Lily gasped as Severus's lips descended on hers ferociously, almost violently, and for an instant she froze, just absorbing the sensations- confused by the fact that, though his kiss was angry, his lips were gentle, the hand running through her hair almost tender-

And then she gasped again as his other hand firmly gripped her right thigh and hoisted her leg upward, where, to her horror, it twined instinctively around his waist. After a long moment of surprise she tried to remove it, but to her chagrin he just gripped onto her even more tightly, and she shuddered, yanking her lips away from his and meeting his eyes, determined to impart her fury, even if she was incapable of using her voice-

But to her shock, there was no malice in his face, no sarcasm- he did look angry, but it was impossible for her to believe that was truly his dominant emotion as she continued to search his eyes- eyes that looked hopeful, scared, and very, very young. Despite herself Lily felt her own anger fading as she continued to look at him-

And then his lips were on hers again, but this time there didn't seem to be any deliberation, any anger, just a certain, almost resigned tenderness, and Lily allowed her eyes to flutter shut as her hands moved of their own volition, sliding up his chest and coming to rest on his shoulders, taking note of his sharp intake of breath as she did so and not knowing what to make of it as his hand trailed lazily up her thigh, causing her to shiver uncertainly, to part her lips slightly -

To her shock, he seemed to take the gesture as in invitation, and she stiffened as she felt his tongue slide lightly across her lower lip before entering her mouth.

For an endless moment Lily felt nothing but astonishment, but as comprehension slowly dawned she felt her passivity slowly melting into renewed anger and attempted with all her might to push away from him, letting out something near a growl when that only served to make him pull her more tightly to him. For the briefest second she contemplated biting down on his tongue, but then decided against it, realizing it was possible to express herself in other ways.

And so, once more, Lily stopped fighting, and instead started to kiss him back with all the fury inside of her. She felt him stiffen almost at once, and felt a brief surge of triumph, quickly squashed as his eyes flashed, but not with anger, and the tone of the kiss changed to one of battle, their tongues warring with one another for dominance. Lily dug her fingers roughly into his shoulders, not caring if she hurt him, almost hoping that she would, then gasped as Severus shoved her back further onto the desk, pulling slightly away. For the briefest moment she felt a flash of empty victory, thinking he had stopped, but then his lips were on hers once more and she squeaked as he took her lower lip between his teeth, biting down roughly.

Lily's head spun at the sensation and she gripped him more tightly, this time unintentionally, as his mouth moved to her neck, nipping lightly on the sensitive shin there before allowing his lips to settle in one place and-

"A-hem!" an amused voice sounded from the doorway, and Lily froze, relieved as Severus did the same, and the voice continued, "I believe this would be an- appropriate- juncture to announce my presence."

Lily couldn't place the voice, but guessed from his grimace that Severus could, before he turned, stepping out of her way to reveal Lucius Malfoy, who looked like he was trying not to laugh.

"Malfoy," Severs greeted him coolly after a moment, nodding in acknowledgement. "What brings you here?"

The blond arched an eyebrow. "I would ask you the same question if it weren't- uh, obvious," he replied, again seeming to suppress a laugh before grinning cheekily. "And Narcissa always wonders why I think she's no fun."

To her surprise Lily felt the urge to laugh herself at his flippant comment, and Lucius turned to her before taking a slightly wobbly step forward, and as she registered the fact that one of the ten most feared death eaters was tipsy she again fought the urge to laugh.

"And how is the lady of the hour enjoying her party?" he inquired good-naturedly, arching a curious eyebrow, and Lily opened her mouth to answer before remembering she still couldn't talk. She turned to glare at Severus, who quickly muttered "Sonarus" almost too softly to be heard-

But Lucius did hear, and he looked between the two of them in confusion before a wide, surprised grin split across his face.

"Snape, my man," he said approvingly, sounding to Lily strangely like Sirius, "kinky!"

And then Lily did laugh, though she wasn't certain if it was at Lucius's words or at the mortified expression they had caused to fly across Severus's face.

"The lady of the hour is enjoying herself very much," Lily interjected quickly as she saw Severus's hands clench at his sides, and she stepped between the two men and smiled up at Lucius with every ounce of charm in her body. "And you, Mister Malfoy?"

