A Place for Us

Elf Flame

Story Summary:
Lily Evans and Hestia Jones make a bet--about Severus Snape. Marauders school years.

Author's Note:
Co-written with Foodie as a round-robin. I wrote a bit, then sent it to her, and she would write for a bit, etc.

A Place For Us

By Elf Flame & Foodie

It all started because Hestia was going on about how gorgeous Sirius Black looked that morning. Lily hated the Marauders. Sure they were cool. They were also the worst rule-breakers in the school. She scathingly told Hestia that she'd rather date a Slytherin than a Marauder. Mary Pringle grinned, leaned across the table, and said, "Fine, Lily. You find a Slytherin to date. I'm sure we'd all love to see that."

Lily flushed angrily. She hadn't meant it literally. But it wasn't something she could easily back down from. "And why would I want to do that? The Slytherins are just as bad as the Marauders in some ways. It's not like they'd even go for somebody like me," she said haughtily. "Maybe I should find a nice Ravenclaw or a Hufflepuff to go out with."

"Oh, yes, a nice Hufflepuff boy to sweep you off your feet. At least he'd work hard to try to. Though it does make you wonder if they try hard in everything they do," Hestia said impishly, wriggling her eyebrows and glancing over her shoulder to look at the Hufflepuff table. "And speaking of gorgeous, that Amos Diggory's not so bad himself. Captain of the Quidditch team, very muscular..." her voice trailed off as she became lost in her lusty thoughts.

Lily shuddered at that. Sure, Diggory was okay, but slow. Very slow. At least Remus Lupin, though he was a Marauder, was intelligent. Heck, even Black and Potter were smart, when it came right down to it. "God, Hestia, can't you control your hormones at all? What exactly was it that you did over the summer that has them suddenly raging? Are you trying to compete with Bellatrix Black for Slut of the Year?"

Mary guffawed at this, but Hestia turned purple. "At least I think about boys," she hissed. "You turn down everyone who ever asks you out. Heck, James has asked you out how many times? Are you ever going to go out with anyone? Or are you going to die a virginal old maid?" she smirked.

"James Potter is an insensitive pig and isn't worthy of my attention. That's the problem with most of the boys at this school. They're all so stuck on themselves," Lily complained while glaring down the table at the Marauders.

"Then look for the most sensitive boy in the school and go after him," Hestia replied sensibly. "How hard could it be if there's so few of them anyway?"

Lily rolled her eyes. "Find me one and I'll think about it."

She should have known the glint in Hestia's eyes was a bad sign, but she had only herself to blame when she didn't run screaming. "How about Snape?"

Lily looked at her as though she'd lost her senses. "You're joking, right? Why on earth would I even think of speaking to that prig, let alone think of going out with him?"

Mary giggled. "Well, Lily, you have to admit he's sensitive...he's sensitive about his hair, about his height, about that nickname the Marauders gave him..."

Hestia smirked. "Yeah."

"Well, and wouldn't you be too? It's a cruel name and those boys are malicious to have given it to him. Certainly he could use a few styling and fashion tips for his hair and clothes, but it doesn't make him so horrible. I mean, yes, he's a jerk, but most of it is warranted," Lily said, feeling as though she was walking into something she'd not be able to easily get out of.

Mary picked up on this thread. "So, he's a sensitive jerk. A tortured soul who needs to be taken care of properly. And I'll bet you are just the one to it too. I bet you'd be just the perfect person to turn Snape into somebody presentable and personable," she challenged Lily.

Lily looked between the two girls, wondering if there weren't some way she could back out of this. But she knew it was already too late. She sighed. "Fine. I work on getting one date--one, mind you--from Snape, and you," she looked pointedly at Hestia, "will promise to keep your libido in check. Is that fair?"

Mary looked avidly at Hestia, waiting for her answer. Hestia scowled for a moment. "Fine. But we need to have a time limit. After all, it's hardly fair if you only have to get a date with Snape, and I have to be forever celibate."

"All right, let's say two weeks. Hestia you have to be celibate for two whole weeks, and Lily, you only have two weeks to get a date with Snape. Can you both agree to this?" Mary asked, quickly stepping in to mediate.

