Fandom(s): Harry Potter
Characters: Lily Evans, Severus Snape, James Potter
Rating: T (for a small bit of schoolboy crudeness)
Word Count: 2727
Summary: Before Harry, only one other student ever managed to concoct the Draught of Living Death and win the vial of Felix Felicis from Professor Slughorn. Who was it, and what did that person do with it?
As the hook-nosed boy emerged from the classroom, his two friends trotted up on either side of him and knocked him companionably with their shoulders, his dark greasy hair swinging from the impacts. The taller of the two, a stocky boy with a severe crew cut, grinned with unmasked greed in his eyes. "That's my mate, Sev! I knew you'd do it! The moment he showed us the prize, I thought, 'Snape’ll win it, he will!'"
"Of course he did," the other boy, a thin boy with tousled hair and a devious expression, affirmed. "There is no one better at Potions than our Severus."
"Did you see the look on Slughorn's face when he looked in his cauldron, Avery? 'No one's ever managed to win it,'" the taller boy mimicked the professor's pompous style. “Next year, he'll have to change that speech to 'Only one student has ever won it.'" He clapped Severus on the back.
As they climbed the stairs from the dungeons, Avery grinned. "Even better, it brings proper glory to Slytherin. No one could believe it. Even now, you can feel their jealousy. Ain’t it grand?" Glancing around at the students from the other houses watching them and whispering to each other, he basked in the atmosphere of envy, even though the prize wasn't his.
"So let's see it, Sev."
The boy in the middle pulled his hand out of his pocket, where he'd been fingering the smooth glass vial. Spreading his fingers, he revealed the tiny bottle full of golden liquid, tightly stoppered and sealed. His lips slowly curved into a proud smile, an expression that rarely graced his face. "Felix Felicis."
"Liquid Luck," the tall boy breathed, and reached to pick it out of his friend’s palm.
"No." Severus' hand snapped shut, and he held his fist to his chest. "I'm not a fool, Mulciber. If you want this, you'll have to win it yourself. Or make it yourself. I'd love to see you try."
"We'd have to wipe his remains off the ceiling if he did," laughed Avery.
Mulciber sneered, disappointed that he hadn't been able to steal the potion from his friend. "That potion is proper hard. Even you couldn't make it, Severus."
"But I know better than to try. If we didn't keep an eye on you, you'd be back in the Potions room tonight, sweating over your cauldron. Such a greedy heart." He laughed at the look of disgust and embarrassment on Mulciber's face.
They entered the school's main hallway, and the three friends stopped in an intersection, as they were all heading to different classes. Avery knocked Severus with his shoulder again. "So, do you know what you're going to do with it?"
"Oh, yes. I knew the moment Professor Slughorn held the vial up in front of us," the boy replied, his eyes wandering to a group of girls in Gryffindor robes passing by. Wicked smiles spread on Avery's and Mulciber's faces as they recognised the one Severus was watching.
"Evans again?" Mulciber rubbed his hands together as he watched her.
"She's pretty enough, but I don't know what you see in her," remarked Avery in a dry, disinterested tone. "Perhaps you'll see more in her with her knickers off, eh?" Sudden lasciviousness dripped from his words.
"Perhaps. Today, after classes." Severus squeezed the vial in his hand, then slipped it back in his pocket.
Flipping her long blonde hair over her shoulder, the girl in the Gryffindor robes uttered an overly-dramatic sigh as she hefted her bookbag onto her shoulder. She snuck a peek at the Charms master to make sure he wasn’t listening before she muttered to her friend in a low voice, “This is simply ridiculous, Lily! How does he expect us to do such advanced magic?” The two girls turned together to exit the classroom with their mates.
Her friend frowned in disbelief. “This isn’t that advanced, Lucy. Protego duo is only a slight bit stronger than a regular Shield Charm.”
“Only a bit? I can’t even do that,” Lucy groaned. Now out of the classroom, she spoke at a normal volume.
“You can’t?” Lily’s eyebrows shot up, obscured by her russet fringe.
“No. I hate Charms. I don’t know how I managed an ‘E’ on my O.W.L.s. I shouldn’t be in this class.” Her shoulders drooped as she shook her head. “How do you always do so well in Charms?”
Lily shrugged. “Practise, mostly. You can’t just read about casting spells. You have to do it.”
“Is that where you go after class? To practise?”
“Yep. That’s where I’m going right now. Charms are so fun to cast.” She flashed an eager grin at her friend. “Wanna come with? We can practise together.”
