By Lucy Potter
Word Count: 2597
Summary: Severus and Lily clearing the air between them, really – finally – getting a chance to see each other’s point of view.
Pepper-Ups for the Fenwicks in hand, Lily turned away from the shelf of bottles only to run straight into the front of a black-clad man. Stumbling back, she could only gasp at the sight of the familiar sallow face. “Severus,” she blurted.
“Lily,” he returned, a note of astonishment in his voice. Obviously, he’d not been expecting this run-in, either.
Shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot, Lily offered nervously, “Odd time to run into each other, isn’t it?”
He raised a dubious eyebrow. “More like an odd place to bump into each other.” He lifted a hand, gesturing jerkily to the apothecary around them. “What’s brought you to Mr. Mulpepper’s?” He sneered at her. “Surely a place like this is too good for a Potter’s wife.”
Ignoring the jab, she answered through gritted teeth, “The apothecaries in Diagon are out of pre-made Pepper-Ups. Should have expected as much, I suppose. It’s flu season. A mate really needs some for her kids.”
“Why couldn’t she send her husband to get it?” he demanded.
Lily glared up at her ex-friend. He may not have done it himself, but his cause sure had. “Dead,” she replied curtly.
Severus blinked. “Was he…?”
She nodded, not even needing him to finish the question. “Yes.”
“Suppose he brought it on himself, then,” he remarked, tone flippant as his eyes moved to look at something behind her.
Lily felt her blood begin to boil. Disgusted, she cried, “What a terrible thing to say!”
“It’s the truth,” Severus countered, blunt and obstinate as ever. “He decided to pick a side and paid for it.” His face took on a note of pensive speculation as he added, “And, perhaps, so will you and I.”
She scoffed. “Outing yourself, are you? Never thought you’d be so brazen as to declare your loyalty in public.”
“If you’re half as clever as you’ve led people to believe, I think you ought to stop glaring at me and buy your potions,” he said, abruptly changing the topic. “Knockturn has never been an amiable place, and these days it’s far less so. Especially to your kind.”
Balling her hands into fists, Lily began in a near shout, “My kind–”
Only to be cut off by Severus, who spoke over her in a dangerous tone, “Yes, your kind. Where do you think Death Eaters congregate? In Hogsmeade? You’re lucky no one recognized you on your way here!”
Lily could only gape for a moment. She had been so sure he was talking about her being a Muggleborn. It was the favored jab of Death Eaters and their ilk. “Oh,” said she.
The bell hanging in front of Mr. Mulpepper’s door dinged. They both glanced over to see who it was. A broad-shouldered man with slicked-back black hair had entered the apothecary. Lily thought he looked slightly familiar. As if she’d seen him from time to time around Godric’s Hollow or someplace else she frequented, but never had an actual chat with him where introductions were made. Thankfully, his attention appeared to be elsewhere as he never once glanced their way. Instead, he went to the opposite side of the apothecary to look at its selection of vials.
“Bugger,” Severus hissed.
Tapping her fingers in a nervous pattern along her thigh, Lily leaned close and asked, “Who is that?”
“Boyd Montague,” whispered Severus. “He was an upper year. You’d probably remember his brother better. He was a Slytherin in our year. Sage?”
Lily just made a face of utter confusion at him. She, in fact, did not remember a Sage.
He sighed. “Maybe not. He kept to himself. Dead going on a year now, too.”
She jolted when she felt his long fingers wrap around her arm. She tried to pull away. “Let me go!” she growled.
“You need to leave before he notices you. One of your husband’s idiot band slighted him recently during a confrontation and I’m sure he’d be happy to attack you to get back at them.”
“Why are you helping me?” she demanded as they took measured but hurried steps toward the apothecary’s register.
He looked at her. His black eyes held an inscrutable emotion as he said, “Things are, and never were, black and white.”
Lily didn’t understand. It frustrated her. She’d gotten used to straightforward people like James, Sirius, and her mates in the Order rather than this crypticness Severus always liked. Taking back her arm, she flashed a quick smile at the sales associate behind the counter. “I’d like to buy these, please.”
The plump middle-aged woman with brown, gray-streaked hair only glanced suspiciously between the two of them as she rang up Lily’s vials of Pepper-Up.
