Author's Note: This is a pretty fun story to write. I hope you're having a good time reading it!
For the first time in his life, Severus actually had an enjoyable Christmas holiday. Remus, though a quiet boy, was very good company. He and Severus spent most of the day in the library, reading, or going out for a walk around the school yard, chatting. Their conversations stayed general. Neither boy was the sort to pry unnecessarily. Severus liked that about Remus. The two boys could spend hours in silence together and it was always comfortable. Severus was beginning to forget why he had ever been angry with Remus.
On Christmas morning, Snape got out of bed a little later than he normally did. Christmas was nothing special to him. It never was. By the time he got to the Great Hall and made his way to where Remus was at the Gryffindor table, Remus was busy eating breakfast. Severus saw a stack of gifts piled at the other boy's elbow. He clenched his jaw as he moved to sit across from him. Christmas meant nothing, Severus reminded himself. "Good morning, Remus," he said in his usual polite tone. He actually smiled a bit. Or, at least, tried to.
Remus looked up as he gave him his usual gentle smile. "Good morning, Severus. It is about time you woke up. A package came for you while you were still asleep," he said, holding out a small box. The box was wrapped in faded news paper, but Snape did not seem to mind. It was addressed from his parents. His eyes widened. Had his parents actually sent him a gift? Taking the box he unwrapped it as fast as he could, shreds of paper flying. Remus could not help but to chuckle as he pushed aside his empty cereal bowl, watching his companion. It was rare for Severus to allow himself to look so excited. The boy was always so guarded.
It was a short-lived excitement, however. When Severus opened the box, he realized it was just an extra well of ink and additional scrolls of parchment. It was then that he remembered that his mother mentioned that she would be sending him additional school supplies at the end of the first term. They could not afford to buy too many supplies in the beginning of the year, so his mother had to space out buying his school things. Snape sifted through the box for a few moments before his shoulders slumped. His parents had not even seen fit to sent him a card. The package was meant to just be a delivery of school supplies. Snape blinked back tears as he looked down at his empty bowl. He did not know why he was so disappointed.
Remus looked at his friend worriedly. He knew that expression on Snape's face well for he wore it himself often. It was a miserable sort of disappointment. He watched as Snape grabbed a spoon and ate his breakfast silently. He did not meet Remus' gaze. Remus realized that Severus was probably too embarrassed to look at him. Suddenly, Remus remembered something.
"Oh! Severus," He said, digging through the piles of gifts. "Lily sent this one for you," he said, holding out a small green paper bag, a ribbon wrapped around it. "She sent me one, too. We should open them together," he said, giving Severus a smile. He was pleased to see that Snape was so surprised by the announcement that he had a gift after all that the look of disappointment completely vanished. Taking the bag from Remus' hand, his excitement more contained this time, he opened it cautiously, pulling out a pair of green and silver knitted gloves. His eyes widened a bit before he looked up at Remus in shock. Remus just grinned as he slipped his own gold and red gloves on, holding out his hands for Snape to see.
Snape's hands were trembling was he slipped them into the gloves. They were far from expertly knitted, filled with flaws, but Snape could not see any of them. His friend had given him a present and to him, they were the most beautiful gloves he had ever seen. It seemed that Lily had even gone to the trouble of charming them because despite the weak craftsmanship, there seemed to be an internal warmth within the gloves that felt like Snape was warming his hands against an evening fire.
The genuinely happy smile that crossed Snape's face was enough to warm Remus' heart. He was happy that Lily at least had not forgotten about him. About either of them. She truly was a kindhearted girl. "Severus, Happy Christmas."
Severus looked up at Remus, giving him a weak smile. "You too. Happy—happy Christmas," he muttered, as if unused to using the greeting.
The rest of the holiday passed uneventfully. Snape hardly took his gloves off, but other than that, it was business as usual for the odd pair of friends. They spent time in the library or in just in the halls of school, talking and practicing course work.
Remus was quite talented when it came to charms, so he helped Severus with what the young Slytherin had deemed "silly wand-waving". In return, Severus had taken to helping Remus with potions. Remus, unlike Sirius or James, was quite the academic himself. Be that as it me, even he had to admit, while he was good at potions, Snape was truly gifted. Whenever the topic turned to potions, Snape's face would light up and he would wildly moving his arms about, trying to show techniques as well as he could away from the potions classroom. He had even taken to scribbling notes in both of their textbooks. A lot of his suggestions made a lot of sense and Remus figured it would not hurt to try some of them when classes began again in January.
