Chapter 31 : January 9th
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“Rise and shine, Sev! Look what a wonderful morning it is,” Reg yodeled cheerfully.
Severus winced. “Reg, whatever possessed you to sing “Happy Birthday” in my ear?”
“Sirius used to do that to me sometimes,” Reg admitted, grinning. “I figured you’d find it just as annoying.”
“You have a voice like a hyena, I’m sorry to say. Don’t ever try out for the choir.” Severus rubbed his eyes and tossed his hair out of them.
“Hey! I was singing off key on purpose!” Regulus protested. “’Cause Siri couldn’t hold a note if his life depended on it.”
“Sure you were.”
“I was,” Reg insisted. Then he started singing again, and this time he was note perfect.
“You still shouldn’t become a singer,” Severus pointed out. Then he threw off his covers and headed for the shower.
When he came out some ten minutes later, he found the table in their small sitting room set out with a very nice breakfast of toast with butter and blackberry jam, thick rashers of bacon, scrambled eggs, and cranberry-orange scones. Plus juice and steaming mugs of cocoa with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. Severus gaped. “Reg, what is all this?”
“It’s your birthday breakfast,” his roommate announced. “Like it? I ordered it just for you.”
Severus was touched. “Thanks, Reg. I’ve never had one before.”
“I always used to, when I was home for my birthday.” Regulus said. “I used to have waffles with peaches and strawberries and sausage or ham. Or eggs and cheese on toast. And look, you’ve got mail too!”
He indicated a large box sitting next to Severus’ plate. Severus read the return post. “It’s from my mother. I’ll open it after I eat.”
He served himself a bit of everything and found the breakfast was excellent. Regulus chatted to him while they ate, asking what else he planned to do for his birthday. “After class, I mean.”
“Well, Dickon’s invited me to dinner in his quarters,” Severus said, nibbling on a piece of toast. “And I’m sure you and Lily are welcome too. I’ll have to slip Lily a note secretly, though. Just in case those stupid fuglies are still watching me.” He scowled, for he had loved not having to hide their relationship anymore. But he didn’t want to risk defying them openly, because of his role as Dumbledore’s agent.
“That’s good. Should be fun. Can I give you my present now, Sev?”
Severus was startled. “Yes, if you want.”
Regulus summoned a large flat box with his wand, it was wrapped in silver and green striped paper. “Slytherin colors and all. Happy birthday!”
“Thanks,” Severus said, and set it beside the box from Eileen. He then resumed eating.
Once he was finished, the plates and cups vanished back to the kitchen and Severus carefully undid the string on Eileen’s package and opened it. Taped to a white box was a note.
This isn’t your birthday present, I’m still working on it, but it’s almost finished. I’m sorry I couldn’t finish it earlier, but this week has been crazy and I’ve been brewing in ten hour shifts. I’ll send it as soon as it’s done though! Hope you like your birthday cake, I made it myself! Have a wonderful birthday, my darling.
Inside the white box was a beautiful layer cake, half chocolate and half white with creamy white frosting decorated with colored sprinkles. Across the top was written Happy 17th Birthday Sev and in the middle was a tiny golden cauldron filled with warm fudge sauce, it was gently bubbling, and the smell was delicious.
“Oh Merlin, what is that wonderful smell?” Regulus cried. “It smells like melted chocolate!”
“It is. It’s my birthday cake,” Severus said, showing Reg it. “My mum made it.”
“I want a piece.”
“You have to wait till after dinner,” Severus said, and then smacked Reg’s hand when he went to steal a fingerful of frosting. “Hands off my cake, Black!”
“I only wanted to taste a little,” Reg objected, sucking his finger and pouting. “You’re no fun.”
“Oh, hush. You just ate breakfast, so quit acting like starving Oliver in Oliver Twist.”
“I feel like I was Oliver, looking at that cake and not being allowed to have any.”
“I want Lily and Dickon to see it and it’ll look awful with your fingerprints on it.” Severus said. He shut the box and put it on his desk. Then he came back to open Reg’s present.
Inside the box were a small book entitled Occlumency and Its Uses for Beginners and very expensive shirt made from emerald green spider silk. The shirt also had a beautiful snake design upon it, the snake, a coiled python, stood out in bright relief. It was long-sleeved and Severus knew it had been custom made, since practically all the Blacks clothes were.
“Reg, this is great! I really like the book and the shirt.”
