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I poured over my Ancient Runes translation and desperately tried to tune out the dramatic whispers emanating from the Divination section behind my table. Nevertheless, they reached me loud and clear.

“Kaitlin, he… he likes her. I know he does.”

Wait a minute…was that–?

“So what, Eloise?”

SHIT.

“’So what’? Sirius is madly in love with my sister and that’s all you can say?”

I stood up and (casting a Disillusionment charm on myself) crept nearer.

“You have a marvelous tendency to over-exaggerate,” Kaitlin replied, level headed as always. “Besides, Kat loathes him. Eventually, he’ll realize that she isn’t interested and find someone else–like you. Until then, however, I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait, my friend.”

There was a pause, and then Eloise sighed. “I suppose a little longer couldn’t hurt.”

I poked my (invisible) head around the side of a bookcase and noticed the two girls sitting cross-legged on the floor, pretending to search the bottom shelf.

Kaitlin patted Eloise on the shoulder. “’Atta girl. He’ll come ‘round… hopefully.”



The dormitory door slammed as Mary exited in a huff.

“What is it with you two?” I snapped, at Lily having had just about enough of their now constant bickering.

She didn’t answer, but stared stonily at her copy of The Daily Prophet.

“Lily, answer me!”

No response.

Angrily, I leaped off of my bed and hurried down the staircase after Mary.

The common room was packed and she was nowhere to be found.

“Looking for someone, Parker?”

“Not now, Black.”

He smirked that irritating smirk that I hated so much. “Right. She left, for one thing, and for another–”

I ducked away before he could finish and vanished through the portrait hole.

Out in the corridor, I saw her standing with her back against the wall, staring off into nothing.

“Mary?”

She started. “Oh. Hello, Kat.”

I beckoned. “Let’s walk.”

For a moment, we just gazed at each other, unmoving. Finally she shrugged and followed.

“Did she send you down here to interrogate me or something?”

“No. What the hell is going on with you two?”

Her eyes were brimming with tears. “I have no idea! I got back to the dormitory after dinner, and she must have forgotten to take her Midol because she called me ‘an annoying little twit’ and told me to get the hell out. Did I do something wrong? Has she said anything to you?”

I shook my head. “I’m sorry she’s so…awful to you.”

Mary sniffled. “This is why I started hanging ‘round with Flannery’s crowd. You and Lily seem joined at the hip.”

I linked arms with her. “I’ll always be here for you, Mary.”

She smiled and hugged me. “Thanks, Kat.”



The lake was freezing, but I dangled my fingertips in it anyway, just to be sure that I still had the sense of touch. The waves rippled in unison with every twitch my forefinger found necessary.

I jumped as a dark reflection appeared.

“Oh, it’s you, Severus.”

“Hello, Kat. May I have a word?”

I shrugged and patted the grass beside me.

Snape had cleaned up a bit since the last time I’d seen him. His hair was a bit shorter and most of the grease wasn’t visible.

“Is this about Lily?”

“How did you know?”

“I’m psychic.”

He sighed; a heavy, longing, hopeless sigh that nearly broke my heart. “I need her, Kat. I don’t know what my life would be like without her. Please help me.”

I cringed inwardly as he begged. “I don’t know what you’re asking, Severus.”

“Talk to her. Make her forgive me or at least speak to me again. I…I never meant…any of it…ever…”

Delicately, I touched his arm as he rocked backward and foreword, his grief flooding from every pore in his body.

“Severus, I……I really don’t see how I… She… Her mind is made up,” I explained as gently as I could.

“No, it isn’t!” His eyes raked mine desperately. “It… it can’t be!”

Suddenly, his rocking ceased and he lay sprawled on the damp grass, breathing as though there was a great weight on his chest.

“Severus–”

He let out a strangled sort of cry.

Alarmed, I tried to help him sit up, but he was limp as a rag doll.

“Are you ill? Severus, answer me!”

No response.

I whipped out my wand and summoned a boulder to prop him upright. His breathing seemed to ease.

“Merlin’s pants, Snape! Care to explain?”

Our gazes locked, and in the depths of his dark eyes I saw the excruciating pain that one associates with Hell.

“I love her,” he rasped. “I…I have always loved her…”

I seized his arm and thrust it over my shoulder, helping him stand. As we started back to the castle, I said, “You can trust me, you know.”

He grinned slightly. “I do now.” The smile vanished as soon as it had come. “But promise me this– never tell anyone. Swear it!”

“All right. I swear.”

“Good.”

There was a pause and then he asked, “Can you help me up to the Hospital Wing?”



Lily slammed her Transfiguration book down on top of the copy of Wuthering Heights that I’d nicked from the library.

“What the hell were you doing?”

I arched a brow. “Well, Lily dearest, I was reading.”

She plunked down in the chair across the table. “You know what I mean! What were you doing by the lake with… him?”

I pushed her book lightly off of Emily Brontë’s beautiful text and resumed the story. “Severus and I were just talking,” I explained off-handedly.

“Shhh!” she hissed, frantically glancing around the common room (which was packed and noisier than ever, I might add) as though someone could overhear us.

“What?” I demanded. “Is that a crime now?”

“You know perfectly well how I feel about–”

“Yeah,” I snapped, slamming my novel shut. “I do, Lily, but what about how he feels? Did you ever consider that Severus has emotions too?”

She flushed a heated scarlet. “Well, what did you two ‘talk about’, then?”

I hesitated, recalling my promise never to tell. “He needed someone in whom to confide.” Standing up, I stretched, “I’m going to bed,” and without waiting for a reply, I headed for the staircase.



The morning dawned cold and crisp, the lawn crunching with each step. James kissed Lily’s cheek and disappeared into the changing rooms.

