"Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."
The day he saw her was the happiest day of his life. He knew it was a very silly thing to say, but in his case it was true.
She and another girl (her sister, he supposed, even though they looked nothing alike) frequently visited a small playground during the hot afternoons, the same playground in which he often visited himself sometimes when he was advised to by his mother, or when he was just simply bored.
The day he actually saw her began as a bad one for him. It was a very sunny day, and he had no desire to venture outdoors. So he stayed in his room, gazing up at the dark ceiling from his bed. His father was out, getting drunk, no doubt, and wasting no time spending their money, and his mother… well, his mother was very quiet most of the time. So he was usually on his own. But he definitely preferred being alone than being around his father on one of his bad days, which was now pretty much every day.
When it happened he was reading one of the very few books he had in his room. He had already read the book about ten times, but he had to have something to do. His father didn’t want him to read; anything that Severus found small happiness in doing, his father made sure to take away from him. The only reason he had these books is because his mother snuck them to him once, on a day his father was out once more. When she did it he had smiled up at her, and as she saw her son’s evident happiness, if only brief, she had smiled back, something she did less and less these days. But her eyes, the same dark ones as his, were cold, with a faraway look in them, no warmth from happy days to fill them up. They were always that way now.
He was on the third chapter when he heard the unmistakable sound of a door being burst open and heavy footsteps and he stilled, his fingers clenching the sides of the book hard, praying desperately: not today. Please, just not today. But he knew what those sounds meant: his father was back, smelling of liquor, and Severus would be lucky to get out of reach of his father’s striking hand.
Then a yell made Severus jump: “Eileen!”
It was immediately after that that his mother quickly opened the door to his room, her face fearful. “ Severus, go.”
He didn't need to be told twice. He crossed the room to the window, opened it, and climbed out onto the front yard. And he ran.
He didn’t stop running until he reached the playground only a few minutes away. When he first saw the girls, they were standing side by side near the swings looking down at something on the ground.
“Ugh, it’s ugly.” The tallest of the girls said, her blonde hair piled up in a high ponytail.
The other girl didn’t say anything. She had dark red hair that reached her shoulders.
After a second or two, Severus watched as the blonde-haired girl screamed.
“It’s moving towards you, Lily, it’s moving towards you!”
Severus edged a little closer behind a nearby bush and he saw what they were looking at. It was a small black spider.
The red-haired girl jerked away from it as it scuttled towards her, jumping closer to the swings, and what happened next was completely unexpected.
The girl had only jumped up a few feet as she tried to get away from it and all of a sudden, with Severus not believing his eyes, she was hanging from the top horizontal pole of the swings. It was a leap that a girl her height could never make.
“Lily!” The blonde-haired girl uttered in shock, her attention now diverted from the spider, which was now crawling away at rapid speed in the opposite direction, “ How did you get up there?”
The girl named Lily swung her left leg around one of the end poles, edging her way down. She looked as shocked as both the blonde girl and Severus felt. “I don’t know. I was just trying to get away from the spider.”
Then both girls turned their heads upward in unison, looking at the top pole.
Severus knew exactly what the girl was then. There was no doubt in his mind that she was a witch. He had done the very same kinds of leaps when he had wanted to get away from something.
The girls only stayed for a few minutes longer, all the while not noticing Severus crouched behind a bush, then left to go home. Severus stayed for half an hour more, still marveling at how there was a witch his age living nearby. And she didn’t even know she was such a thing!
When he returned home, though, his happiness faded quickly. He had barely walked through the door when a very strong hand grasped his shoulder, dragging him further in.
He only had time to register his mother leaning on a chair in the far corner, her hand up to one side of her face, her hair a mess, and her eyes widening at the sight of Severus.
“Tobias, please. He has nothing to do with this.”
Severus looked up into his father’s face, which was lined with rage, and he practically felt himself turn pale.
“He has everything to do with it! He’s the same as you!”
Severus knew what that meant. His father despised the fact that he and his mother had magic, and showed just how much every time he had the chance.
His mother had barely uttered her plea when a blow to Severus’s face knocked him to the floor, his eyes watering.
“Think you can sneak away from me, boy?” His father yelled, and his foot collided with Severus’s side hard.
