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Severus had never liked the Transfiguration classroom. Along one side of the room was a wall of French windows that reached from ceiling to floor, and McGonagall never thought to draw the curtains. She liked to be able to see her students. Late afternoon sunlight was pouring into the room, bouncing off the white-washed walls and lacerating Snape’s eyes. He hated sunlight: it made everything plain and harsh and conspicuous. Ugliness was twice as ugly in the sunlight, and Severus found it hard enough to see beauty in people at the best of times.

He liked subtleties, and anonymity, and comfort – he liked rich, multi-toned, velvet darkness, that bristled with possibilities, but never gave them up. He liked a level of light that made him seem attractively mysterious, rather than hook-nosed and greasy.

During these lessons, he tended to sit in the seats farthest from the windows, squirming in the stark, glaring daylight, and feeling hot, uncomfortable and, worst of all, visible.

He sat at the front today, hunched over his work, and wishing himself a million miles away from the laughter and chatter of the classroom. He supposed he would be, tonight, but that didn’t offer much comfort.

He wondered when he would be able to see Lily again. And he wondered what would happen to her, at the mercy of the slobbering, grinning, Quidditch-playing creep – but, then, he reminded himself, she wants to be at his mercy, doesn’t she?

Anyway, he won’t be around for long.

He works fast, though.

Maybe it would be better to have a plan, to get Potter away from Lily, before he went to join the Dark Lord tonight. Some kind of debilitating injury would be good – something that would knock that lecherous gleam out of his eyes – or, better still, just knock out his eyes.  

Professor McGonagall came in, swept several paper airplanes out of the air, with a flick of her wand, and stood at the front of the classroom, surveying them with a look of weary exasperation. Severus knew the feeling.

“Now, today,” she said crisply, “I had thought to set you all a challenge worthy of your comparatively advanced years, but since Potter has been kind enough to lower my expectations of you, perhaps we should go over elementary Transfiguration again.”

The class giggled, and Potter spread his hands innocently. He didn’t seem to be in his usual attention-seeking mood, though. Once upon a time, he would have exclaimed that he could have breezed through the most advanced of McGonagall’s lessons with both hands tied behind his back, but today he just lowered his eyes and muttered an apology.

The class seemed quite sorry to be deprived of a show. They were still gazing at Potter expectantly when McGonagall started talking.

“Well, then,” she said. “Today, we will be reversing animal Transfigurations. Now, undoing Transfiguration is a great deal more complicated than performing it. In order to unpick somebody else’s spell, you need to understand how they performed it in the first place, and also what, if anything, can be done about it. Now, I will be handing out a random sample of tea-cups that my Fifth-year class transfigured from Door-mice yesterday. Some have been transfigured with greater, or lesser, skill.”

She wasn’t joking. Some of the tea-cups were still furry, and a few of them had tails.

“Your task will be to turn these tea-cups back into door-mice,” she continued. “And you may find the poorly-transfigured ones present more of a challenge that the perfect tea-cups. Sloppy magic is always more difficult to undo, which is why the finest magical minds of their generation have traditionally worked in schools. Miss Evans, will you hand these out, please?”

Severus felt a jolt in his stomach, as Lily walked up to the front of the class, and took the box of tea-cups from Professor McGonagall. The sunlight did wonderful things to some people, of course. Lily was rendered luminous by it. Her hair was pulled back into a pony-tail, but it was still falling over her shoulders in soft, jewel-bright folds. Her cheeks were a tender pink, and Severus thought, with a rush of bitterness, about her appearance under the Rosura potion. He couldn’t believe it had only been a week ago. He couldn’t believe he’d been stupid enough to be honest with her.  

He wondered if this would be the last time he’d see her, at least for a while. Lily would be the only reason for coming back to Hogwarts, and she was spending more and more of her time with Potter, presumably unaware that he was looking at her the way a starving man would look at a large, juicy steak - wide-eyed and drooling with greed and gratitude.

He was giving her that look right now, as she walked between the rows of desks, handing out tea-cups. When she walked past him, he turned around in his seat to watch her, until Sirius Black gave a huge, fake cough that sounded like: “Staring!” and kicked him under the table.

Potter turned back to face the front of the classroom, his face red, and his gaze unfocused. Snape visualized smashing every tea-cup in the room onto his slimy, over-sized head.  

When Lily handed Severus his tea-cup, she didn’t look at him. He hadn’t really expected her to, but it was still depressing.

He’d got a perfectly transfigured cup. There was at least one person who could manage a simple Transfiguration in the Fifth Year. He was betting it wasn’t Narcissa or Regulus. It was white china, with blue willow-patterns, and there was a little yellow post-it note stuck to the side. Snape pulled it off, only to get it stuck to his fingers. It must have been bewitched with a strong Adhesive Charm.

While trying to shake it off, a wonderful possibility occurred to him.   

