Perky-Thief, here, with the next installment of A Marriage of Convenience. I know that many of you have been anxiously awaiting this chapter for a very long time. In the time it has been since I last updated this story, I have received my Bachelor's degree and earned myself a Master's degree. With school finally done until loans are paid off, I hope to get to writing a bit more over the summer.
Anyway, since it's been so long, I'm trying to get back into the groove of this story. Let me know what you think of the way the storyline is going. Enjoy Chapter 19, wonderful readers.
Don't forget to Read & Review if you approve!
Title: A Marriage of Convenience
Chapter: The Wedding
Hermione was violently woken up on Saturday morning by a set of three bodies pouncing vigorously on her. They were bouncing up and down on the mattress, causing it to rock like a boat.
"Hermione! Wake up," Ginny shouted with enthusiasm. "Get up, you lazy lug! It's your big day!"
"Come on," Harry joined. "Get out of bed."
"Yeah," Ron said seriously. "Breakfast will be over if we don't hurry up."
"Ron!" his sister scolded.
Hermione sat up slowly, pushing the three persistent Gryffindors away from her. "Get off," she shoved them. "I'm up already, jeesh…" She rubbed both hands over her face, wiping the sleep off her eyes. "What do you want?" Hermione asked grumpily.
"It's your big day," Ginny said, folding her arms across her chest. "The least you could do is be a little excited. You are getting married later today…"
"I know," Hermione exclaimed exasperatedly. "I'm perfectly aware that I'm getting married today. I just want to know why you're all in my bedroom trying to suffocate me to death."
"We're simply trying to get you to show some enthusiasm for god's sake," Harry chuckled.
"Yeah," Ron chimed in. "Like Ginny said, today's your big day. Be happy!"
A smile spread across Hermione's face as she gazed at her three best friends sitting on her coverlet. This wasn't some silly show of false excitement in honor of her wedding day. Her friends were truly happy for her, and slightly more thrilled than she was at the given moment. "I'm glad that you're all here," Hermione grinned. "But how exactly did you get in here? I thought I charmed the lock last night before I went to bed…" She was somewhat curious; she had definitely made sure that her room was locked up nice and tight the previous night.
"Ginny counter-charmed it," Ron grinned widely like an idiot. "We always knew Ginny had to be good for something…"
"Shut it, Ron," Ginny sneered. "If you don't have anything intelligent to say, then you shouldn't say anything at all." She stuck her tongue out at her older brother and refocused her attention on Hermione. "Well do you plan on getting married at some point today? Or are you going to stay in bed all day?"
Hermione rubbed the sleepiness away from her eyes once again. "Exactly what time is it?" she asked her red-headed friend.
Ginny glanced down at her watch before replying, "A quarter after ten."
"And what time is my wedding ceremony?"
"3:30 on the dot, Hermione. So you'd better get your silly little butt out of bed and start getting ready for the day."
"Can't I sleep for just one more hour?" Hermione frowned. She put her head back down on her pillow and lightly shut her eyes
"Hermione, get up," Harry scolded. He hopped up off her bed and headed towards her door with Ron following close behind him.
"Honestly, Hermione," Ron commented. "For someone who's usually lecturing us, you're perhaps one of the laziest Gryffindors I've ever seen."
His words made her sit straight up and glare at him with a venomous gaze. Hermione reached behind her and chucked a pillow directly at Ron, hitting him square in the face. "I am not lazy," she replied matter-of-factly. Then her face sobered, "wait. I thought you were partially deaf. Is your ear okay?"
Ron chuckled softly and threw the pillow back at her, although missing entirely. "Yeah, I'm fine. Madam Pomfrey cleaned some of the wax out of my ear, and then I could hear as good as new. Now get out of bed and get ready for your wedding." And with that last comment, he and Harry exited the room, leaving Hermione and Ginny still situated on the bed.
Hermione sighed and dropped back down onto the bed. Ginny nudged her gently and said, "Come on, Hermione. You know they're right, as much as it pains me to admit it."
Heaving another sigh, Hermione silently admitted defeat and got out of bed. She strolled sluggishly to her private bathroom to freshen herself up. After taking a quick shower and brushing her teeth, Hermione exited the bathroom to find that Ginny had made her bed and laid her wedding gown carefully upon the coverlet. A pair of matching white strappy heels, a pair she had never seen before, was placed by the foot of bed. Hermione looked over to her wardrobe and saw Ginny busying herself as she searched through her clothes.
