Any characters you recognise are the property of JK Rowling; the rest are from my imagination. The first slice of wedding-cake properly belongs to OzRatBag2, beta extraordinary, and she can have any flavour she fancies.
Blessings and thanks to Damiana; if you would like to be a guest at a Wizarding World wedding in full detail, from start to finish, please read her beautiful "Marrach," on adultfanfiction.net.
Chapter 20: Consecrated To The Honour Of The Mother
A Week Before the Wedding
The Gryffindor Common Room was at its best at about seven in the evening, before everyone came in for a break from homework, a chat before going to bed, a snack, a gossip or just to flop into a squashy armchair in the genial company of one's mates.
Harry, Ron and Hermione had commandeered the best armchairs; close to the fireplace. "I'll miss this," said Ron. "I'll miss our sitting around in the Common Room, talking about everything and nothing, plotting and planning and all."
"So will I," said Hermione. "We would miss it in any case. We're graduating next week, and even if I wasn't going abroad, we'd still be leaving Hogwarts." She studied the apple in her hands. "I used to think that Hogwarts was forever; that after graduation I'd stay on as a student teacher, become a Master, and live the rest of my life here."
"You never know," said Ron. "The research project in Paris will come to an end and you'll come home. I know you will."
Hermione looked at him. "Yes, we'll come home, Ron. Severus and I will come back, and unless we've won fame and fortune and are renowned the world over –"
"Cor! Listen to you brag!" scoffed Ron. "Even if you go to America or- or Australia – this is your home, and you'll come back."
Hermione reached for his hand and held it tightly. "Yes," she said. "I wouldn't miss Christmas at Hogwarts, or Halloween, or the Leaving Feast. Or your birthdays, you two prats."
"Then again," Harry drawled, slumping down in his chair and stretching out his toes towards the fire, "The Professor will want to come home and teach a class now and then, just to keep his hand in, so he doesn't forget how to give detention and snark at the students." He chuckled.
Hermione laughed. "I shouldn't wonder," she said. "It's taken him years to build that extraordinary terribleness of his, and he's not going to put it aside lightly."
Ron upended himself over the arm of his chair and groped for the bag of crisps he had left on the floor. Righting himself, he opened the bag and offered it to Hermione and then to Harry. "It's going to be right strange, Hermione, not having you around all the time." He crunched on a handful of crisps. "Can we – I mean, will it be all right for us to visit you? Will he mind?"
"No, he will not," said Hermione. "Actually, I think he'll enjoy the company. We won't have much time to entertain, especially in the beginning when we're first acquainting ourselves with the project, but once we're settled, it will be a nice break in the routine. You might be interested to know that Severus chose our house with an eye to guest accommodations. Look," she said.
Hermione took her wand out of her sleeve and drew a square in the air. Immediately it took on the look of a television set, knobs and all, and there, as on a screen, was a narrow Parisian street.
"Look at the old street lights and the cobblestones!" breathed Harry.
"Yes, isn't it quaint? And here's the house," Hermione pointed to a small house painted a pale yellow, with blue wooden shutters on the tall windows. Pots of geraniums bloomed on the four steps up to the front door, and flowers spilled out of the window boxes.
"Numéro 12, Rue des Anges," she said. "Want to see the inside?"
Ron and Harry leaned forward, their eyes glued to the picture. Hermione's wand conducted them on a tour through the front door, into the foyer with its hall tree for hanging up coats, into the large kitchen with its big trestle table, through the dining room, into the parlour, with a stone fireplace, many squashy armchairs, a small harpsichord and two facing settees; and out of the back into the small garden, with its grape arbour, beds of herbs and vegetables and rose-bushes.
They came back through the House-Elves' quarters, and found themselves upstairs in the second floor hallway. In the front, there were two guests' bedrooms, with a small bathroom between them. In the rear of the house was one large bedroom, with its own bath.
"Where's your office?" asked Harry. "You couldn't live without an office to fill up with papers and books and stuff."
Hermione laughed. "That's the beauty of it!" she said. "Here's how it works." Their view returned to the master bedroom, over to one of the two large armoires. A wave of the wand, and the armoire pivoted into somewhere, revealing a capacious office with a long worktable, many bookcases, two armchairs and what looked like typical Granger piles of books, scrolls and papers all over the floors, the tables, and on every flat surface. It only wanted Crookshanks lying on the windowsill, the picture of contentment.
