Not Too Late

Author's Note: For those of you who have followed and/or favorited me over the years, I want to first give a big thank you. I've obviously taken a massive break from writing fanfiction. It's been almost 8 years. Honestly, I may not have given my stories another serious look if not for the reviews that have continued to come in, but they convinced me to read over my stories again. And I noticed how many I started without ever finishing...for that, I apologize.

I can't promise that I'll be back for long, but I'm going to try to finish as many of the stories I started as possible.

Here's the first - an ending to my standalone Severitus fic, Not Too Late.

***I have taken some liberties that I'd like to point out. Obviously, this is AU, so creative freedom is fine, but just to minimize confusion, I wanted to give you a heads up:

In this universe, Harry only has two kids - James Severus (8 years old) and Lily Eileen (7). Scorpius is James' age (8), and Teddy Lupin is 11.

Please feel free to share any feedback you have! Thanks for reading :D

Epilogue - Part 2

~ 10 years Later ~

It was ten years to the day since the Battle of Hogwarts.

Prince Manor was decorated resplendently for the occasion.

But what made the day most exciting for Lily Eileen Snape was that any minute now, her grandpa was scheduled to emerge from the floo in the large family room.

"Lils, you realize you look like you have to pee when you squirm around like that…"

Lily turned to her big brother James and attempted to get him with a quick knife-hand strike which James narrowly dodged.

"Hey, that was close!" The boy exclaimed, laughing. "You're getting pretty good."

"It's not like I just practice with you around, you know."

James pouted a bit, but then a huge smile lit up his face.

"I think he's here."

The two immediately focused on the floo, which was starting to emit little sparks. A moment later, a familiar tall figure stepped out of the fireplace, effortlessly removing the dust from his dark green robes with a flick of a finger.

"Grandpa Severus!" Lily blasted across the room and flew into his arms, and James immediately followed, clamping onto his side like a barnacle.

"Alright brats," he growled good naturedly, before looking up at the little girl with her grandmother's name and elfin features. He smiled gently. "It's good to see you, love."

"What about me?"

Severus rolled his eyes and looked down to meet the green eyes of his grandson. "Hmm, now that might require some thought…" But he could only hold those particular eyes for so long before he broke and pulled the boy tight against him.

"Hey dad," Harry approached, a big grin on his face. "Glad you were able to beg the time off. I know it's a busy time."

"Can't say I'm looking forward to the fawning crowds," the man drawled, "but I'm glad for the excuse to see you all." He looked around. "Where's Ginny?"

"Helping her mom with preparations for tonight. She said she'd head back as soon as she could."

"Grandpa Severus?" James Severus, 8 years old, had a pleading look in his eyes. "Can we show you our experiment?"

"Yeah Grandpa, please!"

"Let's give grandpa a second to relax, alright guys?" Harry said, shaking his head, smiling, at their impatience.

Severus knelt down and put a hand on each of his grandchildren's shoulders. "I will meet you there in a few minutes. Potions lab?"

The two nodded and excitedly ran off, shouting about finishing touches.

Severus watched them disappear before turning to his son.

"They're getting so big."

"Tell me about it," Harry said in a long-suffering voice. "And to make it worse, I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't both candidates for Slytherin when the time comes. They've got that scheming streak in them."

"Can't imagine where that might have come from," Severus said smugly.

"Yes well, they're doing fine on their own without 'dearest Uncle Draco's' efforts to turn them even more!" Harry complained, breaking into a chuckle a moment later.

"What does Weasley have to say about this?" Severus asked as they made their way from the family room and towards the large mahogany staircase leading up. It was clear which Weasley he was referring to.

"Eh, Ron's doing his best, but he's got his own hands full trying to keep Rose and Hugo from becoming total Hermione clones."

Severus chuckled darkly. "One could almost pity the boy."

Harry and Severus reached the top of the staircase and started down a long hallway.

While Prince Manor was not as opulent as some of the other old pureblood family manors like that of the Malfoy's, it was impressive in its own right. The main hallways were lined with the usual portraits of ancestors and large blue and silver tapestries woven with the Prince family emblem, a raven framed by snakes.

This particular hallway, leading to private family bedrooms, was less formal, but still nothing to sneeze at, with landscape paintings and large windows that opened up to the boreal forest that surrounded the manor.

After the revelations of that night ten years earlier, Severus had introduced Harry to his ancestral home. Harry had spent the first few weeks not just getting to know his father and their family history, but their temporary housemates as well. Draco and Narcissa had been living there for some time with Severus' permission after fleeing Malfoy manor while Voldemort still controlled it.

