Rewrites completed as of 1/18/19
As you may know, I like my characters to be a bit more complex, have some meaning behind their actions, whether is a disability like before or what you'll find in this fic. This one will have the theme of over coming things one may not like about themselves. I never intend to offend anyone, so I sincerely apologize ahead of time if that happens. This one is a bit different, you'll see why, but all will become clear shortly
I certainly understand that this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but the problems detailed in this chapter exist for a reason. I ask you to stick with me.
Disclaimer: I don't own any part of the Wizarding World.
"Loneliness and cheeseburgers don't mix" - The Simpsons
The Order was fixed quietly around the table. After the deaths of the Prewett brothers only days ago, a melancholy weight hung over each of them. They found no point to mingle, to share the good things in their lives when two young, inspirational men had been snuffed out. Molly Weasley's eyes were still ringed with red, as they had been for the past four days since the loss of her brothers. Her short sniffles were the only things that filled the room. Frankly, Lily was surprised she'd shown up at all.
After a series of surprise attacks, only a dozen or so Order members remained. They sat in depressed silence, staring up at the headmaster who had called them. The Prewett brothers had been a devastating loss to all of them. In their grief, it seemed inappropriate and unnecessary to have another meeting so soon.
Every seat was full, save for ones that had belonged to Fabian and Gideon. Lily was curious as to why the meeting had yet to begin. She was anxious to go home, to be free of the overbearing sadness the meeting brought.
The door to the safe house clicked open suddenly, followed by two hushed voices whispering to one another. Each head, other than Dumbledore's, snapped to glance at the unexpected newcomers. The first one to step through the door was a woman. She was overly thin, with her skin stretched tight over each bone in her body and held high on long legs. Her attention had yet to be given to those already waiting and all Lily could see was her stick straight blonde hair. She fiddled with her own, ratty red curls, feeling an unprecedented jealousy.
The woman finally turned away from her unseen companion, beaming at those waiting for her to get on with it. She seemed clueless, or careless, about the mood the room was filled with. Grief having permeated every object in the building.
As she stepped inside the other person was made visible. Lily's heart plummeted for a reason she didn't quite understand. Standing in the doorway was Severus, looking quite a bit different than the last time they'd laid eyes on each other.
The ghost of a smile he'd had upon entrance, the one given to the woman before him, easily fell from his lips as he looked at the rest of the crowd. More importantly, it seemed, was as the crowd looked at him. His mouth quickly formed into a hard-pressed line as he took a seat beside the snobbish looking woman he had arrived with. The two empty chairs been expecting others all along. A space was no longer needed for the lost brothers.
"Ah." Dumbledore said with a grin and a nod. "Ms. Novak, Master Snape, glad you could join us this evening."
Around the room eyebrows quirked and looks of curiosity were exchanged. It had been well suspected that Snape had become a Death Eater even before graduation. This Novak person on the other hand remained unidentifiable. Why now? What changed Severus' mind? Where had he found…her? And why did Lily even care? She turned her face away from the new couple, focusing on the headmaster before her.
"I regret we had to reconvene so soon, after the tragic loss of two of our valued members." He sighed wistfully, the twinkle in his eyes dimming slightly. He turned to look once more at Severus and Novak. "It seems however we have two new members interested in joining our ranks." Lily's own eyes landed on the clearly furious and confused one of James who fidgeted in his seat. She gave an irritated shake of the head. Even now, he was unable to give up his prejudice.
"If I may, Dumbledore?" The blonde woman spoke with a heavy accent Lily hadn't expected, continuing after the approval she was given. "My, eh…associate and I are pleased to fight amongst you, to end Voldemort." She glanced quickly at Severus for his approval. He nodded almost imperceptibly, urging her on. "You may call me Zahrah." She smiled sweetly, turning her eyes on each of them.
