AN: Sorry if I get any of the details wrong. Thank you for the support! It is deeply appreciated!
A golden chain dangled from Violet's hands. The multicolored lights bounced off the opal phoenix at the bottom. "I absolutely love it. Thank you Mum."
"You are very welcome," Hermione replied.
Violet unhooked the chain.
"I thought of you when I saw it at Hogsmeade," Hermione grabbed Severus hand and leaned into the couch. "It was too perfect to pass up."
"Thank you again," Violet gushed before putting it on.
Hermione leaned into the back of the couch. "I'm so glad you like it."
About a meter from Violet, Victor thumbed through the pages of a cook book. Already he was dog-earing pages for future reference. Beside him, Rose was counting the silver vials in her cardboard box. Wrapping paper was strewn about the floor, but nobody made any effort to vanish it. While Severus and Hermione sat on the sofa, their children opted to remain seated on the floor.
"The last box is for you, Rose," Severus began.
Rose glanced under the tree. She ran her hands along the gold trimmed skirt. "What box?"
Severus reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black velvet box. "This one."
Rose crawled towards him. Once she was close enough, Severus placed the box into her outstretched hand. She muttered her thanks before opening it.
On the surface, there was nothing eye-catching about thering. It was a small diamond mounted on a smudged golden band. Rose glanced up at her father, as if to ask for an explanation.
"That is the wedding ring your grandfather Tobias gave your grandmother Eileen," Severus began.
Rose glanced back at the ring. In a soft, almost reverent voice, she replied. "It is a beautiful ring."
"I don't know if I would go as far as to call it beautiful," Severus replied. "Yet it is the only thing of value my parents had which I feel comfortable passing down to one of my children."
The tear trickling from Rose's cheek glistened in the Christmas tree's light. "I do not know if I can accept this."
"You are giving me a piece of your family…."
"I am giving you a piece of your family."
Victor and Violet turned their attention from their gifts to Severus' words.
"Yes, but," Rose choked. "This is a ring which should stay in the Snape family."
"It is staying in the Snape family," Severus replied.
Rose ran her finger along the side of the band.
"You are well-aware of my origins. My parents had very little and could afford very little," Severus began. "Still, Mum wanted her wedding ring passed down to one of her grandchildren. Traditionally the oldest child gets a wedding ring, or at least that is the case in pureblood families. The only question I faced was when you would receive it."
Rose stared at Severus.
"I want you to have a piece of your heritage," Severus continued.
"Are you certain you should give it to me?" Rose asked. "After all traditions can be broken, and there is the issue of my DNA."
"I am more than certain," Severus replied. "The ring is going to my oldest daughter."
"Mum, are you fine with this?"
"I am more than fine with it."
Rose stopped rubbing it.
"I know you have your father's textbook but others outside the family have used it. You have jewels from your great-grandmother, but neither your father nor I have any personal connection to them. We wanted you to have something which was connected to his immediate family, something he would remember from his childhood," Hermione continued.
"I want you to know who you are," Severus added.
Rose locked eyes with him.
"I want you to remember that you are the daughter whom I love," Severus continued. "I want you to remember that you will always have a home here. In my heart, you will always be a Snape."
Rose leapt and threw her arms around Severus. Tears fell from her eyes. "Thank you Daddy. Thank you so much."
He embraced her.
"It is the most beautiful present I have ever received," Rose sobbed.
Violet grinned as Victor sniffed.
Rose broke away from Severus. "I will cherish it forever."
"I know you will," he whispered.
She slid the ring onto her finger and laughed. "It fits perfectly."
"Your fingers are very similar to your father's," Hermione noted. "It would not surprise me if they were the same shape and length as Eileen's."
Rose held up the ring. "Perhaps they are."
Violet cleared her throat. "I for one am glad we are on the subject of marriage and wedding rings."
All eyes fell on her.
"We are all gathered together as a family, and all of us have received what we've asked for and more," she continued. "Well, almost everything."
Rose sat back onto the carpet between Victor and her sister.
"Still, there is one thing I would like which hopefully you and Dad can give to me this Christmas," Violet replied.
"What would that be?" Severus asked.
"I would like the truth on how you two fell in love," Violet answered.
Severus paled while Hermione shook.
"Yes," Victor added. "I would like to hear that story as well."
"As would I," Rose replied.
Severus sighed and gazed into Hermione's eyes. She nodded.
"I suppose you children all deserve to hear this story. If we tell you it now we will not have to repeat ourselves," Severus began.
