Author's Notes: I write these little things when I get writer's block.

The Niceties of Boredom

Severus is bored, though he will not admit it to anyone, least of all himself. He always has something to occupy his time, and thus he reasons that this Sunday afternoon should not be any different at all. On other Sunday afternoons, he is reading or scratching away at yet another essay, or at the very least, concocting a way to avoid a confrontation with Potter and Black. But today, he finds that he is unable to do any of these things. Instead, he can only sit within the darkest corner of the library, feeling sluggish and lazy and a whole manner of other things that are anything but boredom—because, as a rule, Severus is never bored.

Someone has left a quill upon the table nearest to him—not his table, but no one else's table, either, seeing as he is the only one who has been here all day. He picks it up between pallid fingers and twirls it round until the ebony wisps of the feather's end trace circles against his hand. It is a nice quill, he observes, then allows it to fall—not float—back onto the table with a sudden sense of loathing. If 'nice' is the only word he can find to describe it, then it is not worth his time. Nice things, he believes, will do little for him, will never get him anywhere.

He wishes he could know where it is that he is attempting to go, wishes he knew what path he is hoping to find—and hopefully sometime soon. Severus wonders, briefly, what it might be like to simply drop, like the quill, and stay someplace forever—or at least, until someone picks him up again and moves him someplace out of his control. Not that he has ever had much of a choice about where he is going and where he has been. It would be nice to have…

Nice. The same word that describes a quill can also describe an ideal prospect. Severus frowns, displeased and disgusted by this minute revelation. With a sudden wave of something he does not care to identify, he sweeps his hand across the tabletop and knocks the quill to the floor without even a clatter. Niceties are for Hufflepuffs.

Severus wonders if the rain has stopped yet, or if it will stop by tomorrow afternoon. Not, of course, that he has anything to do on Monday after classes have ended for the day—save for reading, writing essays, and avoiding Potter and Black—but all the same, he would like to know, one way or another. Then again, that is only because he is anything but bored; on any other Sunday, he would not even blink a pale-lidded eye at the weather. After all, he never partakes in the frivolities that being outdoors often leads to.

Suddenly, he purses his lips and narrows his eyes. Someone is approaching—much too quickly for him to escape—someone with light but insistent footsteps. He hopes it is the Ravenclaw boy who has always been easy to frighten away, or the terribly intrusive first year that comes round on occasion to make sure that she is not the only one that enjoys lurking.

Either way, Severus has been overcome by too much lethargy to so much as think about where or how he might locate his wand to fend off the intruder, even though he can feel it in his pocket. The only response he can manage is to feel an understandable sense of wariness—but not unease, as anyone he truly might want to avoid most likely neither reads nor studies, or has otherwise been banned from the library.

Yet it is not the Ravenclaw boy or the first year, or even, most astonishingly, anyone whom he does not particularly wish to see. Of all the people in the world, it is Lily Evans who rounds the corner and comes to stand within the darkest portion of the library, in front of him.

Severus looks at her, guardedly, not daring to believe that he can or should speak. Not to her. He does not trust himself to do so. She looks nervous—how he feels but does not show now that she is here; he would rather appear bored.

Lily tucks a pretty auburn lock behind her ear, and her emerald eyes dart about to places that are everywhere but his own eyes—which are dark even without shadows to cover them. He suddenly feels like running away; he would rather face his father than talk to her, this girl, because she is the only one outside of a fair few Slytherins who will glance his way—except for today, when she is doing anything but.

"Did you happen to find a quill?" she asks at length. His gaze rises, if only a fraction of some miniscule amount. "I seem to have left one behind. It's black."

He considers saying no, telling her that he has seen nothing but cobwebs and books—and her. But she speaks in a tone which says, strangely—at least, to him—that the loss of her simple possession is paining her somehow.

He tilts his pointed chin to survey the ground, as wordless and casual as he can be. When he spots the quill, he plucks it from the floor and holds it out to her.

Lily's brilliant eyes meet his for a moment as she takes the proffered instrument, and their fingers brush together for the briefest of seconds—though to Severus, it is everything but brief. She tucks the quill into her book bag and smiles. "Thank you, Severus."

Long after she has left, he decides that some nice things can mean the world, even if they will not get him anywhere at all but here.

The End