AN: Thank you all so much for the support! It is deeply appreciated!
The first day back was always headache inducing.
A love triangle amongst three of Rose's Slytherins had erupted on the train. After the dust had settled, one student had a pig's tail on her leg, another student had lizard scales on her forehead, and the center of the drama had emerged unscathed. It had taken an hour to undo the damage caused by the spells and another hour persuading all parties that they should be focusing on their O.W.L.S. instead of this petty drama. Rose doubted any of them had listened to her, but at least she'd made an attempt to resolve the issue.
Still, if the first day was any indication, it would prove to be a long semester.
At least it was over, and she was once again at work with her dad. For the first time in months, it seemed as if she was making headway in her research. Perhaps her latest theory would resolve the amnesia epidemic and give everyone a moment's peace.
Dad's expression was less than enthused.
Rose sat on her couch and sipped her tea. In front of the fireplace, Severus paced back and forth, not once glancing up from the parchment in front of him. He grunted and unfurled it further. Then, he stilled. He ran his finger over the last sentence.
Rose's heart stopped.
His voice was low and quiet. "Why did you do this?"
"We need a cure, and I thought this could help."
"The idea came to me this morning," Rose began.
"Okay," he drawled.
"I was making myself an omelette when inspiration struck. I needed to write it all down and show you as soon as possible," she continued.
Severus glanced up from the parchment, his expression unreadable.
"I know this draft is rough, and many of the ideas will need to be refined. Believe me, I am well aware that this is not my finest work. Still, I feel as if this theory is promising, perhaps more so than anything which has yet been proposed, " Rose continued.
"Why did you decide to work on the amnesia epidemic instead of your mother's cancer treatment?" Severus demanded.
Rose swallowed. "Most of my ideas seemed more pertinent to the amnesia epidemic than they did to Mum's condition."
Severus frowned. "Your mother is growing weaker and could die within the next few months. From what I understand, my condition is not deadly. Why would you prioritize me over her?"
"With all due respect," Rose cleared her throat. "Your condition could prove quiet deadly."
Severus furrowed his eyebrows. "Is there some information you have discovered about my condition? Is there something inherently deadly about the squib cure of which I should be aware?"
"No, there is nothing inherently deadly about the amnesia, at least nothing which I could deduce." Rose cleared her throat. "That being said, during the amnesiac episodes there are several aurors convinced that you are a threat to the Wizarding World. They have fired upon my students and demanded your arrest. In that regard, your amnesia could prove to be deadly."
"It is not more deadly than cancer."
"Perhaps, but it is not benign."
"Your mother is dying."
"And you could be killed."
"I can defend myself."
"I know you can, but you should not be forced to do so."
"I made my mistakes. If I am still suffering for them then so be it."
"Damnit Dad! You should not be paying for the same mistakes four decades after the fact, especially when all parties involved have absolved you of any wrongdoing."
"There are natural consequences to every action. If I am still feeling the ramifications of deciding to join the Death Eaters than so be it."
"No, you have more than atoned for what you have done. You do not deserve to be hounded by aurors."
"I can defend myself against the aurors. Your mother on the other hand is defenseless is against her own body."
"Yes, you can defend yourself, but should Violet be forced to defend herself because a legion of amnesiac aurors is firing upon their door?"
Severus' face was pale.
Rose ran her right hand over her cape. "I understand that you want nothing more than for Mum to find a cure. None of us wants her to suffer. Still, she is not the only one who is ill."
Severus threw down the parchment.
Rose continued. "The amnesia epidemic is much more far reaching than you. It is a much more widespread issue than just us. We need…"
Severus hissed, "Don't you dare mention the greater good."
Rose closed her mouth.
Severus approached her. "I have heard more about the greater good in my lifetime than any person should ever have to endure. For two decades, I was enslaved to it. I refuse to allow it to dominate me any further."
"Dad, that is not what I was going to say."
"I am sure you considered it."
"No, I did not."
"Well if you even for one second did," Severus stood over her. "Know that I will never sacrifice your mother at the altar of the greater good."
"Nobody is asking you to sacrifice Mum for any cause."
"Then we need to work on curing her cancer."
