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Good Things - A Place for the most Rare of Loves
Find it in the Room of Requirement

Boca. posting in A Gift Exchange for HP Rarepairs
User: hprare_exchange (posted by msqu)
Date: 2007-10-31 10:24
Title: Good Things
Security: Public
Feeling:happy
Tags:het, lily, regulus, regulus/lily
Story for: imogenblack (or msqu)
Title: Good Things
Pairing: Regulus/Lily
Rating: PG
Summary: It’s Lily Evan’s sixth year. She’s pretty busy with school, prefect duties, and spying. You see, she doesn’t believe that Regulus Black is as bad as Potter and Sirius say he is. She’s determined to find out for herself.
Additional Notes: *cough* This story wouldn’t be so long if I weren’t such a canon freak.


Lily Evans turned a corner and saw just what she was looking for – a black-haired figure sauntering nonchalantly down the hall, as if he had nothing to do with the chaos that was now the Charms classroom.

“Black!” she shouted menacingly, running up and grabbing him by the shoulder. “You think you can just leave – ” She stopped when she got face-to-face with the boy and realized that it wasn’t, after all, Sirius Black.

“I beg your pardon?” he said, grey eyes cool as he regarded her.

“I’m sorry,” Lily stammered, her face flaming. “I thought you were Sirius. You look the same from the back...”

He looked slightly amused. “It’s true. We do.” One eyebrow raised, he continued. “What has my rapscallion brother done this time?”

“The Charms classroom is a disaster,” Lily informed him. “Orange and black paper all over.”

“Fitting the theme of Halloween,” the boy said, nodding.

“That’s not the worst of it!” Lily interjected, marveling that she was actually having a conversation with the infamous Regulus Black. “Everything is covered with slime! I’m not sure, because when I left the lights were still working, but it looks phosphorescent and I’m positive it’s not safe.”

“Come now, Miss Evans,” Regulus said, tossing his hair back in a way rather reminiscent of his older brother. “My brother would never do anything to hurt anyone – surely that’s against some Gryffindor code of honor you have?”

Lily bristled. “Don’t take that tone with me, Black. It’s clear you know neither your brother nor Gryffindor very well, and if you continue making such gross assumptions I shall have to remove points.”

“I’m afraid that’s not possible, Miss Evans,” he replied, extra polite in the face of her rudeness. He flashed his badge at her. “Prefects can’t dock other prefects.”

“Oh.” Lily had forgotten.

“Besides,” Regulus continued, “I have known my brother a lot longer than you have. I have observed members of Gryffindor House for nearly four and a half years. I assure you, I do know both of them better than you might think. Therefore, the trouble is not in what I do not know, but you.”

“What?” Lily gasped, not sure how the conversation had switched to accusing her.

“You can’t pretend to know me if in response to my teasing you threaten to take away points.”

“I’ll concede that,” Lily said finally. “I don’t know you at all. And – ” she glanced meaningfully at his Slytherin badge – “perhaps it would be better if it stayed that way. Good day to you, Mr. Black.” And she began walking off.

He made a noise as if he were about to tell her to wait, but when she looked back he simply nodded to her. “Good day, Miss Evans.”

As soon as she was out of sight, Lily slowed her carefully measured steps until she was nearly stationary, pondering that strange conversation. She didn’t know very much about Regulus Black, only that he was Sirius’ little brother and Sirius didn’t think much of him at all – something about him actually being an obedient child or some such nonsense.

Now Lily wondered if she knew more than the rest of Sirius’ friends – not that she counted herself among his friends, she corrected hastily. He had a sense of humor and was so unfailingly polite; it made Lily ashamed that she’d been so quick to jump on him when he was only making a joke, and responded so nicely to her. Spending so much time around Potter and his friends had made her too hasty a judge of people’s motives, it seemed.

When she thought of Potter, she jumped. The Charms classroom! Meeting with Regulus had taken the incident completely from her mind. With renewed determination, Lily quickened her step. Sirius Black would not get away with this.

***

School was completely normal for Lily – that is to say, it was alarmingly busy – until near the end of the term. It was the last Quidditch match before the Christmas holiday, Hufflepuff against Slytherin, and Lily was on her way back from the library. She’d had to finish some homework before going because some second-years had been causing a riot and as a prefect she’d had to sort it all out. She was still fuming from the incident, and now because of it she was almost late.

And she wasn’t the only one.
“Why hello, Miss Evans.”

Lily jumped. “Regulus! Black! You startled me.”

He smirked at her. “Did I? I’m not surprised; you were remarkably unaware of your surroundings. My brother and his friends must have done something quite unforgivable, the way you were muttering.”

“It wasn’t them,” Lily said tersely. She remembered how polite Regulus always was and made an effort to speak pleasantly. “I was the only prefect around when some younger students got...out of hand,” she continued lightly, she hoped. She eyed Regulus’ school robes. “Are you not playing today?”

“Oh, I’m playing. I’m running a little late myself.”

“Oh?” Lily asked, raising her eyebrows.

A smile crept over Regulus’ face and Lily wondered what was so amusing. “Miss Evans, you may not have the power to remove points from a fellow prefect, but you could still report me to the Headmaster if you found that I was doing something too blatantly against school rules. I don’t think I’ll tell you why I’m late.”

Lily’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped. Then she realized he was joking and grinned. He smiled back and they shared a moment of companionship. Lily was about to say something about how perhaps she shouldn’t be talking to a rule-breaker when someone called her name.

“Lily!” Remus Lupin ran up to her other side and grabbed her arm. “You’ll sit with me at the match, won’t you?”

“Yes,” Lily replied, brow quirked at the question.

“Okay, let’s go!” Remus dragged on her, never once looking at Regulus.

“I...suppose I should run to the pitch so my captain doesn’t get worried,” Regulus said, polite smile in place.

“Good luck!” Lily called impulsively; Remus dragged even harder.

“Thanks, Lily.” And Regulus sprinted ahead of her and Remus, down toward the Quidditch pitch.

“Oh, for crying out loud, Remus, stop pulling me!” Lily snapped, shaking her entrapped arm. “I know we’re late, but we won’t miss anything important!”

“All right, I’ll stop pulling.” Remus threw down her arm. “Come on; the others are waiting in the entrance hall.”

“I hope you’re not expecting me to sit by them,” Lily said, rolling her eyes at Remus.

