Snape could feel every eye in the room on him. Whispers broke out among the students as he turned around to look at Lily.
Upon noticing his gaze, she stopped looking at the door that Lucius Malfoy had just exited from, and now her bright brown eyes bore into his. He could make head nor tail of the expression upon her face.
"I believe this warrants yet another trip to the headmaster's office. Don't you agree, Potter?" Snape asked. A few students in the front row could be heard trying to suppress malicious laughter at this statement.
And then Lily spoke directly to Snape for the first time in months. "Yes, sir."
Lily then took a few steps toward the door, looking behind her to make sure that Snape was following. The whispers became louder, and a few girls sent disparaging looks Lily's way as she walked past them.
Finally, Lily and Snape were alone in the corridor together.
"So," said Snape. Lily seemed to be concentrating on the stone floor as the two of them walked to Dumbledore's office together.
"So," Lily said with a bitter smile.
Ignoring her, Snape continued. "Just the other day, Professor Slughorn was telling me that he felt you had matured and become more responsible over the past year." He looked over at her to see that she didn't seem fazed by this comment. "And it appears that he was quite wrong. You simply cannot resist creating problems for the staff, can you, Potter?"
He would have normally expected Lily to smirk and give some sort of witty remark, just like her eldest brother. However, this time, she said nothing. The only indication that she had heard Snape was the deepened frown upon her face.
Lily gave the password to the gargoyle, and they both entered.
Dumbledore walked out from behind his desk, the usual twinkle in his eyes gone. "Hello, Lily, Severus. Phineas informed me of what happened." He gestured to one of the portraits on the wall.
Rather than sitting down, Lily walked straight up to Dumbledore. "Are you going to tell my parents?" she asked, biting her lip with worry.
Dumbledore looked at her with sympathy. "Of course not, Lily, dear."
Unbelievable. "What sort of rubbish is this, Albus?" Snape asked.
Lily turned around. "What do you mean?"
"Is it not proper to inform a student's parents when something of this nature occurs? Or are you content to treat Potter with favoritism yet again?" Snape said to Dumbledore.
Dumbledore said nothing for a moment as he studied Snape. "I believe that it is up to Lily to inform her family of what has been going on, as she is now of age," he said finally. "Now, I have a question for you, Severus."
"Yes? And what might that be?"
"Have you really given no thought to the advice that I gave you last year?"
Snape curled his lip. "What advice –"
"You know perfectly well that I am referring to the advice I gave you to try and make amends with Lily."
"And how is that relevant to what just happened in Minerva's classroom–"
The look on Dumbledore's face made Snape go silent in mid-sentence, a rare occurrence. "You are overly invested in Lily Potter's personal matters, and you are also determined to destroy her in whatever way you can. In this case, you are perfectly happy to see her get into a conflict with her family over this. If this were any other student, you would have dropped the matter already." Dumbledore turned to Lily. "I am sorry, Lily. I know that, for months, you made an effort to not get into any trouble with Professor Snape, and you succeeded in doing so. But it seems that your efforts have gone unrewarded."
Then, Lily spoke, but not to Dumbledore. "Professor Snape? I'm sorry."
"Sorry for what, pray tell?" Snape could feel his blood boiling.
A mischievous smile broke out on Lily's face. "Hmm. Actually, I'm not so sure that I'm sorry anymore." Then, she added hastily, "Just kidding. What I wanted to say is that I shouldn't have retaliated when I was younger, especially last year. But I did have a lot on my mind last year." She looked to Dumbledore with a slightly worried look, and he responded with a reassuring smile, prompting her to continue. "My cousins were upset that I was seeing Scorpius, and now Hugo hates me and turned everyone in our friend group against me –"
"You call this an apology?" Snape couldn't help but smirk. "All I hear are excuses for your behavior-"
"Severus," Dumbledore warned. "Please listen to her. There is more."
Lily took a deep breath. "And I was also worried because . . . because you hated me." She spoke these words as though slightly embarrassed. "My dad always told amazing stories about you. You were Teddy's hero, and James's, and Albus's, and mine. But I looked up to you more than they ever did. That is, until I finally met you."
