Title: Should Have, Could Have, Would Have
Recipient: ~roseybee (Rose)
Summary: Severus Snape thinks about what was supposed to happen.
Rating: PG-13 for dark imagery.
Pairing: Severus/Lily, (with minor Sirius/Remus, if you look hard enough).
A/N: My recipient wanted a fic where Voldemort tries to kill Harry first (as suggested by Severus Snape) and Harry lives; Severus/Lily; main focus on Harry's life growing up. I think I was able to capture most of these requests.
The pub sat out of the way, along a darkened street that most respectable wizards would’ve declined to walk down during a normal day. The rumors started as most rumors do, as a frightened whisper between two people that soon spread to ten and then on to hundreds, the full truth being lost along the way. These were dark times, the upstanding wizards and witches nervously explained. Of course this place was evil and black and wrong. Of course it was.
There should’ve been blood-soaked alleyways, and rats with red, swollen eyes, scurrying over the patches of mold and blackness that coated the sides of the buildings. There should’ve been a constant chill in the air, never allowing one to take a decent breath. There should’ve been creatures lurking, waiting with razor sharp claws to snatch away innocent children from their parents’ arms. There should’ve been a presence that lingered over the street, filling up the area with menace and purpose. It would’ve been proper for these things to be present along this particular street. It would’ve fit in with the respectable sort and their fevered imaginations. But this forgotten road, that had sat neglected for years, was not that special. Nor were the buildings and businesses that resided there. The reason behind the feeling of darkness probably lay with the rising number of a certain type of wizard and witch that visited the only pub on the street.
The silly rumors were a perfect excuse for several Deatheaters to meet in secret, without any concerns regarding their enemies finding out. The pub itself was a typical English establishment, with no lingering curse hanging over it. It was in this pub, on this certain fall night that Severus Snape sat at one of the back tables, shrouded in darkness. He waited. It was close to the time when the Dark Lord had planned his final attack. Severus sipped at his drink, counting the seconds in his head, one by one.
They would all know soon. This war would be over and those who didn’t fall in line would be eliminated. Though Severus knew that if he hadn’t noticed Pettigrew’s growing unease with his position as traitor, then this night would never have come to pass. It should’ve been easy, so very simple. Pettigrew planted the suspicions, let them seep and take hold, and the plan was working. Lily and James made Pettigrew their Secret-Keeper and Black was made to take the blame.
But then, what? An attack of conscience? A memory of friendship surfaced? Severus did not care and tried not to think about it for the most part. The important thing was that he saw Pettigrew’s struggle and managed to stop the new chain of events before they happened. It would’ve been disastrous if Peter had told them. The Dark Lord would’ve failed in his mission and that would’ve only spelled disaster for those who followed him. Severus felt a smidgeon of pride for being the one to finally break Pettigrew and then being able to inform the Dark Lord of the Potters’ location.
Everything was in place now. The Dark Lord only wanted the child and Severus had made sure that Lily would be nowhere near the house tonight. His plan was perfect and he couldn’t wait to see its final results. Finishing his drink, Severus rose and silently put his cloak on. He started to walk toward the bar, to pay his tab, when the only door to the pub swung open. A battered individual entered, his ragged breathing the only sound as the rest of the pub’s patrons had suddenly stopped all chatter. After the man had regained some of his senses, he staggered to a nearby chair and sat down. Severus was beginning to become annoyed at the continuing silence and decided that it was definitely time to leave. He didn’t have time for dramatics tonight.
He started his walk toward the exit, but stopped upon hearing the frightened tone in the man’s voice. And as the man regaled the pub with his story, his voice rising in pitch and volume as he went along, Severus’s skin grew colder with each new word.
This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be happening. Not Lily. Dear God, not her. All Severus could recall years later about that night was the echo of her name inside his head.
Two years gone by and the pain still remained. Severus sat on a park bench, waiting as he always did, for the Boy who Lived to arrive. This was his ritual, his way of keeping her memory alive in his head. And when they finally came through the park entrance, the anger surged up inside as it usually did.
