair, and the look in her eyes. He would give anything to see those eyes again. As he stepped in to his office, leaving the moon behind, he took with him the promise he had made her inside his own head. To love her. Forever. No, forever was too small. Softly, under his breath, he whispered the one-worded oath.
"Always."