Disclaimer: Anything you recognise is JK Rowling's, not mine.

A/N: Originally written as a Christmas present for MrsTater, who inspired it with many discussions about what Snape was like as a teenager, and if wizards had LJ, whether his would be totally emo.

Severus sat in the library, hunched over his parchment, his nose almost touching the paper, his hair falling over his face. He was scribbling furiously.

The world continues to misunderstand me, he wrote, but while they fawn at the feet of Potter and his cronies –

A ball of something wet and slimy hit him on the back of the head, and as he raised his hand to assess the damage, the all too familiar sound of sniggering rose from behind him. He sighed, not even bothering to turn round and see which of Potter's cronies had thrown something at him.

It didn't matter. He could barely tell them apart at the best of times.

He turned back to his parchment.

The world, he wrote, is full of idiots who through no doing of their own and no special talent ( and definitely no genius – despite what everyone thinks) attract attention. Anyone can play Quidditch – anyone can get good marks in Transfiguration without studying, and anyone with enough money and time to spend on hair potions could have hair like that . I choose not to be vain. I choose not to take the path so well trodden by the popular and wealthy before me, in an attempt to do something more with my existence – such that it is – something more interesting than the base clichés Potter indulges in. And yet I am mocked, and put upon by those even bigger idiots that fall at the feet of Potter and his ilk for my efforts. They do so in a blatant attempt to hide their own inadequacies, insecurities, and –

Another ball of something wet and slimy hit him on the back of the head, and this time the war not to turn round and scream in the face of the perpetrator when the familiar sniggers rose waged entirely in his jaw as he tensed and then relaxed it, gripping his quill so tightly it was a marvel the thing didn't break.

He pressed the nib of his quill more insistently to his parchment, channelling his energies.

The world, he wrote, is a fool. But it will see. When the time comes, who will be there to save it? Potter and his cronies will be too busy cowering in the corner. I will be the only one truly prepared, and then Evans will see –

Another ball of something wet and slimy hit him on the back of the head, and, this time, Severus did break his quill.

Ink splattered over the parchment, and he seethed quietly for a moment, and then calmly gathered his things, placed them gingerly in his bag, and turned towards the door in a manner that suggested – or he hoped did – that he'd been about to leave anyway, and their actions had no bearing whatsoever on his.

Potter and his cronies sniggered. Severus glared down his nose at them in disdain, and swept towards the door, ignoring the laughter that erupted in his wake.

Idiots. Children. Preposterous clichés.

He'd always preferred his own company anyway, and the library, this close to Christmas, was as full of people engaging in ridiculously public displays of affection under the mistletoe as studying, and frankly, he found the giggling and – other noises – distracting.

The dormitory, he thought, was a much better choice for his activities, and when he reached it, it was thankfully, mercifully, quiet.

He sat down and took out the parchment he'd been working on earlier. He set it on the desk in front of him, lovingly stroking its corners as he unfurled it and pressed it against the wood.

He smiled faintly at it.

This is why he wouldn't rise to their taunting, wouldn't turn round and rant and rave or fire hexes like they wanted him to. This was too important. He had other better, bigger, things to think about – it was why he was a better man than any of them, because he'd learned to rise above, to be strong in the face of adversity, to not let pillocks like Potter get to him.

His time would come.

He tapped the sheaf of parchment with his wand, and the drawings in front of him leapt into life.

He'd been working on the comic since September. The idea had come to him one day after Potions, when Potter had made some jibe about him and the size of his nose, and Evans had told Potter to shut up and offered him a reassuring smile, saying something about a Roman nose being very flattering to many a man's profile.

That had certainly shut Potter up, and he'd looked rather sheepish, then, and had walked away, no doubt contemplating his, frankly, inadequate olfactory organ.

Severus smiled at how annoyed Potter would be when he realised that he'd given him one of his better ideas, the idea that would no doubt clinch the acquisition of Evans' affections.

He fingered the corners of the parchment, looking down at his meticulous drawings. School work had always come first, of course, but every other spare moment he'd had had been devoted to plotting a believable tale, weaving in subtle allusion and metaphor, and rendering it impeccably on the paper in front of him.

He looked down at it.

Page one. The unassuming hero, Severus Maximus, at work and at play in a castle school for wizards that was definitely not Hogwarts.

By day he wore ordinary wizarding robes, disguised himself in an unassuming body, was shunned by his peers for being too odd, too studious, too – something. He wasn't quite sure, actually, what was at the heart of the shunning, although he suspected jealousy was not a small contributory factor.

He'd taken pains to set a large portion of the action in the Potions lab specifically, since that was the one area where Severus Maximus was distinguished – the one area where she –

But he'd come to her later.

Page two. The over-blown and egotistical gang of Potter The Supposedly Great and his three indistinct and variously shabby cronies, who applauded every move Potter The Supposedly Great made, sat around, wasting time, mocking Severus Maximus for his long nose and unfashionable hair. Severus Maximus rose above it with a majestic sweep of his cloak.

He hadn't paid much attention to drawing Potter's cronies, since they weren't really part of the story – a minor annoyance, at best, and a thorough waste of ink.

