Disclaimer: I own none of the characters here. They belong to JK Rowling and company. I just use them for my own wish fulfillment and amusement.

Summary: It's sixth year and Severus Snape is dying to get Lily Evans to give him a chance at being her boyfriend. He challenges her to two weeks over the Christmas holidays to give him a shot. And if it doesn't work, he'll leave her alone forever. Will he be able to win her heart? Or will her burgeoning crush on James Potter win out over her friendship with Severus?

AUTHORS NOTE: This is a re-posting of this story. I took it down before due to several negative responses and decided I wanted to tweak a few parts, especially the ending. But this is the same story as before, thus far, so no need to read it again. The new parts will be posted as I finish them. But do remember this story is posted under 'angst'. I have taken some liberties with the characters because frankly we don't know that much about James and Lily and Severus as a boy. But this is not an AU story. It's more of a 'what if' scenario that this holiday could have happened and we'd never know about it. So if you're looking for a fluffy story, this isn't it. Be prepared for some tough stuff for my favorite characters. Snape wouldn't be Snape if he didn't suffer. So with that said, I am putting this story back up, but am re-doing the last part I posted (that not many of you probably saw) And if this is your first time reading this, welcome to my story. I hope you'll enjoy it. And if not, that's okay too. This is the story I wanted to tell. I just think I can tell the ending better than I originally did. Thanks for reading along.

Holiday of Hope

It was a cold damp day at Hogwarts, and it was only three days until the end of classes before the Christmas holidays. Everyone's mind was already on a break and the Professors were having difficulty keeping their classes under control and their students concentrating. They were all just eager to get out and go home, and no one was in much of a mood to study or take exams. But nevertheless, there were still classes to be taught. And Severus Snape stood at his desk in potions class, and watched as some of his Slytherin brothers planned a practical joke on the rather friend challenged student who shared a desk with Lily Evans. He was a short kid, with messy hair and glasses that were too big for his face. He was the butt of jokes more often than Severus was, although he refused to participate since the boy had never done anything wrong to him. And also because Lily, being the kind soul she was, had taken the outcast under her wing a bit. And the last thing he wanted to do was get more on her bad side. She already hadn't spoken to him in over a year. But he knew he deserved that for what he'd called her. He'd brought out his worst arsenal and spoken the word 'mudblood' in reference to her. She'd been uncontrollably upset and hurt, and all his mates thought it was funny. But Severus didn't think it was funny. He was angry at himself. And all he'd wanted to do since then was find a way for her to forgive him. But she wouldn't even give him the time of day. He had no idea how to remedy it. Except he idly thought of stopping the prank before it happened so he could look heroic. But then if he did, his mates would think he was a total idiot and a killjoy. So he just stood and watched as they secretly loaded the boys cauldron with a mixture of powder that would make it explode. It was harmless as it wouldn't do much except splatter the contents all over his clothes and maybe a little smoke. But it would still ruin the kids day, that's for sure. But Severus was no hero. He just waited for the show to happen. And when it did, the cauldron blew up in a shower of sparks and it emptied its contents all over the boy and Lily.

There was a moment of mayhem when everyone wondered what happened, but Severus soon realized that Lily had gotten almost all of the brunt of the explosion and her face was smudged with soot and all her papers were a soggy mess. All her notes had been destroyed. And while Professor Slughorn tended to them, the boy kept insisting he'd done nothing wrong with the potion. But no one had seen the Slytherin boys pour the powder in. No one except Severus, and he wasn't talking. But he felt badly about the entire thing. Especially when he saw how it reduced Lily to tears when she realized all her notes for the last exam were ruined beyond repair. The bell rang quickly after this, and they stayed behind to clean the mess that the Professor was certain they'd caused somehow. But Severus held back and decided now was his opening to at least speak to Lily one more time. He cautiously approached her as she sopped up the messed and brushed her straggled hair out of her face.

"That was some explosion," Severus said quietly.

She looked up at him.

"Go away. I bet you got a kick out of that one," she said harshly.

"No, I didn't. I feel awful. Are all your notes ruined?" he asked her curiously.

"Yes! All of them. I don't know how I'm supposed to study now," she cried.

"I swear I didn't touch the cauldron, Lily. I think someone pranked us," the small boy told her.

"Probably. Probably one of your friends," she announced to Severus.

He bristled slightly, but the truth of it was, they weren't his friends exactly. Just his housemates. But he wasn't going to rat anyone out.

"I think maybe something just spilled into the cauldron. It happens. Lily, if you want my notes to study, you can have them," he offered her, handing over several pieces of parchment.

"I don't need your blasted notes," she shoved them back.

"Lily, I really am sorry. For everything. For that stuff last year. And if this was a prank, well I know what it's like to be the victim of one of those. Let me help," he pleaded with her.

"I wouldn't take your notes if my life depended on it," she scoffed angrily.

