~ January, 1980 ~
Lilly sat dully in the oppressive silence of her kitchen, three months pregnant and falling apart at the seams. How could James be so callous? So… stupid? How could he not see that he was putting everything else before the life of their child? Their screaming echoed in her ears. Easily the worst row they’d have had.
Which was saying something, truly.
She’d begged him to go with her. To flee. For the baby. James had called her a coward. Insisted that he would fight this war until they won or he’d died trying. Somehow, unlike her, his world hadn’t changed axis when the little strip on the muggle pregnancy test turned pink. Her world was the baby’s now. Anything for the child.
The child that was now placed in the crosshairs between two warlords. Dumbledore had promised to protect them. But there was only so much he could do. The Dark Lord had people everywhere, supporters everywhere. Even within the order! Wasn’t that exactly why Remus was being cut out of the loop? Because he was suspected of being a supporter – if not a spy – of the Dark Order?
But noooo, James wanted to stay at an old family property (easily found in public documents by the way, wasn’t exact a secret that the Potter’s owned a cottage in Godric’s Hollow), with one measly protection charm? He wanted to put their child’s life on the line?
She couldn’t abide it.
Silent tears began to fall down wane cheeks as she struggled – once again - between what she did want, and what she felt like she should want. She did want her child to be safe – at any cost – and she should want the father of said child to stand by her. But honestly? James Potter had always fallen under what she should want. Just like she was what he should want.
She hadn’t seen it for a long time. And wouldn’t admit it for longer. But the flash of pain and longing she’d seen on his face, just after they’d returned from their honeymoon and were greeting the lads in the Leaky, when Severus had brushed past them and into muggle London, answered the question of what James did want.
It was a miracle they’d lasted this long. Stubbornness on both counts, she assumed.
Mother Magic, what was she going to do? This was such as mess. She and James, latching onto each other because it was what they should want, procreating like the fools they clearly were, and Dumbledore clearly desperate to name that unborn child his champion.
And how in the nine hells was that fair? Her child’s life was not predetermined. She could fix this… she would fix this.
…And Severus was going to help.
Hidden under layers of disillusion and notice-me-not charms, Lilly focused heavily on not thinking about what she was doing as she slipped down the alley towards Spinner’s End. She knew it was crazy, she knew that no one would understand if and when they found out. She knew that it was truly just a matter of time before they did. Things like this tended to come out, one way or another.
Banging on the door she waited impatiently for her old friend to open the door. She had the sneaky suspicion that selling him on this would not be easy.
To be perfectly fair, it was a rather insane plan.
The door was wrenched open, her oldest friend’s expression dour as he snapped, “What?” before even looking at who was – or wasn’t – at his doorstep.
“Severus,” She whispered. “I’m really sorry to just show up like this, but it’s important. Can I come in?”
His eyes widened as he recognized her voice. Face conflicted before an unnatural calm settled over his features. Occlumency shields, she knew.
“What was my first bout of accidental magic?”
Lilly pursed her lips. “A bubble-head charm, after you fell into the river.”
He moved away from the doorframe, opening it enough to allow her entry. Stepping inside, Lilly waited for Severus to lock the door and cast privacy wards before dropping her concealment charms. “Thank you Severus,” She whispered fervently.
He was quiet, glazed eyes looking over her shoulder. “Why are you here, Lily?”
Her breath shuddered out of her. “To ask something of you that I have no right to ask. Especially after how I’ve treated you the last few years.” At his raised eyebrow she continued. “I need your help, please.”
He swallowed heavily at the desperate tears that had welled in her eyes. “Help with what? What’s wrong, Lily?”
She suspected that he thought it was a problem in her marriage – which to be fair, was a partial factor – but my how she was about to surprise him. “I… I…” She took a deep breath, bracing herself before trying again. “I need you to take me to the Dark Lord.”
Severus’ jaw dropped, clear shock crossing his features before he could control his reaction. “I believe I misheard you. You need me to what?”
