Okay, I want you to imagine that Severus Snape didn't actually die and that, instead, he faked his death. Got it? Okay, now you're ready to read this. :)

Disclaimer: So not mine!! I swear!!

She's curled her hair.

Two years apart and that's the first thing he notices, that her once bushy and unmanageable hair is now surrounding her face with soft waves that look so much like tendrils of silk that he wants to run his fingers through them just to see.

He wonders if her hair still smells like lavender and honey.

'Stop lurking in the shadows,' she says sternly but he can see the hint of a smile on her face and it lessens the harshness of her words. 'If I wanted to be ogled, I'd drive down to Picadilly and prance around in my underwear.'

He smiles to himself at this image and files it away for days when he thinks the world's gone to hell in a hand-basket. He's always enjoyed the image of her in her underwear…not that he's thought of it, mind you. At all.

Right, moving on.

'Really, Auriga, no need to be dramatic.'

He pushes off the stone wall and steps into the light. He waits for a snide comment or a quiet gasp of pleasure but he's graced with neither. It disappoints him slightly – he was hoping for more of a reaction to his unexpected visit to the great castle. He has, after all, been 'dead' for two years.

'Hello, Severus,' she says, her arms crossed over the somewhat revealing bodice of her dress. He wonders when she started wearing clothing like that and mentally kicks himself for leaving before she decided to blossom like the woman he always knew she was. 'Long time, no see.'

Her smile is more than a little predatory and he thinks that maybe – just maybe – he should have gone to visit Minerva first…at least the Transfiguration classrooms are in a fairly public area of the school.

'You look…astonishing,' he says honestly.

Her smile looses a touch of its predatory edge and her posture relaxes slightly. He can see it in the way her spine shifts, the fairly intriguing way in which the Muggle dress pulls against her hips.

'Thank you. You look quite well yourself, especially for what I had believed was a dead man.'

Leave it to Auriga Sinistra to get straight to the heart of the matter, with very little tact to pave the way.

'Ah, yes, about that…'

She holds up a long fingered hand and moonlight glints off a silver Claddagh wrapped around her ring finger. She most definitely didn't have that the last time he saw her. He tenses almost immediately and then relaxes when he realizes it's wrapped around the ring finger of her right hand.

'No need, dear,' she says with a breezy tone. 'Minerva already explained your duplicity and I completely understand that you were simply doing what was best for the Order.' She smiles again. 'It's good to see you alive and kicking.'

'You're taking this awfully well, Auriga,' he says with a certain amount of suspicion. She was always a bit of a hot head while they were growing up and working together – this newer, mellower version that's standing before him is slightly worrisome.

'Why wouldn't I?' she asks as she passes him to leave the observation deck of the Astronomy Tower. He turns to follow her inside. 'I mean, honestly, it isn't as though you and I were friends when you supposedly died. It isn't as though I grieved for you or cared one lick that you'd been supposedly killed by a former classmate.'

The intelligent part of him recognizes she's a little more upset than she's letting on, mostly because the intelligent part of him is painfully aware of the textbooks she's slamming onto the floor not three feet from where he's standing. It's taking all of his manly reserve to remain as nonchalant and unflinching as possible.

'You're doing a fine job of cleaning off those shelves,' he says with a slight smirk.

The book in her hand hits him square in the chest and she wasn't even looking at him when she threw it.

'And apparently your aim has improved since I last saw you.'

'You bloody bastard,' she says, whirling on him in a flurry of green fabric and auburn hair. He feels the cackle of electricity in the air around them and a sudden blanket of comprehension covers him.

'Auriga isn't quite the witch you knew when you left two years ago,' Minerva said through the fireplace and he shrugged. He could have sworn she frowned at him. 'Just be mindful of that before you go engaging her in any sort of heated debate.' The older witch smiled. 'Then again, I'd pay a good amount of coin to see you without any eyebrows, so go right ahead and say something stupid.'

'Wandless magic?' he asks, incredulous. As if to prove a point, a glass jar containing stardust bursts next to his head. 'Holy god, Auriga, what happened to you?'

'Your death,' she says and the electricity leaves the air. She takes a deep breath and smoothes her hair, her dress. She mutters something and the books on the floor fly through the air and into their rightful places on the shelves beside her. 'I needed something other than my grief to occupy my time.'

'Again with your dramatics,' he says and immediately wishes he hadn't.

'A part of me died that day,' she says, her voice low and heavy and filled with an emotion he's quite certain is a combination of grief and anger. 'Do not walk in here as though nothing happened, as though I didn't just live two years of my life with the lingering stench of your death following me around like a mournful dog. You have no right to pretend this was anything less than painful for me, for Minerva, for the others. I cared about you, despite what you may think of me and my romantic notions. I loved you and you lied to me…'

He's not sure that she realizes it, but as her voice trails off she's about six inches off the ground. He steps forward, reaches out, and grasps her forearms, pulls her down to the floor so that her soles touch it once again. They stand that way for a few seconds and he can feel her trying to calm down, can feel the magic radiating off her in waves.

'I didn't realize,' he says softly and she hangs her head slightly. The magic dissipates, leaving tiny smoke trails around them. 'Wandless magic is incredible, Auriga. I'm so very proud of you.'

She looks up at him, startled. 'You – you are?'

He nods, pushes a rogue curl from her eyes and kisses her forehead.

'I'm sorry I lied to you and I'm sorry I arrived without warning. It was unfair of me to think that my supposed death had no effect on the people in the castle, most especially you.'

'You're a git.'

'And you have a habit for stating the obvious.'

She doesn't say anything but instead pulls his head down level with hers and kisses him – soundly – on his over used mouth. When she pulls away, he finds that it's the first time in a long time he hasn't a thing to say.