A/N STOP! Before you read on I suggest you go listen to: "The bravest man I ever knew" by Ministry of Magic, "Snape Vs. Snape" by Ministry of Magic, and "Lily" by Ministry of magic. I believe they set the mood for the story because they were what I was listening to while writing this fic. Plus they are wonderful songs even if they are a little to up beat for this story.

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, because if I did Severus would have died in the arms of someone who loved him.

OH NOTE, AS A RESPONSE TO A REVIEWER WHO I COULDN'T RESPOND TO BECAUSE OF DISABLING THINGA-MA-BOBS SEVERUS AND LILY ARE NOT TOGETHER AT THE END OF THIS STORY. SORRY FOR THOSE WHO WERE EXPECTING THEM TO BE.

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She hovered over her body watching as a stone man crumbled.

Really she shouldn't care, he had called her a mud-blood, it had been years since then. But it still stung, still made her so angry, and she could still feel her wounded pride. She still was angry at him; unfinished business and all that maybe she wanted to punch him. Perhaps that was why she hadn't passed on yet.

Then again she doubted he was the reason. No, it had everything to do with the screaming baby in the crib behind the sobbing man. Why was he crying? She hadn't meant that much to him had she? He hadn't contacted her in all these years.

But then again she and dear James would have stricken him down where he stood; he was but one Slytherin that had chosen to go to that thing after graduation. He was a death eater and they had no good in their souls.

None what so ever, she was surprised he was still capable of tears.

But then again perhaps her bitterness had everything to do with the fact that he was a personal failure. Still it appeared all the pity that she had for him had dried up years ago. All that was left was a cold anger, and perhaps a bit of hatred for what he had become, and nothing to do with the man himself.

Finally he put her body back down on the ground and stood.

She was sure he was about to leave, but no she was heading over to the crib. He stared down at her dear little baby for a moment and in that moment she was sure he was about to do something horrible. But no, he simply turned away and gathered a blanket from the back of her rocking chair.

He then gathered the baby up in the blanket making sure he was safe and then turned and walked away.

She, at a loss of what to do followed him and her dear little baby.

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For the life of her she couldn't understand why she wasn't with her baby and instead stood in the shadows of Dumbledore's office.

However she still watched on.

Severus was sitting in a chair his face in his hands making odd whimpering sounds that reminded her oddly of the small bird she had found half dead outside her home year ago. It had been starving and near death and she had done everything she could to save it but it had died anyway.

Finally he looked up and she was shaken when she caught sight of his eyes, so much misery…she couldn't even begin to describe it.

"I thought . . . you were going . . . to keep her . . . safe . . ."

Dumbledore simply stared down at him.

"She and James put their faith in the wrong person," said Dumbledore. "Rather like you, Severus. Weren't you hoping that Lord Voldemort would spare her?"

She watched as Severus came close to hyperventilating and Dumbledore did nothing to help.

"Her boy survives."

She watched as Severus twitched, again Dumbledore didn't seem concerned.

"Her son lives. He has her eyes, precisely her eyes. You remember the shape and color of Lily Evan's eyes, I am sure?"

"DON'T" he bellowed and she winced at the sound, his throat must hurt terribly "gone . . . dead . . ."

"Is this remorse, Severus?"

"I wish . . . I wish I was dead . . ."

"And what use would that be to anyone?" She backed up a bit, was he using Severus? His voice, the way he spoke to the man in the chair, it was so cold, so uncaring. Did he not care that Severus was on the verge of suicide; even the dead could see that.

"If you loved Lily Evans, if you truly loved her, then your way forward is clear."

He . . . He loved her?

Severus seemed to peer reproachfully through a haze of pain, and the words that had been spoken seemed to take forever and a day to reach him.

"What – What do you mean?"

"You know how and why she died. Make sure it was not in vain. Help me protect Lily's son."

"He does not need protection. The Dark lord has gone –"

"The Dark Lord will return, and Harry Potter will be in terrible danger when he does."

