Severus allowed himself a rare smile as he watched Lily twirling a strand of her scarlet hair around a slender finger; the tip of her pink tongue pressed between her lips as she hunched over the new Charms text that her favorite old professor, Flitwick, had sent to her that morning.
Severus, in contrast, sat as straight as Lily’s old squashy chair would allow, his Potions journal neatly waiting on the small table next to him. In one of his calloused hands, he held the wine glass Lily had handed him almost as soon as he’d stepped through the door earlier that evening. Severus brought the glass to his lips slowly, keeping his eyes on his wife’s petite form.
He never tired of gazing at Lily; it was still a wonder to him that she had wanted him at all. That Lily had finally found Severus to be something more, after years of insisting that they be simply friends. Severus took another slow sip of his wine and allowed his mind to trace back to his and Lily’s seventh year at Hogwarts.
James Potter had been after Lily for years of course, but it was only in their final year of school that James had begun pressuring her in earnest. Severus had watched the popular raven-haired Quidditch captain applying his considerable charms to his redheaded friend and heeverus had realized almost immediately that Lily would soon be lost to him forever. It had therefore frankly stunned him the night Lily sought him out after a day in Hogsmeade spent with James.
And when Severus escorted Lily back to Gryffindor Tower the next morning, they had met an extremely irate trio of Marauders in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady. Naturally, Black had threatened to “hex the sneer right off of Snivellus’ face” while Lupin half-heartedly restrained his other friend, a trembling though peculiarly reticent Potter. Lily had looked at all of them with apologetic eyes, though for Severus she had offered a small smile before she went through the portrait hole. Lupin had shepherded his two friends in after her and Severus had made his way down the moving staircases with a smile.
“Sev,” Lily broke into his thoughts and Severus focused on his wife once more. She wasn’t looking at him, though; her full attention rested on the Charms text. “I think we can do it,” she told him, and at her words, Severus stood and crossed the room with his stomach in knots.
Lily reached her hand absently toward Severus, not taking her gaze off the book, though she did squeeze her husband’s hand as he took it gently. Severus sat down elegantly in the chair opposite Lily and waited for her to continue. Finally, Lily looked up from the text and sighed.
“What is it?” Severus asked. Lily shook her head, making her pretty hair brush delicately across her cheeks. Without thinking, Severus reached out his free hand to gently smooth a few soft strands with the tips of his fingers. Lily smiled at his caress, her green eyes shining.
Severus let his hand fall back against his thigh, allowing his second smile of the evening to rest upon his thin lips. Lily leaned back in her chair, reaching again for a strand of hair to twist it nervously between her fingers.
“Sev, a charm like this has never been cast before,” she said. “I don’t know if it will work, but I think it’s our only chance right now.”
Severus frowned as Lily worried her bottom lip between her teeth, tensing as she fell silent. The guilt pushed at him, and he pressed the heel of his hand into his upper thigh, fighting to release the tension coursing through him. After a moment of careful occlusion to bring himself back under control, Severus relaxed his hand.
“Lily,” he said quietly andLily brought her eyes back up to Severus’ face. Severus knew she had recognized his tone; it was obvious from the resigned expression on her face. He knew as well what she was going to say in response to his oft-repeated plea. That didn’t stop Severus saying it once again, no matter how much the words galled him.
“Potter can keep you safe. There would be no need for the charm. We could still-”
But Lily didn’t even let Severus finish the entire soliloquy this time. Her jaw was set stubbornly and Severus had only belatedly noticed she had released her gentle grip on his hand; his hand felt strangely empty as it rested on his leg. Lily’s small hands were now fisted on the arms of her chair.
“No, Severus,” she said firmly. “We’ve been through this a dozen times. You are my husband and I don’t care how dangerous it is.”
Severus’ jaw tightened, his anger evenly matched with Lily’s. No matter that he had vowed over and over that he wouldn’t allow his easily stoked temper free during these discussions; his temper apparently had other plans. “We are not talking about a simple danger, Lily. Voldemort is not any mere wizard. And, my mother does not make idle threats.” The clear warning in his voice was completely ignored by his wife as she rose swiftly from her cushy chair; the Charms text fell to the wooden floor with a clatter.
