When Life Hands You Lemons...
"Lily, I need your help!"
Lily Evans, seventh-year Head Girl, sighed as she turned around from her desk at the sound of her sister's voice. She and Petunia were both home for the Christmas holidays and Lily tried to avoid her sister as much as possible. She sighed audibly.
"What is it, Petunia?"
Petunia stood at the entrance to her sister's room, not willing to step over the threshold and possibly contaminate herself with that unnatural 'magic' of Lily's. She looked down at her hands worrying at the fabric of a handkerchief in her clutched fingers. Lily watched amazed as a flush crept over her sister's horsy features.
"I - I -" She paused gulping some air in a few times. "Ineedalovepotion," she gasped out.
"Pardon?" Lily looked at her askance. Had she heard her sister correctly?
"I need a love potion," the other girl said more distinctly. "You're a witch, witches are always supposed to make love potions. Make me one," she demanded. Petunia seemed to have regained her pride and haughtiness.
Lily just looked at her sister as if Voldemort himself possessed her.
"Whatever do you need one for? I thought you were getting along fine with ...Michael?"
"I am. I just want to make it a sure thing. I know you can do this, I heard you talking to that Snape boy on the phone last week."
"Petunia, who I talk with is my business." Lily was incensed, what was Petunia doing picking up the extension? How rude could you get?
Petunia didn't get the point though and kept going on. "You were talking to him about a love potion to get that Potter boy!" Petunia accused. "I want some to ensure I get Michael so I can get as far away from you and your freaky friends as I can!"
"First off, Tuna breath, I was not talking to Sev to get a potion to use on James. I don't need one, thank you very much. That conversation was concerning a project for potions class; we are lab partners. Second, give me one good reason why I should do this for you? You never do me any favours." She was frankly curious. Petunia hated magic and anything associated with it. Now she wanted a love philtre?
Petunia smiled a calculating smirky smile. "Once I marry Michael you'd never see me again. He is being transferred to America." Well, that was a trump card if Lily had ever heard one. This was becoming very tempting!
Lily wasn't going to give in so easily though. "Let me think on it. When do you need this by?"
"The Christmas Dance at Daddy's Club."
Lily just nodded and turned back to her homework. She didn't pick up her quill though. She was really thinking about what her sister had asked. Michael Kendrick actually was quite perfect for her sister. Perfectly normal up-and-coming junior bank executive; handsome enough, they would make a perfect couple as long as he could get past the horse face. But this was not a project she could do herself. She needed help. The boys could help, but none of them were in seventh-year potions and this called for a NEWT-level brewer or higher.
She leaned back in her desk chair. There was nothing to do but bite the bullet and call Severus. She grabbed the princess phone and went to lie on her bed stretching the long cord across the room as she dialed Sev's number and waited for it to connect through.
"Yeah, wadd'ya want?" Shite, it was Mr Snape!
"Sorry to disturb you, sir, but may I speak with Severus, please?" After he harrumphed back, she could hear him hand the receiver to his son with a nasty remark about his 'bird' calling him. She could almost hear Severus' eyes roll in his head as spoke to her.
"Lily, what do you need? I thought we were finished last week?"
"Look Sev, I have a problem..."
"Don't tell me Potter knocked you up?" he cut through with a smirk in his voice.
"Get your mind out of the gutter, Snape!" she snapped at him. "No, it's my sister - believe it or not." She proceeded to outline for him what Petunia was requesting.
"Your sister wants a love potion?"
"Yeah, she must be desperate." He chuckled along with her.
"Alright, I'll come over tomorrow, and we can get started. At least potions don't violate the underage magic clause. She can't just drink coffee or eat Godiva chocolate like other Muggles?"
"Very funny, Severus. Be here by ten o'clock. Do you have all the ingredients?"
"No problem." And he hung up laughing.
The two friends stood over the cauldron in Lily's bedroom. They had been brewing all afternoon and were sweaty and tired, but the potion was nearly finished.
Severus consulted his mother's old potion book again. Sometimes her handwriting was a little hard to decipher.
"Okay, according to the text we add the dark chocolate, let it melt and stir seven times clockwise with the gold stirring rod, and it should turn to a pale translucent pink. According to Mother, we add one anti-clockwise turn after the fourth clockwise turn, then four more clockwise," Severus said as Lily shaved up the dark chocolate square. She nodded and picking up the shavings, sprinkled them evenly over the top of the simmering liquid. Severus grabbed the stirring rod and made the necessary rotations according to his mother's instructions. At the end of the eighth clockwise turn the potion was the palest shade of delicate pink. The teenagers sighed and turned off the Bunsen burner and let the cauldron start cooling.
"Do you want something to drink?" Lily offered. Severus smiled shyly.
"That sounds good."
She threw him a flannel to wipe the sweat off with and led the way downstairs to the kitchen. Petunia was in the living room reading her favourite gossip rag. Severus gawped at the holiday decorations throughout the house.
