YOU AND HARRY

Disclaimer: This is a non-profit tribute to the works of JK Rowling who created and, together with her publishers and licensees, owns the characters and settings elaborated herein.

A/N: Spoilers to OotP, not HBP-compatible. Thanks to all my reviewers and my previewers, Bellegeste and Cecelle.

Dear Severus,

I must be the biggest idiot alive not to realise how you might take that. I'm sorry for letting you think our friendship might be affected by the boys' tantrums. My only excuse is that I've fallen into the habit of telling you whatever's on my mind and you always seem to understand. In case it wasn't clear, I'll say it again: my friendship with you is none of their business.

We're not at school now. Our lives move in wider circles and our friendships stretch over longer distances. There is ample space in my life for all of you. I won't let them tell me I can't be friends with you and them, any more than I was willing to let you tell me I couldn't be friends with them and you. I can. I am. And I will be, whether my love and caring are reciprocated or not.

I have no choosing to do. They may have some perhaps. If they choose wrong, I'll be sad about it, but never sorry, because anyone who thinks friendship gives him the right to tell me who else I can care about doesn't understand friendship at all.

That said, I'm happier than I can say that you chose as you did. I can just vaguely guess at how much it must have cost you to offer that, when I know how you feel about Potters. I suppose if I'd suffered more at Draco's hands than the occasional sneer or "Mudblood!" or misplaced hex I might feel the same way about Malfoys.

Ginny almost does, because of that cursed diary Draco's dad slipped in her schoolbooks in her first year, but at least she knows Draco's sorry about it.

Every time I think about you and Harry, I remember him calling you "pathetic" in the Shack for resenting an attempt on your life. Or, further back, hating you as much after learning you saved his life as before. However much I've blamed you for hating him on sight, I understand why you haven't let it go. I wish you could, for your sake as much as mine, because my parents always taught me that giving in to resentment is like holding a hot potato. The only way not to get burnt is to drop it.

Please, Severus, drop the potato. Think how much more your hands could be doing, if they weren't clenched around it.

Hermione

If any student noticed Professor Snape's hand touching his pocket during classes, at least they could not guess what was in it. He wouldn't touch the letter itself – they might hear it rustle – but he needed to remind himself it was real. If anyone saw the curving of his lips as he did so, at least they had the sense not to comment in his hearing. She cared about him; she'd said so. She was his, if only as a friend. And if anyone imagined he could be satisfied with that, they'd be wrong.