"Eight minutes," muttered Snape to himself. "I only have eight minutes to see her."
He was back in Spinner's End, in the grey gloom of the house where he grew up, five blocks away from where Lily Evans lived. But tomorrow, she would be Lily Potter.
Snape burst out of his house, running down the familiar streets of his childhood. They had not spoken to each other since they were both fifteen, but childhood instinct guided him to where Lily would be tonight. It was where she thirstily drank his knowledge of wands and dementors and wanted to learn more about her magical abilities. It was where they had spent long summer days together, leaning against each other's shoulders in the cool emerald shade of the trees as they watched the sun glisten upon the sapphire river. It was where, at age thirteen, she confided that if she were ever to be married, she would want to stand here alone the night before her wedding, dressed in her wedding gown. His heart was no master of Occlumens; its thumpings told him that she might have kept her wish.
There was she, the petite figure he knew so well. Lily stood alone in the dark thicket that had served as their childhood fortress. Against the smoldering sunset, with its golden horizon fusing into washes of pink, streaked with violet clouds, she held herself majestically straight, like the proud prefect girl she had been in their Hogwarts days. She was in a snow-white backless gown, the skirt billowing around her like sumptuous flower petals. Her dark red hair was piled atop her head in coils laced with pearls, and captured the hue of rose petals in the glow of the sunset. He only saw her from her back. She was gazing out into the burning horizon, facing the river.
She whirled her head in response to his deep voice. She was as lovely as he had always known her to be, with smooth skin, rosy cheeks, and almond-shaped eyes. Her rosebud lips fell open as her eyes widened with a questioning look.
"Severus? What are you doing here?"
He tottered as he shuffled towards her with enervated knees, breathless as he hunted for the right words.
"I had to see you, Lily."
He was amazed by how still she stood. She never backed away like a startled doe. She was like a lioness, raising her chin high as she stared into his face, like the daring Gryffindor that she was. Now that he stood before her, he saw how bright her emerald eyes were. He towered before her, a sallow figure cloaked in coal-black darkness.
"I'm happy to see that you have your wish," blurted Snape. A rare blush bled into his face as his thin lips contorted into a nervous smile. "I remember the wish you made here, when we were thirteen."
"You remember my wish? That I would be here the night before my wedding?"
"I can never forget."
Lily turned her head to the sunset. The setting sun now rivaled with her countenance, burning like the ache that clenched Snape's chest.
"Severus...I'm marrying James Potter tomorrow."
"You can't marry him!"
Snape's eyes now widened, flashing as though he were in pain. His hands clawed at his heart, and he bent so that he was closer to Lily's face. Her head snapped back, and she stumbled a few steps away from him, her brows furrowed with confusion.
"What do you mean, Severus?"
"I...I...I thought you hated him! You called him an arrogant toerag! A bully! With a head so fat, that you were surprised he could be lifted off the ground with a broomstick! You hated him, Lily!"
"Severus." Lily's voice was hard. "He changed. He was a prefect along with me."
"But Lily, haven't you seen how he treated me up to the final days at Hogwarts?"
"Only because of your Death Eater ways!" Lily shoved a fist onto her left hip and shook her right pointer finger before his nose. "What about you? Your loyalty to those creeps haven't wavered!"
Now it was Snape's turn to recoil, his mouth gaping open as he did so. Lily's arms lowered to her sides, her face now softening into downcast eyes and a wistful frown.
"Even after I ended our friendship, for the rest of our time at Hogwarts, I never stopped wishing that one day, you would approach me and tell me that you had finally given up being a Death Eater."
Snape's heart constricted as she continued speaking.
"I never forgot the fact that we were best friends, Sev. I always, always wanted you to come back to me."
"Lily, I love you!"
Her head shot up. Snape now snatched her by her shoulders, his black eyes burning with abrupt audacity as he met her green eyes. His large hands were rough, yet warm, against her cool skin.
"Lily, ever since we were children and I found out you were a witch, I have always loved you. I never stopped, and I never will."
Lily's eyes became glassy with tears. "I...Oh, Severus, why did you become a Death Eater? Why, Severus? Why?" She squeezed his wrists. "Why can't you leave them? You're too good for them!"
"I wanted to impress you," Snape confessed. "I thought that with power, I could impress you."
"I've always seen you as the boy who noticed me when I had no idea that I was a witch. You were confident, even joyful, when you taught me about magic and Hogwarts. You were the one who introduced me to the world where we belong. But now..."
There was a pause.
"Yes, Lily?" Snape's heart growled for more of her words.
Lily's chest heaved. "I wish we could go back to those days. Those sweet, innocent days before everything changed." She stepped closer to him, nearly stepping onto the hem of her skirt. Her voice softened into a breathy whisper. "I always wondered what it would be like to kiss you."
A rush of motion roared through Lily as Snape clutched her against him, stealing her breath as if he were imbibing her like sweet nectar. With his arms around her waist, and her emerald eyes entwined with his onyx gaze, they could feel each other's warm breath brushing their lips. It nearly felt as though they were running their fingertips over each other's lips.
Snape crushed Lily into a kiss. Shivers vibrated through her body. She knew this was wrong. Her wedding day was tomorrow, and here she was, kissing her childhood friend. But she felt a surge of satisfaction of fulfilling a childhood fantasy. Snape's lips were warm and rather chapped, but he kissed with such ferocity, she could not resist him. James would also kiss her lovingly, but Severus was different. His kiss seemed to suck her soul out of her, as if he had been starved for centuries. Memories flooded within her: she saw Snape pop out from behind bushes at the playground, excitedly babbling about how she was a witch. She saw the idyllic days they spent in the thickets, the potions classes they had together, the times they shared cake and butterbeer, and laughed over jokes in the corridors of Hogwarts. Snape was fevered with the rush of long-lost images, all of which filled him like wine. He let her see his memories of watching her from afar when they were children, of him doodling her name over and over on a piece of scrap paper in his room, and of the times when they snuggled alone in the potions classroom as they watched their potions brewed. But it came to the point when James Potter dangled him in the air, and she came to defend him. He called her that horrible name...
Lily ripped her lips from Snape's, panting heavily.
"We can't do this, Sev. I'm getting married tomorrow."
"But you will always be dear to me, Severus. You always will."
Large tears fell from her eyes like liquified diamonds.
A wind seemed to snap him up in a fanged jaw, blackening his sight and sweeping him into tempestuous currents that dashed through his cloak. His final sight of Lily was her shocked face, her hand outstretched as if she were trying to snatch him back from the waves of time.
He landed back in his potions classroom, back in the cold stone room and the hiss and bubbling of his concoctions. After realizing he was back in the present, he crumpled to the floor. He let his tears erupt in the security of solitude.
"I tried to change time," Snape sobbed. "I wanted to save her from her fate. I would have changed my ways for her, now that I know what happened to her."
He clutched his elbows as he crouched on his knees and cast tear-blinded eyes to the frozen stone floor.