Slughorn has a problem. Who will take care of Severus Snape for the summer holiday?
The problem had landed on his desk just as exams were ending. Eileen Snape was in St. Mungo's and would likely be there for most of the summer. Her husband, Tobias, had disappeared on a drinking binge. Someone had to be found to take care of Severus for the summer. The Ministry would be furious if the boy walked into a house full of Muggle social workers with a trunk full of robes and spell books.
Horace sent out owls to all his friends, but everyone had an excuse. Yes, Jones had been talking about his trip to Romania all winter and Mrs. Crouch had been ill for some time, but hadn't McLaggen redecorated the entire house last summer? A second round of owls brought even more creative excuses. It wasn't entirely the boy's fault, Slughorn thought. With You-Know-Who on the rise, Wizard families were becoming very wary of strangers.
Slughorn was growing desperate. The rules of the school were clear. Students could not remain at Hogwarts during the summer. As Head of Slytherin House, Slughorn was responsible for the boy's care until he could be returned to his parents or placed with a suitable family. If he could not find someone to take Snape by tomorrow, he would be stuck with him all summer. Slughorn had an invitation from a colleague at Beauxbatons to spend the summer at his chateau. Having a fourteen-year-old boy in tow would limit the scope of his pleasures, to say the least.
He thought of asking Dumbledore for help but immediately decided against it. One of the few things that taxed the Headmaster's nearly endless patience was any hint of deliberate shirking of duty.
Slughorn racked his brain for more names. The Malfoys? Lucius had been friendly to Snape when he was at school. That was a good sign. He usually regarded Half Bloods as beneath his notice. But there were disturbing rumours about young Mr. Malfoy. He might not be suitable company for an impressionable boy.
The Longbottoms? Utterly reliable of course, but Augusta harboured some ridiculous prejudice against Slytherins.
The Weasleys? Completely unprejudiced and generous to a fault, but could Snape survive a summer in a small house with two babies? Slughorn shuddered at the thought.
Suddenly a new idea struck him. It was a long shot, but it might work. He went to the staff room and scrounged all the Muggle change he could find. Then he mounted his broom flew of to find a telephone box. Two hours later, he returned, tired and wet, but successful.
Slughorn felt a slight twinge of guilt at how he had stretched the truth. The fact that two young people could share a desk in potions class without causing each other serious injury did not quite make them good friends. He put it out of his mind. His problem was solved. In two days he would be enjoying himself in the south of France.
Lily Evans got the news in the Gryffindor common room."My parents have invited Severus Snape to spend the summer! He'll be sleeping in the room right next to mine," she complained to no one in particular.
"Don't worry, Evans. We'll put a permanent sticking charm on his underwear,"James Potter offered. "That will keep him out of trouble."
"He would stink by the end of the summer," Remus Lupin pointed out.
"He already does," Sirius Black replied.
"Just shut up, all of you!" Lily said, as she went upstairs to pack.
In the Slytherin Common Room, Severus Snape received the news in stony silence.
"A whole summer with a Mudblood Gryffindor? You have my deepest sympathy," Avery said consolingly.
"I notice that one thing I don't have is an invitation from any of your parents," Snape replied. He went upstairs to pack.
Lily and Severus rode home next day on the Hogwarts Express, choosing compartments as far away from each other as possible. Only when they reached King's Cross and collected their trunks did they seek each other out and start looking for Lily's parents.
Lily greeted her parents warmly and then turned to Snape and said, "Mum, Dad, this is Severus."
Severus eyed the Evanses nervously. They seemed pleasant enough, but they were very middle class and very Muggle He took a deep breath and began his rehearsed speech. He knew he would have to be on his best behaviour. Slughorn would be disappointed if he heard one word of complaint. Unlike Dumbledore, Slughorn did not believe in second and third chances. "Hello, Mrs. Evans, Mr.Evans. Thank you very much for inviting me to your home."
"Hello, Severus, Professor Slughorn says that you and Lily are great friends," Mrs. Evans said. Her tone of voice was kindly, but Severus could see that she was looking at his hair and there was just a slight wrinkle of disapproval in her nose.
Snape sat beside Lily in the car and watched as the suburbs of London gave way to green fields. Southern England was enemy territory to him. Spinner's End was a bleak hostile place, but at least he knew its dangers. Here, as a wizard and a northerner, he was a double outsider. They finally reached the small bedroom suburb where Lily lived.
Lily jumped out of the car as soon as they got home. "I'm going to change. I'm just boiling in these jeans," she said and ran inside.
Severus stayed outside to help Mr. Evans with the trunks. A few minutes later he came in and saw Lily standing at the top of the stairs. His eyes widened.
It was generally agreed by Hogwarts boys that the Hogwarts working robes was the least alluring garment ever sewn. When Dumbledore became Headmaster, he had allowed students to wear Muggle clothing outside of feasts and classes, but it did little good. In the damp Scottish climate Muggle clothing meant jeans and bulky jumpers.
Lily was wearing a short skirt and a light blouse. The late afternoon sun highlighted the whiteness of her skin and the curves of her newly developed figure. Now, it wasn't as though Severus had never seen a girl in a miniskirt before. There were lots of them around Spinner's End, but they were trashy girls who never gave him a second glance. This was Lily, and she was looking right at him.
"What are you staring at? Step aside and let me get my trunk," Lily said. Lily waved her wand and levitated her trunk to the top of the stairs. Severus followed, dragging his trunk with him.
"Won't you get in trouble for that?" he asked.
"Oh, no," Lily replied. "the Ministry doesn't watch that closely. They don't mind if you do a few simple charms in the house. Just don't try any hexes or jinxes."
"Another thing," Lily said, her voice becoming more serious, "be careful around Petunia. She's my sister and I love her but she has this thing about magic. I never talk about school in front of her. I haven't even told her I'm not supposed to do magic at home. Of course, when her friends are around, we can't say anything about school at all."
Severus went to his room and saw a large towel and a bottle of shampoo waiting on the bed. He took the hint and found that the bath was not the ordeal he had feared. He had never lived in a house with a private bathroom and lots of hot water. As he lay in the tub, he thought about Lily standing at the top of the stairs and decided that the summer might not be so bad after all.