Maybe she was trying to talk to him. Maybe she had stuck this note to his tea-cup, because she was too shy to talk to him openly. His heart hammering, Severus unfolded the sticky paper, but there was nothing on it.

Of course not. She was clever. She wouldn’t write him a message that just anyone could read. She would have concealed it somehow – maybe used invisible ink, or bewitched the message so that it would only be revealed when somebody spoke a password.

He pulled out his wand, and tapped the paper, casting a non-verbal Revelio spell. Nothing happened. Stubbornly, he fished a Revealer out of his pencil case, and rubbed it across the paper. Still nothing.

Passwords, he thought, trying desperately to fight off the thickening gloom that was descending on him. He couldn’t think properly when he got depressed.

Well, it wouldn’t be ‘mudblood’, that was for sure. What was important to her? Her doe Patronus? Her books on Healing Magic? That stupid magical ethics club?

Roger Davies? a malicious little voice in his head suggested. James Potter?

And there it was again – that dark cloud in his peripheral vision; the sense that something dark and fanged and horrible, something straight out of Rosier’s melodramatic stories, was getting ready to pounce on him.

Don’t be such a pessimist, he told himself; she’s trying to talk to you. She’ll forgive you, and then you won’t have to kidnap Caladrius and take him to the Dark Lord. You won’t have to kill Potter – well, not unless he gets on your nerves again.

No, Lily wouldn’t like that. Potter could keep his over-sized head, if it would make her happy. He could keep his gold, his fan-club, his top-of-the-range broomstick, and his Quidditch Cup. What did it matter, if Lily was in his side again?  

But there was nothing on the paper.

The sun went behind a cloud and, at the same moment, disappointment hit Severus like a fist in the chest.

It was just a blank sticker. Somebody must have fixed it to their tea-cup when they transfigured it, so that they could remember which one was theirs.

There was a kind of rushing in his ears, as though he were underwater. The sounds of the classroom – the chatter and laughter, the insults and the badly-performed spells – were suddenly muffled, while humiliation and self-disgust rushed to his head and made him dizzy.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, he thought. Why would she want to talk to you? She spends all her time hanging out with your worst enemy – who, incidentally, is top of every class, and a Quidditch hero. And you’re just a greasy-haired misfit who nobody respects. She’s never going to want you.

Down on the sloping lawn, by the edge of the Forbidden Forest, Snape could see Narcissa and Regulus in their Care of Magical Creatures Class. Narcissa had her eyes glued to her pocket mirror, occasionally letting it catch the sunlight, so that she could reflect it into the eyes of Jen Morgan or some other half-blood (muggle-borns were not even worth tormenting, as far as she was concerned. It would make them feel important).

Regulus was twirling his wand between his fingers and muttering to himself – undoubtedly wizard’s proverbs. The rest of the class had cleared a wide circle around him.  

And, inside the Transfiguration classroom, Avery was picking his teeth with his wand, and Bella, the most worrying one of all, had succeeded in Transfiguring her tea-cup into a mouse, and was holding it by the tail and twirling it round her head, her eyes wide with mad enjoyment.

And these were the people he was going to spend his life with. They looked as though they had escaped from an extremely up-market mental institution.

At just the wrong moment, Lily made them look much worse. She had been watching Bella’s antics with narrowed eyes and folded arms, until she couldn’t stand it any longer, and Summoned the mouse out of her hand, caught it, and hid it in the breast pocket of her school shirt.

Bella blinked several times, shook Rodolphus by the front of his shirt, demanding to know what he’d done with her mouse, and then got sent out by Professor McGonagall for creating a disruption.

“And what did you do with your tea-cup, Miss Black?”

“I transfigured it!” Bella shouted.

“Into what?” McGonagall asked pointedly. “Air?”

Of course he belonged with these people, Severus thought. He had just imagined that the most amazing girl in the school would be sending him secret letters. He was just as mad as they were – the only difference was, he knew it.   

After shooing Bellatrix out of the classroom with an expression of barely-controlled disgust, McGonagall turned to Severus, and peered at him dubiously, as though suspecting him of being an accomplice.  

“You look pale, Snape,” she said severely, as if he was doing it on purpose.

Severus felt sweaty and tense. He ran his hand through his hair, looked over at Lily, who was covertly lowering Bella’s mouse out of the window, and thought he might as well see her for the last time now, while he was less than lucid.

“I’m not feeling very well, Professor,” he said. “Can I be excused?”  

McGonagall peered at him again. For some reason, the sight of him always seemed to make her angry: she pursed her lips and flared her nostrils for a while, obviously expecting this intimidating treatment to make him lose his nerve and apologize, but when it didn’t, she said: “Very well, Snape. See me to pick up the homework when you are recovered.”

