AN: Hello again everyone! Yes, I know I'm supposed to be getting ready to move to Chicago, packing, looking up classes, and all that good stuff...but a couple of weeks ago I noticed that on Kiss From a Rose had 2000 reviews! WOW! All I can say is THANK YOU! I never expected to hit that many. Thanks again! I really wanted to thank everyone for reviewing and sticking with that story, so I decided to write a little one shot to celebrate! Now, before those of you who haven't read KFAR walk away, I do think this stands on its own, so if you feel so inclined, please give it a chance. As for those of you who have read KFAR, this is a deleted scene of sorts. I thought about putting a scene like this in, but I didn't want to drag out the ending. In celebration of 2000 reviews though, I've decided to go ahead and write it down. I hope everyone enjoys, and thanks so much for the support you've given me thus far. I truly appreciate it!
Also, a special thank you to Heartmom88 for editing this and to Marianne Le Fey for Britpicking.
I don't own anything you'd recognize.
"Victor, please give me that." Rose reached across a nearly-completed turret for the seashell in Victor's hand.
Victor looked possessively at the slightly chipped sand dollar. He'd never seen or heard of anything like it before. It was fascinating. "No."
"But Victor, it's my drawbridge!" Rose argued.
"Can you use a different shell for your bridge, Rose?" Hermione tried in vain to diffuse the growing tension between her toddlers.
"No, Mummy! It's the only one that fits!" Rose protested.
"My shell!" Victor squealed, scooting away from his sister in a perfect crab imitation.
"Oh look, Victor! See this one?" Hermione distracted her son with a pretty pink conch. Victor reached out for the treasure with wide-eyed wonder.
"And how about this one?" Hermione extended a white scallop in exchange for the sand dollar, which she slid behind her back into her husband's waiting grasp.
"Why don't you and Victor go on a seashell hunting expedition?" Severus smiled as he handed the sand dollar to Rose. "I think I saw some big ones just beyond that sand dune. I can stay with Rose and help her finish her castle."
Hermione exchanged a look with Rose, whose eyes pleaded with her mother for a little respite. "I think that's a brilliant idea. Victor, let's see what we can find down the way."
Hermione kissed her daughter on the forehead before taking Victor by the hand.
Together they strolled along the shore, stopping every now and then to pick up and examine a new find.
"Does it look like Hogwarts yet, Daddy?" Rose pulled Severus' attention back to the task at hand.
"You're still missing the Astronomy Tower," he replied. "It should go right there."
Rose enthusiastically scooped another mound of damp sand and moulded it into a pile which, if one squinted, vaguely resembled the missing tower.
A few yards away, the ocean hummed and splashed as the waves ebbed and flowed against the shoreline. Although there were quite a few other beach goers, the area was not at all crowded. Then again, that was part of the plan. They'd hoped that in the middle of May the weather would be warm enough to enjoy the Florida beaches, yet it would be early enough in the tourist season to avoid the crowds. So far, the plan had worked perfectly.
Rose began to hum a tune Aunt Ginevra had taught her as she carved tiny windows into the turret. Severus turned his attention to Hermione and Victor, who had stopped to study a piece of barnacle-encrusted driftwood. He glanced back at Rose in time to see her set a tiny whelk atop the tower like a furled flag. She suddenly stared, puzzling at something in the distance.
"Daddy?" Rose asked.
She turned to him. "Why are you wearing a shirt? None of the other Daddies are wearing shirts."
"My skin will burn in the sun, Rose. The shirt protects it from getting too red."
"Oh," she answered, jamming her fingers into the sand and dragging them through the periphery to create a moat.
Severus flashed her a smile and she smiled contentedly in return, savouring the feel of the cool sand between her fingers.
Although he hadn't lied to Rose about the shirt, Severus hadn't been completely honest with her, either. The garment also hid the numerous scars on his chest and back. It wasn't that he was ashamed of his scars; he just did not relish the prospect of spending his honeymoon entertaining the stares of strangers.