“Oh, good. The snake is made from real snakekin on the shirt, they use a special dye process and charms to put it on there. I know you mentioned wanting to study Occlumency, so here it is, and I thought the shirt was really neat.”
“It is. I’ll wear it to dinner tonight, since I have to wear my uniform to class,” Severus promised.
“What did your mum get you for a present?”
“I don’t know yet. She’s making me something and said it should be done in the next few days.”
“Ooh, a surprise! Those are always the best kind of presents,” Regulus said. Then he looked at the clock in their quarters and sighed. “Damn! Guess it’s really time to go to class.” He picked up his bookbag. “Have fun in class today, and I’ll meet you back here before dinner, since I don’t know where Marsh’s quarters are.”
After a last wave, he departed, leaving Severus to finish drinking his cocoa and read some of his new book before departing for his first class at ten o’clock.
* * * * * *
The day passed swiftly, and Severus managed to slip Lily a note during Charms, telling her where to meet them and what time. She knew where Dickon’s quarters were and would meet them there around six o’clock. That left Severus and Regulus time to get changed out of their uniforms and to fetch the cake.
Severus wore his new shirt and a pair of black jeans and sneakers, his hair was tied back, and he wore his robes over them so as not to arouse comments when he walked through the halls to get to the professor’s quarters. Regulus was wearing his favorite silvery scale-looking shirt and cream colored trousers. They reached Dickon’s quarters in a few minutes, Reg was carrying the cake, though he had been forbidden to so much as peek at it, and they knocked upon the door.
Lily opened it and ushered them inside, smiling. Dickon was arranging some balloons of green and silver and gold at a tall chair, they had S’s on them. In the center of a square table was a centerpiece of green quills, an inkpot, a scroll, and a silver snake quill holder. There was also a large banner that said Happy Birthday Severus! upon the wall over the star charts.
“Hi, Sev! Happy birthday!” Lily said and promptly kissed him.
Severus held her close, reveling in finally being able to touch and kiss her, two days of being forced to avoid her had driven him crazy.
Dickon turned around and coughed, and the two sprang apart, flushing guiltily. “I know this is your birthday, Sev, but please keep the kissing and snuggling within limits. I don’t want to be accused of having an orgy in here.”
“Okay, Dickon.” Sev said, blushing. “It’s just . . .we hardly ever see each other.”
“I understand, Sev. Nevertheless . . .” he patted the young wizard on the back. “Happy birthday.”
“Hey, Professor Marsh, if you ever had an orgy, you’d be the most popular professor ever,” Regulus said, laughing.
“No doubt, Mr. Black, but the next morning I’d be out of a job.” Dickon said, chuckling. “Hope you like the decorations. I had short notice, it took me longer to grade this latest batch of assignments than I’d thought.”
“They’re great, Dickon,” Severus assured him.
“Good. First time I’ve ever hosted a birthday party myself.” He gestured to the chair with the balloons. “You sit there, Sev, and Lily on your left and Reg on your right and I’ll take the opposite end. “
When they were all seated and Reg had floated the cake to the little table in the sitting room, Dickon clapped his hands and the silver covers were removed off of the serving trays in the center of the table surrounding the centerpiece.
“I hope I remembered what your favorite meal was,” the professor said a bit nervously. “I wrote your mum some time ago and asked her, but then I lost the note she sent back.”
Severus looked at the honey-glazed ham and crispy new potatoes and green beans with almonds in butter and yeast rolls with butter and smiled. “You remembered right, sir. Thank you.”
Dickon looked relieved. “All right, let’s eat. I, for one, am starving. Grading all that homework is exhausting.”
“I’m glad I’m not a professor,” Severus said feelingly. “I’d go crazy with all the dumb mistakes kids made.”
Reg chuckled. “Yeah, too bad we can’t all be like you, Mr. Perfectionist.”
“Look who’s talking. You spent twenty minutes fixing your shirt.”
“Speaking of shirts, that’s a beautiful one, Sev.” Lily complimented him.
“Thanks. Reg gave me it for my birthday.”
“I love it. It becomes you,” she said grinning.
Severus blushed, then said, “And that dress becomes you. It matches your eyes.”
Lily was wearing a soft cashmere emerald green dress that clung lightly to her shoulders and flowed down in a soft swath to her feet. “You’re sweet, Sev.”
