Author: Queen Nightingale
she never was a queen or a fairy she was always a king or a giant or a general.
- Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
He kisses you under the hydrowires near your house the summer before your last year, and something like sadness burns into your bones.
You press your fingers gently into the grass and close your eyes, feeling the faint touch of his lips glaze over your cheekbone.
Then he's gone.
You're twelve years old, and you're rushing out of your house in your light yellow sundress, hair flying everywhere, big and frizzy and curly around your darling cheeks.
"I'll be back in a bit, Mom!"
You race over to the park with the trotting stride of a toddler, and he's sitting on the swings, head down, signature smirk dripping off his face. You can never figure out how he knows that you're there without lifting his head, but maybe your shadow gives you away.
You plop down beside him on the opposite swing and lean back, impatiently glaring at his bent head, waiting for him to look up at you. When he doesn't reply, you push off, lifting higher and higher into the air, the entire frame of the swingset shaking under your aggressive motions.
The sun is high in the sky and something like freedom rushes into your veins.
"Severus?" You say loudly, still frantically swinging back and forth beside him.
"Will we be friends forever?"
He glances up, and you catch his piercingly black eyes in that moment, and watch a genuine smile write itself across his face. You can't help but laugh out loud at the sight of his happiness, joy surging up and down your spine at making his cheeks turn pink.
You invite him over to your house for dinner that night, but you soon regret it when he walks in with his too-short pants and black cape draped over his thin shoulders.
Petunia purposefully smashes the bowl of stuffing into his lap, but he doesn't say a word.
You feel his ankle against yours for the rest of the night.
"Why have you not been returning my owls!"
You're hissing at him from across the corridor, the two of you out late at night by the Ravenclaw tower, the only place safe to communicate in a Hogwarts divided by a blood feud.
"It's not safe, Lily."
"That never mattered to you before."
"It matters to me now. You're hanging out with those goons again – Potter and Black and Lupin and Pettigrew. I can't be seen with you. Black is a blood traitor."
You feel something boil up like pain inside your gut and you lash out.
"You're a half-blood, for Merlin's sake! It doesn't even – "
Suddenly he has darted across the corridor and smashed his hand across your lips, pressing you against the hallway with his taller body against yours. Your head is pressed back, and his eyes are glaring into your, round and smooth as marbles.
You don't say anything. The two of you are frozen, and your pulse starts up again, thudding so wildly in the vein in your neck that you worry he can hear it.
Slowly, he presses his lips close to your ear and begins to whisper. Unconsciously you flutter your eyes.
"The only reason why I am alive in that house is because nobody except for you knows that secret. The only reason why they have not chosen to rape and hang you like that Smithton girl is because I protect you, although you might never know it."
He gently removes his hand from your lips, but you are still stuck against the wall, like a fly in honey.
"Am I in danger?" You whisper, nervously, his hands pressed against the wall, cocooning you, his body leaning into you.
"Of course not. So long as you're with me, you'll always be safe."
He stands up then, gently extending his hand to you, pulling you up from your position.
"Never trust anybody who you didn't grow up with, Lily."
He is gone then, with a smouldering twist of his cape, and you watch him disappear in the opposite direction, down towards the dungeons.
You feel something inside your lungs rip, and suddenly there are tears on your face.
You're fifteen years old, and it's a wild beautiful summer, and you're in the field by the railroad tracks with Severus, and you are stepping over each of the wood planks, and Severus is behind you checking for trains, one hand near your waist in case you fall, one hand by his side as he turns his body.
"Are we safe?"
"You're with me."
Something in your blood turns fuchsia at his words, and you twist around, nearly colliding with his chest as he steps forward.
"Why do you always protect me?"
The crickets are humming around you, and you can feel the blood rushing to your cheeks at the sound of exquisite daring that just exposed itself out of your porcelain teeth.
He pauses, looking down at you, dropping his hand from where it was hovering near your waist. You want to press your lips against his in pure frustration.
"I think you are beautiful. I think your soul is pure and untainted and innocent and I want to save it from the horrors of this world. The boys that you hang out with want to corrupt you, pump firewhiskey into your veins, rip the hem of your skirt up higher and twist these curls" – He reaches up and laces his fingers into the side of your head – "around their fingers."
"Do you want to do that?" The words come stumbling out of your mouth, and you are standing nervously in front of him, rubbing your hands together, his hand still in your hair.
Your eyes meet for a second, and you forget to breathe.
"Of course, but that's not possible in this world." His voice becomes softer, gentle, "I'm more interested in your soul, anyways."
You stumble towards him with open arms, and he wraps his thin, tall body around your frame, pressing his lips on the top of your head.
It's awkward, but beautiful, and then you dart away, yelling "YOU'RE IT!" at the top of your breath and taking off down the railroad tracks, a chuckle rising out of Severus' chest.
You don't hear him coming after you, and so you come to a halt, panting a bit, turning around with your hair whizzing past your ears, bouncing all over your head. He's standing in the same spot, looking at you with the expression on his face that you're come to recognize as love.
"Aren't you going to catch me?" You yell back at him, laughing with your head tilted back, watching the shadow man on the train tracks walk forward.
You hear him quietly reply, "Only if you'll let me," but then he's running and you're sprinting and there's a feeling of summertime sadness ricocheting around your ankles.