A/N: Just fixing some punctuation. Nothing new added to this chapter.

Chapter 95: First Pick / Epilogue

Master Jarron Goodfeather stood outside the chamber portal of the Snape family and couldn't help but be a little intimidated by the dungeon decor. The ambiance was hardly what he considered uplifting by any means. A cluster of students shuffled out of a nearby portal that seemed to lead off into a common room of some sort. Green and silver banners hung inside as well as decorating the robes of the passing students.

Each of the students appraised his appearance with practiced speed. "Good evening, Master," they greeted formally, with a head bow, having already noted his station without being told. They did not attempt to assess his name, but they gave him a respectful berth as they passed.

Goodfeather shook his head and turned back to the portrait before him. Apparently portraits guarding entrance portals were quite commonplace at Hogwart's. He had never attended Hogwart's in his youth, but the school's reputation had spread as far as his Rare Bird Sanctuary, which as quite a feat. Just as he was considering how to knock on a painting, a voice greeted him.

"Master Goodfeather," a young man's voice said pleasantly. "I hope your arrival was without incident."

Jarron turned around to meet the young man who was dressed in long black teaching robes. His waistcoat was a deep emerald green with silver buttons, looking much like the banners in the room nearby. "Ah, you must be Professor Mitchell," Jarron greeted the young professor. "Yes, my arrival was uneventful, much to my relief. I am relieved that Master and Mistress Snape were kind enough to arrange for more traditional transportation. Apparation and port-keys have never settled well with my stomach, I fear."

"Please, do call me Wayne, Master Goodfeather," the young professor asked. "I get enough of the professor business from the students."

Goodfeather smiled, "You may call me, Jarron, Wayne."

Wayne smiled at the Master of Mystical Ornithology before turning to the portrait and spitting out a long potion ingredients that seemed utterly random. The portrait swung aside.

"That was… interesting," Jarron chuckled as he stepped into the portal.

Mitchell grinned. "They change it to a different potion every week to keep me on my toes."

"I'd be sleeping on the floor in the hall, if it were me," Goodfeather admitted.

"The idea of me being locked out of my comfy bed can be very inspirational, I fear," Wayne said with a grin.

"Mr. Mitchell!" Rose's voice came chiming from the adjacent room. She slammed into the young Potion's Apprentice with enthusiasm. "You made it just in time!" Rose's lapsed back into her old name for the young professor the moment she wasn't in the classroom.

"I found Master Goodfeather waiting in the hallway, Miss Rosie," Wayne said, giving the girl a hug. "I couldn't very well leave him out there alone."

"No, I suppose not," Rose said with a nod. She looked up at the Master of Mystical Ornithology with a curious look. She bowed her head respectfully to the wizard. "Good evening, Master Goodfeather," she greeted formally. "My name is Rose Snape. You may call me Rose, please. There are a lot of Snapes here tonight." She grinned at him.

"Thank you, Miss Rose," Jarron said with a smile.

Rose beamed and tugged on Wayne's sleeve. "Come on, Mr. Mitchell, everyone is waiting."

Wayne Mitchell gave Jarron Goodfeather an apologetic smile as he was dragged by the sleeve into the other room.

Goodfeather chuckled and followed the pair into the adjoining room.

The next room was larger, but full of more people than Jarron had expected.

There was a large nesting box set near the fireplace, filled with both straw and what seemed like shredded cloth and down. Owls were perched around the room in various places, offering hoots of commentary. Unlike what he would expect in a typical owlery, the room itself was clean of straw, pellets, or debris, yet the owls perched around the room as though it was their typical hangout. It was very curious.

A blur of bright orange and red feathers flew overhead and landed on the nesting box with a warble. The phoenix nosed the larger harpy eagle with her beak and gave a musical string of notes that filled Goodfeather with the sense of appreciation.

