I'M BACK! You know I haven't updated this since December 2018? Well as we all know by now, I'm not great at updating regularly. But I do eventually update.

I know it's been a while. So many things have happened. But I would like to thank everyone who has enjoyed this so far. This fic is nearing the end. And once it's finished, I'll be able to focus on my other fics.

I hope you like this chapter.

It hurt. Why did it hurt so much? Where was he? Was he…

"Professor!"

That voice. He knew that voice. But that didn't make any sense. That voice was gone. No…wait…he was gone. He'd died, hadn't he? But then he hadn't. Why was it was all so confusing?

"Professor!"

Severus woke, gasping for air. Hands were touching him; people were saying things. But he couldn't register any of it. Something was wrong here. Something was very, very wrong.

"Papa!"

That's right. He had died, but then he'd come back. Not willingly. Never willingly. But when had that ever stopped people from making decisions for him?

"Papa!"

Where was he? Why couldn't he see him? The brat…Harry. He was gone.

He closed his eyes again.

"Professor, can you hear me!?" Someone screamed in his ear.

His eyes shot open. Strangely, the pain from before was gone. No…not gone. But definitely muted. Whatever they had given him must have been quite powerful.

They screamed in his ear again.

He glared, putting aside his confusion in favor of unleashing his anger on the twit who thought that was a good idea. "I'm not deaf" he croaked. God he sounded awful.

Much to his horror, that prompted the young mediwitch to burst into tears. Another woman swiftly hustled her out of the room before returning to his side.

"Sorry about her Professor. As you can probably guess, we've been very short staffed. We've had to make do with what we can get." The woman busied herself with examining him, ignoring his perplexed expression.

To think there would come a day when he wasn't immediately blamed for causing some young thing to burst into tears. He never thought he'd see the day.

He closed his eyes once more, trying to make sense of things. Only when she brushed against his stomach, did his eyes snap open. Something felt different. He looked down as best as he could. Where was the baby?

It was gone.

It was strange. He should have felt relieved. He should have, but he didn't. He opened his eyes once more, this time paying close attention to his surroundings.

He had never wanted kids. Never wanted to force life into a world that was so intent on destroying it. He'd only wanted to do his part, survive as long as he could and try not to have too many regrets. Not a happy life by anyone's imagination, but a practical one. And Severus had always tried to be practical. But now, as he rested his hand on his stomach, he felt an odd sense of regret.

There was a fall. He remembered that much. Then pain. Then…he woke up.

Did that mean his other self had returned? What about the baby? Was it alive? And the brat…Harry…was he okay? He had so many questions, but no way to get any answers.

"Wh-what…?" It hurt to talk. He grimaced, trying to swallow.

"Here." She helped prop him up, before handing him a small cup of water. Watching carefully as he took a sip, she took it back as soon as he was done.

"Try not to talk. There was a lot of damage from the venom." She lowered him back down carefully. "Are you in any pain?"

He frowned. Was he in pain? He felt something. But years of abuse and torture had hardened him. What others might consider pain, was a mere inconvenience to him. So he shook his head.

"Hmm." She frowned at him. "I'm guessing whatever you're feeling is tolerable at least."

He nodded and that was that. To his surprise, she merely returned his nod before changing the subject.

"You'll be bed bound for at least the next few days. Probably longer if I'm honest. And I'm sure Mr Potter will be popping by soon to check up on you. He's been in here more than anyone else, excluding staff of course." At his confusion she clarified: "he was worried about you."

He snorted, regretting it immediately. Though the pain was manageable, there was a rawness to his throat that made moving uncomfortable. Forcing sound through was even worse.

"Well that was silly now, wasn't it? And I wasn't joking. The poor lad's been in and out of this place so many times, it's a wonder he hasn't collapsed. He lost some people. Good people. So I hope you can be less of a bastard to him than you normally are."

She had a point. Not that he'd ever admit it to her. He'd done things to the boy. Things he regretted. But he'd had his reasons. Many reasons. Little Harry's face suddenly flashed through his mind. He closed his eyes briefly, trying to cast it aside.

"Right, that's that sorted. I have other patients to see to. Any trouble, you just tap twice. It will signal one of us to come check on you, okay?" She handed him a small stone. Without bothering, to open his eyes, he nodded.

