Smiling inwardly to himself (heaven forbid that he’d find himself capable of doing it outwardly), Severus Snape gently pushed open the unlatched door.
The sight that greeted him overwhelmed all his senses in one heady mix, and he found himself drawn, like the proverbial moth-to-a-flame, into the warmth of the room.
Looking down into the crib before him, his gaze was met by an uncanny "reflection" of shining eyes of the deepest brown imaginable, so close to black as to be almost indistinguishable. They were framed by thick, dark lashes, softly fluttering against the rounded, high cheekbones of a chubby, cherub-like face. Topped by jet-black candy floss tufts of fine, downy hair – a perfect colour-match for the fathomless eyes – this same face, like a tiny, mirrored-image of his own, gazed back.
His breath hitched in his throat at the sight of the helpless infant. He seemed so content as he lay there cocooned amongst the soft, clean bedding, enveloped in the evocative and tenderly aromatic smells that can only come from a well-cared for, and well-loved, baby.
Instinctively, Severus reached out his finger. It was grabbed almost simultaneously by the smallest of perfect digits, the unyielding grip surprisingly tight for one so tiny.
The formidable former Potions master and ex-Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry really did smile then; he couldn’t help it. Pride and joy seemed to battle for supremacy in his being, as he looked down at his adorable baby son.
Then it happened – that seemingly mirrored-image gently smiled back at him. His son could smile! And an even more exhilarating fact was that he had chosen this moment to do it. He’d just given away the gift of his first ever smile – to his father!
'Hermione! Hermione!' Snape found himself yelling. 'Quick – come here at once! He’s smiled … He’s just smiled for the first time - at me!'
Seconds later, soft, feminine footsteps filled the little bedroom as Hermione Snape seemed to magically appear at her husband’s command.
She too stood next to the crib, and smiled tenderly into the open face of her baby son who now wore a more serious expression on his rounded features.
'How wonderful, darling,' she said with outward affection, just as Joshua Daniel Snape offered up a charmingly cute little yawn.
'Oh, it appears you’re also boring him!' she teased. And, as she then started to leave the room, she dared to aim a humorous side-glance at the man she’d been married to for just over a year now, but who, it seemed, she’d loved for a lifetime.
Quietly walking towards the door, and taking a pile of baby items for washing with her – a seemingly never-ending task she was beginning to conclude – Hermione could be seen suppressing a smile of her own. She didn’t dare tell Severus that little Joshua had been smiling for over a week now. Why spoil his moment, she thought. After all, this was the family and the life that he never thought he’d live to see. He deserved a little bit of indulgence, she reckoned, as she quietly shut the door on the two most special and important men in her life.
A/N: My grateful thanks go to the lovely Hexgirl for once again stepping in and beta-reading for me. Her suggestions & encouragement mean so much :-)