Part III :
For the Rest of My Life

As he looked over the frying bacon, he smiled to himself. The years had been good to him.

That day by the lake, he had done right by Lily. He had dropped his Death Eater friends, stopped doing dark magic, and chose to be a better man. He couldn't remember Lily ever looking so skeptical. He also couldn't remember her ever looking happier than when he came through with his promises.

He had been given a second chance.

He had joined the order with Lily on his eighteenth birthday, and taken a post with the Ministry's Department of Mysteries.

When the time came to fight, he stood alongside Dumbledore, never once accused of being a traitor. The War had ended much sooner than before, with no prophecy to set Voldemort about, blowing up families. Sure the prophecy existed, but without Snape being there to overhear it, the Dark Lord was none the wiser. He had attacked early, thinking himself much stronger than he was. It hadn't been easy, but they had won. For some reason, something had changed down the line for Tom as well, as he had only made a single horcrux in Nagini. Easily enough disposed of.

He had friends now, real friends; found in people he had never given a chance before. He was quite close with Sirius Black, and his werewolf mate. James Potter and his wife came around every now and then, and Severus managed to mask his distaste for the man with ease, once thinking maybe he didn't dislike him anymore at all, now that he hadn't taken Lily. Albus was a regular dinner guest as well, often sporting the most ridiculous robes and ever more obscure muggle candies.

Pettigrew had still perished in the war, having joined Voldemort fresh out of school. He was never born to be anything but weak willed, envying the powers of others.

Severus had even managed to sway Lucius into joining the Order, though he didn't fight quite as valiantly as the others. Than again, that had been his exact stance when he had been aligned with Voldemort, as well. Snape thought perhaps it had been his influence that had convinced him to take the Dark Mark in his prior life. Either way, he hoped young Draco had a much more positive future lying ahead of him.

He had even managed to help capture Bellatrix before she tortured Frank and Alice Longbottom, securing not only two of their toughest Aurors, but a loving family for their son to grow up with.

Petunia had still married that battle axe of a man, Vernon. Lily and Petunia were barely on speaking terms, and Severus could tell it bothered her very much, however well she tried to hide it. He had spent nights wondering what exactly he could have done to have changed this bit of his life as well, finally deciding that some things were simply unavoidable. He almost felt bad for their two year old son, Dudley.

He and Lily were married a year after joining the Order, in a small ceremony at the Burrow. It had been strange to see the house as it was intended, before all the additions and kids. Only Bill and Charlie were born at the time, Molly pregnant with Percy.

He kept his hair short, because that's how Lily liked it, and when she had gotten pregnant, he had insisted upon the name: Harry.
If anyone from his old life as Potions Master could see him now, they would swear it wasn't the same man. His life had been completely different. No longer was it a tragic story of loss and betrayal; guilt and remorse. He no longer hated himself, his past. He lived a life full of love and trust, family, friends, and most importantly, he felt admirable. He was proud to call himself a father, he didn't feel sorry for his son, and he didn't feel as if little Harry deserved better; for no one could ever love him as much as Severus.

Snape smiled as he cooked breakfast for Lily and Harry, still asleep in their room upstairs. Harry had awoken in the middle of the night, plagued by a nightmare. Severus had gone to his bedside and calmed him, rubbing his back as he gently rocked him in his arms. He brought him back to sleep between himself and his mother, and the boy had slept soundly for the rest of the night.

He had only pajama bottoms on this morning, still reveling slightly in the fact that his skin was smooth and unscarred, with none of the signs of torture and hardships that had been so evident on his old form. He had grown to despise his reflection before; now, he simply was. He was in debt to no one. He was free to be who he wanted, live how he wanted; and that was the best feeling in the world.
He heard soft footsteps from upstairs, and than a rapid set of little feet tearing down the staircase.

Soon, he was joined in the kitchen by his son, racing to see where his dad had gotten off to without him so early in the morning.
Severus squatted down as the little form drew closer, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He picked up his son and placed him on the counter next to where he was working.

"What's cooking?" Harry asked, looking eagerly into the pan Severus was working with.

"Breakfast," Snape said, chuckling once at the slight frown that appeared on his son's young face.

"I know that," he complained, as if highly offended, "but what?"

"Pancakes and bacon," Severus answered; heart warming at the way Harry's green eyes lit up, and the smile that broke over his face. He knew it was his favorite, that's partly why he chose to make it. He couldn't help himself when it came to Harry. He had to spoil him. Lily too, for that matter.

"Where's your mum?" Snape asked, flipping a pancake grandly into the air, showing off a bit. He smiled as he watched Harry's eyes track it hawk-like through the air.

"Bathroom," he answered simply, not seeming to care all that much.

"Wanna help?" Severus asked, eyeing the curious young man as he added the now cooked pancake to the others. He cast a quick wandless warming spell over them, grinning slightly as Harry's eyes widened. He had such a fascination with magic already.

"Yes!" Harry said excitedly, wriggling on the counter top. No doubt he thought there was a chance Snape may use more magic. Severus chuckled, shaking his head slightly and handed him a measuring cup.

