A/N: HAPPY CHRISTMAS! Or if you don't celebrate Christmas, happy holidays! "Halfway out of the dark", as Kazran would say... yeah, I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who. Only a few more hours until the Christmas special...

Right. Harry Potter. Snily. Get your fandoms straight, Brodi. Read on!

I perched on the armrest of Sev's chair, resting my chin on the top of his head and watching him study. He was sitting in our usual spot in the library; one of the warmest places in the castle, the roaring fire easily chased away the January chill seeping through the rest of the school.

"I've had an idea," I said thoughtfully.

Sev put down his book and sighed. I lifted my head so he could look up at me. "Another one?"

I laughed. "Shut up, you had fun at that fair."

"I did, until the Dementors tried to suck our souls out our noses."

"Exactly." I leaned closer, my eyes bright. "We couldn't defend ourselves - but what if we learned how?"

I saw something click behind his widening eyes. "Are you suggesting...?"

"I am." I reached into my bag and pulled out a Defence textbook, flipping through the yellowed pages until I reached the one I had bookmarked. "The theory is simple enough, just think of a happy memory and say the charm, see?"

"It has to be a really happy memory though, incredibly powerful," Sev pointed out, tapping a line of text. I shrugged.

"I could manage that, I've been with you over a year now, haven't I?" I said sweetly, batting my eyelashes.

Sev scoffed. "Flattery will get you nowhere."

"Oh come on, it'll be fun, and useful, and I'm positive that if we let it slip that we can do a Patronus charm on our Defense NEWT we're bound to get an extra mark or two." I knew that would win him over, and sure enough I saw a spark of interest in his eyes.

"Fine," he said, rolling his eyes and sighing dramatically. "When do you want to start then?"

I beamed. "Tonight."

Sev gave me a withering look. "In case you've forgotten, Slughorn wants a essay on his desk tomorrow morning."

"I haven't forgotten, I've finished." I gave him a smug little smile.

"Shut up." Sev reached up, pulled me close and gave me a quick kiss. "Now, are you going to help me with this or are you going to run off and chatter with your friends?"

"You don't need my help, you're brilliant." Sev pulled a face but said nothing. I smiled and shook my head. "See you later?" I asked, giving him a significant look that suggested Patronuses and Dementors would be the last things on our minds.

He grinned. "I should hope so."

I gave him a coy smile and hurried away, eventually finding Mary and James wandering through the corridor hand-in-hand. Mary's face lit up as soon as she saw me. "Did you hear?" she demanded eagerly, "Marlene and Sirius are a couple now, they actually made it official at breakfast."

My eyebrows shot up. "Sirius Black and Marlene McKinnon? Our Sirius and our Marlene, actually going steady... together?"

James laughed. "Apparently. And Wormtail has Dorcas, he was babbling about her all day yesterday, poor thing. Completely love struck if you ask me. We should find Moony a girl, yeah? Or a bloke, or a Grindylow or something..."

"Grindylow, definitely," Remus said sarcastically, falling into step beside me. He was smiling though, and I couldn't help a surge of pride towards him at the fact that he could joke about such things.

"So what d'you say we get something to eat?" James suggested.

"You know where the kitchens are, don't you?" I guessed; I wouldn't be surprised if the Marauders had discovered every secret this school held. James only tapped his nose and grinned, and the four of us set off.

I squeezed my eyes shut tight. I was seven, and I was sitting cross-legged in the grass on my grandparents' front lawn in Surrey. Petunia was sprawled next to me, watching my grandmother with the same rapt expression as I was. "And you two know what these flowers are, don't you?" Gran said with a warm chuckle, gesturing to a clump of flowers in her garden. She plucked one of each. "A petunia for my Petunia, and a lily for my Lily!" she said brightly, handing us each the flower that matched our names. I beamed. It was so peaceful here, spending time with my Gran and my sister... so peaceful, and so happy...

"Lily?" Sev asked, snapping me back to reality. His face bobbed in front of mine, looking concerned. "Lily, you're crying."

I brought a hand to my face, and sure enough my cheeks were damp. "I'm sorry." We were standing in the Potions room, and it wouldn't be long before curfew. "I just got lost in the memory, is all."

"It couldn't have been very happy, if it made you cry," Sev grumbled, wiping a tear away with his thumb.

I shook my head. "Oh, no, it was one of the happiest ones I've got." I told him about my Gran's garden, the way we'd sit out there for hours in the sun learning about all kinds of plants and flowers and bugs. And we'd go back inside, where my grandfather would be waiting with a book, and Gran would make snacks and sit and listen to her husband read us stories in his rich voice, tales of pirates and magic and far-off places. "He died before we met, before he ever got a chance to find out that the fairy tales he loved so much were real," I sniffed bitterly. "Both of them did, though it was grandpa who went first, of a heart attack. Gran died exactly a week later. Mum figures it was out of heartbreak, the two of them were so close. They had known each other since they were seven, did you know? Sort of like us, they'd always been best friends, and it turned into something more when they were still in school."

