Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter nor anything otherwise related. I do, however, make claim on NM Harry's personality as well as those of all the other canon characters and my original chars.

Despite sorrow and pain,

life moves on.

Despite the heartache,

there is a world beyond.

Beyond the death

of those we love,

there is life – for us.

"Untitled" written by Hermione Malfoy upon the death of Harry Snape

Chapter 1 – Despite Sorrow

In a dark office lit only by a scarcely flickering fire in Ashdeir Fierion, a man bent over a stack of papers scattered across the surface of a claw-footed desk. He lifted a hand after a moment and rubbed at the right side of his face, yawning as he did so.

Glancing across the room at the illuminated face of the big grandfather clock, he blinked at the time.

He'd been working for five hours straight?

"Damn," he muttered, looking down at the paperwork he still had left. Barely half of the mass he had brought home for the weekend was finished, which meant he'd probably be working the entire time. And he had planned to spend a nice, quiet weekend with his wife and children.

Severus Jardin Snape sighed and ran both hands back through his black hair, which was now shot through with silver in places. He was sixty-two as of two weeks ago, old already in the Muggle world and just nearing the end of his prime in the one he'd been raised in. And despite the fact that he hadn't married until twelve years ago, he had three wonderful children and a wife he adored.

But despite all that he had, there was something missing. Two pieces of his heart that he had lost years before. The two pieces that made him…him.

His parents were missing from his life.

Severus sighed and looked up at the portrait displayed boldly over the fireplace. His nine-year-old self grinned at him from it with only his father's hand on his shoulder keeping him from bouncing up and down with ecstatic energy. Beside the two of them, his mother smiled serenely as she cradled a blanket-wrapped bundle that was his little sister Saerry at a year old in her arms.

It was the portrait of a perfect family. Or at least it was in his eyes. Certainly his parents had had arguments (he could well remember times when the walls of the manor had reverberated with his parents voices) but those had never lasted long. They had loved each other so much…

Two hands slid over his shoulders suddenly, and he jumped then leaned his head back to look up into his wife's worried face.

"Hello, beautiful," he murmured.

Janella Snape nee Kerensky frowned down at her husband then shifted her steel blue eyes to the paperwork scattered across his desk. She brushed a lock of her dark, blood red hair back behind her ear then asked, "Work?"

"New security measures for the Ministry," replied Severus, glaring balefully at the sheets. "All proposed by that snot-nosed brat that Seamus Finnegan calls a grandson."

"Now, now, Verus. You can't blame the boy for trying to do well."

Severus sighed. "He's making my job a bloody living nightmare, Nella. I have enough work here to last me a week at a slow pace – and half of it shouldn't really be mine. I'm just the Head of Security for the Auror's now, not the whole bloody Ministry."

"No, that's John's job now," said Janella, eying the paperwork with distaste as well. "I'll tell you what, you come to bed right now and tomorrow I'll help you sort out the things that can be shipped to that nephew of yours."

Severus smiled and scooped up his wife's hand, kissing each of her knuckles in turn.

"You are a marvelous woman, Nella."

The crimson-haired woman smirked and shot, "I know. Pretty good for a Muggle who can barely use the Floo, eh?"

"I would rather have you by my side than all the most powerful witches in the world," murmured Severus as he turned his chair so he could pull her down into his lap.

"Mmm. Flattery will get you everything, m'Lord Snape."

"I know, m'Lady Snape," said Severus with a smirk. "It got me laid."

Janella smacked his shoulder lightly then leaned back into his strong arms, remembering when she had first met the man she called her husband.

She had been working at a pub in London at the time, trying to keep her mind off her recent divorce with her schoolyard sweetheart. He had turned out to be a royal arse and after four years, she had finally had enough. So she had divorced him and had moved from their flat in Surrey to London, where she had bought a small flat just for herself and her cat Kit and had started to work at the pub two blocks from her place.

Of course, her now ex-husband had hunted her down and had stumbled into the pub with a week's worth of drink in him. She had tried to usher him out but he had slapped her, slurring that she was a no-good whore and couldn't tell him to do anything. At an attempt at retaliation, he made to slap her again and she cringed back.

But the second strike had never come. She had opened her eyes and stared in awe at the tall, broad-shouldered man standing between her and her ex, his hand clenched about the shorter man's wrist.

Her ex-husband had narrowed his eyes at the man and slurred, "Ge' out of me way, y'blaggard. Tha' 'ore needs a les'en."

"I am afraid it is you who needs the lesson, sir," the man had replied, twisting her ex's arm down and behind his back. He then bent and hissed into his ear, "And if I ever – ever – see you strike a woman again, I will personally make sure your hands are forever indisposed from further rash behaviors. Do we have an understanding?"

"Sure. Take tha' 'ore," slurred her ex, stumbling out of the pub as the man shoved him towards the door.

She remembered taking a breath in what had seemed forever then and grabbing up her rescuer's hand, clutching it tightly to her.

"Thank you for that. I'm frightened to think of what might have happened if you hadn't been here."

The man had turned to her then and she had found herself caught in his sea green eyes. He had smiled at her – a quaint, simple little smile that did not quite reach his eyes – and caught both her hands in his, pressing a kiss to the back of each.

"My pleasure, madam," he had murmured as he released her. She felt her heart jump then and had offered him a drink on the house for the rescue. He had accepted and the two of them had conversed on until the pub had closed, him perched artfully at the bar and she dashing back and forth behind it. Then he had walked her home, being ever the gentleman along the way. After an introduction to Kit, he had kissed her hand again and bid her good night before vanishing.

She had never thought she'd see him again after that.

But the next day he was back in the pub, sea green eyes catching hers over his mug. And he was there the next and the next and the next…

By the time December came, she had known everything about him. And had accepted it. It was then that he had asked her to marry him. Of course, she had accepted.

Now, here they were, nearly thirteen years later, sitting in what had been his father's study in the rebuilt ancestral home of his family. They had three wonderful children and, for the first time in her life, she was content.

Janella turned and kissed him then, entwining her fingers in his dark hair.

"You," she whispered as she leaned back to look at him, "are wonderful."

Severus smiled at her and murmured, "And you are beautiful. Though what prompted that kiss?"

"Oh…I was just remembering, my knight in shining armor."

He winced then and laughed, lines around his eyes crinkling.

"Ah, yes," he said, lifting her further into his lap. "You are my damsel in distress, are you not?"

"A damsel, perhaps. And my only distress is that we are still sitting here when our bed is upstairs."

"Then I, as your valiant knight, shall rescue you from your distress by whisking you upstairs and thoroughly ravaging you," said Severus, bending his head to gently bite her neck.

"Until I cannot breathe?" asked Janella, looping her arms about his neck.

Severus smiled and replied, "Until you cannot breathe."

"Then let us away, m'good knight."

"Aye, m'lady."

He swooped her up then and carried her upstairs to their bedroom, checking on the children as they went. Then they locked the door and made love before falling to sleep in each other's arms.