AN: Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it! Regardless of your plans, I hope your day is filled with joy and peace.
Thank you for all the support! It is deeply appreciated.
"Let you go?" Hermione whispered.
"Why would I let you go?"
"Because you need to be free."
"I do not need to be free of you."
"Perhaps, but it might be in your best interest to cherish the memory of the husband you had and forget the man I am today."
"No," she argued. "We promised to remain faithful to each other, through sickness and in health. We promised to stay with each other no matter how difficult the circumstance. I cannot let you go."
Snape bit his lower lip.
"Do you understand me?" Hermione continued in a louder voice. "I am not abandoning you."
Snape took a shaky breath.
"I know your life has not been easy, and I know that you have difficulty trusting people. Please believe me though when I say that I need you in my life, and I will not let you go without fighting for you."
Snape held onto her tighter.
"Please Severus," Hermione pleaded. "Please trust me enough to let me fight for you."
"I will make you a deal," Snape began. "Allow me to see Albus Dumbledore's gravesite, and I will return to you."
"W-why do you want to go there?"
"Because I need to see him for myself."
"There's nothing to see."
"I beg to differ."
"The structure isn't all that interesting. It's a white tomb on the Hogwarts grounds, near the lakeside. There's nothing more to it."
"I need to see it for myself."
Hermione opened her mouth before shutting it again. She released Snape. "You need to make peace with him, don't you?"
The look in Snape's eyes told her everything she needed to know.
Hermione shook in his arms.
"I do not remember how I made peace with his death the first time," Snape answered. "If I ever did make peace with my role in his death."
"I wish I could tell you exactly how you reconciled yourself to the fact that Dumbledore had died, but you completed most of the process before we were married," Hermione answered.
"Did I ever give you any clue as to how I made peace with Dumbledore's death?" Snape asked.
"We didn't discuss it much," Hermione admitted. "From what I understand it was a gradual process which ended the day the day you first held our oldest daughter."
Snape raised an eyebrow.
"You said when you first held her, you'd finally experienced what it was like for someone not to prejudge you. You'd finally found the love which had eluded you your entire life. For the first time, you had a family. You said that was enough to make peace with your past," Hermione replied.
"I'd imagine it was a powerful moment," Snape whispered.
"I only wish I could remember it."
A tear came to Hermione's eye. "You are so beautiful with our children. It is so clear that you love them unconditionally, and they feel the same way towards you."
"I only hope I can be the father they need in the future," Snape answered. "Whether my memory has returned or not."
"It will return," Hermione replied. "Somehow, you will come back to us."
"One can only hope," Severus mumbled.
Silence fell between them.
Snape whispered, "Please let me see the grave."
"I will," she replied. "Though if it's at all possible, I would like for you to come home afterwards, if only so I know you are alright and so I can explain things to you, if you become confused."
He exhaled. "If it is at all possible, I will return."
"Very well then," Hermione choked, "The grave is near the lake. It is raised above the ground. it's hard to miss."
"I'm sure I will find it on my own," Snape answered.
"You will," Hermione whispered.
He gave her a kiss on the forehead. "For whatever it's worth, I am very sure that if I remembered our life together, I would love you."
"I love you too," Hermione whispered.
Snape gave her one last look before strolling over to the fireplace. He threw in the powder and called, "Hogwarts." Then, he stepped inside and vanished.
Hermione's eyes lingered on the spot where he had stood, wondering why she felt as if she had just made one of the biggest mistakes of her life.
"Here we go again," Scorpius muttered.
Professor Flitwick swallowed. "Hopefully, they aren't still looking for Severus."
Scorpius squinted. "Considering that the lead auror is Kingsley Shacklebolt, then I would say your hopes are about to be crushed."
Filius pulled out his wand and sighed. "We can only hope that he stayed home."
"For Rose's sake, I hope so," Scorpius muttered.
Once Kingsley was within a few meters of the castle, he cast a sonoros. "Filius Flitwick, is that you?"
