10 August 1974
"How's your eye?"
Severus jumped and turned around; Lily was hanging by her knees from the monkey bars at the old Muggle play park that was their traditional meeting place.
"You're going to kill me doing that," Severus grumbled, massaging his heart.
"You need the exercise," Lily quipped, grinning and flipping herself head over heels to land gracefully on her feet before Severus. "Now let me see your eye."
Severus sighed and tilted his faintly bruised left eye towards Lily so that she could inspect it.
"It looks better," she said thoughtfully. "It should be fine by the time we're back on the train."
"Goody," Severus said sarcastically, dropping cross-legged into the hot sand and picking up a stick. He began poking moodily at the little hills and dunes around him.
"Oh, come on," insisted Lily, dropping onto her knees opposite him. "Fifth year will be great! O.W.L.s aren't that bad."
"It's not O.W.L.s I'm thinking of," Severus grumbled, not looking at her.
Lily rolled her eyes. "Sev, you never listen when I tell you things, do you?"
Severus shrugged, poking at a pile of leaves buried in the sand, and Lily shoved his shoulder. "You are my friend. I chose you to be friends with, okay? And you chose me! I swear I'll never understand this ridiculous thing you have with Potter and Black! I'm not interested in either of them, in any way at all!"
"They're—" Severus began angrily, but Lily silenced him with a glare. "Fine," he grumbled, looking down at his feet again.
Lily sighed and scooted over to sit beside him, studying his profile carefully. "What's got you in such a bad mood, hm?" she asked. Severus shook his head. "Come on," Lily wheedled. "I can be annoying when I want to be."
Severus snorted. "That's a load of dung. You're never annoying."
Lily laughed. "You should share your world view with Petunia sometime. I thought she was going to murder me this morning."
"What for?" Severus looked suddenly angry again, and Lily started.
"Nothing, Sev," she assured him. "Something stupid about her hairbrush, I think. She thought I took it, that's all."
Severus glowered moodily at the sand pile before him again. "Some sister you wound up with." Then he sighed, rubbing the half-healed bruises on his cheek. "Some dad I've got, too."
Lily sighed heavily. "I wish mine was still here," she said, looking downcast.
"Our dads are nothing alike, Lily," Severus said forcefully.
"No, I know," she said quickly. "I just…it's not fair. For either of us, you know? Why should neither of us have our fathers? Mine's gone now, and yours…well…"
"It's not like we got to pick who we're related to," Severus said gloomily, resting his pointed chin on his knees.
Lily smiled slightly. "We got to pick each other, though, right?"
Severus met her lovely green eyes and grinned. "Yeah, we did." Lily held up her hand, extending her pinky finger, and Severus frowned. "What are you doing?"
Lily looked at her finger and shrugged. "Muggle thing," she said, and Severus wrinkled his nose. Lily rolled her eyes and seized his hand, linking their pinky fingers together.
"Severus, I choose you to be my very best friend, for as long as we both live," she promised, grinning. "Now you say it."
Severus blinked, his mouth falling open slightly. "Er…okay…I…choose you, for my best friend…" Lily looked at him expectantly. "Er—as long as we both live."
Lily looked satisfied, and released his finger. "There we go. Now, even if we argue with our families, or we miss them, or whatever, we'll still have our best friend."
Severus shook his head, smiling incredulously. "You act like a little kid, you know that?"
"I know," Lily said, hopping to her feet and dusting her shorts off before running and leaping to grab hold of the monkey bars. She swung herself upside down and looked at Severus, her long red hair catching the sunlight. "But it's the only way to be, sometimes."