Chapter 7 : So You Want to Date My Daughter?
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Severus let himself into the rundown pile of bricks that had been his home for fifteen years, digging the key out of the pocket of his book bag and unlocking the door with a sense of foreboding in the pit of his stomach. But that was nothing new. He had always hated homecomings. Hogwarts was his sanctuary, the one place, save for perhaps the Evans' backyard, that he could be his true self. Here, at Spinner's End, he was nothing more than a freak. At least according to his father. Who did not appear to be home at the moment, thank God for small favors.
Severus eased open the door and slipped through, dragging his trunk after him. Once inside the dingy front hall, he performed a bit of wandless magic to send his trunk up the stairs to his room. He looked around, the wallpaper was still a faded Bristol blue color, and there were still scuff marks on the wooden floor from where Tobias dragged his boots after coming home drunk countless times.
Still the same. Home sweet home, Sev, he thought sarcastically. He was about to go into the kitchen and say hello to his mother, he was nearly certain she was home by now, it had taken the Evanses nearly two hours to get from King's Cross to High Bentham, and now it was after four. Eileen usually got off from her work at the apothecary in Diagon Alley by four. He hesitated just before the kitchen, recalling that he wanted to show Eileen his OWL's, but they were in his trunk upstairs.
He quickly and quietly climbed the worn stairs, remembering to avoid the fourth step from the top, it squeaked horribly, the wood was warped.
His room was the third from the left, next to the bathroom. He shoved open the door with a shoulder.
That too was still the same, small and gray with a narrow bed with a plain blue blanket upon it, gotten from a surplus store, a thin pillow, and a worn chest of drawers. His desk and his bookshelf were against the wall closest to the window, empty until he unpacked his books. The single good thing about this room was that it offered a view of the river, and sometimes watching the flowing water soothed Severus when he was upset.
He flicked on the light, and the bare bulb in the ceiling came on. His trunk was at the foot of the bed, and he quickly opened it and located his OWL paper, it was right on the top. The only thing he would need out of the trunk were his books, and a few sheets of parchment and a quill and ink, to do his summer assignments. Otherwise, everything else could remain in it, since he only wore Muggle clothing at home.
Speaking of which, he quickly removed his robes and stuffed them in his trunk and then opened his dresser and pulled out a pair of worn jeans and a rather small T-shirt. He frowned, for the clothes had fit him last summer, but now he had grown a whole inch, and they were too short.
Luckily, he knew a wandless charm to adjust clothing, and he muttered it. Then he changed, sighing. He would need to go get new clothes someday, when he had enough money, that is. Which meant looking for a new job, hopefully he could find one that paid enough to keep him in clothes and books for the summer. Anything to keep him away from the house while Tobias was in it.
He quickly tied the laces on his trainers, at least they were still in semi-good condition, he had bought them new last summer and hadn't outgrown them yet. Then he snatched up his OWL report and went downstairs.
As predicted, Eileen was in the kitchen, preparing supper. "Hello, Mum. I'm home," he announced softly.
His mother looked up from the potatoes she was scrubbing in the sink and her dark eyes lit up. "Severus! I didn't hear you come in." She came and hugged him, smiling up at him. "You're taller than me now, son."
"I grew an inch," he told her, hugging her back. She looked even more tired and worn than usual, there were new lines on her face, he observed sadly, making her look older than her thirty-five years.
"Good, at least you get to eat decent at school," Eileen said, brushing her black hair away from her forehead. She was a medium woman, thin and angular, with a pointed face, but once she had been pretty, before she had entered a life of drudgery and hardship with Tobias Snape. Severus had inherited her coloring and her magic, for which he was profoundly grateful. She was dressed in a lilac dress with a white collar embroidered with a pansy. Severus recognized it as her own handiwork, though she was a witch and a pureblood, living with Tobias had made her into a Muggle as well, and she had learned to sew with the best of them.
She had taken to making her own clothes when he was nine, it was cheaper that way, and also her son's, until he began to buy his own when he was thirteen with money he saved from his odd jobs.
"How are you, Mum?"
He studied her closely, but could detect nothing wrong with her physically, this time. "He hasn't been hitting you again, has he?"
"Severus! What sort of question is that?"
"One I need to know the answer to."
Eileen shook her head. "No. Your father has recently gotten a part time job down at the hardware store."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Oh? And how much of his paycheck has he drunk up so far?"
"What? You and I both know that's what always happens, sooner or later. He never changes, Mum, no matter how many times he says he will. I know you keep hoping . . ."
"Sev, don't start. Please. You've just come home."
"All right. Sorry," he apologized, for he hated making Eileen upset. Tobias did enough of that, he certainly didn't need to add to it. "Here. I received my OWL scores early."
