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: Thanks to all my reviewers and especially to my previewers Bellegeste and Lady Memory, who supported me through multiple drafts of this chapter.

After Professor Snape reveals his true feelings to a newly graduated Hermione, an unexpected friendship develops and deepens. But no man is an island, and no couple either, and the past casts a long shadow...

Hermione's mother distributed the teacups. "When are we going to meet your beau?" she said.

Hermione sighed. "You have met him."

"He wasn't your beau then." Her mother's voice sharpened "Was he?"

"Of course not. I was barely out of school."

"You're barely out now." Her father pointed out.

"Six months," she said. "Almost seven. It's enough. "

"Is it?" he asked.


Her parents glanced at each other. It was Mrs Granger's turn.

"He was a Death Eater."

"Before I was born," Hermione said, stirring her tea very hard.

"That doesn't make it better." Mr Granger picked up his cup and put it down again. "People died. He was responsible. How do you tell his victims that you love their killer?"

Hermione opened and closed her mouth. "He changed. He's a hero now. The best man I know."

"Is that what you're planning to tell your children?"

Hermione swallowed too much tea and started coughing. "I suppose so."

"Daddy did very bad things once?" her father scoffed.

"Mmm, and he's very sorry and he's been trying ever since to mend them." She swirled her tea. "I'm sorry you don't like it -"

"Don't like it? Don't like it?"

"Calm down, dear. Remember what the doctor said. We've always trusted your judgement, Hermione. We want to trust it now. But he's such a smooth talker, as a spy would have to be, I suppose. Are you sure you can see past his charm?"

When Hermione could stop laughing, she told them. "I've never noticed his charm, Mum. Only his honesty."

Hermione edged over to make room on the couch. He sat down beside her and stretched his feet to the warm hearth.

"What did they say?" he asked.

"To bring you next time." She slipped her hand in his. "Don't be hasty; consider your history; what will I tell our children -"

He choked. "Our children? I didn't know we had any."

"Oh, very funny, you." She snuggled closer. "One day."

He smiled.

Dear Harry,

I could lead in to this slowly with questions about Italy and Aurory and how you're liking them, but that seems dishonest. Silly too, because I saw you last week at the Burrow and heard your answers. So I'll just come straight out with it.

How do you really feel about me and Severus? Now that you know what happened between him and your parents, what he did. Whether or not you can forgive him, can you forgive me? Because I know it all and it doesn't change what I feel. What I intend. You're the most forgiving person I know, but can you forgive this?

Before you ask, no, we're not actually engaged, so please don't do a Ginny on me now. Only that we will be sooner or later.

I'm still your friend. Nothing could change that. But are you still mine?


PS Let me tell Ron myself, OK? I just needed to talk to you first – and not by Floo.

A/N Review replies will be delayed as I'll be offline for most of the next two weeks.