Dear Lily,

I have read your letter a few times now and I think I understand. That is what you want, isn't it? For me to understand. Now that I have heard your side, I believe it is only fair if you hear mine. It will not be pleasant for either of us, but you began this and you will see it's fulfillment.

The very first thing I noticed about you was your hair. The color was so beautiful, so natural. My first thought upon first seeing you was that it was magic. I had never seen hair the color of fall leaves or sometimes it was more like strawberries. There were so many variations in it, it was like looking into fire...mesmerizing. If you and I were a color, it might be red, but I think it would be green.

Of course, the second thing I noticed was your eyes. Green as grass or a flawless emerald held to a bright light. I can measure moments in my life by my visions of those eyes. There was wonder in them when we first talked about magic. Laughter during our friendship and different combinations of anger and lust after our friendship was over. That was not all I saw, of course, but it would take far too many pages to describe my memories of your eyes, dear Lily.

I remember vividly the first time I wanted to kiss you. It was my thirteenth birthday. I had just had a growth spurt and was taller than you for the first time. When we met by the river, you hugged me. As few hugs as I'd experienced at the time, this one blew me away. I was not expecting it. You wrapped your arms around my chest and pressed your face against me and I put my arms around your shoulders. You felt so small next to me. And you no longer noticed when I smelled your hair thanks to my new height. Yes, that is me admitting something secret. Don't tell.

The fact that it took me two years to get up the courage to actually try to kiss you should say something. If you have ever doubted my patience, then consider I waited another two years after that to actually kiss you.

I think of our twenty minutes behind the tapestry probably more often than you do. That was a good day. I had received excellent marks on a test and I felt ready for my next exam. I went looking for you without thinking. In hindsight, I think I was happy and so, my unconscious went looking for the one person I would want to share my happiness with. I will have to watch that from now on.

I care not if you choose to ever tell your future spouse about us. It would give me boasting rights if he were to know. He will, however, not hear of it from me. I will protect your secrets with my life. I suppose that one is our secret though.

Dear, dear Lily. If words could express my feelings for you, this would be far easier. However, let me say I have always cared for you in a way unknown to me before you came along. You are unlike anyone I have ever met, or likely ever will. I think you may have been taking pity on me that last time we met, but I cannot hate myself for what we did. As wrong as I know it was, as painful as it is knowing I will never again touch you so deeply, I can't help but think it was worth it. It takes but the scent of the river or a visit to that tree to revisit the ecstasy I felt there. I can still feel the velvet of your skin under my fingers and your hot breath on my earlobe. I miss you and at this very moment, the ache is more real than it has been in some time.

You see, my feelings for you run so deep they are there under everything else. When you get scared, who do you long to comfort you? When you are in bed, trying to sleep and need to think of something pleasant, what do you think of? Or whom? I suppose it goes without saying what I think of. You are in the warm center of my being...my heart, as they say.

When we "tangled under the tree" as you so eloquently put, do you remember what I said?

We were, indeed, tangled, side by side, topless, legs woven together so our hips were pressed onto each other's legs. You had your hands on my lower back, pressing me toward you while you pressed back against my leg. Your lips were hot and wet on mine and I had my hands in your hair, fingers pressed to your head. That was the most erotic moment of my life.

Until you opened your mouth. "This feels so right."

I agreed with you, but it sounded so good to hear it from your lips. I would have been satisfied to leave things there. After all, as you stated, I was and am inexperienced with women. Thank you for attempting to stroke my ego, but it is not necessary. Some things cannot be faked and your reactions to me said plenty. While the moans, sighs and your obvious acquiescence in the events were incredible and better than I could have imagined; it was the response of your body to mine that fascinated me.

Your lips swelling slightly, as mine must have as well. Your eyes, when not closed, were heavily lidded and sort of glassy. Your cheeks were flushed, bringing more beautiful red to your face. Your swollen, darkened nipples and the slick, hot wetness I slid my fingers into. That could not be faked.

I digress. You were not very subtle in your attempts to hurt me. Or are you simply trying to drive the point home?

I have done what you asked so many times. Every time, I was glad to do it, even if I didn't want to do it. I know now that is what love is. Giving, giving, giving, without considering what you might get in return. Maybe this is not a huge realisation for you, but it was for me. So, I may or may not continue to love you Lily. Time will tell. I don't foresee a change in my feelings any time soon. I have easily proven to you I can love you without you near. So this is one thing I cannot promise. I will keep your secrets. I will protect you with my life. But I cannot forget you.

And so, with memories of your delicately freckled white legs wrapped around me--your lips on mine--our bodies moving as one, I will carry on. I can do nothing else.

I have no doubt you will be a beautiful bride, Lily.

Eternally,

Severus

A/N: Because "Always" as the sign off seemed a bit too obvious. :) Thanks to the reviewers for reminding me of this story--I kinda like it.