"In addition to your amnesia."
"No, all of our efforts must be put into curing her."
Rose stood. "Both of you my parents. I will work equally hard to cure her as I will you."
Severus bit his tongue.
"You are just as important to me as she is." Rose whispered. "I do not want to lose either of you."
"She is more important than I am."
"How could you even think that?"
"Because she is the glue which holds my life together, and by extension the one who holds this family together. Without her, we are nothing!"
"How could you sell yourself so short?"
"Because I destroy every good thing I touch. Your mother on the other hand creates beauty. She created you children and made you the people you are today."
"You were not some casual observer. You raised us as much as she did."
"Perhaps, but only because she guided me through the process."
"You have always known how to be a dad."
"With all due respect, you did not know me before I became a father."
"With all due respect, I have seen the same memories of my infancy that you have. At no point did Mum need to instruct you on how to love me."
"Dad, what is truly happening?" Rose's voice was quiet. "Where does all this self-loathing originate?"
"Your mother and I took Violet to the train station today," Severus' voice cracked. "Your mother hugged your sister longer than she usually does. Violet stared at your mum, as if she feared that was the last time they would see each other. Your sister tried to hide her tears, but I saw one trickle down her cheek. She is terrified for your mother, and there is little I can say or do to alleviate her fears."
Rose embraced him.
Severus clung to his daughter. "What kind of potions master am I? I can create undetectable potions which can kill a person with one sip. I can create potions which can turn a person into a beast. I can create potions which can help keep any dark wizard at bay. I helped to defeat one of the darkest wizards of all time, yet when I am confronted with a clump of cells within the woman I love more than life itself…"
Rose squeezed him tighter.
His voice was barely above a whisper. "I defended your mother during her schooling career. For seven long years I defended her as best I could. When your mother came to me as a woman pleading for me to give her legitimacy, I protected her once more. Yet when she needs me most, when she needs me to defend her from the greatest threat she has ever faced, I am powerless to do anything."
"That is not true."
Severus released Rose.
She stepped back. "You created a potion which kept her cancer in check for twelve years."
"It is not enough," he argued. "Even at the time I knew it was not enough. I knew it could not save her life."
"It did save her life," she argued.
"She is going to die a slow and painful death unless I can find a way to control the dark magic within her."
"And we will do that."
"We will find a cure for her cancer, but not at your expense," Rose replied.
"I am a git, but your mother is a beautiful woman who deserves a long happy life. Her life is worth more than mine."
"Mum is a woman who deserves to have the man she loves beside her as much as he is able."
Severus opened his mouth.
"Let me come at this from a different angle," Rose continued. "What if Mum's condition worsens during one of your episodes?"
Severus' remaining color dissipated.
"What if she is hospitalized during a full moon? Would you not want to be at her side as her husband? Would you not want Victor, Violet, and me to be certain that she was in excellent hands?" Rose asked.
"I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life at your mother's side," Severus answered.
Rose's expression softened. "I am trying to make it possible for you to live the rest of your life by Mum's side. Surely you understand that."
"I do," Severus whispered.
"I care little for what the Wizarding World wants us to do. They elected their Ministry, so they must deal with the consequences," Rose replied. "I do care about my family though and what is best for us. A healthy patriarch is what we need. We need you more than you realize."
"I know you need me, and I need all of you," Severus deflated and buried his face into his hands. "I am simply at a loss for what to do."
Rose massaged his back.
"I despise feeling helpless, a fact you know all too well," Severus continued. "I simply wish there was a way to save both your mother and me."
"We will find a way," Rose vowed.
Severus raised his head.
Rose kissed him on the cheek. "We will save both of you. I promise it."
Severus gave her a small grin. "I should be the one saying that to you."
Rose kissed him on the other cheek. "We are a family. Somehow, we will get through this."
"Yes," Severus kissed her on the cheek. "Somehow, all of us will get through this."
"That being said," Rose stepped back. "Are my theories promising at all?"
"They are," Severus admitted. "As you mentioned, they will need to be refined, but they are promising."
"Then let's get to work on refining them," Rose suggested.
Severus' face lit up. "Yes, let's get started."