Lily wins the Felix Felicis in sixth-year Potions. It turns out her perfect day is identical to what Severus's would have been...with a catch. Severus/Lily, I'm going to call this an AU. Covers the years 1976-1981. This is the first of eight parts, approx. 40,000 words for the entire story.
WARNING: This story is very sensual and somewhat angsty and has something of a tragic ending. It also has a lot of adult content, so if you're not into angst and romance and things, please skip.
PART I: LIQUID LUCK
They'd both gotten O's in their Potions O.W.L.s, of course. Not many had, or even received an E. Fortunately, Potter and his mates, with the exception of Lupin, didn't manage it, evidently, since they failed to make it to N.E.W.T. level.
Severus was glad of it, just so that he could have at least one class, anyway, where his tormentors were not present. Not that it helped him at all where she was concerned. This year, they did not sit together, as they had in years past. Rather, she partnered up with Lupin, and Severus found himself with no partner at all, since there was an odd number of students in the class, and not even his Slytherin fellows preferred to sit with him.
It was the first time he'd seen her up close since last term. For two long months over the summer he'd only glimpsed her from afar as he hid in one of her neighbor's hedgerows and watched her walk to and from her house with her sister. She no longer met him at the riverbank, when in previous summers he might see her every day for a week straight. The pain of wounded pride was nothing in comparison to heartbreak's agony, a lesson he had learned the hard way.
When school commenced he'd of course seen her at Nine and three quarters, but she was chattering with Mary Macdonald and the other Gryffindors, her back pointedly to him. Across the Great Hall during the welcome feast her back was to him too, her long red hair like a stop sign. So Potions was the first time in what seemed like an age he'd been able to see her face clearly.
In a way, it would have been better if he'd not. To his disbelief, she'd grown even more beautiful over the summer, and more womanly too, her cheeks having lost their girlish roundness and instead taking on an almost feline shape so that his heart thrummed with bitter longing and his fingers itched to caress her face. But she looked at him not at all, merely folded her hands in front of her as Slughorn entered the classroom at last and smiled around at the students. If he had an opinion as to why Severus and Lily were not sitting together as they had in the past, he kept it to himself.
"Welcome, welcome!" Slughorn chirped in his jovial way. "Well, here we are then! Congratulations on reaching N.E.W.T.-level Potions! You have all passed your O.W.L.s with an Exceeds Expectations or better, and therefore are quite ready for advanced Potions work."
He turned to the table in front of the class, where stood three bubbling cauldrons and a tiny vial filled with a golden liquid.
"Before you are some of the most powerful potions ever invented. The first one is called Veritaserum. Who knows what it does?"
At once both Lily's and Severus's hands shot up. Severus glanced at her, and to his surprise, she glanced at him too, before quickly looking away.
Slughorn smiled. "Well, well, it's no surprise that you two should be the first to raise your hands. Miss Evans, then."
"Veritaserum is a powerful truth serum," Lily said promptly. "Even one drop can cause someone to reveal their deepest secrets."
"Splendid, splendid, very good! Five points to Gryffindor!" Slughorn nodded in approval. "Well then, who can tell me what this next one is? By adding a bit of someone's essence to this mixture-a hair, a fingernail-before drinking it, you can take on their form for up to an hour."
Once more, Lily and Severus both raised their hands.
"Mr. Snape," Slughorn said to Severus.
"Polyjuice Potion," Severus replied.
"Excellent. Five points to Slytherin. And now," Slughorn said, hovering over the third cauldron. "This one is called Amortentia. What does it do? Yes, Miss Evans?"
"It's the most powerful love potion in the world," Lily said, a faint tremor in her voice. Severus lowered his head so that his hair hid his face, for he did not trust what sort of expression he was wearing right then.
"Quite so, quite so, Miss Evans! Five points to Gryffindor. And what does it smell like?"
"It smells different for every person," she said. Severus peeked at her through the strands of his hair. "For instance," she went on, "to me, it smells like...parchment, ink, wood smoke, and...and the riverbank back home." Her eyes slowly slid to where Severus sat, and they held each other's gaze for a moment till she abruptly looked away.
Severus swallowed hard. That was what the potion smelled like to him, except instead of wood smoke it was a floral essence that he knew to be the scent of her hair. What could it mean that it smelled like the riverbank back home for her, too? Could it be...?
