Samantha slipped into the Slytherin common room and curled up in the corner of the green velvet couch that was positioned directly in front of the fire. One by one, her roommates filed into the room, placing plates of food on the tables and choosing seats around her. Once they were all seated, she took a deep breath, then another, and began to speak.

"I know you all have been pretty concerned about me, and I just wanted to let you know that I really do appreciate it, even if I don't show it. I'll admit it, and I'm only going to admit it this one time, you are right. I miss him, and I don't know how to forgive him. I don't know how to make this right without sacrificing my self-respect and dignity. But, I can't let him go. I don't know how to be happy without him."

Samantha swiped angrily at the tears that were rolling down her cheeks.

"Anyone have any advice?" she asked, laughing slightly. "I've already told him to stay away from me and to leave me alone, so reconciliation may be a problem."

Carly laughed out loud.

"Sam, you never make things easy, do you?" she said with a smile.

"Never. In fact, after what I just told him, he may think I'm absolutely bonkers if I tell him I actually do want him back," Samantha said ruefully.

"Thankfully, we're your best friends, and we know that you are, in fact, absolutely bonkers, so it doesn't deter us in the slightest. We can make this happen," Kit said, grinning broadly.

"I'm so sorry I've been so off lately. I didn't realize how much all of this was affecting me. Not until Kit called me out earlier today."

Kit cringed slightly.

"I didn't mean to call you out, I just wanted to make sure that you were being completely honest with yourself, because it didn't seem that you were. You were telling us that you were one hundred percent over him, but then I would see you looking at him like he had given you the moon, but only when you though no one was looking. It hurt all of us to see that, because we know what you guys meant to each other, and it's pretty obvious that you mean a lot to each other now."

Kit reached over and grasped Samantha's hand.

"I meant what I said. Love doesn't come around every day, especially not the kind of love that you two have. When it does, you need to grab it with both hands, and fight like the devil to keep it. When it's real, it's forever. And Sam, what you guys have is real. It's so real that it affects everyone around you."

Samantha swallowed roughly.

"I had no idea," she managed to say.

"It's true," Jazz spoke up. "What you guys have is what most of us want. And you found it so young, and I think that's what the problem is. How can a teenager be expected to handle such intense feelings?"

Samantha nodded.

"That's exactly how I feel. Like the way I feel about him is too much for me to handle. It's far too complicated for people of our age to be as serious as we were, but my God, it feels so right. If this is truly the real thing, it's crazy to give it to us right now," she lamented.

Carly slapped her hands together.

"Okay, so that's that. Samantha needs to reconcile with Oliver, and they need their happily ever after," she said with a smile.

Kristina heaved a sigh of relief.

"Oh good. I was starting to think that this year was going to be boring, with nothing to do but homework and studying."

Samantha opened her arms and hugged all of her roommates.

"I'm so sorry. And I don't deserve you guys, at all."

Unfortunately, Oliver seemed to be taking her demand to leave her alone seriously. At breakfast the next morning, he wouldn't even make eye contact with her. The distraction of an owl soaring towards her was more than welcome.

Her father's owl flitted about her head before dropping an envelope in front of her. Without even waiting for a treat, he soared to the far end of the table, where he then dropped an envelope in front of her brother. Her navy eyes met his pale grey eyes before focusing on the letters in front of them. Sliding her finger under the flap, she removed the parchment and began to read.

Dearest Daughter,

Your presence is required at a social gathering to be held at Malfoy Manor this coming weekend. Dress is formal; your mother has informed me that you do not possess the necessary garments for such an occasion, so enclosed please find the funds that you will need to outfit yourself and your brother. Be prepared to leave Hogwarts on Friday by 4:30 p.m. at the latest.

Your loving Father

"Well, there goes Hogsmeade this weekend. Draco is going to be furious," she murmured, tossing the letter to her roommates. She chanced a glance down to her brother. Indeed, his face was crimson. He had never been as skilled at hiding his emotions as she was. She rose from her seat and approached him.

"I'm not going," he stated stubbornly.

She laughed slightly.

"You were under the assumption that you had a choice? Come on, Draco, you know better than that," she chided him.