“I will not be frightened into hiding by that bastard, Severus. And I don’t care about your mother’s threats. I will make the Charm work. I don’t care what it takes.” Lily folded her arms stonily over her chest and glared at her husband, who by this point had risen to stand in front of his furious wife.
“And if it does not work, Lily… What then?” Severus demanded. “My mother will make good on her threat against you. And I will not allow that.” He looked away then, emotion making his voice raw when he spoke again. “Even the prospect of you with James Potter is bearable in comparison to what Eileen would do to you.”
Lily had closed the space between them even before Severus had finished speaking. She reached her small hands behind Severus’ neck and pulled him toward her. Severus unclenched his arms in response, but left them dangling by his side.
With practiced ease, Lily pulled her warm body closer to her husband’s until her breasts were pressed up against his chest, and Severus responded immediately, bringing strong arms around her waist to clasp her to him in a firm embrace. Lily tilted her face up to his, and without hesitation, Severus’ lips met hers. She kissed him gently before resting her head on his chest.
With a start, Severus realized Lily’s manipulation and he shook his head ruefully. “Lily,” he chided her gently. Lily smiled into her husband’s shirt and Severus brought a hand up to her head to gently run his fingers through the fiery locks. “This is a serious matter,” he tried again. Lily didn’t answer except to trail her hands slowly up Severus’ back. He sighed and kissed the top of her head before pulling her slightly away from his chest.
Lily looked up at him , her bright eyebrows slightly furrowed. When Severus remained quiet, Lily shook her head at him. “I know it is, Sev. And I am taking it seriously. But I can’t just give you up.”
“I will agree for the time being, Lily,” Severus said gravely. “But, if the Charm does not work, the original plan will have to proceed.” Severus braced himself as he waited for the tirade he expected would be directed at him, but Lily only nodded her head. Severus felt her body heave as she took a deep breath.
“All right,” she said quietly. Determination though, glinted in her eyes as she said brusquely, “But, I am going to make it work.”
Severus restrained the urge to snap at her. He knew she was only agreeing because she didn’t believe her Charm would fail, and he knew as well that Lily would fight him for another solution if it did, but Severus would find no other solution in this.
And, if Lily’s Charm did indeed fail, Severus intended to hold her to her promise, no matter how it would destroy him to do so. Potter, he thought bitterly, would keep his wife safe from the Dark Lord. There was no one else Severus would trust to do so.
Severus nodded once when he made eye contact with his mother across a bistro several weeks later; Eileen narrowed her dark eyes as she followed his progress to the table.
“Mother,” he intoned as he slid silently into his chair.
“You will take the Mark tonight,” Eileen said. It wasn’t a question, but Severus could hear the slight tremor in his mother’s voice. Part of him felt pleased that he could trouble his mother in this way, to bring her long-dead emotions uncomfortably to the surface.
“Yes,” Severus answered her simply, and he watched her relax visibly; a simple uncurling of her claw-like fingers on the table.
“It disgusts me that you do this to keep your friends safe.”
Severus restrained the muscles in his jaw as they fought to tauten; his mouth stayed perfectly relaxed as his mother studied his reaction. “It matters not why I do it, Mother,” he told her in an even tone.
“To the Dark Lord, it will matter.”
Again, Severus forced calm to the surface of his mind as he schooled his features into a mask of calm. “My thoughts are my own.”
At that, Eileen was forced to concede. Though his father had been a harsh taskmaster in their almost daily Occlumency lessons, the results had been a power far exceeding his father’s original ability to conceive of. Severus found himself this day uncharacteristically grateful for his father’s teaching.
“Was there anything else?” Severus asked his mother formally. Eileen shook her head and waved a hand in dismissal.
As Severus stood up to leave, Eileen studied him again. “Even as you obey your father’s last wish for you, still you bring him shame.” The words were meant to wound deeply, but Severus had long since grown past the childish desire to please those who had given him life.
