A/N: The very, very last chapter. Proper notes at the end of this chapter.
18 years later
"Is it true then?"
Severus Snape resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. He knew he would have to face this at some point. It was obvious that it would occur somewhere along the passage of time that was his life. He'd waited for it, had even found the words he would use when the time would come. Granted, he had thought that because he had not heard them sooner that perhaps he was going to be allowed grace. How stupid of him.
All the carefully thought out words that he had planned didn't seem suitable now. Of course, they'd been planned with a different audience in mind and that audience had never shown the slightest bit of interest. But, obviously, now the axe had fallen.
He looked up at the softly spoken word and sighed running both his hands through his hair. This was his child in front of him, his only son and it was like looking at himself at that age. The same long black hair, the same slightly sallow skin; although he was glad to say that the prominent nose wasn't quite as bad as his own. But all the same it was obvious he was a Snape by blood; the only hint of his mother was in his gentle nature and love of the outdoors, something he certainly hadn't inherited from him.
"What have you heard?" Snape spoke quietly; his black eyes carefully watching the young man slouched in the chair beside him.
Silas looked at his father, brushing his hair from his face so he could see him better. His eyes were unguarded and Snape could clearly see the doubt in them. It sent a shaft of pain through him; he had known that it would pain him to see his children doubt him, but he had also known it was inevitable. He had expected it with Clarity, but she'd not spoken to him and he had assumed that she had never found out. Certainly there had never been any episodes of angst with her that would have led him to believe she had just learnt her father was a murderer. Well, none except the ones that Meg had assured him were perfectly normal and she'd out-grow; which to his eternal relief she had done just so.
He lifted an eyebrow at Silas and waited for the angst to follow. He almost wished he'd accompanied Meg and Clarity to Diagon Alley now. Almost; because nothing was worse than two women shopping together, apart from maybe when Senga joined them and it was three women. Many times he had found himself lamenting the joys of marriage with Neville while Meg and Senga shopped together. He snorted, now there was a match; his Senga and Neville Longbottom, married for nearly ten years now… where had the time gone?
Silas grunted and shifted in the chair slightly bringing Snape painfully back to the issue at hand.
"Some kids were saying that you used to be a Death Eater with Voldemort."
Snape still couldn't resist the wince that name brought him and he pinched his nose again.
"It's true," he sighed and opened his mouth to recount the whole sorry story; but before he could say anything Silas sat forward and reached across to his arm.
"So how come there's no Dark Mark on your arm?"
It wasn't the question Snape had expected and it threw him. He blinked as his son scooted closer and drew the white shirt up his fathers arm, turning his arm to study the clear skin.
"Your mother and I worked on a potion several years ago now; you were still only a baby when it was perfected."
"So it's gone completely," Silas murmured and traced his finger over his father's skin.
"Not completely, it's more like a permanent glamour." Snape was still waiting for the condemnation, the question "why?" and even worse "How could you?", but they didn't come and it confused him.
"What else have you heard, Silas?" Snape's voice was low and calm, completely belying the nervous thudding of his heart.
"Not a lot, I mean, they teach all about Voldemort and the Death Eaters in History, but it's pretty bland. I asked Clarity about it and she told me most of it, but said I should ask you too."
Now Snape was completely blind-sided. Clarity knew? But she had never said anything to him. His eyebrows drew together in a frown as he suddenly realised that he didn't know everything there was to know about his family; although it seemed as if they knew him completely.
Silas picked up on his fathers confusion and drew the sleeve back down. He patted his hand and stood up to stand in front of him.
"S'alright, y'know, I won't question you about it. I just wondered that's all, 'cause I'd never seen any mark there."
Snape was convinced that if he was standing a feather could have knocked him over. How could his son be so blasé about it? He wanted to demand exactly what he was being taught in History, but in all his years as Head of Slytherin he knew exactly what was taught; so he was at a loss as to why his son and now clearly, his daughter too weren't bothered by it. They were taught the outline of the revels, the atrocities committed by the Death Eaters at Voldemort command. Why the heck weren't they more concerned that their own father was one? Surely his children had more imagination than what they were currently displaying.
