In the middle of the night was when everything had boiled over. Severus' stomach was churning. The feeling within him was wretched—like petite, but numerous ulcers were forming on the surface of his stomach, and continuously spreading. This couldn't be—no certainly not. It was all a nightmare, he had told himself, once, twice, but it was not doing anything to benefit him. He was not some oblivious fool! He was a man who was inclined to believe the truth, and to deny all falsities he would dismally and desperately attempt to believe. He starred at the white back of the door, a coat hanger gruesomely nailed to it. An inch of termite infested wood was the only thing separating him from the nightmare that had taken place only minutes before.

First, had come the letter, the parchment unbelievably yellowed from the sun, and the writing quickly, mostly likely frantically had been scribbled on it. But one fact remained: The writing was absolutely Albus Dumbledore's, and it had meant grave danger, and Severus had known it without ever reading it. Three words, five syllables—a short message it was. You're being followed. There was no indication of who, what, where, when or why. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, his skin began to prickle. Impulsively, he would have run, far away, as quickly as he could. The woman next to him had prevented him from performing the tactical departure. Yet, in his plaid boxers and a black t-shirt, he hopped out of bed, and bare-footed, he ran out of the room, silently shutting the door behind him. He would make up a story—yes! That is exactly what he would do. He would tell a sordid tale to Lily, one where his father had fallen ill as a result of a lethal contamination from his work, for half the place had been infested with pathogens of all kinds. Then, they would return to Cokeworth and he would maneuver through the dangers that lied ahead.

In the hallway, he stood there looking left and right, before running down the steps as quickly as his long, pale legs could glide silently across the burgundy, royally embellished carpeting. Not even three steps down, he felt something grab his left arm, clutch it with immense strength, and dig its pointed nails into his thin skin. He began to be dragged upwards. With a profound kick, Severus pushed himself off the step and had flung himself in the air, flipping over his assailant, whom he didn't have a time to view. Impressively, he had made it to the other side of the man. The man's arm was twisted behind his back and Severus held it there, the veins in the man's arm popping out and purpling. Whipping the wand out of his boxers (he never left without it, as it had been his favorite defense mechanism) he pushed it to the man's slightly tanned neck. He forced the man unto the wall, and trapped him there, a curdling rasp escaping his mouth.

"Severus is this how you greet an old friend?" intoned the blond haired, arrogantly disposed, and most certainly, insanely minded Lucius Malfoy.

"You should consider this a warm welcome, Malfoy," Snape sneered, who still had Malfoy trapped under his thumb like a measly moth, with its wings fluttering for mercy. Do not mistake this for an act of anger or enmity. It was banters like these that proved their hostile friendship.

The aged innkeeper had somehow silently waddled up to Severus, and her wand was jabbed in his back, precisely the middle of his spine. He let out no sound of terror, nor and inflicted gasp.

"Imperioused?" Severus queried, though he had not been surprised in the least.

"What else would you expect?"

Severus glanced at the woman behind him, then at Lucius. He would deal with the innkeeper later, he had decided. Then, his arm had betrayed him!—betrayed him, for it was fueled by the fury toiling within his being. He took the innkeeper by the arm, and flung her, rather easily unto the way. Her head hit the wall, a mark of blood staining its once ivory sheen. Her head was hung, and she out cold. She would not be a bother to Severus any longer.

"So, Snape the innocent man has finally revealed has dark side, eh? Is that how this is going to be, Severus? Still playing games, are we?" Even smashed against a wall, with an arm behind him and his wand out of reach, Lucius Malfoy could be as arrogant as ever.

Severus noticed in a defining moment that Malfoy had looked different, aged, more fragile—changed; like a child who had been emotionally modified and marred. His grey eyes were just that—grey, abysmal, detached; much like the eyes Severus had possessed. Dark circles now surrounded them, purpling and puffy. His blond hair was now straw, bleak and breakable.

He loosened his grip on Lucius slightly, before he let him go completely. The blond man whipped around to face Severus, grey eyes against stark ebony. Lucius smiled a crooked, wide grin, his pearly white teeth clearly on display. For the longest time it seemed as if their conversation would be silence; tickling, irritating silence.

Lucius' hand gripped Severus's arm and he twisted it, expecting that Severus would fall to the ground in pain. He could have sworn that he heard something break in Severus' arm, but Severus remained still. It was then that he felt the feeling of someone deep in his mind breaking away from him. Lucius looked down at his arm, now completely free of legilimens and saw that his right arm was bruised and battered.

It was a tradition, this infliction of pain upon one another. When Snape had been younger, though, it had been the other way around: He had been the one to be left with the pain of broken bones, and the stains of blood. A feeling of spite was evoked from Lucius, and it was shown upon his deeply contorted face. Attempting to hide this emotion, he cleared his throat.

