Disclaimer: As usual, I own nothing of the wonderful world JK has created.

Notes: This story takes place during Snape and Lily's fourth year of Hogwarts.

The Courtship of Lily Evans

Severus Snape was an afflicted young man. He'd been feeling quite ill lately: he'd been experiencing heart palpitations, uncontrollable sweating, loss of appetite, and insomnia. It was nearly unbearable. The symptoms increased every time he was in close proximity to a certain crimson-haired girl who shared a couple of his classes in school. Snape found his mouth drying out, rendering him incapable of speech whenever he saw her. It was terrible.

Snape tried to tell himself it was just an infatuation, merely a physical attraction, and could be overcome by a large amount of self-control. He assumed he wasn't trying hard enough, for his affliction was no nearer to being cured than it ever had been.

After a certain amount of time with no improvements, Snape began to contemplate the concept of love. He couldn't be in love with Lily Evans, could he? He was a Slytherin, she was a Gryffindor; he was pureblooded...she was Muggleborn. It could never do to love a girl like her, yet there it was, staring Severus Snape clearly in the face: love. A love as pure and strong as any he'd ever read about. It filled Severus with a sense of shame to be in love, for he'd always seen love as a weakness, surrendering far too much power to another person to be advised.

Lily Evans had never really paid much attention to Severus Snape. To her, he was just the creepy know-it-all who never spoke in any situation other than an academic one. He didn't like her friends, and never attended any of the parties that she did. She didn't really know Severus at all, but, for some odd reason, he'd always managed to catch her eye. When she looked at him, she could tell that Severus's long, stringy hair and his angry face were probably just a mask he always wore. She wondered what he was really like when he took the mask off. Lily couldn't figure out why he was so antisocial. School was the time to have loads of friends, and he was missing out. From what she could see, he seemed to be doing it purposefully.

A part of Lily wanted to reach out to Severus, to take him under her wing, to show him how much fun life could be with a few good friends to talk to and laugh with. Lily thought she could be his friend, if he'd let her, but she had the feeling that he wouldn't allow that. Slytherins had never been known to be too friendly to the Gryffindors, and vice versa. Perhaps the time had come for that to change though. All it would take was for one person to extend the olive branch of peace and friendship to the other, and it would go from there.

As the weeks passed, Severus came to see that his feelings for Lily were not going to change, no matter how hard he tried. The only option to him was to alleviate the pain of love. There was no possible way he could profess to Lily of his feelings for her. If his father ever found out that his son had developed feelings for a Muggleborn, the consequences would be dire. His father had beaten the concept of pureblooded superiority into him his entire life. He could only imagine his father's reaction, but knew it would be far from pleasant.

If Severus was going to do anything about his feelings for Lily, it would have to be done under the strictest of secrecy.

From Snape's many observations of Lily, he knew she was fond of baubles and trinkets and other such silly notions. During a Hogsmeade weekend, he made sure to stop in at Honeydukes, where he bought a few packages of chocolates and sweets. He also passed by a store that sold jewelry. When he was sure that nobody was around to see him, he bought a few choice items and had them wrapped in silver and gold tissue paper. Snape had spent a lot of time decided which colours to choose from, for silver and green would lead Lily too close to him, and he couldn't bring himself to use crimson and gold, so he'd felt he'd made a good compromise that looked quite elegant as well.

Snape had watched Lily enough to know her basic daily routine. Every morning she held court at the Gryffindor table with her gaggle of silly girlfriends. They shared Potions and Charms classes together. Lily always sat in the first desk on the third row to the left in both classes. Snape always sat in the last seat at the back of the class, so nobody could look at him.

Lily always arrived a few minutes before class started in order to set up her quill, parchment, and textbook. Snape would have to figure out how to arrive first to class in order to make his deliveries without anybody seeing him. Nobody could know about this. Hopefully there would be other students in the class by the time Lily arrived; otherwise, she'd know it was him, unless he delivered the gift and left the room again. But what if she was walking in the room at the same time he was leaving? No, staying in the classroom was the most logical option. Since Potions class was the first class of the day, it made the most sense to do it before that class.

Lily woke up one Monday morning and prepared for the day ahead. She primped in front of the mirror for her usual twenty minutes before feeling satisfied with her looks. She ate breakfast with her friends before walking off to her Potions class with them.

Lily was very surprised to find a small tissue-wrapped package sitting on her chair as she pulled it out to sit down in her Potions class that morning. She picked it up gingerly, and turned it over in her hands as she sat down in her chair. There were no markings or clues as to who it was from. After a minute, Lily finally opened the package up. Inside was a lovely golden bangle. She smiled as she slipped it over her wrist and saw how it glimmered in the light of her cauldron fire. It was a simple, thin gold bracelet, but to Lily, it was a priceless treasure. She had an admirer! But who was it?

Lily carefully stole a glance over her shoulder to look at the boys behind her, to see if any of them were the secret admirer type. The only boys she saw were the four who called themselves "The Marauders." They were stupid boys though, and had not a single ounce of anything romantic about them. There was James Potter among them, and while he'd always seemed to like her, he just didn't seem capable of something so romantic.

