Severus smiled at the woman sitting next to him on the plane. She was twisting a ring around her finger in a nervous fashion but ripples of exhilaration were etched on her face. Her long, curly brown hair cascaded to one side as she craned her neck to peer out of the window. Severus leant over and placed his hand on hers.
"Are you OK, sweetheart?"
The woman turned to look at him with a wry grin.
"For the hundredth time I'm fine, Dad, seriously."
"Because it's OK if you're a little bit nervous. You haven't been on one of these.. muggle airplane things before and..."
"Dad..." India warned, "I'm sixteen. I'm a big girl now remember?"
Severus squeezed his daughter's hand. "How could I forget?"
"Uh-oh, you've got that sappy, 'I'm so proud of you' look again," India gently teased. "Do I need to break out the Kleenex? Are we going to have a Hallmark moment?"
"Hey, I'm not sappy!"
"Too!" India poked her father in the ribs. "Face it, Dad, I could keep this up forever."
"I know. You are completely stubborn, just like..."
"Mum," India warmly finished.
Severus smirked. "Exactly."
Turning her attention to her backpack, India fished around until she found her camera. Tilting her head towards her Dad, she took a quick photo. India giggled when she looked at the preview - they'd both been glaring at the camera.
"I think that's a keeper," Severus smirked.
"I'll have to take better ones once we're actually in India. We need a really cool one to put next to Mum's headstone."
Severus silently looked on as India glanced back out the window.
"She'd be so happy you know," Severus murmured. "It was always one of her dreams to travel."
"I know," India smiled, the wistful tone in her Dad's voice breaking her heart. "So I think we should strike a deal. We've got to make sure that this is the most awesome trip ever - just for Mum." India held out her pinky finger. "Pinky swear on a polar bear?"
Severus laughed and linked his finger around his daughter's. "Pinky bear."
June 23rd 2022
"Oh my God, Nanna, I love it! Thank you!"
Eileen Snape beamed as her granddaughter flung her arms around her neck for a cuddle.
"You're welcome, sweetie. I remember you eyeing it off in the shop the other day and couldn't help myself."
Severus's eyes bugged out when he saw the price tag on the garment. "Mother! You could buy a small country for that price!"
Eileen waved her hand. "Oh hush, you. It's not every day India turns 13 is it? I'm allowed to spoil her."
The two of them watched as India happily draped the dress over her head before rushing into the hallway to check herself out in the mirror.
"I cannot believe she wanted a dress," Severus said, amazed. "I thought hell would freeze over before that happened."
"Are Arthur and Molly popping in?" Eileen asked.
"Soon I think. They were picking Ron up from the airport first."
India rejoined them. "Uncle Ron's coming? Cool. He always brings awesome presents!"
"Speaking of..." Severus took a tiny, wrapped parcel out of his pocket, enlarged it and passed it to his daughter. "Happy Birthday, Indy!"
Gleefully ripping open the paper, India was surprised to find a jewellery box inside. Treating the gift with more reverence, she carefully opened the lid and gasped when she saw what was inside.
"Dad, it's gorgeous!" India slipped the ring on her finger and admired the small ruby glistening in the light with a green snake slithering around it protectively. Hearing a sniffle, she looked at Eileen in confusion. "Nanna? Are you OK?"
"I'm OK, sweetie," Eileen said, wiping her eyes with a tissue. She looked at her son in admiration. "That was a beautiful idea, Sev."
"What was?" India curiously asked.
Severus smiled and held his daughter's hand. "This was your Mum's wedding ring. I thought it was about time that you had it."
Looking down at her hand, India felt a warm glow inside her. "Wow..."
"Are you sure you like it? I didn't know if it'd look too uncool or whatever."
India wrapped Severus in a fierce hug. "Dad, it's the best present in the world, I love you!"
"Love you too."
Breaking apart, Severus pointed towards the coffee table. "Do you want to open Uncle Harry and Aunty Ginny's present? They sent their apologies in advance if it got by their new owl. They said he is very clumsy," Severus scoffed "Clumsy is an underestimate, if I do say so myself!"
Giggling India shook her head. "Maybe later. I want to hear the story about your wedding day again before everyone else gets here."
"Don't you know it off by heart by now?" Severus chuckled.
"Yes, but I want to hear it again - and don't forget the weird organ lady, you left her out last time!"
"OK fine," Severus smiled as India eagerly settled in next to Rebecca on the couch. "It was the wedding of the century," he began, "Little did your Mum and I know that when we took shelter in a church from the rain, that it was going to be one of the happiest days of our lives. Bizarre organ players and all..."
May 8th 2020
Severus heard the door to their rooms slam and footsteps stomp down the hallway.
"Indy? Is that you?"
Getting no response, he stopped chopping the cats liver for his new potion, quickly pulling his wand out and walked towards his daughter's bedroom. He found her sitting on her bed stuffing her face with chocolate cake from the kitchens. Her school bag was strewn all over the floor.