--

Severus looked on in disbelief as Lily and Malfoy led the way down the hall, talking for all the world as if they were old friends- as though as recently as last week they hadn't been uttering death threats against one another.

"No, NO, call me Lucius!" he heard the blond say emphatically, and Lily laughed again. Severus cringed as he heard the sound- a sound that he seemed unable to produce from her, but that apparently even a Malfoy could inspire-

"So what were you doing in this wing?" Lily asked, good natured humor still in her voice, and despite himself Severus felt sharp respect for her ability to use humor and kindness to gather information, coupled with the realization that the Death Eaters would never be able to understand what she was doing- that she was likely to be successful simply due to that fact-

"Looking for you, actually," he responded with a cheeky grin, and not for the first time Severus felt the urge to punch the smug grin off his face, surprised as Lily, far from looking offended, just laughed again.

"Flatterer," she retorted, shaking her head in mock disapproval, and Lucius smiled before saying quickly,

"No, really- the Dark Lord arrived some time ago and sent me to look for you and your- er, husband," he supplied, tripping slightly over the word husband and causing Severus to want to punch him again, though he couldn't quite pinpoint why. "He was rather- confused- by your absence.

At his words Lily flushed, looking slightly concerned before saying softly, hesitantly, "I don't suppose you could- uh- sort of- well, tell him Sev was giving me a tour or something?"

And to Severus's amazement Malfoy nodded good naturedly, muttering some drivel about how he understood that some things were private.

--

Severus saw Lily's smile drop as soon as they entered his chambers back at Hogwarts, and she commented dryly, "Some wedding night."

"You certainly seemed to enjoy yourself," he bit out carefully, pretending to be intently interested in the potions books lining his shelves as she snorted, her cheeks coloring slightly.

"Whatever," she bit out. "As kisses go, I've had better."

His eyes snapped to meet hers as he said sharply, "Actually, I was referring to your flirtation with Malfoy, but it's interesting that your thoughts would go to-"

"Your taking advantage of me in the records room?" she supplied quickly before looking slightly ashamed and saying softly, "That was- good thinking, by the way. I didn't even understand what you were doing, but really, I don't think there was anything Lucius would have understood better." Her brow furrowed slightly and she bit her lip before asking, "How long do you think he watched us?"

"The whole time," Severus replied shortly, amazed when Lily looked slightly abashed, but then laughed again.

"Talk about kinky," she deadpanned, and despite himself Severus felt a ghost of a smile flit across his own face. "Still, though," she mused, looking contemplative, "He's not really as bad as I expected-

"You two certainly seemed to get along," Severus snapped, feeling jealousy flair inside him but unable to stop it, before continuing "You'd do well to watch yourself around him-" and Lily looked slightly taken aback by his tone before rolling her eyes.

"Careful, Sev, I might think you care," she snapped flippantly for the second time that night, eyes flashing with some sort of emotion that he didn't understand, and he felt the urge to shake her before he stepped forward, gripping her upper arms tightly.

"And is it truly that offensive to you, Lily, to think I might care?" he hissed, tightening his grip as her eyes widened.

The instant that he laid his hands on her she had attempted to yank away, but at his words the fight seemed to go out of her, anger wiped from her face as she looked up at him incredulously, seeming confused.

"Offensive to me?" she repeated, tone clearly disbelieving as she shook her head, not so much in the negative as in a sign of continued disbelief before saying softly, almost warmly, "No, Sev. Not offensive to me."

He felt thrown off by her declaration, and compensated by gripping her arms still tighter, surprised when, though she flinched slightly, she still didn't try to pull away

"Then why do you continue to mock me?" he snapped harshly, fighting the renewed urge to shake her as the confusion on her face only deepened, becoming slightly troubled as she whispered uncertainly,

"Mock you?"

"Yes, MOCK me," he retorted loudly, surprising himself as he gave voice to what he'd been feeling. "I appreciate the difficulty of your position; I can understand that you hate me. I hate myself. But is it really necessary for you to constantly throw my feelings back in my face?

