A big, big thank-you goes to my roommate, who helped me find the best way to write this out.

Disclaimer: I own a copy of all of the books, but not the trademark and/or copyright.

Harry Potter blinked against the sunlight. He was lying in a large, soft bed, staring at the ceiling. A window on the opposite wall provided the blinding light he was experiencing, illuminating the moderately sized room with plush gray carpet and no furniture other than the bed and an armchair in the morning light.

He was lying on a cot in a tiny cupboard, staring at a spider web in the far corner. The scent of bacon wafted through the door, and he could hear Uncle's footsteps in the hallway.

He was on a slightly lumpy mattress, staring sideways past a snoring redhead in an identical bed to a wall covered in orange.

He was slumped on a canopy bed splashed with red and gold, staring at the top of the canopy with unseeing eyes as blood dripped down his forehead from a livid lightning bolt.

No. That was wrong. He was in his bed—no, in someone's arms, all small and frail and light. It was morning. He was on his feet again, in the hall bathroom. It was done in creams, a sink and toilet and shower bath. He pushed away helping hands and relieved himself.

He was in an obviously disused public bathroom, reaching to pull a little brown book out of a toilet. There was a girl sniffling in the background.

He was in a pristine white bathroom, Cousin pounding impatiently on the door.

He was completely undressed, sitting in a cream-colored bathtub, supported by the helping hands he had refused before. He didn't pull away this time as one hand gently scrubbed him down with a washcloth while the other, attached to an arm, kept him in a sitting position.

He was underwater, staring up at Aunt's contemplative face, one perfectly manicured hand putting pressure on his chest.

He was staring down a merman in a murky lake, struggling for the right to rescue a friend.

He was in the locker room showers after a blazing victory, laughing as others whooped and hollered and splashed water at his face.

He was in a bath the size of a swimming pool, absently swatting at bubbles while steamed fogged up his glasses.

He was in an icy pool, staring down at a glittering sword as he drowned…The strong arms of a friend reached under his armpits and lifted him up.

No, not his friend. No red hair. His helping hands were lifting out of the bath, onto a cream bath mat, wrapping a warm towel around him. He leaned back against a warm body as one arm wrapped around his chest and held him steady as the other hand combed his wild hair down.

He had no memory of someone combing his hair. He was staring at himself in the mirror, taking in his own appearance and the cream bathroom and the dark-haired helper behind him. His mind briefly acknowledged that this had happened before, in the exact same sequence.

The comb felt nice against his scalp, and he wondered if he was really as old as he looked. He had no memory of specific age.

The comb stopped, and he was walking down the hall, into the room, his room. Helping hands had pants and socks on him before he had the presence of mind to dress himself.

He tugged a sweater out of his helper's hands, pulled it over his head.

He was in a bright, long room with canopy beds, pulling a homemade Christmas sweater over his head.

He was in the same room, now dimly lit, pulling on emerald dress robes for an event he wasn't looking forward to.

He was in a small chamber at the bottom of a stadium crammed with screaming people, wrapping red and gold robes around himself and trembling with anticipation.

He was sitting at a table in a kitchen done in beiges and tans and browns that soothed his eyes. A rumbling voice murmured encouragement at him and raised a spoonful of warm oatmeal to his lips. Tired already, he didn't try to take the spoon himself and obediently opened his mouth. Helping hands removed the spoon once he had closed his mouth and gently wiped an oatmeal smear from the corner of his mouth.

He was at another table, full of laughing people in a crooked house, squirming as a motherly woman tried to get him to eat just one more sausage.

He was in a huge gathering room, seated at a long table, smiling at everyone and passing the potatoes while twin redheads further down the table set off an explosion of confetti.

He was in a tent that was much larger than should have been possible, eating tasteless food with a brown-haired girl with dark circles under her eyes.

He was full, he decided. He pushed away the helping hand offering him the spoon and tried to lay his head on the table. He was exhausted, wanted to sleep.

He was in a tiny cupboard again, wishing for sleep but too afraid of the thunder that rent the air every few minutes to do so.

He was curled up on a canopy bed, miserably staring at the closed curtains of a stubborn redhead's identical bed.

He was sitting in an abandoned classroom, a silver, shimmering cloak pooled around his ankles as he gazed into a full-length mirror for the third night in a row, dark circles under his eyes.

He was curled on his side in a half-fetal position on a soft brown leather couch, head resting on his helper's lap. It was warm and comfortable, and he let himself drift as helping hands sifted through his hair, fingernails skimming over his scalp like a comb. He saw a brief flash of a cream bathroom in his mind's eye before sleep overtook him.

Ten minutes later, the doorbell rang.

"Enter," called Severus Snape in the direction of the front door. And as a man in healer robes stepped through the doorframe and into the house with words on his lips, "Quietly, if you please." The healer shut his mouth.

It wasn't the healer that normally came by once a week. Snape was mildly intrigued.

"He's napping," Snape said by way of explanation, "he's had more than usual today already, and it tires him out. I assume you're here for his weekly once-over?"

"Yes." the healer affirmed quietly. Snape thought he might have taught the man in school at some point…Yes. He had been a Hufflepuff, Snape thought.

"They've changed who handles his case." the healer continued softly. "I'm to give him a general check-up, and then the Ministry wants to let some Unspeakables look at him. They think there's a dark presence involved, you see."

Snape gave the man an ugly glare. "There is no reason for the Ministry to get into it. The only reason I allow healers into my house is the healer who took his case initially said it would be safer to check his health once a week or so."

"They want to know what happened." the healer had a sympathetic look on his face. "They want to know why you take care of him. No offense, sir, but I went to school with him. Everybody remembers how you hated him…"

Snape stiffened. He had thought it might come to this…Actually, after 20 years of relative peace, he was surprised it had taken this long.

"You want to know what happened?" Snape challenged, still glaring at the man. "He was supposed to die. He was the last horcrux, and he was supposed to die willingly in order to destroy the Dark Lord. I was the one who was supposed to give him the message—the last mission Dumbledore would have given him."

The healer looked rather gobsmacked, and was staring at Snape with a stunned expression on his face.

"But I failed, you see. Sensing the Dark Lord's displeasure, I wasn't brave enough to go to him to buy more time, and I couldn't find Harry anywhere. So instead of dying peacefully, when the Dark Lord was destroyed and his link to Harry with it, Harry's body and mind fought back. There is no dark presence in his mind, Healer, not anymore. The fight between his mind and the link simply ripped his mind apart."

"So every little action triggers a memory." breathed the Healer in awe. "That's fascinating…"

"For you, I'm sure." Snape snapped, his patience obviously gone. "If that was all you needed, Healer…"

"Oh! Right, right. Well, that should at least get the Ministry off your back, eh? The hospital will send his regular healer for a check-up next week."

"Lovely." Snape muttered, and watched the healer exit the house.

He glanced down at the frail body resting in his lap.

Why did he take care of him?

He had made a promise to take care of Lily's boy…Until that day when he had to die.

That day had never come in its time.

So Snape would continue to care for Harry Potter, until the day that he did die.

A soft snort escaped his lips, and he ran an affectionate hand through the 38-year-old man's hair. "Til' death do we part, Harry."