There were times Severus and Hermione had despaired of ever taking a honeymoon. First they needed Rose and Victor to sleep through the night; then they needed them to keep toileting "accidents" to a minimum. Finally when their children reached the ages of three and four, they felt the time was right. While any other couple might have thought it unconventional to take children on a honeymoon, Severus and Hermione couldn't have imagined it any other way. Rose had brought them together; Victor had sealed and symbolized their love. It was only fitting to bring them along.
"Daddy, can you help me dig the moat?"
Severus rolled up his sleeves to keep from soiling the cuffs.
"Daddy!" Rose gasped.
Severus glanced up, alarmed. Rose had abandoned her moat digging to stare with fascination at the mark on his arm. "You have a snake on your arm!"
"Yes, I do," he answered uncomfortably.
Oh Merlin, he thought as Rose looked up at him, her eyes full of innocence and trust. He'd always worn long, buttoned sleeves at home. Of course she'd notice and ask about the dark mark.
"A man gave it to me," Severus answered quietly.
Rose's eyes softened. "You look sad. Did it hurt?"
"A little," Severus admitted.
"When I grow up, I want one just like it!"
"No love, you don't," Severus answered. "Your arm is beautiful just the way it is. This mark has only brought me pain."
"How did it hurt you?" Rose asked.
"When the man who gave it to me wanted to see me, he made it burn."
"Oh," Rose answered. "Does it still burn?"
"Good. I don't think I want one any more." She looked up at him with a bright smile. "We need some more water."
Severus forced a smile. "Indeed we do."
Rose darted towards the shoreline. "Rose!" Severus called.
She stopped in her tracks and looked back expectantly. Severus stood up, her blue handled red bucket in hand. "You need this."
"Oh yes," she giggled.
Severus caught her hand in his and together they walked into the surf.
"Treasure!" Victor announced triumphantly, peering through his toilet roll spyglass.
"Where? Where?" Rose squealed as she scooted from the pillows to the side of the bed, Mr. Snake in hand.
"There!" Victor crowed as he pointed across the room at the collection of sea shells he and Hermione had collected.
"Arrr! We'd better set sail for them, then!"
Severus stood in the doorway that connected their suites, watching as the would-be pirates jumped ship and raced for the treasure.
"No, Victor!" Rose admonished as he reached for a seashell. "You have to dig for it first."
Rose set Mr. Snake on the ground to stand guard as they grabbed imaginary shovels to unearth their booty. Severus chuckled as they jostled each other in their quest, and cheered at their success when they happily gathered their treasure into their arms, Severus wondered how long they'd stay this young, this pure. His heart sank as he imagined them much older…and much more aware of who he was.
"Did they find the treasure?" Hermione asked as she stepped into the doorway.
"It would appear so."
"Good," she replied before stepping inside to announce. "Are my pirates ready for their baths?"
The children turned to her and chorused an emphatic "no".
"I wanna see the owl," Victor announced.
"The what?" Severus asked.
"The brown owl with the owange eyes. He looks like fun."
Severus' eyes widened in understanding as he remembered spotting the Hooters they'd passed by. "Victor, that's a restaurant. We've already eaten."
"Can we get ice cream there?"
"Not tonight;" Hermione interjected, remembering reading their slogan, 'Delightfully Tacky Yet Unrefined'. "It's bath time. Rose, it's your turn to go first."
"Do I have to?" she asked.
"Do you want to take a bath in a sandy tub because you went after Victor?"
She scowled as she trudged towards Hermione. Severus could not help but beam in pride at the young girl. Rose had mastered his scowl perfectly.
"Severus?" Hermione slipped into bed and snuggled next to her husband.
"Yes?" Severus replied, pulling her into his arms.
"You've been quiet this evening. Is something wrong?"
"What could possibly be wrong in a place like this?" Severus answered, kissing her on the jaw.
"Severus," she whispered as his kisses travelled to her cheek. "I can tell when something's troubling you."
"You're pretty fantastic that way," he replied, capturing her lips.
