Disclaimer: Ave Queen Jo!
Summary: When Lily receives the news that a prophecy might put her son's life in danger, she also finds out about the man who sacrifices everything to keep her save.
A/N: This has probably been done a thousand times. I wouldn't know, because despite my love for the ship, I don't read Lily/Severus fanfiction. But I felt I needed to give our beloved (anti)hero a little gift for the fact that 16 years after her death, he still says 'Always'.
Turned out I also included a lot of Lily/James, because he was the love of her life and they did go through the news of their son being in danger together. I feel I've done them justice (so much, even, that I considered posting the first part as a L/J oneshot and only the second part here), so some L/S shippers (who generally hate L/J) might think it diminishes the importance of Snape in this fanfic.
I hope you'll read this long enough to get to the end. It was harder for me to get into Severus' head, but I still like what I gave him with this and it was, after all, the reason I wrote this story. Please review!
Forgive and never forget
A pending visit from Dumbledore was all it took to alarm her. Yes, he was a family friend, beloved former professor of both of them and generally pretty much the one person who made you feel calm and save in this time of trouble, but the mere fact that he was coming to Godric's Hollow was enough to make her queasy.
She was in her ninth month of pregnancy and her marriage to James was turning out as beautiful as she could ever have hoped. Her hand had a habit of resting on her inflated stomach and although she was as much a slave to swollen ankles and moodiness as any Muggle woman, she could honestly say having this boy with the love of her life was the most wonderful thing that had happened since her wedding day.
Lily had never told her husband that for her, it had been an actual decision whether to have this baby or not. When she had learned she was about to bring a kid into a world terrorized by a wizard so dark there was little hope for a happy childhood, she had paused for seven long days to consider what it meant for the little being inside of her to have to grow up in such circumstances. Ultimately, her love for the unborn had won out, as well as James' unwaveringly positive outlook and the complete and utter support their friends would undoubtedly show.
But there had been a moment, an unbearably unending moment when she thought whoever this new person was, he or she would be better off not living at all. And now that Dumbledore was about to pay them a visit – the first after a quite a while in which he had been completely occupied with important Order of the Phoenix business.
She and James had stopped being active as soon as Lily had told him they were expecting, but she knew well enough how urgent and how much work the missions were. Even Remus didn't manage to check in more often than once a month.
Dumbledore coming to their house should be a cause for joy, but for Lily, it carried with it a strange and definitely uncomfortable feeling of foreboding. She wished it was just a silly notion due to the fact that he hadn't been by in a while, but her heart told her otherwise. The former Marauders and she were near the top of the list of Voldemort's most dangerous enemies. Enough to erase all hope for good news.
So when he stepped in through their door as humble and eccentric as always, Lily was unsurprised at way he glanced at her stomach with worry.
"Can I offer you a cup of tea?", she offered with a strained smile.
"Yes, thank you. Do you mind if I dissolve a Sherbert Lemon in it? It's quite delicious, you should try it."
"We'll pass for now."
Lily's hand came to rest on her stomach again.
"I very much doubt Harry is ready for anything quite that adventurous yet."
"Harry? Is that what you are going to name him?"
"Do you like it? We've only just decided."
"Harry Potter. A strong name for a boy that will have to be equally strong."
James sighed, like her not having expected it to be different.
"So you have come here with bad news."
"Unfortunately, I have. I wish this was just a social call, but I'm afraid what I have to tell you is serious indeed."
Lily reached for James' hand under the table.
"An informant of mine has told me the Dark Lord has come across a prophecy that in all likelihood concerns your son."
"Harry?", James' dark brown furrowed. "What prophecy?"
"I was witness to it while interviewing a potential Divination teacher, so I can give you a complete account if you wish."
"I take it you still have the Pensive I gave you as a wedding present?"
"We do", Lily uttered quickly. "Let me summon it."
Her wand was in the other room, an old habit of hers, leaving it lying around somewhere. Something she would probably have to avoid in the future. Couldn't risk being attacked and not having it there with her. Still, it wasn't like she was helpless without it.
"Accio Pensive", she said carefully, focusing her mind on the round basin until it came floating into the room and she caught it with ease.
"Wandless magic. That's impressive, Lily."
It had taken her a long time to master it. Under normal circumstances, she would have loved to talk to her former mentor about this particular accomplishment, but now hardly seemed like the time.
"It's beside the point, Albus."
That twinkle in his eyes died once more.
"We do have more pressing issues."