"Why didn't you answer me?"
"Who else would it have been, Dad?" India retorted. "I don't think the dog's going to open the front door is he?"
"Oh, sarcasm, excellent," Severus quipped. "Knew I'd regret the day passing that gene on to you."
Getting the silent treatment, Severus sighed, putting his wand away and sat down on the bed near his daughter's feet. "You know I get scared easily… Rough day at school?" he asked.
"I'm not about to get another howler from someone's mother again, am I? Because I thought we had a good chat about the difference between standing up for yourself and throwing a stinging hex at Hugo's head."
"He kept calling me stupid names like Africa and China!" India protested through a mouthful of cake.
"Trust me. Idiots like Hugo aren't worth getting detentions over. Your mother learnt that the hard way. I remember once when..."
But India's face suddenly clouded over. "Shut up about stupid Mum! I don't want to hear another stupid story, OK?"
Severus looked like he had been slapped. Feeling anger and upset rise through his chest, he took a few deep breaths to calm himself down.
India tried to keep up her bravado, but she knew by the look on her Dad's face that she had gone too far.
"Your mother," Severus said evenly, "was not stupid. I don't ever want to hear you say something hurtful like that again. Got me?"
Nodding, India's bottom lip suddenly started to tremble and she burst into tears. Discarding the cake, she scooted over to her Dad and buried her head in his chest. His anger forgotten, Severus held on to his sobbing daughter.
"I don't think Mum's stupid," India hiccupped, "I just..."
Severus waited for her to compose herself.
"I just don't know what to think about her because I don't remember," she sniffled. "All the other kids at school were talking about what they were going to do for Mother's Day on Sunday. Even stupid Hugo was making his mum pancakes for breakfast."
India sat up straight and looked her Dad in the eyes. "I know you've told me so much about her, and I've got so many photos, but I just wish I could see her properly. Or talk to her... Or even smell her. Like how Grandpa smells like lollies... And a bit like dog fur."
His own eyes swimming with tears, Severus stood up and left the room. India felt awful. She'd seen her Dad cry before, but that was when she was a lot littler. She was just about to get up and chase after him when he returned with a large, purple box.
Severus sat back in his original spot. "She smelt like vanilla," he said, a nostalgic smile spreading across his lips. "She used to use this vanilla-scented shampoo, which she was embarrassed to admit because she thought it was too girly, but I loved breathing it in when we were going to sleep at night."
India grinned. "I like vanilla too."
"But my favourite was when she smelt like talcum powder."
"Powder? How come?"
"Because she used it whenever she changed your nappies. Whenever I smell talcum powder it makes me think about two of the most important women in my life."
Beaming, India curled her legs up to her chest and softly ran her hand over the lid of the purple box.
"What's in here, Dad?"
"Something I haven't been able to bring myself to look at for a while." He cupped his daughter's face in his hand. "But I think it's time. Come on, let's go into the lounge room."
India sat transfixed in front of a pensive as her mother laughed and smiled back at her. She almost had to stop herself from waving back when her Mum waved in the memory.
"OK, so we have acknowledged everyone. Do you think we can go now, Sev?" Hermione asked. "I'm sure Ron wants to leave just as badly as us"
"I don't want to leave yet! I want to wait and see you get your award!" Severus's voice teased.
"I refuse to stay after that, I will be the only tragic dork in here, getting an award for craziest hair!" Hermione ducked out of sight for a moment before the picture shuffled around to show both of them facing a mirror.
"Here we are," he grinned. "Mr and Mrs Tragic Dork."
Hermione giggled as Severus quick kiss on her cheek. "You're an idiot."
India glanced back at her Dad with a feeling of contentment. "Are there more memory's like this one?"
"Heaps," Severus nodded. "This one was from an awards party we went to a few months before we found out we were going to have you."
"Thank you for showing them to me, Dad. I know how sad it must make you."
"Actually, I wish I had have shown them to you years ago. I can't tell you how fantastic it is to hear her voice again..."
Sitting down on the floor next to India, Severus laughed as he watched Hermione twirl around the dance floor with Ron, limbs flailing everywhere.
"Just you wait until the bit where she accidentally knocks Lucious Malfoy over with her elbow. Couldn't have happened to a nicer person..."
December 20th 2017
"Not even for a turn of my wand?"
"I may be seven but I know what a bribe is, Daddy."
Severus resisted the urge to laugh. "Nanna's going to be so sad you're not wearing the dress she bought you for your photo with Santa."
India pouted. "I hate dresses. They're yuck."
"Even pink spotty ones?"
"They're the yuckest." She gave the frock a disdainful look. "You always tell me how much mummy hated dresses when she was little too. I'll bet Grandma and Poppy never made her wear them."
