AN: Thank you for all the support! It is deeply appreciated!
Until that moment, she hadn't realized how large her father's clothes were. Sure, Rose knew their size and had seen them in the closet. Still, her father was larger than life, so large clothes seemed in order. She never thought they could ever make him appear small, at least not until this morning.
Rose's blood ran cold as her eyes fell upon the figure of her father slumped onto the sofa. For the first time in her life, she saw the little boy who lived in terror of his father's wrath. She saw the man haunted by the death of his best friend, the man who hated himself until he was numb.
What could have happened?
She called his name. His eyes remained fixed on a crack on the wall. She called his name again. Still no response.
"Dad, wh-what happened to Mum?"
Rose rushed over to her father's side and knelt beside the couch. "Daddy, please tell me what happened."
His whispered, "I killed her."
"Excuse me?" Rose asked.
His voice was no louder. "I killed her. In the middle of an episode, I killed your mother."
"No, no you never would have done that."
"But I did. In my stupidity, I killed your mother."
Rose's heart was arrhythmic. "How?"
"I was beside her at the wrong time."
"What does that mean?"
"It means I never should have been near here."
"Yet you wrote yourself a message explaining who she was. You were not violent during your last episode. Why would your amnesiac self kill Mum?"
"Because I was careless."
"I took everything into account except the fact that I was a target," Severus' voice was distant. "I led the Weasleys right to her."
"The Weasleys?" Rose asked.
"Okay," Rose took a deep breath. "Do you remember what happened?"
"Then how do you know you killed Mum?"
"I read the auror's report."
"The aurors made a report?"
Rose's head was pounding. "Right now, nothing you're saying is making any sense. What happened to Mum?"
He was silent.
"Let's start from the beginning," Rose folded her hands. "Is Mum physically alive right now?"
"Yes," he whispered. "For now, she is alive."
"Is, is there a chance she will recover from whatever happened?"
"As of right now, yes."
Rose released the breath she'd been holding. "So she is not dead?"
"No, not yet anyway," Severus answered.
"And there is a chance she will recover?"
"Yes, there is."
"Good," Rose put a hand on his. "You mentioned an auror report earlier."
He twisted his lower lip.
"Do you have it in your possession?"
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled piece of parchment. Rose's stomach sank. Dad always folded things before putting them into his pocket.
What the hell had happened?
"Lumos," Rose whispered.
Once the wand lit up, she put it up to the parchment. Then, she began to read.
At first, it seemed as if the incident was a mere incident of a confused amnesiac getting into the wrong hospital room at the wrong time. The situation would have been resolved peacefully had the intruders' names not been "Weasley" and they not been goaded into believing that Dad was a murderer. Acting on their delusions, they charged at him. Mum had behaved like the loving wife she was. The results were devastatingly predictable.
Rose placed the parchment on the coffee table. For a few minutes, silence fell between father and daughter.
Severus turned to Rose. His eyes were haunted, as if the victim of every Death Eater attack was staring into his soul. In an almost inaudible voice, he choked out, "Please say something."
"What should I say?" Rose asked.
"That you hate me."
"Yes," he swallowed. "Tell me you hate me."
"I am not going to lie to you."
"Would it be a lie to say you hate me?"
Severus' eyes hardened. He sat up. "Stop lying to me. I know you hate me for what I've put your mother through, for what I've put this family through, and for what I've put you through."
"You haven't put us through anything," Rose interrupted.
"I was a walking target for aurors, and I knew it. Still, I visited your mother…"
"Because you thought your presence would comfort her."
"Now she's fighting for her life."
"Because the Weasleys intruded upon your visit."
"They thought they were combating a hated murderer."
"Perhaps Bill and Charlie did but," Rose picked up the parchment again. She scanned it until her eyes fell upon one name. "Molly did not think that."
"Yes," Rose replied. "Molly was leading the charge."
"I am sure she believed that I killed Dumbledore for no reason other than jealousy," Severus argued.
"No," Rose's voice was more forceful. "She does not believe that at all."
He took a deep breath.
"Molly is not suffering from amnesia, yet she brought her sons into your room knowing what they believed.."
"Because all them believed I was…"
"No, Molly knew you had been acquitted of the murder," Rose's voice was louder.
"Fine, but this is all my fault. I made myself a target and your mother suffered."
"No, this is all Molly's fault. She and Mum were the only non-amnesiacs involved. Mum never invited anyone into her room. The blame lies solely at Molly's feet."
"I knew that amnesiacs were after me."
"You also knew St. Mungo's had security which should have prevented them from accessing Mum. I am only curious as to why they allowed her and her sons to roam the hallways in their condition."
"They never would've been in the hospital if they were not looking for me!"
"Cease having a pity party for ten minutes and look at this situation objectively!"
Severus furrowed his eyebrows. "Do not speak to me in that tone of voice."
"Two minutes ago you wanted me to hate you, and now you want me to speak respectfully to you?"
There was a flash of humor in his eyes, but it was soon extinguished.
"Dad, something bigger than either of us was occurring, something which would have occurred regardless of your actions."
