Disclaimer: J.K. owns Harry Potter. I just torture Snape.

A/N: This is a short oneshot that shows Severus helping Aurora cast her Patronus successfully, while learning something important about one another. I hope you enjoy it. :D

Shouldn't Have to Understand

Severus Snape brushed back his long raven locks, frowning as he read the morning paper at the kitchen island. Aurora had yet to wake up, but then again the witch had it in her contract that she was not expected to be up at the crack of dawn for breakfast. He turned the page grumpily. The Daily Prophet's reporters wrote four pages of worthless crap on the upcoming elections. He couldn't care less which was the better liar of the five candidates. The Minister of Magic was always an idiot.

He then snorted when he caught the large advertisement for Celestina Warbeck's new album. No doubt he'd find himself in some shop with Aurora to purchase it. Though, he'd admit that the singer could carry a tune rather nicely. More than a few times, he found himself humming to one of her songs. Of course, he'd always deny it when Aurora caught him.

Once more he turned the page and quickly tossed down the paper a moment later. He couldn't believe the rubbish that was allowed to be published these days. He glared off at the wall, frowning. Honestly, there was no need to see that sort of . . . vulgarity in a paper read by thousands.

Arms then wrapped around him, causing him to stiffen at the unexpected contact. He, however, relaxed when he felt a kiss pressed against his cheek and the familiar tickling of Aurora's curls. He wondered when she had awoken.

"Morning," she whispered, walking around him.

"So it would seem," he drawled, watching her as she sat beside him.

"It's a good thing we have the day off from classes. I'm not quite sure I'd be willing to teach the students tonight. They've seem a bit lost in their thoughts lately. I doubt you've noticed that in your class, though, right?" she teased, reaching her for the cup of tea that popped in.

"They certainly attempted to be their usual selves. It, however, has yet to work for them." He then turned himself around in his chair to glance towards their children's rooms. The doors were still closed luckily. "What are your plans for today?"

"Well, I." She then laughed awkward, gently rubbing a hand to the back of her neck. "I don't exactly have plans. I know the kids are heading up to Gryffindor Tower for the day, but that's all I know." She gave him a soft smile, glancing down at her cup and lightly tracing the edge of it.

"Surely you have an idea, though."

"Well, yes, but it's not as if I can do it."

"Oh?" he replied, staring at her. "And just what is this idea you had planned?"

"I was thinking of something along the lines of . . ." She laughed nervously again, refusing to meet his gaze. Clearly whatever she was thinking made her embarrassed.

"Yes?" he drawled, gently reaching across the table and cupping her chin so she'd look into his eyes. "You were thinking of . . ."

"It's stupid."

"Are you wishing me to shag up and down the castle?"

"Merlin, no," she cried, laughing when he smiled. "No, Severus. That was most definitely not what I was thinking about at all."

'Then it's not stupid. Please, Aurora, tell me. I'm open to suggestions."

"Don't you have something you need to brew?"

"Nothing that is of dire need," he replied, frowning at her. When she still refused to speak, he sighed, shaking his head. With a half-teasing smirk, he added, "Aurora, don't make me use my Legilimency on you."

"I want to cast the Patronus Charm successfully."

"Oh." That was not what he was expecting.

"See? It's stupid." She then inhaled slowly. "Forget I even mentioned it."

"No. It's not stupid, Aurora. If you wish to learn, I'd be more than happy to accommodate you."

"You're willing to accommodate me?" She laughed, shaking her head. "I know that it takes time, but I can't even produce a measly shield right."

"Perhaps it is the memory you're using," he responded, pondering that thought. It'd certainly make sense. Most of the time people focused on happy memories that came from getting a puppy. He said nothing when she nodded slowly with a somber look on her face. "May I ask what memory you're using?" He held her look when she glanced up at him.

"The first time I rode a horse," she answered quietly.

"Riding a horse, however, doesn't define you. You'd likely do better choosing the first time you learned about the constellations or becoming Astronomy Mistress. The memory you choose needs to have special meaning to you. It has to be something that would make you smile on your worst day."

