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Chapter 7: A Christmas Miracle
Lucy couldn’t recall ever having been more excited for the start of Christmas vacation. She wasn’t being forced to go home and see her family, and she wouldn’t have to uncomfortably avoid the Marauders and Lily for a whole month. Best of all, she had Severus all to herself for the month, with nothing to do but snog and get to know one another better. These joyful thoughts filled her mind as she walked around the castle, wishing friends she passed a happy Christmas and looking for Severus. She poked around the common room and looked around each floor as she climbed the Grand Staircase, wondering where on earth he could be. Finally, she found him on the Astronomy Tower, staring out through the softly falling snow at the Hogwarts Express.
“Hey.” She smiled, perching next to him. “Saying good riddance?”
He said nothing for a moment, unable to pry his eyes away. Lucy followed his gaze, surprised to find that he was staring at Lily. James had his arm around her, and they were engaged in a last-minute snowball fight with the rest of the Marauders. Oh, right, they’re together now, aren’t they? Lucy realized. She had heard the rumor, but simply couldn’t believe it. Yet here they were, right before her eyes.
But why did Sev care?
“Mmm.” He said at last, breaking up her thoughts. “You want to get late breakfast?”
She nodded, hoping he didn’t notice her faded smile. “Sure.”
“You’re in love with her, aren’t you?”
He looked up from his chair, a nicked copy of Most Potente Potions laying open in his lap. Lucy was standing across from him in her pajamas, her arms folded, the two of them alone. The common room was perfectly dark and silent, except for the crackle of the fireplace.
“Who?” He said weakly, trying to buy time.
“Lily.” She sighed, letting her arms fall. She paused before continuing. “How long?”
“As long as I can remember.” He admitted quietly, surprising her with his candidness. “We’re neighbors. She was my first friend. We got on fine, at least until they got in the way.”
“The boys.” Lucy nodded. “Erm… does she know?”
“I don’t know.” He shook his head. “I’ve never tried to hide it, I suppose, but I’ve never said it outright, either. I can’t. Potter and Black would put me on the ground.”
Lucy stood still for a moment, and then took the sofa across from him.
“Anyway, she’d never look at me twice. She and Potter got together two days ago.”
Lucy looked up. “She hates him.”
“Not as much as she hates me.” Severus closed the book, looking at her.
Lucy stared back at him, puzzled.
“It was right after our Defense Against the Dark Arts midterm. I was just out there, minding my own business, and they came up over the hill and started torturing me again. Well, Lily caught them, and she yelled at Potter to leave me alone. And—it just sort of slipped out.”
“Mudblood. I called her a Mudblood.”
“What?” She asked more urgently, sitting up straight.
“Yeah. I don’t know why I said it. I was just embarrassed.” He looked like he was about to cry.
“Sev—” She felt a pang of sympathy, moving closer to him.
“No, I deserve it. It was a terrible thing to say.” He shook his head. “I don’t even buy into all that blood purity nonsense.” He added softly.
“I know.” She said quietly. “But I’m sorry, all the same.”
He looked at her, not used to being treated with kindness. “Lucy, I do love her.”
Lucy nodded, sitting back a little.
“No, wait.” He placed a hand over hers. “But—I really like you, too.” He looked into her eyes. “Not as an alternative or anything, just… for you. You’re amazing.” He smiled just slightly. “You really don’t give yourself enough credit.”
Lucy laughed softly, looking back into his face. “Thanks.”
“The point is, I’d be willing to give this a try, if you’ll have me.” He said finally.
Lucy just watched him for a moment, knowing he needed an answer after going out on a limb like that but wanting to make sure she gave him the right one. Though she hadn’t thought much about stringing Sirius along, she felt that Severus deserved better from her. Illuminated by the gentle firelight, he looked so different from how she’d seen him for the past five years, hiding away in the back of classes to escape the derision of her old friends. Now everything about him emanated patience, precision, and a strange sort of beauty. The others surely had never seen him like this, his fingers lighting gently over his potions instruments, his eyes carefully searching for the slightest change in color in a brew. She had seen those same eyes search her, appreciating things about her that no one had ever noted as beautiful. He searched her now, craving a response, and she shook herself from her reverie to deliver it to him.
“Yeah.” She nodded at last. “I—I really like you, Sev.” She kissed him for a long moment, placing a hand gently on his face, taking in every second of it. You’ll be mine. I’ll take good care of you, I promise. I know you’ve been neglected before, but you’ll never feel that way again, not as long as you have me. Her kisses made these quiet promises to his lips, to his broken heart.
Inside, she pleaded with him to make the same promises back to her.
On Christmas Eve, the wizarding world glittered with lights and music, and people bustled from shop to shop to make their final purchases. Small children whined to be allowed to go home and open gifts early. Old women ate toffee and gossiped while their husbands bought one another celebratory Butterbeers. Peter Pettigrew checked his watch, hoping his shift at the Magical Menagerie was almost over, but he still had nearly three hours to go.
Remus Lupin shivered alone in a dark building, having resigned himself to his transformation with no thought of what to do about heat. He dared not set a fire, fearing he might accidentally allow the entire place to be engulfed, him included. Soon, however, the familiar convulsions began, and he no longer noticed the cold.
James Potter sat up in his room, sharing a stolen bottle of Firewhiskey with his friend Sirius Black, who had come to the Potters for Christmas as usual. After all, his family’s idea of Christmas cheer was outfitting the house elves with jingle bells and setting his mother’s dogs after them. Mr. and Mrs. Potter had noticed that James seemed slightly more spirited than usual this year, whereas Sirius seemed to lack most of his usual charisma.
Lily Evans helped her mother light candles around their home. The power had gone out in Spinner’s End once more, but fortunately the elaborate pot roast Mrs. Evans had prepared for dinner was done. As she sat down to eat, Lily looked out the window at the small house down the lane where she had once found a friend. As usual, it was pitch dark.
On the other side of town, Lucius Malfoy raised a toast to his bride-to-be, who blushed at all of the attention and tried to forget how her tight dress was making it difficult for her to breathe. As he sipped from his glass of champagne, the new tattoo on Lucius’s left arm twinged slightly. After a week of the pain, he had figured out how to hide it behind a cold expression, but it bothered him nonetheless. He wondered when it would stop hurting.
Hogwarts was no exception to the holiday. The small group of faculty who remained were gathered in the Great Hall with a handful of students, enjoying an elaborate spread. The house elves dutifully trimmed the tree, making sure each and every ornament was in its proper place. The giant squid fell into hibernation beneath the icy surface of the lake.
Deep in the dungeons, a skinny boy with stringy black hair slept on the sofa. A slender blonde cuddled up next to him, laying her head against his chest and drifting into sleep along with him.
They were perfectly alone, and yet neither of them felt very alone at all.