For what seemed like the millionth time, Severus had to stop himself from rolling his eyes. He clenched his jaw tightly and fought the pin pricks of annoyance surging through his body. A surreptitious gander in the direction of the keen bearer of irritation concluded his thoughts. The woman was completely mad.

Kisses of adoration.

Childish giggles of love.

Sighs of deep affection.

All had played a part in bringing her to the study, the demise of his seemingly appropriate Gryffindor wife- clearly near.

"Oooh, you're just so adorable."

Perhaps, Snape mused, disintegration more nearer than I had anticipated.

Severus brought down the book he had been reading and stared. One would have thought that such a scene would be welcomed with a smile and laughter, but for him, the options given by default were disregarded. He saw the whole hearted laughter and genuine smile grace her face and couldn t help but feel a pang of envy. According to the few books he had picked out secretly from a Muggle bookstore, turning into a father would help him connect with a deeper level of emotion, having to put the child s needs before his very own. He continued to skim the passage, finding another reference to the one above and stopped reading all together. He found himself scoffing at such ludicrous statement. How deep could emotion get?

He turned the book over. A rather large picture of the author secured a page in the back as he couldn t help but contain his sneer. "Lockhearts twin brother," he spat, "such foolishness spewed onto pages shouldn t be allowed to be published. Wanker..." he chucked the book aside and pinched the bridge of his nose. That 'emotion' that the book spoke about was nowhere in sight. He felt nothing. . .

A tentive step brought him out of his reverie as he watched Hermione put the -their- child back into the crib. She still held that earnest smile when she turned back to him. Instead of feeling the same way she did, anxiety, trepidation, and diffidence caused a bitter ball to form, exploding heartily when Hermione finally caught sight of his gaze.

She took a nervous step toward him. "What's wrong?"

I can t connect with my own flesh and blood, that's what s wrong. He pushed down the statement and rolled his eyes at her distress. "You can t continue to cater to her in this fashion."

Hermione's face hardened, failing to note his preoccupied state of mind. "What fashion?"

He placed the book aside and pointed. "The fashion, where you feel the given need to hold her every second of every bloody minute. I get that she's an infant, but- even then I believe that she should grow tiresome of your motherly instinct to acknowledge her every move. It's actually- quite sickening. Alas, you, of all people, should know not to disturb me when reading."

Bracing himself for her retort, he marginally arched an eyebrow in confusion when it never came. Hermione merely smiled and crossed her arms. "You know why I was being such a mother, do you not?"

He repeated the motion in a disinterested, do tell. Severus watched as his wife strode to her previous location and picked up a tranquil bundle of elongated pink. There was that smile again. . .

"Look at her," she said, holding up the infant.

Their daughter slept; a tiny hand poked through the cocooned blanket as thick onyx eyelashes rested upon perfect chubby cheeks. Her tiny mouth stretched out into a yawn as she moved to accommodate herself better.

His face softened at the sight, but his voice remained cool. "Yes? What about her?"

"Look at her."

In clear annoyance, he sighed, exasperated. "Yes, yes, I m looking at her. What is it?"

"See something eerily familiar?"

He glanced at his sleeping daughter's form, beginning with her Roman nose, and features accentuated by Hermione s, relief on his part that she hadn't inherited his nose, as below the Gryffindor beanie Harry had given her, curly raven hair framed now open cinnamon colored eyes. Leaning forward at Hermione's urging, Severus saw what had prompted her frivolous behavior. Miniscule indentations of knitted eyebrows deep in concentration. A carbon copy of his scowl.

"Congratulations, she s a Snape," Hermione teased.

A corner of his lip twitched into a smirk when Hermione placed her in his arms. He looked down and felt... a momentary slip of warmth spread throughout him. He sat there in complete and utter silence.

". . . This is what he meant. . ."

"Severus?" Hermione cautioned.

"Don't worry about it."

She nodded in understanding and merely watched the exchange.

His hair curtained his face well enough to hide the miniscule smile.

This was clearly what the twit had meant. . .

Never in his lifetime would he have thought that a child of his own creation would have given him such . . . happiness. Through his eyes, his own twisted fate had been attested with the serving of opposing forces to the war, one able to finally flourish in victory as the other had met its demise. Even then, with the freedom that came from no longer having to be hidden within the shadows, Severus felt that a solitary life truly followed. He found it absolutely absurd when Hermione had burst into his room at St. Mungo s declaring that he should no longer be looked upon as a traitor and rather more a hero. Watching her defend him in that manner, he couldn t help but feel human and let a diminutive piece of him have the latch of a protective front fall open.

To her.

And only to her.

Coming out of his reverie with a genuine smile, he thanked to whomever was listening, glad that his life had finally taken a turn for the better.

"Are you scolding a future Potter in your dreams?" A finger hesitated to stroke her cheek. Hermione saw this and placed her own within his giving a light squeeze of reassurance.

"Let her hold your finger."

He released his hand from hers and complied, watching the tiny bundle clasp onto it. Snape arched an eyebrow and turned toward Hermione.

"She has a death grip," he admonished.

"Hmmm? Wonder who she got that from." Hermione leaned in and gave a chaste kiss. "I'll start on dinner."

Snape waited until she left, faltering at his given impudence. He smiled openly and brought her closer to his chest. Leaning forward, he brushed a kiss to her forehead. The infant accepted it with a gummed smile.

"You re beautiful, you know that? Yes, beautiful," he murmured when the child had wrinkled her brow in protest. "I-I hope that you have your mother s grace . . . and intelligence . . . and her knack for friendship. You know," he said as he deposited himself into a plush chair, "she's taught me that it s best to have someone there for you when times are plagued with ambiguity. Truly, that s what drove me to her. She was there when I didn t ask her to be. She was there when things turned for the worse and was there when things turned for the better."

Sydney Elizabeth Snape looked up at her father and gummed a smile once more. After a moment of Snape connecting his ebony eyes with her tawny ones, his face calloused marginally. "But don t you dare repeat what I've told you today. I don t care if you are my child." The infant let out a sigh through her nose, taking that as a silent oath to not repeat what had been said. He sighed, but continued on despondently. "Frankly, I felt that I had no one. But here she came, a bushy, tawny-haired Gryffindor, no less, to aid me in my misfortune. Your mother didn t care that I carried the Dark Mark as a permanent symbol of what was destructive in the world. Unlike other people, she looked beyond that. And you know what? I love her. I love her with all of my damaged heart. And in all honesty...I wouldn t have chosen my life to be any different . . . well," -he tilted his head upward. - "I wouldn t mind having the Weasley at my mercy, but that s another story."

Sydney's eyes fluttered to stay awake but it was futile. Severus rose and added a soft, "Sweet dreams, love," before relinquishing her to her crib.

Little did he know that Hermione stood on the opposite side of the door. A silent spell was cast as footsteps approached. The door swung open and Severus stepped out.

"Oh, hey, I was just coming up to call you. Dinners done."

He nodded but observed something slightly off. "Everything. . . okay?"

Hermione smiled. "Yup, and I wouldn't have it any other way."