Both girls nodded their heads, each thinking they got the raw end of the deal. How am I going to pull this off? Lily thought to herself while glancing over at the Slytherin table to see the greasy black-haired boy sitting in the far corner of the room. What would a boy like him see in a girl like her?

She decided to start in Potions. Not even the Slytherins liked to pair with him. He was so picky about his tools and the ingredients that he frequently refused to let anyone partnering with him do any of the work, for fear that they might ruin the potion. So, that morning, Lily took the first step by sitting next to him in class rather than with her friends. Of course, it also meant that she avoided their taunts, which was a plus.

Snape was far from pleased when she sat in the empty seat to his right. "What do you want, Evans?"

"I thought we could work together today. It'll be lots of fun!" Lily said with more enthusiasm than she felt. She smiled at Snape and scooted her chair closer to him.

Snape's eyes grew wide and he tried to push his chair away, but one of the legs had gotten caught in between the stones of the floor and wouldn't go any further. "What kind of fun? The kind where I end up being ridiculed while you and your 'friends' stand around and laugh? Thank you, but I'm not interested in that kind of fun," he growled while turning in his seat to look away from Lily.

Lily sighed and began to unpack her bag. So much for her first move.

Then things got worse. "Hey, Snivelly!" The Marauders had arrived. Sirius swooped down and sat at the table directly in front of them, straddling the chair backwards so he could look at them. But it was James who noticed her sitting next to Snape first.

"What the hell are you sitting next to old Snivelly here for?" he demanded with a stormy expression on his face. He turned to Snape and started talking again. "So, are you happy that Lily is sitting next to you? She's practically sitting in your lap. I bet that would make you even happier, wouldn't it?" he growled.

Snape ignored James and Sirius's presence and continued to set up his potions ingredients. Lily flushed in anger as she looked at the boys. "How dare you say such things? That is so rude. Why don't you find other seats and leave us alone? Snape and I have a lot of work to do today and we don't need your interference," she cried.

James's eyes narrowed. "So Snivelly here is a more acceptable beau than I am?"

At this, Snape's head snapped up. "I am no one's beau, Potter, and I would kindly thank you to take this curr out of my face," he gestured at Sirius.

Lily concealed her giggle at this, but suddenly she felt a lot more confident that she might be able to get Snape's attention. After all, they did have one thing in common. A hatred for the Marauders.

"That's right, take your stupid smelly dog and be gone!" Lily added, grinning as she glanced at Snape. Snape wasn't looking in her direction though, so she couldn't tell what he thought of all this.

Sirius hadn't spoken since greeting Snape so rudely, and was tired of being spoken about in such a way, and chose this moment to respond. "Hey, you can't call me a dog! You talk about us being rude? Take a look in the mirror, baby, there'll be one rude chick staring right back!" he cried before standing up and following James to another desk, leaving Snape and Lily to themselves once again.

Lily rolled her eyes. She snuck another look at Snape. He still seemed utterly involved with setting things up, but now she noticed that every so often, his eyes would dart in her direction. Perhaps the best way to start off would be to apologize for her housemates? "Sorry about that Snape. They're so obnoxious. Like their opinions are the only ones that count."

He snorted, but it was several minutes before he responded. "Gryffindors do seem to have that tendency." He turned to gaze at her for a moment, and she met his glare as calmly as she could. It was a test, she was sure of it. "Well, if you're staying, the least you could do is make yourself useful. Why don't you take the cauldron and fill it?"

Lily silently picked up the cauldron, walked over to the faucet, and filled it with water before bringing it back and setting it up over the flame. She watched as Snape began to prepare the ingredients that would be added to the cauldron. He stared intensely at what he was doing, never looking at Lily. After several minutes, Lily sighed. "Look Snape," she began, "Can't we just work on this together? Like two civilized human beings?"

Snape stopped what he was doing and looked at Lily. "I have every capability of being civilized. And I thought we were working together. You're here, are you not?" With that, he turned back to the cauldron and started stirring. "Hand me the ginger roots," he demanded, holding his hand out for Lily to give him the already prepared roots.

