Prince Manor:

"Papa?", came a soft call from the entrance of Severus' living room.

Severus looked up from his unfinished pile of papers for his new improvements on the Wolfsbane, a soft smile gracing his Roman features, softening the harsh lines of stress. Sometimes, he thought ruefully, it is not worth the strain of creating new potions if I must waste half my day simply filling out an ungodly amount of paperwork.

He swiveled his head out, trying to work at the kinks and gazed at his 4 year old son. By the jaw popping yawns and drooping eyes, it was obvious that it was past Harry's bedtime. He quickly glanced at the hanging wall clock, and silently cursed. Lily is going to have my arse when she gets back. Severus quickly stood and scooped up his sleepy eyed son, bestowing a chaste kiss against his child's mouth .

"My apologies, little one. It seems that Papa got unduly distracted. Have you brushed your teeth yet?"

Harry simply nodded and cuddled further into his father's embrace. He had had lots of fun after Mummy had given him a bath.

Flashback:

With an agitated sigh, Lily Snape straightened up, hastily shoving away a stubborn lock of fiery red hair from her dripping countenance.

"Hadrian Severus, calm down this instant, young man." She gave her son a foreboding look.

Her giggling 4-year-old simply flashed her a cheeky grin before blowing around little green and red bubbles that were now decorating not only his tiny little body but his mother's as well. Thank goodness she'd warded the bathroom tiles from the water. Otherwise, Severus would have come home to a flooded bathroom.

Severus, being a Potions Master, had the ability to work from home. They were fortunate enough to have a working lab in the dungeons of Prince Manor. However, due to her husband's recent work with the Wolfsbane, he had been obliged to go to a conference in Scotland for a few days. He would be back soon, judging by the time.

Thank goodness for that. Both Lily and Harry had missed him, being so used to his constant presence in the house. Harry had been especially unbearable, unable to cope with the absence of his adored Papa. It had been Severus' first prolonged absence as he worked from home. Lily went through numerous tantrums and tears until she was finally able to get it through her stubborn child's head that his father was not gone forever and that he would be back soon.

In any case, Lily needed to do some last minute shopping for her good friend, Molly Weasley's baby shower and visit a few of her friends later. But first, she needed to give her precocious son a bath. Lord only knew that if she left it up to Severus, it would never get done. She loved her husband dearly, but it was not secret that since he was born, their small child had wrapped the stern forbidding Potions Master around his finger. And like any other little boy, Harry despised baths with all his tiny being and in one way or another he would somehow manipulate his doting father into slithering his way out of it for the night.

It was all very ironic really, considering that many would never was even dreamt of in their wildest of dreams that Severus Tobias Snape would have made a good father. In fact, many had not even thought that he would have made a good husband, let alone a family man.

Humph, Lily sniffed daintily. Shows what they know. The world had only ever seen Severus' icy exterior and experienced his cruel razor edged tongue that was firstly the product of his horrific father, and later on the bullying Marauders. Thank goodness she had never fallen for that trickster, James Potter! He had never really grown up, proven by his childish antics at the many Order of the Phoenix meetings back when Voldemort had still been a threat.

Only she was privileged enough to see Severus' heart open, first with herself and then with their son. Speaking of which…

"Mummy, look at me!" Harry squealed as a tiny little bubble settled on the tip of his nose. His little face scrunched up with the effort not to laugh but it was not to be. The bubble gave a little pop! as Harry folded in half, his shrieks of laughter echoing through the open space.

Lily chuckled quietly to herself, watching her little son dance about the bathtub, splashing water here and there. She was currently trying to give her hyper-active child a bath but it seemed the little one had more important things in mind. Such as the very trying task of catching the slippery bubbles in his hands.

"Come here, Harry," she cajoled. "Let's finish your bath before your father gets here. Unless you don't want a bedtime story…I'm sure Papa can find another little boy to read "The Little Cauldron That Could" to." She trailed off with a sigh, glancing mischievously up through her eyelashes. That ought to settle him down, she thought smirking.

