Epilogue

Leah looked into the large, oval mirror in her former dormitory room and saw herself, once more, in her wedding gown. Wide shafts of sunlight streamed through the windows, lighting the room and giving their blessing to the day's events. Headmistress McGonagall, Tonks and Marian were all silent as Leah inspected her reflection without mercy. She smiled in approval of her decision to leave off the veil this time.

"Mare, would you open my jewelry case and hand me my earrings? They should be in one of the top compartments," Leah asked, pointing to the dark blue leather box on the bed.

Opening the clasp and lifting the lid, Marian found something curious. A letter address to Leah in red ink rested atop the earrings.

"Why don't you come over here and sit down? It looks like you have a little present," Marian said, holding up the letter.

Leah smirked when she turned and saw the scarlet handwriting.


Saturday, April 7, 2007

Angel,

Tonight I am consumed with a mystery. The firelight dances over your glorious form as you sleep, and here I sit, studying you in awe. How did I get here?

I put you through much that I am not proud of, and yet, you never lost faith. You came for me time and time again, even when I did my best to push you away. What we will be doing in a few short hours steals my breath every time I think of it. It is my ultimate redemption, and I am humbled once again that you would not shy away from binding yourself to me.

You have always been here for me, even before I knew you in physical form. The mere shadow of you in my dreams comforted me for the better part of my life. It was a constant, solid and steady, during many years when my world slowly crumbled around me. When I found that you were real, tangible and not some cruel figment of my imagination, I felt my soul clawing its way back to the surface within me. Your mere existence filled me with long forbidden hope, and you proved to be much more than the desperate longings of a tainted soul. You are the promise fulfilled.

It is now my turn to be your anchor, your shelter. I love you more than I could ever say, and I endeavor now, to spend the rest of my life showing you just how much.

Your Own,
Severus


Leah took the linen handkerchief from Minerva's outstretched hand, squeaking a quick thank you as she dabbed at her eyes.

"Alright there?" Tonks asked, handing Leah her earrings.

Leah cleared her throat and beamed. "Way beyond." After putting in her earrings, she stood and tucked the letter securely between her black sash and ivory dress. She turned to address Minerva and took her hand. "Thank you for doing this. It means the world us." Minerva nodded in reply and squeezed Leah's hand, a soft smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.


The guests were seated in the courtyard, and Leah stood behind the closed doors, alone. She waited, still and silent, for the clock to strike eleven in the tower above. Hearing the first chime, Leah opened the doors. Everyone stood, watching with wistful expressions as she proceeded down the aisle to the music of the massive clock. Severus waited patiently for his bride, standing tall and proud.

When Leah reached her destination, the guests seated themselves on Minerva's cue. On either side of the aisle in several short rows were Remus and Tonks, Molly, Arthur and Ginny, Kingsley, Hagrid, Sibyll, Professors Flitwick and Sprout, Madam Pomfrey, Marian, Gray, Charlie, Michael and Gina; Filch lurked alone, watching from the corner of the courtyard with Mrs. Norris. And aligned with the chairs of the front row stood an easel bearing Albus' portrait from just outside the Great Hall, sunlight glimmering on its polished brass poles and knobs.

It was Easter Sunday, and while cherry blossoms waltzed on the breeze filling the courtyard with a kind of pale pink snow, Leah smiled peacefully at Severus as they knelt. She took his right hand in hers, lacing their fingers, palm to palm. Minerva stood and stepped forward from her seat, facing the couple and their guests with a sober expression to fill her role as their bonder.

Leah spoke first, reaching out to touch Severus' cheek with her left hand as the tip of Minerva's wand came to rest on their joined right hands. Just as Severus would, Leah recited her Unbreakable Vow from memory. "By the life that courses within my blood and the love that resides within my heart, I take thee to my hand and my heart, to be my chosen one. I promise to love thee wholly and completely without restraint, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in poverty, in life and beyond, where we shall meet, remember, and love again."

A red, swirling tendril grew from Minerva's wand, wrapping itself around their hands. Severus noticed immediately that it did not burn as it had before. (He was concerned that it would and had warned Leah.) This time it was different. The bond was hot, but not caustic, and he did not have the immediate sense that he had sold his soul. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Leah winked at her husband as she dropped her hand from his face. It was now his turn to speak, and he did so flawlessly, taking his Unbreakable Vow with complete sincerity and decorum. "By the life that courses within my blood and the love that resides within my heart, I take thee to my hand and my heart, to be my chosen one. I promise to love thee wholly and completely without restraint, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in poverty, in life and beyond, where we shall meet, remember, and love again."

A second tendril sprung from Minerva's wand, encircling Severus and Leah's hands with the first, giving off an iridescent brilliance. Focused solely on each other, they had forgotten about their guests, and were brought back to Earth when they heard Hagrid's sob. Looking up from the vermilion glow of their bond, Leah saw Molly hand him a handkerchief. She noticed Filch out of the corner of her eye swatting at the airborne cherry blossoms around him. She watched Remus bring Tonks' hand to his lips and Michael and Gina trying not to smile.

Minerva removed her wand from their hands and stepped back, smiling reservedly. "Blessed Be," she said. Severus watched Leah while she took in everything going on around them, enjoying the tender just as much as the mundane and delighting in everyone exactly as they were. He reached out to touch Leah's face as the light faded from their bond, bringing her eyes to meet his in silent joy.

Soundtrack Entry #33 – Fumbling Towards Ecstacy – Sarah McLachlin
Soundtrack Entry #34 – Somewhere Over The Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo'ole


Author's Notes:

Sources
Since most of my sources are websites, the system won't let me post them here. If you're interested in my source list, feel free to e-mail me, and I'll be glad to share it with you.

Song Lyrics
1. "Come Away With Me" – Lyrics by Norah Jones
2. "Taking Over Me" – Lyrics by Amy Lee

Acknowledgements
J.K. Rowling, thank you for creating Severus Snape and the world around him. You rock!

Vitraille, my oldest friend, editor and co-conspirator! Thanks for being so willing to share your expertise and listen to me ramble on constantly about the story. Really. I'm not sure I deserve your patience. Long live the dark horse!

Holly Ilex, I appreciate you more than you know! If you had not been so encouraging and supportive, Unbidden would still be in its infancy, abandoned on a flash drive. And again, you have my sincere thanks for allowing me to borrow your idea for the fate of Severus' parents. Genius!

Dearest reviewers, I adore you. You make me feel like Sally Field at the Oscars. You like me! You really like me!

Faithful readers, thank you for giving Unbidden a chance. I know how many gazillions of stories are out there, and I am honored that you took the time to read mine. If you've ever considered writing a story, do it! Start now! You just might surprise yourself…

Snape Lives!

MinnKota