I used to think I had a hard childhood. Everyday, for as long as I can remember, I was both afraid and excited about what I might do. Magic would erupt from me in uncontrollable bursts, sometimes in a frightening way, but one person changed everything.

Now, looking back (at the ripe old age of 21), I see what my years past age nine consisted of: a certain black-haired boy. I cannot think back to adolescence without thinking immediately of my best friend, Severus. He changed my world--my life, in more ways than I think he knows.

Before I met him, I thought I had it rough. Petunia was so jealous of me and incredibly angry, as well. My parents were, at their best, exasperated, and at their worst, scared of me. But he...he understood...made me realize I could use the power coming from within me. I would like to think I helped him as well...that in some small way I paid him back for showing me I wasn't a weirdo.

Despite all my sister said and the fear I'd catch in my parents' faces, I never felt unloved. Severus was another story. I can't help but get emotional thinking of the mental, physical abuse he suffered...that he never felt loved by his parents. Once I knew, it explained so much. It put a higher value on the compassion and concern he expressed for me. Feeling unworthy of love would undoubtedly send a person searching for affirmation of their self-worth: power, respect, influence. Underneath it all was a desire to be loved, to be wanted.

That was what I saw in him. That was what drew me back to him when we argued. We never overtly talked about "love," at least not until much later and even then, I did not understand. But I knew he needed it from me. And I was lucky enough to give it to him for a while. That was the easy part--who doesn't love their best friend, after all?

So we spent time together, talked for hours, exchanged gifts at holidays and such. At thirteen, it became clear we were young adults and instead of shrinking from each other, as so often happens between friends of the opposite sex, we grew closer. We grew closer and our relationship took on a different tone. We still talked for hours and spent long periods of time together, but...and maybe he didn't notice as I did...we would find ourselves holding hands as we walked. Lazing about in our glade, we would end up laying together under a tree. We would always hug our goodbyes.

It was once our relationship became more physically demonstrative that my feelings for him could not be ignored. I sought him out at every oppurtunity. I would look at him in class and silently will him to look at me. I found excuses to touch him.

Maybe I wasn't obvious enough, but he did not seem to notice...or maybe he simply didn't care. I didn't want to push it, but nothing felt so right as touching Severus. If he saw me as his "sister," he wouldn't wonder about kissing me, like I wondered about him. So I did my best to quash my feelings...blaming hormones or the weather for my shivers of delight at his embrace, for keening when he gently stroked my hair, for my eye-lock on his lips.

Damn. There I go again...torturing myself. Severus and I were very close friends. Nothing else. We lead separate lives and have separate hearts now. It is nearly impossible for me to stop myself from wondering, "What if?" Things seemed like they were about to change for us in our fifth year and then he...