Lily and Severus worked diligently on their potions project over the period of a couple of weeks. They did everything from researching ingredients, to puzzling out the order and combination, in which they needed to be added and mixed together, and then brewing and re-brewing the potion until finally they were successful and it was brewed to perfection. They felt the need to put extra effort into their project because they both enjoyed the potion brewing process that so many of their peers considered tedious, and also because Slughorn expected great things from them, since they were both in the Slug Club and two of his top students.
They were also very glad to finally be partnered together in potions class again; they always did their best work when they labored harmoniously together over a bubbling cauldron. For their project they had decided to invent a potion that would cause the drinker to voice every thought that flew through his or her head for the duration of an hour. This potion would be immensely useful for psychological healers who were assigned to work with extremely guarded patients. It could also be valuable if one could somehow secretly slip it to an opponent shortly before a Wizard's duel. If one knew which spell their opponent planned to cast before they employed the spell, their adversary would not stand a chance.
Lily and Severus finished their project in a shorter amount of time than they'd expected and they were pleased with their handy-work. There was no way for them to test the potion themselves, since that would leave the test subject utterly vulnerable and with his or her privacy in tatters. However, despite this, they were confident that the potion would have the desired effect.
Currently Lily and Severus were both eating lunch in the great hall at their houses' respective tables. Isobel and Mary were both attempting to make small talk with Lily, but the emerald eyed witch found that she could not manage to pay attention to their words. Instead she directed her gaze across the great hall towards Severus. Now that they were talking again, she'd been spending as much time around him as she could. She had missed him more than she had even realized and their renewed friendship still had a feeling of freshness attached to it. In the past, after their falling out, Severus had tried and failed to force his eyes to focus anywhere other than the table at which Lily sat. Lily had been more successful at ignoring Severus because she had been practical in deciding to sit with her back facing the Slytherin table to make her task easier.
Now, she was indulging herself, happy that she no longer had to change up her seating arrangement in order to force her stare to fall elsewhere. Severus' liquorice colored eyes met her sparkling green ones and they looked at one another, conversing through head nods and body language alone. That was one of the most excellent parts about their friendship; they knew one another so well that they weren't constrained to just conveying their thoughts through words. This form of non-verbal communication only worked when Severus let his guard down, of course. Lily soon realized from the expression on Sev's face that something was wrong; through intuition she could surmise as much, even though she was located all the way across the dining hall. Severus had a high pain threshold and had never made a big deal about not feeling well in the past, but Lily could tell from the look on his face that something was not right; she just didn't know what could possibly be wrong. The fact in its self was enough to worry her. If Sev was desperate enough to lower his guard in an attempt to send her a message, then dear Merlin, something was undeniably wrong.
Lily turned her concentration back on her friends with the intention of explaining to them why she was going to leave her place at the Gryffindor table and make her way over to the Slytherin one. However, it was apparent that they did not notice that her attention had been engaged elsewhere, since they were still chatting merrily away. Mary abruptly interrupted Isobel from finishing the long winded story she had been telling, to point out to Lily that James was nowhere to be found. Having just broken up with the aforementioned James, in a normal situation Lily would told her friends that she could have cared less where James Potter was.
However, it was too convenient that his whereabouts were unaccounted for when, at least according to her hunch, Severus did not seem to be alright. While dating James, Lily had learned that he possessed an invisibility cloak and she was sure that he was nearby, yet out of sight.
"Thanks for pointing that out, Mary," she said sincerely, without a hint of sarcasm tinting her tone. "Please excuse me; I'm going to take off. I want to go and see Sev," she added, phrasing the words in as casual a manner as she could muster.
Her friends' eyebrows seemed to skyrocket in the most unbecoming manner as the small strips of hair receded into their hairlines. She had not yet filled them in on why her relationship with James had ended, only that it had. "Sev and I are friends again; I broke up with James because he couldn't handle it," she explained, as succinctly as possible, while she stood up from her seat. Her friends were staring at her incredulously, with their mouths gaping open in marble sized circles.
"Listen, I know that Sev made a few mistakes in the past, but I-I trust him again. I should not have abandoned him, after -well- you know; true friends are there for one another, no matter what," she expounded, in an attempt to get her friends to see things through her newly acquired point of view, before parting.
Lily began to make her way across the Great Hall, striving to seem confident on her way to the Slytherin table. It seemed as if the eyes of everyone in the Great Hall were ogling, as if transfixed in her direction. After all, it was not often that a Gryffindor sauntered over to the Slytherin table. Lily's confident façade was all for show; she was mildly worried that she would wind up being hexed, despite the presence of the professors at the staff table. 'Ah, well,' she rationalized, 'I can defend myself, if need be.' As she neared the long, rectangular table, she walked over to where Sev sat. Lily then grabbed his hand both in an attempt to provide him with comfort, and as a cue for him to follow her out of the great hall. "What's wrong?" She asked, as her pace quickened as Sev began to walk with her.
"The potion, it must be-I've been voicing every thought on my mind for the last five minutes," Severus responded, sounding tense. Lily threw a furtive glance backwards towards the Slytherin table and saw that a few of Severus' housemates were still glaring in their direction. She sighed, finding herself frustrated by the situation.