“Uh huh. Sweet as sugar,” Reg said.
“Shut up, Reg,” Severus ordered, but he was smirking.
After they had all eaten their fill of the delicious dinner, it was time to light the candles on the cake and sing “Happy Birthday” again.
Severus told Dickon and Lily about Reg’s morning serenade and they all chuckled over it.
“Hopefully it’ll sound better the second time around!” Lily said, as she lit the candles.
“Oh, real nice, Lily,” Reg pretended to be insulted.
But with Dickon and Lily joining in, Regulus’s voice actually sounded pretty decent, and Severus made it through the whole song without wincing or laughing.
“Make a wish, Sev!” Lily urged as he blew out the candles.
There’s only one thing I really want, he thought as he did so. For us to be together for the rest of our lives.
He hoped it would come true.
The cake was as scrumptious as it smelled, and they all used the cauldron of melted chocolate to pour over their piece of cake. Regulus declared he wanted Eileen to bake him a cake on his birthday, and went back for thirds, until Dickon told him to stop eating so much, he’d make himself sick.
“But it’d be so worth it,” Reg said.
“Ha! You say that now, but you won’t when you wake up at midnight and need a Stomach Soother,” Severus reminded. “But Mum really outdid herself this time. I can’t remember her making a cake like this since I was six.” After that, Tobias had lost his job and started hitting the bottle and Eileen had no time for cakes or anything else.
Then it was time for presents. “As host, I’ll go first,” Dickon said, and he summoned a brightly wrapped package and handed to Severus. “Now, the other part of your gift is that centerpiece there. I figured you could use some new quills and ink and a quill holder, and that scroll there is a chart of the stars in the sky when you were born. Your mum told me the hour and the minute you were born as well as the day and I used my star charts to calculate what constellations were present and stars rising when you were born. There was a nebula being born at the same time you were, which some believe fortells a future of much turmoil and also much rewards, if you believe in that sort of thing. I was really interested in the stars though.” He shook his head. “Sorry, I’m going off on a tangent again. Open the rest of your present, Sev.”
Severus did. Inside was a long black telescoping object. His eyes went wide. “This is a Sneak-o-Scope! I’ve been looking at this in the window of Curious Notions forever.” Ever since the summer, when Dumbledore had made him his spy, in fact. Not even Regulus had one yet, they were all the rage among up and coming Auror trainees, but also quite expensive, if one were as hard up for money as Severus was. “Dickon, I . . .I don’t know what to say. The quill set and the chart and the dinner were enough.” Severus stammered, overwhelmed. “Thank you very much.”
“You’re only seventeen once, lad.” Dickon said kindly. He was thinking of his own seventeenth birthday, his parents had given him a huge party and he had had dozens of friends and relatives come to it and gotten tons of presents, mostly money, enough so he could put a down payment on a car. While he was at school, his parents had used the vehicle, but during the summer, he went everywhere in it. He knew he couldn’t afford a car for Severus, so he asked Lily for an idea and she had told him about the Sneak-o-scope. From the way Severus acted, Dickon felt as if he’d given the boy a million Galleons. “It’s too bad your mother couldn’t be here.”
“I know, but she did make the cake and she’s going to mail me a present,” Severus said. “She never forgets.” Not even when she was broke and could barely afford to buy milk, she always made sure I had something special for my birthday. Her and Polly Evans.
“My turn next.” Lily said, smiling happily. “First I’ll give you the presents from Tuney and my mum.”
Polly had baked him her special chocolate spice drops, which she knew he loved, and also given him a silver python cloak clasp with jeweled amber eyes. “Wow! I’m going to have to write her a thank you letter,” Severus said.
“And you can use your new quill set to do it,” Lily said. “This one’s from Tuney.”
Petunia had given him two passes to the movies and three gift certificates to the ice cream shop he and Lily frequented. “Now we can go there more often, Lil,” he told his pretty girlfriend, showing her the certificates and smiling.
“Oh, good. I hear there are a lot of new movies coming out and some new flavors of ice cream too.” Lily said.
“Professor Dumbledore sent you this,” Dickon said and handed Severus a sack of all kind of candy from Honeydukes, including lemon drops.
Everyone got a good laugh over that one.
Severus was shocked that Dumbledore even remembered it was his birthday, much less sent him a gift.
“Last but not least, this is from me,” Lily said, and then she rose and walked into the sitting room. She came back carrying a small box with holes along the side. “I really hope you’ll like it.”
