Now That Your Rose Is In Bloom

Chapter 96

AN: Thank you all for the support! It is deeply appreciated!

"What do I say to her?"

Hermione twirled her spaghetti around her fork, her eyes fixed on the man across the table.

"How am I supposed to act around her?"

Hermione stopped. "I suppose, Severus, you act naturally."

"How do I do that?" he asked.

"You're her father. You know what to do."

"Do I?"

"You can read Rose better than anyone. Sometimes I swear you use legilimency on her."

"Rose is not that difficult to read, at least," Severus' voice was quieter. "At least not most days."

Hermione took a bite of her spaghetti. Severus picked up his dinner roll, only to set it down a few seconds later.

"You know me," Severus' voice was barely audible. "I have a nasty habit of saying and doing the most idiotic things imaginable when emotions become involved. What if in the heat of the moment I say something to alienate our daughter?"

"First of all," Hermione dabbed her mouth with a napkin. "You do not say idiotic things around the children. In your interactions with our children you are always the caring father."

"That do not perceive me as that anymore."

Hermione placed her napkin on her lap. "Rose cried into your arms the last time she saw us. She sees you as her loving dad."

"Our reconciliation seems tenuous at best," Severus answered. "While she did apologize to us, it does not change the fact that we hurt her deeply."

"I know."

"I want nothing more than to have the kind of relationship I had with Rose before all of this occurred, but I fear that I will only stand in my own way."

"Rose may have the same fears."

Severus raised an eyebrow.

"Rose is confused now," Hermione answered. "She still sees us as her parents, but she's still trying to discern what that means in light of her biology. I am sure that deep down inside she fears saying which will upset and alienate you."

"I could never abandon my children," Severus replied. "I will do everything in my power to remain in their lives. I will always want and love them."

"See, that is exactly what Rose needs to hear," Hermione answered. "That's what all of our children need to hear."

Severus deflated. "I don't know if I will be quite as eloquent speaking to them as I am now."

Hermione's eyes softened. "When the time comes, you will know what to say."

"Will I?"

She reached across the table and held his hand. "You're their dad. Of course you'll know what to say."

He exhaled.

"I have faith in you."

He raised her hand and kissed it. "What did I do to deserve a wife as amazing as you?"

"You proposed," she purred.

Severus grinned. "What a brilliant move."

"Master! Mistress!"

Severus turned to the elf and dropped Hermione's hand. "What do you need?"

"There is a strange man at the fireplace," the elf replied.

Severus glanced at Hermione. She shrugged.

He returned his attention to the elf, "Tell him we do not want whatever he is selling."

"Tilly doesn't think he wants to sell master anything."

"Then tell him he has the wrong floo," Severus replied.

"But the man wants to discuss Little Rose," Tilly answered.

Severus leapt. "Why did you not mention that in the first place?"

"Because he isn't Neville or a Malfoy."

Hermione cocked her head. "Who else would want to speak to us about Rose?"

"Tilly doesn't know."

Severus cursed under his breath and stormed out of the room.

Tilly cowered. "Are Master and Mistress angry with Tilly?"

"No, we are very happy you told us someone was at the floo. In fact," Hermione winked. "I think you deserve a piece of chocolate cake."

Tilly's eyes glistened. "Oh thank you Mistress!"

Hermione strolled out of the dining room, making sure to pat Tilly on the head before exiting. As she made her way towards the library floo, she could hear her husband's voice growing louder.

"Why in Merlin's name would I consider allowing you within five kilometers of my mansion?"

"Because I need to discuss some things with you."

A chill ran up Hermione's spine. Why in Merlin's name would he call?

"There is nothing for us to discuss," Severus argued. "Goodbye."

"Professor Snape, please listen."

Severus stomped away from the fireplace.

"Please listen to me…"

"Severus is that?"

"It is."

Hermione stared at the fireplace.

"Professor Snape, please, I need to speak with you and Hermione about Rose."

Hermione took a step in the direction of the fireplace.

"Love, there is no need to allow him to harass you any further."

"No, but, what if he isn't here to do that?"

"Of course he is here to harass us. He has been doing that for years. Why would things change now?"

"Please, answer the floo."

Hermione crept towards the fireplace. "I need to hear what Arthur has to say."

"Why?"

"Because he may have contacted Rose, and if he did we need to know exactly what he told her."

Severus blanched. "Rose, she would have told us if he had contacted us, would she not have?"

"She may not have had time," Hermione answered. "For all we know he contacted her tonight, and she hasn't told us because she thought we were busy."

Severus swallowed. "Fair enough."

"Please, listen to me."

Hermione continued towards the fireplace. "Arthur?"

"Hermione?" he asked.

She poked her head into the flames. "Say whatever you need to say quickly so we can resume our dinner."

"I didn't mean to interrupt your meal," Arthur began.

Severus stood behind Hermione, his arms folded over his chest.

"I thought about writing you two. A few times I drafted a letter, but I couldn't find the right words," Arthur began.

Severus tapped his foot.

"It goes without saying that we all know I am Rose's grandfather."