Harry should’ve died. It should never have involved Lily. She should be as beautiful as ever, walking amongst the rest of the world, not sitting in St. Mungo’s in a coma that will never end. It was all Harry’s fault. Severus sometimes imagined ways in which he could make the boy suffer for his role in all of this. But Severus had long-term plans and he could wait. After all, Severus was known for his patience.
He watched as Black and Lupin held on to the boy’s hands, as they walked toward the playground equipment. Ridiculous looking boy, he thought to himself. Too much like his father and not enough of Lily. Besides his eyes, what else did the boy get from his mother? Because of this, Severus could separate his feelings toward the boy and toward Lily. There was no guilt, because he couldn’t possibly be her son, not in the ways that truly counted.
Black helped the boy climb the ladder to the top of the slide. Lupin stood at the other end, waiting to catch the boy, a strange look upon his face. Severus wondered what his former school enemies thought of their responsibilities now, if Black resented taking what was essentially Potter’s place. If Pettigrew had fulfilled his part, then it wouldn’t matter one way or the other. Black would’ve been in Azkaban and Harry would’ve been dead.
Severus was tired of all the “would haves” in his life.
He watched them for over an hour, following the child’s every movement. The sunlight started to fade and he knew it was time to go. Black and Lupin collected the boy’s belongings and once again the three, hand in hand, walked along the path leading toward the park entrance. But as they passed near the spot where his bench sat, Lupin looked back into the growing shadows, a look of suspicion readily apparent on his face. Severus wasn’t worried about being discovered. His knowledge of cloaking charms and of potions that kept a person’s identity secret had always served him well in the past. But that didn’t stop him from examining Lupin’s wary stance and wondering what the werewolf thought he heard or saw. Maybe it was years of war that still kept Lupin on edge. Possibly it was the dark creature inside of him that made him just a bit suspicious. Either way, when Black asked Lupin if there was a problem, Lupin just shook his head and said, “No, Sirius. I think my mind was playing tricks on me. Let’s just get Harry home before it gets too dark.” And then the group of three was gone and Severus remained in the dark.
He had always felt most at home there.
I have reviewed your application for a position as the Defense against the Dark Arts professor at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and unfortunately, the position has already been filled for the upcoming term. But I believe that you would be best suited for the position of Potions professor at this time and I hope that you will accept. Please reply with your answer as soon as possible, so I can start the paperwork that you will need to sign in order to become the certified instructor for the course. Thank you for your interest at this time and I hope to hear from you soon.
Severus held the letter in his hand and had to resist the urge to crush it between his fingers. Potions. Not Defense against the Dark Arts. Dumbledore was threatening all his well-laid plans and he didn’t appreciate that. He sat down at his kitchen table and took a deep breath. He needed to calm down and figure out what needed to be done next. This was a set back, but not one that couldn’t be rectified. He would still be at Hogwarts and be able to keep track of Potter. Severus started to smile at the new plans that formed in his head and he knew that things would still work in his favor. As long as he maintained his composure and didn’t push too hard yet.
Severus felt satisfied and placed the letter back in its envelope. Looking up to check the time, he spat out a curse. He was late.
He hurried toward the hospital, hoping that he made it there before the group of three arrived. He needed his time with Lily and he wouldn’t relinquish that for anyone. As Severus found himself in front of the main doors to St. Mungo’s, he released a quiet sigh. He had made it.
Fighting his way through the crowds in emergency, Severus located an empty lift and pushed his way into it. “Five,” he spat out and then movement, fast and sure. Memories were bombarding him, and for once, Severus let them. The first time he saw Lily on the train to Hogwarts. His discovery of her parentage and the struggle he went through as a result. Finding out that she loved James and how that tore him apart. And then, his favorite memory of all, the only kiss he ever shared with Lily.
It was after the second attack by the Dark Lord upon the Potters and James was declared missing. Most thought he was dead and Lily was trying not to believe the same thing. Severus had played his part well and many never suspected that he truly was on the side of Voldemort. Most especially Lily. Severus knew that she didn’t completely trust him, but she never had any reason to believe that he would ultimately betray her family.
