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Severus Snape had never been so miserable in his life, and that was really saying something. He had a month’s worth of detentions, Slytherin had lost to Gryffindor at Quidditch, and Lily hated him. He supposed he should have been content with her just not talking to him. Now she despised him. He had got greedy.

He made his way slowly and dispiritedly back to the Slytherin common room, walking through the odd ghost, because he wasn’t paying attention. When he had last seen her in the hospital wing, she had been talking to James Potter. And she’d been laughing. Both might be due to the fact that she had concussion, he reflected, but this thought did not really cheer him up.

As he clambered into the dungeon common-room through the portrait hole, he found Bellatrix Black waiting for him, with a painfully sweet smile on her face. This made her look slightly deranged, and it would have been enough to make Snape cautious, if he’d felt in the mood to be cautious.

“Severus – ,” she began breathlessly. “Thank you for not telling McGonagall-,”

“I did tell McGonagall,” he interrupted, his voice cold, “she didn’t believe me.”    

Bella half-heartedly raised her hand to punch him on the arm in her usual way, but Severus grabbed her fist and squeezed it, driving her nails into her palm. She gave a yelp of pain.

“I don’t like it when you do that,” he said slowly, emphasising every syllable.

The manic glint in Bella’s eyes flared, and then died just as quickly. She had obviously decided that she couldn’t afford to be angry with him. She forced herself to smile, though her eyes were still watering with pain. “I’m sorry,” she said shortly.

He threw her hand back at her with obvious disgust and she clutched at it, staring up at him resentfully.

“I wanted to tell McGonagall that it was me,” she began, in a dignified voice that still shook with suppressed anger.  

“Of course you did,” he said sarcastically, “and what can have deflected you from that inviting prospect?”

“My family have been in Slytherin for generations,” she hissed. “The name of Black is feared and respected wherever it is heard, and it is feared and respected because it has never been tarnished with disgrace. We safeguard our reputations.”

Snape raised his eyebrows. “Fascinating. And what does all this feudal arrogance have to do with me?”  

“In nine centuries, no member of the Black family has ever been expelled from Hogwarts,” she went on, and he could hear the desperation in her voice now, though it still prickled with anger. “I’d be the first – I’m already in trouble for putting that Mudblood Macdonald in her place!”

This was a euphemism for putting the Full Body Bind curse on her and leaving her in a broom cupboard. It had taken the teachers six hours to unearth her. Unfortunately, Bella hadn’t had the presence of mind to modify her memory. Macdonald was able to identify her attacker as soon as she was unfrozen. This kind of dim-witted viciousness was Bella’s trademark.

“Slughorn put me in detention. I had to miss the Quidditch match.”

“Oh, life is hard, isn’t it?” he replied, with ferocious sarcasm.

“But you, Severus,” Bellatrix rounded on him, her voice trembling imploringly, (Snape felt slightly sick), “they’d never expel you, you’re so clever, and your parents don’t care, one of them’s a Muggle, so…” she broke off. Snape was smiling at her unpleasantly.

“So that’s it, is it?”

He stepped a little closer, grabbed the front of her robes and said, quietly but clearly:

“I don’t care if you get expelled, Bella. I wouldn’t care if you fell into a pit of Thestrals and they tore your skin off, inch by slimy inch. I’ll let you keep your pitiful unblemished record this time, but you have to do something for me. And if you fail, not only will I prove to McGonagall that you hit Evans over the head with a cauldron, I’ll tell Rodolphus and Narcissa where you spent the Easter holidays, and how many times you had to – ,”

“Alright,” Bellatrix said quickly. Her lip was curling with fury, but she managed to wrench it into a smile. “What do you want?”

Snape’s smile broadened. “All I want,” he said, again speaking in barely more than a whisper, but commanding an amplifying silence from Bellatrix, “is for you to help me poison your least-favourite cousin.”

Bellatrix’s features assumed a girlish, hopeful expression that didn’t suit them. “Th – that’s all?” she stammered.

“That’s all for now,” he assured her darkly. “I’ll let you know if I can think of any other uses for you.”

“Severus…” she said breathlessly. “You’ve always been my favourite half-blood…”  

Snape’s lip curled in distaste. “You’ve always been my favourite in-bred moron. Oh no, second favourite. Your sister’s prettier. And Lucius Malfoy knows it.”

He left her fuming silently, her hands balled up into fists, thinking that this kind of thing was what he had been made for. The thought didn’t precisely cheer him up; it just gave him a calm, dark, bitter sense of satisfaction. It was no substitute for happiness, but it would have to do.   

Blood, Tears and Moonlight.

