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Chapter 1: I
The first time he kissed her it was snowing.
She called his name and he stumbled back in surprise, immediately shy at his bold actions and wondered if she was angry with him. He wondered if it was unwanted and how he could be such a fool. He bleated his apology never noticing the pink flush rising on her pale cheeks.
Severus felt the cold seeping through his thin woollen mittens and squeezed his hands shut. It was a more profound gesture than he realised. He felt a hand on his own trying to unfurl his fist.
"It's all right." her voice was soothing and calmed the misplaced regret he somehow thought was appropriate.
When he found the strength to look her in the eye again, she smiled.
His fist loosened to fit her hand in his.
The next few days flew by like a blur. They met in unsuspecting places like they usually did, but with more purpose. From the Charms corridor after her rounds, or his daring escape from the Slytherin Common Room after hours. The thought of seeing her in this capacity made his heart thump faster in his chest.
So strange was the relationship between the Gryffindor and the Slytherin. The one whose blood was not as old or as pure as the others, and the one whose was only half as satisfying. In times like these, there was no question about keeping whatever this was secret. It didn't matater as long as they were together.
It was the lovesick fantasy of a boy whose only wish was that he not end up like his mother, and by a stroke of luck, he thought things could not get better.
"I'll see you soon, won't I?" she looked expectant as she stood in the doorway of his compartment.
"Yes, of course." he nodded, his eyes slid past her to look down the corridor. It was a risk meeting her like this, but with the defiant glint in her eyes, it didn't really matter.
Suddenly she was upon him, her cherry red lips pressed in haste on his mouth. Before he had the chance to pull her close to him, she pulled away and disappeared down the corridor. Severus sat back in his seat.
Only Lily Evans had the means of making him appear sheepish.
They met at the usual place.
There in the clearing just beyond the break in the trees giving way to grass. Except that it was winter now, and the ground was covered with a foot of snow. The leaves had long fallen away from the trees whose gnarled, crooked branches were reminiscent of skeletons - exposed until there was nothing left.
Severus huddled within the hollow of one of thre trees. Every few moments he shifted his stance in an attempt to stay warm. He was early, but he didn't mind waiting. The last few weeks of this with Lily were worth the wait.
A part of him felt a bit wary of her eagerness. Maybe something had happened and this was only a distraction. She chose him because she knew he wouldn't let her down.
His mother always warned him to be cautious, but this was ridiculous. This was Lily. The truest friend he might ever have in his miserable life. His only friend.
A light crunching of snow drowned out further worries and he turned. Her fiery red locks held him in a trance as he held out his hand for her to accept.
She took it without speaking and together they walked across the clearing into another cluster of trees. Her hand gripped his tight as they approached an overgrowth of branches forming a dome of sorts upon which the latest set of snow had fallen.
Severus sensed a change in her mood, unlike one he'd seen for a long time. She ignored his gaze and sat cross-legged on a blanket she'd brought.
"What's wrong, Lily?" On most days, he never liked seeing things fester. It was best to be out with it as soon as possible.
Her words carried the acrid pang of regret.
She sighed. "We had a quarrel over a hairbrush."
He raised an eyebrow.
"A hairbrush, Sev." she rolled her eyes. "After all this time she acts like I've got the bloody plague, or something."
"Lily," he began.
"I know what you think, but she's still my sister." she pulled her knees closer to her and crept towards his warmth. he draped an arm on her shoulder.
"She'll come around eventually,"
She scoffed. "You don't believe that."
"I don't, but I'm trying to be your friend." he said after a long pause.
"Thanks, Sev." She pulled his face close to hers and kissed him square on the mouth.
Only Lily Evans could make him turn as red as her hair.
She was already there by the time he arrived. Her wild hair was tucked neatly under her hat and a scarf the colour of her eyes sat around her neck.
He managed a small smile as he approached her. Behind his back, his grip tightened on the box in his hands. He'd saved up his money this year, like he usually did, to buy her a gift. He bought it before this happened and he wasn't sure now if it was even suitable. Things were a bit different now.
"Happy Christmas, Sev." she beamed up at him. "Did you get out all right?"
He sank down next to her, holding her gift out of her line of sight, and tugged his coat tighter around his skinny frame. It had been a bit difficult to leave the house. His parents' arguments became more heated of late to the point where each side thought it best to hurl things at each other. The police had come round after a neighbour complained.
He gave her a tight smile. "Yes, I did. Thanks for asking."
She placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. No one at Hogwarts knew of his family's problems though he assumed the Headmaster had his suspicions. Severus doubted that had the rest of Slytherin known, they would be surprised. They weren't strangers to the concept within their own homes either.
"I have something for you," her voice was quiet in his ear and he felt the heat creeping up his neck.
In her lap sat a rectangular box covered with half-moons and stars. A silver bow sat in the corner.
With a smirk, he slid his out from its hiding place and tapped it. It was covered in brown paper, but she was used to that by now.
Lily tried hard to surpress a grin, her fingers slid over the roughened wrapping paper. "We'll open them at the same time."
Severus eagerly grabbed his gift. "All right, on my count - one, two, three!"
His fingers clumsily tore away the blue wrapping paper which revealed the dark brown cover of a very heavy and old tome. The words 'Most Potente Potions' glowered up at him in faded gold letters.
"This is unbelievable." the words left his mouth in a low whisper.
Lily was too distracted to listen. Her hands clutched at thick, glossy pale blue book.
"Severus, this is amazing!" she squealed. "I thought these were out of print."
Severus nodded, a knowing smile playing at his lips. An Anthology of Eighteenth Century Charms was a good find. He stumbled upon it while book browsing in a secondhand shop on a Hogsmeade visit. Since Professor Flitwick mentioned it in Charms, she'd wanted one of her own. He glanced down at his gift from her in disbelief, he had no idea where she found this. His thoughts went to his mother at that moment, and he pictured the look on her face when she cast her eyes on it.
"Thanks, Lily." he said, raising his eyes to meet hers at last.
"That's what friends do, Sev." she reached over and took his hand.
He felt his heart plummet at at very moment and tried to smile. Friends.
Never mind though. For the time being, the important thing was she was here with him.
Author's Note: Happy Christmas, Becky! I hope you like this little story :)