Bellatrix was leaning against the wall in the corridor when he got outside, examining her nails with a look of imperious fury. When McGonagall shut the door, she said: “She really doesn’t like you, does she?”

Snape shrugged. “’Course not. She loves Potter, doesn’t she? Haven’t you ever wondered what goes on in those detentions she puts him in?” He imitated McGonagall’s crispest, sternest voice: “Potter, you have been a very naughty boy.”

Bellatrix barked with laughter and slapped him, hard, across the face. Severus had been hoping she would do this. Pain was the one thing that could be guaranteed to wake him up and bring him back to his senses. He wished Bella had been there to slap him five minutes ago.

This was the world he belonged in – a world of sadistic maniacs and spoilt princesses who seemed to find him irresistible. He could never attract anyone sane – and certainly not someone sweet, happy, pure and tender. He’d better get used to it.  

“What’s wrong with you, anyway?” Bella demanded unceremoniously. “Are you sick? Did you transfigure your cup? Did you see who took my mouse?”

Bella was aggressively curious. She treated anything she didn’t know about as a conspiracy against her. She didn’t think people should be allowed to have secrets from her: after all, she’d been given everything else her heart desired, why not other people’s confidences? Who were they to keep secrets from a daughter of the House of Black?

She questioned people fiercely, and it was difficult to answer her, because she never listened to you when you did. This made for extremely repetitive conversations. Sometimes, when Severus felt himself drifting off with boredom, he would make a joke, just so that Bella would slap him, and bring him back down to earth again.  

You needed angelic patience to deal with Bella. Rodolphus didn’t have that, but he had tenacious stupidity, which was similar in its effects. He was too slow-witted to resent her cruelty, and too insensitive to feel any pain when she bullied him. He was perfect for her: a pure-blood punching bag.  

“Potter took your mouse,” Snape replied smoothly. “And I hope you’re not planning on letting him get away with it.”

“Of course not!” Bella shouted (everything she said was a shout, because she was genetically incapable of lowering her voice – it was a disability that all the members of the House of Black suffered from, except Narcissa).

“If I were you,” Snape said confidentially, leaning close to her, “I’d use the Crotch-kicking Curse on him. It’s a modified version of the Cruciatus Curse. The incantation is Excrucio.” He gave her, for the first time in his life, a genuine smile. “I’m sure you’ll take to it. You’re a natural.”  

The Crotch-kicking Curse was not just a clever name. It generated the kind of pain that you felt when you were kicked in the crotch by a pair of heavy, steel-capped, hob-nailed boots. It made your whole world implode with pain. Let Potter try and seduce Lily after that! (or, for that matter, ride a broomstick). It was the most humbling experience a man could possibly suffer.

He might have unleashed a bit of a monster, telling Bella about it, though. Still, as long as Potter got hurt, Snape didn’t mind how many innocent casualties there were. He didn’t even mind being one of them, as long as Potter suffered.  

Say what you will about Evans Rosier, thought Lily, as she sat at the back of his classroom watching the impressive shadows he cast on the wall, he's a really good teacher.

He told stories about the Dark Arts, replete with ghoulish detail and breathless enthusiasm. He waved his hands around constantly – imitating the disemboweling motion of a European werewolf, or the distinctive, crouching gait of an Erkling. He didn’t just teach the lessons: he performed them. Every dark creature or curse that he mentioned was described in lurid detail, with a great deal of flourishing hand-gestures and dramatic cries.

And the spectacle of a bald man in wizard’s robes and a cowboy hat, permanently radiating blue cigar-smoke, and waving his hands around as though trying to fight off a swarm of invisible wasps, was enthralling.

There was not much class participation in his lessons, though. If somebody put their hand up to ask a question, they would be studiously ignored, until Rosier had finished his dramatic speech on vampire defence (which was always more heavily descriptive of the vampires than of the defence). And then, when they asked their question, Rosier would shudder to hear such dull voices, such dreary, academic questions in his class-room.

But he couldn't stop the torrent of enthusiasm that greeted him when he announced that the class would be learning to tackle Boggarts that afternoon:

“But Sir, my worst fear is a Boggart that’s immune to the Riddikulus Charm.”

“Sir, say I was afraid of the school closing…”

“You know, if you could really convince yourself that what you feared most in the world was a naked woman, then the Boggart would turn into…”

This last scheme was cooked up by Sirius Black and was therefore in danger of being skilfully carried out, but Rosier had the presence of mind to say:

“An excellent student like yourself, Mr Black, will be well aware, I’m sure, that a Boggart cannot be fooled by any amount of thinking. It will not pay attention to what is in your mind, but proceed straight to your heart. Only your deepest, darkest fears are of interest to it, and no wizard has yet succeeded in using his fears to his advantage.”

“Sounds like a challenge, to me,” Sirius muttered under his breath.