While Harry whole-heartedly loved her from the bottom of his ever-flowing heart, he absolutely worshipped the ground his father walked on. Maybe because it was always Severus who was the first to kiss his tears away and tease a smile out of the recalcitrant child. Or maybe it was because Severus was a bit like a dark angel (God forbid anyone ever tell him that!), fierce and protective, a safe haven for a tiny boy, still awed and scared of the big world around him. Or maybe it simply had something to do with father-son relationships. Lily didn't really care for the reason why. She simply loved Severus all the more for it. After all, children are considered apt judges of characters.

"No!" a loud shout broke her from her thoughts. She looked over at Harry, who stood pouting with his arms crossed, a frowning look over his little face. "I'm Papa's boy! Me! Only me! He's my Papa!" He stomped his foot, causing another wave of water to flow out of the tub and onto to the floor where it promptly disappeared due to the anti-water charms.

Inwardly, Lily laughed at her son's imitation of his scowling father but scolded the naughty child.

"Then we'd best finish quickly, now shouldn't we. Before Papa gets here."

Harry nodded quickly, seemingly realizing the error of his ways. He calmed down long enough for Lily to finish washing him. With a quick flick of her wrist, the bathroom was once again turned back into its pristine state, leaving the small boy standing alone in the vast bathtub.

"Accio Harry's towel."

A green and silver towel came zooming into Lily's arms, which she wrapped around her slightly shivering son and picked him up. She inwardly rolled her eyes at Severus' blatant certainty that Harry would end up in Slytherin. He still had 7 more years to go for Merlin's sake! She had hemmed had hawed, being a stout Gryffindor herself, but found herself giving in when faced with Severus' *ahem* more persuasive methods. Damn that man's sexy voice!

Lily returned to the present when she felt Harry immediately burrowing his face in her neck, cuddling in.

"Cold, Mummy," he complained. Lily good-naturedly rolled her eyes. Silly boy. Of course he'd be cold, after playing in water for over an hour.

But she dallied no longer, walking towards Harry's bedroom, where she had laid out his nightclothes. Lily quickly wiped him down and then dressed him in his favorite Quidditch pajamas that had the various gaming balls, the Snitch, the Bludgers and the Quaffles , zooming around.

Halfway through she heard the fireplace go off and knew that Severus had finally come home.

"Papa!" Harry gasped, realizing the same thing. Without waiting to put his pants on, he had tumbled off the bed and had run down the stairs before Lily even could even say stop. She shook her head and smiled, leisurely making her way into her informal living room.

By the time she made it through the door. Harry had already grabbed Severus in a stranglehold.

"I missed you today, Papa! You'll never guess what I did today! What did you do? I played lots and lots and even Uncle Luc and Aunty Cissy and 'Raco were here and we-", he babbled a mile a minute.

"Harry," Severus chuckled, in his warm deep baritone. "Perhaps you'd like to take a breath, my little serpent. And some pants would be most helpful as well."

Harry paused for a second, doing as Severus insisted. He opened his mouth again to spew forth more words but his father interrupted him with a look.

"K, Papa," he subsided. He received a kiss for his efforts.

Lily laughed gently at her two boys. Severus looked up, noticing her and a warm smile decorated his face, kindling a low fire in the pit of her stomach. She came forward and pressed a soft kiss against her husband's lips.

"Mmm, I suppose I missed you too", she teased. "But then again, we had a great time, you know. Maybe you should be gone more often."

Severus' smoldering gaze swept over her. "You suppose, do you? I may have to teach you a little lesson on how good wives are supposed to behave when their husbands are gone."

Lily winked charmingly. "Promises, promises, love."

Harry, sandwiched between the two of them, became annoyed by their lack of attention to him. Love love blabbity blah. He knew Mummy and Papa loved each other, they only said so like every day! But he'd rather hear about how much they loved him.

"Papa, play with me!" he interrupted, fisting his father's flowing midnight hair.

Severus grimaced in apology. "I'm afraid I can't, Harry. I've got too much blo-er, wretched paperwork."

His son pouted, eyes filling up with tears. "But Papa, I haven't seen you, in like, forever and ever! It's no fair!"

Severus turned guilty eyes away. Damn the Committee. He already spent precious little time with his only son due to his constant work with Potions and to top it off with extra unnecessary requirements! He vowed to speak to Kirkwood, the Head member of the Committee about it. But for now, it had to be done.