“Ten sickles and three knuts,” the woman told her.
Lily handed over the amount before quickly taking the potions and shrinking them down to a smaller size to fit in the pocket of her robe. “Thank you,” she said.
Severus followed close behind as she left. When they were on the street, she refused to look at him as he came up on her left to walk beside her.
“What are you doing?” she questioned.
He kept his gaze straight ahead, the same as she. “Walking.”
Rolling her eyes, Lily snarled, “I don’t need your help.”
“Who said I was offering it?”
Lily nearly turned on Severus, but regained control and stopped short of drawing her wand to duel her ex-best friend. She exhaled a harsh breath. “I don’t know why you’re bothering. You made your choice years ago when you called me that bloody name. Even if you save my life today, we’re never going to be friends again.”
She did look at him that time. He, however, did not return the glance. His profile was entirely neutral, too. It was like he wore a mask of pure indifference. “Sorry?”
The corners of his lips curved downward in displeasure, but he repeated himself nonetheless. “You smiled when Potter and his damnable Marauders had me upside down that day.”
“Did I?” Lily murmured, turning her attention to Knockturn’s inhabitants. A little ways ahead she saw a scantily-clad teenager no older than fifteen take the hand of a man old enough to be her grandfather and lead him up the steps of a sagging tenement building. A fat old lady with a baby on her hip nodded at them as they brushed past her on their way inside. Lily resisted the urge to shudder.
That girl should be in Hogwarts right now, getting an education. Not…not doing whatever it was she had planned with that old man. Maybe if she made it to the end of this war, she would create a charity to do something about girls like her. She was sure James would support the endeavor. He always said he had too much money and wished he had a cause worthy enough spend it all on.
Lily’s attention was quickly drawn back to Severus when in a low, soft timbre he confirmed, “You did.”
“I didn’t realize,” murmured Lily. It was so long ago, she couldn’t remember that day with crystal clarity, even if she had wanted to.
His shoulders went taut as he said, “I only called you… that… because you did. I thought you approved of what Potter was doing. I wanted to hurt you, too.”
She felt her heart pang. Part of her was upset at the idea that she could have, in fact, been smiling as her then-friend was being tormented, but she also knew that if their friendship hadn’t ended that day, it probably would have soon enough. There were cracks in their bond long before that incident. “It was always more than just the name, Severus. I didn’t like your friends, either. They thought I was less than them because my parents are Muggles! You were also experimenting with a lot really hurtful curses, too. I always said you would go a lot further if you were thinking of nice, helpful spells.”
“I’ve always told you, it doesn’t matter that your parents are Muggles,” he grumbled, entirely ignoring the rest of her words.
She sighed. How typical of him to pick and choose what he wanted to talk about. With a scathing look, she said, “If you really believe that, then why in Merlin’s name are you a part of You-Know-Who’s cause?”
Severus rolled his eyes. “You don’t have to believe exactly what they do, no more than all of you Order members have to exactly believe the statute of secrecy should be abolished.”
Her face burned red. “Only a few people believe that’s a good idea!”
“That’s my point. Only the most fanatical think Muggleborns and Muggles should be annihilated.”
Wary, but curious, Lily asked, “If that’s true, why did you join, Severus?”
“The opportunities they offered were too great to pass up. You know my family didn’t and doesn’t have any money. If I joined, Malfoy agreed to give me a loan so I could get my mastery in potions. In return, I brew for our cause and follow any other orders they give me.”
Lily honestly had never thought of that as a reason for why Severus would want to join the Death Eaters, but she could see it now. Severus’s family really didn’t have money. She could still recall him from before Hogwarts when he would turn up at the park some days wearing a blouse that belonged to his mother because his shirts were torn or dirty, or had to be thrown in the rubbish bin because they were so worn out. Lily wanted to tell him the Order could have offered the same, but she couldn’t. James, with his grand fortune, was actually an outlier rather than a standard among their members.
If Severus couldn’t properly support himself, how much help could he have offered the Order and their cause, anyway?
She shook her head, ridding herself of the thought. Even the smallest contributions could go a long way in the Order. Trying to remember her previous rage, she hissed, “Like kill Muggles and sabotage Order missions?”