“Let me assure you that if your Boggart does, indeed, take the form of a naked woman, it does not bode well for your future relationships.”

There were copious sniggers from the class, and Sirius blushed. Still, he was not the kind to allow other people to enjoy themselves without joining in and, after a few minutes, he was laughing as hard as the rest of them.

Rosier led them into the adjoining classroom one by one to tackle the Boggart. Lily soothed Meg while they waited.

"But I'm not afraid of anything," she moaned. "And I really wanted to tackle the Boggart! It's not fair!"

Lily wondered what her own Boggart would look like. Anxious as she had been about Severus leaving the class in Transfiguration, looking pale and distracted, she couldn’t help but be glad that he wasn’t there to see her face before she tackled the Boggart. She didn’t want him to know how apprehensive she was. And, if he saw her coming out of the Boggart room, he would know immediately what she’d seen. He always knew what was bothering her – perhaps because very few things really did, so he didn’t have much to choose from.

“I reckon Potter will see you refusing to go out with him,” Meg murmured, as they watched James Potter, looking pale and sweaty, being summoned into the Boggart room.

“Then he’s a very brave boy,” Lily observed, “because he’s had to face his worst fear about eight times so far.”

“He won’t give up, you know,” Meg said, grinning.

“One of us will have to,” Lily said grimly. “And it’s not going to be me.”

“Mary said he gave you chocolates last night.”

Lily shrugged. “Do you want them? I’m not so keen on milk chocolate. I like my chocolate dark and bitter.”

“Like you like your men,” Meg added sagely.

Lily covered her sudden agitation by a fit of coughing. “Meg!” she whispered, when she could talk again.

“What?” Meg asked, spreading her hands innocently. “I won’t tell anyone. I can keep a secret, if it’s for someone I care about.”

“There’s nothing to tell,” Lily insisted. “Really.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” her friend confessed. “I know I said nobody was good enough for you, but I didn’t expect you to give up entirely, and start dating a Death Eater.”

“You think he’s a Death Eater?” Lily asked, in a small voice.

“Well, let’s see,” said Meg, smiling kindly. “He invents weird dark curses, he calls muggle-borns ‘mudbloods’, he used the Cruciatus Curse on Malfoy, and he hangs around with Avery and Bellatrix Black. I’d say it was pretty much a foregone conclusion, yeah.”

Lily didn’t reply. There were shouts proceeding from the Boggart room. She wondered what Potter was facing in there.

“Prongs is better,” Meg murmured, nudging her out of her reverie. “He’s the best one of the Marauders, anyway.”

Lily gave a dismissive wave of her hand. “That’s like saying War is the best Horseman of the Apocalypse – because in war, at least theoretically, one side gets to win. It’s still not a good recommendation.”

Meg barked with laughter and then, checking that they couldn’t be overheard (which was most unlike her), she said: “Which Horsemen would the other Marauders be?”

“Well, Lupin would be famine,” Lily said sadly. “Have you seen the way his robes are hanging off him these days?”

“I wish his robes were hanging off him a little bit more,” Meg muttered, and the two girls giggled.

“Pettigrew would be pestilence,” Meg resumed. “Just because he gives me the creeps. And he spreads poisonous rumours.”

“He’s just shy,” Lily chided, only half meaning it. There was something troubling about Pettigrew, that shyness couldn’t quite account for. He was spinelessly vicious; he had a cruelty that you never really noticed, because it only showed itself on the rare occasions when he had anyone at his mercy. “Anyway,” she continued, not trusting herself to defend Pettigrew to the hilt, “that leaves your boyfriend with Death, which seems a bit unfair.”

“No, that’s about right,” Meg conceded. “Death and war are similar, just like Potter and Sirius – you wouldn’t want to turn your back on either of them. But at least Potter will give you a fighting chance.”

“And Sirius wouldn’t?” Lily asked, in some surprise.

“Sirius just wants to win,” Meg said, almost proudly. “He doesn’t care how he does it. Potter isn’t exactly Florence Nightingale, but he’s got honour. He just needs a Florence Nightingale to teach him bout kindness.”

“Nice try, Megaera,” Lily said, using Meg’s full name, which she only ever did when she was being stern. “But I’m not going out with him. He knows that.”

“What he doesn’t know is when he’s beaten,” Meg added. “So watch out for him. He has a way of getting whatever he wants.”

“Well, he’s never had to deal with anyone as stubborn as me before,” Lily assured her. “Anyway, we’ve talked about this. He just wants to be friends now.”

“Yeah, right,” Meg said sarcastically. “And I suppose he told you he was giving up Quidditch and befriending all the Slytherins, too?”

Lily didn’t answer. She had been spending a lot of time with Potter recently. He was a welcome distraction from her own problems. He listened to her; he never ranted about people he hated, or terrified her with enthusiastic descriptions of Dark Magic. He made her laugh.

