My longest chapter yet! I hope you enjoy, and don't forget to review! :)
Tiny icy flakes floated wistfully around the abandoned paved street. They drifted softly about for a while before finally coming to rest amongst the snowy drifts that had already accumulated there from the previous night's storm. It had been falling thickly all night but, now, only a few fat flakes were making their way slowly towards the ground. A lone child was making his way purposefully towards the house at the end of the snow covered cul-de-sac. His pace was quick, eager it seemed, and his black eyes flitted nervously across the unfamiliar neighborhood every so often. The threadbare sweater, scuffed jeans, and too-large-for-his skinny-figure coat was in stark contrast with the pristine perfection of the houses which lined the street he walked on. As he turned onto one of the house's driveways, he drew in an apprehensive breath pushing his long black locks away from his thin pale face. Steeling himself for the worst, he raised a fist to the door and knocked softly. Immediately it opened.
"Sev!" A tight hug wrapped around him warmly, as copper hair flying towards his face, almost forcing him to spit the silky strands out. The intoxicating flowery smell of her hair enveloped him, and he felt his knees go weak as he inhaled deeply.
"Hey Lily." he mumbled as he regretfully released her and gave a shy smile towards a point directly behind his grinning friend.
"Ah, so we meet at last. Our daughter has told us so much about you." A hand was offered to him and he shook it firmly while Severus wondered, for a moment, which daughter he was referring to. The man, who Severus knew to be Lily's father, smiled at him kindly.
"Nice to meet you too, Mr. Evans." he said softly.
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Severus." the pretty woman standing beside Mr. Evans said smiling as well. "Lily speaks very highly of you."
"Mum!" Lily blushed slightly, and took Severus' hand pulling him towards a part of the house out of which the most enticing smells were drifting. Severus closed his eyes and took a deep breath, almost able to taste the delectable smelling food.
"Smells good." he managed to get out. She laughed.
"Of course it does! And I expect you to eat every bit of it. You're way too skinny as it is." He tried to glare but ended up just smirking at her teasing. The expression fell off his face, however, when a horse-like girl peered snobbishly around the corner, and glared at him with her nose in the air.
"What is he doing here?" Great, not that monster.
"Tuney! I invited him. He's my friend. My best friend." Severus gasped a little. Every time she said that he could not help feeling a bit in shock. She was his best friend, no doubt, but that she thought of him, Severus Snape, as her best friend? It was simply remarkable.
"Well, the least he could've done was clean up. Honestly, it's Christmas and he shows up wearing... well, that." Petunia finished dramatically, gesturing to all of him. Severus was about to retort when a looming presence behind him stopped him.
"Petunia Evans! That is not how we speak to our guests!" Mrs. Evans walked into the room, her hands on her hips, and her fingers clutching a soapy rag. "It's Christmas for goodness sake! Apologize!"
"Mum, he-!" Mrs. Evans sent such a withering stare directly at Petunia, the girl stopped mid-sentence and shrunk a little.
"Apologize. Now." Petunia turned to Severus a hard, bitter look in her muddy brownish eyes. After working her jaw for a moment she finally replied,
"Sorry." It was barely mumbled.
"What was that?" Mrs. Evans smirked at her eldest daughter holding a cupped hand sarcastically to her ear, and Severus felt an instant liking to this adult Evans. Even if she was just a Muggle.
"I'm sorry!" Petunia shouted then stomped off in a huff. Severus smiled slightly at Mrs. Evans who simply nodded and began to wipe the table down with her rag.
"Almost ready, dears. Only a few minutes. Why don't you go wash up?" Lily nodded, and pulled Severus' arm roughly around the same corner her sister had disappeared by not moments ago. She led him into a small room, almost as small as a broom cupboard, and pushed him in front of a small pearly sink. Reaching across him, she dispelled a pea sized drop of pinkish soap into her small hand and began to scrub her hands and forearms. Severus did the same and the pair held their slippery soapy skin under the warm water, watching the bubbles disappear into the drain. When they were finished, he held his head down a bit and looked at her from behind the black curtains of hair.
"I did wash," he whispered. "This is the best I could do with-" He stopped suddenly and looked into her green eyes angrily. Angry at himself for apologizing. Angry at Lily because she was looking at him with such compassion in her eyes that it made his stomach sick with embarrassment. Angry that he had made such a fool of himself by agreeing to come to her home as he was. He just didn't belong. "I- I think I'll just go," he said finally and started to stalk out of the bathroom when she grabbed his arm.
"No, Sev." she said, and to his surprise (and slight annoyance) giggled. "Please, stay. Tuney's a brat and wouldn't know a genuine friend if one bit her on the arse." She giggled again as Severus made a face at the thought. "Besides," she went on blushing slightly, "you smell really good." She smiled, pushing his shoulder teasingly as his eyebrow made its way towards his hairline and his sallow cheeks flushed a deep red.
