Title: Frostyworms and Rainbows
Characters: Severus Snape, Lily Evans, Petunia Evans
Beta Readers: curia_regis & luvscharlie
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
Note: Many thanks to my betas for their brainstorming and beta help!
Summary: Severus becomes hurt and bewildered at the way Lily's treating him lately.
Severus rushed away from Spinner's End, eager to get to the little clearing in the woods. It was a quiet clearing, surrounded by tall trees, currently covered with snow. This little clearing was a special place that he and Lily played in, both considering it their secret hideout.
As he walked down the snow-covered streets, he brought his cold hands up to blow at them, trying to warm them up. He shoved his hands into his pockets. The wind stung his cheeks, and he ducked his head down to avoid it. From the corner of his eyes, he saw the Christmas decorations still on some people's houses, unlike his own dark, undecorated dwelling, and he was glad that Christmas was over.
When he reached the entrance of the clearing, he shoved the branches away and slipped past them, ignoring the snow that had fallen on his head, and he saw Lily already there, smiling. As usual, she had on a colourful matching set of hat, mittens, and a scarf. Her bright green eyes gleaming, she waved one of her mitten-clad hands. "Hi, Severus!"
He smiled back, but he didn't wave, keeping his hands still in his pockets. "Hi, Lily. Did you have a good Christmas?"
"The best! How about you? Did you get some nice presents?"
He nodded briskly. "It was fine." It wasn't, but he had no intention of telling her that or that her little gift -- a book about the Arthurian legends -- was the only gift he'd received for the holidays. Quickly, he changed the subject. "I looked through one of my mum's old books a couple of days ago. I discovered something called frostyworms. Apparently they are magical worms, some kind of flobberworm, and they can be found in snow. My mum said they can be found around here."
That was before his father had started yelling at his mum. It was one of the worst fights he'd seen his parents have, and he could still hear the shouts and screams. He didn't want to think of it, though, and he only thought about finding the frostyworms because he wanted to try the Snowflake Potion. He'd read that if it was poured onto an object, the potion would transform into snow for a while. Even though there was a lot of snow around him, he still wanted to try it since it would be quite handy to have in the summer. "Want to help look for them?" he asked, hoping she'd agreed. He knew how girls were about worms and bugs. He'd seen Petunia scream over spiders, cockroaches, and worms all the time.
"Sure!" Lily said enthusiastically, which surprised him. "Are they potions ingredients, too? You want to find them and practise potions, right? We'll be turning eleven in another year or so." She bit her bottom lip. "Do you really think I'll get a Hogwarts letter, too?"
Severus nodded hard. He knew she was a witch, and he could tell she would be a good one. Last year, before they'd first talked, he had been watching Lily and Petunia from behind some bushes. Apparently Petunia did something to annoy Lily, and to his and Petunia's amazement, Lily's annoyance had made her do some wandless magic. Interestingly enough, Lily had made real petunias sprout out on top of Petunia's head. Severus would never forget the look of horror on Petunia's face, and now that he knew Petunia, he thought that was a fitting punishment for her! "You will. And we'll go to Hogwarts together. I'm going to make the Snowflake Potion, and I'll show you how it's done."
"That'd be great! But we have to dig for them, right? We'll need shovels or something."
Severus' brows furrowed together. "Yeah." He'd forgotten about that. Then again, his family didn't have any shovels.
"We have two at my house! Let's go get them." Lily grabbed Severus' wrist, tugging so his hand slipped out of his pocket. With his hand in her mitten-covered one, they walked out of the clearing and went towards her house. As they walked, he couldn't help but revel in the fact that his hand felt warmer in Lily's as opposed to in his pocket. It was strange because his pocket was usually much warmer. He shrugged, though, and let himself be dragged along by Lily's enthusiasm.
"Oof!" Lily said, throwing a pile of snow over her shoulder. "Snow's sure heavy."
Severus grunted in agreement. "I can't wait until we can legally do magic. It'd be easier to Accio these frostyworms."