“No, you can sit by me,” Remus said, a trace of a grin on his face. “I’ll sit by them.” His smile disappeared; something was clearly bothering him still.

“It’s not like you all to be late to a Quidditch match,” Lily observed, hoping to make him divulge whatever was wrong.

“James is saving us seats, Sirius and Peter are waiting in the entrance hall. We had some ... things to take care of.”

Lily narrowed her eyes. “I can’t take points off prefects,” she said, falling immediately into a reverie about her previous conversation with Regulus Black, “but the rest of your friends are fair game.”

“Oh, don’t they know it!” Remus said, trying for lightness when it was clear that Lily’s glazed eyes were disturbing him even more than he already was.

They were at the entrance hall now; Sirius and Peter were bouncing impatiently and as soon as they saw Remus and Lily they rushed forward and hustled them out the doors.

“What took you so long, Remus?” Peter asked.

“I found Lily and asked her to come with us,” Remus replied. “I thought you wouldn’t mind.”

“James won’t,” Sirius replied with a grin; Lily buried her face in her hand.

“Maybe I should find somewhere else to sit,” she said, even though she knew (hoped, at least) that Sirius was joking about how happy James would be to see her.

“Oh, don’t be that way,” Sirius said, winking. “Remus will protect you.”

This seemed to remind Remus of whatever was weighing on his mind. He abandoned Lily to walk with Peter and grabbed Sirius’ arm, walking more quickly with him.

Lily didn’t like the looks Sirius and Remus kept shooting back at her, and she was glad when they got to the Quidditch pitch and had to pay attention to where they were going to sit.

“There’s James.” Peter pointed at someone sitting near the front of the Gryffindor section. They made their way over to him. Lily did not take it as a good sign when he beamed at the sight of her.

“How are you doing, Lily?” James asked happily. “Sitting by us today?”

“No, I’m sitting by Remus,” Lily said firmly. She couldn’t prevent James from sitting on the other side of Remus, though, nor Sirius sitting right behind him.

“You guys got here right on time,” James remarked, eyes glued to the field as the two captains shook hands and play began. “I was beginning to get worried I’d have to watch Hufflepuff’s formations all by myself.”

“Sorry, mate,” Sirius said, but it was pretty obvious his mind was anywhere but what Hufflepuff was doing. Lily, who was actually trying to watch the game, kept getting distracted by his constant fidgeting.

Finally, he leaned over and poked her. “Lily,” he said.

“What?” Lily turned around and glared at him. “Honestly, Sirius, what is up with you?”

His grey eyes – a lot like Regulus’, Lily noticed suddenly – were angry. “Is it true you were talking with my brother?”

“Is that what this is all about?” Lily whipped her head around to fix Remus with an accusing stare. He resolutely avoided her gaze. She looked back at Sirius. “Yes, I was talking to him. Is that suddenly against the rules?”

“Well, not exactly...” Sirius said. “But you have to understand that my brother is not someone you just talk to.”

Lily shook her head. “It’s not like I went and sought him out! We just happened to meet outside the library. It was just a conversation. Do you only talk to your particular friends? It’s polite to talk to someone who talks to you.”

“He talked to you first?!” If Sirius’ eyes had been angry before, they were furious now.

“Just a hello.” Lily was starting to get riled. They were making such a big deal about this.

“Lily.” Remus decided to put in his two Knuts. “I’ll talk to Slytherins. I’ll talk to anyone that talks reasonably to me. But chances are I won’t smile at them. Not the way you were smiling at Regulus.”

James looked away from the game, distracted by the conversation going on. “Who was Lily smiling at?”

“My brother,” Sirius told him, making it sound like she’d smiled at a troll. “While they were having a conversation.”

“What?” James leaned around Remus to stare at Lily. “You need to be careful, Lily. Regulus is dangerous.”

Lily opened her mouth to tell him what he could do with “dangerous”, but Sirius overrode her.

“Just stay away from him, Lily.” He put a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Trust me.”

Lily shrugged off his hand. “I can take care of myself!”

“Lily, he’s a Slytherin!” James was so bothered by this he stood up. “It would be like me befriending Snape!”
“All right, that’s it.” Lily stood up as well. “I can’t sit by you lot today.” She strode away, biting her cheek very hard to keep from railing on the boys. Looking around, she saw an empty row up near the top. She went and sat there, ignoring the glances from the second- and third-years surrounding her chosen seat.

They must think I’m a child! she thought fiercely. I’m pretty sure I know how to be careful. I know better than to go looking for danger. Which is more than I can say for any of them. She pounded her seat and frightened the third-years.

“Sorry,” Lily said. “I just ... got a little into the game.”

“It’s okay,” one of them said, clearly not convinced.

Lily smiled tightly. How was the game even going? She craned her head to look at the score: Hufflepuff 20, Slytherin 30. As she swept her eyes over the field, she caught sight of a green-clad flyer not involved in any of the other ongoing action. She knew that it was the Seeker, Regulus. She watched him fly a couple laps around the field, then looked down at her hands.

She knew that most of the Slytherins on that team were aspiring to be Death Eaters, but she’d stopped paying attention to them once she and Sev – well ... she’d been busy enough with her own life without logging the new recruits to the cause. Whether or not Regulus was one of those evil ones, Lily didn’t know. The reactions of Potter and Black (Sirius – was she going to have to start referring to them both by their first names?) seemed to indicate that he was, but she wanted to find out for herself. After all, that bunch didn’t usually try to carry on a civilized conversation with a Gryffindor Muggleborn like she was.

There was only one thing to do. She’d have to watch for herself, observe who he associated with, the way he treated others like her, the sort of books he read. That way she’d know for sure whether or not to keep up an acquaintance with him; it shouldn’t be too hard to cut him off if he was evil, she’d already – but she really shouldn’t think about that.

It was decided, then. Lily would start spying on Regulus Black.

***

Spying was both easy and difficult for Lily. It was unexpectedly simple to go to the library at the same time as Regulus and choose a table at the perfect distance for glancing up every few minutes to stretch and rest her eyes and see what he was doing. Usually he was doing the same thing the rest of the students were doing: studying for exams. Once or twice he caught her eye and nodded politely. Lily couldn’t stop the flush from rising to her face, but hoped the rather dim lighting in the library hid it from him.

