FIC for cathedralcarver: "Is It a Lie?" (PG-13) Title: Is It a Lie? Author:writermerrin Recipient:cathedralcarver Rating: PG-13 Word count: ~4,000 Warnings: utter disregard for canon Summary:The lie was her friend, her protector, her barrier against the cold reality that Severus wasn’t who he used to be. Disclaimer: This is a tribute to Severus Snape, and reviews are all I ask for in return. Author’s Notes: Thank you, cathedralcarver, for your inspirational prompts. I've twisted the canon timeline to suit the story. Enjoy!
Is It a Lie?
Lily tried not to look.
It was the same routine every Potions class. Severus’ desk was the one in the far right corner of the front row, and hers, the far left. She tried not to look at the pair of Ravenclaws sharing the center front row table. That had been theirs. For five years, her favorite class had been the one she spent with her best friend, doing what they did best, challenging each other in their favorite subject.
Really, it should be easy to not use her peripheral vision to see what Severus was doing. She knew that they each still did the same class preparation separately as they had together. It had been a dance for them, and neither gave it up now that they had new partners.
It should be easy to look to the right toward Mary as she reread the assigned pages. She could look at Slughorn. She could, if she was feeling especially risky, turn all the way around--class hadn’t started yet--and peek at her boyfriend. James and his friends had to pass Potions to get into Auror training, but they sat in the back row. Lily didn’t mind. She sat beside James most of the day, but she couldn’t associate him with Potions.
Potions was… sacred somehow, sacred to her and Severus. There hadn’t been a Lily-and-Severus for almost a year now, but there had been for years. They’d been best friends for those formative years; then, they’d started going together. Her mind was about to wander towards their first kiss, but was rescued by Professor Slughorn starting class.
Instantly, she was focused. Friends or rivals, they’d had a game of being the first to answer a question in class, and Slughorn gloried in playing his two top students against each other. As soon as she heard the question, her hand shot up.
Her answer was correct, of course, but she resisted the urge to meet Severus’ eyes, even to gloat. She’d resisted so well for almost five whole minutes, but it all stopped when Slughorn uttered one fateful sentence:
“I suppose Mr. Snape forfeits this round. Now, someone else, tell me…”
In a rare occurrence, Lily tuned out the teacher’s voice. What did he mean, ‘forfeit’? Didn’t Severus even raise his hand?
Now she had to look. She had to know. She leaned back in her chair just enough to see past the Ravenclaws, but Severus wasn’t there. His lab partner, Alexandria, looked quite distraught, but his chair was clearly empty.
Where was Severus? An awful feeling came over her, and she used the pretense of rummaging through her bag to catch a glimpse of James. The self-satisfied smirk on his face made her blood run cold.
He knew, and he was proud of himself, the smug--
Focus. She knew she needed to focus on class. She shouldn’t care. She mentally berated herself for caring. She wasn’t supposed to care any more. He didn’t need her anymore, didn’t want her. The lie echoed around in her mind as she went through the motions of preparing the ingredients for whatever potion they were supposed to be doing. It was a lie she had told herself as he’d run back to the castle that fine, spring day. It was a lie she’d repeated to cover the truth that he was camped outside Gryffindor tower, begging for her forgiveness.
Only in the deepest part of her heart had she allowed herself to acknowledge that it was even a lie, that one harsh dismissal was no reason to give up their relationship, no matter how much it hurt.
But the lie was her friend, her protector, her barrier against the cold reality that Severus wasn’t who he used to be. The lie had enabled her to accept James and the place at his side in the Golden Couple of Gryffindor.
There was no room for her at Severus’ side.
She allowed herself to peer at Alexandria Greengrass, toiling alone because her partner was missing. Her partner. Gossip coupled Alexandria and Severus, and Lily had mixed emotions about that. Part of her railed against anyone else taking her place, but her Gryffindor heart told her to be happy for him. At least he wasn’t alone. At least the pureblooded Miss Greengrass would be accepted and make him more acceptable.
It was one thing he had always craved that she couldn’t give him.
She was surprised when class ended. She apologized to Mary as she snatched up her books and made a bee line for James.
“Could barely wait for class to end, could you, baby,” James drawled, then wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
She shrugged him off. “What did you do to him this time?” she demanded.
