AN: Thank you all so much for the support! It is deeply appreciated!
Hermione rubbed her thumb along her husband's hand. it was cold. She considered asking him if he wanted her to cast a warming spell, but knowing him he would grumble something about how she needed to cast one on her own hands.
"There is not much more time left," Severus replied.
"Are you certain that you want to take a sleeping draught?" Hermione asked.
Severus nodded. "The wards are strong. Even if they do break, you and the children are more than capable of defending yourselves, and by extension me."
"There could be another solution."
"What would that be?"
Hermione was silent.
"I do not want to subject you and the children to another episode, nor do I want to create more trouble while amnesiac," Severus replied. "Taking the sleeping draught is the only way I can think of to get through this episode relatively unscathed."
Hermione stopped rubbing his hand. "If you are certain you want to do this I can get a vial for you."
Severus released her hand. "I am certain."
Hermione rose from the bed. "Do you want to tell the children goodnight?"
"Yes," Severus replied.
She kissed his forehead. "I'll go ahead and get the sleeping draught from the basement then."
"Thank you," he answered.
Hermione gave him a small smile before gliding out of the room.
Severus took a deep breath as he ran his hand over the place where his wife had sat. What he wouldn't give for this to be the last episode he ever experienced.
"Rosie, are you there?"
Severus tensed. He would recognize that stomach churning ashen face anywhere.
Severus scowled. I could pretend I never heard him. Perhaps he will leave if I do not give him the satisfaction of a response. Right now I could just go and speak with my children. After all, there is no need to disrupt their Christmas with the likes of him.
The flames grew higher. "Rosie? Are you there? I need to speak with you."
Severus clenched his jaw. I cannot ignore him in good conscience. The dunderhead won't stop until he gets some type of response from someone. Hermione is going through enough; she does not need to add this to the ever growing stresses she must endure.
"I know you're there Rosie."
Severus stood and cleared his throat. Then he approached the fireplace. "To what, Mr. Weasley, do I owe the displeasure?"
"I need to speak to my daughter," Ron answered.
Severus furrowed his eyebrows. "You have no daughter."
"Don't play dumb with me, Snape. We all know what the DNA spell said."
"Donating sperm does not make you a father."
"Is that what Rose thinks, or are you just telling yourself that because, well, you know."
"I am saying that because it is true. I am Rose's father, and you are not."
"Whatever you say. Would you tell her that I am calling?" Ron asked.
"I can," Severus answered. "Though I warn you, I doubt she has little interest in speaking to her negligent sperm donor."
Ron huffed. "You don't understand a thing about my relationship with Rosie."
"Her name is Rose," Severus growled. "I would strongly suggest you begin calling her that."
"Oh I'm sorry, Rose," Ron rolled his eyes. "I didn't know you had the authority to say what her nickname should be."
"Seeing as to how I am the man who named her, I believe I have at least some say over what she is called," Severus replied.
"Maybe when she was a baby, but she's an adult now," Ron argued. "She can decide whether or not she wants to be called 'Rosie.'"
"How very astute of you to notice that she is no longer a child," Severus replied.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"It means that for the last quarter of a century, I was unsure whether you remembered that Rose existed."
"I thought of Rose every day."
"Have you now?"
"Yes," Ron argued. "I have."
"Forgive me if I seem surprised," Severus replied.
"Look, you don't know anything about this."
"I know a great deal about this situation."
"Maybe you know facts about it, but you don't know what it's like to be denied the chance to be a nurturing, caring father."
"It seems that such a nurturing, caring father would not have written a note claiming how parenting was too hard the day he left the country. It also seems unlike a nurturing, caring patient to allow a man he despised to raise his child."
Ron's eyes grew.
"That's right," Severus replied. "Hermione showed me the letter you wrote to her the day you escaped to Peru."
"You," Ron sputtered. "I was under a lot of stress when I wrote that."
"Indeed you were under an enormous amount of stress," Severus replied. "You were attempting to raise an infant, to start up an apothecary, to brew wolfsbane for an unappreciative populace, all while endeavoring to discover a cure for lycanthropy, something which was considered impossible."
"So what, are you saying that you didn't want to raise either?" Ron asked.