Lily huffed at this, but picked up the roots. Damned if she'd let him ruin a very promising start. "So, Snape, what do you do for fun?"

He looked over at her alarmed for a moment before turning quickly back to the cauldron. "What on earth do you mean by fun? The kinds of entertainments Gryffindors consider fun are completely immature. I'd rather be pecked to death by a flock of ravens."

Lily had to bite her lip to keep from chuckling at this. She'd never realized he was so poetic--if a touch morbid. "Well, what do you do to pass the time between classes then?"

"Not that it's any of your business, but I study in between classes. It's something I'm sure you know nothing about," Snape replied drily.

"Well, that shows what you know. Studying is exactly what I do in between classes as well. So there," Lily said, brushing her red hair out of her face. "Who knew we actually had something in common?"

"I doubt I have anything in common with you, mu..." Snape glanced over her shoulder in the direction Black and Potter had gone, and she saw him gulp and turn back to the cauldron. "Just be silent, and we'll finish this potion, then we'll never have to speak again, Evans."

But she wasn't going to let him off that easily. That word rolled off the Slytherins' tongues far too easily. Rosier and Wilkes loved to shout it at her in the corridors, when it was too crowded to do anything about it, and when there were no teachers around, but Snape was intelligent. Did he really believe that nonsense? Surely he must realize it was wrong. Perhaps this was a starting point. She looked down at the next ingredient, already perfectly prepared, simply waiting for Snape's request. "You don't really believe all that pureblood nonsense, do you, Snape? I mean, you and I both know that I'm second in this class only to you..."

Snape hesitated for a moment before saying, "Shrivelfig...please."

Lily hid the smile threatening to erupt on her face. Now they were making some real progress! She handed Snape the shrivelfig before talking. "You know, there's really nothing wrong with being Muggleborn. Under different circumstances, you could have been Muggleborn. Would you like being called 'Mudblood' if you were? There's just no difference Snape. We're all human beings. We just come from different cultural backgrounds."

She could see the sneer that formed on his face before he answered. "So then, you can tell me, of course, what it is like to grow up in a house full of pictures that would tattle on you if you did the slightest thing, or how the smallest magical thing you did was met with derision or excitement? How your parents looked forward not only to your first word, and first steps, but also to the first time you consciously used your magic to retrieve a toy, or repel a particularly nasty piece of food that they were trying to feed you? Not to mention your ignorance of hair and fashion in the Wizarding world, or how to respond to a family who has more generations of magic than your own..."

She would not let him make her angry. "No, but that doesn't mean there isn't common ground, surely? After all, wizards have married Muggles before. And they have no knowledge at all of the magical world. At least Muggleborns come to Hogwarts and learn of the magical world. And like I said before, it's a cultural difference. It would be like a Hindu moving into an Amish village. I'm sure you can imagine the sorts of problems that would arise from that! But they're both still human beings with valid points of view and valid ways of seeing the world."

"I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about," Snape replied.

"So, I'm not the only one who's ignorant about things, eh? You wouldn't have a clue how to conduct yourself in the Muggle world. I think that's what really bothers you pureblood snobs. You don't like feeling helpless so you make others feel bad to make yourselves feel superior," Lily replied knowingly.

"Or perhaps I simply value my time too much to waste on explaining myself to others." With that, he turned back to the cauldron, and the only other words he spoke to her through the entire lesson were those requesting ingredients.

By the end of the lesson, Lily was ready to tear her hair out. Why was he being so pigheaded? After all, she had been quite nice, she thought. But he had simply pushed her away. She would have to try something else.

The next day, Lily decided to buck the system and without a thought except for that of her goal she dared to enter the serpent's den and actually sat down for breakfast at the Slytherin table. She sat alone, several seats away from Snape, and enjoyed her bacon and cheese omelet while the rest of the school stared at her. Who cared what they thought?

Snape glared at her the entire time, not speaking to her. "Pass the butter, please," she'd requested at one point in time. He seemed to debate with himself over whether or not to do it. In the end, he barely pushed the plate of butter over in Lily's direction, and turned to face away from her when he'd finished.

