Genres: romance, angst
Word count: 1,318
Warnings: gory imagery, bullying
Disclaimer: None of them are mine, but you probably knew that already :)
Summary: A series of pivotal moments in the relationship between Lily Evans and Severus Snape.
1 September, 1973.
"Now, Severus," Lucius Malfoy's voice slid silkily out from the train compartment. "Your manners are atrocious. Do invite her in. I've been dying to meet your little...Muggleborn."
Facing the hall, Severus was hunched slightly in the doorway, as though the awkwardness of the situation had come to settle across his shoulders like a physical weight. His eyebrows sloped forward, knitting together, and he spoke through lips already thinned in resignation.
"Won't you...won't you come in?" he mumbled, staring fixedly at a worn-out patch of carpet by his own left shoe.
Lily Evans, arms crossed tightly across her chest, made a queer sort of barking sound that might have been a laugh. "You're joking." Her eyes narrowed. "You know I don't get on with him. I think he's a prat." She peered over Severus' shoulder into the compartment, where Lucius was smirking in genuine amusement, as though watching a scene from a marvelous play. "And he knows I think he's a prat," she said, loudly enough for the other boy to hear her, scowling in at him
Severus sighed and leaned against the doorjamb, blocking Lily's line of sight into the room beyond. "He's not a prat." The look on her face sharpened, incredulous. "Anyway, we can take a stroll around the hall if you want," he added hurriedly. "I wouldn't mind sniffing out the snack trolley-"
Without a word, Lily had grabbed him by one skinny adolescent elbow and begun to steer him towards the other end of the car. Despite the fact that she looked halfway capable of breathing fire at the moment, Severus couldn't suppress a little shiver of delight at her touch. She stared straight ahead as she frog-marched him past doorways leaking purplish smoke (likely the result of repeated games of Exploding Snap), muffled incantations and intermittent roars of laughter.
They stopped at the end of the car, Lily turning to stare up at him. Her scowl, fearsome though it was, could not disguise the warm prettiness of her face. Her hair tumbled past her shoulders like a wave of tinted fire, or wine made solid. Dry-mouthed, Severus found himself absorbed in searching for the right word to describe its exact color, and was consequently rather startled when Lily cleared her throat.
"I do not understand it, Sev," she said jerkily, as though biting back nastier words only with extreme effort. Though this was not a question, Severus knew he was supposed to respond; however, Lily's small white hand had still not relinquished its grip on his arm, and that fact was shockingly distracting.
"Like I said, he's not so bad," Severus said, almost pleadingly. "You might...you might like him if you tried." This was a feeble lie, and they both knew it.
"Not so bad?" Lily repeated. "Not so bad?" She finally let go of Severus' elbow, shoving it away from her as though it had burned her. "You remember what he did to that little first-year Hufflepuff last winter? They never got his eyes properly uncrossed! Or when he knocked Greta Catchlove out with some dirty Dark jinx? It took Madame Pomfrey three weeks to put her right-"
She stopped cold, staring at something over Severus' shoulder, and a spasm of disgust crossed her face. "I should've known it was you lot, making all that racket," she said, her nose wrinkling.
Stomach sinking, already knowing who it was but unable to stop himself, Severus turned around to face James Potter and Sirius Black. The former was leaning casually against the doorjamb, his loathsome face arranged into a triumphant smirk, the latter just behind him and looking equally self-satisfied.
"Now, now, Evans, don't go acting like you didn't miss us," Potter scolded; the effect was somewhat ruined by his lazy grin. "We know you've been gutted not to see our handsome faces for two months." Lily made a derisive noise, but seemed to decide chilly silence was the best reply. Severus couldn't suppress a sneer.
"But you've got Snivellus here, too!" Black broke in delightedly, a savage grin lighting his face as he shifted his gaze to Severus. "Had a good summer? Had loads of fun skipping showers and spying on Evans from the bushes, did you?"
Severus' hand had slipped into his pocket almost of its own accord, his fingers twitching toward his wand. He'd worked out a couple of new curses over the summer holidays, and in his opinion the two Gryffindors were practically begging to help him test them out...
"Actually, Sev and I had a perfectly lovely summer," Lily said coolly, and Severus' itchy, roving fingers instantly froze. "We even went to Brighton one weekend, didn't we, Sev?"
Severus felt his heart do a tingly, stuttering backflip in his chest. Potter's grin contorted into a nauseated expression, and his eyes narrowed to slits behind his glasses.
"It was brilliant," Severus said quietly, watching cold, plain dislike etch itself across Potter's face; his fingers had found his wand. Black's face was slack with unflattering disbelief, his eyes darting from Severus to Lily and back again.
"Right. Well, Evans, your taste in men runs a little greasier than I'd have expected." Potter had recovered quickly, though there was now a distinct chilliness to his words. "You might want to work on that." His smirk was back in place. "Let me know when you're in the mood to have a snog-" his eyes flicked to Severus' face, and the smirk broadened viciously. "-without having to work around that gigantic beak."
Hot ripples of anger pulsed suddenly outwards from Severus' chest, an electric sensation skating down through his arms as though they were live wires. His grip on his wand tightened convulsively, reflexively, and he felt it grow warm within his hand, like it was coming to life.
Potter didn't know the kind of magic the Slytherin could do; he had no idea how much he could hurt him with one muttered incantation. For one breathless second, he imagined slashing into him, his spell sharper than the cruelest knife, and watching the blood weep out through his thin T-shirt. Severus did not relish gore, but he thought he might make an exception; he was certain the raw, red smell would not turn his stomach if it was coming from James Potter's wounded chest...The desire to do it was large in his throat, choking and dizzying...
Whether she could sense what he was seconds from doing, or simply wanted to reassure him, he didn't know. But Lily's hand had found the crook of his elbow once more. Just the smallest squeeze, and the frightening, swollen fury went out of him like a stale breath. Yes, he thought, trying to master his racing pulse. Potter could say all he liked, but that didn't change the fact that Lily hated him deeply. He, Severus, was her friend, her confidante. Her favorite.
He tore his gaze from Potter's horrible grin, looking instead at Lily, beautiful and calm as ever. She granted him an uncertain smile, her hand still gently enclosing his arm. A second flame sputtered into life in his chest, but this time it was smaller, comforting instead of suffocating, and giving him the strangest feeling of nourishment. He looked back at the two boys he so hated, the hunger shadowing their eyes. It suddenly occurred to him how badly they wanted, needed him to react, to give them a reason to do their worst. But with Lily next to him, stoking that cheerful little fire behind his ribs, looking at him with something like hope, he couldn't, even as all of the blood in his veins roared for retaliation.
"Get bent, Potter," he snarled. "And you too, Black." It was his turn to grab Lily's arm, and as he started to walk away, he pulled her firmly along with him, back the way they'd come. "Let's find that snack trolley."