A/N: That's what happens when I let my imagination run wild. Let me know if it's good, bad or somewhere in between ;)
2. A Present for Lily
I need to find a present for Lily.
When a black door with a golden handle appeared out of nowhere, Severus jumped back in surprise. He had just walked Lily to the Gryffindor Tower and was now making his way back to the dungeons. When he turned into the corridor with the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy, the trolls in tutus reminded him in some weird way that Lily's birthday was in three days. And there was not much time left to buy her something.
He was so agitated by the fact that he had so little time that he stopped in the middle of the corridor and started pacing back and forth, hoping for some inspiration. And that was when the door appeared.
Severus looked around to check nobody was coming, then took out his wand and cautiously turned the handle. He opened the door a little and peeped inside. He could see a brightly lit room full of wardrobes, chests and shelves. There was a pleasant smell in the air. He opened the door a little wider and took a better look. There seemed to be some glittering things lying on the shelves and he thought he knew what they were. Suddenly he realized he would surely find a perfect present for Lily in this place. But before he could enter the room, he heard the voice of the person he hated as much as he loved Lily. James Potter.
"Hey, Snivellus! What are you up to? Why have you crawled out of your hole down in the dungeons?" He gave an audible sniff. "Oh, now we'll have to ventilate the whole corridor, it stinks in here!"
Potter was obviously in the mood for talking and taunting rather than fighting, otherwise he would have already hexed Severus, preferably from behind. But maybe he didn't bother showing off his skills because his mates – and Lily – were not around. Still, he was so concentrated on sneering at Severus that it took him a while to realize that they were standing near a door that have never been there before. And then curiosity made him forget about Snape and everything else. He just whipped out his wand and dived into the room.
So much for caution, thought Severus wryly. It was his chance to leave relatively unscathed from the encounter but he was determined to find that present and was afraid he would not be able to get back into that room. So he took a deep breath and followed Potter inside.
He was right. Glittering things lying on the shelves were jewellery: gold and silver necklaces, bracelets, brooches, earrings, and rings encrusted with gems of all sizes and colours. On another set of shelves he found richly decorated bottles of perfumes and porcelain figurines. Potter had already opened some wardrobes and chests and Severus could see there were beautiful Chinese porcelain dinner sets, shawls made of pure silk and many other things that he couldn't name or even properly describe. But they were all exquisite and even he could appreciate their value.
"Wow, this place is awesome!" Potter muttered to himself, obviously forgetting that Severus could hear him. "I'm sure I'll find something for Lily here."
Severus froze. That was not good. That was so not good.
"Hey, I found this place! Go and find your present for Lily somewhere else!"
Mentioning Lily Evans in James Potter's presence was always a bad idea. Especially for Severus, who usually got hexed. But letting him know that he was trying to find a present for Lily was a death warrant. Severus realized it too late…
But Potter didn't curse him into oblivion. He was so mesmerised by the beautiful things around him and so intent on finding the perfect gift for Lily that he just wanted peace and quiet to look for it.
"There are so many things here, I'm sure we'll both find something," he said, not even looking at Severus. Snape's jaw dropped. Did James Potter just allow him to look for a present for Lily? Shouldn't he have flown into jealous rage by now?
He was still jealous of his discovery and didn't want to share it with anyone (especially James Potter) but there was nothing he could do to stop him and so he started looking around for the perfect gift, too.
A couple of minutes passed and then he saw it. It was an emerald shawl that would go really well with Lily's eyes. He grabbed one end… and realized Potter was holding the other one.
"Hey!" they cried angrily at the same time.
"Back off, Snivellus!"
"You back off, Potter! I was first, I found this place, it's mine!"
"Oh, really? Tarantallegra!"
They both missed but suddenly all the lights went off.
"What did you do, Snape?"
The lights came back on unexpectedly and Severus found himself face to face with a ghost. A ghost of a young girl.
"Who are you?" Potter asked, trying to appear unconcerned by her sudden appearance.
"I'm Shamira, the guardian of this place," she answered solemnly.
"I guard it because all of these things belong to me," she explained coldly.
"That means you have to ask my permission if you want to take anything."
"Okay, so, can I take this shawl?" Potter didn't waste any time.
Shamira shook her head sadly.
"Don't shower this girl with expensive presents or she'll end up just like me. The more things I got, the more I wanted and I stopped caring for anything else."
Severus bit his lip worriedly. He didn't want this to happen to Lily. Potter seemed to be thinking the same thing.
"So what am I supposed to get her for her birthday?" he asked with desperation.
"Just show her that you care. Give her a present that you made yourself or one that means something to both of you, reminds you of something you saw or did together. It doesn't have to be much, it just has to be meaningful. Anyone can give her a shawl."
When Potter didn't look entirely convinced, she added, "Trust me. I would know."