Chapter 6 : Hero Worship
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"Want some salve for that?"
"Huh? Oh, no, it's not that bad." Regulus shrugged. "At least this time he didn't knock out any of my teeth. When I was little, he pushed me and I hit my face into the wrought iron railing on my front porch, and I got my front tooth knocked right out. My mother was furious. She walloped Sirius good that time, if I remember right."
"Sounds like nothing's changed. All right, if you're sure." Severus turned about and began to dress. It was only after he had walked into the den that he saw breakfast upon the table. "Reg, why are we having breakfast here today?"
"Felt like it," his roommate called. "I didn't want to go down to the hall and risk running into my idiot older brother right now. I'm still in the mood to hex him after yesterday." The water began running, and Severus could hear the unmistakable sound of Reg brushing his teeth.
Severus supposed that made sense, and the only reason he had wanted to go down to the hall today was so he could see Lily. Then he shook his head in half-amused disgust. Severus, you're acting like a lovesick fool. You won't asphyxiate if you don't get to see Lily for a few hours. You should be concentrating on your Transfiguration OWL. He quietly began to serve himself breakfast from the covered dishes upon the table.
Today there was oatmeal with cinnamon and cream, bacon, a cheese and chive omelet, ham, and toast with blueberry preserves, as well as Irish breakfast tea and juice. Severus took a few strips of bacon, oatmeal and a small piece of the omelet, as well as some juice.
He discovered he was ravenous, and had eaten nearly his whole plate before Regulus joined him.
The other Slytherin ate more slowly, mindful of his sore jaw, choosing some oatmeal, toast, and bacon and drinking two glasses of juice. "So, how did your, uh, meeting with Lily go?"
Severus allowed himself a small smile. "It was . . .perfect. Well, at least my version of perfect. She kissed me again and we, uh, talked about telling her parents and my mother about us when we go back home."
"Good for you, Sev! You deserve her, and I'm glad that for once a girl has sense to see past the end of her nose and not fall for another pretty face or a glorious Quidditch player. You're lucky that you live next door to her though, Severus. Then you can get closer over the summer. Wish I had that option."
"Yes . . .if everything goes well with her parents," Severus replied, chewing his lower lip slightly. He worried that Henry Evans wouldn't approve of his youngest daughter dating the son of one of the town drunks. "But I'll worry about that later. Cindy Graves looked like she enjoyed your company, Reg. You could owl her over the holiday."
"Maybe. But we don't live near each other, and she used to go out with Potter. She's a year older than me, Severus, I don't know if it'll work. With my luck, she'll start going out with Sirius." Regulus stared moodily at his plate and toyed idly with a piece of toast, crumbling it inbetween his fingers.
"Not if she's smart, she won't. She ought to know who the better brother is, Regulus."
Regulus chuckled softly. "Only you would ever say that, Snape. Everyone else loves Siri because of his attitude and his pranks." The younger Black sighed heavily. "I used to also, back before he went to Hogwarts. We weren't always at each other's throats like we are now. Oh, we got into the occasional scrap, but mostly I admired him." Regulus's hazel eyes held a faraway look. "When I was little, I used to follow him everywhere, and do everything he did. He was my big brother and I wanted to be just like him. He used to protect me from some of my older cousins, when they teased me and stuff. He turned my cousin Bellatrix's hair into a nest of snakes with a potion he slipped in her pumpkin juice because she said I was an annoying brat and locked me in the broom cupboard with a huge spider. I was about six, and ever since I hate spiders." Regulus shuddered slightly. "But Siri heard me screaming and let me out and then he got revenge on Bella."
"Did he get in trouble for it?"
"Yes, once they found out who did it. But he didn't care, told my Uncle Cygnus flat out that Bella had locked me in the broom cupboard and all, and she got in trouble too. But all that changed when he met James, he was eight, I was seven, and all of a sudden I was in the way, the annoying bratty brother. "
Regulus's eyes darkened. "I want to play Quidditch too, Siri. Why can't I?" he recalled asking one sunny afternoon.
"You're too little, that's why. Now go play somewhere else, Reg."
"I am not! I can too play!"
"No, you can't! You're a brat, and I want to play with James, now go away and quit bothering me, Reg! Go and read a book or something. Get lost, brat!"