Their view traveled over to the other armoire, and when that one pivoted, lo! It displayed what looked exactly like Snape's dungeon office and laboratory in Hogwarts!
Hermione extinguished the visual travelogue. "So, you see, your rooms are waiting for you in Paris," she said.
Eve of the Wedding
Hermione sat down on the soft green grass and leaned back against a cherry tree. "I'm so tired," she murmured. "I've done nothing but talk, talk, talk for two weeks. Every student in the school wanted to speak to me – some were shy, some were sly, and some – well, they just didn't understand it."
"And so, with your infinite patience, you told them over and over again that, yes, we are going to be married, we are going to France, and that we expect to live happily ever after." Severus Snape lounged on the grass at her side. He plucked a dandelion gone to seed and gave it to her to blow the silky parachutes into the evening air. "It seems no-one believes that you are voluntarily marrying me."
Hermione laughed. "What do they think? That I'm marrying you at the point of a –what is it, that firearm?"
"A shotgun," Severus answered. "It will be a great relief when all this fuss is over and done, and we can set about living our lives."
"Our lives," murmured Hermione. "Ever, and ever, and – Severus!"
"What's the matter?" Severus sat up and put his arms around her. "You look as if you've just taken a bludger to the jaw." He reached for her hand.
Hermione put her hand over his. "I never saw it before, ": she said, her voice soft.
"What? You're frightening me," said he.
"It's your name. Severus." Her eyes were shining. "Right there, when I say your name – ever.
Ever and ever after, always, forever, Severus."
He kissed her. "Hermione…"
"My–own, Hermione…it's right there, when I say your name."
They sat side-by-side, looking into each other's eyes and whispering each other's names.
"Severus, we're not supposed to be together the night before the wedding," she told him. "I should go back to Gryffindor, before you trap me here in your lewd embrace and we spend the night snogging."
Consecrated to the Honour of the Mother
"There's nothing to be nervous about, dear," said Hermione soothingly, helping Minerva McGonagall to adjust her bonnet. It was a splendid example of the milliner's art, indeed: ruby red velvet, the right side of the brim secured to the crown by a gorgeous gold brooch from which sprouted a plume of Fawkes' iridescent tail feathers, and the point adorned with a tassel of gold beads. Minerva fussed at her cloak fastenings: "Oh, it's so exciting I can hardly bear it! We've never had a wedding at Hogwarts, and, of all people…" She dabbed at the corners of her eyes with a lace-bordered handkerchief
"Now! You'll ruin your eye makeup, Minerva!" Hermione scolded. She had prevailed upon the Transfigurations Professor to apply a little eye shadow and mascara for the great occasion. For a witch in her early hundreds, McGonagall was still beautiful, with her faintly feline air. Hermione conjured an ivory fan for the lady, who took it with gratitude and was induced to sit down, relax and fan herself.
Professor Hooch rustled up, splendid in a sophisticated bronze taffeta gown and an astonishing hat that resembled an upended flowerpot with live blooms growing out of the hole in the bottom. Professor Sprout's been practising her hobby of hat-making, I see," noted Hermione, trying to stifle a giggle. Hooch pirouetted in front of them: "Well? Will I do?"
"Oh, you're a vision, dear," said McGonagall, fanning. One could just imagine her Animagus form's tail lashing from side to side with amusement.
"Coming from you, Minerva, that could be bad news," said Hooch, plumping herself down next to her colleague. She withdrew her wand from her sleeve and delicately scratched her head under her sleek French twist. The two senior witches bent their heads together and laughed.
"If you are all settled, I think someone had better find the Headmaster, before he gets into the punch," Hermione called, heading for the side door. "It would be so embarrassing to be walked down the aisle by a tipsy Professor Dumbledore!"
For three days, Samuel and I and our staff of kitchen elves basted, stirred and seasoned; unmoulded, garnished and stuffed, fried, roasted, simmered and sautéed, shredded and scalloped, chilled and warmed the many dishes to be served at the feast. It seemed that every Mistress (and some of the Masters, as well) had a favourite family recipe, which just had to be prepared for the great occasion!