“Easy there. Remus was just sleepwalking. I didn’t do anything to the poor guy, and it’s not nice of you to bring it up like that.”
Lily grimaced apologetically in Remus’ direction before turning her ire back on James. “I would never! How dare you even--” She caught a glimpse of Sirius and Peter skulking toward the door, their expressions confirming her suspicions. “You know who I mean.”
Alexandria slipped out behind Sirius, and Lily almost moved to follow her, but checked herself in time. The Slytherin would not be any more helpful than these ‘Marauders.’
“Lily,” Mary’s quiet voice began behind her, “you coming to Ancient Runes?”
“Yes, right.” Lily dismissed the boys with a wave of her hand before leading Mary out into the corridor. Runes was a blessedly James-free class. And Severus sat in the back of the classroom, so she wouldn’t have to keep on worrying over his empty seat like a child who had just lost a tooth.
She paid a little better attention in Runes, though she was sure she’d need to compare notes with Mary later. As soon as that class ended, she raced down to the Great Hall to scarf down her lunch, grabbing an orange off the table on her way out. Severus always loved oranges when he was in the Hospital Wing.
She caught a glimpse of Alexandria, who was still sitting with her friends. She knew she might not have too much time; if the Slytherins were a couple, Severus would be getting a visit from his girlfriend. Why was that thought suddenly difficult to handle? At least she probably didn’t know to bring him an orange.
After speaking to Madam Pomfrey, she approached the partition and rapped it lightly. “Can I come in, Sev?”
“Lily?” he replied.
She stepped around to find him sitting up in the bed, his mother’s old Potions book on his lap. He didn’t look too injured. In fact, the scratches on his face were barely noticeable when broke into a brilliant smile before settling into a puzzled look.
She suddenly wondered, herself, what she was doing there. “I guess you were expecting someone else.”
“Yeah, but no. I mean, this is a surprise. I don’t imagine you bring apologies from your entourage.”
She bristled, but reigned herself in. “No, but I did bring an orange.”
“You remembered! You always were the best, Lily.”
She blushed, then handed him the fruit. “Well, I’d better leave before your girlfriend overhears you saying stuff like that.”
Severus suddenly looked very interested in the skin of the orange, and his voice was tentative. “Did Lexie look worried? Dumbledore wouldn’t let me send word. I wish I knew how to make those paper airplanes like they have at the Ministry.”
Lily didn’t know how to answer that. An awkward silence hung between them as he set the orange down on a napkin and used a charm to remove the peal in a perfect spiral. When he offered her a section of the orange, she was grateful for something to do with her hands, but the touch of his fingertips startled her.
“She did.” Lily shoved the slice into her mouth to put off elaborating for a few moments, but after she swallowed, she continued. “She looked quite upset in Potions class… I’d better go, then.”
She turned around, only pausing to nod when she heard him whisper, “Thanks.”
Alexandria was talking to Madam Pomfrey when Lily emerged, but she stopped to glare in the redhead’s direction. “Evans,” was her terse greeting.
“Greengrass,” was Lily’s reply with what she hoped was a convincing smile. “He’s waiting for you.”
Her answer was a light scoffing sound, but Lily didn’t care. She and James both had a free period this afternoon, and she was going to have the truth from somebody. On her way back to Gryffindor Tower, she calmed down enough to rethink her strategy. James was never going to talk as long as he had backup, so she decided to lure him to the outdoors. Ordinarily, she ignored James’ pleas to skive off studying to be with him, but this time, she had something more important on her mind.
Pretending a nonchalance she didn’t feel, she approached James to run her fingers across the back of his neck. “Let me put my books away, then I want to walk by the lake.”
Not waiting for a reply, she rushed up the staircase. Changing out of her school clothes and into slacks and a low-cut top, she threw her unfastened robe back on over the outfit.
Part of her expected James to be suspicious, but he just proved how well he didn’t know her when he let his hormones do the thinking for him.
They both avoided unpleasant topics as they walked, holding hands, across the grass. “Isn’t the sunshine wonderful!” Lily exclaimed.
“It just brings out your beauty, Lils.” James squeezed her hand.
For several moments, Lily basked in the sun and James’ adoration. He was never ashamed of her or afraid of what others might think of them. It didn’t matter to him that her parents are Muggles; in fact, he had teased her more than once about bringing her new blood into the Potter line. The thought thrilled her, and she let him guide her head to his shoulder as they sat beneath a tree at the lake that shielded them from casual view of the castle.
