It was a rainy spring day. The Hogwarts students had stopped wearing their dragon-skin gloves between classes. The life on the outside, which had burst into full bloom, was being reflected across the whole castle. Though there had been fiascos, expulsions and a death, together the students had found a reason to smile, and the strength to laugh. The thoughts of the Easter holiday had certainly brightened their moods; the thoughts of no homework, and time to study for OWLs and NEWTs gave them something they had long ago hoped for.
Severus stood at the castle's entrance, waiting for his red haired beauty to come so they would walk out into their reverie. A gangly, black haired boy walked passed him—he was thin, ghastly so, not only thin but pale, yet there was that certain pathetic glimmer in his eyes; hope, willingness, pure audaciousness in its most concentrated form. There was the twelve year old version of himself, twitching as he walked, right there twitchily meandering passed him. The boy looked nothing like Severus, of course, but the semblance was more that of the inner kind. So Severus reminisced—reminisced of the time that he was truly pitiable, yet innocent. They were some of the best days of his life, yet they were nothing compared to where he was now; a grown man, with so much to protect and to save. The acrid burden had its saccharinity, though he could never fathom exactly why it was so.
The mockingbirds sang a joyous tune. Latching her arm onto his, Lily greeted him with her heartening smile. For a moment they stood there, saying their we'll-see-you-soon's to the castle, their old home, their old friend, the one that they had grown disgusted of as of late.
"Shall we?" she asked, looking at the winding road before them.
"I believe we shall."
They walked into the rising sun, its warmth radiating unto their skin. Their trunks were shrunken and stuffed into their pockets. Once they had reached Hogsmeade, they decided that they would not bother with the train, because the Easter break had always been shorter than winter's break. As Lily was pushed through the unfathomable vortex, all she could feel was the guilt of not riding that train. Something within her kept prodding her, hissing to her that she would never visit King's Cross station again, after the school year would end, or perhaps even before the school year. It was an unnerving feeling. They had apparated their separate ways, both too their separate homes, but with promises that they would leave before the nightfall.
He landed in the middle of the living room in his home. A floorboard cracked beneath his feet, and he swore, rather loudly, much unlike the times when he had only swore under his breath. He traipsed to his room, his footsteps silent, just in case if his father had been waiting for him.
He pressed the door closed as lightly as he could, though a creak had escaped its rusting hinges. He chucked his charcoal trunk onto his unmade bed. Not a single thing had been touched since he had left months ago. Most pressingly, there was still Regulus' owl, Isadora, perched on his desk, her pellets scattered across the floor. "At least she didn't ruin any of the papers," he thought, attempting to placate himself, in order to not kill the damned thing!
She held a crudely crumpled parchment in her beak, but as she saw him move past the door, she dropped it onto his desk. She hooted softly, and he in reaction curled his fingers into tights fists, before letting out a deep breath. He snatched the parchment from off of his desk, and shakily opened it, lifting it to his face, slightly fearing to read its foreseeably dismal contents.
I am forced to inform you that upon the Liege's request, of which I most regret ever hearing, that you are to attend the next meeting, which will take place over the Easter break. We will be meeting at the Hanging Lantern and the Scribe. The meeting will take place before the first screech on the night of the quarter waning moon. Do not be late—I hear the Rose has devious punishments waiting for you. What he has against you, I will never know.
On a side note, I am glad that you have managed to break free from Hogwarts for a short time. I suspect that things will be rather messy over the break. I can feel it. Though, I must shamefully admit, that I wish you were here. It gets lonely here sometimes. With most of the Knights gone from the school, there is nothing fun to listen in upon.
The letter was coded—the owls were being intercepted once more. Severus' stomach began to boil. It was not a good sign. Which side was intercepting? He knew that the Order had been working on it, but the Death Eaters had somehow heard of this, and in turn wanted to be the first to start intercepting owls. For an instant of uncertainty, he contemplated returning to Hogwarts, but knew that he was much too deep into his promises to go back on them.