On the other hand, it was unexpectedly hard to observe Regulus at mealtimes, the obvious time for watching. She couldn’t look over there without seeing – well, someone she’d rather not see – so didn’t look over as often as she should. Luckily, Regulus never seemed to be doing anything extraordinary. He rarely talked to anyone, let alone the Death Eater Slytherins. Lily decided to take this as a good sign.

Lily had been at this about a week when a further opportunity came up. Exams were over, it was the night before Christmas vacation, and McGonagall called one last prefect meeting. Remus insisted on walking with her to the meeting.

“Thanks for the gesture,” Lily told him. “I promise nothing bad’s going to happen to me. I won’t run off after any Slytherins or anything.”

Remus smiled slightly. “I know,” he said. “I just wanted to spend time with you, because that’s what friends do.”

Lily grinned. “I do appreciate it, as long as you don’t go tattle on me to your friends.” She looked slyly at him. “I think you should spend some time with Rachael, if that’s what you do with friends.”

Remus blushed. “I don’t know if she thinks of me that strongly, Lily,” he demurred.

“You’ve been prefects together for a year and a half now,” Lily stated. “I’m sure she’d be happy if you walked her home or something.”

“Ravenclaw Tower’s pretty far from Gryffindor,” Remus said, and Lily knew he was grasping at straws.

“I’ll go back with Aubrey or something,” Lily said. “I really think that you should wish Rachael a Happy Christmas.”

“Why did I let you walk with me to the meeting?” Remus exclaimed, rubbing his face in defeat. “All right, fine! As long as you’re sure you’ll be all right without me.”

Lily rolled her eyes. “Yes.” They were at the classroom now, and Lily, satisfied with her slight bit of matchmaking, got set to focus on her ulterior motive. She’d never paid much attention to prefects other than fellow Gryffindors or those in her year, like Rachael the Ravenclaw. There really were a lot of them, she realized. Fortunately for her, the seat Regulus chose was just ahead of hers, leaving her view of who he talked to and how he acted pretty well unobstructed, while he couldn’t know that she was watching him.

She had a difficult time paying attention to the meeting, which was mainly about the importance of maintaining order on the Hogwarts Express even though it was Christmas. Lily signed up for a shift without paying much mind to what time she’d signed up for. She spent most of her time staring quizzically at the back of Regulus’ head, trying to decipher what he was doing. His behavior was much like it was at meals: he was completely silent, bowed over a piece of parchment this time instead of over his food.

When the meeting was over, Lily saw Remus go, stammering, ask Rachael if he could escort her home and beamed when a soft smile lit her face. Lily waved as they left, but Remus didn’t even see. Gathering up her things, Lily was about to follow the other Gryffindors as they went when Professor McGonagall called to her.

McGonagall wanted to commend her for being so efficient in routing troublemakers that term, which was nice – the professor so rarely complimented – but the main point was to tell her she’d been a little wild with point-taking – she should leave the bulk of that to the teachers.

All it took was McGonagall saying “Prefects really shouldn’t take points...” for Lily to immediately start thinking about Regulus. She absent-mindedly bid the professor goodnight and wandered out, pensive.

She’d watched him for a week and come to no solid conclusions about whether or not he was as “dangerous” or “evil” as Potter and Black (Sirius! She really would have to start calling him by his first name) seemed to think. I’ll just have to let the subject drop, Lily had just decided, when she noticed someone walking slightly behind her.

Lily’s wand was out and pointed at her follower before she’d even properly turned round to look.

“Miss Evans, I assure you that tonight is not the night for me to take you out to the forest and cut you into pieces! Please stop glaring so terribly.”

Speak of the devil, Lily thought, lowering her wand. “I beg your pardon, Black,” she said stiffly; after watching him all week it was awkward to actually talk to him again.

“If my presence is alarming you, I can go some other way,” Regulus said.

It didn’t occur to Lily to ask where he was going, she just smiled and said of course he wasn’t alarming her – I’m being polite! she yelled at Potter in her head – and matched her pace with his.

“Do you have any interesting plans for the Christmas holiday?” Regulus inquired politely.

“I’m just going home. I’ll try to avoid the death glares of my older sister as much as possible and wait to come back to school.”

“That sounds much like my usual Christmas vacation,” Regulus said, a little ruefully.

“What?” Lily said. “Oh...” Without thinking, she reached out to him. “Your home always sounds so dreadful to me, I shouldn’t complain about mine.”

Regulus stopped stock still, watching with wide eyes her outstretched arm. Lily stopped, too, facing him. She dropped her arm, now very self-conscious.

“Did you...” he began, then cleared his throat. “Did you discover anything while watching me this week?”

Lily blinked. “What are you talking about?” she said, stalling. How did he find out??

He stepped closer to her; she backed away. “You’ve been watching me ever since the last Quidditch game. I want to know if you found anything out.”

“I think you’re imagining things,” Lily said nervously, as he stepped closer again.

“No. I’m definitely not. One thing that I have, as a Slytherin, that you do not, as a Gryffindor, is stealth.”

Lily had been looking side to side, seeking a way to dart out from his advance, but she was too near the wall, and on the word “stealth” Regulus’ hand snaked out and landed on her collarbone, pushing her against the cold stone.

“Um,” Lily tried, so frightened her voice wouldn’t work – not that she could think of anything to say.

“So tell me, Lily,” Regulus said, lingering slightly on her given name. “What did you see this week?”

She gulped. “N-nothing. I couldn’t find anything out about you.” She still had her wand out; could she lift it and blast him away without him noticing the movement?

“I didn’t think so,” Regulus said, as polite as ever. He lifted his fingers and brushed her throat; goose bumps rose on Lily’s skin from the chill of his hand. “Lily, I’m not going to hurt you,” he said, his voice neutral. “I just wanted you to get a taste of what you’re dealing with when you try to mess with a Slytherin.”

“I wasn’t messing with you! I was just spying!” Lily exclaimed – it came out as barely more than a whisper, her mouth was so dry.

“For all the good it did you,” Regulus said, smirking. His hand moved up from her collarbone, sliding around her neck toward her nape. Lily shivered; it was like ice across her skin. “Ah,” he murmured. “So this is what Severus is missing.”

Instantly, anger boiled inside Lily at the sound of that name. Completely forgetting about her wand, she raised both arms to push him away, but Regulus was quicker than she was. She’d aimed for his shoulders, but he’d ducked under her hands, causing her to push against empty air. Lily would have toppled, but suddenly Regulus’ other hand was on her shoulder, keeping her firmly against the wall. Her arms were dangling over his shoulders, she’d dropped her wand, and the hand that had been on her neck was tangled in her hair.

