Epilogue: The Man Who Died Twice

Snape felt eyes upon himself as he stepped into the viewing gallery of the brightly lit courtroom. Though he would not be sitting on the bench, his presence could not help but draw the eyes of those that filled the courtroom. It was not he on trial, but it oftentimes felt that way, as he found himself unable to pass by any longer without recognition. He had taken to wearing a pair of black leather gloves in public just to hide his all-too-eye-catching silver hand. He could do nothing to hide that similarly conspicuous scar that now marred him across the right side of his lips. His only saving grace that its lightning shape had been rendered indistinct by where it had been branded.

Witches and wizards were crammed shoulder to shoulder within the seats that had been magically expanded to accommodate the extra demand. There were so many reporters in the audience that their quills had generated their own airflow within the otherwise poorly ventilated courtroom. Snape found his seat at the end beside some tittering witches, positively star-struck at his presence in a manner that irritated him to no end. Still, he would tolerate their obnoxious attention far better than he would a prying journalist. The nosy menaces had not left his family alone since both he and his wife were awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class. An award given in recognition of the services and contribution in the defeat of Voldemort, but that had been awarded to him alongside every soul that served their part in that desperate moment of that final battle. A merit that James Potter could not go twelve paces without bringing up.

Lily, too, had won her own Order of Merlin, but independent of that mass give-out, for striking the killing blow of that hated foe. An achievement that won her more than one accosting in the street by journalists. A harassment that didn't seem to cease with time, for her beauty sold copies as easily as tales of her achievement. The death-defying nature of which Snape only learned through the tabloids and was a source of more than one marital squabble.

But Snape, too, found himself in the headlines as often as his wife. His unwanted growing fame was honestly more to do with his very public resurrection than anything to do with what he did for the war. From The Protector of Slytherin to The Man Who Died, the tabloids appeared to be running short of creativity. The wizarding community had a certain affection for a good 'surviving the unsurvivable' story. It didn't help that he reprised the role of teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts, being the first Professor to do so in near twenty years. He had the hounds from the Department of Mysteries begging at his door, sometimes causing more of a headache than the journalists did.

Despite the harassment, Snape was thankful for life as it was now. With the end of the war, he felt his heart could rest a little easier, even with a reckless Gryffindor for a wife. But some fears could never be completely allayed.

Even some time after his fall, Snape still felt vulnerable out in public. A wise position to take, in his opinion, while there were still Death Eater fugitives yet to be brought to justice. His wand, strapped to his wrist and never far from his draw, had only recently started to feel familiar. Purchased a mere year ago, his wand of Dark Pine and Thestral Hair, nimble but powerful, and somehow gentle, was a very different wand in nature to the aggressive Ebony that had first chosen him. His first wand, a wand that had accompanied him through two lifetimes, was lost on the night of that battle.

Ironically, the wand that Albus Dumbledore had willed him, the cursed Elder wand, had found its way back to him by means of a Merman courier. Whether or not this wand's allegiance was still Snape's to bear, by the mere nature as ascribed by those cautionary tales, he knew it was not to be trusted. It now sat hidden away, among centuries of lost things, among where he laid Albus Dumbledore' once-cursed ring, that housed the wand's legendary counterpart, so that they would never find their way into darker hands.

A year had passed since that fateful battle. A year since they had buried their dead and rebuilt their homes. Scores of graves laid. A dozen memorials held. Many had been students, all of which he had known by name. Rawkas had been one of the first to be buried. His parents, despite their own sorrow, had approached Snape to tell him how proud their son had been to be of the same House as Snape had been. That he had admired Snape greatly and had planned to aspire to his heights. That had been a bitter tale to hear.

It was owing to such tragedies that the punishment for their perpetrators garnered so much interest. Since the first of the Death Eater trials began nearly a year ago, the crowds had been relentless. Court felt more like some cheap two-Knut show rather than the solemn judicial proceeding it was meant to be. But Snape could understand the interest. There wasn't a magical soul in Britain that wasn't affected in some way by the evils of those fanatics. Everyone wanted to see these monsters in men's skin be branded by righteous punishment and be cast to the horrors of a life in Azkaban.

As proceedings came underway, the accused was led to a spiked chair set in the middle of the courtroom. Snape set eyes upon the prisoner, feeling uneased in the part he played in this moment. For within that cold confinement stood Lucius Malfoy. A man he had once owed so much to.

When the tides turned in that final battle at Hogwarts, Lucius turned and ran, along with many of Voldemort's "faithful." In the months that followed, many had been hunted down and captured, but many more had evaded justice by one means or another. Some had gone aground, fugitive to the law, some escaped the borders of Britain and took to other countries, effectively escaping the jurisdiction of British magical authorities. Others, such as Lucius, hid in plain sight. Using their wealth and influence to fend off accusations and the reach of the law, wielded by a Ministry already teetering on the edge of shambles by its heavy losses and sabotage.

But time was all that was needed before the wheels of the Ministry were turning once more, and Lucius Malfoy could only evade its reach from within his ivory tower for so long.

The man sat in the centre of the courtroom, his blond hair hung limp about his shoulders, framing a face thin and haggard. He was clothed no longer in finery but in robes that marked him a prisoner of Azkaban.

Proceedings for this matter held a seriousness far exceeding that of mere poaching, and as a result almost every man charged with the crime was remanded in Azkaban from the day of their arrest and charge until such a time as their case was heard and innocence was proclaimed or a deal struck. As of this day, such deals and innocence found were few and far between. A scenario Snape had become too familiar with since the months of proceedings he had been subjected to for the Death Eaters who were insolent enough to deny their involvement in the matter.

The only ones awaiting trial that were released after their arrest to wait outside of the morbid halls of Azkaban were the well to do. The rich with the means to challenge the charge, or negotiate for a mitigation of their crime. Of course, their freedom did not last past their verdict, and they each would find themselves awaiting their sentence in the harsh horrors of Azkaban. Sentencing was a simple matter for most Death Eaters. A lifetime imprisonment in Azkaban was not difficult to calculate up from. But for those, like Lucius, who had names to trade and influence to spare, their sentencing dates had to be set apart from their trial to give the judge and his administrators time to tailor an appropriate sentence after the verdict had been reached.

It was the verdict for which Snape played a role. A responsibility he took with the gravity it required. In preparation, Snape had spent hours combing through the Pensieve that had once belonged to Albus. The enchanted artefact had been willed to the school, and Minerva had graciously insisted Snape take carriage of it to assist him in preparation for his task as the primary witness in these trials. An aid to sharpen his memory around the most horrific incident he endured this lifetime.