The night was unnervingly quiet outside the hospital wing. There wasn’t a breath of wind, and the strong silver moonlight pouring in through the windows brushed everything with a cold, metallic gleam.

Lily couldn’t sleep. Her nervous energy had turned into nervous exhaustion, but she couldn’t shut her eyes. Her head was still throbbing, and she felt hollow and raw, as though her insides had been scooped out with a spoon.    

Too restless to sit still, Lily had thrown aside her copy of Witch Weekly: (‘Don’t Let the Magic Die: Fifty Spells That will Save your Relationship’), and walked barefoot into Madam Pomfrey’s office.

“Poppy,” she said tentatively, gripping the doorframe, “have you got any work for me to do? I’m really bored.”

Madam Pomfrey clucked her tongue at this perverse desire to get out of bed, checked her pulse, and told her meaningfully that boredom was a symptom of many horrific magical ailments, including Dragon Pox and Stygmalian Fever.

“I’ve never heard of that one,” Lily said, her eyes glittering with interest (though puffy with exhaustion), “what are the other symptoms?”

“Death is the major symptom,” Madam Pomfrey replied irritably. “The patient grows twenty feet of nostril hair and then suffocates.”  

Lily raised her eyebrows. “I don’t want that one.”

“Quite.”

“But I am really bored.”

Madam Pomfrey sighed. She gave Lily a sharp, appraising look, and said, “perhaps it would be better if I kept an eye on you. You can help me stew these mandrakes.”

She picked up a tray from her desk, on which she had lined up an assortment of what looked like mottled green babies with leaves sprouting out of the tops of their heads, and carried it to the table beside Lily’s bed.

“Now, I dare say you already know this, but you need to slice them thinly,” said Madam Pomfrey, with her usual impatience (for all the world as though Lily’s prior knowledge of mandrake preparation was a deliberate attempt at being troublesome).

Lily looked down at the mandrake roots. Mercifully, they were not moving.
She wasn’t squeamish – she had disembowelled horned toads in Professor Slughorn’s classes with consummate skill – but her nerves were in shreds tonight, and she couldn’t feel too enthusiastic about slicing up little green babies.

“They’re plants!” Madam Pomfrey said in exasperation. “Do you want to be a Healer when you leave school or not? Call me when you’re done. Do not get out of bed.”

She offered Lily a knife, and Lily took it. She was used to Madam Pomfrey’s brusque manner by now; she even sympathised with it. After all, how many stupid, spiteful things did the inhabitants of this castle do to one another, which Madam Pomfrey then had to fix? Nevertheless, if Lily had never met Professor Dumbledore, she would have suspected that politeness was an exclusively muggle concept that had never made its way into the wizarding world.

She sat on her bed, pulled the tray onto her lap and summoned all her self-control. She’d had a bad enough day; the last thing she needed now was to disappoint herself by being soppy.

Grasping the nearest mandrake by its tuft of leaves, she lowered the knife, but the mandrake suddenly stirred; one of its stumpy legs twitched; her hand gave an involuntary jerk, she missed the mandrake and the point of the knife sank instead into her left forearm.         

Lily blinked. A dark trickle of blood was snaking down her arm, dripping off her elbow and spattering the mandrakes with crimson drops. Her first, foolish thought was that she hoped this wouldn’t make the mandrakes useless for potions.

She looked around, teetering on the edge of any number of emotions – annoyance, fear, embarrassment – but too shocked to fully commit herself to either. There was no pain, only heat. She felt (and looked) as though her arm had been dipped in warm treacle.

The sound of humming was proceeding from Madam Pomfrey’s office (even this sounded exasperated, and Lily felt a flicker of fondness in the midst of her confusion). She called out: “Poppy? I’ve… sort of cut myself.”   

Madam Pomfrey’s voice came from her office. “Well, Physician, heal thyself. I’m very busy.”

“Yes,” Lily replied. “It’s just…”

“Don’t forget to clean the wound first,” Madam Pomfrey interrupted, her voice crisp.

Conviction was a precondition of healing magic, like the Unforgivable Curses: you had to mean it; you had to care that your patient got better; you had to find something to like about them. This required great emotional discipline and sometimes a lot of creative thinking (Madam Pomfrey had once admitted that when she was called upon to heal Avery’s broken arm, she had been at a loss for about ten minutes, until she remembered that she had once seen Avery bringing his mother flowers in hospital).   

Lily slid the mandrake tray off her lap and sat on the side of her bed, with her wand poised over the cut on her arm, trying to think of something that she liked about herself.  

She was smart (well… not smart enough to perform a simple Sealing Charm, evidently); she was loyal to her friends (and then they turned on her and hit her over the head with cauldrons); she was brave (though not brave enough to tell Severus Snape she wouldn’t put up with his tormenting of muggle-borns five years earlier).