And there was something in his confidence that savoured of oblivion. You could lose yourself in it. Everything was so simple to him: Anyone who’d ever been kind to him merited unswerving loyalty, and anyone who’d ever insulted him merited eternal contempt. Slytherins were bad, and couldn’t be trusted, and everything would turn out alright, as long as you stuck by your friends and never thought you were beaten.

He couldn’t have presented a starker contrast to Severus. Except that he looked a little like Severus, when he took his glasses off, and when the rain pinned his untidy hair to his forehead. But he carried himself differently. There was that undeniable swagger that Severus detested so much – as though he was trying to be as stylish on the ground as he was on his broomstick.    

And he got angry at the same things as she did: he didn’t just shrug and say that the world was like that and you had to fit in. And he never snapped at her when things weren’t going right for him.

But her conscience was still plaguing her about it: he wasn’t interested in being her friend, and their tentative friendship was hurting Severus (though, she had to admit, that was possibly only because he despised anything that made Potter happy. She had no evidence that he cared for her. And he certainly didn’t seem to care what she thought of him, unless he was extremely misguided, because he’d used the Cruciatus Curse on Malfoy right in front of her).

When Rosier finally called her name, she was quite glad to be summoned away from her thoughts. She had no idea what she was going to find in the adjoining classroom. Perhaps the Boggart would become an Acromantula, or a swarm of spiders (could a Boggart turn into a swarm?) Or perhaps it would turn into Severus Snape and tell her she was a soppy, stupid mudblood. Well, she had faced that particular nightmare, and she’d come through it OK.

Or so she had thought, until she stepped into the Boggart-room.  

The curtains were closed in this classroom – which made the acrid cigar-smoke emanating from Rosier all the thicker. He never let them open the windows in his classes; he said the smoke created atmosphere. The desks and chairs had been cleared away, to create an open space down the middle of the room.

“In case anybody faints,” Rosier explained, following her gaze. “Only MacDonald and Avery so far – though there have been a great many screams, threats, bribes, and attempts to break the door down, so the day hasn’t completely disappointed me.”

Lily decided he wasn’t worth shouting at. She just raised her eyebrows and rolled up her sleeves. She could feel her lungs filling with smoke, but she wasn’t going to show weakness by coughing at him. “Could we get on with this, sir?”  

“Certainly, Miss Evans,” said Rosier – and then, because he couldn’t resist an opportunity for drama, he said: “Let us discover what lurks at the bottom of your heart!”  

He pointed his wand at a large, wooden chest on the far-side of the classroom – there was a click from somewhere inside, and the chest sprang out of it. And out of it climbed a black-robed woman, unfolding her sinuous limbs gracefully, and tossing back her dark red hair, because it had fallen over her eyes.

Lily gasped. It was her. An almost unrecognizable version, and yet it was difficult to pin down exactly what was different.    

The Boggart-Lily had a sneering smile and a withering stare, like a red-haired Bellatrix Black. The sleeves of her tight-fitting black robes were rolled back, and she was holding out her arm to her young self, baring the left forearm so that she could see the ugly black tattoo that stood out so starkly against her still-young, still-ivory skin. Lily had never seen the Dark Mark before – it looked rather like there were black veins showing through her skin, throbbing to the surface, and arranged in a horrible tangle, to form a rough imitation of a skull with a snake protruding from its mouth. It looked like poisoned, bruised, diseased flesh. It looked like evil rising from within, bubbling up from the well-spring of her heart.

But there were similarities, too, things she recognized. That was what made it so painful. The eyes were the same - just as sharp, and lively, but bitter and disillusioned. Jaded. There were lines on her face from raising her eyebrows, and smiling too much, which Lily had always been particularly prone to. And she was wearing the little ruby from the hourglass that contained Gryffindor’s House Points, the one that was currently tucked under Lily’s school-shirt, knocking against her pounding heart.    

The only sound that could be heard in the close, stifling classroom now was the scratching of Rosier’s quill as he enthusiastically took notes.

Until the Boggart spoke. And it had the same low, calm, serious voice – it just had a sardonic, bitter edge – as though everything was a joke – as though she was weary to her very bones, but still laughing, because there was simply nothing else to be done. Lily shuddered.

“Listen to me, child,” she purred. “You don’t want to make the same mistakes I did.”

“Fascinating,” said Rosier. “I must tell you, Miss Evans, that your fears display the same inventiveness as your intellect. Boggarts hardly ever speak – because fear is seldom articulate. Fears are vague, strangling, palpitating things, not calm and well-spoken and – dare I say it? – rather attractive.”

Even through her horror, Lily still looked up at him in annoyance. He couldn’t be allowed to say that kind of thing, could he? He was a teacher.