That terrible night on Hallowed Eve, when his worst fears had almost come to being. The night he had lost his hand and almost lost his wife. To stand as witness required Snape to face the traumas of that moment. To relive the fear, the pain, to carve that moment into memory.

Thankfully, facing trauma was no longer something Snape baulked at. Two lifetimes of far worse gave him courage aplenty to face that memory and identify each and every assailant behind those masks they had thought were enough to hide their identities.

Snape knew each man by voice, stature and position within those ranks. Those masks they wore, designed to hide their identities, were crafted unique and moulded to fit the faces of each of the monsters that bore them. A uniqueness that, to Snape, might as well have been a nametag Sticking-Charmed to their foreheads.

All that was required of Snape was to present his memory of that moment to the courts. To stand amongst that memory and assign a name to each mask he saw. A deeply personal moment made public, and done so willingly, for the greater good.

The defences that arose in response to his testimony were numerous. From acting under the Imperius Curse, to claiming another stood beneath the mask that would have only fit their face, the excuses came thick and fast. But having seen through this trial once before, there was no defence they could offer that Snape wasn't able to cut through.

It was his own testimony that had brought Lucius to this sentencing day. A bitter blow struck by Snape, who had never wished ill on the man.

Upon the judge's bench presided Bartemius Crouch, as was his destined place within the Death Eater trials. The great irony of which was that Snape, too, had also had a destined place within these trials, but not as a spectator or an innocent man. Once he sat at that very seat in the centre, his fate in the hands of Albus Dumbledore, and the mercy he had been granted he once thought undeserved. He knew the difference now. That he was able to see the error of his way, that he had acted to bring about a measure of good, was enough for the great man to place his faith in him.

The Judge glanced from his seat on the bench, his stern gaze affixed to his prisoner, cold and unmoved by the man's pleas for clemency. Crouch was a man Snape had all too many dealings with in the past year, mostly for the provision of evidence for the trials themselves in terms of testimony and documentation. The Order's records became Ministry records and as such incriminated many more souls than the officials once suspected, and exonerated more still. In that time, Snape had come to appreciate the man who headed the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for his no-nonsense directness and measure of practicality. A trait he had once displayed in full when he had his son prosecuted as a Death Eater, to the detriment of his own family and career. A poor father, perhaps, but exemplary in his moral fibre.

"The court calls the accused to stand and hear his sentence," the bailiff announced, cutting through the din of the agitated courtroom, casting all voices to silence.

The guilty man stood as he was bidden, eyes cast down, hiding behind his veil of limp and strangled hair, his shoulders sagging beneath the weight of what had befallen him, and how much more he must endure.

"Lucius Malfoy," Crouch began, his even voice thundering in the silence, only broken by the sound of the occasional scribbling of self-propelled quills. "In light of your crimes, numerous and many, the suffering caused by your contribution and victims made by your actions, you will not avoid the punishment of Azkaban."

A sob rang out in the stand, drawing Snape's eye. Narcissa Malfoy sat in the gallery, shunned by those sitting around her. Even in the confines of a crowded courtroom where none could do anything but sit well within each other's personal bubbles, those seated beside the woman took pains to pull away, whether in discomfort or disgust, Snape could not say.

Personal beliefs aside, the young lady Malfoy had been innocent in this war, her actions amounting to little more than tolerating her husband's misdeeds. That had been enough for some to paint her with the same brush, but Snape knew all too well how difficult it was to escape the influences that surrounded a soul.

Ever in command of the room, Crouch continued, unmoved by such a display, though his next words would do to bring a measure of comfort to the condemned man's wife. "But so, too, the court shall acknowledge your attempts to right the wrongs of your actions. The names and locations of fugitives you gave the court contributed to our pursuit of justice, and the contributions your family has made in your name will aid in rebuilding what you helped destroy." Rich men always had means to use wealth in place of morality, though the price of a lessened sentence had been steep. Abraxas Malfoy had liquidated a sizable portion of the family's assets in contribution to the Ministry in a poorly disguised attempt to buy his son's innocence. It had worked, to a degree, but ultimately the man could only buy time.

Unlike most captured Death Eaters, Lucius had been allowed to remain in remand on his estate to see to his father's affairs while his matter was being heard. In the winter of the new year, Dragon Pox had finally caught up to the Malfoy family patriarch, and though the disease would not take the man for years yet, his waning health left Lucius to see to affairs to the best of his ability and failing reputation. A task he committed to, until a reached verdict took him away from his steadily crumbling family. A difficult state to leave the young Lady Malfoy in while she was ailing through a difficult pregnancy. He had been remanded in Azkaban since that day, awaiting his sentence.

The bump in her belly was difficult to see from where Snape sat. Indeed, he would have never guessed had he not heard of word that travelled so fast through pureblood gossip. Word, and prior knowledge. For he still remembered the summer when Draco had been born, and the joy the child had brought to the Malfoy household.

It was with this thought in mind burdening his heart that Snape watched the sentencing unfold. "In light of all matters considered, both mitigating and aggravating, the court sentences Lucius Malfoy to fifteen years in Azkaban."

He would not be there to see the birth of his son as Snape had. He would not be there to watch his child grow up. When he returned after two decades, should he return, he would not be the same man that entered that prison. Azkaban had a way of unmaking minds.

Narcissa's wail of despair pierced the solemn air. Though the sentence with a time limit was a mercy most Death Eaters were not shown, it was a bitter kindness to a broken heart.

It was as Lucius was led from the courthouse, amidst the wailing of his heartbroken wife, that Snape took his leave, among many others. The most annoying of which were the reporters who positively dashed after him to attain a scoop.

Snape dodged them with practised deftness, sidestepping the moment he touched the hallway and Disillusioning himself as the pesky press dashed past and, failing to find him, began setting up their ambush points for Lady Malfoy's emergence.

Though Snape could no longer help but draw attention with his presence, the average wizard or witch tended to leave him alone, especially when he scowled. Not so with the press. That same scowl had featured on the Daily Prophet all too often in the passing year. He would have already left to dodge those bloodthirsty tabloid hounds had he not had a matter to attend to.

Shrugging on his hood and masked by his Disillusionment Charm, Snape waited by the door as the crowds poured through until but a trickle remained. Among the stragglers walked Narcissa Malfoy, handkerchief in hand as she struggled to maintain composure.

Before the media could press in, Snape stepped from the shadows, lowering his hood as he approached. "Lady Malfoy. A word, if I may." Formality with people he would otherwise have known had become like second nature to Snape.