Lucy halted in the hallway, causing a Hufflepuff boy behind her to almost collide with her. After excusing herself, she shook her head at Lily. “No. I think I need to drop this class. It’s only the first day. Maybe I’ll sign up for Ancient Runes.”
“All right. I’ll see you at dinner then.” The two friends parted, Lucy for the assistant headmistress’ office, Lily for the castle grounds. She had a favorite spot for practising her spells, out of sight of the main school and rarely frequented by any of the other students.
As she walked through the enormous doorway into the courtyard, a group of boys loitering near one of the other doors caught her eye, as they all seemed to be watching her. One of them was her good friend Severus Snape; the others were his housemates from Slytherin. She never understood how Severus could be friends with them, as they were vicious and cruel boys, using Dark Magic to prank students from other houses whenever they thought they could get away with it. On the other hand, it was customary for students to befriend people in their own houses, no matter how offensive they were; after all, Lily herself tolerated that arrogant James Potter and his little group of delinquents, simply because they were in Gryffindor with her. Shrugging to herself, she paid the Slytherins no attention as she proceeded through the courtyard, though out of the corner of her eye, she saw the boys grin and slap Severus on the back.
As she approached the exit archway, it occurred to her that Severus must not have been in Advanced Charms, if he was here loitering in the courtyard as she left the class. That was very unlike him: he was quite the brilliant wizard, and she was sure he couldn’t have gotten less than Outstanding on his Charms O.W.L. Oh, well, she thought as her foot landed on the beginning of the gravel path out of the school building, he certainly made a fine showing in Potions. A twinge of jealousy stuck in her throat. I would have liked to win that Felix Felicis, but that Sopophorous Bean just didn’t produce enough juice. Well, if anyone had to win that vial, I’m glad it was Sev.
She hadn’t taken more than ten steps down the path before she heard Severus calling from behind her, “Lily!” She turned with a glowing smile for her friend. His housemates were nowhere to be seen.
“Where are you off to?” He jogged up to join her. A dour boy, not one to smile much or be overtly friendly, he was oddly energetic today, perhaps even optimistic.
“Practising spells. We’re doing advanced Shield Charms.” She cocked her head with a quizzical frown. “Aren’t taking Advanced Charms? You weren’t in class just now.”
“I am. But I had things to do that ran late.” He shrugged. “I’ll report myself to Professor Flitwick later. He’ll be lenient if I’m honest with him.”
“Good idea. He’s one of the more reasonable teachers.”
Heading for the lake, they strolled along the path which wound down the wide lawn. Groups of students were scattered on the grass, some studying, others chatting and lounging, all of them enjoying the September sun which would be weakening all too soon.
“You’re welcome to join me, if you like.” She gestured off in the distance. “There’s a spot, behind the orchard. It’s great for practising spells, and no one comes around to bother you. I can show you the charms we’re studying.”
Severus began, “I’d love to, Lily -” but his reply was cut short by a shout behind them.
The pair turned to see James Potter, in his Gryffindor robes, jogging up to them. Behind him, his friend Remus Lupin trailed him at a walk, carrying a bucket.
“Hello, Potter,” Lily replied. Not one of her favorite people, but it always paid to be civil.
James barely acknowledged Severus with a glance. Running a hand through his hair, he positioned himself so he faced Lily while shunning her companion. “Great day today, isn’t it? Lupin and I are heading down to the lake to capture a grindylow. Wanna come?”
Lily resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Potter was at it again, trying to show off, be the center of attention by doing something completely absurd and, frankly, dangerous. “Capture a grindylow? Whatever for?” Her eyes raked over Lupin and the bucket. “Do you really think you could control it?”
“For fun, Evans. For the challenge.” He spoke louder than necessary for the conversation, his eyes darting to the side to see if anyone else was listening.
Definitely showing off, Lily thought with exasperation.
“Not my kind of fun. Thanks for the invitation, but I’m busy. You go and have a good time.” She began to turn away to proceed down the path.
“Busy, huh?” James turned to Severus. “And what are you doing with our Evans?” His tone was supercilious and mocking.
Potter, you toerag, picking on Severus again. As she spun and inhaled to defend her friend, Severus stepped in front of her, arms spread as a shield, and Lily noticed that his wand was in his hand.
“Nobody owns Lily, Potter, except herself.”
The note of command in his voice drew her eyes to him, and she couldn’t help but wonder what had gotten into him. Severus never asserted himself, never found the right words, and certainly never successfully stood up to James Potter.
