Disclaimer: Everything except the plot is J.K. Rowling's. I get no money out of this (heh as if!). So there, don't sue. Empty coke cans are all you can get from me anyway.

A/N: Ok, I know I should be a good girl and finish my other stories before starting a new one but this just demanded to be written. It'll be approximately three chapters and I am planning a sequel.

Thanks to DrusillaDax for beta and general encouragement; you are the best, dear!! Please review, they mean a lot to me and they really help me improve. Thanks!

Now, on with the story...

The Farewell

by Coesius

"Severus..."

Damn... Damn, damn, damn, damn! Not this, not now. God, please, no. It had almost been allright.

He had almost regained a routine of some sort. The Mark burning; wear the Mask, apparate to His meetings, get as much information as you can while staying alive, apparate back to the Manor, activate the unspottable spells, apparate to Dumbledore's office, report, go back home and stay out of depression long enough to answer the next call. It had almost been allright. He had almost learnt to stand it. His heart had been safely locked away and now this... He felt it start bleeding again and this time he didn't think he could survive it. Not again. God, he must run away...

But transfixed by those familiar green eyes that haunted his dreams, he could do nothing but stare. Just blankly stare. She stood at the top of the moving stairs leading to Dumbledore's office and he stood just outside the office, having just given his report of the last meeting. The silence grew heavy and he felt its pressure squeezing his very being.

She stared on, her eyes now shining with hope and tenderness now that she was over the initial shock. A very slight smile lit up her face, she had known he would return. He hadn't belonged to them.

"Lily..." He choked out.

Damn, he couldn't stand this one more second. He shouldn't have seen her again, ever. He swept past her and down the stairs with hurried steps. He ran through the Hogwarts grounds as if some kind of wild beast was at his heels. As soon as he crossed the apparation barrier, he released a breath he hadn't noticed he had been holding and apparated away. Anywhere but away from her...

And she was a jumble of feelings. Joy, pride, fear, confusion, sorrow, dissappointment,.....love? She looked at her wedding ring, a sign of her bond to James. No, she was over that. She was over him, the dark mystery that had dominated her last years of Hogwarts and made her happier than she ever had been. She was, wasn't she?

"Come on in, dear girl."

Albus Dumbledore, with a sorrowful twinkle in his eyes, held the door for her. She wanted answers.