Page three. The love interest. The incomparable Lily – bright, clever and charming. He'd drawn her outside the library, clutching her books to her chest and looking pensive, while Severus Maximus looked on, longingly, from behind a statue.

It had taken him the best part of a month to do proper justice to the way the light from the window behind her played on her copper hair.

Page four. The truth was revealed. By night, Potter The Supposedly Great and his cronies – he couldn't help thinking they needed a collective name of some kind, but so far, inspiration had been lacking – slept, while Severus Maximus patrolled the castle in his guise as a superhero.

The outfit had caused him most trouble. Eventually he'd settled on a dark green one-piece, with a silver S on the front, a billowing black cape, and pointy-toed boots. It was very fetching – made the most of Severus Maximus' Roman nose and distinguished – if unusual – features.

Severus got up, threw a quick spell at the bed sheet to transform it into a cape and quickly tossed it around his shoulders, tying it at his neck. His billowing charm was working a treat, he thought, as he glanced in the mirror.

He always found it easier to get into character when wearing the cape – although this method drawing had caused him several embarrassing moments when the people he shared the dormitory with returned unexpectedly and he had to explain what he was doing, sitting at his desk wearing a bed sheet as cape, with it set to Full Billow behind him.

He sat back down at the desk and turned back to his masterpiece. He didn't anticipate any of them being back for at least an hour.

Page five. Something was afoot in the castle. All over the place, innocent students were being forcibly prevented from studying by a mysterious series of juvenile, facile, pranks.

He'd drawn a range of their less irritating classmates looking worried, nervously pacing the corridors, looking up at the ceiling for water balloons, bubotuber-pus showers and the like, and people in the library, cowering together in case they became the latest victim.

Fear and confusion reigned. The teachers and prefects were flummoxed – even the incomparable Lily had confided to her friends that she didn't know what to do about the mysterious series of irksome pranks, and she wondered who would be brave and wily enough to figure out who was behind them and put a stop to it.

Page six. The truth will out. When a prank accidentally went wrong, and Lily was caught in the crossfire, it emerged that Potter The Supposedly Great was behind it all along – and he, with his normal arrogance and disregard for his fellow students, was remorseless. He and his cronies laughed at poor Lily, turned their wands openly on other students in the name of mischief and fun, and, unable to keep up the façade of a mild-mannered ordinary student anymore, Severus Maximus had to intervene. He span quickly on the spot, transforming himself into everyone's saviour. People were stunned; impressed with his outfit.

A fierce battle ensued –

It had taken him nearly ten pages to draw in all the detail he wanted. Hexes flew left, right and centre – Severus Maximus dodged or easily countered the bog-standard ones thrown by Potter The Supposedly Great and his cronies, retaliating with inventive spells of his own that wowed the crowd.

The castle was reduced to ruins around them, but even though he was out-numbered four to one, Severus Maximus kept going, picking off the cronies one by one until they all lay battered and bleeding amongst the rubble, and only he and Potter The Supposedly Great were left. He tried to bargain with Potter, told him that it didn't have to end this way, but Potter wouldn't listen, and when he threw a nasty curse, Severus Maximus had no option but to retaliate with ultimate force –

The final page. Severus Maximus stood triumphantly atop Potter The Supposedly Great – one foot on his back as Potter lay prone and bleeding on the ground – his cape billowing out behind him while the other students applauded. Lily the incomparable was speechless – amazed and proud that someone she'd considered so ordinary was in fact nothing of the sort – and she did the only thing she could – dashed to his side, threw her arms around him, and bestowed upon him a wonderful peck on the cheek, calling him her hero.

Severus ran his fingers lightly over the final page. That one was his favourite.

Three months' work, he thought, but not a second wasted.

He hoped she'd like it, that, finally, she might see what he'd tried to tell her so often with small gestures – offering her helpful advice about how to slice mandrakes, showing her where ingredients were in the Potions cupboard and how to select the best specimen. She couldn't fail to see how he felt, surely, when he'd gone to so much effort.

He turned the comic over, muttered a quick gift-wrapping charm, and Conjured a gift tag.

On it, he wrote:

To Lily,

Seasonally appropriate greetings,

From Severus.

Satisfied, he set the package down on the desk, marvelling that at last, it was finished.

Of course he wouldn't be the only one bearing gifts for Lily Evans. He wasn't deluded enough to think that he was only one with eyes in his head and enough of a brain to know that she, of all the girls in their year, was the one worthy of attention.

But he was confident. Anyone could go to Hogsmeade and buy Everlasting Flowers, as he'd seen Potter doing last weekend, and charm them to sing a sickly ballad. Anyone could purchase chocolates, transfigure them into heart-shapes and Christmas images and write her name on them in impeccable scroll in pink icing.

Any idiot could offer her trinkets, trifles, but what he was going to offer her was more – he was going to offer her his heart – a part of himself he'd never get back – time, and energy, and thought and effort, not money.

It was a distinction, he thought, that Potter and his fawning cronies were too crass to understand.

Yes, he thought, as he fingered the corners of the package on the desk in front of him, this time, Potter was going to know how it felt to finish in second place.

A/N: Thanks for reading. Reviewers get a comic of their very own, starring their favourite HP character as the dashing hero, and them as the damsel/whatever the bloke equivalent of damsel is in distress ;)