AN: Merry Christmas Eve to all those who celebrate it. If you don't, the have a very Merry Monday!
Thank you for all the support. It really keeps me going.
"Severus," Hermione gasped.
Snape stumbled backwards and buried his head in his hands. Hot tears threatened to boil from his eyes as his legs buckled from under him.
"Severus," Hermione called.
He held up his hand. She backed away.
"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. I didn't know viewing the memories would cause you such distress. I," Hermione's throat constricted. "I didn't know."
Time crawled to a standstill as Severus whined and cradled his head. Hermione's heart thumped against her chest until her ribcage ached.
Snape raised his head. His voice was soft.
Hermione took a shaky breath.
"Why do you still want me?" Snape whispered.
"What kind of a question is that?" Hermione whispered.
"The kind a murderer like me asks a woman such as yourself."
"You are not a murderer."
He groaned. "Why do you want me in your life?"
"Didn't you see the memories? Couldn't you see how much we mean to each other?" Hermione asked.
"That was in the past," Snape groaned.
"No, Severus, this is our present. We are that loving couple right now," Hermione argued.
He raised his head. "No, we are not."
Her lower lip quivered.
"Look at me, Hermione. Really look at me."
Hermione kept her gaze on him.
"I have listened to you, and I feel I am owed the same courtesy."
"The man you remember is no more," Snape began. "He is gone, possibly forever."
She shook her head and bit her lip until it bled.
"You are only left with me, a man who is trapped in a time period which he cannot remember," Snape replied.
"When the dawn comes, you will remember us," Hermione answered. "You always do."
"We cannot be certain that I will ever be the person you remember."
"No I am certain that you can be that person. No, you are that person."
"Right now, you are the person I love. I love you for who you are, who you were, and who you will be."
"Do you expect me to believe that you love the professor who insulted you for years on end?"
"I expect you to believe the truth, which is that yes, I am in love with that man."
"What about the man I am supposed to be right now? Are you willing to sacrifice him for me?"
"I don't need to sacrifice you for anything, because your memory will return."
"I have no recollection of the events you've shown me."
"Fine, We, we'll just view more memories. Surely that will make things a bit clearer.
"No," Snape snapped.
"It does not matter how many memories of us I view. The reality is I do not recall the first time I confessed my love to you, I do not remember helping to create our firstborn daughter, and I do not remember the numerous nights we must have spent in each other's embrace. I'm still having difficulty convincing myself that any of it happened."
"It did happen," Hermione argued. "Our marriage did happen."
"I cannot remember any of it," Severus barked, "All I remember is that I am supposed to meet with Albus Dumbledore at midnight tonight. Now according to you and the memories, not only is Albus dead, but I killed him."
Hermione wrung her hands.
"Would you allow me to meet with Albus tonight?"
She glanced at the emerald carpet.
"Can I meet with Dumbledore tonight?"
Snape's eyes grew. His voice was barely above a whisper, "It's true then. I did kill Albus Dumbledore."
She took a deep breath. "The circumstances surrounding his death were complex."
"But I was involved?"
"Yes, you were."
Snape's voice lowered. "How could you?"
"How could I what?" Hermione asked.
"How could you spend each night in the arms of the man who killed Albus Dumbledore? How could you look past that horrendous act and have not one, not two, but three children with the person who betrayed and murdered his own headmaster?"
"First of all, you did not murder Dumbledore."
"That is not what Mr. Weasley believes."
"He was wrong. We were all wrong about you."
"So I did not kill Albus?"
"You did, but it was at his command."
Snape glared at her. "Albus would never put me in a position which would necessitate me to kill him."
"Yet he did," Hermione replied.
"No, if I killed Albus, it was because I was ambitious, I was angry, I," he shook. "I must have let my dark side take control."
"No, you did it because Albus was cursed, and if you did not kill him then Draco would have on the Dark Lord's orders," Hermione argued.
"The situation was complex, and we jumped to a lot of conclusions, conclusions we should not have reached. It's over now though. The Dark Lord has been defeated, you have been exonerated from Dumbledore's murder, and you have started a new life with the kids and me."
"The kind of life you'd always envisioned with your husband."
"No," Hermione answered. "It exceeded any expectation I had about what love and family should be."
"I know," Snape cleared his throat. "I know how desperately you need to be loved."
"Fair enough, but I am not the prince you dreamed of."
"I know you have wanted to meet a prince since you were five years old. It is a sweet memory, and I understand the appeal of a fairy tale. Still…"
Snape grew silent.
"What?" Hermione whispered.
"I'm not him."
"No, you're better than I ever imagined him to be."
"Please stop. I am a man who resembles your husband in appearance, yet can only remember the names of his children."
"You recognized our children?"
Sweat formed on Snape's brow. "Yes, and I do not know how."
"So you do remember some things?"
"A few things," Snape admitted. "I also, I remember…"
"Yes?" Hermione breathed.
"I remember that I promised never to abandon you."
"You would never abandon me."
"No," Snape replied. "There are very few things I know, but I do know that I would never abandon you."
"Does this mean you'll stay with me for the rest of the evening?" Hermione asked.
"I do not know," Snape admitted. "Part of me wants to leave and reorient myself to this world, but I do not want you to feel as if I had forsaken you. I may be a lot of things, but I am not Ron Weasley."
Hermione rushed over and threw her arms around him. "No, you are not."
Severus returned the embrace. Her body fit into his so perfectly. This felt right; she felt right; they felt right.
Yet it was so difficult to discern why this was so.
"Given that I cannot abandon you then," he whispered into her ear. "Please let me go."