And to his chagrin Lily just continued to look at him blankly, repeating, "Feelings?" doubtfully before saying slowly, "Sev, I- don't understand what you're talking about. But I mean- I don't hate you. Sometimes I wish I did, but- hate you? I don't. I never have. Do I hate some of your actions, your decisions? Of course I do, but believe it or not I hate some of my own, too. If I am sometimes-" she seemed to struggle to find the right word before saying slowly, "dismissive, it isn't because I'm trying to mock you. It's because I-" she faltered, looking away from him before saying quickly, in a rush, "You must have noticed that- well, the majority of my friends are either dead or might as well be for all the chance I have to talk to them with anything resembling honesty. And- it's so hard, to- to try to be close to someone again and then-" she hesitated again, biting down on the innermost corner of her lip before blurting, "Really, it seems like too much to hope for- that you might care, I mean- and I have to remind myself all the time, because if I don't- then I'm back where I started again."

He looked at her incredulously for a long moment before releasing her, turning away as he tried to master his emotions- the wild hope her words were threatening to inspire-

"See?" he heard her whisper from behind him, and he almost wanted to laugh at how much it was possible for one person to misunderstand, "Right back where I started."

There was an endless moment when he could feel her gaze on his back, when he wondered whether it would be better to remain silent or to speak-

"So then," she said, voice flippant again, but he didn't need to look at her to know that those emerald eyes would be far from flippant if he looked into them, "Goodnight."

He heard her turn toward the bedroom and felt his heart sink toward his feet as he turned to look at her retreating form- "Lily," he whispered so softly he was sure she wouldn't hear- so softly he wasn't sure he even wanted her to hear- but she stopped at once, and somehow he had the courage to say to her back what he hadn't ever had the courage to say to her face. "I do care."

There was an endless moment in which she didn't respond in any way, and for an instant he was certain she didn't intend to, but then she turned toward him, and to his shock tears were streaming down her cheeks.

"I care too," she choked out before a half-smile snaked across her face, looking utterly out of place in the presence of her tears. "So the real question is, why do we keep doing this to each other? Or- maybe the real question is," she amended, eyes narrowing as her tears slowed and she regarded him keenly, "why do we do this to ourselves?"

Severus wrung his hands together uneasily, realizing with a sharp stab of pain that he knew how to deal with her banter much, much better than he knew how to deal with her honesty- with her tears- and he wondered if she felt the same. Not for the first time he wished for what he knew could never be- a return to the days of their childhood, before everything had started to go so badly- back when they would rather have died than hurt one another half as much as they now did almost casually, daily-

"Because it's easier," he answered softly, not realizing he had spoken the words out loud until he saw her recoil slightly, her tears halting as she tilted her head to the side, looking at him in the way he hated- as though she could see through him, even despite everything, even after all this time-

"You know, Sev," she said softly after a long moment, shaking her head in something like resignation, "I don't think it is."

He felt her words like a slap, though he couldn't identify why, and he flinched as she took a hesitant step toward him, wondering what she could possibly want him to say- want him to do-

She met his eyes before squaring her shoulders, crossing the rest of the distance between them in three large, hurried steps and looking down at her feet before raising her eyes to meet his and saying with surprising conviction, almost as though it were an accusation, "And you don't really think it is, either."

With great effort he yanked his gaze away from those eyes that always seemed to see everything, especially that which he didn't want them to, and yet never seemed to quite understand-

"But that's just some food for thought," her voice cut through his reverie as she shrugged almost casually before winking, her tone suddenly playful and overwhelmingly, painfully reminiscent of a different time- a time when they had been so much younger-

And then, so quickly he wasn't sure it had really happened, she raised herself onto her tiptoes and kissed his cheek firmly before saying with a tentative, but very sincere grin, "Goodnight."

--

As always thank you for reading, and thank you SO much for all the awesome reviews! I wish so much that I could respond to all of you personally, but I have very limited internet access at the moment :(

Anyway! Re: the story, I think these two are finally getting somewhere, though they continue to sometimes frustrate me. At the end I wanted them to hug, but Severus wasn't having that lol, so there had to be a cheek kiss instead. Tragedy, I know.

Comments are always awesome. I should be updating every Tuesday from now on, just so everyone knows. Thanks again!