Sev smiled faintly. For a moment I wondered what he would look like when he was as old as my grandfather, if we would still be together then, if I'd be showing my grandchildren magical plants and he'd be reading them stories from Beetle the Bard or telling them about our time at Hogwarts. The idea thrilled me. "Anyway, let's give it a go one last time, yeah?" he asked, his words dissolving into a yawn. I couldn't blame him, we'd been practicing for almost three hours, having run down here straight after dinner.

I nodded and stepped away a little, letting my mind drift back to Gran's garden. I couldn't stop the memory of the funeral butting in, of all the tears and black clothing. Gritting my teeth determinedly, I focused hard on the happiness before, and just before I could cast the charm a completely new memory took over, one of a little girl tearing down the street, her red hair flying out behind her, clutching a few sheaves of parchment in one hand. Her freckled face was cracked into a broad grin. She turned a corner and practically collided with a boy, one with long black hair, mismatched clothes and a hooked nose. "It came, Sev, look!" I squealed, thrusting the letter into his face.

He laughed. "I told you it would, didn't I?"

"We're going to Hogwarts!" I exclaimed, bouncing on the balls of my feet, and I kissed him on the cheek before pulling him into a tight hug again.

"Expecto Patronum!" I said, sounding far more confident than I had in previous attempts. Sev's voice echoed me beside me, and suddenly two bright shapes erupted from the end of our wands, chasing each other through the air around the dungeon classroom for a fleeting second before fading away. I stared at the spot where they had disappeared, the shapes still burned into the inside of my eyelids. "What were they?" I asked, my voice barely a whisper.

"I'm not positive," he replied shakily, "but they looked like birds. If I had to guess I'd say yours was a dove, and mine was a raven or a crow or something."

I turned to him, and as soon as our eyes met smiles broke across our faces and I jumped into his arms. "We did it!" I cried, giving him a bone-crushing hug. He laughed triumphantly, his face buried in my shoulder.

We stayed like that for a few minutes. "What were you thinking of?" he asked curiously.

I smiled shyly. "When we got our Hogwarts letters, remember? We practically attacked each other in a hug in the middle of the road."

"And you kissed me for the first time," he pointed out smugly.

"On the cheek," I retorted, smirking. "What were you thinking of then?"

"Our first real kiss," he admitted, "that day in your room. Though I figure the day I stumbled across a red-haired witch - and her stuck-up sister - in the park was a very close second."

"Shut up," I laughed, hitting his arm so he dropped me onto my feet. "Let's give it another go," I encouraged, eager to see my Patronus again.

Sev chuckled. "You look exhausted, and we've got ten minutes until curfew, anyway." I pretended to pout. "Tomorrow, I promise. Can I walk you up?"

I shook my head. "You'll get detention, I think I can find my own way." I rose up on my toes to kiss him and gave him another hug before hurrying up to Gryffindor tower, promising to meet him at breakfast.

Alice raised her eyebrow as soon as I fell onto the couch next to her. "What happened to you?" she demanded, her eyes shining knowingly.

"Shut up, that's not what happened," I said quickly; I knew exactly what she was thinking.

Alice frowned. "Well you two went running off together, and you show up at this hour looking beyond tired, what am I supposed to think?"

"You have a dirty mind, Alice."

"Don't pretend you don't wish that's what you were doing."

"Anyway, for your information, we've been practicing the Patronus charm," I said loudly, ignoring her.

James gave a low whistle. "Fancy. Any luck?"

I nodded, grinning from ear to ear. "We both managed it in the end - they weren't very defined, but Sev figures they were both some kind of bird. A dove and a raven, he said."

"Wicked. See, I wish I could make a Patronus, Merlin knows it would improve my chances of becoming an Auror," Frank said woefully.

"An Auror?" I asked interestedly. Frank grinned.

"Oh, yeah. There's nothing else for me, I'm dying to be one. I thought you wanted to be an Auror, too?"

I frowned. I had wanted to be an Auror, back in fifth year, but since then I'd changed my mind so many times I didn't have the slightest idea what I wanted to do once I left Hogwarts. Frank's comment had sparked a whole new conversation, and it seemed like everyone had their lives planned out already - Frank, Peter and James wanted to be Aurors, Mary wanted to work for St. Mungo's, Alice, Dorcas and Marlene all dreamed of being Unspeakables at the Ministry, Remus thought he might like to teach as long as Dumbledore didn't mind hiring someone with his 'furry little problem', and Sirius insisted that between living with the Potters and the money he already had, he wouldn't have to work a day in his life. I could see Sev being a Potions professor, no matter how much he protested - maybe Defence Against the Dark Arts - but somehow I couldn't see myself doing anything.

"You could work for the Prophet, Lily," Dorcas suggested, bringing me back to the present. "I can see it, you know, great big headline, your face beaming up from the page, the words 'Daily Prophet reporter Lily Snape interviewed So-and-so McSomething...'"

I couldn't help but beam at 'Lily Snape'. "You really do look tired," Remus fretted, his brows knitted together, and he pulled a piece of chocolate from his robes. "Here, it'll help."