She backed up against the wall, her dear baby boy, her little Harry, She wouldn't be there to protect him, he would be on his own, her sister would care for him but she couldn't protect him from this, she his very mother could do nothing.

That hurt.

"Very well. Very well. But never – never tell, Dumbledore! This must be between us! Swear it! I cannot bear . . . especially Potter's son . . . I want your word!"

"My word, Severus, that I shall never reveal the best of you?" Dumbledore sighed "If you insist . . ."

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How dare he treat Harry like that?

"– Mediocre, arrogant as his father, a determined rule-breaker, delighted to find himself famous, attention-seeker and impertinent –"

Why the nerve of this man, why she should -

"You see what you expect to see. Severus."

Lily resisted the urge to hmpth. Damn right he did, her son was nothing like what Severus was describing and for his own good he needed to realize that, she wasn't sure what harm she could do to him in this state but if he continued to speak this way she damn well would find a way to do something.

"Other teachers report that the boy is modest, likable, and reasonably talented. Personally I find him an engaging child."

Dumbledore turned a page of Transfiguration Today and lily thanked him for seeing what she saw in her little baby, who wasn't a baby anymore.

"Keep an eye on Quirrell, won't you?"

She was surprised by the sense of foreboding that followed that simple sentence.

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She nearly killed that Granger girl.

Any smart Witch could tell that it wasn't Severus cursing Harry's broom. No, it had to have been someone else entirely, she didn't know who, but she did know it hadn't been Severus. Severus had been trying to counter it and that girl had lit his robes on fire making him lose his concentration. She could have killed her baby

Severus was an honorable man, and had only been trying to protect Harry.

After all Severus had promised to protect her son, and if she remembered anything from their friendship it was that he always kept his word.

She knew this would not be an exception.

She trusted Severus.

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She couldn't remember laughing this hard in ages.

Seriously?

That stupid man was the worst teacher she had ever seen. Lockhart truly was a complete idiot. Needless to say she was smirking right along with Severus after that spell – who looked like the cat that ate the canary, he was oozing mirth and she was surprised he wasn't laughing as hard as she was.

Bested by Expelliarmus. And he was the defense teacher? Not that it didn't happen. But still the shock on Lockhart's face had been enough to have her clutching her stomach in mirth.

Oh dear, she really shouldn't be laughing this hard. But truly it had been hilarious and Severus had been brilliant.

Then again she supposed he always had been.

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She was horrified.

Had that really happened right under her nose?

She remembers that week, he was in the hospital wing nearly comatose, not talking to her at all, and when she finally got him to speak to her he had refused to tell her anything, nothing but that she should be careful that Gryffindor wasn't safe.

Dear god! He could have died, how could he? How could he not tell her this? How could Dumbledore let this happen?

"That's right." She screamed right along with the Granger girl.

And then she screamed again as Severus's body flew through the air, soon after. His wand landing innocently next to the cat.

In that moment she was truly scared for him for the first time in years.

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She smiled.

Harry had looked so handsome in his robes at the ball.

Watching as the last stragglers left she turned her attention to Severus – who much to her anger hadn't changed out of his teaching robes and hadn't made a single appearance all throughout the night, he was supposed to be protecting her son.

Then again she doubted Harry was in too much danger, and truly she knew Severus wouldn't have liked to be at any ball anyway, he was still after all these years simply uncomfortable in large crowds and he shouldn't have to be uncomfortable for her sake, when there really seemed to be no danger.

No she really wasn't angry with him.

She was angry because she couldn't be there to see Harry in person, or rather where he could see her.

"Well?"

"Karkaroff's Mark is becoming darker too. He is panicking, he fears retribution: you know how much help he gave the Ministry after the Dark Lord Fell" Severus looked sideways "Karkaroff intends to flee if the mark burns."

She jolted back, it was finally happening. That thing was returning and her little boy would be in grave danger.