Once the Dark Lord and his forces were expelled from the place, Draco threw himself into restoring it. This meant fixing areas of the manor that had been damaged, tearing out any reminders of the dark days when they were prisoners in their own home, and seriously updating the security wards. Once it was good as new (or "better than ever," in Draco's estimation), the blond Slytherin and his mother moved back to the mansion, but remained constant visitors in Harry and Severus' home.

Harry opened the door at the end of the hallway to reveal the bedroom that was Severus' when he stayed with them. (Nowadays, he was so busy on the lecture circuit with his work in Potions and muggle medical research, that he spent much of his time in a comfortable flat in London.)

He could of course have just flooed from the manor to wherever he needed to be, so there wasn't technically a practical need for this, but Severus had argued that Harry and Ginny surely wouldn't appreciate his being constantly underfoot.

Harry himself didn't see that it would have been much of a problem, considering the sheer size of Prince Manor, but he also understood his father's independent nature made it difficult for him to desire settling down with them full time. Harry understood, and so didn't press the point. So Severus lived elsewhere, but made frequent visits to see his family.

After setting down his cloak and a few gifts he'd brought for the kids, Severus took a moment to appreciate what these last ten years had brought him.

That night, he'd come so close to the end of his life. It would have been so easy to have just let himself slip away, and in all honesty, that had seemed a perfectly good option at the time. Certainly the easier option.

But the year he'd spent as headmaster of Hogwarts after learning the truth about his son had awakened a stubborn spirit in him he thought no longer existed. And for the first time in so long, he wanted something beyond the Dark Lord's demise.

By the time that night arrived, Severus' conviction to be different was already firmly rooted. If he survived that night, he pledged, he would be different. He would do his best to get out of the shadows and stand tall and proud before his son, to be a father Harry could be proud of.

He didn't know how Harry would react to the revelation, of course. He could try to be Harry's father, but that didn't mean Harry would want to be his son.

But he took a chance. Took the antidote.

And what followed had exceeded his wildest dreams to such an extent it was hard to fathom.

These last ten years, he'd experienced what it was to be a father, a grandfather, a friend and a mentor.

He'd been able to leave the world of teaching children, which he had obviously found he had no patience for, and had instead been able to throw himself into Potions Research and, because he had the freedom, because he could, decided to study muggle sciences as well (something he'd dabbled in before, but hadn't had the time to fully commit to).

He'd found his knowledge of potions could be readily applied to what made a great medical researcher in the muggle world, and had recently gained some fame for his part in a minor medical breakthrough.

He'd traveled - sometimes alone, sometimes with Harry and the kids, sometimes with his friend and fellow potioneer Draco - and had finally experienced good in the world beyond Lily Evans.

And to think he had so nearly died without experiencing any of it.

A gentle hand on his shoulder woke Severus from his reverie. He looked to see Harry smiling at him in understanding. They didn't need to exchange any words. Harry felt the same way he did. These ten years had been just as healing for the younger man as well.

The rest of the day was going to be busy, so neither took this moment of peace for granted.

"Lily and James are going to be wondering where we ran off to," Harry reminded his father. Severus had long since grown accustomed to the kids' names, and he no longer felt any strangeness at hearing a sentence like that casually thrown his way.

Sighing good naturedly, Severus nodded and they apparated down to the children's playroom. In one corner of the large room was an area made to resemble a real potions lab, though the ingredients and tools were limited to things that were harmless so it was safe enough for children to experiment with.

Both kids were dressed in muggle lab coats and goggles. They'd begged their parents for the outfits since they'd seen their grandpa dressed this way for going into the chem lab and had since decided to mash their grandpa's jobs into one during playtime...

"Well, what do you have for me, my little mad scientists?" Severus asked as he approached the kids.

"It's a present for Teddy since he's going to school next year!" James exclaimed, excitedly.

"Mm-hm! It's for his mirror he uses to talk to Draco, Scorpy, Aunt Andy and Cissy. One drop on the mirror and you can actually feel them and get hugs - not just see their faces! See, look!"

Lily pulled Severus with her into a room adjoining this one, clutching a mirror in her other hand. She carefully put a droplet on the glass before calling "James Severus Snape!" and then the boy's face in the next room showed up in the two-way mirror. But...it was different, more immersive, than usual. As long as Severus looked at the boy in the mirror, it was as if they were standing in the same room. It almost seemed as if he could touch the boy. Severus reached up and brushed the boy's hair aside. And realized he was indeed truly touching the boy.

