AN: So my trip got postponed and work let up a little bit. That gave me time to write this chapter! There won't be any post tomorrow though.
Thank you for all the support! I really appreciate it.
"I don't know what to do, George."
George leaned back in his roller chair and twisted his lower lip. He tapped his finger on the metallic desk. "I wish I knew what to do too, Dad."
"It's all so complicated." Arthur paced from George's desk to the wall and back. "On the one hand, I want nothing more than to go over to Hogwarts and hug Rose. I want to tell her that I'm here for her, and then I want to make up for all of our lost time. Maybe we could watch muggle movies, or go to a Quidditch game, or take a walk in the park, or just talk. I would love to do any one of those things with her, or all of them, or whatever else she'd like."
"But so far she has shown only hostility towards our family," George replied.
Arthur stopped and stared at his son. "Exactly."
George sat up straight. He scratched his chin.
Arthur trudged over to his son's desk. "I just want some time with my granddaughter, but she doesn't want to be within twenty meters of us. What on earth do I do?"
"You might not have to do anything. Maybe she's changed her mind," George noted. "Maybe after learning the truth she will give us a chance."
Arthur's eyes lit up. "Do you think so?"
George sighed. "No."
Arthur shook his head. "Nothing about this is simple. I, I don't even know how to feel right now."
"What do you mean?" George asked.
Arthur took a deep breath. "On the one hand, I would love to hate Severus and Hermione. They kept me from my granddaughter. For years they have called Ron insane for so much as insinuating that he was Rose's father, when the entire time they knew he could be telling the truth."
"Hermione has been downright awful to Ron," George noted.
"Has she?" Arthur asked.
George's frown deepened. "She kept him from his child. How does that not constitute being awful?"
"He abandoned them."
"Maybe at first, but he apologized and wanted Hermione back."
"Right after she married into a fortune and he was facing financial ruin."
"True," George admitted. "His motives may not have been the purest."
"There was nothing pure about his motives," Arthur answered.
"Hermione did what she felt was best for her child, and gave Rose to the man who would actually raise her," Arthur replied.
"Or the man she could trick into raising her," George replied.
"Severus wasn't tricked into doing anything," Arthur answered.
"Of course he was," George's eyes widened. "Hermione told him that Rose was his. He acted on that. She lied to him, thus leading him to raise a child that wasn't his."
"If he truly thought that Rose was his, then why did he refuse to take a DNA test when I asked him to? Why was it time and time again, he was more interested in defending Hermione's honor than he was in whether or not Rose was truly his child?"
"Because he was delusional?"
"No," Arthur argued. "Snape knew how that test would come out. He knew it would say Ron, not him, was the father. That's why he refused to do it. He wanted to raise Rose."
"And legally, nobody else could lay claim on her since he signed the birth certificate," George concluded.
"No, We couldn't do a bloody thing to him and he knew it," Arthur's face reddened. "He cheated me out of my granddaughter's childhood. All of those moments like her first tooth, her first step, her first time flying, and her first trip on the Hogwarts express were stolen by him. He…he…"
George scooted his chair closer to his father, "He?"
Arthur bowed. "He actually raised Rose."
Arthur's face returned to its normal hue. "Ron was too irresponsible to raise a child. Once he walked away, Hermione needed to find a man who would raise Rose. Snape stepped up. When we abandoned Rose, he was there for her."
George took a deep breath. "Yeah, he did stand by her when nobody else would."
"Rose," Arthur choked. "For all of Snape and Hermione's faults, they raised an excellent daughter. She is happy and healthy. For that, I cannot hate them, nor can I be too enraged with either of them."
Both men looked at each other, unsure of what next to say.
"How do you think she's reacting to the news that Snape isn't her father?" George asked.
"I would imagine she's in quite a bit of pain right now. Nobody ever appreciates being lied to, and this is a pretty big lie," Arthur answered.
"Having your paternity exposed to the whole Wizarding World like that, " George folded his hands. "It was cruel and needless. Percy should have kept things private."
"I'm not quite sure why he felt the need to turn this into a public spectacle," Arthur replied. "But that doesn't matter. All that matters is that you have a niece, and I have a granddaughter."
"Somehow, we need to welcome her into the family."
"Assuming she wants anything to do with us."
"Yes, assuming she wants anything to do with us."
Only the ticking of the clock on the wall could be heard.
"Should I write her?" Arthur asked.
"No," George replied.
Arthur's lower lip quivered.
"I don't know Rose personally, but from what I hear she is very much like Snape. The second she feels coerced into doing something is the second she will become defiant," George answered. "If we want to incorporate her into the family, we must do so carefully."
"Agreed," Arthur replied.
George locked eyes with his father. "We need to shut Mum up."
"Yes," Arthur wrung his hands and glanced at a speck of dirt on the ground. "We need to ask your mum to welcome Rose into the family."
"No," George made a fist.
"You cannot be pussywhipped about this anymore. Mum hasn't said a kind thing about Rose since her conception. Rose won't forget the insults thrown her way, nor will she forget the way we've treated her parents," George argued.
"If you want Rose in your life, then it's about bloody time you stand up to Mum and tell her where to stick it."