Snape stood up till he towered over his fifteen year old son and frowned down at him, but before he could say anything a commotion at the front of the house announced the arrival home of the rest of his family.
"Daddy! Daddy!" A high pitched squeal made him turn in time to catch up his youngest daughter, Angharad, as she threw herself at him. He hugged her close and kissed her cheek.
"Look! Mummy bought me." She pulled back from him to wave something in his face; he laughed as he caught her arm long enough to see the miniature toy wand.
"Just don't turn me into a frog or something," Silas laughed and ruffled his sister's hair.
"Don't be stupid, Silas, it's a toy," came the slow mocking drawl of Miranda. Miranda was nine going on nineteen and, of all of his children, the one who was most like him in temperament. "Although she probably stands a better chance at casting magic than you do." She sniggered as she shot past him to peck Snape quickly on the cheek before disappearing out the French doors into the garden.
"Oy!" Silas made to follow her but Snape stopped him. He set Angahrad down and turned as Meg and Clarity came into the room discussing something, they stopped when they heard Snape's voice.
Snape suddenly found himself at a loss for words, frowning he folded his arms again. Meg crossed to sit down on the settee taking Angharad in her arms when the little girl climbed onto her lap. Clarity crossed and slumped into the chair Silas had vacated, she reached forwards for the remote control to switch on the TV.
"Clarity, please leave it off for awhile," Snape said quietly. She looked up in surprise, taking in the looks on Silas and Snape's face before comprehension dawned on her own.
"What's wrong?" Meg looked around her, aware there was a lot of tension in Snape but not knowing the cause.
"Why did you never ask?" Snape looked directly at Clarity as he lowered himself back down into his chair.
"They taught a little at school, obviously you aren't named, but I knew… I don't know how I know, I think I always did. It made no difference to me."
"Nor me," Silas spoke up quickly. "The only reason I asked was because of the mark."
"Does it not make any difference knowing the sort of things I did?" he asked completely taken aback by his children.
"Dad, you were a spy for the light. You are a hero." Clarity grinned at him.
"Superhero!" Silas laughed and brought his fist out in a Superman pose. "Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Super Snape!"
Meg choked on a laugh, especially when she saw Snape's horrified face. She stood up from the settee and crossed to kiss the top of his head.
"I'll get some tea on," she murmured and left the room with Angharad still valiantly waving her toy wand around.
"It wasn't like that." Snape's voice was deep and quiet and empty of emotion. His tone caught the attention of both his children. "Listen and don't interrupt."
Snape stopped talking, aware that that Silas was now curled up at his feet, his face pale and anxious. Clarity was curled on the sofa, her face as blank as his own.
"So, you see, there was no heroism in it. It was for a redemption that will never come. An absolution I do not deserve."
Silence reigned on the Snape household as both his children digested the information given them.
"Well I bloody well think you should have been given the Order of Merlin First Class."
Snape's head shot up at the sound of Miranda from the French Doors. She had come in, unnoticed from the start and was now lounging against the door with a blade of grass between her teeth.
"I mean, let's face it, you could have turn tail and disappeared, never to be seen again."
"Miranda, I cost people their lives; that should never be praised."
"No, but your childhood sucked, didn't it? Senga won't talk about her mum much but from what she has said she was right evil old cow. It's no wonder you were a little mucked up at first."
Snape pinched the bridge of his nose wondering if it was illegal to muzzle his daughter. "Please watch your language, Miranda," he sighed and rubbed his hand down his face.
"She has a point," Clarity spoke up. "You made mistakes, big horrible ones, but you faced up to them. You tried to atone for your mistakes and in doing so probably saved countless lives. No, I think you are a hero, an example, really."
"An example?" Snape snorted at his older daughter. "Have you even been listening to me this past hour?"
"Yup," Silas shook his head and stood up, stretching out his gangly frame. "What she means in her weird girl talk is that you prove that you can muck up big time and still get it right in the end."
"Triumph over adversity," Miranda piped up again and nodded her head in all her nine year olds wisdom. "You aspired to be more that your sum of mistakes."
"Oh, for Merlin's sake, who let her at the Star Trek DVD again?" Silas grumbled and picking up a cushion threw it at his sister. "He's not bloody Data, y'know!"
