Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to and is copyrighted to J.K. Rowling. I'm simply playing around in her world.

If anyone had ever asked Severus Snape if he liked children, his answer would have been a resounding, unequivocal, irrevocable "No!"

Not that anyone ever asked him, of course.

No one would have ever assumed otherwise.

It didn't matter that he had spent just short of two decades teaching children because, after all, it wasn't as if it had been his choice. For most of his life, the choices he made were not his own. He had been a mere puppet, strung up by two puppet masters on opposing sides of a war, each tugging at their half of the strings to make their loyal spy dance in whatever manner benefited them most. The one thing they had in common, in terms of said benefits, was that it was to both their advantages to have him at Hogwarts, teaching.

So for seventeen grueling, dreadfully long years, he held his post as Hogwarts' Potions Master, while each September brought in a slew of new dunderheads that he would have to attempt to educate.

Attempt being the key word.

At least half of his class time was always spent simply trying to keep the little gobshites from blowing themselves up and taking the rest of the class—himself included—down with them. The remaining time was spent trying to forcibly drive at least some portion of the intended curriculum into their dense skulls.

He loathed it.

And it wasn't just students specifically that he found he couldn't stand.

It was children in general.

Even his own godson, as a child, had made him squirm uncomfortably. He had agreed to be the boy's godfather, out of an obligation of friendship, not because he wanted to share a bond with the child. The first time Narcissa had tried handing the squalling bundle to him, he had quickly and adamantly refused, and when she had thrust the wailing infant into his arms anyway, he had very nearly passed out.

His interactions with his godson did become slightly more bearable as Draco aged. While he saw little of the child, he did send him two gifts every year, one for his birthday and one for Christmas and he had even, begrudgingly, allowed the boy to refer to him as "Uncle Severus" at Narcissa's insistence. And after the first few years, he realized that while he did care for his godson in some way, he still wasn't really sure that he liked him. By the time Draco began at Hogwarts, however, Severus was definitely sure he didn't like the bratty little ponce.

That was the same year that marked the beginning of the end. Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, had finally come to Hogwarts and Severus Snape very quickly and purposefully had made sure the boy knew just how much he despised him.

Truthfully, a large majority of the reason was simply necessity. The children of former Death Eaters would without a doubt be watching the way he interacted with "The Chosen One" and would be reporting their findings back to their parents.

So he had bullied Harry Potter, bullied his friends, and bullied any student that was not in Slytherin because that was what he was supposed to do; and to be quite honest he rarely—very rarely—ever felt bad about it.

And for sixteen years, he had thought that teaching children was the worst job he could ever imagine.

Then he became Headmaster, and it was so much worse.

He spent that year desperately trying to do his best to protect all the students that were under his care, while simultaneously maintaining a loyal Death Eater persona. No matter how much he didn't like the little ankle-biters, it didn't mean he was cruel enough to sit back and enjoy watching them being maimed and tortured at the hands of the Carrows.

That year was truly exhausting, and by the time he found himself lying on the cold, filthy floor of the Shrieking Shack, throat torn to shreds courtesy of the Dark Lord's bloody snake, Severus yearned for death. At least, if he was dead, his days of dealing with children would finally come to an end. He had given Potter his memories—the ones Albus had ordered him to give, because even in death he still had strings to pull—looked into Lily's eyes one last time, and waited for the blackness to take over.

He awoke two weeks later, in a nauseatingly pastel room in the Dai Llewellyn ward of St. Mungo's.

It had been Granger.

The annoying little swot hadn't let him die. She had come back for him and stabilized him long enough for the Healers to get to him, never caring whether or not he had wanted to live. It was another choice that had been taken from him, but he suddenly found himself too tired to give a shit.

Upon reading through the stacks of Daily Prophets piled on his bedside table, he had discovered several things. That Kingsley Shacklebolt was the new Minister for Magic, that all former Death Eaters were being given speedy trials, and that his trial had been one of the first held. Potter and Granger had apparently sung his praises, defending him with a fervor he could not quite comprehend, and he had been acquitted of all charges.

They had called him a hero.

He scoffed at the week old paper; nothing could have been further from the truth.

He spent another two weeks recovering before he was able to convince the Healers to let him leave, and as he stepped out onto the streets of Muggle London, Severus realized that for the first time in almost twenty years, he answered to no one. He could leave. He could travel the world. Get away from this god forsaken place and all its terrible memories. He could do absolutely anything he wished.

Or so he thought. He should have known better.

The Ministry had insisted that he be available for all future trials for the remaining Death Eaters—both those that had already been caught, and the ones that the Aurors were still at large—a decision which they were quick to inform him of when he had submitted an application for an international Portkey.

Turned out he wasn't allowed to leave the country.

It was shortly thereafter that Minerva had approached him, with the Board of Governors approval behind her, requesting that he return to Hogwarts as its rightful Headmaster.

He told her to stuff it.

She did, however, manage to convince him to take tea in her office at least once a month or so. He knew that it was just a ploy so she could continue to pester him about reconsidering his teaching career. Each time he would refuse in a fit of colorful language and imagery that would leave the woman to muffle her amusement behind her cup of tea. She just did it to get a rise out of him, he was sure. Even his colleagues had known how much he despised dealing with the students, and the students—save perhaps a handful of his Slytherins—had returned his sentiments.

Severus Snape was, and would probably always be, the most hated Professor to ever grace the halls of Hogwarts. It was a fact that never bothered him in the slightest; and while Minerva could argue that he was at least decent at teaching—given that his knowledge and natural talent for the subject far was superior to most others in his field—she truthfully could not call him a good teacher. He made a point of telling her such, and it did manage to stem her requests down to only every other month.

Eight months later he informed her that he had sold his home in Spinner's End and decided to open his own shop—S.S. Specialty Potions—in Wizarding London. A decent sized shop with a worn stone front, windows covered with spiraling wrought iron grates, and a large cellar for brewing, research, and storage. He specialized in the more complex potions and brewed to order rather than in bulk. He had long been recognized as one of the most talented Potions Masters in Great Britain and made his mark selling potions that one could not easily buy in a regular apothecary.

After that, she had finally stopped asking him to come back to Hogwarts.

As long as he had a choice in the matter, he would never set foot into a classroom again. He would never deal with another student and he would never deal with another unruly, irritating, pesky little ragamuffin because Severus Snape did not like children.

At all.

And he never, ever would.

That is, until the day his daughter was born.

A/N: Thank you in advance to all who read and review! And a special thanks to Toodleoo, who beta'd this story for me. Without her, this story would have just ended up half finished in a random folder on my computer with all the other ones. Much love!