Remus had even praised Snape, calling his observations brilliant a few times. The young boy would just suddenly become nervous and stammer, though he would wear a ghost of a smile. Part of the reason Remus liked to praise Severus so much was that it always seemed to shock the young Slytherin to hear someone else call his ideas brilliant. It was a interesting change from James' over-confidence.
The only odd thing that happened the whole break was Remus was nowhere to be found for New Year's Eve. Snape eventually became worried when he could not find him, so he went to Madam Pomphrey. She told him Remus was feeling ill, but would not tell him what was wrong and would not let Severus see him. Snape had not thought anything off at the time, so he spent New Years in the Slytherin common rooms alone.
He laid down by the large windows, looking at the bright, full moon through the water of the Black Lake. The Slytherin common rooms were submerged under the lake. At first, it had given Severus the distinct feeling of being trapped under water, but now he found it actually quite relaxing. He fell asleep there, curled up by the window.
The next morning when he went to go to breakfast, Remus was back in his normal seat. He looked more exhausted than Snape had ever seen him. He also had new scrapes and cuts along his face and arms. Snape wanted to know what had happened the night before, but he knew better than to ask. "Good morning, Remus." Taking his usual seat across from him, he held out a handkerchief. He opened the the clothe, revealing bits of the chocolate from the feast the previous night. "This is for you. It's chocolate. You should have some. It will help."
Remus turned to look at Snape slowly. A tired smile slowly formed as he reached out, taking the chocolate. "Happy new year, Severus."
Severus just smiled as he watched Remus eat the chocolate he offered. A couple of weeks ago, he had been dreading the start of the new term, but now he was thrilled. He could not wait to tell Lily that he and Remus had become friends as well.
"Good morning, Mr. Lupin, Mr. Snape, it is a fine morning we are having, is it not?" Snape turned his head to look up at Headmaster Dumbledore towering over him. He could not help but to shrink back slightly.
"Good morning, Professor Dumbledore," Remus replied. Snape glanced from Remus to Dumbledore and then back to his lap, muttering a soft good morning. He found the Headmaster to be very strange, but ever since he made friends with Remus, Dumbledore seemed to be trying to be kind to him. The first day he and Remus had sat next to each other, he could have sworn he saw a look of surprise on Dumbledore's face.
Snape supposed it was unusual for a Slytherin and a Gryffindor to get along. A thought suddenly occurred to him that caused his face to pale. What would his Housemates think when they found out about his new found friendship? He glanced over at Remus. What would the Gryffindors think?
"Severus, is everything alright, my boy?" Dumbledore asked, resting a hand on the boy's thin shoulders. That snapped Snape out of his reverie. He smiled lightly as he nodded his head.
"Yes sir, everything is fine. I am... going to go write a letter now. I should tell my mother I received her package find. I will see you later in the library?"
Remus nodded and watched Snape dart out of the room.
"He certainly is an unusual boy," Dumbledore said, his twinkling gaze watching Snape's disappearing form.
Remus chuckled as he poured himself more pumpkin juice. "I suppose he is unusual. Especially for a Slytherin. But I like him. I think he was just lonely. I was lonely, too."
Dumbledore smiled at Remus understandingly. "Sometimes the cure for loneliness is simply to find someone who shares a similar loneliness. Even if you are traveling in the dark with no light to guide you, feeling someone beside you can be all it takes to calm the frantic nerves."
The young boy furrow his brows, trying to understand Dumbledore's words. He knew the man was wise, but he did not have the heart to believe him. He turned to look at the large doors of the Great Hall. "Certain sorts of people are better off walking alone."
The Headmaster chuckled. "My boy, " he said, reaching out to ruffle his hair. "It is the people who think they deserve loneliness that benefit the most from friendship. Find good friends, Remus. Find people you can trust and who trust you. Only then will you truly live a blessed life. Above all else, do not grow old before your time." With that, Dumbledore bid him a good morning and walked out of the Great Hall, his hands clasped behind his back.
Remus grumbled a bit under his breath. Dumbledore had a habit of knowing just want to say to ruin his bad moods.
