What Could Have Been
Disclaimer: The characters in Harry Potter are not mine. (Yeah, I wish.)
Summary: It was the day before the Potters' wedding. Wanting to take a break from the hectic wedding arrangements, Lily takes a trip down to the local pub to loosen up. Little did she know of the upcoming meeting with a certain black-haired wizard, or of the events that would unknowingly bring their past to light.
Edit: Thanks to Hwyla for correcting some of the discrepancies in the story. :)
I can't believe it. The wedding's tomorrow- Tomorrow! Lily Evans fiddled with the thin silver chain around her neck, hardly believing that she was about to wed James Potter the day after. After various excuses to her overly-excited parents and rushed finalisations with her tiresome wedding planner, she found herself sitting on a barstool in the quietest pub she could find in the neighbourhood, figuring that she would want a few moments to reorganise her thoughts before the big day.
Lily gave a nod of thanks to the bartender as he slid her a sherry, and was about to raise the glass to her lips when she heard a small, intentional cough coming from the person who had just taken the stool next to her.
"What brings you here, Lily?" Severus Snape's voice both unsettled and comforted her at the same time. The standard black robes, shoulder-length black hair—there was no mistake. It was him.
"Just wanted a little peace before- you know," she paused, noticing his sudden narrowed eyes practically daring her to say that name, "tomorrow." The news of Lily Evans and James Potter's wedding was no quiet affair— if anything, it had been quite frequently talked about within the local wizarding community for the past few months. Snape had probably heard of it as well.
"How about you, Severus? Why're you here?"
"I frequent this joint," He replied curtly, and the awkward silence that followed reminded her of why she felt unsettled around him in the first place.
She would say something, and he would give a short reply, not bothering to continue the conversation. It was always like that. No- not really, he only started to act more distant towards her after she had started going out with James. In fact, this was the first time in ages that she met him. There was no word of him after Hogwarts, no letter, nothing.
And tonight, just before the wedding day, he strode into her life all over again. They were almost 20 now, and Severus Snape making a comeback after a three-year period of no-show was probably an ominous sign.
How convenient of him. She just had to be reminded of the times they spent together, how he had been her first friend for as long as she could remember, all until that one day when he said something he would live to regret. It was kind of hard to even fathom why they had drifted apart in the first place, just because of that one incident. Not that she held anything against him, of course. They were friends, and forever would be. Except for perhaps the overlooked detail where their friendship was lost along the course of life after graduation.
"Hardly how I would have thought you would celebrate your last day of singlehood," Snape muttered suddenly, snapping Lily out of her thoughts. "Where's the massive hen party with the pubs and drinks and your fellow Gryffindor mates?" He enquired, a hint of incredulity present in his voice.
He was still bitter at their broken friendship, she could tell.
"You know me, I'm more for taking the subtle route," Lily said. Snape gave a short laugh, and turned towards his own drink.
"With James Potter as your groom, I'd hardly think so. Biggest show-off ever, he'd probably have a royal reception, that prat-"
"Why do you always speak so lowly of him? Just because of a few incidents in Hogwarts, it seems like you've begrudgingly noted every single trait about him and blown it out of proportion!" Lily interrupted, setting her glass down with a clank. The alcohol was already getting to her, and she wished she didn't have to deal with both Snape and the dull pounding in her head at the same time.
Snape struggled to keep his voice even as he placed his own glass on the table.
"I'm not blowing it out of proportion! It's the truth, only that he doesn't show his uglier side in front of you-"
Lily, on the other hand, had no qualms about raising her voice in front of the entire pub.
"You don't know what he's like! You imagine he's the bad guy and-"
"I most certainly do not. I'm merely stating the facts-"
"And that! That's what makes it all wrong, because he's not just some object-"
"You're taking this the wrong way-"
"But you're being unreasonable! You don't ever give him a chance!"
Snape lost the last shred of control he had when he heard her say that last line.
"You never gave me a chance! Say the same for you, since after 8 years, you're still angry about me calling you names!" a voice that didn't sound like it belonged to him choked out. He was breathing heavily now, and at the counter, all eyes were trained on them.
She fell silent.
"I forgave you a long time ago."
Snape, who just gulped down a mouthful of rum, froze.
"Then why didn't you say so?" he asked quietly, and shut his eyes, as if that would clear his mind of the many thoughts that were coursing through it at that moment.
"I thought… I thought we were over that already. I only assumed you were steering clear of me because of James!"
"I was," he finally admitted. "But that too…"
He wasn't sure if he could take any more startling revelations for the moment. Or ever, for that matter.
"I need some air."