She took the paper he held out and read it. Then she smiled at him. "All O's! I'm very proud of you, Sev! That means you can get into any NEWT level class you want next year." She hugged him again. "Have you decided what you want to take?"
"No. Except potions, of course."
She chuckled at that. "Of course. You wouldn't be my son else." She eyed him knowingly. "Anything else you'd like to share with me?"
Severus found himself blushing crimson. As he had said to Lily, he could never hide anything from Eileen. She was far too perceptive. "Uh . . .yes. Lily and I, well, we . . .uh . . .started going out."
"You have? That's great, Sev. When did you two start dating?"
"Uh . . . a few weeks ago." He moved over to sit down at the table.
Eileen lifted a tea kettle off the stove and poured them cups of tea in two chipped cups. "Here. Have a cuppa and tell me all about you and little Lily Evans."
"She's not all that little anymore, Mum. You haven't seen her lately, have you? You'll be surprised when you do. She's beautiful. Her hair, it's like the dark embers of a fire, and her eyes . . .I could stare at them all day . . ."
"They're green, right?"
Severus nodded. "Evergreen. She wants me to speak to her dad, Mum. To, uh, ask his permission to date her." He looked down at his hands. "So . . .I need to get another job. That way he won't think I'm a deadbeat, like him. I need money anyhow, for clothes and other things."
"I have a bit put away, Sev," Eileen began.
Severus shook his head. "No. That's all right, Mum. You keep it, I can earn my own. I'll go into town and see if anyone's hiring, they ought to be, since it's summer."
"If you're sure, son."
"I am," he said firmly.
She smiled sadly. "Oh, Sev. I wish I could do more for you."
He placed a gentle hand over hers. "You do enough."
She picked up her cup of tea and sipped it. "I'm so glad it's Lily. She's a decent girl, Sev. Smart and strong in magic. Make sure you appreciate her."
"I will, Mum. She's brilliant, you know. We're in the same period in potions, and we usually work on labs together. We can brew anything together. And not only that, she doesn't care that we're in rival Houses, she says it doesn't matter a Knut to her that I'm a Slytherin and she's a Gryffindor. She's wonderful, and sometimes I still can't believe she wants to go out with me, when there are a dozen more popular and better looking boys in her own House she could date. . ." he trailed off, feeling suddenly awkward about revealing his feelings this way, even if it was to his mother.
"And why wouldn't she? You're polite and well-spoken, son, and know how to treat a lady. At least I hope you do, Severus Snape."
"Yes, Mum. I know how. You taught me, after all," he reminded. "Lily says she'll let me know when I can go over and talk to her father." He fought the urge to run his fingers through his hair or pace or bite his nails.
Eileen patted his cheek lightly. "Well, I wouldn't worry about that, dear. I'm sure once you speak with Henry Evans, he'll understand you have only the best intentions-"
"What's he done now?" interrupted a deep voice, slightly slurred.
Severus cursed himself for not keeping an eye out for Tobias, who it seemed had just arrived home, though from the sound of it, had decided to stop off at the Bull and have one for the road, Severus thought with a sneer. As usual. He turned to face his father, who for once looked normal, in a collared shirt and gray trousers, shaved and his blond hair neatly barbered, but his dark blue eyes were faintly bloodshot.
Eileen immediately stood up. "Hello, Toby. I didn't hear you come in. Severus and I were just having a cup of tea before I finished dinner."
Tobias ignored Eileen's attempt to distract him and repeated, in a soft irritated tone, "Answer my question, woman. What's he done now that he has to talk to somebody's father?"
"Nothing, sir." Severus said stiffly, rising to stand protectively in front of his mother.
"Don't give me that, boy! You're always up to no good."
Tobias stalked over to glare down at him, then blinked when he realized his son was nearly as tall as he was now.
Severus held his ground, though he longed to flinch and step back. "I haven't done anything, sir," he repeated.
"Except be born a useless freak," said Tobias cruelly.
Oh, and like you're any better? Severus longed to say, but didn't dare. Giving lip to Tobias would only result in a beating.
"Stop it, Toby!" Eileen said, though there wasn't much force behind the words. "Must you argue all the time? Severus hasn't done anything wrong. He's going out with Lily Evans, you remember Lily, don't you?"
"The redhead next door?" Severus nodded curtly. "Humph! She's a looker. Got a nice rack on her," he leered at his son.
Severus clenched his teeth, furious.
"About time you got your nose outta those books, boy, and figured out what girls were for. Thought for awhile I'd have to draw you a diagram." The big man chuckled at his own wit.
Severus flushed hotly and clenched his fists, fighting to control his temper. He began counting to ten silently.
"Surprised one of Evans' girls would give you the time of day, think who the hell they are half the time." Tobias's eyes narrowed. "Unless . . .you didn't get her knocked up, did you?"
