AN: Wow, 100 chapters and people still enjoy this! Seriously, thank you all so much! It's been a blast posting, especially since I ahve readers as awesome as you!
When had a simple newspaper article become more complex than the formula for muscle restoration?
Severus ran his fingers along the politics section for the fourth time, but the words may as well have been written in the cyrillic alphabet. Despite the brightness of the room, it may as well have been pitched black.
Am I missing the cause of the amnesia, or am I only wasting my time?
Severus poked his head up from the newspaper. "Yes, Rose."
Her lips twitched up. "I just wanted to tell you that I have finished my discussion with Mum."
Severus set the paper onto his desk. "So you did."
Rose folded her hands.
"Thank you for coming to see me," Severus continued. "It does me good to see that you are well."
Rose crept towards him. "You did not need to ask me to see you after I finished speaking with Mum. I would have spoken with you afterwards regardless."
Severus stood. "How did things go between you two?"
"Things went well between us."
"I am glad to hear it."
"Did you and your mother decide on a course of action?"
"I do not know if we decided on anything together, but she accepts what I am about to do."
"What would that be?"
Rose took a deep breath. "I know the history between Mum and the Weasleys. I understand exactly how much they hurt her, and I do not want to cause her any pain."
"Yet you still plan on meeting them," Severus concluded
Rose hung her head.
Severus took a deep breath. "I suppose there is little anyone could do to dissuade you."
Rose twisted her foot.
"If you need my support you know where to find me."
Rose glanced at him. "Thank you."
"There is no need to thank me," Severus sighed. "After all, I am ultimately the cause of your identity crisis."
"You should not blame yourself," Rose replied. "You were only doing what was best."
Severus wrapped his arms around his daughter. She buried her head in his robes.
"I love you Little One," he whispered.
"I know," she answered. "I love you too. You and Mum will always be my parents."
Severus hummed. "Still, I am not your biological father. I suppose if you want to understand yourself fully you must meet your sperm donor."
"Can you understand that?" Rose asked.
"On some level, I can," he answered.
She stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek.
Severus released her.
"Have you discovered anything in your research yet?" Rose asked.
"I honestly could not tell you," Severus admitted.
She raised an eyebrow. Severus' chest went cold. She appeared so much like him.
Why is my love not enough for her?
"Dad," her voice was soft. "What is wrong?"
"Nothing, but I am frustrated," he admitted. "I haven't the foggiest clue what kind of news story I am searching for, nor do I know how finding the cause will affect the cure."
"You will cure this ailment."
"One can only hope."
Rose put a hand on his shoulder. "If any two people can determine the cause of this amnesia and create a cure for it, it would be you and Mum."
Severus' lips curled into a hint of a grin. "I fear you have more confidence in me than I do in myself at the moment."
"You have accomplished so much Dad. There is not reason you could not discover this cure," Rose replied.
Severus gave her a small smile.
Rose removed her hand from his shoulder. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Let's just say I wish you had the amount of confidence in yourself that you have in me," Severus replied.
Rose remained still.
"Whatever happens, Little One, you are worthy of love. Never forget that."
"I will not."
Rose turned to the door. "I would love to stay here and chat, but I have papers to grade."
"That you do," Severus answered.
Rose gave him one last hug and a peck on the cheek. Then she scurried out of the room.
Severus stared at the entrance to the hallway, willing Rose to return.
He released the breath he'd been holding. "Hello Love."
"I take it Rose told you goodbye."
"Good," Hermione stepped closer to him. "I was hoping she had seen you before she left."
"She did," Severus replied. "She saw me just as she had promised."
For ten tense seconds, they looked at each other.
"What do you believe we should do?" Severus asked.
"Do you want my honest opinion?" Hermione replied.
"I think I should defer to you."
"What makes you think I have any idea how to behave in this circumstance?"
"Because you have more expertise in dealing with these kinds of things than I do," she answered.
"That is preposterous," he replied. "I have no idea how to handle an identity crisis."
"No, but Rose is your daughter."
"Rose is your daughter as much as she is mine."
"True," she answered. "But I do not know what would drive someone to go so much against their heart and intellect, whereas you do."
Severus furrowed his eyebrows. "What do you mean by that?"
Hermione stepped closer to him. "I feel as if I know you better than I've known any other man who only wears black."
Hermione gave him a soft smile. "Yet one thing I could never piece together was why you practiced the dark arts for as long as you did."
Severus quirked an eyebrow. "Have I not explained my past to you?"
"You have," Hermione replied. "Intellectually I know why you developed an interest in the dark arts, yet I did not understand on a fundamental level how you could do it. No matter how hard I tried, I could never understand how someone could do something so against their best interests. I had no idea how someone could ignore their heart and soul for such a foolhardy course of action, at least not until tonight."
"What do you mean?"
"Rose knows there is nothing to be gained by meeting the Weasleys. She knows she is trying to become someone she is not, someone she would never want to be. Still, she is in so much pain that she isn't listening to her heart, or using reason. All she knows is that she needs to prove herself."
"To who?" Severus asked. "Nobody is asking her to be anyone other than who she is."
"To herself," Hermione answered.
"When I was speaking to her, there was a spark in her eyes when she told me of her plans to meet the Weasleys. It was pure determination born of pain. She is convinced that she is not who she says she is, so she's decided she needs to go on an unnecessary quest to find herself," Hermione began.
"I am aware of that, but she is setting herself up for heartache," Severus warned. "The Weasleys will never accept her. Even if they do, it will only be after she has suppressed all aspects of herself until she is unrecognizable."
"She knows that," Hermione replied. "Yet she is in so much pain, is so confused, that no one can convince her that she is going on the wrong path."
"Just as I was when I became interested in the dark arts," Severus answered. "It did not matter what anyone told me, all I wanted was to prove myself to the Wizarding World. I was too curious in the darker side of magic for my own good, and even if someone had warned me that I was going on the wrong path, I was too hurt to listen."
"Yes," Hermione whispered.
He took a shaky breath. "I behaved as I did because was unloved. What is Rose's reasoning?"
"She wants to reconcile who she is with the truth about her paternity. Two weeks ago she was convinced you had created her. It must be difficult for her to wrap her mind around what's just happened, so she's acting out."
"I suppose that is an accurate enough assessment."
"So I ask you, what do we do?"
"We do what we have been doing all along," he answered. "Let her know we are on her side, and we will always accept her for who she is."
"Would that have been enough to sway you from the dark arts?" she asked. "Would knowing someone was behind you have been enough for you not to experiment with them as you did?"
"Perhaps," he answered. "Yet she and I are both too stubborn for our own good. We always do things in the most difficult way possible, even when we know we're in the wrong."
Hermione put her head on his shoulder.
"Rose is very much like me," Severus lowered his voice. "Perhaps she is too much like me. It may have done her well not to emulate me. She could have saved herself some pain."
"She is wonderful, just as you are wonderful," Hermione answered.
"I have not felt 'wonderful' as of late," Severus admitted.
"You are a wonderful husband and father."
"I only hope Rose, Victor, and Violet see me as such."
"If you could turn from the dark arts, I think Rose can turn away from the self-destructive desire to obtain one of Molly Weasley's holiday sweaters."
"People had to die before I recanted my pureblood supremacist views and discarded the dark arts."
"With any luck, nobody will need to die before Rose admits to who she actually is."
"Yes, with a modicum of luck, we will all survive this."
Hermione gazed into Severus' eyes. She brushed her lips against his. He clung to her and kissed her much more forcefully.
Please do not let Rose pay too high a price for her actions.