“How dare you,” Lily hissed, but she couldn’t ignore the fact that Regulus’ face was barely two inches from hers, so close that his featured blurred. Her heart was pounding wildly and the sensation of his warm body in front of her with the cold stone at her back was muddling her thoughts.

Regulus inhaled deeply, then let it out in a sigh. Lily could feel his hot breath against her lips and froze. Then, suddenly, he let her go. He disentangled his hand from her hair, stepped out of her “embrace,” and picked up her wand.

“Many apologies,” he said, handing it back to her. “I overstepped myself greatly and – ” he backed away – “I definitely shouldn’t have done that.”

Lily stared dumbly at him, still in shock, wand held limply.

He stared back at her, then turned away abruptly. “Have a good Christmas holiday.”

It took Lily all the way back to Gryffindor Tower to slow her heart, but she couldn’t get rid of the strange feeling still in her heart even after it was beating normally.

***

Lily’s dreams were driving her crazy. They all started the same, which was enough to drive anyone mad. But it was what happened after that initial sequence that was really bothering her.

Some nights, Regulus would do as Lily had thought he was going to: he would kiss her. It disturbed Lily that this happened so often; her subconscious seemed to be telling her something that she’d rather not think about. Especially since, in the dream, Lily didn’t try to fight him off.

One night, Lily had just tried to push him away and been foiled when Sirius and James came around the corner, saw what was happening, and blasted Regulus out of the way. The hatred burning in their eyes was painful for Lily to see.

The worst dream, in Lily’s opinion, started exactly the same as all the others. Regulus held her against the wall, his fingers tangled in her hair, lips moments away from hers. But when he kissed her, she opened her eyes and Severus looked back, eyes deep with sorrow and longing.

“No!” Lily shouted, waking herself up. What she thought was sweat streamed down her face, but when she traced the source she realized it was tears.

Lily got up, wrapping a robe around her, and sat at the window, watching the silent neighborhood bathed in moonlight and snow. The holiday had been terrible, anyway, without this added stress; Lily vowed never to come home again while her sister was home. She always had the most terrible boyfriends, and couldn’t understand why Lily had never dated anyone – inserting snide remarks about “freaks” while their parents weren’t listening.

“I swear, if I hear one more thing about Reginald,” Lily muttered, “I’m getting out my wand and Permanent Sticking them both somewhere where they can’t be all googly over each other.”

Reginald as a name was far too close to Regulus, and Lily had enough of him during the night; she didn’t need to be constantly reminded of him. Not that Reginald was anything like Regulus; in contrast, he was far shorter than Petunia, with blonder hair than hers also. He wore spectacles and spoke in a high reedy voice. After about ten minutes in his company, Lily had to excuse herself.

“I’m not going to dinner with them today,” Lily decided, looking at the time her nightmare had woken her. “Eating with a bunch of fusty old Muggles...I’d rather do my Charms homework.” Not only was Petunia bringing Reginald, but Reginald was bringing his roommate Vernon. Lily knew she wouldn’t be able to stand it.

Lily also knew she wouldn’t sleep again tonight, not after the dream she’d had. She pulled out her homework, but Potions was at the top of the heap, and after dreaming about – that boy – she couldn’t even think about that subject.
“I just need to get back to Hogwarts. Then I’ll have enough distractions I won’t spend all my time obsessing over motivations and what my subconscious thinks about people. One person.” Lily wouldn’t say his name aloud. She sighed and looked at the calendar. The day couldn’t come soon enough.

***

“Hey, Evans, how was Christmas?”

Lily hadn’t meant to get a compartment all by herself; in fact, the more people surrounding her, chatting away, the better. But the train was moving and she was alone still. Well, she had been.

“Not my best holiday,” she replied to Potter, who had poked his head in.

“Sorry to hear that.” He glanced back. “Hey, do you mind if we come sit with you?”

Upon reflection, being alone was better than being with people who had blasted people away in her dreams, but Lily couldn’t come up with an appropriate insult to send him away with, so nodded listlessly.

Three teenage boys clambered into the compartment. “Hey, Evans,” the two she hadn’t talked to before chorused.

“Where’s Remus?” Lily asked.

“That Ravenclaw, Rachael, she asked him to sit with her.” Sirius said, rolling his eyes. “We’ve got a lovestruck one there.”

Lily grinned. She’d known that would work out.

“It’s so disappointing to come back to school again,” Peter said. “That holiday was the best ever.”

“Wasn’t it, though?” Potter crowed, and in an instant it was like Lily wasn’t there at all; the boys talked and laughed about various escapades they’d had together at Potter’s house – where, it seemed, Sirius now lived as well. She felt completely disconnected and looked out the compartment window, where she’d seen movement.

She immediately wished she hadn’t looked. Regulus Black was passing, and they locked eyes. Lily felt the blood drain from her face then, as she turned her head sharply away, it returned fourfold until her face fought with her hair for brilliance.

Potter and the others didn’t even notice. Lily sat in gripped indecision for a moment, then mumbled an excuse and tore out the door.

“Regulus!” she called. He was about to go into a compartment, but upon hearing his name, he turned.

“Yes?” he said curtly. It was clear he wanted nothing more than to disappear into the compartment.

Lily gulped. She’d only had a vague idea of what to say and his hand was straying defensively toward his pocket. “I’m not going to hex you or anything. I just want to – talk.”

“Here? Now?” Regulus glanced around the train. “What about?”

Lily gaped. “What do you think?” she gasped. “Actually, I wanted to ask you how your O.W.L. Potions class is going. You can just write me an essay about how you feel about it and have it owled to me.” She could feel her face flushing with annoyance.

“Ah,” Regulus said, nodding in comprehension. “You’re doing research for Slughorn. Well I’ll bring my essay to you tomorrow morning, before breakfast, in classroom 12. I’ll be sure to be very clear in my explanations; I hope everything works out for you.”

It took Lily a minute to figure out what on earth he was talking about – surely he didn’t really think she was doing research for Slughorn? Then she realized that he was telling her very subtly that the Hogwarts Express was neither the time nor the place to ask him just what he’d been playing at – not if she didn’t want her nightmare to come true. She could just see Potter overreacting.

