They Didn't Know We Were Seeds
'I'm not dead,' is his first thought upon waking. His next thought, after opening his eyes and seeing the mold-blackened ceiling of his childhood bedroom, is, 'What the bloody–?' He touches his neck. It's whole, slender – like a child's throat – and just as smooth. His third, and final thought before the banging at his door starts, is 'Did any of it happen at all?'
For a week, he spends all his waking hours trailing his mother and helping her with chores. Partly he does it because it's been so long since he last saw her, but, mostly, he does it because he does not know what else to do with himself. He was a child so long ago. His most vivid memories of the time are of following after cascade of red in play (Lily), cowering against walls during blow-out rows between his parents (he's thankful he's not yet born witness to one), and dull hours spent picking the ever-present grit of Cokeworth from beneath his nails (an activity he has begun to do once again).
Eventually, his mother grows tired of having him for a shadow. He should have expected as much. She never much liked him.
"Have you and Lily rowed?" she asks as she pulls on a jacket.
Severus, from his spot on the stairs watching her, frowns. "No."
His mother pauses with her hand on the doorknob of their front door. Her scuffed-up purse swings like a slowing pendulum on her wrist. Cauldron-black eyes piercing, she says, "If that's the truth, I suggest you go play with her for the afternoon. I have shopping to do."
Severus felt panic well inside him. He couldn't– He wants to so badly, but– "Can't I come with you?" he asks, internally cringing at how much it sounds like a childish whine.
Her lips press into a little more than a dash of a line. Firmly, she tells him, "You do not let hurt feelings fester in a friendship, Severus. That's how you end up with enemies."
Severus scowls, mulish and annoyed. He still can't figure out how he ended up here, near thirty years in the past, a little boy, his mother alive, but he does know he's far more aware of how friendships can fall apart and enemies can be made than the woman before him. Still scowling, he says, "Sometimes, you can apologize and a friendship will still end. That doesn't mean you're enemies after, even when you're very, very angry at them for giving up on you. It just means you went too far and you have no one but yourself to blame."
His mother's lips part in surprise at his very grown up words.
Severus stands up. "I'm going to go to the park."
Lily is there. Severus's knees lock and he can't move another step. (Un)Luckily, Lily spots him not long after. She gets up from the swing she's been twisting and twirling on and approaches with something not quite a smile on her face.
"Hello," she says. "I haven't seen you in a while."
The hairs on Severus's neck stand. There's something not quite right. After a few moments of silence, he says slowly, "I haven't seen you in even longer."
Lily's brow furrows. "Oh?"
"He has your eyes. It was infuriating to see them peer out of James Potter's face," Severus tells her.
A few shades paler than before, Lily starts, "Sev, what are you talk–"
"I am not a fool, Lily," he cuts in, vicious and angry and so, so disappointed that she's trying to debase herself by pretending to be something she's not. "You are the same as me. We have both died and come back."
Lily, still pale, but anger sparking in her eyes, spits, "We're nothing alike. I died for my son. Who did you die for? Your Lord?"
It's not a funny question, but all the same, Severus laughs. Laughs until he's breathless and aching and on his knees. Finally, when he can speak again, he says, "If you must know, I died for your son as well."
When his eyes are no longer blurred with tears, he looks up at her. Lily stares down at him as if he's a stranger. He supposes, after over twenty years apart, they are.
After their disastrous reunion at the park, Severus returns to following his mother around their home. She eyes him suspiciously these days – more so than before. Sometimes, Severus wonders what she's looking for exactly. Some kind of sign that he's sick? That he's an imposter? Unfortunately for her, she'll never find it. He's his mother's son. He has her dark eyes and angular build, caustic tongue, and innate grasp for the subtle magics, like potions.
All that has changed is he is no longer a little boy in anything but body.
A while later, Lily turns up at his door. Severus frowns. She is the last person he expected to be on the other side. Fingers lingering on the chipped and dented edge of the door, he tells her, "You shouldn't be here. Your parents will never let you leave your house again if they know you came to Spinner's End."
Lily cocks an eyebrow. "A grounding is what you're trying to scare me off with? Please, Severus. I faced off against Voldemort before I died. My parents are as scary as kneazles these days." Then, taking a step forward, Lily uses the few centimeters she has on Severus to lord over him. "Besides, who's going to tell them I came here? You?" she demands.