His heart knocked painfully in his chest as Slughorn went on "Amortentia smells different for each person, as Miss Evans has pointed out, reminding them of the things that they find most attractive." Severus repressed a sigh. "It doesn't create actual love, of course," Slughorn pointed out however. "That's impossible. But it does cause a powerful infatuation or obsession. For that reason, it is probably the most dangerous potion in this room."
Severus was grimly glad that Potter wasn't there, for no doubt he would have been tempted to steal some of it, and sneak it into Lily's pumpkin juice. Merlin knew Severus was sorely tempted to do so himself.
Slughorn's next words brought Severus to attention again, as the professor picked up the tiny bottle.
"This," he said, "is Felix Felicis. Who can tell me what it does? Yes, Mr. Snape?"
"It's liquid luck," Severus replied, lowering his hand. "For the one who drinks it, everything they attempt is assured success."
"Very good, Mr. Snape. Five points to Slytherin. But it must be used sparingly, as it causes giddiness, recklessness, and dangerous overconfidence if taken in excess."
"Have you ever taken it, Professor?" Lupin asked.
"I have, Mr. Lupin. Twice. And both times resulted in a perfect day each. Now," he said, setting the tiny bottle into its holder again. "Today you will brew the Draught of the Living Death, and the person who makes the most perfect brew wins this bottle of Felix Felicis."
Suddenly, Severus was hungry to win it. For, he knew if he did, he could gain Lily's trust, her friendship again, without which his life was a poisoned well. He knew he could! Severus immediately cracked open his Advanced Potion-Making textbook and found the recipe for the Draught of the Living Death, gazed down at the preliminary notes he'd already made in the margins.
As the students got up to get ingredients from the supply cabinet, Severus felt someone jostle against him, and he turned to see Lily ducking her head while she murmured "Excuse me," her cheeks flushing pink.
"It's all right," Severus replied quietly, reaching for the asphodel at the same time she did. Their fingers brushed together, and immediately she snatched her hand away.
"Go ahead, you first," he said politely.
"No, go ahead," she said, turning her back on him.
He sighed, reached for the asphodel-he smiled bitterly to himself when he remembered asphodel belonged in the Lily family of plants-and measured out a portion before obtaining a handful of sopophorous beans and returning to his table.
Over the course of the hour he noticed Lily now and again peeking over at him as he made his potion, just as he peeked over at her. They both knew the other was their only real rival for the Felix Felicis potion, and he understood she was as determined to win it as he was.
He saw her crush her sopophorous beans with the flat side of her knife, and he immediately copied her, then made a note of it in his textbook when he saw how effective it was in extracting the juice from the beans. If only they were still partnered together! He knew they'd both win the prize! Yet, if she were still his partner, there wouldn't be any dire need for him to win the Felix Felicis either...
He stirred his potion clockwise every seven counterclockwise stirs, and out of the corner of his eye he saw her watching him, before she began copying his method. Why, they were both cribbing off each other! Lupin seemed oblivious to the civil war going on right across his nose, as the werewolf dumped his chopped beans into his cauldron, and frowned down at the result.
When Slughorn called time, he went around and inspected everyone's potions. Came back to Severus's. Then went back to Lily's.
"It's a close call," Slughorn said, and Severus's heart sank. Slughorn always favored Lily over him. Sure enough, Slughorn went on "But I do believe that Miss Evans' potion is a bit clearer than yours, Mr. Snape. Miss Evans wins the Felix Felicis."
To Severus's surprise, though, Lily peered over at him with an apologetic expression as Slughorn handed her the precious golden bottle, before she turned away and smiled to the professor her thanks.
Every Potions class after that, however, she remained aloof from him, not even glancing at him whenever they both raised their hands to answer a question, nor to spy on his methods as they brewed their potions. It was as though once she got what she wanted from him there was no need to pay attention to him anymore, and he mused bitterly about her female guile.
This was only one of many annoyances this term had in store for him. Another was Mulciber and Avery's little games they played with him, pretending to be his friend with false camaraderie and promises of being introduced to "those at the higher levels" (they did not explicitly say higher levels of what, but it was understood to be Voldemort's ranks), but Severus knew they were just trying to get him to do their homework for them. At any rate, he wished to prove himself by his own merits instead of getting a hand up because of doing someone a favor. He wanted Voldemort himself to take notice of him, and ask him to be in his inner circle. Considering the lack of brains among most of those who wished to join Voldemort, Severus was sure that eventually his vast superiority will be noticed, and valued.
