He was sitting on the bank, by the lake, hugging his knees as if he were seven, not seventeen.
She sat down beside him, legs long in front of her, ankles bare and pretty, Lily-white against her black school robes. Not that he had been looking. Her arm brushed his as she leaned back.
He bit his lip, hard, and fixed his eyes on the lake. The lake was calm, safe – untouched by the maelstrom that threatened to engulf him.
"This doesn't make us friends," she'd said, "We're not friends."
The lake was calm. Hell. The lake was dead, dark and still, picture-pretty and lifeless. Sick, he thought. Dead. Bereft. Not vacant, not empty, not even bereft of. Just bereft.
Her tentative "Severus?" came in the same breath as his "So I've heard."
This was the last time Lily had spoken to him, the day of his mothers death, and twenty years later, this is always the memory that plagues him. His mothers death only caused him more hardship than necessary. Recovering from that conversation had taken weeks, and he'd hated the fact that she was all he could think about during Eileen's funeral. Hated it. That'd not spoken for two years and her presence had rocked him.
Now twenty years after his mothers death and sixteen years after Lily's, this is what he thinks of as he strides down the tables in the Great Hall, watching the students as they studied.