A/N: Here it is: the last chapter. Thanks to all you reviewers! You guys are the best!

A curious sort of equilibrium was reached between them, though an outsider might notice little to no difference in their relationship. Despite their denial each had strange moments when they wondered what it might have been like if they had reconciled, but both Severus and Harry quickly pushed these moments aside.

There wasn't much time for such idle thoughts anyway. Voldemort was becoming more active and few weeks went by without some report of Death Eater activity. Refugees flocked to Hogwarts and whole new wings of the castle appeared to accommodate them all. Harry spent every spare moment studying and training and Severus was run positively ragged answering summons and attending to his professorial duties.

As the year drew to its close, tempers frayed and there was a dramatic increase in hallway confrontations. Voldemort, too, grew more snappish and was more likely to curse his supporters for the slightest infraction. Albus Dumbledore grew worried. Not only was his spy within the Dark Lord's ranks endangered, he was genuinely worried for the tall, dark wizard he looked on as a very close friend and ally.

Finally, a week before NEWTs testing was scheduled to begin, Severus was summoned and did not return with the dawn as he usually did. Dumbledore immediately set a closer, but no less surreptitious, watch on Harry.

For his part, Harry was far more worried than he let on. Snape was a cruel, horrid, unhygienic git, but somewhere in all the unacknowledged half-moments Harry had accepted that the cantankerous professor was family, the kind of family that made you grateful for your friends, but family none the less. Consequently, the night before NEWTs, one week after Snape's disappearance, Harry approached his headmaster with an off to dis-occlude his mind in an endeavor to get some hint of Snape's whereabouts.

As it turned out, he never had a chance to complete the first sentence. Lord Voldemort appeared at the edge of the wards and made his way toward the castle, systematically blasting every stone warthog he came to. Behind him walked Severus Snape. With hardly a second thought Harry Potter, boy-who-lived, summoned his broom and flew down to meet them.

Just as the seventh statue was destroyed Harry drew near the pair. "Don't you have anything better to do than hex the statuary?" he sneered.

"You would prefer, perhaps, that I blast something else, like you?" Voldemort returned, gesturing to Snape who stepped forward and passed him a vial full of a clear and slightly viscous substance.

"You're welcome to try, of course," Harry smirked back, "But you've been rather singularly unsuccessful so far, haven't you?" Voldemort smiled a ghastly smile and threw the vial to the ground at Harry's feet.

Seemingly nothing happened.

"What do you expect me to do, melt?" Harry said contemptuously. "You didn't even hit me."

The Dark Lord just smiled again and said, "A death for a life, Potter, Sanguinans Nex Necis!"

At that a dark mist rose from the puddle and surrounded Harry, spinning tighter and tighter until suddenly, for no immediately apparent reason, it reversed directions and surrounded the Dark Lord. "No!" he shrieked in his high, cold voice.

A moment later his body fell to the ground. Harry, who had fallen to his knees as the swirling cloud left him, could see his nemesis trying to escape in spirit form but the potion-mist quickly encircled and enveloped him. It whirled into a sickly, blackish-green sphere and suddenly collapsed into non-existence with a loud whoosh!

Harry and Severus stared in shocked silence for a moment before Severus snapped his mouth shut and walked over to the corpse between them. He considered it for a moment before delivering a sharp kick to the ribs of the deflated-looking cadaver. When nothing further happened Harry said, "I think he's really dead this time."

"I think you're right," Severus agreed. "Though you know it pains me to agree with you on anything."

Harry rolled his eyes. "All that training and I didn't even throw a hex at him," he said, shaking his head.

"Some hero you turned out to be," Severus said snarkily.

"Yes, well, I did come rushing down here," Harry said snarkily, "Surely that counts for something."

"I suppose Albus will be along in a minute," Severus said contemplatively.

"He'd better be," Harry commented, "I'd really like to know what just happened."

"Ah, I think Severus can explain that much better than I," Dumbledore said, seeming to appear from nowhere.