"For goodness sake, where did you kids learn your language?" Snape muttered still shocked at their accepting attitude of him.
"Uncle Jack," three voices chorused and then burst out laughing at the look of disgust on Snape's face.
Silas reached forwards and gripped Snape's forearms and tugged him out of the chair. Snape wondered briefly when he had grown so strong, he was almost a man and today he was showing the insight of one.
"Dad, you've never been anything but fair to us…"
"Strict, mind," Miranda added and came forwards to join her brother and sister in front of him. "Too strict if you ask my opinion."
"Which we didn't," Clarity informed her dryly. "We've never once doubted you loved us, even when we've done something pretty bad."
"When have you ever done anything bad?" Silas snorted. "You're the bloody golden girl!"
"I've had my moments," Clarity said carefully and looked at Snape as she spoke. He reached out a finger and drew it down her cheek in understanding.
"You'd get angry, but you always forgave me," she whispered.
"You were always sorry, you always acted in the heat of the moment and then regretted it afterwards," he said quietly.
"And you don't regret what you did?" Miranda asked him clearly, staring up at her father out of black eyes.
"Of course I do," he said quietly. "More than I can ever say."
"Then we forgive you," Miranda said simply and shrugged her shoulders. "I love you, so of course I forgive you."
Snape was unable to speak; the lump in his throat was obstructing any sounds. But his eyes told his children everything they looked for. Silas stepped forwards and wrapped his arms around his father's waist, the others followed and Snape was soon engulfed with three children. He held them as close as he could get them, his heart so full he thought it would burst.
"Silas, you oaf!" Miranda's high pitched voice broke the moment. "Get your great big size tens off my foot would you?"
"Dad, why didn't you stop at two?" Silas moaned as they broke apart and he flicked at Miranda's black braid. "Two is such a perfect number."
"Because," Miranda informed him haughtily, "if they had stopped at two, whom on earth would kick your arse at Quidditch?"
"That is so not true!" Silas yelled and made a lunge for his sister, but she was too quick and darted out of the door laughing wickedly.
"I think I'd better make sure no blood is split this time," Clarity laughed and headed out of the door after them.
Snape stood perfectly still in the middle of the room, his heart still thumping in his chest.
"Oh ye of little faith," came a soft voice from behind him as Meg's arms crept around his waist. "Did you really think it would make a difference to them?"
"It made a difference for me. I hated my father and his crimes were not so far removed from my own," he intoned quietly as he turned in her arms to hold her close.
"Yes, and there's the difference, Severus, you had a father; they have a dad."
"Have I told you lately that I'm rather fond of you?" he smirked down at his adored wife.
"Maybe, but I was thinking in the kitchen, this Superhero business could open up a whole new world of possibilities for us. You, in tights and a cape, underwear on over your tights; in tasteful black of course." Meg squealed as his fingers found her ticklish sides.
"DAD! DADDY! Make him stop!" Miranda wail came through the doors. "I won't be responsible if he doesn't stop….. DAD!"
"Go on Super Snape, you're needed!" Meg pushed him gently towards the doors leading into the garden.
Snape snorted and rolling his eyes turned to sort out his children. He may not have a perfect life, but it was as damn near perfect as it could be. And he would change nothing, absolutely nothing.
I've finally got there! I've finally reached the very, very end of this story. Only eighty years in the making. If anyone is still reading and started reading from start, thank you so much. I guess things have changed a lot since the beginning. Some of you were taking exams; you must now be in jobs, uni or progressing in other areas of life having long since got over your exams. I myself have changed a great deal… moved, had another baby and decided to homeschool my children. When I started this, my oldest wasn't even a year old and now she's just turned 8…. Where has the time gone? I've made some wonderful friends along the journey, along with my most special friend Frini. If you haven't already, you do need to read her story… it's just fantastic.
To thank everyone on here for reviewing would be nigh on impossible, but I do want you all to know (if you're still reading this!) that the comments, emails and private messages I've got on here have inspired me and given me some great moments. Thank you so much.
I doubt I'll write any more in the HP verse. Time is not what it used to be and my kids are wonderful time eaters. If I can, and you haven't, please nip over and read my POTC story. Big hint there…
Thank you so much again.
Yours in fiction.