"I'll take your notes," the boy spoke up, his papers having been destroyed as well.

Severus just looked at him and sighed. Then he handed them over.

"There. Maybe you can convince Lily to study with you," he said as he started to turn around and leave.

"Wait! If you give Jonathon your notes, how will you study?" Lily suddenly wondered.

He shrugged.

"I don't need to study. I have it down. If you're not going to take them, he may as well borrow them. I hope that proves I had nothing to do with this," he told her seriously.

"You mean to tell me you're so prepared, you don't even need your notes at all?" she asked.

"More or less."

"Look if you want to study with me in the library later tonight, I'll just share the notes," Jonathon offered.

"Will you be at this study session, Lily?" Severus asked hopefully.

She sighed.

"Yes, probably. I need to pass this test," she admitted.

"Well then I'll see you both tonight in the library," Severus smiled slightly, before turning around and walking out the door.

Lily just stared after him, still seething. But Jonathon seemed relieved.

"You know he's one of the smartest in this class. His notes are probably way better than mine anyway. That was nice of him," he said with a small smile.

"He has ulterior motives. Severus always does. You don't know him like I do," she warned him.

"He seems okay to me. Quiet. And I've seen him be picked on endlessly by your friends. Who mind you, never leave me alone either. I don't know why you're even friends with those people," Jonathon pointed out.

"You don't know them like I do either. Besides they've stopped picking on people for the most part. I told them I wouldn't be their friend if they kept it up. They've been good as of late. But I'm sorry if they ever did mess with you," she said sincerely.

He shrugged slightly.

"Everyone does. Except you. You've always just treated me like a person. You're nicer than the rest of them."

She smiled at him.

"You are just a person. And I don't get enjoyment from picking on others."

"You're about the only one."

They finished cleaning their mess and quickly rushed off to lunch before it was over. And then Lily just sat and thought about the study date she'd set up. She knew her friends would think she was crazy for spending an evening with Severus Snape and Jonathon Thompson, the two biggest outcasts in the entire school. But she needed those notes. And she knew no one else would have as good of ones she could borrow. But she decided not to tell anyone where she was going or who she was going with. But when nightfall came and she told everyone she was going to the library, they wondered why Jonathon was eagerly tagging along behind her.

"Seems you've caught a stray," Sirius remarked laughing at the height challenged boy standing behind her.

"Please be nice. Our cauldron got blown up today in class. We're just trying to pool our resources together to study," she told Sirius.

"Is that why your hair looked like you'd dunked it in a toilet at lunch?" James laughed.

She stuck out her tongue at him.

"Yes. Now be good you lot. I'll be back late so don't go getting into trouble. Besides you should be studying too."

"Oh we will. Big time studying," Sirius yawned and moved a piece on the chess board he was playing with James.

She just rolled her eyes and grabbed Jonathon's arm and they disappeared out the portrait hole together.

"Think I got competition from that tiny little over spectacled weenie?" James wondered to his friends.

"Yeah, right. You know Lily. She's just too nice to everyone. I doubt their meeting for a secret love tryst," Remus laughed.

"I think I'd have a better chance with her than Jonathon the leprechaun. I'm kinda chubby, but at least I'm not three feet tall," Peter remarked.

"All of you better back up, because Lily is going to be mine one day. I just know it. She just has to wake up and stop feeling sorry for all the Jonathon's and Snivelly's in this world," James said with confidence.

They all patted him on the back for support and agreed she'd come around eventually, as they went back their Wizard chess game.

Meanwhile, down in the library, Severus was waiting for them to arrive. He hoped they wouldn't back out, and he wished Jonathon wasn't there, but it would make the first time Lily had actually agreed to be near him in ages. He wanted to make it count. When they came walking into the library, he smiled slightly and ushered them to sit down.

"This is purely a study session and nothing more," Lily made it clear to Severus.

"I know."

"Then let's study."

They opened up the book and spread out the parchments and got to work. True to his word, Snape really did already know the material, but wasn't going to pass up a chance to share that knowledge with the two of them. After about an hour, Lily had to get up and search for another book and she left Jonathon and Severus alone at the table.

"She's really something, isn't she?" Jonathon said in hushed tones.

"Yes, she really is," Severus agreed.

"Think she'd ever go out with me?" Jonathon wondered.

Severus just stared at him blankly and then shook his head.

"Never."

"Why not? Because I'm short and have these huge glasses? She's always nice to me."

"She was always nice to me too, but she still didn't want to date me," Severus said plainly.

"I think I might ask her. You know, after the holidays? My mum says I need to stop being so shy and just ask someone out."

Severus did not like the sound of that at all, but he kept his feelings hidden because he knew poor Jonathon had no chance. And neither did he really, but he had a history with her at least. And he was going to capitalize on it. He got up from the table and went to go see where Lily ran off to. He found in a stack of books about potions and he helped her grab a book from a high shelf.