Hurt, he wandered off and gotten lost on the Potter estate, which was much larger than Grimauld Place, and when he was finally found by the frantic adults, he was scared and the first thing he had blurted when they asked why he had wandered away was, "Siri told me to get lost."
Of course, Sirius got punished for not watching his little brother and being mean to him, and that had caused even more resentment between the two siblings.
"I can remember wishing that I was brave like him. He could pull the most annoying pranks, and when faced with either of my parents, just shrug and laugh off whatever punishment he got, even when my mother switched him. Me, I hated it when my parents yelled at me, and once when I tried to play a prank like Sirius, it went wrong and I blew up my Aunt Lucretia's birthday cake. It went all over everyone, and at first everyone thought it was funny. They also thought Sirius did it, until I confessed, and then my mother nearly had heart failure." Regulus shook his head, a rueful smirk on his face. "I can still hear her scolding me, and the switching I got from her was nothing to be laughed at. I tried to be brave but I ended up crying like a baby, and that was the only time I was ever switched, because I was too scared to risk another one. Sirius used to call me a coward crybaby, but I couldn't help it." Regulus dropped his eyes to the tabletop.
"Reg, you're being ridiculous. You're no coward, just because you didn't want to get your arse tanned. Name me one kid that likes getting beaten and I'll eat my potions book." Severus said quietly. "I'll bet Sirius hated it too, only he wouldn't admit it to you, because he needed to look brave in front of his younger brother."
"Maybe. All I know is that Sirius was a rebel, gave my mother fits, and he still does. Argues with her constantly, says she's a cold-hearted pureblooded hag, but he's wrong. She's proud and strict, but she cares for both of us, only he's never seen that. He thinks she favors me, calls me a suck up because I won't argue about Muggleborn rights and that kind of thing with her, but what's the point? She is the way she is, and it doesn't do any good to antagonize her. Siri never understood that. He just keeps at her until she snaps, and then he blames her when she loses it."
"Humph! He's always blaming someone else, instead of owning up to his mistakes," Severus snorted.
Reg sighed. "My father is more easygoing, he doesn't mind Siri's attitude, but it drives Mother crazy. She thinks he has no respect for authority and she's right, in a way. She thinks it's her fault, that he's like that, I heard her say it to herself once, after he'd gone to school and ended up in Gryffindor."
He shut his eyes, his mother's soft words echoing in his head, "Where did I go wrong? Merlin, how is it that a son of mine could disregard everything I ever tried to teach him? I've failed him as a mother, Merlin help me," and then he had seen her weeping, and it had horrified him, that his mother was crying, and somehow it was Sirius's fault.
It was then that he resolved to be the son his mother wanted, the son Sirius refused to be, the son who was proud of his heritage and his family and would never make his mother cry that way ever.
"Of course, Siri thinks it's great, that he's in a rival House, he figures it's a great way to thumb his nose at everything my mother stands for . . .at everything our family stands for." Regulus corrected. "See, we're pureblood, but it's more than that. The Black name . . .it might seem like we're stuck up, but it's a fact that my family has produced some of the finest wizards in Britain, and we have a tradition to uphold. My mother used to say that to be a Black was to be the best, and we should always strive to live up to our potential. Which meant taking pride in who we were and what we became, and marrying well."
Severus arched an eyebrow. "She doesn't ask for much, does she?"
Regulus laughed. "I know, she sounds like a damn snob, and she can be, but well, nobody's perfect. Though we do try," he added, smirking. "My family believes in the supremacy of the pureblood, an ancestor of ours claimed that the only way to become a great wizarding family was to remain pure in blood and deed, which is why my family doesn't believe in marrying anyone of mixed ancestry."
"And you, Reg?" Severus questioned. "Do you believe that?"
"Once I did. But not any more," Regulus said honestly. "I haven't since you rescued me that day, Severus. I'd never met anyone except purebloods until I came to Hogwarts. And then I found out who my true friends were. You and Lily Evans." His hazel eyes glittered. "How ironic. Mother would be furious. But this once, I don't care."
"Maybe you're more of a rebel than you think, Reg." Severus said. "Are all your family Slytherins then?"
