AN: Thank you again for everything! It is deeply appreciated!
The moonlight illuminated the marble structure. For a moment, Rose thought she saw it glisten, but she was certain it was only an illusion. The White Tomb, while beautiful, was nothing more than a monument to a man with morals which were at best questionable, at worst reprehensible. It should not be beautiful enough to glisten.
Rose passed by the memorial without a second thought. A few meters later though, she couldn't help but notice her father's wand was no longer lodged into her back.
She spun around. Dad's gaze was transfixed on the White Tomb.
His voice was barely above a whisper. "Is this where Dumbledore is buried?"
Rose bowed her head. "Yes."
"It's true then," Severus choked. "I killed Dumbledore."
Rose opened her mouth, but no words escaped.
"I am nothing more than a murderer."
"That is not true. You…"
He held up his hand. Rose grew silent.
"I killed the one person I respected above all others," Snape continued.
"He did little to earn that respect," Rose replied.
"So you say."
Rose approached him. "Dad, I know you are extremely confused, but we need to leave soon."
Snape remained rooted in place.
"The aurors are coming…"
"That matters little to me."
"Excuse me?" Rose exclaimed. "I've spent the last ten minutes pretending to be your hostage, and your freedom means nothing to you now?"
"I am not concerned about my freedom, not anymore," Snape answered.
"Then why did you fight back against the aurors?"
"I fought for you."
Snape nodded. "If you were not present I would not have resisted them, but you still need a father in your life. For that reason alone, I fought against the aurors."
To a casual observer, Snape would have appeared emotionless. As someone who had grown up under his care though, Rose could see the melange of emotions in his eyes.
"What does my needing a father have to do with your freedom?" Rose asked.
"You should not be forced to endure watching your father be arrested before your eyes."
"True, I would prefer not to have a dad who is imprisoned for a crime he had been exonerated from."
"No, you should not."
Rose darted a look towards the edge of the Hogwarts grounds.
"You deserved a much better father than me," Snape answered.
"How could you say that?" Rose demanded. "You, you've been my inspiration and my biggest supporter. How could you ever believe that I deserve a better dad than you?"
"I destroy things," Snape pointed to Dumbledore's grave. "When I care about someone, I destroy them."
"No," Rose answered. "That is not true. Deep inside, you know that."
"Do not over idealize me. Nobody else has."
"I am not over idealizing you. I see you as that loving dad you are, not as some monster."
"I never deserved a child," Snape replied. "I don't deserve something as beautiful and wonderful as a child, especially a child as special as you."
"Yet here I am," Rose answered.
"Indeed," Snape replied.
"Did you," Rose swallowed. "Did you ever want children?"
Snape said nothing.
"Dad, please, tell me, did you ever want children?"
"I did not believe I would survive the war, so the question rarely crossed my mind."
"That does not answer my question."
"I suppose it does not."
Rose stared at him.
"No," Snape shook his head. "I could never imagine myself with a child."
"Oh," Rose muttered.
He gave her a small grin. "Clearly, I changed my mind in the years following the war."
"Indeed," Rose replied. "I suppose accidentally impregnating a woman would change your worldview."
Snape hummed, "Indeed."
The cool wind brushed against Rose's robes. She shivered. "Why did you not want children?"
"I said I could not envision myself with a child," Snape answered. "I never said I did not want children."
"Fine," Rose replied. "Why could you not envision having a child?"
"On the surface it would appear that I simply hated children, and there is a grain of truth to it. Truly, I cannot tolerate teenagers. The idea of coming home to one was not appealing in the least."
"I suppose I can understand. Merlin knows after mediating a dispute over a dunderheaded boyfriend I am ready to pluck out every last one of my hairs."
"Then you understand me."
"To a certain degree, yes."
"In addition to my disdain for teenagers, my biggest reason for not wanting children was the idea that said child would be another person who would turn against me."
"How could you ever believe that my siblings and I would turn against you?"
"I, I have never experienced unconditional love, at least not until this moment apparently."
She gave him a small grin.
"A child would discover who I was, and by extension, who she was. She would learn about my life as a Death Eater, and would be horrified at the actions I took in order to spy for Dumbledore. I could not inflict that kind of knowledge onto another human being. I would rather be unloved than outright hated, hence my rationale for never desiring children," Severus answered.
"But you are a hero."
"According to you, yes."
"No, everybody thinks you are a hero. Even Neville Longbottom thinks you are a hero."
Snape snorted. "He needs to find a subject to excel in other than herbology. If he believes I am a hero then he has been inhaling too many spores as of late."
"I highly doubt that. For the most part he is correct in matters such as this," Rose replied.
"Longbottom is hardly correct about anything."
"He has become much wiser since you've last seen him."
"Well, he could not have become much more of a dunderhead anyway."
Snape rubbed her shoulder. "You deserve a better father than me."
"You are an excellent father," Rose argued.
"So you have said," Snape answered.
Snape released her.
Rose licked her drying lips. "What would have made you change your mind about becoming a father?"
In a voice just above a whisper, Snape answered, "Nothing short of my child's conception."
"No. Nothing short of impregnating a woman would have changed my mind regarding children."
"Why would that have changed your mind?"
"For one, it would not be fair to deny a child love. Your conception was beyond your control. It would not be fair to deny you my love based on my fear of rejection Secondly, it is selfish, but at least for a few years, I would desire to be loved."
Snape sighed. "You should not be aware of any of this. All you need to be concerned with is that you are loved and very wanted."
"If you accidentally impregnated Mum though, how could I be wanted?"
He gave her a small smile. "Sometimes one does not know what he truly wants until it is standing right before him."
Her expression lightened. "Fair enough."
A twig cracked.
"We need to get to the apparation point," Rose began. "Unless you are willing to turn yourself in."
"The prospect of a stay in Azkaban is becoming less and less appealing to me by the minute."
"Then we will need to move quickly."
They strode to their destination.
"Thank you for your help again, Rose."
"How could I not help my own dad?"
The pain evaporated from Snape's eyes.
"When Mum asks where you are," Rose began. "What should I tell her?"
"Tell her," Snape replied. "Tell her that I could not tell you where I was going for fear you would be interrogated. Still, I have a safe place which is quite some distance from here. We will be together soon enough."
"Are you certain of that?" Rose asked.
"If she does not find me, then I will find a way to return to her," Snape promised.
"I will be sure to let her know then," Rose answered.
Snape backed away from her.
"I do love you."
Snape kissed her forehead. "You are a most excellent daughter."
With a POP he was gone.