“Expecto Patronum!” she said, a dreamy smile on her face. A wisp of glimmering white came out and dissipated.
“Expecto Patronum!” he said, looking at her. His results were similar.
“This is the fourth time we've tried, and it's not really any better than the last time. Severus, what aren't we getting?”
He looked at the book again. He had memorized the passage, but perhaps there was something that would jump up at him when he looked at the actual words. It didn't. He shrugged. “It says that when learning the spell, it's best to use the moments of purest happiness. You must have had moments like that, Lily.”
She thought for a minute, looking away. There was one memory, but she was embarrassed to try it. What if Severus somehow figured out what it was? “Yes, I think I have. Haven't you?”
He looked away. “Haven't you seen my life?”
“But you're happy here at school, Severus.”
She touched his arm and couldn't help noticing the way his whole body tensed, but then leaned into her touch. She looked at him sympathetically, but a little sadly. It was a shame the way things worked out sometimes. They stayed quiet for a few minutes as they looked into the forest. There were rustling sounds and occasionally they heard a bird sing or another animal chatter.
He started fidgeting with his wand again. She had long ago noticed that he was rarely entirely motionless. He was always poised for action, like a jungle cat ready to spring on its prey. He was capable of stillness, but somehow, his wand hand was always moving, always getting into position. She slid her hand back.
“Go ahead, try it again.” He looked at her with a shy smile.
She closed her eyes and thought of her most perfect moment, a moment she couldn't tell Severus without him ruining it. She opened her eyes again and without looking at him said it. “Expecto Patronum!” In the next instant, a gleaming white doe, a beautiful she-deer, went running into the woods.
She turned to Severus, her eyes glistening with joy. “Wow! That's just amazing! I can't possibly describe how it feels. You have to do it!”
He looked at her and shrugged. “I don't have a better memory to work from.”
She looked up at him and then looked at the grass under her feet. Could she do something to help him? Would it work? She took a step closer and lowered her wand hand before hooking her other hand around his neck and pulling his face down to her lips.
He was in heaven. It was everything his sixteen-year-old body longed for. She was soft and giving and her lips were—so soft, and— He reached around to pull her closer. She made a little sound in her throat as she pulled her arms closer around him. It was ruined when certain reactions took place and he then had to let go and take a step back. He looked into her eyes and breathed heavily.
“Lily, I didn't know.”
She looked stunned. She was staring off at the school for a minute and then looked back at him. “I—” She cleared her throat. “I didn't know either, not really... not at all...” She cleared her throat again. “Well, why don't you give it another go?”
“EXPECTO PATRONUM!” His voice was deeper and more assured than she had ever heard it. A silvery doe leaped from his wand and walked close to Lily before moving off to the forest. They stood there, simply watching it.
“That was just... amazing!” he jumped and shouted. “You're right! There's something about the way it feels, moving through your body and into your wand...” He turned to her and became quieter. “Lily, you're just amazing.”
“Thank you,” she said, still a little stunned. She still wasn't sure what had happened when she kissed him.
He did it again and had the same result. He was so happy that he kissed her cheek. “Lily, I need to get my books before dinner if we're going to study for O.W.L.s tonight. We have Defense tomorrow, after all. Will that be all right?”
She had pulled herself back together, but her smile was a bit shy when she looked back up at him. “Oh, yes. I'll meet you in the library.”
He ran toward the school with an energy she rarely saw in him. She watched him go with a smile, glad that she could help him find some happiness and a way to perform that spell. When she couldn't see him any more, she looked around her and straightened up.
“Expecto Patronum!” A silvery panther formed at the end of her wand and sprang to the grass at her feet. It prowled around the edge of the trees before following the path his doe had taken.
A/N: Thank you, Trickie Woo, for beta reading!