James laughed at sallow-faced boy in front of him. “Oh, look at Snivellus here, playing the honourable knight. I bet your hair keeps the joints of your armour greased, eh?”
Remus placed a hand on his friend's arm. “Come on, James, let’s go.”
Severus stood his ground. “You can’t rile me today, Potter. Go on, move along. Lily has already refused your invitation.”
James leaned towards his friend. “Look at him, Lupin. Such a glutton for punishment. We can’t refuse him when he’s asking so politely for it, can we?”
“Potter!” warned Evans. She tried to step around Severus, but he held her back.
“You never learn, Snivellus.” With a quick, smooth motion, James’s wand appeared in his hand “Petrificus to-“
Severus brought up his wand with a lazy wave. “Protego.” As James’ spell fizzled against the shield, Severus flicked his wand at him, “Expelliarmus,” and James’ wand went flying. “No, Potter. This is how you do it. Petrificus totalus.” James’s arms and legs snapped straight down and Severus jumped back as the boy tilted forward and fell on his face.
Clapping her hand over her mouth, Lily stared at the immobile James; she wasn’t sure if she should laugh or be horrified. Shaking his head, Remus dropped the bucket and hopped over to turn his friend face-up, then scrabbled in his pocket for his wand. Glancing at Severus with an inscrutable expression, he proceeded to work on undoing the curse. The witnesses around them were staring daggers at the Slytherin boy, but Lily couldn’t help but think that her friend’s actions were completely justified.
With an air of grace, Severus turned to Lily and gestured down the path. “Come on, Lily. You won’t have much time to practise your charms before dinner.” Nodding, Lily started down the path and Severus fell in beside her, pointedly ignoring the boy on the ground.
Lily only spoke again once they had put some distance between themselves and James. “You really shouldn’t have done that, you know.”
Tilting his head, Severus peered down his nose at her. “I’m not going to apologize. And I’m not going to lie. It felt great.”
Lily cleared her throat. “I’m not going to lie either. It was nice to see someone take Potter down a peg.” The two friends eyed each other for a moment, then broke into laughter.
Severus sobered before she did, and he bit his lip with a shy but proud gleam in his eye. “I don’t know if I could do that again, but at least, just once, I did.”
An insight flashed in Lily’s mind. “It’s been a great day for you, isn’t it?”
“A perfect day,” Severus replied as they reached the orchard. He stopped at the end of the path and Lily turned to him, frowning with surprise.
“What’s wrong? My practice spot is just over there.”
“A perfect day,” Severus repeated, rewarding her with an affectionate smile. “I’m going back up to the castle. You have a good practice, Lily. I’ll see you again later.” Stepping forward, he caught her hand and squeezed it, then turned and strode back up the path with a little bounce in his step.
Lily stared after her friend. She didn't get many chances to spend time with him, as fraternising with the Slytherins was rarely tolerated, and Severus in specific was misunderstood and distrusted, so she was disappointed that he left so early. But she did cherish what little time she had with him, and she turned to her spell practice with a light heart.
Full from a fine dinner, Lily trudged up the stairs to her room high in the girl’s tower of Gryffindor House. She’d spent most of the afternoon practising the advanced Shield Charms, and had managed to successfully cast a Protego Maxima... once. The other fifteen times had fizzled, but that single success was a major achievement, as it was actually a grade seven spell. The practice had tired her out, but she needed to get changed into casual clothing so she could start on her Alchemy homework in comfort.
As she climbed, the exuberant voices of Potter and his friend Sirius Black floated up from the Gryffindor common room as they played piggy-in-the-middle with a Snitch with some unfortunate first-year student. Lily smiled to herself as she remembered the events on the lawn and the anger burning in Potter’s eyes as he lay stiff on the ground. She knew it was hardly gracious of her to gloat over his defeat and humiliation, but it was nice to see the bully take what he normally dealt, for once.
Nudging open her door, she dropped her bookbag on the floor and plopped onto the bed, shrugging out of her robe as she remembered Severus deflecting Potter’s spell and disarming him in one easy motion. He’d been so confident, perfect in timing and execution, and afterward, neither cruel nor taunting. That Liquid Luck did him well. I hope that he understands that whatever that potion helped him do, he can do for himself.
Rising from the bed, Lily grabbed her robe and strode to the wardrobe to put it away. As she arranged it on its hanger, her hand brushed a hard object hidden among the cloth. Sticking her hand in the pocket, her fingers closed around a cold cylinder, and she drew out a tiny glass vial filled with shining golden liquid.
“Oh, Severus,” murmured Lily as she clasped the vial to her heart, “you did.”