"Here," Ginny said, tossing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt in Hermione's general direction. "You can wear those for now." At Hermione's look of confusion, Ginny sighed dramatically. "I hope you weren't expecting to put on your dress now…"
Hermione looked down sheepishly. Actually, she had thought that. Why else would Ginny have placed the dress out on the bed so beautifully presented? "Well, I thought…"
"Hermione," Ginny said, shaking her head. "It's barely past 10:30. Your wedding isn't for at least another five hours. Did you really want to wander around in your wedding dress till 3:30?"
"Good point," Hermione agreed with a nod.
"I'm glad you think so," the red-head smiled proudly. "Now get dressed so we can have some breakfast. I'm starving."
Like a good bride-to-be, Hermione did as instructed and dressed in the casual jeans and shirt that Ginny had given her. When she was through, Ginny opened the door and called Ron and Harry back into the room. Hermione informed a house-elf to bring a big enough breakfast for four hungry Gryffindors. Sure enough, within minutes, a service cart popped in the corner of her room, holding a large tray filled with pancakes and waffles. After filling their plates with servings of each of the tasty options, the four of them ate their breakfast slowly, talking nonchalantly about the upcoming day.
"You know," Hermione mused. "I'm getting married in less than five hours and there are still so many things that I don't know. About the ceremony, of course."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked, sipping some pumpkin juice.
"I don't even know where the ceremony is taking place exactly…"
"Mhmm," Ginny mumbled, swallowing her last bite of waffle bits. "I can answer that." She put her fork down on her plate and took a quick sip of her drink. "Dumbledore said that the ceremony would take place by the lake, but a safe enough distance away from the Whomping Willow. I don't know the exact coordinates of the location, but it's definitely within walking distance of the castle, and should be easily viewed from on the east end of the castle." She took another sip of her juice and looked around at the faces gazing at her. "What?" Ginny asked when she noticed all the curious gazes pointed at her.
"How do you know all that?" Ron asked incredibly.
"Dumbledore and I talked about it a few days ago," his sister replied matter-of-factly.
Hermione cocked her head to the side. "You…and Dumbledore…discussed my wedding? Without me ever being present?" She sighed and sunk her shoulders. "Why am I always left out of everything?"
"Don't feel bad, Hermione," Ron said, patting her back. "This is the first I'm hearing about this, too."
"Same goes for me," Harry chimed in.
Ginny scowled and stared at her three friends. "Well if you wanted to be more involved with the planning then you should have been proactive about it. I went to Dumbledore on my own and discussed all the fine details with him." She folded her arms across her chest. "That's the only reason I know everything…"
"Fine details?" Hermione questioned. "What else do you know about, exactly?"
Ginny smiled and pinched Hermione's cheek in a humorous manner. "Now don't you worry your pretty little bride-to-be head about a single thing. Everything's already been taken care of. All you have to do is hang till around two o'clock." Her grin grew wider at her own thoughts. "That's when the real excitement begins…"
"Oh no," Hermione mock-groaned, "I don't know if I can handle anymore excitement today. I think I've had enough in one day to last me a lifetime."
"Ohhh," Ginny smiled lecherously. "Well, if it's excitement you're worried about, just wait until tonight. I'm sure you'll get a lot of excitement on your wedding night with Snape." She could barely contain the humorous giggles behind her own comment.
"Urgh," Ron grimaced. "Ginny, I'm still eating. Discussing Hermione's and Snape's upcoming sex-life is not one of the first things I want to hear at breakfast." His face puckered as if he had just sucked on an extremely sour lemon. "Save that kind of talk for after me and Harry leave."
"Yeah," Harry agreed. "We love you to death, Hermione, don't get us wrong. We just do not want to hear about those creepy details. You two can save that for your girl-talk."
Ginny stuck out her tongue and blew a raspberry at both boys. "Don't you worry," she assured them. "We will. And I'll be sure to give you all the details when we're finished."
