Bags packed they gathered in the hall before flooing to Snapes childhood home at spinners end. It felt strange seeing it in its present reality after so recently acquainting himself to his father's memory of it. It was so much cleaner now, and not just the house, the whole town seemed brighter somehow. Harry had built up an image of what he thought Cokeworth to be like in his head and despite already have seen it in his father's pensieve was surprised to find that it really wasn't what he was expecting, he even came to realise he had actually been here before when his uncle Vernon had tried to outrun the letters Hogwarts had sent Harry regarding his place at the school!
They spent the morning exploring all Severus old haunts, the warren of lanes that ran between the terraced houses, his school, the canal, the secondary school the majority of his former classmates had gone up to, the high street and of course the Evans's.
Harry got a little emotional upon seeing the house that his mother and aunt had grown up in. He had always found it difficult to reconcile himself to the fact that they were sisters, particularly given how extraordinary his mother had been in her short life in comparison to Petunias apparent proclivity towards the mundane. The house was just like any other normal muggle house and it was almost inconceivable to think that a sweet innocent little girl had lived here once upon a time and then grew up, to be hunted across the land by the Dark Lord. He could almost understand Petunias fear of all things magical but for his father, the biggest shock was that a chip shop he seemed to have particularly fond memories of for undisclosed reasons had been replaced by a dog grooming parlour - especially given that he had intended for them to lunch there.
Disappointed, he settled on some sandwiches from the corner shop instead which they ate under a tree in the park. The same tree Severus had been sitting beneath when he had first recognised Lily Evans as a witch, many, many moons ago. They had just finished eating when they were approached by a stranger.
"Severus Snape?" he asked hesitantly.
Severus turned in surprise, "Hello Neil!" he replied warmly, recognising a former classmate.
"Severus hi, how have you been?"
"Good now, Good. These are my children." He replied proudly gesturing to Harry and the twins.
He took one look at the children and surmised that he had married Lily.
"Well not married." Severus replied, kind of trailing off.
"But these are her children?" He pressed.
"He is," Severus confirmed pointing to Harry before mournfully informing the man that Lily had died in 1981?
"Oh yes I remember now, so very sad." He replied with genuine remorse, prompting Harry to wonder what the muggles in his mother's life had been lead to believe in relation to the circumstances of his death. "You were with someone else from our class after that too weren't you, oh what was her name again, a little brown haired girl."
"That's it, where is she now? I have not seen her in forever either.
"America, I think." He replied before enquiring after the man's own family.
His friend smiled and pointed to a little girl playing on the swing set before remarking that he thought he remembered Lily getting married.
"She was married, just not to me." Severus replied sadly.
The man's cheeks turned crimson with embarrassment and he quickly changed the subject. "So what are you up to these days?" He asked with genuine interest.
"I'm a teacher."
"Oh really what do you teach?"
"Potions!" Evan announced proudly before anyone could stop him.
Severus coughed in embarrassment, shooting Evan a look of bafflement before making a joke about children and their imaginations and informing him that he taught chemistry at a Scottish boarding school.
Harry had hoped his father would have gone into more detail. He was curious as to how one might describe Hogwarts life to an unenlightened muggle but the man merely laughed at Evans enthusiasm and began recanting anecdotes of his own concerning what his daughter thought he did for a living until the little girl called out for him to come and push her on the roundabout. "One moment Darling" he called before saying goodbye to the Snapes, telling Severus it was how lovely it was to see him again after all these years.
Alone again Severus explained to the twins that Potions, as they knew them at least, did not exist in the muggle world but that they did have a rather similar concept, that they termed Chemistry. He then enquired as to whether or not Harry had had much exposure to Chemistry as a subject in his muggle primary school and was surprised to discover that not only had he covered the basics of some fundamental theories but that as a class they had also conducted multiple supervised experiments to observe different chemical reactions explaining yet again why so many muggleborns seemed to have an advantage over their pureblooded classmates despite magic being an unfamiliar and novel phenomenon to them.
He tried to remember what he himself had been taught at that level, but it was different for him anyways. He had always known what magical potions were and what they could do, but still, could there have been something in those childhood lessons that his pure blooded counterparts had been excluded from that had made him into the celebrated potioneer he was today? He then wondered for like the millionth time if whether or not he had done the right thing in home schooling the twins until he was drawn from his reverie by Lily asking if she could go and play on the swings.
He took out his pocket watch and checked the time. There are a few matters of business I must address while here in Cokeworth. You three could stay here and play for an hour or so while I attend to them if you wish?
The twins nodded eagerly.
You must promise that you will keep out of trouble. If I return to find that you have misbehaved in any way and that includes any performance of magic in front of muggles then its straight back home to the manor, do you understand?
"Yes Father, we promise Father" They chorused.
"Could I go with you Father?" Harry asked, feeling sure that whatever business Snape had was guaranteed to be more exciting than an afternoon spent in a muggle playground but his father declined. He advised that he would only be bored trailing around after him all day and that he needed him to stay here to keep an eye on his brother and sister. He also reminded him that the park held special significance to both himself and Harrys mother and encouraged him to take the opportunity to explore it properly.
"Okay Father!" Harry agreed with new found enthusiasm and Severus set off, leaving them to play unsupervised in the summer sunshine.
He felt guilty leaving the children alone, when the whole purpose of this trip was their spending some quality time together, but his return to Cokeworth had stirred a memory in him. When Harry and his friends ran the consanguines indicator on his blood it had correctly listed himself and the three children as relatives but it had also listed a fifth and otherwise yet unknown Snape, Aurelia Eileen.
