Now That Your Rose Is In Bloom

Chapter 120

AN: Thanks for all the support! It is deeply appreciated!

There were few things more peaceful than Christmas snow.

Severus watched the flakes waft onto the window sill. The snow swirled round, as if it was a quiet cyclone. Once the wind stilled, it would continue its trek towards the ground, as if the disruption had never occurred.

If one stared at the sky long enough, they could forget that tomorrow would be a fall moon.

"Severus?"

He grunted, but kept his gaze on the window.

"Severus?"

He felt the bed dip, but did not move.

"Severus, what's wrong?"

He felt a hand upon his shoulder. His muscles tensed.

"Love, what is troubling you?"

"How could I forget everything?"

Hermione moved beside him.

"How could I ever forget you, the children, how we met, how we fell in love, or anything about our life together?" He faced her. "How could I ever forget my family?"

"It's a complicated magical chain reaction," Hermione began. "I think you explained it best though when you said it was the lycanthropy in that you reverted to an earlier stage, but you physically remain unchanged due to our initial cure."

"On an intellectual level I understand everything, or at least as much as one can understand about all of this," Severus whispered. "In my heart though, I cannot begin to fathom how I could ever forget my family."

Hermione put a hand on his thigh. "Perhaps you only intellectually forget us."

"What do you mean?"

"It means I think in your heart of hearts, you recognized me."

"Why would you think that?"

"Well, if you remembered nothing about me during your episodes, you would have been much crueler to me than you were."

"During one of my episodes I attempted to get you arrested for kidnapping me. I would hardly call that being kind."

"True, you were agitated, but you never called the aurors, nor did you try to subdue me. We both know that if you truly thought I was a threat, you would not have hesitated to fight me."

"Who is to say that I will not harm you in the future?"

"I know you're confused during your episodes, but after viewing my memories we reached some type of understanding."

"Or so you think. The reality is that we have no idea how I view the situation."

"You told me that if you could remember me, you would love me," Hermione answered.

"I did?"

"Yes, you did."

Silence suffocated the room.

"It terrifies me that I could hurt you and never know what I had done," Severus confessed.

"Perhaps," Hermione replied. "Yet you haven't so much as attempted to hex me. That leads me to believe that even in the midst of an episode, in your heart of hearts, you remember me."

He gave her a small smile. "I would like to think so anyway."

"I know so," Hermione answered.

"Well, I suppose you would know, being the brightest witch of your generation."

"I would."

His smile widened.

She wrapped him in her arms and captured his lips. "I love you so very much."

He pressed her against his chest. "I love you so very much as well."

From the hallway, a floorboard creaked.

The couple turned to the doorway. Rose stood in the hall, her eyes wide. "I apologize for interrupting you. I only wished to say goodnight."

"Goodnight then," Severus answered.

Rose stepped towards her bedroom.

"Did you need anything else from us?" Severus asked.

"No," Rose answered. "I need nothing at all."

Severus released his wife and raised an eyebrow. "Rose."

"I am fine, I assure you," Rose answered.

Severus continued to stare at her.

Rose sighed. "I suppose I may have wanted to thank you for finally telling me the truth."

"It was something we should have done a long time ago," Severus admitted.

"We violated your trust by remaining silent, and did not treat you as the wonderful, intelligent adult you are," Hermione added. "For that we apologize."

Rose replied, "You thought you were doing what was best. I could never fault you for that."

Hermione shifted away from Severus and pat the bed. Rose crept towards her parents.

"What is truly on your mind?" Severus asked.

"If you must know what was on my mind," Rose began. "It was an old story you used to tell me."

"Which one?" Severus asked as she sat between her parents.

"The wedding of the Half Blood Prince," Rose replied.

Severus' eyes grew. "You actually remember that story?"

There was a gleam in Rose's eyes. "Of course I do. I could practically recite every word from almost every Half Blood Prince adventure."

Severus chuckled. "It surprised me that you never grew tired of hearing those stories."

"How could I ever get bored with them?" Rose asked. "The Half Blood Prince defeated the blackest of wizards, sparred with the ginger kidnapper, saved the Wizarding World from the werewolf king, all while saving the Princess of Gryffindor and her daughter from various monsters. Sometimes I counted the hours until bedtime because I wanted to know what kind of predicament the Prince would find himself in next."

