Day 1

Title: Day 11
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating: G
Disclaimer: Not my characters, not my 'verse. I don't get paid a cent to play. Please don't sue and make things worse.
Summary: On Boxing Day, Lily takes a walk and happens to stumble upon Severus.
Note: Part of the 12 Ficlets in 12 Days project 2010-2011. Requested by ~L


Lily Evans searched her coat pockets for gloves. Realizing they were probably back home with her school cloak, she settled for cupping her hands around her mouth and puffing warm breaths against them. Then she stuck them in her pockets. She thought about cutting her walk around the neighborhood short, but it had been months since she'd been home and she wanted to have a look around at all the Christmas decorations before people took them down. The McGimmons family across the street had already tossed their Christmas tree out onto the curb. She headed up one street and down another, and suddenly ended up at the neighborhood playground.

She wasn't the only one who had wandered there. Sitting on one of the swings was a familiar boy: Severus Snape. For one brief moment, she considered backing up and turning the corner before he spotted her; he didn't look too happy and didn't look like he wanted company. But then she pushed those thoughts away and approached him, either in bravery or for the sake of their special friendship. He had once been the only person in the world she could tell her secrets to and she had been the same to him. And you didn't just walk away from that, did you?

He looked up as she came near, the snow crunching under her boots. He didn't look startled, but he did look away and scrub a hand over his face. She thought she heard him sniffle a few times. Lily sat down on the swing next to his and began swinging a little. She was a few years into her time at Hogwarts and, thus, too big to swing energetically the way she once had. But she still loved the sensation. Snape, on the other hand, was not swinging. He just sat there, moving the toe of his sneaker in the snow, making circles and squiggles and then smoothing them out and doing them over again. “Just needed to…” There was a pregnant pause in which Lily wondered if he would actually give the reason. Instead, he glanced in the direction of his house and used their code phrase “I just needed to get some fresh air.” He turned his head away and his hand came up, rubbing. Then he shoe went down, kicking violently at the snow.

“It's cold out,” she said softly. “I mean, you look cold. Do you want my hat?”

He looked back at her, eyes wide, glaring. “That's a girl's hat.” It was, in fact. Her hat was purple with two light pink pom-poms on the top. It had been a present from her little sister. “What if someone saw me wearing it?”

Lily was sure he was thinking about the boys at school, mostly Potter and Black, who teased him about everything. But they weren't here. “Who's going to see around here?”

Snape gestured toward the street and the row of houses with their backyards to the playground. “Any of the stupid kids around here could come by. And I can't defend myself. I don't have my wand.”

They weren't allowed to do magic outside of Hogwarts in any case. Lily still carried her wand out of habit, and she was curious about why Severus wasn't. Maybe he didn't want to temptation. Or maybe someone else had confiscated his wand… someone who made it necessary for him to 'get some fresh air' in the middle of freezing cold winter. “There are other ways to defend yourself than using spells or hexes.”

Severus shook his head. “Talking doesn't work and I'm not going to hit…” He trailed off, shivering.

She didn't need him to finish his sentence. “You're cold,” she said again. “If you don't want my hat, at least take my scarf. It's unisex.” Her scarf was wrapped four times around her neck, and she began to unwrap it now so she could give it to him.

Snape stared at her with utter disgust on his face, ten times worse than the look he had given her over the hat. “There is absolutely no way I will ever put on a Gryffindor scarf.”

She dropped the end of the scarf so that it was only wrapped around her neck twice. Neither of them spoke after that. Lily swung. Severus dangled. Occasionally, he sniffed a little. Then, suddenly, his hand flew up to his face and he turned his head. He stayed like that for a minute or so then he sniffed a few times and relaxed again.

Lily stopped swinging. “Severus,” she said softly. “Are you crying?”

He glared at her and then looked into her eyes as she looked into his. Finally, he sighed. “I don't cry.” It was the biggest lie he'd ever told her and they both knew it. Even bigger than that one about breaking the branch over Petunia head.

“You're sniffling like you do when you—”

“When I sneeze,” he finished for her.

