AN: Thank you all for sticking with me! I am deeply appreciative!
I am going to hex the next owl I see.
Severus tore the parchment from the bird's leg. As the paper was dropping to the ground, Severus snapped his fingers. It burst into flames before disintegrating.
He glowered at the owl. After a weak hoot, it flew out the bedroom window.
"Was that another interview request?"
Severus did not need to say a word.
Hermione rolled over, her eyes wide open. "Do you know which one of us they want to harass now?"
"I did not bother to look at the recipient," he answered.
"Just as well," she replied. "I'd imagine it was for me anyway, given that you are supposedly in some high end hotel researching the best divorce attorneys."
He approached her.
She took a shaky breath. "It's stupid, but a part of me had hoped the reporters would allow me a few hours to wrap my mind around what has just happened. My oldest daughter won't speak to me and my husband has allegedly abandoned me. You'd think I could have just a few bloody hours to adjust to this horrendous reality instead of being hounded by every reporter eager for a story."
Severus took a deep breath, "I can try to find a ward which will repel owls. Surely there's one I could find in a spell book."
"If they cannot reach us via owl they will begin sending notes through the floo," Hermione replied. "I am honestly surprised they have not started doing so already."
"At least the floo can be blocked."
"Unfortunately, if we get enough letters and packages, they will only succeed in backing up our network."
Hermione sat up on the bed. The bags under her eyes made her appear decades older than she was, yet there was an inner strength which shown through. "At some point I will give them an interview. They will not leave us in peace until I make some sort of statement."
"What are you planning on telling them?" Severus asked.
She shrugged. "I will think of something."
Severus sat beside her. "I will give an interview, and I will explain my role in this debacle."
"Are you certain that is wise?" Hermione asked.
"Why would it not be wise?"
"Your reputation has been soiled so much through the years. You've been accused of so many things, and so many people misunderstand your true motives. The last thing people need is to believe you are nothing more than some money hungry opportunist."
"People are already set in their opinions of me. Nothing I say or do will ever change their minds."
"I do not want you to appear any worse than you already do in anyone's eyes."
Severus put a hand on her shoulder. "I am the man who killed Dumbledore as well as the dungeon bat. It does not bother me if people believe I am nothing more than a gold digging liar."
"If they fully understood the situation, they would understand how compassionate your choice was," her throat constricted. "At least, I hope someday Rose does."
"As do I," Severus whispered.
Hermione rested her head on his shoulder.
"If I read the latest issue of Daily Prophet correctly, all of Wizarding Britain believes that I am in the process of divorcing you. They are eager to learn of my new address as well as how eligible of a bachelor I am," Severus continued. "I need to put those misconceptions to rest."
"They've probably called me a slut for good measures," she replied.
He kissed her forehead. "You should never be forced to endure another insult again, especially one which is so undeserved."
"I have been called worse than slut."
"You should not have been called that name at all."
"I don't care about what the Wizarding World calls me, but the children…"
Hr rubbed her shoulder.
"To know your children are reading this garbage, to know they're getting this information from a tabloid instead of the parents who love them." A tear trickled down Hermione's eye. "I already know that Rose's opinion of me is quite low, but Victor and Violet…"
He wrapped his arms around her.
"I carried them," Hermione croaked. "I carried Rose, Victor, and Violet inside of me, and to see the look on Rose's face, to know how Victor and Violet must be taking this news…"
The fireplace erupted.
"It's too much," Hermione cried. "It's too much for me. I could take the jeers of the Wizarding World, but my own children? How can I face their disapproval?"
Hermione tore herself away from Severus. He rushed over to the fireplace. "Victor?"
"Yes," he replied. "Violet and I need to speak with you."
Severus turned to Hermione. She sniffed and nodded.
Severus stepped away from the fireplace. "You may enter."
Before him, Victor and Violet materialized.
"Hello," Hermione choked. "It's nice to see you both."
Violet and Victor helped each other dust off the soot from their clothes.
"What do you two need?" Severus asked.
"We need to know exactly what is going on," Violet answered as she and Victor removed their hands from each other.
"Children," Hermione took a deep breath. "This situation is quite complicated. There are things we need to explain…."
Violet interrupted, "Rose told us everything."
"We saw Rose last night, and she explained everything to us," Victor added.
"We thought you deserved a chance to tell your side of the story," Violet answered.
"You did raise us after all," Victor answered. "At the very least you deserve a fair hearing."
"What exactly do you need to hear?" Severus asked.
"Why did you find it necessary to lie to us for so long?" Victor asked?
"We thought we were protecting Rose," Severus began.
"From what?" Violet asked.
"Were you trying to protect her from us?" Violet asked.
"You?" Severus asked.