"You are not her grandfather," Severus growled. "Wilford Granger is her grandfather, not you."

"I know I had no hand in raising her…"

"For good reason."

"True, but I would like to thank you for raising Rose."

Severus' eyes bulged.

"I hate what happened between you and Ronald…"

"Nothing happened between me and Ron," Hermione snapped. "He abandoned my unborn child and me. We would have lived on the streets had Severus not come and saved is."

"Nothing can justify his actions," Arthur answered.

"At least we can all agree on that," Hermione replied.

"Still, Rose deserved to know the truth about who she was," Arthur began.

Severus made a fist and bit his tongue.

"We have always been honest with Rose," Hermione replied. "From the very beginning we told her that Severus was her dad, and he is."

"Yes, of course he's her dad. I will never deny that," Arthur answered.

"Then what is the point of this floo call?" Severus demanded.

"I needed to tell you that regardless of what happens," Arthur began. "I do appreciate everything you've done for Rose."

Severus huffed, "What do you mean by 'regardless of what happens?'"

"I don't know," Arthur answered. "I don't know what Rose is going to do with the information that I'm her grandfather."

"Has she contact you?" Hermione asked.

"No," Arthur admitted. "But I contacted her tonight."

Severus' stomach plummeted.

"Why would you do that?" Hermione demanded.

"I only wanted her to know that I am available for her if she needs me."

Hermione and Severus were silent.

"For Rose's sake, I need to let you know that I respect your positions in her life. Severus Snape is her dad, and I will not deny it," Arthur continued.

"Why are you contacting us to tell us this?" Hermione asked.

"Because," Arthur took a deep breath. "Because I need to make it clear to everyone going forward that I will never ask Rose to choose between her family and mine."

"Where did this sudden sense of magnanimity originate?" Severus snapped.

Hermione scratched her arm.

"You cannot undo the damage you and your son have caused my family, so why both contacting us?" Severus continued.

"I need to know that I've done everything possible to make peace."

"There it is," Severus snapped his fingers. "This has little to do with Rose, but everything to do with making you appear to be the martyr. You want to run to the world and tell them all about how the big bad Snapes are tormenting you again. The truth about what your family has put us through matters little so long as you get sympathy from those around you."

Hermione's expression was as hardened as that of her husband.

"No, this has nothing to do with pity," Arthur answered. "I am very aware that I am the one who abandoned Rose, not either of you."

Hermione's lips twitched.

"Over the last few weeks, I've realized that my life needs to change. I need to stop playing the victim, be grateful to those who do good to me and to apologize for the wrongs I have committed." Arthur took a deep breath. "In that spirit, I deeply apologize to both of you."

The Snapes' expressions remained unchanged.

"Hermione, I am so sorry for making your pregnancy with Rose a living nightmare. I insulted you at every opportunity and cared little for how stress affected your pregnancy. When Ron first told me that he was Rose's father, I refused to admit that his motives for wanting Rose were less than pure. For that, I am deeply sorry."

Hermione bit her lower lip.

"Severus," Arthur cleared his throat. "I apologize for not respecting your role in Rose's life. I was so blinded by the possibility of another grandchild I did not take into account what was best for Rose."

"What was best for Rose?" Severus asked.

"You," Arthur whispered.

Severus blinked.

"From the second trimester of Hermione's pregnancy onward, you were her dad, Severus. You were the one changing her nappies and cuddling her at night, not Ronald. I did not acknowledge that fact, but attempted to yank her from your arms. For that, I deeply apologize."

Severus swallowed.

"Nothing I say can undo the damage I've caused, and if you chose not to make peace with me I understand. Still, I do apologize for my actions, and," Arthur's voice was stronger. "Thank you both for raising a wonderful daughter."

"You do not need to thank us for raising our daughter," Severus replied.

"No," Hermione added. "You do not."

Arthur took a deep breath.

"I cannot say," Hermione cleared her throat. "I cannot say that my husband and I will ever enjoy your company."

Arthur bowed his head.

"Still, I appreciate the apology," Hermione answered.

"As do I," Severus added.

"Thank you," Arthur whispered.

"Do you want anything else from us?" Severus asked.

"No," Arthur answered. "Thank, thank you for listening."

"Thank you for speaking with us," Hermione replied. "Let's hope that despite the differences between your family and ours, we will always do what is best for Rose."

"Yes," Severus added. "Let's hope that every member of your family respects Rose's needs."

Arthur gulped. "Indeed."

With that, the flames in the fireplace died.

"What agenda does he have?" Severus muttered.

"I don't know," Hermione replied. "He seemed sincere though."

"Yes," Severus admitted. "He did, which only makes me all the more suspicious that he wants something."

"Perhaps he just wants a relationship with Rose, and wants to make sure the feud between our families won't interfere with that."

"Hopefully it is that simple," Severus muttered.

Hermione embraced him. "Thank you."

He wrapped his arms around her. "For what?"

"For helping me get through this. I couldn't do any of this without you."

He kissed her on the top of the head. "I couldn't get through any of this without you either."

They gazed into each other's eyes, drawing on the others' strength.

Perhaps they could get through this after all.