He resized his trunk to its original size. It crushed the yellowing cot, till the cotton filling inside of it and the hard, metal springs had been forced to be half their original size. Taking out his Hogwarts uniform, he replaced them with the letter and a few articles of clothing, which he had pulled out of the tiny, alder wardrobe.
Shrinking his trunk once more, he put it in the pocket of his charcoal colored slacks. Steadfastly, he walked through the house, eyeing it. It seemed…different…different, as in improved. But there was something missing in the house—something that he had known since the day he was brought shamefully into this world. His stomach did not lurch with every intake of air, nor did he gain the same heartburn that he used to. What was this new presence? The house nearly smelled…clean—like fresh sprigs of sage and slices of blood oranges had been scattered throughout the abode.
In the living room, of which he had taken no prior notice, had seemed to be changed. The recliner, which had used to be terribly patched up, was now replaced with some newer version of the old. The fire place, beyond all speculation, had actually been lit, the fire crackling, and the ashes in the allotted space, and smoke circled around the fire. Then the table—the table of all things—was cleaned! There was not a single dish, dirty nor clean on it! Oh the sight! The glorious cleanliness of the household! What had happened to the dilapidated wasteland of whiskey bottles and old underwear which he had used to call a home?
If he was the type of man, he would have skipped to the kitchenette, but unfortunately he was not the type of man to daintily "skip" anywhere. With a most placid stride, he entered the kitchen, opening each and every cupboard and drawer. Oh the beauty!—all of its sublimity!—"if this is a dream, then let this fine haunting never end", oh how he yearned. Not a single bottle lay within its depths. The nightmare had fled—he had dared to check the fridge. Inside, oh how he had been right, had been not a single bottle of the amber, carbonated liquid which he had so loathed.
He turned around, all one hundred eighty degrees, with sheer bliss, but there was no smile upon his weary face. His father, the blading man, with a hooked nose and peppered hair had been come into the room, an iron bat in his hands, ready to attack whatever intruder he had heard.
"Severus," his father breathed, the bat falling to the ground; the sound of metal hitting ceramic was unconcerting. It was the first time since Severus was a wee lad, that his father had ever said his name with…dare it be said, a gentle, caring caress in his voice. His father had been wearing a very new looking, tartan shirt that day, and a pair of workmen's jeans.
Severus stood completely still, as taciturn as a stature. His father came toward him, Severus nearly flinched, ready for him to strike, but no move had been made. Tobias, wrapping his arms around Severus tightly, hugged his son. He hugged him—hugged him as an apology, as a sign of care and most importantly, but bewilderingly, as a sign that the man had changed.
"You're sober," was all that Severus said as his father hugged him. His arms laid at his side, refusing to move. "HAS HELL FINALLY FROZEN OVER?" he yelled, his voice in a crackling near-shriek.
When they separated, his father, the poor, poor sober man, who had only done this for a single reason—his son; his son whom he had loved, though never had gotten a abstemious chance at showing him his appreciation and his care, nay blood-linked love for his son. As he had loosened his grip on Severus, he had felt his optimism float away from him, through the open window and out to the setting sun.
"Oh great—I've been stunned and I'm delusional now! Bloody fantastic. This is just too much!" yelled Severus, his hands flailing in the air unusually.
"Nope, it's real. I don't know what ya mean by that stunned business of yehrs. But this is real—most certainly real."
He stared at his father, wide eyed. "You mean to tell me, and I do hope that I have done my math correctly—that after oh what is it?—seventeen years of alcoholism—that you have finally stopped drinking?"
"Jus' follow me," he announced his he briskly turned as he proceeded out of the house, through the back yard, and around the house. Then, they were at the lake ambling to the farther, West side of it, attempting to avoid the abysmal odor of floating garbage that had overtaken it. The leaves had sprouted on the willow trees; black tears appeared to fall from the thin eyelash-like branches of the sobbing willow trees. The grass was uncut, and muddy holes were the vast majority of what used to be a divine meadow of blossoming hyacinths, daisies and lavenders. Mockingbirds flew from tree to tree, singing a painful, strained lament.