"Does he?" said Dumbledore as a two teenagers came in from the grounds giggling. "And are you tempted to join him?"

"No" said Severus his eyes on the two retreating forms "I am not such a coward."

"No" agreed Dumbledore. "You are a braver man by far than Igor Karkaroff. You know, I sometimes think we sort too soon . . ."

And surprisingly she didn't disagree with Dumbledore, all the contempt that she might have held for him had fled the moment she realized what Severus was going to do.

She knows that Severus is by far the bravest man, because he was going to go back and spy, he was going to do what others couldn't.

Perhaps he would have done well in Gryffindor.

In fact she was sure if things had gone different – if his home life had been a little better – then he would have been.

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She cried out when she caught sight of Severus.

He had been back spying for some time now and each time she watched as he returned beaten and bloody.

But this time it was different, something had gone horribly wrong.

Not only was he bleeding from a large cut on his thigh but the whole front of his robes was literally dripping blood. But that wasn't the worst of it, the worst part was his face, he looked dead, his face was starch white and he wobbled as he walked.

He managed to stumble to the bathroom and she winced as she heard the retching that followed. Passing through the door she was alarmed when she saw the wound on his stomach that was bleeding heavily.

She wished someone – anyone could see her so she could get him help.

But she couldn't, so she did the best thing she could at the moment, she bent down next to him and rubbed circles on his back and whispered into his ear, she ran her hands through his soft – surprisingly not greasy – hair and she placed her hand on his forehead.

She became increasingly worried when she felt his ribs through his shirt, He was far too thin and it scared her.

This whole situation scared her.

She was relieved when she heard the floo network come alive and Dumbledore and Poppy Pomfrey stepped into the bathroom.

Both hoisted Severus up and led him out of the lavatory and into his bed chamber, laying him on the silver and green bed Poppy began to try and coax his eyes open. "Come on dear, open your eyes we need to know what they did to you. Please Severus open your eyes so we can talk."

Finally he opened his eyes and she was relieved to see the onyx gems, however pain clouded they may be "leave me and let me sleep."

Poppy shock her head "no dear, you're not in good condition and I believe you may be concussed, we need to know what happened, then you may sleep."

"Don't need . . . any help been doing fine without . . . any of your . . . help . . ."

"Yes, you have Severus, but this time I'm afraid this is beyond your knowledge and I'm afraid you do need help, now tell me what they did to you."

"Cut my thigh with . . . my own spell . . . same with my stomach . . . had to test my own . . . potion . . . why I was sick . . . but not found out . . . don't worry they know . . . nothing . . ." he finished with a short quirk of his lips that she swore was the most heartbreaking smirk she had ever seen.

"Thank you dear; is there an antidote for that potion?"

He shook his head "wear off in . . . a few hours till then . . . is fine . . . no need to worry . . ."

Poppy pierced her lips but healed him, and had him drink a dreamless sleep potion, before turning to Dumbledore.

"Why do you make him go back? Why? When he only comes back to us broken and bruised and beaten, you're destroying him piece by piece!"

Dumbledore smiled sadly "My dear, it is not my choice, Severus goes back because he wants to I haven't forced him to go."

"But why?"

". . . for . . . light . . ."

Dumbledore sighed suddenly looking every year his age "Severus has answered your question."

Poppy glanced over at the man lying on the bed. While she smoothed back his hair and watched as his chest rose and fell with every breath.

She had forgotten what it was like to cry. But as she stared down at his sleeping face, she sobbed for him.

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That stupid man, he was the headmaster surely he should be smart enough to know not to put such a thing on! It was part of that things soul for god's sake!

Dumbledore was sagging sideways in the thronelike chair, his blackened and burned hand hanging off to the side, while dear Severus muttered incantations, wand pointed at the semiconscious man's wrist. While his left tipped a golden potion down his throat.

