Five Minutes

Chapter 71

Disclaimer; I don't own the wizarding world of Harry Potter or any of the characters in it. I wish I did. But I don't.

Hello readers!

Just repeating, sorry to say that I'm going on holiday for a couple of weeks and won't be able to update so, at least for two and a bit weeks, this will be the only update. Sorry.

Anyway, here's Chapter Seventy-One.

Hope you enjoy it!

Chapter Seventy-One

Herbology was a long and boring lesson, especially in the morning. Hardly anyone concentrated and those who did were always put off by the fake snores and laughter coming from the marauders in the corner who, even though they were just as tired as the rest, always managed to be awake enough to mess about and pull childish pranks such as trying to feed a mandrake to a tentacula plant. (They were all given detention for that and Remus and James were told that, as figures of authority in the student body, they should know better.) Their jokes always managed to make the class a bit more alert though, if only for five minutes. Still, it was probably five minutes more than Professor Sprout would have usually gotten out of her students first thing on a Thursday morning.

The lesson dragged on and the whole class was greatly relieved when it had ended, even those who were considering taking Herbology further on into a career. As soon as Professor Sprout began to give out the homework, the class started to pack up, barely listening to what she was saying meaning that, for their next lesson, half of the class would have no idea that they had homework due. Still, after a long class, even for the teacher, Professor Sprout decided not to stop them. She would deal with it next week. She let them go quickly and they all left hurriedly, bringing great relief to both her and the class.

The Gryffindor's dispersed into their separate groups to walk back up to the castle or through the grounds, all keen to make the most of their break. The marauders headed over to their beech tree. Alice left Lily and Hestia to go meet up with Frank who was walking a little ways ahead of them, making their way to the entrance hall which was crowded with students. Hestia and Lily strolled casually behind the group, not too bothered about getting inside quickly as it was a nice day and not too keen to be caught in the crowd. Hestia was rambling on about the assignment they had just been given but Lily wasn't listening.

'..and then I thought we could go on to say how the tentacula plant needs dragon dung as its fertiliser because otherwise the roots will seize up.' Hestia was saying, 'I'm sure that's what Sprout said anyway. And then I thought we could-' she suddenly noticed Lily wasn't listening to her but instead in her own world glancing over to the marauders who were playing with sparks across the grounds. Hestia sighed in frustration. Lily was constantly doing this to her these days. 'Then I thought I'd dress one up in a tutu and make it dance with a hippo.' she said, in a sort of test to see whether Lily was actually listening to her. As she expected, she wasn't. 'Lily?' Hestia said once before giving her a gentle shove and repeating, 'Lily?'

'Yeah?' Lily said, caught off guard and snapping back into reality. She blinked at Hestia twice. She looked unusually dazed.

'Are you ok?' Hestia asked concerned, 'I'm talking to you about the homework we were just set and you're not paying the slightest bit of attention to me. Too busy staring at your boyfriend.' she mumbled.

'We were given homework?' Lily queried, ignoring Hestia's last comment.

'Alright.' Hestia said, stopping their slow walk, 'That's it. What's wrong?'

'Nothing.' Lily lied, shaking her head.

'Lily.' Hestia replied with a knowing sigh. She stared at Lily questioningly for a couple of seconds before Lily said something.

'You don't want to know.' Lily shrugged, trying to start walking again, only Hestia pulled her back.

'Yes I do.' Hestia said, 'I asked didn't I?'

'Yes but you don't want to know.' Lily contradicted, an air of impatience around her, 'It's about James and you banned me from talking about him before twelve and its, oh look at that, quarter past ten.' she went on sarcastically, pretending to check her watch.

'This is an exception.' Hestia said, folding her arms and rolling her eyes before adding, 'And you made me sound like a real bitch just then.'

'Hestia!' Lily reprimanded, scolding Hestia's language.