She carefully placed the box in his lap.
Severus gently undid the tabs and opened the top. Inside was a wee orange kitten. She looked up at him with the largest emerald green eyes he had ever seen upon a cat and mewed softly. Gently, Severus lifted her from the box and she began to purr. She was a lovely apricot color with golden stripes and had extremely soft fur.
“Do you like her, Sev? I thought it was time you got a familiar. The wizard at the shop says she’s from an ancient line of druid cats.”
The kitten mewed and Severus stroked her. “Hello, little one.” He looked from the cat to Lily and said, laughing, “Now I have two auburn-haired ladies with mesmerizing green eyes to love.”
“You sure do.” Lily said, then leaned over and kissed him briefly.
At the sound of the kitten’s meow, Eclipse, who had been hiding under Dickon’s bed when the kids arrived, came out to investigate the strange feline who had invaded his home. The Egyptian temple cat jumped onto the arm of Severus’ chair, appearing like a specter out of the air, his black nose twitching.
“Eclipse!” Severus exclaimed. “Now, be nice to my kitten.”
Eclipse sniffed the newcomer cautiously, his tail twitching.
The tiny kitten sniffed him back, and even went so far as to playfully bat the black cat’s ears. The children watched tensely to see how Eclipse would react.
The big cat laid back his ears in warning, then abruptly licked the kitten on the top of the head. There was a resigned look in his green eyes. Dickon chuckled and rubbed his cat’s ears fondly. “You’re a good fellow, Eclipse. Don’t worry, she’s not living here. She’s Sev’s familiar.”
Eclipse purred contentedly and curled up in Dickon’s lap.
Severus’s kitten wanted to explore, and jumped off his lap onto the carpet. She ran in and out of the chair legs, sniffing and pouncing at everything.
“I have some cat stuff for you in this bag,” Lily said, pulling a bag out from behind her chair. “There’s toys, food, dishes and a cat box, litter, and a collar in there, though she might be too little to wear one just yet.”
“I’ll shrink it to fit her.” Severus said. He chuckled as the kitten pounced at his shoelaces and began to tug them, rolling over on her back and clawing at them. “You’re a feisty little thing, aren’t you? Thanks, Lil. She’s the best present ever.”
Lily put her arm about him and leaned her head on his shoulder. “What are you going to call her, Sev?”
“Uh . . .let me think.” He watched the little kitten race across the room and under the sofa.
An instant later, her little head peeped out, and she crept from beneath the furniture and under the sitting room table, where she crouched, wide-eyed. She investigated Eclipse’s water dish and drank some. Then she began to eat his chicken dinner.
Eclipse jumped off Dickon’s lap then and hurried over to her. He gave a soft growl of reproof, plainly his tolerance didn’t extend towards sharing his water or food.
The kitten hissed and backed away, running back to hide behind Severus’s chair.
Severus made a soft clicking noise. “C’mere, little one. Looks like you got your ears chewed off, huh? Next time don’t eat strange cats’ dinners. Come on.” He wriggled his fingers invitingly, and the kitten pounced on his hand.
He picked her up and held her on his lap. She meowed, and Lily petted her.
“Aww, Sev, maybe she’s hungry.”
So Severus opened a small can of kitten food and placed it in her new dish and Dickon filled the other one with water.
While the kitten ate, Severus pondered on what to call her. She was lively and quick, bold and affectionate. He considered calling her Flame, but then he remembered an herb that was used in certain potions called sorrel. It was also used in soup, prized for its tart flavor. Sorrel was also the name of a reddish color, most often associated with horses. Plus, it was easy to pronounce and remember.
“I think I’ll call her Sorrel.”
“That’s a wonderful name,” Lily said.
Reg laughed. “Fitting considering whose cat she is. The best potions student in the school and his cat is named after a potion ingredient. I like it.”
“It’s a good strong name,” Dickon said. “It fits her.”
Once Sorrel was done eating and drinking, Severus said it was time to take her home. “She’ll need to get used to our room.”
He shrunk most of his presents and put them in his pockets, and Regulus carried the rest, including the rest of the cake.
They bid good night to Dickon and thanked him for the lovely dinner and Severus whispered in Lily’s ear, “Meet me by the Entrance Hall so I can give you a proper goodnight.”
“Okay,” she whispered back and gave him a hug.
