He stood under the dark oak tree, simply watching. The gaps in between the leaves left patches of light on his body. One such gap illuminated his thin, pale cheeks and striking cheekbones, the way they made him look almost skeletal. His dark eyes didn’t seem to blink all that much; they were deeply intense and mysterious. They contrasted greatly with his complexion, and the summer sunlight emphasised that beautifully. Every now and again he would have to push his dark hair from his eyes, but it didn’t annoy him as much as it usually did, not when he was watching her.
He had taken to hiding in the shadows just so that he could see her at play. She danced across the grass, her long red hair flying out behind her, trying desperately to keep up with her fast pace. He remembered her intoxicating eyes, but he couldn’t see them at the distance he was at. It didn’t matter; he had them memorised anyway. At one point she stopped, picking a long-stalked daisy from the ground. Its petals were closed, but as soon as she placed it in her palm they opened. She admired it briefly, her expression both impressed and mildly stunned. She slid it into her hair before continuing.
She skipped off again. This time, she headed more towards him, and towards the dark line of trees that overhung the dirt path on the opposite side to the field; the ones that he was stood under. He shrunk back further into the shadows of the oak’s mighty trunk, hoping not to be seen. He only wanted to look; she wouldn’t want to talk to him, he knew that. She watched her feet as they carried her towards him. When she was about fifteen yards away she paused again, this time to retie her shoelace. He backed further away, accidentally snapping a twig as he went. His heart leapt madly as she looked up at the noise and straight into his eyes.
He needn’t have worried about her reluctance to speak with him. A wide smile broke out across her face and she ran at full pelt towards him.
“Severus!” She cried happily. He couldn’t help it; he smiled too. They’d only met about twice or thrice before, but she still threw herself at him, engulfing him in a friendly hug. Unsure of how to react, he stayed quite still and held his breath until it was over. She pulled back, still smiling, and asked, “Can you play today?” Knowing that he wouldn’t be missed at home in the slightest, he nodded.
She took his hand, startling him slightly, and pulled him into the forest and up the hillside. She spoke almost continuously about magic, asking him about the world she about to become a part of. His answers were often cut short by her constant, very nearly nonsensical babbling; she was far more excitable than he was. But he didn’t mind. He liked to listen to her talk. It was nice to engage in some form of friendly conversation, rather than verbal abuse. That’s what drew him to her in the first place: she was like nothing he’d ever seen or experienced before. She didn’t judge him, she didn’t shout at him, she didn’t ignore him – she was different.
They reached the top of hill together, panting from the last twenty yards of steep ascent. But the view: it was worth it. The sun set grandly over their hometown, glittering off the windows and the rooftops like the whole world was sprinkled with star dust. No cars could be heard from the height they were at, but the occasional sudden glint suggested that one or two drove below. The breeze flapped lightly across them, making no sound until it reached the trees behind their backs. The gentle rustling of the leaves was calming, but made the evening no colder.
They stayed in silence, watching as a flock of swallows soared overhead, creating a buzzing silhouette against the pink and orange of the horizon.
“Red sky at night – shepherd’s delight.” She whispered.
“Red sky in the morning – shepherd’s warning.” He finished. They looked to each other and smiled. She took his hand again and squeezed it gently. This time, he didn’t flinch. They turned their attention back to the sky.
“Everything’s going to change in September, isn’t it?” She asked quietly. Out of the corner of his eye he could see her look sadly to the floor.
“Yes.” He replied honestly, turning his whole body to face her. She looked up at him, some kind of admiration growing on her sunset-lit features.
“But it’ll change for the better.” He added when she began to look forlorn, “You’ll be a witch and I’ll be a wizard. How could that possibly be a bad thing?”
“I’ll be a witch… and you’ll be a wizard.” She repeated slowly, “We’ll be able to do magic-”
“All kinds of magic!” He interrupted impatiently, his outburst going without a comment as both their hearts began to flutter in anticipation of the upcoming school year.
“Like what?” She asked, her eager grin reflecting his as she faced him full-on.
“Jinxes and charms and hexes and curses and loads of different spells.” He cried, “We’ll be able to levitate things and fly broomsticks and brew potions and turn one thing into another.”
“It’s going to be so much fun!” She exclaimed gleefully, bouncing up and down slightly.
“And we’ll do it all together.” He added, their excitement fading slowly.
“We’ll be best friends.” She confirmed, grinning wider by the second as she took his other hand. They gazed at each other for short while. And then he did something he’d never done before.
He leaned in and kissed her quickly on the lips. As he pulled back, he noticed that she looked just as surprised as he did by the sudden gesture. They froze. Nothing happened. She didn’t even move. For a moment, her reaction made him regret it. But just as he considered apologising, she smiled widely, her whole face lighting up. She giggled quietly, looking down at their intertwined hands as they swung to and fro.
He looked down too. He wished that they could stay like this forever.
“Shall we go back now?” He asked reluctantly. She looked up into his dark eyes, her face wearing visible signs of disappointment.
“Alright.” She answered, letting go of one of his hands. This time, she didn’t lead; they turned and walked hand in hand back down the hill. They spoke very little as they travelled, but it was a comfortable silence. It felt familiar and restful.
They reached the dirt path all too soon for him. He knew that her house was no less than ten minutes away. He didn’t want it to be. He looked up at the beautifully lit sky and knew that it was only a matter of minutes before the sun sunk beyond the horizon completely. It was getting quite late and he knew that her parents didn’t like her being out at that kind of time, but he would walk her home; he always did.
Finally, they reached her house. He took in the stonework of the small building with some kind of silent yearning; he’d never had a life like she had, and it killed him. All he’d ever wanted was to feel appreciated and loved. But he was happy for her, nonetheless. She deserved a life like that: a life without torment or neglect.
She stepped up onto the porch and he followed her. They turned to face each other.
“Goodnight, Sev.” She said quietly.
“Goodnight.” He replied. She smiled, grudgingly letting go of his hand. Noticing the disappointment on his face, she hugged him tightly. They pulled apart, smiling shyly and, with a small wave, he turned from her. Leaving her on her porch, he headed back up the path towards the main road.
He was only a few yards away when she spoke again.
“Sev?” She called after him. He stopped willingly and turned to face her.
“Yes?” He asked in response. She made no other comment, but just looked down at her feet, twiddling her thumbs nervously. He’d never seen her look so tense before and so he spoke again, hoping to comfort her, “What is it, Lily?”
At the sound of her own name, she looked up wistfully.
“You’ll always be there for me, won’t you Sev?” she asked. It sounded almost rhetorical, but he could still hear the questioning in her voice; she was worried, of course she was. She was worried that he’d abandon her as soon as the summer was over and they made new friends. But he never would, not ever. Looking into her eyes, the eyes that he’d never forget, he smiled.
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