The Love that Could Never Be

[Oneshot] It's been years since Lily and Severus have spoken. What happens when he shows up rather unexpectedly at Lily and James' wedding? Who truly has Lily's heart?

Excerpt: Lily saw him turn slightly and knew he was waiting for the next moment. Though she knew that Severus, nay, her Severus, tugged at something deep within her heart, she couldn't bring herself to say it aloud. "I … I have to go."

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1. The Beginning of the End

It was still relatively early in the morning when Lily woke to find James’ side of the bed empty. She stretched lightly, yawned and struggled to keep her eyes open against the dim lighting. Sitting on her bedside table was a tall glass of milk and what appeared to be a curious gooey white and orange paste on a plate.

“I tried to cook,” said a voice sheepishly from the doorway.

Lily looked towards the source of the voice and saw the red-faced man leaning awkwardly against the door-frame  one hand scratching the back of his head. She grinned and cheekily replied, “What’d you cook, milk powder and pollen?”

An affronted look scrunched up James’ face and his eyes narrowed under his glasses. He folded his arms across his chest defensively. “For your information, it’s scrambled eggs and I'm sure it tastes very, very nice.”

“ I'm sure it does,” said Lily, barely stifling her giggles. “I couldn't possibly allow you to stay hungry whilst I eat this delicious meal. How about you take the first bite?” She smiled sweetly and batted her eyelashes.

James sniffed and glared half-heartedly at Lily. “Don’t blame me if I eat it all up because it’s so deliciously scrumptious.” He unfolded his arms and walked towards the bedside table, all the while muttering, “Trying to do something nice on our special day and all you can do is mock me.”

Lily bared her teeth in an exaggerated smile. “I love youuuuuu.”

The man felt his cheeks grow a little hot; he still hadn't gotten used to be the fact that the Lily Evans loved him. Smiling begrudgingly, he grabbed the fork and lumped some of the scrambled eggs into his mouth. He chewed thoughtfully for a few seconds before he paled considerably.

Lily became genuinely concerned for his safety and sat straight up in bed. “James? Are you all right? ” She watched as his face turned an unsightly puce and her fingers closed around her wand, ready to act if he showed any signs of a struggle. Her voice, however, still had a honeyed quality as she asked, “Does it taste as delicious as you boasted it to be?”

James forcefully swallowed the mouthful and gagged slightly. He appreciated the concerned quality to her voice but was less than impressed with her quip. “It … could be tastier … if it weren't raw.”

Lily giggled and pulled the embarrassed James down onto the bed, on top of her. “I know something else that’s definitely tastier,” she purred.

* * * * *

Later that day, Lily sat at her vanity. She looked out the window and was met with the perfect weather, the kind of day that rarely appears without a lot of wishing. Cerulean blue skies dotted with fluffy white clouds, with just a hint of a sea-breeze coming in from the West.

Lily’s mother, an adept artisan, was fussy about, doing Lily’s hair and make-up. Whilst she prodded and pinned and brushed and sprayed, she kept up a light chit chat, overcompensating for Lily’s lack of words. Proud of being a Muggle-born and indeed, the only witch in the extended family that they knew of, Lily had wanted to keep her parentage and family ties strong on her special day.

Mrs. Evans stuck a final bobby pin into the elegant knot at the top of Lily’s head and stood back, admiring her work. “How does that look, honey?”

Lily swivelled around and glanced at herself in the mirror. She uttered a small gasp of surprise to which Mrs. Evans chuckled; Lily could hardly recognise herself. Her copper-coloured hair was drawn up, with wispy tendrils framing her slender face. The make-up had been kept minimal on the request of James, who called any form of cosmetics “dark magic”. Still, she was transformed. A young, graceful woman sat in the place that was once Lily Evans.

She held back tears as she clasped her mother’s hands and whispered, “Oh mum, thank you.”

Mrs. Evans smiled back and blinked back tears herself. She gave Lily’s hands a gentle squeeze. “You look so beautiful. I know every mother dreams of this moment but you look more beautiful than you could ever be in my wildest imagination.”