She was stupid, stupid, stupid.

After about ten minutes of this indecision, she taped the wound up with pieces of Spellotape, hoping that they would act like stitches. It could heal the muggle way. She was dimly annoyed with herself. She seemed to be perceiving her feelings through a fog, and couldn’t recognise their shapes until they loomed closer.

Yes, she was definitely annoyed with herself. (The cut was starting to prickle and sting now – the heat had splintered into hundreds of little stabbing pains). How ridiculous, to be too proud to tell Madam Pomfrey that she couldn’t perform the Sealing Charm!

And then something else, something agitating and oppressive, loomed out of the fog at her. It took her a while to recognise it, partly because it was the very last thing in the world she wanted to feel. It was fear. She was frightened of losing her magic.     

From the age of eleven, she had been told – sometimes quite politely, and by people she would have considered friends – that she couldn’t expect her magic to be as strong as other people’s, because it was bound to be diluted by her muggle parentage. Even Meg Valance, when Lily complained about how easy James Potter and Sirius Black seemed to find everything, had said:

“Well, it’s in their blood. You don’t have that advantage. Whatever you achieve is down to pure bloody-mindedness.”    

Now she was proving them all right. She shut her eyes and thought about losing her powers, and how horribly understanding everybody would be about it, how they would say it was only to be expected, how they would console her by saying that at least she wasn’t leaving any relatives behind in the magical world, since she had to leave it.   

It was not until she had finished with this dark fantasy that she realised Sympathetic Magic was still open in her lap, and she had been bleeding all over it. Page 208, containing instructions on how to mend broken bones, was now unreadable.

For some reason, the sight of her beloved book covered in blood stirred something in Lily, and she started to cry. She pressed her hands over her mouth, so that Madam Pomfrey wouldn’t hear her, and then surrendered to the sobs that were shaking her body.

Page 208 – already black and crinkled with her blood – became even more illegible as her tears dripped onto it. Realising this, Lily tried to compose herself. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and then stopped suddenly, as a watery glimmer caught her eye. The moonlight was reflecting off the dark, soggy mass that was page 208, but it was being reflected in odd ways, almost in patterns.

Lily looked more closely. Where the moonlight caught the page, there was what looked like glowing blue-silver handwriting, overlaying the blood-soaked text underneath. Holding her breath, as though afraid that the writing would be frightened away if she startled it, she lifted the book to her eyes to read it:   

Blood spilled in pity,
Tears shed with love,
Will unlock this ditty,
To the half moon above.


Beneath the little poem, she read the words:

This Charm is in place to ensure that no Dark wizard ever receives the benefit of my magical tuition. Forgive its primitive nature, gentle reader; the most primitive magic is often the most potent. No Dark wizard could ever unlock this page, because no Dark wizard understands the power of self-sacrifice. Therefore, I am at liberty to impart my knowledge down the generations only to those who are worthy of receiving it.

Think of this Chapter, therefore, as a bonus lecture, for all those students of magical healing who have really been paying attention. Here is the reward of all your tender concentration. The Charm that I am going to teach you falls into the category of spells which might be called 'timely reminders'(not, alas, a recognized category in healing magic, but hopefully destined to become one). Since all healers are required to empathize with their patients' sufferings, they are at an extraordinarily high risk of forgetting who they are. The following spell ensures that you will always have a place that is purely your own to return to in times of trouble. It works by opening a window into a landscape which symbolizes your true nature, against which there can be no protest or pretensions. I call this place a 'timely reminder' because it would be ridiculous to call it a 'retreat'. The furniture of ones own mind is seldom comfortable. But it is necessary for every healer to sit in it once in a while.

The incantation to summon this vision is Esperio. If you care to turn the page, gentle reader, you will see your own window - opened by your blood and tears - displaying the landscape of your mind. Physician, know thyself, and use that knowledge well.
   

Impatiently, Lily turned the page. On the black, crumpled paper was a little square picture, violently bright, which showed a wide expanse of glittering sea, calm as a lagoon, under a blazing sun. There were palm trees in the foreground, their glossy leaves being swept this way and that by the wind. As Lily held the page up to her eyes, the better to see it, she felt a breeze ruffling her hair, and smelled the salt water. Then slowly, tentatively, as though it was feeling its way, the sunlight began to shine through the little square picture, into the dark hospital wing. As it touched her face (she could feel the warmth on her skin), the sunlight became stronger, as though suddenly confident that it had gone the right way. Exhilaration rippled through her, like the breeze rippling the shining satin sea.

