AN: Thank you all for the support! It is deeply appreciated!
"Do I want to know where you obtained this information?"
"Perhaps a better question is, how many people did you need to bribe or coerce in order to get this information?"
"Now Severus," Lucius purred. "You know that I don't reveal my methods."
"That may be for the best," Hermione replied.
"Perhaps," Severus admitted before turning his attention to the fireplace mantle. The Santa sticking out of a fireplace had too jolly of an expression for the occasion. It was almost unnerving.
Perhaps Violet was right in attempting to throw the decoration away.
Hermione held out her hand. "Could I please see the test results?"
"Certainly," Severus passed her the packet of papers. Then he turned to Lucius. "Is there anything about this source I should know about before I accept the validity of these test results?"
"No," Lucius replied. "All you need to know is that I gave this individual my word that their identity will remain confidential. It is a promise I intend to keep."
Hermione shifted through the papers.
"I suppose there are promises even you are not above breaking," Severus muttered.
There was a gleam in Lucius' eyes.
"This experiment was well-run," Hermione turned her full attention to the men. "I doubt we could have done much better."
Severus rapped his fingers on the inside back of his leather sofa. "I would still like to know exactly who ran it though."
Hermione furrowed her eyebrows too. "I would as well."
Lucius hummed. "Let's just say that St. Mungo's will soon be undergoing a major staffing change. At least one of the chief executives is heading for greener pastures."
"I see," Severus drawled.
Hermione set the documents on the cherry wood coffee table. "Do you think this will be enough to persuade the German government not to poison their water supply with the squib cure?"
"That will all depend on how persuasive Draco can be," Lucius answered.
"What do you mean 'how persuasive Draco can be?'" Hermione asked.
"I mean that Draco is in talks with the Germans about these results as we speak."
"You're allowing Draco to handle this?" Severus asked.
"As much faith as I have in Draco, are you certain he is up to this task?" Severus asked.
"I would never have allowed him to handle this if I had any doubt as to whether or not he could succeed," Lucius replied.
The Snapes stared at him.
"I know that allowing Draco to handle things is risky, but think of the reward. If he succeeds then he will have almost single-handedly saved Germany from being poisoned by that cure. It will do wonders for his political career."
Severus hummed. "Fair enough
Hermione exhaled. "Politics aside, for the Germans' sake I hope he succeeds. Merlin knows we don't want this epidemic spreading any more than it already has."
"No," Lucius' bravado dissipated. "We do not."
Severus picked up the test results. "From the bottom of my heart, I thank you Lucius. You have saved us a costly and politically contentious experiment."
"It was my pleasure. After all that experiment would've taken you at least three months to conduct," Lucius leaned onto his cane. "We do not have that kind of time."
"No," Severus answered. "We do not."
"No," Hermione twisted her lips. "All that being said, we need to determine what our next course of action will be."
"Indeed," Severus replied.
Hermione rubbed her chin. "Now that we know the amnesia is caused by a bad reaction between the squib prevention potion and the lycanthropy cure, we need to figure out how to counteract this reaction without nullifying the effects of the lycanthropy cure."
"How would you suggest going about doing that?" Severus asked.
"I haven't the foggiest clue," Hermione admitted. "The obvious route to go would be to create another potion, but there's no guarantee it wouldn't create an even more potent side effect."
"I agree," Severus replied. "Perhaps a charm could work?"
"What would said charm look like?"
"I have no idea."
"It appears that you two are already hard at work," Lucius interrupted. "I'll take that as my cue to take my leave."
Hermione gave him a smile. "Thank you so much for all your help. We owe you a huge debt of gratitude."
"The entire Wizarding World owes you and your mysterious source a debt of gratitude." Severus added.
Lucius replied, "Think nothing of it. At the end of the day it is in my best interest to cure this amnesia. Merlin knows how furious Cissy will be if those aurors ruin her rose garden again."
Severus and Hermione laughed.
"Good luck on your research, and please if you need anything more, let me know," Lucius answered.
"You will be the first person we contact if we need anyone to do our dirty work for us," Severus answered.
Lucius smirked once more before exiting the mansion.
Rose scratched the top of her snake's head. "Am I doing the right thing, Madame Serpent?"
The cobra flickered its tongue.
"I could always tell him I fell ill and that there is no need for him to come here," Rose mused. "Perhaps he would pass the word on the Ronald. That would save Mum, Dad, and perhaps me, from some heartache."
Madame Serpent adjusted herself until Rose was massaging the center of her hood.
"Perhaps he will not appear," Rose then muttered "That would solve all of my problems."
The fireplace erupted. Rose took a deep breath. It was too late to turn back now.
"Rose, it's me," the voice on the other end called. "Are you there?"
"I am here," She straightened her posture and pulled out her wand. "Give me a second to dismantle the wards."
With a few Latin phrases and waves of the wand, the wards were lowered. She stepped back and called, "You may enter."
The red-haired man materialized before her. Instead of dusting himself off though, he stared at her through wide eyes. He opened his mouth a few times, only to close it.
After a few tense moments, he managed to whisper out, "Rose."
"Hello Arthur," Rose began.
Madame Serpent barred her fangs and hissed.
Rose glared at the snake, but couldn't find it within her to scold it. Madame Serpent hissed again. Rose's expression was unchanged. Within seconds, Madame Serpent slithered towards the bedroom.
"So the rumors of you owning a snake are true," the man began.
"Indeed they are," Rose turned her attention to him. "I possess a king cobra."
"What is her name?"
"Her name is Madame Serpent."
"Is it safe to be around her?"
"For the most part," Rose replied. "Thanks to a nutritional supplement she is quite docile, though she is prone to a foul mood every now and then."