The harpy eagle stirred off the nesting box, her talons curved carefully as to not disturb the eggs, as she extended her feet and transferred herself to the outside edge of the nesting box. The female phoenix hopped into the nesting box, curling her feet inward, and flopped on top of the warm eggs with a chirp. The female phoenix preened the eagle affectionately and the harpy eagle preened the phoenix right back.

Wayne brought in a large bowl of cut fruit and vegetables and set it next to the nesting box, passing a gooseberry to the phoenix on the nest. "Is there anything else I need to bring in, Mistress?"

The eagle launched herself off the nesting box and reformed into Hermione Snape, startling Jarron Goodfeather enough to give the Potions Mistress wide eyes.

"Good evening, Master Goodfeather," Hermione greeted with a bow of her head. "Apologies for not meeting you at the door. Pyre needed a break from the nest. Thank you, Wayne, I think that is all we need for now. You are welcome to make merry with the rest of the guests."

Wayne Mitchell grinned. "Thank you, Mistress."

Hermione gave the young professor a look. "You know you can call me Hermione. Especially when we are within private company."

"Yes, Ma'am," Wayne replied automatically and blushed.

"You've been my apprentice for over a year, Mr. Mitchell," Hermione said sternly. "Do not make me relapse back to addressing you like you are twelve."

Wayne grinned broadly. "Would it be horrible of me to say that it is comforting when you do?"

Hermione scoffed. "Away with you, menace, before I make you grade papers."

Wayne grinned and ducked away with a short bow, walking over to mingle with the crowd gathering around the nesting box.

Jarron shook his head. "The female allows you to brood her clutch?" he asked in wonder.

"Of course," Hermione said with a tilt of her head. "It gives Pyre time to stretch her wings and feed herself without having to worry about her nest."

"How marvelous," Jarron said in wonder. "I had no idea you had such a tight bond with your birds. To be honest, I had no idea you were an animagus."

Hermione smiled at Jarron. "We have no idea what is normal or not for a phoenix, Master Goodfeather. We were hoping you could provide us some of that information. As for being an animagus, I had forgotten you did not know. The staff all know, and the students learn soon after their first week here at Hogwart's."

"I fear my experience with phoenixes is sadly lacking, save finding a nest here and there," Jarron admitted.

Severus walked in from the entrance portal and tossed a pile of parchments onto his desk before gliding into the room. Prince trilled a greeting from Severus' shoulder and flew over to perch next to Pyre. He preened her head feathers and warbled.

Severus approached Hermione and Jarron with a weary look upon his face. "Good evening, Master Goodfeather," he said with a slight nod. "I trust your arrival was uneventful?"

"Jarron, please," Goodfeather requested to the both of them. "I had very comfortable trip. Thank you."

"Looks like you arrived just in time, Jarron," Severus said, stifling a yawn. "I'm not sure our poor living room has ever had so many guests."

"This is quite the event, Severus," Jarron admitted. "It is not every day we get to witness the hatching of an entire clutch of phoenix eggs."

"I should hope not," Severus said with a lift of his brow. "There would not be enough food in this castle to feed that many hungry beaks. Our students would starve."

Goodfeather regarded Severus with a curious glance, pondering if Severus was being humorous or serious. Severus' face was completely emotionless, giving no visual tell to either course.

Hermione brushed her hand against her husband's lightly. "Psh," she said softly. "Take pity on poor Master Goodfeather, he's had a long trip and does not know you are capable of humor."

"Am I capable of humor?" Severus asked, capturing Hermione's hand in his. His face was impassive.

Hermione grinned at him. "Occasionally," she purred. "When the planets align, and we make gold in our laboratory." She turned to Jarron with a flush in her cheeks. "Let me introduce you the others here, Jarron."