'Well you did!' Hestia defended, 'I never said it like that. It's just you've been going on about him an awful lot lately because you think he may lo-'

'Shh!' Lily interrupted quickly, shutting Hestia up as quickly as possible and looking around them to see if anyone was within earshot. Namely James. He wasn't no one was.

'What?' Hestia said in confusion as to why Lily had just stopped her from finishing her sentence.

'Just shh.' Lily said plainly and quickly.

'Why?' Hestia asked, still extremely confused.

Lily paused, thinking through all of Hestia's little unwritten rules which she had spoken about in the past when their conversations veered off onto tangents. There were a lot of them and sifting through them, remembering them all was more of a hassle than anything else to Lily. Still, if she could remember one tthat could possible pertain to her situation, Hestia might drop it and actually focus on the situation that Lily had presented; James keeping secrets from her. She thought back over their years of friendship and of all the rules Hestia had given her, (and that number was great), the only thing she could actually remember was 'you can't rewrite an unwritten rule it's unwritten'. And she couldn't even remember if that was one of Hestia's rules or something she had said as a sarcastic retort. She was stuck. So she made something up.

'Isn't it bad luck or something?' she said, hoping Hestia might possibly agree and keep it as an unwritten rule or, by any great stoke of look, hoping it was already an unwritten rule. It wasn't.

'No.' Hestia said.

'Oh.' Lily replied, feeling a bit deflated and thinking that Hestia would now continue off onto tangents about rules and love etc. Her problem would never be sorted now. She would never get the advice she craved.

But Lily sorely underestimated her best friend for as many un-rewritable unwritten rules that had occurred to Hestia in that moment, as much as she wanted to get inside and repaint her nails after Herbology,(for they had been chipped by wearing her dragon-hide gloves), and as much as she wanted to go and get something to eat, (for Sirius had, once again, nicked her toast that morning), Lily's distant state of mind concerned her. She was obviously worrying about something and, even though Hestia was slowly becoming tired of Lily's flourishing relationship with James Potter as she had no-one herself, she couldn't not try to help her. She was her best friend. It was her job.

'What's wrong?' Hestia asked, truthful concern colouring her voice and appearing on her face, 'Why are you going off into your own world?'

Lily studied Hestia carefully. 'I can tell you?' she questioned, 'Even though it's about James and it's before twelve?'

'Yes.' Hestia sighed in exaggerated exasperation. Seriously, why would she ask if she didn't mean it? Hestia was not particularly one for saying things falsely. 'I'm your best friend,' she continued, 'it's what I'm here for. To support you no matter what. Even if it is some annoying ramblings about your boyfriend.' she added afterwards, muttering it under her breath, not expecting Lily to hear. Only she did.

'Hestia.' Lily exhaled, 'I'm not telling you if you're going to be like that'

'I'm not.' Hestia said, making out like it was a joke though she wasn't quite sure if that was entirely true, 'I'm listening. Go on.'

Again, Lily studied her face, ensuring that she was completely serious before telling her what the issue was. 'Ok.' she said cautiously, 'Well…god this sounds stupid now but...I think James is keeping a secret from me.'

'A secret?' Hestia repeated, 'Seriously?'

'Yes.' Lily answered.

'But I thought you were going to declare a no secrets rule after all that stuff over Snape etcetera, etcetera.' Hestia pointed out.

'I did.' Lily said, relaxing into the conversation, now sensing that Hestia was taking this subject completely seriously which, after all, is all she really wanted. Because if she hadn't then she would be unable to receive the advice she so desperately sought. 'Which is why I think he's keeping something from me.' she continued.

'Well, have you asked him what it is?' Hestia said, trying to swipe the obvious suggestions of what to do out of the way first before moving onto her more…creative ones.

'Yes.' Lily said indignantly, rolling her eyes at the easy suggestion. It was stupid. But at the same time, it got her thinking. She may have asked him, but he never had given her an answer. They had moved onto other activities. 'Well…I tried.' Lily started to say, 'But he…well we…he distracted me.'

'So you started to snog instead.' Hestia said bluntly.

