Pairing/Characters: Severus Snape/Lily Potter
Spoilers: Through the Deathly Hallows
Beta: This one is unbetad, so sorry in advance for any mistakes.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything
Synopsis: After being attacked by Voldemort, a recently widowed and severely injured Lily Potter is brought to Hogwarts with her one year old son. In an attempt to help both her, and his young potions master heal, Dumbledore puts Severus Snape personally in charge of her care.
Chapter 1: Pain
November 6, 1981 9:13am
Severus’s hands are trembling so badly he can hardly hold the cup of cold, completely untouched tea Professor Dumbledore gave him twenty minutes ago. He sets it down on a small table, shoving his hands unceremoniously into the pockets of his robes in an attempt to still them. The healers have banned him from Lily’s curtain surrounded area of the hospital wing for the time being, but Severus can’t bring himself to move any farther from her than a few feet. He’s been pacing restlessly since they kicked him out.
“As old as these floors are,” Dumbledore addresses him confidently, “I doubt anyone would appreciate you walking a trench into them.”
“It’s been over twenty minutes!” There’s an audible protest of springs as Severus all but throws himself down onto one of the many unoccupied hospital beds. “How long can it possibly take to find out if she can see or not?”
“The healers know what they are doing,” the bearded old wizard promises him soothingly. “It will take as long as it takes.”
He doesn’t have to wait much longer. A slightly portly wizard with graying hair and spectacles comes out from behind the privacy curtain. “We’re all finished for now,” he says, his tone giving no indication of Lily’s condition, one way or the other. He turns to face Severus. “She’s asking for you, Professor Snape.”
Severus is behind the curtain in half of a heartbeat, but stops just inside the enclosure, suddenly inexplicably shy. Lily is sitting up on the bed; her face turned away from him while she speaks softly with Madam Pomfrey. The Head Nurse at Hogwarts fusses over her charge for a few moments, before leaving a glass of pumpkin juice on the small bedside table and taking her leave. Severus clears his throat.
“Sev?” She turns to face him as she says his name and Severus is graced with the sight of her brilliant green eyes for the first time in months. They are bloodshot, wet with tears that do not fall, and a few thin, pink lines spider web out from the corner of her left one. The faint burn scars trail over her temple and disappear beneath the ginger hair. Lily flashes him a bright, watery smile and Severus cannot for the life of him believe he’s ever seen anything more breathtakingly, heart achingly beautiful.
“You need a shave,” she says with a light chuckle.
It feels as if a million pound weight has suddenly been lifted off his shoulders. He sits down heavily in the wooden chair at her side and rubs a palm over the dark stubble covering his chin. “I suppose I do,” he agrees, returning her smile with a small one of his own. “It’s been a long week.”
Lily’s smile disappears. Her beautiful, bloodshot eyes are suddenly miles away. “Yes, it has.”
December 3, 1981 5:34pm
A dark haired, seventh year girl passes Severus while he is on his way into the hospital wing. The child in her arms is waving frantically back towards his mother. The privacy drapes are open for once and Lily’s returning wave is in full view. “Bye-Bye!” He yells enthusiastically in that high pitched squeal all small children seem to have. “Bye-Bye!”
“Good-bye Harry,” Lily calls back to her son. “Enjoy your supper. I love you.” She blows him a kiss just before the girl takes him from the room.
Lily is still wearing a bright smile as Severus approaches her. She’s dressed in comfortable looking muggle clothes and resting with her back against a mound of pillows. A small, brightly colored blanket covers her legs and feet. “Do you know Rose?” She asks him, gesturing towards the still open door. “Is she in any of your classes?”
“I’m afraid not,” he answers, placing a wooden tray over her hips, “but I’ve only been teaching since last September. She must not have scored high enough on her potions O.W.L. to continue after her fifth year.”
“I’ll have to ask her what classes she is taking,” Lily muses, watching as Snape slides a small table next to her bed. “She’s been a huge help with Harry this week, playing with him in the afternoons to give poor Mrs. Pepperman a well deserved break.”
Severus makes a noncommittal nod. Despite having hired the nanny himself, he doesn’t care much for the old witch, as she has a distinctly irritating tendency to try and mother everyone. “Are you hungry?” He asks, purposefully changing the subject.
