The characters and situations in this story belong to J.K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

Still new to this fandom; still assuming that it's all been done already. Any unoriginality is accidental.

As ever, Cincoflex and Trialia kept me sane, in-character, and as British as I'm ever going to get.

Two chapters to finish up, since it wouldn't divide evenly. Thank you everyone for reading and reviewing! I do have a sequel in the works, but in the meantime if you are so moved I've written another Lily/Severus fic, Through Grace, which is also AU-in an entirely different fashion. It is available at my account on this site.

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Severus lay back on the divan and wondered distantly why it wasn't possible to die of embarrassment. At least I would have died happy.

But Lily's leavening humour had saved him from lethality, at least. That, and the knowledge that she was both aroused and abashed as well.

She didn't want to stop. That pushed his other concerns aside in greedy awe. She didn't just want him, she wanted to continue. The thought was almost too much to take in.

This isn't helping. Groaning, Severus pushed to his feet and paced, trying to tame himself. Lily wasn't disgusted with his out-of-control body, but he was about to be. The natural urges that came on him from time to time were as nothing compared to the fire that flared in him now; her unconscious proximity was a meagre spark next to her willing caresses and the permission to touch as he wished.

No. I will have control. Gritting his teeth, Severus forced his thoughts elsewhere, finally opening a window and leaning out to breathe the frigid air. It helped, dispelling the drowsy warmth of the room and the lingering fragrance of Lily.

He let a tendril of amusement rise. I never anticipated that particular effect. It certainly wasn't something he'd tried in her body, but the magic he'd woven into the perfume followed her shifts of emotion and physical state. And he had to admit that, as delicious as Lily smelled under ordinary circumstances, aroused she was intoxicating.

But then, I suspect it would be so even without the perfume.

By the time Lily returned, tidy and composed, Severus was calmer, and had resumed his seat on the divan with a fresh mug of hot chocolate. Lily, never slow, sat at the other end, curling her legs under her and pouring her own drink. For a long moment they couldn't quite look at each other, but then Lily arched her brows and spoke drily. "That was fun."

That did it; they were both laughing, the tension not banished but reduced to a low simmer. Severus leaned forward and picked up the plate of biscuits, extending it in Lily's direction, and she took one with an exaggerated nod of thanks. "So," she said, nibbling delicately, "what's your timetable for next term?"

Safer topics worked; they relaxed into their usual discussion, tossing ideas back and forth. Gradually Lily uncurled, and Severus swung his legs up onto the divan, but somehow their feet meeting in the middle didn't produce the same fever pitch of desire; it was just a pleasurable, comfortable touch that felt like a promise for later. He had to keep a close rein on both his thoughts and his gaze, but it was hardly the first time such had been necessary.

At ten-thirty, Severus' wand vibrated in the reminder he'd set, and Lily sighed. "Already?"

"I'll need time to walk back," Severus said, silently echoing her sigh.

"Actually, we could have another fifteen minutes and you could just walk me to the gates," Lily said hopefully, but Severus gave her a stern look.

"I am seeing you home properly. Don't argue, Lily." It was one of the few social graces he'd picked up from his mother, that a gentleman never let a lady walk home alone, and he'd stuck to it all these years.

Lily pouted at him to make him smirk, then sighed again and stood. "My mother would thank you for it."

Severus rose and fetched their cloaks, setting aside the worry of what Mrs. Evans would say when she found out about the change in their relationship. "There you are, then."

He ignored her sniff and took great pleasure in draping her cloak around her shoulders, gently pulling her hair from under the collar and letting it sift through his fingers as he released it. Lily hummed happily, then spun and slid her arms around his neck, leaning in just short of a hug. Severus' hands found her waist without his conscious volition, and he couldn't take her eyes from her smile and its unaccustomed shyness. "What is it?"

"Never let it be said that a Gryffindor is less brave than a Slytherin," she said, so softly that he bent his head closer to hear her. "I love you, Sev."

Her words were a bolt of white lightning shooting up his spine, the impossible suddenly made truth. His hands tightened, and instead of breathing he held her gaze. "Say it again?" he managed, voice cracking.

Her head lifted, her smile widened. "I love you."

His chest hurt, like something was breaking free in there. Severus lifted one trembling hand to touch Lily's face, to stroke her cheek. He wanted to fall down at her feet and kiss them in utter worship, but he settled for her lips instead, the softest, slowest touch he could manage.

This time it was her tears that cooled his skin, and he returned her favour, kissing them gently away. "Lily," he whispered. "Lily, you are everything."

She laughed shakily, and kissed him again.


The walk to Hogwarts' gates was silent but for their footsteps, a hushed accord that Severus had never experienced. Lily's arm was linked through his, and it was strange, almost frightening, to feel the lack of the hopeless yearning that had always been his portion. He still longed for her body, but now he had her heart, and it was a gift so profound that Severus felt as though wordless joy was spilling out of him, his soul too small to contain it.

Apparating back to her home took too little time, and all too soon Lily was unlocking the front door. An icy rain had begun to mist down, making lingering uncomfortable, but she turned nonetheless and embraced him. "See you tomorrow?" she murmured against his cheek.

Severus held her close, knowing this last hug would have to sustain him all night. "I'd sleep on your doorstep if I could."

Lily snickered. "Too uncomfortable—I'd have to bring you inside, and then we'd be in trouble again." Her lips met his, warm and sweet with just a hint of fire. "Tomorrow, then, and don't linger over breakfast."

He nodded and stole one more kiss. "Wear the perfume," he whispered in her ear, and made his arms release her.

Lily's smile was pure bewitchment as she slipped past the door.

Severus didn't quite grin as he headed back towards the Apparition point by the river, but he felt like it. As he strode down the street, a car pulled up not far away, and a tall slender figure unfolded itself from the car, bending down for a farewell through the window before the vehicle departed. Severus was amused to recognise Petunia, home at last from whatever engagement had occupied her Christmas.

As he neared, he saw Petunia's nose wrinkle and her chin rise. The unaccustomed joy was effervescent in his blood, and on impulse Severus swept her a bow as he passed. Her startled sniff made him let the grin out, and he picked up his pace. The sooner he was back in his room, the sooner he could dream of Lily.

And this time, the dreams would be true.

End