'You're so crude sometime Hestia, you know that?' Lily said. She hated the word snog. It sounded almost piggish. It sounded like the words snort or oink combined which, generally, were words she associated with pigs. So whenever someone said the word 'snog' instead of a kiss, she would just get the vivid image of a pig in her head. And more often than not, the pig would be modified to look like a cartoon with mop like hair and a straw hat. Wow. James was right. She was weird.

'That's not crude Lily it's being honest.' Hestia said, taking her turn to roll her eyes, 'Being crude would be if I were to say-'

'Ah ah. Ah ah.' Lily said, cutting Hestia off and holding her finger into the air. They may be seventh years now, eighteen and everything, but did that really mean that they had to be crude all the time? Yes it was more socially acceptable at their age, much more so than if they had been speaking like this at age thirteen, but still; it was sometimes just a bit too much.

'Fine.' Hestia gave in, returning to her original point, the simplest soloution in the world, 'But just ask him.' It really was simple and why Lily hadn't tried to do it again Hestia would never understand. It also meant that Hestia's creative ideas would have to wait to be used. She just didn't know they never would be.

'And if he won't tell me?' Lily questioned.

'Ask him again.' Hestia shrugged, 'He'll tell you eventually. He can't deny you anything. It's sickening really.'

'What?' Lily laughed. That had to be false. James denied her things. Didn't he? Actually, come to think of it, he never did. He always gave her exactly what she wanted. He spoilt her. She was spoilt rotten by him. Even more so recently. But she'd never realised before. Others had though. Hestia especially.

'It's true.' Hestia said, 'He will give you anything you want and he will tell you anything you want to hear. Like at breakfast this morning. When we were walking down to breakfast he kept saying how much he wanted a muffin and when we got to the table there was only one left and then halfway through he still hadn't eaten it and you decided, 'hey, I fancy a muffin'. So you asked him if he really wanted it and, everyone could tell he did but one look into your eyes and that odd pouty type face and he gave it to you even though he didn't actually want too.'

Lily raised an eyebrow at the example. She could think of better ones. Her birthday for example when he had given her practically everything but the sun. Still, the example Hestia had chosen had given Lily cause for doubt. 'But that's a muffin Hestia.' she said, 'A secret is hardly the same thing.'

'Maybe not but he'll still tell you it.' Hestia said with another shrug, 'Believe me. Get him to look into your eyes and he'll be putty in your hands. I've seen it.'

Lily didn't know if that fact was true. 'I haven't.' she said.

Hestia shook her head. 'Trust me.' she said.

James had just left the dinner table to go and take a walk with Lily around the grounds of the castle leaving Sirius alone with Peter. Remus was on his way having just needed to whip to the library to look something up. So it was just Sirius and Peter, always an awkward situation for Peter held Sirius in reverence but was a tiny bit scared of him whilst Sirius hardly had the time of day for him. Still, that didn't mean he wouldn't talk to him if he was the only one around. Unfortunately he wasn't the only person there. Hestia Jones was too so she had the delightful pleasure of being first in line for Sirius to talk to.

'So Jones-'

'Please don't talk to me Black.' Hestia cut him off.

'You don't even know what I'm gonna say!' Sirius exclaimed.

'I don't care.' she said.

'What if it was to make you an offer you couldn't refuse?' Sirius questioned, ripping a piece of bread and stuffing the larger half in his mouth.

Hestia grimaced at him. 'Believe me,' she said, 'if it's an offer from you it will be all too easy to refuse. In fact, you gross me out so much I'm even considering getting my divination book out and studying.'

'So you've never considered getting with me then?' Sirius asked, rather surprised.

Hestia paused. Every girl in the school had considered it. She was no different but still, considering was a completely different thing to doing. And she would never 'do' Sirius. She'd seen him eat. She knew where that mouth had been. It was disgusting. 'No.' she said shortly.