Severus Snape was rarely stunned. But he felt that way at the moment. "Remarkable." They severed the connection and he gave Harry a sharp, questioning, look.

"They may have had some assistance from Draco and me," he admitted.

"Daad, you're not s'pposed to tell Grandpa Sevie that," Lily whined.

"Yeah, and besides, the idea was totally ours," James added. "And we did the mixing and slicing and all the hard work!"

Severus looked at the two and said formally, in a modified professorial mode, "James Severus, Lily Eileen, knowing when you're out of your depth and should go to an expert for help to ensure successful completion of a potion is perfectly acceptable. I approve of your methods and applaud the results. I give this experiment an Outstanding."

The two children beamed and then launched into a little victory dance, ending with a special handshake.

"Thanks, grandpa Severus," they cheered, and gave him a big hug.

"It is truly an excellent present. Teddy will be overjoyed."

The kids shared another ear-to-ear grin with one another.

At that moment, their mom arrived.

"Severus! So glad you made it."

"I wouldn't leave you all to face the crowds alone," Severus said good-naturedly, giving Ginny, Harry's wife of nearly 9 years, a smile.

"You know, dad, it's not like all of Hogwarts will be here."

"It's enough of the population. Add to that everyone's brats, and it's quite the crowd."

"It's not much to handle, really. Minerva offered to let us recruit a few of the Hogwarts elves for the occasion, so with them and a number of handy charms, it's not so bad," Ginny said. "It's just that mom insists on everything being done a certain way. That's the only problem." Ginny said, rolling her eyes.

"Same old Molly, I see."

"You know it."

The family spent another couple of hours enjoying one another's company before the guests were scheduled to arrive.

Close friends came early.

"Blimey, Harry, James is getting so tall! Must be those Snape genes…"

"It's so good to see you again, Professor Snape! I read your recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine…"

As well as their children...

"Oh Lily! Hugo and I have a new book on magical creatures we just have to show you! It explains the differences between…"

...and former nemeses.

"Snape." "Malfoy." The glares were now entirely for show, but provided entertainment for the kids, as Scorpius Malfoy and James started to do their best impressions of their parents before they were broken up by Teddy's tickle attack.

Soon the room was full of close friends and family - the rest of the Weasleys in addition to Ron and Hermione with their children, Rose and Hugo; Narcissa Malfoy and her sister Andromeda, who arrived with Draco, his wife Astoria Greengrass, and their two boys, Teddy and Scorpius.

(Draco had decided to adopt his cousin Teddy Lupin with full approval of his wife, his aunt Andromeda, and Teddy himself. Andromeda had reconciled with her sister Narcissa and she and Teddy had moved to Malfoy Manor soon after Draco had finished restoring it. Draco and Teddy had bonded immediately, and Draco and Astoria finally proposed adoption when Teddy was 5 and Scorpius was 2.)

A magical chime announced the first of the non-family guests apparating in.

"Looks like it's time," said Harry.

It was late afternoon, and Prince Manor's courtyard was full of faces - familiar and not. Guests mingled in the pleasant evening air, enjoying the delicious dinner planned and organized by Molly Weasley, and prepared by the Hogwarts' House Elves.

Once the crowd had sufficiently gathered, Hogwarts' Headmistress Minerva McGonagall stood up and gave a short speech in remembrance of what was lost in the war, both leading up to or as a result of the Battle of Hogwarts, but also in celebration of what had been won.

She ended the speech with a call to carry the momentum of these last ten years forward, to continue to reject divisiveness and to value one another and do everything they can to ensure Hogwarts remains a haven for those desiring a magical education. She also thanked Harry for volunteering his manor for the occasion, and made a request for volunteers for who wanted to host the next. "What do you say, Mr. Malfoy?" To which Draco choked a little at being called out. Teddy laughed and hugged him from behind. ("Can we?")

The speech was immediately followed by a small show of fireworks, a clanging of glasses filled with butterbeer, firewhisky and muggle champagne, and many happy cheers.

After that, Harry and his family went to greet the others, happy to spend time with many beloved friends they hadn't seen in a while, like Hagrid, Neville and Luna and their family. Harry and Severus enjoyed reconnecting with other Hogwarts faces like Minerva McGonagall, Filius Flitwick, and Pomona Sprout, as well.