“Thanks,” she said finally, giving a farewell nod and heading back to her compartment. He was so cool about the whole situation! Upon reflection, she’d been well on her way to a shouting match and he’d deflected her. Now all she had to do was wait one more night, and her questions would – hopefully – be answered.

***

“Before breakfast,” Lily muttered, shivering in the cold, empty classroom. “That’s vague. I could be waiting here all morning, and he might not even come – maybe he decided I was more likely to hex him than not, which at this point I’m not ruling out; how dare he make me wait here without even eating anything?”

“Perhaps because it’s amusing to listen to you mutter,” came a voice, and Lily jumped.

“How do you do that?” she exclaimed. “If you’re not careful, one of these days I actually will hex you and you’ll be in a sorry state!”

Regulus’ eyes flickered, and Lily wondered what she’d said. He took a seat in a desk a safe distance from hers and interlaced his fingers. “Miss Evans,” he said. “What would you like to know?”

Lily had spent much of the night deciding what she was going to say. “First of all, I want you to be as honest as you can,” she began. “It might be hard, it happened a couple weeks ago, but I want you to do your best.”

Regulus nodded, a little sardonically. “You do realize I’m a Slytherin?” he inquired.

“Yes,” Lily replied shortly. “But I can’t figure out your motives. Just what were you doing that night?”

“Honestly,” Regulus mused. “Well, I knew you were watching me, and I suspected you were starting to think, well, a little kindly of me; I wanted to frighten you a little bit, let you know what you were dealing with.”

“You said that,” Lily said, crossing her legs impatiently.

“It’s true, I did,” Regulus agreed amiably. “I was just going to back you against the wall a little bit, see what reaction I got, see if you were too frightened to ever offer a kind word toward me again.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Then things stopped going according to plan.”

“What?”

Regulus wouldn’t look at her and – was it possible? – he was blushing. “I mean, it was obviously a mistake to bring up – a sore subject. But I also wasn’t expecting to, um.” He glanced hurriedly at her, then back down. Lily was finding herself both amused and nonplused. What was he getting at? “I wasn’t expecting to feel the way I did,” he said finally in a rush. “There you were, so beautiful, passionate...I’d been thinking about you so much that week, knowing you were watching me, wondering what you thought. Subconsciously, I must have been – ” He stopped, apparently unable to elucidate.

Lily’s heart was pounding, not altogether unpleasantly. Impulsively – he did seem to bring out that side of her – she stood up and crossed over to him. He flinched when she got close, but she approached nonetheless.

“Tell me,” she demanded. Regulus bit his lip, still speechless. Lily was impressed at his honesty thus far; she’d been expecting the same polite evasiveness she’d grown accustomed to when dealing with him. The fact that he’d told her so much had emboldened her. “If you won’t tell me,” she said, lowering her voice and stepping even closer, “show me.”

It took a moment for what she said to penetrate. Lily could tell the moment it did because his head shot up, he stood, and drew her to him. His kiss was slow, soft, and – short. When he pulled away, Lily grinned shakily at his pale, nervous face.

“That wasn’t exactly what I was expecting,” she remarked; it was more, really – her heart had exploded into a million tiny stars and was traveling to her extremities, sending a tingle throughout her whole body.

Regulus seemed to understand both what she’d said and what she’d thought. He smiled and brought up a hand to caress her cheek. “I had to make sure I wasn’t misreading your intent,” he murmured. “And I thought it seemed fitting to start that way.”

“Start that way?” Lily whispered, her fingers creeping up around his neck. Her heart was starting to come back together now, and seemed all the stronger for its explosion – it was pounding more wildly than Lily had ever known it to.

“Yes. Implying a continuation,” Regulus said, the last word muffled when Lily’s mouth covered his.

Some time later, Regulus tried to mumble something, but Lily missed it, so intent was she on holding onto him as tightly as she could. When his hands stopped moving and he started trying to move away, Lily stepped back and looked at him.

“What?” she said. “Why did you stop?”

“All good things must come to an end, Miss Evans,” he teased. “But actually, I was going to tell you that we should go to breakfast.”

“I’m not hungry,” Lily stated, moving back in to continue what she’d been doing, but Regulus forestalled her.

“One of the reasons I like you is you have sense. Use some of it now. You can’t miss breakfast! Not only would your scholastic performance be severely compromised by the lack of nutrition, but people would be suspicious. Does that sound like a comfortable situation to be in?”

“I’ve skipped breakfast before and done all right in class,” Lily said, but she knew he was right. “Okay. We’ll go to breakfast.”

“Ah, there’s another thing,” Regulus said, looking unhappy. “We’re not going anywhere. That would potentially be worse than us missing breakfast completely.”

“You’re not making any sense!” Lily cried. “First we go, then we can’t go anywhere.” She thought about it for a moment. “Oh. Why don’t you go on ahead; I should probably make sure I look presentable.”

“Good idea,” Regulus said, which convinced Lily that she was in terrible disarray. “I hope Slughorn finds your research helpful,” he said as he left the classroom; Lily giggled.

Lily cast a quick mirror-charm and surveyed her appearance. It wasn’t that bad, really. Her hair was a tad disheveled and her eyes were a little brighter than usual. She concentrated on fixing her hair to avoid dwelling on the brightness of her eyes.

It didn’t work terribly well. Lily couldn’t believe what had just happened. It was like her dreams had come true, quite literally. Oh, yes, she was completely lovestruck. How was she supposed to go through the rest of the day?

As soon as she wondered that, a cold icicle of doubt worked its way into her heart. Was today the first and only time they’d be together? She did not want that. But he hadn’t said anything about a next time, just left her to clean herself up. She really didn’t know him at all; maybe he did this to girls all the time.

Well, that took care of the brightness in her eyes. Now Lily looked completely normal, if a little subdued. She Vanished her mirror and made her way up to breakfast.

“All right, Evans?”

Lily just stared at her porridge. Potter shifted closer and tried to peer into her face.

“Evans?”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Potter, leave me alone!” Lily snapped.

“Anything I can do?” he asked before making a quick retreat from Lily’s glare. As she looked back down, she couldn’t help but glance at the Slytherin table. Regulus was facing her way.

Breakfast just wasn’t in the cards today. Lily forced down one more bite then got up from the table. She made her way back to her dormitory to pick up her books for class.

“I forgot to ask: when do you need to do more research?”