He simply raised a black eyebrow in his mother’s direction before turning away. He felt his mother’s eyes on him as he walked out the door. Steeling himself, Severus found a secluded spot and Apparated to Voldemort to begin the first phase of their plan to safeguard Lily.
Hours later, Severus stumbled into the parlor of his and Lily’s home after a rather rough Apparition. Lily scrambled over to him and caught him around the waist before he fell.
Another pair of arms grabbed hold of his upper arms, steadying him and guiding him over to Lily’s favorite chair. Strong arms, he realized, but Severus didn’t have the strength to look up. He grasped blindly for Lily’s hand, which caught his almost instantly and Severus felt peace wash over him as his wife tightened her grip.
“Lily,” he whispered as he felt her kneel beside him. She rested her forehead on his knee while she brought their intertwined fingers to her lips. Severus sighed in contentment as a cloud formed over his battered mind, and he allowed himself to forget everything but the feel of soft lips against his hand, the curve of her body against his leg.
He let his mind free of every vestige of occlusion, feeling safe as he did only in her presence, allowing his raw thoughts free reign. . As he let his mind wander, Severus closed his eyes against all the pain from this night and allowed himself to be lulled by Lily’s gentle voice into a much needed sleep.
It was hours later as his mind worked to form coherent thought against the torrent of nightmares deluging his sleep that Severus worked again to occlude his mind, even in his sleep. His thoughts reached out unconsciously to make a connection with Lily’s, seeking an anchor.
Severus’ sleep-addled mind probed innocently at his wife’s mind. The connection forged the day they were bound together as husband and wife was a strong one, and Lily allowed her husband immediate access. Severus latched on to the thoughts of love as he dove deeper into the web of images. As he did, he was propelled awake by the shock of what he saw there.
Lily, startled into consciousness by her husband’s cry, jumped up from the floor. She looked around wildly before settling her gaze on Severus. She touched his arm, and the touch broke something in Severus as he reeled from the knowledge of what his wife had kept from him.
“Why didn’t you tell me, Lily?” he rasped.
Lily didn’t ask what he meant. She took her Severus’ hand in her own and slid herself slowly into his lap. He stiffened as she did, but she ignored him, gathering his face gently in her small hands and tilted it up.
Severus met her gaze.
“I knew you wouldn’t agree to use the Charm if you had known,” she told him quietly, and Severus’ eyes blazed in unchecked fury. He stood roughly from the chair, pulling his wife with him; Lily allowed herself to be tugged.
Severus let go of Lily’s arms; his fingers balled themselves tightly into fists at his sides. “You lied to me,” he accused her harshly.
Lily straightened as Severus glared at her, unrepentant. “Yes,” she said. “I told you already, I’m not going to lose you. If you had known I was pregnant, you would have insisted I go with James.” Her voice was quiet and steady asSeverus attempted to reign in his temper.
Finally giving up, he erupted, “And I would have been right to! How could you do this?”
Lily continued to gaze at him steadily. “I know our child would be well taken care of by James, but it wouldn’t be the same. A boy needs his father, Severus.”
“A Death Eater father?” Severus sneered and then blinked. “Wh-What did you say? It’s… a boy?” Theanger drained from him, leaving him feeling extremely unsure of himself.
Lily smiled at her husband as she nodded, her eyes shining with happiness. She smiled even wider as Severus stepped hesitantly to her and reached a timid hand toward her abdomen; his hand stilled and hovered above her belly. Severus raised his gaze to Lily, asking permission. Lily rolled her eyes before grabbing Severus’ hand and pushing it firmly into her abdomen.
Severus drew in a harsh breath as he felt a tiny flutter under his wife’s thin shirt. His eyes darted up again, his eyes wide. Without another word, Severus pulled Lily to him. He pressed his lips gently against her hair; All other thoughts quickly left him as Lily wrapped her arms around his neck.
The only thing that mattered now was that Severus was going to have a son.