"Becoming Hogwarts' Astronomy Mistress was my worst day," she said with a faint smile.

"Even I had a case of the nerves, wondering what the hell I was doing in front of a class of adolescents," he replied, returning her smile.

"It wasn't nerves, Severus."

"Oh?" he responded, feeling extremely curious. "Then what was it?"

"The night before you came to introduce yourself to me and welcome me to Hogwarts, I—well, we'll just say I didn't have a very good mission that night. My entire body hurt like hell, and it took everything in me to keep from staying in bed that day."

"I did not know that." He then cleared his throat, realizing how idiotic he sounded. "I'll admit that I was aware you were wearing a badly applied Glamour, but I was not aware that you were so badly injured, Aurora."

"No. You were a bit more—how shall I put it—shocked that I threw my shirt at you."

"Your state of undress was rather distracting to say the least."

"Yes, as was your happy wand," she stated, laughing. "So, I'm curious now. What memory do you use?" She cocked her head to the side, smiling at him.

"The first time I ever saw Hogwarts," he replied quietly.

"Because for the first time it felt like you were home," she said, understanding him perfectly.

"Yes, that's one reason." He frowned. "I sat next to Lily on the boat. She was so transfixed by it. After a few moments, her eyes lit up with pure joy. She thanked me and actually kissed my cheek. It was the perfect night all in all."

"It sounds like," she quietly responded. She then gave a short laugh. "It's probably why your Patronus takes the doe form. Your memory is heavily rooted in Lily."

"It's not its true form, though," he admitted. "My Patronus transformed into a doe after Lily's death." He drew in a slow breath. "I'm not even sure I know what its true form is. I was still in the process of forming it when . . . you know. Either way, shall we?" he asked, standing again.

"We're going to do it here?"

"If you have another place you'd like to practice, by all means," he stated, holding out an arm.

"No, here's fine." She then inhaled slowly. "Well, perhaps by the lake would be better."

"Planning on tossing me in?"

"No. I just need some fresh air."

He nodded, holding a hand out to her. He said nothing when she walked into his embrace. Slowly, they headed out of the castle, wearing their casual clothes. They walked across the grounds towards the lone boulder at the edge of the lake. It was far enough back from prying eyes.

"Is this far enough or should I erect a bubble around us?" he drawled sarcastically.

"Oh, hilarious, Severus," she said, rolling her eyes. She then stopped in front of him and stared at the lake, watching the waves lap against the beach. "So, what do we do now?"

"Now, we find a memory that works through trial and error."

"We're going to be here forever," she mumbled.

"No we're not. Close your eyes." She rolled her eyes first but as he asked. "What do you see?"

"Black, any more questions?"

"That'll be enough of your sarcasm," he grumbled. "List the first three things that come to your mind that make you smile, only three."

"Meteor showers, a joke, and kisses."

"Name a smell that you associate happiness in your life with."

"Cloves—no, vanilla—no, sandalwood—no—dammit, whatever you smell like," she answered, clearly frustrated by her inability to respond.

"Breathe in," he said quietly near her. "Breathe out." He then repeated it in the same slow tone for several moments before becoming silent. "State something you love to hear."

"My first name when you whisper it."

"Reveal a place you always go to feel safe."

"Your arms," she replied instantly, softly laughing a moment later in embarrassment. "I—"

"Your answer was fine, Aurora," he quietly interrupted. 'There's no need to correct it." He paused for a moment before whispering something very softly under his breath. "When I say your name, you'll recall a memory that brings you great happiness. State it out loud, Aurora."

"You asking if you may court me," she answered, feeling completely relaxed.

"Then we'll use that memory," he said, clearing his throat to end the spell. "You may open your eyes now."

"You—?" she started to say, staring at him with her mouth hanging open.

"It was the quickest option, Aurora. I will not apologize for it. Now, let us begin." He drew in a breath, staring at her for a moment as she returned his gaze with a hard look. "Point your wand towards the lake and say the spell."

"Expecto Patronum," she clearly enunciated, frowning when nothing happened. She repeated it a moment later, grumbling this time at the non-reaction.