“Your fears must be highly developed, Miss Evans. Unusual, for a Gryffindor, I must say. Too often, the Boggart of a Gryffindor is some kind of stupid, fanged, salivating monster, as crudely-imagined as a child’s painting. The Boggart seems almost embarrassed to turn into it. They have no sensitivity. How short-sighted, to be scared of the monsters under your bed, when – as you illustrate so well – it is the monsters in your bed that you should be worrying about. You see, there’s just no point in bravery if you don’t feel any fear. There’s no merit in it for the victim, and no satisfaction in it for the aggressor. There is, I suppose, a kind of stark, savage beauty about creatures who feel no fear or pain – I could tell you stories, Miss Evans…”    

Lily raised her wand at the creature, without any clear idea of what she was going to do – more out of a fervent desire to make Rosier stop talking, but the teacher held up his hand.

“I think we should hear what it has to say, don’t you, Miss Evans?”

“Yes, sir,” Lily muttered resentfully. She knew he was going to make her sit through the entire performance. He wanted her to be as scared as possible – either because he really wanted to challenge her, or because he wanted to extract as much drama out of the situation as possible.

The beautiful red-head – because she was beautiful – but slightly dimmed, as though they were looking at her through dirty glass, gave Rosier a languorous smile. “Thank you, Professor Rosier. Like you, I love the sound of my own voice. She’ll be glad she’s heard me out, when she knows.”

Lily raised her eyebrows and lowered her wand slowly – she wasn’t going to let Rosier or the Boggart know that she was afraid.    

“You’ve already started turning into me, you know,” the Boggart-Lily purred. “It started when you tried to justify his behaviour.”

She raised her voice in a cruel imitation of Lily’s soft, pleading, sentimental tones. “He can’t help it,” she whined, “he’s had a hard life – he was bullied, he was never loved, he was lonely. So you start overlooking things – a ‘mudblood’ here, a Cruciatus Curse there. He can’t help it. He needs you. What good would it do to run away from him? He needs your love and your understanding.”

She leaned closer, lowering her voice to a whisper: “But what does he do with it, Lily? Everything he touches turns dark and twisted and bitter, even you. He bleeds you dry. He never stops taking things from you – your patience, your tenderness, your smiles – and he always wants more. He’s like a child: it’s never enough, because the world isn’t getting any better, he’s still angry, and your smiles are running out. He lashes out at you, whenever he feels powerless or frightened – and he hates himself for it. And he hates you for making him do it. He gets possessive and jealous: he thinks you’ll leave him just like everyone else does. And he starts to resent you, because you’re a mud-blood and you’ve ruined all his prospects and driven away all his friends. In the end, you make things worse for him. People are always more frightened when they have something to lose. You think kindness can change anything, don’t you? You think it can make a mark deeper than all the scars of cruelty and neglect combined, but you’re wrong, and you know it. The world is not a very nice place, and neither is his heart. Don’t trust him, Lily – he never had any innocence; you have more to lose than he does. I’m the ghost of Christmas yet to come, and you had better pay attention.”

“It’s March,” said Lily coldly, raising her wand. “And they wouldn’t let you join the Death Eaters. You’re a mudblood.”

There was a slight intake of breath from Rosier, who wasn’t used to hearing the word ‘mudblood’ from mudbloods, but Lily paid no attention to him.

“Riddikulus!” she said, her mouth curled with disgust.

The Boggart vanished into wisps of acrid-smelling smoke. Lily was sure it wouldn’t have smelled so bad if the creature hadn’t been so poisoned with bitterness.

Rosier was staring at her, a thoughtful smile playing around his thin lips. “Well done, Miss Evans. Most impressive. Might I enquire who she was talking about?”

“No, sir,” Lily said, as kindly as she could. She had to give him credit for the polite way he’d asked.

“Of course,” Rosier remarked, his smile broadening. “Clearly, you are afraid that this man will make you act against your conscience, force you to choose between your heart and your soul.”

“I’ve already chosen, sir,” Lily said cheerfully. “Can I please go now?”

“Very well,” Rosier said, scratching fervently on the parchment with his quill. “Full marks, Miss Evans. Most… illuminating. And, by the way, when they say at this school that you are a muggle, they’re quite mistaken. I know all about muggles and, let me assure you, you are not one of them.”

“Thank you, sir,” Lily said politely. “Did you grow up with muggles?”

“In a manner of speaking, Miss Evans. They certainly educated me.”

Lily had the distinct impression that, whatever he could possibly have to say, she didn't want to hear it, so she gave him the most civil smile she could muster, and left, the smell of the Boggart and the cigar smoke heavy and raw in her throat.
Another chapter about not very much! I guess this happens before The Corona, but it's still the day leading up to the kidnapping of Caladrius. I had my doubts about posting this, because I got bored of it very early on. There aren't many exotic descriptions of poisons or dresses that you can give in a classroom - or, anyway, I couldn't think of any! But I wanted to describe Lily's doubts about Severus (and my own, I guess), however unfair and downright cynical they might be! Anyway, will be back to dark nights and poisons next week!
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LuxminderO831 Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2012
I've always sort of loved Snape since I found out that he was in love with Lily. And I always hoped that in his afterlife he would get to have some of her. Your making me care about them with your writing.

