But it was too late. Severus watched in awe from his hiding place as the flame haired angel flung herself recklessly from the swing at the height of its arc only to float gently down to earth, completely unharmed. She laughed brightly as the other girl ran up, her blonde braid flying behind her.
“Lily—don’t do that!”
“I’m fine Tuney, relax! And that’s not all, look at this!” Racing to the flowerbed beside the swings she plucked a flower and skipped happily back to her sister, unaware of the near heart attack she’d given the small boy crouched behind the surrounding bushes.
She’d been so close he’d seen the freckles lightly dusting her nose. He could’ve reached out and touched her. Not that he would have. That would probably scare her and Severus would die before he’d do that. It was the first time he’d ever seen anyone like himself, besides his mother. And she hardly even counted anymore.
A high pitched shriek made him wince. The angel—Lily, he reminded himself, her name is Lily—was gently holding the flower as it’s petals slowly opened and closed while her sister stared in horror mingled with the faintest tinge of fascination.
“Stop it Lily!” she demanded, her voice wavering slightly. “It’s not natural!”
Lily looked hurt. “But I practiced for ages to get it this good, Tuney! I didn’t want to show you until I got it right!”
Tuney frowned. “You practiced?” she said doubtfully.
“Yes, for hours and hours Tuney!” Lily cried dramatically. “Isn’t it cool? I wonder how it works.”
Severus tensed. This was it. He’d tell her what she was and she’d realize they were the same despite his horrible clothes and ugly face. A small part of him warned that stories like that usually had ‘once upon a time’ at the beginning but the old desperate desire for companionship overwhelmed it. However, before he could draw in a breath to speak, the Tuney girl beat him to it.
“Do you think I can…I mean, might it work for me?” Tuney asked hesitantly.
Lily stared at her sister in obvious surprise. Severus guessed that the girl was rarely hesitant about anything. He glared at her through the leaves. Lily smiled radiantly, obviously overjoyed that her sister was interested as she gave her the flower.
Listening to Lily coaching her sister in a soft, encouraging voice, Severus slumped backwards, the tension running out of his body. His carefully crafted plan was ruined. Not that the stupid muggle would be able to do anything anyway so maybe then—
A sudden cry of delight, made him jolt upright again in time to see Tuney’s face light up as the petals twitched. However his abrupt movement drew their attention. Tuney quickly dropped the flower as if it was on fire and jumped backward.
“Who’s there?” she demanded shrilly. “Who’s spying on us?”
For a second, Severus had a strong urge to run but he crushed it ruthlessly. That would simply ensure that neither would ever speak to him.
“I’m not spying,” he lied as he pushed his way out of the bush.
Their shocked gasps made him curse inwardly. This wasn’t the impression he’d hoped to make.
“I was just watching you do magic,” he explained quickly. “I never met anyone else that could before.”
He saw Lily’s eyes widen as she realized what he’d just said but he noticed with a sinking feeling that the Tuney girl’s expression hadn’t changed from the one of shocked disgust she’d assumed when she first got a decent look at him. He felt his face heat up and scowled at the ground. He doubted she heard a thing he’d said.
Luckily Lily was smarter than her sister. “It’s magic?”
At his nod she let out a squeal of excitement. “I knew it! And you? You said you’d never met anyone else. Can you—?”
“Yes,” Severus said with a small smile, savouring the feeling of having those luminous green eyes focused solely on him. “I’m a Wizard and you and your sister are Witches.”
He knew he’d said something wrong when Lily’s beaming smile was replaced by a look of hurt.
“How dare you call us witches, you filthy little mongrel!” Tuney spat indignantly. Reaching out, she dragged Lily back to her side. “Stay away from him, Lily.”
“No, no, it’s not an insult—really! My mother is a Witch too!” Inwardly he winced, that was hardly the best endorsement, but thankfully they couldn’t know that.
“Your mother?” Lily said cautiously. Tuney kept trying to pull her away but Lily twisted out of her grip and approached Severus again.
