“Are you guys sure you wanna do this?” whined Petunia. “I think you’re acting like babies.”
“Oh, Tuni, just stop. I asked you if you wanted to be here or not. Did you change your mind already?” Lily now stood with her hand sassily placed on her hip, tapping her foot at a fast, annoyed tempo.
Petunia rocked sheepishly back and forth on her heels. She matched the rhythm of the squeaky, rusting sign that was swaying back and forth in the wind. It read:
Spinner’s End PUBLIC PLAYGROUND -A City Development Initiative-
An equally tarnished metal sign of rules had been posted on the brittle chain link fence and was sprayed colorfully with graffiti. The playground was empty, aside for the three children, impatiently waiting to get along (or in Petunia’s case, to not get along) with the ceremony.
“Think about it a few more minutes, Petunia. I wish to speak to Lily alone for a second.” The third member of their small playground wedding ceremony had finally decided to add his two cents.
The boy’s name was Severus Snape and he lived in a rundown brick row house in the small industrial village. Lily had met him at this very playground, a playground where she escaped with Petunia often on the weekend. Lily thought it was the perfect, most romantic place for their wedding.
Stepping aside for some privacy, Severus softly placed a hand on her delicate shoulder and inquired, “Are you sure you want to go through with this. Being married is kind of a big deal on the playground, if you haven’t noticed.”
Lily smiled at Severus, almost a bit sadly. “Sev… I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t think it was a great idea. Besides, think of how behind we are! There are so many other married couples on the playground! I don’t want to be left out! I choose you! You will be the best husband there ever was.” Severus blushed profusely.
His anxiety somewhat at ease regarding their choice, Severus shyly smiled, his eyes scanning her choice of wardrobe. She had put a great deal of effort into looking her best. She had a white headband in her beautiful red hair, and had tucked a small lace table cloth under it to create a veil. She had what was probably her best Easter dress on—coincidentally white— and had accessorized it with pearls that appeared to be from her mother’s jewelry box. In fact, most of the accessories for her wedding dress were from her mother’s household in some way, shape or form. The white heels she wore were about 2 sizes too big for her feet, as were the long-armed gloves for her hands. Petunia had helped smear on bright red lipstick and had applied make up on Lily’s cheek and eye shadows that strongly resembled that of a clown’s.
Severus was absolutely in love with his bride.
Lily took Severus’ hand and headed back towards their ‘house’ (the jungle gym) where Petunia was waiting. Lily took a moment to bashfully glance at Severus out of the corner of her eye. Severus had never really had the best of clothes, but today he had went all out.
His usual worn jeans had been replaced with what also appeared to be his Sunday’s best. He wore a faded dark corduroy trouser and a yellowing white dress shirt. He had snatched a shiny red tie from somewhere, and tied it in a slightly lopsided manner. To finish off the look, his hair had been slicked back with a generous amount of hair grease.
Lily thought he looked quite fetching.
Petunia met them at the top of the jungle gym ladder and led them to the creaking bridge that connected two towers of the corroded construction. She hadn’t run away, so Lily assumed that she felt bad and was here to stay.
Once everyone was situated and in place for the ceremony, Petunia announced in her best serious voice, “We come here today to join these two…ki—I mean people, in marriage.”
Severus and Lily stood on either side of Petunia, the bridge swaying lightly in the breeze. Severus was mesmerized by the way the lace veil playfully swayed and tangled with her red hair in the wind. Lily was suddenly aware of how intently Severus stared at her.
Petunia cleared her throat and continued, “Lily, Severus, may I have the rings please?” She held out her hands to each of them.
“Well, I uh, don’t have a ring,” he sputtered, almost ashamed. He quickly redeemed himself by adding, “I do have this pin, though. My mum gave it to me. I think it’s prettier than a ring anyways.” He handed the pin to Petunia whose eyes widened. It was antique; gold that had lost its brilliance over the years. The emerald stone in the middle glittered regally in the sunlight, drawing a fascinated oooh out of the two girls.
Lily then perked up, realizing it was her turn to give her ring and placed the ring out of the toy dispenser (still in its plastic encasement) in Petunia’s hand. This excited Severus. He had seen these dispensers all over town and had never had been able to (or had the money) to see what was inside.
