Age-Range Category: Five
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Severus, James/Lily
Beta Reader(s): snapesgirl62
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): Canon character deaths.
Summary: Severus simply lives his life, day after day.
With a sigh, Severus heaved himself out of bed and wrapped his dressing gown around him. Shuffling his feet into house slippers, he made his way to the small kitchen of his flat and within a few moments the kettle was on the hob, cup and additives for tea ready on the table. He sat and opened the paper, scowling at the outrageous headlines, knowing that someone would have something to say about the newest announcement of Potter's spawn.
He folded the parchment pages back and Summoned his wand, conjuring a pencil to complete the Wizarding crossword. Quills were fine and dandy for letter writing but crosswords had to be done in pencil. Despite knowing he could complete the bloody thing with a quill, the Wizarding puzzle was quick and extra marks could set you back. One had to be faster to write in the answer before the puzzle shifted to the next clue. If you didn't fill in the entire word, the letters disappeared.
The shrilling whistle made him jump even though he did this every morning and he finished filling-in the number twelve down word before rising from the table. He stood, stretched out his body and waited for the snapping sound that never came. In this climate, his bones didn't ache nor did his muscles quiver from overuse as much as they had when he'd been at Hogwarts.
He couldn't say he was happy but he supposed he was content: a thing he'd never thought he'd ever see, let alone accomplish.
Settling a pot on the table, he dumped in several scoops of tea leaves, making the brew strong and placing a cozy over the pot after he'd poured the water over the fragrant leaves. A tin of beans, bread and a large slicing tomato appeared on the counter, and Severus grinned. The house elves were always quick and never had he seen one since leaving Hogwarts.
It took him just a moment to prepare his toast and warm the beans, slicing the tomato in thick slabs and seasoning it. His timer for the tea buzzed and Severus poured himself a cup before tucking in to his breakfast. He finished the crossword puzzle while he ate.
Shifting his dishes to the sink, Severus made his way into the bedroom and dressed. He piddled as he did every day; cleaning his flat, reading, writing and brewing. Every day the same routine that carried him through his new life.
By late afternoon, he was ready for the arrival. He bustled into the kitchen and prepared the kettle again before visiting the loo. When he returned, she was already sitting at the table and he was beside her.
He scowled and sighed, but Summoned another cup. It clattered to the table in front of him and Severus had the pleasure of watching the bloody bastard jump.
Lily arched a brow at him and he smiled at her. "Sev..."
"Lily, don't start. I'll just go."
"James, sit down. We are going to get through tea one of these days without the two of you being such... prats."
She looked up at him and Severus was struck again by her beauty. The years had been kind to her when they had been anything but to him. If he had to admit it, he felt no older even though he had aged nearly twenty years since they had. Twenty years of hard life time between them now. And ten shared years in death.
"As you wish, my love," James's voice was sullen and Severus smirked as he settled across the table from them.
"Severus!" Lily snapped and he wiped the expression from his face, and then met her eyes.
The green was beautiful and brilliant, and just a touch of amusement on her face showed him she really wasn't all that angry. He couldn't help it, so he smiled at her again. "Yes, dear."
James scowled and Lily laughed as Severus picked up the tea cozy then began to pour. "Offer me a sweet, Sev. You know I have to have something with tea."
"Request anything you like, Lily. You know you are completely welcome in my home."
Instantly, the chocolate Tams that they shared as children appeared on the table. Her dainty fingers tore into the packaging carefully and once it was open, even James and Severus reached for a cookie.
"Another boy this time!" Lily chirped and James choked on his tea.
Severus snorted. "Yes, and he has retained the same appalling judgement of sentimentality in naming said offspring as before."
Lily rolled her eyes as James frowned. He said nothing though and continued to eat the cookies.
"I rather think it's quite charming and sweet."
"You would," both James and Severus said together and stared at one another, horrified.
Lily's laugh echoed in the kitchen.
"Regardless, I am thrilled to be a grandmama again."
Severus arched a brow. "Again, no. I don't believe it. You still look so lovely and fresh."