"There now, Harry," Lily soothed. "Papa will be finished as soon as he can. Why don't you go put on your pajama pants and then play with your new Hogwarts Castle model until then? Or perhaps you'd like to make some hot chocolate with your Potions kit? You could show it off to Papa when he's done."

Harry's face lit up and the tears miraculously vanished. "Okay," he agreed happily. Harry squeezed his father one last time and then squirmed his way down and ran back into his room.

Severus let out a breath of relief and gathered his wife in a warm embrace. "I don't know what I'd do without you, Lils".

"You'd spoil him silly, that's what you would do," she returned, smiling.

"I, Severus Snape, the evil Potion Masters?", Severus scoffed. "Bite your tongue!"

Lily rolled her eyes for the umpteenth time. "Oh give it up, Sev. We all know you're really just a softie when it comes Harry."

Severus colored but she noticed he didn't deny it.

Lily wrapped her arms around Severus' neck. "It makes me love you even more", she whispered in turn. She received a sweet kiss for her comment.

"Now, I'm heading off to Diagon Alley for the rest of the evening. I've given Harry his bath so all he needs is to brush his teeth before going to sleep. Don't let him drink too much hot chocolate, hmm?" She raised an eyebrow at her husband, who pointedly ignored it.

"And his bedtime is at 8:30 which is 2 hours from now so let him have his playtime but don't forget to put him to bed on time! And for heaven's sake, don't let him sweet talk you into letting him stay up.", Lily instructed.

It was Severus' turn to roll his eyes. "Yes, Lily. I do know how to raise a child thank you."

She kissed his cheek in apology. "Sorry, Sev. You know me, I just want to make sure everything goes smoothly."

Severus returned the kiss and replied, "Don't worry so, love. I've got wards set up in Harry's room in case something happens and I'm not with him. Harry and I will be just fine. Now, go and enjoy your outing".

With one last kiss, Lily stepped over to the fireplace and in a whoosh of green, disappeared within the flames.

End flashback

Usually, Mummy made him go to sleep real early and he had not time to play. He pouted but then brightened up again when he remembered all the exciting things he had gotten to do like building Hogwarts. He had really wanted to play with Papa but when he had come up to his study half an hour later, Papa had a funny little frown between his eyes. That was when Harry knew that Papa was really "fressed" out…at least that's the word Mummy had used.

He hadn't wanted to bother his beloved Papa. Harry was a good boy, e'verbody said so. Even the strictest person in the world, Auntie Minnie!

So Harry, feeling like a sorry little boy, slumped back to his room and threw himself on the bed, quite ready to sulk. But then his sharp little eyes had caught a half opened can of purple paint, half hidden by the closet door, that Papa had used when he was decorating Harry's room. They hadn't finished so Papa must have left it there so he could come back later on.

Harry had brightened up. Maybe he could help Papa d'rate his room! Harry was also a very helpful boy, e'verbody said so.

And so, Harry the Good Helper, set about painting the walls of his room with the smooth purple paint, his favorite color! He painted on the walls but some of it got the floor…and the desk…and his bed. By the time he was done, the entire room looked like a big purple blob. Harry sat back satisfied with a job well done. In his eyes, nothing was too much! Astonishingly, none of the paint had gotten on Harry and he felt a swell of pride for being such a neat little boy.

But…a huge yawn threatened to crack his face. He was getting really sleepy now. And no Papa! He wanted to crawl into this purple bed but not without Papa, never!

So he had walked out, only to see his father still bent over the table. Harry called out, eyes blurry with sleepy tears that had accumulated with excessive yawns. Papa immediately cradled him, lifting a gentle hand to stroke his son's hair and uttered a soft apology.

Severus glanced down at this snoozing son with another pang of guilt. What a terrible father he was, forgetting to put his own son to bed! And to think he had gotten irritated at Lily…

Severus quickly made him way over to Harry's room, wanting to put Harry into a bed so he could sleep more comfortably. He stepped in…and nearly dropped Harry in shock, a expletive making its way, unbridled, out of his mouth.

