Acacias and Willows – October, 1976 : The Apology

“I don’t need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!”

Severus groaned as he flung his quill down onto the library table, pressing the heels of his hands against his eyes in an attempt to keep the burning tears from flowing from them. He hadn’t meant to say that, least of all to Lily. Potter and Black, however, had just made him so furious and having to have help was just embarrassing.

In the weeks since the incident, the Marauders had gotten worse in their tauntings and his temper had him snarling right back at them. Part of him wasn’t in it, though. Always – always – after they were gone he would just end up slumped in a secluded corner, haunted again and again by what he had said that day.

He wanted to apologize. Merlin, did he want to!

Lily hadn’t been making it easy for him, however. Every time he’d tried to go anywhere near her, she’d immediately turned and walked away. Or worse – ignored him altogether.

That hurt far worse than anything Potter or Black could do to him.

“Damnit!” he cursed as he felt the tears come despite his efforts to keep them back. This was what had gotten him that stupid nickname in the first place!

Wiping furiously at his face with his sleeve, Severus rose and began to hurriedly gather his things, suddenly filled with the need to find her now. Whether she listened or not, whether she even still cared, he had to apologize. He had to try to make things right.

Shouldering his bag, he headed straight for Gryffindor Tower and lurked nervously outside of the Fat Lady’s portrait, trying to ignore the pitying looks that she was flashing his way. He stood there for what seemed like the longest time and then she emerged, talking with one of her housemates, and he dropped his bag as he moved forward with her name on his lips.

There was clear surprise in her eyes when she turned before it was clouded over with disgust and he could see the same in her housemate’s eyes.

“Can I talk to you?” he asked.

“Why should I when you obviously don’t want anything to do with me?” replied Lily, her tone clipped and cold as ice.

Severus glanced at her housemate then looked at her again before he whispered, “Please.”

“Oh for Merlin’s sake, Lil, just leave him,” groaned her housemate as she tugged on Lily’s sleeve.

Instead of answering immediately, Lily frowned at him, her green eyes narrowed slightly and her eyebrows furrowed. He met her gaze for a moment before he looked down at his shoes, his lank hair falling over his face. It was better that way – it would hide his disappointment when she said ‘no’ and left.

“Go on without me, Jane.”

Severus’ head came up in surprise and her housemate was looking at her with the same amount of shock.

“Lily…”

“Go,” repeated Lily, green eyes never straying from him. It took a moment but the other girl left after glaring at him. As soon as she was gone, Lily crossed her arms and said, “I’m only doing this because you said ‘please’, Sev.”

Sev.

His heart hammered in his chest at the shortening of his name – her shortening of his name – and for a moment Severus couldn’t breathe. Maybe, just maybe, he could salvage this. He didn’t want to lose her.

“I’m sorry, Lily,” he said in a quiet voice. “I didn’t…I didn’t mean to say that. Not to you.”

She made a strangled noise then exploded, “Only to me! Does that mean you’ve said it to other people?”

“What? No! I…that’s not what I meant!”

Lily shook her head, snapping, “I think you did!” Then she softened, her voice dropping to a whisper, as she breathed, “I’ve lost you, Sev.”

No, no, no, no, NO.

“No, you haven’t,” he insisted even though he knew she was right. He’d found a place amongst the worst students in Hogwarts and the knowledge he’d garnered of curses and the Dark Arts had given him a sure footing amongst them. It was something he’d never had before in his life and he craved it, wanted it, needed it, even though he knew he shouldn’t.

He couldn’t keep that place and Lily.

“I have,” she insisted, “and you know it too.”

Severus flinched at the truth, unable to deny it, then jerked violently as her hand reached out and gently touched his face. He stared at her, his throat closing up at the sadness in her eyes and he knew all was lost. His apologies were for naught.

He repeated the words anyway but they felt stale and bitter on his tongue now.

“I’m sorry, Lily.”

“I know,” she whispered, “but I can’t forgive you.”

Her hand fell away and it felt like his whole world crumbled with it. He started to reach out but he stopped himself, bringing his arm back to his side as she turned away. Instead he just bowed his head, hiding his pain behind the shields he’d crafted since childhood. Of course, as his oldest friend, Lily could see right through them.

As she started to walk away, he heard her breathe, “I’m sorry, Sev,” and he grabbed his bag and fled. Fled to his usual secluded spot and flung himself into the darkness, tears streaming down his face because he knew – knew deep down – that he’d just lost the only person he cared about.

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