A/N: Sorry for the real long wait; I've been working seven days a week, and any down time I get I'm too tired to want to write. I'll try my best to not let that interfere, but I won't promise that my update times will be quick. Just bear with me, please.
The kids tumbled from the floo on Friday and into the arms of their friends from Hogwarts, where they performed their familiar and comforting ritual of re-acquaintance and love before moving to Tom, who stood in the doorway, watching with a fond smile on his face. There was excitement in the air; tomorrow would be the wedding of Severus Tobias Snape to Honora Maria Pfaff, and everyone was looking forward to the nuptials with anticipation. Ritual completed, the others drifted away, allowing father and son to bask in each other's company as they remained wrapped around each other. "There will be an added surprise for you tomorrow, my son," Tom intoned gravely as he brushed a kiss to the child's forehead.
"Really?" Corvus chirped happily, hugging his father tightly. "What is it?"
"If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise." The older man huffed a laugh at the pout on his son's face before he sent the boy off with another bone breaking squeeze. Corvus made his way to his rooms, reaching them in enough time to hear his friends' excited chatter about the following day. Greg was hanging another portrait for the Potters on an adjacent wall; it had a bedroom with an expansive walk-in closet containing the latest in wizarding fashion. On one side were the clothes for James, while on the other side had Lily's. Along the back wall of the closet was a floor to ceiling shoe rack, filled with dozens of pairs of shoes. Corvus' mum squealed delightedly as she jumped up and down in place, disappearing from the portrait to appear in the other one, vanishing into the closet with a happy gasp. Hangers could be heard rasping along the bars as she looked through the selections, murmurs of pleasure and shock filtering out once in a while as she came upon a particularly lovely frock.
"Thank you again, young man, for making my wife so happy," James told Greg with a watery smile as he left the portrait frame. He reappeared in their bedroom, walking slowly into the closet to select the best morning robes he could for the big day. Goyle beamed with pleasure at the genuine gratitude he'd heard in Potter's voice, knowing that his efforts had made his Alpha's father, and, by extension his Alpha, very happy.
"You did brilliantly, Greg," Corvus concurred as he stepped fully into the room. He made a beeline for one of his best friends, wrapping the larger boy in a tight hug and squeezing tight. "I thank the Lady every single day for bringing you into my life," the raven whispered into Greg's ear before letting him go, smiling fondly at the blush that overtook the other preteen's face.
"Thank you, Alpha," Goyle murmured with a bow of his head. "Before I forget," he reached into a pocket to bring out a smaller portrait, "I painted a smaller scene. It's from a picture of a small bit of the setup for the wedding, so that your parents can actually see the ceremony. I talked to your father, and he had one of his minions take a wizarding picture of the groom's side of the family seating. This is right next to the aisle, where your parents belong. It's small enough for one of our friends to hold so that your mum and dad can watch the proceedings without being uncomfortable."
They arrived at their hotel rooms that night, setting their luggage down on their beds and collapsing upon the mattresses with sighs of relief. Tom took care of the tips for the bellhops who had helped them to their suites. The rooms were expansive, the parents having bedrooms on one side of the living rooms whilst their children had bedrooms on the other side. By permission of the Notts and the Malfoys, both Theo and Draco shared a bedroom with their consort and Alpha, while the adults shared a suite of rooms so that they could be closer to their children. The entire wedding party, including both brides and grooms, took up the entire top floor of the hotel, with the brides sharing a suite, and Severus staying in the suite with Tom and the children. "I need you boys to shower and change into your best robes," Tom said sternly to the three preteens. "We are going to a smaller dining hall for the rehearsal dinner in just over an hour, and I want you looking your best."
"Yes, Father," Corvus murmured with a bow of his head. He was knackered from the long trip, but put on a brave face, knowing how important these rituals were for his family. The boys went into their rooms and got ready, pulling out their best dress robes for the occasion. Once dressed, everyone descended to the first floor of the hotel and entered the dining room, with the bride-to-be and groom-to-be sitting front and center at the long table at the front of the room. Tom and Marguerite sat to the left of Severus and Honora, while Lucius and Narcissa sat to the right of them. To either side of them sat the rest of the Inner Circle.
It was explained to Corvus that Severus' wedding wasn't to be a strictly traditional one; that the seating arrangement was to reflect that all those at the bridal table were to be those considered to be family. This was to keep the child from questioning why his father and Marguerite were sitting at the bridal table in the first place, and keep their impending nuptials a surprise. On the other side, facing his father and Severus were Corvus, with Theo to his right and Draco to his left. Ron Prewitt-Tonks sat to the left of Draco, with Greg on the right of Theo, and Vince on the left of Ron. Next to Greg sat Daphne, whilst next to Vince sat Millie. On the other side of Mille was Tracey, with Blaise next to her, and on the other side of Daphne was Luna, with Neville next to her. Pansy was next to Neville, finishing off the end of the table. Behind the children was another long table, with the next level of the organization. It contained the Jugsons and the Averys, with Benedict and Jason seated directly behind Ron. The Prewitts were also seated there, with Percy behind Pansy. The Macnairs, Gibbonses, Rosiers, and Fudges finished out the table. The rest of the hall was filled with small round tables, at which sat the rest of the organization by families or by friendships.
