Like a moth to a flame... That was the saying wasn't it? Was he not the moth? Severus idly wondered as a moth danced about the candle in his classroom. It was long after class hours, but he had no reason to leave. He was working on a potion that had been ordered by Dumbledore. The potion was of little consequence, and everything he did with it now could easily wait until the morning... but he had no reason to sleep.
He watched the moth dance about the flame, twisting and turning in a lively silent melody. The way his heart did around the burning fire of Lily's hair. Just as the moth never stopped looking for the flame, he never quite let her go. He was her moth, she was his flame.
As he watched its dance cast eerie shadows on the stone walls, there was a bright flash... and the fluttering stopped. The moth's wing had touched the flame and it had been burned. The moth now crawled on the table, occasionally flapping its good wing uselessly.
One touch and the moth was forever destroyed... Is that not how it had been? Only once he stepped to close to her burning heart and she had destroyed him. Broken him in a way he would never recover from. Now that the moth was still, he could see its species clearly.
It was a luna moth. One large white wing tinged with blue and green, shining brightly on his desk in the candle light. The other had a charred hole, one that condemned the beautiful creature to life on the ground. Helpless.
There was no way to repair the damage done, nor heal the open wound. Pity struck his heart as he watched the moth feebly trying to climb the candle, forever searching for the same light that had burned it. "It's not worth it." He told the moth, wishing it could answer him.
How could he explain to the moth, how could he have explained to himself two decades ago. How could he explain that falling in love with a fire meant only death, and there was no retrieving it once lost. Still the moth crawled to the flame, dragging its useless wings behind it. Wings that would never touch the sky again.
Severus blew the candle out softly, not disturbing the moth. With the moonlight shining in through a lonely window he could still see the sea foam colored wing. The moth was still now. It only sat there. What could it do now? Where could it go? Its fire was gone and there would be no restoration. Nothing to climb toward.
Despite himself a tear touched the corner of his eye, but in a quick deep breath it was gone again. "Its gone now. Go home." He growled. He was trying to sound menacing, but its hard to sound menacing when your talking to a bug. The moth still did not move. There was no where for it to go... It had no home. When it flew to the light, there had been no plan for a return path.
He thought about smashing the creature, but he could not bring himself to it. He thought about relighting the candle and helping the moth to a fiery demise. He even thought of putting the moth at the window, so that it could die staring into the moonlight... but only one course of action seemed proper.
Thinking of her, Severus conjured his patronus. His glowing, pale blue ghost of a memory. A doe. The doe stared at him for a second, then turned to the moth. It stepped slowly and gracefully over to the damaged beauty that was the luna moth. It put its luminescent nose to the moth, and the moth turned and crawled onto it.
The moth could express no emotion, but it seemed grateful all the same. For three days Severus kept the patronus up, and by the hour the luna moth could be found on various placed on it. Behind its ear as though it were an intentional accessory, on its back as a lonely passenger, venturing across the mountains of its legs when it lay down.
When he found it difficulty to maintain the patronus, he requested a plant from Professor Sprout. He claimed to need it potted because he needed it very alive for the potion it would be in. Instead of brewing it, he set the plant in his chambers and walked the moth to it on the doe.
The injured moth was surprisingly willing to move to the plant. For several more days, Severus came back between classes to examine his tiny charge. He knew it would die soon, and told him self he wanted dead insects out of his quarters as quickly as possible. He refused to admit to himself that he may be checking on it so often because he adored its broken beauty.
The day came that he found the moth motionless... Its wings still out on display. He carefully levitated the moth to the desk, and cast an invincibility charm on it. Its broken beauty would live on as long as the spell did. It never occurred to him that the plant should be relocated. He watered the plant daily, but gave it no more than a passing glance, as it was the only color in his darkly lit room.
Weeks passed. The plant grew. The moth remained still on his desk. Nothing really changed. That is, not for a long while. Severus opened his eyes that morning. It was a gray morning, every morning seemed gray. He got ready for class monotonously, time as a teacher seemed to have come to a halt for him. He would keep teaching the class every day until he died. He may even end up a ghost, still teaching the same class endlessly.
That is, until he looked in the mirror. On the mirror sat a single luna moth. Severus rubbed his eyes and left the room, considering stopping my madam Pomfrey on the way back from class. By the time the long day was over, he had forgotten about his morning hallucination.
That was, until he opened the door to his quarters. Every inch of his dark dungeon of a living space glowed a light bluish green. Hundreds of luna moths papered every inch of the room the same eerie shade as their wings. As slowly as he could possibly move, Severus went to the window that had been walled up with black drapes and pulled them cautiously open.
As the light split open from the window, it set every wing it touched graced their wings. He opened the window and in a dazzling flurry of wings, almost like feathers... They were gone. All of them. A pang of sorrow struck him as he realized he had just lost them all. The damaged luna moth must have laid eggs in the plant he had brought in for it.
He moved now to the plant to examine it. The leaved had been mauled by caterpillars, and there were dozens upon dozens of white cocoons lacing its leaves. There was one thing about the plant that caught him the most off guard... It had blossomed... Not just any blossom. It had blossomed a single white lily.
"Lily" The name escaped Snape's lungs in a breath. He reached out to touch the flower softly with the tip of a gaunt finger... When suddenly, it moved. One luna moth batted its wings from behind the flower. The only moth left. Tears finally broke the emotional wall.
This was Lily. He knew it. She had come back. She had come back to set him free. Severus scooped the moth up in his hand and whispered soothing words to it. That night he resigned from Hogwarts, and set his feet to the world. To find freedom. To find flame anew.