She gave him a confused look. “Severus, I've heard you sneeze a dozen times. That was not how you sneeze.”

He rubbed a little at his nose, then at his ear. “I… was trying to be quiet.”

“Well, don't. You'll hurt yourself.”

He muttered softly, “Embarrassing.”

“It's more embarrassing to hurt your eardrums and have to go to a doctor and explain why.”

He shrugged, and she knew she had defeated him with logic again. Long gone were the days when Snape had the upper hand, knowing everything about everything, teaching her about the wizarding world and what their futures would be like at Hogwarts. If only he'd really known…

ahhh-HASHOO!” He pressed the back of his wrist at his nose. “hahhhhh-IHShooshhhhhh!

“Bless you,” she said. “Do you have a hanky? Let me give you one of mine…” She searched her pockets. But, just like her gloves, she didn't have any on her. “Why are you sneezing so much anyway?” she stopped searching and inspected him. He was pale now, but he was always sort of pale. And he looked tired, but she'd figured that was just because of what was happening at home. “Severus,” she said. “Please tell me. Are you ill?”

“I have a cold,” he admitted to her. “A very tiny little cold.” Severus held up his hand, thumb and forefinger close together. “Very tiny.”

“I don't care how big it is, you shouldn't be out here if you're sick.”

He spoke again, in such a soft whisper it was nearly lost to the wind.  “I can't go home while they're arguing.”

The solution seemed simple, obvious to Lily. “Then come over to my house.”

There was a time, years ago, when he wouldn't have even needed an invitation. Now, though, he hesitated. “Lily, your family are…”

For the first time, Lily stiffened. “They're what? Muggles?”

He nodded.

“So? We're in Surrey, Severus. Everyone around us are muggles. Don't you dare say anything bad about my parents because they won't say anything bad about you. They love that I'm a witch and they know you're a wizard. They'll be delighted to see I've brought a friend over.” Truth was, they'd been pressuring her to invite some of her friends over during the holiday break. And it wasn't as though she didn't want to. She just wasn't sure her friends would want to. They all lived in magical houses where pots cleaned themselves and house elves fixed you meals and bed sheets were always magically warm. “Come on, Severus. Just for a few hours. You've just got to get out of the cold.” Lily tried something else “What if it snows?”

Absentmindedly, he stuck his toe into the snow beneath his swing. “It's not supposed to snow.”

“Well, what if there's a sudden blizzard and you're stuck in it, ill and without a handkerchief?”

He shrugged.

She put the back of her hand to her forehead dramatically. “Oh, Severus, what would I do if I never saw you again? How could I live with the guilt?”

A smile played at the corners of his mouth.

“I would never forgive myself!” Swooning, she threw herself off the swing, onto the snow-covered ground.

He chuckled and reached down, taking her cold hand in his to help herup. “Okay. I'll go over to your house for a few hours. But if your sister—”

“Tuney won't be a problem. I'll make sure of it.” She squeezed his hand excitedly. “Come on!”

They took two shortcuts to get back to her house more quickly. And when they got there, she deposited him in the living room. “I'll be right back.” Excitedly, she darted upstairs to her bedroom. Then she ran to the kitchen. When she returned, she had enough to keep them warm and happy. Instead of a one of her handkerchiefs, she plopped a tissue box down on the couch beside him. She set a tray of hot chocolate and marshmallows down on the coffee table in front of them. She produced a pack of playing cards. And she unfolded two blankets—both black. “I'm going to start a fire.” She threw one of the blankets around her shoulders and snuggled into it before throwing the other blanket to him.

“That would go faster if you could use magic,” Snape said, draping the blanket over his front and resting his head against the back of the couch.

“True. But I don't mind the extra work.”

“You're as bad as a Hufflepuff.”  She looked over her shoulder at him. She usually didn't approve of it when Slytherins picked on Hufflepuffs but she could see in his dark eyes that he was joking, so she laughed.

