Chapter 1 : The Unsuitable Friend
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The Slytherin Spy and the Gryffindor Lady
The Unsuitable Friend
15 Spinner’s End, Yorkshire
Severus Snape stood on the doorstep of the Evans’ neatly swept porch and gazed out at their beautifully manicured lawn with a slight pang of envy. His own yard, two houses down, never looked this good, though he did try and mow it as best he could, but he was slight and scrawny for his ten years and the push mower was horribly awkward and heavy. End result, he sometimes cut the grass unevenly and the yard looked like a goat had been grazing in a drunken stupor upon it. Not to mention the fact that half of Snape’s lawn was brown since the utility company had shut off the water again since his father Tobias was late paying them. It was one of the hottest summers anyone could remember in the North Country, unnaturally so, the oldsters said. Everything was drooping and dying, and Severus felt as if he were wilting in the heat. No one knew what was causing it, the weather bureau was stumped, and everyone just had to put up with it.
He shifted his foot slightly, his trainers were worn and holey, and the rest of his clothes weren’t much better, ever since Tobias had lost his job at the cotton mill years ago and turned to the bottle, they hadn’t had money for “extras” like new sneakers or much of anything else. The skinny boy huffed and tossed his stringy hair out of his eyes, which were dark as coal, and he pressed the button for the doorbell again.
I hope Lily’s at home, I’m so thirsty, it’s like boiling hot out today and there's no sign of a breeze. Good thing Mum can use cooling spells at night and at least make the faucet run water for the bathroom. Otherwise they’d be in dire straits and Severus already put up with people calling him a scummy ragpicker, he didn’t need them to say he smelled on top of it.
He took another longing glance at the Evans’ yard, with its large poplar tree and pretty walk with flowers along it and wished he could live here, it was so much nicer than his own rundown, dingy, dilapidated home. Most of the houses on Spinner’s End were old row houses, built when the cotton mills had first opened over twenty years ago, but the Evans had fixed their place up, unlike so many of their neighbors, who didn’t have the means. Henry Evans was the local pharmacist in the town of High Bentham, which had once been known for its weaving. But since the mill shutdown, the workers had been frequenting the pubs, as Severus knew quite well, since Tobias frequented the Black Bull most often.
He wiped a hand across his forehead and thought about pressing the bell again, but just then the door was flung open and Petunia Evans, who was thirteen that summer, stuck her blond head out and sneered, “You again, Snape? Why don’t you go and chase some parked cars, instead of bothering us?”
“Why don’t you?” he responded quickly, putting a sharp sneer reminiscent of his father on his face. He and Petunia had never really gotten along, she regarded him as odd and freaky because he, like her younger sister, was heir to magic’s gift. “Where’s Lily?”
“Just finishing lunch, why? Come to beg for a handout again, Snape?”
Severus felt his jaw clench. He hated the way Petunia mocked him for being the son of one of the town drunks and as such, never had enough to eat. His stomach was growling, it had only had a small slice of bread with a scraping of butter and some milk since six in the morning. His mouth watered at the heavenly aroma coming from the kitchen, but he just glared at Petunia, too proud to admit he was starving again.
“Tuney? Who’s at the door?” Lily’s voice floated out from the kitchen.
“Nobody,” Petunia said spitefully.
“Hello, Lily!” Severus called, loud enough to be heard over the variety show Mrs. Evans had blaring in the den.
“Sev? Is that you?” Lily suddenly appeared behind her sister, she was small for her age as well, like Severus. “Come on in.” She nudged Petunia out of the way and Severus came inside. “Would you like some lunch, Sev? Mum just made a shepherd’s pie and it’s really good.”
Severus hesitated, but the aroma was irresistible and he nodded slowly.
“Lily, we aren’t running a charity here,” began Petunia petulantly.
“Oh, be quiet, Tuney! Sev’s my friend, and he can eat here whenever he likes, same as Abby and Vern do.”
Severus trailed Lily into the kitchen, a warm room done in cheery yellow and white with sunflowers painted on the walls. Patricia Evans, or Polly as she preferred to be called, had a thing for gardening and flowers. “Like I’d want to eat at the same table as that hog, Dursley,” remarked Severus. “By the time he was done, there’d be nothing left.”
Lily bit back a giggle, for Vernon was known for his hearty appetite.
Petunia got all hissy, however, and snapped, “Well, at least my friends are respectable, instead of being weird nerdy brats, totally unsuitable to associate with normal people.”
“Hey! Sev isn’t weird or freaky, Tuney! I’ve got the same magic gift he does.” Lily objected, before Severus could reply to her taunts with a stinging remark of his own. “Ignore her, Sev. She’s in a snit because Vernon hasn’t called her yet to take her out to the movies.”
“Shut up, Lily!” Petunia was now quite red. “You always think you know everything. Seeing Snape over here is enough to ruin anybody’s mood.”
“With your attitude, Pinch Face, I’m surprised you could even get a date,” Severus shot back.
“Humph! Like you can talk, you sly snarky—” before Petunia could finish her sentence, the phone rang and she scurried off to get it, it was on a stand next to the stairs in the hall. “Oh, hello, Vern!” she cooed. “When’s the next show? Two? Okay, I’ll ask Mum if she can drop me off, the heat’s dreadful for walking . . .”
Severus mouthed a thank God to Lily before she handed him a plate with some still steaming shepherd’s pie and a fork, as well as a glass of iced lemonade. “Thanks, Lil. Mum had to work late again and didn’t have time to go to the store.”
He began to eat, slowly, so he wouldn’t burn his tongue. The pie tasted as good as it smelled, and he savored it.
Lily nibbled on a shortbread as she waited, eyeing her friend in concern. Severus looked even more wan and hungry than usual, and there was a darkening bruise on his left arm. Her lips tightened. His father’s been at him again, I’ll bet, the rotten bounder.