Goodfeather allowed himself to be guided around the room to meet the attendees to the hatching. The Snape's single Apprentice was sitting with the two Snape children. The boy, who was introduced as Julius, was hugging a silver tabby in his lap with draped hug. The cat's eyes were half closed, and her tail was gently flicking up and side to side. Rose was stroking an orange cat in her lap and telling stories to Wayne Mitchell as though he were last record keeper in the world and she had all latest news. A young blond-haired boy named Scorpius sat with the group of younger children along with two boys named James and Albus. All of them took turns contributing to the gossip when Rose managed to pause long enough to take a breath.

Hermione had introduced him to the Headmistress of the school, inclining her head respectfully in the direction of her children. Goodfeather gave her a puzzled expression. The silver tabby in her son's lap yawned toothily in his direction, eyes holding a disconcerting twinkle.

The towering wall of a man with a bushy beard was tending the fireplace as he conversed with another man. One, Hermione introduced, was Hagrid, the Professor of Care of Magical Creatures. The second was Neville Longbottom, Professor of Herbology and Apprentice to Pomona Sprout. A group of other professors joined Hagrid and Neville by the fireplace, introducing themselves as Filius, Rolanda, Aurora, and Septima.

Huddled around a round table, Jarron met Aiden Gauge, retired and consulting Auror, who seemed perfectly happy leaving the reins of his past career to the two Aurors beside him: Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley. Jarron found himself chatting amiably with the infamous Harry Potter and his compatriots of his age and belated realized that he was surrounded by the heroes of the last Wizarding war. Draco Malfoy and his wife, Astoria, chatted affably with the others at the round table, occasionally throwing glances over to where the children were laughing and carrying on.

As if that realization wasn't profound enough, the Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, sat at the table, laughing genially in conversation, showing no regard to station or formalities. Beside him was a wizened older wizard he did not recognize until Shacklebolt slapped the man on the back saying, "It took you how many years to find an apprentice, Ollivander? You had us all worried you'd never find one!"

The old wizard smiled knowingly at the Minister of Magic. "I waited for the best," he said with a smug smile.

"Took you long enough," an older gentleman commented to Ollivander. "I've been crafting more Apprentice pins for the lot of you lately than in the two decades previous."

"Don't be such a sourpuss, Master Stainthorpe," Kingsley laughed. "You'd been complaining that not enough Masters were taking Apprentices for years."

Declan Stainthorpe gave Kingsley a face that could have been his tongue sticking out, had Jarron not dismissed it as a trick of the lighting. "Took those two long enough to find an Apprentice they didn't send crying back to me with horror stories."

The table burst into laughter in shared amusement.

The phoenix on the nesting box let out a warble, causing the room to quiet and everyone to gather around. Pyre talon-walked off the nest and perched on the rim of the nesting box, giving a better view to the cracking eggs. Multiple peeps and chirping came from within the shelled prisons. Black beaks poked out of the cracking shells, followed by random feet, a wing or two, and the rest of the body. All of the people gathered around were silent in wonder as damp phoenix chicks burst out of their confinement with victorious peeping.

Hermione and Severus silently knelt by the box and distributed pieces of vegetables and fruits into the hungry beaks while passing larger fruits to the elder phoenixes for them to tear into and assist in the stuffing of hungry chicks. By the time the hungry chicks were appeased, their downy feathers had already dried into fluff.

"Jarron, I think it's time for you to make your choice," Hermione said as she scratched a downy chick under the chin. "First choice, as promised."

Goodfeather knelt by the nesting box, eying the female phoenix and her curved beak with respect.

Hermione, as if sensing his wariness, stroked Pyre's chest feathers and under her chin, causing the female phoenix to warble happily.

Goodfeather examined the nest full of fluffy chicks with curiosity. All of them yawned beakily at him, eyes half-closed as their full stomachs attempted to digest their first meal. He slowly waved his wand over the nest and whispered, sorting the males and females from each other in the nest.

One pair of black eyes met his, and he pet the tuft of distinctive black and dark red feathers on his head. The chick was male, gazed at him fearlessly, and attempted to pull on the end of Jarron's wand with his beak. "Hey now," he admonished, tucking his wand away.