At some point, the kids had started a massive game of hide-and-go-seek, and were scattered around the magically secured manor grounds.

As dusk approached, magical fireflies began to pop into existence, illuminating the area. Their effect on the fog drifting through the enchanted pine forest that bordered the property gave the evening an even more special feel.

Maybe it was just his imagination, but Harry thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye that was unusual even given that he was at a party of witches and wizards, in the middle of a magical forest.

He excused himself from the conversation he'd been involved in with Ginny, Luna, Fred, and George and made his way to the side of the house, pausing briefly to note that Neville and Draco were deep in conversation over by the dessert table. How things had changed.

As he rounded the side of the house and was out of sight of the guests, he noticed an odd glow. Cautiously, hand on his wand in his holster, he approached it. Harry was reminded of Arthur Weasley's warnings about not trusting unknown sources of magic, but then again, Harry felt nothing hostile from whatever this was in front of him. And he'd gotten pretty good about detecting when the source was hostile.

The closer he got, the more substantial the presence became until suddenly, he realized what he was looking at and froze.

Just like all those years ago, with the resurrection stone, he was looking at his mother.

"H-how?"

"It's a one-time thing, sweetie. WIthout the stone, only particularly significant, magical days like this one allow for me to cross over like this. So this might be the last time."

Lily looked incredibly sad, and yet so indescribably happy at the same time.

"I'm so proud of you." She had Harry captured in her gaze as she said this, but as she ended the phrase, turned her face to focus on something else. Harry turned to see his father, Severus Snape, standing beside him in utter shock.

Lily Evans Potter smiled so gently and with such love at Severus that it almost made Harry blush. She approached him until she was right before him and reached up, her hand attempting to brush Severus's cheek.

"Thank you, Severus. Thank you so much," she whispered, tears flowing from her eyes now, nonstop. "And I'm so so-"

"No," Severus whispered harshly. "Don't - don't apologize," he choked out. He reached out and grabbed Lily's face gently in his hands, only then realizing that he could, ever so slightly, feel her there. She wasn't entirely non-corporeal. He was frozen in shock at the revelation.

But then his expression became even more fierce. "For you, love, I only have gratitude. You've given me everything." With more emotion than Harry had ever seen him show, Severus leaned down and kissed Lily.

Harry looked away just enough to give them some privacy, but kept them in his peripheral vision so he knew they were still there. He looked back when he heard his mother laughing and crying, hugging Severus around the middle, him clutching her to him desperately. They just held each other for a time, until Lily gently extracted herself, looking up and smiling almost shyly at the father of her son.

Lily looked back at Harry and reached out to him. Harry, holding his breath, reached over and took her hand, in awe that he truly could feel it, though it didn't feel altogether solid, either, as if he could squeeze too hard and his hand would go through her. But he let her pull him to her and happily accepted the first hug he could remember from his mother.

There wasn't much that needed to be said. Lily's expression said it all. She gazed at her boys, lightly cupping each of their cheeks with her hands, and they both felt proud, once again, of what they'd accomplished in these years since they'd accepted their relationship.

To know that Lily had been watching them, and that they had brought her some semblance of peace, made it all the sweeter. Harry felt a strong arm around his shoulders, and grinned as his father tugged him into his side, their free hands reaching out to grasp Lily's.

Gradually, Lily's form began to grow fainter. They stood there, frozen, watching as she was pulled back to where she'd come from, but still heard her as she whispered "I will love and watch over you both. Always."

They probably stood there for a good five minutes after any sign of her had vanished.

Harry wasn't sure how to get himself to go back to the party after that, but Severus pulled him into his chest, and gave him a strong and secure hug.

"Lily used to love parties like this, you know," he began in his low, comforting voice. "If she were here, she'd be dancing in the light of the fireflies, lighting up the place even more."

By this point, the two were slowly walking while talking. "She was a proponent, always, of living over surviving. And I imagine she'd be rather cross if we don't keep on living our lives to the fullest."

Harry nodded, and then noticed red and black blurs racing across his field of vision. For a bizarre moment, he thought he was seeing a vision of the young Severus Snape and Lily Evans, but then realized he was looking at his own children, gleefully chasing one another and enjoying the night to its fullest.

"I think I've spotted a couple of model students of precisely what you're talking about, dad," Harry remarked.

"Well, we both already know that about them."

"I suppose we can't let them show us up too much."

And with that, Harry and Severus returned to the brightly lit courtyard, and the lives they'd made.

The End