Chapter 19

Epilogue

The next to last Saturday in August dawned bright and clear. Esme woke up to her aunt and Wizby puttering around in her sitting room making sure everything was laid out where she could get to it. Her dress was on a form that stood in the corner. She slipped some slippers on and came out to get her morning cup of coffee and check on the proceedings.

"Your mother would be so proud!" her aunt exclaimed as she came over to give Esme a quick hug.

"Don't cry yet, Aunt Minnie! How does the garden look?"

"Perfect. You know Hermione and Ron's wedding might have been big and beautiful with all those people at it last week; and all the food – Merlin's beard! And that is fine when you are as young as they are and have as big of a family as Arthur Weasley. But I think you and Severus have it right; just a small ceremony, tastefully done."

"There have been a lot of weddings this summer, haven't there? Remus got married, too, a few weeks ago."

"Yes, that was a small wedding as well – not too many Black family members left to celebrate. Just the magistrate, Remus and Tonks; Poppy and I attended as witnesses and Potter was also there."

"Good. I wish them well, he has been a good friend to us." She finished off her mug. "Well, the caffeine is starting to work – I'm going to go take my bath. Ten o'clock will be here before I know it."

When she came back out to the main room, she just wore an under-shift. She sat down on a backless stool and let Wizby work her magic on Esme's hair. Then she went to put on her gown. Very simple in cut, it was made of ivory brocade, featuring long sleeves that buttoned up to the elbow and another row of pearl buttons straight down the front from the scooped neckline to the hem. A wreath of roses held her hair and veil in place.

Swagged from shoulder to hip was the Scott formal Tartan, which Minerva pinned at her shoulder with a family heirloom clan brooch. A simple bouquet of the same roses with a cascade of ivy, finished off the ensemble and Minerva, dressed in dark green silk formal robes, escorted her niece out of the Gryffindor tower and down to the Rose Garden.

As she walked along the pathway to chamber music performed by some seventh-year students of Flitwick's, she kept her eyes on Severus standing by the magistrate and decked out in formal robes and frock coat, today with silver buttons that sparkled in the late morning sunlight. In his waistcoat she saw he wore the watch she had given him. His face had lit up with a rare true smile when he had espied her at the entrance to the garden.

As she reached him, he took her hand and they faced the magistrate together to complete their binding, both magically and legally. As the magical ribbons around their joined hands faded and they shared a quick kiss, the assembled wizards shot sparks out of their wands and applauded.

Minerva conjured an oatcake into her hand and promptly crumbled it over their heads.

"Is this truly necessary? We are already expecting! I don't think we need any further help with fertility!" Severus complained, as he vainly attempted to dust himself free of the crumbs. And it was true, Esme was already pregnant, and in fact the dress had needed to be altered this past week because she was already beginning to show.

But Esme and Minerva only laughed, saying it was tradition, and Esmerelda helped him remove stray crumbs. He finally sighed good-naturedly and helped dust her off as well before leading her back through the gardens and to the staff room in the castle where a wedding brunch was being laid out by the house-elves.

As they walked through the Great Doors, Severus mused that it had been a very fortuitous decision to share that book all those years ago.

Fin