The doctors there hadn't asked how he'd broken his arm when he'd first stumbled in, pale and shaking with the effort not to cry or pass out from the pain as he cradled his arm to his chest. They hadn't commented when he'd broken down in tears when they had to set the bone and put the cast on. It was only later, as a lady was asking a numb Severus questions about his name, address, and how to contact his parents to pick him up, that he really clued in to the way her treatment of him changed once she knew who he was. She looked at him with pity. It made him want to yell at her, 'Don't pity me, you stupid bint, get me out of that house, I don't want to go back!'
But more than anything, he had to admit to himself as he slumped in the hard plastic chair, mumbling answers to the receptionist's probing questions, that what he was most humiliated about was how Lily was going to react. He knew she had suspected for years that Tobias had been abusing Severus, but he had managed to avoid answering that question for so long. A chill sweat broke out on his skin, and despite the comfortable warmth of the summer evening, a shiver went through him at the realization that he could never hide this from her. Not unless he planned to avoid her for the rest of the summer.
Severus sat in the shadows of the trees surrounding the old playground, long after the light had faded, long after he had watched Lily and James leave. He stared down at the letter he clutched tightly in his hands, seeing the words in his mind despite the fact it was too dark to read now. (It also killed the need to stop the silent tears.) One phrase kept playing over and over, eclipsing everything else he had written.
'I can't apologize enough for what I did that day. If I could take it all back, I swear I would, Lily. You're the only person who has ever been truly here for me, and this summer has been absolutely barren for me without you to talk to, spend time with. I would do absolutely anything for you if you would just talk to me again like you used to.'
"That's not going to bloody well happen anytime soon," Severus whispered to himself, slightly surprised that his voice hadn't stopped working. He slowly stood up, wincing at the way his body protested after sitting like that for hours, and he finally managed to shamble out into the clearing of the playground, giving it one last long look before raising his eyes to the sky. Even the stars looked a little less bright to him tonight. It was like everything he had hoped for had been shattered today. All from one little kiss.
A choked sob left him and he looked down angrily at the letter that laid crumpling in his hands. Without another thought, before he could reget it, he pulled his wand from his back pocket and touched it to the paper, mumbled a few words, and watched as the corner caught fire. He held it until the whole thing had burned away to ash, not caring when the flames burned his fingers. It didn't matter anymore. She wasn't his. Maybe she'd never been his. Maybe this was the way it was supposed to be.
Severus brought his hand up to pinch at the bridge of his nose, and let out a sigh. "I love you, Lily," he whispered into the empty night, shuddering as he stepped out of the playground and back into the darkness of the trees.
'Umbridge, Delores,' the Professor called, and the plump young witch stepped importantly up to the stool and sat down primly. The Hat was placed on her curls, and all at once, a voice was murmuring into her ear.
"Hmm, let's see now, where shall we put you, Delores? I see-"
'I would like to be in Slytherin, please, like my mother and father were, please - they want me to be in Slytherin,' she thought proudly, smiling to herself.
"Hmm... well, now, I'm not sure that's the best place to put you, my dear. I see ambition in you, yes, of course - you want to go places, you want to be important, I see, yes, but more than that I see someone who works hard to please her family, someone who wants to make a difference in the world without having the pressure of being in the spotlight. I see someone who likes to help, to make sure everything works flawlessly to your standards, who wants to make sure people have the support they need. I see much more Hufflepuff in you, Miss Umbridge, though there is a certain willingness to do things you normally wouldn't do if the situation calls for it that could fit into Slytherin, I suppose," the Hat countered.
'So I could fit into Slytherin?' she thought hopefully.
"You could, but I really think you would be better suited to Hufflepuff. Your loyalty to your parents' wishes proves it to me. They will see in time that you will be happier there."
'If you think it's the best...' Delores chewed on her bottom lip nervously for a moment before remembering her mother's admonishments to stop doing that. Hurriedly, she sat up straight again, trying to regain the prim and proper posture she had been taught to show at all times.
"In that case, my dear, better be... HUFFLEPUFF!" the Hat shouted out to the Hall at large. Delores forced a smile and hopped down from the stool, walking over to the Hufflepuff table as if it had been what she wanted all along, hoping that the Hat had chosen right. Oh please let mother be fine with this...
He wasn't sure how it had ever come to this bitter, lonely end.
Really, Severus could dress it up any way he liked, put any face on it to ease the pain of so much time and love lost, but when it really came down to it, his life was a hollow existence that was focused on a single goal. All these thoughts flitted in and out of focus through his mind as he prepared for one last look into the Pensieve before he shut it up forever.
The memory as he entered was surprisingly, deceptively cheery at first: or, at least, for the others it was. He could see his younger self hunching outside the door, watching the revelers inside longingly as they danced and laughed, celebrated... something. The older Severus moved into the room, looking on and waiting for the moment that his memory self realized exactley what they were all celebrating. Finally, he saw it, the look of horror on his face once he saw it: Lily was pregnant. Looking around, Severus tried to find the Longbottoms, spotting them over on the other side of the room with Remus, and he nodded grimly to himself as he confirmed that Alice was in the same condition.
He could still remember the overwhelming feeling of terror for Lily's safety, for what he had felt at the time was the ultimate betrayal of anything he had ever hoped for, and only now could he look past his own selfish desires and look at the Lily in his memories and see that she had, at least, truly loved Potter. It still stung to see the way she glowed when she reached up, laughing, to stroke Potter's cheek before kissing him, it still twisted his gut with bitter jealousy, but... it did no good to torment himself with things he could not change. He swept a gaze around the party once more, taking in the faint spirit of camaraderie he felt from just being there, and closed his eyes for a long moment, hoping to gain some strength for what lay ahead.
It only took a moment. He chanced one last look to Lily, and with a start, he stared, transfixed, as she seemed to look right at him, smiling tenderly. It had to be someone just behind him, but all the same, Severus took a measure of comfort from the smile, and left the memory before he could shatter that one ray of light that shone into his bleak world.
He stared at the mirror, a little perplexed by the task at hand. Was this really what they were supposed to do to 'get ready'? He'd seen a lot of blokes walking around like this at night lately, and it seemed... a little more difficult than he would have expected. With a grumble, he went back to work, ignoring the door opening behind him.
Or he would have ignored it if the laughter of his two friends hadn't turned to complete and sudden silence. He just kept working, until Harry's voice piped up uncomfortably behind him: "Ron... mate... er, why are you wearing makeup?"