Disclaimer: Not my universe.

Author's Note: Written for Frayed Misfit, because she loves Sev/Lily.


The summer after their first year at Hogwarts, they spend a lot of time playing in Lily's backyard, which was large and sunny and full of soft, carefully cared for grass. Lily didn't mind what Severus did, so long as he watched her while she attempted her gymnastics. He knew she only wanted to learn the art because Petunia had taken gymnastics classes while they were at school, but he was too kind to ever mention it to her. So he usually sat leaning against the large birch tree beside the fence that separated their yard from the neighbor's, often absorbed in a book, every once in awhile shouting encouragement to Lily when she became irritated at her failures.

"Watch, Sev!" she called, standing straight backed and stiff as she prepared to try a handstand once more. He looked up obediently, subtly marking his page in the current book he was reading. Lily swung her leg forward, so high that it nearly touched her nose (she always overdid this action- he knew for a fact that it was only supposed to come up to her middle), and then leaned forward to press her hands into the ground.

Very suddenly, Severus knew that this was not just one more attempt that would end in Lily falling into a mess on the ground. Her legs came up at exactly the same moment her hands hit the ground, and for one long moment that seemed to stretch across the entire summer, she hung suspended in a straight figure, flawless besides being upside down. Her hair just barely grazed the grass, and Severus could hear her excited breathing as she tried to hold it.

A breeze blew across the yard, and it seemed perfectly timed with Lily's inability to hold up her body with her arms any longer. The perfect picture cracked as she tumbled to the ground, falling onto her back and letting out a soft, "Oomph!" She recovered immediately and scrabbled up, pulling at her tee shirt that had come untucked from her blue jeans in the handstand.

"I did it, Sev! I did it!" she screeched, flinging her arms around him. He smiled at her joyful expression, wondering idly whether she would ever be this elated again.

--

They'd just finished exams, and all of the other fourth years are up in their Common Rooms, celebrating the end of term and the prospect of returning home. Severus, however, had been dragged down to the lakeside by Lily, who wanted to practice her gymnastics.

"Don't you already know how to do all this stuff?" he asked her incredulously as she slipped off her school blouse, exposing the plain shirt she had on underneath. She transfigured her skirt into a pair of denim shorts and rolled her eyes at him.

"I have to practice, Sev. I want to keep up with Petunia." Severus was unsure whether she knew that he had noticed that transition from a childish nickname for her sister to her proper name. It marked some change in her life, but he felt uncomfortable talking with her about it, so he rolled his eyes right back at her and sat down on the grass.

"Watch," she commanded. Very carefully and deliberately, she swung up her leg. Instead of almost touching her nose it actually did, and Severus smiled to himself as he remembered a time when she had accidently smashed her nose with her leg. He had had a mad laughing fot for days afterward whenever the incident was mentioned.

He drew his attention back to Lily, who bent low into the handstand that she had practiced so many times before. Very naturally, her legs came up straight into the air, barely wavering. Her hair was now so long that it pooled onto the grass, and her arms quivered slightly from the new weight, but she held the move for a much longer time than she usually did. Out of habit, Seveurs began to count how long she had stayed up so far; he vaguely recalled that her record was something like fourteen seconds.

Just as he murmured, "Fifteen..." she toppled, so suddenly that he jumped. Excitement evident in her eyes, she bounced over to him and asked, "How long?"

"Fifteen."

"Yes!" Lily cried delightedly, punching a fist into the air. "Yes!"

And for a moment, just a moment, they were eleven years old again, playing and falling and laughing in the summertime.

--

He hasn't talked to her for a month. One long month without hearing her musical voice, and he knows that sounds to fantastically cliche, but he just can't help it. And, to top off his misery, she's actually making friends with Potter. The idea is so pathetic that it only makes Severus desire her more, because only an angel could make friends with an air head like that.

He refuses to let the word jealousy enter his head. As if he would ever admit to being jealous of Potter.

And that's when he sees them, standing together just off the Forbidden Forest. Severus stopped, knowing full well he needed to get back to the library with his latest stack of books, but not being able to tear himself away from the window. He could make them out easily enough, the achingly familiar red hair that had grown longer and longer over the years, so long that now she kept it tied back nearly all of the time. Beside her, Potter, sprawled on the grass. And the scene, like her hair, is so terribly familiar to him, but he was supposed to be in Potter's place, watching Lily.

Severus held his breath unknowingly as Lily leaned back in obvious laughter. She was dressed in what he recognized as her plain Muggle clothes, the ones she wore when she practiced. She wouldn't...

She would. From his position at the window, Severus could see her leg lifting up, in a way that brought a thousand memories rushing back, and he could practically see his childhood passing before his eyes in a swirl of images of Lily and himself, her body twisting and turning as she did her gymnastics, running over to him and celebrating her victory-

There she was, her handstand now so perfect that Severus waited for more than twenty seconds at the window as she held it, Potter's awe seeming to stop her from swaying. Her toes pointed upwards at the blue sky, and half her back was bare from where her tee shirt had slipped down. The image was so flawlessly perfect that Severus thought she might stay that way forever, suspended underneath the shimmering sunlight. But, as all things do eventually, it cracked. Lily tumbled down, effortlessly turning this into a somersault, so that she landed sitting down right in front of Potter with her legs straight in front of her.

He tore away from the window then, unable to watch them together any longer.