Obscura Nox Animae: (Latin) The Dark Night of the Soul
Chapter 1: Death and Rebirth
In the aftermath, Lily often wondered why Voldemort had given her the chance to save herself, not just once, but three times. The most logical assumption was that he'd simply been amusing himself before delivering the killing blow, knowing she'd never step aside and leave her baby undefended.
But if that had been the case, she wouldn't have survived at all.
Why spare her, someone who openly despised everything he stood for? What would inspire him to preserve the life of a woman he could only see as a Mudblood, with nothing to distinguish her from countless others who'd already been slaughtered at his behest?
Of course, none of these questions crossed Lily's mind on the night he came to murder her child. There was only room for hysterical pleas, words she would never recall after they'd been spoken, and a scattered internal monologue of, Please no, not Harry… I can't bear it… Not my baby!
"Stand aside, you silly girl. Stand aside, now."
Yes, she'd remember his words, along with the detached and altogether irrelevant observation that for a man so full of hatred, the insult he'd tossed in her direction was surprisingly mild. And she'd never forget how absurd it was that she'd had such a calm, logical thought in the midst of absolute terror.
When Voldemort raised his wand, some strange emotion flickered behind his eyes. It wasn't hesitation, exactly. Lily would be haunted by that look for years before eventually identifying it as speculative. He muttered something indistinguishable, just before her world shattered upon a high-pitched scream of, "Avada Kedavra!"
Pain, pain… pain that was more than pain, a terrible severing that seemed to turn her inside out and tear her limb from limb. She wanted to scream, but she didn't have a mouth anymore. If she'd still had fingers, she would've clawed at the source of her agony, though whether to rip it to pieces or in a desperate attempt to hold herself together, she didn't know. All that existed was that piercing, burning green light that devoured everything she'd ever felt and been and known, though it made little sense that her mind would be able to distinguish the color, since she no longer had eyes to see.
It might have lasted for a few seconds or the span of a lifetime for all Lily knew. There was no beginning or end to the terrible interim where no reality existed beyond her own suffering.
But then it was over. She was tipped over into blackness, reveling in the blissful absence of light and stimulation as she floated along on a velvety cloud of nothing.
Before she could get used to the sensation, she was solid again. Yes, that was the texture of grass beneath her feet. She had feet… yes, and a head and body, and a nose that picked up on the familiar odors of a fragrant autumn night. And ears… not only was she able to hear the sounds around her – the faint noise of a Muggle siren, the soft crunching of leaves somewhere out of sight – but her auditory capabilities were much more acute than they'd ever been before.
Slowly, she opened her eyes.
Sirius had once slipped James a shrinking potion. After a hasty trip to St. Mungo's, her fiancé had laughingly remarked upon the oddity of seeing everything at an exaggerated size – a teacup he could've slept in, an apple that could've crushed his diminutive figure. Lily now understood the surreal experience he'd been attempting to describe, as she stared in bewilderment at the forest of grass towering over her.
Had she been hit with a shrinking hex? But why would Voldemort… ?
Voldemort… then it all came back to her. Voldemort. Harry. Oh no… please, no.
But then a cry sounded in the darkness, an achingly familiar wail coming from some great distance above. Lily's throat tightened as she rushed toward the source of the noise, no longer caring about her unusual size or the obstacles she had to scramble over in order to get there. She had to reach her baby.
The man nearly stepped on her as he strode past. With a squeak of surprise, Lily dodged out of the way. She couldn't see his face, but she knew that scent, a unique odor of fragrant herbs and old books, and…
When she tried to speak, the sound emerged as a tiny squeak. Well, there was no time to worry about that just now. Severus… what was Severus doing here? Had he come to finish what his master started? No, he wouldn't do that. Not to her.
Then again, why wouldn't he? She was, after all, a Mudblood.
Latching onto the top of his boot, Lily held on tightly as he entered the shattered remnants of her home. No… she had to stop him before it was too late, but how? She couldn't be more than a few inches tall, didn't have her wand or the power to use it, and even ordinary speech was beyond her capabilities. What was she supposed to do?
Meanwhile, Severus crept up the stairs, stopping in his tracks as he reached the place where James had been struck down.
James, my poor James… Lily cringed as he knelt beside her husband's body, bracing herself for some form of the cruel humiliation Death Eaters loved to inflict on their victims. But Severus only pressed his fingers to James's neck to check for a pulse, then rose and stepped away.
He moved more slowly as he approached the bedroom, his harsh, uneven breathing practically roaring in her ears. The door lay slightly ajar, faint yellow light spilling into the hallway. And then a soft snuffling noise broke the eerie stillness, followed by a tiny sob.
In her mind, the boy she'd known and the future Death Eater had always been two separate people. Her Severus had died on the day he'd spat the word "Mudblood" at her… with those two syllables, she'd known she'd lost him forever.
Following that, it had been natural, even necessary, to imagine him as a stranger. How could any part of her Severus – awkward and shy, yet eager to please in his own quiet way – survive within a person who'd chosen to devote himself to a lifetime of hatred and cruelty?
But now it was the boy she heard as Severus whispered her name in the darkness. He seemed vulnerable, frightened, and then brokenly human as he entered the bedroom. Slumping against the wall, he remained oblivious to her presence as she was flung across the room with the sheer force of his collapse.
Her presence? No… Lily Potter was sprawled out on the floor like some macabre caricature of an oversized doll, features permanently frozen in terror as she stared out at the world through sightless eyes.
"No… no, Lily… oh fuck… "
Horrified, Lily scampered away from her lifeless body, just as Severus crawled across the room to reach it. He pulled it into his arms, cradling it against his chest as he buried his face in the thick red hair.
"No, Lily, no… I'm sorry. Oh fuck, I'm so sorry… "
She heard it before Severus did, the low creak of the front door being pulled open. It wasn't until heavy footfalls landed on the stairs that his head jerked up in alarm, his features twisted by a harrowing combination of fury, grief, bewilderment, and remorse. He looked half mad – no, completely mad as he aimed a muttered string of obscenities in the direction of whoever had just reached the top of the stairs.
But when he lowered his face to the body in his arms, her body, his expression changed again. All that was left was sorrow. He reached out and closed her eyes, placing a kiss on each lid and then one on her forehead before laying her gently on the floor.
And then he rose to his feet, still visibly shaking, and Apparated away.