That was his mistake.
This tree, the site of her public breakup the previous year, also had other, strong, lovely memories of Severus. The very smell of the bark, the grass, the earth, the lake--it all brought back quiet afternoons of studying punctuated by tentative exploration.
Her heart ached, and she removed herself from James’ embrace to look him in the eyes. “James, please, what did your lot do to Severus?”
He jerked away from her so quickly that it nearly knocked her off balance. “You brought me all the way out here--ignoring your scheduled revision, no less--to ask about Sniv--”
“Don’t call him that! Sirius couldn’t hide his pleasure at Severus’ absence from class, and neither could you, you smug prat!”
“So, when you rushed off after lunch, you went to see him. What did he tell you?”
“He didn’t--” Lily wasn’t about to bring Alexandria into this conversation. “I want to hear it from you.”
“You want to hear from me how I saved his worthless hide? What about how he was out after curfew, poking his big nose where it didn’t belong?”
Lily fumed, speechless. There was too much information crammed into those sentences, incriminating on several levels, because if Sev had been out after curfew, James and his pals had been as well. Dumbledore must know, yet there had been no noticeable change in Gryffindor’s points this morning.
What else had James said? His nose? Why did those boys always have to bring Sev’s nose into the conversation? She burned with the desire to tell James that his own nose had never thrilled her like Severus’ would when he nuzzled her gently across that soft skin behind her ear--a move that never failed to wipe her mind completely blank for long seconds at a time.
Her mind irrelevantly provided her an image of Severus greeting Alexandria with a light kiss when she came to see how he was fairing, and she shook her head to bring it back to the conversation.
“You saved him?”
“Yep. Dumbledore says he owes me, now. Maybe I should tell him to stay away from my girl.”
“I don’t need you to protect me from him,” she shot back. “What were you doing out after curfew, yourself?”
“That’s not the point!”
“Oh, I think it is. You are in such a hurry to blame Severus for all this and claim that you saved him from something, but I suspect that if Sirius hadn’t started it, there wouldn’t have been any danger to start with. Did Sev walk into an experimental charm string, get caught up in one of your transfigured traps?”
“It wasn’t anything we came up with, I can promise you that.”
“Something of Hagrid’s then? Maybe I’ll go ask him if one of his pets escaped last night.”
“No! It was the Whomping Willow, okay!”
“But why would he--”
“No! I’m not going to tell you any more, so will you please just drop it!”
“Drop it? No, I’d sooner drop you. This is the last straw, James Potter.”
Lily launched herself to her feet and had started for the castle when James grabbed her wrist. She spun to jerk it out of his hand. “Don’t touch me. Don’t ever touch me again! You think you’re so much better than everyone else, Potter, but you’re not. You’re just the arrogant toerag you always were!”
True to her word, Lily did not let James lay a finger on her for the rest of term. She saw his gifts of flowers and candy as an attempt to buy her affection, and she refused to allow herself to be influenced. She’d always thought that James was too free with his parents’ money, not appreciating its true value.
In the meantime, she listened to the gossip of Severus’ summer internship with Alexandria’s uncle. But she couldn’t help but feel smug as she noticed that the Slytherin girl seemed to have no natural ability for Potions, lacking Lily’s own grace with a knife and rod. By the week before final exams, Severus had apparently lost all patience and was refusing to let the girl help him at all.
As everyone walked to Hogsmeade to board the Express, Lily saw Severus hanging to the back of his group with his old trunk. Part of her wanted very much to walk with him, to experience again that ease with which they used to share the air. But she let the lie wash over her and remind her that he had chosen his friends, his ambition, over her. He wanted it that way. It’s the way it had to be.
Severus must have sensed her eyes on him because he hesitated, turning to face her long enough to nod and grin before resuming his walk.
Lily didn’t know what to make of that, but the memory of his grin would stay with her for several days as she settled into Muggle life for the last time. She was determined to actively join Dumbledore’s work as soon as she completed her N.E.W.Ts, but she honored her parents’ wishes to get a Muggle job this one last time instead of commuting to Diagon Alley.
She ended up working at a day camp. She loved working with the children: tying their shoes and helping them with crafts.
The Friday afternoon of her first full week at camp, she Apparated to her backyard to find Severus waiting for her there.
