My Dearest Hermione:
I am in my office, or rather, Albus’s office (I will never see myself as a rightful Headmaster), attempting to put my affairs in order. If you are reading this, and I suspect that you are, then I have been a casualty of the war; one of many.
I find myself actually hoping you will read this letter. While life isn't fair, it's never been unfair in my favor; how cruel that it would decide to keep me alive while others so worthy of life have died. May the Fates at least grant me a clean death.
Enough. The point of this endeavor is to tell you all that I would not, could not, tell you before.
I am a monster, dearest Hermione, as you well know. I have a darkness within me that defies reason. Why else would I have joined the Death Eaters? My darkness compelled me to betray Trelawney’s prophecy to the Dark Lord. Because of me, Tom Riddle chose to target Potter that fateful night; had Lily's death not occurred I would have been by His side to the bitter end. You see, it was the death of the woman I loved at that time which turned me from darkness to light. How cruel that Lily's death saved Potter and me.
I am dawdling. I never dawdle. I am quick, succinct, and clear. Why am I dawdling? I am afraid, dearest Hermione. I am brave when bravery involves a strong opponent worthy of my dueling skill, but I find myself an absolute coward when bravery involves saying soft words to one so worthy of them.
When you came to your first Potions class and waved your hand so hard you nearly tore your arm from its socket, I have to be honest, dearest Hermione, that I very nearly despised you. I saw myself in you at that moment; awkward build, too intelligent for your own good. I loathed myself at that time, and I could not stand seeing those things within you. Self-hatred had been my only constant companion, you see.
I suffered through the rest of your schooling. I thought of you often; when the Dark Lord rambled on about taking Muggle-borns (I will not sully this parchment with His choice of phrasing) as pets, I thought of you. I dreamed of you, dearest Hermione; dreams so dark they often scared me awake at night. The things I did to you, and oh, how you begged me not to stop.
I am indeed a monster.
Seeing you petrified in the Infirmary was nearly heart-wrenching. You ran off half-cocked like the brave Gryffindor you are, and you were nearly killed! It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how much I valued you. So close to being me yet saved from that fate by supportive friends. It was good that the Sorting Hat placed you where it did; Slytherin would have taken your light and twisted it to its own vile machinations. It did mine.
You were the only one brave enough to hex me in the Shrieking Shack. I would have killed Black, but I knew one of you would have stopped me. I silently prayed that it would be you. I wanted to feel your magic, even if it was encased in righteous fury. Just to be wrapped in your force was enough. Don’t you see, my dearest Hermione? I was a monster enraptured by a girl. The lust came later, much later, but the fixation was already there.
Krum. I hated that boy only because of how close he was to you. Did you think I wasn’t watching, wasn’t aware, when you came down the steps in your dress with your hair up, exposing your lovely neck? Every Death Eater would have given his right testicle to crack that lovely neck. I had no right to you, though; I reminded myself of that by baring my arm to Karkaroff. The Dark Mark stood out in stark damnation of my crimes. I couldn’t let anyone see my panic at you being chosen for Krum’s underwater fiasco. My curse has always been a weeping heart. I wasn’t named “Snivellus” for nothing.
My dearest Hermione, you must forgive me for how I have wronged you. I don’t consider our marriage a wrong; the wrong I speak of is me keeping you out of the Order. I could not endanger your life in that way. You had become quite important to me, you see. The intensity of my dreams had only grown, and even though I had started my journey for the sake of Lily, my totem was slowly changing.
I was selfish, Hermione. I had to keep you safe. I gave my all to the Cause, but I could not give you. Every time I returned from a meeting with the Dark Lord, I kept your image in my thoughts. Every aftershock of Cruciatus was borne a bit easier with your smile.
I could not, would not, speak these words to you. The whole world had ears, and they were all trained on me. The Dark Lord did not trust me (and he was wise not to; who trusts a spy?), so I had to be mindful of my every word and movement at all times. If it became known how much you truly meant to me, you would have been dead within the hour.
I have used my position as Headmaster of Hogwarts to cover for you on your journey, but you have led me a merry chase. Do you realize just how frightening it is as a husband to hear tales of your wife dodging Snatchers and being tortured by Death Eaters when he cannot help you? To hear tales of my beloved’s screams as she was tortured? I died inside each day there was no news of you, and I was reborn when you and your little band of idiots surfaced anew (I believe I drove Phineas Black to the brink of insanity with my pacing and swearing, or as close as a painting can get, anyway).
For the first time in twenty years, I knew real fear. I had long ago stopped fearing for myself.
My dearest Hermione, I sincerely hope that I am able to come back to this office tonight and throw this parchment into the fireplace. I hope that I am able to come back to your arms and sleep with you and your plethora of pillows. I hope that I am able to come back to you.
I go to the Dark Lord tonight with a light heart, for it is full of you. You are my light at the end of the tunnel, my dearest Hermione, my dearest wife.
I love you.
Severus Tobias Snape.