Most eighteen-year-old boys wouldn't have spent a good five minutes in the arms of their parents, but Evan was an exception to that rule, at least in those five minutes that ensued after the initiation of the embrace. Finally, he withdrew just enough to look into both of his parents' faces, which was kind of a challenge, since his mother was shorter than him and his father was taller.
"I thought about things," Evan started, "and while I'm still really confused about how this sort of thing is even possible, I believe it was made possible because… because you've always been a good man, Dad."
"Evan, you don't have to justify anything," Severus began.
"No, just let me say this, Dad, please," Evan interrupted firmly, yet softly. "I wouldn't have you any other way. It's obvious… more than obvious… that you more than made up for your mistakes-"
"They weren't all mistakes," Severus argued, frowning, unable to just accept his son's reception. "When I joined the Death Eaters, I chose that, Evan. I was not a good person then."
"You were young… and foolish, maybe, but- okay, look. The point is, you were incredibly brave in that life, just as brave as you've been in this life. Merlin knows I've heard over and over again how 'brave' you are, Dad, from the wizarding world." Here, Evan couldn't help but to roll his eyes, but his tone of voice was sincere.
Severus opened his mouth to argue the point, but Lily held a hand to his lips. "Will you just listen to your son and stop deprecating yourself, Sev? I think Evan forgives you." She smiled hopefully at her son.
"Of course I do," Evan stated in earnest. "I just wished you'd told me sooner. What hurts the most is that you didn't share this with me, but instead chose to keep it a secret. Your past is just that – the past. You're the man you are today because of it, so because I'm proud to call you my dad, I wouldn't have it any other way."
Severus wasn't used to hearing such words of praise and approval from anyone but Lily. While Evan had grown up admiring his parents, as he had gotten older, like any youth, he had desired to be more independent. He didn't often express his gratitude toward his parents these days, but the love had always been there. Of that, there could be no question.
Severus worked hard to swallow down the lump in his throat. He blinked several times at the unexpected wetness that had settled in his eyes.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner, Evan," Severus confessed. "It was something I'd grappled with for years. I wasn't sure if telling you was even the right thing."
"Trust me, I was wishing you hadn't said anything at first," Evan said with a gentle laugh. "I thought everything was just fine before, but I guess it wasn't. I mean, maybe for me, but it obviously wasn't for you if you'd been struggling with this for years. I'm sorry you had to go through that, Dad."
"You're too kind, like your mother," Severus put in. He exchanged a look with Lily, who added, "I didn't want him to tell you, Evan. I thought everything was fine, too, but now that your father has told you the truth, I think it was for the best. In the end, the truth is the best, even when it hurts. If we can't be honest with the ones we love the most, then there will always be something we're hiding from them, and that's not right. A part of love is built on mutual trust."
Evan nodded with understanding. "I have a lot of questions, though."
"We have all evening to discuss them… and beyond that," Severus replied, inviting his family to have seats in the sitting room.
Evan and Lily followed Severus and got comfortable on the couch and chair.
"What did you wish to know?" Severus queried.
"What, er… what's it like to die?" Evan posed quietly. He felt like a timid child asking such a blatant question.
"I… I have a hard time remembering, to be honest," Severus admitted, "but I do know that the pain I had been experiencing was completely gone. Everything turned black, but then cleared, and that's when I met Dumbledore. It was such a short period of time. I sometimes wonder if it was just a dream."
"Was it scary?" Evan asked.
"I think I've lived long enough over the course of two lives to tell you that living can be a lot scarier than dying."
Evan carefully considered his father's words of wisdom. He asked a series of questions over the course of the next couple of hours, and Severus answered to the best of his ability. By the end of the evening, Evan seemed satisfied enough.
"Thank you for explaining what you could to me, Dad. I guess I ought to get to bed, as I expect to return to Hogwarts fairly early tomorrow."
The family stood and went upstairs. Before Evan went into his room, Severus said to Lily, "I'll be in in a moment."
Lily nodded and bade her son good night before entering the master bedroom. Now alone with his son, Severus placed a hand on each of Evan's shoulders and said, "I just want you to know… I love you. I didn't tell you about reliving my life because I was afraid of losing you."
Evan briefly considered teasing his father for being more emotional that day than he had ever seen him, but decided against it. Instead, he said, "I love you, too, Dad."
When Severus's face relaxed, Evan put in, unable to resist one little jab, "Now stop with the tears before you really do scare me away."
Severus laughed. "Good night, Evan."
"Good night, Dad."