Lady Malfoy startled at Snape's voice, her still watery eyes narrowing at the sight of him. "Have you not done enough?" she hissed, drawing unwanted attention from the crowds surrounding. The same question Lily had asked when Snape spoke to her of his intentions.

Though Snape had little to do with Lucius' wife in this lifetime, there was little chance she didn't know of his involvement in her husband's incarceration. Not when she had sat in at that very trial, watching in horror as her husband was found guilty as a Death Eater. It was a difficult chasm to bridge as an introduction.

"I understand this is a difficult time for you and your family, Lady Malfoy, and I acknowledge the part I played in it. But I come to you with an offer. I implore you to… consider it," Snape beseeched, too aware of the visible stares and salacious gossip his presence and choice of conversation partner was bringing.

Before attention could be drawn from the circling media, or Narcissa could be given time to think on and formulate an appropriate rejection, Snape drew out a bound scroll. He extended it to his once-friend's wife, who took it with surprisingly little resistance.

This was a necessary meeting for Snape to deliver the message that he had, for any owls he sent to the Malfoy Household now were more likely to find their way to the Malfoy patriarch's attention, and it was doubtful any headway could be made outside of a fireplace. The same risks ran for Narcissa Malfoy, for there had never been any doubt for the depth of her love for her husband. Her nature, however, Snape was more assured of, having known her for so many years. Cunning and practical, and a truly loving mother to her soon-to-be-born son. He at the very least had the assurance that she would read the scroll before burning it. For when she did read it, she would find there details about the difficulties she would expect to face in securing the Malfoy family fortune, or what was left of it, when Abraxas inevitably passed.

Lucius was named the benefactor on the patriarch's will, a technicality that made it head splittingly difficult to complete the required legal documentation and estate tax deductions when the named individual was locked away without access to a goblin accountant. Worse still, as blood relatives, the patriarchs of the Yaxley and Travers families would make their own claims upon the estate in the guise of financial advice to the overwhelmed wife of the imprisoned heir. It had taken Snape weeks' worth of toil and study to even attempt to untangle that legal minefield, and even then, he hadn't been wholly successful. During this time, the fortune was locked in limbo, placing the young Lady Malfoy and her newborn son in a precarious position. In that lifetime, the matter was ultimately resolved upon Lucius' release from that terrible Wizarding Prison, able to take carriage of the matter. But that was no longer an option.

To that end, Snape had penned that letter, cautioning the soon-to-be-mother on all the strife she should expect and warning her against those he knew to hold ulterior motives. Beneath it he signed with an offer of assistance and support should she need it. Whether she took his gesture as that of good will, or another Slytherin manoeuvring in the shadows, but what he stood to gain from it all was hers to conjure. He no longer was in need of any influence or status that the Malfoys might have once offered him. Not with the accolades he had accrued.

As grim as the future was for the Malfoy family, it would not come to a head for two years yet. In that time, the level-headed Narcissa would have had time to think on matters. Perhaps in that time, she and Abraxas would have had time to prepare. Perhaps Snape might not be needed at all. He owed the family no more debt for all that had passed between them, but still he hoped for the best for them. Hoped he could help ease some of the hardships in Draco's life, and see that the boy grew up a better man than his father had been.

Without another word, Snape turned and strode away, turning up his hood as reporters converged, thankful that cameras were banned from court premises. Their intentions not just upon him. Narcissa Malfoy, the unfortunate wife of a convicted Death Eater, would endure far worse this day.

"Professor Snape, Professor Snape! A quote if you please!"

"What are your thoughts on proceedings today?"

"Is it true that Lucius Malfoy had been a personal friend?"

Dodging those inane questions, Snape's long strides left those harrying harpies behind him, finding the exit as quickly as propriety allowed him. Thankfully, the public entranceway that bordered the Atrium was still in its traditional form. A doorway man monitoring the flow of crowd that entered by means of Apparition or by stepping through a trick wall placed in the public thoroughfare that ran along the Palace of Westminster. A convenience that they would have been rid of had this war drawn out any longer. By this time, another lifetime ago, the vulnerable entrance had been done away with, and in its place secure single-occupant entrances were installed in the form of fireplaces and muggle phone booths. A convenience he hadn't known he had missed, as this ensured that he did not need to spend any amount of time in the cold mud-mixed slurry that Londoners considered snow.

With a quick exchange of greeting with the doorman, Snape stepped past the Anti-Disapparition Jinx and whisked away with a pop. In the frozen windswept hills of the West Country, away from the London smog and unwelcome attention, Snape felt as if he could finally breathe easy.

It was odd to ever believe that a Slytherin could ever settle, or indeed, feel home at a village named Godric's Hollow, let alone one full of Gryffindors. With nosy Bathilda Bagshot just over the fence to them and the Potters living barely a street down, Snape's home life had become far more social than he was used to.

The house that had once belonged to Albus Dumbledore had become Snape's home in true. And despite the less-than-ideal neighbours, Snape found himself fond of where his roots had taken up, not least for the peace of mind it brought. The enchantments that had once safeguarded the secrets of the Dumbledore household now protected Snape's young family.

Though the dangers of the world were lessened greatly with the fall of the Dark Lord, his mark of evil had not yet been stamped out completely from this world. There were yet many Dark Wizards unaccounted for. Many of whom would no doubt lay the blame for their folly directly at the feet of Snape and his wife.

Evan Rosier would be such a one, the one year-mate Snape failed to turn back to the light. The young Death Eater's destined duel with Mad-Eye Moody having never come to fruition given the Legendary Auror had found himself incapacitated in the immediate aftermath of Voldemort's fall, having valiantly duelled the Dark Lord and come off second best. Moody's survival had been miraculous by all accounts, and apart from a missing eye, an injury Snape knew as personal fact that the man was quite resilient to, Alastor Moody still came out looking better than he should.

The subsequent hunts, in the immediate aftermath, were led by the still-living Edgar Bones, another who had escaped his fate. Though his campaign to capture the escaped was far less successful, his groundwork after the capture had been immaculate. Investigation was where Bones truly shone through, taking on the rich and established of the old pureblood Wizarding families, combatting the resources they expended to forge excuses for their sons or grandsons who had thrown their lot in with the darkest of evils.

Where once when they might have escaped justice by spinning an absurd lie and thrown enough resources at the problem to make it true, they found the iron briefs forged under Bones' careful supervision to be incredibly difficult to make go away.