“That’s right,” Severus replied nervously.
“And your Dad? Is he a…Wizard?”
“No, he’s a muggle.”
“Is that bad?” Tuney asked, pouncing on further evidence of his unsuitability.
“It just means he hasn’t got magic,” he explained impatiently.
“Magic,” Tuney scoffed. “Magic isn’t real! Everybody knows that.”
“There’s no such thing as Witches!” Tuney said to Lily with finality and turned on Severus again as he began to argue. “Oh don’t think I don’t know who you are! You’re that Snape boy from Spinner’s End. Wizard indeed!”
Grabbing Lily’s hand again she took off, leaving the playground and heading back towards the respectable suburbs. Severus watched them go before kicking the swing set in frustration. He should have known it wouldn’t work. Merlin but he was naïve sometimes. And even if by some miracle they had believed him, Lily had her sister now. She’d have no reason to turn to someone like him when her horrible sister was a Witch too.
With a defeated sigh, he left the playground as well, walking in the opposite direction towards far more dingy streets where the houses got progressively more run down the further he went.
The next day, Lily sat curled up on the window seat absently braiding her long red hair. She wasn’t sure what to do. Tuney was completely ignoring her except to warn her away from ‘that horrible Snape boy.’ It was depressing. She’d told Petunia her secret because they were sisters and sisters were supposed to share everything. She’d always felt a little apart because of the things she could do, a little bit different and she’d been counting on Tuney to make it better.
And for a brief, wonderful second she had. Instead of her secret, it had become their secret. Lily finally had someone to share it with, who understood. It had been such a wonderful feeling of connection. She’d thought Petunia had felt it too. Then that boy had appeared, telling her she was magic, special but not alone because it wasn’t just her and Petunia, he was the same too. It had felt like everything was falling into place.
But then Petunia had said all those awful things and proceeded to pretend she was an only child. Lily’s hand shook as she tied off her braid. What if she’d scared the boy away for good? What if he never came back? She’d never learn anything about Witches and Wizards and magic. Suddenly energized, Lily leapt up to tell her mother she was going to the playground. Maybe Petunia was fine with that but she wasn’t!
Lily entered the playground slowly, scanning the area hopefully but apart from a bunch of nine year olds messing about on the monkey bars, the park was empty. Dejectedly she made her way over to the swings and sat, scuffing her foot in the sand. She waited until the other kids left before giving up. But just as she was about to go, a shy voice spoke up behind her.
Whirling around she saw him stumble back in alarm. “There you are!” she cried, “I’ve been waiting here for ages!”
He blinked big dark eyes at her in confusion and she giggled.
“Um…sorry?” he offered dryly.
She grinned and patted the swing beside her, faintly bemused when his thin face lit up as if she’d offered him a sack of chocolate. As he gingerly settled on the swing, she took the opportunity to study him. He didn’t look like a Wizard. His clothes were old and hung off his small frame, obviously several sizes too big. His black hair was long and greasy looking and his nose was too big for his face. Her mother would probably say he’d grow into it. She rather hoped he would. But his eyes, now those were Wizard eyes. They were so dark she couldn’t even make out his pupils and they shone with mystery and the promise of magic.
“I’m Lily, Lily Evans,” she said holding out a hand.
“Severus Snape,” he responded, shaking her hand with such reverence it could have been made of glass.
Lily decided she liked him.
“So can you do magic too?”
“Yeah, but I can’t control it. That’s what Hogwarts is for. I stick to potions mainly; the simple ones don’t need incantations, just precision. They’re more reliable at the moment.”
“Hogwarts? What’s that?”
They’d long since left the swings, finding a sunny patch of grass to lie on instead.
“Hogwarts is where we’ll be going. It’s where they’ll teach us magic.”
Lily caught her breath in excitement. “Tell me!”
Severus smirked at her enthusiasm. “We’ll have to get our wands and supplies in Diagon Alley. That’s a Wizarding town hidden in London,” he added seeing her blank expression. “Hogwarts is a huge magical castle that serves as a school. First years are chosen at eleven. I can’t believe it’s only a few months away!”
