Voldemort would have a field day if he could see me now; sitting here on this porch, a cup of coffee lightly steaming in my hands, staring down at the gently sloping lawns that spread off to the edge of the woods. Hardly the imposing figure of one who strikes terror into the hearts of many, am I? I chuckle to myself. No matter… Voldemort was an asshole. He exploited me as a child and used me as an adult. I simply regret that I was not able to kill him myself.

Of course, I never expected to survive the war. I would ultimately be seen as a traitor to both sides, and there were far too many witches and wizards out there who were capable of killing me. What I had not counted on was one of them being strong enough to save me.

I had never counted on Hermione.

In the midst of the Final Battle I had found myself on the business end of Rodolphus Lestrange's wand. The thought of death didn't bother me, but the idea that I would die at the hands of someone as weak and predictable as Lestrange filled me with shame. I closed my eyes and searched my mind, trying to find one instance to hold on to, some memory from a long and vile past that I could actually feel some pride in.


Please, just one… there must be one…


"Sectumsempra! Sectumsempra! Sectumsempra!"

Rodolphus' menacing growl gurgled into a piercing scream, and I looked up into a face suddenly surging with blood. He staggered backwards, his hands flying up to cover his mutilated visage. As his wand fell from his grip, I rolled forward and snatched it, immediately turning it on him and uttering the curse he'd been unable to finish.

"Professor? Are you all right?"

I turned to her, unsure of what to say. Although my eyes had been closed when it had happened, I could clearly see how she must have looked; robes streaming out behind her, hair flying about her head, eyes both determined and slightly evil at the same time. I felt no surprise at her knowledge of the curse I'd invented; she was Potter's best friend. Of course he had shared it with her.

And she had used it to save my life. A life that I, just a moment ago, had realized was not worth saving.

Before I could answer her, she was gone.

The side of the Light went on to win the battle. We buried our dead, and we mourned. And then those of us that remained returned to Hogwarts.

A few nights later, I followed Hermione as she left the Great Hall after dinner. She was walking slowly down the corridor, her head held much lower than I was used to.

"Miss Granger."

"Yes, Professor?" Her voice conveyed no surprise that I was there.

"May I speak to you for a minute?"

"Of course," she answered.

"I'm not quite sure how to thank you for what you did."

She turned to me, and I realized that the child that had grown up as I watched - with varying degrees of interest – was now gone, replace by a fragile and nearly empty shell.

She smiled; a mere shadow across her face. "Then we're even, Professor. I don't know how to thank you for what you did, either."

From that moment on, I sought her out.

I knew, of course, what had happened. It was all the news in the Wizarding world, as news of Harry Potter always was. Ronald Weasley, the boy that she seemed quite enamored of, had been killed in the Final Battle. That alone would have been enough to shatter the boy girl, but the disappearance of her best friend had dealt the final blow. Oh, Harry Potter had not been lost in the battle, nor had some mysterious spell snatched him away when he killed Voldemort. He had simply chosen to leave after his mission was done; he left with no explanation or goodbye for the girl who had stood by him through every miserable moment of his life for seven years. And in doing so, he had finally broken her.

I'm not entirely sure what I was looking for with her. I didn't know how to make friends, and I certainly wasn't interested in her romantically… at least, not at that time. It just seemed to me that if there was one person who had come out of this war with even more to be bitter about than myself, it was her. She had helped me - she had helped everyone – and in return, she had lost everything she loved.

Slowly and cautiously, she began to accept my invitations to dinner. We went to Hogsmead and Muggle London together, browsing through bookshops and watching movies. Somehow we did become friends, and I realized how much I had missed the company of an intelligent conversationalist. For months we skirted around the issue of Potter. I knew that she had spent time searching for him, but to no avail. The latest rumors making their way around Hogwarts had him living amongst Muggles in the United States, although none seemed sure of exactly where. On more than one occasion I found her alone in the Gryffindor common room, curled up in a ball in one of the chairs and crying softly. I never let her know that I was there; not only did I realize that her mourning needed to be solitary, I also knew that I could offer no words of condolence. I had not cared for Potter or Weasley when they were alive… to pretend that I felt remorse at their loss now would only insult her memories of them.

