Disclaimer: I do not own any of this. I make nothing, but I feel better having written it.

A/N: Yes, I totally mess with the time line, but I needed to get this out...it was stuck in my head.

When I realized I was reading the same paragraph on hinkypunks for the third time, I abandoned the book and focused on the cause of my distraction.

She was absorbed in her text, so her eyes were moving quickly along the page. Her brow would crease when she was thinking, but those eyes never stopped moving. Sometimes, she bit her lip. That's when she was re-reading something. If she were reading a letter or something personal, her fingers would be playing with her hair right by her left ear by now. The sum total of her rapt attention in the book was incredibly attractive.

I know I should have looked away. She hadn't noticed yet though and as often as I looked at her, I wasn't usually able to enjoy it so. Lily was so colorful. Copper hair, white skin, bright green eyes, soft pink lips, long black lashes. Oh Merlin. I pushed the physical admiration deeper down and looking at her, I thought of the tiny girl I first saw in the park years ago. With a slight snort, I realized I had always looked at her like this...like she was special. She was, undoubtedly, but how did others see Lily?

I tried to see her as others might. A redhead with green eyes. Pale. Smart. Funny. Brave. Beautiful. Kind. Sweet. Generous. I resigned myself to my fate easily, as there was never any other choice. She was everything I wanted. Closer than any other person in the entire world and yet, forever out of reach. The pain never lessened, but my happiness eclipsed it whenever she was close by.

There in that awkwardly perfect moment, I felt genuinely happy. Naturally, it did not last.

"Quit staring at my girlfriend, Snivellus!" I was on my feet instantly, regretting letting my control wane to admire my friend. This wasn't going to be pleasant. Why was Potter in their park? Panic washed over me. This wasn't right.

"You and I both know she is not your girlfriend, Potter. Go away. You're not wanted here." My shoulders went back a little further when my voice stayed steady and calm, a bit of confidence regained.

"Really? So what about last night?" Potter's posture screamed of arrogance and he was smirking widely.

My eyes slid to slits and I stiffened. Inside, I was screaming. No, no, no. What could that git mean? Please, please not what I'm thinking.

"Sev...I was going to tell you, I swear." Lily had her hand on my arm. She had that "sorry" look in her eyes. Great. I felt my heart break again and I quietly noted I was far more upset than angry. Interesting.

I didn't speak. I assumed, correctly, that one of them would fill the silence.

"Sev, we went to dinner last night." I didn't look at her. I couldn't. "Can we discuss this? Alone?" Her tone became menacing. It was luckily not directed at me.

"Aw, come on, Evans," Potter said, his eyes widening, pleading with her. He attempted to reach for her, but she smacked his hand and his expression darkened. "Fine." He narrowed his eyes and turned to me. "If you hurt her..." and began to walk away.

"For the last time, go away, Potter!" she yelled, her face getting pinker by the second. She grabbed my hand and pulled me, stunned into complicit silence, towards her house. When we got to her backyard, she stopped suddenly. I barely avoided walking into her.

"I am sorry," she said, her voice soft. She was so close to me, I wanted desperately to reach out for her, but could not let that happen. She was looking at my shoes and without thinking, my hands curled into fists. Her remorse made me think the worst.

"Why?" It was the only thing I could think to say. The pain in my chest was growing exponentially as the silence stretched between us. She looked up at me, big wet tears glistening in her bright green eyes. She blinked and they fell down her face, her lips slightly parted. She looked so beautiful there, in this final moment of our friendship, of what could have been.

She blinked slowly, her hands grabbing my forearms. "If you promise to listen to me, I will tell you the truth. I want you to understand so badly, Sev. You have no idea." She looked a little desperate. I took a deep breath and nodded curtly.

She settled beside me on the stoop of her back porch. I continued the deep breathing, hoping to ensure my anger did not grow beyond my control. It was near impossible not to comfort her. She was slouched against me, her hair hanging in her face slightly. Tears were still falling slowly down her lightly freckled face.

"As long as I have known you, we have been close. I think nothing of hugging you and touching you and sleeping beside you -- things I wouldn't do with any other friend of mine. And at some point, all those...completely natural affectionate...uh, gestures turned into something I don't quite understand. I had such a big crush on you off and on throughout school. And you didn't do anything. I don't know if I was too...subtle, too shy, but I figured you weren't interested, at least," she took a deep breath and continued, "not interested enough to risk our friendship. So when James offered to take me to supper, I figured...he deserved a shot."

I was stunned, but tried to appear unaffected. Neither of us moved, but when I heard her sob, I gave in to my instincts. My arms went around her and she folded to me easily, our embrace intimate...chests and cheeks pressed together, arms tight around each other. It felt so natural. Just like every other time, I could not help but think of kissing her.

"It's like you're a tease, Sev. Seriously," she said, pulling back from me, "what is wrong with me?"

Despite my quickly slipping control, I laughed. It sounded too loud here with her so close. My eyes shut for a moment and when they opened again, she was grinning mischieviously. Her eyes sparkled. "You are so cute when you laugh."

I know I blushed. I could feel the heat rising in my face. I couldn't help but feel hopeful, however. "There is nothing wrong with you." My arms felt weak. I felt like I had already said too much, I was too exposed. She was dating someone else. Not just anyone else...Potter. The one person I thought we agreed on. She was cavorting with the enemy.

Her voice cut through my internal monologue. "So? That's it, you give up? No answer? Please...tell me. Did I do something wrong? I mean, what do I have to do?"

She looked so beautifully defiant, her hands on her hips, lips pursed with anger and fire in her bright eyes. This was the Lily I loved. I put my arms around her and pulled her face to mine, her eyes falling to small slits. Little bursts of hot breath were coming from her, warming my nose and lips. "Lily..." I whispered, hoping she would understand what I was trying to get across to her without actually saying it. She smelled delicious, like cinnamon buns and clean water from a spring.

Her eyes slid shut and her chin turned up to me. Bullocks. It was now or never.