The room fell silent as she left, though he could hear movement outside. He ignored it and opened his eyes once more. He glanced down once more. Still no baby. He swallowed painfully, grateful no one was here to see him losing his composure.

He was being ridiculous. He knew he was. Absolutely imbecilic in fact. And yet, he couldn't bring himself to care.

It said a lot about his life when the happiest he could remember being in a long time, was married to his worst enemy, fathering the child he hated and being best friends with the man who'd tried to kill him. It was the sort of thing he'd half expect to read in one of those gossip rags. If he'd ever lower himself to read such trash of course.

He rested his hand on his stomach. Nothing. He couldn't feel anything. No movement, no life, no baby. There was nothing there. He closed his eyes once more.

He should be happy, shouldn't he? To not be shackled to a man who tormented him in this universe and another. To not be responsible for not just one life but two innocent lives. To not be reduced to being the husband of a rich arrogant pillock. He should be happy.

Little Harry's face flashed through his mind again.

He should be happy.

Papa!

He could almost hear him.

He should be happy…

he wasn't.

"Professor!" The door opened and a familiar young man came stumbling in.

His eyes snapped open as he turned to the voice.

Potter's wide eyes stared at him, before the boy finally broke into sobs.

"Y-Y-You're awake!" Potter came over, grasping at him with trembling hands. "Y-You're really…"

Severus blinked. Had Potter really just done that? He tapped twice, staring at the crumbled figure of the Boy Who Lived on the floor. The Boy Who Fainted more like.

Unable to verbalise his annoyance, he merely glared at the boy until another mediwitch came in.

"Oh my!" She stared at him wide eyed. He merely pointed down at the floor, raising an eyebrow. It was good to know he could at least do that much.

"The poor dear. He's had a terrible time of it as of late. It must have just gotten too much for him." She tutted, levitating the boy out of the room.

She left quickly, leaving him to stare after her in disbelief. He watched the two until they went out of sight, before closing his eyes once more.

The next time he opened his eyes, someone's hand was clasped around his own. He must have fallen asleep. He glanced down at the hand, then followed it to the face of the one person he was actually happy to see.

"I hope you know, I hate you for doing what you did." The pompous attitude was a poor attempt at hiding his tears. Draco glared at him, squeezing his hand once more. "Mum's just left. She'll be back soon."

"And what did I do?" Severus managed, speaking slowly and quietly. He hissed as Draco swatted his leg.

"You bloody well died, you stupid imbecile! You keep going on about Potter not doing stupid things, and you went and did the stupidest thing of them all!" Draco screamed, breaking down into sobs as he clutched at the man's legs.

Startled, Severus let the boy continue to cry. With some effort, he managed to move enough to pat his back thrice. It was to this scene that dear Narcissa entered the room. With her beloved son weeping in his godfather's lap, with said godfather looking pleadingly at her to fix whatever was happening, and with their beloved savior gaping at the pair of them from behind her back. It was during this moment, that Severus found himself wishing for death once more. Surely it had to be the better option, right?

"Draco. Compose yourself. We have a guest." Narcissa leaned forward, drawing the young man into a hug. "I'm sure we'll both have plenty to say soon. But for now, let's give these two a little privacy, hmm?"

It was a startling change. To see Draco so carefully reapply his mask; the one every Malfoy had worn for generations. Still sniffling, he nodded slowly. He squeezed Severus' hand once more, smiling just a little when it was returned. Abruptly, he turned and stormed out, but not before fixing Potter with a fierce glare.

"I won't say anything!" Potter held his hands up, stepping out of his way.

As Draco left, closely followed by Narcissa, Harry drew up a chair. He sat, fiddling with his hands awkwardly. Finally, after several long minutes of silence, Severus nodded.

Harry opened his mouth. Then closed it, then opened in once more. Severus just lay there, waiting for the boy's brain to finally start processing. He soon ran out of patience.

"You fainted." Severus commented. Though he'd been advised not to speak, he couldn't imagine anything worse than the silence surrounding them both.

Harry chuckled awkwardly. "Yeah…I did. The healers said it was just everything catching up with me. You know the war, winning, losing people…" he trailed off, looking distant.

The silence returned. Though this time, Severus didn't try to fill it. Some things just needed time to be processed. He knew that more than anyone.

