It had been precisely one year since Voldemort's demise.
Neville Longbottom had successfully rid the wizarding world of the Dark Lord after a dramatic duel in the courtyard of Hogwarts. A small plaque had been placed in the courtyard to mark the date of Battle of Hogwarts and all who had fallen.
The castle had been repaired and had opened up ready for the new school year. Students returned in September along with all of the original staff. Minerva McGonagall to Transfiguration, Filius Flitwick to Charms, even Hagrid to Care of Magical Creatures. Even Severus Snape had decided to resume his old post as Potions Master and head of Slytherin house.
Dumbledore had insisted that subjects at Hogwarts should now be split between two teachers. He felt that the teachers had gone through enough stress both before and during the battle, he saw this as a nice way of easing the stress of teaching for them. McGonagall had paired with Tonks for Transfiguration as Tonks felt she needed a break from the strains of being an Aurora, Hagrid had paired with Professor Grubbly-plank for his subject, and Severus reluctantly agreed to share the duty of teaching Potions with Professor Slughorn. Charms was about the only subject in Hogwarts that was yet to be split between two teachers.
Dumbledore was very pleased with the results of this idea. He noticed that the teachers were a lot more relaxed in their roles, most noticeably Severus.
Although Severus still had that dark and brooding air about him, there had been a noticeable difference in his being. He no longer billowed around Hogwarts with his trademark scowl permanently etched upon his face. He seemed imperturbable, more sedate. He had eased up on tongue lashing in his classes which had resulted in a noticeable difference in his pupil's behavior towards him. It almost seemed as if a big weight had been lifted off his shoulders. And in Severus' mind, it had. He really felt as if the great weight that had been troubling him since he was 21 was gone. He found the stress of teaching easier to handle, the constant reminder that he could be summoned by Voldemort at any time was no longer a worry of his. He was free. Free from Voldemort, free of Dumbledore, free to do whatever he wanted to do in life.
But there was one thing he found he could not escape from. Regret. Regret for not telling the one person who meant everything to him of his true feelings. Lily Evans was the only person who truly understood him, truly accepted him for who he was, and the only person who showed him nothing but care and understanding. His only true friend. His only love.
Severus was comfortably folded into one of the armchairs situated in his study, while silently going over these thoughts in his head. He sat in front of the crackling fire, quietly brooding. His black eyes fixed to the flickering flames but unfocused and slightly narrowed. A glass of fire whiskey lay in his right hand, while a finger from his left was slowly tracing the thin contours of his lips.
He slowly brought the glass up to his lips and drank down the remaining contents, rasping a little as the burning liquid coursed down his throat. His eyes flickered up to the clock as he got up to place the empty glass on his desk. It was coming up to quarter past nine, fifteen minutes past the curfew.
He let out a relaxed sigh, gently rubbing the back of his neck as he made his way out to his office and up to the door leading to the corridor. It was time to make his nightly rounds around the castle.
He stepped out into the hallway and began warding his door, letting thoughts of Lily drift back into his mind. He had fully intended on confessing his deep love for her. It had taken him six years to pluck up the courage to tell her, only to have even a chance ripped away from him.
Severus strode off down the corridor, secretly hoping that he wouldn't come across a lustful couple hiding away in a niche, he was quite happy to do his rounds immersed in his own thoughts tonight.
He had made it through the first floor without any sign of students. Now allowing his memories to fill his mind again, he mounted the moving staircase leading to the next floor.
The memory was still so clear in his head. He was walking up to the Gryffindor tower, doing his best to collect himself before he would be there, standing before her, looking into those perfect, green, almond shaped eyes. He shook the image of her standing there expectantly out of his head, he needed to focus on how he was going to tell her. He was just turning a corner which would lead him up to the Gryffindor tower, when he heard the familiar sound of two people kissing in one of the corridors niches. He thought nothing of it, he came across this a lot while at Hogwarts so proceeded down the corridor, this time making sure not to make a noise so that he would not disturb the couple.
Now another sound issued from the niche, one that made him stop dead in his tracks. It was a name, whispered in a boy's voice, and the name that issued from this boy's voice caused his heart stop beating for a second in his chest.
No. No it can't be.
Severus swallowed and pressed himself back against the wall, disillusioning himself in the process, and listened intently for any other sounds from the couple.
"Lily… I need you…" the boy panted.
Severus paled. It was James, James Potter. He clenched his fists and fought the growl that was threatening to rise from the back of his throat.
"No James. It's… It's… too soon… It's only been… t-… two weeks…" Lily managed to pant between being bombarded by James's adore.
Severus's heart tightened in his chest. Two weeks? His best friend, and his worst enemy, had been together for two weeks? Why hadn't Lily told him? Actually, Severus was glad that she hadn't told him. He didn't know how he would have reacted had Lily told him face to face.
"James… I really need to go… people will be getting worried."
There was silence for a few seconds.
"Fine." James replied rather tightly. "But same time, same place, tomorrow night, yes?"
Severus took a sharp intake of breath, there they were, walking out into the middle of the corridor, hand in hand, both looking rather flushed. Here Lily turned and Severus saw her clearly. The light from the high windows lit up her fiery red hair and made those perfect green eyes twinkle in the darkness.
"Yes." she replied with a soft smile upon her face.
Here James leaned in towards her and the couple locked lips rather passionately, Lily's head twisting to the left so that Severus could clearly see her eyes closed in pure bliss. He could do nothing as he stood watching the couple posses each others mouth. He stood there, watching James claim the mouth of the girl he loved, eyes wet with tears, chest rising and falling in an attempt to stay calm, his mouth silently tying to form words that wouldn't reach his lips.
The couple broke the kiss and looked at each other with nothing but pure affection. James took Lily's hand again and the two proceeded to stroll up the corridor towards the Gryffindor tower.
Severus stood there for a whole minute, frozen in shock. He slowly removed his disillusion and began to stride off back to the dungeons. Suddenly he broke into a fast run, not caring who saw him, not stopping to answer anyone's questions. He couldn't hold it in any more.
He crashed into the boys bathrooms and locked himself into the nearest cubical, allowing himself to slide down against the door so that he sat crumpled on the floor. Tears ran freely down his face now. He felt queasy and physically sick. He clutched his chest while a constant ache remained in his chest as he replayed the images of what he had just witnessed.
Severus cleared his throat and shrugged in an attempt to push that memory to the back of his mind, trying his best to keep the memory from visibly effecting him as he'd finished checking the second floor.
"Ah Severus, I was hoping to catch you on your rounds." A calm voice called out from behind him.
Severus turned on his heels at the sounds of the headmaster's voice, half startled by being interrupted from his thought.
"Headmaster." Severus replied with a nod.
"I was just on my way to find you to let you know of the remembrance ceremony I've been planning for this weekend."
"Remembrance ceremony?" Severus enquired.
"Yes. Just a little ceremony to remember what occurred on the 2nd of May." He replied. "I've been thinking of inviting a few of our old students, if they are interested of course. I was just wondering whether you will be free to come along?" Albus enquired with a little twinkle in his eye.
"Of course, Headmaster. I will be happy to attend." He replied, cocking his head ever so slightly. He knew that twinkle, Albus was up to something.
"Perfect!" The wizard visibly swelled. "Why don't you come along to my office Severus, I shall show you through my plans of the day." Albus beamed as he beckoned Snape to follow him.
Severus stifled a sigh as he reluctantly followed the headmaster back to his office.
A/N: Please review!