"We're mostly Slytherin, though a few of us have been Ravenclaws, and I think even a Hufflepuff or two as well, but the majority of us are serpents because of our ambition to be the best, not because we follow You-Know-Who. None of my family has ever turned to darkness . . .or if one has, I never knew of it. But Sirius got it into his head, don't ask me how, that if you're Sorted into Slytherin, you're going to become a dark disciple one way or another. And nothing I bloody say will convince him he's wrong, the stubborn arse."
"Sounds like he has more than his share of the Black pride, Reg," Severus pointed out.
"Yes. He's more like my mother than either of them will ever admit, because he always thinks he's right too." Regulus took a swallow of juice. "The big prat has us pegged for Death Eaters, and I'm sick to death of defending myself to him. Next time he starts his crap, Sev, I'm just going to jinx him. Maybe if I do it enough times, he'll realize he's wrong. Our motto's "Always pure" not "Always dark." Why can't he see that, dammit? Why?"
Severus did not answer, knowing Regulus wasn't really asking. It was times like these that he was grateful he was an only child. He had enough trouble with Tobias hating him, he didn't need a brother that felt the same way. Except, a small part of him whispered, what if it wasn't like that? What if he had a brother like Reg, who admired and understood him?
"It's almost time for class," he realized then, and summoned his robe with a lazy flick of his wand.
"Right. Sorry, didn't mean to blab on and on that way." Regulus apologized, blushing faintly.
"Why are you apologizing, Black?" queried Severus. "If you were boring me, I would have told you so." He gave the other a slight smirk.
"Thanks, Sev." Reg turned to get his own robe from where he had hung it over the couch.
Just then there came a knock at the door of their suite. "Black, your brother is at the portrait hole. Says he wants to speak with you or something."
Regulus froze. Then he scowled. "Tell him I'm not interested in talking to him. If he wants to speak to me, send me an owl."
"Black, do I look like your messenger?"
"Look, just tell him what I said, Avery," Regulus ordered angrily. "Because if I go out there right now, I might be tempted to punch him out, and you don't want your Seeker in detention again, do you, Avery?"
There was a muttered explicative from the other Quidditch player. "All right, Black, but only this once, mind! I'm not going to play owl post for you again, I don't care what the hell ancestors you have, my lord."
Then they heard Avery depart.
Severus's mouth quirked up. "Send you an owl? Somehow I don't think your brother is going to take that well."
"Too damn bad. I meant what I said. I'm not in the mood to talk to him face to face, Sev. Not after what he said. Maybe if he bloody apologizes, then we'll see."
Severus turned to gather up his books and put them in his bag, knowing the best thing he could do now was to keep out of this family quarrel.
* * * * *
An hour previous
"Can you believe the cheek of the little twerp?" Sirius was telling James what had happened by the staircase last night with Regulus. "He dares to lecture me-his older brother-about my friends when he hangs around the scum of the dungeons. I should have taught him a good lesson, Prongs."
Before James could reply to that statement, an angry soprano broke in, unable to keep still any longer. "I think you're the one who needs a lesson, Sirius Black, in how to treat your brother!" Lily flared, coming over to where the two were sitting at an empty table in the common room. "Why don't you tell James how you nearly knocked him down the stairs? He could have been hurt badly, and when Severus reminded you of it, what did you say? Did you say you were sorry? No, you said you wished he'd broke his neck! What kind of awful thing is that to wish on your only brother, Black?"
"You don't understand, Evans. Regulus is an annoying pureblooded little viper," began Sirius defensively.
Lily just glared at him. "So? He's still your little brother. Doesn't that mean anything to you, Black? I thought all you purebloods regarded family as the most important thing. But you . . .you don't seem to give a damn about yours."
"Because they don't give a damn about me!" snapped Sirius. "Reg's a pain in my arse, always has been."
"And that's reason to wish he was dead?" Lily repeated in disbelief. "I have an older sister, Sirius, and sometimes we fight like cats and dogs, and I know she resents me for having magic, and she thinks my parents favor me, but she would never wish me dead! How could you say that and not feel bad?"
"I . . .look, Evans, it's not that I don't feel bad . . ."
"She's right, Padfoot," Remus spoke up from where he was sitting nearby. "That was way out of line. You never should have said that."
Sirius shot him an annoyed glare. "Oh, real nice, Lupin. Take the little mama's boy's side. I was trying to tell him what he ought to do and he was ignoring me."