She froze in place for a moment before smoothing down her shirt and shorts, then swallowing. “Sev? What’s going on?”
“I wanted to see you. I hope that’s okay.”
Lily plopped on the steps, then indicated he could too before answering, “Um, yeah. Of course.”
“I didn’t know for sure, but when you visited me in the Hospital Wing… That meant a lot to me.”
“I was worried. I had missed you.”
“Yeah, but I did again. I don’t miss you now--you’re here--but I did miss you, a lot, these last couple of months. Why don’t you sit?”
“I miss you.” He stepped closer, but still hesitated.
“I miss you…” He sat, then slowly reached a hand out for her. “I miss you here, with me.”
Lily was mesmerized as he moved closer until she was enveloped in a loose embrace. Then, she closed her eyes and just felt him, felt the rumble as he repeated himself, a deep whisper in her ear. “I missed you here, by my side, in my arms.”
Her heart raced, and tears formed behind her eyelids. “Oh, Sev.” She turned to reach around and press herself to him. “Why are you here? Why are you doing this?”
“It isn’t summer without my girl.”
“And at the end of the summer?” She didn’t move, didn’t dare meet his gaze.
“We can find a way, Lily. We can find a way to be together, even at school, even after.”
“But after, you’ll be joining them. Him. Unless you’ve changed your mind about that.” She leaned back now, needing to see his reactions.
“They’ll kill my mother.”
“Dumbledore will hide her.”
“He’s never done me any favors. If he doesn’t dismiss me out of hand, he will exact some price. You don’t know what I’ve heard about him, about what he has done to people he’s found expendable.”
Lily pulled his hands into hers on her lap. “And your ‘Lord’? People pay him in innocent blood.”
“You don’t know about him, either. He’s already given me so many opportunities, and I haven’t even joined him yet.”
“Yet. If you go in for all of that stuff, why come back to me?”
“None of that has anything to do with you. I wish I could say he has a place for you, too, but I won’t know more until I’m initiated. If you were mine, though, he wouldn’t hurt what was mine.”
“You just said he’d kill your mother.”
“Only if I betrayed him. If I’m loyal, then she is protected, and so would you be.”
Lily jumped up. “Do you even hear yourself?”
He followed. “This isn’t what I came here for. I just… can’t we just… You’re not with anyone right now, are you?”
“That’s not the point. I can’t just forget it. I work with Muggle children. Do you know what he’d do to them, and not even blink an eye?”
“No, you’re wrong, Lily. You just believe the lies you’ve been told. Lucius said he’s never been sent to hurt Muggles. It’s control of the Magical world they want; attacking you at your… ‘Camp Adventure,’” he read off her shirt, “wouldn’t help accomplish his goals at all.”
“I wish I could believe you.”
Again, he stepped closer until she could feel his warmth distinct from the late afternoon sun. “Believe in us.”
His eyes bore down on her, keeping her locked into place as a hand reached up to cup her cheek. She whimpered as he approached, then caught her breath as he bypassed her lips in favor of that spot behind her ear. The heat grew as he spoke again, lips, nose and breath conspiring to melt her utterly. “Please, Lily. I love you. It’s like I’ve been missing the better part of myself for a year now. I need you so much.”
“Yes,” she gasped, not even knowing what she was agreeing to, but her heart echoed in agreement when he finally kissed her.
It was everything it had been before, but more. He was taller, stronger, had a little evening shadow on his face. Still, it was the same, his taste, his lips and nose.
“Yes, Sev,” she gasped. “I’ve missed this, too. I didn’t realize until that day, but I was so jealous.”
“Was it that obvious?”
“No, but it was a hope deep within me, especially after she and I broke up, that you would understand what seeing you with him did to me.”
“I think I did. I’d find myself wondering what the two of you were getting up to in those secret Slytherin places.”
“Not much, I swear. I tried, but I just couldn’t. She just didn’t measure up. She was helpless around a cauldron.”
“Sev, you were awful to her. I’m surprised Slughorn didn’t reassign her.”
“Can we get back to a more pleasant topic?”
“Like when we can meet to do this again?”
“Are you doing anything tomorrow?”
“I happen to have the day off. What about your internship?”
“I get every other Saturday off.”
“I’ll come pick you up. Here? About ten in the morning?”