"I'm here to tell you that the meeting will take place the night after next."

"Very well…and if that is all, I suggest you leave. It's best if we do not wake the other…guests," his voice was detached and monotonous. He turned, but Lucius stopped him from walking any further, for he had remembered something…futile.

"Severus, Avery knows you secrets…He's hinted at it—but more so, he is hinting that he will tell them to the Dark Lord if you should happen to step out of line. You are a…Half Blood, but I do know wish to see you fall. Frankly, you have more worth to the Dark Lord than Avery will ever have, but if he botches everything for you, you will have more to deal with than I wish to see."

"Thank you…" he said unconcernedly. He sighed as he traipsed away, back to his room, back to the soft bed (hopefully still warm), but also back to Lily. "One step at a time", he told himself. "One grueling step, lurch from it to the next and hope that you don't double back in despair. You're not a coward now, are you? You can do this one more time. What's one more scar—one more perpetual, defacing, belittling scar?"

He opened the door and closed it silently, breathing in the thick, spiced air of the hotel room. Lily's scent had overtaken it in the several short days that they had spent in the room. Though the room was stark, he could see Lily's eternal glow through the bed sheets, lightening his darkened world. She shuffled, unsettled from a vespertine haunting, moaning in dread, and then she bolted up, screaming, kicking at the covers, "SEVERUS!" His name convolutedly shrieked. She looked up at him, he who was standing rigidly with a black aura surrounding his pale, but darkened body. She collapsed into tears, her arms stretched toward him. "Please," she exhaled. He indecisively stood for a moment, before he took her into his arms and held to her, to keep her from drifting into the same darkness he was consumed by.

He comforted to the best of his ability, kissing her clavicle, then down to her suprasternal notch. "I'm here Lily, I'm here. I'm not leaving." She gripped onto him tighter, one leg swung around him and both of her arms around his neck. Her skin prickled at his butterfly kisses.

"Don't leave," she requested, nay demanded. "Don't leave." It was choked and broken. "I won't be able to go on if you leave."

Where had this been coming from?—he wondered. What had her nightmare been about? He wished he could take that memory away from her, without leaving a cloud of black smoke in her mind.

Once calm she lied down, her face snuggled comfortingly in his chest and listening to his heartbeat. Severus further lulled her into sleep with his hand, stroking the small of her back. It was astounding how her one problem could make him forget his; moreover, how he would move to fix her problem instead of fix his own, more urgently pressing problems.

He did not sleep the rest of the night, even if Lily was in his arms, her chest rising up and falling with every sweet breath. "Lily," he whispered. No answer. "I'm sorry." If he had the tears to cry, he would have. Even they were exhausted. "I could never apologize enough to you for what I am about to do." He paused for a second, considering if he had been out of his mind—risking the fact that Lily could have heard any one of these clouded, broad words. "But I will never stop loving you." He held her for the rest of the night, his inscrutably bottomless eyes almost always open.

The world laid in shambles, stone against broken stone, the clouds no longer wispy and the Earth's aura no longer enriching the need to continue life—life the most important thing known to this world.

The only two people left in the world had previously been a ludicrous expression; an expression that people had used, jinxing themselves trillions of times over. Severus and Lily were the only two people left, or so they had thought. Continue the line, reproduce, be Adam and Eve. That was there mission. Fate had written it, and so Fate would have its way. Or so it seemed to be that way. There was a detrimental pounding in the Earth's carbon crust. Cracks were erupting from every which way, and Lily ran. She could no longer feel her heart pound, but instead felt the sweat drip down her and her veins pulsate her hot blood traveled through her ever-freezing body.

She wore a white dress that flowed with her and her every movement. Her rubicund hair bounced as she ran, her steps never faltering. The muscles within her contracted. She was nearly to give up. Her eyes closed, her breath hitched.

When she opened her eyes, she was in a rich forest, where fruit grew plentifully and were the most awing birds sang melodies that Beethoven and Mozart would have been desirous to. This fertile land, made her smile. It smelled of whiskey and cinnamon, parchment and musk—Severus, the place smelled of him. Then, she realized that a pair of bare arms was around her, arms so pale that violet veins could be seen beneath the porcelain skin. She was clutching onto the white shirt of a man who smelled like Severus. It was then that she realized that she and Severus were together in this place. Where were they? God knew.

She looked up to his smiling face, his eyes bright and warm. "There's no need to worry, Love," he told her. He bent down and captured her, captured her love, her soul—the things she was completely willing to give him, as he had given them to her, as she had loved him more than an ocean loved the horizon. She faced the sky, and saw the beginnings of an apple tree, its red fruit taunting her. She looked to her dark lover, and looked to the sky. Bliss was what came, and bliss was what she was left with. It felt as if she had entered a deep crypt once more as euphoric ecstasy had overtaken her last sane thought: 'I could never manage to think of an alternative perfection'. Cries of pleasure could be heard as harmonically as the songbirds sang.