"Of course he was, Black," Lily interrupted. "Because you were telling him he was destined to become a dark wizard, just because he's in Slytherin. And you told him not to be friends with Severus too, who seems to care more about him than you do."
Sirius eyed her angrily. "Just how the hell do you know all this, Evans? Reg run to you and give you a sob story? Or maybe you saw it in your crystal ball?"
Lily drew herself up, temper flickering in her green eyes. "What does it matter? You ought to apologize to your brother, Sirius. It was cruel, what you said."
Sirius huffed, knowing she was right, but unwilling to admit it.
"She's right, mate," James said suddenly. "I know Regulus can be a major arsehole sometimes, but he is your kid brother. What you said . . .that's harsh, Padfoot, even for you."
"You too, James?"
James spread his hands. "Look, Siri, it's none of my business, really, but I think you let your temper run away with your mouth. And if the little idiot goes and gets himself killed or something, you'll regret it forever."
"No, I won't," Sirius muttered sulkily.
"Yes, you will," Remus put in. "Because he's your brother, when all's said and done."
The elder Black scowled down at the tabletop, angry at his friends and angry at himself for allowing them to talk him into going and apologizing to Regulus, the impudent prat. "Bloody little know-it-all! Thinks he's a bloody prince!"
"I don't think so," Lily said quietly. "I talked with him the other day, after that fight you had down by the lake," she shot both James and Sirius death glares. "He didn't seem arrogant and he didn't even care that I was a Muggleborn."
"You don't know my brother, Evans. He's just like the rest of my family. A pureblood supremacist. He's my mother's darling."
But Lily shook her head firmly. "No, Black. I think you don't know him. But maybe you ought to."
Sirius scowled angrily at the other Gryffindors. "What is this-a damn conspiracy?" He threw up his hands. "Fine! I'll go talk to the damn brat. Happy now?"
"And apologize," Lily reminded sternly.
"Bloody hell! Who do you think you are, my mother?"
"You're lucky I'm not, Sirius Black. Otherwise your head would be ringing from now till next Christmas, because I'd bash you with a frying pan till you saw sense."
Sirius gaped at her. "You have some serious issues, Evans. I don't know why in hell the Hat put you in Gryffindor, when all you do is sympathize with the snakes. First Snivellus, now my brother. Are you sure you aren't secretly a Slytherin?"
"Just because I'm a Gryffindor, Black, doesn't mean I can't be friends with people in other Houses, even if they are Slytherins. We're not all of a piece, and Dumbledore always says we should always try to get along with each other. Maybe if you tried that sometime, you might realize you're wrong about them."
"Like I care."
"You're impossible, Black!"
"I try," he grinned. Lily was not amused. Something about that emerald gaze disturbed him, and he found himself feeling guilty, much to his horror. He rose to his feet. "All right, Evans. I'll tell my baby brother I'm sorry." He started out the portrait hole, grumbling. "Merlin's shorts, I don't believe I'm doing this."
* * * * * *
Five minutes later, Sirius returned, in a worse temper than he had been in before. "Do you know what the little-" he used a word that would have gotten him a session with a bar of soap had his mother been there to hear it. "-did to me? I go over there and tell Avery I need to speak to my brother and they won't even let me in the common room. So I'm out there in the hallway like a servant, waiting for bloody Prince Black to come see me, and you know what he tells Avery? That if I want to talk to him, I can send an owl! A bloody damn owl!"
Remus snickered. "He's a Black, all right. Only a Black would have the balls to do that."
"He's got some nerve-the little bastard!"
"Hey, Padfoot, that actually wasn't such a bad thing, when you think about it." James remarked thoughtfully.
"What? How can you say that, James?"
"Well, maybe he figured he wouldn't be able to talk to you without going off on you again, Siri. Merlin knows, I'd be pretty pissed at you, and probably punch you out. So maybe Reg figured it'd be easier if you just wrote him a note."
The others nodded in agreement.
Grudgingly, Sirius admitted that maybe his best friend was right.
"So . . .write him a letter, Padfoot." James urged. "It should be easier to say you're sorry on parchment than to his face, right?"
"I guess so," sighed Sirius. "Cheeky damn brat! I ought to kick his arse." Then he dug out a spare piece of parchment. "Who's got a quill?"