"Here you go," he said with a small smile.

"Thank you."

"So, Lily, please do let me apologize to you," he said quickly before she could run off.

"So then it was you who sabotaged our cauldron?" she wondered with a raised eyebrow.

"No, no. Not for that. I meant for last year. What I said to you. You have to know I didn't mean it. My friends were about, and your vile friends had just tripped me in the halls yet again. And you were just standing there. I thought you were in on it. So I just said something awful, but I immediately regretted it. I don't think that of you," he explained as quickly as he could.

"But I am a Mudblood. You just told me once before it didn't matter. But obviously your friends have changed your mind," she said sadly.

"No, they haven't! I mean, yes, they call people that. But I don't really believe in it. I'm just trying to fit in somewhere. That's all. But I deeply regret my choice in words. Please forgive me. It's not how I feel," he pleaded with her.

"A person shouldn't say things they don't really feel. And also, if these are the people you want to be associated with, why should I forgive you? I know what they're like. What they're into. What you're into. I know all about the dark arts you lot practice. And you're the type of boys that You Know Who is looking to recruit. If he hasn't already," she said in hushed tones, but very heatedly.

"I have not been recruited by You Know Who. I'm sixteen. He's not interested in a boy like me. Or my friends," he scoffed.

"Yes, but he will be. We all know that. And I'm going to be a member of the Order of the Phoenix. We don't exactly match, Severus."

"I could be a member of the Order too if you people would trust me. I've never done anything wrong. So what if I've dabbled in some dark arts? I just wanted to see what I could do. It doesn't define me! And I've never hurt anyone," he insisted.

"Be that as it may, I don't approve," she held up her head high.

"The almighty Lily doesn't approve. You know, not everyone lives their lives trying to please you," he explained.

"I realize that. But if you want my forgiveness, how can I offer it if I don't like what you do? It's more than just a name you called me. It's who you spend time with. And what you do in that time. And I saw your potions book. Spells written out. What is Secumsemptra huh? That doesn't sound pretty too me," she informed him.

"That spell is for enemies, as you might have seen. It's not supposed to be pretty," he told her with a sigh.

"Enemies eh? And who are you enemies? My friends? What does the spell do? I know enough Latin to piece it together. It means to cut someone."

"I've never used it!"

"Then how do you know if it works?"

"I practiced on a piece of raw meat. Happy? I tested it out on a piece of meat. Not a person or an animal. I'm no serial killer in training. I just want to be prepared if I needed to defend myself. And you said yourself You Know Who is building an army. If he really wants boys like me, don't you think I should be prepared to fight back? I don't think the Dark Lord accepts no for an answer very easily," he said heatedly.

"Fine, fine. It doesn't matter," she held up her hands.

"It does matter. I want us to be friends again, Lily. Like before," he pleaded with her.

"I don't know if we can be," she said sadly.

"Can't we try?"

"I don't know. Maybe. We should get back to studying," she said, wiping tears from her eyes and rushing away from him.

The truth was, she'd missed his friendship. A lot. He was the one person in the world who always treated her special from the moment they met. When she was just a girl, she thought she was going to marry him. They even used to pretend they were husband and wife and play house in the gnarled old tree near where they lived. But everything had changed once they got into school. They lived in different worlds and traveled in different circles. She thought it would be impossible for them to ever get back the friendship they once had. And it wasn't just because he called her a bad name or made up some dark spells, it was just that they were too different. But she was going to consider his offer and maybe they could at least speak once in a while again? There might be no harm in that.

Once the study session was over, she politely thanked him for the use of his notes and his help, and she and Jonathon went back up to Gryffindor tower, while he slunk back down to the dungeons. But it had been rather pleasant. And he'd helped them a lot. She knew why he was helping her, but she didn't know why he bothered with Jonathon. Maybe he was nicer than she'd given him credit for? She kept that thought in her mind the next few days until it was time to head home for the holiday. She was to be on her own when she first arrived home as her parents and sister were visiting her aunt and weren't expected to arrive until two days later. She felt incredibly slighted that they didn't wait for her to visit, but she was just told that her aunt was leaving town for Christmas and this was the only time they'd be able to see her. So when the train arrived in London, she was left alone to find a taxi to take her home. And she got some very strange looks from the driver when she shoved a cat and an owl in a cage into the back seat with her. But over the years, she assumed these taxi drivers had seen it all, but just never understood any of it. She didn't tell any of her friends she was going home alone for two days, but the truth was, she wasn't looking forward to being all alone in the house.

