AN: I will completely freak out if someone knows where I got the names, Zach and Kendall from.
Thank you for all the support! It is deeply appreciated.
A woman sobbed. "There was no body, Zach! They told me to give up."
"You told me you would never give up on me," Zach argued.
"I honestly thought you'd died in that boat crash," she emoted, "I honestly thought you were dead!"
"I honestly thought you were in a contract dispute which was only recently resolved," Rose muttered.
Muriel shushed her.
"If I had known you'd survived then I never would've slept with Ryan," she continued.
"But you did, Kendall!" Zach growled. "My body wasn't even cold before you landed in Ryan's bed."
Tears streamed down Kendall's cheeks. "I am so sorry."
"H-how could you betray me like this?" Zach barked.
Rose rolled her eyes. Did these actors know the meaning of the word "subtlety?"
"I don't know, it just, you know, happened."
Rose huffed. Why must I be subjected to this?
"No, I don't know how you just wound up pregnant!"
Rose glanced over at her grandmother. There were tears in the older woman's eyes.
The camera zoomed in on Kendall's face. "I, I was too distraught to use the pill. If I thought I could get pregnant I never would've slept with Ryan."
Rose's heart rate slowed.
"Yeah, well, I don't know what to say other than," the violins stopped for maximum effect. The camera shifted over to Zach. "If this baby isn't mine, I want a divorce."
The screen went black.
Rose's body ran cold.
"No!" Muriel shouted. "They can't be over, not like this!"
Rose's shuddered. Can one illegitimate child destroy a twenty-six year marriage? Is it ethical for me to continue questioning Mum and Dad when the answers may lead to the demise of their union?
"Next week on Stanley's Corner…"
"I refuse to raise a child that isn't mine!"
If I am a bastard, would Dad love me anyway, or will I only be a sign of his betrayal?
The fireplace erupted. Rose startled.
She leapt up from the couch as Muriel turned off the television.
"May I enter?"
Rose stepped back. "Yes, you may."
Severus materialized before them.
Muriel stood up and gave him a warm smile. "Hello Severus, it's lovely seeing you again."
"Likewise," Severus replied.
"Yes," Rose drawled. "You look quite well."
"Is there a reason he shouldn't look well?" Muriel asked.
"No," Rose replied, plastering a smile onto her face. "I only feared that I kept him awake for too long last night."
"If I were you I'd be more worried about your mother," Muriel answered. "You kept her up well into the night."
"I know," Rose sighed. "I was simply enjoying my time with her, perhaps too much."
"I can't fault you for wanting a little more time with your mum, especially after enduring a head injury." Muriel stretched. "Unfortunately, I need to call the doctor and schedule a check up."
"Do you feel ill?" Rose asked.
"I feel perfectly healthy," Muriel frowned. "Your grandfather on the other hand is long past due for his physical. He's putting off calling the doctor though, in large part because he doesn't want to hear the lectures on changing his diet."
"I see," Rose replied.
Muriel kissed Rose on the forehead. "If you need anything, please let me know."
"I will," Rose promised.
Muriel turned to Severus. "We're having dinner in a few hours, if you and Hermione would like to join us we'd be more than happy to have you."
"Do not worry about me," Severus replied. "I will not be here for long."
"If you change your mind, just let me know. We're having tilapia with my famous kale salad."
"As enticing as that sounds, I will have to decline your offer."
Muriel shrugged. "Suit yourself."
Muriel gave him a peck on the cheek before strolling off to the kitchen.
Rose stepped closer to Severus and muttered, "She's probably going onto some chatroom to discuss how horrid the writing was for today's Stanley's Corner. Then she will subject herself to another episode tomorrow."
"She still watches that vapid show?"
"Indeed she does, and because this is her house, I had to suffer through it as well."
"My sincerest apologies."
"There is no need to apologize," Rose backed away from him. "I should be the one apologizing to you. I tried to keep Mum occupied last night, but…"
"Do not apologize," Severus began. "I am the one who should be the one apologizing. It was wrong for me to ask you to help me deceive your mother."
Severus put a hand on her shoulder. "It was wrong enough for me to deceive your mother outright, but it was even worse for me to involve you. For that, I deeply apologize."
Rose took a shaky breath. "Did she discover your condition?"
"Does she know…"
Severus nodded. "I told her everything."
Rose grabbed the edge of her cape. "How did she react?"
Severus cracked a smile. "I am very fortunate that your mother is not one for holding grudges. After a long discussion we have reached an understanding."
Rose twirled her cape around her finger. "What kind of understanding?"
Severus gestured towards the couch. Rose bit her lower lip and walked over to it. Severus brushed off a stray clomp of ash from his cape before going over and sitting down beside her.
"Your mother and I have decided to find a cure for my ailment."
"First we need to determine which populations it's affecting and what their members all have in common."
"Sounds reasonable," Rose noted. "How do you plan to go about obtaining your data?"
"First we need a list of names," Severus answered.
"I can help with that," Rose replied. "I did not get a clear look on every auror I came in contact with, but I know who I fought. I can give you their names."
"When you are recovered we can discuss it further in depth."
"No, we can discuss it now."
"I do not want you to injure yourself."
"I'll be fine, I promise," Rose tapped her finger against the couch. "I know one of the aurors I faced down was Beetlerog, another was Hestia Jones, the third was Camilla Baden…."
"Rose," Severus drawled.
She grew silent.
"When you are recovered we will take your memory of the event and put it into a penseive. That will be the best way to identify who exactly you saw. In the meantime, I refuse to put your recovery at risk by performing such a procedure on you," Severus replied.
"I suppose I cannot give you a memory of the event until my condition improves."
"No, you cannot."
Rose exhaled. "Fine, but the second I am well enough to teach, I will find a way to aid you in your endeavor."
"I would love nothing more than your assistance, assuming it does not interfere with your teaching duties," Severus replied.
"Do not worry," Rose answered. "If you could teach and spy I can teach my classes and find a cure for this disease. While I'm at it I will continue to research a cure for the dark magic overtaking Mum."
Severus frowned. "Do not overexert yourself."
"You should remain focused on your career, not on resolving every ailment known to Wizarding kind."
"I can perform the duties of my career much more effectively if I do not need to protect my students from amnesiac aurors."
A moment of silence fell between them.
"How will you compile the list of names?" Rose asked. "From what I understand there were several more aurors than the ones I combatted. Then there's the fact that some of the Weasleys were affected by this illness as well. Surely there were several other victims that I did not lay eyes upon; ones which perhaps didn't fight anyone. Then there's the fact that the Ministry is not discussing this issue. How will you get all of their names?"
Severus smirked. "Let's just say that this issue is about to become much more public."
Rose raised an eyebrow.
Severus reached into his pants pocket and handed her a parchment. Her lips curled up.
"I was wondering when he'd finally run."