At mid-July, the Burrow saw its second wedding within the span of a year. Hermione walked down the aisle to where Ron was waiting for her, grinning from ear to ear and shuffling his long arms and legs awkwardly. There was a gale of laughter when Harry, the best man, dropped Hermione's ring, which was retrieved a few moments later from under Auntie Muriel's seat.

Amidst applause and whistles, which followed the moment Hermione became Mrs. Ronald Weasley, a young man with silvery blond hair walked away from the entrance, where he stood as an uninvited guest. He was noticed by no one but Severus Snape, who looked at him with a mixture of pity and understanding. Every line in the back of Draco Malfoy's figure spelled both resignation and defiance.

The next moment, Severus's attention was diverted by the combined wails of Fiona and – as Celena and Fleur predicted – her future best friend Victoire, who was born two weeks after her.

A year later, Severus and Celena attended the wedding of Draco Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass, which was held at Malfoy Manor and marked as the classiest social event of the summer.

Two years after Fiona's birth, Severus and Celena became parents again, this time to a girl named Anna. Around the same time, Harry and Ginny Potter had their first son, James. Severus relinquished the honor of being godfather in favor of Remus Lupin, but he gladly became godfather to Albus Severus, who was born three years after James and in the same year as the third Snape child, Septimus Severus. Albus and Septimus frequently saw each other while growing up and soon became very good friends, a friendship that, their parents expected, would be further cemented when they started school.

With the shadows of the past cast away, the friendship between the Snapes, the Potters and the Weasleys continued to grow, and the years flowed peacefully, happily, until one day Severus Snape could look back and honestly say that the past seemed to him merely a bad dream, which he had been able to shake off completely.

Just one trace of the lingering offences of his school years remained: a mild, mute dislike of James Potter the second, who strongly resembled his grandfather in both looks and character, and annoyance at everyone's half-laughing suggestions that James and Anna might end up married when they grow up.

But even if that happens, Severus kept reminding himself philosophically, you can't have everything in life.