AN: Thank you all so much for the support! I deeply appreciate it!
Am I committing treason?
Rose reread Arthur's letter. On the surface his words are innocuous. There is no obvious reason for me not to speak with him. Researchers interview human subjects all the time. There is nothing out of the ordinary about accepting this invitation and going to meet with him.
Except he is not just a test subject. He is a Weasley who at one point believed me to be his granddaughter.
Rose folded the letter and placed it under the sofa cushion. I should give myself more time to formulate a response, or at the very least consider whether or not I want to respond. Perhaps after a day or two I will reconsider this lunch. If Arthur writes me again asking why I never answered him, I can always say that I was not feeling well.
What would Dad do if he were in my place?
Her mind wandered to a night when she was roughly four years old. Although Rose's body was shaking, her forehead was drenched in sweat. Severus knelt beside her bed, holding an empty vial in his hand. She could still taste the bitterness of the potion, though she knew Dad did his best to sweeten it.
Rose kept her eyes open, despite yawning. Dad put his hand over her chest and whispered, "Rest, Little One."
"No," she moaned.
"You need to rest," he insisted.
Rose opened her mouth, but no words escaped it.
"I am certain you will feel better after a nap," he assured her.
"Fine," she groaned. "But I want to hear a story."
"Which story would you like to hear?" he asked.
"The half blood prince," Rose was shaking less. "I love that story. It's very romantic."
"Very well then," Dad began. "Once upon a time there was a small prince. He felt very angry, because nobody loved him."
Rose drifted to sleep before he could get much further. Still, when she awoke, he was still beside her bed. He kissed her on the forehead and took her temperature once more. The fever was beginning to subside…
Speaking of heat, the fireplace had erupted.
Rose rushed over to the fireplace, "Dad?"
"May I enter?"
Rose stepped back, allowing him to materialize before her.
"Hello Dad," Rose replied. "I am thrilled to see you again."
Severus brushed himself off. "I am thrilled to see you as well, especially now that you are up and about pain free."
"I feel much better."
"I am happy to hear it."
"How has your research gone?" Rose asked.
"There are some promising leads," Severus flicked the soot from his sleeve.
"What kinds of leads?"
"Well, for one, several wizards have sent in their memories."
Rose's eyes lit up. "That's great."
Severus gave her a half smile. "Indeed."
"Have you begun shifting through them yet?"
"Right now we are categorizing them by the victim's age and the length of the memory. We will begin to view them this Thursday after the Hogwarts staff gives us theirs."
"I will give you my memories as soon as I am able."
"That will be fine, but do not hurt yourself in the process."
"Trust me, I will be just fine."
"That's all I ask." Severus finished brushing himself off. "Speaking of Hogwarts, you mentioned a few days ago that you felt well enough to teach."
"I am well enough to teach," Rose replied.
"Very well then," Severus answered. "I will run a few tests on you to determine if you are fully recovered."
"That will not be necessary," Rose replied. "Madame Pomfrey…"
"Is allowing me to perform the tests in her place."
Rose cocked her head.
"Headmaster Longbottom knows that my standards for your recovery will be stricter than that of Pomfrey. He wants there to be no doubt as to whether or not you have recovered, hence the reason he requested that I perform the tests."
"Did he approach you about performing these tests, or did you insist on performing them?"
"I may have been forceful in my request to administer the test."
"I do not want you injured anymore than you are," Severus pulled out his wand. "Which is why I want to see your recovery for myself."
"If you had your way I wouldn't teach for the rest of the year," Rose argued.
"Would that be so terrible?" Severus asked.
"Yes," Rose answered. "At some point I would like to resume my career."
Severus chuckled. "At your age, I would have sold my wand if it meant I never had to read another dunderhead's essay."
Rose's stare was blank.
Severus twisted his lips. "Is there some sort of problem?"
"No," Rose answered. "I only forgot how much you initially despised children."
"I despise dunderheads." Severus kissed her on the cheek. "None of my children have ever been dunderheads; hence I find your siblings and you more than tolerable."
Rose relaxed. "I am glad you feel that way."
"Now, that we have that out of the way, I would like to administer the tests, unless you do not feel well enough for me to do so."
"I feel quite healthy"
Severus raised his wand."Aveti o contuzi."
It glowed red.
Severus huffed. He directed his wand at the floor and made a line. "Please walk along this line to the best of your ability."
Rose walked along the line, careful to keep her feet on it.
"Excellent," Severus answered. "Now, for the cognitive portion."
"What is the strongest love potion in existence?"
"Who invented felix felicis?"
"How many times do you stir vindecarea gripes when brewing it?"
"Initially you stir it twenty times, but after it sits for twelve hours you stir it another seventy-four times."
"What was the name of your mother's half-kneazle?"
Severus nodded. "Personally I believe you should wait another week before resuming your teaching duties. That way you will not need to endure the Halloween festivities."
Rose groaned. "Perhaps that is a wise course of action. The last thing I want is the headache of rowdy students."
"Still, if you are desperate to reclaim your job then I will tell Headmaster Longbottom you can resume teaching on Monday," Severus answered.
Rose tapped her chin. "I am torn. Halloween is the time when students are at their most unruly, but I sense Professor Khan is too lenient with them. Someone will need to remind my students that potions must be taken seriously at all times."
"Indeed," Severus answered.
"In all honesty," Rose frowned. "I am beyond weary of watching Stanley's Corner and listening to Zach prattle on about Kendall's affair."
Severus chuckled. "I would be wary of that drivel after two episodes."
"Try two minutes," Rose answered. "If I need to hear Zach say one more time that he never wants children…"
"So that is why you pointed out how I initially viewed children."
Rose closed her mouth.
"Did you believe that I was like Zach in my youth?"
Rose bowed her head.
Severus put and hand on her shoulder. "That soap opera bears no resemblance to reality. Zach and I are in no way similar."
"I know that on an intellectual level," Rose replied. "Still, you were so averse to having children before marrying Mum. What changed your mind about wanting us?"
Severus' voice softened. "When I was younger, I said many idiotic things, one of them being that I could never love a child. The moment I learned of your existence though, I wanted to be your father."
Rose's lower lip quivered.
"I love you so much Little Rose. Never forget that," Severus whispered.
Rose embraced him. "I love you too, Dad."
Severus wrapped his arms around her.
Rose cast a glance towards the sofa. She exhaled, knowing exactly what needed to be done.