The sun was shining and the birds were singing over the lakes and lawns of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Basically everything that, to any average teenager with any knowledge of boring cliches, would make a day seem promising and warm was in that day. Students sat on the sun warmed grass and gossipped about their upcoming Summer breaks, a few hardcore members of the Quidditch teams were already starting to practice for the last games of the season, but most seemed to be taking advantage of the lazy day and weren't even bothering to study for their final exams.

However, one lone figure, garbed in black and with his hooked nose stuck in a particularly large volume of "The Potioneer's Guide to Rare Maladies" was studying furiously. His thin lips formed the words and his brow creased with concentration as he read, eyes flickering quickly over the pages with the haste of someone who had an exam in about five minutes. But Severus Snape was not concerned about any forgotten potions quiz. In fact, Severus Snape was always one to be over-prepared for his classes. He was particularly brilliant in Potions, though Slughorn seemed not to notice, which is why he had chosen that particular book to peruse over that morning. He had his reasons for being alone. He was always alone, and that suited him just fine.

Or so I keep telling myself...

It had been nine months, three weeks, and five days since "the Incident", as Severus Snape had begun calling it. The moment he had shouted that awful word at her, his entire world had come crashing down around him, leaving him with a dead and empty soul. He simply didn't care anymore and, for the first time in his life, despite all of his studying, his marks were slipping. He had lost all desire to join the Death Eaters, and he wanted to tell her. He had tried, but rejecting his apology at the portrait hole had only heightened his self-loathing and caused his now desolately lonely existance to become more evident to anyone and everyone around him. He hardly slept, or ate for that matter. The entire Summer he had haunted their old special spots, hoping she would come and talk with him. But she never did, and he was slowly wasting away in his grief. He would study for hours on end in an attempt to block out the painful memory, at least for a little while...

He sighed heavily and, for the thousandth time, his eyes swiveled towards a group of girls with red and yellow striped ties. Curvy and soft girls who had many young men's eyes on them at that moment, but he wasn't interested in just any of them. His dark chocolate eyes locked onto one. Her back was to him, which was a bit of a disappointment because he was unable to glimpse his favorite feature of hers, but he would not complain. It was very rarely he ever saw her so close. The girl's fiery red hair hung in slight soft curls about her shoulders, and he could just pick out the light smattering of freckles adorning her pale shoulders. But he forced himself to turn back to the words on the book in front of him, the familiar image being pushed away again. He had self control, and he used it. Not that he wanted to.

But he was plotting, he reminded himself. He was making plans and using all of his Slytherin cunning to try and come up with something, anything, that would give him an excuse to talk with her. And for the first time in his life, Severus had nothing to show for all his thinking. Everything he considered just ended up sounding stupid or lame, or he knew she would see through his ruse and reject him again...

His throat constricted at the thought but, just then, he stood. She had seperated from a group of her fellow Gryffindors, sitting down on a round grey rock, a thin charms thaory book in her hands. It was a perfect oppurtunity. Before he could think himself out of it, he slunk over to where she sat hunched over the book and whispered,

"Hey, Lily." She looked up and those beautiful green eyes hardened against him as she took a deep breath. He shivered slightly. Merlin, she only usually used to look at Potter like that. He almost ran for it right then.

"What do you want, Severus?" A few of the other Gryffindor girls looked over at the pair, watching Severus as if he would suddenly strike like the evil snake they just knew he was at their friend and already beginning to form a protective half-circle around her. Severus looked at his shoes, and shuffled awkwardly. He mumbled,

"Lily, I was hoping we could talk somewhere. You know, alone." He quirked his head to a large willow tree close by and held his breath. She just stared at him, her mouth slightly agape and he just knew she would reject him. He could see her trying to already, but to his utter relief and amazement, she simply nodded stiffly. He held a hand out to help her up, but she refused and gathered her things in her arms, standing up on her own terms.

So stubborn! He shoved his hands in his robe pockets and walked steadily towards the impending tree, pushing back the stringy branches until he made his way to the trunk. He turned slowly towards her, avoiding her gaze.

His stomach churned with excitement as he looked at her, his mouth opening and closng wordlessly like a fish, all the practiced speeches and arguements stuck somewhere, that while he stared into her "I'm waiting" gaze, were not accessable. She crossed her arms, and looked at the ground.

"Severus, do you have something to say? Are you going to threaten me or something?"He shook his head hurriedly, the question stinging him.

"Lily. I was- I just wanted to tell you I'm not joining them." Her eyes widened a little at that, but she remained otherwise expressionless.

"Severus..." she sighed, shaking her head. "That still doesn't change what you said to me."

"I know, and I'm so sorry. I never meant to call you that awful word. I've never thought of you like that. You're brilliant, Lily. I just- I lashed out."

She chuckled humorlessly, her eyes going back to his. "I've seen you hanging around with them. How do I know you're not lying? Besides, I don't care what circumstances you were under, you still said that word. I would never call you a name like that. You -knew- that would hurt me."