What did she say?
He didn't have much time to think on it however, for at that moment her parents called for them that dinner and Lily pulled him back into the kitchen while he desperately tried to hide his blush. As his cheeks cooled, he scanned the room. The Evans stood helter skelter about the kitchen, Mr. Evans having found a spot next to the turkey, Mrs. Evans standing near where Lily and Severus had entered the kitchen, and Petunia skulking haughtily beside the elegantly placed table. Mr. Evans seemed to gather himself a bit before stating, "I'll say grace." and all at once, Severus found himself holding Lily's hand. Merlin! He was actually holding Lily Evans hand! Or rather, she was holding his hand, and she hadn't shrunk away. In fact, she gripped it firmly, and Severus barely noted that Mrs. Evans had possession of his other limp palm.
"... and protect us from evil as we go about our lives. Amen." Everyone lifted their heads, and immediately the attention was directed to the delicious smelling edibles on the table and surrounding counter tops. Gathering a bit of everything onto his plate, no one had to ask Severus twice as he dug into the meal. Everything was delectable, they never had anything like this at his home, but he forced himself to take small bites. He would not embarrass himself further by making an animal out of his manners. Nevertheless, his plate was quickly empty and he stood for dessert before anyone else had. Instead of getting any, even after eyeing a beautiful steaming apple pie, he placed his plate in the sink and sat back down in his place at the opposite head of the table, beside Lily. Mr. Evans stared at him cooly as Severus' tried to prevent himself from getting a second helping. The man's calculating stare made Severus uncomfortable, but he tried his best to appear defiant. Though not disrespectful, Severus was not meek. It was simply not in his character, and he would not let anyone push him around. Well, most anyone...
"So, Severus," Lily's father began, " Lily has told us so much about you, but I don't believe I've heard anything directly from the source." He smiled at Severus. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Ah, the infernal question. He knew it was bound to come up and had prepared himself exactly for when it did. Lily, however, hadn't seemed to be expecting anything of the sort, and gave him a nervous glance. He smirked back at her, then turned to Mr. Evans.
"Well sir, I hope to one day become a chemist." Lily giggled, then stopped as her mother sent her a scathing look. Severus' knew it wasn't because she thought it was a stupid idea, but because she knew what he really meant. A Potions Master. That's what he really wanted to do but, of course, he couldn't tell the Evans that.
The rest of the night went without a hitch, except for the burning stares Petunia sent him from her spot at the table. After he had told everyone he aspired to actually be something of worth, a chemist, they had looked on him and Lily perhaps more approvingly than before. Well, again, all except Petunia of course. She had made sure she was as far away from him as possible as if afraid she could somehow contract his scruffiness, but he didn't particularly care because after everyone had some dessert Lily pulled him away from her family and walked him slowly up the staircase.
"Where are we going, Lily?"
"I want to show you my room!" she replied, and they rounded a corner ducking into the first door on the right. What he saw was anything but what he expected. Of course, Lily was hardly a 'girly-girl.' Actually, at heart, she was more of a tomboy. Adventurous, kind, and extremely intelligent. To him, it seemed whenever he spoke she would cling desperately to his each and every word: she soaked up information like a sponge, retaining it just as easily. But when he walked inside her room the image of frills and girlish pink vanished, replaced instead by lightly yellow painted walls which were clean and concise, enclosing a twin bed (not unlike his own) but which had lavender colored bedsheets and a comforter draped elegantly over-top the mattress, whereas his simply had an old quilt. Bookshelves lined every wall, spines worn with use and age, and each cover in its own place. The entire room was very clean and orderly with the exception, perhaps, of a small vanity located in the corner. Combs, brushes, nail polish, and perfume bottles were strewn every which way across its surface. The most intoxicating factor of this place, hardly surprising, was its scent. Her. It smelled of her through and through, and Severus thought that even the lingering whiffs of dinner that wafted past every so often could never compare to her smell. Flowery and light was the only way he could describe it and he took a few good deep breaths before he realized she was gesturing for him to sit on the bed next to her.
"You know, Sev. I think they really liked you!"
"Yeah, well..." he tried to sound aloof but he was secretly pleased he had impressed the Evans tonight. He had been worrying it like a sore tooth all week preceding.
"I knew they would. You're just so mature, I couldn't see how they wouldn't like you." Her confidence in him made his soul swell for a moment but then he let out a breath as he looked out the darkening window. Soon, very soon, he would have to return home. Return to a place where he could only look forward to possibly seeing Lily on the weekends, if even then. They sometimes had to cancel their meetings if Lily was required to be somewhere or if, in Severus' case, his father came home in a bad mood. Then he definitely wouldn't want to see her. Out of the sheer shame of it.
"So. What d'you think?" she asked waving her hand about her room and pulling him out of his dark thoughts.
"It's wonderful, Lily. You have a lot of books." He smiled at her, and she grinned back widely.