Goodfeather cradled the chick in his hands, carefully watching Pyre for signs of aggression, which thankfully never came. He held the chick up to his face and peered into his eyes, looking the chick over with approval. The chick pecked at his beard curiously and peeped, opening his beak widely and imperiously.

Severus smirked and handed Jarron a piece of green pepper without a word.

Jarron took the offered food with silent thanks and stuffed it into the chick's open beak, watching it disappear in a matter of seconds. The chick peeped and placed his head against his beard and looked up at him contentedly. "Um…" Goodfeather said softly. "I think I've been chosen instead of the other way around."

Polite nods of approval spread across the gathered people.

Owls fluttered up to gather around the edge of the nesting box, hooting at the fluffy chicks in their own version of owlish approval.

One of the chicks, who sported a long orange tuft on his head, was attempting to scramble out of the nest and explore. He teetered on the edge of the nesting box and peeped, flapping his tiny wings as if ready to take to the skies without a single primary or secondary feather to his name.

Wayne Mitchell gently scooped up the chick and moved him back into the nest. "Hey now," he admonished. "It's a little early for you to be exploring, young man."

As Wayne scooted him over back into the lined nest, the chick peeped in protest and scrambled more hurriedly to the edge of the nesting box, looking as if he intended to fling himself off the edge. Wayne blocked his way with his arm, attempting to shoo the errant chick back into his nest.

The chick wouldn't stand for it and hopped onto Wayne's arm and clung to his teaching robes and his chest, peering up at him with interest. Wayne looked down at the precocious chick and seemed to be lost in the chicks compulsatory gaze.

Pyre and Prince warbled happily from their perches, seemingly happy with the impromptu pairing.

Wayne's eyes grew wide as he realized what was going on. "Oh wait… no I wasn't supposed to…" he stammered, looking at his two Masters with an apologetic face.

"Nonsense," Severus sniffed.

"Pyre and Prince approve. Why shouldn't we?" Hermione chuckled.

The chick opened his beak demandingly at Wayne, and he stuffed a slice of peach into the hungry beak. The chick gulped down the offering hungrily and flopped his head against Wayne's chest, giving a small contented peep.

There were three remaining chicks left in the nest, and Pyre seemed think show and tell was over. She talon-walked over the nest and flopped down on top of the sleepy chicks and warbled.

The gathering of human onlookers broke apart and socialized amongst themselves again, sharing their approval of the hatching.

"What are you going to call him, Mr. Mitchell?" Rose asked curiously as she pet her familiar.

The young professor tilted his head and stared at the fluffy chick. "Keegan," he said softly. The chick opened his eyes and peeped at him.

Julius peered at the sleepy chick as he hoisted Minerva over his shoulder, still scratching her ears with an automatic movement. "That's a nice fire name, Sir," he said with a nod. "I have to finish my homework and the three feet of parchment on the uses of crocodile heart." Julius scowled at the Potions Apprentice with flattened lips, looking very much like his father.

Wayne's face softened apologetically, "Do not blame me, young Julius," he placated. "Blame your four House-mates that blew up their cauldrons and put Miss Brafford in the hospital wing."

"They may have done it," Julius admitted with a pout, "But you still punished all of us for it."

Minerva chose that moment to dig her claws into Julius' shoulder.

"Ow," Julius pouted. "I'm sorry, Auntie," he apologized. "I'll see you later, Professor," he said as he carried the silver tabby off into one of the adjoining rooms.

Wayne watched the youngest of the Snape family carry the Headmistress of Hogwart's like a regular cat. "That… will never cease to amaze me," he admitted.

Hermione chuckled at him. "Julius has had Minerva wrapped around his little finger since the day he screamed himself into the world. I was sure it was going to be Rose, but I was wrong."

Wayne smiled at his Mistress with a genuine smile. "I've learned never to take anything in the Snape family at face value since I was eleven."