Through the window, swimming in the sea, or reclining on the beach, were all the people she had ever loved in her life. The cat that had died when she was seven was curled up next to Petunia, who was lying back on a beach-towel, snoring. And there was Dumbledore (Lily was laughing now, with joy and astonishment) throwing a beach ball to Professor McGonagall. Andromeda Black was beating Mary Macdonald at wizard’s chess, while Meg Valance hovered over them, barking out contradictory instructions in her confident voice.

Severus Snape was standing a little way off, in the shallow water, glowering at the frivolity. She caught his eye and was treated to one of his strange, grudging, exasperated smiles. She was sure that if she got near enough, too, there would be sarcastic comments about Dumbledore’s swimming trunks or Andromeda Black’s haughtiness. She didn’t need to hear them. It was enough to know that they were there.

The sunlight streaming onto her face had dried her tears. She would never have imagined there could be such a place. She laid the open book on to her chest and shut her eyes.

She was asleep almost immediately. Only two thoughts pressed in on her as she drifted off; one was that she liked herself again; the other was that she now knew herself to be in love with Severus Snape. But Lily’s well-organised mind promptly identified this last thought as a problem that couldn’t be addressed at the moment, and ushered it out of the way so that she could get some sleep.
Part Two of Spilt Milk. I was going to call it 'Story With a Name That Has Nothing to do With the Story', but that wouldn't fit. Stay tuned for the next part, where you get to meet Regulus Black, who I imagine (for some reason) as a pouting, long-haired Keanu Reeves!
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:iconswordhawthorn:
swordhawthorn Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2011
Such a beautiful chapter! I always felt, in the books, JK did a great sketch of Lily (and Ginny for that matter) but they were never as fleshed out as the boys. But your Lily is such a full character and so real to me.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2011
:hug: Yay! Thank you! JK Rowling's Lily really fascinated me, because we knew so little about her, and yet her action in sacrificing herself for Harry was one of the most vital things in the story. None of it could have happened without her love and sacrifice, so I really wanted to find out more about her character (and, pre-Pottermore, the only way to do that seemed to be to write fanfiction!)

But I'm not sure the Lily in this story is as impetuous and confident as JK Rowling's. I find it hard to write confident people! ;)
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Anouk-Lisole Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2011
Oh! Oh! Nearly in tears for the remarkable beauty of Blood, Tears and Moonlight!

I've not been able to get back to reading this for too long! So glad to be doing so now. Yes, exceptionally lovely. <3
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2011
Yay! :hug: Hello again, my dear! Thank you so much for reading and commenting - I hope you're not put off by the titanic length of this story! :faint: It is long, but it's full of love for the characters (I even fell in love with Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy whilst writing this! ;))

So glad you liked the 'Blood, Tears and Moonlight' section. That spell - and its ability to create symbolic landscapes from the contents of the characters' heads - crops up quite a lot in this story.

Thanks again,

Lucy.
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:iconanouk-lisole:
Anouk-Lisole Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2011
Love that - symbolic landscapes.
Like I'd be put off by length - we all devoured those seven massive tomes which are our inspiration, did we not? (Well, okay, like three massive tomes and four of reasonable size).
I really enjoy Lucius and Narcissa! If nothing else, they are seriously sexy. (I don't know why I find haughty arrogance and disdain sexy; there may be something wrong with me, but that's another conversation). And Narcissa, for me, is wholely redeemed by her love for her son. Lucius is really the nasty piece of work. The way he emotionally abuses Draco pisses me off to no end (are you seeing a theme here?), so I only really like him as a bachelor. :P
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2011
:nod: I definitely agree about Lucius and Narcissa! They're so glamorous and sexy with all that haughty disdain! Have you ever seen Makani's Fan Art 100? [link] Those illustrations really helped me fall in love with the Malfoy family! :heart:
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:iconwearesevenstudios:
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2010  Professional Artisan Crafter
Regulus Black played by Keanu Reeves! It shall from now on always be this way in my head.

Despite poor Snape being more miserable than ever ( :cry: ), I was glad to see him begin to take the upper hand in his relationship with Bellatrix. And poor Lily too, sorta, since she has every reason to believe that she loves someone who thinks she's dirt. :(
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2010
:giggle: I always imagine Regulus like Ted in 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' (+ Bogus Journey too, of course!) It's all that floppy hair! :)

I'm glad you liked seeing Sev taking the upper hand with Bella. Severus being sarcastic with someone not quite as clever as he is (i.e. pretty much everyone!) is my absolute favourite thing to write!
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:iconcreativelittle1:
CreativeLittle1 Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2010
Beautiful...I love that she loves him.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2010
:hug: Thank you! Well, who wouldn't love him? :aww:
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:iconmelissalianne:
MelissaLianne Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2008
oooh, nice work =]
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