Part XI

Severus Snape was in a bad mood. He had searched for that blasted boy everywhere he could think of but he was nowhere to be found.

"Goodness, Severus, what has your teeth on edge now?" Minerva McGonagall said as he stormed into the staff room.

"Potter!" Severus growled.

"Why, Severus, Potter isn't even at Hogwarts. Surely you can't suspect him of any mischief," McGonagall said reasonably.

"He isn't at Hogwarts?" Severus repeated slowly.

"Why would he be? He has gone home for the holidays like all the other children. Surely you have noticed a distinct lack of… children," she finished staring at the back of Severus's robes. The rest of him was already gone.

Severus had not expected this. Lost in his thoughts, he had not noticed how many days had passed since he had left Hogwarts. Nor had he expected Harry to be gone when he came back. It was true that he hadn't left any instructions for Harry's care but surely Dumbledore… Severus shook his head. How many times yet had he blamed others for his own mistakes? Recalling the past few days he had, many, many times.

Severus had done the only thing reasonable and had gone to the cottage in Hogsmeade that he had shared with Lily for one blissful year to look for answers. He hadn't been there for a long time, preferring to live in his miserable childhood home in Spinner's End.

The house brought back many memories and Severus had at first decided to ignore them, instead focusing on looking for anything that Lily could have left behind that could give him an idea of what had been going through her mind when she found out she was pregnant.

As he combed through the house, he realized that she had left too soon for anything of import to be there. His frustration had led to fury at her. What right did she have to keep his child from him? How dare she leave him? He had gone directly to her grave in Godric's Hollow where he had been only once before from a distance on her funeral.

Going to Godric's Hollow hadn't been what he expected. He had expected to be able to continue being furious at her, at Potter, at all those who had wronged him. Instead, the moment he reached her grave, his fury melted away into nothing and he sunk to his knees. The reality of the situation hit him. Lily had given her life for her child, for their child.

Here he was, ready to put all the blame on her without assessing his own mistakes. He was the one who had been horrible to the child the moment he stepped into Hogwarts because of the pain of his own mistakes. He was the one who had told the child that he would never love him enough to be his father. He was the one who had been cowardly and afraid even the child had opened up to him. And he was the one who had fled after his son had shown him the love he had only before been given by one person. The lack of Dark Mark on his arm proved it. He sat at her grave for a very long time his head bowed, his hair covering his face.

Dobby sensed that someone was at Miss Lily's grave. Miss Lily had always been kind to him and had even made a charm for him that allowed him to leave his home and disobey his Master's orders for short periods of time. She had told him she was working on a charm that could completely free elves which Dobby was enthusiastic about though his fellow elves would not have been so.

When Miss Lily had asked him to deliver a letter to Harry Potter on his eleventh birthday, Dobby had taken the job eagerly. It was too bad Miss Lily had died so soon afterward. Dobby had taken it upon himself to tend to Miss Lily's grave. His elven magic allowed him sensitivity to the happenings around the grave. The magical signature told him that it was Master Snape who Miss Lily had loved. Dobby could tell he was sad. Maybe Dobby should give him a letter too. Miss Lily had given him her journal when she gave him the letter for Master Harry. Maybe he could give that to Master Snape. Yes, he decided, he would.

A soft breeze was blowing so Severus almost didn't hear the crack, a telltale sign of apparation. He looked up to see a leather-bound journal lying on the ground in front of him. He looked around, his wand drawn. His eyes stopped at a pair of big green eyes peaking out from behind one of the gravestones. Before he could investigate, the green eyes disappeared with another crack.

He had no energy to pursue the spy and instead he picked up the journal and began flipping through the pages. The beginning of each one read "Dear Severus".

Severus stood outside Number 4, Privet Drive feeling unaccountably nervous. He simply had to walk up to the door and knock…

Harry had been so listless and lethargic that even his relatives were bound to notice. Of course this meant more taunting from Dudley and more work from his aunt and uncle. He wasn't bothered to argue so he did them and ignored Dudley. He had already started counting down the days until he could go back to Hogwarts.