"No! It isn't like that!" Severus exploded.
"Mind your tone when you talk to me," growled the older Snape. "You might put on airs at that fancy magic school, boy, but here you remember who's boss, Severus Snape!" He jabbed a finger into Severus's chest.
"Like I could forget," Severus muttered, backing away. Then he whirled and headed towards the stairs, the old feelings of worthlessness rising within him mingled with anger.
"Where do you think you're going, mister? Come back here, I ain't finished yet!" Tobias bellowed.
Severus ignored him, continuing on up the stairs. He had to get away, before he hexed the bastard.
"Don't you walk away from me, boy!"
"Go to hell!" he yelled back, his temper sizzling. How dare the old bastard profane what he shared with Lily that way, by implying the only way he could ever get a girl was by making her pregnant? He slammed the door to his room so hard some of the plaster cracked.
He sat on his bed, trembling with the force of his anger, feeling his magic surge wildly in response. He forced himself to breathe, in and out, struggling to bring his magic to heel, for uncontrolled it was a danger to everyone.
Below in the kitchen, he could hear Tobias and Eileen arguing.
"Tobias, please! He didn't mean it, you upset him with your comments, it's his first girlfriend, and he's touchy . . ."
"Touchy, is he? The sodding little bastard told me to go to hell! If you think I'm going to take that from him, Eileen, think again. He'll speak respectfully to me or else I'll knock some respect into him, Goddammit!" Tobias raged. "Every time he comes back from that freak school he's got an attitude and I'm not putting up with it! Now get out of my way!"
"No, you're not going up there like this," Eileen said, for once standing her ground. "Toby, you promised you would try and get along this summer . . .please, sit down. Have some tea, it'll soothe your nerves."
"I don't need any of your damn magic tea, Eileen. I need to go and teach your son the meaning of respect."
"He's your son too, Tobias Snape!" Eileen reminded him.
"Not when he acts like that, he's not! Who the bloody hell does he think he is? Kid forgets who provided him with a roof over his head and food all these years. Now he thinks just 'cause he's got some twit girlfriend he's Mr. Bigshot. Well, I have news for him, so long as he lives here, he'll obey my rules, or else I'll kick his arse out!"
"Toby, if you'd just try talking for once instead of sneering or shouting at him . . ."
"Don't tell me how to talk to the damn kid, Eileen! He's a disrespectful snot, like half the bloody teenagers today. The only thing they understand is a good smack."
"No, Toby. Please, just leave him alone, he's just gotten home . . .he got very good marks in school, aced his OWL's . . .He was so happy, Toby, please . . .I was making him a special dinner . . ."
"And then he had to go ruin everything with his smart mouth! Like always! Smartarse bookworm! If he paid as much attention to his mouth as he does to all his bloody books and potions, maybe he'd amount to something someday . . ."
"He will amount to something someday, he has the potential to be a great wizard and a Potions Master, Toby."
"I mean amount to something in the real world, Eileen, not in your sodding fantasy realm." Tobias sneered. "You coddle the boy, always have, that's why he isn't worth spit. Now quit making excuses for him, Eileen. Boy needs discipline, he always has."
There came the scrape of a chair across the linoleum.
Then the sound of heavy boots coming up the stairs.
By then Severus had managed to lock away his magic so he needn't fear killing his sorry excuse for a father or blowing up his entire house. He had caught bits and pieces of the argument while trying to wrestle his magic back into submission, and he cursed his quick tongue, for now he had started something he couldn't dare finish. Idiot! You just had to mouth off to him! Brilliant, just bloody brilliant! Now you're in for it, all right.
He flinched and cringed as he heard his father coming up the stairs.
Tobias's hand thudded on the door. "Severus! Open the bloody door, now!"
He squeezed his eyes shut, suppressing the instinctive tremors and the dread curling like an Acid Pop in his stomach.
"Severus! Don't you understand English? Get your arse over here and open the bloody door!"
Severus forced himself to go across the room and open the door, though he longed to crawl beneath the bed. But he was no coward, like Pettigrew, and besides hiding had never done any good with Tobias.
He pulled open the door and came face to face with his drunken furious parent. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
He felt Tobias grab the collar of his shirt and lift him off the ground. "Listen, you little snot, if you ever talk back to me that way again, I'll strip the hide off of you. Clear?"
Severus nodded. "Yes, sir. I' m . . .I'm sorry."
His father's hand lifted and struck him hard across the face.
Severus's head snapped back and he bit his lip hard to keep from crying out.
"Maybe that will teach you to remember, huh, just who you're talking to, boy?"
Severus didn't answer, he directed his gaze down to the floor, and prayed that would be all.
His chin was jerked up abruptly.
"Look at me when I'm talking to you, boy."
Obsidian eyes met indigo, and in both was an undisguised loathing.