“Good conditions today,” I smirked at her.

“Oh, sod off,” but she was smiling too.

We found seats in the front and huddled in our cloaks against the frosty wind.

Soon the whole school surrounded us, screaming and wailing even though the players weren’t on the field yet.

Madame Hooch sauntered onto the pitch to a great deal of applause, and she was followed not long afterward by the Slytherins (who received hisses and boos from the scarlet-clad section).

The Gryffindor team emerged a little later to deafening whoops and cheers from all around. Madame Hooch gave them all her usual play-nice-now-kiddies-or-I’ll-use-my-influence-to-bloody-expel-you pep talk and both sides took their positions.

As soon as the red speck flew into the air, all was mayhem. Keilor Jordan’s commentary was nearly drowned by the renewed applause and hollers.

“…And Gryffindor takes possession. Jeremy Stein ducks Puggins, of Slytherin, and a not so cleverly hit Bludger. Close but no cigar, there, Ward,” he referred to the blotchy-faced Slytherin Beater. “Merlin, Stein is fast! He’s heading for goal. He’s gonna shoot, and–!”

The crowd roared: some in anger, but most with delight.

“He’s beaten the Keeper!” Keilor yelled. “Ten–zero, to Gryffindor!”

The match continued in much the same fashion. The Slytherins were simply no match for the efficiency of their lion-clad opponents.

“Ninety–twenty, to Gryffindor!” Keilor announced over the wave of ecstatic supporters. “No sign of the Snitch yet, though. Wonder what
Potter’s doing up there…”

High above, James was swooping around like a hawk, keeping an eye out for the tiny golden ball. Michael York, the other Seeker, was tailing him closely.

Beside me, Lily gasped and leapt to her feet. Both Seekers had plummeted toward the ground, and there, fluttering an inch above the grass, was a minuscule, shiny dot.

“They’ve seen it!” Keilor exclaimed, and the entire stadium hushed in anticipation. The two players zigzagged around the field, almost skimming the ground with their toes.

Lily was mumbling quiet prayers as–

“YES!”

Keilor let out a triumphant howl as James shot toward the sky, his fist held aloft with the Snitch held firmly within it.

The Gryffindors erupted into earsplitting shrieks of glee, and the whole team descended upon their Seeker, hugging him and letting loose loud cries of victory.

WHAM!

Lily screamed.

Smith, the other opposing Beater, laughed as his Bludger found its mark, and James was thrown backward off his broom, slamming into the ground forty feet below him.

Madame Hooch’s whistle sounded, and a few teachers hurried out onto the pitch as Keilor yelled, “What the bloody hell was that about, eh, Smith? Shove it up your–”

“Jordan!”

“Sorry, Professor.” Keilor edged away from Professor McGonagall.

“Oh my God,” Lily breathed. “OhmyGod. OhmyGod!”

I put my arm around her and forced her to sit back down on the bench.

“You are all dismissed back to the castle,” Keilor went on. “Potter’s condition will be announced after Madame Pomfrey has seen to him.
Off you go!”

“Except for you, Dennis Smith!” McGonagall barked into the magical megaphone.

The stands began to empty as students filed out.

“Is he all right?” Lily whispered.

I shook my head. “I don’t know, dear.”

“Let’s go.”

She stumbled a little with shock as we left the field, her face hollow with fear. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Snape following us, watching (actually more like stalking) Lily. I jerked my head at him in warning, basically telling him to bugger off or else. He slunk away, looking much like an overlarge snake as he did so.



The Gryffindor team was gathered around James’s bed, but Lily shoved her way through the wall of people to get a good look at him. I stood on my toes to see over Beck’s high shoulder.

Although Madame Pomfrey had done her usual spectacular job, bruises had engulfed nearly all of James’s face. His left arm was bound in a sling across his bare chest, which revealed a tight bandage around his cracked ribs.

The nurse bustled over and said, “Now, all of you know that he needs rest! If I have to explain this to one more Quidditch team–”

“Sorry,” Jeremy interjected. “We were just worried about him, ma’am.” He motioned to the rest of the group. “Let’s go, team.”

Five of them trooped out, but Black remained stationery at the foot of the bed. Lily’s gave hadn’t left James’s battered features, and she was caressing the fingers of his uninjured hands gently.

Madame Pomfrey pulled Black aside, muttering words that I could not hear. He nodded and grabbed my arm, dragging me out of the ward.

“Ouch! Black, what the–”

He wheeled to face me. “Oh, shut up,” he snapped. “She told me to leave the two of them alone in there, which meant that you had to come with me.”

“You could’ve just said that,” I grumbled, rubbing the spot where his nails had pierced me.

We glared at each other for a long moment, but then he softened a little.

“Did I hurt you?” He indicated my wrist.

I folded my arms stubbornly. “No.”

“Merlin’s pants,” he gave an exasperated sigh. “Let me bloody look at it.”

Reluctantly, I extended my limb for examination.

“Not bad,” he murmured. “Nothing compared to James.”

“Will he be okay?”

Black smiled. “Oh, yeah. He’ll be out in a few days, actually.”

“That’s good.”

We stood there awkwardly, not knowing what else to say to one another.

“I have… homework,” I invented and turned to go.

“Kat.” He spoke my name softly, almost in a whisper.

I looked around to find a smirk on his face.

“You know, this is the first civil conversation we’ve ever had,” he half-
joked.

“I’m sure that it will be the last.”

“Are you positive?”

“Quite.”

His smile widened. “I’ll quote you on that.”

“I’m sure you will.”

I marched away from him and through a door hidden behind a tapestry. In spite of myself, I was grinning too.

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