But so, too, there was a downside to Bones' meticulous campaign, for so many had slipped his net. Apart from Rosier's still unknown whereabouts, Igor Karkaroff had escaped, fleeing to his motherland of Russia before the first grave was laid. Antonin Dolohov too had found haven abroad, and along with him went Titus Pyrites. But most concerning of all was the escape of Bellatrix Lestrange.

The war had been too young for Bellatrix to have truly flexed her vile maliciousness, and as such, she was only deemed a low priority target by the Ministry. Bones perhaps knew better, due to having shared in the knowledge that Snape had supplied, but it appeared to have done him no good.

He moved on the Lestrange estate as a matter of priority after Snape's warning of what they had done to the Aurors Frank and Alice Longbottom in his lifetime. Rodolphus Lestrange and his brother Rabastan had been arrested for their membership and association with the Death Eaters, but Bellatrix had escaped capture by the simple act of not being home when the raid happened.

There were few souls as terrifying as Lord Voldemort himself, but the madwoman Bellatrix was a close contender. And given how famously Snape and his wife had contributed to Lord Voldemort's downfall… it was safe to say Snape did not wish to test the limits of her inventive cruelty.

To that end, Snape felt nothing but gratitude for the house he now called home, for he could not have rested easy raising his family anywhere else. Though Hogwarts still occupied a large portion of his life, it was honestly a relief to be able to step away from that insular life. To have a home to return to and take his mind off his work and responsibilities. Though he would still be recalled on occasion, some months more often than others, he found a semblance of normality when he stepped within these West-Country walls.

He had the luxury of spending with his family a couple hours a night, most week nights, and most of the day on weekends if it wasn't his turn to supervise, and Wolfsbane wasn't on the schedule, and there were no pressing concerns at the school to deal with. This honestly worked out to very few weekends. A busy period in his life, being so soon after the war he had helped to end. The time he poured into his teaching and House Head duties would never end and would always inconvenience him at the worst of times, while, at the very least, the Wolfsbane had a steady schedule he could plan for. But ultimately, those were small gripes to be had for a life he had made his own. Rest would come with time. Time to then put into his home and family.

"I'm home," Snape called into the household, feeling a sense of relief wash over him as he placed those enchanted walls between himself and the outside world. The tug of his ring dispelled any fears the answering silence may have instilled on him. He was slowly learning to trust that the world wasn't going to suddenly fall apart, and not let his fears get the best of his heart.

He found Lily in the lounge room, fast asleep on the couch. On the table sat the unopened copy of the textbook Portio Perita. She had, for all intents and purposes, thought to use her year-long respite from employment to focus on her Potions Masterclass. A highly optimistic assessment of what she could honestly get done alongside her new responsibilities.

It was as if on cue that very source of responsibility, and no doubt his wife's exhaustion, pierced the silence with one shrill cry. A cry that was magically amplified with a trinket set by his wife's exhausted head.

Without a thought to the contrary, Snape silenced that trinket, deciding his wife deserved a few minutes more of rest while he saw to the comfort of his son.

Exhausted didn't describe the half of it. Lily could not recall a point in her life where she felt so incredibly drained all of the time. Not even NEWT finals could compare to the constant work motherhood put forth.

They had expected him to arrive in the snow-swept depth of December, but little Albus had other ideas. Too eager to come into the world, he was born a whole month too early, surprising Lily in the midst of moving back to Godric's Hollow, into the house she could now call her own.

Severus was by her side before the wispy trail from her Patronus cleared, and it wasn't long after that she was brought to the care of the Healers of St Mungo's maternity ward.

Little Albus Snape was born on the 20th of November 1979. A beautiful boy with his mother's green eyes and his father's jet-black hair. As for whose nose he took after, it was honestly up for debate. Though Albus' nose turned downwards in the makings of his father's hooknose, Sev had determined that his son's features were far more delicate than his had been, though how she had no clue. There weren't exactly baby photos for comparison.

She had never dreamed that the frightful discomforts of late pregnancy, about three months' worth of feeling like she had swallowed an Erumpent, would be the last time she came close to a good night's sleep.

The first few weeks had been the worst, with Albus' loud wailing cries resonating through the household intermittently throughout the night. Had their home not been enchanted against encroachment from outside eyes and ears, Lily expected Albus' wails to have kept awake the entire village.

Sev helped when he could, often waking up in the stead of his wife to answer his child's demands. He did this even when he had to get up early for his work, even when he had to return home late due to issues that come hand in hand with being a House Head at a boarding school.

It hadn't occurred to Lily initially why Sev seemed far better at determining what was triggering their child's outbursts, seeming to anticipate their child better than she could. After about a week's worth of trial and error in determining if baby Albus was hungry, thirsty, warm, cold or very tired, she finally came to a realisation.

"He's hungry," Sev had muttered through his broken sleep one night, rousing Lily from hers. "I can't do anything to help him with that."

It took a moment more of muggy contemplation before Lily awoke enough to realise Sev had not budged from his spot in bed when he made such a claim. A visit to Albus had determined his father had indeed been correct. It was a simple realisation and soon followed by the annoyance that Sev hadn't clued her in sooner.

Sev was a mind reader.

And after initial annoyance at her husband's still less-than-forthcoming nature, she was quick to put her newfound knowledge to use. Using her husband as a crude baby-translator to learn her child's needs.

Entertainment, as it turned out, was a large part of his demands, something Sev appeared to struggle with, given his idea of entertainment was reading aloud from a potions manuscript. More than once, Lily found her husband reading to his child from those wordy tomes, trying to engage a child who couldn't even comprehend words yet with books that put most fully grown adults to sleep. Most of the time, the new-born baby was far more content playing with his father's silvery fingers than to sit still and listen to what would amount to a dry theory-based potioneering lesson. But on occasion, Albus would sit there happily, bubbling away as his dad read to him in his stern teaching voice. A potioneer in the making, perhaps, or simply happy to spend time with his father, which seemed far more likely. Time Sev seemed all too happy to lavish, for to Lily, it almost felt as if her husband's rare time at home was spent more with their child than with her. A point that might have made her jealous had she not been so grateful for the help.

Sev didn't need to spend his week nights at home. He had a perfectly furnished room to himself at Hogwarts. He would at the very least be shielded from the demands of his child while he indulged in what was already a very limited amount of sleep, and be poised to take on the demands of the children of the castle. But stay he did, every night, no matter how many times he was raised from bed. No matter how many times he had to take a fistful of Floo to embark back to Hogwarts to sort out some situation or another, he would always return home for bed. Covered in soot and with one hour's kip left, he would always choose to spend it beside her.