She had watched as Severus had prepared that potion, rushing and chopping so fast he nearly cut his own fingers off.

She hadn't seen so much horrorin a man in a long time.

Finally the idiot of a man's eyes opened.

"Why" said Severus "why did you put on that ring? It carries a curse, surely you realized that. Why even touch it?"

Marvolo Gaunt's ring lay on the desk before the two men, the sword of Gryffindor lying beside it.

"I . . . was a fool. Sorely temped . . ."

"Temped by what?"

Dumbledore did not answer.

"It is a miracle you managed to return here!" She winced Severus was furious, beyond any anger she had ever experienced before. "That ring carried a curse of extraordinary power, to contain it is all we can hope for; I have trapped the curse in one hand for the time being –"

Dumbledore simply stared at his hand with an odd sort of contemplation that never seemed to bode well for Severus.

"You have done very well, Severus. How long do you think I have?"

Severus sighed, defeated in a way that she had never seen before.

"I cannot tell. Maybe a year. There is no halting such a spell forever. It will spread eventually; it is the sort of curse that strengthens over time."

"I am fortunate, extremely fortunate, that I have you, Severus."

"If you had only summoned me a little earlier, I might have been able to do more, buy you more time!"

Again there was so much anger, that it made her wince, Severus had been going in between two masters for far too long now, and he was falling apart at the seams. Never had she been as worried for him as she was now. Who would pick him back up when he broke?

"Did you think that breaking the ring would break the curse?"

"Something like that . . . I was delirious no doubt . . ."

"Well really, this makes matters much more straightforward."

Severus looked so confused and Dumbledore simply smiled, again she had the urge to fly at him and throttle him.

"I refer to the plan Lord Voldemort is revolving around me. His plan to have the poor Malfoy boy murder me."

Severus scowled.

"The Dark Lord does not expect Draco to succeed. This is merely punishment for Lucius's recent failures. Slow torture for Draco's parents, while they watch him fail and pay the price."

"In short the boy has a death sentence pronounced upon him as surely as I have," said Dumbledore "Now, I should have thought the natural successor to the job, once Draco fails, is yourself?"

There was a pause.

"That I think, is the Dark Lord's plan."

"Lord Voldemort foresees a moment in the near future when he will not need a spy at Hogwarts?"

"He believes that the school will soon be in his grasp, yes."

"And if it does fall into his grasp," said Dumbledore as an almost after thought "I have your word that you will do all in your power to protect the students of Hogwarts?"

Severus nodded.

"Good. Now then. Your first priority will be to discover what Draco is up to. A frightened teenage boy is a danger to others as well as to himself. Offer him help and guidance, he ought to accept, he likes you–"

"– much less since his father has lost favor. Draco blames me, he thinks I have usurped Lucius's Position."

"All the same, try. I am concerned less for myself than for accidental victims of whatever schemes might occur to the boy. Ultimately, of course there is only one thing to be done if we are to save him from Lord Voldemort's wrath.

Severus raised his eyebrows as he asked, "Are you intending to let me kill you?"

"Certainly not. You must kill me."

NO!

That foul man, this would destroy Severus. Did he care so very little for Severus, that he would have him broken just so he could have his way?

She had never hated anyone in her life except Voldemort and his death eaters, but now, now she hated Albus Dumbledore. For the way he threw around Severus's life like it was a chess game.

Severus was not a pawn.

"Would you like me to do it now?" said Severus, his voice dripping irony. "Or would you like a few moments to compose an epitaph?"

"Oh, not quite yet," said Dumbledore, a smile playing across his lips "I daresay the moment will present itself in due course. Given what has happened tonight" he indicated with his blackened hand "we can be sure that it will happen within a year."

"If you don't mind dying," said Severus, "Why not let Draco do it?"

"That boy's soul is not yet so damaged," said Dumbledore. "I would not have it ripped apart on my account."

"And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?"