I looked out at the long tables, all covered with white damask cloths, and set with heavy gold flatware, gold candelabra and urns of flowers. The Masters' Table was on a dais; three steps up, at the back of the room. All was in readiness. If I knew aright, the bride and groom would try to make their escape directly the ceremony was completed, and leave the guests to enjoy the lavish dinner. If only I could convince them to stay long enough to cut their magnificent wedding cake! Samuel beckoned to me; the chapel doors were open. I wiped my hands on a kitchen towel and, together with Samuel, made my way to the chapel. This was one occasion when I would not be stuck in the kitchen!
The chapel was filled with flowers, pots of lilies of all colours and scents, urns of roses twined with jasmine, garlands of orchids and freesias. Beams of sunlight, coloured by their passage through the stained glass of the windows depicting the lives of the great mages, lay on the Masters' chairs and the students' benches. The altar was draped with holly and star ivy. House Elves straightened the red carpet lining the centre aisle, then scampered over to watch from the side. Samuel and I squeezed in next to Professor Vector, who was already snuffling into a plaid handkerchief.
Music played from the ceiling: some of the house ghosts were quite talented musicians, and if I listened around the chatter and hubbub, I could hear anything from "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" to the overture from "The Marriage of Figaro," played on a variety of instruments including the nose flute, the didgeridoo and a toy piano.
The students, wearing their dress robes, filed in. They were quieter than usual, filled with awe. Few of them had ever been in the chapel, which looked like a small, dusty chamber when it was not expanded, as it was now, to its full inter-dimensional size. In honour of the occasion, Gryffindor house filled the first rows of the benches on the right next to the aisle. Slytherin house students sat in the rows on the left, and Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff sat behind them, to the left and the right sides of the centre aisle. The students all stood and remained standing as the Masters entered, dressed in holiday finery. Professor McGonagall looked over all, to make sure everyone was in their proper place.
The 'Seven Maidens' entered and were guided by McGonagall to the right side of the altar. They were wide-eyed and a little intimidated. The young Gryffindor girls, including the young Weasley sister, all looked beautiful. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, dressed in their best formal robes, stood closest to the altar on the right side.
Then, the 'Seven Youths' came in, to stand to the left of the altar. Puffed up and proud in their dress robes, the young princes of Slytherin swaggered over to their places, where they shoved and elbowed one another for the best place from which to see the ceremony. After all, it was their Head of House who was to be married!
The bride's few relatives entered and were ushered to chairs placed next to Gryffindor; following them, the entire Weasley family. Some guests from the Ministry of Magic and elsewhere in the wizarding world made their entrances and were seated.
From the back of the chapel, the Uillean pipes began to play an ancient air. Samuel nudged me: "Turn around, Susan! Look!" The double doors at the rear opened, and Dame Angharad, flanked by Druid priests and priestesses, paced down the long aisle and stood in front of the altar. The Green Lady was, indeed, wearing green robes, with her spring-green veil over her wimple and a golden coronet set with emeralds around her head. The green-robed Druids around her carried baskets of fresh herbs and flowers, sprigs of rosemary and vervain, fine tendrils of star ivy, with its wee star-shaped leaves, and branches of holly. At her right hand stood the Druid seer Brigit McDiarmaidh, Madam Pomfrey's nurse aide, wearing green robes with the hood of her cloak over her carrot-red curls, and holding a cruse of holy water.
The four pipers began to walk slowly forward. Professor Vector whispered, in a quavering voice, "The groom! The groom!" The double doors opened once more, and the groomsmen entered with the groom between them. Remus Lupin and Rubeus Hagrid held the arms of the lucky man. Everyone turned around to see, and it was worth seeing. Never had I seen anything like this!
The groom, straight and tall and proud, wore a moss green velvet dress jacket over a fine white linen shirt. Lace dripped from the jacket's sleeves, which were fastened with gold buttons (galleons, I should think). Around the ruffled neck of his shirt, he wore a scarlet silk cravat. Over that he wore a gold brocade vest, and to the astonishment of all, a tartan kilt in moss green, scarlet and gold – the tartan of his mother's clan, echoing the colours of Gryffindor and Slytherin. To complete his outfit, the groom wore white stockings and black buckled shoes. Crowning this vision of traditional splendour, the groom wore his shining black hair tied in a tail at his nape, high colour on his cheeks, and a look of wonderment on his face.