Perhaps the most irksome difficulty he had was with the Marauders. Severus had been certain that as soon as they'd learned of his break from Lily they'd leave him alone. Not so, however. If anything, Lily's disdain for him only inspired Potter and Black to greater levels of cruelty, but at least now Avery and Mulciber were on hand to hex the Gryffindors till they were out of the way at least for a few hours. Severus didn't take it personally; he knew that, heightened as emotions were between Slytherin and Gryffindor of late, Mulciber and Avery took great pleasure in hexing any Gryffindor student, perhaps especially those pure-bloods who'd turned their backs on their heritage.
So essentially Severus's life was utterly miserable, and all he had to look forward to was the day he finished Hogwarts and took the Dark Mark at last. No one, then, would ever dare show him disrespect again.
But the strangest thing happened one Saturday afternoon as he was eating lunch. For some odd reason, the moroseness that usually enveloped him like a cloud suddenly lifted like the gloom overhead as the sun burst through it. At once he looked around the Hall toward the Gryffindor table, where he saw Lily hurry in late and sit down beside Macdonald. Strangely, Lily didn't have her back to the Slytherin table this time, but faced it, something she hadn't done all term. Stranger still, she looked up and down the Slytherin table as though she were searching for something, and when her eye caught Severus's-no, he couldn't be mistaken!-she seemed to give him a small smile, which he surprised himself by returning in kind.
After lunch, as he made his way to the lake in order to read his Potions homework for next week, he was caught short when he heard a familiar voice call out "Severus! Sev!"
Sev? he thought with disbelief as he turned round to find Lily running up to him, a wide smile on her face.
"Oh thank goodness," she said, grasping his arm and leading him away toward the Forbidden Forest. "I was hoping I'd get a chance to talk to you."
"What-" Severus tried, completely flummoxed. "What-what do you mean?"
"Severus, it's the most wonderful thing!" she said, squeezing his arm. "My dad, he had surgery today."
"That's wonderful?" he asked, confused. Had she lost her mind?
"No! Oh, no, not at all. But they'd rushed him into the hospital after he'd suffered a sudden massive heart attack early this morning, and Professor McGonagall informed me of it. She said there was nothing I could do, and that Mum had insisted I stay here instead of try to see him since they didn't know how long the surgery would last or whether...Well. Oh Sev, you can imagine how I felt!"
Severus nodded grimly. He knew quite well how close she was to parents. It was something he very much envied in her.
"Anyway, I felt so helpless, as you can guess. But then I remembered! Felix Felicis! Remember when I won it? Well I decided I needed all the luck I could get, so I drank the whole bottle! And what do you think? McGonagall told me right before lunch that Dad got through his surgery with flying colors, and has already made a full recovery! The doctors said it was a miracle!" Her eyes shone with tears, and she held his hands, squeezed them tight. "I get to see him tomorrow, but just think! If I hadn't won the Felix Felicis, he might have..."
"I'm very happy for you, Lily," Severus said quietly. He tried not to think of what it meant to him for her to talk to him like this, to hold his hands like she used to, as though nothing had changed.
"Oh, Sev," she exclaimed with a sob, and threw her arms around him. "I just had to tell you, since you're the only one here who really understands."
He closed his eyes as he inhaled the scent of her hair, and drew his arms tightly around her likewise. As fleeting as this no doubt would be, he savored it anyway, for he so very rarely received sunshine and fine days in his life, especially now.
"Oh, Sev!" she repeated, letting him go and beaming at him so brightly it nearly knocked him flat. "I've missed you ever so much. Please be friends with me again. Won't you?"
"Lily," he whispered, his ability to breathe flown. "Do you mean it?"
"Yes. Come on!"
"Where are we going?" he asked as she took his hand and pulled him along.
"To the Forbidden Forest!"
"Don't know. Just have a feeling about it."
He didn't understand, but he followed her anyway, till they got to a fallen log beneath a sunny patch amid the forest's gloom.
"Aren't you worried about dangerous creatures?" he asked her with faint amusement.
"No! Don't you see? Today, nothing can go wrong!"
"Ah," he said, thinking. He realized that everything Lily wanted would come true today, and obviously one of the things she wanted, whether she'd known it or not, was to be Severus's friend again. A layer of ice that had begun to glaze his heart in the last year melted a little, and to deflect her attention from the sting of tears forming in his eyes he asked her "What's it like, Felix Felicis?"