'Fair enough.' Sirius shrugged, 'Guess you're stuck with Pete then if you don't like completely perfect guys with great hair, fit body's, personality, skill, charm, skill, (in the other sense eh Jones!) and just all round awesomeness.'

'I like guys like that.' Hestia said honestly, 'Just a shame you aren't one.'

'Ouch! Jones you wound me!' Sirius said, clamping a heart over his chest.

'Seem to remember Potter doing something similar to that to Lily.' Hestia said, picking her bag up off the floor, 'Please don't start doing what he did to her to me.'

'What's that?' Peter asked meekly, finally joining the conversation, finding his confidence and courage at long last to speak.

'Follow her around, ask her out every day, feed her corny lines and basically be an annoying twat.' Hestia said, 'Then again, Blacks already an annoying twat so-'

'Hey!' Sirius butted in as Hestia smirked and flicked through her book to the page she had folded down in the corner, 'I am not an annoying twat!'

'Then what would you call it?' Hestia challenged.

'I would call it being awesome as I am just that.' Sirius stated smugly, 'Awesome.'

Hestia just rolled her eyes and started to read her book.

'Wouldn't do any of that to you anyway Jones.' Sirius said, shoving the rest of his bread into his mouth, 'You ain't worth it. Besides, got a lot more fitter girls than you trailing after me and as you're Lily's friend, it'd be wrong cause, let's face it, it'd never work out between us. I know it's hard to hear. Hard to hear that you'll never get to experience the complete and total package, (package eh Jones!), that is Sirius Black but hey! You'll get over it.'

'Already am.' Hestia stated.

Sirius scowled. 'Besides,' he said, 'Following girls around, asking them out every day, feeding them corny lines That's Prong's thing. He's the pansy in the group.'

Hestia scoffed.

'It's true.'

'What's true?' Remus asked Peter as he sat down, holding a weird object that he had just confiscated from a fifth year Slytherin.

'That Prongs is the pansy in the group.' Peter replied, dutifully filling Remus in on what he had missed.

'No more so than Sirius.' Remus laughed, 'Prongs may be a pansy when it comes to Evans but at least he can handle firewhisky.'

Hestia snorted with laughter over this. It was funny that the boy who built himself up to be awesome in every aspect of his life and physical being couldn't handle the one drink teenage boys prided themselves on drinking.

Sirius again scowled but, instead of moving onto a conversation which he knew would just mock him and his inability to handle the alcoholic drink, changed the subject, ignoring Hestia's snort. 'What's that?' he asked pointing to the object Remus had with him.

'Dunno.' Remus replied honestly, 'Confiscated it off of a Slytherin. No idea what to do with it though.'

'Want my advice?' Sirius smirked.

Remus hesitated before saying slowly and cautiously, 'Sure…'

'Handle every situation like a dog.' Sirius said with an affirmative nod, 'If you can't eat it, play with it or pee on it, just walk away.'

Remus stared at Sirius with raised eyebrows. 'You are disgusting Padfoot.'

Sirius just grinned.

James and Lily were walking around the grounds of Hogwarts hand in hand as they usually did after lunch. Their walk wouldn't be long today as they had a Transfiguration class straight after and neither of them wanted to be late for it. James wouldn't have minded for any other subject but he excelled in Transfiguration and enjoyed it so, for this, he joined Lily in wanting to be on time. Plus McGonagall scared the bejeezers out of him sometimes and, as their N.E.W.T's were only one and a half months away from beginning, he didn't really want to take the chance to cross her. Not that he didn't enjoy it sometimes. She was fun to wind up. But, no matter what anyone else thought, he did understand the importance of his N.E.W.T's. He wanted to be an auror. He wanted to do his father proud. He wanted to make his mum proud. He wanted Lily to be proud of him. He needed his N.E.W.T's. So Lily and James' walk wasn't to be long today. But that didn't mean that their conversation was sparse. In fact, it was quite deep. They were talking about the war.