"Don't worry," Ron said, standing up and gathering his plate. "I am finished." He put his empty plate on the service cart and walked over to Hermione. Ron wrapped his arms around her and enveloped her in a strong hug. Giving her a chaste kiss on the cheek, he said, "I've got a couple of things to do before the ceremony. See you later, 'Mione." He waved goodbye to the rest of the group and headed out the door and down to the Common Room.
Harry stood up as well, stacking his empty dishes on top of Ron's. "I'd better get going, too. There are a few things that I got to do, also. I'm going to meet Remus and Tonks in Hogsmeade and escort them up to the castle." He gathered Hermione into a tight hug and gave her a kiss on both cheeks before he made his way towards the door. "Now you two try to stay out of trouble," Harry warned Ginny and Hermione jokingly as he left.
"Don't worry," Ginny called back. "You know we won't." Harry didn't answer, but the sound of his footstep echoing as he descended the stairs served as an appropriate response.
Hermione rose and placed both hers and Ginny's plates on top of the pile they boys had created. After the house-elf came and removed the service cart from her room, Hermione and Ginny left the Gryffindor Common Room. As the portrait of the Fat Lady swung shut behind them, Hermione began walking towards the stairs.
"Where are you going?" Ginny asked.
"To the dungeons," Hermione replied. "I wanted to say good morning to Severus."
In what seemed like a flash, Ginny was by Hermione's side with a tight grip on her left arm. "Oh no you don't, missy," the red-head scolded, waggling a finger. "No seeing the groom for 24 hours before the wedding."
"But, Ginny," Hermione grinned. "I saw him yesterday. That silly little tradition really doesn't hold any weight at this point."
"When did you see him?" she asked, placing her hands on her hips.
Ginny shook her head. "Obviously you saw him at dinner. The entire school saw him at dinner. But when did you really see him? As in face to face?"
Hermione pursed her lips as she thought about the answer. Truthfully, she hadn't seen Severus one-on-one at all the previous day. She and Ginny had breakfast together in the morning. Then came the agonizing sex-talk with her Head of House; Hermione shuddered at remembering the thought of it. She simply couldn't face Severus after that had happened, so she went straight down to dinner where she sat with all her friends at Gryffindor table. In essence, she hadn't seen her fiancée yesterday, unless you count sneaking quick glances at him during the dinner hour. Hermione sighed in defeat as she realized that Ginny was right. "Alright," she held her hands up in surrender. "You're right, Gin. I guess I really didn't see Severus yesterday."
Ginny nodded smugly. "Exactly. And you're not about to ruin the streak now." She took hold of Hermione's hand and pulled her down the stairs. "Besides," Ginny added. "We've got to go see Dumbledore. He's been waiting for us."
"Why do we have to see Dumbledore?" Hermione asked.
"Because he has a surprise waiting for you in his office." Ginny said nothing other than that. She refused to answer any more of Hermione's questions on the matter until they got there.
They must have reached the stone gargoyle leading to the Headmaster's office in record timing, because Hermione was sure that she had never gotten there that fast before. Ginny spoke the candy-themed password and dragged Hermione up the spiral staircase leading to the door to his office. Hermione twisted her head so that her ear focused on the door. She heard faint voices in the midst of conversation from inside the office. Ginny knocked hard on the door, causing all internal conversation to stop. The red-head opened the door a crack, and poked her head inside. She must have received some confirmation that it was acceptable to enter, because she swung the door open widely before her.
"Ah," the Headmaster smiled. "Miss Granger, Miss Weasley, how good of you to join us. Please, do step in." He beckoned them gently with his hand.
As Hermione entered, she saw the tops of two heading poking from above the chairs facing the Headmaster's desk. After a moment, the two heads turned around to face a stunned Hermione.
"Oh, Hermione!" Emily Granger squealed as she stood up from her chair and nearly ran to embrace her daughter. "Oh, my baby, I've missed you so much."
"You've only seen her last Wednesday," Thomas remarked as he rose from his chair as well. "I doubt she's changed that much in three days."
"Hush, Thomas," his wife shushed him. She refocused her attention back on her daughter. "Hermione…" she spoke softly. "My little girl. All grown up on her wedding day…I never thought this day would come…"
"At least not this soon," Thomas added sarcastically from behind them. Emily purposely ignored her husband's comment and continued holding on tightly to Hermione.
