Three years and a day after they had been sorted into different houses, Lily and Severus took advantage of the beautiful autumn weather to walk around the Hogwarts grounds.
'It's so beautiful, isn't it Sev?' Lily asked, skipping ahead of him. 'I'm so excited to be back!'
Severus watched her, and his heart started to beat harder, like it did every time they were together. 'Me, too,' he replied, running to catch up with her.
She slowed her skip to a walk, and linked her arm through his. 'We should do this more often,' she continued, a blithe element in her step. 'Just walk. Enjoy the scenery. Talk.'
'It is fun.'
They walked in silence for awhile, and soon found the tree they frequented, talking or playing chess. Today, however, they simply sat, Lily's head on Severus' shoulder, and looked out over the lake.
'We'll be dearest friends forever, won't we, Severus?' Lily asked, cuddling deeper into his shoulder.
The word annoyed him more than he could understand, but he replied softly, 'Of course we will, Lily. Why wouldn't we?'
'Oh, I don't know,' she sighed, looking up at him. Laughing at the idea, she suggested, 'Maybe you'll get bored of me!'
He smiled gently. 'That couldn't happen.'
'Oh, I know. It's just a reason we'd stop being the best of friends.'
'It would never happen, Lily – I could never get bored of you.'Silence spread comfortably between them then, and a familiar feeling of calm washed over Severus. He did not know what this feeling was yet. He was only starting to realize what the heat in his cheeks meant whenever he thought of her; the flip in his stomach whenever he saw her. It would be years until his true feelings for her revealed themselves to him – indeed, it was at the moment he lost her that he would really, truly know – but for now, the ache was a good one, and he longed to keep it forever.