"By my grandmother's beard, 'tis himself! Whoever would have thought it?" Samuel remarked, and reached over to hold my hand. I hoped I had a handkerchief in my apron pocket.
The groomsmen led Severus Snape him to the altar, and he bowed to the Druid priestess, then turned and bowed to the assembled witnesses. Two priestesses walked to the rear of the chapel, swinging incense burners. The scent of sandalwood and lavender filled the air. I've never prayed in my life, thought Snape, but I'm praying now, to whatever gods and goddesses will hear me, that I may be worthy of this blessing, this gift. He felt Lupin's grip tighten on his arm, and he realised that he was trembling.
He had dreamt again last night, his last night before his wedding. Once again, he had found himself in the forest, at the ancient stone altar, and once again he knelt on the stone table before the dolmen. The Green Lady, Dame Angharad, stood before him.
"What will ye offer the Mother?" she asked.
"My sorrow, my fear, my anger, my despair, my gratitude and my hope," he answered.
"What will ye ask of the Mother?"
"Only this: that I be worthy to accept Her gifts."
He felt a strange sensation, a loosening of bonds. As he watched, the Green Lady drew a thick rope of evergreen ivy away from his loins. She held it up to the dolmen, and it winked out in a shower of green sparks. The sparks burned his skin, and he awoke, swatting at their stinging, to a glorious sunrise and Remus Lupin and Rubeus Hagrid pounding on his door.
"Get up, you lazy git! We've got to get you shaped up, man!"
"Bugger off!" groaned Snape, and buried himself in his pillows until the door swung open, and his groomsmen, already well flown with morning libations, roared in to drag him out of bed. There had been much sniggering as he dressed; Remus had said loftily, "The groom's dress is prettier than the bride's!" and received Severus' iciest glare. After several false starts at getting the damned kilt to fold over properly so as not embarrass him by swinging open at inopportune times, he was ready. Severus took a last look at himself in his mirror, an ancient family antique that seldom spoke. "Good fortune and good 'cess to ye, me boy," the old voice grated, and they were off to the chapel.
"Wait here for me a moment," Severus asked, as they passed the doors to the colonnade circling the Great Hall tower. He stepped onto the columned balcony and stood, gazing at the misty Scottish hillside, mountains and valleys and the distant glimmer of a loch. How beautiful is this world, Mother, he thought, I never saw it before. I never knew that it was my world too. He listened to the liquid notes of the lark, smelled the fresh breeze and felt the sun on his face as if for the first time; as if he had lived underground all of his life. I'm so blessed, thank you again, Mother.
Remus watched him through the glass doors. A man he had known most of his life as the "overgrown bat", surly, dissatisfied, corroded with anger, was now gone, and in his place there was a Romantic hero, standing with one hand on the balcony ledge, looking out over the lands like the Laird he was in fact, looking with favour and with gratitude on the blessed world he shared with all the Mother's children.
The double doors opened again, everyone rose, and the bride entered on the arms of Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall. There was a chorus of "Oooh!" Was this indeed Hermione Granger, the plain little woman, the bushy-haired Gryffindor know-it-all and bookworm?
The bride shone like the morning star. She was dressed in a Druid priestess' silk samite gown the white of white lilies and roses, with a girdle of gold Celtic ribbonwork around her hips, on her shoulders a white samite cloak fastened in front with gold clasps in the shape of the Claddagh, and trailing into a twenty-foot train bordered with ribbonwork. Her gossamer white veil, which floated behind her, as long as her train, was held in place with a coronet of yellow gold and topazes. Her curly hair was bound about with a Rajah's ransom of pearls, a gift from the groom. She carried a bouquet of wild roses, white and pink, twined with columbine.
Hermione stood still with astonishment at her first sight of the bridegroom. Her bridegroom. I know I see him through the eyes of love, but I never realised – oh, he's beautiful! He was looking at her as if witnessing a miracle, his eyes shining.
