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Witch and Princess

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It was a lovely day out. The garden smelled fresh, and there were tiny daisies to be found if you hunted round the bushes. Lily did, valiantly, for Petunia had to have a crown, and for that, daisies were the best. Their yellow centers set off Petunia's thick, golden brown hair like nothing else, especially once Lily was done plaiting them in.

Petty wriggled, of course. Complained about the empty box she sat on, and generally made things trying. But the end result was worth it.

"See?" Lily said, grinning at the greedy wonder she could see on Petty's face. "You look really pretty now."

Petty's stubby brown fingers tightened around Mum's old hand mirror. "Like a princess?"

"Exactly like."

Petty twisted round at that, to look up and make sure, her familiar suspicion almost haughty beneath her braided crown. Lily reached out to pose one of the crinkly curls she'd left out for an effect, and Petunia endured the fussing with wide, excited eyes. "The curl will stay, won't it, Lily? All afternoon?"

"All day," Lily promised, though she wasn't sure if she'd put enough spit in for that long. A spit and a wish was usually enough for her own hard hair, but Petty's curls always seemed to fall apart when Lily wasn't there.

Petty had noticed that— she noticed everything, sooner or later— and that was why she asked. "Promise, Lily?"

Lily ignored the loud huff from the tree above. She knew why Petunia was asking. "Cross my heart," Lily said, doing so. And, hearing a second huff, she urged Petty out from between her knees. "Go play, your highness."

Petunia giggled, and tiptoed off to one of the rosebushes, her nose in the air. Thankfully, she did so without arguing or making a fuss, without making Lily ask and beg, and just in time, too.

For today, Severus was in a mood. He said, from up high, in his baby voice, "Go play, your highness," and Lily was very glad Petunia had gone. The way Sev sounded, he'd have done it to her face, and ruined the whole afternoon.

"Shush," Lily said, because she couldn't let that pass.

"You shush," Severus said back, really laying it on, enough that Lily tossed up a rock at him, if not very hard. "You coddle her, you know," he said, normally, as if she hadn't thrown a thing. "She can't be a princess."

"Her hair's golden, of course she can."

"Golden in the right light, you mean," Severus said, rudely. "And anyway, she's all dark. She's never a princess."

"She is too," Lily said, though she privately agreed. Princesses were all pale skin and lovely white hands, and while Petunia was more than tiny enough, her skin was just as dark as Lily's. "If you say anything to her, I'll strangle you."

"With what," Severus said, his voice receding as he scuffled his way down from the tree, "a daisy chain?"

"With only the longest daisy chain in the world," Lily crowed, picking up the chain she'd got started on, while cajoling Petunia to sit. "Look!"

And then, glancing up, she saw why Sev had been so grumpy. There was a darkening, deep set of smudges on his neck— smudges that Lily suddenly recognized as bruises. From fingers, she thought, freezing there for a moment, her own fingers suddenly numb.

Severus went still, on meeting her eye. Glared.

Lily remembered the chain, and shook it gently, holding it out between them. "See?"

Severus ignored it. "She always wants what she can't have," he said, transferring his glare to Petunia's bent form, where she was setting up court with her dolly. "Can't be a witch, can't be a princess…"

"That was your fault," Lily said, sharply. "All that nonsense about magic." The first time he'd deigned to speak to them back when they'd been neighbors, it had been to tell silly stories about wizards and wands— the kind of tales Daddy told, to scare them. "And anyway, you know what she's like. She wants baby things, so what?"

Severus rolled his eyes. "Like anyone with any sense would want to be a princess instead of a witch."

Lily sighed. It had been all she could think of to distract Petunia, when Sev had kept on insisting that she had to be the witch, and not Petunia. "It's perfectly sensible," she said now, hotly. "You marry a prince, and he's king in a bit, and you can be queen—"

"And a witch can kidnap a queen, make a bit of a potion with her hair and be her when she fancies it." Severus thumbed his collar up, covering his bruises as if that was part of his point, and made a superior face. "So there."

"She'd run out of hair," Lily said lamely. "She'd get arrested."

"By who? The muggles?" Severus laughed, loudly. "My mam says the aurors can barely catch their own breakfast of a morning, and you think muggle aurors would catch her out?"

"Oh, go away," Lily said. And, because Severus never would, from an argument, she tried to wrap the daisy chain around him.

"Ugh, don't—"

"That's don't, your highness." Lily cornered him at the tree. "Say it!"

"Your witchiness," Severus said, with an almost-smile, and Lily looked over her shoulder at Petunia to make sure she hadn't heard. "You're no princess."

"I'm a princess!" Petunia cried, and Lily, for once, did not mind the way her sister overheard things she shouldn't. As Petunia curtsied, Lily turned away from Severus, flung the daisy chain into the air, and went to her knees.

"Kneel for her highness," Lily said. Severus snorted behind her, but allowed himself to be pulled down, just in time for Petty to walk up and deposit a crushed daisy on his head. "All hail the generous golden princess!"

Beside her, Severus sighed.