Severus was reclining in a chair outside a small cottage by the sea. The yard had grass that rolled on a slope, right up to where the cliff met the sea. Two boys were playing in the yard and there was a blanket spread out on the lawn. Toys were strewn across the blanket. The two small boys were chasing each other, running in circles and laughing. One had dark hair, like his father, and the other auburn hair, like his mother. Both had green eyes.
A woman came out of the cottage, carrying a tea tray, which she placed on the table next to Severus. He playfully grabbed her and pulled her onto his lap. She laughed and gave him a gentle kiss. The two of them turned their attention to their children.
The boys were settling down as their mother caught their eyes. They both ran over to her. The eldest was tall and thin. He was seven. The youngest was smaller and overly exuberant. He was only three. The little one began pleading for food.
“Please, Mummy, please can we eat now? I want sandwiches and cake.”
“Alright, Trevor, alright. Help me go and fetch them,” she replied. She took him by the hand and went back into the house.
“Father,” the elder of the two spoke. “Will we have time to work on our project today?” His expression was a mixture of well-contained excitement and seriousness.
“Yes, Phinneas, I am sure we will. But let’s first put your mother’s fears to rest by eating. She’s worried about you being so thin,” Severus replied, with a weary smile.
“I’ll have a sandwich, but I’m not touching the cake,” Phinneas retorted.
“Fair enough,” his father agreed.
The family sprawled out on the blanket, which had been cleared of the toys, and took in a simple picnic. They talked about their daily lives and upcoming plans. Their future spread before them like the endless horizon of the sea. After they had eaten, everyone helped tidy up and went into the house. The mother put the youngest down for his nap, while the eldest followed his father into the office.
The cauldron was softly simmering, as Severus retrieved the new ingredients they would be adding. His son was already focusing his concentration on rereading the potion directions. He looked up at his father and awaited further instruction.
“We are almost finished,” Phinneas stated.
“Yes, once we add these ingredients, it will just need to sit for awhile and we will be done.”
“Do you really think it will work?” the boy asked, a skeptical look on his face.
“Yes, Phin, it will work. Believe it or not I used to teach this very subject.” He placed his arm on the boy’s shoulder and added, “But that was before you were born.”
The two worked in tandem. Severus had noticed that Phin was already showing quite a talent for potion making. Phinneas was very much like his father; precise, attentive, bright, determined, and intense.
He was also appreciative of solitude and study. Some of these traits made his wife worry that Phin was lonely, but Severus assured her that was merely his nature. And she trusted, believed him, and understood. After so many years of marriage she had become accustomed to the same attributes in her husband. She had, however, made sure that their children had plenty of opportunities to interact with other children. The house was often the center of play dates and activities. Severus was not always comfortable with all the visits, but he did see that Trevor adored people and that Phinneas benefited as well. Phin had already acquired a few friends, which was more than Severus could say of his own childhood.
As the two engrossed figures finished the potion, Severus pointed out that the color and aroma were correct. They set the cauldron aside to cool and would later bottle the clear blue liquid. They cleaned up their work area and headed into the living room. Trevor had apparently woken up and was playing with his mother on the floor. They were working on a puzzle together.
“Daddy, look; I did it,” Trevor exclaimed with a triumphant grin.
“Very well done,” Severus replied softly, and his son ran over to hug him.
Trevor was his mother, incarnate. He was a wide open door. His emotions displayed vividly on his face. His heart was as large as the universe and just as fragile. Severus noticed that Trevor’s emotions were as unpredictable as the weather. He could be joyous one moment and turbulent the next. He was unable of masking anything. A quality Severus did not posses. Trevor was also affectionate and trusting. He was not judgmental and was compassionate to the needs and differences of others. That he also had inherited from his mother.
Eventually as the day wound down, the family took their evening meal. It was delicious and simple. Both parents took on their nightly duties of bathing the children, reading to them and putting them to bed. After the children were safely settled in, Severus and his wife read quietly in the den. As the fire died down in the hearth, they both made their way to bed.
They entwined gently. Severus softly whispered her name, “Lily.” Then they both rolled over. She rested her head on his chest and sighed, “Goodnight, Sev.” Then added drowsily, “What a wonderful day.”
He nodded in agreement, then gently said, “Goodnight.” After some hesitation, he said the words he wasn’t able to frequently utter, “I love you, Lil.” She looked into his eyes, smiled, and returned the sentiment.
It was the best day of his life.
Severus stirred out of sleep, not wanting it to be over. The reoccurring dream that he both feared and longed for was at an end. As he opened his eyes, he felt a solitary tear trickle down his face.
It was always the same. Always.