For the Marauder Challenge on HPFC.

Time: Pre-Hogwarts

Characters: Lily Evans and Severus Snape

Words to think about: Green Evergreens

AN: Slightly worried about Sev's characterization here (I'm utterly unused to writing him at all, not to mention so young), but I guess I figure this was before he lost the person who mattered most to him, so perhaps he'd be a little softer. Plus, he's only ten. Any tips on how I could improve him would be lovely.

.

"Sev!"

And there she was. His angel. The girl who had taken his bleak existence and turned it into something extraordinary.

He allows a smile – a genuine smile, the kind only for her – to spread across his face, and for that moment he forgets that he's wearing Father's old three-sizes-too-big shirt and pants that 'he'll grow into' but for now have to be belted up above his bellybutton so that he doesn't trip. He forgets that Mother hasn't ventured out of the basement where she brews alone in several days – not that that's unusual. He forgets that Father stormed out even earlier than usual today, which means he'll come back even drunker than usual. He forgets about all of that in the face of her blazing red hair streaming out behind her, emerald eyes sparkling.

"Lily," he murmurs, as always, much more reserved than her buoyant enthusiasm. Not that she's ever minded.

She skips through the thin layer of snow that coats the small park. "Happy Christmas, Sev!"

And that small smile is stuck on his face. "Lily, it isn't Christmas yet."

Then she reaches him, and her arms are around him and he forgets everything else but this. Her warmth, her scent. He's ten years old, and he knows that, logically, that isn't nearly old enough to know what love truly is, so he won't call it that, not yet. But some part of him knows that Lily will always have his heart. She is his angel, his savior, his bright shining star. His life was darkness before her, but she came blazing in and there wasn't room for anything but light.

Sev knows that he should be worried about how utterly sappy his thoughts are – it's cause for disdain – but he cannot bring himself to care because it's Lily.

He never wants to let her go, but, of course, the moment ends and Lily pulls away. "It's Christmas Eve, and that's close enough!"

He knows that Lily can see the amusement in his eyes. "All right," he says, humoring her, as always. "Happy Christmas, then."

And she beams, and it is brilliant, and Sev knows that this is why he humors her. Because he would do anything for that smile.

"Can I show you something, Sev?" she asks, and she has this look of anticipation and pride in her eyes, and he could never say no.

"Of course."

She takes his hand – her gloves against his bare skin – and the warmth tingles all the way up his arm.

He doesn't pay much attention to where she leads him; he's much more focused on her warm hand in his and the way she keeps glancing at him, measuring his reactions, wanting to make sure he isn't bored. Even though he's told her more than once that he could never be bored by her.

"Close your eyes!" Lily demands suddenly, and he glances at her, and there's that smile he'd do anything for, and so he closes his eyes without question.

She takes his other hand as well, walking backwards and guiding him along an unfamiliar path.

"No peeking!"

Sev grins softly at her enthusiasm, and even with his eyes closed, he knows that Lily is sticking her tongue out at him because she knows that he's amused by her.

After a moment, they stop moving. "Okay," Lily whispers, as though there's something she doesn't want to disturb. "You can open them now."

He allows his eyes to blink open, becoming accustomed to the new influx of light.

A soft "Oh" escapes his lips. He spins around, taking it all in.

They stand in the middle of a small clearing in the middle of the forest – likely the forest behind their houses. They are surrounded by the forest's typical array of evergreens – only these are not evergreens as nature made them. Sure, there are quite a few normal green evergreens, but there are also many red ones, as well as quite a few white and the occasional silver. The silver are lit with tiny pinpricks of light at the tips of the branches.

"Lily… Did you…?"

Lily nods eagerly. "It took me a while, but you were right! If I just concentrated enough on what I wanted… I mean, it didn't always work, and sometimes I could only do a half of a tree at a time, but…"

"Merlin, Lily. It's… beautiful." He watches her face light up at his words, and it's only then that he truly realizes that she was afraid that he wouldn't like it. "Wow." He takes a step toward her. "Lily Evans, you are one powerful little witch."

She scowls at the word little, but then she beams. "You really think so?"

Sev looks around the clearing. "I know so." He surveys her pleased eyes. "You, Lily, are going to be a force to be reckoned with some day."

She looks down, her pale cheeks flushing darker where they were already light pink from the cold. "Thanks, Sev."

He smiles at her. "I only say it because it's true."

She shakes her head, red hair swirling around her shoulders. "You think too much of me."

"You think too little of yourself."

She meets his eyes and he can tell that she knows that he means it.

"I don't know what I did to deserve a friend like you, Sev."

And he knows that it would be pointless to argue – Lily's stubborn about things like this – but he also knows that she has it all backwards. She deserves so much more than him. He is the one that has never deserved her, never will. But she would only argue if he tried to tell her that, and so he doesn't say anything.

"Happy Christmas, Sev," she says again, her breath a whisper of fog in the rapidly cooling air.

"Happy Christmas, Lily," he says this time, imprinting this moment in his mind for forever.