Paradoxum

(Or, Legilicor)

Severus Snape's fourth year at Hogwarts as a student.

Somewhat before his worst memory, but after the Shrieking Shack.

--

The first time was an exercise in adolescent frustration. Lily was giving him a dressing down about something. It was their fourth year, and it became more and more common that when they did meet, Lily would spend a great deal of their precious time alone expressing her dissatisfaction with his friends, his behaviour, his life in general. He would patiently wait this out, unable to change but unwilling to hurt her by saying as much. He would change the subject as soon as possible, but always something about him seemed to anger her. It hurt him to be so disappointing to the only person who was truly interested in being his friend for no other reason than the virtues of friendship. He held no illusions about the nature of his other 'friends,' but his bond with Lily was soul-deep, sacred. It was a physical pain located squarely in his heart, that she should be so upset with him.

Finally, she reached over to grasp his chin and turned his face to her forcibly. Her cheeks were flushed, her lips pursed, her eyes demanding. All at once she leaned forward and pressed her lips to his almost aggressively.

His world stopped. The sound of the waves of the lake kissing the shore, of the trees of the forest kissing the sky, of the wind kissing the earth-- the sounds all focused into the one sound of Lily kissing him. After a startled moment, he gently returned the kiss, lifting his hands but afraid to touch her lest he frighten her away.

She pressed forward, eyes closed, and reached a hand to rest gently on his side.

Startled, his eyes flew open and he wiggled his fingers in the air indecisively for a moment; then he settled on placing his hand innocuously on her shoulder.

She made a small, pleading sound in her throat, shifting slightly against him.

He lost his centre of balance on the one arm so they both fell back against the hillside. She felt amazing, so close to him. She was soft and warm and smelled of cinnamon and citrus and it was getting very difficult to think. He wanted very badly to press back, to touch her so much more than on the shoulder. He lifted his other hand toward her hip, but panicked and aborted the grab halfway through. He didn't know what to do, which was frustrating. The only thing he knew of relations between a man and a woman, he knew from what he'd heard. What he heard was a lot of very frightening screaming and ferociously violent pounding, and in the end always his mother wept. It wasn't the way he wanted it for Lily. He knew he'd rather die than make her weep. But he just did not know what was right to do!

He moved his hand down her upper arm and kept kissing her, cracking at eyelid to check her expression every now and then. He figured he was doing something wrong from the impatient sounds she made, but that quickly became irrelevant as she pressed her hips against him gently.

The world died away into shadows; he became aware of her emotions, her thoughts, her breathing, every minute detail of what she was feeling. She was frustrated, unsure of exactly what she wanted but knew she wasn't getting it. She was a little afraid and suspected she was doing something less than respectable by stealing this kiss, but every inch of her body was telling her yes even more loudly than her mind was telling her no. Next came the sensations; the touch of the wind on her skin, the way her hair flicked against her back as they moved, the warmth of his body under hers, the amazing tingle of pure young Want. Then came the memories; her mother telling her never to kiss before the third date, lecturing her on what to require from a man. Mr. Evans, who looked nothing like Lily but more like Petunia, glowering at her and telling her not to spend so much time around 'that Snape boy.' Mrs. Evans again, taking her and Petunia into the study in the Evans house and locking the door, telling them with surprising frankness about the unavoidable Facts of Life. Petunia sounding scandalized and put out. Lily laughing and saying she didn't even like boys very much. Mrs. Evan's mother coming to visit for Christmas and asking if either of the girls had boyfriends yet. Peter Pettigrew leering at her in the common room when no one else seemed to be looking. Potter and Black making crude jokes at her expense about her spending so much time with 'Snivellus.' The other Gryffindor girls chattering about their boyfriends, getting flowers and cards and little gifts in the post or on their desks before class. Cynthia Wallace and the other fourth year girls from Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, before Divinations class, daring her to kiss Severus Snape. And her, angrily, agreeing to do it if they'd only shut up about it.

The other fourth year girls, daring her to kiss Severus Snape.

Daring her.

And she agreed.

Severus released her arm and placed the palm of his hand against her cheek, pulling his other elbow under him to lever them both up a little so she fell against him in a manner that would have been altogether enjoyable if the circumstances were different. As it was, she made a pleased sound and relaxed into the kiss, only for him to push her away.

He stared right into her lovely, deep green eyes, and watched her closely; he felt his own face pull into a revealing expression of betrayal and anguish, and did not try to disguise it.

Her expression turned to one of confusion, then of disbelief, then of realization. She sat back, off of him. After a moment of shock, she leaned forward and began to offer an apology.

He pulled away from her, nauseous and shocked.

She held his gaze a moment longer, trying to think of what to say. Surrendering, she bowed her head and got to her feet, beating a teary-eyed retreat.

Severus watched after her silently, unable to act. Through some act of unspoken magic or sheer madness on his part, he saw into her mind. He felt what he was not supposed to feel, knew what he was not supposed to know. He wished fervently that he had not. If he didn't know, maybe he could have enjoyed the kiss. Maybe they could have become something more than friends--

That wasn't possible. Sooner or later, he knew, the truth of why she kissed him would have manifested itself. She would be unsatisfied with him, or feel too guilty, and their already tenuous friendship would dissolve along with that deception.

He pulled his knees up and rested his chin on them, staring into the deep lake. He wondered what it would be like to visit the merfolk under the surface, or to tangle with the squid. If he tossed himself in now, how long would it take someone to find him? It would have been wrong to take that kiss because he would be complicit in her deception, which would injure her honest nature and personal integrity. It was wrong to reject that kiss, as now she was guilty and hurt. Damned if he did, and damned if he didn't-- he would rather have died than hurt her, but she never left him the option.