AN: My first serious HP fic. Takes place when Lily is fifteen. Slight LilyxSeverus.
Lily Evans sighs and leans back into the grass. Her delicate hands are intertwined lazily behind her head, her jade-green eyes tracing the puffy clouds mingling in the azure sky above. It's the summer after her fourth year at Hogwarts, and she's not quite sure what to think. (Or even if she wants to think.) She lets herself unwind a bit more, fitting her head more comfortably into its small indentation in the field. Her gaze trails languidly over to the playground. She squints against the sunlight's reflection, her eyes following a little girl soaring on the swing.
After a silence filled only with the soft whoosh of the breeze, she lets her head flop to the side, looking at the boy next to her. Severus Snape, her best friend for years. The midday sun coats his face in a way that looks slightly unnatural, the harsh white glare contrasting sharply with his dark hair and eyes. He's looking at her, too, his mouth pulled up in his typical wry half-smile. At least, typical when he's alone with her. Around everyone else, he's sullen and moody. It's really no wonder, she thinks sadly, Potter and his friends call him the Prince of the Pessimists.
"Remind me again why the lovely Petunia isn't gracing us with her presence," Severus asks sardonically. Lily knows that he knows, but answers anyway.
"She's too busy snogging Robert to notice anyone else, actually." A grin lights up her face even more at the thought of her sister's foolishness. One boy tells her that she's pretty, and the girl becomes a complete twit. Amazing, really. Doesn't she realize that all boys are jerks? Potter, Black, even Severus…
He'd been meaner than usual this year. He started going along with all the other Slytherins' cruel games, ignoring her sometimes in the corridors when he was with them—he even laughed that time Nott called Mary a you-know-what.
Sev's voice brings her back to the present. "I don't know what she sees in him. He's such a stuck-up git—I'm surprised he's going around with anyone, actually."
Lily cocks her head as best she can, lying on the ground. "Why's that? Every girl at St. John's is half in love with him."
"Well, see, that's the problem," Severus continues with a devilish smirk. "He's totally infatuated with himself, same as every other girl in that school."
Lily throws her head back and laughs. This is Severus Snape, her best friend, not that mean Slytherin from the school year. She misses this Sev. She misses these moments during the nine months of school, the months when sullen Severus Snape conquers the sweet boy she knows.
"What's wrong?" he asks suddenly, a frown crossing his features. It looks almost better, she notices. Like his face was meant to be unhappy. She shakes off the disturbing thought.
"Well, I was thinking… about how you act differently when you're with your Slytherin friends," she answers, hesitating. It's a touchy subject, and she's seldom the one to breach it. She's surprised that she is bringing the topic up. But the little voice in the back of her head has been nagging her for so long that she finally tells him.
She tells him that he looks unhappy when he's with them, but he's starting to look like one of the group, and it scares her. She tells him that she knows what they did to Florence last February. She tells him that she's scared he'll become just another Slytherin—mean, cruel, uncaring.
At the end of her confession—he hasn't interrupted her once—she chews her bottom lip nervously, watching his countenance. His face is carefully blank, but he's looking up so that she can't decipher his eyes.
The little girl's squeaking swing is the only sound.
"Sorry, Lily," he begins, after what seems like hours. "I didn't realize—no, I did realize, I just didn't want to… I don't know. I wanted to fit in for once. Is that really so bad? Don't answer that. I knew it was bad. I really did. It just felt… good."
She stares at him incredulously, her mouth actually popping open in her shock. It felt good. He felt good when he was being such a… "It felt good," she finds herself saying in a toneless voice. She's mimicking his previous actions: her eyes are shooting daggers at the sky, and her face is emotionless but for the tight, indignant line of her mouth.
She can almost hear him wince.
Creeeeaaaak, goes the swing.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way. I—it felt good to fit in. Even if I knew I shouldn't be doing what I was, it felt good to be a part of a group. To feel welcome, at least to a certain extent."
"So my company wasn't good enough." It's not a question; it's a cold, hard statement of what she fervently hopes isn't fact. She's got other friends, of course, but no one seems to get her like Sev does. Not this Severus, though.
"No! No, that's not what I meant at all!" he seems to scramble wildly for an excuse. Her eyes are still fixated on the darkening clouds. She hears a grinding, crunching sound over at the playground; the girl on the swing must be dragging her feet on the ground.
He chooses to go for offense. "It didn't seem like you were too eager to be with me, after all. You hardly looked at me all year—you were too busy hanging out with Alice and Mary and—"
She sits bolt upright, her hands forming talons in the dirt, directing her glare down at the boy who's now looking quite apprehensive. "I was ignoring you? Is that what you said? You were ignoring me all year! You didn't spare me a single glance once you were with your precious Slytherin friends. You laughed along with their horrible jokes about Muggleborns—did you forget that I'm one, too, Severus?" She gives an angry sort of huff, and when he doesn't respond, she says, "Forget it. I'm going home."
She pushes herself up roughly and brushes the damp grass from the back of her legs. Before Severus can even begin to formulate a response, she's storming across the playground. She vaguely notices that the little girl is gone; at the same time, she feels a slight drizzle. The world seems to be particularly in tune with her mood today.
"Lily—Lily, wait!" Severus catches her wrist, panting heavily.
"What, Severus?" Her voice is petulant and bitter, and Sev cringes. "In case you haven't noticed, it's starting to rain, and I don't want to get wet."
"I'm so sorry. I promise I'll be better next year. I swear it. I'll be better."
She regards him coolly for a moment. His eyes are shining with a frantic light, and he looks genuinely apologetic. She lets out her breath in an irritated, conceding huff.
"Fine. You're forgiven, this time. I'm going home. Bye."
He lets her go without a word, and she almost wishes he hadn't.