“Oh mum,” cried Lily, throwing her arms around her mother. She relished in the warmth of her mother’s body. It was a familiar, comforting touch. Lily welcomed a touch of familiarity on this exciting but foreboding day, a day that would change the course of her life forever.

A cough from the doorway broke apart the two women. James, looking especially dapper in his white tuxedo and red tie, held a piece of parchment in his hands. “Sorry to intrude, Mrs. Evans, but this just came from Petunia … There’s no reason to go at all,” he added quickly, when he saw her go to leave.

“No, it’s all right. Either she comes or she doesn't  Either way, I’ll know whenever she shows up … or doesn't ” Mrs. Evans sighed heavily. “I’ll go check on the platters.” She gave her daughter’s hand one last squeeze and then she bustled out of the room.

James walked over to Lily and handed the letter over.

Lily,

I received your invitation but regrettably, am unable to attend. Vernon has a very important business meeting and I'm sure you can understand that he needs my support.

I wish you well on your happy day.

Your sister,

Petunia

Lily folded up the letter and placed it on the desk. She looked up to see James staring uncertainly at her. “What’d it say?”

Lily forced her face into a smile. “She’s too busy to come but it’s all right.”

“Li - ”

“No, it’s really all right. I didn't expect her to come anyway.” She turned away.

Strong arms crept around her waist as she felt James’ chin rest on her shoulder. “She’s horrible company anyway.”

Lily let out a little laugh. “You’re horrible.”

He kissed her on the neck. “Everyone else is here so just try and forget about her.”

She sighed. “Yeah, everyone else is here …”

But not everyone was.

* * * * *

She hadn't expected him to show up. When she had brought up the topic of sending him an invitation, James had at first hotly disagreed. However, due to the insistence of his bride-to-be, he had reluctantly agreed to send him an invitation. He hadn't replied after all this time so she had assumed he wasn't coming.

But there he was, skulking in the background, hidden behind all the guests. Lily had first spotted him as she was to repeat her vows. Her breath had momentarily caught in her throat when she saw him staring intently at her. She didn't know how long he had been there or when he had showed up at all.

She had quickly composed herself and said her vows. When she looked back, he was gone.

But now, after the ceremony, as the party-goers were dancing merrily and sipping pink champagne, she saw him walking rather stiffly towards her. He looked uncomfortable and out of place in his crinkled blue shirt and black dress pants, his suit jacket draped precariously over his arm.

He stopped about a metre from Lily and stood for a few moments, looking at everything and anyone except for Lily. Still not looking at her, he said stiffly, “I believe congratulations are in order to you and Potter.”

 “His name is James,” Lily corrected, “and thank you. I didn't expect you to show up.”

He shuffled his feet. “I didn't either.”

An awkward silence ensued between the two, punctuated by the joyous cheers from dancers and jazz music played by the band. Lily was uncertain as to what to do. “Well, if that’s all you've got to say, I'm going to go an - ”

His head snapped up suddenly. “Would you like to dance?”

Lily bit her lip and looked around for James but couldn't find him. “All right,” she said, eventually.

Severus set his jacket on a chair and together they walked onto the dance-floor. He pulled her gently to himself and felt her head rest on his shoulder. His hands found each other behind her back and felt her hands behind his.

His hair was longer than she remembered. Well duh, she reminded herself, you haven’t seen him in years. It brushed against her cheek as they swayed slowly to the music, oblivious to the raucousness around them.

Lily sighed softly and mumbled into his shoulder, “I miss you, Sev.”

His breath tickled her ear, sending wanton tingles and shivers down her spine. “You know how I feel about you,” he whispered.

Lily raised her head off his shoulder and stared into the black eyes she had known for over a decade.  “Do I? Do I really?”

Severus swallowed thickly, trying to keep his hands steady. A bead of sweat trickled down his forehead into his left brow. “Lilypad …”

Lily visibly stiffened. “Don’t,” she said harshly, inhaling sharply. She stepped away from his embrace, her fists clenched at her sides. “You lost the ability to call me that years ago.”

