It was becoming unbearable.
Severus Snape never imagined he had a masochistic streak in him, yet that had to be what was driving him every time he agreed to meet up with Lily outside of classes. She didn't even seem to realize it herself, which was the only kindness. But it wouldn't last forever.
Only last week, as they'd met outside in the commons on an uncommonly lovely spring day, she'd been listening to him talk one moment, and staring off at James Potter's face the next. It was revolting.
For the most part, she was still the same Lily he'd always known. She'd meet up in secret with him, share with him the gifts she was sent from home, and work on potions and secret projects late into the night. She'd always smile with a light in her green eyes that made them glow that much brighter. She'd grab onto his hand and pull him along when she was chasing butterflies or running around in the snow. She was the only one who called him 'Sev', in her own affectionately teasing way. Since they were children, nothing had changed for Lily.
And it killed him.
Everything had changed for him. The warm smiles he used to rejoice at now merely filled his daydreams with longing. A hug from her had become so much more than a hug, it was the sweet smell of her hair, the warmth of her skin and the feel of her gentle feminine curves along his body. Every outing was an excuse to be close to her, to see her face light up with excitement, to feel her occasional touch, or the softness of her small hand in his larger one. To share a meal was to become entranced in the way she savored each bite, the way her small red lips pursed up just so when she nibbled on her food. Those eyes, and lips, and touch haunted him.
One day, he would betray himself. How could he not? It felt impossible to keep his overwhelming feelings contained within him. At any moment it felt like they would reach out and take all his willpower away. And somewhere inside himself, he wanted that terribly. He needed an excuse to take her into his arms and kiss her as he'd dreamed of doing a thousand times, and have something to blame it on other than himself. The fiercely powerful emotions he felt for her were dark and needy, inside a corner of himself he felt ashamed of.
He thought perhaps he could wait. Perhaps one day, she would wake up and see all of those things about him he suddenly saw in her, and feel the connection that flared so brightly between them. A touch of hers would become a caress, and the warmth in her eyes would turn to passion. He'd hoped and dreamed it would come true ever since his own awakening, telling himself to be patient.
It never came.
Having come to realize his feelings and recognize the signs early on, he'd trained himself carefully to watch her, to try to pick them up in her. For a little while, he'd despaired seeing them at all.
And then, they'd appeared. But they hadn't been for him.
It had begun so subtly he was sure no one else had been aware, not even Lily herself. When James Potter, the horrid little rat, walked into a room, she'd sit up a little straighter. When he looked over at her, she'd run a hand through her hair, or twirl her fingers around a strand. She'd work as hard to not look at James as Sev worked not to stare at her.
And he knew.
He knew, before any of them knew. And he despised it with every fiber of his being. He'd gone from hoping she'd awaken for him, to hoping she'd never awaken at all. But there was no one to listen to what he hoped and dreamed for.
So his dreams grew darker.
They were filled with possession, ownership, and revenge. They grew so dark he began to fear himself around her. Fear that she would see the darkness in his eyes, and become so frightened he'd lose all of her forever.
He'd tried to tell himself that all he wanted, and all he needed, was her at his side, where she'd be safe from Potter. But then she would look over at Potter, and smile ever so slightly, and he'd notice. And a need to own her burned within Severus. She was his, because she'd always been his. That was the way it had to be. Lily had to be his because his heart was hers. Or he wouldn't be able to survive.
So he continued to spend time with her, meeting up with her and sneaking out with her, ignoring the dark words his Slytherin friends called her, ignoring the long looks Potter would give her and the disparaging comments he so frequently flung at Severus. He could ignore everything except her, and his determined goal to keep all of her attention focused on him.
Predictably, soon all his greatest efforts were not enough, and she began spending time with Potter, sitting close to him in classes and talking to him in their shared common room. He'd always gotten more time with her, and he used every moment to his advantage to sway her towards him.
The worst was when she talked to him about James. Her voice took on a dreamy quality, her eyes sparkled like they never had for him, and her hands frequently went to her chest, to the place just above her heart. It sickened him.
He'd once thought nothing could be worse than the secret, dark longing he felt for her. The deep yearning to lean over, take her lips with his and possess her nearly overwhelmed him every time she was near. He'd soon learned differently.