"Yes," Hermione replied. "All of you deserve to know what happened, and we are all together. Now is as good a time as any to tell you the full truth."
The children scooted closer to their parents. Hermione couldn't help but notice they wore the same expressions they did as children awaiting a good bedtime story. There was something touching about it.
"I will warn you," Severus began. "This is not a romantic story. Our motives for marrying were gray at best. The truth is complicated."
Victor gave him a half smile. "Trust me, we realized a long time ago that nothing is simple with either of you."
Violet and Rose smirked.
"Very well then," Severus took a deep breath. "As you know, we met the day your mother was sorted into Gryffindor. I only noticed her when the Sorting Hat was on her head, and even then she occupied my thoughts only momentarily."
"Really?" Violet asked.
"Yes," Severus replied. "My entire attention was on Harry Potter and his eyes. The only thought running through my head was how he appeared identical to James, yet his eyes were the same as Lily's."
Rose sat up straighter.
"If there is one thing which irks me, it is the people who view photographs of that Sorting Feast and believe I am eying your mother, as if I was searching for a wife amongst eleven year olds. Granted, dwelling on Harry's connection to Lily was disconcerting in its own right, but not nearly as much as drooling over a first year."
"True," Rose answered
"Had someone told me that one of those first years was to be my beloved wife, I would have gulped down every bottle of Ogden's Finest in the school. Then I would have wondered how anyone could believe that at the age of forty-five, I would be able to seduce a woman almost twice as young as me."
Rose's lower lip curled up.
"On my end, I remember the first time I saw your father," Hermione replied. "He left an impression on me, but perhaps not as much as he did on other students."
"What do you mean?" Victor asked.
"I remember noting that he was dressed in all black, but it seemed normal to me."
Victor raised an eyebrow.
"I had little knowledge of the Wizarding World, so I thought it appropriate that some wizards wear all black and wear capes," Hermione continued. "I also remember overhearing some people complaining about his greasy hair, but I am in no position to criticize anyone over their hair."
Victor allowed himself to laugh.
"What was Mum like as a student?" Violet asked.
"Your mother was obnoxious in the classroom," Severus answered. "I called her an Insufferable Know It All, and I meant it."
"How romantic," Violet deadpanned.
"To put it more kindly," Severus continued. "She was very eager to please, and very eager to get into trouble."
"I did not wish to cause trouble," Hermione argued.
"Yet trouble followed you very closely."
"No, trouble followed Harry. Several times I encouraged him to follow the rules, but he refused to listen."
"For someone who meant to cause no trouble, you were quick to light my robes aflame"
"I thought you were jinxing Harry's broom."
"Fair enough, but I hardly think setting one's robes on fire is best way to persuade him to be your lover."
"I suppose that is true."
Violet leaned over to Victor and whispered in his ear, "I'll bet you five galleons they cannot get through this story without seducing each other."
"That is a bet I would lose," Victor whispered back.
"Anyway," Hermione took a deep breath. "During my second year I did fall madly in love with a professor, but it was not your father."
"Gilderoy Lockhart?" Rose asked.
"Yes," Hermione blushed. "I had the biggest crush on him."
"As much as I love you, I must say that prior to Dad, your taste in men was terrible," Rose noted.
"Sadly her taste in men has improved little over the years," Severus replied. "A fact I benefit from every day."
"That is not true Dad and you know it," Rose answered. "For all of your faults, you have never embellished your accomplishments or been a bombastic dunderhead."
"Very true," Hermione replied. "For that reason alone, I am glad I ended up with him and not Gilderoy."
Severus gave her a half grin.
"As a second year, I still held a high opinion of your father, though he tested that every day," Hermione answered.
"Indeed I did," Severus cut in. "I still found her to be an insufferable know-it-all, and I was more than happy to inform her of that fact."
"He was," Hermione answered. "Which is why I still wasn't in love with him come my third year."
"No feelings were developing on my end either," Severus answered.
"Although," there was a gleam in her eyes. "You did protect me from a lycanthrope. I appreciated that."
"Believe me, I was only doing my job, not setting the stage to start a family," Severus answered.
"True," Hermione replied. "Still, I was beginning to suspect that there was more to your father than the mask he put on for the rest of the world."
"Did you spend hours trying to decipher Dad?" Rose asked.
"Actually I spent far more time agonizing over whether or not I wanted to be Viktor Krum's serious girlfriend," Hermione admitted.
"Oh joy," Victor muttered with a frown. "The ex who shares my name."
"Trust me, Krum was the furthest thing from my mind when I named you," Hermione replied.