Severus looked up in time to see his mother attempt to pull his father away from him.
“Get off me!”
His father flung his mother to the floor, a good few feet away from where Severus was lying.
Severus closed his eyes and braced himself for the next kick that was sure to come but to his surprise, it didn’t. A door slammed, then all was silent except for the sharp gasps of breath that came from his mother.
He opened his eyes.
His mother stared back at him, tears coursing down her face.
He stared back, but did not cry.
Later that night, while lying in bed, bruises, he was sure, already forming on his head and side, his thoughts turned to the girl he had seen at the playground earlier that day.
The girl that he already had something in common with.
The girl that, if she knew what she was, could be his friend.
Lily. What a pretty name.
During their first year at Hogwarts, Lily had to go home for the Christmas holidays.
He, however, chose not to.
But her being gone, if only for a couple of weeks, filled him with disappointment. He much preferred her, a hundred times so, over Malfoy, Mulciber, Avery, and his other fellow Slytherins.
It was as if Lily had read his thoughts, for she looked up at him from across the table in the library.
“Two weeks will be over really quick, Sev,” She said reassuringly.
He let forth a small smile. “I know. It’s just going to be really boring here without you, though.”
She smiled back at him, as if she understood, and he was grateful that she didn’t inquire as to why he wouldn’t visit his parents as well.
But he could still see the lingering question in her eyes when she looked up at him from her book a minute later, and he carefully evaded them afterwards.
The next day, when it was time for her to board the train home, he walked with her as far as the entrance hall, where others who were going home had gathered.
She turned to him.
“Have a happy Christmas, Sev,” She said, smiling, “ I’ll send you some of my mum’s homemade peanut butter cookies; you’ll love them.”
He smiled back, trying to appear cheerful for her, even though he was quite the opposite. “I’m sure I will.”
She grinned, then reached over and hugged him.
“See you in two weeks.” She said, as she withdrew from the embrace.
The students were filing out of the entrance hall doors into the whirling snow outside, and with one last smile, she moved to follow them.
I’ll be counting the days, he thought, and as she looked back at him, he could tell she had gotten the message.
Lily, during summers back home from Hogwarts, had never once visited Severus’s home. That was because Severus had always made convincing excuses. Also, he was sure she had heard about the loud yelling and noises that constantly came from his house. The first time she had ever asked him why he didn’t invite her to his house was after their second year, when they were sitting together on the swings at the playground that had become their favorite place to go when back home for summer.
“Sev?” She had asked.
“Why do you never invite me to your home? You always come over to mine.”
Her last sentence was true. Severus visited her house a lot, much to the annoyance of her sister, Petunia.
He had thought carefully about what to say, but then he had felt that he really had no choice but to tell her the truth, just watered down a bit.
“My parents don’t like company.”
“Oh.” She had answered.
After that, she never brought it up again. That was one of the many things he liked about her: she never pestered you about anything.
He did his best to make sure she would stay away from his house, for the truth was, not only was he afraid for her safety, he was afraid of what she would see. He was afraid that afterwards, she would never look at him the same again, that she would pity him. And he wouldn’t be able to bear that.
But one late summer afternoon after their third year, she showed up at his front door. And she showed up on a really bad day too.
While he did get taller and was not as defenseless as he was when he was younger, he was still no match against his father.
So when Lily knocked on the door, Severus was already sporting a black eye and a severely cut lip.
As he heard the rapping on the door while he clutched his face, cringing away from his father’s looming figure, he was momentarily confused as to who it could be. But as his father pulled open the door, he saw her, red hair blazing in the sunlight.
“Hi,” She said, looking apprehensively up into his father’s annoyed face, “is, er, Severus here?”
Severus reached the door quickly, dodging past his father. “Come on, Lily.”
He could feel his face flush; one of his deepest fears had just come true. She had seen.
He grabbed her arm and pulled her after him as far away from his father as he could take her.
He pulled her along the front yard, then onto the gravel road, and she hurried to keep up with his pace.
“Sev! Sev, wait! Where are we going? Wait, you’re going too fast!”
Now he stopped. He didn’t know how he could look at her now, with his face as bad as it was.
“You shouldn’t have come to my house,” He said, turning away from her.
