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I drop my bag with a sigh onto the table and sit down wearily in the chair. The library is especially quiet today, which is why I decided to spend my time here. There's a match today, Ravenclaw vs. Slytherin, and James went with his friends to see it. Luckily, he was willing to give me quiet time today.

I pull out my Transfiguration book and my in-progress essay and flip through the book until I find our current chapter. I know I still need to find another book, but I just don't have the momentum right now, so I dig for my quill and ink and prepare to cram in a couple more inches before the boys come back to reek havoc on the castle.

The scratching of my quill on the parchment is a safe, comfortable sound, as familiar to me as the sounds of my home. I've been putting off this essay for a few days, spending more time with James than doing much of anything else, really.

I can't believe that I've reached a point in my life where I want to spend time with James Potter, where I look forward to seeing him, but I'm actually grateful to feel this way. While I know I haven't detested him for a while, at least not since the death of his uncle at the start of Sixth Year, when he seemed to realize the brevity and severity of life.

Truthfully, I'm a little surprised to remember that detail about his uncle, because I had not been on even speaking terms with him in the weeks prior to that. While he had pestered me by constantly asking me out during spring term of Fifth Year, my irritation came more from his general ne'er-do-well-but-always-get-amazing-grades attitude and his complete inability to recognize when magically sticking my hands together before Potions was going too far.

Oh, look, I haven't written anything on my essay.

James is doing strange things to my head lately. Or maybe it's the pregnancy.

Let's go with that.

I sigh and suck on the end of my quill briefly, contemplating my last sentence.

Cross-Species Transfiguration between humans and another species can be dangerous and so many precautions must be taken to avoid disaster.

I sound like a pamphlet someone would give out standing in front of St. Mungo's. I groan and scratch my last paragraph out.

Essay writing is shit.

Just when I'm about to go off in search of a second book on human transfiguration, someone takes the seat across from me. Surprised, I jump and knock into my ink, sending it splattering across my essay.

I sigh and look up.

I honestly can say I didn't expect to see him sitting here right now.

I frown.

"What do you want, Snape?"

He flinches as I say his last name, and I'm reminded of the first time he introduced his mum to me, when he stumbled over his last time in an attempt to detach himself from him.

I say again, softer, "Severus, what are you doing here?"

It's as though his spine is attached to a rigid pole and someone is pulling his nose back toward his forehead with their thumb. The look of distain on his face melts a little as I keep looking at him, and I even set my quill down.

He hasn't tried to talk to me all term.

He finally slouches and leans forward onto his elbows, engaging in conversation with me at last. Well, he damn well should. He's the one who came over here.

As he opens his mouth, I wonder if I'm about to be transported back in time, to the weeks before O.W.L.s when we'd study endlessly at a table not far from here, about three back tucked against a window, and where we would have the most intellectually stimulating conversations.

I know we're not. I will never forget the look at his face as he hissed that unforgiveable word to me, and I know we can never go back.

He's chosen his path. And I'd bet my excellent Transfiguration grade that this conversation is going to be about my chosen path.

"Lily, what are you doing?"

Instead of addressing what I know he intended his question to be, I decide to gesture widely at my homework spread before me. "I am writing an essay." I make sure to drip the snark right off of the words. I wave my wand to rid my parchment of the Rorschach test I'd accidentally covered it with.

He pauses, distracted by that action. His mouth is a thin line, the same shade of pale under the pressure as his face. A lock of hair falls across his face, but he ignores it as his eyes lock with mine.

"What are you doing with Potter?"

He spits the name as though it was a bad taste, and I frown again, tucking my hair behind my left ear. I cross my legs at the ankles and bring my crossed arms into my body. I feel like I'm trying to escape his displeasure, and I try to fight that feeling.

He is not my friend anymore. He does not deserve a say in my life anymore.

His hatred is not my hatred.

Thinking this, I again remember that dreadful word coming out of his mouth in the same way he just said James' name, and I purse my lips.

In his eyes, James is as bad as Muggleborns. In his eyes, James is the same tormentor from First Year.