"Answer me, boy! Will that teach you to mind that damn mouth, or do you need a licking too?"
Severus shook his head frantically, and managed to say through his already swelling lip, "No, sir. I'll remember, sir. Sorry, sir." He hated the way he was whining, but he knew better than to have any kind of defiance in his tone when Tobias was like this. Coward, Snivellus!
Tobias cracked him one across the opposite cheek. "You bloody well ought to be. Get your skinny arse downstairs and help your mother with dinner, before I change my mind and wallop you anyway, you smartarsed worthless brat!"
He set his son on his feet and pushed him roughly towards the stairs.
Severus hurried down the stairs, one hand pressed to his throbbing cheek. Ironic, how the more things changed, the more they stayed the same, he thought bitterly.
He entered the kitchen and wordlessly began to set the table.
Eileen touched him lightly on the shoulder. "Oh, Sev."
He jerked away from her. "Don't. I'm fine."
The witch turned away to hide her tears, returning to the sink to finish peeling the potatoes.
Severus went to gather the flatware from the drawer and when he looked up, found his mother pressing a wet cloth to his face.
"You shouldn't antagonize him, son," she whispered.
Severus said nothing, simply turned around to finish his task, but resentment bubbled within him, sharp and hard. That's right, Mum, it's all my fault. Like always. All my fault, never his. He lowered his head to hide the sudden bitter tears, and continued setting the table, pretending not to hear the quiet sobs mingled with running water from behind him. Welcome home, Severus. So much for a great start to the summer.
* * * * * *
15 Spinner's End
"Tuney, where did you put my Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific? Don't tell me you used all of my favorite shampoo?" Lily yelled while hunting frantically through the cabinet beneath the sink in the bathroom.
"Hey, it's not just yours, Lily. I live here too," Petunia reminded her little sister. "Why don't you just magic some up if we're all out?"
Lily opened the door and stuck her head out, Petunia's room was just across the hall, and her big sister was sitting beside her vanity table, painting Luscious Lavender polish on her toes."Tuney, you know it doesn't work that way. And I'm not allowed to use magic outside of school anyhow."
"Oh, right. That restriction or whatever. Why don't you check Mum's bathroom, she might have some. Or just use the other one we have."
"I like mine better," her sister huffed. "It makes my hair all soft and shiny and it smells-"
"Terrific, I know!" Petunia finished, pretending to groan at the old line. Then she laughed. "You're in awfully good mood today. Glad to be home for the summer? Thought you loved it at that school."
"I do, but I also missed being home." Lily admitted, then went down the hall to her parents' bedroom.
She returned a moment later with a pink bottle and grinned happily. "Great! Now I can finish my shower. See you in a bit, Tuney!" She retreated into the bathroom, humming to herself.
"Is it me, or did she just start humming Unforgettable?" Petunia wondered to herself. "Looks like my little sister has a romance brewing with someone. I wonder who it is?"
She resumed putting the polish on, determined to grill her sister when she finished primping.
Some twenty minutes later, Lily emerged from the bathroom, her fiery hair falling in gentle waves to her shoulders, wearing a simple emerald green tunic dress and beaded green belt and matching sandals. "Well, how do I look?" she came into Petunia's room and twirled about once.
Petunia gave her the once over and nodded in approval. "Very nice, Lil. Why are you all giddy?"
Petunia arched an eyebrow. "Now, now. Never lie to your older sister, Lily Anne. Tell the truth. You're all bubbly over a guy. Right?"
"Maybe," Lily tried to be evasive. "Your hair looks nice, Tuney. Did you get it cut?"
"Yes, this is how some of the girls are wearing it." Petunia said, fluffing her fingers through her short hair, styled with a bit of a wave. "Now don't change the subject. You've finally fallen in love, haven't you?" She jerked her thumb back at her tie-dye pink and purple covered bed.
Lily went and sat down, smothering the urge to start giggling like a bubblehead. "First you. Did Dursley the Dirigible propose yet?"
"Lily! Don't call him that!"
"Why? He is . . .kind of overweight, Tuney," Lily pointed out mischievous.
"He's not. He's just large-boned."
Lily rolled her eyes. "Sure. If you want to call it that. Well . . .has he?"
"No . . .but I have a feeling he will soon. I think he's waiting for that promotion his father promised him at Grunnings. The one where he's product manager. If he gets that . . .then he'll be making top wages and he'll probably buy a ring next."
"Why wait, if he loves you?"
"Because . . .money is important, Lil," Petunia said, giving her sister an odd look.
"Well, yes, but isn't more important that he loves you?" She narrowed her eyes at Petunia. "Tuney, he does love you, right?"
"Of course he does. He calls me his little pet, isn't that sweet?" Petunia said, but there was a note of uncertainty in her voice.
