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Patrol was uneventful until shortly before midnight. Lily's head was in the clouds however and she failed to notice she was being followed. She could swear she still felt Severus' lips pressed to hers - the taste of his mouth began as mint, but they had snogged for so long - Lily's face reddened at the thought - by the end, his mouth, his impatient (yet thrilling) desire to feel her with his lips, tongue and hands, had obliterated her senses and the only thing she could now recall was the feeling of his thin fingers restraining themselves as they slid under her shirt, under her camisole. The tingle had shot right from her stomach to between her legs and with a dawning embarassment, Lily realized why men and women dated.

"Damn," she whispered to herself as she walked toward the common room. Her right shoe kept coming off the back of her foot. Every time she glanced back, she saw nothing, but she could have sworn - maybe - that she actually felt something - like a shoe - stepping on her heel. But rounds were nearly over and Lily was focusing more on whether she would sleep tonight. Her thoughts of kissing Severus brought a warm, pleasant sensation to her chest - she couldn't help but smile every time he crossed her mind.

"Bloody hell," she swore, louder this time as her shoe came off again. This time, she spun around, her arms flung outward and she hit something. She was surprised, but her curiousity got the better of her. She wrapped her arms around the person. "Okay, come out dammit!"

She felt the person squirming, but she heard Potter's unmistakable voice. "Evans, please! Quiet down! I need to follow you into the common room."

She kept her arms around him and hoped her face wasn't pressed anywhere odd. "I don't think so, Potter. You are out after hours."

"Yes, but no one saw me!"

"So what? I--" She stood back and poked at the invisible object in front of her. "Come out of there already!"

Suddenly Potter was before her - quite close infact, no wonder he had given her a flat tire - and he was folding a shimmering cloak in his hands.

"Is that--"

"Yes, but you did not see this. I don't need it anymore anyway," he said, pushing up his glasses once his hands were free. It was somewhat dark in the corridor and all Lily could see was wand light reflecting in his lenses. "I will just go in with you." He reached for her hand suddenly and began to pull her in the direction of the common room. "No one will question the two of us...out alone...together."

She yanked her hand away from his, but knew he was right. "And I suppose I am not going to ask where you were?"

He smiled at her deviously. "I wasn't with a girl, if that's what you were wondering."

She scowled in his direction as they walked. "I wasn't, but I am glad to know you aren't inflicting yourself on any of my fellow females."

He stopped suddenly, forcing her to bump into him. His smile widened as she frowned at him, but he wrapped one hand around her waist and his other hand went to her face.

She was momentarily stunned by the tenderness of his gesture, so when he brought his lips to hers, she did not immediately push him away. The soft, sweet way his fingers slid over her cheek before tracing her bottom lip, even as he kissed her, was overwhelming and she responded by not pushing him away. Their tongues touched briefly, but the feelings it awoke in Lily made her open her eyes and pull her face away. She put both hands on his chest and pushed, but he didn't move. His hold on her was too tight, too close - she couldn't get away from him no matter where she went.

"Potter! I need to go!"

Maybe it was the urgency in her voice or how close she had yelled to his ear, but he released her suddenly. She expected him to be angry, but instead, his face confused her.

He was frowning.

"Lily, I don't understand."

She met his eyes, feeling every bit the "firey redhead." "Potter, there is nothing for you to understand. I can't be more clear without being quite rude, so I will say good night. I know you won't try that again."

He smirked. "Then you don't know me, Lily." And he turned suddenly, leaving her staring after him, stunned by his gumption.

She had trouble falling asleep once again that night. Severus filled her dreams, but she found James was on her mind. Lily could no more understand him than she could the dark arts. His flirting, asking her out had been common - even usual for her. Once Severus had kissed her, James had followed suit and now...now things were more complicated than ever. She fell asleep feeling slightly ashamed, but wanting desperately to go back to the way things were - when boy were friends, playmates - not boyfriends nor enticing in such a mysterious way.

---

Severus met her at the door just before dawn. He was an early riser and Lily hoped she could be alone with him (in other words - without James) if she met him early. It wasn't her ideal Saturday, but she hoped to find a way to take a nap before dinner. He looked as tired as she felt and the morning air was quite cool. She was glad when they found a secluded spot. He seemed nervous and fidgeted with his shoe as they sat side by side.

They sat for a few moments in silence, not quite looking at each other, not quite touching each other either.

Finally, Lily spoke. "So, Severus, I suppose we should talk."

Severus met her eyes briefly, but then his eyes stayed locked on his hands in his lap as he spoke. "There is little to discuss. It is solely your decision, Lily. I believe I have made my stance clear."

His response was what she had expected, but still she felt like her heart had stopped beating.

"You are my best friend, Sev. I couldn't stand to have that ruined." He met her eyes and they seemed to both understand - if only for a moment - that they were both afraid of the same thing.

He looked away, but reached for her hands. "I would not want to ruin our friendship, Lily." He squeezed her hands as if in emphasis. "Couldn't our friendship evolve?"