I laughed. "You carry chocolate around in your robes?"

Remus pretended to look confused, though a smile shone through his eyes. "Of course I do, doesn't everybody?"

Sev was standing by the doors like he promised, his back to me. I could see him twirling a flower in his fingers, one he obviously meant to keep hidden from me. I shook my head and smirked, and then tore towards him as fast as I could, leaping up and clinging to his back. He cried out, but as soon as he realized it was me he relaxed.

"Happy birthday!" I chirped happily.

"You don't have to do this, you know," he reminded me. I stood in front of him, rolling my eyes and giving him a quick kiss.

"I know I don't have to, I want to," I insisted. "Besides, it's your eighteenth, now we're of age in the Muggle world too."

"Thank Merlin," Sev agreed. "This is for you, by the way." He presented me with the flower, a single white rose with its thorns stripped off. I beamed.

"Come on then, I don't want to waste a single second of today," I said enthusiastically, taking his hand and pulling him down the path to Hogsmeade. It was our second 'official' date - none of our friends would be tagging along, it was just the two of us, and I sincerely hoped it wouldn't end the way the last one did.

We wandered around the village for a while, lingering in the shops to avoid the January cold. At Honeydukes I convinced Sev to eat a Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Bean - he got earwax, and I got burned toast - and we shared a Butterbeer and a snog at the Three Broomsticks.

"How does she survive when she's not with him?" Sev asked, nodding towards a booth on our way out. Alice and Frank were sitting very close together, speaking in low voices with tiny, love-filled smiles on their faces.

I smirked and rolled my eyes. "She says his name in her sleep sometimes, we've heard her. Poor thing. D'you remember a few weeks ago, when Frank was sick? Alice moped all day."

"Don't take offence when I say I'm glad we aren't that... mushy." Sev elbowed the door open and we stepped out into the snowy street, hunching against the bitter wind.

I laughed. "No, I like this much better."

"What is this, exactly?"

"Being best friends first. So that I'm allowed to do this -" I knelt down and scooped up a handful of snow, flicking it into his face "- and not have to worry about you dumping me on my arse."

"Who says I won't?" Sev growled, and for a moment I thought he was serious, my heart plummeting. Suddenly he had me in his arms, running down the street with me to a nearby snow bank.

"Severus Snape, put me down!" I shrieked.

"Whatever you say, love," Sev said cheekily, and dropped me into the waist-deep snow.

"I hate you," I bit out, struggling to get up. Sev was roaring with laughter, but it was cut short when I reached up and pulled him down by his emerald-and-silver scarf so he fell face-first beside me.

"This is no way to treat the birthday boy," he mumbled into the powder, and I giggled.

"When is the wedding, anyway?" he asked, once we were on our feet again.

"Alice wants it right after Hogwarts, sometime early in the summer." We had spent many nights staying up, making plans that ranged from ones that made some kind of sense to completely outrageous ceremonies. "Well, if she had it her way it'd be in the spring, but she can't because of school." I hesitated before adding, "I've always dreamed of my wedding late in the summer, sometime in August."

"Hm," Sev said, in a voice that I knew meant he was thinking. I didn't try to keep up the conversation, finding it was just as nice to wander around in silence, wondering if he was thinking the same thing I was - him in a suit and I in a dress, exchanging rings and vows at long last.

"Go on, just this once!"

"Please, we haven't seen it yet!"

"Fine, but only so you won't bother me any longer. Expecto Patronum." The dove flew lazily around the room, and my dorm-mates watched her go with wide eyes. I had been practicing, and it wasn't so difficult anymore. After a moment she faded away, and Mary made a noise of awe.

"You've got to teach me how to do that," she insisted.

"Not now, I'm exhausted and I've got a Potions test in the morning, in case you've forgotten." I slunk down in bed and pulled the covers up to my chin. "You just need a happy memory - a really happy memory."

"And what was yours?"

I sighed, eager to go to sleep. "Getting my Hogwarts letter," I lied, and it seemed to satisfy the other girls enough so they drifted off to sleep. The memory I used had changed and I hadn't told anyone, not even Sev. After all, how was I supposed to tell him that my happiest memory was one of a dream where we were married with children? That wouldn't be awkward at all, Lily, I thought sarcastically, but there was no doubt that the idea of spending the rest of my life with him was more thrilling than anything I could think up - I could only hope he felt the same way.

Rubbish ending, as per usual. You might have to get used to those. I don't know how many of you follow me but on Tumblr I asked what their Patronuses should be - a fox and a wolf, a dove and a raven, or does. The general response was somewhere between the does and the birds, and because it's an AU I went with the birds. My logic is that James's Patronus matched his Animagus - a stag - and Lily's was a doe to match James and Sev's was a doe to match Lily's. But in Magic-AU-Land, where Lily never fell in love with James, I feel like her Patronus would be like Sev's. Make sense? Not really? Okay.

Can you tell Lily's been thinking about her future with Sev a lot lately? Somehow I don't think I've made that clear enough... sorry about that.