But she caught him by the arm before he could do it. “Sev… your face.”
Her voice was full of shock and horror and he couldn’t stand it.
Slowly, knowing he couldn’t avoid it any longer, he turned towards her.
She gasped, bringing her hand to her mouth. “Oh, my God. Was that man your father? Did he do this to you?”
He said nothing, for what could he say?
But his silence was enough for her.
She brought her hand to his bruised eye, trailing her fingers carefully over it, and when he winced she winced too.
He didn't cry.
Instead, she cried for him.
He made sure to get the perfect gift for her birthday in fourth year. He saw it in a shop in Hogsmeade a few months before, and he saved up money to get it.
They walked out of Potions class together, his stomach twisting with nerves.
Before he could reach in his bag to give Lily her gift, she turned to him.
“What’d you get on the essay?”
They had just gotten their essay papers back moments before.
He held it up for her to see.
She sighed. “Outstanding. Of course.”
He smiled. “What’d you get?”
She looked at him with a mischievous smile, a smile that always made his heart pound, pulled the paper out of her book, and showed it to him, the big red O bouncing off of it.
“Ah. I should have known.”
She laughed, putting her paper back in her book.
He took the plunge and reached in his bag, pulling out the small square-sized present.
“I’ve, er, got something for you.”
She stopped walking, as did he, and he handed it to her. “Happy Birthday.”
She grinned. “You remembered my birthday?”
He had an overwhelming urge to look somewhere else. “Sure. I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t, would I?”
She took the gift and he watched apprehensively as she opened it.
When he saw the surprised look on her face, he breathed a sigh of relief.
“Sev, it’s so beautiful.”
She pulled the bracelet out of the box, the little green emeralds glinting.
“It matches your eyes.” He blushed right after he said it.
She slipped it on her wrist and looked up at him. “Thank you. It’s great.”
Then she moved closer and kissed him swiftly on the cheek, something she had never done before, and it was almost impossible to keep himself from smiling the rest of the day.
"I don't need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her," He said, in his anger and humiliation, and everything slowed to a standstill as his mind scrambled to take it back, the horrible word echoing in his own voice for what he knew would be forever.
Lily stared at him, her face strangely blank, but her eyes changed and all at once Severus knew it was over.
After the pleading outside the portrait hole into Gryffindor tower, she never spoke to him again, and it was like they were complete strangers. And, as the self-loathing swelled in him, he understood.
It hurt more than anything, much more than all the abuse he had suffered from his father.
After graduation, Lily became engaged to James Potter.
After graduation, Severus became a Death Eater.
"She is dead," Dumbledore said, and in that moment, Severus died too.
But her son, he thought amidst the despair, her son lives...
"He has her eyes."
Severus's broken heart caught in his throat, those green eyes, the ones that glinted like those emeralds on that bracelet she wore around her wrist for so long, for him, before he destroyed it all, and he promised to protect the boy, determination coursing through his veins. For her.
The boy was named Harry, and when Severus saw him he saw James Potter all over again.
He had to see the boy every day, and it was more torture than he could ever have imagined, a constant reminder that if only he hadn't opened his mouth and said the words he wished so desperately that he could take back, Lily would still be breathing. Deep in his blackened heart, he would rather have seen her alive and well with James Potter for a husband than murdered and becoming bones in the ground.
So he showed the boy his dislike for him, showed him that he was not going to be appreciated, and over time, when their eyes lock, the boy's are hardened.
That was the way Severus preferred them to be. Because they were Lily's eyes too, and the only time she ever looked at him with eyes like that was when she had told him that she had chosen her own way.
That was the look he deserved.
That was the last look in those eyes that he saw, and after all he had done, they were to be branded in his mind forever.
The boy looked down at him, and Severus saw the shock on the boy's face.
The pain began to almost lessen, exhaustion enveloping him, and he felt like ice already, so cold and numb to match the heart he'd endured for nearly twenty years, and with shaking hands, fingers as if brittle, he grasped the boy, desperate to do this one last thing.
The boy took his memories, all Severus had left to give, and when he whispered those last words, look at me, the boy did, and the barrier in those green depths lifted and Severus finally saw her.
The last thing he saw was that green.
And the final truth was, he wouldn't have preferred it any other way.