"Yes," Victor replied. "Did you see us as a threat to Rose?"
Hermione wrung her hands..
"Did you think we would form some type of alliance to disinherit her after you died?" Victor continued. "Did you believe we would look down on Rose for not sharing our exact genetic make up? Did you think we wouldn't love her as an older sister?"
"No," Hermione answered. "No, of course not. We thought none of those things."
"Then why not tell us the truth so we could deal with it together?" Victor asked.
Severus bowed his head. His voice was barely above a whisper. "We did not want Rose to feel unwanted."
"Unwanted?" Violet asked.
"Indeed," Severus replied. "We were afraid that if she knew the truth, she would feel the pain of being unwanted by her biological father."
"So you thought she would care more about her biological father than she did you?" Violet asked.
"I thought she would be hurt by Weasley's rejection. I, I wanted to spare her that."
"How could she have ever felt unwanted with the way you lavish attention on her?" Violet asked. "I mean, Merlin, when I was little I envied Rose because she got to spend hours in the laboratory with you. She was a Daddy's girl, and she reveled in it. How could you ever think that she would feel unwanted?"
"I have done everything in my power to ensure that you have never felt discarded by your biological father," Severus argued. "Rose and I were not so lucky though. Neither of our biological fathers wanted us. I thought I could spare her that pain."
"You know Rose better than that," Violet argued. "You know she would never give two thoughts to Ronald Weasley. She would only focus on you and your love."
"What do you want us to tell you?" Severus asked. "In the name of love, we made a horrendous mistake."
Victor and Violet remained impassive.
"We believed ourselves to be doing the right thing," Hermione cut in. "Very clearly, we were wrong."
"All we can do now it apologize to you children," Hermione answered. "From the depths of our hearts, we apologize for deceiving you."
"Yes," Severus replied. "We apologize for deceiving you for all these years."
"I know you were trying to do the right thing," Victor replied. "It's all very raw though."
"I would imagine that it is," Severus replied.
"Children," Hermione began. "I understand that you are upset with us, but please know that we love you."
"We are not upset with you," Victor replied. "We're just deeply confused."
"Confused?" Hermione choked.
"Yes," Violet answered. "Confused."
Severus' body went cold.
"You had no faith in your ability to make us feel loved, you had no faith in Rose's ability to handle the truth, and you had no faith in our ability to love our sister despite her lineage," Victor continued. "You are such brilliant parents though. There was no reason to lack confidence in any of those areas. That's why we're confused; we don't understand why you lied to us instead of helping us to navigate the truth."
Hermione's lip quivered.
"The papers are claiming you are on the cusp of a divorce," Victor continued. "Is that true?"
"No," Hermione answered.
"We didn't believe those reports," Violet replied. "Still, it's nice to hear it from your lips."
"I am glad we could put your mind at ease," Severus answered.
"We are too," Victor replied.
For one long strained moment, silence reigned.
"What can we do?" Hermione asked. "What can we do to undo this damage?"
Victor shook his head. "I wish I had an answer for you."
"We never meant to hurt you," Severus cut in. "Surely you must understand that."
"We know that," Violet replied.
"Good," Severus answered.
Violet and Victor glanced at each other.
"We love you," Hermione's voice was strong yet soft. "Please know that we will always love you."
"Yes," Severus added. "We love you children so very much."
"We know you love us," Violet answered. "We love you too."
"Still," Victor replied. "You lied to us for years. It's going to take some time for us to wrap our minds around that."
"So Rose said," Severus replied.
"Indeed, she did say something along those lines," Victor replied.
Hermione gulped. "When you next see Rose, please…please take care of her and send her your love."
"We are doing our best to do so," Victor promised.
"If she needs to speak with us," Severus began. "Please let it be known that we will always be there for her. Any time she wants to meet with us, then we are available."
"When she is ready to hear it, we will relay that message," Victor answered.
"Thank you," Severus whispered.
Victor turned to Violet and put a hand on her back. "Your first class will begin in roughly ten minutes. We need to get you back before then."
"Yeah, I should go," Violet answered.
The siblings turned to their parents. Victor cleared his throat. "We do love you both, even if we deeply disagree with what you've done."
"If we could take it back, we would," Severus replied.
"Unfortunately, that is not an option," Victor answered.
"No," Hermione admitted. "It is not."
"I love you Mum and Dad," Violet answered. "All of us love you, including Rose."
"Thank you," Hermione answered.
"It will take time to work though this though," Victor admitted. "It's going to take quite a bit of time."
"I know," Hermione whispered.
With that, Victor reached into a pot and pulled out a handful of floo powder. He threw it into the fireplace.
Hermione crumpled onto the bed and wept.