But that left Lily alone with her child for a good portion of the day. A task that was honestly as draining as it was confusing, for no book could truly prepare her for all that was expected of her. Burping alone had been an ordeal. Sure, the books made mention of the process, but only after a few accidents involving vomit and tears did she finally make sense of what she was expected to do.

Thankfully, a newborn baby tuckered out quickly and slept extensively. There existed periods of peace throughout the day. Periods Lily put towards study for her Potions Masterclass, so that she might take over Horace's spot on the teaching roster. He had promised her he wouldn't retire until she was in a position to take over from him, as he trusted no one else but his favourite pupil to succeed him.

Her position as Horace's teaching assistant had only ever been temporary. A contract drawn up for her benefit and protection more than any real need or capacity of the school. Indeed, pregnancy precluded her from many tasks required of a potioneer, and all the professors around her accommodated in every way they could. But even after You-Know-Who's fall, Minerva kept her on regardless, until the point she could work no more. Work she needed to keep for as long as she could bear it.

Sev was now the only breadwinner in their household, a burden he bore without complaint. Though he had suggested he supplement his earnings with what little alchemical gold he could squeeze from the stone embedded within Lily's ring, the amount of time it took him to put together enough to be worth selling was time Lily would rather he spent with his family.

With their earnings reduced by a third and house repayments to make and a sudden need to budget for food, the expense of a baby was seriously straining their already tight purse strings. It was honestly a relief they had started their savings so early because it wasn't cheap setting up the room and cradle in itself, never mind the stroller and high chair. Toys were the last item on a list of priorities, and frankly, had it not been for gifts from Lily's friends, the child may have had only his father's wordy tomes to be read from.

James and Marlene contributed a dazzling mobile, bought straight from the most expensive enchantment boutique in London. A dangling toy comprised of broomsticks and shooting stars, all of which whizzed about in dazzling light and noise whenever Albus would laugh or cry.

Severus had disapproved the moment he saw it. "That infernal thing is built to award appalling behaviour."

"Oh let him be a baby, will you?" Lily had replied, always keen with a good bit of enchantment. She was almost equally enamoured with the toy as baby Albus was.

Their help didn't end there, for Marlene, tired of Lily getting up and checking on the still-napping Albus every few minutes whenever she popped around for tea, bought her a Monitor Charm. It came in two pieces, one shaped like a small crystal ball, to be kept with the mother, and the other, shaped like a characterised lion to be strapped to the side of the cot. A conscious choice of style, no doubt. Through it, Lily could hear her child's wails whenever he awoke, and thus was freed from the burdens of continuous checking through his considerably frequent naps.

The soft toy wolf that laid in Albus' crib had been from Remus, who had come into his own since the battle. Along with the entirety of the Order, Remus had received an Order of Merlin, First Class, becoming the first and only werewolf to have been afforded the honour. Not that the wizard who pinned that medal on Remus' lapel knew at the time.

Overwhelmed by the attention at first, he first hid from it. And why wouldn't he, given the secret that he held. But to Lily's surprise and the surprise of all his friends, and indeed the country, he revealed voluntarily the affliction he carried.

With the death of Fenrir Greyback, there were many lost souls cast adrift, afflicted by the cursed bite and shunned from society. Having taken the wrong side, there was little sympathy for the werewolf survivors of that war- that was, until Remus spoke on behalf of them. His courage bolstered by everything he had been through, Remus drummed up attention to his plight, and by extension, werewolves as a whole, painting them victims in the public eye where before the Wizarding world paid little heed. Ever the mature one, he realised quickly that he could wield his new-gained influence and good will to make life better for more than just himself.

A Sneakoscope sat atop of Albus' bedroom shelf, well out of reach. A Dark Detector that Sebastian Urquart had gifted. A device that came to life whenever mischief was afoot. Little doubt it was more for the parent's benefit than the child's. But beside that sat a child-sized pointed hat emblazoned with the emblem of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. A hat Sev planned to keep out of Albus' reach for fear the child might actually decide he wanted that dangerous lifestyle. A complaint that might have seemed more earnest had it not been for said Auror's place of influence in their family.

There honestly wasn't any question who Sev would choose as a godparent when Lily posed that responsibility to him. He only had a handful of friends, and only one he might consider to be a 'positive influence.'

"You want me to be the godfather?" Sebastian had asked, shock worn plainly upon his face when the request had been posed to him.

To which Sev merely raised a single eyebrow. "I thought you might prefer that over godmother." It was a strange remark for the two to share a smirk on, but Slytherins were always an odd and mysterious breed.

Lily had her own thoughts for the matter, but she feared that asking the Potters to be her child's godparents would be a step too far too soon for Sev. A part of Lily held onto the hope that that life held less sway over his heart. And having seen her husband engage in a weekend dinner at the Potters', rather amicably at that, it gave Lily hope for her husband's healing. But she chose not to test him too harshly so soon. Though he had laid to rest his demons, it didn't do Lily well to dig at their grave.

A small toy chest sat in the corner, sent straight from an artisanal crafter in Paris, so Horace had claimed, one magically enchanted to gobble up toys that were left out, which would no doubt reduce the headache of clean ups to come once little Albus gets big enough to play. The gracious old professor even provided many of the toys that filled it. Wooden carved elves enchanted to do a little dance whenever asked, and large smooth blocks too large to swallow but which would light up and make delightful chimes whenever touched, many of the toys were yet too advanced for baby Albus, but no doubt he'd appreciate them someday soon.

Susan, too, visited with a colourful gift. An assortment of rubber toys to entertain the little scamp during his baths. The rubber duck in particular was a source of consternation to all of the more magically inclined visitors, including Sev, who could not fathom the point of it. Even Albus seemed abnormally taken with it when she floated it beside him while she gave him a quick bath, but perhaps it was more the baby in him than the wizard that held him so enamoured.

Of course, Susan's visit wasn't without a caveat. Their conversations over afternoon tea had found their way into the gossip columns of the Prophet. Needless to say, Susan wasn't invited around to tea again, after that.

Pandora McGonagall, now Lovegood, contributed something far more valuable than toys to the young mother. Having grown up with one younger cousin and a brother far younger than herself, Pandora had an unexpected wealth of knowledge when it came to childcare.

"You need to have Albus on a schedule, else you'll never get any rest," Pandora advised upon a visit only a couple weeks prior, one without her frankly baffling now-husband Xenophilius. He was a handsome man, no doubt, and very clever, she'd heard, but he was batty as a bag of cats. And Lily could only tolerate so many cork medallions strung up around her baby's crib, Nargles or no.

