Snape followed her every move with his eyes as she made her way to his table, moved a chair and sat down opposite him without saying a word. Finally, after a couple of seconds of silence, she looked straight into his eyes and said, “Tell me about Lily.”
It astonished him. He was ready for many things, but not a request to tell about Lily. That woman had made him lose his reign over himself for the second time that evening.
Snape was not used to a state of being unable to find words, so he gathered all his strength to insult her. What was she thinking about? As Severus had feared, he could not work out a fitting insult. She had not done anything wrong.
Finally, he put on his usual sneer and said, “Why do you think that I am willing to tell you anything about her? Can you not see, that I came here to drink my bottle in complete solitude? I have no intention to spend this night talking with a girl, who is unable to tame her curiosity.” Severus had said the words slowly and coldly, putting in as much venom as he could. He believed, that it could enough to scare away the woman, but he was wrong.
“You are mistaken,” she said. “I am able to control my curiosity and I did well for an hour, but I do not want to continue. I saw you staring at me with a blank look. You were completely submerged into memories when looking at me. Men, who are interested in women, do not look at them like you did. The only explanation I could find was “Lily”, who I remind you so much of. I am right, aren’t I?”
Snape did not answer. She was right and he did not want to admit it. All possible insults had suddenly left his mind, and silence was just long enough to confirm her suspicion.
“You see. I felt that you have sad memories connected with her, so I think you should talk with someone about that.” A smile on her face told him that she was very confident about her words.
“Oh, you think that you are so clever, because you figured that all out. Why, do you think, that I will tell you about her?” he snapped.
“Because I am the one who offers that,” she laughed.
“And what makes you think that I need the offer? I can assure you, that I will not talk about her and especially not with a self-centred know-it-all!”
“Don’t be a fool! You want to talk about her. You’re just not willing to admit it, not even to yourself. You are scared of talking!” A tricky smile crossed her face as she said these last words.
“I am not scared!” Snape told. He was incredibly angry. Who did she think she was? The foolish girl did not realise what she asked of him.
“Don’t lie to yourself!” she spat. “I detect a flicker in your eyes that tells me you want to talk, but you are scared of remembering painful memories. It is easier to bear, once you have talked about them.”
“Why are you so self-assured? You don’t have the slightest idea of what you are talking about.” Snape was in fury. He considered leaving the pub even though his bottle was only half empty.
“I have studied psychology,” she laughed confidently.
“That is a study of Muggles!” Severus could not wrap his mind around the concept of her studying at a Muggle university. She was definitely a witch. She wore witch robes after all.
“That doesn’t mean that witches are not allowed to study it,” she said.
“But why?” Snape was confused. She was strange.
“To annoy people like you, by understanding their deepest thoughts and reminding them of their fears,” she sneered.
“Then your studies have been useless. You do not know anything!” Snape sneered; however, she just laughed.
“You can’t solve your problems by denying them. If you think that becoming a bitter and irritated man who is good only at frightening others is an achievement, then you are terribly wrong. You can’t live on your own and choke with anger. Drinking down your disappointment in the world is not the way out.”
“Leave me alone,” he snapped venomously. “I do not wish to tell you anything and never will.”
A long and uncomfortable silence stretched between them. She looked at Severus expecting him to say something, but he looked at his bottle and ignored her. He could not understand why she would like to hear him out, but it did not take long to understand. She wanted to tell something about herself. She was the one who needed a conversation thus she was trying to start it. Snape wanted to ignore it. He did not care about her problems; he had his own problems which he could not discuss with anyone. It tortured him; however, there was nothing what he could do. He could not talk about important issues with a stranger and he did not want to open up his wounds by discussing Lily. However, he looked at her worried face and sad eyes and his heart warmed slightly towards her. He could offer her an opportunity to talk if she wanted to.
“Why are you here alone, drinking and talking to strangers? This is not a safe way of living,” Snape started.
“Why should I tell you?” she raised an eyebrow. “You don’t answer my questions.”
“You are the one who started the conversation,” he stated.
“Let me keep my secrets, if you intend to keep yours.” She put on a spiteful smirk.
“I am fine with it,” Snape snapped. “My curiosity will not kill me, like yours will,” he said, pretending that he was not interested at all.
“You are curious! Admit it!” Her eyes started to sparkle and a chuckle escaped her lips.
“I asked just to be polite!” Snape told rather rudely.
“You don’t look like someone who is striving to be polite. You don’t care what others think and you get pleasure from hurting others, so don’t lie to me,” she said slowly, filling each word with venom. “We can make it simple. You ask a question and then I ask a question.”
“I’m not interested,” Snape said coldly.
“Start and you will be,” she smirked.