"Mum," Hermione gasped out. "You're…choking me."
"Oh my," Hermione was quickly released from her mother's clutches. "Sorry, dear."
"It's okay, mum."
Thomas walked over to his daughter and embraced her, in a not so life-threatening hug. "Come here, pumpkin," he said affectionately as he pulled Hermione into his arms. "Dumbledore has explained the entire situation to us, in detail, and I just wanted to say that I'm very proud of you for handling the scenario so strongly."
Emily nodded softly at his words. "We're so proud of you, Hermione."
Hermione's face held a slightly confused expression as she twisted herself out of her father's arms. "Explained the situation?" she questioned. "But, I thought Severus and I had already told you everything when we saw you on Wednesday."
"Well, yes you did, my dear," Emily spoke. "But Professor Dumbledore was kind enough to come and meet us at our home this morning. He told us the story from start to finish while we chatted over some tea this morning."
"And took the time to answer all of our questions," her father stated. "Something which you did not." He stared pointedly at his daughter.
Hermione smiled sheepishly as she remembered her and Severus's hasty depart after they had spoken with her parents. Truthfully, she hadn't really given her parents enough time to come up with any questions they might have pertaining to the wedding. At the time, it didn't really seem important…
Dumbledore's soft chuckling from behind them interrupted their brief reunion. "Please, have a seat," he said, conjuring two more chairs for Ginny and Hermione. When everyone was comfortably seated the Headmaster of Hogwarts spoke. "So," the he said, focusing his attention on Hermione. "I assume that Miss Weasley has informed you that the actual ceremony will take place at 3:30 on the castle grounds by the lake." He waited for Hermione's affirmative nod before continuing. "Excellent. Well, what she hasn't told you is that there will be a great feast held in yours and Severus's honor held in the Great Hall afterwards." His hands were clasped together as his eyes twinkled widely with enjoyment.
Hermione jaw went somewhat slack. A great feast? Held in their honor? "Headmaster," she said respectfully, "is that entirely necessary? I really don't think we need an entire feast held in our honor."
"Nonsense," Dumbledore waved off her doubts with a swish of his hand. "It's no trouble at all, my dear. After all, it isn't every day that a close member of my staff and one of my prized students gets married." His smile was genuine and kind as he spoke. "This is a happy time. A time for celebration, and frankly I think we're all in the mood for merriment."
"Hermione," Thomas spoke from his seat. "It is very kind of Professor Dumbledore to go through all this trouble. Be a little grateful."
Her mother nodded fervently. "Look at this like a reception instead of a feast."
"I am, dad," she replied, somewhat embarrassed by her lack of appreciation. Her father was right. She should be more grateful. And truthfully, there are some brides out there that aren't lucky enough to be married in a castle and have a feast provided for them without having to worry about anything. "I'm sorry, Professor," Hermione said respectfully, bowing her head a bit. "I'm sure everything you're all planning will be wonderful."
"Exactly," Ginny piped up. "Which is why you should just relax and let everyone else handle all of the planning."
"But what am I supposed to do in the meantime?"
"Just sit back and enjoy the ride," the red-head emphasize by leaning back in her chair. "I already told you, all you need to do is relax."
"Ginny's right, Hermione," Emily said sweetly. "Leave everything to us."
Hermione sighed and sank back into her chair. With Dumbledore, her parents, and Ginny all gazing at her, she knew there was no way she could win this argument. The only option Hermione had left was to take their advice and simply wait.
She sat and listened while the remaining four individuals in the room continued discussing minor details of the event. Each time Hermione attempted to interject an option, she was promptly shush and told to relax. A while later, McGonagall arrived and offered to show Emily and Thomas an official tour of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which the immediately accepted with enthusiasm.
When the two Gryffindors departed from the Headmaster's office, Ginny told Hermione that she wanted to go and check on Ron and Harry's dress robes to make sure they were properly cleaned. She left with a slight bounce in her step as Hermione stood looking confused as ever by the stone gargoyle.
Looking at her wristwatch, Hermione noted that it was almost 12:30. That gave her about an hour and a half of downtime. The only question was what should she do with it? She desperately wanted to go down to the dungeons and see Severus before the ceremony, but she had given Ginny her promise that she wouldn't see the man till she walked down the aisle. Hermione sighed in exasperation and ran a hand through her frizzed hair. Leaving the stone gargoyle in her wake, she began walking toward the Great Hall.
