Chapter 1 : One
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To Severus, she is a nebulous entity – fickle and fleeting, impossible to hold in the palm of his hand. He tries anyway, vainly clenching white-knuckled fists around her flickering form, but it's futile, trying to cage the sunlight.
He imagines her bleeding through his fingertips like water.
Severus almost laughs at the absurdity of his own paradoxical thoughts, checking the urge only for fear that he will be found out.
She is perched a few meters before him, weaving a delicate crown of dandelions with the most nimble fingers that Severus has ever seen. In, and out, in, and out; she twines until the earthen tiara is complete. With a sideways glance at her sulky companion, she places it atop her mussed red hair and completes the image with a goofy smile; a caricature of the real beauty that is, in her, truly more than skin deep.
But still she glows brighter than any star he's ever seen, glows brighter than the most powerful August sun, and he wonders, vaguely, how it dares to shine in the face of such competition. But even for all her blinding light, for the blushing sunshine that seems to radiate from the crown of her head to the tips of her toes – she cannot illuminate of all of his dark.
And this is how he knows, even then, that Lily Evans will never belong to him.
"Sev?" she says, and it's so quiet that it startles him more than cacophony ever could. He colors, as if his silent thoughts have somehow betrayed him.
"Mmm?" he replies lamely, eyes clamped tightly shut, afraid to lose his nerve. He can feel her hovering somewhere in the vicinity of above and the thought of her being so close both terrifies and elates him.
There's a soft weight on the grass next to him as she nudges her narrow shoulders against his. "What're you thinking about?"
"Sunlight," Severus answers before he can help himself. It is almost the truth.
She laughs a tinkling laugh that floats on the humid breeze like the chime of a thousand bells, and he's sure that Spinner's End has never heard the likes of something so sweet. But her reply is nothing less than he expects, because such a (dark and brooding) character as himself is hardly prone to such flights of fancy. "The sunlight?" she asks dubiously, upon recovering herself. "What about it, Sev?"
There is a pause, a small intake of breath, and a heady rush of adolescent boldness that results in the nearly unintelligible string of words that follows:
Another pause, this time as Lily deciphers this riddle – a pointed silence when she does, and Severus is sure he's stuffed things up completely, irrevocably, when he feels her slight frame shift next to him, feels the feather-light weight of her hand splayed across his chest.
He likes to consider himself above the heady nonsense of romantic entanglements that seem so enthralling to his peers, but when she smiles at him like that the only word his adolescent self can wrap it's brain around is love love love.
A curtain of red hair rests along the hollow of his cheek. She is resplendent in the soft afternoon light, even more breathtaking up close. "All right then," she says breathlessly, smiling into his shoulder. He can count each one of her perfect freckles. "If I'm the sunlight then what are you?"
He covers her hand clumsily with his own and hopes with all his might that it is enough. Severus doesn't have the heart to tell her that he's made of shadow.