Severus strode out of the pub as nondescriptly as he could, his black robes swishing behind him as he opened the door to a cold autumn night.
Leaning against the brick walls of the alley next to the pub, he buried his face in hands, too worked up to notice the freezing air creeping into his collar.
All these years, wasted.
He'd never thought that he could feel so much regret in his entire life.
The sound of shuffling from behind startled him, and he whirled around just to come face-to-face with Lily.
He hoped that it was dark enough for her to not notice that his cheeks were wet.
"Lily, I stopped because I thought you never forgave me. And— and it was all just miscommunication!"
The redhead merely looked down at her shoes. It seemed like they had run out of words to say after the spate in the pub.
But he had been keeping an eye on her from afar for so many years, too many for him to just step away and pretend this never happened, as much as he would have liked to. And now, with the knowledge that he could have been so much closer—he realised that it was now or never. He held her by the shoulders, and shook her gently.
"I'm so sorry that we drifted apart, and that we only found this out the day before your wedding. But I want to say something that I've always wanted to say these many years. Lily, I loved you. And I still do. I've always imagined that we'd have a future-"
"Why are you only saying this when it's all too late?" she looked up suddenly, tears welling up in her eyes as she struggled to keep eye contact with the man who was lightly holding her shoulders.
Maybe she shouldn't have had that drink, because his gaze suddenly appeared so mesmerising and alluring, more so than was necessary. And also because she was feeling all the emotions she was not supposed to feel when a marriage to another man, the man she purportedly loved and had been waiting her whole life for, was the day after. Maybe she shouldn't even have come to the pub, maybe she should have just stayed with the stupid wedding planne-
And suddenly his lips were on hers.
Or maybe she would excuse herself, just this once. After all, she was still considered single, right?
All thoughts flew out of the window as he kissed her long and thoroughly, knowing that this would be his first and last.
His right hand was buried in her hair, lightly tugging it while the other snaked around her waist as their lips crashed together hungrily. It was as if neither could be ever satiated after so many years of waiting, wondering, hoping.
Lily sighed into his mouth as he hugged her closer, the tastes of her sherry and his rum making a indescribably unique statement in the explosion of feelings that had finally been set free. It felt so right, staying there in his arms, yet in reality, it was so wrong.
They broke apart, gasping for air and there was a mix of emotions strewn across her face. Happiness that arose from finally bringing the matter to rest, but also a hint of uncertainty. Uncertainty of her true feelings, as she had always thought her love veered in only one direction—James. With the inclusion of Severus, however, she was starting to have second thoughts.
Through the veil of emotions, the dark-haired wizard finally came to the realisation of what his actions would cost her—him—all of them.
What am I doing, impulsively kissing the girl I've always loved just before her wedding day? If anything, I should just let her go.
Her forehead was still resting on his, and he could tell from her ragged breathing and silent sobs that she was torn between two situations—knowing that the both of them had history that was only partially resolved, and the other being knowing that her loved one was waiting for her at home.
No. He was not going to make her cry on her last day. He had to make sure she was happy. That was the unspoken promise he made to himself since they were children, lying near the pumpkin patch, and he was determined to see through to it.
No matter the consequence.
With tears welling up in his eyes, he choked out his last words. His jet black eyes were full of remorse.
"You don't deserve to be plagued by this memory for the rest of your life. I'm sorry about tonight. I'll just make like it never happened and… and you can go home and forget that we met today," Snape said briskly, squeezing all emotion out of his voice. His throat felt raw.
"Sev, Sev- What are you doing?" Lily swallowed, backing away as he slowly pulled out his wand from the back pocket of his trousers. He knew what he had to do to make it right again. Blinded by tears, she grasped wildly in her satchel for her wand, but it merely clattered to the floor as she heard his next words.
"You won't remember this incident, but rest assured, I will—Till the day I die. I'm sorry for causing you grief and trouble, when you deserve so much better, so much more than that. I hope you'll have a great wedding, and don't worry, I'll be there tomorrow. I'll be there for you every step of the way, even if you don't know it."
And with one last weak smile, he said, "I love you, Lily. Always."
He didn't need, or want a reply. Because he knew that her heart will always belong to another, and he didn't think he could bear to hear her say something that will mean nothing in the end.
Snape gripped his wand shakily, uttering the one spell which would break his heart and change his life.
A/N: It's still kind of open for continuation, although at the most it'll be a two-shot. But I initially wrote it as a standalone oneshot, though.
So this is my first shot at writing Lily/Snape! It's in a different writing style compared to my other fics, I feel. XD What do you guys think? Please review! :)