Lily pulled one from behind her ear. "Here. But I want it back."
"Fine, Evans. Now quiet, I need to concentrate," Sirius ordered, and began to write.
Some ten minutes later he was finished, and had sent the letter off with his owl, Strongheart.
"There! Now that's over, let's go down to breakfast, before everything's gone," declared the eldest Black son, and he slung his bag over his shoulder and stalked out of the common room, followed quickly by James, Remus, and Peter.
"Black! My quill, please!" Lily called.
Sirius halted and tossed her the green quill. "Here, Evans. What's so special about it?"
She didn't answer, instead walking past them. She knew they would only sneer at her if she told them it had been a gift to her from Severus for her birthday. But she cherished the green dyed ostrich quill, knowing that Severus had used what little money he made working odd jobs over the summer to buy it for her, along with a pretty green leaf embossed leather journal. "They reminded me of your eyes," he had written inside the flyleaf of the journal. "Pure and wise and seeing what no others see. Hope you have a wonderful birthday. Always, Sev."
No, they would never understand why she called Severus Snape her best friend and her heart's desire. They were too immature to see the truth . . .that behind his sarcastic exterior was a good heart, one that had been hurt badly, but still had the courage to love. She would be damned if she would betray that fragile trust for the sake of a House rivalry that should have died decades ago. I'll prove them all wrong, everyone who says this will never last, that no Gryffindor can love a Slytherin.
Lily walked into the hall and over to where Alice and Cindy waited at the Gryffindor table. She greeted her friends cheerfully, then glanced quickly over at the Slytheirn table, but to her dismay saw that neither Severus or Regulus were there. Hiding her disappointment behind a cup of pumpkin juice, she sat down beside Alice and began to discuss their upcoming OWL.
* * * * * *
The owl found Regulus just as he was exiting the portrait hole. It flew down and delivered a square of parchment and Severus gave an amused smirk. "Looks like your brother took your advice, Reg."
Regulus stared at the piece of parchment glumly, then opened it. He read it through once before stuffing it in his pocket.
Severus looked at him questioningly.
"He says he's sorry for almost knocking me down the stairs and saying he wished I was dead. Says he let his temper do his thinking for him and he shouldn't have."
"And? Are you going to forgive him?"
Regulus heaved a long sigh. "I . . .yes. He might be a huge pain in the arse but, well, he is my brother. And Mother doesn't like it when we quarrel with each other." Then he added, with a sly look, "But I still prefer you as my brother, Sev."
"Naturally," said Severus, and they both laughed.
Then they hurried to their separate classes, Reg had Charms and Severus had his Transfiguration OWL in the Muggle Studies classroom, proctored by Professor Slughorn, since the teachers of each subject weren't allowed to proctor their own OWL.
Severus slid into his seat, he was early, and took out his notes and began to study. By the time his classmates had arrived, he was much more relaxed and composed, and he tucked away his notes and winked at Lily before Slughorn called the class to order, ignoring the parchment ball Potter threw at the back of his head.
"Oy, Snape!" called Sirius.
Severus turned around.
"Did my brother get the letter or what?"
"And? What did he say?"
"You'll have to ask him, Black." Severus replied, then turned around to grab his exam paper, which Slughorn was floating onto each desk.
Sirius muttered something that sounded like, "Stuck-up little git," then began writing his name on his paper.
Severus hid a grin, though he wasn't sure if Sirius meant Regulus or himself with that comment.
Then he had no more time to concern himself with the Black family drama, he had more important things to worry about, like getting an Outstanding on his last OWL.
* * * * * *
One week later:
Shrieks of joy mingled with dismay throughout Hogwarts as the students got their exam results just before the end of term. Lily sat biting her nails in a torrent of nervousness. She was almost certain she had done well, she had spent every possible second after school studying, either with Severus or Alice and Cindy. Now she simply had to wait for her scores. Normally, OWL scores were not released until after the fifth years had gone home for the summer holidays, but this year, the Committee of Examiners had gotten a head start on their grading and were sending them out early. So Lily would get her OWL results at the same time the other years received their end of term grades.