"I'm not sure about that, Grandma's very persuasive when she wants to be," Severus muttered.
"I'm wearing this, Daddy, not the dress."
Severus sighed, "Fine, whatever! I give up… Stubborn just like your mother."
A few days later Severus visited Hermione's grave with India, who put her Christmas photo next to a bunch of flowers. In the photo, India sat on Santa's lap waving at the camera with a toothy grin wearing denim overalls, a blue t-shirt, miss-matched knee socks and green gumboots, swinging her legs back and forth.
India stepped back and took her Dad's hand. "Merry Christmas, Mummy."
August 22nd 2014
India excitedly raced over to a near by tree.
"Look, Daddy! A kitty!"
Exhausted, Severus rushed to keep up with her. He thought a day at the park would tire her out - it seemed to be having the reverse effect.
"Look, it's licking it's self! Ewww," India squealed.
"Yeah." Severus looked at his watch. "Do you want another go on the swings?"
"No, I want to watch the kitty."
"OK." Taking out the camera, Severus snapped a few photos of India sitting with the random black cat. A Lady appeared petty the cat telling India it's name was Jasper and telling her it was ok to pet him. She was thrilled.
"Did you know your mum used to have a pet kitty, Indy?"
India's mouth dropped open in astonishment. "Really?"
"Yep. She got to feed it and cuddle it and everything."
"Promise I'm not." He held out his pinky finger. "I pinky swear on a polar bear!"
"It means an extra special promise. If you wrap your little finger around mine it means you believe me... So," he held up his finger again. "Pinky swear on a polar bear?"
She slowly lifted her hand and linked her finger around his. "Pinky bear." Looking around conspiratorially, India leant closer to Severus and whispered. "Can we keep this kitty as a pet, Daddy? Just like Mummy did?"
"Ahh, maybe not," Severus laughed, he never really did like cats. "How would you feel about a puppy instead?"
July 21st 2010
Severus cradled his daughter in his arms as he stared at Hermione's grave, tears swimming in his eyes. He had visited the cemetery many times in the past year, but it still didn't make it any easier. Kneeling down, Severus set India up with some toys while he spoke to his wife.
"Hermione, my love," he softly began. "I can't believe it's been one year already. It blows my mind. You can't even begin to imagine how much I miss you."
Severus stopped when he felt his voice wavering and tried to regain his composure.
"India has grown so much, she's turning into this amazing little girl. It's… hard looking after her… but I think I could get used to it… I wish you could see her. When she laughs it's the single most beautiful thing in the world. And her hair, oh my God, she's got your wild curly locks! Miss Brown keeps trying to put bows in it when Ron visits, but Indy just rips them right out; you'd be proud." Severus smiled at his daughter. "I talk to her about you every day. Just little stories and things. I know she won't remember much now, but when she's older she's going to feel like she's known you all of her life. I promise."
Picking up one of her toys, India held it out to Severus. "Ta?"
Leaning forward, Severus tucked a photo from India's first birthday party next to the fresh flowers he had brought that day.
"I'll make sure you don't miss any milestones." He rested his hand on the headstone. "I love you, Hermione Snape."
July 21st 2009
"Hermione? Oh my God, Hermione, are you awake? Can you hear me?"
Groggily opening her eyes, Hermione tried to focus on the blurry shape in front of her. She was still half asleep. Still stuck in a dream that she had that turned into some sort of nightmare. She could remember having a picnic with Severus and India on India's first birthday, but then she kept being pulled away. She wanted to stay with her family - she remembered screaming out to them - but the more she tried, the further away she got until she could no longer see her husband or daughter.
"Hermione?" Severus tried again, grasping his wife's hand.
"Sev?" she croaked.
"Oh my God, you have no idea how good it is to hear your voice," he replied, his voice thick.
Hermione suddenly remembered why she was in hospital. The accident. Where was her Mum? Her Dad? And...
"India," Hermione stammered, "Where is she?"
"She's OK, she's safe. The Healers are looking after her."
Healers shouldn't be looking after her, Hermione thought, she should be. Hermione tried to move but everything hurt. She felt like her insides were burning.
"Mione? Hermione?" Severus stroked his wife's face in concern when hot tears spilled down her cheeks.
"I just want my baby," she whimpered.
"I'll go and get her soon, Hermione, you can see her again soon."
Awful flashbacks from the nightmare swam through Hermione's head. The pain continued to ravage her body, but Hermione tried not to let it translate to her face. She didn't want to frighten Severus.
"Sev," she whispered, "Promise me something."
"Don't let India forget me."
Severus froze. "Why are you talking like that? You're going to be fine. You've been checked on and the healers said you'd be fine."
"Please, Sev," Hermione pleaded, "Just... Just humour me. Just in case. Don't let my little girl forget me."
His throat constricting, Severus squeezed Hermione's hand. "I promise."