He nodded, all the guilt he had been trying to staunch rushing over him, and he managed to croak out, "I'm sorry, Lily."

She moved towards him slowly and looked up into his eyes, her's beginning to fill even as she tried to hide it.

"You hurt me, Sev." she whispered. Ah, the beloved nickname. They were getting somewhere. Shyly he raised his arms as if he was going to embrace her, then decided against it and dropped them to his sides loosely.

"You hurt me as well, Lily." Suddenly, a flash of anger enveloped Severus as he looked at her widening eyes.


"You smiled. As he was bullying me, you smiled. How do you think it feels to have your only friend, your best friend, laugh right alongside your enemies? How do you think that made me feel, Lily?" His fists clenched as he felt all the anguish he had experienced when she had flashed that hint of a smile during "the Incident." Her eyes threatened to spill as she looked up at him. "Because despite what most of the students and staff of Hogwarts likes to believe I HAVE feelings! But who cares? Just Slytherin Death Eater Scum, right?"

"Sev, I didn't know. I didn't realize..." A tear rolled down her soft cheek and dripped silently on the grass. "You hurt me, too..." she repeated quietly, the harsh tone replaced by the softest of whispers. She moved closer, drawing her arms tentatively around him. He hid his surprise as he stood stiffly in her arms. Oh, how he wanted to hold her like she was holding him!

"I forgive you." He said softly. She buried her face in his chest and he could hear a muffled sob escape her lips. He relented, and drew his arms slowly around her, pulling her close to him.

"I-I'm so sorry." she stuttered.

"Will you forgive me, then?" He asked, trying to keep the hopeful undertone from reaching her ears, but she just nodded and Severus caught the tiny trickle of tears running down her freckled cheek.

"Of course I do. You're my best friend." He pulled slightly away and fought the urge to rub the tears away with his thumb.

"Lily, what's wrong? Please don't cry." She sniffed and looked down at her feet.

"I just... I missed you." came her admission in barely a whisper. Severus blinked. What?

You- you missed me? I thought you hated me. For what I said." She shook her head slightly.

"I was angry, Sev. I- I could never hate you." Perhaps it was his resolve, perhaps it was his subtelty, but something overrid his caution and caused him to reach down and lift her face to his. He shuddered at his own daring.

"And why is that?" She looked up at him, and he could see her searching for the right words. Could see the battling emotions in those beautiful emerald eyes.

"Because, Sev, you- I don't know what I'd do without you." Severus suppressed a gasp and swallowed thickly.

"I understand, Lils." She just bit her lip and looked away. "I'm so glad we're friends again."

"Yeah..." He watched her, knowing that she wasn't saying everything she wanted to, but too damned afraid of being rejected.

"Or...?" She blushed.

"Nothing." Damn it. Now she was uncomfortable.

"We are still friends, right?" She leaned more into him and he breathed in her flowery scent greedily, momentarily overwhelmed by her close proximity.

"Of course we are, Sev. -Best- friends. Why?"

"You're just acting different-, is all." She gripped him tightly and he could see the faint pink tinge on her cheeks betray her.

"I'm just glad to have you back." He smiled slightly.

"Glad to be back." He held her close and buried his face into her hair. He couldn't control himself, he had to say it. The one fact he had wished her to know for as long as he had known her. A feeling he had tried to ignore, to bury, to hide for so many years. And he was tired of it all. He took a shaky breath and whispered so softly, he was sure she would not hear him "I love you..." She immediately stiffened.

"You- you WHAT?" SHIT! SHE HAD HEARD! He panicked, searching his mind desperately for an escape route. Something that could cover what he had said, but nothing came to him...

"I- I..." He managed to get out, his eyes wide in his shock. "You heard me?"

She nodded slightly, biting her lip. "You said... You said you love me?" She looked up into his eyes and he could see the confusion in them. He could see she was trying hard to decide on two very different sides of her, and he knew what he had to do to help her. He leaned down, slowly, waiting for her to object, and when she did not he pressed his lips to hers kissing her gently. She stiffened slightly in his arms then, to his surprise, melted into him. She wrapped her arms around his neck as his mouth carressed hers, savored it. He closed his eyes, reveling in his luck. Merlin! Lily Evans, the girl he had loved for half his life, was in his arms, and she was kissing him! Slowly, he pulled away, his teeth running along her bottom lip as she looked at him. Her expression was one he had never seen before. Her eyes danced, still a little confused, but they danced. She was happy!

"Sev..." she whispered as she refused to pull away, instead pushing herself closer to him. He held his breath. She was leaning up towards him, pushing her lips back to his. He eagerly moved back close to her when a rustling of branches caught his attention.

"Snape! What the bloody hell are you doing to her?" Severus turned slightly, just able to catch the wild curls and Gryffindor tie, the intruder's wand pointed directly at his chest.

Sirius Black.