a/n: If you are here because of an update, please note Chapter 38, "Epilogue," and Chapter 39, "Prequel Preview," have been switched.

"Youth" Preview

Summary: "Whatever this life brings us, my youth will have always been yours." Amidst the rise of an imminent threat, some people fall together as others fall apart. Love, power, Marauders, and everything in between. Year 7 with opening Snily and eventual Jily; one slow burn, one gutted flame, and one hell of a political upheaval. Prequel to "Clean" and "Marked."

July 1, 1978

Dear Severus,

While I can scarcely presume to know how you feel, know that it hurts me at least as much to write this as it does for you to hear it. I'm not perfect, you know, and perhaps I'm being selfish, but I can't imagine a world where I don't say these words to you. So forgive me, Sev, in advance.

I know you don't understand the choices I've made, and in the interest of not dragging us through any more suffering, I won't try to explain them to you. I could easily say the same for yours, you know, but I won't. Not now. I want us to end where we started -

With love.

I know that my choosing James must feel like a betrayal to you, and I hate to say I understand, though I can assure you that he's changed. I can see your face as I write that and I don't know whether to laugh or cry, knowing I'll probably never see you that way again, your dark hair falling into your eyes while you give me that moody stare of yours - but I'll get to that. I'll get there.

It's important to me that you know that what I have with James will never diminish anything I shared with you. You're my first love, Severus, and while that may not be good enough, it will still always be good. It will always have been consuming and raw and a defining piece of me, and a light with which to look back on everything that's happened. I prefer to preserve you that way, in the stolen moments before everything got so horribly contorted in the midst of all this. This war.

We can't come back from what's happened, nor would I want to. We aren't who we were, and I like to think that's because there's something out there for who we're going to be. Both of us, Sev. For both of us.

I'm rambling, I know. I know you hate that. You love a concise point, and I've always had too much whimsy for you, haven't I? I'll make my point now. You would want me to. I can see your face, like always; I can hear my name on your lips. Just say it, Lily.

Alright, Severus. I will.

It comes to this, in the end: my future belongs to James. I have grown up, and I've made my choice, as you've made yours. But I beg you, Severus, to look back on us with fondness, because whatever this life brings us, my youth will have always been yours.

There. I've said it, and now maybe my heart will let me rest. Be safe, Severus, and be happy; for everything that's passed between us, I sincerely hope you find what you're looking for.



a/n: For the full chapter, you can find the new story, Youth, in my profile. Thanks for reading!