Now, the love and the desire warred with a horrible anger and hatred, towards Potter and fate and her own feelings for the horrid wizard Potter was. He who'd always gotten what he wanted, whose blood wasn't tainted and whose parents adored and worshipped him. He was surrounded with friends, he didn't struggle for money, and worst of all, did absolutely nothing to deserve Lily's growing affections. He had so much. Why couldn't Severus have simply this one good thing? Why did Potter get them all? Why would Lily even look twice at him? It enraged him.
Sometimes, horribly, he took it out on her. His short temper snapped far too often at the tiniest things, until she learned to never bring up Potter's name in front of him. However even that didn't stop the longing glances at the prick. She didn't seem to try as hard as she used to to spend time with him. And when she called him Sev, she'd begun to chastise him for his choice in friends, for his hobbies and his resentment.
It all horribly came to a head on a dark, overcast day. They'd scheduled sneaking out to the edges of the Forbidden forest to get their hands on rare unicorn hairs that could sometimes be found on the forest floor. She would sneak out of the Gryffindor common room, and go meet with him on the main floor just outside the bathrooms. Huddled together under a dark cloak, they'd then sneak outside to their adventure. Except this time, Lily was late.
Severus waited five minutes. Ten minutes. At twenty, he grew frustrated, worried, and a little cold. So he proceeded up the long set of stairs towards the Gryffindor common room he'd never before entered. As he arrived at the portrait lady, he had to pause once again, unable to remember the password Lily had taught him. Unsure if he even dared to enter. He didn't have to wait long.
Laughter echoed through the hall as the door swung open, revealing Lily with none other than James Potter and Sirius Black, laughing at one of their jokes.
"What's Snivellus doing here?"
At that, Lily's laughter stopped, and she turned to finally notice Severus standing in front of her. Her eyes flared open in panic.
"Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry, I completely forgot about our meeting! Sorry Sev! Let's go now!"
The two sneered at him but left the two of them alone. It took a moment for Severus to get his rage under control. Lily felt the tense silence and waited. But today, this one time, it appeared the rage could not be quelled. And Severus did what he'd never done before. He yelled at Lily Evans. She brought up all the things she'd reproached him of before, trying to get him to calm. But the rage was loosed, now, and it was uncontrollable until it swept the both of them up. It crested and fell, until the topic came painfully close to him, and to her. "But you call everyone else of my birth Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different?"
And in that moment, he felt something he hadn't allowed himself to feel since he'd met her for the first time.
He completely and utterly hated himself.
He hated that he wasn't what she wanted, he hated that he'd been born an outcast, he hated his father, and his mother and his tainted blood. The rage swelled and built up inside him like a torrent, suffocating him until all he could do was scream out his rage at her. Push it all out at her, the cause of all his sorrow.
That bitter word he'd hated and reviled had come off his tongue, directed at the one soul in his life who'd never deserved it, and in the speechless aftermath, as Lily stared at him in horror at what he'd said to her, she saw every bit of his ugliness. And suddenly, finally, she knew.
A great and horrible weariness settled on his shoulders. He couldn't bring himself to feel the loss of her, as she glared at him with an anger he'd never seen before and slammed the common room door in his face. Instead, he simply felt drained, completely exhausted and numb.
He had no feelings left.
She'd taken them all, whether she'd wanted to or not, and he was left with nothing.
A month later, he saw her as he was walking across the main courtyard. He'd tried to seek her out before, to apologize and mend what had been broken, but the damage had been irreparable. So he could do nothing now, but stare at her from afar.
She looked as beautiful as ever, hair fiery red under the sunlight as she sat amongst a circle of friends. He yearned for her and hated her all wrapped up together, and when she looked over and spotted him, he glared at her.
The tears that welled up suddenly in her eyes nearly undid him. The anger and the pity and sadness there took him aback. She turned away before her friends noticed, and he walked as quickly as possible out of the courtyard, back into the dark and lonely Hogwarts halls.
And the greatest realization of his life came over him in that single tragic moment.
It didn't matter that he pushed her away or called her names, it didn't matter whether she cried for him, or yelled at him, or hated him. He knew with unshakable clarity that no matter all of that, no matter the distance, no matter the circumstance or how much time had passed: he would never be able to stop loving her.
And he hated it.