As soon as the fire was going strong, she sat down on the couch. It reminded her of the Gryffindor common room, and she wanted to ask what the Slytherin common room was like. But she didn't want to risk bringing up the differences between them again. The hot chocolate was sweet and warmed her right up. She broke out the cards and had to refrain from laughing when he winced. “They're muggle cards, Severus. They don't explode.”

“Of course they… they are. Hahhh…” He hid his face behind tissues. “hah-AHShooo! Ktchoo!

“Bless you.” She slid his hand of cards toward him. “It's your turn, Severus.”

They played for a few hours, alternating games. Sometimes when Severus had to stop to sneeze, she would go throw another stick on the fire or poke the log to turn it another way. Or she'd go sneak a cookie from the kitchen and break it in half so they could share it, the way she had when they were younger.

Petunia didn't come down, but her mother did. Lily's mom leaned over and kissed the top of her head. Then she smiled at Severus. “Good to see you again, Severus. Lily told me you were here. Having fun?”

He nodded and sniffled and Lily could see he was going to sneeze again. So he wouldn't feel embarrassed, she drew her mom's attention away. She got up and picked up the tray. “Could you get us some more hot chocolate, Mum? Please?”

“Of course, sweetheart.”

As soon as Lily's mom disappeared into the kitchen, Snape's head snapped downward. “hahhh-ATChooo!

From the kitchen came a loud. “Bless you!” And when Lily's mom returned, she brought a refill of hot chocolate and a worried expression. “Feeling a little under the weather?” She swept over to Severus and kindly touched his forehead with the back of her hand. “Have your parents given you anything for it?”

He shook his head in a way that made Lily doubt that he'd told his parents.

But that didn't mean he didn't take something for it on his own. “What about Pepper-up?”

 “My father doesn't like Mum giving me potions.”

“Well, you're in luck.” Lily's mom smiled. “I've got some perfectly safe cold medicine upstairs and a spoon with your name on it.”

Severus shot Lily a nervous look as her mom went to get it. “I don't know. Maybe I should go before she gets back.”

“Please don't go.” She reached out for his hand and squeezed it just like she had done back on the swings. “I want you to stay. I want you to get better. Muggle medicine will help.” Lily could tell it was against his better judgment, but in the end he did stay. And when the pink liquid was poured into a spoon, he took it, though he kept his eyes fixed on her the whole time, as though for support. “Sorry it's pink and girly,” she joked, squeezing his hand.

He swallowed it, prepared to make a face, but then realized it tasted rather pleasant in fact and smiled instead. “Not too bad,” he admitted.

“It'll take a little time to kick in, but it will help, I promise.”

Lily's mother took the empty spoon back. “Will you be staying for dinner, Severus? You and Lily could eat out here in the living room and continue playing.”

Lily was absolutely sure Severus was going to refuse the offer. She thought for a moment and then jumped in. “Only you'd be doing us a favor. Mum made this huge Christmas dinner yesterday and we have so many leftovers. There's no way the four of us will finish it all.”

Convinced, he nodded, and Lily's heart leapt. Severus looked too skinny anyway. And this was… well, it was nice. It wasn't just like old times, but maybe it was better.

Hah-Shooo! Hahhh-Ihshoo!

Or not. “Bless you, Severus.”

“Thanks.” He hugged the blanket more tightly around him. “This is… nice, isn't it?”

She gave him a shy smile, trying to not reveal that she had been thinking the same thing.

“I've never had Christmas dinner before. Sniff, sniff. Okay, it might be Boxing Day, but that's close enough to count, right? Hahh… huhhh-HAYSHOO!” He furiously rubbed a tissue against his nose, sniffling a little more. Then he looked around the room—at the blazing fire in the fireplace, the decorated tree with its velvet tree skirt, the electric train running in circles, the collection of greeting cards displayed on the mantle. “I can see why you wanted to come home for the holidays.”

“I miss my home and family when I'm at Hogwarts.” He nodded, nursing his hot chocolate and sniffling. Lily leaned forward and confided. “When I'm home, I miss being at Hogwarts. But you… I have you in both places.”

His cheeks turned red and he couldn't look her in the eyes.

“You might be a Slytherin, but you're still my best friend, Sev.”