Without uttering one more word, Dumbledore pulled a vial with a swirling silver string in it out of his pocket and emptied it into the bowl.
If she lived to be a hundred years old, Lily would never forget the hollow voice proclaiming the birth of a child with the ability to defeat the most dangerous wizard there ever was. When it was done and Dumbledore had once more extracted the thought from the Pensive, all she could do was look at James, hand on her stomach now grasping it almost painfully. Her husband seemed calm on the surface – a face he had mastered during years of loss. Underneath the determined façade, however, he was whiter than a ghost and she could feel his hand shaking uncontrollably in hers.
"And you are completely certain the prophecy is about our boy?"
"No, I'm not certain. The Longbottoms became parents only two weeks ago. But I'm afraid it doesn't matter which child is the subject of the prophecy, because Voldemort has decided to believe it is yours."
James calmly asked:
"What can we do?"
"Stay safe. Don't leave the house. I would recommend performing the Fidelius Charm after a serious consideration of whom you can truly trust. I'll do it myself, as soon as you're ready."
"We're doing our best, James. Our efforts to defeat him are already at their most efficient, but we have yet to figure out how we can put a stop to Voldemort's reign of terror without risking too many innocent lives as well as to find out exactly what the prophecy entails. Until we do, the best you can do is hide."
The last time she had seen tears in James' eyes had been the first time she had realized he was a human being underneath the arrogant bully. She had surprised him in the Head common room they had shared. Lily would never forget how he had buried his face in his hands, palm pressed almost painfully into his eyelids, and the look he gave her when he heard her startled gasp.
She had later learned his parents had been killed that very night. But then, all she had done was take him into her arms and let him cry and it had felt stranger and more right than anything she had ever experienced before.
Now here he was, palms pressed against eyes, shoulders shaking and if the reality hadn't sunken in until then, this was what broke through the fog that had surrounded her ever since Dumbledore had arrived.
Her little boy was in danger. And not just in danger; if the Dark Lord wanted him dead-…
"Lily? Perhaps I could talk to you for a minute in private?"
Now? She didn't know how much more she could take. But outwardly, she'd never admit to it.
"Yes, of course, Albus."
She put a reassuring hand on James' still shaking shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze before leading Dumbledore into the adjoining room. She hated leaving her husband like this, the optimist in him so thoroughly crushed, but she would have plenty of time alone with him later.
Dumbledore didn't sit down, his eyes fixating her sharply.
"He has asked me not to tell you, but I would like to trust you with the identity of my informant."
"Only me? Why not James as well?"
"Because the man is Severus Snape."
"Severus? But he is a Death Eater! Has been one ever since leaving Hogwarts, as far as I can tell, perhaps even earlier."
"He is. He was. He is also the one who told Voldemort of the prophecy. It seems he overheard part of it and gave up the information in order to get into his master's good graces."
Severus? Severus Snape had sold them out? She shouldn't be disappointed. She had known for a long, long time now that her former childhood friend had chosen a dark path that went against everything she believed in. But there was a surprisingly fresh ache at the mere thought that it was due to the insecure, gentle boy who had told her she was magical she had to fear for her life as well as James' and little Harry's.
She didn't know how to react, what to say, but something (Anger? Regret? Pain?) must have shown on her face, because Dumbledore interrupted her before she even had the chance to force a word out.
"Hear me out, please. As soon as he heard Voldemort thought it was your child, he sought me out, begging me to protect you and your family for the price of his unending loyalty to our cause. He is now a spy working for us from the inside."
A very heavy pause. Lily had hardly seen Albus Dumbledore as serious as he was right now. That twinkle in his eyes was back, though, even though it was weaker than usual.
"I trust you will see his choices for what they are."
Lily was left staring at a spot on the wall a long time after the older wizard had left. Her child was kicking against her hand.
When Severus Snape opened the door in the middle of the night, he would have expected it to be a single Death Eater on a mission, a group of them using his place for a late-night celebration over their latest victories or even Dumbledore or one of his careless Order associates.
He had been awake, of course, his insomnia stronger than ever since finding out his actions had condemned the one person he cared about to almost certain death. And seeing as he was now in the wonderful position to try to make up for it by being a spy, he had to be on guard all the time. Self-made, Legilimens-resisting Dreamless Sleep Potions could only do so much. He had forgone them today, as if he had known a very pregnant Lily Potter would be standing on the porch of Spinner's End sometime between two and three am, waiting for him to let her in.
