Lily sat silently, legs tucked under her, all focus on the book on her lap. No matter how hard she stared, she could not keep from being distracted.
It had been months since her best friend had called her an unforgivable name and departed from her good graces and the intervening months were not easy. Seeing him occasionally didn't help and being in the same classroom would sometime cause her such discomfort, she would ask to visit the infirmary just to get away. Instead of giving her a slew of apologies after her refusal to forgive him outside the portrait hole, he acted no different, except that she did not, to him, exist. His eyes looked through her and it was easy not to speak to her, since she was avoiding him as well. Despite it all, she found herself secretly looking for him in the crowds and classrooms, her eyes darting about, constantly reminding herself not to stop her eyes on him if she did indeed see him.
James seems to have noticed her more muted demeanor and responded surprisingly. If there was any good to come of the loss of Severus, she had gained a friend in Potter. There was a slight twinge of guilt and...anger...that Severus would be beside himself if he knew the talks she and James had by the lake. They had been nothing more than friendly, but deep down, she knew...James would never stop at that. She pushed all thought of James from her mind.
One word jumped out at her every time she looked at the book. Friend. It should be simple. She sighed heavily, her shoulders hunching for just a moment. She could feel the tears starting and a sob forming in her throat, but with a deep breath, she held them back.
To her left, she suddenly heard someone moving noisily through the bushes and tree cover straight for her. She froze, suddenly wishing she had thought to bring her wand.
Before she could think to stand, Severus burst through the bushes and froze there on his hands and knees, his eyes level with hers. He held her gaze for longer than she thought he would. Then his eyes went straight to the ground. "I'm sorry, I'll go."
He began to turn around.
"No!" she exclaimed, unexpected emotion in her voice. His eyes went right to hers and he spent a moment obviously considering her response. "Please...stay." This came out in a hushed whisper.
He stood carefully, brushing off his black pants and shirt before sitting beside her. He sat closer than she expected, but she did not let her surprise show. She knew he was looking to unnerve her. In the end, it always came down to power...even subconsciously.
"How have you been?" she said, again in a whisper. He tilted his head toward her to hear and his arm rested on her leg.
"What do you care?" I wondered why he assumed I would continue to whisper, she thought to herself. His voice was low, as well. "And you?"
"Are you implying you care, but I don't?" she asked, her voice rising. He turned, using her leg as the axis, until they were facing each other. She wasn't sure if he was smiling or grimacing, but it was actually sort of endearing.
"Yes." He held her eyes as he said it. His mask revealed nothing.
"Your choices have made it so we cannot be friends, but nothing will stop me from caring. Not dark magic or blood status or house politics." She reached out and touched his cheek, his eyes softening slightly at the touch. He seemed both afraid and excited. She wondered which was for her. "You were so close to me and you'll always have a place in my heart, even if we can't nurture it or talk of it. Even if you no longer feel it or care for me, you will always be special to me."
She felt a huge weight lift from her chest. She could let him go now. Her hand dropped to her leg and she smiled, sighing with relief.
He seemed completely thunderstruck. His jaw was slightly open and his eyes seemed slightly dull, like he wasn't paying attention. She felt heat rising, her face reddening quickly.
"Sev! Were you listening to me?" She sounded quite snotty suddenly, but it had the desired effect. He looked up, met her eyes and they were almost blank. He seemed like he might cry. He must have been listening.
She realised then: of course he was listening. It was Severus, not James she was speaking to. She blushed again, feeling slightly rebellious thinking of James in Severus' presence.
"Lily, I..." he just trailed off, holding up his hands as though helpless. He got to his knees and she was certain he would run off rather than face her. Instead, he leaned forward, took her face carefully into his hands and met her eyes. "I...I am so sorry." And his eyes shut and he moved forward, pressing his lips to hers with pressure that was near painful.
Her shock wore off, but then his tongue forced it's way into her mouth, wet and warm, causing her to gasp against his lips. He tasted of toothpaste and something else...maybe apples, she thought briefly, realising she was kissing him back. He seemed encouraged by this and put his arms around her waist. She put her arms around his neck and tried not to think, just let him kiss her and kiss him in return. It felt nice, sweet, familiar.
His lips drifted down her face to her ear, his tongue outlining it and breathing hotly on it. He was whispering something, but she couldn't make it out. His hands were sliding through her hair over and over, even as his lips found her neck, kissing, nibbling. He sighed and it was the happiest sound she had ever heard from him.