"Focus on your memory. Allow that happiness to fill you again." He walked closer, standing directly behind her. "Remember the stars twinkling perfectly above you. Recall how you wore your blue robes over your blouse and skirt. Smell the scent of the asters that I held in my hands for you. Hear the clinking of our glasses as we toasted one another after dinner. Feel the calm breeze gently pass over us as we sat at the top of the tower." He inhaled slowly. "Try it now, Aurora."

"Expecto Patronum," she cast, yelling as she gripped her wand tightly in her hand. Her eyes darkened slightly while the magic flowed through her. A half a moment later, she watched a bright white light gradually emit from the tip of her wand. She stared at it as the light slowly grew, but it fizzled out not too long afterward.

"It's a start," he quietly said.

"Thanks," she replied, snorting as she kissed his cheek.

"Unfortunately, it wouldn't help you in the case of a Dementor attacking, but it's a start."

"I knew it," she mumbled. "I knew you couldn't be that nice."

"If you want nice, go ask the Headmaster. He'll likely give you a lemon drop after every time, which will likely go straight to your hips."

"Excuse me?"

His eyes darted to hers as his words echoed in his ears. He winced instantly before groaning. That was likely the stupidest thing he had ever said. He drew in a slow breath, shaking his head. There were two options before him, so he took the Slytherin approach.

"You are misinterpreting my meaning, Aurora. I do not mean that in a bad way." He could see her tapping her wand against her leg as she stared at him. "Muggles, in fact, believe that women who have wide hips will give birth to beautiful babies. Angel clearly is proof of that." He grimaced inwardly when her eyes hardened as she glared at him. On second thought, perhaps he'd take the Gryffindor approach. "Aurora, I did not mean that to come out like it did. Now, let's—" He growled when she sent a Stinging Hex his way that hit his arse.

"Now we can continue."

"Just remember, witch, that I can do the same," he grumbled.

She only pointed her silver wand towards the lake again before inhaling slowly. "Expecto Patronum," she said before flicking her wrist. Once more, the light slowly filtered from the tip, spreading out a bit more than before. She held her wand out, forcing the spell to remain.

Severus's eyes narrowed as he watched the elongated light slowly form into an indiscernible animal. However, he frowned when the light suddenly vanished prior to its full formation. He glanced towards her, drawing in a slow breath as she recast it. It'd likely take several tries before she produced a corporeal Patronus, but they had all day. His lips quirked upwards as the light quickly morphed itself into its prior shape. It appeared to be getting easier for her. That was a definite good sign.

"What in the hell?" he mumbled under his breath as the wispy silver smoke suddenly began to take shape. It was huge, whatever it was. The large catlike paw with extended claws formed first. He couldn't believe it, but it was nearly the size of his head. The next paw then appeared as though stepping in front of the other. When the slightly flattened cat face appeared, his eyes widened. In fact, he even took a step back from it. Almost as soon as the rest of its body had formed, it sprinted out across the lake, resembling a streak of lightening. He watched it curiously.

However, as soon as it had finished stretching its legs so to speak, it suddenly turned and began rushing towards them. He could almost imagine the long silvery teeth gleaming in the sunlight as the creature approached.

"Aurora—"

Before he could complete his sentence, the panther, he recognized now, barreled head first into him, sending him to the ground with a thud hard enough to take his breath away. The Patronus then stalked up onto him, its front paws on his shoulders to keep him pinned down to the ground. He was grateful it didn't have the full weight of a panther, or his ribs would have been crushed. It studied him for a moment, cocking its head from side to side as if it was curious before licking its lips and yawning. He grimaced as it showed row after row of impressive teeth to him.

"Good kitty," he started to say as it leaned over him. Oh, please don't do what I think you're about to do, he thought. He then grimaced as its face was only inches from his own before it licked him. He could only lay there as it decided to clean every inch of his face. Granted, it wasn't a real panther, so its tongue wasn't wet, but it did leave behind an odd tickling sensation.

"I think it likes you, Severus."