"That's the summoning or another spell, right? It'd be easier, I agree, but I think this is more fun. And this is exercise -- ah-ha!" Lily exclaimed. She pointed at something in the snow. "Is that your frostyworm?"
Severus looked at the wriggling worm. It was blue, fat, and squishy, and it looked rather . . . disgusting. More disgusting than the picture in his mum's book. "I'm not touching that!"
Lily took off one of her mittens, stuffed it into her pocket, and reached out to grab the frostyworm. She picked it up gingerly between two fingers and brought the frostyworm close to her face and studied it. "I think it looks cute."
Severus shook his head emphatically and made a face.
Lily giggled and stepped closer to Severus and practically shoved the frostyworm into his face. "Look at it."
"Lily!" Severus shrieked and backed away. Shuddering he said, "I don't want it near me!"
Rolling her eyes, she set the worm down on her other hand, watching it crawl around the woollen material. "How are you going to be a Potions master if you can't stand the sight of your own ingredients?"
"How come you're not like other girls who squeal when they see bugs and other creepy stuff?" Severus retorted.
"Please. I'm not like Petunia! I like this stuff. Maybe I should become a Potions master if I go to Hogwarts. Or should that be Potions mistress? No, that doesn't sound quite right . . . "
While she pondered on that, Severus pouted. Lily did have a point -- he would have to get used to handling disgusting potions ingredients. And if Lily -- a girl -- could touch a frostyworm and not get sick, then by all means, so could he!
Determinedly, he pushed his disgust deep inside, and he reached out to touch the frostyworm in Lily's hand. It did feel slimy and cold, but he repeatedly reminded himself that it wouldn't hurt him, that it was a harmless little bug that he could overpower; after all, he was larger than the frostyworm!
He quickly got used to it, and eventually, he had the entire thing in his own hand.
Lily gave him a smug look. "See? It's not bad."
Snortling, he said, "Yeah, you're right. It's not so bad."
"Good. Now, go make that potion!"
Severus came to the clearing first. Waiting for Lily, he sat on his haunches and he found a stick and drew random doodles in the snow. However, he had to stop every few minutes to warm his hands up. Whether he blew on them, put them in his pocket, or pulled his sleeves over them, it didn't work. His hands were too cold.
When Lily finally arrived, he stood up and threw the stick aside. "Hi."
"Hi. I had to do chores with Petunia, but she was too busy complaining and whining. Honestly. She's older than me, but I feel like I'm more mature than her!" Lily grabbed the stick he had thrown, and she continued his drawing. "You're lucky you're an only child."
Severus agreed and disagreed with her statement. He thought about how lonely it was to be an only child, but if he had to have a sibling like Petunia -- who was not only a cow, but an evil, soul-sucking cow -- he'd rather eat dirt! "I guess," he said noncommittally.
"How's your potion?"
"It's kind of hard," he admitted, "but it's just that my hands get too cold at home. Our house's heating system has its good and bad days." Truthfully, his house had no heat since his father hadn't paid the bills for this month, but he decided not to tell Lily the entire truth. He bit his lip. He didn't like talking about his home situation with her.
"Oh, I see." She looked thoughtful. "Well, I'm in a mood for hot chocolate. Plus, Mummy made raspberry tarts. Mummy knows you like her tarts. Let's go to my place and get some."
Hot chocolate and raspberry tarts . . . things he didn't have at his house. And there was also the fact that Lily's house was heated, and Severus longed for that warmth. Something his own home lacked in more ways than one. Trying not to appear too eager, he said, "All right."
Hand in hand, one in mitten and one in nothing, they walked down the snow-covered streets to Lily's house.
Severus was bored. And cold. And sick of staying in his house. Then there were his parents. He could tell that both of them were in bad moods, so another one of their famous fights would happen soon. Sighing, he decided to go see if Lily was free.
He walked through the cold streets, and he saw that the blasted Christmas decorations were still up on some people's houses. It was almost New Year's. Why did these people not take down the cheerful decorations? Seeing them only reminded him of his home life and what he lacked. All his life, his family had never decorated for Christmas. No wreath, no stockings, no nothing. His place was always cheerless.