Conversations were lively and joyous as the appetizers were served, and many of the families started discussing possibilities of unions between their families, to strengthen the organization. "Father," Corvus said quietly as they were eating their shrimp cocktails.
"My friends brought up a good point a while back, and I'd like to talk to you about it, if I may."
"Of course, son," Tom replied with a smile. "You can talk to me about anything you wish."
"Well, when I take over for you, I'd like it if your people were able to retire," the child said, causing more than a few eyebrows to fly into hairlines and eyes to widen in shocked surprise. "By that time, I should have more than enough of my own people to handle things, and I think they'd deserve the opportunity to be able to do things for themselves. They'd devoted a lot of their lives to you already, and had to suffer a lot of pain and heartache, watching you succumb to madness the way you did. They really love you, and I can still see the pain in their eyes from those memories of having lost you for so long. If they retire, they'll be able to connect to you on a deeper, more personal level, and become the kind of support system you deserve. Besides, between them, they have centuries of knowledge and experience; it just wouldn't feel right for me to be bossing them around."
"You've thought about this very seriously, haven't you?" Tom asked softly, a gentle smile on his face. His son nodded, emerald eyes earnest. "Very well. When we transfer the mantle of control over to you, I will release all of my associates from their Dark Marks." Murmurs erupted all over the dining room as the announcement was made, with a fair few wives quietly sobbing with relief at the thought of finally getting their husbands back. The atmosphere within the room lightened considerably, and conversation ebbed and flowed as the next course was served.
"Tom? If I may?" Ron said as they were cutting into their steaks.
"Yes, Mr. Tonks?" Riddle replied. "How may I help you?"
"As you know, the half-giant at Hogwarts has been made the liaison between the magical creatures and wizards, in an attempt to try and include them within our societies." At the Dark Lord's nod, Corvus' right hand continued. "Well, before we left, I had a conversation with him, and there are a few things that concern me. Mainly, he is having a great deal of trouble with the Ministry's Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. As you know, they have always seen magical creatures as nothing more than animals, even though many are more humanoid in nature. When Hagrid tries to approach them with ideas or complaints, they simply brush him off. They've done nothing to change the laws that restrict the movements of the magical creatures, and absolutely refuse to stop the required registration of certain species of magical creature.
"Hagrid does understand that certain species present a danger to wizards, but to require the registration of veela or vampires is ludicrous. As well, his ideas of donor blood banks for the vampires, so that they don't go wild with the bloodlust and end up killing, are brilliant; yet the Ministry continues to turn him down. They say that 'blood banks will only encourage the vampires to mass slaughter'. He would like to set up a meeting with you, to discuss some of the problems he's having, and possibly some solutions. I told him I'd talk to you, and see if it could be arranged."
"Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Ron," Tom replied with a smile. "I would like to speak to Hagrid about his goals and ideas, and help along his progress, if I can. I'll see about getting some more of my people into position there, and I'll have a chat with Cornelius in the coming weeks about the department. Perhaps it's time to change their purpose."
The day of the wedding dawned sunny, but with a decided chill in the air. It was fifty-five degrees, with a brisk breeze coming off the Seine river. Fortunately, since it was to be a wizarding wedding, there would be a localized warming charm around the base of the tower, as well as some muggle repelling charms to keep unwanted visitors away. Signs would be put around the perimeter of the Eiffel tower, stating that monthly maintenance was going on, and there would be an illusion of workers in place on the tower itself. The chairs and the magic had been set up a couple of hours before, as well as the podium for the officiate, and the archway under which the couple would stand. It was festooned with roses and chrysanthemums, and around the four legs of the tower were streamers of lavender, rose, mauve, and silver.
Inside the hotel, on the top floor, was a flurry of activity as everyone scurried to get ready for the big day. Clothing flew to and fro as the children decided what they would wear. The adults were no less frantic; they all had received the same outfit combinations from Corvus, and were trying desperately to put together the perfect ensemble to show their pride and love to both their Lord and his brother in all but blood. No one, however, was more anxious than the raven haired, green eyed boy who had tumbled unexpectedly into their lives, and had become a part of their family. He was last in the bathroom, and had finally settled on what he wanted to wear. He came out, his eyes widening in pleasure as he saw his mates standing before him. "Merlin," he whispered in awe, "you're both so beautiful."
"Oh, Alpha," Draco breathed softly, "you're gorgeous." Theo stepped up to the raven, brushing a tender kiss to his lips and making him blush to the roots of his ebony hair. Draco gently hugged Corvus, who buried his hot face in the blond's neck as Theo took the raven's hand and slipped a beaten silver cuff on his wrist.
"Come on, Alpha," Theo said quietly as he tugged on the boy's hand, "time to go." The trio walked out of their bedroom and into the foyer of the hotel room, smiling at Tom, who was dressed in formal robes. He smiled at his son, pulling him into a tight hug before leading the group down to the ceremony site. Theo and Draco took the first two seats on the groom's side, while Corvus stood to the left. He thought he was to be the best man for Severus, so he was waiting for the groom to come down so that he could take his place. His eyes widened in surprise when Severus arrived, with Lucius in tow, wearing the same formal robes as his father.