"I won't go home. This is my first Hogsmeade weekend!"

"I'll take you to Hogsmeade myself. We have to go anyways and get something to wear," she offered.

'No offense, Sam, but you're not exactly who I wanted to spend my first trip there with," he muttered.

"None taken, I assure you," she said with a small bow. "Nonetheless, I'm going to get us excused from classes so we may head into the village. You can take your attendance up with Mother and Daddy."

She approached Professor Snape at the Head Table and he smiled at her.

"I am assuming that you are coming to ask permission to leave the grounds to go to Hogsmeade for attiring purposes. Permission granted, and I will, in fact be joining you in your quest for garments, because I, too, have been invited to this soiree," he said with a touch of disdain.

Samantha smiled broadly.

"You have no idea how happy that makes me," she said, still grinning. "At least I will know someone at this event. When did you want to head to Hogsmeade?"

"The sooner the better, to get this over with. I'll excuse the two of you from your morning classes, and we will head off straightaway."

"Very good, Professor Snape," she said with a wry smile. She spun on her heel and headed back to the Slytherin table to gather her brother.

With a sullen Draco Malfoy trailing behind them, Samantha and Professor Snape strolled companionably towards Hogsmeade.

"What about when you were at Hogwarts? Is it very different now?" Samantha questioned.

Professor Snape was quiet for a moment, gathering his thoughts. After seven years of being his star pupil, Samantha was well accustomed to this and knew better than to push him. He would speak when he was ready.

"It was different, and yet still similar. Same cliques, same petty issues," he stated.

"Was Slytherin always frowned upon?" she asked.

"For the most part. Our house has been the unfair target of a lot of anger and hostility."

They approached the outskirts of Hogsmeade, and Samantha checked over her shoulder for her brother.

"Draco, as soon as we find our dress robes, I promise, the rest of the afternoon is yours to do whatever you want in the village. Deal?"

He nodded sullenly and followed her into Gladrags Wizard Wear. She nudged him over to the Young Men's section and then headed over to the witches' section. An older witch bustled over to assist her while Professor Snape helped her brother.

"Hello, dear. What can I help you find today?" the witch asked.

"Good afternoon. I need dress robes for a very formal gathering," Samantha stated as she took a seat in a comfortable armchair.

"Very well. Any particular color?"

Samantha shook her head.

"Nothing too flamboyant. My parents would never approve," she said carefully.

"Your eyes are the most lovely shade of blue, my dear. Perhaps something to compliment them?" the witch asked.

Samantha shrugged.

"Why not?"

Within minutes, the saleswitch had pulled out three sets of dress robes in various shades of blue. Samantha took all three and headed into a dressing room.

The first two were definite no's. The first one was too low cut, and her parents would never have approved. The second just did nothing for her figure. Feeling slightly discouraged, Samantha pulled the final set over her head. Tugging up the side zipper, she turned to gaze at herself in the three-way mirror.

The heavy cornflower blue satin molded to her curves in a way that no other garment ever had. The dress was cut straight across her chest, and fit snuggly past her hips, where it then flared out slightly in a trumpet style. There was a cap sleeved lace jacket that fastened just under her breasts with a platinum clip set with a large sapphire. Samantha slowly let out her breath. She had never felt more beautiful in her life.

"Sam! Let me see!" Draco called from the main room of the store.

She parted the curtain and stepped into the store. She locked eyes with Professor Snape, whose mouth had dropped the moment she came into sight.

"Wow, Sam. You look amazing!" Draco said. "Like, really really beautiful."

She smiled at her little brother, standing before her, so grown up in his dark blue dress robes.

"You look pretty good yourself," she teased him. "I'm glad you like the dress. After all, you are my escort."

Draco's cheeks tinged red.

"Good. I wouldn't want anyone else escorting you," he stated.

Samantha smiled and turned to Professor Snape.

"Professor? Do you think these will do?" she asked softly. "Professor?"

He shook his head slightly, as if trying to shake memories from his mind.

"You look lovely. Absolutely perfect," he said hoarsely.

Samantha smiled, and turned to the saleswitch.

"I will definitely take these robes. And shoes to match."