AN: Thank you so much for sticking with me! It is deeply appreciated!
She was paler than he was.
Severus took his wife's hand and helped her out of the padded chair. She squeezed his hand as the cool wind hit her exposed back. Her legs quivered beneath her, but she managed to take one small step forward.
"Thank you," she whispered.
"There is no need to thank me."
A comfortable silence fell between them as Hermione's body stilled.
"How are you feeling?" he asked.
"I'm fine," she replied.
His eyes betrayed his disbelief.
Hermione frowned. "Severus, love, I promise you, I'm fine."
"No, you are not," he replied.
"With all due respect, you are not in my body, so you wouldn't know if I'm fine."
"I have lived with you for over a quarter or a century. I know for a fact that you usually have more color in your face than you do now."
"Fair enough," she admitted. "Still, there is nothing to worry about. I am always weak after these treatments. I'm sure I'm only pale because of them."
"Perhaps the treatments make you weaker, but they do not make you so clammy."
"Maybe it's a side effect of this potion."
"Are you certain of that?"
"I don't know," Hermione covered her mouth and coughed. "All I know is that there's no reason to worry about me." She sneezed.
"We need to return to the waiting room and tell them you need to see an additional healer for whatever this is."
"I thought you wanted us to leave immediately after my appointment."
"That was before I heard you coughing through your chemo potions."
She coughed again. "I told you, there is something in the air…"
"Stop lying to me," Severus snapped.
She closed her mouth.
"You are getting sick, and your immune system is compromised from your treatments. We need to get you to a healer so they can determine the best course of action," Severus argued.
"How long do you think it will take to get into see one?" she sneezed.
"As long as it takes," he argued.
Hermione sniffed and glanced up at the plaster ceiling. Earlier she'd been able to make out a star pattern, but now it was lost amidst the other dots. If she looked hard enough she might be able to rediscover it.
"Are you listening to me?" Severus asked.
Hermione returned her attention to her husband.
"You need to see a healer."
"Sure, let's say I change into my clothes and return to the waiting room and try to get into see another healer. How long will it take to get me into one?"
"It will take as long as it will take."
"Do you think the sun will set before my new appointment is finished?"
"Do you want to take the risk of developing amnesia while I'm seeking medical advice for a cough which sounds much worse than it is?"
"I want you to be as healthy as possible."
"Aside from the cancer, I am healthy. At worst, I have a cold."
"What if it's more than a cold?" Severus argued.
"What if it is a cold and you put yourself in danger because you are paranoid?" Hermione asked.
"I am telling you that this is not serious," Hermione's voice was gentler. "I have survived much worse than a cold."
Severus' voice was soft. "What if it is more than a cold?"
"Then we will deal with it as it comes," Hermione answered. "Right now, my top priority is to free up this room for the next patient and change into my old clothes. This hospital gown is frigid."
Severus' lips twitched up. "I suppose I would be freezing in something which leaves my back exposed."
"You would be," Hermione smirked. "Although mine gives you a nice view."
Severus was now smiling. "That is the only redeemable thing about it."
"If only we were in a position to enjoy it."
"Well, the next patient is not due for another half hour."
Hermione giggled. "You cannot seriously be suggesting what I think you are."
He purred, "What if I am?"
"I can barely stand, I want to vomit, and I look like crap. Do you truly think you can seduce me under those conditions?"
"I suppose you have a point there."
Hermione opened her mouth to speak, but before a word could come out she erupted into a coughing fit. Severus steadied her as she wheezed.
"We are taking you to see a healer," he began in a firm voice.
"If I go to see a healer, then how do you propose I get to Australia?" Hermione asked.
"I will create a portkey for you and meet you there."
"Are you comfortable leaving me alone in a healer's office surrounded by amnesiacs?"
She stood up straighter. "I will be fine, I promise."
Severus' expression did not change.
Hermione took a deep breath. "If I take a downturn in Australia we can take me to see a healer then."
"Promise me that if you feel worse you will allow me to take you back here," Severus answered.
"I promise," Hermione replied.
Severus sighed. "I suppose there's little else I can do then."