Hermione grinned. "A wise choice."

"Are you sure… this is okay?" Wayne asked softly, staring at the sleeping chick on his chest.

"Mr. Mitchell," Hermione said in her teaching voice. "There is no one else more capable and more deserving of having their own demanding lint ball with a propensity to set itself on fire than you. Do I make myself plain?"

Wayne grinned sheepishly, "Yes, ma'am," he replied automatically.

"Good," Severus replied for his wife, smashing his apprentice over the head with a copy of A Treatise on the Chinese Chomping Cabbage. "We have three new lint-balls to feed as it is."

"What will you do with so many birds, Sir?" Wayne asked.

Severus tilted his head to the side. "We have a few bird sanctuaries that are more than interested in providing a home for those we see fit to allow and quite a few programs that are trying to raise and release the birds into their traditional habitats. There is also the wizarding populous that would simply beat down our doors to have a chance at gaining one as a familiar. Far more interested parties than we have chicks."

Wayne pet the chick on his chest with his fingers, gaining a series of happy peeps. "You could always be in the first school of witchcraft and wizardry that is also a phoenix sanctuary. You're kind of already off to a great start. Hagrid would probably help."

Hermione chuckled. "Can you imagine the grounds being alive with owls and phoenixes? Our chambers is already a testament as to how that would be."

Severus shook his head. "I will defer to Minerva on the validity of that particular idea, Wayne. She would probably adore having more beaks to spoil."

"Both Pyre and Prince adore her," Hermione agreed. "The feeling is obviously mutual."

"You know, I was listening to Master Stainthorpe talk about apprentices for a while today," Wayne confessed. "I have a question for you both."

Dual raised eyebrows raised into opposing hairlines.

"Why did you chose me as an apprentice over what he said was a list hundreds of overly qualified names long?" Wayne asked curiously.

The two Potion Masters tilted their head at Wayne Mitchel with the same steely regard. "You are not a dunderhead," they chimed together.

Wayne broke into a grin that echoed the radiant smile of a certain eleven year old boy with an affinity for poppy flower constructs. "I suppose you can blame my school professors for whatever potions knowledge I came packaged with."

"Oh, we intend to," Hermione said, gently rubbing her fingers under the chick's chin.

"Hermione!" Harry called from the round table. "Come tell us the story about when Ginny came to visit you while you were an Apprentice with Severus."

Ginny blushed at her seat next to Harry as her children scampered up to wait for the story with excited eyes.

"Please, Auntie Hermione!" pleaded Scorpius. "Aunt Ginny won't tell us!"

James and Albus shook their heads in agreement. "Mum won't tell us anything!"

"Oh I do want to hear this," Draco said with a very Slytherin grin on his face. Astoria leaned in too.

Ginny turned a darker shade of red as Hermione approached the round table, pulling Severus in by his sleeve.

"Oh, very well," Hermione replied. "But as your Uncle Severus would say, 'do be quiet' as I tell the tale." She and Severus sat at the table.

The children at the table clammed up with great effort, eyes wide with excitement, much to Ginevra Potter's chagrin.

Hermione gave Ginny both an amused and somewhat apologetic grin. "It all started back before your Uncle and I were married. Harry and Ronald had just begin their training under Aiden to be Aurors. I was about two years into my apprenticeship with your Uncle Severus and Master Stainthorpe had no idea what lay ahead for him…"

The storytelling lasted long into the night, switching from Hermione to Harry, to Aiden then Ron, from Ron to Master Stainthorpe, and finally landed into the proverbial lap of Severus Snape. Amazingly enough, the children remained as quiet as possible, hanging on to every world of their parents and friends of the family. As the stories died down, the evening concluded with the children ending up piled up asleep on sleeping bags scattered on the living room floor, and the adults lounging in multiple chairs by the fire as they shared old memories and drinks and food with each other. It had been a few decades in the making, but a pleasant peace had finally come upon these select few of Hogwart's Class of 1998 and the survivors of the Second Wizarding War. As if to prove how far they had all come, the gathering was being held in the once private, single, and unshared chambers of the solitary and reclusive Severus Snape.