I realized that my feelings of affection had grown more serious during one of the movies we attended. Hermione, indulging what I felt to be a disgusting craving for popcorn, had purchased a container the size of a small barrel. Partway through the film she asked me to place the half-full container on the empty seat next to me. I did so, and promptly forgot that it was there. When she leaned across my lap to retrieve another handful a short time later, I found myself breathless with the desire to wrap my arms around her and kiss her senseless.

Knowing that my feelings were inappropriate for a myriad of reasons, I told no one. Although I found it increasingly difficult, I did my best to hide my attraction from Hermione. But more often than not, after spending an evening with her, I would find myself lying alone in my bed; sweaty and sticky, my depleted cock still twitching in my palm.

I eventually decided to move out of Hogwarts and into a London home that had been in my family for years. I asked Hermione to help me decorate the house, and Apparated us both there. As she moved through the rooms, I saw life in her face for the first time in months.

"Severus, this is beautiful," she sighed as she made her way back downstairs into the kitchen. "You're very lucky. I would love to have a home this lovely."

"Would you like to live here with me?" I asked, before I could stop myself. She stilled, her back to me.

"What do you mean?" Her voice was quiet.

"There is more than enough room for two people," I explained quickly. "You have been saying that you need to find a place to live, and… well; there is more than enough room for two people." My lame finish must have amused her, because she flashed me a gentle smile and assured me that she would think about it.

Two weeks later we had moved all of our belongings in. Living together, although difficult because of my ever-increasing desire, was far more pleasant than I had ever imagined. Learning the intricacies of sharing a living space with someone else was challenging and rewarding, and I couldn't have imagined doing it with anyone other than Hermione.

One winter evening, she approached me as I worked in my study. "Severus? Would you like to go for a walk with me?"

I looked past her toward the window, where soft, fat flakes drifted down. "It's snowing out, Hermione."

"I know that, silly," she chuckled. "Have you never gone for a walk in the snow?"

As a matter of fact, I hadn't. Dressing ourselves in warm coats, hats and gloves, we made our way outside. The silence struck me at once… the snow had cast a heavy blanket over everything, and the moonlight shed a bluish hue over the landscape. As we walked over the ground, our feet made soft crunching sounds. We didn't talk much, other than to cast warming spells over ourselves.

We had walked for about fifteen minutes when we came to the edge of a small pond. Hermione sat on a fallen log and motioned for me to join her. The pond had a thin skin of ice over the top of it, and the falling snowflakes were glistening as they formed small piles on it. Hermione drew her wand and enlarged a small package in her pocket that turned out to be a flask of hot chocolate. Following her lead, I transfigured two nearby rocks into cups, and she filled each. I sipped mine slowly, savoring the warmth and richness.

"You know, I still don't know why he left," she said suddenly, staring across the pond. I knew at once who she spoke of, and I couldn't help but bristle at the idea that she was thinking about Potter while here with me. I looked away without answering, but she continued.

"I can understand that he had to go, I truly do. But what I can't understand is why he couldn't keep in touch… why he couldn't tell me where he was going… why he couldn't even at least say goodbye. And I've tried to figure it out so many times, to figure out what I did wrong…" Her voice broke and against my better judgment I turned to her. Tears slid down her cheeks, and when she looked at me the expression of anguish on her face was so naked, so pure, that it stole my breath away.

"I've tried," she repeated, her voice a whisper. "I've tried so hard, Severus. Why did he leave me? Why?"

I pulled her to me and held her as she cried, her hoarse sobbing cutting straight through to my soul. Anger and misery and confusion filled me, and I wanted nothing more at that moment than to be able to take away this pain that she felt, to give her some answers. God help me, if I could have flicked my wand and made Potter appear before her again, I would have. Instead, I simply rocked her back and forth, smoothing her hair with my hand and shushing her quietly.

