Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.
Many thanks to DHLane and VIVAvivacious for all of the encouragement and support I received from you both as my beta's.
We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium; a benefit for humanity – Marie Curie.
St. Mungo's, London: 9th January, 2011
The hallway in St. Mungo's was crowded with people. Nearly everyone that Hermione and Snape knew had crowded into the visitor's room on that floor and some were even left outside. All of them were waiting in nervous anticipation for the Healer to come out of the room in which Hermione was contained. Snape himself was left to nervously pace the hall, knowing just on the other side of the wall, his wife was giving birth to their first child.
Ginny Potter was thankfully with her, playing the role of birthing partner and helping his wife through the process. He was grateful that Hermione had a friend with such experience, having had three children of her own, beside her. He had occasionally heard a scream or pained moan come from the room, and wished desperately that he could relieve his wife of the pain she was going through.
Although many men he knew had warned him, including Harry Potter, that there was a chance with their first child that he would experience empathy pains on his wife's behalf, he had been reluctant to heed it.
He clasped his hands behind his back as he paced, unwilling and unable to sit still and wait. His nerves were at the end of their tether and he was quite certain he would snap if anyone were to approach him before the Healer came out and let him in to see Hermione and their baby. Silently, Snape was pleased that all of their close friends were smart enough to know not to disturb him from his thoughts at this time.
Another half hour passed, and still there had been no news from anyone on the other side of the wall. Snape finally sat down heavily in one of the chairs in the hallway, and saw Potter cautiously approach him. Harry gestured at the chair beside him, and Snape nodded wearily, rubbing a hand over his tired eyes. He had been awake since four in the morning when Hermione had first felt her contractions begin, and by the time they arrived at St. Mungo's her water had broken and they were separated.
It was now nearly four in the afternoon, and his wife had been suffering through a ridiculously long labour.
'Hermione is tough,' Potter told him. 'She's doing fine in there, otherwise, I am certain a Healer would have come out to tell you.'
'Logically I know that is the case, Potter,' Snape replied. 'I just can't seem to be able to stop the negative images from running wild in my head. Things in my life, up until finding Hermione again, have seldom gone the way I had planned.'
Potter nodded. 'I can kind of relate,' he said simply.
The two fell into a comfortable silence, which was something Snape would not have thought possible only a year beforehand. Since he had been with Hermione, Potter seemed to have been more accepting than he could have imagined, and seemed to have grown into a mature and level-headed adult, which was more than he could say for himself when he was that age.
A little while later, Ronald Weasley and his wife arrived, and Potter went to greet the two of them, leaving Snape by himself once more, to fret and worry about what was going on in Hermione's room.
When six o'clock finally came around, the door to the room opened, and the Healer stepped out, holding a bundle wrapped in a pink blanket. Snape jumped to his feet immediately, and held his arms out to receive his child. He gently pulled the blanket back slightly to see the baby's tiny face, and was surprised by how pink the skin was. Her eyes, for Snape assumed the pink blanket meant that she was a girl, were still closed tightly, and she squirmed in his arms slightly. She was so small and he knew that people were staring at the odd sight of Severus Snape cradling an infant awkwardly against him.
'Congratulations, Professor,' the Healer said, clapping him on the shoulder. 'You have a very healthy and beautiful baby girl on your hands there.'
Snape nodded, and could not stop the smile from spreading across his entire face, giving him colour and lighting his eyes. He looked back up at the Healer for a moment, his face immediately returning to a worried expression. 'How is my wife?' he asked urgently.
'She is fine,' the Healer told him reassuringly. 'They are just cleaning her up in there and putting new sheets on the bed, and soon you'll be able to go in and see her. She is just going to be very tired from such a long labour.'
Snape felt himself deflate a little at that and nodded. 'Thank you for taking care of her and bringing this little one to me,' he said quietly.
As the Healer walked away, he looked back down at the bundle in his arms, shifting her slightly so that she was arranged less awkwardly. She was the most precious thing he had seen in his entire life, and he was quite certain that he did not deserve to be so happy after all of the terrible things that he had done throughout his life. He saw Potter and Weasley approach him from the corner of his eye and turned to face them, allowing them to gaze upon the precious product of his union with Hermione.
'She's a pretty little thing,' Potter said, reaching over to stroke the top of her head gently. 'And look at that shock of black hair!'