"Indeed he was," Severus answered.
"Did Krum ever come up when you were deciding what to name me?" Victor asked.
"Let's just say that I demanded that your name be spelled with a 'c,'" Severus deadpanned.
"I see," Victor replied.
"There's something I never understood about your infatuation with Viktor Krum," Violet chimed in.
"What would that be?" Hermione asked.
"If you were so bored by Quidditch, why did you date two Quidditch players?" Violet asked.
"Honestly, I do not know. I suppose I did not think I could do any better."
"There really is no excuse for my poor choice in men." She put a hand onto Severus' thigh. "All I can say is that I wound up with the best man for me. In the end, that is all that matters."
Severus replied, "I would still argue that you wound up with a right old git."
She brushed her lips against his before whispered. "You may be a right old git, but you are also the perfect man for me. Never tell yourself any differently."
"You were telling us about Mum's fourth year," Violet interrupted.
"Indeed," Severus straightened his posture, "Voldemort was on the cusp of returning. The mark on my arm was becoming clearer, and there were whispers amongst the former Death Eaters. I was far too distracted by the possibility of another war to pay much attention to your mother on a personal level."
"I see," Victor answered.
"Perhaps this is inappropriate but, did you have any," Rose wrung her hands. "Did you have any romantic interests at this time?"
Severus shook his head. "I was far too distracted with spying to pay much attention to romance of any sort."
"So other than Lily, Mum has been the only woman you've ever loved?" Rose asked.
"Yes," Severus replied.
The tension left Rose's body.
"Now do not misunderstand me, I was not a monk," Severus replied. "Still, I was not searching for a wife. I was convinced that I was unworthy of love, and that I needed to spend my life atoning for the wrong I had done. Then there was the fact that I did not believe I would survive the war."
"But you did not die," Rose replied.
"Clearly I did not," Severus answered.
"So, if you were convinced that you were going to die, why did you carry that antivenin with you?" Rose asked.
"Do not get ahead of me," Severus replied. "There is much more to our story than our time at Hogwarts."
Rose closed her mouth.
"That brings me to my fifth year," Hermione continued. "I cannot say that my feelings on your father changed in the slightest, though I was growing increasingly frustrated with him."
"How so?" Victor asked.
"No matter what I did, it seemed as if I could never gain his approval," Hermione gave her husband a look. "Thankfully that changed once we were wed."
"How could I think anything other than you are an amazing partner?" Severus asked.
"I am not always amazing and you know it," Hermione replied.
"Perhaps," he rubbed her hand. "Yet you are so much more amazing than I ever could have dreamed."
"Sixth year!" Violet burst out.
"Sixth year was interesting as far as my relationship with your father," Hermione answered.
"How so?" Victor asked.
Hermione faced her children. "The odd thing about my sixth year is that Harry did share the Half Blood Prince's diary with me. We discussed theories as to his identity, and he told me his suspicions about the kind of man he was."
Rose's mind flashed back to the emerald eyed visitor.
"I will admit to finding the man who wrote in the textbook to be a creative yet misunderstood man. I remember wishing I could have been his friend, but I felt no true affection for him."
"So you did," Rose drawled.
"Your father was just the strict Defense Against Dark Arts professor," Hermione's voice became more distant. "Though I remember defending him more to Ron."
"I was wondering where Ron would come in," Rose replied.
Hermione frowned. "He has been in the background this entire time. We were close friends, and sometimes I wondered if we could be more. I suppressed my feelings though despite the fact that they were growing."
"By the time I was ready to admit my feelings to myself, I was in my sixth year. Ron was dating Lavender Brown, a fact he was all too eager to make me aware of."
"Oh," Rose replied.
The light in Hermione's eyes died. "He went days without speaking to me when he discovered that I had kissed Viktor. While we had always fought, there was something more intense about these fights. It was as if he was trying to destroy me instead of helping to build me up. He never passed up an opportunity to belittle me, and he was all too eager to throw Lavender in my face."
Rose bowed her head.
"Later on that year, Ron was poisoned. I went into the hospital ward and tended to him. He was so kind and so tender. It was as if the last few months had never occurred. I thought it was the beginning of something beautiful," Hermione's throat was tight.
Severus rubbed Hermione's shoulder.
"In one way it was. If it had not been for my relationship with Ronald, I never would have had any of you." Hermione took a shaky breath. "Had I not been such a dunderhead, I would not have fallen in love with your father and created a family with him."
"How did that happen?" Victor asked.
Hermione raised her head, hoping to find the words to explain the rest of the story.