The only light that could be visibly seen in the room came from the orange and red hues of the cackling fireplace, illuminating the walls in soft warm patches. A soft hiss was emitted as the flames quickly engulfed each available piece of wood offered. With the fire slowly fading, the room appeared to be getting dimmer by the moment. A glass of firewhiskey sat on the small end table, virtually untouched. The liquid was most likely warm; partially from the heat of the fire and partially from being pointedly ignored by its drinker.
Severus released a deep breath and reached up massage his temples. A clock situated on one of the numerous shelves in his private study informed him just how soon the ceremony was approaching. For most of his life, time was a simple concept that passed aimlessly. It always seemed to pass by too slowly for his taste, making the days feel longer and more stressful. But, at the given moment, time didn't seem to want to slow down for anyone. Not even him. The minutes seemed to race by at an unbearably fast speed.
"Go figure," Severus snorted to himself. It figures that on the one day in which he needs more time, it wants to fly past him. He vaguely wondered if everyone else in the castle as if time didn't want to slow down. Glaring at the clock that appeared to betray his need, he sent an evil sneer in its direction.
A sharp knock on the door connecting to his study snapped his glare away from the clock. He arched a slender eyebrow at the source of the knock. There weren't many people who knew that the bookcase in his office served as the door to his quarters. Only Albus, a few selected staff members, and Hermione…
He was aware that Hermione had been forbidden to see him until the ceremony. Some silly Muggle tradition… But that still left the odd question of who was standing outside his door.
Wrapping his finger around the hilt of his wand inside the heavy robes, Severus carefully approached the door. His fingers tightened and his eyes narrowed. He removed the wards holding it shut, and thrust it open. For the briefest moment, Severus was somewhat surprised to see the individual standing before him.
"I hear there are some congratulations in order," Remus Lupin said with a crooked smile on his face.
Severus loosened his grip on his wand and relaxed his stance. "So I've been told," he replied evenly. Severus turned around and returned to his seat. Taking his cue, Remus followed Severus into the room and took a seat in the chair next to his.
Severus grabbed his now warm firewhiskey and thrust the liquid into the fire. He watched the flames flare up for a moment before settling back down while they consumed the alcohol. Placing his empty glass on the end table, Severus refilled the glass and chilled his beverage. With a swish of his wand, he levitated another brandy glass to the table and filled it for Lupin.
"Thank you," Remus smiled as his slowly sipped the aged whiskey. Severus only nodded in response as he nursed his own glass. "I have to tell you, old friend," Remus said after a few moments. "I never thought I'd live to see the day when you got married. Actually, I didn't think you even wanted to get married."
"I hardly considered getting married to be one of my life goals," Severus snorted in response. "I'm merely doing it to offer Miss Granger some protection."
"Of course, my friend," Remus nodded firmly. "I have no doubt about that. And I'm sure that you could protect her better than most other wizards out there. But," he smiled from behind the lip of his glass, "I have to wonder…is that the only reason you wish to marry her?"
Severus's eyes narrowed as he threw a sharp glare at the werewolf sitting next to him. "What other reason's would there possibly be?" Although he meant it as a statement, the words came out sounding like a question. "I simply want to keep Hermione safe. Nothing more. Nothing less."
Remus chuckled softly. "I thought she was 'Miss Granger.' Now you're referring to her as 'Hermione?'" His lips broke out into a kind smile.
"Just what, exactly," Severus hissed, "are you getting at, wolf?"
"Now, now, Severus," he replied calmly. "I'm not implying nor trying to instigate anything. I am simply asking what you feel for her." At the potion master's bemused expression, Remus continued. "Severus, I know you are not a foolish man. You would not be stupid enough to enter into this marriage based completely upon a student-teacher relationship. You must feel some type of emotion towards Hermione."
Severus's jaw became tight. He had not wanted the conversation to go in this direction. He was hoping that it would a simple visit with light and casual conversation barely pertaining to the events of later that day. 'Yeah, right,' Severus thought to himself. He should have known that Lupin would bring this matter up.