The war had been building outside of the walls of Hogwarts for quite some time now and, it seemed, from the articles printed in the daily prophet, it had started to rage, hitting what all would wish would be its peak. But people knew it wasn't. They knew it would get worse. They just didn't know how. There were already deaths and disappearances and tortures reported every day, all involving Voldemort's death eaters but, oddly enough, hardly ever involving Voldemort himself. However, when the report did include Voldemort or, as he was refered to, he-who-must-not-be-named, you could always guarantee that it was for a horrendously brutal death of someone important or a particularly strong protestor. Only then, it seemed, would he consider you worthy enough to kill you himself. That already scared people. But something had increased their panic. And it was plainly a sign. And this was what James and Lily were talking about in deep discussion.

There had been an article in the paper that morning that, recently, over the place where somebody killed by Voldemort or his forces resided, there was a sign in the sky; the dark mark. A spell had been created that meant, when cast, the clouds above where the dead body lie would morph into a skull with a snake protruding from the mouth. It symbolised Voldemort and people were now becoming even more terrified than they already were. James and Lily were discussing, strangely, that if someone they loved had been killed by Voldemort whether they would prefer to come home and see the mark or not. James said he would prefer to see the mark. Lily on the other hand, wouldn't.

'At least you'd be prepared for what's inside.' James said reasonably.

'Yeah but then you'd know what had happened specifically and that would be worse, surely.' Lily argued.

'I don't know.' James said, 'I mean, either way it's bad. Someone you love has died and, even if the dark mark wasn't above your house you'd still know it was Voldemort. The only difference is, when the dark mark is there, you know what's coming. You can prepare yourself for seeing it, finding them. Otherwise you're just going into it blind and I think it's even more of a shock.'

'It'll be a shock either way.' Lily said all the while thinking this was an odd topic to be discussing. It was odd discussing it with such detatchment. But, then again, withing the walls of Hogwarts, they were detatched from the situation, from the war. But that didn't mean Lily wasn't prepared for going out into it. She had to be prepared, more so than James. She had considered every possibility because she had had too. Because she was muggleborn. She was a mudblood.

'I know that.' James replied, with a roll of his eyes, 'I just mean that you wouldn't expect it. If the marks there you would.'

'So you'd prefer to see the mark above your house?' Lily questioned, 'Or mine?'

'Lily.' James warned, snapping into the fact that now, they were no longer holding a rationalised discussion. They were now in personal territory, applying it to themselves. And he didn't want to do that. He wanted to live in Hogwarts, in the delusional safety it had provided them with for a little bit longer. But Lily was different.

'Well come on James, out of the two of us whose house is that mark more likely to appear over?' Lily asked with a slight tone of exasperation appearing in her voice.

'Lily will you please stop?' James instructed her, stopping their walk and turning her to face him. 'Please don't talk about it like that.'

'Well how else am I meant to talk about it?' Lily said, 'It's more of a threat to me than you and-'

'That's not the conversation we were having.' James cut in.

There was a tangible silence in the air between them. They just stood looking at each other, James trying to convey to her his urgent request for her to stop talking about it all in this way. It seemed to him as if she had resigned herself to the fact that the dark mark would appear over her house in the near future anyway and he didn't like it. He felt like she was almost giving up, even though that wasn't the case. She was simply, as James had said seeing the mark would force you to do, preparing herself for the possibility of some sort of similar event even though she knew she would fight tooth and nail before she let it happen.

'I'd never want to see that mark over your house.' James said seriously after a long pause. He stepped a little bit closer to her and tucked a strand of loose hair behind her ear, watching his hand as it went before looking into her eyes. 'And that mark won't ever appear over your house because I won't let it. It'll never happen to us.' James continued, as if he were certain that would be the case. As if he were certain that Voldemort wouldn't touch them, which of course, he couldn't be sure of at all. But he had to believe it. He couldn't bear not to. It was too hard.

Lily sensed the conversation stopped there. It had too as there was a ferocity in James' eyes over this subject, a hardness that had covered them which, if truth be told, scared her a little bit. She continued to look into them though, unable to pull her gaze away from those emotional hazel eyes under his glasses. His eyes had captivated her. And that reminded her.