"And what about you? Do you love him?"
Petunia hesitated for a fraction of a second before replying. "Yes. He's my one and only."
Lily frowned. "And the only one you've ever dated."
"Humph! You're a fine one to talk. The only boy you ever spend time with is that creepy Snape next door, making potions."
"Sev's not creepy," Lily defended. "All I'm saying, Tuney, is that if you're not sure he loves you, or you love him, then why bother going out?"
"Vern does love me, else why would he go steady with me? I'm eighteen, Lily, old enough to know when a man's serious about having a relationship. But enough about me and Vern. Tell me about you and this mysterious boy. Is he cute? Did you meet at school?" She leaned forward, her blue eyes alight for the latest bit of gossip. "Come on, Lil, you can tell me-we're sisters."
"It's not such a mystery, Tuney. And yes, he's a wizard and I think he's very cute."
"Groovy!" squealed Petunia. "What's his name? Do you have a picture?"
"No, because I don't need one. I'll see him practically every day now that school's out."
"You will? He lives here, in High Bentham? Do I know him?" Petunia was frantically cudgling her brain, trying to come up with a boy Lily's age that lived in their town that was a wizard, but the only one that kept coming up was . . .Snape.
"You do. He's always over here."
Petunia put a hand to her mouth. "Oh. My. God. Tell me it's not-"
"Severus," Lily finished, her eyes gone soft and dreamy.
Petunia nearly collapsed. "Lily, have you gone insane? He's . . .Snape . . .his father is the worst drunk and layabout, he can barely hold down a job for six months, and they're on the Needy family list all the time . . .how can you love him?"
"I just do, Tuney. And I don't care about his father, I'm not in love with him. And who cares if he's poor?"
Petunia hit herself in the forehead. "Lil, you're not thinking straight. How are you going support yourselves if you ever do marry? Or are you just going to end up barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? I thought you were smarter than that."
Lily glared at her. "I am smarter than that, Tuney. I intend to get a job after I finish school and so does Severus. I wish you'd stop comparing him to his father, he's nothing like Tobias. He's sweet and he loves me with everything he is."
"Oh, and I suppose he told you that?"
"Yes, he did! He even quoted Shakespeare. He really loves me, Tuney, I know it like I know the sun rises in the east. It's not just a line. And . . .and I love him too!"
Petunia groaned. "Lily, you're fifteen. You're making a mistake. I know you think it's love, but really, how many boys have you dated?"
"For your information, I had scores of boys asking me out at school. But I turned them all down because none of them were the right one."
"And Snape is?"
"Yes. It doesn't matter that I'm only fifteen, Tuney. He's the one. I just know it, in here." She tapped her chest. "And here." She indicated her head.
"Are you sure you're not bespelled?"
Lily laughed. "Yes. I don't need a spell to love Severus. He made my heart stutter the first time he kissed me."
Petunia's jaw fell open. "He kissed you?"
"Yes. And it was . . .oh, Tuney . . .it was incredible. I felt like I was flying . . .only my feet were still on the ground. And the second time we kissed, he was so sweet and awkward . . .but that kiss was just as incredible as the first one. I was almost blown away."
"Are you sure we're talking about the same Snape here? The Severus Snape that dresses in scruffy jeans and holey shirts, his hair hanging in his eyes, that mows our lawn for extra cash?"
"Uh huh. But Tuney, he's ever so much more than just that. That's only one side. The other side . . ." she sighed dreamily.
Petunia looked dazed. "I don't believe it. Severus Snape blows her away . . .I think I'm dreaming."
"No you aren't. Really, it's no stranger than you and Vernon."
"What?! Vernon's respectable."
"So is Severus!" Lily snapped. "He'd never hurt me. I think he might even die for me. Would Vernon do that for you?"
"Well, I don't know. I never asked him."
Lily sighed. "Look, let's not fight, okay? Just trust me, Tuney. There's more to Sev than meets the eye. I am so looking forward to this summer."
"Mr. Anthony said you can have your old job back at the theater, Lily," Petunia recalled. Last year Lily had worked at the cinema, selling tickets.
"Good, I was wondering. And on my nights off Sev and I can go to the movies half price. You still working at the pharmacy with Dad?"
Petunia nodded. She had recently graduated secondary school and so was now a full-fledged working girl. "But Vern said that I won't need to work if he gets the position at Grunnings."
"And do you want to stay home, Tuney?"
Petunia shrugged. "Maybe for a little while. But I don't like to be dependant upon a man for everything. So perhaps I'll get a part time job somewhere once Vern and I are married."
"Do Mum and Dad know you're thinking of marriage?"
"Well, I think so, though we haven't really discussed it since I don't have a ring yet. Are you going to tell them about Snape?"