All the students were in the Great Hall, eating breakfast. Lily was playing with her bacon and fried egg sandwich, too nervous to eat. A parliament of owls descended upon the hall, each with a letter clutched in talons or beak. Finally one circled gracefully and delivered a creamy envelope to her.
Fingers trembling, she broke the Ministry seal on it, then glanced over at the Slytherin table. Severus and Regulus were sitting on the end nearest the Gryffindor table across the aisle. Reg was smiling and looking at his end of term report with pride, so Lily knew he'd aced his classes. Good for him!
Severus glanced up, sensing a pair of eyes upon him, and their eyes met. He held upon his own envelope, as yet unopened, then lifted his goblet of pumpkin juice in a salute and raised an eyebrow at his girlfriend. Well, here goes nothing, Lily, his expression said, then he set the goblet down and opened the envelope.
Lily saluted him back, then turned and unfolded her own piece of parchment.
She heaved a huge sigh of relief.
OWL RESULTS FOR LILY A. EVANS
Defense Against the Dark Arts-O
History of Magic-O
Care of Magical Creatures-O
She cast a searching glance over at Severus, who looked up, his eyebrow quirked. She gave him a huge grin and made an O with her thumb and forefinger.
He gave her a thumbs up and grinned back.
She jerked her head at him.
He smiled and gave her the same sign back.
She gave him a return thumbs up sign and applauded. Good for you, Sev! I was worried you'd let Potter's bullying get to you but you managed to not let him and his idiot friends break your concentration.
She turned back to Alice who was asking her what her scores were. "I got all O's. How about you?"
"All O's except two E's, one in Astronomy and the other in History of Magic," her friend admitted. "I always doze off in those two classes, can't help it."
"I just read the text, and don't pay attention to Binns and Professor Galileo."
"Smart, Lily," Cindy said. "Wish I'd have thought of that."
"Actually, I didn't. Severus did. I just followed his advice," Lily admitted, tossing her hair over her shoulders. "How did you do, Graves? You ace Ancient Runes?"
Cindy nodded happily. "I got all O's except for History of Magic. Got an A. But I'm so happy. I passed! We all did!" She squealed in delight. "My parents are going to be jumping over the moon. We ought to have a picnic down by the lake, to celebrate. You could invite Frank, Alice. And I could invite Reg, and you could invite Severus, Lily. What do you say?"
"It's a wonderful idea. I'll send a note to Sev and Reg after class."
"And I'll ask the house elves to pack us a lunch," Alice said. She leaned over and called, "Frank, picnic down by the lake after class?"
The tall golden-haired boy turned and gave Alice a happy grin. "Sure thing, babe. Meet you right after Herbology." He blew her a kiss, and the rest of the table sniggered.
Sirius poked James and whispered, "Bet you five Galleons there'll be more than just a picnic going on, eh, Prongs. He's got a thing for Stewart. I think he's going to propose one of these days."
"Yeah, I'd say so," James agreed, studying his own results. "How many O's did you get, Padfoot?"
"All right. I got O's in . . .Transfiguration, big surprise there, since I'm king of it, and Astronomy , Defense-told you I would-Herbology, History of Magic, Charms, Divination-that's a joke, Care of Magical Creatures-who wouldn't-and the only thing I got an E in is bloody Potions."
Sirius whooped. "Good going, mate. Uh, I got five O's, and three E's and one A, in Potions. I really hate that class. Maybe I should have tried copying off Snivellus's paper, because I'll bet my mother's pearl necklace that he got an O."
"Well, of course he did, Sirius, he practically lives in the lab," chuckled Remus. He had also done well, getting five O's and four E's. He slanted a curious eye towards the last Marauder. "Wormtail? You're awful quiet over there. What did you get?"
Peter looked up, his face pale and hissed. "Don't ask, Moony. I don't want to discuss it."
"Aw, come on, Petey," urged Sirius. "How bad can it be? Old Slughorn give you a D in potions because you blew up your cauldron?"
Peter glared at his friend, his nose twitching. "It's not funny, Sirius. I got mostly E's and A's, but . . ."
"But what?" James asked. "Fess up, Wormtail. You can tell us, we're your mates."
"I . . .I . . .here." He shoved his parchment over to James.
James took it and his eyebrows rose. "Hell, Wormtail. I didn't know you could get one of those!"
"One of what? Let me see," cried Sirius, peering over the Chaser's shoulder.