For the rest of the day, Lily wracked her brain to figure out who had given her the bracelet. It was there when she'd arrived, so it was probably somebody who had already been in the room when she'd come in, but she hadn't noticed who'd been in the room other than the Marauders. There was always the possibility that somebody who wasn't in the class had run in and dropped it off before she'd arrived. It was quite a mystery-one she'd have to solve.

Severus watched from afar as Lily discovered the bracelet on her chair. His heart pounded as he saw the look of delight on her face. Each Potions class after that for the next two weeks, he delivered another gift to her. One day there was a box of strawberry-crème filled chocoballs, the next was a set of gold hair barrettes with small white lilies on them. There was a bag of mice ice one time, and on Friday, he saved the best for last.

Severus sat in his seat after running into the Potions classroom and delivering the present. He sat without breathing as Lily walked into the room and up to her seat. Within seconds, she was opening up the now familiar gold and silver tissue-wrapped package. He watched as she took out a small swan figurine carved out of a creamy white opal stone. It had very small pieces of jade set in it for eyes, and it was magically enchanted to unfold its wings, and every once in a while, it made quiet trumpeting cries, before settling back down again.

Snape's heart raced as he saw Lily gasp and smile at the little swan figurine. Every few minutes during the class that day, he'd glance over at Lily and see her gazing at the swan or petting it lovingly. Once in a while, she'd look over her shoulder, and smile at one of the boys sitting behind her. He couldn't help but feel furious to see Lily looking at one of those boys and assuming he was the one sending the gifts. But, Snape had to remind himself, he didn't really want Lily to know the gifts were from him. Though, the more he saw Lily smiling at those boys, the more he wished it was him she was smiling at.

When that week had ended, Snape decided to take a break from sending Lily trivial objects. He took a week to figure out what to do next. He had never been too artistically inclined, but during times when his father's abuse was particularly difficult to endure, he'd found sketching as a good escape.

Snape spent several days in the privacy of the Library sketching charcoal drawings: lilies in a vase, Lily's face, her delicate hand with the golden bangle around her wrist, and finally, in a bold move, he drew his hand entwined with hers.

It took him several more days to work up the nerve to deliver the pictures to Lily. These drawings were so much more personal, for they came from his own hands.

Snape's heart pounded as Lily entered the Potions classroom one Monday morning. As much as he tried, he could not control his nerves. It was simply a weakness he had to keep working on.

When Lily arrived at her seat, she reached down and picked up the drawing of two lilies in a crystal vase. Smiling, she quickly looked around to see who was already in the room. Snape tried his best to avert his eyes, but accidentally looked up just as she looked at him. He made eye contact with her for several seconds, though it felt like an eternity. The entire time, he told himself to look away, that she would figure it out if he kept looking at her, but he felt as though her eyes had ensnared his, and he couldn't look away.

Lily finally looked away, moving her gaze to the other boys in the room. Snape let out a sigh of relief and unclenched his fists.

Lily had loved receiving the gifts, but just as suddenly as they'd arrived, they stopped. She couldn't help but feel disappointed, for this had been the first time she'd ever looked forward to going to Potions class.

She hadn't had any luck figuring out who her admirer was. It had to be one of the boys in the class. The only Gryffindor boy with any chance of pulling something like this off was Remus Lupin. He was quiet and sensitive, quite unlike his fellow housemates. The Slytherin boys were less questionable. None of them even paid her the time of day, so it didn't seem to be any of them. By the process of elimination, Lily began to believe that Remus was, in fact, her admirer. But when the next week started, Lily was confused once again when she received a beautiful charcoal drawing of two lilies in a vase.

Lily had seen some of Remus's drawings on his notebooks that he drew in during boring classes, and knew he didn't have talent like this. As she held onto the picture and looked around the room, her eyes were once again drawn towards Severus Snape. For the first time ever, he looked back. His dark eyes gazed deeply into her soul, making her feel naked and vulnerable in his presence. Her heart fluttered and her mouth dried out. It was him; he was her admirer. Lily felt this deep down inside herself with a certainty she didn't doubt. Several seconds passed, and she finally had to look away from Severus, for it was almost painful to see him alone in his corner of the room.

For the rest of the day, all of Lily's thoughts were of Severus. Perhaps her desire to befriend him was actually deeper than that. Perhaps it was an attraction. The more she thought about it, the more her thoughts about Snape turned romantic in their nature. She could see him kissing her in the library while studying or holding her hand as they walked to class. The thoughts kept her from sleeping that night. Was this something she wanted?

Severus wondered if Lily had figured it out. He agonized over whether to give her the remaining drawings or not. He ultimately decided to continue giving them to her, and not altering his schedule in any way. She might catch on otherwise, if she hadn't done so already. For the next week and a half, he left a picture on Lily's seat in Potions class while watching for her reaction. She never again looked at him after that first day though, which made Snape wonder why. Maybe she knew it was him and was so disgusted at the thought that she couldn't bear to even look in his direction.

