Lily blinked as a ray of sunshine fell directly across her eyes through the not entirely shut blinds in her sons room. For a moment she felt disoriented and frowned up at a poster of a Quiddich Player who frowned back at her in earnest. Then she remembered that she had passed out here her first evening home with both Harry and Severus away at Hogwarts. She had been unable to bring herself to sleep in their bedrooms where their fights circled endlessly in her head as she tried to fall asleep.
Instead she had decided to torture herself by sitting in her son's room with a wedding album from both her weddings spread out before her. She was looking for some evidence of her apparent mistake in marrying Severus. She had analyzed her face in the photographs over several glasses of wine trying to find some tell that suggested she had foreseen the eventual destruction of all the relationships in her life. It was difficult to tell, however, because she had been such a different person when she married Severus than when she had married James.
She hadn't felt for Severus quite the way that she had felt for James. With James it had been such an intense romantic love; the type that teenage girls dreamed of and really she had been little more than that when they decided to get married. With Severus, well, she had loved him in the comfortable way she had when they had been younger but it had been relief rather than excitement that she felt in the days leading up to their walk down the aisle.
Those had been such dark days after she had woken up in the hospital to discover herself a widow and the war that had defined most of her marriage over. She had lived with such an intense fear for months over that of her son being hurt or herself falling to harm. The situation had been all the worse as she had not been allowed to cope in peace but experienced the constant demand of the public for her to relive that horrible night. Constant requests for interviews and for her to meet with people whose lives she had supposedly changed in a moment she could not (and didn't care to) remember.
As weeks had turned into months she had begun to fear that she would be unable to take care of her son so paralyzing was her terror that every person was out to get them. At this point people began to express their 'concern' for her and rumors had begun to spread. The only person who she had found herself able to talk to was Severus because he understood. He was one of the few people in those days who was not celebrating the triumph of good over evil but mourning the terrible price that had come attached. He had seen and done terrible things and he understood all about sacrifice.
Truth be told, she knew at the time he still had feelings for her. She had known for a long time when they were younger that he had a crush on her and he still looked at her in the same admiring way even as she was falling apart and a tearful mess. He had been such a dependable source of comfort and support after the war that forgiving him for his actions during it was easier than many people seemed able to imagine.
She snapped both books closed and looked back up at the grumpy looking Quiddich player in the poster. The problem she faced was that when there was only one person who truly understood what you had been through it was difficult to get objective advice from anyone else.
Harry walked through the dark corridors back toward the Slytherin Common Room even though he was uncertain what he would do once he got there as he had been avoiding sleeping in his dorm room. Draco had been intent on making his life miserable since he returned to school largely by turning the other Slytherins in his year against him. Harry had been avoiding them not because he was so much worried about his newfound popularity but because he didn't have the energy for a confrontation with Draco. He had been so tired since returning to school and unable to get himself excited about what had been so new not that long ago.
He spent enough time with Ron and Neville so that teachers wouldn't worry too much and spent the rest of the time wandering the castle aimlessly and hiding in a secluded corner of the library flipping through obscure books with goofy looking illustrations of spells. Hermione had made it on his list of people to avoid simply because of her insistence on questioning his well being which was the reason he had insisted on coming back to school in the first place to get away from his mother.
Currently he was heading back from the detention he had spent with Hagrid this evening looking idly at the bite mark he had obtained on his left hand from feeding one of Hagrid's 'harmless' creatures he was caring for. Hagrid had assured him it would heal up right quick ('not much more than a scratch, really') but the little bit of green ooze suggested that maybe he should go see Madame Pomfrey in the morning.
Even this hadn't worked out the way it was supposed to though he would deny that he had actually planned it. It was more of an impulsive decision that had evolved into a failed plan. He had went to class that morning and the fact that Snape was ignoring him (well, not even so much ignoring him as treating him like any student) had filled him with a rage that very little else the man had ever done had accomplished. He had made the impulsive decision to add a handful of mixed ingredients on his work desk to his cauldron to garner a little attention.
The display had been quite impressive.
Following an explosion that would have made Neville proud he indeed did get the attention of his stepfather who after ordering a few of the students who had not yet learned to hit the floor when a cauldron started making that noise to the hospital wing had strode to Harry's desk, grabbed him by the collar of this robe, and dragged him into the hallway.
Harry had only seen the man this angry and handful of times and his first instinct was to apologize and make an excuse for what had happened. Then he remembered that he was angry too. Trying to keep the shaking rage out of his own voice, he said, "I wanted to see what happened. Though I don't think I need to explain myself to you, or at least I won't soon, right?"
Snape's entire face seemed to work to find the appropriate emotion in a display that would have been comical if not for the circumstances but finally settled into a cool mask, "Detention, Mr. Potter, and you would do well to remember that I am, and will be for the next seven years assuming you don't manage to get yourself expelled, your teacher."
That had been the end of it and Harry had felt a slight rush of victory because Snape would have to deal with him that night but he had received a note at lunch instructing him to meet Hagrid for detention which he had suffered through sullenly though Hagrid didn't seem to notice his bad attitude in the way that the teachers would.
