A/N: I've always loved this pairing. Written for the Prompt of the Day: stolen kiss, on the Hogwarts Online forum.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, I'm not making any money.

I shouldn't be here, Severus reflected, as he unlocked the hospital wing doors with a jab of his wand and slipped silently through them. She wouldn't want me here. But even that didn't stop him, because, pathetic as it was, he simply needed to see with his own two eyes that she was okay.

He still wasn't sure what had happened because he had been in the library at the time instead of in the Great Hall during lunch like everyone else, but there had been a scuffle between Potter and his gang and some Slytherins, and somehow she had gotten in the middle of it – trying to break it up, probably, he thought with a mixture of annoyance and fondness – and was hit by a stray hex. She'd had to stay the night, but was supposed to be released in the morning as good as new. Severus couldn't decide whether he was glad he hadn't been there or not – he wasn't sure he wanted to find out what her reaction would have been if he'd been the one hexing Potter, but it certainly would have been nice to get a shot at him.

He stared down at the beautiful face that he had once been able to make laugh, but that now twisted into something filled with anger and pain and betrayal whenever he was around. In sleep, however, Lily Evans was peaceful, her face relaxed and open like it used to be when they were talking on the playground in what seemed like ages ago, flaming red hair spread out like a halo across the pillow, framing her face.

There were cards on the bedside table; without thinking about it, he picked one up. Get well soon, Lily! – Frank, it read one. Lils – recover quickly, I miss you. Don't worry about school or anything else, love, I'll catch you up on everything you've missed. Just get well, ok? – Love from Alice, read another. And the last one, which had been stuck in the back, the one which made his blood boil – Lily – I promise I'll hex him back for you, ten times worse than what he hit you with, and I'll get Snivellus too, if I can. Get well soon, life is no fun without you. – James (and Sirius, and Remus, and Peter).

Severus stuffed the card into the back of the drawer in the bedside table and slammed it shut rather violently. Lily shifted restlessly, and he froze, afraid she would wake up and see him looming over her, or that Madame Pomfery would come and investigate the noise. But neither one happened, and he slowly relaxed again, or as much as he ever could.

He missed her. It hurt his pride to admit it, but it was true. Severus missed her friendship and their afternoon study sessions in the corner of the Hogwarts library, heads bent together over a library book or a piece of parchment. He missed her acceptance of him despite the fact that he was in Slytherin, and he missed her presence that constantly forced him to be a better person. He missed her laugh and the way her eyes sparkled when she was happy. He missed her presence in her life, at Hogwarts and over the summer break, when she had been the only bright spot in his home life. He just missed her – all the things that made her the Lily he loved.

Lily had always been the only one who was able to make him open up, to make him vulnerable. To be perfectly honest, he missed that too. And it hurt – that she had been able to give up on him so quickly. But it hadn't been quickly, had it, he reflected – he should have seen this coming ever since the Sorting at the beginning of their first year. Ever since then, he had been changing and they had been growing apart, as he got darker and darker and she grew brighter and brighter.

She was too good for him now, he thought. He would only get in the way of her light. They were so different – she all good and beautiful and he all dark and – well, just dark, now that she had left his life and taken away the one bright spot in it. She deserved someone better. But then again, she had had ability to make him better – she could have saved him – and now there was no hope left for him. They were on different paths now, and her light would never again touch his life.

Severus realized that he had been standing beside Lily's bed staring down at her and thinking for ages. He cast a quick Tempus and cursed under his breath as he realized he needed to get moving in order to sneak back into his dorm before morning and anyone noticing that he had been gone. He really didn't want to have to explain to his Slytherin roommates where he had been.

Severus walked silently towards the doors, but when he reached them, turned around and looked back at her. Then, without quite knowing what he was doing or allowing himself to think it through, he moved quickly back to her bedside, leaned down, and pressed a light kiss to Lily's lips.

Just as quickly he pulled back, at the same time elated and disgusted with himself. If she had been awake she would have slapped him across the face. But instead, the ghost of a smile had spread across her face, and she looked peaceful, calm, and so beautiful.

Severus hadn't seen her look like that in his presence in almost a year, and it made his chest tighten. He wanted to kiss her again, to never stop kissing her, but instead he clenched his fists, memorized every detail of her face, brushed a strand of hair back from her forehead, and walked out of the room.

Before he closed the doors behind him, he chanced one more glance back. The smile was still on her face, and he couldn't help the sigh that escaped from his chest. Tomorrow everything would be back to the new normal and he would have to go back to pretending to hate her and she really hating him. But the fire inside that made her Lily would remain no matter what he did, and maybe that was why she of all people had been able to work her way into his heart and lodge there. Although she would never forgive him for what he had said and done, he knew he would never stop loving her. Staring at her peaceful, sleeping form, he swore to himself that he would make it up to her someday.

Severus left, closing the doors firmly behind him.

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