AN: Thank you all for the support! It is deeply appreciated!
I am a fraud.
I wasn't supposed to be a Slytherin, much less the head of the house. I wasn't supposed to be a potions mistress, much less teaching the art at Hogwarts. I wasn't supposed to be a Snape at all!
Rose curled up in a dark corner of her room, her head buried between her legs. Her body was racked with sobs.
How can I go into class knowing I have no business there? How can I face my Slytherins knowing I am not meant to be one of them? How can I interact with Dad knowing I am not his daughter?
Rose was seven years old when she'd brewed her first potion.
Correction, she added the already cut ingredients the cauldron. Then, she used her father's wand to stir the concoction. Still, she remembered the gleam in his eyes as she twirled around in her black robes, holding the boil cure in her hands.
It remained one of her most cherished memories.
What would Dad say if he knew the truth about me? Would he be horrified that he allowed a bastard anywhere near his lab? Would he be infuriated that he wasted so much time on a child who wasn't his? Would he love me anyway?
"It was the eyes, Rose."
Rose snorted. Why did she tolerate Rita's drivel?
"Your dad wanted to look at Harry before he died because he wanted to see Lily's eyes one more time," she continued.
"Thank goodness he now has more pleasant people to see," Rose muttered.
"Isn't it the most romantic thing you've ever heard?" Rita exclaimed.
"Personally, I think helping a beloved spouse through a battle with cancer is far more romantic," Rose replied. "Yet that is only my personal preference."
"Sure that's romantic, but to sacrifice your life for someone, to spend decades atoning for some mistake..."
"Am I here to give an interview for my recent hiring, or am I here to listen to you drone on about some event which occurred over a quarter of a century ago?" Rose snapped.
"I was only putting your heritage into context," Rita noted.
"Perhaps this interview needs to be put into context."
Rose smirked. "Mum and Dad told me your secret."
"Now," Rose leaned back in her padded chair. "Can we please resume this interview, or must I contact The Quibbler?"
Rita cursed under her breath as she pulled her notepad out of her pocket.
Once the truth was revealed, how will Dad react to seeing me eyes? They are icy blue, not brown like the rest of the family. My feet are huge, much too big for any respectable Snape. Then there was my lankiness in high school. I've seen pictures of her parents at thirteen. Neither of them had limbs as long as mine, nor did they report tripping over their own feet.
Why must my feet be so abominably big?
"It's not fair, Daddy."
Dad sat on the sofa beside Rose. "What is not fair?"
Tears filled the child's eyes. "Victor and Violet look just like you, but I don't."
Dad touched her shoulder.
"I want to look like you too," Rose continued.
"Why do you want to look like me?"
"Because you're amazing."
"I would not call myself amazing, and my appearance leaves much to be desired."
"No, you're handsome. Mummy even said so."
"Your mother is in desperate need of an optometrist."
"No she isn't."
Dad rubbed her back.
"Everyone talks about how much Victor and Violet look like you, but nobody ever says the same about me."
"That's because they have not seen you scowl."
"No, I don't scowl at guests," she admitted. "You told me not to."
"I did, and I am very pleased that you are able to keep your temper as well as you do."
"I know, but since Victor and Violet look so much like you then you must like them better."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Whatever would give you that idea?"
"Because children are supposed to look like their parents, and if they don't look like their parents then there's something wrong with them."
"Who put that idea in your head?"
"Nobody," Rose whimpered. "I just thought of it when Luna came over and started talking about how much Violet reminded her of you. She didn't say the same about me. Nobody except you and Mum ever say that I look like you."
"You look very much like me," Dad answered. "You have my long fingers, and our facial expressions are almost identical."
Rose stared at him.
"Oh Little One," Severus pressed her against his chest. "You are perfect just as you are. Never let anyone tell you otherwise."
"Okay," Rose muttered. "I won't."
Severus kissed her on the forehead. "I love you so much."
Rose sniffed. "I love you too."
Rose took a shaky breath. Of course Daddy loves me, but does he love me unconditionally? Until now he loved me because he thought I was his flesh and blood. Now that the truth was revealed, will he still love me, or would he see me as a mistake? Does he still want to be me father, or will he be too enraged by Mum's betrayal to look at me again?
If I was not so terrified of his reaction to the truth, I could really use one of his hugs.
Rose crept into her parents' bedroom, clinging to Mr. Snake with every step. "Mummy? Daddy?"
Mum moaned as Dad pried open his eyes. "Yes, Rose."
The rain battered the windows as a gust of wind howled.
Rose trembled. "I can't sleep."
Dad groaned. "Why can you not sleep?"
"Daddy, I had the dream again," Rose continued in a weak voice.
Dad sat up. The blanket fell, exposing his bare chest. "Rose, we checked your room for wolves before you fell asleep. There is no reason whatsoever that one should be in your room."
"I think one snuck in," Rose squeaked.
Mum opened her eyes.
The thunder crackled outside. Rose leapt up and screamed.
Dad reached over and picked his wand. Then he cast a lumos. "Rose?"
She cowered and nodded.
Dad swallowed. "Is the storm scaring you?"
"You know that as long as you are inside, you are safe from the storm."
"No, I'm not," Rose answered.
A tree branch hit the window.
"I saw a wolf."
The thunder roared.
"The wolf came in with the storm!" Rose shouted. "It came in, and now it wants to eat me!"