There were globs of thick purple paint dripping down the walls and onto the carpeted floor and messy purple splatters marring nearly every surface of the furniture, including the bed. Great Merlin, was this was Harry had been up to? No wonder he had been quiet as a mouse! Severus should have given into to this father's intuition and realized that meant something was wrong.

Harry had awoken at the jarring and the sound of his Papa's voice. He sat up straighter in his father's embrace, wrapping on hand around Papa's neck.

"D'ya like it, Papa? I did it all by myself," he stated proudly. "I wanted to help you, cuz Mummy said you're really fressed out and that you're so busy so I thought that I could help you finish dekrating my room and making it look all pretty. Doesn't it look so pretty, Papa? D'ya like it?"

He turned shining emerald eyes at his father, wanting to hear his Papa's praise.

Severus opened his mouth, fully ready to reprimand his naughty son but Harry's emerald gaze pierced him thoroughly. He simply didn't have the heart to scold the child for trying to help his frazzled Papa. Once again, Harry's compassion and empathy, so similar to Lily's, humbled the proud intelligent man. He was again reminded of what a treasure his son really was, for truly, Harry did have his heart in the right place and hadn't set out to stir up trouble.

He found himself kissing his son's smooth cheek and cuddling him closer. "You did a wonderful job, Harry but perhaps we ought to redo it." He frowned as Harry's face fell. "Tomorrow, we'll paint your room together, just you and me, scamp. How about that?"

Harry immediately cheered up. "Really?", he asked, a tinge of hope coloring his voice.

Severus nodded firmly. "Really and truly."

Harry whooped and began to pepper kisses on his father's laughing face. "I love you, Papa".

"I love you too, son." He assured. " However, we really do need to put you to bed before Mummy come and yells at me".

Harry giggled amusedly at this image.

Severus growled playfully. "Think that's funny, do you?" He threw his son in the air, only to catch him again and swing him upside down. Harry shrieked in delight, grabbing his father's robes. He managed to pull himself upright and clutched Papa tighter.

"No, Papa! No, I'll be a good boy, p'womise! Really!"

"Hmph. We'll see about that, won't we," Severus teased, leaning his forehead against his child's small one.

Harry let out another yawn, the excitement finally getting to him. He laid his head on Papa's shoulder, and wrapped his tiny arms around his father's neck.

"Hmm, it really is time for bed", Severus whispered tenderly. When she got back, Lily would give him hell for letting Harry stay up so late and making such a mess but he would deal with that later. With his own special ways, of course.

With a wave of his hand, the mess in the room vanished. But Severus didn't settle him down. Instead, both father and son entered the master bedroom, which contained their king-sized bed.

He refused to let his small son breathe in the noxious fumes of the paint all night long, though he had vanished all of it. He would do an airing charm later tomorrow but for now, he gently laid the toddler onto the bed, which seemed to swallow up his tiny body.

Severus gazed at his now sleeping child. Harry looked so small, so innocent that it brought a lump in back of his throat. This was the reason why Severus did what he did, the inspiration behind all his creative Potions miracles. Like any other parent, Severus had vowed that he would make the world a better place for his son. A far better one than what he and Lily had experienced.

Harry truly was Severus' saving grace, pulling him from the darkness in the nick of time. Voldemort had still been around and his seductive power had been weaving its silky web around the young man. Not even Lily herself had been able to stop Severus from hanging around the Death Eaters, a man so full of pain, firstly from his own father, and then from those bloody bullies at Hogwarts.

But when Lily had announced that she was pregnant with their son, it had felt like a shock of lightning. He had made the decision right then, never to jeopardize his son's happiness for anything, even all the power in the world. He, Severus Snape, the man who had brought nothing but pain in this world to everybody but Lily, had created such beautiful precious being. Severus would be damned if let anyone, even himself, hurt this innocent child.

He tenderly drew the blankets around his son, wrapping him in snugly. He drew forward and gently pressed a sweet kiss on his son's forehead, being careful not to wake him.

"Good night, my little serpent. Papa loves you very much."

With one last wave of his hand that left a small glowing ball of light hover over the side of the room, Severus smoothed his son's tousled hair one last time.

Walking back out into the living room, he resignedly gazed at the unrelenting pile of papers. With a sigh, he got back to work, awaiting his wife's return.