At the next intersection, he turned at the corner of Lily's street, and there he saw Lily running towards her house.
"Lily!" he called out.
She stopped and smiled. "Hi!"
"Want to play?" he asked hopefully.
She frowned slightly. "Oh, I want to, but I can't today. I've got stuff to do."
"Oh." Awkwardly, he shuffled his feet. "Maybe later then?"
"Sure! I'll see you." She waved and dashed off.
Forlornly, he stared at Lily's retreating figure, and he let out a sigh. Well, he thought, he could always go to the public library nearby. That was surely a better idea than standing around in the cold. In the opposite direction, he walked slowly to the library, wishing Lily was there to accompany him.
Severus stifled back a groan and bit his tongue from going on a rampage at the annoying voice that called out to him. Even though his back was turned to the person, he knew exactly who it was. There was only one person who had that annoyingly high-pitched, screeching voice, and the person was none other than Petunia Evans.
Taking a deep breath, he turned around to face Petunia with a blank expression. "Yes?"
Her smile, which looked fake and ugly on that long face of hers, grew wider as she said, "Why are you alone? Do you have no one else to play with now that Lily has a new friend?"
"Friend?" Severus' eye widened. "What friend?"
"Oh, she didn't tell you?" Petunia looked surprised. "Well, she's so occupied, so I guess it's not surprising she wouldn't make the time to tell you."
Even though he was upset, he decided he didn't want Petunia to know that her words had upset and surprised him. "Oh, right, that friend. I know. So?"
She snorted, which reminded him of a horse. Then again, her face was indeed long, so he could definitely see the resemblance. "You're a terrible liar. But whatever. It won't be long before Lily realises that her new friend's a lot better than you." With that, she flounced off.
Severus, at that moment, had never hated anyone this much. "You're the liar. Lily would tell me if she's got a new friend!" he snapped at the empty street. He stomped in the opposite direction. He was furious -- not only at Petunia's words, but he was also miffed for showing his weakness to her. He remembered reading about Occlumency, and he decided he'd master that when he turned older, and he'd also learn how to mask his face from showing any emotions that would give him away. He would never let anybody like Petunia mock him again!
Severus managed to catch Lily outside her house a few days later. He grabbed her hand, which was in her richly coloured mitten as usual, and he noticed his pale hand contrasting against the vibrant material. "Lily, can we talk?"
"Hmm?" She glanced down at her watch. "Not now. I've got a meeting with someone today! An important meeting."
He stepped back and let go of her hand as if he'd been slapped. "I see . . . " Maybe Petunia was telling the truth. "Well," he continued blandly, "have fun." He turned around and ran off, ignoring her calls of "Severus, wait!"
He ran and ran until his stomach cramped, and when he came to their secret hideout, he fell down on top of the snow, not caring that his clothes would get wet. Hot tears came down his face, and he muffled his sobs by stuffing his hand into his mouth. Sod it all, he thought. If Lily had found a new friend and chose that person over him, then forget her! He didn't need her or his parents! He only needed himself. At least, that was what he tried to convince himself for the rest of the day. Whether he succeeded or not, he didn't care too much on that. Deep inside, more than anything, he only wanted Lily's friendship.
But it looked like even his friendship with Lily was deteriorating. He miserably realised that with his birthday around the corner, this was the worst present he could ever receive.
A few days later, his birthday came. His mother had wished him a happy birthday while his father just ignored him. But Severus did not feel happy. Instead, he moped around his room in the morning. He'd stared at the blank walls and studied its cracks. That got boring, so he went to his hideout to mope and stare at the tree's trunks, its branches, and all the snow around him. It wasn't much better than his room, but at least he could get some peace and quiet here instead of listening to his parents arguing.
Like before, he found a stick, and he crouched to the ground and drew in the snow without really thinking about what he was drawing. When he finished he stood up and saw that he'd drawn Lily. In the drawing, her hair was down, and she was smiling that friendly smile of hers. He felt a pang in his heart, and he let out a loud sigh. "What am I doing?" he muttered to himself.