You know, when I finished book six I couldn't decide what to think about Snape. Everyone was shocked and a lot of people said that he must have been evil all along, but I couldn't really believe that. I didn't know what to believe though. When I read the Prince's Tale, I couldn't say I had really expected it or anything but I wasn't exactly surprised either, you know? The whole chapter just sort fell into me without any emotion except wonder and happiness at his ability to love so completely and for so long.

Great stuff. Rosier is so creepy. It's gross to think that this man is teaching students and keeping pet muggles as well.
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2012
The whole chapter just sort fell into me without any emotion except wonder and happiness at his ability to love so completely and for so long.

I so agree with this! The Prince's Tale just seemed so right, didn't it? As though it was the last, wonderful piece of the jigsaw-puzzle that was Snape, and it explained everything! (Sorry, I tend to get carried away when I start talking about The Prince's Tale! It's not just the reason I love Snape, but the reason I started writing fan-fiction, and the reason I completely worship J.K. Rowling! :blushes:)

WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner May 8, 2010  Professional Artisan Crafter
He hated sunlight: it made everything plain and harsh and conspicuous. Ugliness was twice as ugly in the sunlight, and Severus found it hard enough to see beauty in people at the best of times.
I love this line, and not just because I typically feel the same way about harsh light.

I need to not read these late at night, because then I can't compose intelligent comments (hm, yes.. that's my excuse). Anyway, I liked Lily's boggart. I've frequently wondered what my boggart would be, because there's just not a lot that scares me (that's another reason I'd probably never make it into Gryffindor; you need to have a healthy sense fear to be brave). I think I can relate to hers, however, and think it's a great reflection of your Lily to fear her own potential/future self.

Your fanfiction is inspiring.
ls269 Featured By Owner May 9, 2010
I've often wondered what my Boggart would be too - although, in my case, I'm scared of so many things, that I think the Boggart would be unable to make up its mind - it might explode with indecision! :giggle:

I'm so glad you liked the Boggart-Lily, because she's one of my favourite characters in this series! She's Lily's worst nightmare, but Severus finds her curiously attractive! ;)
Veronika-Art Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2008
I guess I have to start reading this story. I am not very good commenting but this was painfully good. :+favlove:
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2008
Thank you! :) I love Severus and Lily so much, it's great to be read by people who also love them!
Veronika-Art Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2008
You know how I love them :heart: I just have this thrist to read more about them... it is insaciable (spanish)!!!
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2008
Well, that works out well, because I have an insaciable thirst to write more and more about them! They're such exciting characters. :)
Veronika-Art Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2008
:heart: They are...
Chaobaby7 Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2008
Wonderful, I enjoy reading this.
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2008
Thank you! :hug: I'm so glad you're liking it. I'm going to bring Narcissa and her over-bearing grandmother back next week, which should be fun!
Chaobaby7 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2008
Wonderful, I am enjoying having stuff to read. Ive been too ill to go anywhere so its nice to have some stuff to look at and read, my asthma is quite terrible and the jungle, humid weather is making it alot worse.
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2008
I hope your asthma gets better :) The days are getting shorter, at least, and pretty soon we're going to have another lush, rainy, beautiful, rust-coloured Autumn. Can't wait!
Chaobaby7 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2008
me neither, I hope its cold enough to be able to wear my best Gothy clothes, I'm so bored of wearing cotton floaty tops and linen pants. The asthma is getting me down, I'm so rattly. I am however very glad to be back on line.
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2008
All my clothes are made for cold weather too! Not to mention my shoes - I don't own a single pair of flip-flops or high heels! It makes me even more bad-tempered in the sunshine, because I get so hot, and I really don't look as though I belong outside! ;)
Chaobaby7 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2008
Me too, I hate summer clothes so much, I just feel silly in mincey dresses and sandals, I hate shoes anyway but I am a big boots person. I have some flip flops that I wear if I go to the swimming pool because I'm phobic of walking bare foot where other people walk. I'm such an indoor person.
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2008
Me too! Although I like being outdoors when there's some interesting weather going on, and when nobody else is out there! :)
(1 Reply)
northangel27 Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Okay, I actually wanted to comment much more in depth on this chapter, but I was at work, and couldn't. I'm home now, so here we go:

First thing I loved was Snape. I always love your Snape, but as he gets closer and closer to treading that thing line between teenage angst and full on evil, it really starts to get under your skin. I mean we always knew that he hated James Potter, but the question was always - how much? In this story we get an answer. Enough to plot his demise in earnest, apparently. That's some pretty extreme hate, and that's a person that now matter how much you love them, there is just no way that you can follow them where they are headed, unless, that is, you are willing to completely sell your soul. Which brings us to Lily and her boggart.