"Yes, so it appears," he mumbled, glaring at it. He sighed in relief when she ended the spell. "As much as it pains me to say this, you should perhaps cast it a few more times." He made no visible reaction when the ethereal panther leapt out of her wand a moment later. This time her Patronus just stared at him before looking back at her. Its head cocked back and forth before stalking towards her and nudging her forward with its nose towards him. "Oh, how lovely, your Patronus is romantic." He then sighed, flicking his ebony wand beside him to conjure his. He nodded towards his doe Patronus when it glanced at him. "I doubt it'll eat you." He said nothing as the silvery doe slowly walked closer to the misty white panther.

When his Patronus nuzzled against hers, he snorted. His lips then upturned as he stared at the graceful animals sharing a cuddle—he couldn't describe it any other way than that. That was something one would never see in the wild.

If he was honest, he'd have admitted that he had assumed her Patronus would have been a jaguar like her Animagus form. A panther, however, he knew showed the depth of her love for him since it was his form. He snorted again, shaking his head gently when her Patronus licked his doe. Even her Patronus was full of love and acceptance. A frown quickly passed over his features as a thought crossed his mind.

After all this time—his marrying Aurora and the birth of their daughter—his Patronus was still Lily's doe. He had moved on with his life, hadn't he? He was definitely certain he was in love with Aurora. He was also fairly certain that he had finally come to terms with Lily choosing James over him. So, why was his Patronus still a doe? His eyes closed for a moment, bowing his head slightly. He knew it had to hurt her every single time he cast his Patronus to know that somewhere deep within him he still loved Lily immensely. He wished there was some way that he could prove to her that wasn't the case.

His eyes then widened when the doe's image fizzled like a telly that had really bad interference. He glanced towards Aurora, noticing that she too was staring at it. What was happening?

He watched as the corporeal doe morphed into a ball of light. What in the nine hells was going on? He drew in a slow breath, staring at it. Light seemed to drip off it to form feet a moment later. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that his Patronus still had its four legs. Maybe everything was fine. Something just disrupted his magic flow. Yeah, that was probably all it was. However, his frown deepened when he noticed that his Patronus was visibly shorter than it was before as it reformed.

"What in the hell?" he whispered. What was going on?

He then watched the wispy silver feet transform into paws, identical ones to Aurora's. He swallowed, feeling the hollow pit in his stomach enlarge as he realized what was happening. His Patronus was resorting back to its true shape before Lily's death. He felt himself tremble slightly when it fully formed. What had he done? It felt like a punch in the gut, staring at his Patronus now.

"What happened? Severus, why did it do that?"

"Because I love you," he quietly replied, staring at the identical silvery panthers, "not her."

"You didn't have to change it, Severus. I understood."

He glanced away from them to face her. She shouldn't have had to understand. He was her husband. He was supposed to show her in every way he could how much he loved her. This was just the final block. He frowned, shaking his head. His Patronus remaining to be a doe likely would have been considered a form of adultery to some. He had set the bar too high, too idealistic. He knew for certain that it made her feel as if she couldn't ever measure up to Lily. But Lily wasn't his. She hadn't been for years, but Aurora was.

"You are my wife, Aurora," he stated, gently grabbing her hands. "I tied my life and heart to you for life." He closed his eyes, drawing in a slow breath. "One year ago, I married you and stated that I loved you in front of everyone."

"Severus—"

"But that Patronus showed everyone that I was lying, including you, though."

"You weren't!"

"I was, Aurora! If I truly loved you more than anyone else, it would have been that panther from the start, not Lily's doe."

"She's a large part of your life, Severus. I under—"

"Don't you understand? You shouldn't have had to, Aurora."

"You don't need to change it to prove to me that you love me, though. I know you do."

He stared at her for a moment, wanting to reply but couldn't. He then sighed, hanging his head silently. Nothing he did could have proved it more than that action. He loved her more than anyone else, including Lily. It was something that he knew needed to be done, as painful as it was. He gently reached out, wrapping his arms around her to feel her against him. He then glanced over her shoulder towards the two silvery panthers that stared at them curiously. Holding her, he knew they'd be all right.

A/N: Thanks for reading. :D