"Yes. I think Mum will be okay with it, you know she's always liked Sev. I don't know about Dad though. I figured he should to talk to Severus, so he could see for himself that Severus was a decent kid, even if his background isn't the greatest."
Petunia snorted. "When are you going to tell him?"
"Soon. Maybe tonight." Lily said, then she bounced to her feet and headed downstairs to help her mother prepare supper, still humming Unforgettable under her breath.
* * * * * *
But it was three days later when Severus finally got a letter from Lily's owl, Snowdrop, telling him that her father wished to see him and speak about his intentions towards his youngest daughter.
Don't let him intimidate you, Sev. He's not really a grouch and his bark is worse than his bite. He's just a little overprotective. Lily had written, making Severus chuckle. Little oracle, he can't be any worse than my own father, and if I can survive Tobias in a temper I can survive Henry Evans.
He was grateful it had taken her so long to approach her father, since that gave him time to heal the bruises Tobias had left on his face with some Rapid Healing salve. He had spent the rest of that time avoiding his father, helping his mother brew some potions for her work, and doing his summer assignments. The only time he saw Tobias was at dinner, and then he was careful to keep his head down and not say much of anything, unless asked a direct question. He had gone shopping and managed to buy three new outfits, using the last of his savings, so at least he would look halfway decent if he needed to apply for a summer job. Or speak with his girlfriend's father.
Luckily that night Tobias was not going to be home, he was at a poker game down at the Black Bull with his drinking buddies, so it was just Eileen and Severus for dinner that night. Eileen had made baked chicken, rice, and carrots, one of their favorite meals-it was cheap, tasty, and filling.
Even so, Severus kept glancing at the clock, unable to eat more than a few mouthfuls. He knew it was ridiculous, being so nervous over meeting Lily's father, it wasn't as if Henry Evans was going to put him through the Inquisition, after all. Yet his stomach was in knots and he hastily drank a glass of water then pushed away his plate and stood up.
"Well, I'd better . . .go on over Lily's."
"Sev, you barely touched your dinner!" Eileen exclaimed.
"Sorry. I'm just not very hungry," he muttered, feeling bad about wasting food. "I'll have something later, when I come home."
He turned away, trying to fix his hair, but it refused to do anything but hang limply in front of his eyes. He swore under his breath, recalling the taunts Potter and Black had thrown at him of greasy long-haired git. That was not the kind of impression he needed to make tonight. Frustrated, he ran his hands through his hair again and supposed it would have to do. Perhaps if he just tied it back?
"Severus, would you like me to trim your hair?"
He turned to face his mother, startled. "I . . .yes, all right. But only a bit."
She chuckled. "Don't worry, son. I'll just trim a bit off the front and the ends, I won't shave you bald. Have a seat."
He followed her back to the kitchen, where she drew her wand and performed a few quick passes over it while chanting a phrase in Latin. "There! Much better! Have a look." She held out a hand mirror for him to see.
His hair now fell in tamed waves to either side of his face, silky and flowing, but not stringy and unkempt. Merlin, it actually looks good! I should have asked her to trim my hair a long time ago. "I never knew you could cut hair with a spell, Mum."
"Well, you never asked," she said, faintly chiding. "How do you like it?"
"It's . . .different. But in a good way. Thanks."
"You're welcome. Best you get going, Sev. And remember, you're as good as anyone." She gave him a quick hug before he walked out the door.
He gave her a crooked smile before shutting the door and walking the two houses down to the Evans property. He knew his mother meant well, but after years of living with Tobias, he found it hard to believe her words. His palms were sweating, he wiped them on the back of his jeans, then tried to walk casually down the street.
Please, Merlin, help me to not make an utter ass out of myself. Let me, for this one night, borrow Potter's suave golden tongue, so I can get through this without looking like a tongue-tied arsehole.
He climbed the steps and stood there on the porch, frozen, for a brief moment. Then he took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and rang the bell.
Petunia answered the door, causing him to wonder if she did nothing but wait beside the door to greet visitors. She blinked upon seeing who was at the door. "Snape? I almost didn't recognize you. You . . .uh . . .cut your hair."
"Petunia. Where is Lily?"
"In the kitchen, washing up the dishes. Come in. My parents are in the den." She stepped back to let him inside, and for once there was no rancor in her tone.
Well, that's a change. Tuney actually being civil. He shrugged, then followed her into the den, though he knew where it was on his own. He wiped his hands once more on his jeans before entering the wood-paneled den.
Mr. and Mrs. Evans were seated on the brown leather sofa, looking expectantly at Petunia. "Here he is, Mum and Dad." Then she withdrew, though Severus wouldn't have put it past her to eavesdrop.
Severus came forward a pace, looking uncertain. Polly smiled at him. "Hello, Severus. Please, sit down." She gestured to a seat on the recliner nearest Henry.
