Althea27, Actionliker, Professor Radar, Inphemera, Moonlit skye, Hpforever, Zireal07, Doomsday2012, Willkilltosurvive-wkts, Puscifer, Ice kristea, Rubyrosa, Iophiel, Sevfanfictions, Roya reader, Blu, Sharecrow, Bbu22, Biasmalfoy, Suitably contrary, Mrs. Potter, Grapes, Hule, Mambajama, Missyick, Amarazi, Flame55, Trapezefixe, Purple, JustKaty, Qwertzuiop4, Arty, Ramonks33, if you're still with me, I can't say thank you enough. Even though I've never met you, I still feel like we're friends and I feel like I've let you down because I disappeared for so long—I'd like to pretend I was shoved in a broken vanishing cabinet, but no such luck, just life—but I've promised a few of you that I will not abandon this story. I will bring it to a satisfying ending instead of letting it rot as unfinished. But you 33 who have been kind enough to leave comments, you are the reason I can't let this go unfinished. I owe it to you to keep going until it's finished. I just wanted to make sure you know how much I appreciate you taking the time to offer kind words or blunt reviews. I love it all and I hope you'll find something worth commenting on again!

To the 60 people who have this story on alert, I'm so glad you enjoy it enough that you want to come back!

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Based off of feedback for the last chapter we're not a fan of Severus' adventures…well, try to stick with this chapter (it's crazy long compared to what I normally write) there are a couple thousand words of Severus and Lily goodness. I'm trying to make up for falling off the face of the world…


Severus' pocket felt as though he'd shoved a small brick into it, not a small golden locket. The thing didn't look impressive, and it certainly didn't look work the trouble he'd went through to get it. He started to reach into his pocket to pull the thing out again, but a tiny voice in his head that sounded surprisingly like Lily's stopped him and told him to just get out of Hogwarts.

He hurried through the piles items until he finally saw the flat expanse of wall ahead of him; it at least looked like the wall he'd come through. As he neared it however, he realized there was no door.

Severus stopped and turned around looking back at the vastness of the room and piles. It had to be as long as two Quidditch fields. He didn't want to go wandering around this room trying to find the door. This was the way he'd come in. He was sure of it.

"Let me out," he hissed, softly.

Nothing happened. Not that he'd really expected anything to happen but he was disappointed all the same. His eyes scanned the nearest pile of junk; the items did look familiar. He turned back to the wall. He muttered a few curses. He tried jinxes; he tried hexing. But the wall remained stubbornly blank.

Through all of his testing, the item in his pocket seemed to grow heavier. And again Severus found himself fighting the urge to take it out and examine it more closely.

Maybe he was wrong. Maybe this wasn't the wall. With a heavy sigh he turned and looked back. That was nothing to do; he'd have to walk the length of it to find the door. He started around the room, keeping the wall at his right side. As he walked he looked for new items that might be familiar; something that could tell him that he'd messed up. But as he finished walking the length of the first right wall, things were beginning to look stranger and older than they had in the section he'd been in. The locket in his pocket seemed to be growing heavier; the call of the foreign objects seemed to be trying to be luring him in. He was finding his attention drawn to things that never would have caught his attention before: broken quills, tattered books, loose pages of old notebooks.

Severus hurried his steps, he was not going to touch anything, he just wanted out of here. His hand subconsciously slipped into his pocket and closed around the locket. He walked faster, now pulling the locket from his pocket. His eyes trained on the wall ahead of him as he began to slide the chain over his fingers. The metal seemed to be growing hotter in hands despite the very cool temperatures inside the cavernous room.

Finally, he had made the circuit of the room. He was back where he was started. And the wall was still stubbornly blank. Severus closed his fist around the locket. He could feel the jewels pressing into his palm. At this moment, he wanted nothing more than to smash the damn thing against the wall. He pressed the fist holding the locket against the wall, his temper finally breaking. His fist smashed against the wall again and again as though he could take his frustration out on the wall. His hand smashed against the wall and he felt an explosion of pain in his hand as his knuckles shattered against the stones. The locket dropped to the ground as his busted knuckles seized and a string of curses fell from Severus' lips.

