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An Afternoon at Madam Puddifoot's

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He absolutely did not want to go there. By all accounts, and from what he'd seen just looking in the windows, he thought he'd rather willingly have poisons tested on him in class.

But Lily had asked him to come to tea with her at Madam Puddifoot's, and so here he was, holding the door for her, and what was the on his face? Was he smiling at her? In public? Well, he reasoned with himself, he really couldn't help himself when she looked so absolutely flawless, her skin bleached white from the cold except for the tip of her nose and her perfect cheeks, snowflakes in her fiery hair, and those dazzling emerald eyes full of admiration as she grinned at him.

Severus sighed. Lily Evans was the most perfect person in the world, and she had asked him to take her to Madam Puddifoot's. And, honestly, everyone at Hogwarts knew Madam Puddifoot's was where you went when you wanted to be romantic. Especially on the Hogsmeade before Valentine's Day.

With my luck, Severus thought as he pulled out Lily's chair, she just really wants tea. Lily sat, still smiling at him, and Severus took up his place across the table from her.

"So," Severus began, looking around him at the heart confetti and the flying cherubs, "this place..."

Lily's face went red as she burst out laughing, slapping her arm down on the table. "It's awful, isn't it? I don't know why everyone makes such a big deal about this place! It's..."

"I think you hit it on the head with 'awful,'" Severus said, smirking. "But it would be a waste if we didn't at least have some tea." On the one hand, he was glad that Lily saw through the schmaltz of this place and wasn't the kind of girl to be swayed by the frou-frou decor, but on the other hand, a quick glance at all of the other tables showed him pretty much all lovey-dovey couples, smooching, holding hands, or at least looking longingly into each other's eyes. And here he and Lily were, about to drink some damned tea. He crossed his arms over his chest, the smirk gone from his face.

"Oh, Sev!" Lily exclaimed, immediately sensing the change in his mood (she was very good at that). "Don't be like that. It's not that bad. Besides, you're with me, so you're not allowed to be sour!"

Without Severus' permission, a smile curled the ends of his lips. "Oh, is that right?"

Lily nodded. "That's right. Now, unwrap your great bat wings and enjoy yourself."

"Is that an order?" he asked with an arched eyebrow, and Lily giggled. Merlin, how he would do anything at all to be the cause of one of her giggles!

"It is an order. Unless you want me to come over there and do it for you," she countered, her own face now very serious with its own raised eyebrows.

Severus smirked and looked her up and down. "I'd like to see you try."

Lily rose from her chair. "Is that a challenge?" she laughed. "Did you just challenge me? You should know by now that I never. Back. Down!" She had stepped up so that she was standing between his legs and had taken hold of each of his wrists, playfully pulling them away from his body as he put up a token amount of resistance. "Aaah! I win!" she cried, holding both of his wrists in her hands, and Severus smiled up at her.

But it was what she did next that took his breath away. Looking directly into his eyes, Lily gently disengaged her grip from his wrists but before he knew what had happened, she had taken hold of his hands, their fingers lacing together. He knew she wasn't playing anymore by the way she was looking at him, and he felt his heart (and another part of him) leap.

"There," she whispered. "Now, isn't this better?"

He nodded and licked his lips before answering. His mouth was suddenly very dry. "So much."

Hearing that, Lily allowed herself to smile once again. She maneuvered herself so that she could get back to her seat and sit down while still holding Severus' hands. "So, I guess this place served its purpose, after all."