Now That Your Rose Is In Bloom

Chapter 61

AN: I hope I got the scenes from Hermione's Hogwarts years correct. If not, I apologize in advance for the inaccuracies.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to upload anything tomorrow. My kitchen sink is leaking, and I don't know when the maintenance person will get around to helping me. In theory I'm supposed to be traveling for the holidays as well, though that may be less feasible thanks to said home repair issue. Regardless, I hope your week is far less chaotic than mine just became.

Thank you for all the support! It is deeply appreciated!

Snape didn't know what to expect when he entered Hermione's mind. He knew what to look for though. There were a few key memories which would identify this woman as Hermione Granger. Given that nobody should know Hermione well enough to reproduce these memories, this interrogation should only take a few seconds.

Within moments, Snape was disoriented. No occlumency shields could be detected. Severus felt around, but experienced no resistance. If anything, each memory was pulling him in, almost as if it was eager to be viewed. Either this person was an arrogant fool, or she was telling the truth as to her identity. The only way to know for sure was to examine as many memories as he could.

A childhood one would be just as good a place to start as any.

The only light in the room came from a small, pink lamp. Stuffed animals were arranged around a picnic table, tea cups before them. A small girl lay on a white bed. Her mother sat over her, and closed a book.

He believed the mother's name was Muriel, though he was uncertain where this information came from.

"Mum?"

"Yes, sweetie."

The girl grinned. "When I grow up, I want to meet a prince."

The mother chuckled. "Oh you do."

The girl nodded before yawning.

"Do you think you'll need his help to face down a dragon?"

"No, I don't want him to save me from anything. I think I can manage on my own, but I would like to meet him and play with him."

"What would you two play?" the mother asked.

The girl's caramel eyes shimmered in the dim light. "I think we're going to read books and swim."

"Read books and swim?" the mother asked.

"Yep," the girl answered. "We're going to read all day, and in the evening we'll go swimming in the moonlight, but only an hour after we eat dinner. We don't want to get cramps and drown."

The mother laughed. "I'm sure any prince would love to read and swim with you."

"Do you really think so?"

"Of course, if only because he would love spending time with you."

"I would love spending time with him as well."

The mother kissed the child on the cheek. "Good night, Hermione."

Hermione yawned again. "Good night Mum."

Snape was certain that he was smirking at the moment. Poor girl. If she was expecting Severus Snape to be her prince then her life was already full of disappointment.

He darted into another memory.

Judging from her height, Hermione was about eight years of age, as were her peers. All of them were in a single file line in front of a door.

"Why do weird things happen around you?"

Hermione's cheeks were red, and her head was bowed. At her feet was a math textbook and two pens.

"Why did you almost hit me with that book?"

"I didn't mean to lift up the book," she answered. "I wasn't trying to hit you."

"How did you lift the book in the air by only looking at it?" the girl behind her asked.

"I don't know," Hermione admitted.

"She lifted the book because she's a freak," the boy in front of her sneered.

"Class, let's settle down," a man called.

"How can we be calm when Hermione's acting like a freak?" another girl asked.

"I'm not trying to be weird!" Hermione shouted.

"Hermione," the man scolded.

She sniffed. "Sorry."

The man folded his arms over his chest. "We aren't leaving for lunch until all of you are silent."

All of the students faced forward, except for Hermione. Instead her eyes were transfixed on the book.

"Now, I want us all to walk quietly to the lunchroom…"

Snape skipped to another, less relatable memory.

"See here everyone! Ms. Granger's done it. Splendid."

Was there any doubt she would be the first to levitate a feather? Obnoxious know-it-all. Still, this was a memory only who knew Hermione would know, so he was getting closer to accessing the memories he needed.

"It's Levi-OOOOH-sa not LevioSAR," Ron scoffed. "She's a nightmare, honestly. It's no wonder she hasn't got any friends!"

Snape did not think Hermione could run that quickly, nor did he believe that Hermione could cry for that long. In spite of himself, his couldn't help but feel a pang of compassion for the girl. To an adult, a child's intelligence appeared to be a blessing, yet he knew all too well that in the eyes of one's peers, it was a curse.

For some reason, there was a reconciliation between her and the red-headed git. As much as he would have loved to have called her a dunderhead for ever looking in the redhead's direction, he couldn't blame her for wanting to be liked. Merlin knew how desperate he'd been to fit in with somebody at her age.

Stop this sentimentality this instant! You're supposed to be interrogating her, not finding common ground!

It was time to access the memories surrounding her potions classes. Here was something more along the lines of what Snape was looking for. One of these memories had to be incorrect. He would scour every year she took his class just to prove to himself that she was a fraud.

Before he could get too involved in teasing out her memories surrounding potions class, he watched her set his robes on fire. At the time, those were his favorite ones. Oh well. He'd deal with her later, assuming that memory was accurate.