He shrugged. “Muggles are beneath us, Lily. What does it matter if they die?”
“Yes, yes, I know. Muggles, the lot of them. So is my father. Your parents may be better people than my father, but not one of them is worth the life of a witch or a wizard.”
“My parents are each worth ten of your Death Eaters!” she cried, affronted.
His gaze flicked to her, then all over the alley before he met her gaze. “To you or to our world?”
“To both.” She stopped and grabbed his hand, making him face her. “Maybe you had an awful Muggle parent, but mine weren’t. They raised me well so I could be worth something to our world. If they had been killed, or never existed, I wouldn’t be here. Wouldn’t be who I am today.” She pointed behind them at the tenement building that held the girl and the old man. Probably held a score more girls and women and men. “If not for my parents, I could be one of those street girls.”
She squeezed his hand tightly as she whispered, “Not all Muggles are bad. Some of them have raised the greatest witches and wizards our world knows.” Putting a hand to her chest, she told Severus, “That’s why I fight for the Order. Just because people like my parents and sister can’t wave a wand and make birds appear, doesn’t mean they’re useless or rubbish. They have different things to offer the world.
“For Merlin’s sake, Muggles went to the moon. There are little Muggleborns right now who are growing up around people who had a part in that stuff. They are being taught things a magic-born child would never even dream possible. They’re going to bring all sorts of new ideas and thoughts into our world, make our kind dream of what we used to think impossible, and do things our kind thinks are impossible.”
Tearing up, she breathed, “Don’t you understand, Sev? We need Muggleborns. They – my kind – bring something entirely different into this world and keep it from stagnating.”
He was quiet for a time, just staring at her. Then, finally, he dipped his chin in acquiescence. “Yes, I see why you’re a part of the Order. Far more idealism than sense.”
She scowled. “I get why you decided to be a Death Eater, too, you know. And I don’t agree one bit. I think it was shallow to pick them because they were offering you opportunities you could have sought on your own. You would have had to work harder without them, but they would have still been there. You’d have a clean nose for it, too. The Muggle part I sympathize with, and I’m sorry your poor experiences with them have embittered you to Muggles as a whole. I wish you could have had a proper father in Tobias.”
Glowering, he growled, “Your Order is going to lose. You’re not half as organized, not nearly as well funded, connected, or skilled as us. You’re going to be sorry, Potter.”
Lily lifted her chin high and replied, “The Death Eaters lack our passion, drive, and dedication. If Voldemort falls, so will all of you. If Dumbledore were to die, we would make it through.” Fiercely, she declared, “I won’t be sorry even if we do lose, because I fought for what’s right.”
He looked away. “Diagon Alley’s a few steps that way. I’d hurry off and get back to your friend. I’m sure she’s wondering what’s taking you so long with those Pepper-Ups.”
“Go!” he snapped.
Lily sighed. “Bye,” she whispered. “Stay… Stay alive, okay? We might not be friends, but I’d still be sad if you died.”
His face softened slightly. “You too, Lily. Farewell.”
She nodded one last time at her ex-friend before hurrying past him to join the midday crowds of Diagon Alley. As she followed the throngs to the nearest Floo Station, Lily couldn’t help but reflect on her brief encounter with Severus. It had not gone as poorly as she always imagined such a meeting would. In fact, she felt like she had gained something from it, as well.
Lily couldn’t trust that Severus had told her everything, or that the reasons he had given for joining the Death Eater’s cause were entirely honest, but it did make a lot of sense. They’d offered him something that she knew he always wanted, a chance to be more than a poor boy from Spinner’s End. With that loan money Malfoy gave him in return for joining the cause, he was able to get an education. With his education, he would be able to support himself and live comfortably. Severus would never have to fear an empty stomach or wear secondhand clothes again.
And with his ingenuity…Lily knew he could invent something truly amazing someday. She should have better sense by now, but she dared to hope it would be something that helped wizardkind. Like a cure for lycanthropy, or a concoction that regrew whole limbs, rather than just the bones inside.
Quietly to herself, she murmured, “Knowing Severus, though, he could decide to create the next unforgivable, instead.”
Yet no matter what Severus did, Lily was certain his name would end up in the history books.