Severus Snape hurriedly climbs the broken, splintered cement steps to the rusted front door of their old flat. Turning the paint chipped knob, he shoves open the old door as the unoiled hinges let out a shriek. Slamming the door shut, he pauses at hearing clinking sounds from the kitchen.
With a surprised look on his face, Severus gapes as he finds the floors have been swept clean as the air smells faintly of lemon-scented cleaner. He hurriedly steps into the kitchen to his right and finds Rowan washing piles of dirty dishes in the sink causing him to almost drop the food in surprise. Had he walked into the wrong house?!
Hearing a plastic bag rustle, Rowan turns back to greet Severus with a wryly smile. "What did you bring back?" Rowan asked as she wiped the sweat off her forehead on her sleeve and dried her soapy hands on her loose, rather worn, patched shirt.
Severus mutely holds up the food and mutters, "Fish and Ch.i.p.s with sauce."
"Good, let's hurry and eat up, before father and mother get back," Rowan hastily said. She motions for him to sit at the now clean, wobbly old table as they evenly split the food between them and began to eat.
After a mouthful or two, Severus hesitantly says, "You know, you don't have clean, it's just going to get dirty again.
"Maybe, but it won't be so hard to clean up afterward," Rowan argued.
Severus rolls his eyes and grimly says, "It never lasts."
Rowan shrugs, "But I can try, Severus." Rowan frowns and paused, "Severus, that sounds much too harsh for my precious little brother to be called." She purses her lips in thought and thoughtfully says, "Hmm, I think, I'm going to call you, Sev from now on."
"What!?" Severus indignantly sputtered.
"It sounds cuter," Rowan mumbled with a mouthful of food.
Severus's face turns from red in embarrassment to green with fury then back to pale as if in resignation. "I think that bump on the head finally addled your mind," Severus grumbled back.
Rowan shrugs and says, "Maybe, but you're still my precious twin brother."
Severus turns his head away in embarrassment and coldly grunts despite the light flush on his cheeks. Rowan grins to herself at the adorable sight before her. Hungry and still very much being children, they earnestly devour the food. However, she stops halfway as she notices the wistful gaze on Severus's face. "I'm not that hungry, you finish the rest," Rowan loudly proclaimed, before getting back to washing the remaining dirty dishes in the sink.
Severus hungrily eats the remnants of the food, before carefully destroying the plastic container and hiding it under old trash lest any evidence is found by their father. Feeling embarrassed, he loudly coughs to grab Rowan's attention and gruffly says, "So what do you need help with?"
"While I tackle the downstairs toilet and the upstairs bathtub. How about you finish up the dishes?" Rowan replied as she dried her wet soapy hands once again on her patched shirt.
Severus snorts in reply and rolls up his sleeves as he dismissively begins to wash the remaining dishes. With a grin, Rowan heads off to the grimy bathroom to clean. It was quite dark by the time the two of them finished their tasks. Exhausted and with their parents yet to return for the night, they tucked themselves into their twin-sized beds in their single shared room.
The house is eerily quiet with the occasional sound of police sirens heard faintly in the distance accompanied by the howls of dogs and screaming tomcats. Rowan passes the time by counting the many, many cracks in the faded gray ceiling. "You asleep yet, Sev?" Rowan finally asked.
Severus grunts as he rolls to his side to face her. "No. Why?"
"Do you like Lily Evans?" Rowan pointedly asked as Severus bolts up in bed and almost slams his head into the wall as there is no bed board. Severus sputtered in embarrassment as his entire face lit up as bright as a tomato and can only fiercely point at Rowan.
"But I've seen the two of you play together and if I'm not mistaken given your cherry red demeanor, you like, like her," Rowan said with a grin. "And don't worry, I won't tell anyone," Rowan promised as she crossed her hand over her heart in vehement promise.
Severus chokes and indignantly coughs, before angrily saying, "None of your business!" Before angrily slumping back onto his thin pillow and pulling the thin ragged blanket up to his neck.
Rowan's smile fades away as she recalls how this innocent childhood friendship tragically ended.
"Hey, Sev?" She quietly muttered after a minute.
"What?!" Severus snapped.
"Don't let Lily go without a fight," Rowan solemnly said. "Promise me, that you'll at least have the courage to tell Lily how you feel." Rowan gravely eyes Severus as if to convey her previous statement. At least this way even if their relationship ended just like in the book at least this time around Severus would have had at least the opportunity to express his sincere feelings for Lily.
Severus opens his mouth to give a curt remark but halts at seeing his twin sister's dead grave expression. Severus is unable to scoff at her remark as he closes his mouth for the moment. "I think, I think we're still a bit young for that," Severus shyly whispered.
"Maybe, but don't wait too long," Rowan sincerely retorted. "A girl's heart matures much faster than a boy's and before you know it, someone else may have already taken root in her heart before you've ever even had a chance."
Snape frankly considers his twin's words and hisses, "Rowan, are you trying to imply that I'm ugly?"
"No, you're just a gross smelly boy in need of a haircut and a bath," Rowan snickered causing Severus to subtly sniff himself and frown at his own body odor. "And who knows, maybe a fresh lemony scent and a nice haircut will earn you a nice compliment from Lily," Rowan emphasized the last part with a grin.
"Fine," Snape pretend grumbled with a bright cheerful look in his usually gloomy eyes. Turning on his side facing the wall, Snape says, "Goodnight, Rowan."
"Goodnight, Sev," Rowan replied as she curled up on her right side to sleep. But sleep would be a long time coming as her thoughts were an utter mess.