When she got there, she unloaded her things and dragged her trunk into the dingy little house and deposited her pets inside. The place was cold and damp and without using magic, she didn't know how to start a proper fire in the fireplace. She clanked on the old radiator for heat and tried to relax and settle in. But she was restless. So she bundled herself up and took a walk to the spot where she and Severus always used to meet. It was covered with snow now and very cold and icicles hung from the branches of the old tree that they loved. She walked down to the banks of the pond and stared at her reflection in the ice that had formed at the banks of the river, making a mirror to gaze in. That's when she saw his reflection meet up with hers and she whirled around to see Severus standing behind her.

"What are you doing here?" she asked with a cautious tone.

"Same as you, I suspect. Escaping my mum. She's driving me to distraction already and it's only been a few hours. I told her I was going to a friend's house," he explained.

She laughed slightly.

"Except you don't have any friends here in Spinner's End, do you?"

"I have you."

She was quiet for a moment then nodded her head.

"Yeah, you do have me," she admitted. "But I'm not escaping my mum. My family is visiting my aunt. They won't be home for two days. Can you even imagine? They haven't seen me for months and they're not even here."

"That's ridiculous. I'm sorry. Why didn't you tell me? I would have had you over for supper. Though it wasn't much. Just some beans and toast. I miss Hogwarts feasts already."

"It's okay. Your mum is kind of scary and always looks at me funny. Did you hear her the one time when she said red hair was the sign of a devil? She detests me," Lily sighed.

"She doesn't much like me either. I remind her too much of my father."

"You're nothing like him though," Lily told him.

"But I look like him. That's enough. My mum isn't all bad though. She has her moments. And she would have welcomed you for supper. I'd see to it," he insisted.

"Thank you, but it's quite alright. I'll survive. It's only two days and I'm almost seventeen. I cannot wait for the tracker to be removed so I can use magic to start a proper fire at home," she giggled slightly.

"I could make you a fire. If you wanted. I know how," he offered.

"Maybe? I'm still sort of mad at you, you realize."

"I've said all I can say, Lily. I'm trying to be nice here. Trying to make up for it," he explained.

Lily didn't say anything at first, she just scooped up a wad of snow and played with it in her hands until she formed a snowball. She turned around and chucked it right at Severus's face. He was momentarily startled but soon he was laughing. And then it started a terrible war in which they were both running after each other trying to hurl the most snowballs they could. It was only stopped once they were both wet and freezing and completely out of breath.

"Alright, enough. I'm going to catch my death out here," she said feeling happy that she got some of her aggressions out on Severus without actually hurting him.

"At least let me walk you home so I can start that fire for you," he told her, slightly out of breath.

"Oh alright. I'm too tired to argue with you," she relented.

They walked along together, trudging through the snow and Severus really wanted to put his arm around her to keep her warmer, but he was too nervous. So he kept his hands firmly in his pockets until they arrived at her home. They walked inside and she threw off her wet coat and scarf and her hat, and then showed Severus the fireplace.

"I'm going upstairs to put on dry clothes. Do you want something of my fathers? You must be wet too," she offered him.

"You don't have to," he shook his head.

"Don't be silly. I'll be right back."

She disappeared up the stairs and he got to work putting in the kindling and stacking the logs and he used the matches by the hearth to light the fire. He was pretty good at this, even without magic and he just sat back in his wet clothes and tried to get warm. A short time later, Lily came downstairs with a sweatshirt and sweatpants on, and she brought Severus a man's sweatshirt and sweatpants that were at least two sizes too large. He was skinny and her father was slightly portly. But at least the clothes were dry. He went into the bathroom to change them and came out and laid his other clothes in front of the fire to dry out. He noticed Lily had brought down several blankets and pillows and had made a little fort in front of the fire.

"What is this? A fort? Are you nine still?" he couldn't help but laugh.

"Don't you remember, Severus? The day we made a fort in the snow with my mother's blankets? She was so cross at me for getting them wet. But you made a little fire for us then too and it almost caught the fort on fire. It was priceless! I think we were ten actually," she said with fond memories.

"I remember it perfectly," he said as he crawled under the blanket and sat next to her on the pillows.

"I had so much fun that day. And when Petunia tried to knock it down, you threatened to turn her into a tree frog. She believed you and ran home to tell my mum, which is when I got in so much trouble for stealing her good blankets," Lily laughed.

"I remember thinking before that, that I could grow old in that fort with you. I never wanted to go back home," he admitted with a tinge of melancholy.

"I know. I didn't much want to go home either," she remember with a smile.

"What happened to those two kids, Lily? We were so close. We told each other everything," he said, shaking his head.

"We grew up. We're not ten anymore. And sometimes our childhood friends don't stay our friends forever. You move on. I think that's your problem, Severus. You live in the past. I'm rather living for the future," she explained.

"I live in the past because it was better then. Simpler. Happier."

"Growing up isn't supposed to be simple, you know."

"Yeah, but isn't it supposed to be happy? My happiest times were with you," he admitted shyly.

"Don't you fancy any other girls in school?" she wondered, pulling a blanket over her legs and snuggling down into the pillows next to him.