"We lost Remus and Tonks. Fred too." Potter's suddenly spoke, catching him off guard.

Severus frowned, trying to ignore the sick feeling in his chest. While it was of course tragic that the young Weasley had passed so young, it was the former that was hurting him. Too many memories of kind eyes and smiles, from a young man who'd once been his closest friend. No…that wasn't right. He'd tried to kill him…hadn't he?

He winced as a headache began to build. There were too many memories. Too many stories. It was becoming difficult to remember which were real, and which weren't.

"Sorry" he replied. He winced and painfully swallowed.

"Don't be." Potter sounded serious. So unlike what he'd come to expect from the boy. "There are a lot of people who should apologise. But not you."

Severus frowned. Well that was clearly a lie. But from the expression on Potter's face, he wasn't sure he had the strength to argue. Not right now at least.

"Do you…do you remember what it was like Professor?"

Severus raised an eyebrow, waiting for the boy to start making sense. Smiling sheepishly, Potter continued. "When you died I mean. The healers said you were dead at one point. But you came back to us."

Severus closed his eyes, sighing. He opened them once more after a few seconds had passed. Motioning for the water on the bedside table, he took a careful sip before opening his mouth.

"I do." He winced, taking another sip.

"Did you see anything? Anyone?" Potter persisted. He looked eager for his answer.

"I saw…" Severus trailed off. He frowned at the fluttering sensation in his stomach. "I saw…" he repeated. The sensation grew more insistent. He placed his hand on his belly, willing it to calm. Amazingly, it did. "I saw you." He finally admitted. "Your parents" he added. "Black and Lupin too."

Harry sat there quietly. When nothing more was said, he frowned. "Why me?"

Severus shrugged. "Don't know." He fell silent once more. Potter let out a frustrated sigh.

The two fell into an awkward silence once again.

"He was proud of you." Severus finally spoke, surprising even himself. He hadn't meant to say such rot, but it seemed the memories of this Harry and his Harry had started to overlap. Trying to deny that face, the same one that had loved him so openly, was difficult in his current state.

"My father?" Potter asked, his voice shaky.

Severus nodded, looking away. He had no desire to see the boy trying to pull himself together. Not when he was so tired. So tired…

Papa!

Severus woke with a start. He glanced over. Potter was gone. A card stood on his nightstand. Strangely, a collection of glass jars and bottles stood next to it; potions ingredients. The Malfoy's work no doubt. They always had liked to indulge him so.

"Ah, I see you're awake again? How are you feeling?" The mediwitch from earlier entered. Giving the ingredients an odd look, she shook her head before administering his potions.

He allowed it without protest. At her questioning look, he merely stared back at her.

"No complaints I see. Well that's something. Mr Potter left an hour ago. Said you fell asleep on him. Not that he blamed you. Seemed quite happy as he left actually. Whatever did you talk about?"

He ignored her nattering. Huffing, she gathered her things, recognizing she wasn't going to get any more out of him.

"Very well. Mr Malfoy came by again; he'll be back in the morning. A bit late now for visitors." He nodded in acknowledgement, only just realizing the room was dark, save for the candle in the corner.

"He brought you some books to read too. Though I'd recommend waiting until the morning. If you can, try and get some more rest. Your body needs it."

With one last smile at him, she left. He watched her go in silence, before closing his eyes once more. Only this time, sleep did not come. Typical.

He opened his eyes again, scowling at nothing. With a huff, he looked over to where the book she'd mentioned was. For a moment he just stared at it, unsure if it was wise to try and use his magic. To his surprise, the book began moving of its own accord. Bobbing and weaving through the air as though a child was playing airplane with it. As it nudged the side of the bed, he leaned over to grab it. Only for something to grab him instead.

It was a hand. An impossibly tiny hand, one he was all too familiar with. With a faint wooshing sound, a messy mop of hair made an appearance, along with a toothy grin. Ignoring the cloak on the floor, Severus remained frozen, staring at the toddler holding his hand.

"H-Harry?" he croaked. A squeal was his only warning before the boy buried his face into his side.

"Papa!" Little Harry cried. Only this time, it wasn't in his imagination.

I've learned my lesson. I'm not making any promises on updates. But I am making an effort to get back into writing again.

Hope you liked it.

KB