AN: Thank you all so much for the support! It is deeply appreciated!
Severus placed his wand on the bedside table beside Hermione's copy of Sense and Sensibility. He turned to his wife, who propped herself up on her pillows. Even in the wand light, her face was pale. Still, there was a light in her eyes.
"Are you sure you don't want to use your wand for something else?" Hermione asked.
"I am positive," Severus replied.
"We can always light candles," Hermione began. "You wouldn't need to be without your wand then."
"I do not want them burning if you fall asleep."
"You could charm them to burn out if I fall asleep."
"True, but I still believe my method is safer."
"Are you certain?"
"What if you need your wand for something?"
He sat on the bed beside her. "I can manage using only windless magic, but you will have difficulty reading or seeing the children in only candlelight."
"I could manage with only candlelight," Hermione replied.
He kissed her forehead then whispered, "You should do more than manage."
Hermione gazed into his eyes. She swallowed before giving him a small grin. His lips curled up as his body relaxed. She clasped his right hand and pulled her closer to him. He squeezed her hand. Then he brushed his lips against hers.
"Thank you for the light," she whispered.
"It is the least I can do," he answered.
She released his hand
"Rose and Victor are waiting outside. If you feel well enough to speak with them I am certain they would love to see you. They will understand if you do not have enough energy to do so though," Severus answered.
Hermione leaned back against the pillows. "I would like to see them."
"I thought you would," Severus stood. "Promise us though that if you become too fatigued you will allow yourself to get some rest. The last thing any of us want is for you to wear yourself out and become ill."
"I'll be fine," Hermione promised.
Severus kept his gaze on her.
"I will be fine."
His expression remained unchanged.
Hermione frowned. "I promise you, I won't push myself too hard."
"That is all I ask," he kissed the top of her head. Then he strolled out the door, almost colliding into Rose and Victor as he exited the room.
"Is she awake?" Victor asked.
Severus shut the door behind him. "She is awake, though I fear she is being a stubborn Gryffindor and pretending to be more energetic than she actually is."
"I would strongly suggest that you go in one at a time and try to keep the conversation as short as possible," Severus began. "I would also refrain from becoming too emotional. She needs her rest, though she'd be loath to admit it."
"That's Mum," Rose replied. "Ever the stubborn Gryffindor."
"Indeed," Severus answered, his voice betraying his affection for his wife.
"Would you like to go first?" Victor asked.
"Excuse me?" Rose asked.
"You heard me; do you want to go first?"
"I would not be opposed to it, but…" her voice trailed off.
"But?" Victor asked.
Rose swallowed. "You were here first."
Victor shrugged. "That means nothing."
"Yes it does. After all there is the old saying of first come first serve."
"Perhaps, but I have an unfair advantage. I was not in a faculty meeting all day."
"You were waiting longer."
"I've been waiting as long as you have."
She cocked her head.
"Both of us have been waiting all morning to see Mum again," Victor replied. "Even if we weren't in the house, this appointment has been on our minds."
"True," she admitted.
Victor pointed to the door. "Go ahead Rose. Once school starts I'll have more time with her anyway. You need to see her while you still can."
"Thank you," Rose whispered before entering the bedroom.
Victor watched her shut the door behind him. Then, he deflated.
"That was quite kind of you," Severus began.
"I meant what I said," Victor turned to his dad. "I will be seeing more of Mum in the next few weeks than Rose will be able to."
"Though I am certain that if given the choice, she would like to see her as much as you do," Severus replied.
"Yes, she would," Victor answered, returning his attention to the door.
Only the muffled sounds of Rose's voice could be heard in the hallway. At one point, Victor thought he heard his sister and mum laugh, though he wasn't certain of that.
Severus cleared his throat. "When your mother goes to sleep, would you like to play a game of Gobstones?"
Victor smirked. "So you can lose to me again?"
"I assure you, this time I will win," Severus promised.
Victor made eye contact with him. "I'm sure you think you will."
"I am usually correct in matters such as this," Severus replied.
"Or so you hope."
Victor stepped away from the door. "I would love to play a game of Gobstones with you. Merlin knows I may not have much time to do so after tomorrow."
"What happens tomorrow?" Severus asked.
"Draco is releasing the report on the amnesia cause."
"I was wondering when he would do it."
"Enough time has passed since Christmas, and people are becoming hungry for more information. Draco would have done it today, but he wanted to make sure I had at least a little time with Mum before he released the information. That way, I could write statements without Mum's procedure hanging over my head."
"That was kind of Draco."
"Yes, it was."
Severus hummed. "I wish you the best."
"I should be saying that to you," Victor answered. "You're the one with amnesia, not me."
"I will survive," Severus stared at the doorway. The lines on his face became more distinct, as if he had lived one decade too long.
Severus was silent.
His eyes fell on Victor. "Yes?"
"What is wrong?"
"Nothing?" Victor's expression was the same as Hermione's when she knew something was amiss. Severus couldn't help but smile given their resemblance.
"Dad," he drawled.
The light in Severus' eyes died. "I worry about my next episode. What if I take the sleeping draught and your mother needs me for a medical emergency? What if I don't take the draught in time and I say something to upset her? What if I wake up and she is…"
Severus' throat constricted. "Your mother would tell me not to dwell on such thoughts. I certainly shouldn't burden you with any of them."
"Dad," Victor put a hand on his shoulder. "I want to be here for you."
"Victor, you are the child and I am the adult. It is my role to protect you, and not your role to emotionally support me."
"Perhaps I want to emotionally support you."
"I fear that is a much bigger task than you realize."
"You would be surprised how much I can handle."
"I know you are strong. You are just like your mother in that regard," Severus took a deep breath. "You are so much like your mother in so many ways. I am proud of you for it."
"Thank you," Victor replied.
"There is never a reason to thank me for my honesty, especially in a matter such as this," Severus answered.
"I know," Victor replied. "Still, it is nice to hear."
"I would imagine," Severus answered.
Footsteps approached the doorway. Victor stepped to the side before it opened.
"Mum is still awake, and desperate to see you," Rose moved closer to her father.
"Thank you," Victor replied before rushing in.
Rose closed the door behind him. She looked at her father. "Mum seems to be in good spirits. She did not seem overly fatigued when I left, though I am sure if she was feeling so she would not let on, at least not until Victor left."
"Your mum loves you children," Severus began. "You are the greatest joys in her life."
"She told me as much," Rose replied.
Severus nodded. "Never forget how happy you've made us. We love you so very much."
"I know," Rose answered. "And we love you too."
"I know," Severus replied.
Rose asked, "How are you holding up, Dad?"
"As well as can be expected," he whispered.
Rose embraced him. "I am terrified for her too."
Severus held his daughter close, and allowed a tear to trickle from his eye.