Eventually her sobbing diminished and I felt her pushing gently away from me. Sitting upright, she wiped her eyes with the handkerchief I offered her.

"I'm so sorry, Severus. I just – I just haven't been able to talk to anyone else about this and it's been inside of me for so long…"

"I know, Hermione. I'm so sorry that you have to go through this. Losing your friends like that… it's too much for someone your age to have to deal with. I wish that I could help you, I truly do. And I have to tell you, I'm honored that you feel you can discuss this with me."

Looking up at me with cheerless eyes, she tried to smile. "Why wouldn't I feel comfortable enough with you? You're my best friend."

I stared at her, my mind spinning. While I knew that her emotions were sincere and tender, they were so far removed from what I wanted to have with her. I felt a sudden sense of loss, knowing that my attraction was neither acknowledged nor returned. So this was how it was to be… friends. The fantasies that I'd been harboring for months now would never be realized. This awareness was too much to take, and I stood quickly and strode away from her.

"Severus?" Her voice was concerned now, and I marveled at how easily she shifted her focus from her own problems to mine. "What is it? Did I say something wrong?"

I watched the thick flakes land silently on my woolen coat, the heat of the warming spell making them disappear swiftly. As swiftly as my dreams, a little voice inside my head taunted. I had been a fool to think that Hermione would ever feel about me as I did about her. She was so young, and her most notable life experiences to date were a war and the loss of her two best friends. So much darkness in such a short time… Why would she ever be drawn to a man like me? I could offer her no light… only, perhaps, a slightly paler shade of gray than she had known thus far.

I jumped when she placed her hand on my arm. "Severus, please. Tell me what's wrong."

The melting snow had dampened her hair, and her eyes were still red from crying. I had never seen her look more beautiful. Rubbing my forehead with the back of my hand, I walked back to the fallen log and sat down heavily on it.

"Hermione… I don't know what to say. I just wish I could make things better for you."

"But you have!" she insisted. "Just being able to finally talk about this, to have someone to share these things with… don't you know what a difference that makes?" Reaching over she turned my face toward hers. "Don't you know what a difference you've made, Severus?"

Her hand on my cheek was soft and warm, and I fought with myself not to turn and place a kiss on her palm. Instead, I looked into her eyes, telling myself that I might never get another chance to be this close to her.

"You are an extraordinary witch, Hermione Granger. You have nothing but my admiration, my loyalty, and my respect for as long as you will accept it."

Bringing up one hand to cover hers, I continued. "I cannot tell you why he left you. Why anyone would leave you is beyond me."

"Severus," she whispered.

"But you have my solemn word, as your friend, and as a man, that I will never leave you."

Tears welled up in her eyes, and I lifted my other hand to push her hair back from her face. I watched as that same hand slowly slid around to the back of her neck, almost as though it belonged to someone else.

"You have my heart," I murmured, leaning forward.

"Please," she whispered, just before my lips touched hers.

I reveled in the softness of her mouth as I moved mine against it. My heart nearly exploded as she began to respond, her hand sliding up my arm to my shoulder, her breath quick as we broke apart and came together again and again. When I gently prodded her lips with my tongue she quickly opened them, and I pulled her tightly against me as I delved into her mouth. One hand wound tightly into her hair as the other wrapped around her waist. I couldn't believe this was happening; only moments ago I had been sure that she would never feel this way for me, and now here she was in my arms. I didn't want to let her go. I never wanted to let her go.

When I was finally able to release my grip on her, she pulled back quickly and turned her gaze out over the snow. I struggled to control my breathing and waited for her to speak.

"Perhaps we should head back," she said gently after a moment. As I stood and extended a hand to her, she quickly wiped a stray snowflake from her cheek.