Lily did not know how to respond to the question. Of course it should evolve in the scheme of things - isn't that what happens when two people grow up together? Do two people who share a common history need to "date" if there is an attraction? Her mind was trying so hard to rationalize it, but her heart seemed to be leaping from her chest. She found herself leaning toward him.

"Please don't make me answer now, Sev." His eyes widened slightly, but he did not otherwise react. She reached for him without thought, her hands going around him loosely. "I'm not ready for a relationship...but I don't want to lose you." She emphasized her words by squeezing his sides under her hands.

He closed his eyes and Lily was aware of a tension between them that was all too familiar. He was going to kiss her.

She decided not to wait and pressed her lips to his. This seemed to spur something inside him and his body relaxed as he clung to her, chests pressing together, hands grasping without thought. Lily pulled away, her breath lost between them. They were both gasping now, but his hold on her was tight and confident. She noticed immediately and met his eyes.

"Do you understand?" She knew she was holding her breath waiting for his response, but couldn't force her body to exhale.

"Yes."

When no further words came, she met his eyes. She wasn't able to decipher what was there in the dark gaze, but she felt reassured all the same. She nodded and tucked her head into the crook of his neck. She looked at the skin of his neck, the slight twitch of his pulse as her breath warmed his skin causing the strangest feeling in her belly.

"Thank you," she whispered, his hair moving with her words. She was beginning to feel slightly dizzy - maybe from breathing in the scent of his skin for so long - maybe from lack of sleep. She smiled, feeling quite nice in his arms, and tried not to think of returning to the Gryffindor common room and facing Potter.

He said nothing, but his hand went to her hair, rubbing it between his fingers over and over.

She let herself enjoy the embrace, the moment. There was no reason to leave yet - really, they should be studying, but...Lily couldn't tear herself away from Severus.

Finally, she knew it had to be near lunch time, as her stomach was rumbling. She sighed heavily. "I should go."

He released her immediately - to her surprise - and stood, offering one thin hand to her. She let him pull her to her feet, pulling her book bag with her. He released her hand and stood motionless.

She looked up at him, biting her lip - trying to muster the energy - the courage - the will - to walk away.

"Are you staying here?" she asked him, shifting her book bag to her other shoulder.

He nodded briefly. She nodded in return, still trying to figure out what to say.

"I will see you later, Sev."

"Goodbye, Lily." She smiled at him, but he simply stared at her with a knowing look.

She didn't look back.

---

Nothing had been going as planned for Lily Evans. Her fifth year was suposed to be about NEWTs. Instead, she was becoming more and more preoccupied with the opposite sex.

She had told Severus they would have to wait until after the exams, but she was having some difficulty with that. She wasn't able to study effectively. It had been a week - the exams were so close now... Lily shook her head to banish the thoughts. She needed to focus - at any cost.

She hadn't been quite sure what to do to resolve her issue. How do you get someone out of your system? She had snogged Severus - shouldn't that have been enough?

The short answer was no - because somehow she and Severus ended up in alone, clinging together in a tight embrace. She had just left Severus - she could still taste his mouth on hers - when it dawned on her that she and Severus had spoken no more than five words since their early morning meeting weeks before.

What sort of friendship consists only of "Lily," "Severus," "hey" and "over here?"

Her mood was definitely darkened by the time she reached her common room. She was barely through the portrait when Potter stopped her. She glanced around, but saw they were alone again. Damn.

He looked frustrated. "Evans, you must be out of your mind. Do you realise who you have been snogging in the shadows?"

She felt her face flush immediately. "How dare you!"

"Save it. I am looking out for a friend."

"I am not your friend, Potter!"

He shrugged, one hand messing with his thick hair. "We're in the same house. I don't want to see you get hurt."

"I really can take care of myself." She attempted to push past him. He put his arm up to stop her and she immediately turned her angry gaze upon him.

"Honestly, I am just looking out for you. He will only hurt you."

Lily scoffed. "No way. Severus is my best friend. For that reason alone, he's far superior to you, Potter. Aside from that, it is none of your business." She pushed on his arm, but it didn't budge. Damn Quidditch.

"Just promise me you will be careful. After years in Slytherin, hasn't he changed? He isn't the same person you knew then, is he, Lily?"

She tried, but the idea did give her pause. He had changed...but how much? What were his goals? Lily knew she needed to clear that up as soon as they were speaking again...instead of just...damn. Her distraction was interrupted by soft lips on her cheek.

"Potter, move or I'll hex your arm to a jelly."

His eyes seemed to flash, but he blinked rapidly and stepped back.

She walked away in silence, expecting a parting shot - some last word.

None came.

---

A/N: Sorta short, but after sitting her for fifteen minutes, I don't think I can add without going far longer, so I'll be starting the next chapter. Thanks for reading and all the reviews - my writing has greatly improved from the first stuff I wrote for SS/LE I think and the reviews help! Thanks again.