"I'll ditch them! I'll ditch them, I swear, just forgive me!"
In the spur of the moment, Severus seemed to have said the right words. Lily suddenly stopped mid-way towards the Gryffindor Common Room and turned around:
"You know what? I don't believe you! You are saying whatever comes to your mind to make me forgive you. But you aren't going to stick through your words, are you?"
"I will. Of course I… I will." Severus replied, hesitating a little more. He was aware that it was an ill-thought move: there were reasons that made him associate with them in the first place, however he wasn't sure if these reasons were worth losing Lily's friendship, the only person he cherished. And the only person who used to cherish him…
She didn't fail to notice his hesitation.
"Stuttering, are we? Well, I don't believe in anything that comes out of your mouth right now."
He took a deep breath. He could walk away right there and then, and let Lily live her life without him to get in the way; she was popular and didn't need him in one bit. Severus also had to recognize that his life would be much easier if he didn't stick with what he just said.
His life would be a nightmare. Who he would have to cover his back if he didn't have Avery and Mulciber? Lily certainly wouldn't do it and of course he'd be too embarrassed to accept her help.
If he had a way… To protect himself and ditch Avery and Mulciber. But he never got his way in his entire life, why would he now…? Even his own tongue betrayed him. Maybe he was as bad Lily thought he was. He couldn't believe he called her a mudblood.
She was better off without him, and he was better off without her, even though he wouldn't be necessarily happier. Unfortunately, he had to pick between his happiness and his own life. Potter's gang already tried to kill him once, what would stop them from trying it again…? And what would stop Avery and Mulciber from doing so as revenge?
They might as well could; there were disappearances and Voldemort gained power and followers through the Wizardry World. If Avery and Mulciber decided to get rid of him, they could and wouldn't even go to Azkaban.
Due to Severus' lack of response, Lily turned on her heels again and walked away.
His whole torax and stomach ached, the physical dull pain from losing his only true friend and from knowing it was his entire fault.
He dragged himself back to the Slytherin Common Room, ignoring the dirty looks and the mocking he received as students walked by. Potter would regret the day he decided to be born, Severus would make sure Potter got what he deserved, as well as his whole gang.
A deep-seated anger stirred in Severus' insides. At least they, too, were easy targets for Voldemort.
"Did you go to wash your boxers, Severus?" Avery asked out loud when Severus walked inside of the common room. A lot of people were there, probably waiting to see what he'd do when he arrived.
"I will when you brush your teeth." Severus snapped and stormed off to his dorm. If they were to pick each other apart, at least he could point out Avery's awful breath.
Alas, Avery and Mulciber followed him there.
"Hey, I'm sure Avery didn't mean to offend you or anything." said Mulciber. "We are actually proud of you for finally getting rid of that filthy mudblood and putting her into her place."
Kinder words could not have been said, Severus thought, albeit ironically. That was the thing with most Slytherins, though: make yourself useful and you found yourself loyal friends until you are not worthy of friendship anymore. Severus was incredibly useful: the only one of them who had extensive knowledge of Dark Arts. He probably had more knowledge about that particular subject than the DADA teacher.
And so he had two loyal friends, unless he decided to switch sides.
Unfortunately, he knew that by sticking with Avery and Mulciber, he was indeed picking sides. Voldemort didn't give a shit about what you did and didn't do during Hogwarts: as long as you are useful, he'll make sure you feel welcomed. Dumbledore wasn't like that, however. Rumor has it he had a secret organization to fight against Voldemort, made by people of his trust.
How could he ever trust Severus?
"No one is laughing at you, here." He said. "Everyone thinks that Potter and his gang should get expelled for this kind of thing. Dumbledore is definitely getting senile if he doesn't expel them this time."
"I hope he does." Severus replied.
"I can talk to my family and see if they can do something about it." said Mulciber. "Lucius will certainly help you out if he hears of this."
Severus, however, knew better than accept this kind of help. They would want something in return for it, sooner or later, and he wasn't sure if he could afford to return the favor.
"No." he said. "Tell Lucius if you like, but I don't want him meddling with this situation. We all know Dumbledore isn't going to expel them. I don't care. He won't be able to lick their asses forever, will he?"
"Voldemort is going to make sure he won't." said Avery.
A few days passed and it was time to return to his house, which was unbearable enough with Lily and it would be even worse without her around. His father was a drunk and both his mother and his father became too depressed to care about him at all.
However, his fate took an interesting turn.
He was supposed to get a train home on his own – a ride with the Evans wasn't a possibility – but Lucius Malfoy waited for him, and opened his arms in a great gesture.
"Severus. How nice is it to see you after so long." he said.
Severus, with the corner of his eye, saw Lily scowling at him while she walked out of the train. Well, he made his choice and there was no turning back now.
"My thoughts exactly." he replied in a more discrete tone of voice.
"Unfortunately, I'm not able to say I bring good news for you." Lucius continued as he patted Severus' back and spun around to get out of the platform. "Your father, not surprisingly, fell fatally ill in the last month. He arrived at the hospital too late for the muggles to save him, of course, and your mother has been taken away to an inpatient asylum. She isn't going to last too long, as well."
Lucius almost spat out the word muggles, looking around to the people at the King Cross Station with extreme contempt.
"So what's going to happen to me?" asked Severus.
"Well, nothing at all. I've dealt with the problem. Technically the muggle Children Services or whatever it's called needed to take you to an orphanage." Lucius explained as they got out of the station and walked towards a safe place to apparite. "The Dark Lord took pity of your situation and I was assigned with dealing with it. I've modified the records in such way you are now 18 years old and the Dark Lord will support you until further notice."
He took his wand out of the cane he had with him and made Severus' trunk small enough to be put in a pocket.
"You'll receive a salary coming from a store as if though you held a job there." he went on. "You are free to use magic as you see fit: you are all set until your graduation."
"And what do I have to do in return?" Severus said.
He couldn't refuse the help. He knew he couldn't. Going to an orphanage was out of question because of his status as a wizard and he couldn't live on his own, as well. Where would he find the money to support himself? Maybe a summer job, but what about the months where he couldn't work?
Would someone even hire him?
"Nothing. Just make sure you keep your head in the right place." replied Lucius and he took a bag of coins out of his pocket. "I'm afraid this is where I leave you. Though don't hesitate to send me a letter if you need any help. And here's your first month's… Salary."
The bag was heavier than what it seemed. Severus put both the bag and his trunk in the pocket.
"Enjoy." Lucius said with a smirk before disappearing.
Severus didn't feel like enjoying himself, however. He didn't even check how much money was inside of the bag. What just happened is that he sold himself to Voldemort, for very cheap.
By "keep your head in the right place" Lucius meant "be loyal to Voldemort".
What else was he supposed to do?
A.N.: I swear this is a Snily, you guys! I'm just trying to keep it true to Snape's (somewhat lack of) character so… But he's going to change and very very soon :)