The infant's blue eyes were fixed on her grandfather's black ones. Her tiny hand reached up and made a clumsy grab at the prominent nose, the only feature on his face within reaching distance.
Severus was pleased that Amanda Weasley had brown hair, doubtlessly inherited from her grandmother, bypassing all of the lesser quality genetic material provided by Amanda's other grandfather Whose Existence Shall Be Mostly Ignored.
This was the first time Hugo and Jenny had gone out for an evening since Amanda's birth. Severus had no objection to coming to their home to babysit his second grandchild. At eight weeks old, she was certainly no trouble and enjoyed a good cuddle.
Hermione had the pleasure of giving Amanda her bottle, followed by a nappie change. As was right and proper, grandpa had taken Amanda to sit with her in the rocking chair. In no time at all, he'd have her asleep.
Once she had been sufficiently cuddled, of course.
"She has your hair," remarked Severus, as Hermione joined them in the parlor. "I suspect she will have your nose."
Hermione came up beside them and bent down to kiss Severus' temple. One arm around his shoulder and her other hand resting on the arm of the rocking chair, Hermione joined Severus in gazing down at their new granddaughter.
"They're so precious at this age," she said, smiling lovingly at the infant as she stroked her husband's shoulder.
"It is part of nature's plan for the survival of the species," observed Severus, sagely. "Make them tiny and helpless at this stage so we will love them and not dispatch them when they become teenagers."
"I wasn't so tempted to dispatch Hugo and Rose when they were teenagers as much as when they were in their twos," remembered Hermione. "Hugo's vocabulary narrowed down to "NO", but Rose was a bit more expressive. Her favorite word was "dammit", learned from her father.
"There we were at Hugo's christening. Rose was sitting with Molly and Arthur. She saw Bill with Fleur holding Hugo and the next thing we heard Rose hollering 'Ugo dammit.' Arthur had her out of the chapel quick smart. I thought Molly was going to have apoplexy. Rose was so stuck on that phrase; I'm surprised Hugo didn't grow up thinking that his name was Ugo Dammit."
Severus laughed, a rumbling deep in his chest. Amanda's eyes widened and she smacked her lips. Her two middle fingers found their way into her mouth and quiet sucking commenced as continued to gaze at grandpa.
"Amanda is far to refined to settle for thumb sucking," said Hermione, primly.
"At sixteen, Elizabeth's specialty was to play Catherine and me against each other," remarked Severus. "She could whip Catherine into a fine froth. There was nothing Elizabeth could pull on me that students hadn't tried before. It frustrated her to no end that she couldn't agitate me.
Stephen's adolescent rebellion was minor by comparison, consisting of taking nerve wracking risks on brooms and playing death-defying Quidditch. I attribute my gray hairs to watching him play for Gryffindor."
"It's so much easier being a grandparent," commented Hermione, running her fingers through her husband's hair. "Once properly spoiled, we send them home."
Amanda's eyes closed and the finger sucking slowed. A few more minutes of rocking and she was asleep, two fingers still resting between her rosebud lips.
"She's ready to settle," declared Severus.
Hermione reached down, carefully lifting her granddaughter. In short order, Amanda was tucked into her bassinet and her grandparents comfortably ensconced on the sofa.
"New life," said Hermione, softly. "The cycle of beginnings and endings."
Severus, understanding her reference, reached over and took Hermione's hand.
"He had good years after the treatment," he stated, quietly. "Archie was very much at peace."
"I wish I could have seen him," sighed Hermione.
"He understood that you were helping Hugo and Jenny," said Severus, shifting to put his arm around her. Hermione rested her head on his shoulder. "He said something along the lines of babies being rather demanding creatures."
Hermione smiled sadly. "It's just a bit painful to think that this little one will get her wand from Oliver, rather than Archie."
"That last time, he told me something about my wand that I did not know," said Severus, pensive.
Hermione gazed at her husband. "Really?"
"Archie said he knew we were destined to have mated wand cores from the first time he saw us together at the treatment center," answered Severus, thoughtfully.
"That's a surprising insight," declared Hermione.
"Indeed," replied Severus. "Remember when he told us we needed phoenix feather cores because of having been purified through the fire of war. It was about rebirth."
"He told me that mine was the first wand he made after the War. He made it specifically for me, though he didn't know when I would be ready for it," continued Severus. "He selected the wood from a lightning-struck oak, because it needed to pass through a crucible of its own to be suitable. Archie said that Romans thought oak trees attracted lightning, connecting to Jupiter, as god of the sky, and his wife, Juno, as the goddess of marriage. In this case, he selected oak as a symbol of marital fulfillment."
"You're saying that Archie knew we would end up married the first time the three of us talked that afternoon at St. Mungo's?" asked Hermione, astonished.
"Yes," said Severus. "He was right when he said we were beginning something new."
Hermione placed her left hand over his, lining up their matching rings.
"Lightning-struck oak?" asked Hermione.
"Never doubt that it was an appropriate choice, Severus," said Hermione. She looked at him with her usual honesty. "You are rather battered up, but it made you strong."
"You are the flexible one," Severus replied, smiling. "Olivander was right. We are a well-matched pair."
"I love you, Severus Snape," whispered Hermione. "Forever and always."
"Always and forever," Severus whispered back.