The only logical explanation was the large dose of alcohol in his blood, but he took her offer.
“What pain are you drinking away?”
“The death of my parents. They died not knowing that I love them,” she tried to say unemotionally, but Severus heard her voice tremble.
“How comes they did not know?” Snape asked.
“It’s my turn to ask a question,” she said.
She had driven him into a corner. He wanted to know, but he did not want to tell her anything. Although what could he lose by telling her? He had learned to live with the pain long ago. His wounds were torn apart by Harry anyway.
“Then ask,” he said through gritted teeth.
“Do you love her?”
“Yes, she died a long time ago, but I still love her and you are like a ghost of her. You can’t imagine how it feels,” he told.
“Probably,” she admitted. “It’s your turn now.”
“You know the question.”
“My parents were Muggles. They did not understand magic and the whole Wizarding World. They did not approve my magical education. I had to study both magic and Muggle studies. They wanted me to finish school and get a proper education, so I studied hard and passed exams in Muggle School, too. After that my parents did not want me to continue magical education. They knew that I could control my powers, so they found any other studies useless. They persuaded me to go to university. I could not obey them, so I studied psychology, but I got fed up with it. I knew that I had potential in the Wizarding World so I ran away from my parents. I was in different countries before I settled own here. I took up studies and became a healer. I was so angry that I did not go back to my parents even once and now I found out that they are dead.
“They did not know what I became. I think that they would like to know that I became a healer, because my dad was a doctor. They will never know, because they are dead and I did not even know about their death. I was not at the funeral, because no one knew how to contact me. I feel worse than ever.
“Now I’m completely alone in this world. I was not close with my parents, but I knew that I could always turn to them in case of emergency and they would support me. Now I have no one left.”
“You are telling more than I want to know,” Snape told her imprudently.
“I’m sorry!” she told bittely.
Snape thought that he should support her somehow and comfort, but he did not know how. He had never had a need to be there for someone so he never learned how to do that.
“I’m sure they knew,” was the only think he managed to say and he knew that is sounded very vague. The woman seemed disappointed. Most probably she had expected him to say something encouraging. She looked down at her nails and thought. Snape did not know what to expect. Would she start to cry, shout or just walk away? Neither happened. She resumed the conversation.
“So it’s my turn now,” she stated. “Was Lily your wife?”
“No. She married my greatest enemy.”
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“I do not care about you being sorry! Nothing will bring her back and I do not want to have those memories either. She died fifteen years ago, but I am still seeing her in all red-headed women. Do you think that it is easy to live that way? You do not have a clue about the things that you want me to talk about.”
“I have experienced great pain and ruined relationships as well. You are not the only one who is hurt here,” she retorted.
Snape did not answer. He did not know how to talk with her. She was not affected by his insults so he could not scare her away, but he was afraid of getting close to people so he did not want to start a friendship with her. He was confused.
“I don’t understand you. You are drinking away you pain. I offer you a chance to talk, you don’t want to. You look lonely. I am lonely as well. I come to you even though I know that you see that other woman that you love in me, I ignore your insults. I’m hurt, I’m crushed. You could have me so easily tonight, but you don’t make any moves. What do you want then?” she asked trying to understand him.
Snape could not answer. She was too straightforward. He would not mind to have her that night, but he could not do that. He saw Lily in her and Lily was not a woman for a one night stand, but Snape was not a man for something more. She would not want anything more from him anyway. It was just not logical.
“I see that I’m just wasting my time. I though that we could help each other, but I’ll better not spoil your evening more than I already have. If you do not want to talk then be it.” She got up from her seat and went to the door. Severus could only see her green robes and unbelievably beautiful hair waving in the air behind her. Severus did not manage to say anything before she was gone.
His thoughts were swirling around the woman he had met, but he tried to stop them, because she was gone. He had been rude enough to scare her away. He even felt a bit of remorse for doing it. He had liked her after all, but it was impossible that she could be attracted to him. It had only been her curiosity that had made her come to him and an overdose of alcohol. At least Snape assured himself of that. It was easier to scare her away immediately, than to start liking her. There was something more about her that had left Severus wondering. She understood him like no one else did.
When he caught himself thinking these thoughts, he was intrigued: Did he really fancy this woman or was it just because of Lily, of whom she reminded him so much?
Severus finished his Firewhiskey and left the pub. When he stepped out into the dark, it was after midnight and very cold. He took a breath of chilled night’s air and Disapparated back to Hogsmeade. On his way back to the castle, he noticed that he was not thinking of Potter at all. Now he wondered about the woman he had met. He knew that he would never see her again and if he did, then she would pretend not to know him. Anyhow, the thoughts of her were much more pleasant then those he had had previously.