The feast at the end of the year was one Severus wouldn’t forget in a hurry.
The four Hogwarts tables were crowded with excited students, all waiting for the verdict on the House Cup.
The news that Severus had won Slytherin a thousand points had leaked out, somehow, and he was suddenly the hero of the whole table. Severus noticed, wryly, that everyone who had said he’d bitten people were now either apologising or acting like it had never happened.
Either way, it was over, and he was pleased by their praise.
Professor McGonagall stood up at the staff table, and there was a chorus of hushes as students hurriedly quietened each other, listening intently.
‘In forth place,’ McGonagall’s voice rang out, ‘Hufflepuff,’
There was a polite round of applause for the Hufflepuffs which died quite quickly.
‘In third place ... Gryffindor,’
There was louder applause, but many laughs from the Slytherin table, including from Severus. No doubt all that rule-breaking had finally taken effect.
The look on Potter’s face was very satisfying as he slumped, face-down, on the table in shame.
‘In second place, Ravenclaw,’
The Ravenclaws went mad, and everyone else cheered and applauded too.
‘Which means Slytherin wins the House Cup,’ McGonagall finished, but her voice was drowned out by the tumultuous cheering, screaming, clapping, whistling, and whooping from the Slytherin table as everyone leapt onto their benches and threw their hats into the air.
For the first time in his life, Severus felt himself lifted off his feet and held aloft, carried over the crowd by a hundred, warm hands, his heart lighter than air.
He turned his head on one side, and caught a glimpse of Lily...
She was beaming and clapping him.
‘I’m going to invent a cure,’
Lily looked up at him, ‘What did you say?’ she asked.
They were on the Hogwarts Express, being carried back home.
‘I’m going to invent a cure for vampires, for werewolves, for everyone who has been affected by something people think is incurable,’ Severus promised, ‘I don’t care how long it takes, or how hard it is. It’s worth it for what people are put through,’
Lily reached over and held his hand.
‘I know you can do it,’ she said, smiling.
He smiled back and looked out the window.
Hogwarts slowly disappeared behind a looming, snowy mountain.
Severus wasn’t sure if he’d miss the place or not, but he had given Lily, Lucius, and Bellatrix his phone number so that they could call him over the summer.
Lucius had insisted he’d use owl mail, as phones were far too Muggle-like for him.
Severus felt a twinge of nerves how Lucius would take his ongoing friendship with Lily, but looking at her across him, nibbling a Chocolate Frog, he realised that he couldn’t care less.
When the train ground to a halt at King’s Cross Station, they both stood up.
Severus gave a start as Lily threw her arms around him.
‘I’ll visit, I promise!’ she said, and kissed him on the cheek.
Severus stared at her as she let go of him and bent down to pick up her trunk.
Then he gave himself a shake and hauled his own trunk after her into the corridor.
Eileen was waiting on the platform, her black hair waving in a warm breeze.
‘Don’t work too hard!’ Lily called back, waving, as she aimed for Platform Nine, ‘although I know you can’t wait to get started on those potions!’
Severus stuck his tongue out at her, but grinned and waved back.
‘Who was that, darling?’ Eileen asked him.
‘Oh, some Gryffindor girl,’ Severus replied, airily, and hugged her tightly.
Eileen went still and she looked down at him.
‘What is it?’ Severus asked her.
‘Well, it’s been a while since my last letter,’ Eileen replied, ‘and I meant to ask you something really, really important,’
‘And what’s that?’ he asked.
‘I meant to ask you, Severus ... Are you happy?’
Severus thought of Lily hugging him on the train, of Dumbledore rewarding him with a thousand points and a Special Award trophy. He thought of winning the House Cup, of the Slytherins carrying him over their heads, and of the prospect of coming back next year to begin learning how to become an Animagus, and possibly get started on a cure for werewolves ...
‘Yes,’ Severus answered, smiling, ‘Yes, I think I am,’