Severus smiled. "I suppose it was one of my more creative endeavors outside of the potions lab."

"It was," The light in Rose's eye was extinguished. "Yet I always wondered how you could incorporate so much of your life into those stories, but never mentioned your actual marriage to Mum. I never understood why you didn't have the Half Blood Prince and the Princess of Gryffindor fall in love, fight, and then reunite if that's what truly happened. It always confused me that he married her because she would be banished if he did not."

"It was easy enough to tell you the truth as if it was a fairy tale," Severus replied. "As long as I could hide behind fiction it seemed that I could give your enough of the truth without fearing that you would feel unwanted."

"Why were you so unsure of yourself?" Rose asked.

"Excuse me?"

"Why were you so unsure of your ability to make me feel wanted?"

Severus blinked.

"It seems that you lacked confidence in your parenting abilities, and I would like to know why," Rose replied.

Severus exhaled. "I suppose you are owed the truth in that as well."

"I would like it anyway," Rose replied.

"As a child nobody had ever made me feel wanted." Severus' throat constricted. "I had no idea how to love unconditionally, much less make a child feel wanted."

Rose hummed.

"As you well know, I was a cruel teacher who took pleasure in intimidating and often humiliating students. Even I believed myself incapable of loving a child. When you mother told me she was pregnant with you, I did consider myself to be your father. Still, I had no one to show me how to be a dad. All I knew when I first saw you at an antenatal appointment," Severus' throat constricted.

Rose leaned closer to him.

"Rose, I had never loved anyone like that before. I couldn't fathom what unconditional love was before I saw you. That feeling only intensified when I first held you. For the first time, someone loved me without conditions, without wanting anything from me. I scarcely knew what to do," Severus replied.

"In your defense, I did want something from you," Rose replied. "I wanted nappy changes and feedings."

"No, you had no desire to dominate me," Severus answered. "You wanted to know if I was worthy of being called, 'Dada.' You did not want to rule over me, but to build a relationship with me."

"That is fair enough," Rose replied.

"As you developed, I saw so much of myself in you. I saw my sarcasm, my wit, my stubbornness, and above all, the confident child I wished I could have become." He took a deep breath. "At some point I saw so much of myself in you that I began to see the potential for you to become the child I was."

"In what way?"

"I thought that his rejection would be impossible to overcome. I feared you would experience my loneliness and the same bitterness I clung to in order to insulate myself against others. You are too precious to me for me to ever allow you to experience those emotions,"

Rose nodded.

"In the past I have been called a 'lost boy,'" Severus snorted. "I have no idea what that even means. It sounds like I was misplaced on a drawer somewhere."

"It is an odd way to refer to you," Rose admitted.

"Still, I think it was meant to convey that I was abandoned by my family, ostracized by the wider Wizarding World, and made terrible decisions. Personally I think if that is the meaning then it is too maudlin, but I learned long ago that I have little control over what people say about me."

"Very true."

"Regardless, outside of the potions lab very little had gone well in my life. Given my past experiences, I had no reason to believe that I would be an effective parent. All I could do was my best to prevent you from becoming too much like me. In my fear, I deceived you because at the end of the day," Severus bowed his head. "I didn't think I was good enough to be your father."

"Oh Daddy," Rose flung her arms around him. "You have always been an outstanding father. It is a travesty that you would ever think any differently."

"Thank you," Severus whispered.

Rose was eye to eye with him. "I am so sorry that anyone ever made you feel as if you were not good enough. Nothing could be further from the truth."

"I am glad you feel that way," Severus replied.

"Still," Rose's face fell."Did it ever on some level bother you that the child not biologically related to you was the one who took an interest in potions and wears only black?"

"I have told you several times, I have never viewed you as a bastard. You were, are, and always will be my oldest daughter."

"I know."

"One of the greatest honors in my life was you imitating me. I have always been proud of you, and I would imagine my pride in your will only grow."

Rose hugged him tighter. "I love you Dad."

"I love you too, Little One," Severus whispered.

Hermione wiped a tear from her eyes.

She would never let Severus or Rose forget this moment.