"Me? Fancy other girls? What would be the point? They'd just laugh at me," he said miserably as he pulled up the other blanket and laid down next to her.

"But I haven't given you the time of day in over a year. Surely someone else would," she explained.

"No they wouldn't. Besides you're the only one I can think of," he admitted boldly, touching her arm.

"Oh Severus. You have to stop. I mean, we have a history. And most of it's lovely. But it's history. Not the present. I've fancied other blokes, you know. I dated some," she admitted.

"You think I don't know? I know. But it was obviously never serious. You're not taken now are you?" he asked.

She sighed and reached over and touched his face.

"No, I'm not. But I have been thinking about James a lot. You know he's liked me for ages. I said I'd never go out with him, but he's changed. He seems older and wiser. I've been considering it," she said as gently as she could.

"James? That ignorant fool? Why him of all people when you know he's the one who bullied me the most?" Severus asked, sitting up and scooting away from her.

"He hasn't bullied you for a time. I told him to stop. And he did. Hasn't he?" she asked curiously.

Severus thought for a moment, then sighed.

"Yeah, I guess it's been awhile. But still!"

"People change. And I don't know. I sort of fancy him a bit. I can't help it!" she protested.

"You'd rather be with someone you hated than be with me?" he asked sadly.

"I never hated him. I disliked him. But it's not about that. I just think of you as a friend, Severus. I thought that's what you thought of me too," she admitted.

"Are you mad? You must have known I was crazy for you my entire life. The moment we first met, I was in love. You used to say you loved me too. Don't you remember?" he wondered.

"I do remember. And I did love you. But we were kids. I loved Barbie dolls and having tea parties too. People grow out of things," she told him.

"Not everyone does. People don't grow out of people. I'm not a stupid doll you throw in a box when you're too old for it," he said bitterly.

"I shouldn't have compared you to a doll. But I'm just saying that I loved you when I was a girl. I'm a woman now. I'm about to be seventeen. And we haven't even spoken in over a year until now. It's kind of sad to me that you've been pining away, when I've gone on with things," she said softly.

"Pining? That's what you think? I wasn't pining. I just loved you. And I figured one day we'd make up and you'd realize I was still waiting for you. It's not like I was obsessed or anything. I did go on with my life. As you well know. I made friends. I moved on too. But that doesn't mean I forgot you," he said animatedly, getting frustrated with her.

"Please just stop. I don't want to argue. I wanted this to be fun. Like nostalgic. A silly fort in front of the fire. I thought we could eat sweets and gossip or just tell jokes or catch up on life. That's what I was trying to do. Catch you up on my life," she explained.

"Catch me up on the man you'd rather be with than me? The one who tormented me for years? Who embarrassed and humiliated me for years? Did you expect me to be happy for you?" he wondered bitterly.

"Yes! I did. Because I might be happy with him. Isn't that what you want? Me to be happy?"

"Yes, but not with him. I thought you'd want to see me happy too," he whispered.

"I do!"

"But you're rejecting me outright. How am I supposed to be happy?"

"You find someone new. That's how life works. Of course I want you happy. It just isn't going to be with me," she said gently.

"Just like that. I find someone new. What if I don't want someone new?" he asked miserably.

"I don't know what to say. Surely you realized a long time ago that I wasn't the one? I couldn't be. We weren't even speaking."

"But we are now. And we had fun today with the snowball fight. It was like old times. It was like nothing had changed," he reminded her.

"It has changed though."

He just stared at her and wanted to kiss her. He thought maybe if he did that, she'd see they were meant to be. But an unwanted kiss could also make her throw him out and really never talk to him again. So all he did was lay back down under the blanket and nestled his head into the pillows and not say a word. She finally followed suit and laid back down again and faced him, but he wouldn't look her in the eyes.

"Are you cross with me now?" she wondered.

"No. I'm just sad. I thought we could have a new beginning, that's all."

"This is a new beginning. We can be friends again. I thought that's what you were after. And I forgive you. No more cold shoulder. We can be friends like before," she assured him.

"Friends?"

"Yes."

"That's it though?"

"Yes."

"Will you give me these two weeks to try and change your mind? I mean, how do you know you couldn't love me again unless you actually give it a shot? Let me take this time to try and win you over. I've got to be better than James. Satan is better than James," he scoffed.

She laughed slightly.

"What are you planning to do? Shower me with roses and diamonds? How will you woo me?"

"I don't know. But give me a chance. Let's start by talking about stuff. Like we used to. And not about who you want to date besides me. But about you. Your life. Your thoughts. And I'll tell you mine. Like before."

"Alright. Fine." She snuggled down closer to him in the pillows and they were almost nose to nose. "I have a secret I've not told anyone," she began.

"This sounds good. What is it?"

"Last summer I did something really naughty. My parents would kill me!" she cried.

"Naughty? Is this about another boy? Because I said no talk about that," he cringed.