“Sev, what happened to your arm?”
“Nothing. Just banged it, is all,” he replied, not looking at her.
“Banged into your father.”
Severus nearly choked. “Lily, please. Leave it go.”
“Sev, he shouldn’t . . .you shouldn’t be putting up with it . . .”
He stopped eating and said softly, “And what am I supposed to do about it?”
“Tell someone, like a police officer. So they can arrest his arse.”
But Severus shook his head. “Can’t. My mother would never forgive me. B’sides, he’d just say it was ‘cause of my smart mouth and who do you think they’ll believe, me or him?”
“You! Everyone knows he’s a drunk, Sev.”
Snape shrugged. “Like it’d matter. Half of them drink too, and what d’you think they do to their kids, huh? I’ve seen your dad give you a wallop once, Lily, for acting smart with him.”
“But he never left marks on me, Sev! And it barely stung,” she argued softly. “Not like that.”
“It’s not as bad as it looks.” He resumed eating.
“Liar. I don’t know how you can stand going home sometimes.”
Severus didn’t answer, though he wondered that too. “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. In two months I’ll be gone from here anyhow, and so will you. Did you get your letter yet?”
She nodded, grinning. “Just yesterday. You?”
He patted his pocket. The parchment crackled and he smiled too. That letter was the best thing that had ever happened to him. It was his ticket out of his hellish home and to a brighter future. “It’s right here. Mum says she’ll take us to Diagon Alley the week before school and help us get our supplies. I can’t wait.”
“Me either. My parents were so happy. Only Tuney wasn’t.”
“Maybe. Only somehow . . .I got the feeling that she wished she could come with me.”
Severus laughed. “Petunia? But she hates us because we can do magic.”
“No, not hate, Sev. She’s jealous, I think.” Lily disagreed.
Severus continued eating. He didn’t care what Petunia’s problem was, he just wished the older girl would leave them alone.
“But . . .I am a little nervous,” the red-haired girl whispered. “I’ve never been away from home before. What if . . .what if nobody likes me?”
“I like you.” Severus replied. “So you’ll always have me for a friend. Besides, Evans, what’s not to like? No one will make fun of you at Hogwarts, we’re all witches and wizards there.”
“I know, but . . .you said not all witches had the Sight like me.” Lily bit her lip nervously. She sometimes could see certain small events in still water or dreams.
“It’s not a bad thing, Lil. Have you Seen something lately?”
She shook her head. “No. It never comes when I want it to. It does whatever it pleases.”
“Hmm. Maybe the teachers can help you with it,” Severus mused.
They could hear Petunia asking Polly if she could go to the cinema with Vernon and squealing when her mother agreed. Then they heard her running out the door.
Both children breathed a sigh of relief. Severus finished his slice of pie and thanked Lily again. He too was rather nervous about attending Hogwarts, because he was too smart and did not make friends easily. But perhaps it would be different there, and Merlin alone knew it had to be better than what he had back home.
He rose quietly and rinsed off his plate and fork in the sink and then said, “Come on, Lily. Let’s go by the treehouse, I’ve got a new recipe to show you.”
Lily’s eyes lit with eagerness. “A potions recipe?”
“Of course!” he chuckled. “Mum says she’ll give us a lesson this Saturday, but I like to study them first.”
Lily practically raced out the curtained back door to the large treehouse her father had built several years past for her and Petunia to play in. Petunia hardly used it anymore, she considered herself too old for such things, and so Lily and Severus regarded it as their own private place.
Once they had climbed inside using a rope ladder, and were sitting on some old faded bolsters, Severus pulled the potions recipe from his other pocket and showed it to Lily.
Written in Eileen’s neat handwriting was the following recipe:
Bascombe’s Bruise Balm
4 oz. olive oil
1/2 oz. arnica oil
1/2 oz. calendula oil
2 ground unicorn hairs
1 oz. white beeswax pellets
1/2 oz. comfrey root powder
1/2 oz. licorice root powder
1/4 oz. lavender essential oil
1/4 oz. geranium essential oil
1 tsp of phoenix tears
Snake scales, chopped fine
“Do you have all the ingredients, Sev?” Lily asked, listening as he read them aloud.
“Yes. Mum always keeps her lab well-stocked, since she’s a Potions Mistress. This is an elementary healing salve.” He began to read the directions and Lily tried to memorize them.
When they had each looked at the recipe for fifteen minutes, he covered it up and began to quiz her on each kind of ingredient. This was how they always studied for their potions class with Eileen, which was something both of them enjoyed and seemed to have a knack for.
Once they had both memorized the recipe, Severus set it aside. “See? That wasn’t too hard, right?”
“No. Not with you giving me hints.” Lily smiled. “I hope we’re in the same House, Sev. So we can study together and stuff like always.”
“Yes. But even if we’re not, it won’t matter, right?” he asked, though he prayed it wouldn’t come to that. Lily just had to be Sorted into the same House. “You’ll still be my friend, won’t you?” There was a note of desperation in his voice then, though he struggled to hide it.
“Always, Sev. Promise on my honor,” Lily reassured him, then she made the sign of the circle over her heart and slapped her palm down on his to seal the pact. “Don’t know what I’d do without you, Sev.”
“Same here,” he murmured. Lily was the best thing to move into Spinner’s End ever, and Severus loved having a magical friend to play with and discuss things he was normally forbidden to talk about, especially when his father was home. “Friends forever.”
Little did they know that their childish vow would be tested cruelly in years to come, for nothing is gained without a cost, but right then the two friends were too intent upon discussing possible wand types and House traits to worry about the future.
A/N: So how was that? Next will come first year and the Marauders! Don't forget to leave a review!
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