"You told them exactly what you thought of them, didn't you? I'm guessing that it was less than polite."
"You could say that," he responded simply, careful to keep his thoughts vague, as they exited the entryway to the Great Hall and walked together, still hand in hand, towards an abandoned classroom. It was as if they'd silently agreed to pass the rest of the time, until the potion wore off, in a secluded location, just the two of them
"Someone must have slipped it in your pumpkin juice," Lily mused aloud, doing her best to channel her friend's thoughts into a less stressful, albeit only slightly, direction. She continued with her own train of thought, though she was already sure who had done it. "They'd have to be either a Gryffindor or a Slytherin, though I'm leaning towards a fellow Gryffindor, since I'm sure you're too wary to leave your notes lying around. I only left mine for a second. I had to go back to my dormitory to get something, and they were still on the table, where I'd left them, when I came back. I didn't think anyone would be interested in them, but someone obviously read them," she added. She paused just for a split second before continuing on in a stern tone. "Severus, I know how you think, and I need you to promise me that you won't seek retribution against the witch or wizard who is responsible for this. I don't want you going overboard, doing something extreme, and getting in serious trouble because of it. I give you my word that I'll handle the situation myself, okay?"
"But I'm stealthy, I'd be sure not to be caught..." Severus countered, before relenting and giving Lily the verbal response that she wanted, in order to make her happy. "I promise, Lily," he finished, finally.
"Oh, thank Merlin you agreed. I was afraid you'd be stubborn," Lily admitted. To be honest, she had expected her Slytherin friend to put up more of a fight, and was relieved that Sev didn't seem to need much persuading. "I already have a rather creative idea of how I might handle the situation. Of course, I won't be able to share this idea with you until I've turned it into a concrete plan. It's a surprise, and one I think you'll quite like, at that," she teased with a mischievous grin.
Severus arched an eyebrow; Lily had successfully piqued his curiosity. "You're not going to tell me anything else about it, are you?" he asked, sure that she wouldn't.
Lily shook her head. "No, not now, if everything goes according to plan, you'll see for yourself soon enough."
He studied her silently, instead of thinking up and asking more questions, to which he knew she would only give cryptic answers. "You are amazing, Lily. Not only did you come when I needed you, but you're also the only person to ever care enough to stick up for me," he announced appreciatively, as his thoughts drifted to feelings that he never would have voiced aloud, if not for the influence of the potion.
"I'm not amazing, Sev; I'm just... me," Lily responded, in a manner that straddled the thin line between insecure and modest. "As for looking out for you, that's nothing. It's what friends are supposed to do for one another. I'm sure you'd do the same for me, if I needed it," she responded.
Severus was unable to keep his thoughts from traveling in the direction towards which they were headed. Due to the blasted potion, he also could not keep himself from uttering them audibly. He fought against the compulsion to form his next thought into a sentence, though his efforts proved futile. "I love you, Lily," he confessed, a look of sheer panic crossing his face immediately, as soon as the words left his mouth. Severus immediately began backtracking, since that is where his thoughts took him next. "I-I did not mean to say that; I would not have said it under normal circumstances, not because it isn't true, but because there's absolutely no way you feel the same. I swear I'm not presumptuous enough to think that you-"
Lily could tell that Sev was uncharacteristically timid, and personally, she thought he looked adorable that way. She was shocked by his admission, and surprised even further when she immediately and impulsively cut him off by responding with, "I love you too, Sev, and, to be honest, I don't think you're being presumptuous at all," without even thinking about it. 'I've been subconsciously in love with him for a very long time; I just wouldn't admit it to myself,' Lily realized. Now that she was no longer lying to herself, she understood that she had only dated James for a distraction. She had been miserable after ending her friendship with Sev, and she had hoped that she could move on and be happy again. It had worked for a temporary period of time, but only so long as Lily ignored the fact that being with James had never truly felt right.
"Really, Lily?" Severus queried hesitantly.
"Of course, Sev. I never say things that I don't mean. Surely you must know that; you've been my friend for long enough that, quite frankly, you should have noticed by now," Lily responded, her tone distinctly playful.
Lily watched Severus and noticed as he began to relax. The look on his face was one of disbelief, and it quickly transfigured into one of relief, and then of joy; all the while, Lily wore a wide smile on her face.
"You know, it really isn't fair that you have to voice your every thought. Why don't we try something to impede your speaking ability until the potion wears off?" Lily leaned towards him and stood up on the tips of her toes, since he was tall and lanky enough to make her seem short in comparison. She angled her head to prevent them from bumping noses and kissed him, like a traveler in a desert who discovered water for the first time, and quenched previously unaknowledged thirst. Lily felt Sev's mouth quickly respond to hers and noted that, with the proper kissing partner, kissing can be an extraordinary experience.
((AN: I wanted to get this posted in time for the birthday JK. Rowling has set for Severus, because, honestly, I don't think I could give him a better birthday pressie than allowing for him to snog Lily. I hope those of you who read this chapter enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Writing this chapter was a challenge, but I'm happy with what I have. Please review this if you read it, and be sure to let me know what you think of my useage of the potion!))