To his utter shock there was a rumble and the stones began to shift as a door slowly materialized. Not wanted to take any chances, he lunged forward, snatched the locket, and heaved open the door.

Severus stumbled into the corridor. He shoved the locket back into his pocket and fumbled for his wand. Gritting his teeth against the pain of his split knuckles, Severus hissed a spell and bit back another string of curses as the bones in his fingers weakly tried to mend. He could bend his fingers but he hadn't done the spell properly and he was still in a decent amount of pain.

Keeping his wand in his hand, he hurried to the stairs and rand down the flight, through the corridors until he was at the door of the castle. He stopped in front of the door and could feel something. Pausing, Severus slowly looked back over his shoulder. He was only momentarily surprised to see Dumbledore at the top of the staircase. He was looking down his long crooked nose at Severus; his blue eyes narrowed behind the half-moon spectacles.

Severus hesitated for a moment, waiting to be called back, but when Dumbledore made no sign of movement, Severus grabbed the handle and hurried into the night.

Spinner's End was dark when Severus apparated onto his doorstep. He wanted to appear just inside the house, but he didn't want to startle Lily. Beyond the pain in his hand, he felt the agony of guilt creeping inside his chest. He'd been gone from Lily for over twenty-four hours.

Reaching out with the uninjured hand, he twisted the knob and staggered inside.

Almost immediately, a lamp flickered on. Lily was sitting in a chair, her arms folded tightly over her swollen chest; her green eyes danced in the light. She raised herself up from the chair and stormed over to him. "Where the hell have you been? Do you have any idea how sick I've been with worry? I haven't been able to think straight! I haven't been able to eat. And that's all I do anymore!"

"Lily, I—" he reached for her with his good arm.

Lily used both hands to shove against his chest. "Don't touch me," she snapped.

Severus hadn't been expecting her to shove him. He stumbled back, reaching back to catch himself as he felt his feet catch on the carpet. His injured hand jammed against the wall and he let out a string of curses.

Lily seemed to struggle with her anger but her concern won out. She stepped forward awkwardly, trying to reach for him and pretending not to see him flinch away from her. "What's wrong with your wrist?" she asked softly.

Severus clenched his teeth and shook his head. "Nothing. I just need to get a drink," he sighed, trying to step away from her.

"Damn it, don't lie to me," she snapped, reaching for his arm.

Severus flinched again but resisted the urge to yank his arm away from her.

She was gentle but quick in her examination. "Your knuckles are broken!" she exclaimed.

"Yes, I realize," he groaned, trying not to wince as her cold hand tenderly probed his.

"What happened?" Lily snapped, jerking her head upward to glare into his face.

Severus closed his eyes and gently shook his head. "Can you fix it?"

"Did you already try?" she asked.

Severus nodded, and glanced at his hand. "It's a spell I still struggle with."

"Obviously," Lily answered. She retrieved her wand and waved it over his hand.

Severus bit fiercely into his lip as the bones burned and fused back together. When the pain subsided, he waited a few minutes and slowly stretched and tested the stiff tendons. Still painful, but it would loosen eventually. "Thank you," he said softly.

"Now, where were you?"

"Lily, it's not important. I'm home now," Severus moaned, shaking his head.

Lily glared at him and rose quickly to her feet. "You can't do this!"

Severus closes his eyes and leaned back against the cushion of the chair. "I'm not doing anything, I just want to sleep."

For the first time since the spot on his arm had burned he was able to think clearly. After leaving Hogwarts, he'd went to the Dark Lord and turned over the locket. He was simply told "well done" and excused. He knew better than to ask about the significance of the locket or than to tell of his experience of retrieving the locket.

After all he went through, Severus wasn't sure if the Dark Lord had truly intended for him to fetch the locket and return, or if he was supposed to remained trapped in that wretched room.

And he certainly didn't want to discuss that with Lily right now.

"Well, I suppose you should have thought about that before you stayed gone. You apparently weren't tired then," Lily answered. She seemed to be looking for a fight and he really couldn't blame her. He'd been gone for too long without giving her any indication that he was all right; he deserved this.