Snape smirked at the way Harry startled. "The Dark Lord attempted to use a spell-potion complex to kill you. For whatever reason he could not and the magic turned against its caster seeking the promised life."

"But why didn't it work?" Harry asked curiosity flickering in his eyes.

"Perhaps it was your mother's sacrifice," Dumbledore suggested.

"Maybe," Harry conceded, "It's worked before." Severus frowned but said nothing.

"I will need to contact the Ministry," Dumbledore said. "I would suggest that the two of you go and relax while you have the chance." Severus nodded and strode off, only to stop a moment later when he realized Harry wasn't following him.

"What about NEWTs, Professor?" he asked.

"I daresay they can be put off a bit," the headmaster replied with a twinkle. "I doubt even the examiners will be in the mood for tests tomorrow."

Harry smiled a little and nodded, moving off to follow Snape. They walked in silence until they reached the door to Snape's office. Harry paused for a moment, wondering if somehow Gryffindor was going to lose points, but walked in when he saw the man's impatient glare. "Have a seat," he said, handing Harry a teacup.

"I'm not sure I'm really in the mood for tea," Harry said as he seated himself.

"It will settle your nerves," Snape said. Harry took a cautious sip and sighed as the warmth of the liquid spread through him. Snape seated himself in a similar chair before the fireplace with his own cup of tea.

"You want to know something really funny?" Harry asked after a moment.

"I suppose you'll tell me anyway, so go ahead," Severus replied, not looking up from his contemplation of the fireplace.

"All I could think when he shouted that incantation was that I wasn't a Potter."

Snape snorted, "I suppose that explains why the potion rejected you. It makes more sense than your mother's sacrifice, really. If somehow the potion absorbed your name as part of t the incantation…" he trailed off with a thoughtful look on his face. "Then, too, the potion was keyed to James Potter's flesh."

"I don't even want to think about how you did that." Harry said with a nauseated look. "Even if I don't think of myself as one, I certainly do look like a Potter though, and that's the bit I've never been able to figure out."

"He didn't tell you?" Severus asked in surprise.

"Who didn't tell me what?" Harry frowned.

"James didn't write you a letter?" Severus asked.

"No, you're the only one who got that privilege."

"You were transfigured less than an hour after birth."

Harry's frown deepened, "Shouldn't that have worn off by now?"

"Ordinarily," Snape replied in an odd tone, "But Perfect James Potter didn't want his heir looking like me, so he anchored the transfiguration. You would have to lose all your bones and your blood to release the transfiguration."

Harry gaped at him, "But that's Dark Magic!" he protested.

"Yes," Severus agreed, "but it's also expedience."

"Some Gryffindor he turned out to be," Harry huffed. Severus nodded. "Don't you want revenge?" Harry asked, looking at the older wizard from the corner of his eye.

"It's a bit late for that, James Potter is dead."

Harry bit back a retort about how glad he was that Snape was finally able to recognize that face but said instead, "But don't you want it?" Harry repeated.

"Why, what do you have in mind?" Severus asked, turning toward Harry with a faintly amused glint in his eyes.

"We should get to know each other," Harry said simply.

"I think that potion addled your brains. We've been over this. I have no desire to be paternal."

"I'm not asking you to be paternal. I'm asking you if you don't think it would make him spin in his grave to see us getting along. We could get together once a month or something," Harry waved a hand deprecatingly.

"Once a month?" Severus asked, thinking that that didn't sound like too much, and he did feel a little curious to see what this young man, his son, would make of the new world.

"Once a month."

"No paternal duties?" he confirmed.

"None whatsoever," Harry reassured him.

"It's a plan, then."

"Good," Harry said with a small but genuine smile. Snape nodded and the corner of his mouth that Harry could not see flicked up ever so slightly.

A/N2: Well, there you have it! Not particularly prophecy-compliant, but I hope you won't be too disappointed. Thanks again to everyone who reviews, and may I encourage those of you who don't to take a moment and do so. It really does help. Extra special thanks to enb2004 who puts up with all my mistakes. Your aid has been invaluable. Thank You!