|faeryqueen (faeryqueen) wrote in severus_sighs,|
@ 2009-10-28 20:15:00
|Entry tags:||challenge, ficlet, member: faeryqueen07, pairing: severus/lily, rating: g|
Severus *sighs* Challenge - What Should Have Been
Title: What Should have Been
Pairing: Implied Severus/Lily
Word Count: 1,668
Disclaimer: They were never intended to be mine, and I shall never see the profits of their use. They are, and will always be, the property of JK Rowling and co.
Warnings: It made Torina cry.
A/N: Thanks to Torina for her beta work! And just to clarify, yes, I purposely used all those ICs. It made sense in my mind.
He paces the length of the room in slow, measured steps, his actions unhurried despite the wailing in his ear. He had still been up when that internal alarm within the babe had gone off, and so he had abandoned his latest concoction to rescue the infant from his crib. His wife lies sleeping in their bedroom, exhaustion from so many nights spent awake with a colicky child leaving her deaf to the goings-on around her.
The button-up shirt he wears beneath his teaching robes lies open and the plain, white shirt beneath bears the brunt of the child’s saliva. The sleeves of his overshirt had been rolled up past his elbows so that they do not trail in the ingredients he was working with and so they have laid bare the evidence of his youthful mistake. It is no more than a dark smudge now, the power of his wife’s love having driven away all the evil that had once resided within it. Though the faded mark catches his eye, he chooses to ignore it as he has no other care in the world than that of soothing his distressed son.
He isn’t a handsome man, and the pale moonlight that filters in through the living room window exposes his features almost harshly. The beauty of the moonlight contrasts sharply with the features heavily shadowed by a tragic past. There is no sugar-coating his looks, but he understands that it isn’t necessary, anyway. Though he may not have come to love himself, he does understand that he isn’t defined by how he looks, only by what he does. He is distinct man, well respected by his colleagues and much loved by his wife and child.
His hair – after so many hours spent hanging over boiling cauldrons and splattering pans of oil – lies lank and greasy upon his back, held in place by a cheap band he discovered under a book. Though he washes it daily, too many years of neglect have made it impossible for him to ever had hair that could be called lustrous. He does what he can and doesn’t worry about the rest.
His large, hooked nose goes beyond ‘strong’ and right into the realm of ‘hawkish’ to the point where it is considered ugly by many, though not the ones who count. The thin lips that usually settle into a tightly pressed line are all that conceal the crooked teeth which have been stained by nicotine and coffee; evidence of a childhood and adulthood spent in the servitude of these two addictions.
His features, over all, are not gentle ones. His cheekbones are sharply defined, his eyebrows thin slashes of black that bisect his face rather crudely. His face, on the whole, is long and thin, and the skin stretched over it is pallid and slightly sallow – though more because of his career choice than implications of disease or illness. But his eyes, oh his eyes...
Coal black and fathomless, they threaten to swallow whole any who makes the mistake of trying to search their bottomless depths. They pierce straight through their target to the very soul, tearing free every secret, every sin, as though he’s reading your mind. They pin you in your very footsteps, and until he releases you, you are his captive. The pupils are lost in the obsidian irises and they move from cold to warm so fluidly, so suddenly, you almost stumble when the change occurs.
When he moves, he’s like a jungle cat on the prowl. He stalks you competently, knowing that it will only be a matter of time before he has you and you will be helpless; unable to defend yourself. What patience he lacks while teaching he makes up for in this. Even now, as he moves around the room, one hand rubbing slow, firm but gentle circles on the child’s back, his patience is endless.
If his eyes could arrest you in your steps, his hands could have you melting within them, with only a single touch. They are slender and long, the fingers ending in such an elegant tapering that you are almost convinced they are on the wrong man. You would be, if it were not for the small scars and stains that decorate them; but those are the evidence of whom this man is and what he does.