There was some lighthearted speculation as to whether Albus Dumbledore was looking down upon them from somewhere in the afterlife with a twinkle in his eyes. His portrait certainly wasn't holding anything back, and Minerva seemed to have her own brand of knowing twinkle that reminded them all of how close they had become against all odds and all history.

As the last of the visiting adults had left for the evening, Master Goodfeather being tucked in to the guest room with his fluffy acquisition, their apprentice retired to his chambers, the increased brood of phoenixes nested down by the fireplace, an assortment of owls perched around the room, and the disturbingly large pile of children curled up asleep on their living room floor, Hermione and Severus looked over the children with a quirk of their lips.

There would always be parents who worried about the future of their children, but Hermione and Severus had no such worries. The future would come as it often did, slowly as if it would never move and then crash down upon them one morning when they realized their children were half grown. They had no doubt, however, that their children would be fine. They would be prepared, and the world of prejudice that had formed the two great wars the adults had survived would be a story with a beginning and and end as well as a moral in which to live by.

Their children would grow, graduate, and chase their dreams without the worry of an impending Dark Lord darkening the skies with his Dark Mark. Their children would keep their innocence when it mattered the most.

As they watched their children and their friends' children snoring together in a multi-House pile-up, they knew the next generation was already better off than they were at the same age. The world was already better. They had won. They had survived. They had grown. They had evolved.

Hermione's fingers traced Severus' jawline as she smiled up at him. "I love you, Severus Snape."

Severus looked down into the eyes of his wife, and his dark eyes seemed to darken even more as he gave a soft hiss of pleasure. He pressed his lips to hers as his fingers pressed against the skin of her neck. When he pulled away, his eyes contained the look he reserved for her alone. "And I love you, Hermione Snape. Always."

Hermione's face lit up with the brilliance of the sun as she heard the words she would rarely hear but would always see in the reflection of his eyes and in the countless things he would do.

They pressed their heads together as their palms pressed against each other's cheeks. Their minds became one in celebration, singing together in a trust they had built upon through countless deeds and cemented with a faith they would never lose every day they walked upon the Earth and beyond.

And hundreds of years later, when the latest Headmaster or Headmistress of Hogwart's looked upon the wall of portraits that ringed their office, Severus and Hermione Snape sat together on a long couch surrounded the implements of potion making, their dark robes blending together in a soft cascade. Hermione lay against her husband as Severus read an open book to her, much as they had done in life.

Two painted phoenixes perched upon the couch, sometimes singing and warbling commentary as a strangely familiar parliament of owls gathered around them. Beside their portrait was that of Minerva McGonagall, sitting in her portrait with a tea service and extra chairs that sometimes seated guests. There were always two perches that adorned her portrait. Sometimes, there would be a phoenix on one or both, and Minerva's portrait self would have a knowing smile upon her face. Above both portraits, hung the portrait of Albus Dumbledore, who seemed to have even more of a twinkle in his painted eyes as the years went on.

Beside Severus and Hermione's portrait stood the distinguished looking older self of Headmaster Wayne Mitchell, whose black robes draped down his shoulder much like his Master's and Mistress' before him. His dark green waistcoat and sleeves sported a long chain of silver buttons that had become synonymous with any male that came down the chain of Masters and Apprentices descending from the line of Severus and Hermione Snape. Upon his shoulder was a fiery phoenix with a distinctive bright orange plume on his head.