"It's not quite what I thought it would be," she said, clearly eager to explain. "I just feel right as rain, you know, like-well, remember how it felt to get our Hogwarts letters when we turned eleven?" Severus nodded his head, smiled a little. "Well, it's like that," she said. "Like you just know good things are on the way."
It was as though her mood were infectious, and Severus found himself sharing in her happiness. Happiness! Could it be that one of the things that she wished for, too, was to see him happy?
She aimed the full force of her smile at him, and beneath the autumn sun her hair was copper sparks, her eyes a glimmer of unseasonable summer, and before he knew what he was doing he found himself leaning forward and kissing her with all his might.
For a moment he expected her to push him away in disgust. Instead, after she'd stiffened a little in surprise, he felt her hand cup the back of his neck, her fingers cool and firm against his skin as she coaxed him forward and her warm lips reciprocated his kiss.
"Lily," he heard himself say in a faraway voice when they drew apart at last, and she gazed up at him through her thick auburn lashes. "Lily, you must know that I-you have to know that I love you."
"Oh," she said in a small voice, her eyes widening.
"Yes," he exclaimed, going on hurriedly now that she didn't faint or run away. "I do. I always have. You, you who know me better than anyone, must have suspected it. You can't ever understand what a nightmare it's been, without you," he said, gazing earnestly into her eyes. Her own green eyes glittered with something like tears, reflecting both the sadness and the joy he felt in that moment.
But then, he added dryly "In fact, I dare say you must have known, or at least wanted it to be true, which would explain why I find myself telling you all this, today of all days."
Her cheeks flushed crimson, but he was sure it was all right. Somehow, he knew it wasn't possible for him to make a mistake with her today, because today he was compelled to do whatever she wanted, whether he knew what it entailed or not.
"I think...Well, remember the first day of Potions?" she said now. "When I won the Felix Felicis?" He nodded.
"Remember the Amortentia potion, and I said what I thought it smelled like?" she asked. Did Severus ever.
"Well...What it smelled like...it smelled like you."
"Me?" he asked blankly.
"Yes. The riverbank, you know. And of course parchment and ink because you're always studying." A smile here. "And wood smoke, because...because that's what your hair smells like."
"It does?" he asked, flabbergasted.
"Oh, Sev! Before then I was still so angry at you, I thought I was through with you forever. But then I smelled that potion, and realized..." She shrugged, bit her lip.
It was almost more than he could bear, and before he could think about it too much, he took her in his arms and kissed her again.
When he felt her fingers lace though his hair he began to tremble, and he opened his lips to allow the tip of her tongue to touch his. Merlin! How long had she wanted to do this? Surely, not for as long as he had. His mind threatened to melt with the overwhelming passion he felt for her right then, especially knowing that it was reciprocated.
"Lily, Lily," he murmured against her neck after they broke apart and he embraced her. "I want never for this to end. Promise me after today you'll still want me." He couldn't believe what he was saying to her. More so, that it was what she wanted him to say.
When he felt her take his hand and press it against her breast, he gasped into her neck with astonishment. Bloody hell, he thought dizzily as he fingers caressed her and she sighed into his hair. "Do you have any idea what this is doing to me," he whispered against her warm skin. His blood began to pound in his ears till he was sure he would pass out. She shivered violently, then placed her hand on the inside of his thigh.
"Oh," he gasped as her fingers glided upward. Once her touch reached the source of his ache he fell apart in earnest, panting against her neck and kissing a trail up to her jaw; he could feel her pulse flutter against his lips as he did so. At the same time, his hand slowly smoothed down her robes, and she didn't stop him, not even when he began to pull up the hems, not even when his fingertips skated lightly up the soft skin of her thigh. Something like a silent firework burst in his mind when his fingers found her at last, and she whispered "Severus" almost inaudibly.
"Please Lily," he heard himself chanting to her over and over again like he were reciting a spell. He was beyond pride or shame now, she'd reduced him to the very essence of himself, which was her: he didn't exist without her, he knew that now.
He almost sobbed when she tugged him down to the ground with her, her hair scattered about her head like a corona of fire, her eyes green flame as she drew up her robes. He was mad, he was out of his mind, he was so much in love with her he thought he would die as he got down on his knees and possessed his darling at last. Better, so much better than the hopeless fantasies he'd entertained for so long! He wept into her hair words that would have made his face burn with shame had he not been so beyond the plane of normal perception. Mostly words of love and devotion, but also filthy things that should have induced her to slap him, but she didn't.
