Madame Penelope,

(I hope that form of address isn't too informal for you - I just think it's a bit silly to address you as a complete stranger when we're in talks to become family.)

Let me start by thanking you for accepting my reticence when it comes to publicising even more of my life. After the Prophet's recent article about my parents' situation (and I do wish I knew how they ferreted out that piece of gossip gold, as I have their key sleuth under my thumb), I can only imagine what they would have to say about this arrangement. No doubt I would be painted as a power-hungry Muggleborn so ruthless that she completely demolished her Muggle parents' lives in order to pave the way for a magical adoption.

Allow me to say that I love my parents, but ... I don't particularly miss them. And I know that's awful. However, I (as seems an unfortunate side-effect of entering an entirely new and foreign culture on my own) had very little in common with them by the time I made the decision to save their lives; they simply couldn't understand that what they perceived as a communication barrier was actually a comprehension barrier - their own willful ignorance of simple magical concepts and terminology that could have made our interactions easier drove me to my wits' end. It was not dissimilar to the Wizarding world's inability to learn the simplest of Muggle terminology. Electricity is not a hard word to learn, for Merlin's sake!

And now I'm ranting, I apologise. I didn't begin this letter to whinge about my Dickensian fortunes or complain about Wizarding culture - I believe you wanted reassurances about Professor Snape and my dedication in regard to an Apprenticeship with him.

I want to preface this as being my own opinions and perceptions of our interactions. Theo Nott has told me, repeatedly, that I am too optimistic and forgiving by half; that may be, but it is who I am, and nothing so far has managed to change that. Where the War turned others cold and cynical, I saw examples all around me of the power of basic human kindness and internalised that. I believe everyone has the potential to be a hero, given the proper environment and circumstances. After all, bravery is not the absence of fear, but the decision to continue on despite it. As such, I am inclined to ascribe motivations to the actions of others that are, perhaps, kinder than they deserve. However, as he is a survivor of two wars and two dictatorial masters (I am not blind to Albus Dumbledore's faults, nor do I ascribe to the common practise of whitewashing the wrongdoings of someone after they are dead), I do think Professor Snape deserves far more kindness than I, or anyone else, am capable of giving him. Especially as the man himself is quite prickly and unwilling to accept kindness at face value; I've noticed his habit of assuming any small act must have an ulterior motive or dark side. I suppose that's what being a spy for almost twenty years will do to you.

He is a far stronger person than I, for certain.

Looking back upon his behaviours both in and out of the classroom with all the wisdom and knowledge (which are two different things) I have gained through distance and circumstance, it is my understanding that almost everything Professor Snape did while teaching at Hogwarts was meant to further cement his position as a spy and loyal Death Eater. From what I have heard, the Death Eaters were paranoid to the extreme and even the smallest slip in character could have had fatal consequences for a man whose loyalty was already in question on a daily basis. Indeed, now that he is freed from such onuses, I have noticed a marked change in his attitudes - and not only towards me, the witch responsible for saving his life, however inadvertently I managed it. Where before he was forced to blatantly favor his Slytherin students, now he is equally strict with all Houses in his expectations for standards of work - and as sparing as his praise is, it is no longer couched in double speak and vitriolic turns of phrase, which I must admit I prefer.

Professor Snape is still an exacting teacher, ill-inclined to tolerating shoddy work or lackadaisical attitudes, but that suits me just fine. He is no longer needlessly derisive, and has privately informed that while he was unable to be seen openly favoring a Gryffindor Muggleborn, if he could have he would have offered me private tutoring after my O.W.L. results. As it is, I am satisfied that my extra Transfiguration studies paid off, and am content to further my Potions studies in the same manner now that the war is over, instead of having unrealistic expectations during such tumultuous times. I did not possess the subtlety to keep from compromising Professor Snape my sixth year, so I do not begrudge him this - in fact, I still do not possess such subtlety!

However, apparently (and I am chuckling as I write this) once I outgrew my propensity for textbook learning and applied my critical thinking abilities I became a "much more tolerable interruption to the daily monotony that is teaching."

End quote, as I am sure you could tell.

Hopefully this all soothes your maternal conscience. I respect Professor Snape, and I believe he respects my potential if nothing else; Apprenticing under him is a desirable and necessary step for my career goals of becoming a Healer. At the very least, you need not fear for my emotional stability if I Apprentice under him. I'm well aware of who he is, and he and I have developed an amicable battle of wits in the past two months, and I find myself both entertained and educated by his Slytherin approach to things. I enjoy my conversations with him almost as much as the ones I have with Minerva.

I hope this letter has served its purpose - I have to go assist Professor Sinistra in repairing the towers, so I'm posting this now before I can babble on any more. The boys always said my brain moves too fast for a normal human.

Warm Regards,

Hermione