AN: Thank you all for supporting this story. Also, a special thank you to the person who pointed out the formatting error. Hopefully things are fixed now.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Percy hissed at the ashen face below him.
From within the flames, Ron gulped. "I was thinking that if I told 'Mione what she wanted to hear, then she would drop the kidnapping charges."
"What in Circe's name could you say to Hermione which would convince her to drop the kidnapping charges?" Percy asked.
"I stated by reminding her that she was once in love with me..." Ron began.
Percy huffed. "She was so in love with you that she ran off with the greasy git."
"No she didn't," Ron began. "She was loyal only to me."
Percy rolled his eyes.
"Anyway, I was hoping that if I spoke with her long enough she'd remember the love we shared. She'd realize how spiteful she was being, and that there was no point in pressing charges against me for kidnapping Rose. Then she'd feel bad, and then drop the charges," Ron explained.
"Hermione is a heartless bitch," Percy began.
"She wasn't always a heartless bitch though."
"But she is now, and a heartless bitch doesn't drop her plans of revenge thanks to some stroll down memory lane. Instead, she makes a PR disaster out of her ex-boyfriend crashing her lecture."
Ron's voice grew weaker. "She would do that, wouldn't she?"
Percy took a deep breath. "I know you want to return to Britain, but for once in your life be patient."
"I'm trying," Ron whined. "But it's getting hard."
"Things will be much harder if I lose this election thanks to your inability to keep your mouth shut," Percy warned.
"The election is still eight months away," Ron replied. "I don't know if I can wait that long."
"What exactly is the rush?" Percy asked. "You wanted to return for the Quiditch World Cup, which is still ten months away. That's plenty of time for me to take office and give you your pardon before the games begin."
Percy furrowed his eyebrows. There was a 'but' in here somewhere.
"I mean, I guess I can try to be patient until then," Ron concluded.
"What aren't you telling me?" Percy asked.
"What do you mean?"
"You're dancing around something, and I want to know what it is."
Ron's voice grew soft. "They want their money now."
"I'm trying everything I could think of to stall them. I've told them that Peru has already qualified for the Quidditch World Cup, and that we're guaranteed to win. They won't listen. If I don't come up with the money soon they will repossess every single broom I have," Ron complained.
"If you would stay away from the baccarat tables then your brooms would be in no danger," Percy replied.
"But baccarat is so much fun, and sometimes I win," Ron argued.
"When was the last time you've walked away with a profit?" Percy demanded
"How much did you win?"
"I think it was a couple hundred galleons."
"Yet you owe those debt collectors thousands."
Percy's voice lowered. "I rest my case."
"Look, I know I've screwed up," Ron replied. "But I need that pardon now, if only to convince them that I can go to Britain and make back their money. They won't get off my case until I can prove that I can pay them back."
Percy exhaled. "I've already told you, there isn't much I can do at this moment other than focus on winning the election."
"Come on Percy," Ron begged. "You're a shoo-in for the Minister of Magic. Surely you could arrange for me to get some kind of pardon within the next couple of weeks."
"Oh yes that will go over so well," Percy argued. "The second Minister Scott signs that pardon is the second Hermione Snape will decide to run for Minister of Magic."
Ron gagged. "She'd make a horrible Minister of Magic."
"My thoughts exactly," Percy replied. "But she is a member of the Golden Trio, and is partly responsible for defeating Fenrir. That alone will win her a view votes."
"Sh-she could actually win if she ran."
"Exactly, which is why we must do whatever is necessary to keep her from running, even if it requires being a little patient."
Ron deflated. "Is-isn't there anything you can do for me?"
"I fear not," Percy began. "I'd give you the money myself, but I can't put my political career in jeopardy for you."
"If you could hide the transaction…"
"Sometimes the public wants a financial rendering of accounts. If they so much as suspect I have a secret Gringotts account or that I'm giving money to criminals, then my campaign is as good as over."
Ron groaned. "Please don't tell me I have to ask Ginny for galleons again."
"If you need galleons so desperately then it's worth a try to ask her for some." Percy replied.
Ron snorted. "The last thing I want is another lecture on what a piece of crap I am."
"Fair enough," Percy admitted.
"I," Ron swallowed. "I haven't ruined anything for you, have I?"
Percy grinned. "I'm sure the Snapes are riled up, but that isn't anything unusual. If you lay low, then this will be a non-event."
Ron exhaled. "Thank Merlin."
"But I'm telling you, don't talk to Hermione for another six months. Don't even think about her. Leave her and her husband alone," Percy ordered.
Ron gave him a salute.
Percy laughed. "There you go. Lay low, stay away from the baccarat tables, and have some faith in me. I promise you, your pardon will be my first act as Minister of Magic."
Ron smiled. "Thank you."
"Now, if that's all…"
"There is one more thing."
Percy closed his mouth.
"When I spoke to Hermione, she mentioned that Rose taught potions and dressed in all black," Ron replied. "Is that true?"
"How could you allow that to happen?"
"What could I realistically do?"
"You could've told 'Mione to raise Rose to be a normal human being, not create her to be a clone of her father."
"None of us approves your ex-fiancee's parenting methods, nor do we approve of the direction Rose has chosen to take her life."
Ron gritted his teeth.
"But we have no say over how the Snapes choose to parent their children."
"I should have a say!"
"Don't you dare start speaking that way again," Percy warned. "The last thing I need is the scandal of you running around and claiming Rose is your child."
"No, I suppose claiming Rose as my own wouldn't increase your chances of getting elected," Ron admitted.
"Glad we could reach an understanding," Percy replied.
"Still, I don't know why you didn't tell me about her life sooner," Ron replied.
"You never asked after her, so I found it unnecessary to inform you of her actions," Percy answered.
"Fair enough," Ron replied.
"Do you have any further questions?" Percy asked.
"No," Ron answered.
"Good," Percy's voice softened. "Take care of yourself. You'll be back in Britain soon enough."
"Thank you," Ron replied. "I look forward to returning."
The flames were extinguished.
Where am I?
Severus scanned the room. He'd never seen that king sized, canopy bed, nor had he ever laid eyes upon that black suitcase. His eyes fell on the bedside table. There was a glass rose shimmering in the moonlight. Surely he'd recognize something that unique and beautiful, yet he did not.
Where the hell was this place?
In front of him on the wall was a photograph of a woman in a royal blue dress. Her caramel eyes glistened as a breeze blew through her hair.
Severus gazed at her image. His muscles relaxed. Something about this woman inspired trust, a feeling of security. Even if this room was unfamiliar, there was a friendly face, or at least someone he believed to be friendly.
A man came into the photograph. He scooped the woman into his arms. Then he faced the outside.
Severus' chest constricted. He gasped for air. How could he be looking at his own face?
He examined the woman more closely. That smile, those eyes, that hair.
Severus' heart raced. No, no that couldn't be Hermione. She was only an adolescent, whereas this woman appeared to be in her mid to late thirties. Could that woman be Hermione's mother? No that couldn't be possible. There was no reason Severus would be holding Mrs. Granger in his arms.
What kind of place was this?
Severus spun around. There was a fireplace with a bucket nearby. He ran towards the bucket and stuck his hand inside. After grabbing a fistful of floo powder and throwing it into the fireplace, he cried out the name of the one place where he knew he would find refuge.