My Dark Protector

Chapter 39

Severus Snape observed Prince Manor and its inhabitants. A lot had changed in the past few decades, none more than him, as grey hairs begun to make themselves known. He made no effort to change them, dye them so that they weren't noticed, he allowed nature to take it's course. It was a rather funny little family they had here. Dumbledore and the Dark Lord or 'Tom' as he was referred to within Harry's hearing range, were grandfather figures. Always trying to outdo each other, which definitely had a helping hand in turning Severus' hair grey. Ironically enough…they never once spoke to each other…they sat next to one another and utterly and completely ignored each other.

Then there was Poppy and Minerva, grandmother figures, they loved to spoil him too, but unlike Dumbledore and Voldemort…the two adhered to Severus' wishes in stopping Harry becoming an utterly spoiled boy. That he most definitely did NOT wish to deal with the tantrums of a spoiled brat. Especially by one that would never grow older mentally, but he'd come far more along than either of them had anticipated.

"Where's Harry?" Poppy enquired, as she strode across the immaculate lawn dressed for once in an attire that wasn't her uniform or the clothes she frequently had on under it. She levitated the gift over to the table, where the other gifts were being piled. It was a small table, but Harry's circle of people he knew was very small. Luna, Neville, Theodore and Daphne were his only friends, and only because they ran a 'business' that Harry needed in order to take care of his animals.

Severus' home, no, their home, had been turned into a zoo, there were so many animals on the grounds thankfully in pens, sables and tanks around the back of the property. Despite having so many, the grounds were always immaculate, between Harry's and the House-elves works they kept it very clean and all the animals comfortable.

Shaking himself out of his thoughts, "He's tending to his newest patient," his desire to help pets, especially when 'Sevvy' his beautiful cat had grown sick he'd read everything he could get his hands on, the cat had since passed on, and Severus had not replaced him. Harry had gone catatonic for an entire week after Sevvy's passing, and Severus thought he'd done the wrong thing by buying the kitten for him…what if this was what broke him? It hadn't but Severus had remained leery for a good long while.

"Oh? What's he got this time?" Poppy asked curiously, there was such a ménage of different kind of animals. They frequently changed, as they either passed away, or successfully ended up being adopted or given to a safe heaven particularly for that species of animal.

Officially it was known as 'Prince Veterinarian sanctuary for all hurt or abandoned animals'. It had started off small, barely anyone knowing anything about it, about two years after it had been made official, Severus began allowing Harry to deal with anyone that came slowly, the secrecy runes around the property doing it's job to ensure Harry wasn't spoken about maliciously.

In fact, nobody knew that Harry Prince was in fact Harry Potter, had ever been Harry Potter. The black hair, which was now very long again, having been shaved when he was rescued, but cared for diligently this time, utterly gave the appearance of being Severus son. Only a few actually new the real truth and that's the way it would remain.

"A Thestral," Severus informed her, "It's a very young one by the looks of it, and has at least a broken wing." He hadn't been aware those things could make any sound, other than the noise of their hoofs as they galloped but he'd been so very wrong.

"Poor thing," Poppy said sympathetically, "I doubt he'll be out of his office for a while," she added with a wry grin, Harry was nothing if not dedicated to the animals that crossed his path. There was one thing he didn't do though, he didn't go outside of Prince estate to get them, they always had to be brought to him.

"Oh, he's been looking forward to this too much to miss it," Severus refuted that statement, Harry was looking forward to everyone he cared about being in the same place at the same time. He might forty-years-old, but he'd acted like a child when informed they would be celebrating his fortieth birthday. In fact, it was only the third time they'd actually celebrated his birthday, his 18th, 21st and of course, now his 40th. Milestones everyone thought he'd never reach, because the majority of people had been so sure he was dead…the others refusing to believe it until miraculously Severus had indeed found Harry Potter alive and decidedly unwell.

"Luna and Neville coming?" Poppy asked, as they walked towards the picnic area, the benches covered with cloth and flowers to make if a little fancy by the House-elves. Severus nor Harry would have noticed otherwise.

"They should be here any moment," Severus agreed, glancing at the time on his watch. "Harry will definitely come when they get here." smirking wryly, "Although Theodore and Daphne might make him move a little more quickly." Theodore taught Harry old family magic healing spells, from the Nott grimoire, and wasn't shy the way Neville was. It took a while for Neville and Harry to 'break the ice' each time they met so to speak.

Poppy smiled indulgently, her hair completely white, face a little more withered but still full of life.

"Minerva is already here, she'll be down in a few moments," Severus commented. She'd been here for hours, she liked to keep busy after retiring from Hogwarts, following Dumbledore's example, but much earlier. The school was in good hands after all, Filius was a perfectly suitable replacement as Headmaster.

"Is she with Harry?" Poppy asked, as she sat, pouring herself a coffee.

"No, Tom's with Harry at the moment," Severus explained, he'd long ago stopped fretting whenever his son was alone with the Dark Lord. They were probably the only ones from the general public who knew whom Tom Riddle really was. You would never think it, seeing him interact with Harry.

"Let me guess, visiting the snakes?" many snakes were injured and hurt surprisingly, and brought here to recuperate. The perfect place really, since two people who were here often were snake speakers and able to help them in a way normal people couldn't.

"Indeed, there is a rare magical breed just brought in a few days ago," Severus explained the reasoning behind the Dark Lord's visit to the tanks. Eyes twinkling just that much brighter, watching something from behind Poppy.