George pounded his fist on the desk. "No, you either keep her quiet or lose Rose again. There is no third option."
Arthur straightened his posture. He raised his head. "You're right. Your mum and Ron have taken enough from this family. I need to prevent them from taking anymore."
"That's more like it," George cheered.
Arthur cleared his throat. "Regardless of what happens with Rose, it's about time I make some changes in my life. It is time that I start reasserting myself and start fighting for what's best for the family. No more excuses. I need to lead this family instead of sitting back and watching atrocious behavior. It's time I behave like a proper patriarch."
George smiled. "I'm glad to hear that."
The fireplace erupted.
"Yes," Arthur answered. "Things are finally going to change."
The younger redhead's heart stopped.
"Oy George, where are you?"
George stood and clenched his jaw. He stalked over to the fireplace.
"George," the figure held up a newspaper. "Have you read the paper?"
"I have, Ron," George replied.
"Isn't it great?" Ron exclaimed. "The greasy git has been exposed. Percy finally proved that I'm not crazy."
"You're right, you aren't crazy," George replied. "Just a deadbeat."
Ron frowned. "I'm not a deadbeat. Snape kept me from Rose. He stole her."
"Severus Snape didn't steal a thing from you."
Ron's eyes grew.
Arthur motioned for George to step to his left. He did so.
"Dad, uh what are you doing here?"
"I was discussing Rose with your brother," Arthur answered.
"Isn't it great that she's been exposed as a Weasley?" Ron asked.
"I am very glad to know that she is my granddaughter," Arthur answered. "I only wish I had known that fact twenty-six years ago."
"I tried to tell you, but nobody would listen," Ron replied.
"We did listen," Arthur answered. "The problem is you had already claimed that Rose couldn't have been your child."
"Well I was wrong," Ron replied.
"What was wrong was you abandoning Hermione."
"That may not have been my wisest move…"
"How could you abandon her?"
Ron closed his mouth.
"How could you abandon the mother of your child? How could you stand by and let another man raise your daughter? How could that precious child be nothing more than a cash grab to you?" Arthur demanded.
"I was really scared about being a father," Ron argued. "I may have made a few mistakes because of that."
"Mistakes?" Arthur spat.
"A mistake is when you drive a flying car to Hogwarts. A mistake is when you explode a cauldron. A mistake is when you step on a woman's foot while dancing. This though…" Arthur shook. "How could you allow Hermione to marry Severus knowing Rose was your daughter?"
"I didn't know if Rose was mine at first."
"Don't lie to us!"
Ron turned to George. His brother's expression was just as hardened as his father's.
"Do you have any idea what your lies and irresponsibility have cost this family?" Arthur demanded.
"I know you didn't get to help raise Rose…." Ron stuttered.
"I've barely seen her over the past quarter century," Arthur snapped. "I have only gotten glimpses of my own granddaughter because you tossed her aside like she was a duplicate chocolate frog wrapper."
"Do you have any idea how she dresses?" Arthur asked.
"I think Hermione mentioned her wearing all black once," Ron squeaked.
"She's a miniature version of Snape," Arthur answered. "She dresses and acts just like her father."
"No, she isn't like her father at all. If, if she was like her father she'd play Quidditch."
"You aren't her father."
"But the DNA spell says…"
"You're a sperm donor at best, but you are not the man who raised her. You will never be her dad."
"I can be a dad to her," Ron argued. "I, I can make this right."
"No, you can't," Arthur retorted. "Nothing you say or do can make this right."
"What do you want me to say then?" Ron demanded. "I'm really, really sorry. I should've used a contraceptive spell."
Arthur shrieked. "Are you saying that your daughter shouldn't have been born?"
"I don't know what the hell happened to you, but this is not how I raised you. You know better than this. You know better than to do any of this," Arthur retorted.
"I know," Ron choked. "I am going to undo this."
Arthur snorted. "How do you plan to make this right? Short of using a time turner and preventing Snape and Hermione from ever reconnecting, there isn't much we can do about this situation now. All we can do is live with it."
"Rose, she'll come to us," Ron promised. "She'll get curious about us, and she'll have to speak with us."
"Or so we hope," George cut in.
"We will always be here for Rose," George continued. "We will try our best to make up for your abandonment."
"Look, I'm really sorry, I really am," Ron whined. "I can't make this go away though."
"For once, we agree," George answered.
"I need support from you. We need to get through this together," Ron argued.
"If Rose wants to meet you, then we will support her," George answered.
"Okay yeah, but that's like supporting me, right?"
Arthur and George glared at him.
"Look, you'll see, I'll be a great father," Ron promised.
"No, you won't be," George replied. "At best you'll be okay."
"Have a little faith in me," Ron answered. "I can do this. I can be a great dad."
"How on earth do you even plan on doing that?"
"I don't know, but uh, I'll think of something. Now that Rose knows we're related so want nothing more than to have a real dad."
"Have you not been listening to a thing we've been saying? She already has a dad."
"Well she's about to get a better one."
"Thank you for calling. Perhaps we'll chat later," George answered.
Ron turned to Arthur.
"Good bye Ron," Arthur replied. "Just goodbye."
With that, they stepped away from the fireplace. Moments later, the flames died. Then, Arthur and George looked at each other.