'Hey what did you mean yesterday?' she asked suddenly, going straight for it. No time like the present.

'What?' James asked, caught off guard by the sudden change of topic. A topic which he wasn't too clear on.

'Yesterday.' Lily said, trying to remind him. She explained; 'We went up to your room and we were talking and I said how we don't have any secrets and you clammed up and I asked you if there was anything you wanted to tell me and you said no-'

'Then I meant no.' he cut in in a hard voice which clearly told her to drop it.

Lily paused at his quick response. She was still looking into his eyes and he was still looking into hers. 'But you didn't though.' she said, trying to hold the gaze, 'Cause I went to ask you again and you kissed me to shut me up.'

'I kissed you to kiss you.' James said, his eyeline dropping to her lips, the hand that wasn't holding hers beginning to fiddle with her hair, twirling it around his finger and running it through them.

Lily noticed. She paused again. 'No,' she began again, 'you didn't you-'

But once again she was cut off because James had pressed his lips to hers. He stayed there until he felt her relax. Then he began to move his lips against hers, knowing she would do the same. He stepped closer to her and took his hand out of hers so that he could snake it around her waist and pull her closer to him. But he shouldn't have because that action alerted Lily to the fact that she was becoming distracted, as she had been the day before, and she pulled away from him.

'You did it again!' she said with a slight disbelieving laugh.

'Did what?' James shrugged, playing dumb but still not looking her in the eyes. He couldn't risk Lily asking him about the secret he was keeping from her, the secret that wasn't his to tell, and giving him that look which would force him to spill the beans. He couldn't risk experiencing that tug and snap feeling she gave him because if he did he knew he would be powerless against her and he would have no choice but to tell her about Remus and his, Sirius' and Peter's illegal activities. So he just averted his gaze.

'Kissed me to shut me up.' Lily said, 'Why do you want to shut me up?'

'I don't.' James said, brushing the hair back from her face again and cupping her cheek with his hand and he stepped forwards to her again. 'I just want to kiss you.' he went on, bending his head down, focusing on her lips, in a move to kiss her one more time but Lily wasn't playing ball. She pulled out of his hold and stepped away, a good couple of feet.

'Why did you invite me up to your room yesterday?' she demanded.

'Your lips look so good right now.' James said.

'James.' Lily warned.

'They entice me.' James said.

Lily sighed exasperatedly. 'James-' she began to say when her attention was once again diverted. 'Entice?' she quieried, 'Where did you learn that word?'

James smirked, his distraction working. He stepped forwards towards her again and ran his hand down her arms to her hands which he took. 'Wouldn't you like to know.' he said cheekily.

Lily broke a small smile. 'Actually I-' then she stopped, realising what he had done. 'Hey!' she said, pulling away from him again, 'No. No. Stop distracting me.' she went on, bringing her hands up to her temples in frustration before quickly bringing them down again and asking, 'Why did you invite me up to your room yesterday?'

'Just to spend time with you.' James said, daringly looking into her eyes as he was telling her the truth for this question. 'I told you that.' he pointed out.

'You're not telling me the full story.' Lily stated, no room for contradictions, as she bluntly said, 'I think you have a secret.'

'I don't.' James said quickly, his eyes falling again.

Lily noticed his eyeline drop. She stayed staring at him though, a silence between them again, even more tangible than the last.

'I don't.' James repeated, rolling his eyes and looking above her head to try and make it appear as if he was looking at her when he wasn't.

'I don't believe you.' Lily replied stubbornly, folding her arms and fixing him with a stare, trying to force him to look at her.

James sighed. 'I don't have a secret Lily but I do have to go.' he said, suddenly deciding.

'Why?' she asked, unable to believe that he was ducking out on this conversation, a conversation she so clearly wanted to have.

'I just do. See you later.' he said, moving forwards to give her a kiss goodbye, only she turned her head away from him.