A pained look crossed the wounded boy’s eyes. “How many times do I have to say I'm sorry? I didn't mean for it to happen. It’s been years!”

“You, of all people, should know what damage simple words can do.”

* * * * *

The brook nearly bubbled and frothed freely. A young redhead played by the shore, kicking away stray pebbles. Once in a while, she would tilt her head up and look around, listening for signs of activity.

Hours passed and daylight almost disappeared. Suddenly, the girl heard a scuffle behind her. Quickly turning around, she found a dishevelled and sullen boy walking towards her. His feet were bare and his clothes unkempt and soiled.

A smile appeared on the girl’s face. “Sev! You came! I was so worried. I haven’t seen you in days!” She ran towards the boy but as she got closer, she took in the dead expression in his eyes.

She touched his arm gingerly. “Sev?” she said, with uncertainty. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?”

The boy raised his bloodshot eyes to meet the concerned ones. “She’s gone,” he finally whispered.

Dread filled her. “No, Sev, it’s okay, you've got me,” she reassured him. “I’ll always be here for you.” She embraced him and held him tight. She felt the boy’s legs buckle and before she knew it, they had both fallen into a heap on the ground. She readjusted herself and cradled the boy’s head in her arms.

The boy mumbled quietly. “No, no, you don’t understand. There was a fight, just like any other night. They yelled and then she went … to the bathroom … I just … just walked in and there she was … blood … everywhere … ”

Her insides froze. “Sev … Oh my god …” She felt like breaking down herself but knew she had to be strong. Strong for her best friend. “ I'm here. I'm not leaving you.”

Minutes passed before the boy buried his face into her shoulder and for the first time in front of Lily, broke down and sobbed.

* * * * *

“What’s going on?” interrupted a voice behind Lily.

She turned to find James staring at the other man with unrivalled contempt. “James, I … Well, Severus decided to turn up.”

“I see he did. Not that his presence is especially welcome, since his invitation was more courtesy and anything else,” James jeered.

Anger flushed the pale face of the taunted boy. “Potter, this is a personal matter betwee - ”

“Nothing’s personal any more  Snivelly,” smirked James, snaking an arm around the waist of his wife, bringing her close to his body. “She holds no secrets from me and I none from her.”

Severus made a jerking motion in which he seemed to contain a desire to punch the other man. Lily stepped in between the two men and held out her arms. “Sev, I think you should just leave now.” Her eyes pleaded with him, asking him silently to not make a scene.

Severus turned, grabbed his jacket and without a backward glance, disapparated.

* * * * *

Spring turned into Summer and Summer melded into Autumn. The once lush leaves on magnificent trees turned orange and brown, dying, withering. The ground was littered with remnants of leaves, that crunched spectacularly when stepped upon.

He was down by the brook that particular morning, the same one he grew up near. He’d been there the whole morning and afternoon. He sat on a protruding rock and watched the sunlight reflect off the surface of the sparkling water.

This was home, a place that held so many memories, both good and bad. This was a place that could both help him remember yet help him forget. After all, it had given him the greatest joy but also the strongest heartbreak he’d ever known and would know. He had vowed at a young age that he would never leave Spinner’s End and he intended to keep that promise.

Mesmerized by the dancing light, he was unaware of an approaching figure. Only their shadow looming in front of him alerted him to their presence. He stood up and turned around … to see her.

Lily looked at the man staring at her and suddenly questioned whether she should have come or not. She took in his cropped pants, white singlet and bare feet. She also saw that his hair had grown even longer. She smiled gingerly. 

He continued staring. She looked different. A good different, but still, different. Her glossy red hair was rather dishevelled as it whipped around her face, propelled by a breeze. Her simple, yellow sun-dress fluttered lightly. A timid expression was etched across her face as she approached him.

He hadn't seen her since the wedding. “What are you doing here?”

Startled by the hostile tone, Lily stopped. Frowning, she reflexively snapped back, “Just walking. Is that a crime?”