Snape was unsure what he had expected to happen when the students returned from Christmas break. He had gotten up that morning as usual to go have breakfast with Remus as usual, but instead found himself separated from his friend by a sea of students. He had only been able to welcome Lily back to school briefly before she was swept away to the Gryffindor table. He glanced over to where Remus was. James Potter was sitting in the seat that Snape had occupied during the vacation. Almost if he realized Snape was watching them, Sirius and James both turned to look at him, spiteful scowls on both of their faces. Snape returned the glare before going to sit at his table.
Nothing had changed. Lily was too busy for him most of the time and Remus was back in with James and Sirius. The rest of his own House ignored him for the most part. He had nothing to offer them and unless he was useful or connected, none of them wanted anything to do with him. Snape felt like a fool for having thought that anything would be different once the new term started.
The next few weeks passed without much out of ordinary. Sirius, James, and a new boy, Petter Pettigrew, tried to pick a fight with him at every opportunity. Snape would fight back as well as he could considering he was out numbered, but more often than not, he just ran or avoided the three of them. Lily did what she could, chastising James and the rest for their ignorant behavior. It made Snape happy to see she still protected him, even if it did nothing to help. News had apparently gotten to the rest of Slytherin House that Snape had become friends with Remus Lupin of Gryffindor, so the people who once used to ignore him decided to make an example of him. They did not take kindly to "fraternizing with the enemy", it seemed.
But Snape could ignore it all. He was used to being alone. He supposed it was how things would always be. No matter how close he thought he had gotten to Remus, it had not changed anything at all. It was alright. He still had Lily. As long as he still had her, nothing else mattered.
That particular morning, Snape walked out of potions as if in a daze. Everything that could have gone wrong, did. He had thoroughly sabotaged his own fungus removal potion. Sirius and James had been glaring at him the whole class. Snape had been so worried making sure they did not try to pull any pranks on him that he had completely skipped several steps, resulting in a foul smelling mixture exploding in his face. He was coated in the dark purple muck. It made people avoid walking near him more than they usually did.
He had been so lost in his own thoughts that he had not been paying attention where he was going and ran head first into a group of fourth year Hufflepuffs, the after-sludge from his potions accident ruining their robes. The boys screamed out in disgust as they jumped up, wands at the ready. People began to gather, sensing something about to happen. It was not often the Hufflepuffs of all people picked a fight, but Snape just had the sort of personality that made even the normally kind Hufflepuffs become aggressive. "Watch where you're going, Snivellus. Merlin, we smell as bad as you do!" they called out, trying to clean their robes. Snape hated that name. Snivellus. James had started a trend. It made him feel significantly less bad when the boys realized that the purple mess was resistant to any attempts to magically clean it. Snape had been on his way to the baths to clean up.
"Just let me pass," he muttered, his voice low, practically a growl. Despite the steadiness of his tone, he took a few steps back. They may have been Hufflepuffs, but they outnumbered him five to one and were several years older and several times bigger than he was. Before Snape could say another word, he was hit square in the chest by several strong hexes, sending him flying back several feet, landing on the ground painfully with a thud. Snape groaned as he tried to sit. His wand had flown out of his hand somewhere. He blinked against the spots washing in front of his vision but he could not see. One of the hexes turned everything the same shade of green. He could not make anything out. He was essentially blind.
It took several moments to calm himself. Such a blindness hex was not permanent. It would wear off in a matter of minutes. But that did not mean he was not scared. He would never show it, but he was scared.
Getting on his hands and knees, he began to feel around for his wand. Suddenly, he felt two pairs of hands grabbing and his arms, pulling him to his feet. He recoiled, bringing his arms to cover his face, certain that the Hufflepuffs were about to resort to physical violence. Instead, he felt one of the pair of hands dusting the snow off of his robes. Snape could see the other person moving to stand between him and the Hufflepuffs.
"Now, now, McCormick, no need to be such a prat." Snape's heart sank. He knew the voice of his "protector" quite well. He just could not understand why James Potter would bother to stand up for him.
The Hufflepuffs were just as confused it seemed. Snape could not see the exchange, but he could hear it. " Just what are you doing, Potter? You hate him as much as we do. You're always doing something or another to him. Getting all noble all of a sudden? Pretty uppity for a first year."