* * * * * *
Once Sorrel had been settled in her new home, Severus glanced at his watch and saw that it was almost curfew. He only had about ten minutes to say good night to Lily.
“Better hurry, Sev.” Reg advised. “I’ll watch over your mischief maker while you say good night to Lily. And eat another piece of cake while I’m at it.”
“Fine, just don’t come whining to me that you’ve got a stomachache come morning.”
“I won’t, Dad,” Reg said insolently, then reached for the cake box.
Severus mocked cuffed him on the ear before leaving.
He took the back stairs up to the Entrance Hall, which was a set of stairs only Slytherins knew about.
There, beside a dented suit of armor, waited Lily.
She rushed over to him, and before he could say anything, her mouth was on his, and she was kissing him ecstatically. He wrapped his arms about her, pulling her tight to him, she was like ambrosia to his senses, he lost himself in her. Her hair crackled about her like a fiery halo, and his hands tangled in it. He breathed in her scent, it was sweet and potent, like the finest wine, and it intoxicated him.
He felt his pulse quicken and desire stir in him and he whispered, “God, Lily, how I want you. I love you so much.”
“I love you too, Sev,” she murmured, her hands stroking his hair, gripping his shoulders. She loved the way he said her name, all husky and filled with passion. She loved touching his hair, which was not greasy like some Gryffindor girls said, but soft and silky and smelled like fresh rainwater. And the way he held her, gentle and yet with such strength, but she knew she need never fear him, for he would never lift a hand against her, unlike Vernon. “I wish we didn’t need to sneak around this way. I hate it.”
“Me too,” he sighed, kissing her neck playfully. “If only we weren’t spies that needed to keep up appearances.”
“No sense crying over spilt milk. Even if we weren’t agents, it wouldn’t make a difference. People would still hate us for being what and who we are and not following their stupid rules.”
“Hang the damn rules!” Severus cried, kissing her even more fervently. For one instant he feared he had hurt her, but then she kissed him back just as passionately. “Ah, Lily,” he muttered when he could speak again. “Someday there will be no need for us to hide, and I’ll marry you and the whole damn world can go to hell for all I care.”
“Sev, please be careful,” she whispered, alarmed by this new reckless side of him. “Don’t provoke them , please.”
“Don’t worry, little oracle. I know when to pick my battles.” He soothed, rubbing her back. The clock struck eleven. “Time for you to get back to Gryffindor Tower before McGonagall does a bed check. Good night, my heart.”
“Good night, sweet prince,” she returned, kissing him on the cheek. “I hope you had a wonderful birthday.”
“It was the best. Hurry now! You don’t want to get caught by Filch.”
She turned then and ran up the stairs, her hair flying behind her like a pair of fiery wings.
He watched her go, the taste of her still lingering on his tongue. Then he turned and slipped back down the stairs to the dungeons, his thoughts filled with Lily. He nearly bumped into Winthrop and Cord on his way to his room, they were drinking something he suspected wasn’t butterbeer, and they eyed him suspiciously.
“Where are you coming from so late, Snape?”
“My birthday party,” Severus answered shortly.
“Oh? How come we weren’t invited?” demanded Cord.
“I wouldn’t want to ruin my good time,” Severus shot back, pushing past the other.
“Hey, Snape! You better watch your mouth, y’hear? Show some respect.”
Severus ignored him, continuing on into his room and locking the door behind him.
When he settled on his bed, Sorrel curled up in his lap, purring like an out of kilter dryer. He stroked the kitten, smiling. “Well, at least I won’t sleep alone tonight,” he murmured.
Sorrel opened one emerald eye and winked.
Severus lay back on his bed, the kitten dozing between his feet, and the sheets were cool against his flushed skin. It had been a wonderful birthday, from start to finish, he thought lazily, and yet there was a niggling little voice in the back of his head that warned of danger ahead, because nothing good ever lasted long. Not in his life anyhow. That was why he cherished these fleeting moments of happiness, because one never knew what could happen.
So, who liked Sev's birthday? Here's a piece of cake for all you readers out there who have continued to stick with me.
A special thank you to David Wang--I loved the pictures, they were awesome, especially the one of Lily and Severus. Too bad I can't post them here. Brilliant! One is now on my phone as background. :)
Next: A secret is discovered, will it spell the end for Lily and Sev? Fine out next chapter!
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