If one were paying close enough attention to the portrait next to Wayne Mitchell's, two pins adorned the robes of Hermione and Severus Snape — a small silver pin formed into the shape of a potion that every so often spewed forth a glowing green Slytherin snake. On their side table was a vase filled with poppy flowers. If anyone asked, both portraits would only stare silently at them, faces united in an impassive expression whose only tell was the slight quirk of their lips. Had the asker turned around to look at the portrait after their question was answered with a silent stare, they would have seen Hermione's face break into a mischievous smile.

Rumors in Hogwart's whispered that the old phoenix Headmasters and Headmistress had never died at all. Whispers said their portraits were a formality because the Potion Masters lived on far from Hogwart's in a place unplottable and unknown, as immortal as their phoenixes. If it were true, the portraits weren't saying, and no one living or dead wanted to confront Severus Snape's portrait for the truth. And when it came to asking the portrait of Neville Longbottom anything, his portrait self became a stammering wreck that admitted to nothing and went back to tending his fanged geraniums in his portrait.

One thing, however, despite the rumors and stories, remained constant. When a child entered the office and looked up at the portrait of Hermione and Severus Snape and asked how long they would be together, the answer was infallibly the same.


-o-o-o- Finite Incantatem -o-o-o-o-

A/N: This is the end of this story, but not truly the end. It is, perhaps, the end of this part of their story. Depending on the desire for more adventures expanding the lives of Julius, Rose, Mr. Mitchell, Ollivander,and Hermione and Severus, I may post a continuation story with a highly probably unoriginal title like "A Continued Chance For Happiness" because I completely lack originality. Lol. You, my faithful readers, will have to tell me if you would like to see their adventures expanded upon. With the fall semester promising to suck in my life and spit me out in small shattered pieces, I cannot promise as many updates as I have had for this story. I wanted to give you a beginning and an "end". I will, however, if the interest is great enough, expand upon their adventures as my mind sees them.

This story has been a labor of love. It started out as a challenge from a friend to "well if you didn't like the ending, write it better" and became a monster that consumed me, my summer, my dreams, and my thoughts for far longer than I have ever believed myself capable of writing. I have never, until this, written something of this magnitude. I have never, until this, written in the Harry Potter universe. I can only thank JKR for the world she has created and characters I have borrowed. While I have had to make up a few characters of my own and completely reverse poor Severus' canonical death, it is my hope that they have lived up to the spirit of the universe JKR has created and paid them the proper tribute and respect.

In my mind's eye, I cannot and will not accept Severus' canonical death. This story has been what my mind wished to be possible. A man whose life of pain and suffering for a greater love than he had for himself did not deserve to die without a chance for happiness. Lily, as in my story, needed to redeem herself to her childhood best friend. She was my vehicle to save Severus Snape. She owed it to her childhood friend who loved her enough to protect her child, to give him one last chance for a better life that she, herself, could not give him. There had to be more than a lonely afterlife after a lifetime of being lonely and misunderstood.

This story, more than anything, was the meeting of two broken souls finding respect in each other, then understanding, trust, faith, and ultimately love. And when one's relationship is based on something as powerful as the meeting of minds, especially to two people whose minds are exemplar examples of perfection, it transcends age. While I realize there are those out there who shudder to even think of Severus and Hermione being in a relationship without wanting to flee into the night chanting "NONONONONO! NOT WITH THAT OLD GREASY DUNGEON GIT!" I see it as the meeting of minds, the healing of broken souls, and establishment of respect, trust, and ultimately something greater than they could have alone. If anyone can meet Severus in mind and ability, it would be Hermione Granger. If anyone can understand betrayal and sacrifice unknown to those she loves the most, it is Severus Snape.

This story was my attempt to create that world where all of these things were possible. I can only hope that you, my dear readers, have found this as enjoyable to read as it has been my pleasure and love to write.

I am not normally one to ask for reviews, but please, if you enjoyed my story, let me know. If you wish see their adventures continued, please let me know that too. I thank all of you, my faithful followers, for staying with me on this adventure. I appreciate you all, have found joy in all of your comments, and found a little of my own peace in writing this story.

I thank you.