James said nothing but even in his blind state, Snape could practically hear James grin. In that moment, Snape realized that the other person, probably Sirirus from the strength of his grip, was still holding onto him. He tried to pull away, but he was held firm. Snape suddenly didn't understand if James and Sirius had planned to save him at all.
" Don't get me wrong, McCormick, I think he's a slimy, greasy git, in fact I know he is, but here is the thing," James explained, "He may be a disgusting prat, but he's our disgusting prat. Not yours." Snape growled. Sirius' grip on his shoulders just tightened. He was sure he would have bruises later, but he didn't care. He couldn't just stand there and be insulted like that.
"You're the prats! You both are!" Snape suddenly shouted out in frustration. When both James and the Hufflepuffs, and the dozen or so other students who had gathered to watch the spectacle began to laugh, Snape could feel his face go bright red. He was suddenly glad he could not see their faces.
Snape's outburst must have been what ended the potential fight because soon Snape could hear the sounds of students dispersing. Sirius, however, did not let go of him and he could hear foot steps approach him. Suddenly, he was grabbed by the collar of his uniform. "Listen to me, Snivellus," James sneered. "Don't get the wrong idea. We still think you're a complete waste. But Remus sent us a bunch of letters over the break about you. He made us promise we would be nicer to you. He's a bit of a nag but an otherwise nice guy, so for his sake, we're willing to look the other way. For now, anyway. But I'm warning you, one wrong move, one toe out of line, and the Marauders will beat you to a pulp and toss you back to the Dungeons with the rest of your dark wizards in training."
If Snape had his wand, he would be throwing every curse and hex he had studied right in Jame's face, blind or not. As it was, he was helpless. He just nodded his head weakly. He had his pride, sure, but he was also smart enough to recognize a good deal when he saw it. Or heard it.
"Good. Sirius, let go of him. Oh, and Snivellus, you should keep using this new cologne, You smell nicer than you normally do," James spat at him as Sirius roughly threw Snape to the ground. The boys laughed at their own jokes as they walked away. Snape figured he could consider himself lucky that they did not decide to finish the job those Hufflepuffs started. On his hands and knees once more, he felt around for his wand as students walked around him, ignoring him completely. When he finally grabbed it, he held it to his chest, cradling it as he sat in the snow. He would probably be late for History of Magic, but he doubted Professor Binns would even notice.
Drawing his knees to his chest, he sighed a bit. It would be a few more minutes before his vision would clear. It gave him time to think about what had just happened, now that the adrenaline was wearing thin. Remus had been telling the truth. He really had changed Sirius and James, even if it was a little. Snape may have not trusted most Gryffindors as far as he could throw them, but he knew that once James made a public declaration like that, he would not go against it. It would look bad on him. He could trust James to worry about his heroic reputation. A small part of him was insulted that it took Remus' pleading to rid him of his antagonists. Another, more Slytherin part of him was glad that his immediate goal had been achieved, regardless of the methods.
Without Sirius and James destroying what little peace of mind he had, Snape was certain that life at Hogwarts would be much better than it had been during the first term. It was then that a thought occurred to him. James had mentioned 'The Marauders'. That was not a name he had ever heard of until that moment. He supposed it was something new. If it involved him in any way, he would find out about it eventually.
When his vision began to clear up, he struggled to get to his feet. He groaned as he did so. His whole body was sore from being tossed back like a rag doll. Rather than be late for History of Magic, Snape decided he might as well just go to bed. It had been one of those days and Snape could desperately use a few hours of nothingness.
Somehow, staggering in a dream-like state, Severus somehow managed to make it to the Slytherin dormitories. He did not even bother to wash himself up or to strip out of his clothes. Collapsing face-first into the bed, he drifted off to into a dreamless sleep. Asleep, none of his problems mattered. It was his only real reprieve.
Despite his intentions, that night, Severus Snape dreamed a small dream. He sat underneath one of the large oak trees by the lake near where he and Lily used to play. On one side of him was Lily and on the other was Remus. The three sat quietly in the peace of each other's company, watching as leaves and flowers all around them seemed to come alive, taking to flying in the air. In that moment, Snape was defenseless and unafraid of it. He rested back against the tree and took a deep breath.
The Lake really was so much more beautiful when he was not alone. Maybe one day, the three of them could see the Lake together, just like they did in his dream.