"Thank you, Zahrah." Dumbledore returned the happy gesture before continuing. "For our older members, Severus attended Hogwarts with some of our very own, Lily, the Longbottoms, and our three troublesome boys in the corner." The comment earned dispersed chuckles. "Now, let's get down to business, shall we? It seems we may have hit a lull. According to my intel-"
Lily felt the sudden heat of a pair of eyes boring into the side of her. She turned in it's direction, finding Severus' smoldering black eyes upon her. She met his stare, giving neither a smile or a frown and receiving the same in turn. He searched her face and she fidgeted uncomfortably beneath his critical gaze before turning away.
"-demort is seeking some particularly rare forms of magic, for what we do not yet know. I would ask our shop keepers in particular to keep a record of anyone requesting such things. Merlin knows Lord Voldemort won't have good intentions for these items-"
Lily listened half heartedly, fidgeting with a stray thread on the hem of her plum colored sleeve as Dumbledore continued. The sight of Severus had thrown her off. She hadn't seen or even heard of his presence since the day they'd left Hogwarts. She hadn't exactly planned on it happening again either, they'd always run in different circles.
Part of her was surprised he was even still alive, knowing what he was now. It wasn't necessarily his being here that disturbed her so, rather the ease he'd had with Zahrah, the expressions he'd thrown her way, the smile he'd come with that was meant for a different woman. She found herself wondering where Severus had been, how the two of them knew each other.
The blonde didn't seem to share the same affection, distancing herself carefully from him physically and sharing looks with less of a heat than Severus had shown. They were looks Lily recognized because she herself had given them to Severus once upon a time.
It was then she found her eyes drift down to his disappearing waistline. That was certainly different. In their short time apart, he had clearly grown in size and Lily couldn't help but notice just how fat he'd gotten. She was surprised by her own rude thought and averted her eyes back upwards…where she found him staring again, knowing just what she had been thinking.
Lily whispered an almost silent "excuse me" and pushed herself away from the table she was seated at despite the discussion that continued. She made her way to the refreshments that had been laid out for them and poured herself a cup of water. She turned, leaning back against the table and pretending to listen to Dumbledore as she sipped at the chilled liquid. Lily remained there, feigning interest and thirst until the meeting concluded.
As Dumbledore finished speaking the room was filled with the quiet hum of voices picking up and conversing. Some lingered her way while others stayed seated. It was Alice who approached her first, standing close by so only Lily could hear the words she spoke. "Are you alright? You seem…"
"Yeah, yeah." Lily plastered on a fake smile in an attempt to placate Alice's clear worry. "I was thirsty is all." She held up her refilled cup for proof.
Alice lifted a disbelieving eyebrow at her. "It's him, isn't it?"
Lily dropped her eyes, focusing on swirling the water in her cup and wishing she'd opted for something stronger. "I wasn't expecting it is all."
Alice nodded, not pushing her any further. "What do you think of the new girl? He seems smitten by her."
"She's obviously not from around here." Lily dodged. This wasn't a conversation she wanted to have with herself. Voicing her thoughts out loud just made it all the more real.
"Lily." A deep voice interrupted them, and Alice stepped away with a knowing smile. Lily wanted to grab her and pull her back.
"Severus." She replied, equally measured and uncomfortable. Her gaze flicked temporarily over his shoulder, looking for an excuse to leave.
They stared at each other momentarily, neither sure what to say to the other. It was Lily who broke the silence first. "How have you been?"
"I've been well." He replied awkwardly, his voice otherwise toneless. "Are you still in Cokeworth?"
She shook her head. "No, I moved to London with James some time ago."
"Ah, I haven't been there in a while myself. "
She thought she saw a glimmer of hurt. "Not even to see your family?"
"No." He replied simply. "I spent some time traveling Europe, I only just got back."
"Is that where you picked up the arm candy?"
He smirked at her obvious jealousy, she'd never been comfortable in her own skin and he had known it. "You could say that." He changed the subject before she could comprehend the answer he had given. "James doesn't seem happy to see me."
Lily laughed suddenly, clapping a hand over her mouth. She looked over at James who was once again in close proximity to Remus and Sirius. The furtive glances in her and Severus' direction made it clear just what their topic of conversation was. "No, I can't say that he is."