Lily missed a step. “Black, I swear, next time you sneak up on me...” She turned and stared at him.

“What? Worried whether there’ll be a next time?”

“I thought – well, maybe – ” Lily choked out, drinking in the smile on his face.

“Miss Evans, I may be a Slytherin but I’m not evil. I couldn’t do that to you.”

In her heart, Lily had known that. Now her stupid, cynical head knew it too, and she couldn’t stop smiling.

***

Potter & Co. often remarked on the marked improvement in Lily’s general demeanor the next couple weeks; she only smiled. How could she not be happy? At random, Regulus would steal her away and they’d find remote locations to enjoy each other’s company.

Lily loved talking to Regulus. One day they spent an hour just discussing different kinds of magical grass, but somehow it was fascinating. They never talked about anything important, like where their relationship was headed or current events. Whenever the topic strayed remotely near either of these things, Regulus would decide they had better things to do than talk. Lily really couldn’t say she minded.

One morning Lily decided that she would steal him away – just for a couple minutes. She waited around a corner for him to come out of the Great Hall. There he was, talking to Mulciber. Lily’s nose wrinkled. She hated Mulciber. She waved her wand and whispered a charm; Regulus would feel someone tugging on his robes, more and more insistently, until he was dragged over to her, the spellcaster.

Regulus said a quick farewell to Mulciber and made his way toward Lily, who ended the spell.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“I wanted to wish you a good morning,” Lily replied, smiling. She tilted her face toward his, but he didn’t kiss her.

“I was worried there was something terribly wrong, some sort of emergency. You interrupted me while I was talking to someone!”

“To Mulciber,” Lily said, her tone of voce making it clear how she felt about him. She was starting to feel slightly guilty, though she hadn’t thought she was doing something wrong. To distract herself from the feeling, she snatched at the piece of paper in Regulus’ hand. “What’s this?”

“Lily...” Regulus warned, but she already had it.

“This is from the Daily Prophet,” Lily said. “An article about – about Voldemort.” She looked up at Regulus, brow creased. “Why?”

“It’s good to be informed,” Regulus said, blinking as he held her gaze. He clasped her hand and gently drew the clipping from it. “Don’t worry about it.”

“I can be informed without tearing out articles,” Lily remarked, but didn’t – couldn’t – press the issue; there was a tender look in Regulus’ eyes as he grabbed her chin and kissed her.

“Sorry I was short with you earlier,” he whispered. “Of course you’re always more important than anyone I’m talking to. Have a good morning.”

“You too,” Lily murmured as he caressed her jaw before disappearing.

Lily had gotten pretty good at paying attention during class even while she was floating on a cloud from her and Regulus’ last encounter, but today she was struggling. There was something just – weird. It was if he’d never expected her to actually initiate any contact. Which, other than that once on the Hogwarts Express, she really hadn’t. And when she came to him this morning, he hadn’t been ready.

“Evans. Hey, Evans!”

Someone jostled her elbow. Lily jolted out of her trance and saw, first, Remus staring at her. Then Potter moved into view.

“What’s up, Lily?” Remus asked, putting out a hand to help her get up.

“You didn’t even notice when class ended,” Potter said, reaching for her elbow than hastily retracting his arm.

“I was just thinking about something,” Lily replied, her voice more quiet than she was expecting it to be. “Something confusing.”

“Not Transfiguration, I suppose,” Remus said. “I thought that was confusing, but – ”

“You just have to get your mind around the concept,” Potter said impatiently. “Lily, what’s wrong? Anything we can do to help?”

Lily could guess the kind of assistance Potter would provide – she’d seen it in her nightmares. She shook her head.

“Oy, come on!” Sirius poked his head in the doorway. “It’s a delicate situation out there and we need you to – Lily, are you all right?”

She hadn’t meant to stare. But Sirius and his brother did look a bit alike, and for a moment she’d mistaken the two of them. Evading the question, she replied, “Why do you all keep calling me Lily?”

“I always call you Lily,” Remus said, trying out his own evasive action.

“It’s your name, isn’t it?” Potter exclaimed, scoffing slightly at Remus’ transparent manipulation. “We’ve gotta run now, but take care of yourself, okay? Getting worried about you.”

“I don’t need you worried about me,” Lily said rudely. “And if this ‘delicate situation’ of yours is against school rules I’m going to have to protest.”

“You can’t protest what you don’t know about,” Sirius remarked, and they were off.

“I must have been really out of it,” Lily mused to the empty air. For no good reason, too – she hadn’t come to any conclusion other than she and Regulus were different. She’d just have to get used to the way he liked his life closed to her, when she was pretty open. Maybe someday he’d confide in her.

***

Things were going really well. Lily had no further occasion to be so phased out it caused comment among her peers, and she no longer tried to surprise Regulus. She’d accepted that she had neither stealth nor finesse, not compared to him. It worked better for Lily to simply be sweet, relishing the way his cool exterior would soften as a result.

However, it had been a month and still no one knew that they were together. Lily could understand the secrecy – she didn’t think anyone would take it well when they first found out – but they could surely break it gently, make the shock less extreme. She loved stealing away to secret places, but she’d also like to hold his hand in public, show the world.

Regulus did not feel the same. When she brought it up – very tenaciously, as he tended to like distracting her from the topic – he sighed and tousled her hair a bit.

“No,” he said firmly.

“But – ” Lily began.

“No,” he repeated. “You think that people will be all right with it eventually. But you do not know my family and you do not understand the pressures.”

“And you’re not going to tell me anytime soon.”

“No.”

“But Regulus.” Lily pouted. “We have to tell people sometime. You can’t keep something like this secret forever.”

Regulus didn’t reply, just drew her to him and held her close. Lily did her best to put the subject from her mind – it was clear Regulus was only going to discuss it when he was ready – and concentrated on just being in his arms.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to how different we are,” Lily murmured finally. “It sure makes life exciting, doesn’t it?”

“Yes,” Regulus said; she could hear the smile in his voice. “I’d have to agree with you.”

Lily still felt bad for bringing up a topic that Regulus hadn’t wanted to hear, and he never said anything about the time, so when the bell rang for class to start, they just stayed there together, listening to each other breathe.

***

The next morning, Lily walked into breakfast and caught a most unpleasant view: Potter, Sirius, Remus, and Peter all sported evidence of having been in a dreadful fight.