He was cleaning the windows in the living room when there was a knock on the door. "Who is it, boy?" Uncle Vernon asked him. He and Dudley had been parked on the sofa watching TV since the morning. Harry craned his neck to see the doorway but was unable to see who it was.

"I can't tell, Uncle Vernon," he said.

Grumbling to himself about people who had nothing better to do on a Sunday than bother hardworking people who needed a break, Uncle Vernon managed to get himself off the sofa to open the door.

"Yes, can I help you?" Uncle Vernon barked. Harry rolled his eyes, sprayed some more window cleaner on his cloth and continued cleaning the windows.

"I'm looking for Harry Potter," came a smooth voice. Harry froze. The voice sounded so familiar but surely it couldn't be?

"Potter? There is no Harry Potter here!" Vernon yelled and obviously attempted to close the door on the 'stranger'. At this point, Dudley got curious and extricated himself from the sofa to see what the commotion was about. Harry discretely followed, staying behind the corner and peaking out. The black boot stopping the door from slamming was unmistakable, as was the body attached to the boot. His father had come.

"I assure you my information is quite accurate," Snape said silkily, "I would like to see Harry Potter."

"Vernon, who is it?" Aunt Petunia had just come out of the shower, obviously hearing the commotion.

"It's one of them, looking for him."

"Mrs. Dursley," Snape said with some distaste.

Aunt Petunia looked at him sharply, "Snape? What are you doing here?" she asked with equal distaste.

"I am Harry's father and I have come to take him with me." Harry could feel his breath hitching and he slowly emerged from his hiding place. Snape's eyes fell onto him immediately as did Aunt Petunia's.

"After all these years you have finally come to claim him," Aunt Petunia sneered.

"You knew?" Snape demanded.

"Of course I knew. I saw the resemblance immediately. After what Lily told me about you I realized why she wanted to keep the boy's identity secret. If I had known you were alive, he would have been sent to you years ago."

"Boy, pack your things," Uncle Vernon ordered. He seemed to realize that all of Harry's things were locked away in the cupboard under the stairs and managed to unlock the door in record time.

Harry looked at the three adults staring at him. Uncle Vernon looked gleeful, Aunt Petunia looked like she had eaten something terribly unpleasant and Snape looked expressionless as usual. "No," Harry said firmly, "I would rather stay here."

Their expressions immediately changed and Harry smiled, satisfied. "Oh, yes you will, boy," Uncle Vernon started.

Snape cut him off. "Harry," he said gently taking a step forward, "I – I know I have made many mistakes but all I can ask is for a chance to make it up to you since I know asking for forgiveness is too much. It has taken me embarrassingly long to realize that you have brought brightness to my life, which I have not had in many years," Snape swallowed (was he nervous?), "I have recently come to the realization that I have been selfish and self-absorbed but you manage to bring out the best in me, Harry. What I am trying to say is,"

Harry waited, his heart thrumming in his chest.

"I love you, Harry. I know there is no way to make up the lost time but I –"

He was cut off when a small body hurled itself into him and held onto him tightly. "I love you too, Dad," Harry whispered, clutching on tightly to Snape's robes. Snape patted him on the back.

"Let's go home, Harry," Snape said.

Albus Dumbledore's eyes twinkled as he watched as one of his instruments signaled to him that the wards at Privet Drive had fallen.

Harry Potter felt tears sting his eyes when he saw the album lying on his bed in the cottage at Hogsmeade full of pictures of his mother.

Severus Snape smiled softly as he once again read his favorite lines in Lily's journal.

"Dad, can you tell me a bit about these pictures," Harry said shyly, entering the room.

"Certainly, Harry," he replied, carefully laying the journal down. He looked at his son and realized that Lily's wish had come true.

I hope that one day we no longer have to hide and me and you and Harry can finally be a family.

All my love,


A/N: The end.

Thank you to all those who stuck with this story. I hope you enjoyed the last chapter and it wasn't too overdone.

I have been asked whether I will write a sequel and at the moment the answer is no. If at some point I do decided to write a sequel, it will be about the adjustment period in the summer and a bit more with this smarter Harry. In the mean time, I have other story ideas in mind so keep a look out!