Shortly after, Rosier and Wilkes appeared, accompanied by Bellatrix, who was hanging off Rosier. Upon seeing Lily, she hissed, then whispered something in his ear. The two conferred for several minutes before breaking away. Bellatrix moved to sit across from Lily while the two boys sat to either side of Lily, obviously trying their hardest to be threatening.

"Lost, little Gryffindor? Why would a mudblood want to disgrace herself by sitting with Slytherins?" Bellatrix purred menacingly.

The two boys drew closer to Lily, but she tried desperately to ignore them. "I'm just eating. That's not hurting anyone, is it?"

Evan Rosier's dark laugh sounded right next to her ear. "Perhaps she thinks we need a pet, Bella. What do you think, Jarod? Do we need a pet mudblood?"

Before Wilkes could even respond, Lily answered for him. "If you mean a Muggleborn person as a friend, then by all means, yes, I'd love to be your friend," Lily replied with a smile on her face. She wasn't about to be intimidated by these people. "Perhaps you'd like to join me at lunch today at the Gryffindor table? As a show of goodwill and unity," she continued.

"Unity? Not with you, Mudblood," Bellatrix hissed.

"Oh, well that's too bad. I would have liked to have gotten to know you all better, but alas, I must be off to my Arithmancy class. It's been fun," Lily said while pushing her plate away and gently twisting away from the boys on either side of her.

Rosier caught at her hand before she could escape. "This isn't over, mudblood. You can't just sit at this table and expect to get away with it."

She laughed him off, but she knew this could get quite dangerous if she weren't careful. At least there were teachers up at the head table, so they couldn't do much at the moment. "As you can see, I'm shaking in my shoes, Rosier." She yanked her hand from his grasp and moved quickly away. Snape caught up to her as she exited the Great Hall.

"That was hardly a great display of intelligence, Evans. If you were trying to impress Potter and his friends, I think you were going about it the wrong way."

"Actually I was trying to get closer to you. I figured if I couldn't get closer to you verbally, I could try physically. Perhaps it wasn't the best of ideas, but you are talking to me now, right?" Lily grinned.

Snape scowled. "That was very dangerous, trying something like that. Dangerous and foolish, typical of a Gryffindor. Well, don't expect me to protect you from whatever consequences your little stunt may have. You'll just have to deal with it all yourself," he snarled before turning and walking away.

But Lily couldn't help smiling as she watched him leave.

So that evening, she tried again. This time she approached him in his favourite nook of the library. She'd seen him there before, always alone. Any time anyone had approached him there, he had glowered at them until they had left once more. But not her. He could glower all he wanted, but she wasn't going anywhere. She wondered if this rush was what James felt every time he approached her to ask her out. Suddenly three years of invitations from him began to make a great deal more sense.

"So, Snape, having fun? Let me guess, you're studying right?" she said quietly while sitting down across from him. "What are you going over?"

Snape sighed. She could tell he was growing quite tired of her constant presence. "I was reading for our Defense Against the Dark Arts test tomorrow. Shouldn't you be studying too?"

"Yes, I brought my book. I thought we could quiz each other," Lily grinned.

"You want to be my 'study partner?'" he asked quizzically.

"Why not?"

He looked at her as though she'd just grown horns. "I have never required a study partner before."

"Well, it can't hurt, can it?" she asked optimistically.

He looked at her for a moment, then nodded. "Very well. But don't expect that this will make us friends, Evans."

She controlled herself, stifling the giggle his overly serious composure caused. "Of course, Snape. So, let's begin. Hmmm," she said while opening her book, "What is the best way to fight off a banshee?"

The two quizzed each other for over an hour before Lily closed her book and gazed at Snape. "What are you looking at me like that for?" he finally asked, feeling self-conscious and not knowing how to react.

"I was just wondering what you'd look like if you tied your hair back in a queue. Have you ever considered it? And your dark clothes make you look so harsh. I'd love to give you a makeover," Lily said, grinning wildly.

Those dark eyes grew wide for a second, then narrowed. He slammed his book shut, then stood and began to pack his bag. She heard him mumbling to himself under his breath, but caught nothing until the words, "...Should have known..."