He had surmised at the time that she was likely a long lost sister of his given that the Snapes were muggles and that it seemed too much of a coincidence for her to bear his mother's first name as he middle name if she were just a random cousin that happened to be a Muggleborn Witch but with everything else on his mind, dealing with the fact that he was Harrys father, working out a way to bring him home, he had almost forgotten all about her.
There were magical ways of contacting her of course but Severus had always been one to err on the side of caution and he wanted to discover what he could of her before deciding whether or not to invite her into their lives and so having calculated three likely windows of possibility for her birth headed towards the church hoping that he might find reference to her in the parish records but alas there was no sign of her. His parents had been married here and he found mention of himself a couple of times but no one by the name of Aurelia. He reconsidered the possibility of her being a more distant muggleborn relative and expanded his search before ultimately deciding to look her up in the Hogwarts records instead. He didn't recall there ever being another Snape in the school but perhaps if she had been in a different house she might have escaped his notice, especially if she had completed her schooling just before he returned as a teacher but even if his father had not have permitted her to go to school or had been sent away elsewhere, she should still be included in the records of magical births.
He returned to the playground, relieved to find that the children had managed to stay out of mischief while he had been gone and spent the next twenty minutes or so playing with them before returning home to the house on spinners end.
Harry could see that his father was uncomfortable in his childhood home and given that he had seen the way his grandfather had treated him, was unsurprised. He even suggested that they could floo home and spent the night in their own beds but Severus refused. He wanted to give his children a proper holiday not just a series of day trips and besides he had something planned for the night. The Russian ballet was in town and he wanted to surprise Lily with a trip to the performance so he had them wash and dress before whisking them off to a fancy restaurant and then on to the city opera house. Lily was beside herself with excitement and sat awestruck throughout the entire recital. He had never seen her more happy in her entire life. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," she gushed the whole way home.
Severus smiled, "Well I did say you could each pick something you wanted to do this summer didn't I?"
"Yes but I didn't think we actually would, or that it would be this good, oh Papa, it was so amazing."
Harry and Evan looked at each other and rolled their eyes. It wasn't that they had found the performance bad but they did feel as though it had gone on for rather long enough and the last thing they wanted was to have to listen to Lily going on and on about it for the rest of the week. Their father was encouraging her too which only made it worse.
The next day they spent exploring the city at large, and then on the third morning Severus asked whether they would like to stay a little longer or if they would prefer to move on someplace else. To his obvious relief they unanimously agreed that they had already seen all there was to see and that it was time to move on.
"Are you sure Harry?" he double checked, it had been his sons wish to come here after all, that he might get the chance to connect with the mother he never really knew in some way.
Harry nodded, he was glad they had come here, but there was no point dwelling on the past.
"Very well, I would like you to experience the summer holidays I enjoyed as a boy" he declared enigmatically, "Please clear up the breakfast things and be ready to go when I return." He instructed before disappearing out the door.
The children had just finished packing when they heard the doorbell ring. They looked at one another, curious as to who might be at the door, but also slightly worried. They knew their father wouldn't wish for them to open the door to strangers.
Harry grabbed his wand before peering out the window where he caught sight of something he never thought he would see. Severus Snape, Hogwarts most formidable professor, leaning against a parked car smirking up at him, as he styled his hair like Danny Zuko in Grease.
Harry tore down the stairs. "Is that yours? He asked incredulously after flinging open the front door.
"It's a hire car." He replied.
"Is it magic?" he asked, remembering with a shudder his adventures in the Weasleys Ford Anglia last summer.
"No just a normal car."
"Do you have a drivers licence?" Harry asked with slight apprehension as the twins joined him on the doorstep.
His father nodded, "But why?" Harry asked curiously, wondering why you would bother with a car when you could apparate or fly.
"Why not?, come on, hop in, we are going to the seaside!"
They were in the car for what seemed like hours and hours, further validating Harrys earlier opinion that no self-respecting wizard should ever have need of a muggle motor car but Severus insisted that it was all part of the experience and sure enough the moment he spotted the first stretch of blue sea on the horizon, Harry felt an excitement building that he knew he wouldn't have got if they had just arrived there.
They checked into a guesthouse and after a fish and chip supper headed straight down onto the beach. They spent the next few days enjoying a quintessentially British seaside holiday: building sandcastles, swimming in the sea, riding donkeys, watching the Punch and Judy show, sliding down the Helter Skelter, swinging on the Swingboats, chasing seagulls and of course drowning themselves in ginger beer and eating lots and lots of ice cream.
Harry would have stayed there forever but alas the time came when they had to go home and so they all piled into the car and journeyed back to Cokeworth to discover their father had one final surprise for them before they went home.
Quidditch! Harry wouldn't have thought it possible to beat the seaside but as he sat in the stands with his family watching the Applyby Arrows go head to head with Puddlemere United he felt as though he were King of the World and afterwards when they finally did return home to the manor he no longer felt sad that their holiday was over. He had realised while cheering on Puddlemere United in a direct and deliberate opposition to his father who was shouting for the Arrows that he felt secure in their relationship now, he could be himself without fear of abandonment or rejection. He was free to be whatever he wanted to be and his father and the twins would still love him, because he was their Harry and would be forever more. How could he be sad when he had that? He had a home now, a family who loved him. He was happy.