Lily laughed again and reached out to squeeze his arm. "Flatterer."
"And who's fault is that?!"
The entire flat seemed to still and tense at the same time.
Severus turned and looked at James, whose face was red with rage, and not for the first time since all those years ago did Severus feel fear. Despite living longer and facing horrors more terrible than the younger man in front of him could ever imagine, Severus also felt the heavy weight of guilt. Not only had he killed his beloved, but he'd had her lover murdered, too.
"I know," came Severus's soft answer.
"James..." Lily's hand rested on James's arm and he shook her off.
"No, Lily, I am going to have my say, finally. Every day, every year, we sit here and pretend that nothing happened. He scowls, you titter and I hold my tongue. Time passes. Well, I can't do it any longer."
Severus sat with his head bowed and listened to James as he raged. It was the same every day. He rose and had breakfast, passing his day in ordinary life, and then tea came bringing the anger, the sadness and loss. He took it because it was what he did for his penance. Still. Just as it was Lily's to endure the two of them and James's to take his emotions out on Severus in an everlasting circle of pain/pleasure that ripped him-- ripped them all-- raw continuously.
This heaven/hell of time that moved on with the world was their afterlife, and they had to make the best of it. Until all were ready to let go and release the earthly confines that followed them then no one could truly move on.
Youth made it difficult for Lily and James to leave the one connection that had spent nearly every day with their son and Severus wasn't willing to ever let Lily go.
But this time, it seemed, the script had changed. Again. And he recalled each time it had before and reminisced about what he had gained and lost. James's voice and ranting was lost as he delved into the memories of his arrival: first his mum and father. He'd nearly killed that bastard, but his mum had stopped him, and then both left him alone.
Lily came to him and his soul broke again at seeing her when he had looked for her through Potter. Her anger and eventual forgiveness had swelled his heart and he hoped for a real reconciliation. But she had remained.
Then she had brought others: Lupin and Black, Albus and Regulus Black. The one that had nearly crushed him completely though was Charity Burbage. Each one had had their say and so had Severus but the only ones that kept returning were the Potters.
The years had passed and he watched the world move on. He had tea with Lily and Potter as they discussed the one thing that connected them all together.
"And as much as I hate it to say it, here it is: thank you. Thank you for seeing after Harry when that bitch Petunia wouldn't. She only did enough to get by and you were a surly bastard to him, but he survived because of you."
Severus's head jerked up and he stared at James incredulously. He cut his gaze to Lily who had a small grin on her face.
"Well, it's about bloody time, love. It only took you ten years." Lily looked over at Severus and smiled.
James gawped at her then chuckled. He reached out and pressed a kiss to her temple before standing. "When you are ready, I will be waiting."
He turned a look on Severus and took a deep breath. "You have her for now, but I expect this not to go on much longer." He nodded at Severus then reached out and caressed Lily's face before vanishing completely.
Severus swallowed and looked at Lily. It was the first time they had been alone together since his arrival. "I..."
She shook her head. "I'm tired, Severus. Despite seeing Harry prosper, it's time to let the ghost go. I'm ready, and so are you."
He didn't know what to say about the feeling that clawed at his throat. There were no more words to say, nothing that would leave his lips and keep her here now. And yet, he couldn't rid himself of her spirit just yet. He reached out for her and she clasped his hand, squeezing his fingers. "Say it, Severus, and release us."
He bit his lip, nothing left to figure out, then and he broke through the memories of the past. "I'm sorry."
She smiled at him and tears welled up at the corners of her eyes. Her fingers clutched his tighter and she nodded. "I forgive you, Sev."
His gasps came hard and fast now, knowing time was short. He could almost see her fading and felt her grip loosening as well. He looked down and saw his own hands were more transparent then looked back up to catch her eyes once more.
The tears were gone as was most of the rest of her, but her lips curled and those green eyes bored into him. "I'll always be there, Sev. Let's rest now."
Severus nodded and watched her disappear then followed, as he always had, into the clear path of ever after.