Lily wondered if Severus knew how often she just sat and watched him.
She often found herself staring; it was hard not to, considering how attractive he was. His thick black hair was not too long and not too short, and it framed his strong jaw and dark eyes handsomely. He was fascinating beyond this, however, since he was always in a good mood. Lily wondered what it felt like to be satisfied with one’s life, to not feel perpetually like there was something wrong or missing, some vital thing that everyone seemed to have except you.
They had begun as mere acquaintances, but nearly six full years of interaction had rendered her hopelessly in love with him. In a rare moment of courage, she had requested his help in Potions one day, and they had started meeting to work together on assignments on a weekly basis. She mentioned her interest in charms, and a month later they became dueling opponents, spending much of their spare time in the evenings meeting down in an open dungeon and practicing their spells on one another.
At first, they were rather innocent, merely causing one another to dance uncontrollably or hiccup for hours without a speck of relief. Once Lily tired of these spells, however, she began to push for them to try ever more complicated and dangerous magic. When Severus was chosen as a Ravenclaw prefect, she begged him to sneak into the Restricted Section and nick books full of dark magic for her to read in her spare time. She could still remember the look of mingled surprise and disdain that darkened his face when he refused. Afraid she would lose her friend, she didn’t schedule any more dueling sessions with him following the incident.
Unfortunately, the relationship had already been tainted. Severus ran with a gang of other Ravenclaws, all of whom were just as popular as he was. Frank Longbottom, the head of the group, was often seen chatting with Professor Flitwick in the corridor, having quite the natural talent for Charms. The twins, Gideon and Fabian Prewett, were both Chasers on the Ravenclaw Quidditch Team, and they liked to make a game out of tricking the girls they were dating by impersonating one another. Severus, meanwhile, had garnered some fame for his Potions skills.
Under the influence of his peers, Severus gradually began to see less and less of Lily, preferring to meet with her only under the cover of night. He didn’t speak to her in classes or at mealtimes, though she did catch him smiling at her once in a while, as if he were checking up on his friend.
Nearly every day, Lily sat under the same tree in the courtyard and watched Severus study and socialize with his friends. Sometimes she felt that it would be easy enough to gather up the courage to walk over and confess her love to him. Unfortunately, someone else was in her way.
Narcissa Black was quite pretty, at least for the spawn of a blood traitor. She had wavy blonde hair that seemed to catch the sun’s rays and hold them for ransom, the price being the affection of many of the young men at Hogwarts. She had blue eyes that betrayed her every emotion, filling readily with tears whenever she was in distress and ensnaring concerned suitors easily. Worst of all, she had more money than Lily could dream of, and she spent it on flashy outfits and expensive cosmetics that played up her delicate features. Lily had assumed that Severus was above such tricks of the eye, but even he seemed to brighten a bit when he was in her presence.
The object of Lily’s hateful jealousy approached him even now, brushing off the Prewetts and placing her hand tenderly on his arm. He said something, and she laughed a little too hard, clearly fawning over her prey. Severus looked down at something in one of his textbooks, and Narcissa caught Lily’s eye, smirking at her coldly. She whispered something in Frank Longbottom’s ear, and both of them turned and looked at their victim.
“Evans, you enjoying the view?” Frank said, cracking himself up.
“If she stares any harder at poor Sevvie, she’s going to burn a hole in him.” Narcissa added.
Severus glanced up, looking at Lily, and the latter looked down at the ground, flushing. Sevvie? The nickname made her stomach churn, though whether it was with disgust or envy she did not know.
“Leave her be, you two.” Severus said softly, offering Lily an apologetic smile. She pretended to be very interested in a branch behind him, refusing to risk meeting his eyes and seeing pity there.
“What a bitch.” A boy wearing Slytherin robes and an untidy haircut flopped down next to her.
Lily wasn’t entirely sure how she had become friends with Sirius Black, if that was even what they were. At first, his continual compliments in Charms had grated her nerves. Eventually, however, her classmates had stopped admiring her and started treating her like a show-off, replacing those hopeful smiles with looks of impatient jealousy. Soon, her camaraderie with the fellow pureblood had become the only consistently positive relationship she had at Hogwarts. He often used her openly for her assistance in class, but once in a while, he showed up with fresh flowers or candy stolen from the kitchens at a particularly opportune moment, usually when she was pining over Severus. It wasn’t a totally functional arrangement, but he was nice to her, at least most of the time. It was better treatment than she got from the rest of the student body.
“That’s cold of you. She’s your cousin.” Lily countered, looking over at him.
“She’s no blood to me, as far as I’m concerned. Not after her mum married that Mudblood.” Narcissa’s father had been a Muggle-born, and upon his death, her mother had run off with a Muggle insurance salesman with a full bank account. It comforted her, oddly enough, to think that Narcissa throwing herself at Severus was just her way of working out her inner demons. “Never mind her, anyway. Her brains are all in her chest, Evans.”
Lily smirked. “And yours?”
“They’re in the right place.” He moved a little closer to her, lowering his voice. “Have you heard of this fellow Voldemort? He’s all the rage in Slytherin. He wants to put people like her in their proper place, if you know what I mean.”
“Voldemort?” Lily considered it for a moment. “He’s got a stupid name, whoever he is.”
“You shouldn’t say that.” Sirius frowned slightly. “He’s a really powerful wizard. He’s probably better than you at Charms, and I’m certain he’s better than that one at Potions.” He gestured dismissively in Severus’s direction. “He’s good at just about everything.”
“No one’s good at everything.” Lily said pointedly.
“He’s a different sort, I think.” Sirius replied. “I mean, haven’t you ever wondered if there’s magic they aren’t teaching us here? Really powerful spells and whatnot?”
“I—I guess so.” Lily answered. She wasn’t sure if she liked where this was going. She looked over at Severus, who was laughing at something Frank had said. Narcissa was laying in the grass, resting her head in his lap. Lily felt overcome with the desire to know a deadly spell.
“Well, he’s mastered all that. He can teach us, if we help him out.” Sirius said. “My parents have already signed on, and they told me I can when I turn seventeen. I can’t wait.”
“Right.” Lily said absently.
“Well, you should think on it, Evans. You’ve got a lot of talent. We could use you.” Sirius stood up. “Besides, trust me when I say that you’ll want to be on his side when he goes public.”
Lily was still glaring at Narcissa. When she finally looked up, Sirius was already gone.
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