“Great,” proclaimed Petunia, regally. “Now, Severus, put the ring, I mean…pin on Lily.” Petunia raised her eyebrows at him, waiting for him to react.
Severus gently took the pin out of Petunia’s hand and undid the clasp. His hands felt shaky and clammy and he desperately hoped nobody noticed, especially Lily. Lily’s bright green eyes intently observed as Severus pinned the green emerald brooch on her. “It matches your eyes. I knew it would be beautiful on you,” he quietly remarked.
Lily smiled, took a deep breath and then removed the plastic case from Petunia’s hand. She cracked it open and removed the newest Muggle trend—the mood ring. It was dark in color at the moment, but the moment she placed it on Severus’ finger it turned bright blue. Lily placed the paper with mood explanations in his pocket and told him to read it later when he had time. “Mum says men are impossible to understand. Perhaps this will help me some?” giggled Lily.
Petunia was getting impatient. “You guys are so mushy. Can we please get this over with? Severus, tell her ‘I do!’ When he’s finished, Lily, you should do the same--IF you still want to.”
“I do!” blurted Severus, looking relieved and elated as he did.
Lily was more shy and hesitated somewhat, but then affirmed, “I do.”
“FINALLY!” claimed an exasperated Petunia. “Now, the last step. I’m supposed to say something about power that I have to claim you man and wife…but I’m just gonna say, you are now husband and wife. To make it official, though,” and Petunia paused significantly to smirk, “You have to kiss her.”
Lily froze as the words left Petunia’s mouth. Severus’ pale complexion turned positively pink. He bravely edged closer to Lily, taking her hands that had been timidly tucked behind her back during the entire ceremony. They stood like this for at least a few minutes, not budging. Petunia had finally had enough. “I’m going home. This was the most boring playground wedding I’ve ever attended. Just remember,” added Petunia, as she was stomping away, “it isn’t official until you kiss. See you for dinner, Lily.”
Lily waited until she was out of earshot and said, “She’s just mad. She doesn’t like to share.”
Severus thought about the meaning of her words for a minute and then asked her in a somber tone, “Lily, do you not want to kiss me? I won’t do it if you don’t want.”
“We have to, though!” exclaimed Lily, all seriousness. “Although now I understand everything.”
“What do you understand?”
“My mum said, if you kiss boys, you get pregnant. You know—you have a baby. That must be why she says I have to wait until I get married to kiss. You know, because the babies are not supposed to come until then.” Lily looked proud to share her wisdom.
Now Severus was confused. He was thinking of a few of his cousins who had babies, and they certainly weren’t married. He shook his head and returned his focus back to Lily. “Lily, we just got married. It’s official. We can kiss!”
“Mum says it hurts to have babies, though” replied Lily shakily, suddenly very scared.
Severus, always fairly quickly on his feet, thought immediately of a solution. He stated, “I’m positive that you only have babies if you kiss on the lips. Tuni said we only have to kiss.” Before Lily objected, he quickly moved to place a kiss on Lily’s forehead. He felt her freeze under the kiss initially, but then quickly relax when she realized it wasn’t so bad after all.
“Oh, Sev, that was worth having babies, if it happens. I hope my mum isn’t mad.”
Severus laughed and held Lily for a few minutes, when the town’s City Hall bells started ringing. It had chimed 5 times when Severus realized he was late for dinner.
“Lily, I must go. My parents are waiting for me…dinner time, you know.” He looked absolutely crestfallen as he shared this news.
Lily on the other hand was straightening her dress, hoping that she would finally get an invite to eat dinner at Severus’ house. It never came, even though she wished for it each and every time they were in this situation. Lily’s heart was racing a mile a minute. Newlyweds and we can’t even eat dinner together, she thought. “Do I at least get to see you tomorrow?”
“I hope so, Lily. I do.” Severus still didn’t let go of Lily.
“I want to go away with you, like a real bride and groom. On a honeymoon.” Lily patiently waited for an answer.
Severus let the silence ring for a moment before finally replying, “Tomorrow, 10 PM. It should be dark by then. Sneak out and meet me on the bridge here. We’ll go somewhere great, I promise! I’ll be here tomorrow. Until then, my love.”