He must have stepped aside at some point, because when the sound of his front door falling shut shook him out of his stupor, she was already walking towards his kitchen with the confident steps of someone who still knew exactly where everything was even though long years had passed.
Numbly, he followed her, trying to make sense of what was happening. Lily was here. Lily was actually here. Logically, he knew the only explanation for that was that Dumbledore had approached her, but apart from rising panic about what exactly the old man had told her, he still couldn't wrap his mind around her sudden presence.
He hadn't seen her in person since their last year at Hogwarts. One last glimpse of her on Platform 9 ¾, too busy snogging Potter and skipping off into the sunset with that insufferable brat to spare him a glance. There had been a few articles about her in the Daily Prophet, one about her wedding, another about her completing her healer training at St. Mungo's. The last he'd heard about her this way was the completion of a difficult potion she had been working on designing to cure the shrinking disease.
Before he could process what was happening – why had his mind the unfortunate habit of slowing down to a crawl when she was in proximity? – he could feel a pair of soft arms around him and her hair was suddenly closer to him than he had ever experienced before. Its scent overwhelmed him even more than the whole rest that was an embrace by Lily Evans.
The words were soft against his ear, that melodious whisper he remembered from distant childhood memories. She had never been so close, never been physically affectionate. And he'd only had those few precious months in which he hadn't seen her as often as he would have liked. But sometimes, just sometimes she had sneaked into his house and tiptoed through the kitchen behind him, past the noises echoing between the walls, bringing light to a place that had seen so much sorrow. And they'd sit underneath the table and just whisper to each other about getting out of there.
"When I go to Hogwarts", Lily said, "I'll have a wand. And then I'll come back here and paint one of these walls in a real color, just with magic. It's so dreary here, Sev."
"When we go to Hogwarts we can't practice magic outside of school, not until we're seventeen", he said importantly, knees drawn to his chin, watching her from the corner of his eyes.
"But what's the use in having magic when you can't use it?"
"We can do something else during the holidays. Do homework together or-…"
At the very thought, her green eyes sparkled even more than usual.
"Homework in magic. God, Sev, this is really going to happen! I'll be a witch and you'll be a wizard and we'll go to a place where we will learn magic!"
She had let go of him and now stood before him, green eyes meeting black.
"I would have invited you to our place, but I figured it was too dangerous for you and you wouldn't come anyway."
'Our place.' Hers and Potters. God, had he ever hated Potter more than he did right now?
Words. Find words, Severus.
"So you came here instead?"
She shrugged, almost defensively.
"My husband has an invisibility cloak."
For the first time he noticed the glittering fabric she still clutched in her delicate fingers.
"That's not safe enough."
"Don't be stubborn, Severus. I needed to see you."
He dreaded the answer.
"Dumbledore. I should have known."
Of course he hadn't managed to stay out of this. Had to go ahead and meddle in things that were none of his business and just what exactly had the old man told her?
"Don't be mad at him. I'm glad he told me. Though I still have no idea why you would risk so much just for me and my family."
Not your family, Lily. Just for you.
"So you forgive me?"
"Of course I do, Sev. All I ever wanted from you was to apologize with more than just words."
That easily. She forgave that easily and he had wasted years of his life without her. Yes, she would never care about him the way he wanted her to, the way he cared about her, but he could have had her friendship. All it would have taken was to sever the ties with his Death Eater friends.
Still, he resented her, just a little bit, for giving up on him so easily. She had cut him out of her life for that one unforgivable mistake without ever looking back and he had-…
"I had no one left to make me want to be good", he mumbled almost to himself.
An all too familiar pain in his left arm shook him out of the moment.
"You better go now. The Mark is burning."
Almost after uttering the words, he felt shame course through him. Good job, Severus, remind her you took a vow to kill and torture all muggles and muggleborns.
"Are you going to be okay?", she asked, worry obvious in her eyes.
He once more wondered how a single beautiful person could be so kind. He could only nod.
"I'd better go."
She stood up and walked towards the door, but paused with her hand on the handle.
"Severus? Stay in touch?"
A smile he would keep in his heart forever.
The door fell into the lock. Severus Snape stared at it for a little while longer, still trying to process what had happened and if it had actually happened. Eventually, the burning on his arm became strong enough that he knew he'd be punished for not answering right away, so he apparated to the Dark Lord's side once more.
He could be a spy for her.
He would never see her alive again.
He would always cling to the memory of her forgiving him.
He would die knowing at the end, he was worthy of being her friend again.