It was the one thing he coveted the most. A photograph, dog-eared and yellow with age, which he kept in the drawer of his nightstand. In the picture a young girl, roughly ten years of age, ran from the camera, but her face and upper body was turned toward it. Despite the sun exposure one could still see the girl’s long hair is a vivid red, and her mouth was turned upward and open in a laugh frozen in time. He still admired, after all these years, the way her hair fanned out to the side, chopped off by the edge of the photo. The color of her eyes was indiscernible, but he knew they were green.
The photo had been taken nearly thirty years prior. He and Lily had met on the playground, their usual hangout. It was a holiday weekend, but neither of their families had any plans to go anywhere. The playground had been completely empty, which pleased Severus; he liked to imagine himself in a world where only he and Lily existed. It was bright and sunny, and comfortably warm. The pair usually avoided the play structures, opting instead to talk and play on the fringes of the playground amidst the trees, but the absence of any other children made them less inhibited. They sat in the caboose of a wooden train, and Severus told her more about the magical world.
“Guess what I have,” Lily smiled mischievously, her hands reaching into her satchel. Severus leaned forward eagerly, excited by the gleam in her eyes. With a dramatic wave of her arm, she pulled out a disposable camera. Severus’ smile dimmed a little, but Lily was undeterred. She coaxed him off the train and out into the open. “I want to start a scrapbook, and I need you in it!”
“It’s a Muggle camera,” he replied somewhat sourly, squinting in the sun. He had a hard time keeping still; cameras (Muggle-made or not) made him uneasy.
“So?” Lily retorted. “Don’t just stand there, do something!”
His patience was wearing thin. “Like what?” He felt unexpectedly weary; the sun’s heat was bearing down directly on him and his dark, baggy clothing. But it was too late, for Lily quickly raised her arms and took a picture of him in mid-sentence.
She flashed him another cheeky smile. “Candid camera!” In a burst of annoyance, Severus made an attempt to grab the camera from her, but she darted away laughing, and continued to turn and take pictures behind her as the pursuit turned into a game. He chased her through the playground, over and under bridges, down slides, and through tunnels. Finally, he cornered her near the monkey bars and managed to take the camera from her. “Wait,” she reached for it, “I have an idea.” She wrapped an arm around his shoulder and leaned against him, with her face towards the camera as they both held it. He felt his stomach leap at the closeness of her body, and blinked at the flash. She withdrew quickly, but let go of the camera and ran off. On impulse, Severus raised the camera to take a picture just as she began to turn around…
Two days later they met again at the playground. Severus noticed that she had a paper bag which he immediately recognized as the kind the pharmacy put developed photos into. Lily steered him toward a picnic table and they sat down. “I got doubles,” she explained, “but most of these didn’t come out.” She pulled out a stack of glossy photos. Looking through them, Severus noticed that most were of him, but extremely blurry. He rushed through his stack, eager to see only one picture. He was met with disappointment; the left side of his face had been chopped off by the edge of the photo, and Lily’s face was completely washed out so all one could see were her eyes, and the faint outlines of her mouth and nose.
“I’m still going to put it in my scrapbook,” Lily shrugged. “It’s the only one with both of us in it.”
Severus flipped to the next, which was the one he had taken of Lily running. It had turned out surprisingly clear, and he found it striking. “We should have used a wizard camera,” Severus replied sourly. Lily did not respond to this comment, replying instead that he could keep one set of the photos if he wanted. Severus looked them over again, and decided only to keep the one of the two of them and the one he himself had taken. He hid them in the pocket of his oversized shirt; the last thing he wanted was his father to see them and start asking questions.Those days seemed a lifetime ago. Severus ultimately lost the shot of both him and Lily. The picture, in light of everything that had transpired since, had taken on an almost eerie quality. But he still had the picture of Lily, frozen in time. Perhaps it was the wizard in him, but the stillness of the Muggle photograph was profound and unsettling. It seemed to underscore the fact that Lily was dead, and irrevocably gone. As he ruminated over it, he tried not to think about what had become of her set of the pictures. Had she thrown them away? Torn out those particular pages of her scrapbook? Was his photo, like him, without a partner? His work was cut out for him, and the photo served as a daily reminder. He held it dearly; it was the only part of her he possessed.