“Wow… Petunia’s eleven too. I can’t wait until my birthday!”
She was a little taken aback to see Severus sit up and regard her with wide, panicked eyes.
“You’re not eleven yet? When’s your birthday?”
Caught up in his urgency she blurted her answer. “In a few weeks. Petunia’s was last October. I can still go to Hogwarts though, right Sev?”
He relaxed and nodded. “You’d go no matter what, Lily. This just means we’ll be in the same year.”
Lily smiled. “Good! I’ll have at least one friend already.” She pretended not to notice when Sev blushed and just grinned up at the clouds. A rustling sound made her look around in time to see Petunia dart back behind the tree they were leaning against.
“Lily, are you alright?”
She turned to see Sev’s concerned face and smiled. “I’m fine,” she assured him, “but do you mind if Tuney joins us?” She grinned at the startled squawk from behind them as Sev leapt to his feet.
“Who’s spying this time?” he hissed angrily.
Petunia flounced out from her hiding place in a huff. “I was just out for a walk, not crouched in the bushes like some people. It’s not my fault you talk so loud!”
“Petunia! Don’t be so mean to Sev—he’s telling me all about Hogwarts!” She bounced in excitement.
“It’s brilliant Tuney, I can’t wait until we go!”
Petunia glared at Sev who glared right back. Lily stopped bouncing, her smile faltering. “You shouldn’t be filling my sister’s head with this rubbish,” Tuney snapped. “She believes you! Don’t you care how she’ll feel once she realizes it was all a game?”
“Actually I’m thinking how stupid and clueless you’ll feel when you get your letter and won’t have any idea what to do!” Sev sneered. “That is if you get in at all. I haven’t seen much magic from you. You barely made those petals twitch!”
Lily sucked in a horrified breath and Petunia looked shocked for a minute before getting angry again. “Of course not, it was just the wind,” she insisted. “Magic isn’t real!”
“Oh so seeing your sister levitate is normal is it?”
“Well I haven’t seen you do anything remotely special,” she retorted. “You just showed up and started spouting pretty stories and lies—”
“They’re not lies!” A sudden crack was all the warning they had when a thick branch plummeted towards Petunia’s head. She crouched with a scream as Severus knocked Lily out of the way.
“Tuney!” Lily wailed, staggering a little as Sev pulled her up. Lily was expecting blood or broken limbs so when she saw her sister standing apparently unharmed, staring blankly at the massive branch by her feet, all arguments were forgotten and she threw herself at her with a choked sob.
Petunia’s arms went automatically around Lily although her gaze never wavered from the branch lying in front of her.
“What happened?” Severus asked quietly. “It was coming right at you.”
“I-I don’t…It just…curved,” she sucked in a shaky breath, her first since that fatal moment. “I-It should have hit me.”
Severus closed his eyes in relief. “Thank Merlin you’re a Witch,” he muttered.
“It didn’t break.”
Severus didn’t bother looking at the branch but Lily did, still holding tightly to Petunia, who for once wasn’t complaining. The base of the branch was smooth, not jagged, as if it’d been cut.
“It was you, wasn’t it?”
Lily’s head shot up at Tuney’s accusation. She looked to Sev for his denial but all she saw was guilt.
“It was an accident,” he pleaded, “no-one can control their magic properly until they get a wand and go to Hogwarts. Whenever you’re scared or…stressed… I didn’t mean to—”
“You’re dangerous,” Petunia said flatly. Lily could feel her sister’s heartbeat start to pick up. “Stay away from us!” she snapped as Severus stepped towards them.
Lily watched silently as he jerked back with a stricken look.
She buried her face in Petunia’s shoulder. She couldn’t believe it. How could such a good day go so wrong so quickly?
“We’re leaving,” she heard Tuney tell him. “Don’t follow us. Don’t speak to us again.” She didn’t look up until they’d left the park. She didn’t let go of Petunia all night.