Severus stood up and walked to the window. He had to keep his temper in check. He wasn't used to restraining his temper; he so very rarely had the occasion to do it at all. But he couldn't lash out senselessly at Lily. She wasn't the kind to forgive outbursts. But he wasn't about to reveal his secrets.

"Lily, what is it you want?" he asked. He'd been terrified of this question so he'd never asked. It was easier to assume he knew what she wanted. It was safer to think they wanted the same thing.

She stopped; narrowing her green eyes at him. "What do you mean by that?"

"I mean, exactly what I asked." He was surprised at how level he was able to keep his voice. As she'd been living with him, he felt like their relationship had grown and expanded in the positive ways. The question didn't seem to have the possibility to have the terrifying outcomes it had had before. He needed to know the answer. Answer what he'd gone through tonight it felt important to hear her say it.

Lily looked as surprised by his question as he was. "I want to know where you were."

"Not what I meant, Lily."

With her brow furrowed, she stepped away from him, moving back until her legs bumped the chair and she carefully lowered herself onto the seat. "You know what I want."

"No, no I don't, Lily," he answered softly. "I have my guesses. I have my hopes. But what do you really want?"

Lily looked troubled as she glanced around the room. "I want for everything to be okay."

She was giving him bullshit answers and he could feel his irritation rising. "That is a normal want," he replied. "Still not specific to what you want."

Lily glared at him. "What do you want me to say?"

"Answer the question," he said softly. "I just want you to answer."

Her defiance, something he both loved and despised about her, was flaring again. "So I'm expected to answer your questions, but you do not have to answer mine?"

"My question involves only us. Your questions involve things I cannot speak of."

"I hate that you keep secrets."

"I hate that you will not answer my question. I have told you several times I cannot answer yours, but you won't answer mine."

"I want you to be honest with me."

Severus rolled his eyes. "You're twisting this." He turned to her sharply and stepped closer than he truly felt comfortable to in his anger. "You know what I want you to answer. Why can't you?"

"I've tried, repeatedly," she hissed. "I've said I want to be happy. That I want your honesty. I want everything to be okay."

He closed his eyes. Maybe he shouldn't have started this. He was starting to get an anxious now. He felt like he couldn't finish the conversation. But he was past a point of returning, even if the answer hurt, he had to go on.

He suddenly realized what he'd been wanting to hear. He wanted her to tell him that she wanted him. She wanted their life together.

Hadn't she said just that? Hadn't she said she wanted everything to be okay?

Severus wanted to shut his mind down. If she wanted everything to be okay, she was obviously referring to him and the babies.

But he didn't want to put the pieces together himself. He wanted her to do that for him.

Lily spun around to face him. She stood inches from him; he could smell the amazing sent of flower wafting off of her. She grabbed the front of his shirt and yanked him to her. She kissed him, twisting her arms around his neck pulling him closer to her still. His body pressed against hers, he could feel the push of her stomach—of their children—against his abdomen.

Reflexively, his arms moved to her waist, but he didn't give into the kiss like he normally did.

Lily pulled back. "I want this, Severus," she said softly, taking his hands from her waist and moving them forward onto her belly. "I want all of us. Together. And safe."

Was that enough of an answer for him? He closes his eyes and pressed his forehead to hers. There was that bite in her words. She wanted something he wasn't giving her. How safe was he when he came home with a broken hand? How safe was he when he was terrified they would find out about her?

"Lily. I'm doing the best I know how," he said softly. The words hurt to say as they stabbed him with the truth. He didn't know how to be a good father, or boyfriend. Hell, he wasn't sure if he knew how to be a good man.

He'd grown up with Tobias and to his father he'd been a punching bag. Then around school, well, the company he kept was an ambitious lot. He had no doubt he could provide for Lily. He had the skills to take them far. But she kept throwing that word—safe—into the conversation. Would he ever be able to provide that for her?

Lily reached up and gently touched his face. "When will you be ready to be honest with me?" she asked softly.

"I haven't lied to you."

Something that wanted to be a smile but fell short tugged at her lips. "Just because you haven't outright lied, doesn't mean you've been honest," she said.