"Poppy!" Harry said beaming happily, bringing her into a hug, her sudden appearance not even startling her the slightest as she hugged him back. The fear he'd held of women, of her, once upon a time, was long gone.

"Good afternoon, Harry," Poppy said lovingly, as he disengaged from her, it was such a shame that the Potter line would end with him. He was in no way capable of having a child, a family, not in the way others his age are. "How are you?" it had been at least a month since she'd seen him last, too busy with her latest book to do much.

"I'm good," Harry said grinning widely enough to hurt his jaw later.

Poppy smiled back in turn, he had such a childish gleam in his eyes at all times, as if he wasn't haunted by the past. He still remembered, but had chosen to live in the moment and not let those wicked people take him down. He looked his age though, everything he'd been through, he honestly looked a great deal older than his forty years young. What those people had done…would never be undone, Harry's childhood had not only been taken from him but a great deal of his adulthood as well.

Harry would be lucky to see his ninetieth birthday, even with the aid of potions.

Anything was better than Harry dying under that Priory hospital at the hands of that wicked, wicked woman. It didn't bear saying, but they had all thought it, it was a good thing Harry wouldn't outlive Severus, for the boy would be so utterly lost without him.

"Is the Thestral been dealt with?" Severus questioned him.

Harry frowned, "I gave it the potion to heal its broken wing and something to help it sleep," having to think long and hard on it. He had problems remembering things sometimes, and often needed reminding. It's why when he wasn't with his dad, he had his own personal House-elf to help when needed. He never needed help remembering spells, since he was a natural healer and didn't need them, but did love learning about new spells, so that he could use magic he way he knew.

"And Tom?" Severus asked, as the House-elves busied themselves with getting the food and drink on the tables.

"Tom's coming, he's just checking on Tally," Harry said, Tally was a snake who'd been injured severely actually, but was doing better. "I think he's going to adopt her!" he crowd happily. He always was extremely happy when the animals were adopted out, even more so if they kept in touch and continued to send pictures of the animals. There was an entire wall dedicated to all the animals he'd saved, with the letters and pictures all pinned up.

"Well, he'll certainly have the time," Severus murmured, Voldemort and Dumbledore, true to their word had changed the magical world, made it so that it was impossible for the Muggles to have a say on anything, even their children. Every magical child attended Hogwarts, and if the parents were unhappy they were obliviated and the children were adopted or fostered by wizards and witches. The orphanages had been emptied of magical children and the magical world was thriving in a way that it had not in the past.

Not everyone had been happy with the changes, to begin with, but there was no denying that the new world order worked.

Nobody could deny that it was for the best, not after the news broke of what happened to Harry Potter. Who by the way was thought dead by the entire magical population. Minus, Voldemort, Dumbledore, Severus, Poppy, Minerva, Neville, Theodore, Luna and Daphne.

All these people who were here today, helping Harry celebrate his fortieth birthday.

None of it would have been possible without Severus Snape's determination. Someone, whom, to this day, gets called 'My Dark Protector' by a very grateful young man, who's mental age was deduced to be around fifteen-years-old with obvious exceptions, such as his forgetfulness.

Not that it ever got Harry down. He was living his full life.

He was encouraged to live his full life, even if he wouldn't be able to live on his own.

He was surrounded by people who would kill for him, die for him.

There were two people absent from the celebrations, two people who had not been in Harry's life for nineteen years nearly. Sirius Black and Remus Lupin had left Prince Manor and never returned. They'd left for the Caribbean and had yet to return, and Harry was lucky to receive a letter in a birthday card and a gift from them, but Severus imagined it was from Remus alone. When Sirius didn't get his way, he sulked, completely balked. The fact that Harry called Severus dad and not him…had been the straw that broke the camels back.

Harry had never asked for Sirius, but he had asked for Remus, who had liked to read to him and Harry had liked it. He'd never been very sure of Sirius, who was much too wild for the teen, never forgotten the time where Sirius had nearly scared him half to death. Severus had been truthful and told him what had happened and why.

Sirius wasn't going to get the chance to screw up his godsons life by revealing who he was and where he was. He'd been imprisoned enough, he did not need the Ministry interfering and sending him to St. Mungo's.

His life, as sad as it had been, had ended a war, wiped the slate clean, there was no light or dark, there was just magic.

The world was better for it.

It was just a damn shame that one boy had paid the ultimate price for that peace.

Severus would change it all to give Harry the best possible life, but that wasn't possible.

He'd just have to content himself by being Harry's Dark Protector.

And what a fierce protector he had become.

This does not feel like a real ending BUT it is the ending I wanted to give, there can't always be a happily ever after with everyone happy but Harry is happy and doesn't know or miss something he doesn't have or need. He has people who care about him fiercely and a world was changed...I did want to make this more political but I already have other stories that are going to be extremely political so it wasn't doable plus, it would have been all about the Muggles which would have had to be included! Hopefully though, you like this one better than the original which did sort of end with the possibility of more (something i was really bad at back then) giving all my stories an unfinished feel to them! hopefully I've improved and so another story is finished :) I hope you've enjoyed it.

For those that DIDN'T read the original I have not been working on this particular story for ten years LMAO! maybe 2-3 years but definitely not ten :) the downside of removing all but the first chapter and beginning to update :) now guys why not give it one last hurrah even if it's just to say good job and finish this story with a bang! :) R&R please guys and I'll see you reading something else ;)