There are nicks and cuts, long ago healed but still visible, all along his fingers and on the back of his hands. There are burn marks from cauldrons boiling over and stains from the various ingredients he uses to concoct his potions. They are dexterous fingers that can wield a knife with dangerous accuracy or clasp a glass of scotch like it’s a lifeline at the end of the day. But they can do more than that, as the woman in the other room could attest to, were she awake.
As the cries lessen, those very same fingers gently cradle the delicate body, cupping the still-soft head to protect it from harm. The hands move the babe from its position at his shoulder to his knees as he takes a seat in his wife’s rocking chair, and they search out the gas bubbles in the tight stomach, massaging gently, slowly, until it is released. They peel away the soiled diaper and cast it aside even as they free a new one, tucking it into place and securing it with practiced ease.
And then they are back, smoothing down the baby’s body, cool against the ever-warm skin. They dance across the limbs, encouraging small giggles of delight from the tiny person who feels no fear of this imposing, forbidding man. They trace the tiny, pert nose – blessedly inherited from the mother – and the man smirks, glad that his son will not share in his own fate.
They pause at lips fuller than his own and he blinks when the babe smiles. Love. That is what this small little body represents. Not his second chance at it; that had come when she had chosen him over another. But this child, this baby, is the culmination of all the love he has been capable of creating, love he had never known until he met her, and he will treasure this. It is clear in his eyes, in the way he moves the now clean child to the crook of his arm, hiding the mark of his ignorance and foolishness beneath the soft skiin and sweet scent of baby. Blurred as it is, he knows that it will never fully leave him and so he will always remember what could have been.
What cannot be seen in this moment is how these fathomless pools of hidden thoughts once tracked a heavily pregnant woman through the house. The way they searched out any and all obstacles she might have come upon so that he could clear the way for her before she even reached that point. You cannot see the way they would warm to an almost dark chocolate brown whenever he looked upon her face or how they would become so open and readable when she was gazing at him.
What cannot be seen is how these hands once cupped her distended belly, holding them flat against the taut skin as he caught each bump and kick of the child within. It cannot be seen how that child learned that this warmth, this comfort, was his father. And as he now guides the nipple of the bottle to the cherubic mouth, pressing it to the lips until they latch on, it is easy to imagine those long, graceful fingers kneading swollen feet and an aching back.
The child, resting quietly against his shoulder once more, is lulled into sleep by the deep, velvety cadence of his father’s voice as he recites the ingredients to his nearly world-famous rich chocolate and whiskey cake; potions are no longer his only passion. As he dips into the detailed explanations of proper decorating etiquette and the uses of berry juice as food dye, the rumbling vibrations of his voice soothe the child who clings to his shirt front.
Standing at the window of the small but comfortable living room, he is swathed in the pale light filtering in, clad in his shirt, black trousers. and bare feet which are, oddly enough, just as elegant as his hands. The high arches are cushioned by the plush carpet underneath them and the finely boned toes are straight and long. The spider web of veins that run beneath his skin are a dark blue in contrast to the paleness of his flesh and the sight is perfection.
Days, months, years from now – whenever this child falls ill – this man will sit beside him, a cool cloth in hand to be pressed tenderly against a too-hot forehead. The dark, rich voice will carry through the fog of fever to soothe a mind tormented by nightmares, reminding the fitfully sleeping boy that he, his father, is the anchor. His voice, his touch. Not these shadowed dreams of a frightening world that doesn’t exist. There is no madman, no hatred; only them, this small family of three, and their love.
When he falls down while playing, this man, his father, will kiss away the pain with his thin lips and wipe clear the salty tear tracks with his graceful hands. And when his wife is settled down beside him, he will nibble gently at her ear with crooked teeth and his too-big nose will brush against her neck while it takes in her scent, memorizing it. Because when morning comes, this dream will ends.
When dawn arrives once more, Severus Snape will wake up alone in his cold, unloving house and he will remember these false memories. Each well-crafted detail of his loving wife, Lily, and his beautiful son, Harry, will become his only solace in a world of pain, fear, hate and regret. They will be memories of love that will never – could never – be.