She smacked his arm.

"No, not naughty like that. But I met some Muggles and they had grass. I smoked it with them," she whispered to him softly.

"Grass? You mean marijuana?" he was shocked.

"Yes! All the Muggles are doing it. It's the 70's! I wanted to try it."

"That is naughty. Did you like it?" he wondered curiously.

She shrugged.

"I didn't not like it. But I doubt I'll ever do it again. It was a moment of frivolity. I threw caution to the wind. We sat in the back of a Volkswagen bus and they passed the cigarette thingy around," she explained.

Severus just stared at her for a moment and then he laughed. He couldn't picture her doing that at all. But the thought of her being high was amusing.

"Did you eat a lot? I hear it makes you eat a lot?" he asked curiously.

"I did! I ate an entire bag of crisps. And some chocolate," she admitted. "Have you ever done anything like that?"

"Me? My mum would murder me in my sleep if she found out about that. But I did do something similar last summer. She'd still kill me if she knew," he confessed.

"What did you do?"

"I stole a bottle of scotch and drank half of it in my room. Then I filled it up with water so it didn't look like I drank any. Except it was kind of watery looking. But my mum never said a word. I think she just thought it was cheap scotch," he laughed slightly.

"So did you get drunk? Was it fun? I've only sipped some wine before."

"I enjoyed it. It made my head all fuzzy. But in a pleasant way. I could do it again. Someday when I'm allowed, I'll do it whenever I want," he said proudly.

"So I guess we were both naughty last summer. Does anyone else know what you did?" she asked conspiratorially.

"No, I didn't tell anyone. Just you."

"So this can be our secret. No one else knows. Promise?"

"Promise."

"Should we make the Unbreakable Vow?" she asked with her eyes wide.

He laughed at her.

"I hardly think that's necessary for this. Pinky swear?" he offered.

"Alright."

She held out her hand and he held out his and they locked pinkies.

"I swear never to tell," they both said at the same time, before they both started laughing.

"See, I love this. This is fun. This is what I missed about you," she admitted snuggling closer to him for warmth.

"I've missed this too. And you know I'm not gonna spill your secrets. Ever. I'm an excellent secret keeper when necessary."

"Yes, you are. Which begs the question, who blew up our cauldron? I know you know," she prodded him.

"I don't know," he shrugged.

"Yes you do!"

"Why would I know?"

"Because I'm guessing it was Frankie Mullins and his sidekick Jared whatever his name is. They were laughing the most. So spill it."

"I'll only tell you if you promise you won't tell anyone else. Otherwise, forget it," he told her.

"I promise. I just want to know," she assured him.

He sighed.

"Alright. It was Mullins and Warren. I saw them do it, but I couldn't stop them. I didn't think it would do much, or else I would have stepped in," he said.

"Liar. You wouldn't have stepped in. You didn't want to look foolish. But thanks for telling me. Those two are now on my shit list. I knew it was them!" she said triumphantly.

"If they're on your shit list, it can't be because I told you. Remember that."

"I promise they won't know who told me. I'll just say someone else saw them. Those buggers."

"They're gonna know it was me. You can't say anything. You promised," he reminded her.

"Oh fine. But if they step one toe out of line again, they'll feel my wrath. Mark my words."

They were silent for a time, while Lily seethed and Severus wished he hadn't told her. But then finally she broke the silence and looked him in the eyes again.

"So have you ever been with a girl at all, Severus?" she wondered curiously.

His face turned red in the firelight and he shook his head.

"No. I can't even speak to girls at all without tripping over my tongue. I'm sure that makes me seem pathetic to you."

"Not pathetic. Just a little sad for you. Most people have at least had a snog by now," she sighed.

"Well I haven't. Probably never will," he muttered unhappily.

She looked at his sad little face and didn't really understand why no girl would be interested in him. Sure his hair was a little limp and his nose was a bit pronounced, but he was still handsome in a rugged way. She leaned over and kissed him gently on the lips. Nothing fancy or passionate. Just a little friendly kiss to say he'd done it at least. She pulled back and the look on his face was utter shock and amazement.

"Why'd you do that?" he sputtered out nervously.

She shrugged.

"So you could say you've had a bit of a snog at least."

"You've never kissed my lips before."

"I know."

"I liked it," he smiled.

"It wasn't half bad," she smiled back.

"Can I do it again?" he wondered eagerly.

"No. Let's not get carried away," she pushed him back slightly.

"Okay. Sorry."

"It's alright."

"So how many boys have you snogged?" he asked quietly, thinking it obviously was no big deal for her as it was for him.

"Not that many. Maybe four? I didn't keep track," she said nonchalantly.

"Have you ever kissed James?" he wondered, trying to keep his bitterness to a minimum.

"No. Not yet."

"Good. At least I have something he doesn't have," he said smugly.