From across the room, the snake growled.
"I'm a little surprised that Severus allowed you near a snake given what happened to him," Arthur noted.
Rose shrugged. "Ever since I was a child I have enjoyed snakes. We believed it was only natural for me to own one."
"I understand that, but a king cobra?"
"As stated before, she is fairly placid, and she does not look like Nagini. In fact, given the opportunity she would have eaten Voldemort's snake."
"King cobras eat other snakes. In an odd way it gives Dad comfort for me to have one. If a nefarious snake were to come my way, she would dispose of it."
"For those reasons alone, she is an enjoyable pet."
"I can get why."
"That being said." Rose stood up straighter. "Thank you again for agreeing to meet me here, Arthur. I would have asked you to meet in a cafe, but I did not want to endure the inevitable rumors."
"No, I understand," Arthur answered. "You are like Severus. Both of you cherish your privacy."
"Indeed we do," Rose pointed to her couch. "Would you like to sit?"
"Yes," Arthur strolled over to it.
Rose remained in her place. "Would you like some tea?"
"No," Arthur shook his head. "I'm fine."
"Just as well," Rose sauntered over to her leather recliner. "I am not thirsty either."
Arthur plopped onto the sofa. He was grinning as if he had just been inducted into the Order of Merlin.
Rose sat in her chair and crossed her ankles.
"I am so happy that you asked me to come here," Arthur began. "I've wanted to talk to you ever since the news that you're my granddaughter broke, but I didn't know how you'd react to seeing me."
"Honestly, I have no idea to react to you," Rose replied. "I am unsure whether I should forge a relationship with you, or tell you to leave and never see me again."
"That's okay," Arthur answered. "You don't need to decide what my role in your life should be right now."
Rose sat up straighter.
"If you want me to have a role in your life, then great. If you don't," Arthur frowned. "I will find a way to accept that."
"I am glad to know it," Rose replied.
"If you have any questions at all, please let me know," Arthur concluded.
"I do have a few questions I thought you could answer," Rose replied.
The grin returned to Arthur's face. "What would those be?"
Rose grabbed the edge of her cape and twirled it around her finger. "I do not know if you are aware of my plans to meet Ronald in the next two days."
"No," Arthur's eyes grew. "I had no idea."
"We have arranged a time to meet," Rose released her cape. "In preparation for that meeting, I wanted to know what to expect from him."
Arthur rubbed the back of his neck. "What exactly do you want to know?"
"What is Ronald like?" Rose asked. "Everyone I have spoken to despises him; even Headmaster Longbottom did not have a kind word to say about him. I wanted a more positive viewpoint to balance them out."
"Well, I imagine that I do have a higher opinion of him than most people you'd know."
"I cannot imagine that yours is any lower than that of my parents."
Arthur squirmed. "What about Ron do you want to know?"
"If you could use one word to describe him, what would that be?" Rose asked.
Arthur chuckled. "If you'd asked me a few days ago, I would've said irresponsible."
"Truly?" Rose asked.
"Because he cost me you."
Rose bit her lower lip.
Arthur locked eyes with her. "I should have asked Ron more questions when he dumped your mother. Even at the time I knew something wasn't right. Their breakup came out of nowhere. When I asked Ron what had happened, he said Hermione was too suffocating. It made no sense, but I ignored by gut. I went along with him though, and that was a huge mistake."
"Indeed," Rose answered.
"I will always regret how I treated your mother," Arthur continued. "I should've been there for her when Ronald abandoned her, or at least asked for her side of the story. I will always regret now asking her why she broke up with Ron."
"I want," Arthur choked. "I want nothing more than for my family to be together, especially my grandchildren. If there's anything I can do for you to win your trust, just tell me."
"You could begin by answering my question," Rose replied.
"In one word, how would you describe Ronald?" Rose asked.
Arthur's lips curled up. "Fun."
"Fun?" Rose spat.
"I apologize for the outburst," Rose replied. "It is just that nobody I have spoken with has said the word 'fun' in relation to Ronald."
"No, I would imagine they have not," Arthur replied.
"Why would you call him fun, then?" Rose asked.
"Ron has a wicked sense of humor," Arthur began. "He does the best impressions, and knows just what to say in order to make you laugh."
"Mum said his impressions and quips were quite hurtful," Rose replied.
"He doesn't always mean any harm," Arthur answered. "Many times he points out something about someone which is very true. A few times he has imitated me, and I rolled on the floor laughing."
"I see," Rose mumbled.
"Ron is also very laid back," Arthur continued. "Nothing really riles him up. It makes him fun to talk to."
Rose answered, "Does that mean you believe I will enjoy my visit with my kidnapper?"
"I understand your sentiments towards your son, but the reality is his quips did emotionally injure others, and his carefree attitude is a symptom of his irresponsibility," Rose answered.
Arthur lowered his head. "I know."
Rose closed her mouth and buried her head in her hands. What am I thinking? This whole thing is an enormous mistake.
Is there any way I could wake up and be Severus Snape's biological daughter?
"I know my son kidnapped and almost killed you. What he did was inexcusable. I wish I could take back what he'd done, but I can't. All I can do is hope that you do not hate my family," Arthur answered.
Rose ran her hand along her cape. "My emotions on this issue are complex. On the one hand you have made my parents' lives a nightmare. Also you are using your influence in the Ministry to prevent my kidnapper from facing justice."
"On the other hand," Rose's voice softened. "I am your granddaughter, and I have no idea what that means."
"I know this must be confusing for you," Arthur began. "If you need me though, I am here for you."
Rose stilled her hand. "I think I appreciate that."
Arthur's smile returned.
A chill ran down Rose's spine.
What the hell am I thinking?