And here is where the true brilliance of this chapter lies. Having Lily's boggart be herself, and a version of herself that had allowed her heart and her love for Severus to lead her down a path that was the opposite of everything her love for him stood for. Well, that is classic literature at its best, right there. I have always said that Lily Evans loved Severus Snape and that the only reasonthat things ended between them was for the very reason that you have posited here, that she was afraid of what her burgeoning love for him would lead her to do.

Your description of Potter and the reasons that Lily was drawn to him were also spot on. I find that I am more and more impressed with your writing and your insites into these characters with every passing chapter. I just can't wait for more!
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2008
Thank you so much! I can't tell you how much your comments mean to me! :) Lily's boggart comes from my pessimistic doubts about whether Severus could actually be changed, even with all the love and patience in the world. But his love for Lily is no ordinary one, so I still have hope that, if he were ever to get her, he could change (obviously, I wouldn't want him to change too much: the odd sarcastic comment would be quite acceptable!) I really sympathised with Lily in this chapter - when you're in love with someone so dark and so angry, you must really start to fear for your soul!
northangel27 Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"I really sympathised with Lily in this chapter - when you're in love with someone so dark and so angry, you must really start to fear for your soul!"

Indeed you do. Lily was incredibly strong to have stayed with him as long as she did. I just can't hate her. I know there are alot of Snape fans out there who do hate her, but I can't. I think she did what she felt she had to do, she did the best she could for a fifteen year old girl.

Severus was going down some pretty dark and scary paths in those days. Its hard for an adult woman to love someone so complex. I honestly don't know how a fifteen year old girl could manage it and come out unscathed.

Again, brilliant chapter!
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2008
No, I can't hate her, either. It's extremely tough to be judged on what you did at the age of fifteen! Anyway, she just wouldn't be Lily if she was any less strong-willed and stubborn, and Snape wouldn't have loved her in the first place! :)
northangel27 Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think you are absolutely right. Severus did love Lily for her life and spark, as well as her strength and goodness. She was the one light in his otherwise dark life. I think it is interesting that so many Snape fans hate Lily and say such horrible things about her (some of which are no more supported by canon than the idea of a perfect and saintly Lily is) and at the same time claim to love Snape. Perhaps it does not occur to them that Severus would be deeply offended and even hurt by some of the things they say about Lily. This is a woman he loved, and not just loved for a short period of time, but his whole life. I suppose that the fans think that he could have done better, that Lily was not the one for him, but that is insulting to him too, insinuating that he doesn't know what is best for him, that his taste in loving and his beloved is somehow hopelessly flawed. I do grow weary of Lily bashing. I prefer to see an author try to explore both the postive and negative sides of any character rather than paint them in black and white. That is much more mature and interesting. That is one of the main reasons I so appreciate your writing. Your character explorations are very mature and fascinating.
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2008
Yes, I get very uncomfortable when I hear Snape fan-girls calling Lily cold-hearted and mean - she totally wasn't - Snape did, after all, call her a very, very bad thing in front of the whole school when she went to stand up for him. And in that climate of fear generated by Voldemort's rise to power of course the mere suggestion of dark magic is going to worry people - especially muggle-borns. Snape could have loved a Dark Witch - lord knows, he probably met enough of them - but he didn't. He always valued innocence and honesty. It's one of the main reasons he was able to come back from the brink of Death Eaterdom. I think, if Lily had been a different person, his love for her wouldn't have been his salvation at all.
I'm so glad you're liking my representation of these characters! :) I do love them so much. I have even found myself liking Malfoy and Narcissa since I started this, and I never thought that would happen! Bellatrix, though, is probably never going to grow on me - even Voldemort is better than her!
northangel27 Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"the brink of Death Eaterdom"

lol. I like that. Gotta use that somewhere ;-)

"Bellatrix, though, is probably never going to grow on me - even Voldemort is better than her!"

I have a feeling that Severus would agree with you on that one.

"I'm so glad you're liking my representation of these characters! I do love them so much."

I sense that, and I think that's why you write them so well and treat them with such respect. I love that you do!
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2008
It's wonderful to talk to people who also love these characters! :) (Because lots of people get a very glazed look in their eyes when I mention Severus Snape to them! And those are the polite ones...)
(1 Reply)
northangel27 Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This was utterly brilliant. In fact I think it was one of my favorite chapters so far.
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2008
Thank you! :hug: I'm so glad you like it. I wasn't sure about it, but it has grown on me, with the assistance of your kind words :) I do like Rosier, he's so wonderfully creepy!
northangel27 Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeppers. Rosier creeped the hell out of me in this chapter
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