He bristles. Pushing his face into hers, he's just about to tell Lily, "Yes, I will!" when an old recollection hits Severus like a hippogriff. Across the street, an old widow lives with her sister. She was once the bane of his childhood – tattling to his father when he got in fights with neighbor boys or did something naughty like kick one of the street's stray dogs. He falls back and smirks. Severus then turns his gaze past Lily's perplexed countenance and points to the townhouse across the street. "Mrs. Hatman, I suspect. She's quite the busybody."
"Then we better leave before she catches sight of me," Lily replies fiercely.
Severus sighs. They may not be friends any longer, but a part of him will always care for her. That part rallies against the larger part of himself who wants to slam the door in her face and let her get in trouble. Making a split-second decision, he pulls Lily inside. He figures they can sneak out the back door in a moment and climb the garden wall to escape the hawk-like eyes of Mrs. Hatman (and his mother). While he closes the door, he tells her quietly, "Go wait for me in the living room. I have to tell Mum it was just a salesman."
Lily rolls her eyes, but does as she's told.
Just as he'd predicted would happen, as soon as Lily is out of sight, his mother is standing in the doorway of the kitchen drying her hands with a rag. "Who was it?" she asks.
Severus keeps his face perfectly calm as he tells her, "Just a salesman. I told him you weren't home."
His mum nods. "Good lad." He accepts the praise with a flash of a smile before he turns toward the living room. His mother asks, "What are you doing? I thought you were going to help me wax the floor."
He sighs. "Can't I go outside instead? I helped with all the other chores today."
His mother raises an eyebrow. "Oh, now you want to go outside? After days of skulking about home?"
Severus stuffs his hands in the pockets of his too-small pants and does his best not to growl at his mother like a savage. "Please?" he grits.
She sighs in a decidedly exaggerated manner (whether she is trying to express amusement with him or annoyance, he is not sure. Years apart has made reading his mother more difficult than he first expected upon waking in the past). "Very well." Turning away from him, she calls, "Be home in time for dinner, Severus."
Boosting Lily over the brick wall of the garden, he asks, "What's brought you by?"
"I think it's just us two," she says.
Accepting the hand that is offered, Severus lets Lily help pull him up onto the edge of the wall. Together, they hop down onto the street behind his family's garden. He drawls, "Really? You think so?"
Lily glares at him. "Yes," she says. "If anyone else was like us, you'd think they'd have come to kill us or see if we're like them by now."
"Perhaps," Severus agrees. "Or their plans may not involve killing us. They may not be as clever as you or I. There's also a chance they think they are all alone in this unlike us."
She stopped mid-step and turns to scrutinize him. "You knew I would be like you when you woke?"
Severus stares back. "No," he answers slowly. "But I…" he looks away, to the smog-choked sky above them. It's not comforting – never had been, either – but its presence in his childhood had been a steady one and it is something that he can trust to not change on him as he finds the words to explain to Lily the pull, the fear, the denial. "After I woke, all I wanted to do was go to that stupid park. I thought – felt – I would find you there waiting for me. And it wasn't just because of memories of our childhood that I believed that."
Lily moves a little closer. "I had the feeling I needed to go wait there for you when I woke up too."
He tentatively reaches for her hand. Lily looks dubiously at it, then, gingerly, places her fingers in his wanting palm. He grips them and finds strength in their solid warmth. Lily is real. This is real. Softly, Severus murmurs, "I don't know anything. I just woke up here."
"Me too," Lily admits.
He asks, "Why are we here? What do you think we're supposed to do?"
Lily's mouth pulls into a thoughtful pucker. "To be better," she answers after a long silence. "To do better."
"How do you know that?"
She shrugs. "I don't," she admits. "It's just…"
"You have a feeling?" Severus suggests.
Lily's head dips in agreement. "You have that feeling too, don't you?"
He closes his eyes. "Yes," he admits.
Just as Lily's felt it, he has too. Something tells him they are here for no other reason than to be better, to do better than they had before. The future is in the palms of their small hands. It is an overwhelming knowledge, but, at least, they can take comfort in knowing they are not alone in the endeavor.
Just wanted to try my hand at some time-travel. I think, for what it is, it turned out alright.
Your guys thoughts?
Thank you for reading.