"What? Doesn't your family celebrate the Yule?" Lily asked as she noticed the wonder in his eyes. She reached into the refrigerator to pull out two cans of coke. Handing one to Severus, she snapped the ring-tab on the other one and took a long draft of the cool liquid.
Severus pulled back on his ring-tab before answering. "No, not really. Father doesn't believe in it. Mum always lights a candle on Christmas Eve and manages to give me one or two presents, but that's about it." He shrugged. He never liked to talk about his home life. She understood why; his dad was quite a harsh individual and did not like the fact that his son was a 'pansy magician'.
"I'm sorry, Sev, I didn't know," Lily said quietly.
He shrugged it off and tried changing the topic. "So, do you know yet what you are doing after leaving Hogwarts?"
"Not really. James is talking marriage but hasn't really asked yet. We both want to be Aurors, so it will most likely be that. We have the grades for it. What about you?"
Severus squirmed in his seat. "I've already taken the mark, Lily," he said in a low voice. "There is nothing else I can do." He looked pained as if the decision to join his housemates in following Voldemort was one he now regretted.
"I know, Sev. I fear for you everyday."
"It was my decision, Lily. Made in anger, for sure, but I knew what I was doing. It is not something I can take back now, He would kill me for sure." He drained the last of his can and set it down on the table, twirling the ring-tab around his index finger. "For the most part I won't really be around him. I'll have my Potions Master studies to keep me busy. I plan on getting it in three years and that will keep me out of His sight for a while. After that..." He shrugged to show he was unsure of his future after that point.
"Severus, I just never want you to end up in prison. You aren't like them! Do you know who they have guarding now?" she pushed.
"Dementors. Yes, I read that in the Prophet before we left school. Soul-sucking vermin guarding the prisoners in Azkaban, how appropriate," he commented snidely.
"I just hate the thought that we are going to be on opposite sides of this war when we leave school at the end of term. I don't want to be your enemy, Severus."
"I don't either, Lily, but I can't leave His service. Once in, in for life," he said bitterly. He stood up abruptly. "I've got to go, Lily. Let the cauldron cool for two more hours, then you can decant the potion." He started walking toward the front door, grabbing his winter jacket from the hall-tree. Lily walked next to him and opened the door.
"Thanks, Severus. Be careful."
He smiled ruefully at her as he nodded in her direction and headed out into the sleet that had begun to fall.
As she walked back to the kitchen to throw away the pop cans, Petunia called out from the living room. "Is that horrible boy gone? Am I going to have put up with more freaks like you in this house?"
"If you want your potion, Tuna breath, I wouldn't insult my friends to my face," Lily retorted. "I could just go upstairs right now and dump the contents down the loo." She made as if to run upstairs to do just that. The look on Petunia's face was priceless as she quickly backed down.
"No, no. I'm sorry, I won't say anything again." Lily snorted as she walked more sedately up the stairs to finish her essay and wait for the cauldron to cool.
"Mother, where are my evening gloves?" came Petunia's wails as she rushed around her room getting ready for the dance on Saturday night. Lily sauntered in and espied the errant long-sleeved articles hanging on the doorknob. She picked them up and dangled them from her fingertips as if they were poisonous.
"Are these what you are looking for, Tuna?" she teased.
Petunia snatched them away giving her younger sibling a sneer. "Is it ready?" she growled under her breath.
"Of course it is. When we get there, I'll just pour it into his wineglass. I just need one hair from your head to activate it." Quick as a flash she had grabbed a single hair and yanked it out of her sister's head.
"Ouch!!" her sister screamed, grabbing the back of her head. She then watched as Lily uncorked the bottle and slipped the hair in. As she looked on, the hair immediately dissolved and the liquid, a pale pink, became crystal clear. Lily resealed the vial and dropped it in her clutch bag. Petunia noticed for the first time that Lily was also dressed in ball finery.
"You're going to the dance?" she squeaked.
"Of course, James is escorting me. You do know that we are allowed to bring outside guests?" She watched as the news that another freak was going to be at the party permeated the brain cells of her sister. At the appropriate moment Lily turned on her heel and headed downstairs to her father's awaiting town-car.
Petunia snapped out of her shock when she heard her mother calling her and telling her to hurry up. She grabbed her own evening wrap and clutch bag and hurried down the stairs.
Michael was waiting for Petunia as they entered the Club, taking her arm and leading her off to the dance floor. James sauntered over to Lily as she gave her own wrap to the cloakroom girl.
"Are you ready for a night of merriment and fantastic revelry as well as some real good dancing on my part?" he asked her gallantly.
"Oh really, and who taught you to dance?" she enquired cheekily.
"Sirius," he retorted.
"Oh, then I'm really in trouble!" She laughed, as he looked mock-offended. "Is he here tonight?"
"Sirius? Are you kidding? He wouldn't be caught dead here."
"Good, I have something to do tonight, and I don't need him messing it up."