On Friday, when Lily picked up the drawing of the embracing hands, Snape was surprised over what happened next. Sirius Black, a boy Snape loathed, snuck up behind Lily and snatched the picture out of her hands. "Well, well, well, what have we here? I've heard about your admirer. Is this the latest from him? Any idea who it is?" he asked loudly while looking around the room. "Well I know it's not one of my mates, or myself, no offense Lils, so it must be one of the Slytherins. Let's see now, which one is it?" Sirius started walking around, looking at the Slytherins. Lily followed closely behind, trying to get her picture back. Sirius glared at Snape, who glared right back. "Well, it can't be from good old Snivelly here. The boy's flaming, don't you know. No, he'd be more likely to write love letters to James than to you, Lils," he sneered before turning around and stuffing the picture back in Lily's hands. "Sorry Lils, looks like it's still a mystery." With that, Sirius turned and walked back to his desk.

Before Sirius had a chance to sit down, Lily stormed over to him, grabbed him by a handful of hair and pulled him down to her eye level. "How dare you say that about my admirer? Whoever he is, he's a darn sight more sensitive than you are. If I ever hear of you saying anything like that again, about anybody, I'll kick your arse from here all the way to Liverpool, got it?" she hissed while yanking on his hair.

Sirius was bent over and the pain was quite overwhelming. "Yes," he finally muttered.

"Apologize," Lily demanded, pulling even tighter.

"I'm sorry," Sirius said.

"Repeat after me," Lily said, "I apologize for being an insensitive jerk with rotten sulfur breath and an unpleasant disposition."

Before Sirius had a chance to recite his apology, the professor walked into the room. "Miss Evans, unhand Mr. Black. Now, take your seats before points are deducted from your house," he demanded sternly. Lily immediately let go of Sirius, and both scampered silently to their desks.

Snape was shocked at how upset Lily had gotten. It made him wonder again what she knew, though the thought of her defending him was quite unpleasant. It wouldn't do to have a girl defend him, especially not after his masculinity had been challenged in front of her. But if he'd reacted, it would have confirmed to Lily that he was in fact, her admirer. His loathing of Sirius was as strong and pure as it had ever been. At least he had the satisfaction of having watched a girl knock him down a peg or two in front of all his mates.

For the rest of the weekend, Snape tried to think of ways in which to find out how much Lily knew about her admirer.

Lily hated the way Sirius and the Marauders teased Severus mercilessly. He was such a deep, tormented soul; it was cruel to taunt him.

She spent her weekend trying to figure out the best way to let Severus know that she knew he was her admirer without humiliating him or cornering him. It seemed that leaving a token of some sort on his chair before Potions class was the most appropriate response. But what to leave? She wasn't artistically gifted like he was, and she didn't have many things to give him that a boy would be interested in. She could leave him a note, but what would she say?

All day Sunday, Lily tried to compose a letter to Severus. It took several hours and many sheets of parchment before she was satisfied with what she had written.

The next morning, she ran down to the Potions classroom to deliver the letter before going to the Great Hall for breakfast.

Severus never expected to find something in his seat. Had Black left him a nasty note? Or maybe Potter or somebody as equally horrid? He carefully opened the letter, half expecting something to spray on his face or to do something unpleasant to him. Snape was quite relieved to see a simple sheet of parchment inside. He took it out and opened it, reading its contents:

S-

I didn't want to do anything in public, because I respect how private a person you are. I wanted to let you know how very much I have enjoyed receiving your gifts. They mean a lot to me. I'll treasure them forever.

I also wanted to let you know that I think you're a beautiful person. You have a soul as deep as the ocean. I wish I could get to know you better, and there's always time to do so, if you want. I would like to really hold your hand someday, not just look at the picture of us doing so.

I wish you good luck in your life, S. You are capable of such great things and I know you'll go quite far.

I will understand if you no longer send me gifts, or continue to ignore my existence. I will not take offense, for I know how you really feel, and please know that the feeling is mutual.

Enclosed in the corner of this parchment is a token of my feelings. Just unfold the corner, and you will understand.

-L

Snape looked and saw that the right hand corner of the parchment was folded over on itself. As he unfolded it, he saw a small heart drawn on the paper, and at the same time, felt the sensation of invisible lips being pressed to his. Lily must have concocted some charm or spell to do that.

He was never gladder to be sitting in the back of the classroom, where nobody looked at him, for if they had, they would have noticed his flushed cheeks as he relived that "kiss," when he should have been making his potion.

Snape received failing marks that day in class, but he didn't care. Sometimes, though not often, there were more important things in life than classes.

A week passed after Lily gave Severus her letter. She figured nothing would come of it, and wasn't surprised or hurt to not receive a response or acknowledgement.

On Monday morning though, Lily's heart fluttered as she saw a sheet of parchment on her seat in Potions class. Lifting the parchment up, she saw it was completely blank, except for a folded right-hand corner. In the corner was a drawn heart with small writing inside:

L- Thank you –S

Lily smiled, folded the paper, and put it in the pocket of her robes closest to her heart. She didn't care how many people saw her flushed cheeks. That day, Lily received her highest marks yet for her potions. It was a good day indeed.