"Sev..." she whispered, realising with a start that she was kissing Severus, her once best friend who had ignored her for months. His joyful sound had reminded her of how wrong it was. She pushed him back just a little, grabbing his arms to ensure he didn't break away.
He looked into her eyes, confused. His lips were darker from the contact and he looked...adorable. She was startled by the idea.
"We aren't even friends anymore. You have been ignoring me completely," she said simply, unable to find any other words for what she really wanted to say: Where did that come from?
"You haven't exactly been seeking me out either." His eyes narrowed. "Do you kiss all your friends in that manner?"
Lily almost laughed out loud at the idea, letting Alice stick her tongue down her throat...no, she wouldn't do that. A smile did slip across her face, but she banished it quickly. "You know what I mean." She met his eyes, her strawberry eyebrows raising. "Do you really want me to ask? I was avoiding it for your sake."
He scoffed, his arms crossing as he sat beside her. "Your feelings are clear. You see me as a friend, nothing more." He looked angry, but he sounded sad.
Her stomach dropped and her face was warming again. What should she say? This was new information. She was no idiot. She knew he cared for her and maybe had a crush on her sometimes, but this was still a shock.
"I...I just don't know what to think, Sev."
He seemed to relax a little beside her and she reached for his hand. Reluctantly, he uncrossed his arms and took her hand. His long fingers seemed to engulf her smaller ones. They sat there in silence, his thumb rubbing slowly over her hand. She was soothed by the gentle touch and brought her other hand to cover his, caressing his in the same manner he was.
Without a word, they turned to each other and Lily brought her hand to his face. "Sev, I can't promise you anything." Without waiting for his response, she pressed her lips gently to his. His arms wrapped around her tightly, but the kiss remained tender unlike the first, more aggressive kiss. She took control in this one, her tongue darting slowly, sensually to touch his lips over and over before she let his tongue touch hers. He sighed against her mouth and seemed to hold her even tighter.
She moved her lips to his neck and then she was hugging him, her head in the crook of his neck, bodies pressed together tightly. A sob escaped her lips then and the hitch of her chest must have been unmistakable to him. He only held her tighter, rubbing small circles along her back. She let the tears fall silently, shaking slightly against him.
"Sshh...it's okay," he whispered against her neck. She wanted to believe him.
After composing herself and wiping her face, she placed her arms on his shoulders and leaned back.
"Thank you," she said, looking into his eyes, trying to express things she couldn't speak. Her fingers tightened as he looked away.
"It's nothing." His voice was calm and even.
"It's not nothing!" she exclaimed, her sudden explosion startling him. "Don't you dare say that!"
He shook his head. "I...I shouldn't have come here." He moved away from her suddenly, but she held tight to him. He looked at her left hand before meeting her eyes again. "I need to go, Lily."
"No?" he said, an unmistakable look of longing crossing his face for an instant. "Why?"
She looked into his eyes, summoning her courage. "After this you will ignore me and I will ignore you and it will be just like this never happened, won't it?" Despite her bravado, tears were forming in her eyes and her jaw was set stubbornly.
"I can see no other way." He sounded so cold.
She felt suddenly weak. When did it all fall apart? she thought sadly. She pulled him to her then, hugging him close, trying to squeeze him so hard he would never forget her. His hands went around her and she felt him trembling against her. He seemed to be holding his breath and when she pulled back to look at him, it became obvious he was holding back tears.
"Oh, Sev..." and she kissed him, not thinking of the consequences, of the loneliness she would be left with when he was gone. It was not difficult for her to lose herself in him. His touch, his kiss was so sweet, so passionate. Nervous joy was radiating from him and she couldn't help but wonder if she was truly doing him far more harm than good.
She pulled back, touching her lips before touching his face. "I better go. It's getting late." The sun was nearing the horizon now.
He only nodded curtly and kept his eyes on her. The expression on his face would probably be called frustration. She looked back at him for a long moment, biting her lip, her hand touching his briefly.
"Bye..." she whispered and leapt up, grabbing her bag and heading into the bushes, wishing instantly she had worn pants instead of a skirt. She shook her head and continued moving away from him, trying not to think of him looking at her behind. The tears began before she reached the end and she stumbled slightly before getting to her feet and taking off at a run toward home.
Severus sat in silence, not moving, for long minutes after she left. The silence was broken only by the river and the wind through the trees. His head dropped into his hands and tears fell from his eyes. His face became redder and redder as his eyes swept over the spot she had been.
Without warning, he let out a loud, mournful yell and pulled his knees to his chest. He was totally alone now.