Memory after memory of potions class played before his eyes. In each one she was an obnoxious know-it-all who answered every question correctly. In a few she helped Neville, and by extension the entire class, by not allowing him to blow up the dungeons. In any other case, he would've encouraged her to let the boy fail on his own merits, but he was too much of a menace to be left unattended.

All of the memories were accurate.

He scoured the memories more closely. There were several from each year, and all of them were in his estimation accurate.

Could she have been telling the truth as to her identity?

Snape stopped searching her memories long enough to contemplate the possibility that this woman was in fact, Hermione Jean Granger.

If she is who she says she is, then how did Hermione Granger become Hermione Snape? On my end, there is no developing attraction towards her. Although she wanted to meet a prince, I doubt her version of prince charming brewed potions and yelled at dunderheads. Granted, she has yelled at Ron for not calling me "Professor Snape," but that is probably an issue of respect. Her puppy love crush on a teacher had been for Gildroy Lockhart, not me. At best I am only her professor, and at worst, someone she must endure.

How did we go from former student to a woman trying to seduce me?

"I just don't understand it."

The first rays of dawn broke through the trees. In the distance, a brook babbled, but this was drowned out by the clanging of cooking utensils.

"How could he kill Dumbledore?" Hermione asked again.

"I have no idea," Harry muttered.

Wait, Hermione had said Dumbledore was dead, but she never mentioned a murder. How could Dumbledore have dropped his guard long enough to be killed?

"He's a bastard," Ron spat. "A traitorous bastard."

"Perhaps," Hermione sighed. "I just wish I understood his motivation."

"What doesn't make sense?" Ron snapped. "Snape killed Dumbledore because he's evil, pure evil."

Harry began to disassemble the tent and put it away.

"Professor Snape isn't evil at least," Hermione paused. "At least I didn't think he was capable of murdering Dumbledore."

What are these idiots going on about? My undying loyalty is to Dumbledore. I may be a lot of things, I may have killed muggle for sport, but I never would have killed Dumbledore. Never!

He quelled his racing thought. There is no need to panic. Weasley is a prat who speaks without thinking. Knowing him he overheard some story from his mother and echoed it back to Hermione. Yes, Molly Weasley is known for her irrational, incoherent ramblings. He's simply echoing her.

Now the tent was put together, and night had fallen.

"And you? Are you coming or are you staying?"

Ron glowered at Hermione. Harry stood beside her, his face just as hardened as Ron's.

"Fine, I get it. I saw you two the other night," Ron spat.

"What? That's nothing," Hermione whispered.

He shot her one last look before running out of the tent.

She yelled after him, pleading for him to wait, for him to return. It was to no avail. He apparated away.

Several memories flashed before him, each of them of Hermione mourning the loss of Ronald. Sometimes Harry was in the background, but often she was alone.

The ginger git had no idea how lucky he was to have a woman like Hermione in his life.

After viewing those memories, Severus opted to find one a bit more pleasant, or at least one which would explain how he and Hermione came to be.

Hermione was kissing Ron.

They laughed, and kissed once more.

Rage boiled inside of Severus. Why did anyone want these two together? They were mismatched! Ronald was incapable of appreciating a woman as intelligent and beautiful her. He had already abandoned her once, and he was liable to do it again. Don't even bring up the horcrux! Ron was a wanker who fled at the first sign of responsibility…

Snape paused. Where does this level of rage originate? Why do I care so much about Hermione and her heart? Could she be right about the depth of our connection?

"What are you doing here?"

Why does my voice sound so raspy?

"I came to see how you were doing."

How I'm doing?

Snape took note of his surroundings. This was not a classroom, but rather St. Mungo's. An IV stuck out from his right arm, and there was a white bandage on his neck. On a nearby desk were a few potions which were used to treat snake bites.

I knew nothing good would come of Rose owning that cobra!

"As you can see Ms. Granger, despite the Dark Lord's best efforts, I am alive and recovering quite nicely."

"I can see that."

Severus glanced up at the ceiling. "There was no need to save me."

"No, I couldn't let you die," Hermione answered. "Not after all you'd done for us."

"It would have been very easy for you to abandon me."

"I never would've forgiven myself had you bled out."

"You should have. I was never meant to outlive the war. Once I gave Potter the memories I was supposed to die."

"Perhaps, but now you're alive."

Severus snorted. "I will be in Azkaban before the day is through."

"Actually, your memories exonerated you," Hermione replied.

Severus paused. "Potter showed those memories to others?"

Hermione nodded.

Severus' face flushed.

"You're finally free from your masters," Hermione replied. "All you have to do is determine what your new purpose will be."

"As if that would be possible," Severus admitted.