"What are you up to, my girl?" James purred in her ear as he escorted her to the large doors that were the entrance to the banquet hall. Lily showed the invitation to the functionary at the entrance.
"Oh, just a love philtre for my sister," she whispered back.
"You are joking!"
"No, I'm not. She wanted to make sure that Michael is hers - hook, line and sinker. He is being transferred to Los Angeles, and she means to be at his side." She walked with her arm tucked in his as they entered the large open room decorated all over in green and red finery. "It seemed like a good solution."
The dancing had already started, and James swung her onto the floor to join in. As they spun around the room, Lily mused to herself how perfect they were together. James had settled down considerably over the last few months and was turning into a fine young man; one she was honoured to have to herself. He still pulled the occasional prank, but none of them were as malicious as they had gotten a few years ago. She smiled up at her partner as they twirled around the room, confidant in their steps.
As the music ended, they headed over to the side of the room where the tables for refreshments had been placed. As they reached the punch table, Vernon Dursley bumped into James causing him to spill his punch all down his shirtfront.
"Vernon!" Lily cried. "Look where you're going next time! Here, James, let me get that for you." She grabbed some cocktail napkins from the table and started to dab at the stains as the two men glared at each other. Vernon was another young executive who had just recently joined the club. He was a junior executive at Grunnings Manufactories. Lily and Petunia both thought him quite a boor. Vernon had tried picking up Petunia several times at Club functions over the previous summer, but she had turned him down flat on all occasions. He just wasn't her type.
"Huh? What? Oh... sorry, Potter. Didn't see you," Dursley said with a slight sneer. "Nothing too badly ruined? Good, good." He grabbed a glass of punch and a plate overflowing with various varieties of biscuits and walked on his way, keeping his eyes glued to the dance-floor, especially on Petunia Evans.
"That man is atrocious!" Lily steamed. "Here," she said, pulling her attention back to James' shirtfront. "That seems to have gotten the worst of it." She handed the soiled napkins to the attendant and guided James to the dance floor. "Come on, show me those famous Black moves that Sirius has supposedly taught you." Her green eyes gleamed in the light of the chandeliers as she looked up into the face of her lover and boyfriend. He smiled down at her and swept her back into the dance as they took a few more turns around the room. After another pause in the dancing, Lily was pulled to the ladies' lounge by several girlfriends, and it was quite a few minutes before she was able to return to her date. When she did, he promptly took her back out to the dance floor to enjoy a slow dance with her.
"Hmmmm..." Lily looked up into James face as they swayed to the gentle beat of the band.
"Michael was in the men's room a little bit ago, and I don't think he is serious about Petunia."
"Really?" She looked startled.
"Yeah, he was talking about how his boss had introduced him to his daughter, apparently quite a looker, and how he was starting to date her. She is going out to LA with him when he transfers."
"Now that is interesting!" she mused. "I bet Petunia doesn't know this."
"Or maybe she does and that is why she had you make the potion?" James intuited. Lily looked shocked.
"You think so?" He nodded his head. "Well, that takes a lot of desperation on her part. I guess it's time I put it into action. Come along, dear."
"Yes, dear." They chuckled as they moved off the floor and headed towards the punch table again.
James played lookout as Lily surreptitiously took the small crystal vial out of her clutch and, catching Petunia's eye indicating that now was the time, poured the contents into a full glass of punch as she watched Petunia pull Michael along behind her as she headed towards the table. As she went to grab the cup to hand it to Petunia, she realised the cup was gone! She looked at the person next to her and groaned inwardly as she came to the full, heart-stopping knowledge that Vernon Dursley, the slime-ball of the Club, had grabbed the cup with the potion in it and was in the process of draining it in one long draft.
Lily backed away with horror on her face and pushing desperately at James to get out of the way as quickly as possible as Petunia approached and Vernon turned toward the new addition to the group around the table.
"Petunia, my love!" he said with an overly sweet smile on his face as he spied the object of his lust.
"Dursley?!" Petunia squeaked, dropped Michael's hand like a hot potato as her eyes were captured by Vernon's. He really has nice eyes, she thought as his gaze tore into her. She never noticed her sister rushing away as fast as she could dragging Potter with her - who was chortling like a hyena - nor Michael staring at her in disbelief then walking away shaking his head.
When the effects of the potion had worn off a few weeks later, Petunia found herself engaged to Vernon Dursley - who was still madly in love with her - and despising her sister even more than she could possibly imagine. She could never forgive Lily for straddling her with this oaf. However, Michael had already left the country with his boss's daughter, the cretin, and Vernon apparently really loved her, even without the potion.
She thought she could learn to like Dursley; he was an extremely normal person, and she could envision herself making a perfectly normal house for him on a perfectly normal street with normal neighbours and raising up a normal child for him. Yes, she thought to herself, if she had to be stuck with him, at least he wasn't a freak! So, as her mother always said, if life hands you lemons - make lemonade.