Lily didn't want to kiss him now. Not when he was so clearly hiding something from her and insulting her intelligence by trying to make her believe otherwise.

James sighed again. 'Lily.' he said, staying where he was, ready to kiss her. But she just turned her head further away from him stubbornly. James stood up straight. 'Fine.' he threw at her harshly before muttering, 'See you later.' and walking away, leaving her there in her stubborn state.

Severus was lost. Lost in a state he couldn't describe. He had nothing to cling on to now. He had said it before, he was going to let her go and move on with his new life, become a death eater fully, heart and soul into the work, but something had always dragged him back, dragged him back to her. Now there was nothing. He had a thoroughly empty void in his heart but still, he couldn't seem to let go. He didn't know what it was. She had a hold over him even though it was clear she wanted nothing to do with him. She had slapped him for Merlin's sake! If that wasn't a sign then he didn't know what was. He knew she had gone, she was no longer his, she was James Potters. But he would always be hers. Always. He couldn't help it. He didn't want to be now. He wanted to let her go. He just couldn't and he didn't know why. He needed help. But he knew that there was no one to give it to him. He was alone. Lost and alone.

He still stared at her, though more infrequently than before, as they sat in Ancient Runes for the last period of the day. He couldn't help it. He couldn't help that he loved her. He couldn't help how much he loved her. He had no control of it and, before, when there was still a small chance, no matter how delusional it was, he hadn't minded. He had loved his love for her. It was the best part of him. Now it was a weakness. It had always been a weakness considering the path of life he was taking and her blood status but now it was even more of a weakness because he knew now he couldn't control it in anyway. It was just there. A weight that dragged him down and depressed him for he knew she would never feel the same way. Not towards him anyway. Perhaps towards James Potter though.

That was how bad things had gotten in his mind now. Severus couldn't even bring himself to call James a git or a twat or a toe-rag, not even in his mind. He didn't even try to curse him because he knew he wouldn't retaliate and, really, there was no point. It wouldn't even touch Lily anymore. James Potter had permission to hurt him, not that he used it; trying to be upstanding now as head boy and, Severus suspected, for Lily. But Severus still loathed him, hated him even. He just couldn't be bothered to show it anymore. He couldn't be bothered with anything. He felt completely drained emotionally. It was draining to see the girl you love fall in love with someone else. It was heart-breaking and depressing and had forced him out of that terrible state of denial into a state of pure nothingness. He felt as if he was floating in blackness, even though he swore he couldn't feel anything. He could see no future for himself. Not even as part of Voldemort's ranks. Perhaps if he was actually out there with them he would but here, at Hogwarts, there was nothing for him. He had perhaps known that for a while but hadn't wanted to accept it. He hadn't accepted it now. But he did understand it.

He understood she didn't want him. He understood that. He didn't like it, he didn't accept it but he no longer denied it. He understood. She wanted nothing to do with him though he wanted everything to do with her. And that's how thing were sure to stand for the rest of his life. He wanted to love her. He wanted her on his arm the way she was on James Potters. He wanted to hold her like he did, to kiss her like he did, to caress her like he had. He wanted to know what she felt like. He dreamed about it. He wished she had chosen him. Him to give herself to. She had as good as confirmed that she had given herself to James Potter over Christmas when he had cornered her in the library, the time before the time she had slapped him. And James had taunted Severus with the fact in the Christmas break before he had cursed him. Perhaps if he had known that she was still innocent and had never gone that far with James then maybe his level of depression may not have been as deep as it was. For he was depressed. Thoroughly empty. And he knew there was nothing he could do about it whilst he was a Hogwarts.