Her eyes steeled into a glare. This was hard for a number of reasons, and awkward for a dozen more. But she knew her friend. Knew how he’d always had an affinity for the deep magics – otherwise known as the dark arts - just as she’d always had an affinity for elemental magics. Therefore, she had not a single doubt in her mind about his status as a Death Eater. “I need to speak to him. It’s important.”
“You…” He trailed off, clearly incredulous. “A muggleborn witch, and probable member of Dumbledore’s resistance, are seeking an audience with the Dark Lord… through me.”
“Severus, please. I swear I am not trying to entrap you. I have a legitimate reason to,” she sneered despite the situation and her still wet eyes, “Seek an audience.”
Onyx eyes flicked quickly between swimming emerald. “Morgana and Merlin, Lily.” He breathed, reading her determination. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
She answered with a stiff nod.
Feeling weary and aged beyond his years, Severus returned the gesture. “Does anyone know that you’re here? Or what you’re planning?”
“No. James has a twelve-hour shift with the ministry tonight. I have just over eleven before anyone will notice I’m gone.”
It was lucky timing, Severus noted to himself. The Dark Lord had no raids planned for tonight, no significant gatherings of any kind. And with said Dark Lord being nocturnal – as far as Severus could tell at least – the late night and wee hours of the morning were equivalent to a teacher’s office hours. He would accept an audience. But he could not just bring Lily to his Lord’s stronghold. For a fairly long list of reasons, propionate among them the wards denying access to unmarked individuals.
“Very well,” he finally agreed, seeing acquiescing to this insanity as the way to finally gain her forgiveness. “I shall request an immediate audience. You must remain here until he has decided whether or not to grant that request. Stay here; remain hidden, under no circumstances reveal yourself to anyone but me.”
“Thank you Severus,” Lily trembled as fear, relief, and adrenaline coursed through her in equal measure.
He huffed. “Thank me if we both survive this lunacy.”
Lily looked at her oldest friend – hesitating by the door - with a wavering smile. “Be safe.” She whispered.
Severus didn’t respond. Merely pulled on a traveling cloak and stepped outside.
The crack of apparation alerted her to Severus’ return one nerve-wracking hour later. Lily dropped her disillusionment charm the moment the door closed behind him – much to Severus’ ire. He looked tired, stressed, and resigned.
“He’s agreed. I’m to take you there right away.” He held out a silver necklace with a dark mark engraved on the pendant. “This will grant one-time admittance through the wards.”
He snatched his hand back as she reached to take the necklace, asking one more time, “Are you really sure about this? The moment you touch the pendent, there is no going back.”
She frowned at her friend, who had already put his neck on the line for her. She might still have an out, but he certainly didn’t. If he failed to promptly deliver her to his Lord, Voldemort would take his pound of flesh out of Severus’ hide. She held her hand out insistently, eyes boring into his. Slowly, haltingly, he again proffered the silver chain.
Adrenaline and resolve had brought a certain calm. This was what she needed to do. For her unborn child. Dumbledore wouldn’t protect the child, not really. The Headmaster was so eager to pass the responsibility off, so blind to the nature of prophecies, and – she hated to admit – willing to manipulate. He would set the child on the path of ‘destiny’ as ‘the chosen one’ and forever rob them of the life they deserved. As an Unspeakable, Lily had more knowledge of the nature and ambiguity of spoken prophecy than most. The Hall of Prophesies existed for a reason. All she had to do was convince Voldemort (‘cause of course it would be easy to convince a megalomaniac to not attack a potential threat to their power), and her child wouldn’t be condemned to an early death or life as a child soldier.
Green light flared from the etched skull and snake – which began to move – the moment the necklace touched her skin. If she had to guess, she’d say that it was now keyed to her magical signature, making it so that the Dark Lord’s wards would recognize her as ‘marked’ and thus allow her to avoid any unfortunate consequences when crossing them.
Severus ushered her out his childhood residence, and beyond his anti-apparation wards. Lily Evans Potter was on her way to meet the Dark Lord.