It was the simple things in life, really, that he had never come to understand. What was affection? What was kindess? The words brought confusion to his mind as nothing else had, clouding his mind in useless colours and thoughts as he attempted to comprehend them. He was alone, always alone. What did he know of life and its fruitful worth?
Nothing. The answer was nothing, and always had been. And he accepted it with less than open arms, though he knew he deserved and expected nothing more. Even when she had waltzed into his life and danced through his dreams, he had grapsed its meaning for but a moment before it had slipped away. A moment of seven years; but a sliver of his life all the same.
He could call to mind the very first time they had met. Or rather, when he had first lain his sullen eyes upon her. He had been nervous--more anxiety than nervousness, really--and she had not helped to calm him. In a way, she had, but in another, she had agitated him more.
He was in his first year and the Sorting Ceremony was about to begin. He stood at the back of a cluster of students all like himself, yet different. They talked and laughed together as he watched, as though they had all known each other for the entirety of their lives thus far. And he had no one. It wasn't as if he had tried, or would admit to himself that he cared one way or another. For he did, but put up the front that human companionship was worth nothing. It was a mask he had learned to don in the presence of his father. An expressionless, uncaring face that secretly wept with his mother as she lay broken upon the floor. It shouldn't have affected him in this new world, his magical home. Yet it did, for his scars ran deep.
The young boy gazed at his feet in silence. Perhaps when he was sorted, he would be in a family to which he belonged. Slytherin. That was where his mother had been. That was where he hoped to be.
He looked up for a moment and noticed, with surprise, that another stood close beside him. She, too, was alone, her soft face marred with worry, mingled with excitement and fear. She was pretty, with hair shining to her shoulders as though it was spun of fire. Her emerald eyes seemed to pierce into his own as she noticed him and met his gaze.
"I'm Lily," she smiled nervously. "Lily Evans." She extended a fair hand forward in greeting.
He paused, unsure. Was he to take it? He decided tograsp it briefly. "Severus," he muttered to the floor. "I am Severus."
"'Severus'? That's an interesting name. I'm afraid I've never met anyone with it before."
He scowled. "I suppose it suits me, then."
Lily looked taken aback for a moment, then she laughed, tossing her hair slightly. "I didn't mean it like that, you silly. I suppose I should start getting used to new names and things. I'm the first witch in my family, you see." She wrinkled her nose in disdain. "I really didn't expect it, though. I mean, who would really believe in magic if they've never seen it before? Well, only in storybooks, but that's differen't, don't you think? I think it is. What about you, Severus?"
Severus blinked at her, not expecting to be addressed just yet. He had been listening to her talk on and on as though to herself, though had not truly paid close attention to what exactly she had said. In truth, he had been absorbed in her hair. Never before had he lain eyes upon such a shade of red. Never before had he encountered such beauty.
Never before had such beauty encountered him, and now that it had, it perplexed him.
Lily looked at him expectantly. "Did you know you were a wizard?"
"Yes," he answered without hesitation.
"You're lucky then. I wish my parents had been. I could have learned all sorts of exciting things."
"It depends what you'd call 'exciting.'"
"Any kind of magic is exciting to me. I did learn a few things on the train. I'd try them here, but I'm afraid I'd get them wrong."
Severus smiled lightly to himself, suddenly warmed by the memory. He doubted her spell would have gone awry no matter what she had attempted. They hadn't spoken since the Sorting Hat had announced her placement into Gryffindor. In his mind he had known it was wrong to have a companion such as her. They would always be too different to understand one another. That's what he had thought. Yet he had been wrong. And they would speak again.
It was winter. His first winter at Hogwarts; his first Christmas away from the place he called home. Away from his mother. And Father. For the latter he had been glad, for the former, he felt as though he had abandoned.
He trudged across the deserted grounds with his head hung low. His feet felt chilled beneath the boots which walked upon the snow. Everyone, he knew, would be inside. The feast had just begun, yet he felt no inclination to attend. He felt that he did not belong there, so would not subject himself to the merrymaking and warmth of Christmastime.
Severus stopped. Near the edge of the Forbidden Forest sat a figure awkwardly formed of snow. A snowman with narrowed eyes of charcoal. Its nose was hooked, much like his own, and its mouth formed a scowl. A Slytherin scarf was tied about its neck. The young boy felt a sickly feeling sweep over him. S.S. was carved in the snowman's middle section, and seemed to have been prodded numerous times with a stick. Immediately, he realised who had done it, and his pale,sallow cheeks flushed in embarassment.
Black and Potter, Lupin and Pettigrew. Four Gryffindors who despised him so. Oh, how they loved to taunt him. To bait him. To humiliate him in any possible way.
He stretchedhis hand out to touch the snowman-Severus sadly. He had never made one before, and now it seemed that one had been made of him. It was wretched and vile, and it disgusted him. His hand balled into a fist, and he knocked part of its face away. His own face felt hot, and his eyes stung. He ripped the scarf from its neck and threw it to the ground in anger.
He spun around, greasy black hair stuck to his cheek. It was Lily. She walked toward him with her hands inside of her coat pockets, her breath coming forth as a white cloud into the air.
"L-Lily," he stammered, struggling to hide the snowman. She looked at him in bemusement and attempted to see behind his back.
"What's that?" she asked curiously
"Nothing?" she asked slyly. "There must be something. You wouldn't be keeping it from me if there wasn't anything there." She moved to look at it.
"Don't!" he cried helplessly, yet it was too late. She glanced at the poorly-made charicature with a frown.
"Maybe we can fix it," she suggestedafter a moment.
Severus looked at her shyly, and retrieved the scarf.
It was the simple things in life that she had taught him to understand. Affection. Kindness. Both brought back memories of her as nothing else could, bringing both warm and sorrow beside it. For that day, as the sun had set, there had been two snowmen, sitting side by side. One wore the scarf of a young Gryffindor girl, the other of a Slytherin boy. For once, he felt as though he belonged. For once, he was not alone.