AN: Thank you all for the support! It is deeply appreciated!
Rose had not been this resistance to sleep since she'd been six.
Rose's ice cream was half melted before she took her first bite, and she ate at a sloth's pace. In spite of the threat of brain freeze, Rose wanted another bowl. Once the tub of ice cream was finished, Rose pleaded with Hermione to play Gobstones. After a few minutes of protests, Hermione capitulated to the demand with the stipulation that after the game Rose would go to sleep. Once Rose had won two out of three games, she posed several questions about the latest potions experiment her parents had engaged in. Although Hermione suspected Rose knew the answer to each question, she indulged her. A half an hour passed, and now Rose wanted to watch another movie.
Hermione sighed. "I will watch a movie with you only if you promise to lie down on the couch during it."
"No more 'buts,'" Hermione answered. "You need to rest, and I need to return home to your father."
Rose swallowed, but obeyed. After minutes of searching, they settled on a Steve Martin movie.
Within five minutes, sleep overtook Rose.
During the first commercial break, Hermione stood up. She crept over and removed the remote from Rose's hand. Then, she turned off the television.
"Goodnight, Rose," Hermione whispered before kissing her daughter on the forehead.
Rose did not stir.
Hermione yawned before sneaking towards the fireplace. She whispered out her address before stepping inside. A few moments later, she stumbled across her fireplace threshold.
Hermione pulled out her wand. "Lumos."
Something was wrong.
Instead of seeing Severus on their bed, she only saw untouched sheets. The bathroom door was open, but there was no light. Severus' nightshirt was still hanging from the closet. No note explaining where he was could be found on the dresser.
She raced through the house, calling Severus name every few meters. All of the rooms were empty. It was as if he had never returned home.
She climbed down the stairs into the basement laboratory.
None of the candles were lit. All of the vials were arranged in tidy rows, all of the cauldrons were glistening clean. There was no unusual smells. Nobody had been in this room for quite some time.
Hermione's stomach sank. Severus said he was going to conclude Rose's experiments, but that shouldn't have taken more than a couple of hours. Did he get sidetracked by something? Did he decide to start another project?
Is he injured?
She darted upstairs to the library. Then she threw in the floo powder and called out, "Rose Snape's living quarters."
Once again she stepped into the flames, and was transported to her destination.
As Hermione stumbled out of the fireplace, she could hear the clanking of glass and the mutterings of her husband. The room smelled of peppermint and dragon liver. There was a light in the doorway.
Her muscles relaxed. "Severus?"
The room grew silent.
"Severus," Hermione called again before heading towards the lab. "Are you in there?"
There was a rustling.
Hermione opened the door, only to be met with a wand to the chest.
She held up her hands. "It's just me."
He kept the wand focused on her.
Hermione gasped. "I, I did not mean to surprise you."
"What brings you here?" Severus growled.
"I came here looking for you," Hermione replied.
The wand was still pointed at her chest.
"I wanted to see if you are well," Hermione replied.
He lowered his arm. "I am quite well."
"I am glad to hear it," Hermione stepped inside.
"You never told me what brought you here," Severus snarled.
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "What kind of a question is that?"
"The kind one asks when one is baffled by the presence of the other," Severus answered.
Hermione frowned. "Why would you be confused at my presence?"
"Because you are not supposed to be here," he snapped.
"Well, if you had simply finished Rose's potions and gone to bed as you told me you would, I would not be here."
"Yes, Rose's potions."
"Who is Rose?"
Severus twisted his lips. "My daughter?"
"Yes, your daughter," Hermione repeated.
"I have no daughter," Severus replied.
Hermione took a few steps closer to him. "Are you sure that you are feeling well?"
His eyes darkened. "I've told you several times that I am well. There is no need to ask me again."
"I beg to differ," Hermione answered. "You are disoriented."
"I am as clear headed as can be."
"Then why are you looking at me like you're trying to remember the last time you've seen me?"
"I know when I last saw you," Severus answered. "You provided me with a much needed distraction last night."
A chill raced down Hermione's spine. "What exactly did I distract you from?"
"Do not play games with me," Severus huffed before sticking his wand into his cauldron. "I assume we know each other well enough to know my position in the Order."
Hermione's heart slowed. "In the Order?"