Weasley laughed from beside him. 'Good on you, Snape,' he said, clapping him on the shoulder in what he could only assume was a friendly gesture.
Snape nodded to the both of them, and they all walked towards the visitor waiting room, to show off the baby girl to the rest of the people who had gathered there. Frank and Alice each took a turn, holding his little girl, and both of them cooed over how pretty she was and how much she looked like the two of them. Snape was just glad that his baby girl was not unfortunate enough to inherit his beak of a nose. It looked small and well proportioned to the rest of her face – already so much like Hermione in more ways than one. After he had made his turn around the room with her, and their visitors began to depart, the baby began to squirm a fair bit more and eventually erupted in tears, screaming her little lungs out. He found himself feeling immediately nervous, and was worried that he had hurt her or done something wrong.
'She's fine, Severus,' Ginny Potter said as she entered the waiting room. 'She's just hungry and probably a little tired. I think it's about time you took her in to Hermione for a feed.'
Snape inclined his head to her in thanks. 'Thank you for being with my wife in there today, Ginevra,' he said with a small smile.
Ginny beamed at him and leaned up to give him a friendly buss on the cheek, and he watched as she and Potter left for the day. With all of their visitors finally gone, Snape went over to the door of Hermione's room, and entered it with their squalling infant still wriggling in his arms. Hermione was slumbering, but woke instantly when the sound of the baby crying reached her ears. She smiled up at Snape and opened her arms to receive the baby.
He watch silently as she pushed aside the top of her gown and unhooked the front of her bra, gently easing the baby to latch onto her nipple to feed.
'She is so beautiful,' Snape said, still in awe of their child, and of his wife for bearing her.
'She was a little bugger to give birth to, though,' Hermione said teasingly, gently stroking the baby's soft hair as she fed. 'Apparently I have a slightly narrow pelvis, so it made the labour last a little longer than it should have.'
'Well, perhaps after this first child, the next one wont be so difficult, if we should decide we desire a second child,' he said, pulling up a chair to sit right beside her, and resting his elbows on the mattress.
'Maybe so,' Hermione agreed with a sleepy smile.
'We need to give her a name,' he said seriously, reaching up to brush a slightly damp curl from her face. 'Such a pretty thing should not go without a name for too long.'
'Felicity Ava,' Hermione offered. 'It means happy and life in Hebrew. I had done a little research before now. I like the way the two sound together.'
'Felicity Ava Snape,' he said, with a smile curving his mouth. 'It is a very fitting name for our daughter. Perhaps she will be able to bring honour back to the name of Snape, as well. It's about time someone else did.'
Hermione frowned and reached over to touch her husband's hand. 'You have already brought honour to your family's name, Severus,' she told him seriously. 'I would never have fallen in love with you if you were not an honourable man.'
'I am glad you wrote to me, after that conference,' he told Hermione, sincerity shining in his dark eyes. 'I was such a coward, I would probably never have spoken to you again if you hadn't contacted me.'
Hermione smiled at him then. 'You are not a coward, Severus Snape, and if I hear another negative word come out of your mouth, I shall turn you out of the room and you can stay out until you come to your senses,' she said with an air of teasing to her tone. 'Am I understood?'
'I understand perfectly,' he agreed, unable to stop the chuckle that bubbled up and out of him. 'I do love you, you know.'
'I love you as well,' she replied. 'And I love our daughter. She is the perfect combination of the two of us – a nice balance between light and dark.'
'Mind you, I think she might have a little more of you in her looks,' he pointed out, gesturing to her small face, with the perfect little nose and the lips that were a smaller version of Hermione's. 'She'll likely have your eyes too.'
Hermione chuckled at that. 'I wouldn't mind if she has my eyes, as long as she has your hair. You might recall mine was a curly nightmare when I was younger. I would hate for her to have to deal with that too.'
'At least if she does, she will have you around to show her the ropes,' Snape said, leaning in to kiss the top of Felicity's head.
'Here, I think she has finished feeding,' his wife said, lifting the little girl up from her chest and passing her over to him carefully. 'Put her head just over the top of your shoulder so she can rest her chin there, and pat her back gently until she burps.'
'Will she vomit on me?' he asked, even as he shifted the baby and did as Hermione told him.