“What happened?” she gasped, rushing to Remus’ side and peering worriedly at the gash on his face.

“We had an incident,” he said, wincing as she reached up to touch it. “Don’t,” he advised, grabbing her hand.

“What kind of incident?” Lily demanded, looking at the others before piercing Remus with her gaze again.

“The Death Eater kind,” Sirius snarled. “I guess they’d been having a meeting and decided to put into practice what they were learning.”

Lily clapped a hand over her mouth. “Who...?”

“Jackie and Kelly Fluckiger,” Remus said, naming a pair of Hufflepuff twins. “They’ll be all right. We got there in time to prevent lasting injuries.”

“That’s good at least,” Lily said. “I hate the way those budding Death Eaters terrorize the school. Why doesn’t Dumbledore expel them or something?”

“Perhaps because he knows that we can give as good as they can,” Potter said fiercely. “All the people involved last night are going to think twice before trying something like that with us around.”

Lily smiled slightly. “Since, of course, you can know where all the Slytherins are at any time and tell, magically, that they’re up to no good,” she remarked sarcastically.

“Well, yes, as a matter of fact,” Peter piped up. “After all, this is a magical institution, so we would be able to tell magically.” He smirked at her. “Trust me. We’ll find them.”

“Okay,” she replied skeptically. As the conversation turned to other things, Lily fell into a reverie. She wondered if Severu – if anyone she knew had met the business end of their wands. She’d warned him – that is, she’d tried to make it clear to the Hogwarts population in general that some things were just evil and wrong, and they’d pay for it.

Almost against her will, she looked toward the Slytherin table. Several fifth, sixth, and seventh years were missing this morning, and those that weren’t had painful-looking injuries. She had to look again; both Severus and Regulus were missing this morning.

“No,” she whispered. “There’s some other explanation.” But her heart had fallen sickly into her stomach, and she knew she’d been an utter idiot for not seeing it before.

“It looks like you sent a lot of them to the Hospital Wing,” she remarked to Remus, trying and failing to sound casual.

“Who?” Remus took a moment to realize she was still on their previous topic. “Oh, yes. Quite a few. They’re probably still there, too ashamed to show their faces.”

“Oh.” Apparently a result of her heart falling into her stomach was its inability to continue beating.

“Hey, Evans, got any plans for today? Or are you taking advantage of the weekend to just study some more?”

“I’m not sure,” Lily said vaguely, getting up from the table. “I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

She knew where she was going. Her feet were taking her there of their own accord while her mind whirled with disbelief, betrayal, and hurt. Each step she took, she thought of one more thing she should have seen, one more reason she hadn’t noticed, one more lie he’d told her, one more joke he’d told. She was so busy trying to keep the tears at bay she hardly noticed when she reached the infirmary.

“Are you here to visit someone, Lily, or do you need something?” Madam Pomfrey asked her, slightly concerned. “You don’t look quite well...”

“I’m all right,” Lily managed. “I’m here to talk to Regulus Black for a minute, if he’s here.”

“Mr Black? Yes, he’s here. Got into a bit of an accident with other members of his House last night, he said.” Madam Pomfrey looked sharply at Lily. “How did you know he’d be here?”

“Just a guess,” she said. “He wasn’t at breakfast this morning and I need to talk to him.

“All right,” the nurse said. “He’s in that bed there.”

Lily’s heart decided to rise out of her stomach and into her throat, where, in its new location, it beat faster than ever. She walked slowly toward Regulus’ bed, wondering what she could say. His eyes were closed and she couldn’t help but think he looked so innocent – except for the angry cut down his jawline, a homage to his activities the night before. She stopped next to him, tears filling her eyes.

His eyes opened. “Lily!”

“I can’t believe you!” she said.

“What?” Regulus said.

“Don’t play innocent! I know how you got your injuries and I wonder you can even talk to me! Are you even allowed to call Mudbloods by their first name?”

Regulus took a deep breath, but Lily was in no way finished.

“I overlooked so many things about you! Because I thought you cared enough about me to actually tell the truth about the important things. And here you are, a Death Eater!”

“Not yet,” Regulus tried.
“But soon!” Lily shouted. “How could you do this to me?”

He sat up, incensed. “How could you believe anything was ever going to come of this? My brother’s told you enough about our family for you to know that nothing I say would ever convince them that I could date a Mudblood Gryffindor! It was only a matter of time before it was over, Lily, and the only reason it went on as long as it did was because I hadn’t found another girl to take your place yet!”

Lily gasped.

“You were such an idiot to think that I actually cared about you. Anyone else would have figured out right away that I was using them. But you have such blind trust in everyone around you that you just let it go on and on, thinking that I liked being with you, as opposed to any other girl. Not only that, but you’re older than me. That’s just wrong.”

“It was never a problem before!” Lily yelled. “I – I can’t believe you! You’re an evil, sneaking, lying, Slytherin and I hope being a Death Eater kills you!”

“Lily Evans!” Madam Pomfrey came hurrying down the aisle. “If I’d known you were going to make such an infernal fuss, I’m not sure I would have let you in here!”

“I’m sorry, Madam Pomfrey,” Lily replied through her tears. “I’ll leave now if you like.”

She raced out of the Hospital Wing and fled back to Gryffindor Tower.

“My goodness, what happened?” the Fat Lady asked when she saw Lily’s tear-streaked face.

Spring lilacs.” Lily gasped the password and ignored the question. She stumbled into the common room, trying to slow her sobs but only sounding like a dying cat. Tears blurred her eyes and she could hardly see where she was going – then she ran into someone.

“Oh my...Lily, what’s wrong?”

Lily didn’t care that it was Potter that had her firmly by the elbows so she wouldn’t fall, and she choked out, “Regulus – he – terrible things,” without discriminating against her captor.

“Regulus Black?” There was more than a touch of anger in Potter’s voice. “Is he still in the Hospital Wing? I’ll go kill him for doing this to you.”

“No!” Lily clutched at his arms. “Don’t – don’t leave.” She was at least as surprised as Potter was, but she couldn’t bear to be alone right now.

“All right, I won’t leave. I’ll send Sirius.”

Lily felt a flash of irritation and burst out, tears momentarily forgotten, “Potter, sometimes you lot are as bad as the Death Eaters! Violence is always the answer for both groups!”

“But Lily, he did terrible things to you! That’s what you just told me! I can’t let him go and do terrible things to yo – anyone!”