"I knew you'd like them! I love books too. I want to own a book shop one day, or that's what I wanted to do before..." she hesitated and smiled mischievously. "Well, before I met you."
"You can do anything you want, Lily. Just cause you're a witch doesn't mean you can't own a book store." he smiled reassuringly at her. "Mum always complains how there wasn't one in Hogsmeade."
"I know." She smiled brightly and placed an arm around him in a half-hug. "Thanks Sev. Oh!" she smiled at him as she got up and rifled a moment through a bedside drawer. Finally finding what she was looking for, she stood, smiling softly at him with her head slightly bowed. Her cheeks flushed a bit as she handed him a lumpy package wrapped in red shiny paper and all tied up in a green ribbon bow. He took it gently in his hands, staring wide-eyed up at her with his mouth slightly agape. She had gotten him a Christmas present? He grinned widely back at her, furiously fighting the wetness that had begun to leak into his eyes. "It's nothing much," Lily explained as her eyes searched his apologetically, "but you told me that your favorite color was green so I thought..." she stared at him a moment. "Well, just open it!"
His throat tightened as he slowly slipped the paper off the gift and saw what it was. A scarf. A handsome grass green scarf. He clutched it, fighting back the tears of gratitude as he choked out,"I really like it, Lily. It's amazing!" He couldn't remember another time he had gotten such a nice gift from anyone, but just the fact that she had thought of him made his heart soar with joy.
"I'm sorry it's not very grand," Lily went on hurriedly. "Mum helped me knit it, and then I did something to it special myself." At this he looked up at her, and she gazed at the scarf proudly. "Well, go on. Try it on if you want to find out!" He gladly wrapped the long scarf about his thin neck and gasped when he realized what she had done. The fabric was warm, marvelously so and most definitely magically. This was very advanced and to have done it without a wand, without any training, he just couldn't fathom it and stared at her for a moment in amazement.
"Lily, how did you-?" He looked at her gesturing to the scarf that was wrapped tightly around his neck. She giggled.
"It took me a while... and a few tries." She pointed to a trash can which smoked slightly. "I had to make a couple of them on account of me heating them too much and catching them on fire."
"I know, but I was really careful..."
"You could have set the place ablaze! What if you would've gotten hurt!" Severus said in a voice that was only half mocking for if she were really to get hurt, and worse if it would have been on account of him, he didn't know what he would've done with himself with the guilt.
"I know what you're doing, Sev, and it's not the same as potions." She crossed her arms and glared at Severus defiantly, daring him to challenge her. He had become accustomed to her stubborn streak, but he would not let this slide. Not when she could be in danger.
"Well then," he said rationally, "why don't we practice our magic only when we're together, Lils? That way we can watch out for each other, no matter if it's potions or just wandless magic." She nodded at him and smiled. Severus felt the lump in the pocket of one of his pockets and decided now was as good a time as any to present her with his gift to her.
"I got something for you too," he said, trying to hide the nervous undertone in his voice as he held out the small poorly wrapped box. She smiled at him a bit in surprise and took the box from his fingers carefully.
"Sev?" He nodded and blushed a bit as she started to unwrap it. A small gasp escaped her lips as she saw what it contained. A tiny owl hung on a thin chain, his eyes sparkling gems that gleamed wisely when the light touched them. It had been his mother's, an old Prince family heirloom, but she never wore jewelry now, and as it was the only item he could afford (having no Muggle or Wizarding money to his name) he had easily nicked it from her box of forgotten jewelry. He had hoped that Lily would like it, but he never expected her reaction. With a small squeek of pleasure she threw herself at him, arms flung about his neck as she embraced him. "Oh Sev! It's beautiful! This is the best gift I've gotten this year!" Immediately she clasped it around her neck. She looked beautiful wearing it, and he smiled at her.
"It suits you, Lily." She smiled at him softly. Again Severus noticed the darkening sky. He did not wish to leave now, but Mum had been very specific when she had wanted him home. Before, obviously, Tobias returned from his 'celebrations' at the local bar, but late enough so he wouldn't arouse attention from anyone who might find a lone boy walking towards Spinner's End on Christmas night suspicious. Severus turned to Lily regretfully.
"I gotta go, Lily. Sorry. Mum wants me..." She stood as well, a sad smile on her lips as she bid him farewell and walked him downstair to the front door. The rest of the family, except of course Petunia, smiled warmly at him as they wished him a "Merry Christmas", and his heart ached a bit as he walked outside. Wrapping the soft, unnaturally warm, scarf about his neck he turned his back on the warmth of Lily and the Evans' home, and his face to the harsh cold winds of the place he should call 'home' but seemed nothing of the sort to him. He sighed, slightly. It had, in fact, been the best Christmas he had ever had.
Ah, so we get a little more of a glimpse into Sev's home life. Interesting...
Thank you so much for reading, and please review! Each one makes my day! :)