Pandora cradled Lily's infant son with an expertise she hadn't expected of a woman whose entire life had been books and not housewifery.

"If you can teach Albus to read a calendar, I'll be in your debt," Lily quipped, as she watched the girl handle her fussy child with surprising ease.

Pandora frowned. "He's too young to read," she simply said, taking Lily too literally. "What you need to do is to feed him every day at the same time, burp him after, and put him straight to bed. Do that enough times, and he'll get sleepy after he eats."

"You've gotta help me when I'm due, Pandy," Marlene begged, grimacing as she patted her enormous belly. Unexpectedly, she, too, decided to join Lily in motherhood, though not by intention.

A missed dose had led to a panicked morning and a stressful following week whereby Lily, heavily pregnant herself, had to reconcile her best friend with the fact that she was afflicted with conception. It couldn't have come at a worse time for her best friend, who was in the midst of being scouted by the Appleby Arrows and was on the verge of starting her Quidditch career, but worse still was when Lily offered the diagnosis that her best friend was carrying twins.

Being practically neighbours, Marlene spent a great deal of time visiting already, but that week she all but lived in Lily's home. James had been over the moon at the news, in direct contrast with the dour mood of his wife. As far as Marlene was concerned, that made them incompatible for cohabitation that week as she sought shelter with her best friend to mourn the passing of her freedom and youth and the prospect of doing so dry and sober.

But the mourning passed and acceptance made its middle ground. And suddenly it was the best thing in the world to have her child in the same space as her best friend.

"They can be best friends!" Marlene had declared. "Best friends and neighbours! They'll never be lonely."

"Careful, Marlene. You've got a girl in your pair of twins," Lily had said so knowingly. "You know what might happen with neighbourhood best friends."

That thought had struck Marlene silent but that moment quickly passed. "Having a Snape for a son-in-law may not be the worst thing in the world. His dad turned out fine."

It was a beautifully conciliatory sentiment that could only come from a Marlene flooded with motherly hormones. But her thoughts on Lily's husband were not the only such views that changed. All around the country, Sev had become a household name as a hero, as tales of his heroics came out, mostly from the rather too candid interviews that James gave. Hundreds of letters came for him all at once, thanking him for what he had done. Attention that set him scowling but filled Lily with a warm pride.

Even a few letters from several witches and one wizard professing their love for him, which amused Lily to no end. No doubt the coming Valentine's Day he would find himself the recipient of all-too-many uncomfortably pink cards. Had she married any other man, Lily might have been set to worry by all the admirers that her husband had suddenly gained. But he was her Severus. His heart would never stray.

That same admiration for Severus was unfortunately not the sentiment from Petunia after Lily sent her a photo of baby Albus. She wrote back with a passive-aggressive letter, complimenting that the baby didn't have the worst features of his father and expressing hopes that Lily's baby would grow up to look more like his mother than his 'hideous father'.

That almost spiralled into a tit-for-tat letter penned by Lily, expressing concern that Petunia's still-unborn son might exhibit his father's propensity for filling out sideways, but she stopped short of sending it. There wasn't any need to be nasty to an innocent child, after all. Especially knowing from Sev's other lifetime that it had indeed been that poor boy's fate.

Another child around Albus' age was not a terrible thing, especially one embedded in the culture of the muggle world. Lily had wanted her son to experience both the magical and muggle and appreciate the intricacies of both worlds, so that one day, if he were sorted into Slytherin, he would remember his roots and hold his own against those terrible ideologies that his father worked so hard to break free from.

To that end, Severus too had his own conciliation to make with the muggle world. While Lily mailed a photo of her son to her sister, Severus had done the same for his father. One small pouch-sized photo of Albus attached to a very simple letter.

This is Albus, your grandson.

It did not say more than that. It didn't need to. That Sev made any effort at all was enough. He had made peace with his past and he found it in himself to forgive the unforgivable.

That Severus needed time to respond to the reply carrying his father's request to see said grandson, too, was understandable. His own childhood cautioning him from rushing to trust. Walking the line between forgiving a man that inflicted such pain upon him, and protecting his son from that very same trauma. Severus had become the very man his father had not been. Caring, involved and protective.

In the end, Sev inked a request to that man. That he clean himself up and stay at least six months sober before he could be allowed to see his grandson. A demand that the man accepted, for a date that was yet to come.

Sev was a different man to the young angry boy she had bidden goodbye to so many years ago. A different soul yet again to the bitter soul that began this journey with her. He was kinder, more patient, more forgiving. He could see the good in people where once there was only pessimism and suspicion. And far more willing to make peace with his past.

One past he chose to make peace with gave Lily pause, and more than a little concern.

The Malfoys had never given them any reason to forgive. They contributed to the evil that took so much from them. That threatened to take so much more. It wasn't like they were any better people in the last lifetime, but Severus would not relent. Whatever friendship they once had, it was enough for him to attempt to make amends where the onus was never on him.

Lucius had been convicted, not long after Albus' birth. Perhaps it was the timing that had gotten Severus so. Fatherhood had touched him in a way he had never expected, nor Lily to be honest. Severus had always been quieter than most, introspective, a softer heart now than he had once been, but never foolish or easily swayed to disadvantageous acts.

Reaching out to Malfoy's wife was exactly that. A mar upon his image, for rumours already abounded about his Death Eater Past. An ironically false statement in this lifetime, but one that so many still believed. Wizard-kind was fickle. He risked stirring forth such doubts again with his kindness and fall from the grace he so painfully earned.

Or perhaps it was Lily who placed such weight on that vanity. Severus, though shy and mistrustful of attention, never let it influence his actions. A learned maturity that steered him from the dark, and so many others.

Perhaps that was why he had been so insistent. Another child in need of his help, so his future need not be as dark as it was destined. The still yet-unborn Draco, a child he had once helped raise and cared for in a manner of speaking. To offer him a destiny that need not follow after his father.

It was that which swayed Lily in the end. Sev's unrelenting commitment to charting a better course. Where others might rest on their laurels, having played a great part in the goodness that became of the world, Severus wanted more. The relentless ambition of a Slytherin.

He chose to approach Narcissa Malfoy today, at her husband's sentencing. A time when Severus' presence would be most unwelcome, Lily imagined. But opportunities to approach Narcissa were few and far between as the Malfoy manor seldom saw many visitors these days.

Severus left that morning, through the front door, as he always would when his date was set for court and not teaching. Lily was up about an hour after he left, and a few times before, too. No matter how much she wanted a lie in, her little one demanded attention firmly.