Snape would have stormed out of the room in a rage had Dumbledore not been fixing him with a slightly stern look. "I know why you're angry with me today," Lily continued. "But I didn't do anything wrong. Plus, I've changed. My grandfather never tried to make peace with you, but at least I did."
At Lily's dejected expression, Dumbledore placed a hand on her shoulder. "Actually, Lily, I do not think you truly understand why Professor Snape is so angry. Perhaps he does not even realize it himself."
And Snape had finally had enough. He walked to the door. No one protested until his hand was finally on the doorknob.
"Today's events have reminded you of Lily Evans."
Snape froze. He slowly turned his head to look at Dumbledore.
"If I recall correctly, Lily Evans also got engaged during her last year of school, and to your school rival, no less."
Snape turned his attention to the doorknob again.
"I still remember, you know," Lily said suddenly. Snape turned around again, to see that Dumbledore was also looking at Lily curiously. She blinked away a few tears. "I remember when you ran after me in that snowstorm. I remember thinking that you didn't hate me after all."
Snape tore his gaze away from Lily and Dumbledore, turned the doorknob, and finally left the room.
Snape made his way through the corridors, fuming. What had Dumbledore been playing at, reprimanding him and trying to make him look like a fool in front of a student? And as for Lily, she had certainly put on quite some emotional performance, but why? Why did she want his approval so badly, when she was constantly doted on by her family, the entire school, the occasional paparazzi, and the Hogwarts headmaster?
Snape was brought out of his thoughts when he realized that Harry Potter was standing outside of his office, apparently waiting for him.
"I heard what happened," Harry said, speaking rapidly. "You were there to witness everything, weren't you?"
Snape smirked. "How did you find out?"
"Neville sent a patronus to my office at the ministry." Harry sighed, anxiously running a hand through his already disastrous hair. "I don't understand how all of this happened. How did I not see it coming?" He seemed to be talking to himself more than to Snape. But then he gave his full attention to Snape. "Neville said that apparently you were the one to get Lucius to leave. I have to thank you for that."
Snape glared. "You appear to be under the impression that I did something unusually heroic. I merely did my job as a teacher of Hogwarts and convinced an intruder to leave instead of harming a student."
"I understand that. But all the same, you kept my daughter out of harm's way, and I'm grateful-"
"Perhaps if you had raised her properly, there would have been no reason for me to intervene at all."
A few seconds passed. Harry's jaw clenched. "And what do you mean by that?"
Snape couldn't help the vindictive smile forming on his lips. "She is even more conceited than your eldest son." Snape turned his back on Harry and entered his office. He heard Harry's footsteps follow, but was too busy flipping through a stack of paperwork on his desk to look at him. "So conceited that I wouldn't be surprised if she accepted Scorpius Malfoy's marriage proposal for the sole purpose of getting the whole school to talk about her. You know, your father used to string along every other admirer of his in the same way. I wouldn't be particularly surprised if that habit was passed down to his granddaughter."
Snape felt a sharp blow to the head and collapsed onto the ground.
He felt as though he were half-awake. His eyelids felt too heavy to open. He thought he heard Harry's voice, along with McGonagall's, and Dumbledore's, and Lily's. He could feel himself being levitated to the hospital wing.
As he drifted in and out of consciousness, he picked up on bits and pieces of conversation.
"I understand why you lost control." It sounded as though McGonagall was speaking. "After years of you, your godson, both of your sons, and now your daughter being mistreated by him, it's no wonder that you finally lost your temper with him . . . All the same, it was a very foolish thing of you to do, Harry."
"When will he wake?" Harry asked, sounding guilty.
"In an hour," said Madam Pomfrey.
"Well, Dad, that gives you an hour to think of an apology to make," Lily said wearily. "Is that dreamless sleep that you're giving him, Madam Pomfrey?"
"No, dear. In fact, this may even cause him to dream a bit."
Snape felt a potion being poured down his throat, and he drifted off into the blackness once more.
And the next thing he saw was a woman with dark red hair and emerald green eyes.