"They would not have attacked your mother if I was not there."
"How certain are you of that?"
"I am one hundred percent certain."
Rose refocused on the parchment. "It makes no sense why Molly would allow her sons to attempt to subdue you. Where exactly did they plan to take you?"
"Does it matter?"
"Yes, it does."
"Why?" Severus demanded. "I am a miserable father and an even more miserable husband. I care little what happens to me now."
"Do you care about what happens to Mum?" Rose asked.
Severus' voice was low. "What kind of an asinine question is that?"
"The kind one asks when she hears her father feeling sorry for himself instead of trying to solve his wife's problems."
"If you saw her, you would understand exactly why I am behaving as I am."
"I can imagine how she appears at the moment. Still, she needs us to remain calm and approach this situation rationally."
"With all due respect, Rose, you did not see your mother after this incident. I did."
Rose's voice was soft. "How is Mum?"
Severus deflated. "She has a fever, though it is going down. What worries the Healers most though is that her magic is crackling. It is disrupting her heart rhythm and could be harming other organs. We will not know the full extent of the damage until her magic ceases to spike. Right now, they are trying to manage it as best they can."
Rose held Severus' hand. "She needs us now more than ever."
Severus' voice cracked. "I thought I was doing the right thing by seeing her. I thought she needed the company, to not feel so alone."
"Did you not read the first part of this report?" Rose held it up. "The Healer walked by an hour before the incident and heard you laughing with Mum. You two were happy."
"I do not know how true that statement is."
"Why would he lie?"
"To make me feel better."
"Why would a Healer be more worried about making you feel better than in telling the truth?"
Rose took his hand and squeezed it. "You accomplished your goal. You gave Mum comfort. In return, she chose to show her love as best she knew how."
"By almost killing herself."
"By protecting her husband to the death, just as she promised him she would the day you two were wed."
"Stupid Gryffindor loyalties," Severus squeaked. "Stupid Gryffindor instincts overriding her sense of self-preservation."
"There is nothing stupid about her loyalties. She loves you, just as you love her," Rose embraced him.
Severus sniffed. "How could it have gone so wrong, Rose? How could one act of love have led to so much heartache?"
"I do not know," Rose replied. "Though I intend to find out."
He released her. "Excuse me?"
Rose put the parchment back onto the coffee table. "I want to know exactly why Molly was directing her sons to attack you."
"Are you positive she does not suffer from amnesia?"
"I am completely certain," Rose replied. "On the second night of the amnesia epidemic, Molly came into my room and began berating me. She knew I was not Mum, and knew I was your daughter. She is in complete control of her faculties."
Rose rubbed the back of his hand with her thumb. "Allow me to handle everything, Dad. One way or another, I will get to the bottom of this."
He went limp. "Why should I care about what they had planned for me if your mother is not with us?"
"Mum is strong."
Severus returned his attention to a spot on the wall.
Rose turned his chin towards her. "Mum is a strong woman who fights for her family. She will not allow the Weasleys to be the end of her, especially not on Victor's birthday."
Severus gulped. "What am I going to tell Victor and Violet?"
"Nothing." Rose released his hand. "I will handle them."
"No, as a father it is my duty to inform my children of their mother's health."
"No, your duty is to be as strong as you can be for us."
"I must tell them what happened."
"No, you must sleep so that when Mum awakens, you can support her."
"How, how can I sleep at a time like this?"
"I have some sleeping draughts in storage."
"You haven't been taking any recently, have you?"
She shook her head. "I simply keep them in case they are needed."
He sat up. "No, I need to be awake for your mother."
"We both have an idea of what treatments Mum is undergoing. She will be asleep for at least the next few hours." Rose stood. "I have a draught which will last four hours exactly. You need to take it."
Severus crossed his arms over his chest. "I will not take your draught, nor will I allow myself to be bossed around by my own daughter."
"I will not allow my father to become ill because he is punishing himself for an event he could not control, especially when that means he will be useless to my mother."
Severus opened his mouth and pointed a finger at Rose. Then, he closed his mouth and deflated.
"Please Dad," Rose's voice was soft. "Allow me to handle Victor and Violet. We both know they will take this news better from me."
"They will hate me," he croaked.
"No, when they hear the entire story, they will hate Molly," Rose promised. "I can assure you of that."
He did not appear convinced.
Rose slouched. "Dad, I am so deeply sorry for all of this. Your intentions were pure."
"I thought I was doing the right thing."
"From what I read, I think that had the Weasleys not barged in, everything would have gone perfectly."
"Do you truly believe that?"
Silence fell between them again,
"How, how can you remain so calm under these circumstances?" Severus asked.
Rose cracked a smile. "I had a dad who taught me that no matter what the circumstances, our family is strong. He taught me that we can survive anything together, whether it be a cancer diagnosis, an unpleasant paternity surprise, or an attack of amnesia if we remember that we love each other. That gives me the strength to think through this and control my emotions until we have more information."
Severus extended his arms. "I love you so much, Little One."
She hugged him, hoping her siblings would see things as she had.