'She shouldn't do, but I'll give you a towel just in case,' Hermione replied, reaching onto the nightstand on the other side of her bed for a hand towel before gently easing it between Felicity's head, and his shoulder.
He felt slightly nervous as he used the tips of his fingers to drum lightly on her back, encouraging his newborn to burp. After a few minutes she made an almost cute gurgle and burp, and then he eased her back down to hold her in his arms properly. A few minutes after that, she had already fallen asleep, and he watched in awe, as she took little breaths that made her chest rise and fall. He was mesmerised, and when he looked back up at his wife, to see if he'd done all right, he saw that she was smiling at him with tears in her eyes.
Snape smiled back at her, and for the first time in his entire life, he felt like he was made for a purpose other than science and potions. He was made to create a beautiful child with Hermione, and raise her to be good.
St. Mungo's, 9th January, 2011
A few hours had passed since Hermione had brought forth their little girl into the world, but she was still as sore as she had been then. Her muscles ached every time she moved, but she knew that it was worth it, and that she and Snape had created something very special together. She looked beside her to where her husband had fallen asleep in the chair, his head resting on his arms that were on the bed beside her.
Felicity was in her arms, making soft gurgling noises. Her eyes remained closed for the time being, but Hermione knew that they would be open soon enough. If anything was clear from the moment she had seen her child, it was that she was nothing, if not exactly as Hermione had been her whole life. The little one was moving around, making noise, and grabbing onto anything that came anywhere near her little hands. Snape had laughed at how precocious she appeared already, and she had a feeling that fairly soon, she would be discovering just what sort of child she had been to her parents.
Hermione watched as her little girl reached a hand out and grasped around in the air with it clumsily. Taking pity on her, she offered her thumb, and watched, as the tiny fingers curled around it in something like an embrace. She giggled softly, and let Felicity pull her thumb into her mouth and suck on it.
Figuring she must be hungry, she pulled her gown open and moved her left bra cup out of the way, and eased the baby into a comfortable position before latching her onto a nipple to feed once more. So far since that afternoon, their little girl had fed three times including that time. Hermione wasn't sure how she was going to be able to keep up with the breast feeding at that rate, and just hoped that Ginny would be able to give her tips on maintaining the milk volume to last at least two months.
After Felicity had drunk her fill, Hermione rearranged her clothing into place, and placed her against her shoulder to burp her. She emitted a tiny belch, which made her laugh, and brought her back down to cradle her in her arms.
After a while, she felt herself growing tired, but she did not want to sleep yet. She swung her legs around and eased herself out of bed, all the while holding Felicity to her snuggly, and stuffed her feet into the pair of slippers that her husband had packed for her. Her legs felt a little wobbly at first, but after a while she got used to walking around again, and left the room for a bit, pacing up and down the hallway until she felt too tired to continue.
When she arrived back at her room, Snape had already woken up, and was looking around in confusion.
His eyes widened when he spotted her, and the confusion faded quicker than she would have thought. 'Have I been asleep for very long?' he asked, standing up and reaching out to take the baby from her.
Hermione shook her head and gratefully passed the bundle to him. She was unreasonably tired and needed to get some sleep before the next time Felicity would want feeding.
'You were asleep for about three hours, but we were just fine,' she answered. 'I fed her a little while ago, so she will be okay for another four hours give or take.'
Snape nodded. 'Why don't you lie down and get some rest yourself,' he urged, nudging her towards the bed with his free hand. 'You're tired, you gave birth today, and you've barely slept in a week.'
She nodded, and went without argument. She had barely slept in the week leading up to that day from nerves and excitement. Once she was snuggly under the covers, Snape returned to his spot in the armchair beside her bed, cradling Felicity against him and gently rocking her as he mumbled something under his breath. Hermione had no idea what he was saying, but she was sure he was probably telling their baby how beautiful she was. He had been unable to stop talking about how great he thought Felicity was from the moment he first held her.
Hermione thought it was sweet how attentive a father he was being. Being with Snape had been difficult to begin with, but it had been such a rewarding experience to create potions with him, fall in love with him, marry him, and create their perfect little girl together. And to think, if she had not sent him her letter after the conference, none of this would have happened.
She smiled, and allowed her eyes to drift closed, unable to keep them open any longer. As she drifted off to sleep, the only thing she could hear was Snape singing softly to their girl. She was happy.