They lingered in the kiss, savouring a rare opportunity to show affection free from the prying eyes of their children. Severus finally pulled away with a sigh, "Rose saw the dark mark."
"She did," Hermione replied. "What did you tell her?"
"I told her she shouldn't get one and not much else; just that it hurt to have it."
"I see," Hermione replied.
"She's going to find out someday."
"Find out what someday?"
"She's going to find out who I am, what my role was in the war, and how I had to hurt people along the way. She'll find out how horribly I treated you, the things that happened to students under my headmastership…"
"You protected the students the best you could without blowing your cover," Hermione cut in. "Even Headmaster Longbottom will attest to that."
"I think Rose and Victor may find that difficult to believe when they hear others tell the story," Severus warned.
Hermione kissed him on the cheek. "You made some mistakes, but you corrected them. Your children love you, Severus. Nothing will change that."
"They love who I am today, but I wasn't always this man. Hell Hermione, if I'd known that I'd have a wife and children I never would've done half those things, including joining the Death Eaters. I…"
"Daddy!" Rose screamed from the other room.
Severus and Hermione leapt out of bed and ran to the other side of the suite. Rose was curled up in a ball on her bed, crying until she couldn't breathe properly. Victor looked on helplessly.
"What's wrong, Baby Girl?" Severus asked as he scooped Rose into his arms.
"I had a bad dream," she sobbed. "It was terrible, Daddy."
"I was walking on the beach, and a wolf came! He started chasing me, and then he bit me! I couldn't find you or Mummy! I was so scared!"
"Oh, Rose," Severus replied before kissing her on the head. Rose sobbed inconsolably into his robes. Once her breathing began to even out, Severus tilted her head up towards him. "What do you think we need to do?"
"I don't know. Keep the wolf away?"
"Well," Severus began as he turned to Mr. Snake. "Wolves are afraid of snakes. Mr. Snake can help keep him away."
"The wolf ate Mr. Snake too," Rose answered.
"Well, then I'll have to cast some wards to keep the wolves away."
She sniffed and nodded her assent.
Severus muttered a few incantations as his wand turned blue. Once it faded, he announced, "There. Those wards should keep all the wolves away."
"All of them?"
"All of them," Severus replied.
Rose hugged him. "I love you Daddy."
Severus kissed her on the cheek. "I love you, too. I won't let any wolves get you, Rose. I'll fight an entire pack if I have to."
"Will you use that Fiendfyre spell to keep them away?"
"If I must."
"Will you hex them until they run away?"
"Of course," Severus replied.
Rose kissed him on the cheek. "I love you, Daddy. You're the best Daddy."
She then settled into the sheets and closed her eyes. Severus kissed her again before whispering, "Goodnight, my little Rose."
"Goodnight Daddy," she yawned.
Severus stayed with her until her breathing slowed into quiet snores. He then bent over and kissed Victor, who was nestled next to his sister. Silently he and Hermione returned to their bed.
"That is what Rose will remember."
"What?" Severus asked.
"When Rose finds out about your past, she won't see a former Death Eater. She'll see a father who was there for her when no one else was; who held her when she was scared. She'll remember a father who taught her how to brew potions and who showed her spells that made her mother cringe. She'll remember the man who called her 'Baby Girl' and loved her. Victor will remember all those things too, except perhaps the 'Baby Girl' part."
Severus chuckled, then quietly stroked her hair. "Thank you."
"It's the truth. We love you, Severus. You have always been there for us and we will always be there for you, too. Nothing will change that."
"What did I ever do to deserve you?"
"The same thing I did to deserve you. You said 'yes'. Happy honeymoon, love."
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Some people have asked if I'll ever do a sequel to Kiss From a Rose. The answer is that I fully intend to write a sequel someday. I already have several ideas. The story I'm currently writing right now has nothing to do with KFAR, however. I'm over 25 chapters into it, but I want it a little more complete and polished before I post it, which will again most likely be in October.
Thanks again for reading and supporting me! I truly appreciate it!