Filius cast a sonoros and opened the window. Despite the spell, his voice remained timid. "Yes, it's me."
"Where is Severus Snape?" Kingsley demanded.
Each of the fifty aurors standing behind him pulled out their wands.
"He is not here at the moment," Filius answered.
"Then where is he?" Kingsley asked.
"I don't know," Filius replied. "Have you tried searching in Spinner's End? He often spends his summer holidays there."
"We've already been there," Kingsley answered. "We could not find him amongst the stores of the newly constructed shopping mall."
"I see," Fillius mused aloud.
Kingsley answered. "We know that he isn't at Spinner's End or St. Mungo's. This is the only other place he could possibly be. We need to arrest him, and we need to do so now."
"Well, I'm afraid that will not be possible," Filius replied, his voice growing in strength. "He is not here."
Scorpius poked his head out of a window to the right of Professor Flitwick.
"Is there a reason you are so dedicated to protecting him?"
Scorpius' eyes grew wide.
"Does it not matter that he killed Albus Dumbledore in cold blood?"
"Dumbledore's murder weighs on my mind quite heavily," Filius admitted. "But I want to ensure that the correct person is arrested."
"Then allow us to arrest Severus Snape," Kingsley ordered.
Filius argued. "Professor Snape is not here, so you need to leave immediately."
Scorpius tapped Professor Flitwick's shoulder. The half goblin turned to him. The blond pointed out of his window.
"We don't have time for your games. Where is Severus Snape?"
"Filius, can you hear me?"
Approaching the group of fifty aurors was a legion of one hundred.
"Where is Severus Snape?"
Kingsley and the other aurors turned to the oncoming aurors.
"Stay right where you are," the leader of the second group repeated.
"What is the meaning of this?" Kingsley demanded.
Scorpius gripped his wand as if it was the only thing standing between his life and his possible death.
"We need you to come back to Whitehall with us," the commander answered.
"Why on earth would we do that?"
"Percy Weasley has requested a special audience with you."
The leader of the second group approached Kingsley. "Percy Weasley, the leader of the Wizengamot, has requested an audience with you."
"When did he gain that position?" Kingsley asked.
"Roughly two years ago."
"In other words, he served under Voldemort."
"No, he has always served the Ministry loyally."
"You are a liar."
"Look, I am only following orders. Please come with us without a fight. If you do not go willingly, then we will take you by force."
Kingsley pointed his wand at the commander. An auror from the second crowd shouted, "Stupefy!"
Kingsley fell to the ground, rigid as a steel beam.
The smaller group of aurors moved in to attack the larger group. Hexes flew. Several missed and sliced off the branches of the nearby trees.
"What the bloody hell is going on?" Scorpius asked.
"I, I wish I knew," Filius answered.
Yelps and wails resounded throughout the Forbidden Forest. Beams of light illuminated the sky.
A bright red glow emanated from the hillside. Within moments, it dissipated.
All went silent and still.
The leader of the second group of aurors panted and stood amongst the paralyzed. She turned to a man beside her.
"Give them the portkeys."
Sixty aurors ran amongst those lying down and thrust varying objects in the hands of the stupefied. One by one, the stunned aurors disappeared.
Filius and Scorpius gave each other a look.
The female auror approached the school. She shouted, "The Ministry is handling the situation to the best of its ability. Hogwarts can rest in peace tonight."
"How exactly would you be handling this situation?" Scorpius demanded.
"That is none of your concern," she replied. "All you need to know is that we are a security force dedicated to protecting you from the amnesiacs."
"Because you've done such an excellent job so far," Scorpius muttered.
Filius shoved Scorpius' chest with his elbow. Scorpius whined and rubbed the area he'd been poked
The woman turned to her cohorts. "Search the premises for any amnesiac victims you find. Try to persuade them to go with you. If they refuse," her voice lowered. "You know what to do."
The aurors saluted her before scattering across the Hogwarts grounds.
Scorpius gulped, wondering why he felt this second group was bound to cause more trouble than the first.