Severus has more than one happy memory, no matter that all of them have become tinged by regret and sadness. Still, he can't help thinking now, at the end, of the moment, that glorious first moment, when Lily gave him her trust. The words flutter through the darkening of his mind like lost moths.
"Don't be daft!"
"But she said—"
"Your sister's mad. There are no such things as demons—not the kind Muggles believe in, anyway."
Lily bit her lower lip and looked down. "She frightened me."
"She was trying to," Severus retorted. "She's mean."
"She is not. She's . . . well, all right, perhaps a little. You're sure? You're sure there aren't any—"
"Lily, the closest things to demons we have are called Dementors, but there'll never be any of them at Hogwarts."
Her eyes widened. "What're those?"
"Creatures who suck out your soul."
"That's horrid! They sound like demons to me."
"You don't have anything to worry about—they'd never bother you. I wouldn't let them."
"I . . . I could teach you how to repel them," Severus said quickly, despite the fact that he wasn't certain how one repelled Dementors. "You have to trust me," he continued. "All right?"
"Of course," Lily replied, looking eager.
Severus improvised and taught Lily to draw a pentagram with runes in it that he remembered from one of his mother's hidden books. He didn't know what they meant, but neither did Lily—and that didn't matter because she was hanging on his every word.
When he'd finished teaching the "protective circle" to her, he murmured, "See? That's strong magic, my magic. It will keep you safe, yeah?"
Lily's face lit up the way it always did when she was learning about something new, and her smile was dazzling. "You're a good friend, Sev."
"I'm your best friend," he asserted, too late worrying that she might laugh at him for having said it.
She didn't, though; she looked at him with those perfect, wide green eyes and told him, "Yes, always, and I'm yours, as well."
His breath catching to remember her, Severus seizes Potter's robes and demands that the boy look at him.
He has to see that light, Lily's light, one more time.
And the growing darkness becomes a rich, blinding green.