After a few hours of caring for the tot, preparing her own meal, and hedging a plate for Severus' return too, Lily was able to put her son to his afternoon nap and settle in for a quiet afternoon of solemn study. In the silence of the empty house, with no friends to visit and her son fast asleep, Lily felt her exhaustion get the better of her. All good intentions to get her nose in between the pages of her hefty textbook evaporated the moment she let herself close her eyes and told herself 'just five minutes.'

The next thing she knew, she was woken quite fiercely by the shrieking cries of Albus ringing from the Monitor Charm. Still shaking the cobwebs of sleep from her brain, Lily was sluggish to rouse. When suddenly she couldn't hear her child's cries any more, in her half-sleeping state, it took her a long while to register the silence.

With a start, Lily leapt into the waking world, slipping off the couch and stumbling a step as she found her feet and clarity in the waking world. She took to the stairs, two steps at a time, fearing the worst from unexplained silence.

Turning the corner sharply into her bedroom, for she still hadn't yet the heart to move Albus' crib into the room designated as his nursery, she almost hurtled into the unexpected form of her husband, whose quick reflexes saved them both by virtue of a quick sidestep and a bracing hand.

"Sev," she gasped, not expecting her husband back so soon.

Severus pulled back, having placed his hand out to check Lily's reckless advance as he held his son protectively in his right. Albus, on the other hand, didn't seem the least bothered by that almost collision between his two parents, bubbling away happily as he stared fixedly at his father's silver hand.

"When did you get back? I didn't hear you come in," Lily asked, smile upon her face as she watched her husband rock their giggling bub.

"Not long," Sev answered. "Enough time to give Albus a change of nappy."

Well, that explained who silenced the Monitor Charm.

"How was your day?" Lily asked softly, eyes not lifting from the form of her bubbling bub, relishing this moment of closeness with her family.

"Hopeful," was all Sev answered. He shifted so that he could hold his son firmly in his left arm while he held his silver-hand within his son's reach. Like a moth to a candle-flame, Albus took hold of his father's finger with his tiny marshmallow hands, his bright inquisitive green eyes widened like dinner plates as he fixed his gaze upon that shining limb.

"Your lunch is downstairs, Sev," Lily uttered, reluctant to interrupt this warm moment. "I put it in stasis freshly cooked. It should still be piping hot. Just some lamb fry and gravy with some boiled vegetables. Nothing too fancy."

She moved in to take Albus off his father's hands but Severus shook his head as he moved to cradle Albus in his arms. "He wants me to hold him for a little longer."

"Already choosing favourites?" Lily huffed, wishing she could read the mind of their child as her husband could.

To that Severus smiled, his gentle reassuring smile that shone past the uneven pull the scars carved to his lips. "You're a constant in his life, I'm a rarity. Forgive him for choosing to spend a little more time with his father."

Carefully threading herself under her husband's free arm, Lily pressed up against him such that little Albus was propped up between them. The giggles that issued forth from that child set Lily's heart fluttering happily. A contentment that perhaps, too, reflected in Sev's rare and hard-earned smile.

"Added the fact that I'll not be able to see him again today until he's tucked in bed, I might also choose to hold him a while longer too."

Lily's face fell. "You're not taking the day off?"

"No. I can't leave my students to the mercies of Potter's lacklustre teaching so close to the finals," Sev answered, so dedicated to his role that he had once professed to loathe so.

"Nothing to do with James wanting to move into the Transfiguration department?" Lily asked sweetly. Though Sev would never admit it, he had laid the path for James Potter to work towards the vacant seat of Professor of Transfiguration.

With Minerva McGonagall officially ordained as the Headmaster of Hogwarts, her old seat in Transfiguration had to be filled immediately. Due to the advanced stage of the school year, Minerva settled for no less than a proven soul. A Professor Jose Frangos was asked to fill that seat, a request the old Portuguese wizard was more than happy to fulfil to contribute to the rebuilding of Hogwarts. A retired Transfiguration professor from the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, he was ancient already, and easily the oldest of the still-living in the castle. The old wizard, having slowed with age and finding some of the more energetic tasks too taxing for his frame, requested an aide to ease the burden of his work.

And there came Severus with his suggestion, put in his oh-so-condescending way. "James Potter has been languishing on the payroll. Apart from filling in during my court days, I don't see a purpose for him in my department any longer. At the very least, he had been a somewhat competent student in Transfiguration. He might actually have something to contribute to that department." And contribute he did. Within weeks of that appointment, James Potter had seemed to find his place in the world.

Over various weekend visits and weekday dinners, James professed quite eagerly that he intended to take over as the Professor of Transfiguration and work his way to earning the grand title of Head of Gryffindor. That role was currently borne by Bob Weasley, the Muggle Studies Professor. Another professor with transient properties, for he had always professed a desire to resign in his role and venture forth to experience his topic of choice firsthand.

James' ambitions took Lily by surprise. Not least because she had never thought him determined to follow through with a career in academia. He had never been school-inclined when school was his to attend. Helping Severus with his classes, mostly the practical side, was one thing, but James had never seemed the type that would be happy with the near-sedentary lifestyle of an academic. Never mind the weighty responsibility of the title Head of House.

Lily would be the first to admit that she had entertained her fancies on that title, and in no small part because she thought it would be a right hoot for the Head of Slytherin to be married to the Head of Gryffindor. But that thought remained just that, a thought. When it came down to it, after the past year and a half of watching her husband take on the role of Head of House for the far tamer Slytherins, it turned her right off the idea. How Minerva managed the likes of Sirius and James she had no idea. That the very same James now sought to manage children that had the potential of achieving the same levels of mischief as he.

But James had been adamant in his decision, it seemed, even going so far as directing the entire after-dinner conversation into an in-depth discussion with Severus over the scope of the role. Where once Severus might have been horrified at the idea of teaching opposite James Potter, this time he didn't even flinch at the proposal. He calmly laid the matter out. The difficulties associated, and the potential difficulties that might arise for him. A big one being the prospect of never having a good night's sleep again.

Marlene was supportive of James' decision, though she had admitted to Lily as an aside that she was going to find it hard to adjust to James being gone for so long and so often, especially with her twins on the way. She had put her dreams aside for these yet-unborn young ones with a surprising amount of reserved maturity and acceptance that Lily hadn't expected from her firebrand of a friend.

"I'll at least be able to be rid of the little tykes when they're eleven. They become Jamie-boy's problem then," Marlene had said, only half in jest. "You, on the other hand, won't ever be able to escape yours. You're going to have to teach them during the year and come back with them during the holidays. You'll never be free."