"Father?" the raven questioned tremulously.
"Surprise," the older man said softly. "I thought I'd surprise you with my own nuptials today, as well." Corvus launched himself at his father with a happy laugh, hugging him tightly before kissing his cheek enthusiastically. "So, since you agree, you are to be my best man, and Lucius will be Severus'. Narcissa has agreed to be matron of honor for the both of us."
The wedding went off without a hitch, and all were inside the large dining room, enjoying the reception dinner. The Potters' small portrait had been held in Pansy's lap as the girl sat next to the aisle on the groom's side, and Lily's eyes were bright with tears as she watched her very best friend marry the woman who had made him insanely happy for the last several months. James nodded his approval, both of Severus' bonding, and of the Dark Lord's, glad that there would be a strong maternal influence in his son's life, to augment Lily's. He remembered Molly Weasley from the Order meetings, and knew that she would be a loving, guiding hand for his son in the coming years. Once the vows were sealed, the light of the magic was so bright that it was like a sunburst had erupted. Fortunately, the magic of the goddess had kept the muggles from noticing the explosion of light, which had left the participants and guests temporarily blinded. Her blessing marked Severus, Honora, Tom, and Marguerite with a circlet of claddagh symbols around their left wrists, signifying her approval of their bonding and of the permanency of their commitments to each other.
Once the dinner was over, with the cake served, the floor was cleared for dancing and gaiety. Couples drifted together to wrap themselves around each other, forgetting for the moment the stresses and pressures of the outside world as they lost themselves to their love for each other. Others introduced themselves to one another, forming new friendships and bonds, and finding common ground on which to build new relationships. Ron found himself intrigued by Willa Macnair, one of the girls who had tried to 'collect' Corvus at one point, and approached her, asking for a dance. Seeing an opportunity to elevate herself in the organization, she smiled coquettishly at the preteen, accepting his request and gluing herself to the front of him almost obscenely.
"Jason. Benedict. I need you to run interference between Ron and Miss Macnair for a moment," Corvus growled lowly, emerald eyes narrowed. "I wish to speak to her. Ron may listen, if he wishes."
"Yes, Alpha," they responded in unison, nodding their heads as they wended their way through the dancers and to the couple in question. A quick, whispered word in the girl's ear had her stepping quickly away from the auburn haired boy, an avaricious gleam in her eye. Benedict grabbed her left elbow, while Jason grabbed her right, and they escorted her to the quiet alcove in which Draco, Corvus, and Theo were standing. Ron trailed the three, confusion in his midnight blue eyes. Willa reached out to Corvus as soon as she saw him, but Benedict jerked her back harshly, making her gasp in pain. Tonks scowled angrily, but kept his silence at a glance from his alpha.
"I wanted to speak to you, Miss Macnair," Corvus began flatly, anger burning in his eyes. "I was watching when Ron asked you to dance, and I saw what was going through your mind. Since you couldn't gain any sort of advantage by ensnaring me, you figured to gain an advantage trying to ensnare my right hand. That simply will not do." Ron's eyes widened in anger and he glared at the back of the girl's head. "I have encouraged every one of those who are part of my family; who are within my Inner Circle to find those with whom they would like to eventually bond. Ron, as my right hand, is considered part of my family. I saw the interest in his eyes, and I saw no problem with him approaching you, to see if perhaps the two of you may be compatible.
"I would still like to see if, perhaps, the two of you are compatible, but not at the expense of his feelings. I will say this only once. I am in love with Draco Malfoy and Theo Nott. I intend to bond with them when we are old enough. They are my mates, and will be my mates for all eternity. Nothing and no one will ever come between us. Ronald Prewitt-Tonks is my right hand. For all intents and purposes, he is me to the organization. Offend him, and you offend me. And believe me, you will not like me offended. At this point, it is entirely up to him whether or not he wishes to attempt to get to know you. I will be having a chat with your father about your behavior, and I will be making it very clear that I am not at all pleased with the way you have insulted a member of my family. Now, I wish to enjoy myself, so I would suggest you get out of my sight." The girl fled with as much decorum as she could, face ashen. Ron watched her go with narrowed eyes, but he couldn't keep the hurt off of his face.
"Don't worry, Ron," Draco said softly. "Her magic is in a bit of a turmoil right now, but it is completely complimentary to yours. She is your match, and she will come around. We're spending the week here, so that Severus and Tom can have a small honeymoon. That'll give you time to woo her. She just needs to realize that you're perfect for her, and you'll have to help her get those ideas of advancing her father's agenda out of her head. After Alpha has spoken to Mr. Macnair, it'll go much smoother for you."
"Thanks, Draco," Ron replied with a smile. He wandered away, head down, thinking of ways to charm the Macnair girl.
"Care to dance, sweetness?" Theo husked into Corvus' ear, making the raven shiver.
"I thought you'd never ask."