"You alone know whether it will harm your soul to help an old man avoid pain and humiliation, I ask this one great favor of you, Severus, because death is coming for me as surely as the Chudley Cannons will finish bottom of this year's league."

"I confess I should prefer a quick, painless exit to the protracted and messy affair it will be if, for instance Greyback in involved – I hear Voldemort has recruited him? Or dear Bellatrix, who likes to play with her food before she eats it."

At last Severus nodded.

"Thank you, Severus . . ."

And when he left, she watched and held him in invisible arms as the first cracks began to form.

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She hurried to keep up with them.

It seemed to be a casual walk. But she had seen the way Severus had been acting this week, more on edge than usual. She could only guess it had to do with how much Harry was meeting with the headmaster and now the two had taken flight from the castle and into the grounds.

"What are you doing with Potter, all these evenings you are closeted together?"

Dumbledore looked weary. "Why? You aren't trying to give him more detentions, Severus? That boy will soon have spent more time in detention then out."

She blinked. While her son did spend far too much time in detention for her liking, she couldn't say that he didn't deserve half the detentions he got. The other half she was rather cross about, but she could do nothing about it, and she couldn't understand why it was being brought up.

"He is his father all over again – "

"In looks, perhaps, but his deepest nature is much more like his mother's. I spend time with Harry because I have things to discuss with him, information I must give him before it's too late."

"Information." Repeated Severus, as if to test the words on his tongue. "You trust him . . . you do not trust me."

She sees the way his fist's clench even if Dumbledore does not. He is angry again, and this time she knows it's just. How could he not trust Severus? After seeing what he does, how could anyone not see who he serves?

He serves the light now.

She was proud of him, and thus her distaste for the headmaster grew stronger.

"It is not a question of trust. I have, as we both know, limited time. It is essential that I give the boy enough information for him to do what he needs to do."

"And why may I not have the same information?"

"I prefer not to put all of my secrets in one basket, particularly not a basket that spends so much time dangling on the arm of Lord Voldemort."

And once again she wished she could do some real damage.

"Which I do on your orders!"

"And you do it extremely well. Do not think that I underestimate the constant danger in which you place yourself, Severus. To give Voldemort what appears to be valuable information while withholding the essentials is a job I would entrust to nobody but you."

"Yet you confide much more in a boy who is incapable of Occlumency, whose magic is mediocre, and has a direct connection into the Dark Lord's mind!"

Right now she wasn't sure who she was angrier at. Severus for the way he talked about her baby. Or Dumbledore for being such a manipulative old bastard.

"Voldemort fears that connection," said Dumbledore. "Not so long ago he had one small taste of what truly sharing Harry's mind means to him. It was pain such as he has never experienced. He will not try to possess Harry again, I am sure of it. Not in that way."

"I don't understand."

"Lord Voldemort's soul, maimed as it is, cannot bear close contact with a soul like Harry's. Like a tongue on frozen steel, like flesh in flame – "

"Souls? We were talking of minds!"

"In the case of Harry and Lord Voldemort, to speak of one is to speak of the other."

Dumbledore glanced around to make sure they were alone.

"After you have killed me, Severus – "

"You refuse to tell me everything, yet you expect that small service of me!" Severus snarled, real anger flaring in his face. "You take a great deal for granted, Dumbledore! Perhaps I have changed my mind!"

She shook her head, no he hadn't.

"You gave me your word, Severus. And while we are talking about services you owe me, I thought you agreed to keep a close eye on our young Slytherin friend?"

Finally Dumbledore sighed. "Come to my office tonight, Severus, at eleven, and you shall not complain that I have no confidence in you . . . ."

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"Harry must not know, not until the last moment, not until it is necessary, otherwise how could he ave the strength to do what must be done?"

"But what must he do?"

"That is between Harry and me. Now listen closely, Severus, there will come a time – after my death – do not argue, do not interrupt! There will come a time when Lord Voldemort will seem to fear for the life of his snake."