On the parchment next to the grade for Defense Against the Dark Arts were the words-Invalid Result-Student Cheated-Attempted Copying of Testmate's Exam
Remus gave Peter a disgusted glance. "Blazes, Pettigrew, what were you thinking? How could you try and cheat on these tests?"
"I couldn't help it, Lupin! I get too nervous, and Snivellus was right there, scribbling an entire textbook's worth of answers, the bloody encyclopedia." Peter whined. "It's no fair, why can't I have a memory like that?"
"You could, if you attempted to study," Remus shook his head. "Instead of relying on the rest of us to spoonfeed you the answers."
"Aw, lay off him, Moony," Sirius ordered. "So what? It's not the end of the world if he screwed up."
Moony snorted. "That's not what you'd be saying, Sirius Orion Black, if you brought home that mark. Your mother would lock you in your room for the summer."
Sirius shrugged. "Oy, well, Wormtail doesn't have to worry about that. Do you?"
"No. They'll be disappointed, but I think my dad was almost expecting me to fail something. They're not strict and nasty like your mum, Padfoot."
Sirius frowned. "Hey, Wormtail, watch it. My mother's not nasty, just a strict old bitch. But she can't complain about my marks this term, thank Merlin! And at least she won't be able to use my baby brother as an example of the perfect Black scholar any more."
"Good for you, Siri." James clapped him on the back. "How about a game of Quidditch after class today? We've got shortened periods anyhow."
"Sounds good to me," agreed Padfoot, then he turned back to his unfinished plate of eggs, ham, and crispy potatoes.
* * * * * *
Severus and Reg agreed to Lily's invitation, they were glad for a chance to spend some time with the girls, although Regulus said uneasily, "I hope Siri and James don't show up and ruin everything."
"They do and I'll hex them into the next century," Severus growled, praying that the Marauders disappeared for the afternoon for once.
"How's this Longbottom chap?"
"He's all right, for a Gryffindor. Minds his own business," answered Severus. "Stewart's been going with him since fourth year, I think it's a given they'll be together after they finish school."
"Like you and Lily, eh?" Regulus said, winking suggestively.
"Yes, like that." Severus admitted quietly. "If all goes well." He straightened his robe then beckoned Regulus to hurry. "Hurry, Black. Before we're late."
"Keep your pants on, Snape. I need to fix my hair."
Severus heaved an impatient sigh. "It's fine, Reg."
Regulus combed it down and ran a hand through it. "Perfect. Okay, let's move."
The picnic went off without a hitch, for which Severus was extremely grateful. Frank was cordial to the two Slytherins, asking Snape how he had done on his OWLs and engaging Regulus in a Quidditch discussion, since the Slytherin played Seeker for his House team.
They ate cold fried chicken and ham, potato salad and coleslaw, crisps, watermelon, pickles, and small cakes, washed down with icy lemonade, pumpkin juice, and butterbeer.
"An excellent lunch," Frank said, finishing off his butterbeer. Then he eyes Alice appraisingly. "Want to take a walk, sweetheart?"
"Where, Frank?" Alice laughed.
"Around the lake a ways."
They went off together, holding hands and whispering.
Regulus was telling Cindy amusing stories about his cousins and his childhood, his head in her lap, while she fed him bits of cake, and laughed down at him.
That left Lily free to talk to Severus about their upcoming summer together.
"I think we should tell our parents at the first opportunity, Sev," she said decisively. "That way it'll be out in the open and we won't have to feel awkward or anything."
"If you want," he said, not sounding very enthusiastic. His hand crept up her back and toyed with her silken hair, twirling it around one long finger playfully.
"Don't be nervous, Sev," she soothed, lifting her hand and stroking his equally silky hair away from his eyes. "It'll all work out."
"You sound awfully certain. You See anything?"
"No. Well . . .apart from the one vision I had of kissing beside the treehouse. But you know sometimes I know things. And I feel that we're going to be fine, Severus. You and I . . .we were meant to be."
"So speaks the wise oracle," he teased lightly.
She swatted him playfully on the back of the head. "Be nice, Snape!"
"I'm always nice . . .with you." He smirked, capturing her hand and kissing her palm. "Tell me my future, Lily. Tell me I'm going to end up married to you forever and everything we've ever dreamed of will come true."
