AN: Thank you for all the support! It is very deeply appreciated!
It had been years since he'd thought about princesses. With a nickname like "half blood prince," it would not have been odd to think about a princess. Still, it was a nickname he'd given himself in his youth. There would be no princess, halfblooded of muggleborn, by his side. He was too tainted for such a woman to exist.
If he was forced to meditate on meeting a princess, the circumstances would be much different. To begin with, a princess belonged in a fairy tale, not in a hospital room. A princess should be in a student-free castle, not surrounded by whispering Mediwitches. She should be sleeping on a bed of roses and tossing and turning over a pea, not sleeping on a flimsy cot barely covered by a flimsy bleached blanket.
As he gazed at the sleeping woman, he felt his chest warm. It was an unusual sensation given what he believed his life to be. For years he had vacillated between being terrified of failing his mission and apathetic towards his own demise. This emotion was quite different. While it was not pure joy, it was a type of calm. It was foreign to him, yet he wanted to sustain the warmth for all time.
As he watched her slumber, the affection within him only grew stronger. He only wanted this woman to feel safe in his arms, to feel as if she was the most cherished witch in existence, and to feel as if he was the husband she loved.
Love? Did he want her to love him?
The memories she'd shown him were still vivid in his mind. Although he had believed that they may have been married, the letter from his future self had confirmed the veracity of her account. There was nothing he needed to do to earn her love. It was his for the taking if only he would awaken her and convince her that he would always remain by her side.
For a brief moment he considered kissing her awake, but pushed the idea away. This woman was not going to awaken to her prince charming; she was going to awaken to Severus Snape. While he was capable of romance, Severus Snape did not kiss women awake as if he was reenacting some childhood bedtime story. If this was a problem to her, then he would make his way back to Australia and write to his future self not to bother with this woman anymore. He suspected the woman would have little problem with being awaken at the sound of her name though.
Now if only he knew how to say it.
Oh he knew her name was Hermione. Yet there were many ways to say a name. He could bark it out as if he were her professor, but he knew this would be far from appreciated. He could purr out her name as if he was attempting to make love to her with his voice alone. He could whisper it as if saying it any louder would ruin the sacredness of the moment, or he could speak to her as if they had known each other for years and were comfortable in each other's presence.
Snape crept closer to the bed and decided on the whisper. He bent down until he could whisper into her ear…
Her eyes fluttered open and met his. She gasped. "Severus?"
"Yes, it's me," he answered.
She sprang up, only to flinch when the IV pricked her hand. "Wh-what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be in Australia?"
"I suppose I was meant to be there," he admitted.
Her face grew paler. "Then why are you here?"
"Apparently my future self believed I needed to be with you instead of in the sweltering heat of the Southern Hemisphere."
Snape pulled the parchment out of his pocket and handed it to her. Hermione unfurled it and began to read. Her voice cracked. "Oh Severus. You should not have put yourself at risk like this."
"I feel as if I had little choice."
"No, you had plenty of choice, yet you chose to remain with me anyway."
"In the interest of honesty then," he began. "I will admit that I considered leaving for Australia upon reading it. It took me a good half hour to decide I needed to be at your side."
"Why did you decide to come here then?"
His eyes softened. "Nobody has ever loved me. My parents could barely tolerate me, and Lily abandoned me. Even though I cannot remember you, I remember how you fought for me when we did meet each other, or rather how you fought for the husband you fell in love with."
"I fought for you, not just him," Hermione choked.
"You fought for me?"
"Yes, I fought for you."
"I am not worth fighting for, though your husband may be."
"No, you are worth fighting for too."
"That is highly doubtful." Snape huffed. "I would imagine your husband is much more capable of giving you the love you need than I am, meaning he is more worthy of your devotion than I am."
"Perhaps he remembers me more easily, but I fell in love with every aspect of him." She leaned closer to him. "I fell in love with the man he was, and I vowed to love the man he will be. You are part of him, which means I love you too."
His throat constricted. "You truly mean that."
"Of course I do," she whispered.
"So you love me despite the way I treated you while you were my student?"
"You were playing a part."
"I was still hurtful."
"I have forgiven everything."
"Because I love every aspect of you, and there's nobody I would rather spend the rest of my life with than you."
Snape raised an eyebrow.
"Oh Severus," she touched his cheek. "How could I not love you? You're compassionate, intelligent, and sometime even sweet.
He smirked. "Has your husband ever told you that you are horrible judge of character?"