"Snape?" He ignored her and continued to pack. Before his last book could disappear into his bag, she grabbed it from his hands. "Known what? What have I done?"

"This is all some sort of joke isn't it? You probably made some moronic bet with your giggly, juvenile girlfriends that you could turn me into some sort of boy toy, didn't you?" he spat angrily at her, his eyes flashing. As angry as he seemed, Lily thought she could see pain seeping through his features.

She was taken aback. How could she deny the truth? As she thought about it, Lily realized what a horrible thing she'd done. She'd tried to use a tormented soul, and had ended up hurting him, for her own selfish purposes. How could she not have seen what a terrible thing that was? Her eyes filled with tears and she looked down at her feet in shame as the tears spilled down her cheeks. "I didn't mean to hurt you..." she whispered before turning around and running out the door. She ran blindly for a minute before being stopped as a pair of hands grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her into a dark corner of the hallway.

"Lily?" a familiar voice asked. "Are you okay? What happened? Did he hurt you?"

She found herself looking up through tear-filled eyes at a very familiar bespectacled face. "Not now, James." She tried to pull away, but he held fast.

"What did he do? I won't let him get away with it."

"He didn't do anything, James. I...I hurt him. It was my fault."

The astonishment on his face would have made her laugh if she hadn't been so horrified at her own behaviour. "You hurt him?" he asked incredulously.

Lily averted her eyes, ashamed to look him in the face. "He's such a deep person James. But he's so reserved and misunderstood. I sort of made a bet with my friends that I could get him to go out on a date with me," she confessed in a small voice, the tears continuing to flow down her face. "And he figured it out, and now he's humiliated. Again. And it's all my fault," she sobbed, burying her face in her hands.

James wasn't sure how to respond to this. As far as he was concerned Snivellus wasn't worth getting so worked up for. He was just a vermin to be disregarded and swept under the rug, not worthy of such fuss. Yet, looking at Lily and how upset she was, he couldn't help but feel the need to protect her and comfort her. He longed to hold her in his arms while she calmed down. "Lily," he said, reaching out and putting his arm around her shoulder, "don't be so upset. Listen, he's just Snivellus, he's so not worth it."

She pulled away from him roughly. "Don't you say that about him! And don't you dare ever use that name in my hearing again, James Potter!" With that, she stormed off towards Gryffindor Tower, though she knew he followed quietly behind.

She waited outside the Great Hall the next morning so that she could talk to Snape and apologize to him before he entered for breakfast. Upon seeing her there, he turned and headed back towards the dungeons, and she knew that when he returned, he would be accompanied by at least one of his housemates. It was just no good. She'd have to try again later.

Lily sat next to Snape during Potions class again that same day. She tried to talk to him during the class, but he wasn't being very responsive. "Snape, please, I want to apologize," she whispered in a strained voice. "I'm so sorry about this. You don't deserve to be treated this way. It was wrong of me and I should have thought before doing what I did. I didn't want to hurt you," she said.

"It doesn't matter. I don't care. I'm not hurt so you don't have to feel sorry for me, or guilty for what you did. Just please, leave me alone from now on," Snape replied quietly, his eyes never once leaving the cauldron.

That evening, she made her way back to the library. Hopefully he would be there again. It was all she could hope for any more. She felt better when she saw the familiar dark head bent over a book, and walked towards his table.

He did not look up at all when she stopped in front of the table. "Hello, Snape."

He glowered down at his book, but did not answer.

"May I sit here?" she asked quietly.

"No need. There are plenty of empty tables in the library. Tables where you would not have to suffer the presence of such an...unattractive individual," he growled, never raising his eyes from his book.

Lily sat down next to Snape and took the book out of his hands, setting it on the table out of his reach. "Snape, I don't find you unattractive," she blurted out, more loudly than she'd intended. Several other students sitting in tables around them turned their heads to look over at them. Lily flushed with embarrassment over having created a scene and lowered her voice. "I think you're a most fascinating person, and I'm glad I took on the challenge, because I've gotten to see you more often," she said quietly.