"It will, Sev. Because together we can do anything." Then she leaned over and kissed him.
He shifted his hold, deepening the kiss, she was like honey, he couldn't get enough of her. "Little oracle, I will love you always," he murmured into her ear, while his hands glided up her back and he pulled her close, trailing kisses down her neck until she gasped in sheer delight.
"What?" he lifted his head, his dark eyes twinkling.
"Where did you learn this?"
"Instinct," he purred, and chuckled. "And a book I borrowed from Reg. Why? Don't you like it?"
"Yes. Can't you tell?" she asked, nestling closer to him. "But we are in public, my dear king snake, so . . ." She sat up, regretfully.
"Spoilsport," he grumbled, looking irritated.
"Come here," she laughed, tugging on his lean muscled shoulder, pulling his head down until it was lying in her lap. "There. Now I can play with your hair and feed you chocolate."
"I'd rather kiss you."
"Hush." She withdrew a bar of Honeydukes best from a pocket of her robes and broke off a square and fed it to him.
"Mmm." He smirked, then sucked on her finger.
"What?" he inquired innocently.
She fed him another square, blushing. "That!" She giggled when he seized her hand and began to kiss her fingers lightly. "Behave, Snape!" she scolded, laughing, and tapped him on the nose in mock reproof.
"I am. That's nothing compared to what I want to do," he said wickedly, then he summoned a piece of watermelon and began to feed her as well.
Only he forgot that watermelon was juicy, and Lily was laughing, and ended up getting juice all over his face as well as her robe.
"Good one, Evans!" he mock scowled, pretending annoyance. "Now look what you did."
"Want me to kiss it and make it better?" she asked coyly.
"Please." He tilted his face up and she promptly kissed him. "Mmm, I love watermelon and chocolate."
Severus groaned in pleasure. This was heaven and he wished it never had to end. He could lie like this forever, in the sun and let Lily kiss him, while an aching sweetness swept through him from head to foot, setting him ablaze.
"All better, Sev?" she purred, her hair tickling his cheek as she leaned over him.
"I'm cured," he chuckled. "If a bit . . .sticky."
For some reason that comment sent her into gales of laughter. She quickly conjured a wet cloth to wipe his face, laughing uncontrollably.
"What are you two doing over there?" Cindy asked sleepily, she had been half-asleep on Reg's shoulder.
"Nothing!" they chorused.
"Sure you are. That's what my grandfather told my grandmother before their wedding night. And along came my dad nine months later."
Regulus burst out laughing.
"Cindy!" Lily yelled, then she threw the wet cloth at her friend.
"You're a fine one to talk, Graves," teased Snape, sitting up. "Corrupting innocent little serpents." He waved a hand at Regulus.
Reg blushed. "Aww, stuff it, Snape. I'm not a little kid. I know where everything goes." Then he realized what he'd said and went even redder. "Uh . . .I mean . . ."
"Thrilled to hear that, Reg," drawled Severus, while the girls laughed hysterically. "Guess your brother was good for something."
Regulus laughed. "Got that right, Snape!" Then he turned and kissed Cindy leisurely. "'Sides, I like older women."
"Glad to hear that, star boy," said Cindy, and they all laughed.
They were so intent upon each other that none of them noticed the silent observer above them, watching them with barely disguised jealous hunger in his hazel eyes. Damn you, Snivellus Snape! That should have been me! James thought angrily. He hovered a scant fifteen feet above the group, his hands gripping his broom so tightly his knuckles were white.
He thought about going down and ripping Snape away from Lily and tossing the Slytherin in the lake, then rejected that idea. He already had too many detentions this year and couldn't afford another one, or else he'd be put on probation. But seeing Snape and Lily together left a bitter taste in his mouth.
He watched until he heard Sirius calling for him to finish the game, then he spun about and headed back towards the pitch, the Quaffle under his arm. He's all wrong for you, Lily. Someday, you'll see that. And when you do, I'll be waiting.
So, what did you think of that part? Did you enjoy Reg's discussion with Sev? And the picnic?
Next: Severus and Lily return home, and Severus must face Mr. Evans . . .as well as his own father and mother. This is where things get angsty.
Please review and let me know what you think! Just click the button at the end.
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