"Dip that in here and fill it up with the rest of the mix," he said, pointing to his near empty bowl of batter, "and than dump it in the middle of the pan for me,"

Harry set about his task with such seriousness that Snape had to hold in another round of laughter. He ruffled Harry's black hair playfully as he set the cup back in the bowl triumphantly and waited for Snape to flip the pancake.

"Perfect," he praised, taking a spatula and flipping it over.

Harry beamed, satisfied with his work.

"Mommy! I made a pancake!" Harry exclaimed, tugging on Severus' sleeve to help him down. Snape lifted him by the waist and set him on the floor, where he immediately took off towards Lily, only to grab her pant leg and drag her towards the stove.

He looked up meaningfully at Snape, who picked him up again and set him against his hip.

"Look!" he said, pointing proudly to the cooking pancake.

"Very good," Lily laughed, leaning around Harry to kiss Severus lightly on the lips "Good morning,"

"Morning," he said, smiling and putting Harry back down on the floor, "Go sit down, it'll be ready in two minutes,"

Harry rushed off and clambered onto his chair, sitting expectantly at the table.

Severus added the last pancake to the stack and turned the burner off before turning to Lily and pulling her closer to him.

"I love you," he murmured, placing a kiss against her forehead. He tucked a stray hair behind her ear and kissed her once more on the lips.

"I know," she said, eyes warm as she looked at him, "I love you too, Sev"

His heart still flipped at the words.

"Is Sirius coming by today?" he asked as he placed their breakfast on the table.

"He should be here soon, actually. We overslept," Lily glanced at the clock, which read a quarter after ten, "Than again, we've seen him in more embarrassing situations than night clothes," Lily giggled, "So I'm not particularly worried. Remus said he would help me with my lesson plans for this year, what with the new Transfiguration guidelines set by the Ministry," she rolled her eyes.

They ate slowly, happily discussing anything that happened to make it's way across their mind.

When they were done, the doorbell rang, making Harry jump up in excitement.

"Uncle Sirius and Uncle Remus!" he exclaimed, climbing down from his perch on his chair.

"You go, I'll take care of the dishes," Lily smiled, grabbing Harry's abandoned plate as she stood. Severus rose with her, planting one more kiss to her lips before following Harry.

He caught him in the foyer, scooping him up mid-stride and carrying him like a football.

"Dad!" he complained, kicking half-heartedly, "Geroff! I wanna see Uncle Sirius!"

Severus set him down and opened the door, barely giving the two men a greeting before they were attacked by Harry. He clung to Sirius' leg in a vice like hug.

"Hey, little man!" Sirius said, picking him up, "Boy, you're getting big!"

Harry giggled, already squirming to get down and see Remus. Sirius put him down and tickled him, eliciting a squeal and beautiful laughter from Harry before he straightened and turned to Snape.

"How's it going, Severus?" Sirius asked, clapping him on the back. "You're looking good," he teased, eyeing up Snape's bare chest.
Snape chuckled, shrugging off his embarrassment. "Good, thanks. Trying to keep up with this one," he smiled, grabbing Harry on his way by and pulling him against his leg. Harry didn't protest this time, he just clung to Snape's blue plaid pajama pants. "You?"
"Great! Moony's keeping me in line," he elbowed Remus in the side.

"A great deal harder than you would think," Lupin said, rubbing a hand over his hair, "and that in itself is saying something,"
Sirius scowled as the two men laughed, muttering something about Gryffindor loyalty.

"Lily's in the kitchen if you want to go on through," Severus nodded down the hall, "I'm gonna get this one dressed,"

The two men disappeared down the hallway, leaving Snape and Harry alone to their own demise. Severus rather enjoyed spending time with Harry, no matter what they happened to be doing. He was always saying the oddest things for a boy of three. It never ceased to amuse him; then again, he supposed, not much had differed in that respect. He simply thought it endearing instead of annoying.

Snape looked down upon the face of the three year old currently clinging to his leg. As the boy looked up at him from underneath his curtain of messy dark hair, green eyes shining, Severus couldn't help but smile down at him. He was thankful he'd still gotten his mothers eyes.

"What?" he asked, pouting slightly as he watched the smile play on the corners of Severus' lips, not liking the idea of missing an unspoken joke.

Severus ruffled his hair.

"Nothing, Harry. It's nothing," he said, still smiling over the smooth, unmarred surface of the boys head. He hoisted him up and rested him on his hip, kissing his forehead in exactly the spot the lightning bolt scar would never appear.

What he was most thankful for, he thought, was knowing that this beautiful, smart, loving young boy would never know the pain and loss of his parallel self. He would not suffer at the hands of those that wanted him dead, would not have to grow up beyond his years. He would be able to live a normal life, a life he deserved. And not only that, but Snape had helped to see it happen.

"I love you, Dad," Harry muttered, resting his head contentedly against Snape's shoulder.

"I love you too, Harry," Severus answered quietly, kissing the top of his head.

Snape held him close, never wanting to let go, and relishing the fact that he never had to.

"I love you too,"