Throwing the stick, he was about to erase the drawing, but he froze when he heard a noise behind him. He blinked when he saw Lily coming into the clearing, and he gave her a wary look.
"Hi," she said.
"Hi," he repeated.
"I, er, wanted to wish you a happy birthday."
He didn't say anything. He only stared down at his feet with a scowl.
"And to apologise." His head snapped up and he stared at her. She gave him a small smile. "I found out what Petunia said to you. What she made you believe is all a lie. I . . . I didn't make a new friend. But it is true I had an important meeting . . . but it was with my aunt!" She made a face. "I was doing something with her."
"Oh . . . " Severus now shifted uncomfortably. "It . . . it's okay. I didn't believe her anyway."
Lily cocked her head and stared at him. Her green eyes were intense, and he almost could feel them burning into her, but he refused to blush and show her that she was right. Thankfully, she only nodded. When he saw her arms move, he realised that they'd been behind her back this entire time. "Here," she said, revealing a wrapped package. "It's your birthday present."
This time he couldn't hide his emotion. His eyebrows shot up, and his mouth dropped opened. "What?"
She beamed. "This was why I hadn't played with you lately. I had to finish this in time for your birthday! Take it!" She nudged the package, and he accepted it. "Now, open it!"
"T-thank you." The words almost didn't come out from his clogged up throat. Slowly, he unwrapped the green-coloured paper, and he peeked inside. What he saw were mittens. Rainbow-coloured mittens. He looked at her.
"My aunt taught me how to knit those."
He looked down at the mittens and studied them closer. He saw that the thumb coverings were a bit on the wide side. He could see small holes and tangled up yarn in some places. One mitten was slightly bigger than the other. The colours blinded him. Honestly, it was probably the worst pair of mittens he'd ever seen.
But he didn't care.
This was the first time anyone had ever made him something.
All sorts of emotions flooded over him, and Severus ducked his head to hide the tears that threatened to spill. He blinked them away, and he said softly, "Thank you. They're brilliant." Shoving the wrappings into his pockets, he slipped the mittens on his hands. As soon as his hands were encased in the imperfectly made mittens, he felt them grow instantly warm.
"Oh, I'm glad they fit!" Lily squealed, clapping her hands. "And I know you like black, but I decided to knit you a rainbow pair. You need more colour in your life, Severus! Being in black all the time is utterly depressing!"
"But I like black."
"You're hopeless," she joked. "Just like your drawing skills. Since when do I have gigantic lips?"
Severus gave her a mock glare. "You're the one to talk. You can't even draw period!"
"Hey! Not nice!" She quickly bent over and made a snowball.
Before Severus could stop her, the snowball hit his face. "Payback time!" He made his own snowball, and he was pleased to see that his hands stayed warm as he threw it at her.
Laughter rang out in the small clearing, and snow went flying all over the place as they both tried to snow each other out. Severus' drawing of Lily disappeared, and the two of them shrieked and yelled as they chased each other all over.
It wasn't long before they both leaned against a tree and panted from their chase. "That was fun," she said, her eyes twinkling.
"Yes," Severus agreed. Staring up at the trees, he could see sunlight coming through the branches. The warmth he felt from the sun and from running around with his best friend made him smile wider. "It was fun."
"Let's end today with some hot chocolate at my place. And cake." She grabbed his hand, no longer naked and cold. "I helped make it! Don't worry. Petunia didn't go anywhere near the cake. So it won't have salt or any other disgusting thing in it. I swear, she can't cook anything!"
Again, his throat tightened, and he could only nod. She gently tugged him, and hand in hand, they walked down the street.
"Tomorrow, let's go look for more frostyworms. We've got to cure you of your bug-and-other-crawly-stuff-phobia." Lily grinned. "I'll make sure you become the best Potions master in the world."
Finding his voice, Severus answered, "Deal. You can be my partner-in-crime as we come up with new potions that will change the world!"
"And," she added, "I'll get you to wear more colours."
Severus groaned. "Whatever."
When they entered Lily's warm house, Severus said to himself, "You already have me in colours." He looked at their entwined hands. "I am in colour now."