Now That Your Rose Is In Bloom

Chapter 169

AN: Thank you all so much for the support! It is deeply appreciated!

"How in Merlin's name did you talk me into doing that?"

Hermione giggled. "I didn't say a thing to you. You did that of your own volition."

"What would possess me, the dungeon bat, to do, to do…" Severus pointed to the photograph, "This?"

"It's quite simple," Hermione replied. "Violet wanted to pay fairy tea party, so you wore a little pink tiara and had one with her."

Snape stared at the photograph. A black haired girl of roughly four years held up a golden cup. She was wearing a long, black dress and a silver crown. Pinky raised, she brought it to her lips. "It is clear I cannot deny my youngest daughter anything. Yet, was the pink tiara truly necessary?"

To the girl's right was a purple unicorn with a neon blue main. To her right was a brown teddy bar which was holding its own cup. How did the girl get these toys? Snape would never enter a store and buy them, yet he must've given her presents at some point. Did he polyjuice himself before entering? That would be one solution…

Hermione smirked. "According to Violet, it was imperative that you wear the tiara. Otherwise her tea party was ruined."

Snape groaned. Yes, he could see his daughter pulling such a stunt.

Once again his eyes fell on the image of the man across the table from the girl. The offending pink tiara was perfectly straight on his head, almost as if he'd put some thought into making it appear as fashionable as possible. Although he was not smiling, there was a spark in his eyes, as if he was enjoying the moment, though would only admit to doing so under the threat of torture.

In short, he was a man who loved his daughter despite her terrible taste in costumes. Snape couldn't help but feel some affection well up in his chest.

"I cannot believe I consented to you taking a picture of this," Snape muttered as the girl in the photo set her cup onto the table.

"Well," there was a gleam in Hermione's eyes. "I may have neglected to tell you I had a camera nearby."

The girl held up a silver teapot. The man in the photo held out a small emerald cup, allowing her to pour liquid into it.

"Please tell me she is pouring water into that cup and not boiling tea."

"It's actually a fizzy drink her grandparents gave her."

"A fizzy drink?"

"Yes."

"Why are we allowing our children to drink fizzy drinks? Could that not damage their teeth?"

"I asked you the same thing the first time you allowed Rose to drink from one of your fizzy drink cans when we were in Australia. You assured me that they would brush their teeth thoroughly once they were finished with it."

"Do I want to know how many cavities our children have?"

"We developed an enamel strengthening potion shortly after Victor began teething. So far it was worked marvelously for our children."

"I am glad to hear it."

The man in the photo moved his lips as the girl set the teapot onto the table. She burst out laughing before letting out a burp. The man in the photograph began chuckling as well.

"I would image she was hyper from all that caffeine," Snape muttered.

Hermione shrugged. "She'd already had her morning nap. We figured a little soda couldn't hurt her."

"I suppose not," Snape sighed. "Honestly this is a sweet photograph. If I remembered being a father I was probably know why I approved of you taking it."

"Oh you hated me for taking it."

"I did?"

"Oh yes, you were furious with me for taking this," Hermione answered. "Still, you waited until after Violet's bedtime to say anything."

Snape took another look at the little girl. Her onyx eyes and her thin lips were so much like his. Even with no memory of her, it was difficult to be upset that he had shared such an unguarded moment with her. "I hope I did not give you too much grief for taking this. I would not want my daughter to feel as if I was embarrassed to be seen with her."

"Don't worry, all you said was that the next time I wanted to take a picture of tea time I should give you enough warning so you could remove the tiara. Then you told me that if anyone else saw the picture your reputation as a git would be ruined," Hermione replied.

"Would that have been so bad?"

"That's what I asked."

"What did I say?"

"You simply told me you'd worked too long to become the man you are to throw it all away over one tea party," Hermione answered. "Then, you admitted that if you had to discard your reputation as a greasy git there's no one you would rather do it for than your children."