Severus stared at the defiant redhead. His eyes traced the narrowed green eyes, the curve of her pointed jawline and the flowing, copper-coloured hair. His expression softened. “No, it’s not. You’re free to walk wherever you want.”

Lily’s bold visage wavered as she took a few more steps towards him. Then, without warning, she ran and lunged at him. Startled, he managed to catch her in his arms and wrapped himself securely around her.

“Sev, I miss you,” Lily mumbled into his shoulder. “I miss us.”

He ran his hands through her long hair and planted a soft kiss on her cheek. “I miss us too.”

There they stood in an embrace. It must've looked like a strange sight to passers-by.

“Hey Lil,” he whispered. “Wanna dance?”

She looked up. “But there’s no music.”

“Well, no there isn't but now there is. Bum da bum bum bum,” he hummed, grinning at the amused look on Lily’s face.

“What song is that?” she laughed.

“Any song you want,” he replied, grabbing her hands.

They danced just like they used to when they were children. Severus plodded along with his two left feet whilst Lily trod lightly on her toes. It was awkward. It was messy. It was unconventional but it was them. Lily Evans and Severus Snape, the best of friends.

Severus twirled her around twice and then pulled her close, wrapping his arm around the small of her back. The closeness of their faces meant that he could see every freckle, every eyelash, every fear, every dream. He felt the intense heat radiating off her lithe form and was sure that she felt himself exude the very same.

He wanted to kiss her, wanted to sweep her off her feet and make her forget everything except for him. To hell with Potter, Lily was his, always was and always will be.

Lily saw unspoken question in his eyes. “ I'm a married woman, Sev,” she whispered. Her breath almost halted when he gingerly brushed a stray hair from her face. She stared into his ebony eyes and saw something far worse than disappointment or melancholy. It was a deepest expression of anguish.

Then he said two words with the utmost sadness, a throbbing hurt that threatened to penetrate her heart.

“I know.”

There they stood, embraced, his arm laced around her back, each person’s eyes searching the other’s. Severus broke away abruptly, taking a few steps backward. “You should go,” he said hoarsely, his curtain of sleek black hair shielding his face.

“Sev, I …” Lily started, taking a step forward.

“Just go.”

“No, you need to know how I feel,” cried Lily. “I .. I … ”

He looked up at these words, waiting for her next words. Hesitation and fear mixed with a pinch of guilt assaulted her senses and though she knew that Severus, nay, her Severus, tugged at something deep within her heart … she couldn't bring herself to say it out loud.  

"I … I have to go."

A sneer crept onto his face. “Yeah, you do. Go run on home back to Potter. You always liked him better, didn't you? You didn't care when he tormented me, did you? Like him, you always hated me, right? I was just a boy you pitied. Poor, ugly Snivellus, Snivelly pants, a man that no one could love.”

His voice had risen to a shout. “GO ON THEN! RUN BACK TO YOUR PRINC - ”

She slapped him across the face. Hard. His head whipped to the side.

He stumbled, holding his cheek. He reeled from the shock of the slap, anger and frustration dissipating instantly. He saw the slight flicker of hurt on Lily’s face and immediately regretted his outburst. “Lil, I … didn't mean it.”

Her eyes were hard and unfeeling. “Just like back in fifth year, right?”

He took a step forward. “Don’t,” she said, harshly. “Just don’t.” Turning, she took off at a run, ignoring the hot tears spilling from her eyes and trailing down her cheeks.

“No, Lilypad, wait … I … ” he cried after her, starting after her and grabbing her arm.

She turned around and forcefully swung his hand off her arm. “Just leave me alone!” she screamed. “I don’t ever want to see you again.”

She gave him one last cold glare and then, bunching her dress in one hand, she ran. Her face might have been the picture of indifference but both Lily and Severus knew better.

 “I … I love you,” he whispered after her but it was only met by nothingness.

He watched her go, feeling a dead weight in his chest, as though he had no heart at all. He stared after her figure as she retreated into the distance, trailing the silhouette. It turned from a blob into a dot and finally into a speck that disappeared over the horizon.

Severus Snape crumpled into a heap on the ground, buried his head in his hands and wept.

 

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