"No, there is nothing else you can do," Hermione answered.
He kissed her forehead, mentally noting how warm it was to the touch. With a shaky breath, he leaned into her ear and whispered, "Whatever you decide, please remember I will only have one wife in my lifetime. I need her to be happy and healthy for as long as we both shall live."
"I will do my best to live for you and the children," Hermione promised before kissing him on the cheek.
"All that being said," Severus exhaled. "You do need to change so we can go to Australia."
"That sounds like an excellent idea," Hermione replied.
Severus remained rooted in place.
Hermione squeezed his hand. His expression softened. Then, they exited the hospital room.
Rose groaned and put the book onto her kitchen table. Once again, she had wasted thirty minutes confirming what she already knew. By every calculation her formula should have worked. There was no reason for it to fail, yet the second all the ingredients were added the potion became nonmagical, useless ash.
For the life of her she could find no new insights into her problem.
Madame Serpent approached Rose.
"Do you have any insight as to why my amnesia cure failed?" Rose asked.
The snake flickered its tongue.
"I feared that was the case," Rose muttered.
Madame Serpent raised her head.
Rose slumped into the chair. "If only Dad was here. Perhaps he could provide some new perspectives, though I fear he is running into dead ends as well."
Someone rapped upon the door.
"Rose? Are you there?"
Rose stood and straightened her cape. Then she glided to the door.
"If you aren't there that's fine, but…"
"There is no need to fret," Rose opened the door and smiled. "I am always available for you."
Scorpius relaxed. "I was wondering if you were still around given, well, what could happen tonight."
"How could I be anywhere other than Hogwarts?" she asked.
"It would be very easy for you to go to your mansion and you know it," he entered.
"Perhaps," Rose shut the door behind him. "Still, I cannot fathom leaving the school in the middle of a crisis such as this."
"Neither can I," Scorpius replied.
"That being said, you should be considering places to remain inconspicuous. Merlin knows when the aurors see you they will mistake you for your father again."
"Probably," Scorpius admitted. "Still, somebody has to help you defend the dungeons."
Rose frowned. "Am I now incapable of defending my domain?"
"Of course not," Scorpius answered. "Still, I thought at the very least you'd like the company given that your parents are out of town and you must be worried about them."
Rose hung her head.
"Are they doing okay?"
"Dad is, but I fear Mum is not."
Rose gestured towards her couch. Scorpius plopped onto it.
"Mum has been coughing for at least a day," Rose continued as she sat beside him." She is too stubborn to see anyone about it."
"Oh," Scorpius answered.
Rose ran her hands through her bushy hair. "I know what you're going to tell me, my parents are adults, Mum makes her own decisions, and so on. The fact remains though that I am their daughter. Despite my atrocious behavior towards them a couple of months ago, I care deeply for them and would be devastated if any harm was to befall them."
"I know," Scorpius whispered. "And they know you love them too."
"I fear something will happen to them, and I do not know how to prevent it."
Scorpius embraced his friend. "I wish I could help, but I don't know what to say."
"There is nothing to say," Rose wrapped her arms around Scorpius.
For one long moment, only the sound of the crackling fire could be heard.
"It won't do us any good to sit and stew all evening," Scorpius noted. "We need to find something to do until the amnesiacs come down here, assuming they do."
Rose released him. "I could go for a game of gobstones."
Scorpius' face fell. "Do we have to play that game?"
"What is wrong with gobstones?"
"You always win."
She smirked. "Why do you think I insist on playing?"
Scorpius huffed. "Fine, but only because you're under stress. The second you relax I'm going to my quarters and pulling out my Monopoly board."
Rose groaned. "Please, do not bring down that insipid game."
"Now who is being a sore sometimes loser?"
"I am not a sore loser. I just fail to see what is so appealing about a game based solely on luck."
"No, you fail to see the appeal of a game you always lose."
Rose snorted. "Let me get my marbles."
"Fine," Scorpius answered.
Rose strolled off to her room, her steps a little lighter. Scorpius watched her, hoping her premonitions of disaster would not come true.