The night had been filled with curses and failed missions and thus everyone was too busy to be able to take care of Lily. Severus was tasked to take Lily home and make sure that she didn’t try to do anything foolish. This was easier said than done, but Severus had managed to get Lily back to her home and safely settled with a cup of tea, no less. Before he could take his leave, Lily had stopped him, placing her hand on top of his shoulder. Severus, in his deepest imaginings, could still feel the heat from the imprint of her hand.
“Severus? Can I ask you a question, before you leave?”
Turning around, Severus remembered the look of desperation on Lily’s face and he knew that he would never be able to deny her anything.
“What is it, Lily? How can I help?”
He still remembered how bravely she held back the tears and how ineffectual he felt at the time.
“Do you think that James is really dead?”
Severus had wanted to yell, “Of course he is and I couldn’t be happier!” but instead had just shook his head and said, “I don’t know, Lily. But I’m sure we’ll find out more in the morning and you should probably get some sleep now.”
Lily had nodded, turned as if to leave, and then instead threw herself into Severus’s arms. Sobs and murmurs of “He can’t be dead…he can’t be dead” fell from her lips. Severus had been shocked at first, but he had held on to Lily until the worst of it had been over. Then, as she had brought her head back up to look at Severus, he got the surprise of his life. Lily had pressed that swollen mouth against his. The kiss was brief, as Lily realized what she had done right away and was properly scandalized, but for Severus it was the one perfect thing in his entire rotten life.
And to this day, it was still the only bright thing Severus could cling to and use to remind himself that maybe, just maybe, he was still human. The lift stopped at the fifth floor and Severus ran out as soon as the doors opened. Lily’s room was at the end of the hall, next to the bank of windows that overlooked the back garden. As he neared the room, he heard voices. Thinking that they probably belonged to the doctor and the nurses, Severus continued in his trek. But, upon reaching the door, and looking through the small inlayed window, Severus realized his luck had run out. They were already here.
Black, Lupin and of course, Potter. They were arranged like a perfect little family around Lily’s bed. The boy held his mother’s hand and was talking to her, rattling off some nonsense about what he had done in school. Lupin stood at the end of the bed, his hand resting softly on Lily’s foot. Black, in all his arrogance, stood across from Potter, holding onto Lily’s other hand. The odd smile on his face made Severus seethe inside, but he held himself back. Obviously, he needed to find a spot where he could wait. Moving back into the corner shadows, Severus continued to watch the trio inside Lily’s room. He hadn’t actually seen the boy in a few years, but he always kept track of him. He knew that Lupin officially moved in with Black and Potter, when Potter was five, and that they had moved to a tiny house outside of London. He also knew that they sent Potter to a Muggle school for a couple of years, before realizing that it would be easier to teach the boy at home. Potter looked more like James every day and Severus wanted to retch at the idea of James’s son following in the footsteps of his father.
After a few more minutes of talk with Lily, the group decided to leave. Severus quickly found a spot across the hall, behind a large plant. He felt idiotic, but he had no choice. First Lupin, then Potter and finally Black left the room. All three looked tired and, though they would probably deny it, a bit teary-eyed. Before they could continue on down the hall, the boy turned to look back at his mother’s room one last time and spoke.
“Do you think she’ll wake up one day, Sirius?”
Black looked sad when he answered the boy, but his tone was resolute nonetheless.
“Of course, Harry. You believe in your mother, right? Well, you just have to hold on to the fact that your mother is strong and that if anyone can pull out of something like this, it’s Lily Potter.”
Severus noted Lupin’s look of resignation as he listened to Sirius’s response. He wondered if there was something brewing there that he should be aware of and decided to investigate later. Potter seemed satisfied with Black’s answer though and after taking one last look back at Lily’s closed door, he started the walk to the lifts, Lupin and Black right behind him.
Severus waited until they entered the next available lift before leaving his hiding place. He thought about the expression he saw on Lupin’s face and how he could use that to his advantage. He thought about Potter’s childish hopes and fears. He also thought about Black’s arrogant beliefs and how that might be his ultimate downfall. This was perfect. His plans were coming to fruition and Severus decided he must send a response to Dumbledore immediately upon his return to the flat.
Feeling better than he had in years, Severus straightened his robes, placed his hair behind his ears, and pushed open the door that led to his Lily.