Snape glared at Lily, but as she spoke, his face softened slightly, despite his best efforts not to. "I haven't hated the time you've spent with me either," he finally replied quietly, folding his arms tightly about his chest and staring at the table.

She couldn't help but smile at that. "I'm glad, Snape. I think we could become friends," she noticed the horrified look on his face, and quickly amended her statement. "At least we could become friendly. I mean, these past few days haven't been so bad, have they?"

Snape stared at her a long time before responding. "Last night after you left, Black cornered me and told me I should 'keep my big nose' out of your affairs. That you didn't need a 'greasy git' like me hanging around you all the time. That unlike myself you had real friends. Friends who cared about you, and who would make my life a living hell if I didn't leave you alone. How do I know you're not just trying to cause me more trouble?"

Lily took a deep breath. "Black and his Marauder friends are no friends of mine. In fact, I'd much rather be your friend than theirs if I had the choice. You're a much nicer person than they are. I just wish I had more of a chance to become your friend," she replied quietly, daring to reach her hand out and lightly brush her fingers over his.

Snape's eyes grew wide and he flinched as she touched him. She could tell he wasn't used to being touched in an amicable manner. He was breathing quickly, as though he'd just run a marathon, and his eyes darted around the room, like he was looking for possible escape routes. "Why did you do that?" he whispered in a hoarse voice, pulling his hand away from hers.

"Touch you?"

"No...caress me!"

"I told you. I like you, Snape. And I'd like to get to know you better.

Snape glanced around the room warily, as though waiting for the Marauders to jump out at him. Finally, he met Lily's eyes directly. "Are you serious?"


He stood up and packed his books away, then gestured to her. "Follow me."

They walked out of the library and up several flights of stairs. At first she thought he was walking her back to Gryfindor Tower, but then he stopped in front of an odd tapestry depicting a man apparently being clubbed to death by trolls who were wielding his torn-off limbs.

"Cella Singularis," Snape said quietly. After a few seconds, the tapestry blew open, as though a wind had blown past it, revealing a door that he easily opened. Lily stepped inside a few seconds later. There was a small flight of stairs before they came to a landing. They had come to a small room with a few candles that Snape lit with his wand. There was a desk and two chairs, an overstuffed sitting chair, and a bookshelf full of old, dusty books. "We can speak in private here," he explained while she looked around.

"What is it you wanted to say that we had to come here to say it? You really are a private person, Snape," Lily said as she sat down on the sitting chair. Snape looked down at Lily for a minute or two before walking over to her side.

"I simply did not want anyone eavesdropping on our conversation." He settled into a nearby chair, waving her to sit in the other. "Why is it that you are so intent on befriending me, Evans? I have certainly never done anything that would paint me as friendly to your kind...Gryffindor or Muggleborn."

Lily smiled. "But for all that, Snape, I've never seen you attack just because you wanted to. You were always lashing out. Because you've been hurt. I can see it. And so can anyone else with half a brain. The Marauders are bullies, and if they don't like you, I think I need to take the time to prove to them, and everyone else, just how wrong they are."

"And if they are not?"

"I think they are wrong, and that's all that really matters. Why do you want people to think you're not worthy of being a friend? Why do you hate yourself so much? Isn't there anything you like about yourself?" Lily asked, her brow furrowed.

Snape took a deep, slow breath and held it for a few moments before exhaling. "You could never understand why I don't want friends," he replied. "And as for anything about myself that I like...I like that I'm such a good student." He looked into Lily's piercingly green eyes and held her gaze for a minute before she responded.

"It's a start. Why?"

He laughed softly. "Because it shows that I am better than them. Proves it in a way they can't disprove it." Then he scowled. "Too bad that Professor McGonagall plays favourites, or I'd do well in that class as well. Black and Potter are always showing off so much in there..."

Lily rolled her eyes. "I know what you mean. Like they can do something we can't. They're arrogant jerks who will probably end up sitting at home listening to their Quidditch teams on the wizarding wireless, and expecting their pregnant wives to do everything for them.

"I'd never do that, make my pregnant wife do everything for me, that is," Snape chuckled while glancing over at Lily. "If I ever marry, I'd make sure to provide for my wife's every need, not the other way around. I don't think that's how a marriage should work," he said quietly.