However, right as he was on the brink of pouring his whole heart, his soul, his life into her, she stopped him by digging her fingers into his arms, hissing "Swear it."
"What?" he asked dazedly, forcing his pelvis to stop. Her eyes were wild, faraway, and he recognized the trance of spell-binding in her gaze.
"Swear it," she whispered. "Swear you will never become a Death Eater. Swear that you will never join You Know Who. Swear it, Severus Snape."
He was dying, he was dying to finish, but he knew she wouldn't let him unless he did what she told him. "I swear, I swear," he whispered, his voice breaking. Satisfied, she released him at last, and he fell upon her with the most powerful surge of joy he had ever known.
It seemed an age before he came back to himself. By then his panting had stopped, and he had the wherewithal to glance over at her, and see how she did. The fever that had possessed him was gone now, and spent, drained, enervated, the only feeling that was left in him was a profound love and tenderness toward her.
He gently smoothed her hair from her face, cupped her cheek the way he'd wanted to that first day of Potions class. When she winced as she sat up, he said in a quiet voice "Are you all right, love?"
She nodded, gathering her robes about her, and he sat up too, and drew his arms around her protectively.
"Lily," he asked after a time, when the tempo of her breathing made him think she was going to doze off, "what spell was that?"
"I don't know," she yawned, shrugged against him. "It just seemed like the right thing to do."
And then he realized. Unbidden, a spell of ancient magic had come to her, as though by instinct. Perhaps it came to her through the ground on which they'd lain, over which centuries of sacred beasts have roamed and lived and died, and perhaps shed their magical blood. Unlike her, Severus knew many of the dark and obscure arts, and intimate magic of this kind was ancient, even older than civilization, and as binding as the Unbreakable Vow.
He knew that, whatever happened after today, he was bound to what he swore, or he would die. It meant that Severus could never, ever join Voldemort now. And he knew then that, more than anything else, this was Lily Evans' greatest wish. He wondered if she fully understood the magnitude of what she'd done.
What was luck, anyway, he wondered to himself as she lay her head on his shoulder and he held her close. Was it merely wish fulfillment? Or was it the best of all things happening to you, even if you didn't know it was the best thing? Even if it was something you did not know you wanted, and had never asked for? And what of willpower to those who did what you wanted? It was all so complex. In a way, it was an irresponsible thing for Slughorn to give that Felix Felicis to a student. But Severus didn't regret it in the least.
He kissed her passionately on the top of her head, sighed. As the sun began to set over the trees, he sensed the luck withdrawing from her, and he knew now that anything he said or did hereafter would be subject to her scrutiny.
Still, he was possessed with the habit of frankness born out of this day, and he said quietly "I hope you know that no matter what happens after this, Lily, I'll always love you." When she was about to speak he shook his head, said "I know your luck isn't making me say this. It's just the truth."
"Severus," she whispered, gazing at him in wonder. But what else could he do? He'd been stripped down to his bare essentials this day. There was nothing left in him that he hadn't shown her, there was nothing left to hide. In a way, it was a relief.
From her, he didn't expect much, after today. Perhaps some kindness, some willingness to re-kindle their friendship to a certain extent. It would be better than it had been, and he'd force himself to be satisfied with that. It'd be hard though, knowing what a soul-shattering joy it was to be in her arms, and perhaps never having it again. At least, he thought to himself, he'd always know there was a time when she'd wanted him, too.
"It's getting dark," she murmured against him. "We should get back, while my luck still holds out."
"All right," he replied, trying to keep the reluctance out of his voice.
After they stood up and cleaned themselves off as best they could (he should have felt more awkward than he did), and ensured they each were presentable, they marched out of the Forbidden Forest, but not before Lily reached for his hand. He made no comment, but he wondered at it, then decided she wanted to maintain their friendship after all.
It was suppertime, and they could hear the loud voices in the Great Hall after they entered the castle. They were late.
"Ready?" he asked her as they stood face to face outside of the doors.
"As I'll ever be," she smirked.
"Wait a minute. What do you think you're doing?" she asked in exasperation as he reached for the door handle.
But she stopped him by rising up on her tiptoes and planting a kiss on his lips, then smiled at his flummoxed expression before opening the door and dashing away toward the Gryffindor table.