purplefluffycat: (Purple Cat)
[personal profile] purplefluffycat
Title: The Hero Stone
Author: [livejournal.com profile] purplefluffycat
Characters/Pairings: Severus Snape/Lily Evans, Eileen Snape
Rating: R
Warnings: Teen/teen sexuality
Word Count: About 2000
Summary/Description: A story of young hopes and fragile expectations. "Green always wins, in the end. Better to be a snake in the grass than a lion bleeding to death, any day."

Author's Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] daily_deviant, for the theme 'oculophilia' - Severus/Lily seemed such a natural choice. I hope you like my take on the pairing, here :-)




In the last year of primary school, Severus had a class teacher who fancied himself as a philosopher. He was a middle-class, avuncular, Guardian-reading sort of chap - the kind who did the job because he actually believed he could play a pivotal role in shaping promising young minds - and because it wasn't too difficult to bluff through Monday to Friday, leaving plenty of time for cricket and The Antiques Roadshow at the weekend.

One Spring Tuesday, with nothing too much going on and rather too long a gap between the end of a spelling test and the beginning of lunch, Albert Stevens - for that was his name - asked the class, "Is there so much green in the world because we like green, or do we like green because there is so much green in the world?"

He beamed at his charges. Rocking back and forth on his heels, the teacher made encouraging sounds for fledgling voices of independent thought to take a few steps toward the edge of the nest.

Severus considered, swallowed hard, then wrung his hands in his old grey jumper and glowered back.


*****



Kicking an old tin can down the alleyway before him, that lofty question lingered with Severus on his way home.

It wasn't that the answer escaped him. Oh no, he had followed every word of the dialogue about fields and trees and comfortable leather chairs and holidays in France – and concluded that it was all just another set of things that weren’t meant for a boy who lived on Spinner’s End.

Nothing in his world was green, whether he liked it or not. The buildings leant in on each other like old people on crutches, fragile plasterwork flaking as tired, sallow skin might rub and scab. The pavements reared-up in cracked, charcoal chunks, and even the little rec was swathed in litter that had never been cleared; the concrete climbing frame bled with rust from its dangerous screws and sagging beams.

His clothes were all hand-me-downs from Da’s job at the factory. Grey, all of them were, and far too big – except for the one jumper that had started off navy, but was so faded now, it might as well have been grey in the first place.

Severus sighed. He had never known anything green in his life.


*****



A few weeks later, Severus still lingered on such thoughts. It was as if a different world - painted in different colours - might be existing close by, just out of his reach.

He was sitting at the kitchen table, pretending to do his homework. Da was out at the pub, and his Mum was cleaning the surfaces with those sharp, jerky movements she used whenever she really hated something.

“Ma?” he asked, wondering if he was pushing his luck.

“Hmm?” She looked up for a second; he reckoned it was safe.

“Do you like green?”

She started, distracted from her scrubbing, and then regarded him quizzically. “Do I like green?"

“Yeah. Do you? I was just wondering…”

His mother took a long moment. “I dunno what’s gotten into you, Severus. But… yeah.” Her eyes took on a distant look. “Yeah. I like green.”

Severus pressed his lips together, and for some strange reason he couldn’t shake the feeling that this was important. “Why? Why’d you like it, I mean. It’s not like there’s much green around here.”

She snorted a laugh, but it didn’t have much humour in it. “Come here, lad. Let me show you something.”

Severus’ Mum led him to the box beneath the settee that she would open only when Da wasn’t at home. She took out a velvet pouch of shiny balls - Gobstones - he knew they were called. “You remember the rules, don’t you, Sev?” she asked, suddenly animated.

“Yep. The first one to capture the Jack wins, as long as they’ve got some other pieces left. Each stone can attack and defend in a different way – sometimes at the stones, sometimes at the players.”

“Good lad. Right, now, you see this one, here.” She pointed to a ball marbled in red and gold, elegant tracery orbiting the equator. It was probably the most expensive thing in the whole house.

“Yeah, wow!”

“This one’s called the ‘hero stone’. Do you know why?”

“Because it always wins!” That seemed safe and logical, just like the world was supposed to work.

“Wrong!” She was surprisingly forceful. “We call it the ‘hero stone’ because it dies first. You charge into the game with this one, being all flashy and upfront, but knowing full well that it’s going to be sacrificed. Nothing red and gold survives the battle, or is really worth having in the first place – not like all that crap you’re told at school about Muggle royalty and shit.”

Severus nodded.

“So,” continued his mother, “Which of the stones holds the real power?”

He regarded the rest of the array. There were smaller orbs in shades of red; orbiters of the first. A few blue ones sat alongside, almost translucent and filled with some sort of gas – useful-looking, but not extra-special. Then, he spotted it; the tiniest stone was deeply olive green and egg-shell smooth so that it blended with the carpet. “This one.” He picked it up; it was surprisingly heavy, and started thrumming in his hand.

His Ma nodded, and gave a tight smile. “Well done, Sev. Green is clever, y’see. It lies in wait, and wins while the opponent’s looking the other way. Doesn’t shout about its power, but uses it when the time’s right. Green always wins, in the end. Better to be a snake in the grass than a lion bleeding to death, any day.”