Once again she was greeted by a new scene, one as equally pleasant. She felt swollen and prophetic, perfect and content, loved and wanted. Heat engorged her as she sat on a bed of the greenest grass, her legs tangled around Severus. Across from her was a lake, redolent of the one at Spinner's End, though cleaner. Orange carnation petals were scattered on the Earth's floor, perfuming the land and intoxicating the senses.

Severus' hand was fixed on her belly, as were his lustrous eyes and coveted smile. It was then that the shock of her rounded abdomen had hit her, and then almost simultaneously was passed off as something completely ordinary. She put her hand on top of his. "You look so beautiful like this," he complemented.

"I love you," she barely uttered.

"As I you."

Once more, the world had shattered and recreated itself in a single instant. Once more, she was in a world that was destroyed and helpless. It drained her happiness form her. She held her son to her as she looked in every direction she could. She felt slung and useless. "Severus!" she yelled. "Help me!" She nearly tripped over a fallen tree. She stopped; she could no longer traverse this dilapidated land. Most trees were fallen, and the dirt ground was frozen. Her breath came out as white puffs of evaporation and instead of warming herself, she warmed her child.

She closed her eyes to focus for a moment, and when they opened Severus was in front of her once more. His face was marred and bleeding heavily. One of his eyes was closed, and his clothing was charred and torn. He looked much older, though she knew that only a year had passed.

"There a town, a town with people three miles away, Lily. Go there."

"Come with me then."

"I can't. I don't have the strength to."

"I'll carry you then."

"You have to carry our son."

She was torn, torn between the two people she loved. "I can't leave you like this, Severus. I'll die without you."

"You're strong—the strongest person I ever knew. You will make it there, and you will find happiness." He pulled her toward him, kissing her for a time that was too short. She face was now stained in his blood, and the char that was once on his clothes. "I'll follow you. . .if I can."

"Severus, please." He pushed Lily away from him, and she went in the direction he sent her. A part of her failed to feel the way it once felt. She then noticed that her son look much like Severus. Tears of dismal joy filled the brims of her eyes. In the light of the fire in the middle of a city, she felt herself descend, and then once her consciousness was eradicated, she collapsed onto the floor, all the while screaming Severus with her last drops of energy. The last things she heard were Severus shrieks, and the warbling of her son's cries.

She woke, and for a brief time her eyes stayed open. Severus was next to her, his eyes closed, though he was not sleeping. She heard a faint melody in the distance, the sultry voice of the girl who had sang as they came into this town.

Take one piece of me,

For every time I cry,

Take one arm,

For every time I want to die,

Take all of me,

Because I have all of you. . .

For every time she wished she had the words to say to him, she always found it in the songs she heard while she was with him. Sometimes, she wished that so many of the words she had thought to say had not gone unspoken. It was the yearning to convey her heart's desires to him that tore at her. When would she find the time to truly keep him? If she could simply tear out her heart, and hand it to him in a beauteous vile, she would.

Severus eyes opened once hers closed. He blinked a few times, and then stared at the back of her head. He did not think of her: He thought of Lucius and Regulus, Dumbledore and Voldemort. He was withering away in this mind-game. What was he thinking when he had come back to change the world? He had taunted so many Gryffindors for their head-strong choices, and bleeding hearts. He was no better, no more intelligent. He despised his choices once more. He would continue to wonder if he would lose Lily, and if he would, would she come back to him?

He was poisoned by his thoughts and was dying slowly, as all humans were. Suddenly, being with Lily had seemed a terrible idea to him, equally stunning and impeccable, but also vexing and catastrophic. Somewhere down the long winding pathway was a catalyst, waiting to trigger a poignant Armageddon. Controversially, he felt composed. It was this that would worry him at a much later time—his ability to feel wondrous in cynically morbid events. He left his thoughts saturated in pessimism, and his body in tranquility. Was he throwing his time away doing this all? An idiotic grin was on his face, though his eyes clearly showed the coldness which had further overtaken his darkening heart.

Lucius stood outside of the inn's entrance, thinking of whether Severus' loyalty would remain intact. Of course, Severus had always been a shifty person, but he was strongly confident in the fact that Severus acted the way he did in order to protect himself, just as a true Slytherin always should. Leaving the inn, he traveled back to Voldemort, a plan in his devious mind, and valuable information to be conveyed.

A/N: I apologize a thousand times over for the lateness of this. My personal affairs had overtaken my time to post chapters, but more so my ability to write any substantial sentence. I hope you forgive me. I will try to post as soon as possible. Thank you for those who have stuck with me.

_E.S. Grey