Hermione touched his hand. "If anyone can manage to find purpose in his life, it would be you."

Did you give me that purpose? Snape wondered.

Before he could ponder his question further, another memory flashed before him.

"Who is she?" Hermione demanded.

"None of your business," Ron slurred.

Hermione slammed the newspaper onto the scratched coffee table. "It's bloody well my business if my fiancee is allowing a woman to hang on him in front of a legion of reporters."

Ron waved his hand. "It's harmless flirting."

"It's disrespectful to me," Hermione retorted.

"You know what your problem is?"

"That I expect my fiancé to act like a respectable human being?"

"No," Ron stood up from his recliner. "You need to loosen up and relax."

Hermione's mouth hung open.

"You are too wound up, and it isn't good for you," Ron noted.

"I'm not wound up. I'm simply…"

He stumbled over and kissed her mouth. "I love you. You need to trust my feelings towards you."

"I love you too," Hermione answered. "Still, I would appreciate some respect. It hurts me to see women hanging on you. It makes me wonder how committed you are to our relationship."

"'Mione, you'll always have all of me, one hundred percent," Ron strolled towards the doorway. "Just have faith in that."

"Where are you going?" Hermione demanded.

"My teammates and I are going out on the town."

"I thought we were going to spend the night inside, together."

"Yeah, uh, things changed."

"I really wish you'd told me sooner."

"What, do you want to come too?" Ron asked.

Hermione hung her head. "No, I do not want to go to another bar."

"Okay," Ron replied. "Bye then. I love you!"

He apparated before Hermione could respond.

Rage boiled over in Snape again. That ginger git was just as big a drunkard as Tobias.

Then again, I'm no prize either.

"This is ridiculous."

Now Snape was in a cramped bathroom. Hermione stood in front of the porcelain sink, her eyes glued to her wand.

"I cannot be pregnant. It's impossible."

Hermione ran her wand over her pelvis. For two tense minutes, she stared at it.

It turned blue.

Tears filled Hermione's eyes. "I-I'm going to be a mother."

Snape focused on the ecstasy in the woman's eyes.

She set the wand onto the counter. "Oh little baby, I, I wasn't ready for you. I never expected you."

I doubt I expected this baby either. Snape thought.

"Still," Hermione's smile was serene. "I'm so happy you're here."

Where am I in this memory? If this is my child, should I not be somewhere in the house? At the very least she should be running to see me.

"Oh perhaps we need a proper introduction. I'm Mummy, and I love you. When your daddy finds out about you, then he will love you too. He'll be so happy to meet you when he returns for his break."

When Daddy gets back from break? Snape wondered. Where could I have been that was so important that I didn't realize my lover was pregnant?

Severus felt a sadness creep in. This woman was rejoicing at having his child, and he felt nothing. He couldn't even envision how this child appeared.

What kind of a father am I?

Better question, why hasn't Hermione shown me a memory of us conceiving this child? Surely we had some type of courtship. Why are there no memories of it? It is almost as if we had barely spoken between the time of my snake bite and the time of our child's conception.

Perhaps our wedding will shed some light on the situation.

Snape crept into the memory of the ceremony.

Severus was standing in a stark courtroom, leaning in for a kiss. Hermione stood on her tiptoes, brushing her lips against his. After a moment of awkwardness, Severus pulled her deeper into the kiss.

At least she forgave me for being taking whatever break I was on.

"Severus?"

"What?"

She took Severus' hand and put it over her abdomen. She whispered, "Feel."

Severus' eyes widened. "Is that…"

She nodded. "This is the first time the baby has kicked."

Snape stepped out of the memory. I want to remember this child. I want so desperately to remember the pride I felt when she first kicked. For the life of me though, I only know her name is Rose because Hermione told me so.

Was I at least a decent father to her?

"Come here Rose."

The baby in a black dress clung to the edge of her crib. "Dada?"

"You need to come to me Little One. I cannot pick you up and carry you for the rest of your life," Severus began.

"Though I'm sure you would not be opposed to carrying her around," Hermione teased.

Severus shot her a playful glare. He knelt down and stretched out his arms. "Come here Rose."

Snape couldn't help but notice the lump in Hermione's stomach. Hopefully he'd at least been in the house when she discovered she was pregnant with their second child.

The child reached for him. "Dada. Ome a Dada."

"No Rose, you need to come here," Severus replied.

Rose stared at her large feet, and then at Severus. She took an uneasy first step towards him.

"There you go," he began. "You're almost there."

Rose smiled as she took a few more steps. Halfway to her goal though, she began to falter.

Severus scooped her into his arms. "You did an excellent job walking."

She embraced him, "Dada!"

Snape felt relief wash over him. For all his faults, he at least did not appear to be a deadbeat father. At least he managed to do something right in his miserable life.