Severus nodded again, taking that in. “So, how do I find it? Green, I mean.”

“Don’t worry, lad,” she said, and it was almost fond. “It’ll come to you.”


*****



Three months later, Severus spied Lily Evans flying from a swing. The magic drew him to her, but the first time he got close, he was rapt. Those eyes.

They were a deep green, like forests on mountainsides and deep lakes in the woods; the sorts of place he had only seen in picture-books, but knew that better families would visit in the holidays. They were nature, and aspiration, and escape.

Much to Severus’ delight, Lily was willing to listen to him. He told her everything that Ma had told him while Da was at the pub: about magic and Hogwarts and Sorting and the future. In the soft light of her parent’s kitchen, Lily’s eyes glowed a delicate, pale green; the silver-green of finely-wrought goblets, of antique embroidery, and of armour from knights of yore. A green of history and refinement and genteel, understated power. The sort of green that winners were, his Mum had said – and Severus was so happy just then. He was so sure that he and Lily were going off together; going off into Slytherin to become part of the establishment that had somehow accidentally disenfranchised them both.

He tried not to think of her cloud of fiery, red hair. It set off her eyes, to be sure – but it was too forward, too brash, too unthinking. Severus tried to forget that Lily’s cheeks were rosy with the effort of always charging in head-first.

’Stay back,’ he would caution her, when they were going to levitate some fruit from the greengrocer’s, or play a trick on the postman - and she would tweak his nose, and giggle, and rush in regardless.


*****



The first time Severus kissed Lily was at the start of fourth year. They had been holding hands that summer, gradually playing with the idea that boys and girls could be more than friends - and for Severus, it was the single best thing that had happened in his entire life.

His world consisted of Lily; pretty much only Lily, with some scraps of family and school and housemates around the edges. He would count the hours in lessons until he could see her again at break-time, and would feel the long, lonely nights crawl by, alternating between missing her and getting hot and urgent and sticky when he thought about her in all those new and strange ways.

Severus had accepted, by then, that the Sorting hadn’t gone to plan, but was convinced that it didn’t really matter; it was a mistake that could be rectified. The only thing of import was that he and Lily were together and were going to be together, always. Of that, Severus was sure.

They were sitting by the lake, the last rays of warmish September sun lapping at the pebbles and the water. It had been a day of new classes and new faces, with lots of serious talks about OWL choices for next year and troubled times. The sky was a pinkish-orange and the trees barely breathed with breeze.

Lily kissed him, all of a sudden; it seemed to be almost on a whim. They had been chatting about something else, and then – bam! – her lips were on his and every hair on his frame prickled with wonder.

She drew back and regarded him with those extraordinary green eyes. “Yes?” she asked.

Severus nodded, exploding with affirmation, and they kissed again, each time bolder than the last. He burrowed his fingers under her blouse, taking in the impossibly-smooth skin of her back; Lily didn’t seem to mind. She nestled closer, pulling on the tails of his shirt – and before Severus knew it, her hands were on his skin, warm and clever and maddening, making him flush and cry out.

With some part of his mind that was still functioning, Severus moved his touch around her sides. His stomach was doing somersaults at the thought of what he was about to do – to touch her up there - and his hands trembled as he reached for one of her perfect breasts. Lily shuffled encouragingly, and Severus soon couldn’t believe it when he had the neat roundness under his fingertips, soft and alien and wonderful.

He was given little time to explore, though. Conscious thought vanished altogether when - seconds later - Lily reached into his trousers and touched him down there.

“Aaagh!” Severus couldn’t help but cry out.

“You ok?”

“Yeah… yeah!” He sobbed, desperately hoping he hadn’t spoiled things.

-But Lily just smiled. “That’s good, then.” She stroked him up and down, and held him with her whole palm.

At that, fireworks went off in his blood, and for Severus it was all too much. He spurted everywhere – on his robes, her hands, on the stones of the shore - whimpering with pleasure and lack of control and embarrassment. Squirming with it all, he took a laboured breath, avoiding her gaze as he wondered if he should go and drown himself in the lake. “Sorry, I…”

“It’s fine, Sev!” Lily scooped him up into a hug, and gave him another kiss, soft and kind, on the lips. It felt like an anchor in a storm, or a drop of water for a man dying of thirst. Severus just held her, loving her so much it hurt.

When his breathing had returned to normal, Severus moved a little, and took in Lily’s expression; she was calm and happy and seemed somewhat amused.

His gaze fixed on her beautiful green eyes - and for an absurd moment he imagined taking them out; holding them; owning them; rolling them around in his palm like his Ma’s gobstones and tucking them away in his heart to keep forever.

Then he spied her contradictory red hair, flagrantly waving around in the afternoon air like an invitation for danger.

Suddenly overcome, Severus dived to hug her close. “Don’t be the hero, Lily,” he whispered, murmuring into the crook of her neck. “Be with me.

Lily kissed him, and laughed, and tweaked his nose.
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