"Yes," Severus replied.
Hermione gulped. "Did, did the Order tell you to do anything last night?"
"You know I cannot answer that question."
Severus growled. "I am growing weary of this exercise."
Hermione twisted her lips.
"State your purpose for being here so that you can leave," Severus replied.
"I came to take you home," Hermione answered. "But I strongly suspect we must make a trip to St. Mungo's first."
"What?" Severus barked.
Hermione took his hand. "I want you to listen to me, and I need you to remain calm while I speak."
Severus' muscles tightened.
"My name is Hermione Snape."
"Hermione Snape!" He pulled his away hand from her.
"Yes, I am Hermione Snape," she continued in a slow voice.
"I only know of one Hermione, and her last name is not Snape."
"I'm aware of her too."
"I am her."
"I am Hermione Snape, nee Granger," she repeated. "And I am your wife."
"Wife?" He shouted.
Hermione's voice was even, "Please listen to me."
"Listen to you?" he spat. "You have done nothing but lie to me since the minute you've barged into this room."
"Okay," Hermione took a deep breath. "I understand you are confused, but you need to listen."
"No, I do not," Severus answered. "I need you to leave."
"No, you need me to take you to St. Mungo's."
"There is no need to take a healthy man to the hospital."
"You are not as well as you believe yourself to be," Hermione replied. "You have inhaled some type of fume which is distorting your memory."
"My sense of reality is intact, but yours," he burst out laughing. "You not only expect me to believe that we are wed, but that you are a member of the Golden Trio."
"Yes, yes I am."
"You cannot be Hermione Granger," Severus argued.
"Why would you say that?" she asked.
"For one, Ms. Granger is fifteen."
Hermione's heart stopped. "Fifteen?"
"Did I stutter?" Severus demanded. "She is fifteen."
"You, you don't remember at thing about our life together, do you?" Hermione asked.
"I remember you well enough," Severus loomed over her. "I remember you in bed next to me, providing some much needed distraction from my dunderheaded students and the stresses of my life."
Hermione's mind raced. Is Rose aware of her father's condition? Was this the reason she insisted on keeping me in Australia for such a long period of time? How long has this been going on?
What the hell is wrong with my husband?
Severus glided away from her. "I am still confused as to how you knew I would be here and how you managed to break through the wards."
Hermione approached him. "I am quite intelligent, and more than capable of breaking through a few wards."
"Where did you learn to break through wards?"
"Let's just say it was a skill I developed over time."
"Fair enough, but I am still unclear as to how you knew I would be here," he answered.
A smile crept across her face. She wrapped her arms around him. "I was able to deduce your whereabout through the process of elimination."
"Process of elimination?" Severus drawled.
"We planned on meeting sometime tonight," Hermione twirled a tendril of his hair around her finger. "You did not grace my doorstep, nor were you at the bookstores we frequent. I cast a few spells to determine if you were in a hotel room, but to no avail. My last resort was finding you here."
Severus broke free, only to back into a table. "You are not allowed to be here."
"Because of the students?"
"Amongst other reasons."
"Where is your sense of danger?"
"I have enough danger in my life without some delusional woman throwing herself at me."
"What danger are you in? Dumbledore doesn't so much as suspect I'm here, and other professors are asleep." Her voice was soft and low. "Why don't you set aside work for a few hours and come with me?"
"I am busy," he ground out. "Much too busy for you."
Hermione smirked. "Come with me."
"No," he growled. "You need to leave."
She stared at him.
"Now," he barked.
"Very well then," Hermione answered, unfazed by his demeanor. "The least you can do is walk me to the fireplace though."
"You are quite capable of walking there yourself."
"Perhaps, but it is rude not to show a guest out."
"You are a trespasser, not a guest."
He spun around, but she did not move.
"You may leave whenever it suits you," Severus answered.
"It will suit me to leave when you walk me to the fireplace," Hermione answered.
Severus scowled. He grabbed her wrist and dragged her to the fireplace. Before he could take a handful of floo powder, Hermione yanked her hand away from his. After flicking her wrist, she took his hand and squeezed it. "It has been a pleasant evening."
"So you say," he grumbled.
She grabbed the floo powder. Then she clasped his hand as tightly as possible.
Snape did not have time to react before he was pulled into the fireplace.