"Well." Severus began, ending the conversation much sooner than she had expected. "Zar is waiting." He said with a nod of goodbye.
He turned from her and Lily reached out instinctively to touch his clothed arm. He shifted on his feet, looking at her once more and she remained frozen, seeming to have forgotten her words momentarily. "It was nice seeing you." She forced finally. She dropped her arm back to her side as he gave her a confirming grimace before stepping back to Zahrah's side. Lily watched as he placed his hand on her low back, how she smiled at his touch. As they left, Lily suddenly felt sick.
She cleared her throat, depositing her cup and following closely behind, off to her own home. She heard the resonating pop of Severus' disapparation as she stepped into the cold, winter air. With a turn on her heels she found herself back in her own, lonesome flat.
It was still clustered with moving boxes she'd been too lazy to unpack and had no plans to begin that night. Stepping past them and into the dark hallway she wandered to her bedroom, flicking her wand as she stepped inside. The black room was filled instantaneously with harsh, fluorescent light.
Lily stepped from her robes, leaving them puddled on the floor before stepping in front of her mirror. She examined herself, her faults more specifically. Her face was covered in far too many freckles, a consequence of her red hair and pale complexion. It was nothing like the tan, unblemished one of Zahrah. Lily just seemed to be "too everything". She was too short, her thighs were too chubby and dimpled, even her eyes were too pale of a green. Nothing about her seemed to stand out, to grab a man's attention.
There had only ever been Severus and James. One she had pushed away while the other had done the same to her. It was no wonder James had left her, had found something better. She would have done the same thing if she were him. She sighed in disappointment, dressing herself in a thick nightgown that would hide as many imperfections as possible and climbed into bed, shutting the lights off once more.
He didn't know why he bothered. It was clear Zahrah had no interest in him, he was just so desperate for some type of human touch, compassion, and he hungered after her. Their living situation was one of convenience, not attraction. Of course, if it had been a sexual relationship they wouldn't have had separate bedrooms.
They'd parted their separate ways as soon as they arrived, each to their respective quarters. Severus' was filled with the enchanting smell of cherry and alihotsy. He stepped towards the potion that was bubbling listlessly in the corner. Taking a large inhale of the overly sweet fumes, he gave two more counter turns and watched as the liquid changed from a scarlet red to a dull, greying color.
Severus stepped away, taking a heavy seat upon the edge of a chair and untying his hefty, black boots. He let go his held breath, sitting back up. He sighed in disappointment at his thickening middle, his hand going instinctively to it. Merlin, even Lily had noticed. That much had been obvious, the way her eyes bulged at the sight of him.
He'd dreaded today's meeting since deciding to join. There were the obvious pains of James and Sirius, but they weren't the only ones he'd attended school with. The reception of his presence had been better than he expected, he was more than grateful the Marauders hadn't approached him. But, the look of surprise on Lily's face had been enough.
He'd never been comfortable in his own skin. As a child and throughout his teenage years he had been overly scrawny, more bone than meat. There simply hadn't been enough food at home to feed the three of them. Once at Hogwarts, he had the opposite problem. There was an abundance of food, but he was too small to fit much of it in.
That had certainly changed. HHhe thought to himself as he stripped. The death of his Mum had been the tipping point. It had sent him spiraling into a depression he'd only recently begun climbing out of. She'd been the only stability in his life and having lost her mere days after returning home from Hogwarts for the final time had been too much. He'd packed his few belongings the day after her funeral and hadn't seen his father since. The circumstances surrounding his Mum's death we're too suspicious. That, combined with a life with his abusive father had given him no reason to stay behind.
First came France, the land of carbs. It had been fun at first, exploring a new city everyday, living a life he'd never thought he would. But, as he traveled across countries the caloric increase, excessive drinking, and lack of exercise had begun to take their toll, until he became the utter butterball he was now. Severus fell asleep vowing to change things, if for no other reason than being back with his schoolmates – with Lily.