He was paying so much attention to his hand that he nearly ran directly into someone as he approached the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room. The young man he almost ran into held his hands out to avoid the collision and Harry looked up and recognized his roommate Blaise Zabini.
"Sorry. What are you doing out here at this hour? Most people don't break curfew just to stand outside the common room door," Harry gave a small uncertain smile, hoping to stick with pleasantries and avoid any confrontation.
"I was waiting for you," he said shortly, in his usual brusque way.
"Why?" Harry asked suspiciously. "Look, whatever Malfoy said -."
"Not about that," Zabini looked slightly amused, "I have known Draco long enough to know when he is angry he has a tendency to exaggerate when he is angry and you very probably are not evil incarnate."
"Oh," Harry said, relaxing only a little, "What did you want to talk about then?"
"I was just wondering how you are doing."
"Fine," Harry snapped, annoyed that people kept asking him that.
"Good," there was an awkward pause and then the other boy continued, "My mum has been married a lot."
"Oh," Harry said again, feeling his temper diffuse a little. "Did you ever like any of her husbands?"
"Some of them," Zabini shrugged, "But I learned pretty early not to get too attached. I think she was looking for perfect and that just doesn't exist."
"Heavy handed metaphor?"
Zabini smiled slightly and said, "Sorry, it's late, and that's all I've got. I just always thought it would be better if she would stay with one even if it wasn't someone I liked a whole lot. Uncertainty is the worst."
"Yeah, I guess I would agree with that. I just don't see how things are going to be able to work themselves out."
"Well, maybe sometimes it's not for use to know."
"You mean like God or something," Harry said dubiously. Most people in the wizarding world were firmly agnostic with a belief that there must be something but they didn't know what that was.
"Or something," Zabini replied with a slight smile, turning back toward the common room.
Severus sighed leaned back in his desk chair, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands. He stood up and made his way over to his potion stores and opened the cabinet to remove one of his reserves of Wolfsbane Potion. For the first time in nearly a decade, he'd messed up in the making of a complex potion and would now be behind a month. Not to mention the waste of the very expensive ingredients.
There was a timid knock on the door of his office and he rolled his eyes thinking that most of his students had more confidence when interrupting him than that wolf. He sat the potion on the desk and opened the door, not bothering to look at the other man as he returned to his desk. Unceremoniously and with a look he hoped discouraged any conversation he said, "There."
"Thanks," Lupin offered a smile and retrieved the vial, opening it and making a slight face at the smell which apparently had not been easy to get used to especially with his increased sense of smell. He tipped back the vial and swallowed the entire contents, actually gagging a little when he finished.
"I will have to put you down if you throw that up, Lupin. I don't have anymore."
"Sorry. Everything they can do with potions and they can't make them taste better. Even the Muggles have figured that out by now. Why can't they make potions that taste like bubble gum?" Severus stared at the other man blankly and he continued, "Like the cough syrups? For kids? That Muggles have?"
"Most potion masters assume that patrons will be grateful enough for the effects to forgive to poor flavor," Severus commented coldly.
"I am grateful, of course. As you well know," A pause in which Lupin fished a miniature chocolate bar out of his robes presumably to help with the taste. He also removed a square envelope and sat it on the desk, "Tonks asked me to give you that."
Severus picked up the envelope and opened it to reveal an intricately designed wedding invitation surprisingly old-fashioned for the bride. He raised his eyebrows at Lupin and said, "This is Andromeda's doing, I suppose."
"They compromised," Lupin commented simply.
"I've never known the Blacks to be the compromising sorts of people."
"Things change. Andromeda is more excited about being a grandmother than she is displeased about having me as a son-in-law it turns out."
Severus flipped open the invitation and said idly, "Ah, that would explain your own change of heart of the timing of the wedding."
Lupin seemed to bristle ever so slightly and said, "I always intended to marry her. It was just a matter of when."
Severus made a noncommittal noise in the back of his throat and sat the invitation down, "I'm sure you'll understand that I'm not particularly in the mood for a wedding."
"I know this may not have occurred to you but the wedding isn't about you." Lupin said, "As Tonks has reminded me repeatedly, it's not even about me. You were her favorite teacher and she would like for you to come. For some crazy reason, she seems to like you."
"Listen to me, Lupin -."
The werewolf continued as though he had not heard him, "And if you're worried about Lily, it's not for a couple of months and I assume that you'll be through punishing her by then."
"I'm not punishing anyone," Severus said sharply.
"No? You're not punishing her for the fact that she continued loving James after he died tragically young? And you've never punished Harry for being his son?"
"You have no right -."
"Snape, I'm not saying any of this in order to antagonize you. I have no desire to fight with you. I want to get home to my fiance and enjoy the time we have before this month's full moon. I am only saying this because I care about Lily and Harry and even you if only because you are such an important part of their lives. I think you are avoiding her because you know that she's going to be angry with you. But I think you need to consider how much crap she has taken from you over the years."
Severus pursed his lips, disliking as always the Lupin who seemed to come out around the full moon who was less willing to allow Severus to have the upper hand. He put the invitation in his desk and said, "We'll see what happens."