"For Nagini?"

"Precisely. If there comes a time when Lord Voldemort stops sending that snake forth to do his bidding, but keeps it safe beside him under magical protection, then, I think, it will be safe to tell Harry."

"Tell him what?"

Dumbledore took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

"Tell him that on the night Lord Voldemort tried to kill him, when Lily cast her own life between them as a shield, the Killing Curse rebounded upon Lord Voldemort, and a fragment of Voldemort's soul was blasted apart from the whole, and latched itself onto the only living soul in the collapsing building."

"Part of Lord Voldemort's soul lives inside Harry, and it is that which gives him the power of speech with snakes, and a connection with Lord Voldemort's mind that he has never understood. And while that fragment of soul, unmissed by Voldemort, remains attached to and protected by Harry Lord Voldemort cannot die."

"So the boy . . . the boy must die?"

"And Voldemort himself must do it, Severus. That is essential."

She fell back against the wall, breath coming in short pants. That boy, the one she birthed, the one she saw grow even when he had no clue she could, the one she loved with all her soul, the one she died to protect, the one who meant everything and more to her. He must die.

"I thought . . . all these years . . . that we were protecting him . . . for her."

"We have protected him because it has been essential to teach him, to raise him, to let him try his strength, meanwhile the connection grows even stronger, a parasitic growth: Sometimes I have thought he suspects it himself. If I know him, he will have arranged matters so that when he does set out to meet his death, it will truly mean the end of Voldemort."

"You have kept him alive so that he can die at the right moment?"

"Don't be shocked, Severus. How many men and women have you watched die?"

"Lately, only those whom I could not save," said Severus standing the chair falling back to the floor with a loud clatter. "You have used me."

"Meaning?"

"I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter's son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter –"

"But this is touching, Severus," said Dumbledore. "Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?"

"For him?" hollered Severus. "Expecto Patronum!"

From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: She landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Severus, and his eyes were full of tears.

She sobbed; she had hoped that he would have moved on, that after all of this was over that he could be happy with someone else.

"After all this time?"

And Severus turned his eyes to the window, lines on his face lightening so that he looked much more a man of his age, not so old, not so tired, more serine.

"Always."

She sobbed, while the two men were oblivious to all that was happening beyond the realm of their sight.

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That summer she did not return with Harry to her sister's house, seeing him was far too hard now. Knowing what must be done, knowing her baby must die.

But she could not stay at Hogwart's either that place seemed to hold no more cheer, something she craved after all the depressing events that had taken place, it was dead and broken, the very castle mourned for its headmaster.

And everyone hated the man she watched fall to pieces.

She had been following him around the countryside now, he had not returned to Spinner's end like she had expected, he had grabbed food, clothes and a tent and was gone.

That was after her son had called him a coward. She had never been angry at Harry, frustrated with his actions, confused perhaps. But never had she been angry. But she had been so angry, she had yelled at him. Told him what a terrible mistake he was making, how wrong he was.

That Severus was far from a coward.

But it had fallen on death ears.

She wished she could pass on, truly she did, this was all too much and for the first time since that very first year she missed James. She still loved him; however most of the fire had faded since she had seen the consequences of his actions, the very one's she had been blind to before.

She still loved him, just not in the same way as she did before. However she did look forward to the day when she saw his face again, it had been far too long without his smile.

But right now – right now the other men of her life needed her more. Severus even more so then Harry.

She had never seen Severus like this. He barely ate, he barely slept and when he did he woke up from nightmares, and then came the day he was summoned back to Hogwart's and given his new position, he was horrified when the castle accepted him.

He believed he wasn't worth it.

He was physically and mentally broken, and yet she watched again and again as he followed orders.

She watched as people spat at him, and he did nothing to stop it. She watched as he fell apart and lost all hope. She watched as he drew up papers leaving Spinners End and all he had to Draco, his godson. She watched as he visited the grave where her body lay.