“No, no, he said terrible things.” Lily wiped her eyes and focused on Potter’s face. “And the only one to blame is myself. So unless you want to make me pay for it, keep your wand inside your pocket.”

Potter’s hands had relaxed against her arms until he held her only loosely. Now he pulled away. “I’m sorry. It really bugs you that I’m so quick to hex people, doesn’t it?”

Yes!” Lily responded vehemently, fresh tears springing up. She wished Potter would grab hold of her again – she didn’t feel very steady.

“Can you, er, stop crying?” Potter said uncomfortably. “Evans – Lily – Evans, I’ve really been making an effort to stop being so jinx-happy. This whole year ... I thought maybe you’d noticed. Last night was the first time in a long time I really shot my wand off at anyone, and that was for a really good reason.”

Lily couldn’t stop crying. She knew she was embarrassing both herself and Potter, being hysterical in the middle of the common room, but she still couldn’t stop. “I hadn’t noticed,” she admitted thickly. “I’ve been pretty involved in – ” she couldn’t help but sob just a little harder – “other things.”

“Yeah, you have been,” Potter said. “Listen, Lily – Evans – ”

“You can call me Lily. It’s my name.”

“Okay. Lily, I’m trying to apologize. I know I was a first-class berk to Severus back when he was still your friend, and then I went and almost jinxed Regulus because he made you cry and made everything worse. I really wish that I hadn’t done those things. And lots of other things, too.” Potter moved, shyly, to hold her arm again. “Lily, you should probably sit down. You look like you could fall over any second from crying so hard.”

She hiccuped instead of smiling like she’d meant to. “I’d stop crying if I could, Potter. It was just – really terrible things...”

“Yes, you said that. Come sit.” He pulled her gently over to the nearest sofa. “You can call me James, by the way. It’s my name.”

Lily would never have believed she’d ever sit with Potter’s – James’ – arm around her while she sobbed her heart out for a reason she couldn’t tell him, but if she’d been told a year ago she’d date Regulus Black for one confusing, exciting month, she wouldn’t have believed that either.

It was almost comical, really, the expression on people’s faces as they walked in the room and saw them together like that. Remus was no exception – he was totally flabbergasted as he made his way toward them.

“Hi, James,” he said. “Um, Lily.”

“Hey, Remus,” Lily replied, her voice a little small from all the crying.

He tried to smile, but something was definitely on his mind. “I, er, ran into Snape on my way up here.”

James glared at him as if to say, “You’ll make her start up again!”

“He had a message for you, Lily.”

“What?” Lily sat straight up, dislodging Potter’s – James’ (that would take practice for sure) – arm. “He had a message for me? How bizarre.”

“The message is even more bizarre,” Remus remarked. “He says to tell you: he was lying.”

“About what? I haven’t even talked to Severus since last year, and I knew he wasn’t lying then...” Just when she’d thought they’d abated, fresh tears sprung up again.

“No, not Snape. Snape said, ‘He was lying.’ He also gave me this to give to you.” Remus held up a small bit of parchment.

“Let me see it,” Lily said, not without trepidation. Remus handed over the note and Lily read it.

Lily,
He had to say those things with everyone around like that. I know that he didn’t mean most of them and he just told me that he was going to work it out with you somehow, later. But now there’s no chance. He doesn’t know I’m writing you, but I can’t bear don’t want you to be unhappy. I hope you feel better soon. He said you were a “good thing” and he wishes you could have had more time.


The letter ended very abruptly as he ran out of parchment, but Lily didn’t mind. She read it twice in quick succession.

“What does it say?” James prompted.

Lily hurriedly crumpled the note. “Not much. That I was a good thing, mostly.”

“You are a good thing,” Remus agreed.

“Yes, and all good things must come to an end,” Lily mused.

“That sounds threatening – did Regulus say something like that to you?” James rumbled menacingly.

Lily shook her head while Remus exclaimed, “Regulus what?”

James filled Remus in while Lily took her wand to the note. Incendio, she murmured. She didn’t need to keep it; it had served its purpose. Severus’ words were making the starting work of healing the ugly fissure Regulus had made in her heart. She’d have to find a way to thank him, without looking or talking to him. Or any of the people around him.

“We warned you he was dangerous,” Remus said quietly, reaching forward to pat Lily’s arm. “I’m sorry you had to find that out for yourself.”

“I’m – not,” Lily said, surprising both Po – James and Remus. “It was good for me to find it out for myself, instead of blindly trusting you guys. And I had some good experiences along the way. I learned a lot of things.”

“Um, Lily, you’ve been crying nonstop for half an hour,” James told her.

“I didn’t say that it wasn’t hard,” Lily snapped, but not with her usual vigor. “And I’m not sure I would go about finding out exactly the same way I did, if I had to do it all again.”

“And you’re not going to tell us exactly what you’re talking about?” Remus asked. “No, you’re not,” he answered himself. “Probably we wouldn’t want to know.”

“Eh, you’re probably right,” Lily agreed. “It’s really not important.”

“No, what’s important is that Lily’s all right, and she’s learned some things, and she’ll let me use her name now,” James broke in, grinning smugly.

“Merlin, do you ever change?” Lily muttered, scooting away to the other end of the sofa. “I don’t see why that’s so important, James. It’s just my name.”

“It’ll take a while for me to get used to you calling him James,” Remus admitted, changing the subject readily. “Though not as long as it would if you were to start calling him Prongs.”

“Oy!” James threw a pillow at Remus, who Banished it right back at him. Before Lily could blink, she was in the middle of an all-out war zone.

“You guys are crazy!” she told them, surprising herself by actually laughing – she hadn’t thought she’d laugh again so soon. But now she knew her heart would recover – she could only wish the same for Regulus, who only this morning she’d pronounced a death wish upon. She kept smiling as she watched pillows fly – until one hit her square in the face.
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Potter
User: shanaeplusb2
Date: 2007-11-08 22:41 (UTC)
Title: (no subject)
Dear Leslie, I didn't tell you before hand, but I really really liked this story.

It was evil and mean and poor Lily, but completely absolutely positively perfect in every other possible way. :D

Great work miss!
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merlins_babe
User: merlins_babe
Date: 2009-02-12 03:29 (UTC)
Title: (no subject)
This story has been rec'ed at
The Golden Seeker
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Pining for...
March 2008