Lily looked curiously at him. So he did entertain thoughts of marriage and love like any other normal person. Who knew? "If it means anything, I'm sure you'd make a fine husband someday. Your future wife will be a very lucky woman, as would any future children you may have. They'll love having such a wonderful father in you," she said kindly, once again reaching her hand out and this time, grasping his in hers and squeezing it.

He looked at her silently for a great long while. She watched as emotions flickered rapidly across his face. Some were gone too quick to identify, and others she could not name, but some surprised her--anger, sadness, and a kind of wistfulness she had never thought to see on any Slytherin's face, let alone the face of Severus Snape. Finally, he spoke. "Lily, you do know this can't be anything, right?"

"What do you mean?"

"We could never be anything more than acquaintances without both of our houses tearing the two of us to shreds." He was silent for another moment, and though she wanted to, and though she wanted to deny his words, she couldn't exactly do so truthfully. When he spoke again, his voice was so quiet she almost couldn't hear it. "I couldn't allow that to happen to you."

"I wouldn't care. I sat at your table and didn't care what might have happened to me. Why should we let other people determine whether we can be happy or not? If we wanted to be more than friends, they'd just have to get over it," Lily replied, twining her fingers through his and moving closer towards Snape. "Why should we cave in to them, Severus?" she whispered.

Snape looked at their hands and flushed. "Ev-...Lily, we can't do this," he whispered though he didn't try to remove his hand from her hold. "I know you think that this is nothing. You Gryffindors think you can overcome anything. But this isn't something you can just ignore. I won't let you be hurt by this. And believe me when I say you would be. There are things about me you don't know. Things you don't want to know. You are enjoyable to talk to, but even that could put you in great danger. Go back to your common room, choose one of your Gryffindor boys..." His face twisted in a smirk. "Maybe not a Marauder..." She laughed, and he continued. "And make them your project. I'm not worth it."

"Will you at least let me come and talk to you now and again?"

"It's really not a good idea. It isn't safe. Not in public, anyway. However, there are times when we might have a chance to speak privately. In this room or in the library. But we shouldn't be Potions partners anymore, and never, under any circumstances return to the Slytherin table. It's just too dangerous," Snape replied.

Lily had tears in her eyes. "It isn't fair! We should be able to be together if we want! It's just not right!" she cried bitterly.

"Listen to yourself, Lily. You didn't even like me a couple of days ago. And now you're acting like you can't live without me. It's a delusion. I'm not who you think I am. I'm pleased that you want to give me a chance, but really, is it worth it?"

"Severus, is it really so wrong to discover that you have more in common with someone than you thought you did? That they are far more attractive that you realized, because you were only looking at the surface?"

He looked at her sadly for a long moment. Finally, he sighed. "Would you like a glimpse into the future, Lily? Is that really what you want?"

Lily sighed. "I know there's no chance for us to have a future, Severus, but I still think it's a shame. I just don't think we should have to live in a world where people can't be together if they want to. You know, there will be a time when this is no longer a problem. In the Muggle world, people have dealt with sexism and racism in different countries for years. It's taken centuries in some cases, but it's not nearly as bad as it used to be," Lily said, wiping away her tears. "I want to live in a world where my children could marry your children if they wanted to. Is that so terrible?" she asked.

Snape looked at her for a long time before answering. "Perhaps not, but we aren't there yet." He stood up and began walking towards the door. "It's late. We should go now."

Snape walked her to a branch in the corridors, then turned and headed towards the dungeons, never looking back. As she watched him go, she knew he was right. It would never work. Her heart clenched a bit at that. Would he ever find anyone to take care of him? Someone who would appreciate him for what he was? Or would he continue his descent into becoming a hermit, and never get along with anyone? She hoped that someday, some kind heart would find him and find a way to break him out of his shell. No one deserved to be alone forever.

Lily sighed and turned towards Gryffindor Tower. Oh, well, at least she had a few days free of Hestia's lust-filled commentary. Guess it was time to relieve her of her end of the bet.


Author notes: The title comes from the song “Somewhere,” from the musical “West Side Story.”