"It was just a little kiss. I don't even know if it counts really. Don't make a huge deal of it," she urged him, feeling a bit foolish for having done it at all.

"Right. It meant nothing. It was for pity's sake, right?" he sighed.

"Let's change the subject. Tell me more about the spells you make up. I can do some conjuring charms. I made flowers and fish and birds. But I've never done anything defensive. Is it hard to come up with them?" she wondered pulling the blanket up to her chin.

"It's not easy, mind you. But if you know what you're doing, it's not that bad. And for the record I came up with Secumsemptra after I overheard two boys talking about beating me up in the loo at school. They weren't even talking about magic. They wanted to resort to fisticuffs and dunk my head in a toilet. I just wanted to scare them. I wasn't going to use it on them for real."

"But how would it scare them if they didn't know what it did? Were you going to bring a piece of meat and demonstrate?" she wondered with a raised eyebrow.

"No. It doesn't just cut flesh, it cuts wood or other things. If they saw me blast it at a wall they'd understand they wouldn't want it aimed at them. But they caught wind of my spell and never touched me. So I say it was worth it. Even if you don't approve," he sighed.

"I guess I can understand it. Wanting to defend yourself. But you could kill someone with that," she pointed out.

"Possibly. But I'm not going to do that. What you don't get about being like me is that if I don't have a bad ass reputation as a scary wizard, it's me hanging upside down in my underwear for the rest of my life. And I will never, ever let that happen again," he said heatedly.

"Point taken. That was mean. And cruel. I'm sorry about that one," she admitted.

"Don't be. You didn't do it. But your precious James sure was laughing. Remember that. You say you don't know if you want to even associate with me because some of my friends are into the dark arts. But you expect me to just forget about James and his gang and be your friend? That's a double standard," he shook his head.

"You're right. It is. I'm sorry. But I did say we could be friends. I just don't want you getting your hopes up that it means more than that," she told him.

"My hopes aren't up. Trust me. I understand you. But I do think that if you spend the next two weeks with me—and only me, you'll see how good we are together," he said with confidence.

"That sounds like your hopes are up."

"No, I'm prepared for failure. I just think you might feel differently is all. But you have to give it a real chance."

"I will. But you do realize I'll need to spend time with my family too. That's the whole reason I'm here," she reminded him.

"I know. But in your free time. I'd like you to spend it with me. I want you to see that I haven't changed as much as you think I have. I'm still the boy you knew. The boy you loved," he told her.

She was hesitant, but she just nodded her head.

"Okay. Two weeks. And we'll see. But right now, it's getting late. Your mum is going to be cross isn't she if you don't return home?"

"I've got a little more time. Right now she's settling into her scotch and knitting cunning sweater sets by the fire. In about two hours, she'll be asleep. Then I'll sneak back in," he said with a grin.

"You know her very well."

"She's my mum. And she's incredibly predictable. If I was there, I'd simply be in my room reading anyway. I'd rather stay here."

"Okay. Well I'm getting snacks. I'm famished. You want something?" she asked him happily.

"Yeah, sure. Whatever you've got. I'll wait in the fort," he laughed slightly.

She got up and went to the kitchen and he realized he had a smile on his face. He had been laughing. This was something he rarely ever did anymore. He was always so sullen. And no one ever accused him of being a class clown. He was reserved and quiet and morose most of the time. But a few hours with Lily and suddenly he felt alive inside again. He almost didn't even know who he was right now. And when she returned with a bag of crisps and some chocolate biscuits and two root beers, even she noticed his smile was still there. It was so odd to see.

"I brought some goodies. And I know you like root beer. My father had real beer, but if I took that, he'd notice. So I hope this is okay," she said, settling back into the fort.

"It's perfect."

She just kept staring at him, noting the smile, until he finally got uncomfortable and stopped grinning.

"Is something wrong?" he wondered to her, feeling self-conscious.

"No, not at all. It's just you were smiling so much. And it wasn't one of those fake smiles I sometimes see. This smile reached your eyes. They were shining. Is that because of me?" she wondered curiously.

"There's no one else here, so yeah. And is it so strange for me to smile?" he asked, knowing it was.

"Yes, it is. You never do. Ever. Not for ages. At least not where I see you. I rather like it," she smiled back.

"Well, I'm not always so gloomy. I do know how to have fun. I just rarely have it, but I haven't forgotten how. And this is fun," he grinned as he took a sip of his drink and dug into the biscuits.

After a time of silence where they were both eating and drinking and thinking, Lily finally looked at him again.

"So Severus, what do you want to do after school is done? I already said I wanted to be a member of the Order. You expressed interest in that too. Was that for real?" she asked.

He shrugged.

"I doubt the Order will let me in. I rather thought I'd be a teacher."

"A teacher? But you hate everyone. You'd be a horrible teacher since you can't stand any of the students," she giggled.