Tobias leaned against a tree, taking in a deep breath of air through his nostrils. Yes, the air smelled revolting, but even with its harrowing redolence, there was still the old scent of wildflowers in the air—a scent that had reminded him of his deceased wife, Eileen.
In spite of himself, Severus held his tongue and looked at the placid lake. There had never been a more repulsive looking lake that he had laid his eyes upon. It lacked the magnificence of the Black Lake at Hogwarts, held the same scene of a waste land, but it also had its own magic—a type of magic that Muggles, and those who came from Muggles could understand.
Tobias took a silver flask out of the pocket in his workpants. He took a hearty swig, smacked his lips and then put it in front of Severus' face. Without a single question, or remark, Severus took a more than hearty swig of whiskey before handing it back to his father. There was not a broken man, nor a cowering boy that stood there. These were true men—equal men; equal in the sense that a key had unlocked every harboring lock, and every jailing gate had opened.
"I thought you quit," intoned Severus.
"Quit—no. There's a dif'rence between quittin' an' stoppin' before yehr piss drunk," he looked at his son, "I take a drink whenever I need it. That's why the bottles are gone." Hell hadn't frozen over. "Will I ever stop drinkin'? Maybe one day—for now this flask's as far as I'll go."
Severus snorted. He knew his father well enough to know that whiskey was his one true passion. The flask was handed back to him, but this time Severus did not drink. He looked at it— green emeralds were glinting in the light of the noon sun. Embossed on it was a poem, or rather a dirge. He read it, the words so tiny and delicate, mulling over in his head, ebbing onto the edge of touching his heart.
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still…
His father smirked. "I know yeh met that Evans girl here. I know, because yeh wouldn't shut up about fer a week when yeh were just a wee lad. Always mutterin' in yehr sleep about 'er red hair and all tha'." He spoke lowly, "This place—this place…
"I met yehr mother 'ere, believe it er not. Thought she fell outta the sky, quite literally, at the time. She was panicin'—makin' a right ruckus out 'ere in the middle of this place. Not too far from this tree, actually. She tried ter tell me tha' she had climbed up the tree and fell down. I believed 'er then. We were eighteen at the time, I s'pose.
"You know what 'appened after tha'. We got hitched, and then you came along not too long after tha'. I wasn't a good father ta yeh, and I know it too. I wasn't a good husband either. Didn't tell me about her magic—didn't tell me tha' you would end up in the same lot tha' she was. She didn't tell me a lot of things. I was mad for a time—a long time." Could it be? It couldn't. Those were not actual tears being secreted from his father's eyes. Where they? Impossible—or so he thought it was.
"Tha' flask was 'er's. It was the only thing she brought from her world to this one. And now she's gone. Gone… I would'da kept 'er alive, if I 'ad been right in the mind. She killed 'erself, you know. And sometimes, no—all the time, I think tha' I killed her instead. Right near the end of it, she 'ad, 'ad the last straw, because of me.
"When we first met, we loved each other, we did, truly. Still love 'er to this day. Wish I had told 'er—wish I had done things differently fer the both of yeh. Wish that I hadn't gotten so mad over tha' magic of yehrs. It didn't change who she was one bit—not one bit. Should'da understood 'er reasons better—shoud'da bothered to ask, to try to understand 'er.
"An' I want ta tell you tha' I'm sorry fer not bein' a better father. I can't change tha' now. Yehr a grown man—you can make yehr own life now. An' I also wanted ta tell you that no matter what, yeh better hold onto tha' Evans girl, cause if yeh don't you'll be drinkin' yerself ter the death, for a different reason than mine." His father coughed a bit, before requesting that his son would hand him the flask.
Had his father actually said those words to him?
"Why did you stop drinking, then?"
"Seein' yeh over the break, takin' care of this old, rotting codger, as you called me—it made me think 'bout stuff. Yeh threw out all meh good stuff. There was no point in tormentin' either one of us anymore. And…yehr mother—so she won't keep rolling over in 'er grave," he whispered the last sentence, a tear rolling down his cheek, and soaking into his unshaved face.
