My sweet Hermione,

Surely by now, you've realized that it can't work between us; it never could have. We are worlds apart, and I'm not sure there's anything we can do to fix that. Once, you had me caught up in that horrible romantic optimism you're so fond of, but no more. I've seen what really is, and I can no longer pretend or believe in what's not.

My past is something that you should never have had to deal with. It is something that I have yet to deal with, and hopefully it shall remain that way until death makes it all irrelevant. Forgetting the days when I was a Death Eater, the atrocious act of killing the one person who trusted me unconditionally, of killing my mentor, should have been enough to warn you off. You deserve someone with fewer ghosts in their cupboard than those which currently haunt mine.

I know we've discussed this previously. You almost had me convinced that none of it matters. I saw you, Hermione, trying to justify 'us' to those imbeciles. You couldn't do it, and even you found it hard to stay true in face of their persistence. It does not get easier with time. Those sayings are all false, and cannot give you what you need.

I cannot give you what you need. I am an emotional cripple, and shall remain so until I die. I will never be a sunny, cheerful person, and I will never be able to stand children. Being near you takes the edge off slightly, but I am still who I am under it all. And even you are not good enough at Charms to hide that hurt look in your eye when my tongue turns on you. I cannot change who I am.

I amused you for a while. Challenged you, kept you busy. But that's all I could ever be to you, another challenge to solve. You always were one to stick up for the underdog, and always the first to tackle the next puzzle. I am not a puzzle, Hermione. My personality contains none of the irrelevant fluff that seems to make women of your age so happy, and it never will. It's not a puzzle. I don't terrorise children because I'm in emotional pain. It amuses me in my quieter moments. I'm not a puzzle, I am just - me.

There's nothing left here for either of us. If we were to continue in this way, we would both end up with nothing. We would obliterate each other eventually. My being could not handle the stress of constantly trying to live up to who you want me to be. And you could never handle living with the greasy git of the dungeons for an extended period.

We are who we are, and neither of us can change that. Neither of us should have to change. You will always be an infuriating know-it-all, but you will no longer be my infuriating know-it-all. I shall miss your irritating me whilst I try to read a book quietly on my own. My rooms will never seem the same again.

You deserve the happiness someone else could bring you; someone who does contain that fluff. Intelligence is not enough to hold a relationship together, and ours was destined not to be.

I will forever cherish the stolen months we had together. They were not meant to happen, but they were glorious when they did. I shall remember you; please live on your life without remembering me. I will always be,

Yours,

Severus Snape.