"Do you hear that sound?"

Snape knew this bedroom all too well. What he did not recognize was the look of pure elation on his face. It was also bizarre to see him and Hermione on a bed together as if they were any other married couple.

Perhaps what was even more bizarre was that he was beginning to believe they were a married couple.

"I do not hear a thing," Severus replied.

"Exactly," Hermione purred. "The kids are at Grandma's, and we're finally getting a moment's peace."

He grinned. "How would you propose we celebrate?"

Snape watched as Severus melted into Hermione.

A pang of envy took over him. If only he knew the love this man experienced. Perhaps he did, and was unaware of it.

What if Hermione was right, and he did have amnesia? Could he be a member of this family, or would he find a way to muck it up?

"Do you still want me?"

Severus gazed into Hermione's eyes. "Why would I not want you?"

She lowered her head. "Over the past year, I've been sterilized, gone bald, and slept more than I thought was possible."

He slid over to her side of the bed and raised her chin. "I will always want you."

Her lower lip quivered.

"Gods Hermione, I have spent the last year terrified I would never hold you again, My worst nightmare was waking up and not seeing you beside me. How could I not want you?"

"It's going to be different," Hermione whispered. "Things are going to feel different."

"I know," Severus replied. "But I care little how your body has changed."

"Perhaps you should care," Hermione answered. "I mean, I care."

He was silent.

"I don't even know how I feel about my body anymore. I no longer care about things such as unruly hair, but most days I do not want to be within ten meters of a mirror."

He brushed his lips against hers. "Then we will wait until you are ready."

"No, I think I am ready," Hermione argued. "I want this so badly. I've waited for this moment since the day they told me I had cancer."

He released her chin.

"I know you love me, and that you'll always love me." She swallowed. "The problem is that I've been at war with my body for a year. I do not love being in it anymore."

"I do not want you to regret whatever happens tonight," Severus answered.

A tear trickled down Hermione's eye.

"That being said." Severus kissed her collarbone. "I love your body."

"You love what it was," Hermione whispered.

"No, I love it for what it is now because it's a sign that you are a survivor," Severus answered. "I love your body because I love you."

She gave him a hesitant kiss on the lips. She breathed. "I'm ready."

"Are you certain?" Severus asked.

Hermione nodded. A smile lit up her face. "Yes, I can honestly say that I'm ready."

If Snape could've cried, he would have done so. This witch had a loving husband, making it all the more tragic that he had been replaced with such an arse.

What kind of man am I if I cannot remember beautiful moments such as this?

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

Severus was sitting on the couch beside a blue eyed woman dressed in black robes similar to those that he wore. Hermione sat on a nearby chair, while two other people sat on a leather love seat across the room

Who are those two other people?

Oh, they are Victor and Violet, my other two children.

How do I know that?

"I'm positive," the woman-somehow he knew her name was Rose-answered. "I want to be the potions professor at Hogwarts."

"Do not be so hasty in this decision," Severus warned. "Some of my worst memories involve teaching dunderheads."

"And Headmaster Longbottom would say the most miserable times of your students' lives were taking classes from you," Victor chimed in.

Rose and Hermione laughed.

Violet turned to her mother. "Is that true? Were you miserable in Dad's class?"

"Miserable is a strong word for how I felt," Hermione admitted. "But I wasn't exactly skipping towards his class either."

"I thought you'd always liked Dad though," Violet replied.

"Oh trust me, compared to his other students I liked your father very much." Hermione winked.

Rose snickered.

Severus' expression became serious. "I will warn you Rose that teaching involves many long nights of grading, mediating the most asinine disputes you'd ever heard, and dealing with your sister on a weekly basis."

"Oh yeah, I didn't think about that," Violet's lips curled up. "I'm going to pass potions for sure now."

"Excuse me?" Severus asked.

"Uh, I mean yes. Oh yes, I'm going to pass potions for sure now," Violet answered.

"Thank you," Severus replied.

Rose frowned. "No, you will not pass potions based solely on our sisterly bond. You must work for your grade, as will everyone else."

"You will have more students like Violet though," Severus warned. "Students will find the most ridiculous reasons to attempt to win your favor. Can you handle that?"

"I believe I am up to the challenge," Rose replied before frowning. "Unless you think I would not be a good teacher."

"No," Severus replied. "I merely want to protect you from massive migraines. You will excel at any profession you chose."

"Thank you," Rose embraced him.

Severus returned the embrace.

Snape exited her mind.

Hermione was telling the truth about who she was. She was his former know-it-all student, and she is his current wife. Somehow she'd found a way to love him. Despite his insistence that his heart was cold as ice, he loved her as well.

Severus' chest grew cold.

Hermione blinked before asking, "Severus?"

His head felt as if it would explode.