Silence was kept after that, the wind blowing through the trees and across the lake. Silence was the way that acceptance was shown in the Snape family. Silence, to them, meant compassion and forgiveness. Without ado, Severus left, nodding his head once at his father.
"Lily, stop running! You look like a mad woman!" yelled Violeta Evans from the bottom of the staircase as she watched her daughter run to the top of the indigo painted stair case, nearly tripping as she reached the top.
When she ran back down she saw her mother standing, her arms crossed across her chest and a worrisome look on her face. "Sorry, mum, I promised Severus that I would hurry."
"You neglected to tell me that you and Severus are an item. Are you two an item?" Violeta's eyes had a faint, hopeful glimmer in them. Whenever Lily mentioned Severus, Violeta seemed to be slightly happier, slightly more alive than she was just a moment ago. The two were her new hope, and her new reason to move on with life.
"Yeah, we are an 'item', I suppose. It happened on Christmas Eve, actually—at Slughorn's party." Lily was looking at her feet. Had it really been three months since they had gotten together? It seemed improbable to her. It seemed like they had been together for years…Well, they had been, in a sense, but not as a couple.
"I've got to go, mum. I'll see you soon." Lily hugged her mum tightly, before leaving and heading out the door.
Mrs. Evans stood, leaning on the handrail of the staircase. Shimmering tears trundled down her porcelain colored cheeks. She brought the edge of her cream colored apron to her face, wiping the tears away.
Lily was a grown woman. Seeing her jog through the door like that ensured the fact that Mrs. Evans could no longer keep her daughter in the nest. Her baby had aged—aged until the day had finally come. It came, and she knew that she would not see her daughter until she came to tell her about her engagement. Then, she would wait to see her daughter until she told her that she was pregnant. Lastly, she would see the grandchildren, but only when her daughter would be too preoccupied by her own duties to take care of them. Then, she would die—and death would take her beneath its celestial cape, swallow her whole, and she would never leave it. It was the cycle of life. Life has a cruel way of making time pass.
Lily sauntered over to Severus. The sun was still shining overhead, and the day was getting hotter with each passing hour. Over his shoulder, she could see the park at which they used to play at. She smiled as the memories flooded her. More than usual, Severus seemed stoic.
He beckoned her to follow him. The walked down a paved, twisting road. Small children ran past them, chasing each other in what seemed to be a game of tag. Severus pulled bronze colored keys out of his pocket. He stopped walking once they reached a small, black car. He unlocked the door and sat in the driver's seat.
Sitting down in the red leather passenger's seat, Lily asked, "You know how to drive?"
"As a matter of a fact, I do," Severus said as he started the care, an unearthly, most likely precarious noise erupting from the engine of the car. The car was a stick-shift. With one hand on the stick, and the other on the wheel, Severus began to drive.
Lily ogled the dashboard. It was smooth and grey. In the center, right above the radio was a bobble head of a hippogriff. She turned the radio on, and from Severus, she received a chilly sneer.
"So where are we going?" she asked after clearing her throat.
"Half the fun is letting the road take you somewhere. Anywhere."
As they drove, one thing was gnawing at Severus' agitated mind. The looming song of impending doom played softly; he was impassive to the song playing on the radio. In every single centimeter the car sped past, Severus swore that he could see the image of the Dark Mark. Every coo, every screech and every horn that sounded turned into a bellowing bass, singing a tale of forsaken life. His worst fears would soon be realized, was what everything in the vicinity had begun to allude to. He gripped the steering wheel tighter, as if he were gripping onto the last vestiges of life.
A/N: This story is nowhere near being finished. I should tell you this now. I hope to update on Sunday. How am I doing? I know there's spelling errors. Anything else?
Info for my other stories:
If you have read The Final Plea: I'm updating it next Sunday. Yes! It is being continued!
If you have read Mourning Colour: I hope to update it either Wednesday or Sunday.