"He tells me that all the time," she kissed his cheek. "I tell him I am an excellent judge of character. I could see the man he is under all that snark and hostility."
Snape brushed his lips against hers. "I hope your husband has told you that you are an easy woman to fall in love with."
There was a glimmer of hope in her eyes. "Does this mean you remember me?"
"No," Snape admitted. "Other than when you so rudely interrupted my brewing and the times when I awoke in your-I mean our-bedroom, I remember nothing about interacting with you."
Her eyes died.
"That being said," his voice grew softer. "When I first came into the mansion I saw a picture of us. I remember being haunted by the image of us in an embrace. No matter what I did though, I could not expunge the image of you from my mind. Looking back, I was already in love with you."
A tear came to Hermione's eye.
"Hermione, I do not know if I will be any good at comforting you. To be quite blunt, I do not know the first thing about interacting with a woman outside of a casual fling. Still, if you can tolerate a few missteps, I will gladly remain by your side."
"Just being here and saying you want to be with me is more than enough comfort."
"Very well then, though I suppose you would like something to do."
"No, we can just sit."
"I highly doubt that."
He cracked a smile. "I remember how you were as a teen. You could not tolerate being bored for longer than a few minutes."
"I have since grown," Hermione assured him.
"You may have grown, but it is doubtful you received a personality transplant."
Hermione laughed. "Fine, you still know me well."
"I would not be any kind of husband it I did not at least a few things about your personality."
"I suppose you would not be."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a few books. Then he enlarged them. "I was hoping that since I remember so little about our time together, you could help fill in some of the gaps."
Hermione's face lit up. "I would love to go over some memories with you."
"Good," he cleared his throat. "Unfortunately, all of these photo albums focus on our children. I attempted to find one from when we were first married and childless, but I could not do so."
"There is no complete photo album of us childless," she answered.
"I was four months pregnant with our oldest daughter when we were married."
"I impregnated you before we were wed?"
Hermione glanced away.
Snape shook his head. "What kind of irresponsible potions master sleeps with a woman without providing contraception?"
"You would not do that."
"Apparently I did because Rose is here among the living."
"There," Hermione looked into his eyes. "There is something you should know about Rose."
"She, she is not biologically your child."
"No, I was four months pregnant with her the first time we made love."
"Wh-who is the biological father?"
Snape felt the air leave his lungs.
"You knew she wasn't yours biologically," Hermione took a shaky breath. "Still, you accepted her as your own for the moment you learned about her."
"So I did."
"You are an amazing father to all of our children, but your bond with her is especially powerful. It is beautiful to see you two together. She is so much like you in many ways, more so than our other children."
"Does Rose know she is not mine biologically?"
"What does she make of the truth?"
"She is learning to accept it."
"That is not good enough," Snape straightened his posture. "After you fall asleep once more, I need to assure her that even in my amnesiac state, I love her as if she was my own. I always have and I always will."
Hermione's lips curled up. "She already knows that."
"I would hope so," Snape gesture for his wife to slide over. She complied. "Before I see her though, I would love to know more about our life together."
"I would love to tell you more about it." She stacked the books. "The pictures will show what an amazing father you are to all of our children. You have never been shy about showing your love for them, or for me."
"It seems as if I was a much better parent and husband than I ever was as a teacher."
"You protected us when you were a professor. At the end of the day, that is what we needed."
"Perhaps, but it seems as if I was more successful protecting you as a husband."
"You've certainly made my life less lonely," Hermione answered.
"Indeed," he opened one of the books. "Is this the oldest album?"
Hermione nodded. "These are Rose's baby pictures. The other two albums contain Victor and Violet."
"My other two children?"
"Yes, Victor is the middle child, and Violet is the youngest."
"Anyway," Hermione opened the album. "This is Rose when she was just an hour old."
"She is a beautiful baby," Snape answered
"She is," Hermione replied.
For the first time in what seemed like years, Severus Snape felt at peace. He knew love, the love he believed was impossible for someone like him.
He was determined to hold onto it regardless of the cost.
Molly pointed her glowing wand onto a map. "He's at St. Mungo's!"
"Are you certain of that, Mum?"
"I'm positive," Molly glanced at her two sons. "According to this tracking spell he is in Room 213."
"If he's in St. Mungo's he should be easy enough to subdue," Bill noted. "Even Snape can't fight well if he's ill."
"I agree," Charlie replied.
"Yes," Molly sneered. "He should be very easy to capture and subdue. One that happens, we will finally get the justice we deserve."