Weeks later, we became lovers. In what I considered to be an incredibly romantic intimation, she cried softly afterwards. I held her close, feeling a bit overwhelmed myself at the feelings coursing through me. Those same feelings returned six months later, when I asked her to marry me. I will never forget how she looked that day, staring down at the floor for such a long time that I thought that she surely would decline me. When she looked up, her eyes were once again filled with tears, as she simply said, "Yes."

Although I was beside myself with joy, Hermione seemed much calmer and more serene about our union. I suggested to her that we wed that weekend, in a small church in the neighboring town, but she was hesitant. "I think it would be best to wait a while. Please don't take that the wrong way," she hastily added, "I just would prefer to…" As she trailed off, I chuckled to myself.

"I understand," I consoled her, kissing her softly on the cheek. "You want time to plan a proper wedding. Of course, love. Take all the time that you need. It is enough for me that you have said yes."

Had the circumstances not been so joyous, the smile that she gave me would have seemed almost… sad. Knowing that she could not be feeling that way, I attributed her lukewarm demeanor to her being tired… and possibly overwhelmed with all the preparations that she was now facing.

Yes. That must be it.

Now, nearly a year later, I had a better life than I ever deserved. Thanks to the money I had saved during all my years at Hogwarts, I no longer needed a job, but I continued to work in Potions, doing private research for several hospitals. Hermione didn't have to work, either, but she chose to, and knowing how much she valued her independence, I would never ask her to give it up. So, four days a week she went to work for a bookstore in Wizarding London, invariably spending almost her entire salary on books. Our times together were spent quietly and happily; evenings at home, dinners out, holidays spent either alone or with the other Hogwarts survivors. Hermione remained in close contact with the Weasleys, and although I was not altogether pleased with this, it had only taken one heated argument and an extremely quiet week around the house for me to learn that this subject was not up for discussion.

I had no close friends to speak of, myself. Years ago there had been Lucius, but that relationship, like so many other people and things, had fallen victim to Voldemort's reign. I still missed him… his biting wit, his unparalleled arrogance. In that respect, I understood Hermione's pain over Weasley and Potter.

Indeed, losing her two comrades had stripped Hermione of something fundamental, something that I had hoped I would be able to give back to her but had not. Whether it was her innocence, her ability to trust or just a chance to have a normal and unblemished childhood, I don't know; whatever it was, I hadn't seen a trace of it since I had approached her that day in the castle corridor. She seemed happy, and she often told me that she loved me, but there was no glint in her eyes as there had been before the war. I missed the energy that I had so often seen in her as a student, and for some time I had attempted to bring that shine back to her. Eventually I had realized that it was a moot point; what was lost was lost, and just as Hermione loved me despite all that my life had taken from me, so would I love her as she now was.

I hear her walking through the kitchen, and I know that she is coming out to say goodbye before she leaves for work. I tip my head back for the gentle kiss that I know is coming, the one that I count on.

"Would you mind terribly if I went to dinner with Ginny this evening, Severus?"

I frown slightly, for I do, indeed, mind. She has seen the youngest Weasley far too often for my liking lately. It is not that I want to keep her from seeing her friend; it is just that I would prefer to spend that time with her myself.

"I know, I know… I've been going out with Ginny a lot lately." She laughed, almost nervously. "It's just that she needs someone to talk to, you know, since she broke up with her boyfriend…"

"Hermione, that happened nearly two months ago, did it not?" She nods in confirmation. "I would think Miss Weasley would be over the relationship by now. At the very least, I would expect her to be beyond the point where she needs someone to hold her hand while she cries."

"He was very important to her! Do you expect her to just forget about him that easily?"

I shrug. "If the relationship is over, than it is best for her to accept it and move on."

She looks at me oddly for a moment, then asks quietly, "And you, Severus? Could you move on so easily if I left you?"

"That is an entirely different circumstance, Hermione, and you know it. You are to be my wife, not just someone that I was dating for a matter of weeks, good for a few shags." I ignore her scowl and continue. "Your friend has been through many relationships before this, and I will wager a bet that she will go through many more in the future. Somehow I doubt that this is the be-all and end-all of her existence."