Tall he had always been, proud and dignified he had always been, but she was unprepared for this splendid man, wearing a kilt (and fine legs he had, indeed!) And with a smile from ear to ear! Straight white teeth. He took a step forward and bowed to her.
Wiping away tears that flowed over his beatific smile, the Headmaster put back Hermione's veil and kissed her forehead. Minerva, smiling proudly, kissed her and patted her hair. Harry stepped forward, bowed to Hermione, and kissed her cheek. Bursting with pride, he held out his fist and placed her hand on it. He walked up to the altar with her, and handed her over to her groom. Together they turned to face the Green Lady. A priestess came forward to take Hermione's bouquet. Harry and Ron, together, stood at her side.
The ceremony seemed endless. Priestesses sang psalms to the accompaniment of harps. The bride and groom murmured words in Gaelic; they bowed their heads to receive crowns of holly and ivy; they drank wine and ate cakes, they walked round each other three times, and then they put rings on each other's fingers. They were showered with holy water. They repeated their vows to love and honour each other.
Dame Angharad pressed her palms together, and when she separated them, a golden chain sparkled between them. She bound the golden chain about their joined hands. The chain glimmered and winked, threw out a great corona of gilded rays, and disappeared into their hands.
The priestess pressed her palms to their foreheads and intoned a blessing: "Consecrated be this man and this woman to the honour of the Mother." She held up her hands up, and faced the assemblage: "Let this company and the gods bear witness that Hermione and Severus are joined in love, joy and freedom, and that they are husband and wife. So mote it be."
The response thundered back from the witnesses: "So mote it be."
Hermione and Severus kissed, and turned to face the assemblage. Fawkes and the house owls flew up and circled the chapel, singing Alleluia, Mendelssohn erupted from a spectral organ on the ceiling, played by a jubilant Nearly Headless Nick, and flowers flew out of the air to bombard the newly wed couple.
Together, the bride and bridegroom walked back up the chapel aisle, between the ranks of wildly applauding and cheering guests, and into the Great Hall, where well-wishers surrounded them. There were many toasts, and the wedding-gifts piled up on the side of the room. Musicians on the side of the huge room tuned up, preparing to play for the evening's dancing
Mrs Susan Dowd and her husband Samuel entered with the enormous wedding-cake, under a Mobilis spell, moving between them. They set the cake down on a round table, and the bride and groom approached to cut it. "It's customary to do this," whispered Hermione. "It's supposed to be a moment we treasure forever."
"Bother," said the groom. "Let's get out of here."
But there was the cake, a phenomenal nine-layered tower, the bottom three layers of chocolate cake, the middle three of rum, the next two of pumpkin spice, and the top of Dundee fruitcake. The fabulous confection was all covered in Royal icing with gold and silver shot and buttercream roses and lilies with chocolate leaves. The wee bride and groom on the very top, exact replicas in miniature of Hermione and Severus, waltzed in their little sugar pavilion, kissed and then danced a lively Gaillard.
Headmaster Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, their friends and family were waiting, along with over five hundred others, for the good luck that eating a slice of wedding cake confers.
Hermione took up her wand, and Severus put his hand over hers. "Torta divisorum," they pronounced, and the cake neatly cut itself into six hundred slices. One slice floated onto a plate, acquired a fork, and landed in Hermione's outstretched hand. She turned to the waiting throng, cut a piece of the cake, and fed it to her new husband. Everyone cheered.
Severus took the plate from her, ignored the fork, broke off a piece of the cake and fed it to his new wife from his fingers, and the roar shook the rafters. Licking icing from his fingers, he took her hand, and together they walked out of the great main doors of Hogwarts Castle and over to a waiting carriage drawn by two white horses.
The crowd surged out of the hall, waving at them, throwing flowers, launching doves, waving wands to send Roman candles and chrysanthemum fireworks displays aloft. Hermione looked at the people who were more her family than her born kindred. Minerva and Poppy were weeping unashamedly through their smiles; Headmaster Dumbledore waved with both arms. And there, holding the horses' bridles, the dearest friends anyone could wish: Harry and Ron. Surrounding them were Ginny, Remus Lupin, Madam Pomfrey, the Professors, and all of her friends.