"Either?" Severus snapped.
Severus' voice was lower. "So you admit that you never wanted a thing to do with her."
"Don't take it like that…"
"Then how am I supposed to take it?"
"You," Ron whined. "You're supposed to see me as a man who was put in an impossible situation and made a few mistakes."
Severus' expression was impassive.
"I'll admit that I didn't want children, but at one time you did not want them either," Ron argued.
Severus did not so much as twitch.
"You understand what it must have been like to be scared of having a child. I'm sure that if you were in my position you would have done the same thing," Ron concluded.
"I was in your position, and I choose to take care of my daughter," Severus replied in an even tone.
"Do you want a medal for being a father?"
"Do you want sympathy for running out on your daughter?"
Severus inched closer to the flames. "I think it is time we reached an understanding."
"I do not know exactly what happened between you and Rose, but I know that she was in tears when I saw her afterwards."
"It was an emotional meeting for both of us."
"She claimed you were willing to allow me to abuse her just so you could have a cushy life evading justice," Severus began.
"She's misunderstood me," Ron argued. "All I did was tell her that I was sorry you raised her."
Severus glowered at him as the muscles in his face tensed. His eyes were a hurricane of emotions.
Then, his expression was serene, as if the previous moment had never occurred. There was even a hint of a smirk on his face.
It was enough to send a shiver up Ron's spine.
"Mr. Weasley," Severus began in a disarming voice. "There are certain things you need to understand before continuing this conversation."
Sweat trickled down Ron's brow.
"If you were a loving father, you would understand how heartbreaking it is to watch one of your children cry. The only thought running through your mind is how to make things right again."
"Now, I do not care what type of father you believe me to be. My children and my wife know who I am. That is enough for me," Severus continued. "Still, you told my daughter that she was not worth rescuing from a potential abuser. That is extremely problematic."
"I, I didn't…"
"Do not speak."
Ron closed his mouth.
"You told my daughter that the man who created her thinks she was worthless. Do you have any idea what that did to her?"
Ron shook his head.
"I would explain it to you, but I fear the speech would go over your head. Needless to say it took quite a while for me to convince Rose that she did have people who saw her as the amazing witch she is. Still, I believe she understands now that she cannot tie her self-worth to a dunderhead such as yourself."
Ron let out a whine.
In a voice barely above a whisper, Severus concluded, "I will never allow you to hurt her that way again."
Ron was trembling so violently that he couldn't see straight.
"Now, I have a question for you, and I want you to answer it correctly."
"Who was Voldemort's second in command?"
"Excuse me." Severus leaned in closer. "I did not hear you."
"You!" Ron shouted "You were Voldemort's second in command!"
Severus folded his hands. "Do you have any idea what that entailed?"
Ron's teeth chattered.
"Do you want to know what it entailed?"
Severus shrugged. "Some things are probably best left to the imagination."
"Yes," Ron replied.
"I won't be too graphic, but I can explain the basics. Voldemort taught me where every major artery in a human body was. I have forgotten more dark spells than you could ever dream of knowing," Severus hissed. "I also know how to hide evidence."
"Does Rose know any of this about you?" Ron asked.
"We have discussed it," Severus was as calm as if he was talking about the weather. "She knows and accepts who I am, although Merlin knows I do not deserve her devotion."
"Do you think she would appreciate you threatening me?" Ron asked.
"I am not making any threats," Severus answered. "I am explaining simple cause and effect. If Rose returns to me crying again because you have made her feel anything less than the most important witch in the universe, then I will take action."
"You have debt collectors, correct?"
"I, uh yeah, I guess I do."
"If they were to find anything they would assume it was one of them," Severus smiled. "But trust me, if I get to you, they will not find anything."
"Now, I am going to find Rose. Would you like me to tell her that you wish to speak with her, or would you like me to tell her that you attempted to speak with her, but the floo connection was bad and you broke up before I could ascertain your reason for calling?" Severus asked.
"I really need to speak with her." Ron replied.
"Very well," Severus backed away. "I believe I have my myself clear, have I not?"
"You have," Ron squeaked.
"There are no more misunderstandings?"
"I am happy to hear it."
With that, Severus glided out of the master bedroom, robes billowing behind him.