"Shut your mouth. I'd be an excellent teacher. I don't hate everyone. I like you. And I do have friends," he pointed out, giving her a shove.

"I just can't picture you with children. What do you want to teach?" she inquired, shoving a biscuit in her mouth.

"Defense of the Dark Arts. I'd be a natural at it, I think. I know a lot of about it already. Or barring that, perhaps potions?" he offered.

"You're getting very high marks in both those subjects. You could probably do it. It'd just be weird to think of you teaching," she admitted.

"Well what do you see me doing? Except joining the Death Eaters and aligning myself with the Dark Lord?" he said snidely.

"I never said I saw you doing that. Just that you're the type of person he would love to get his hands on. You and your chums," she clarified.

"Well, he's not getting his hands on me. I'm better than that. Besides you'd never speak to me again, would you?" he asked.

"No, I wouldn't. How could I?"

"So then it's not happening. And just so you're aware, You Know Who has never sent in any 'recruiter' or anything to the school. That's all rubbish," he scoffed.

"Do you know people who have joined him later though?" she wondered, finishing off her soda.

"I might."

"Do tell."

"I can't."

"Why not? It's me, remember? Our secrets are safe with each other," she reminded him.

"Yes, but this isn't my secret. I can't tell you who I know, but yes, I know some people," he admitted.

"I don't like the sound of that. What's to stop them from bringing you in with them later on?" she fretted.

"I'm the one who stops them. I'm not an imbecile. They can't make me, can they?"

"I thought you said the Dark Lord wouldn't take too lightly to being turned down? What if you're in danger?"

"Lily, relax. I'm still in charge of my destiny. And I'm not going to join them. So stop worrying. I wouldn't do anything you'd hate. Not again. So just forget it," he said pushing the crisps back and laying back down again.

He knew she had some reason to worry because a lot of his friends did want to join. And they talked of him joining too. It wasn't a 'recruitment', but more of a desire. And he knew a very powerful and well known person who did in fact join and urged him to do the same when he was out of school. But he'd never, ever tell Lily that. She could never know that his old friend Lucius Malfoy was a Death Eater. He had been a few years ahead of them in school, so they weren't best of friends. But they certainly knew each other as he'd been prefect of Slytherin house when Severus arrived. But it's not as if Lucius was forcing his hand. He was simply hoping Severus would join the movement. But Lily never needed to know that. It would only upset her and make her worry, because he wasn't going to do it. Not if it meant losing her. Besides, it wasn't the right thing to do anyway, and he knew it. He didn't even believe in the cause. The only reason to join would be power, but Severus wasn't as power hungry as some of his friends. He really just wanted a simple life. To marry Lily, be a teacher and have a few kids. A quiet existence. One he knew he may never get, but he still dreamed of it.

Finally he looked at the clock and yawned.

"I need to go now. My mum should be passed out squarely and I'll just sneak in and pretend I was there for ages. You sure you're alright in this house alone? I could try and stay the night, but I might get in enormous trouble for it," he told her.

"No, it's fine. You go home. I'll manage. But will I see you again tomorrow? My family won't be back until the morning after," she asked him.

"Meet me at our spot again. Around eleven? We'll spend the day together. It'll be fun. You'll see. Wear something warm," he smiled one last time before crawling out of the blanket fort and gathering up his clothes, that were now dry, to change.

Lily watched him go and she wondered if he was really telling the truth about not joining the Dark Lord. Did he really want to be a teacher of all things? It seemed so odd, be he also seemed genuine. She just worried that if it was known how powerful and smart he really was, he might not get the choice to not join. But he swore that wasn't how it worked. And she didn't know. She had no clue how Voldemort got his supporters except she just imagined all these people being herded into a room and forced to bear his mark for eternity. But maybe it really was a choice? Before she could ponder it too long, Severus came back and handed her the oversized sweat suit he'd been wearing.

"Thanks for this. Good thing I'm used to hand me down clothes," he smirked slightly.

"You looked goofy in them, you realize. I didn't have the heart to tell you," she stuck out her tongue at him.

"Well you still kissed me, so I say it's a win. Goodnight Lily. I'll see you tomorrow."

And before she could stop him or process it, he'd kissed her forehead and then disappeared quickly out the front door. She just laid back in her silly little fort and contemplated what she was doing. She was giving Severus two weeks to somehow impress her enough that she'd want to date him. But she wasn't sure that was possible. It wasn't that she was angry at him still or that she didn't find him attractive. She just wasn't sure she felt anything but friendship towards him. When she thought of Severus, she'd smile. But when she thought of James lately, her stomach would do that flippy thing and she felt happy and sick at the same time. She wasn't sure Severus could ever make her feel that way. And it wouldn't be his fault. But he's the one who wanted to try this, so she was going to play along.

To be continued… Please leave comments and let me know if you're liking the story so far! Thanks for reading!