"You didn't answer my question," she reminds me softly, with that same strange expression on her face.

I know what she wants, I think to myself. She's looking for reassurance that you still love her. With the wedding coming up and having to nurse her friend through this breakup, she's feeling insecure. Although I prefer to show my emotions when I choose to, and not as the result of coquettish pleas, I realize that it will be easier in the long run to just say the words that she needs to hear.

"No, Hermione. I could not move on without you. I don't think that I could move at all without you. You are the only reason that I exist today, the only reason that this sad, pathetic excuse for a man has not disappeared from the face of the world. I don't know why the gods have seen fit to give you to me, but I thank them every day that they have found me worthy. I don't know how to explain to you how much I love you, but I can tell you this: if you were to leave me, there would never be another. No one has ever owned my heart before, and no one ever will again. I love you now, and I will love you forever."

I watch as her lips tremble and tears slowly gather in her brown eyes. I stand and pull her to me, cupping her face with my hand. But as I bend to kiss her, she turns her head, and my lips brush her cheek instead.

"I should get going. I don't want to be late."

She angles her head toward me and gives me a brief kiss, then walks to the end of the porch and Apparates away.

Sighing, I shake my head. I wonder – for the umpteenth time – if there is any way to return Hermione to the passionate, fiery woman that I had seen years before. I realize how ludicrous it is that I, of all people, should complain that someone doesn't show their feelings readily enough; however, it seems so unnatural, so vaguely obscene, for Hermione to be as reserved as she's become.

What's wrong, Severus? Are you feeling insecure now? Need to hear her tell you how much she loves you, how special you are?

Snorting in disgust, I head down to my lab to begin my potions for the day. Looking at my list, I realize that I don't have enough fresh lovage on hand to create the Clarifying Draught requested by St. Steven's Children's Ward. Thankfully, many of the herbs and plants that I use in my concoctions can be found in the woods at the edge of our property. Grabbing one of my collection satchels, I leave the house and trek across the lawn.

Several hours later, I've gathered enough lovage to create the potions for the hospital, and I find that I'm quite famished. As I head back toward home, I spot Crookshanks lounging underneath one of the large maple trees that Hermione has always loved. I'm not an animal lover by any means, but her familiar has grown on me and I stop to scratch his belly as he contorts himself on the ground.

His shameless writhing musses the leaves and needles scattered at the base of the tree, and I suddenly glimpse the corner of a small, hardbound book buried beneath them. I pull it out; it is nondescript, a burgundy cover with the words "My Diary" written in gilded letters across the front. Naturally suspicious, I check the book for any hexes or curses, and am surprised to find that there is nothing magical about it at all. I open it and immediately recognize Hermione's handwriting. Crookshanks gives a soft growl and I raise an eyebrow at him.

"I am a Slytherin, my friend. Never forget that."

And with those words I return to the house with the diary in my hand, prepare my lunch, and then begin to read about me.

Disclaimer: I own nothing that you could possibly want.

Author's Notes:

This story gets its title and plot line from the song "Diary" by the group Bread. They're a band from the 70's that I don't really know too much about, and I don't really like too much of their stuff. LOL. But this song has always seemed terribly poignant to me, and I found myself inspired. If you're not familiar with the song, please don't hunt it down just yet for the lyrics… it will kind of spoil the later part of the story for you. I'll include the lyrics in their entirety when the story is finished.

I originally intended this story to be a one-shot, but apparently I've got way too big of a mouth. So it will be at least another chapter.

Snape is a bit OOC in this story, but I hope I've kept him from being too squishy. His complete adoration of Hermione is essential to the storyline.

Humongous thanks go out to my hubby. Not only is he as fabulous as always, in a very heterosexual way, but he also bought me a laptop computer, so that I can now sit in the living room with him and our son and get more writing done without feeling guilty! You are a peach and a diseased maniac. Love ya!