Hogwarts. That was another thing; he would never use his N.E.W.T's for anything so why he had to do them he didn't know. He had lost motivation there too. Usually, in the past, his motivation was competition. He had actively competed against James Potter, trying to beat him for personal satisfaction but now he didn't. He had had friendly competitions with Lily, trying to get better grades than each other. But now he didn't. He didn't do anything now to be fair. He only put effort into one subject and that was Defence Against the Dark Arts but only because it was the only subject in the school that was remotely related to the Dark Arts which had always fascinated him. He put no effort into Potions but, then again, he didn't need to. He still got the best marks in the class. He put no effort into Herbology. He was failing that. He put no effort into Transfiguration and was failing that also, thoroughly annoying McGonagall who urged him to try and do better as she knew he could. He was failing Ancient Runes and Charms too. He just couldn't be bothered. With anything. And that was a dangerous place to be.

He sat behind Lily staring at her deep red hair cascading down her back, pushed back by a white headband. He was lost in her hair. And yet, he wasn't. He knew it was still fantasy, a fantasy he didn't particularly want to have but, what other option was there. He felt he had none. His mind wouldn't let him do anything else. So until the bell rang signalling the end of the lesson, he just stared at her.

When the bell did ring he stood up and left the class, no desire for food even though it was dinner time. He couldn't even find the desire to protect himself emotionally against James Potter picking Lily up from this class, kissing her in welcome and taking her books off of her before walking her down to dinner. He would just let it happen. He knew it would. After all, his plan to split them up, to prove that James was still nothing but a bully had backfired on him horribly. It hadn't ripped the couple apart at all. In fact, they had seemed closer than ever. Or so he thought before he walked out of the lesson to see, not James Potter, but Peter Pettigrew waiting for her instead. Now, either Severus had been transported into one seriously freaky Friday on a Thursday or things weren't all lollipops and rainbows in James and Lily's relationship at the moment.

When he saw this though, the thing that got Severus the most, wasn't the fact that this could be seen as a way in, but the fact that he didn't want to use it. He wanted to make sure Lily was ok, obviously, but he didn't want to try and sabotage her relationship anymore. He just wanted to leave it alone, like he was forced to leave Lily alone. He couldn't see if she was fine as much as he wanted to, but he found that he didn't actually want her to be unhappy with James. He wanted her to be blissfully happy in fact, even if it was with the one person he loathed and despised most in the world. And if she wasn't, he had no desire to play upon it. He wanted the relationship to run its course on its own and, if they broke up, they broke up. He hoped that would be the inevitable outcome. But if they stayed together, moved in, got married, had kids, he wouldn't begrudge her that if that's what she wanted. He just wanted to move on and leave her alone. That wasn't saying he could, but he wanted to.

Later that day, deflated by her failed efforts of trying to get James to tell her his secret, Lily trudged upstairs to her dormitory. She had only got to ask him once. She was too pissed off with him to try asking again during their transfiguration class in which she had plenty of opportunity to do so as they were doing a practical, and she had to rush of to her Ancient Runes lesson after that. Then, when she had steeled the confidence to try and ask him again after her Ancient Runes class, she couldn't find him. He hadn't picked her up afterwards as he usually did, instead sending Peter to tell her that he was working on some last minute Quidditch drills with Sirius and couldn't get away. It had frustrated her but now she was just deflated. She had had enough of the day and wanted nothing more than to sit in her room and read a book. When she got there she found Hestia sitting on her bed painting her nails which was the norm with her. She walked into the room and flopped backwards onto her bed in deflation.

Hestia looked up. 'Did you ask him?' she asked her.

'Yes.' Lily replied to the canopy above her bed, unable to help herself thinking back to the canopy above James' bed at his house, (if you could even call it that), and the six holes that were there as a result of Sirius' antics. Still, it didn't break a smile. She was too troubled in her mind.

'And?' Hestia pressed on.

'He didn't tell me.' Lily sighed.

'Did he look into your eyes?' Hestia queried.

Lily frowned in thought. 'No.' she said, unable to believe it herself. He hadn't looked into her eyes. He had looked anywhere else but he had avoided her gaze, averted his eyes. That couldn't be a coincidence.

'Then keep asking.' Hestia said, returning to her nails, 'He'll tell you. Eventually.'

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