Drowning in Fire

by The Slytherin Starlets

Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to the simply brilliant J.K. Rowling. :) The character of Airelle Vilka belongs to Airelle Vilka (the author, not...the character. A bit confusing), a true fanfiction goddess who should be worshipped and praised by all. Er...we're not creepy psycho stalkers. Just...very enthusiastic fans. *nods vigorously* Right.

Author's Note: One day, She's a Star and Gedia Kacela were discussing the wonderful works of Airelle Vilka.

"She's so amazingly brilliant," She's a Star said in awe.

"I know," replied Gedia wistfully. "If only I could write as well as she could..."

"Her work makes you want to write Snape fics, doesn't it?" She's a Star asked.

"Yes, it does," Gedia agreed.

"Maybe we should write one!" suggested She's a Star.

And so they did.

~*~

The first snow of the winter had fallen the night before, and it was glorious. Shimmering white stretched outward as far as they eye could see, dancing lazily from an ice blue sky.

Seventeen year old Severus Snape made his way through the Hogwarts grounds, his steps brisk and efficient.

"You're moving awfully fast, for someone who has nowhere to be," his best friend, Airelle Vilka commented with a wry smile.

"My desired location is as far away from them as possible," Snape spat in return.

Them was the group of whooping, noisy boys hurling snowballs at once another while the majority of the seventh year Hogwarts students looked on in amusement.

The majority of the students being so enthralled with the Marauders wasn't what annoyed Snape.

No, it was one of the students.

Lily Evans laughed delightedly as she watched the scene unravel, brilliant green eyes sparkling like emeralds dancing in the face of fire. Her crimson locks caressed flushed cheeks as the light wind teased her hair.

"James, look out!" her sweet, musical voice cried out in warning milliseconds before James Potter was hit smack dab in the chest by a rogue snowball.

"Sirius!" Potter growled in mock anger.

Snape rolled his ebony eyes, not bothering to hide his dislike of them. They were such fools, all of them. How could Lily stand them?? When she'd first come to Hogwarts, she, Snape, and Airelle had been inseparable. Airelle and Snape had always been closer friends, but Lily never failed to pay attention to them.

And then she'd returned to Hogwarts for her fifth year bubbly, outgoing, and gorgeous. Of course, Snape was no longer worthy of her company...instead, the Marauders snatched her up in a whirlwind of jokes and obnoxious pranks.

Lily adored them all. Especially Potter.

Damn James Potter.

"You aren't as skilled at hiding your emotions as you'd like to think, Snape," Airelle said.

He didn't dare look at her. His friend was quite adept at reading his emotions in his eyes, since his sallow face rarely betrayed his feelings. "I don't know what you mean, Airelle."

She snorted. "Like hell. I know you better than anyone else, and I know what you are thinking."

"Since when did you acquire this astounding ability of reading minds?" he snapped moodily.

"Ever since I've known you, you git." She grinned widely at him, the wind tossing her white hair in each and every direction. Airelle had known Snape for far too long not to notice his all-too-obvious (to her) attraction to a certain Gryffindor girl whose name began with an 'L' and ended in 'ily.'

To be sure, it was an odd thing to watch her friend gaze enviously at the scene they had just left. Before, they had been bonded even more closely by the fact that neither had any desire to date or even think of such a thing. To her, it seemed as if the rest of her classmates possessed sets of very overactive hormones, what with the way they would sneak off to snog in the bushes at dances.

Despite her lack of experience, she knew. She knew from the angry flash in Snape's eyes whenever he looked at Potter, compared to the way the black rocks of his eyes softened into deep pools when he stared at Lily, that he liked her as more than just a friend. She'd never seen him look at HER that way, and by Merlin's beard, she'd slug him if he ever did.

She gave him a sidelong glance, noticing the grim set of his hawkish profile. After a moment, she decided that it was best to leave well enough alone, for now. She could always torture him later.

He glared at her. "What on earth are you looking at?"

"You," she responded, contorting her face into an exaggerated grimace. "You look so..."

His thin lips pressed together they way they always did when he was irritated. "Shut up, Airelle."

"Have it your way. I have to be going anyway. I have that dratted exam to study for before tomorrow." She paused, glancing over at him once again as she attempted to calm her wind-blown hair. "Care to join me?"

"No." His answer was soft, yet curt. She knew better than to argue.

"See you at breakfast then."

He didn't respond and kept walking. It took him nearly a full minute to realize that Airelle had left him, and a sigh slipped from his lips. He had wished she would have stayed, but hated to admit so. After all, he had fought so hard to not be weak that he couldn't even let his guard down around his closest friend at times.

But, she would have only teased him further, though her teasing was in friendship, not in cruelty. Another sigh escaped into the chilled air as a puff of fog. At least he would have had someone to walk with. But he didn't. So he simply continued on in his hurried steps, taking himself further and further away from Lily's crystalline laugh and Potter's miserable countenance.

Damn Potter. Damn them all.

~*~

Lily Evans was still laughing to herself as she stepped inside Hogwarts, eager to get to the Gryffindor common room and warm her hands in front of the cheerfully dancing orange fire. She walked through the corridor slowly, attempting to untangle her fiery curls at the same time.

"Your flock of adoring fans appear to have left you, Evans."

Rolling her eyes, Lily turned around and placed her hands on her hips. Severus Snape stood before her, dark eyes blank and emotionless.

"Hi Severus," she responded with a bright grin that she knew would annoy him. "Long time, no see."

"You're too busy with that...Potter and his friends, no doubt," Severus sneered in reply.

"Your unwavering loathing of them is getting to be a bit juvenile, you know," commented Lily innocently. A malicious sparkle began to dance in his eyes.

"You know that they wouldn't give you the time of day if you weren't beautiful."

Lily didn't bother to argue. She wasn't sure if it was untrue herself, and even if she was, Severus would never believe her.

"And you don't give me the time of day now that I apparently am," Lily replied coolly. "I don't see a difference."

Her friend's eyes swept across her coldly for a moment before he turned and disappeared down the corridor.

"Moron," Lily muttered angrily.

"Hey, Lil!"

She turned around, bringing The Smile back full force.

"Hey, James," she said, making her way towards him.

"Was that Snape you were talking to?" he wrinkled his nose in disgust.

"Yup," Lily responded.

"God, Lil, I don't know why you hang out with that overgrown bat," James said, running a hand through tousled black hair. "Slimy bastard."

"Now, now, now, Mr. Potter," she chided teasingly. "Don't use such nasty words in the presence of a lady."

"My most humble apologies," James replied, adapting a stuffy tone. "May I ask to have the honor of escorting the lady back to the Gryffindor common room?"

Lily nodded regally, holding back giggles. "But of course, good sir."

She looped her arm through his own, momentarily forgetting Severus Snape and the lightest trace of jealousy she'd spotted in his eyes.

~*~