Mum rubbed her eyes. "What would you like us to do for you?"
"Can I sleep in your bed?" she asked.
Before Dad could answer, another clap of thunder resounded.
Dad glanced at Mum. She sighed. "Fine, you can sleep in our bed. Just let us get our clothes on first."
Rose raised an eyebrow. "Why did you take off your clothes?"
"We were hot," Dad answered.
Rose's expression did not change.
While Mum threw her nightgown on, Dad stood and grabbed his nightshirt from the floor. He began to button it up.
Another rumble of thunder filled the room.
Dad extended his arms. "Come here, Little Rose. No harm will befall you."
She threw her arms around him.
I always felt safe when Daddy is near. Even as an adult, I felt stronger knowing he was beside me. He is the bravest wizard I have ever known. After all, only a courageous man would have fought Fenrir on his own just to save one child.
Her stomach plummeted. Dad would not have fought Fenrir if I had not been kidnapped. He'd risked his life for a child that he believed was his, not for some bastard he was tricked into raising.
"Mum," Rose whined.
Mum poked her head out of the pensieve. "Yes?"
"Is there a reason you and Dad insist upon looking at my old baby memories?" the teenager asked.
"What is wrong with looking at your old baby memories?" Mum asked as Dad raised his head.
"It's embarrassing to think that my parents are gushing over me running around the couch naked."
Dad smirked. "Who said we were viewing a memory of you?"
"You always look at my baby memories around this time of year," Rose replied.
"Perhaps this year we changed our minds," Dad pulled Mum closer to him. "Perhaps we were far more interested in watching the events surrounding your conception."
Rose gagged as Dad kissed Mum's neck.
"Yes," Mum purred before turning to Dad. "I believe we were reliving our wedding day, and all the events surrounding it."
Rose let out an exaggerated sigh. "Sometimes, you two lack any decorum."
"Decorum is overrated if you can embarrass your daughter," Dad answered.
Dad and Mum's lips meant again.
Even as Rose rolled her eyes, she could not help but smile. For two people the Wizarding World swore were on the verge of divorce, they were deeply in love.
Rose's stomach clenched. Mum deceived Dad! If Mum hadn't tricked Dad into raising a child that wasn't his he wouldn't have been bitten by a werewolf! If Mum had respected Dad's wish to be left alone then he wouldn't have raised a child he never desired! If Mum hadn't lied then Dad wouldn't be trapped in a marriage with the woman who had betrayed him more deeply than he could have ever imagined!
"What will become of me without her?"
Rose stopped. She hid to the side of the doorway. Perhaps eavesdropping was rude, but Dad had not spoken a word to his children since he and Mum returned from her doctor's appointment. Rose needed to know what was troubling him, if only so she could try and help.
"What will become of me, Lucius?" Dad continued. "Everything good in my life can be traced back to her. She gave me my fortune, my mansion, my apothecary, and most importantly of all, my children."
Lucius' voice was soft. "She may live."
"What if she does not?"
"You cannot think that way."
"How can I not?"
Lucius took another sip of his tea.
"I know the statistics on cancer. I know her odds. They..."
"Who am I without her?"
Lucius was silent.
"We both know who I was before I married her. I cannot fathom becoming that man again. Yet…" Dad's voice cracked. "Who am I without her?"
"You are a loving father who will do whatever he can to provide for all of his children's needs," Lucius replied. "Including their need for love and support."
"How can I do that when I am drowning in my own emotions?"
"You will find a way."
"How? I am no longer able to suppress my emotions. Occluding is too much. Every time I try, the image of her in that hospital room comes into my mind, and I give up on the endeavor."
"I shudder to think of life without her. I am terrified of the day when I wake up alone in my bed and she is gone. I need her," Dad's voice softened. "I never needed anyone before her. I prided myself on my independence, yet here I am, devoted to her."
"You cannot give up on yourself. There is still time to find a cure."
"She is running out of time."
"Yes, but you have accomplished tasks just as daunting as finding a way to slow her cancer."
"In the meantime," Lucius suggested. "Enjoy every moment you can with her. She needs you as much as you need her."
"I will," Dad promised.
Rose snuck away, still at a loss for how to help her father.
Rose made a fist and clenched her jaw. Mum made him need her! She promised him the family he'd never had, only to stab him in the back! She didn't deserve a man as wonderful as Dad!
Then again, if Mum hadn't married Dad, he would have married a dunderhead in order to secure his fortune. Mum would have died if Dad did not seek out a cure for the dark magic within her. I would be stuck with a neglectful dunderhead of a father, never knowing how loved I could be.
Mum knew all of that when she trapped Dad into marriage.
Rose knew what library time after dark meant. If Mum and Dad were in the library, then the children could only enter in the case of an emergency.
Needing another bedtime story constituted an emergency.
She entered the library, but stopped when she saw her parents. They were sitting in chairs across from each other, yet were not touching. Books were in their laps, yet their eyes were fixed on each other.
Even at four, Rose understood something powerful, almost sacred, was transpiring between them. There was such openness, such vulnerability in their expression. Later on in life, she would say they were making love with their eyes.
It was a lie! That expression was a lie! That intimacy was a lie! That devotion was a lie! All of it was based on a lie! Mum had taken a man who did not want children, deceived him, and then molded him into the man she'd always wanted.
Mum had made a mess of Dad's life.
Now it is up to me to clean it up.