That was a potential future that Lily envisioned, though with far more optimism. That one day, Albus, Severus and herself would find themselves at Hogwarts together. Their family drawn together in that magical castle. Never needing to part with her child for that growing period in their life as so many parents must.

But between then and now, there was a lot more living left to do. There were a lot more lonely days and sleepless nights to be had. Worry, too, for when the time came to have to balance her work life with her child's needs. But those were all problems she could deal with, together with her husband. After all, what was the difficulty in a little life, when they had conquered death?

'The Man Who Died.' That was what the tabloids dubbed Sev. Such a morbid name. The wizarding world had seemingly endless fascination with the idea of a man who had passed beyond the veil and managed to find his way back. If they only knew the truth, they'd have realised how that moniker didn't begin to cover the scope of it all.

"They should have called you The Man Who Died Twice," Lily had once raised jestingly. A stray thought that passed her mind when she spotted that name splashed across the cover of the paper Sev sat to read one evening.

Though that secret need not be kept any longer, Severus was a private person. That anyone beyond their family knew at all was already a source of discomfort for him. The question of whether they would tell their son lit upon Lily's mind. A question that need not be answered for many years yet.

As if expressing his own opinion, Albus reached out, this time grabbing his father's nose, causing Sev to flinch back in surprise. "You cheeky boy," he proclaimed, laughter gilding his words as he pulled upright, directing his face out of reach of his son's growing mischief. Lily wracked her mind, trying to remember the last time she heard her husband's laughter. Too long ago, she thought, and perhaps even longer for him.

Severus held up his son in both hands, juggling him away to avoid having a tiny hand jammed up his nose. But even then, he didn't admonish or snap. His temper was leashed around their child, his tolerance heightened for his mishaps.

It was in moments like this that Lily could see the depth of love Severus had for his child. Though he had his initial reservations, he stepped into the role of fatherhood with the same level of dedication and commitment as he did with all other facets of his life.

Albus would grow up happy and loved. A childhood different from his father, carrying nothing of his burdens. Different too, perhaps, from the man her son bore a namesake from, for she had heard some tales of heartache of the headmaster's childhood from Bathilda next door.

Different again from another boy that had once been Lily's son. A boy she had never met but felt like she knew from Severus' more forthcoming tales. A boy, by Severus' own admissions, that he had not treated as well as he should have.

Perhaps that was why he decided to name his son as he did.

"Albus Harry Snape." A middle name offered by Severus as he held his son the day he was born. "To remember that Harry had too been your son, once."

It was such a heartfelt thought that Lily could do nothing but agree.

It was a name that bore the weight of acceptance, commitment and self-reflection. A boy he loved dearly to bear the name of another he did not give the care that he should have. An act of remembrance and, perhaps, lament, that no one other than Lily could truly understand.

She reached again for Albus, and this time, her husband did not begrudge her. He passed their son to his mother, so careful and gentle. She took little Albus in her arms, feeling him grow heavier by day. His little green eyes still glued to his father, his endless fascination with those shining fingers trumping all the effort his mother could give. He would grow up to be a boy who adored his father, so different a fate to all those whose names he bore.

Severus stepped back, his dark eyes so gentle. The terrible sadness that had once taken root within him through a lifetime of suffering had faded within his eyes, but never completely gone. He gazed upon them with such love, but that shadow of worry would likely never truly disappear. Thank Merlin that they didn't have a girl because he would be a protective father, indeed.

"Off to lunch with you," Lily shooed her husband gently when he stood there unmoving, giving him a gentle push as she spoke.

A smile touched his scarred lips, chasing away the darkness within his eyes. He had a smile that lit him up from within. How could anyone have ever have thought him ugly? "I'll aim to be home before he's to bed."

"Is that a promise, then?"

That smile faltered a fraction, his thoughts worn plain on his face. "No, I can't promise. I don't know what the future might hold."

"That question didn't require such a dramatic answer," Lily remarked with a giggle and a roll of her eyes.

His smile shone forth once more. He reached for her, as if to brush aside her hair, leaning in as if to kiss her, but small fingers caught his as they drew close. Sev did not try to break his grip, soft with untested age. Instead, he changed course, relinquishing his kiss upon his son's brow. A compromise made to a child that now demanded a measure of his once-singular love.

"I'll promise to do what I can," he finally answered as he drew back, freeing himself from his grasping son.

Lily smiled. "I don't think you've ever stopped."

Because he carried out that very promise from the moment his path diverged. A promise that did not end with one lifetime. Two lifetimes had brought them to this moment. He endured two deaths to win his peace. A price he paid willingly when nothing had been guaranteed. Such was the strength of the man Lily had married.

She drew in, babe still in arms, and found her husband's arms draw around her instinctively. She drew up to find his lips, her whispered words but a tickle upon his skin. "And don't think that promise is yours alone to keep."

Or the value of a promise just yours to bear.

A/N: That's all folks! What a ride it's been! Over four years in the making.

I thank everyone who's come along with me for the journey. Gone through quite a few Betas in this time.

Cookeroach and thrawnca. Thank you for your time and expertise! Polishing up my chapters when they get to you horrifyingly grammatically unchecked. The latter chapters of my fic were all you! So too will I like to thank all the Betas that assisted me along the way. Satawa100, MrsNanna and Caleo Ignacium. I appreciate all that you all have given me in time and thought. Couldn't have made it to the end without you all!

Thank you to the anonymous reviewer that pointed out rort is only part of Aussie slang. Edited that.

Also, thank you to Moran for pointing out the error with the birth date. It's not been ten years since.

Now, this is the awkward part of my last Author Note where I mention that I never do sequels. This fic is no different. I won't ever write a story where I do not have a clear vision of a story.

Now, I know I left enough dangling plot threads to hash something together. What with so many remnants of Voldy's most vicious still at large and the prospect of young Albus being in the same year group that Harry had been, thusly having to interact with all our favourite cast (Mine being Hermione) as well as both his parents as his Professors in what no doubt would be his rebellious teenaged years. But that, I'm afraid, is not going to be mine to write.

I have no problems with anyone else taking my story and running for a sequel or taking my story's premise and reworking it to their own vision. That is the purpose of fanfiction, after all. For people to practise their writing and creativity using tools and stencils others have left for them.

As for me? I'm looking to taking a long rest to focus on my career. Got a good thing going, and I need a lot more focus and brain power to reach the pinnacle that I can.

Thank you all for your many years of patronage and patience!