(Note: Series of short stories that have been haunting the corners of my brain. I haven't written anything longer than a status update in years and years so if they seem half assed, that's my excuse. Or, they might really be half assed. Bonus note! Lotus flowers can only grow in mud. I thought it fit.)

Bloom.

It was by accident he discovered her existence. Or fate that brought them together, if you prefer that sort of thing.

He had been in a tree overlooking the small community playground when it happened, hiding from the gang of neighborhood boys who bullied him.

"Where is he?" a voice bellowed, as stomping issued from a small clump of neighboring trees. "Where is that stupid little arse?"

"Not here, mate." Answered another voice as the group of boys scanned the area. "Come on, let's go."

"Yeah, we'll get that little freak some other day. He probably ran home to his mum." Chimed in another as they all looked to the first boy- who was clutching a hand poorly bandaged in his t-shirt.

"…Fine." He consented after a moment, his hand obviously causing him a fair amount of pain.

Severus breathed a huge sigh of relief as he watched the group retreat in the direction they came from. He didn't dare leave his tree until he felt they would all be securely tucked away in their own homes.

That hand had been an accident too. Whenever he was scared or angry, his magic exploded out of him uncontrollably. That boy, Bobby or Billy or whatever his name was, had grabbed hold of his arm as he had run away, and wouldn't let go. So the magic had leapt out of his very skin this time, and burned that boys' hand. Burned it good.

Severus sighed again, this time in defeat. There would be no rest this summer. Neither inside his home, nor outside of it.

A shriek shattered the silence of the deepening evening. Severus flinched closer to his tree and scanned the area through the branches. It was nothing to be afraid of, just two little girls chasing each other into the play area, racing for the swings.

"I'm gonna beat you!" shouted the smaller of the girls joyfully, looking behind her as she ran. Since she wasn't paying attention she tripped as her feet went from the concrete to gravel and she skidded to her hands and knees.

"Oh, Lily!" cried the older girl as she jogged to her friend.

The sound of her name was all it took to shake the fallen girl from her stunned silence and she began to cry.

"Lily, don't cry! It'll be ok." The girl said as she took the girls arm and helped her to her feet. She examined the small cuts on the palms of her hands. "Look, it's not so bad! Just some little scrapes. Mummy can take care of these in no time at all and then…"

The elder girl trailed off, her eyes widening in amazement as she and Lily watched the scrapes heal themselves. She quickly dropped Lily's wrists and backed a couple steps away from her.

"What…. What…. What happened?" she stammered, frightened.

"I don't know." Lily answered; a note of awe in her voice. She was flexing her hands, studying them from every angle. "They just…. Fixed themselves." she added, rubbing her freshly healed knees.

"Scrapes can't just 'fix themselves.'" Her sister said coldly. "What did you do?"

No, scrapes couldn't just fix themselves. Severus shifted nearer to the girls in his tree, leaning as close as he could without falling. He wanted to see for himself.

"I didn't do anything." Lily said, sounding scandalized. "You saw it! It was like magic!" she added cheerfully, clapping her hands together once for emphasis.

At this declaration, Severus nearly fell out of the tree. 'Could it have been?' he wondered, studying the red haired girl.

Her sister was still shifting uncomfortably where she stood a little ways away. "I'm going to tell mummy."

"Tell her what?" Lily asked defiantly. "That I'm not hurt? Let's swing!"

"No…" the sister said, backing slowly towards the entrance to the park. "No, I'm telling!" she shouted, breaking into a run and sprinting through the gate.

"Tuney!" Lily cried, chasing after her. "Tuney! WAIT!"

Severus jumped down from his tree and stood staring quietly in the direction the girls had run for a long time, before turning and leaving the opposite direction.

-K.B.

3/5/11