Before Lily knew it, the warmth of Severus’ arms had left her and she was standing there alone, the wind her only companion. She felt so alone, almost moved to tears. The last time she had been this upset, her mum’s entire china cabinet had exploded of its own accord. She refused to repeat history. Taking a deep breath, she turned on her heel and slid down the jungle gym slide, not looking back as she walked home.
Severus was cautious as he approached his block. His movements became more vigilant and cat-like; his breath labored. He could already hear the screaming drifting though the broken window, and there was no doubt in his mind that his father was already drunk again.
Severus’ best bet was to sneak up through the basement entrance into his bedroom and pretend like he had missed dinner. He’d rely on the chance that his parents had forgotten to call him to dinner in the midst of their argument.
Severus felt sweat droplets form on his forehead as he concentrated to move up the stairs as silently as possible. The basement stairs were the loudest in the house, but tonight, as if by magic, they were blessedly silent. As he approached the landing to the ground floor, his parents had rearranged themselves in front of the basement door. Severus only watched the shadows of their feet in the thin strip of light illuminating under the door. Listening took little effort at the volume they were ‘discussing’.
“Tobias, I’m telling you the truth! The brooch is gone!”
“Well what did you do with it, you insolent woman! That brooch is the only valuable piece we have left in the house. How am I supposed to pay for food on the table if you go losing our money!” Tobias seemed unsteady on his feet as he slurred angrily at his wife.
“Well how about getting a job, you deadbeat. I’m not allowed to work, and you go selling my family heirlooms so you can pay for this so-called existence. You’re a pig! I should turn you into one!”
Severus cringed when his mom brought magic into the conversation. It never ended well, and tonight was no exception. Severus covered his ears at this point, as he did almost every night, trying to drown out the horrible sounds around him.
When he noticed that the light in the hall next to the landing had been turned off, he emerged cautiously from his hiding spot and crept upstairs. He had almost made it into his bedroom when…
“Severus.” A voice, more foreboding than all others, erupted from behind him. Tobias only had to take one glance of his son wearing his tie to know that he had been up to no good.
“You’re in trouble, son.”
“I know. Get it over with.” Severus did all he could to think happy thoughts.
He thought about Lily.
Petunia wasn’t asleep as she heard Lily shuffling in her closet to hastily pack her backpack full of clothes. She was sneaking out, and Petunia had a sneaking suspicion that Severus had something to do with it. Petunia concentrated on keeping her breathing even and calm as she heard Lily zip up. Lily headed over to the window and wrenched it open, not seeming to care if it woke Petunia or not. Lily paused for a while to stare at Petunia’s sleeping form, and Petunia opened her eyes widely at this point to stare back at Lily. The silence was incredibly loud.
“Goodbye, Petunia. I love you.” With that, she cluttered out the window and into the night.
As Lily made her way to the playground, the air was thick with humidity and every once in a while heat lightening would illuminate the skies. Fortunately, the rain had held out until she made it under the covering of the jungle gym. Lily waited excitedly, squatting on her backpack for cushioning as she waited for her playground hubby Severus to retrieve her. She fingered her emerald brooch that she had pinned on her shirt in a content, happy manner. Not even the rain could get her down.
Lily waited patiently and happily, but was surprised that the time had gone by so quickly when she heard the bells chiming 11 PM.
The bells were heard by Severus as well, who looked out his rain-streaked window towards the general direction of his playground. His father had locked him in his room that night, among his other punishments. He sighed, his heart beating quickly and heavily as he realized there was no amount of magic that was going to get him out of this predicament tonight. He had let Lily down and he could only hope that she didn’t hate him for it.
By 12 AM, the storm had really picked up. The wind whistled threateningly and blew branches down from the few scarce trees in the area.
Lily was in denial, cold and shivering denial.
When the clock began chiming to 12, she began sobbing, her cries growing louder and harder with each chime of the clock. Devastated, she stood up and dragged her wet and pathetic form home, throwing the brooch in the nearest gutter she saw.
Lily’s eyes flashed open as the clock stroke 12 one final time for that morning. The storm was raging as strongly as ever, but she was safe in bed. She sat up, turning her bed side lamp on, feeling disheveled.
It was just then, that James walked past the bedroom door, cradling a sleeping baby in his arms. “Honey? Everything OK? Did the storm wake you up? I just got Harry back to sleep here, he had a little scare, but everything is fine.”
“Yeah… it was just the storm. Thanks, James. Goodnight.”