She clutches her stomach dramatically. “Starving, what’s on the menu today?”
Severus waves his wand, and two covered plates appear on their respective surfaces. It has become a nightly ritual for them. Every evening, instead of joining the rest of the staff in the great hall, Severus has been having dinner with Lily. At first, she was too weak to even hold a spoon properly, leading to the completely awkward and humiliating experience of having to hand feed her himself. However, after a month of therapy and practice, Severus doesn’t even need to cut her meat for her.
Tonight’s meal is baked chicken with vegetables and rice. They eat and make light conversation. She asks about his classes, gently chiding him for being too severe with his students. He asks about her therapy and scowls when she tries to downplay how painful the last few sessions have been. She tells him about Harry and the new words he’s suddenly able to speak. Severus gives her a tight, uncomfortable smile and changes the subject again. After a while they settle into silence as they eat.
It isn’t until after they’ve nearly finished a pudding of surprisingly rich chocolate cake that Lily speaks again. “Severus,” she says tentatively. He looks up from the last bits of his food abruptly, startled to hear her use his given name. It’s been years since she’s addressed him as anything other than, ‘Sev.’
She frowns a little, placing her fork to the side of her plate before continuing. The serious look in her eyes makes Severus’s heart plummet. “Why do you hate my son?”
Bile churns in his stomach at her words. “I don’t know what you mean,” he lies emphatically.
“You refuse to look at him. You change the subject when I bring him up…” She gestures helplessly with her hands, obviously frustrated.
Severus gropes frantically for something intelligent to say. “I don’t have a particular affinity for children.”
“You’re a teacher, Sev!”
“My point exactly, Madam.”
There’s a pause in their argument as Lily scowls indignantly at him. “Look, Sev,” she continues determinately. “I know you and James never really got along…”
He opens his mouth to interrupt her, but she cuts him off. “That’s a topic for another day. What I want to know now, is why you can’t put that aside and show some compassion for a little boy who has lost his father and his home; a boy who is at present, primarily being taken care of by strangers.”
“I’ve vowed to protect him with my life!” Snape is on the offensive now. “Or have you forgotten that?”
“Of course I haven’t,” she denies, “but you only did that because I asked you to.”
“And that is suddenly wrong?” Anger is boiling up in Severus now, too much for him to contain within his usually steely facade. He’s put his life in her hands to do with as she pleases and yet it is still not enough. There’s a loud scrape and a jangle of silverware as he pushes the little table away. His hands are shaking, his breath coming in little angry pants. He needs to get away from here, to cool down his temper before saying something he will truly regret…again.
“Sev, please,” she pleads gently, just as he’s about to stand. And suddenly her soft hand is on his, and the warmth running through Severus’s body has nothing to do with his temper. He stops instantly in his tracks, afraid to move lest she let go.
“What do you want from me?” He’ll give her anything, anything he has to give.
“Do you care for me, Sev? Are you my friend?” Those are two very different questions and each one makes his heart bleed.
“Yes,” he answers hoarsely.
“Then you have to care for Harry too.” Her tone is gentle, but finite. “You have to stop compartmentalizing us in your mind. He’s not just my son, or James’s son, Sev. I don’t just love him. He’s a part of me. You can’t have one without the other.”
And there it is, her ultimatum. Severus’s life is once again perched precariously on a fulcrum. Suddenly, he doesn’t feel like the stern, unemotional teacher he’s become. With a few perfectly chosen words Lily has turned him back into a teenager. He’s awkward and embarrassed and ready to lash out to protect his wounded pride. But where has that gotten him before? If Severus could go back in time, take back those horrible words he’d unthinkingly yelled at Lily in an arrogant rage, his life could have gone so much differently. Maybe she’d have loved him instead of Potter. Maybe she wouldn’t be lying in this bed right now, broken and begging him to love the son of his tormentor. How much is his pride worth when compared to Lily? There is no contest.
He looks up into her beautiful face, desperate for her to believe him. “I’ll try.”
She gives him a soft smile. “Thank you.”
Please reveiew. Both praise and constructive critisism are welcome