She watched as he talked to the dead, to her, to his parents, and to Dumbledore.

She watched as he resigned himself to his fate. While she screamed at him not to.

And for the longest time all she could do was sit back and watch, but when war came to the castle, when the finale was beginning, and yet so close to its end. She set her careful planning into action.

It was time.

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She stared after her son. God she hoped Severus had given him the right memories. Not only for what he had to do, but so that Severus would not go down in history as a murderous traitor. He deserved better than that.

She had read once many years ago, when she was small in a book that Severus had lent her in the summer before she turned eleven. That during the final close of a life, that they could see the dead and that someone would always be there to guide the soul to the next adventure.

Once upon a time she believed that she would never be a guiding soul. That she would be the one guided. Someone would love her enough to ensure that they came to get her. She believed that she wasn't strong enough to do it.

But she had realized something. She was strong and she was brave, and finally after all these years she could help him.

Kneeling down next to him she kissed his neck, and he winced and grunted. Running her hands through his hair she whispered into his ear kissing his cheek she returned to smoothing back his hair. He was almost gone now barely breathing.

And as his chest rose and fell a final time she held her own, and waited.

And then slowly, ever so slowly he sat up and looked around before groping for his neck. She could see the shock on his face, see the way he scanned the room in caution. le

"Sev, you know nothing can hurt you now, none will harm you you're safe."

He swung his neck around so fast she could swear she heard it crack.

"Lily? . . . but . . . you should not be here, you need to go Potter will be missing you."

She shook her head "No, Sev . . ." she took a step closer to him and he backed up against the wall.

"Severus . . . are you afraid of me?"

He shook his head "No, but you need to go, Lily, you do not belong here."

Taking a final bound forward she wrapped her arms around his waist. "Thank you, Severus, thank you for everything."

He cautiously wrapped his arms around her.

"You have no reason to thank me Lily; it is all my fault that you're dead, that your son is walking to his death . . . you should be telling me how disappointed in me you are . . . I do not deserve this, all I wish for is to sleep . . . I – I need nothing more."

"No Sev" She said brushing hair out of his face, smiling oh so tenderly at him. "No . . . I watched you bleed and cry and break. For me, for Harry, and for what was right."

She saw his face close down.

"Severus . . . I never left! I have been right here with you and with Harry from an hour after my death, until your very death. I never left; I've seen everything you've done. You are not who you once were, you are a truly brave man, Severus, a wonderfully brave man!"

"You have no need to hide from me!"

"Lily . . . why are you here?"

She quirked her lips into a smile "why Severus, do you not recall the book you lent me, do you not recall what a guiding soul is?"

He blinked. "To be a guiding soul . . . you have to care for a person a great deal . . . passed beyond the veil or not, it is incredibly old and powerful magic and such conditions have to be met for you to even say you are to be a guiding soul."

"Lily?"

"Yes Severus . . . I care for you, you are one of the most important men in my life," she paused her eyes shining like emerald gems into his own onyx gems "how could I not Sev, how could I not?"

"But I called you –"

"–A Mudblood?"

"Yes Sev you did. But I forgave you for that so many years ago. . . it was just this stubborn pride that kept me from saying anything" she smirked "that and the fact that I was invisible, by the way you were brilliant dueling with Lockhart, I don't think I had laughed that hard in a long time."

He smirked at her. "Yes well I did win quite a few bets at the end of that year; I thought Minerva was going to start some kind of fire with all the glaring she did when she handed over all my winnings, the same with that despicable pink woman who thought she could rule over Hogwarts I believe I owe my winning to the Weasley twins however for their brilliant displays."

She laughed, and stood hefting him up along with her.

"Well Severus I believe it is time we go. I know it is horribly cliché but do you see a light?"

"No . . . but I do believe we should go that way."

He said indicating with his hand, she nodded and grabbed his hand as they walked off together.

And for a moment and many moments after, it was like they never had been separated at all.