Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess, JKR. Thank you for seven wonderful books!!!
SPOILER WARNING – If you have not read Deathly Hallows then you should not read this story. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Eight Years Later
Harry Potter stood before the office door with just a hint of trepidation. Ginny touched his shoulder softly.
"It will be fine, Harry," she reassured him.
Harry smiled and kissed Ginny on the cheek.
"You get your bravery from your mother," he whispered.
"As do you," she replied quietly as she turned to head back down the stairs.
With a deep breath, Harry pushed open the door and stepped into Headmistress McGonagall's office.
"I hope…we have some privacy," he thought to himself as he closed the door behind him.
He made his way towards the large desk. While most of the knick knacks in the office had remained the same, there were some notable additions. For one thing, the set of ceramic tabby cats (which were old and quite valuable) had not been there before. And, in a place of honour, was a set of potions vials…
Harry came to the desk and set down upon it the large basket he'd been carrying. The room was not brightly lit…only a few candles to give just enough light to see but not too many to be intrusive.
It was enough light to see that the other portraits had, indeed, respected his desire for a solitary audience.
And, directly behind the desk of the Headmistress (he silently thanked her for being so accommodating), was the portrait he had come to see.
Former Headmaster Severus Snape.
"Headmaster Snape?" Harry called out.
The portrait of Severus Snape had been reading a book and looked up at the sudden intrusion. His severe expression relaxed slightly upon seeing who it was.
"A rather odd time to be visiting portraits, Potter," he commented, rising from the chair he had been sitting on and coming closer. "And please refrain from using that title...it reminds me that I will have to spend an eternity surrounded by a bunch of ancient fools."
"You have Dumbledore," Harry pointed out.
"A rather small measure of compensation for the view of the back of Minerva's head each day," the portrait groused.
"You know why she keeps you and Dumbledore close by," Harry sat down on a corner of the desk and crossed his arm over his chest in amusement.
"Of course…to tell me how many points ahead Gryffindor is in the House Cup standings," Severus snarked without any real rancour.
Harry chuckled. While visiting the surly portrait had become something of a routine…it was never dull.
"So, what brings you here at such a late hour, Potter?"
"Harry. Just Harry. Is that so hard?" Harry asked.
The portrait pushed a greasy lock of hair behind his ear and sighed. "Harry."
Harry smiled slightly. "Better. Actually, I came down here to bring you some news."
"Indeed? And what news would you believe to be of such great importance to me?" the portrait looked somewhat surprised.
"Ginny had the baby this morning…another boy," Harry grinned. "Everything was much easier than last time."
"Congratulations. I am sincerely pleased for you both," the portrait seemed to have the ghost of a smile on his face.
"I…I brought him to see you," Harry pointed towards the basket. A tiny hand was moving against the soft blue blanket.
The portrait looked suddenly concerned. "Was that wise? I understood when you brought little James here a month after he was born but this…is it not too soon?"
"He's fine. Let me show him to you," Harry got off the desk and deftly scooped his sleeping son out of the basket. "Come on, little one…come meet him."
The portrait looked at the baby for a time and a softness, wholly out of character, appeared in his expression.
"What is his name, Harry?"
"Well, Ginny and I had a hard time deciding on a name. Finally, we went with our hearts and named him after the man who had such a profound influence on our lives…Albus."
The portrait nodded. "It is an old name…a strong name that is full of power. It is a name your son will always be proud of. An excellent choice."
"We also named him after the bravest man we've ever known," Harry hesitated. "His full name is Albus Severus Potter."
The portrait stopped suddenly and stared at Harry. After several long moments, the only word out of his mouth was a whispered,
"Watch," Harry said quietly as he stroked his son's cheek. Little Albus stirred and, without crying, opened his eyes to look at the very blurry moving something in the very blurry frame.
The portrait gasped, a hand going over his mouth.
"Funny how one baby can take after one side of the family and another baby looks completely different," Harry looked down at his little son with love. "I never want anyone to forget what you did for all of us…I never will."
"Harry…I…never expected such an honour. You have reduced me to the intellectual capacity of a Hufflepuff. I don't know what to say," the portrait looked utterly frazzled but Harry knew him well enough to know that he was well pleased.
"Hufflepuff, eh? So what will happen when I tell you that I've commissioned a portrait of you in my house…next to Dumbledore's, of course."
The portrait hesitated.
"It is most fortunate that I am no longer alive because I fear, in that case, I would have to award points to Gryffindor, Harry. Just don't ever tell Minerva."
Author's Notes – This story is lovingly dedicated to all those who had faith in Severus Snape.