Severus closed his eyes and slowly nodded. He was breaking. If he wanted her to want him, he had to give her what she wanted. "I don't know how much I can tell you. But I can try."

She rose up on her toes and gently pressed her lips to his. "You don't need to be afraid of me, Sev."

Maybe she meant it as a joke, but it was with heart-stopping certainty that he realized he was terrified of her. He was terrified of how his life would fall apart if she ever left him.

Lily took his arm and led him over to the couch. She sat down and curled her legs beneath her, her green eyes turned up expectantly to him.

Severus sat down and turned to her. He wanted to put her mind at ease but he didn't know what to say.

She reached for his hand, his left hand. Her small fingers pushed up his sleeve and he instinctively jerked as her fingers nearly brushed the mark. Lily watched his hand fall into his lap and she raised her eyes to meet his. "What is it?"

He felt a sickening turn in his stomach. Whomever had said the truth was easier was an idiot. He closed his eyes for a moment, then looked up into her eyes. "It's his way of finding me," he said softly, his voice almost failing him and she'd only asked one question.

Lily timidly reached for his arm again, her eyes constantly searching his face, as though she were seeking permission. With a deep breath to keep his own nerves calm, he slowly moved his arm into her range. Lily took his wrist again and pushed up his sleeve, being much more careful of her fingers. When she had the material past the brand, she leaned closer and revulsion turned her beautiful features.

"Did he burn it into you?"

Severus looked away from her. "In a sense." He was barely opening his mouth to say the words but she heard him. And he knew her next question before she could ask.

"Can you get rid of it?"

"The only time it will no longer work is if one of us is dead."

Lily's hands flew to her mouth, then she moved them to her eyes and took several deep breaths before she spoke again. "Does it have any other powers?"

"It summons. And marks us as his."

She couldn't repress a shudder. "And what does that mean?"

He couldn't take the way she was looking at him. The revulsion hadn't quite left her face and he wanted to leave room—leave the house—anything to get away from her expression. But she wanted honesty. He had to give it to her.

"It means I do what I'm told."

Lily's features were drawn tight. "And what does he tell you to do?" Her eyes were searching his face as though she were looking for something.

"I make potions."

"Then what?"

"I don't know what happens to them once I hand them over. I fetch things. I'm not to draw attention to myself."

"What would happen if you did? Of if you stopped following orders?" She was blinking rapidly and not looking at him. He knew she knew the answer already.

"I would be killed."

Silence fell over them like thick, heavy, wet, suffocating wool. Severus watched her from the corner of his eyes and she stared ahead, absently rubbing her stomach.

"What does this mean, Severus?"

"What does what mean?"

"All of this. Everything you've just told me. What does it mean for us? Are you telling me that basically if you piss him off you could be killed at a moment's notice?"

"Isn't that most of the wizarding world?" He'd never been one for sardonic remarks and not wasn't the time for them but he didn't know what else to do.

"Why, Severus?" She sounded near tears.

He knew what she meant finally. "I needed something," he said, his voice nearly breaking as he saw a tear fall from the corner of her eye. "I'd lost you. I had nothing else. School was almost over. I'd been tortured—don't act as though it's true, you know Potter was one of the worst—and I saw nothing in my future."

He was treading on dangerous ground now. He had no idea what she thought of him and he was mentioning Potter, something he'd sworn he'd never do because he was afraid of the effect it would have on her. Well, he was pushing his luck enough tonight. He might as well run with it. She was either going to stay or leave him for who he really was.

"So you turned to them?"

"I turned to a place I thought I would fit in," he said.

Lily stood up, raking her fingers through the wild red locks on her head. "Are you even allowed to have a life outside of him?"

Severus stood up and reached for her. "Others have families. Others even have children. They are not of any interest to him. They're useless to him. He is interest in what will give him power."

Lily closed her eyes and stepped away from him, shaking her head as tear filled her eyes. "I can't deal with this, Severus."

And there it was. The dam of emotion he'd been struggling to hold onto suddenly broke. His face crumpled. It felt as though an invisible weight had slammed into his chest. He would have rather broken his hand a dozen more time than to be in this moment right now. "Lily, please."

But she was moving away from him. "I can't, Severus, I just can't."


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