But Severus knew better than to sit down yet. "Hello, Mrs. Evans," he said, and held out his hand to shake.
She took it and shook warmly, then turned to her husband, who was regarding Severus critically. "Henry, you remember Severus Snape, he lives just next door. He mows our lawn."
Severus longed to sink into the floor. He knew Polly meant well, but she made him sound like a hired hand or a servant trying to seduce the lord's daughter like in a Victorian romance. Then he recalled his mother's advice, and stood tall before the Evans patriarch and held out a hand. "Hello, sir. I'm Severus Snape, pleased to meet you."
Henry Evans rose and took the younger man's hand in a firm grip, eying him up and down. The bluff man could find nothing displeasing about the skinny teenager save for a slightly crooked nose, probably been broken a few times, he thought, and the fact that his hair was shoulder length. Normally Henry disliked long hair on a boy, he felt it made them look effeminate, but oddly, Severus's hair didn't bother him all that much, at least it was neat and clean and pulled back. "And you also. Have a seat, young man. We need to discuss a few things."
Severus backed up into the recliner and sat down, feeling his heart rate start to speed up. Merlin, but he felt as if he were before the Headmaster, no, the Minister of Magic, about to get sentenced to Azkaban. Which was what it would be like if he were forbidden to see Lily again. He forced himself to breathe and placed his hands flat on his knees, meeting Henry's piercing gaze with a feigned calmness he never knew he possessed.
Henry brushed a lock of blond hair away from his forehead and studied the boy again before speaking. Kid's nervous as hell, but he doesn't show it. I like that in a man. Means he's got self-control. And guts too. Too bad he's the son of Tobias Snape. He cleared his throat. "So . . .you want to date my daughter, Mr. Snape?"
Severus swallowed, moistening his throat before speaking. "Yes, sir. I would like to date Lily, sir, with your permission." He exhaled softly, relieved to have gotten that sentence out without stumbling over any words. Thank you, Merlin.
"Well, Mr. Snape, I don't allow just anyone to date my daughter," Henry began in a stern tone, frowning hard at the fifteen-year-old.
Severus did not flinch, compared to Tobias's glares, Henry was about as intimidating as Father Christmas. "I understand, sir."
"First, I want to know what you intend to do over the summer holiday? Do you have any plans to find work, or will you stay home and sleep away the day like most teenagers your age?"
"No, sir. I'm looking for work. I haven't found a job right now, but I will soon."
"What can you do, Mr. Snape? Besides cut grass."
"I . . .uh . . .I can take dictation and write neatly, I did that for a summer for Mr. Pallin down at the post office. I can do yard work also. I . . .uh . . ." he floundered, trying to figure out why he was being asked these questions.
"Can you run a cash register, boy? Tally receipts in your head if necessary?"
"Yes . . .although I never have, I can learn."
"Can you remember lists of names, for instance a list of inventory of medicinal drugs?"
"Yes, sir," Severus said, sounding much more confident now. "I help my mother make potions for her work, and I have to be able to memorize long lists of ingredients."
"Oh? And are you a good scholar, Mr. Snape?"
"I'd say so, sir."
"Lily said he got top marks on his OWLS, dear," interrupted Mrs. Evans. "Those are the standardized tests every wizard takes and has to pass in order to continue on at Hogwarts. Like our O Levels, dear. She says he got all Outstandings."
Henry looked impressed in spite of himself. "That true?"
"Yes, sir. "
"Very well. Looks like you're a match for my girl education wise. Better than your father, I'd wager."
"Henry!" reproved Polly, giving her husband a nudge.
"What? It's true, his father can't manage to hold a job for more than few months before getting sacked and ending up down at the pub again. Is that not so, young man?"
"Yes, it is. But I'm nothing like him, sir. I don't drink, sir. And I won't. Ever."
"Oh? Not even a pint every now and again with your mates?"
Severus shook his head firmly. "I don't care for it, sir. And the taste isn't worth the sore head the morning after, or anything else that goes along with it. If not for his drinking, my father would be able to hold down a job and not end up tossed out on his ear. But he refuses to give it up and no one can tell him differently. But I'm not like my father, Mr. Evans. I refuse to be a slave to the bottle." He met the other's eyes squarely.
Henry Evans nodded. "Good. You're smarter than I'd have given you credit for. Because I'd hate for my Lily to end up with a deadbeat drunk for a boyfriend, who'd embarrass her by getting sozzled in every pub in Yorkshire. I don't hold with boys your age drinking, smoking, or doing drugs. Or having sex with my daughter. Am I clear? I catch you doing any of that, Snape, and you are no longer welcome in my home. I'll throw you out immediately, no excuses, after I've kicked your arse six ways to Sunday, that is."