"That is the truth."

Hermione coughed. "Indeed it is."

A comfortable silence fell between them.

"I wish I had seen these pictures the day after Lily abandoned me."

"Why?"

"I would have had hope that I could be loved and had the family I'd always yearned for. Had I held onto that hope and known that if I waited long enough, I could have a family, I more than likely would not have joined the Death Eaters. Certainly I never would've told Voldemort that blasted prophecy. I would have been a much happier person had it not taken me over two decades to mourn the loss of Lily's friendship."

"I'd imagine you would have been."

"I wish I had met you when I was a happier man and not so dedicated to maintaining some facade I never should have been forced to wear. It would make our marriage easier if I wasn't always getting in my own way."

"You have not gotten in your own way. We make an amazing team. I could not have imagined going through eternity with anyone but you."

"Maybe, but at times you must've wished you didn't have a man with so much baggage."

"We all made our decisions, and did the best we could under the circumstances. All we can do now is make the future a better place, which you have done."

He kissed her on her right cheek. "I married quite well if my wife is this wise."

She lowered her head. "I don't know if I would call myself wise, but I have picked up on a few life lessons along the way."

"The children and I are extremely fortunate to have you in our lives," he answered.

"The feeling is mutual," she replied before coughing again.

Snape flipped the page. This time, the black haired girl was standing outside in front of a barbed wire fence. She held up a cockatrice chick. The creature blinked before peering down at the ground. Deciding jumping was not the smartest course of action, it settled into her palms. The girl's smile widened.

"Did it ever bother them?" Snape asked in a soft voice.

Hermione asked, "Did what ever bother them?"

"They are the children of Voldemort's second in command. Surely someone brought my past to their attention. Did they ever receive any trouble for it?"

"First of all, they are the children of a double spy who almost gave his life for the Wizarding World. Most people, or at least the people who matter, know that."

"At one time I was a devout Death Eater. That is no secret either."

"Your loyalties shifted. That's all anyone should care about."

"True, but," Snape swallowed. "I have never experienced forgiveness. It is difficult enough to imagine that my children could find it in their hearts to be proud that I am their father. It seems to much too ask that everyone forget that I was ever a Death Eater."

Hermione took a deep breath. "I will not lie, our children have received a few looks from others, but I can honestly say that most odd looks were more directed towards me than you."

"Why would anyone direct an odd look towards you?"

"I had been pregnant for four months when we were married. People believed everything from the idea that I was too big a dunderhead to take a contraception potion to the idea that I had become pregnant on purpose in order to gain your fortune."

"Those are both ludicrous assumptions. Even in my amnesiac state I know you would never be so careless, nor would you ever deceive me."

"I know, but I was never the most favored member of the Golden Trio. I think people were always suspicious of how I could know and do so much as a muggleborn. Deep down inside, I think even those who claimed to be tolerant of muggleborns looked down on me. I could be good, but the second I was too good I needed to be put back in my place."

"I can understand that completely. All my life I'd been looked down on because I was poor. People could tolerate a wealthy halfblood who lived amongst wizards, perhaps even a well-off halfblood who lived amongst muggles, but even the Marauders could not tolerate a poor halfblood who lived amongst muggles. I would never be wizard enough for them, and they let me know it."

"Sometimes those who claim to be the most open are the most closed minded of all. So long as you meet their expectations they will like you, but the second you deviate you must be corrected until you fit back into the mold they have created."

"Exactly."

The door creaked open

Hermione took his hand and rubbed it with her thumb. "We are lucky to have found each other. I could never have dreamed that anyone would understand me as well as you do."

Three shadows filled the room.

"I believe I am even luckier to have you," Severus answered.

There was a series of gasps.

"Perhaps we are equally lucky to have each other," Hermione replied, her entire attention focused upon her husband.

"I suppose I can agree with you on that." He kissed her forehead.

"'Mione what in Merlin's name are you doing?"