In his eyes, I am falling from grace.

It is about goddamn time.

"I am happy with James," I say simply, trying not to antagonize him, although I know that I'll probably explode at some point during this conversation.

"How could you ever be?!" he demands, clenching his fists like a child and setting them forcefully on the table. "He tormented you for years! He never left you alone! You're just an object to him, not a person!"

We once had this same conversation, although I recall I was saying what Severus is now repeating to me. It was after a particularly impressive Quidditch match and I had had the gall, according to Severus, to congratulate James on his playing. Severus was concerned that this encounter meant I had fallen under James' spell and was about to be swept away by him "like all those other girls."

His possessiveness of me was actually downright creepy, now that I think about it.

"Maybe I once was, but James has grown tremendously," I tell Severus, looking him dead in the eye. "He still likes his jokes and he does need to reassure himself that I'm here, that I'm safe and comfortable and happy, but these are signs of his maturity, of his ability to care about me. James loves me, Severus, and he's finally grown up enough to know what that means."

I hadn't realized those things myself until I spoke just now, but they're true. In fact, saying them, they're some of what I love most about him.

Wow.

I love James Potter.

Wait until he finds out.

"LOVES?!" Severus bellows. "HE DOESN'T LOVE YOU! HE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW YOU!"

His face is red now and I can practically see steam rising from his ears. Or maybe I'm imagining the steam that's floating before my eyes.

"Oh, and you do," I retort scathingly. "You understand everything about me perfectly. In fact, you nailed it on the head when you called me a MUDBLOOD!"

I know I'm screaming now, and I know we're going to get kicked out of here by that damn librarian any moment now, but I can't help it. He ruined one of the best friendships of my life with that word in only a moment, and I despise him for that.

"I'M SORRY!"

"SORRY WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH!"

We stand there, panting, glaring at each other, until his knees seem to give out and he slides into a chair.

I look down at him, hating myself for exploding and hating him for being able to effect me.

"What happened to the Lily Evans who despised James Potter?" he begs. I hate to see him begging; I hate to see him like this at all, but there's nothing I can do to change that. I sit back down and look across the table at him, really look at him.

As I stare into his dark eyes, I know we have separated for good, and this will be the last we speak. He chose his path a beautiful afternoon in June almost two years ago, and I have now finally chosen mine. This moment of understanding makes me calm again, calmer than I have been in weeks.

"She got drunk and slept with him," I reply simply, saying it as seriously as I can even though I do mean it a little jokingly. "And now she's marrying him and having a child with him."

"Do you love him?" he whispers, not looking at me. I shrug. I hardly want to tell him I'm falling for Potter.

My shrug seems to tell him everything, though, and the despair on his face only seems to worsen.

He nods silently and stands up. I don't know what I expect him to say, but I am deeply shocked by his silence as he turns around.

I can't let it end like this. Two years ago, I wanted nothing more than to let it end on a terrible note, but I'm heading into a completely new chapter of my life. I need this one to end with a clean page.

"Goodbye, Sev," I whisper as he walks away quickly.

He doesn't slow or turn, but I hear his reply.

"Goodbye, Lily."

I slide out of my chair and lean against the table, pulling my knees up as close as I can. I don't expect this, but the tears fall freely, where no one can see me.

It's here, two hours later, James finds me. The tears are all gone, but I'm still incredibly sad over the events that took place here. And more than a little shocked that Madam Pince let it all happen.

"Lils?"

"James?"

"I don't know how to tell you this, but you look a little like someone send a flock of birds after you."

I chuckle a little.

His eyes widen in panic.

But he doesn't know he has nothing to fear. I try to reassure him with a gentle squeeze of his hand, but that only makes his eyes wider.

"James, it's okay."

"What happened?" he whispers, sitting down next to me.

"Severus found me," I say. "It didn't go well."

As if to prove to me how different he is now, all he says to me is a quiet apology and then he hugs me tight as I bury my face into his neck.

It is in this moment that I no longer doubt.

"I love you, James Potter."

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