Severus swallowed. "Understood, sir. I would never disgrace myself or Lily that way. I have nothing but respect for your daughter, sir."
"Indeed? We shall see about that. You seem like a decent fellow, Mr. Snape, but your background is against you."
Severus felt his heart sink to his shoes. So, that was it then. He should have known it was too good to be true. No matter what he did, his father's damn shadow loomed over him and devoured him. When would he ever be free of it? He wondered bitterly. He wished once, just once, that someone would judge him for what he was, not what his father was. It simply wasn't fair. But then, when had anything in his life ever been fair? Lily had been the one good and beautiful thing in it, and now even that was gone.
He was tempted to jump up and yell, "But sir, I love your daughter, doesn't that count for anything?"
But he remained silent, his pride holding him mute.
"Henry, that's not fair," began Polly angrily. "To judge the boy because of his dad-"
"Hush, Polly, I'm not done yet." Henry held up a hand. "I'm willing to let you have a trial run, Snape, in spite of your dad's reputation as a drunken bum. But first I have a proposition for you."
Severus lifted his head, hope sparkling in his gaze. "Sir?"
"I just got word that an employee of mine is moving away and can't work in my pharmacy any longer. So . . .I'm offering you her place. You would be expected to be my assistant, which would mean doing jobs like filling customers prescriptions and taking orders over the phone and the counter and also ringing them up. You would also be required to keep accurate tabs on my stock and re-order what I am running low on. You said you needed a job for the summer. Would you be willing to work for me then?"
Henry's eyes were challenging, but Severus did not back away. He sensed that the older man was testing him, that this job was not offered merely because Henry needed another worker, but also to see if Severus was trustworthy. It was his chance to prove himself.
"I will, sir. And thank you."
"Good." Henry smiled and offered his hand. "Shake on it then."
Severus clasped his hand.
Polly was smiling too. "I'm sure you'll do fine, dear."
"Now then, as far as taking Lily out goes, you are to bring her home from the movies or wherever at ten o'clock sharp, no later. And if you do get delayed for any reason, you are to call me immediately so that I or my wife or Petunia can come and pick you up. And I am to know where you are going at all times. You will refrain from taking Lily into any unsavory parts of town, like near the riverside and the pubs. And lastly, there will be no hanky-panky with her, Mr. Snape, I will not have my daughter's reputation or her person compromised. Can you obey those rules?"
"Yes, sir." Severus said, wondering what the hell was it with people suspecting him of seducing Lily. Do I have some kind of brand or something on my forehead that screams-Look Out! He's a Sex Maniac? First my father, now Mr. Evans. Not that I haven't dreamed of Lily and I in bed, but I would never do that unless we were engaged at the very least.
"Very good, boy. You have my permission to date my daughter, three nights a week or the weekend, if you prefer. Come down to the pharmacy and we'll discuss your hours and wages and so forth tomorrow morning. I open up at eight-thirty and we close at eight. But you won't be working night shift, just during the day."
Severus nodded, a smile creeping over his face. He had done it, unbelievable as it seemed. He had survived Henry Evans' suspicions and gotten permission to go out with the girl of his dreams. He prayed it was an omen of things to come.
"Thank you, Mr. Evans."
"Yes, well you're welcome . . .Severus." Henry smiled. "Polly, tell Tuney and Lily to stop listening in the hallway and come in here and greet our guest properly."
"Lily, Tuney, come in here and bring the tea tray and the dessert."
There was a squeal of delight and then Lily flew into the room. "You said yes, didn't you, Dad?" She ran over and hugged her father. "I told you Severus was nothing like his father. Thank you!" Then she spun around and hugged Severus and kissed him lightly on the cheek. "Didn't I tell you everything would work out?"
He smiled up at her. "Yes, I should have known better than to doubt you, little oracle. Your predictions are always right on the nose."
"The ones I had so far," she laughed.
Petunia entered with a large tray on which were a tea service, a pot of steaming black Bohea and some small cakes and tarts. She set the tray on the table and then pulled up chairs for herself and her sister.
"Strawberry tart, Severus?" she offered, sounding rather snooty.
Severus hesitated, then took one. "Thank you, Petunia. Did you make these?"
Petunia looked startled. "You know I bake?"
"Lily told me."
"No, Mum made these. But I can bake lemon tarts and cake as well."
Severus bit into the tart and it tasted fabulous. For once, everything seemed to be going right. And yet, a small corner of his heart wondered just how long it would last?
For it was a known fact that nothing good in his life ever lasted.
A/N: How did you like the contrast between Sev & Lily's home life?
Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific is a real shampoo, my sister loved it back when they still made it.
Trivia: Bonus 50 House points & chocolate frogs to anyone who can tell me the artist of the song Lily was humming.
Thanks to all who have reviewed and for those of you who haven't yet, please do so.
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