Hermione stopped next to them, and put her hand on Ron's shoulder. He looked at her and impulsively hugged her, whispering, "You'll always be me chum, love. And he had better treat you proper, or I'll turn him into a slime toad."
"Don't fear," said Hermione. "I'll always be your chum, and I'll always be here for you. And I'll expect you for holidays in Paris; you know."
Ginny hugged her hard. "I can't wait to visit you, and go shopping!"
Harry put his arms around her and held her tightly. He looked up at Severus Snape. "Please be good to her," he said.
Snape patted Harry and Ron's shoulders. "Never fear, Potter, Weasley. I shall." Harry looked at him, astonished. The Professor was actually smiling.
"Cor!" Ron gasped. "He patted us!"
"And he smiled while he did it, too" Harry added.
Hagrid, tears of happiness coursing down into his beard, handed the couple into the open carriage. Hermione turned around carefully, her back to the crowd. She tossed her bouquet over her shoulder, and a hundred wands rose into the air to retrieve it. The bouquet sailed among the forest of wands, circled twice, and dropped into the waiting hands of – ***
Albus Dumbledore, surrounded by the rest of the Masters, made his way over to carriage, waving goodbye. "Don't go yet!" he shouted. Puzzled, Hermione looked at Severus, as surprised as she. Then, a bald head with two floppy ears and enormous eyes appeared above the carriage-frame, and a little House Elf, wearing an immaculately-ironed pillowslip, climbed onto the carriage and settled itself next to the driver.
"Moi, je vous acompagne á Paris, Maitresse et Maitre," said little Nibby. He was carrying a small suitcase, a wicker cage containing a thoroughly unamused Crookshanks, and a little sack with his treasured piece of wedding-cake.
"So our household begins," said Severus.
The horses leaned into their harness, and the carriage began to move. An awful clash and clatter informed the newlyweds that someone had tied a good number of old tin cans to the rear of the vehicle. Hermione settled back into the circling arms of the happiest man she had ever seen in her life. He rested his jaw against her forehead, and for the second time that day, he prayed: If I should die tomorrow –if all of this should turn out to be a dream, or if I should awaken in Azkaban, broken and hopeless – I will always be thankful for this moment of joy. Gods protect my wife, and grant me time to live with her in peace and happiness.
"Well, wife? Are you comfortable? We shall be in Ayrshire shortly, and we can take off this finery."
Hermione looked up at him. "Wife," she said, and smiled, snuggling against him. "Yes, husband, I'm comfortable, but I'll be more so when I'm out of all this samite and in my old tweed skirt and stout shoes again. We'll need the few days to pack and get ready."
"I had envisioned you robed as Nature made you," Severus said. "I shall be delighted to lay this skirt aside and put on my favourite garment."
"No!" she cried. "Not that tatty grey nightshift!"
He looked down his nose at her. "At my selection of underclothes again, eh?
Hermione put her arms around his neck and whispered in his ear, "It covers my favourite dish."
The groom's smirk was up to his usual standard. "Indeed, my love," he said, his voice black silk velvet, "I would not see you go, uh, hungry." And his long hand slid down over her legs and under her gown.
The carriage clattered away down the road, the tin cans bumping along after it.
Arm in arm, Dame Angharad and Brigit walked into the Great Hall, to join the feast already in progress. Brigit noticed Harry Potter leaning against a pillar, looking out sadly at the departing carriage. She slipped her free hand through Harry's arm. "Ye need not grieve," she said. "Ye have not lost a friend; she will ever be part of your life."
Harry looked at her with a melancholy smile. "I hope so," he said. "But she'll be his wife!"
"Whisht!" said Brigit, and knocked her knuckles on his head. "Ye have a new kinsman, and if I am not mistaken, did ye not save each others' lives? Ye owe him family loyalty. He has learned much, and herself will keep him to rights."
Harry looked into her gold-flecked blue eyes. A dimple appeared on each side of her smiling mouth. He felt himself beginning to blush. She has elven ears…
"Ah," said Brigit. "So yourself has much to learn, do ye?" She turned to the Green Lady: "A handsome lad, is he not? I think he might be wantin' some lessons." And she pulled Harry away towards the dancing-floor.
*** You will have to read "I Will Follow Thee" to find out who caught the bouquet. Blessed be!