Emitting a faint chuckle, the corners of Severus's mouth twisted up in amusement. "What's the matter, Lupin? Are you trying to look out for one of your precious little Gryffindors? Or are you afraid that I'll hurt the girl?
"That's not what I'm saying at all," Remus replied, shaking his head in disagreement. "I was only curious as to how you felt for Hermione. I'm hoping that one day the two of you could bring yourselves to love each other. To be able to create a happy and enjoyable living environment." He took a small sip of his whiskey. "If the question bothers you we won't discuss it anymore."
Heaving a sigh, Severus took a rather large swig from his glass, cringing as the familiar burning sensation crawled down his throat. "It does not bother me," he spoke curtly, swirling the liquid in his glass. "I just don't have an answer for you at this particular moment…"
A silence that could have shattered glass fell upon the room and engulfed the two men. It went on for many minutes. Neither one of the made any attempt to break it. The fire was nearly extinguished, having eaten most of the available timbers to ignite it. Only faint shadows illuminated the faces of the Slytherin and the Gryffindor sitting together simultaneously.
After what felt like an eternity, Remus broke the everlasting stillness. "You really do care for her, don't you, Severus?"
Severus didn't respond, instead his nursed his whiskey glass closer to his face. His gaze was unfocused somewhere on the wall, as he appeared to examine nothing in particular.
"Its okay, Severus," his friend said after a moment. "I understand."
"I know you do, Lupin," Severus sighed. "I know you do."
Two o'clock couldn't seem to come by fast enough for Hermione's taste. She had spent the remainder of her time walking through the endless aisles of the Library, searching for something to occupy her time until she had to meet Ginny to get ready. It was a Hogsmeade weekend, which meant that most of the students were to be found shopping in the small shops located just outside of the castle grounds.
Hermione sat in her room, waiting on her bed for Ginny to arrive. It was ten minutes after two, and her red-headed friend still hadn't arrived. At two-thirty, a knock sounded on her door, only to be immediately opened the moment after. Hermione looked up as her mother, Ginny, and Molly Weasley entered her room. Molly promptly scooped Hermione up into possibly the tightest hug she'd ever received.
"Oh, Hermione," she spoke in a motherly tone. "Congratulations, my dear. We're all so proud of you." She placed her hands on Hermione's shoulders and faced her with a kind and sympathetic smile. "You're handling this stupid law wonderfully, Hermione. Arthur's appalled that the Ministry's gotten you so tangled up in this mess; even Bill and Charlie have gotten involved in repealing the law. They're still doing everything they can to work with Albus to have it revoked. Don't worry, my dear, hopefully you'll be out of this mess in just a few months."
'Yeah,' Hermione thought glumly. 'In just a few months this law will force me to have a kid.' She frowned at the thought. Putting on her bravest smile, Hermione thanked Mrs. Weasley for her love and congratulations. "Thank you, Molly, but I don't think that there is much anyone can do for me at this point," she said grimly. "I mean, after all, I am getting married in an hour. I guess I'll just have to grin and bear like the rest of the wizarding community."
"Oh now you hush, Hermione," Molly chastised. "You mustn't think like that. In situations such as this, we must be positive and hope for the best." She crossed her arms angrily across her chest, muttering angrily about the absurdity of Fudge's law and how it shouldn't be affecting mere children. "It's just plain wrong, I tell you," she told no one in particular. "For god's sake, children are being forced to marry before they even finish their education. Completely horrible!" Emily nodded firmly at Mrs. Weasley's statement. Molly uncrossed her arms and relaxed her stance a bit. "Although I must tell you, Hermione, when Ron told us that you had gotten involved in this foolishness, I was certain that he would send in a petition for your hand himself. In fact, I'm still not quite sure why he didn't…"
"Mum!" Ginny yelled, shifting her mother's attention off of Hermione. "What's done is done. Let's leave Hermione alone about this and try to focus on preparing her for her wedding."
Concentrating on what Ginny have said, Molly and Emily followed Ginny as she ushered Hermione to the bathroom. Once there, the three women spent most of the following half hour applying make-up and styling Hermione's hair. Over Hermione's chocolate tinted eyes, they striped charcoal-colored eyeliner and swept soft brushes of brown and light pink eye-shadow. Her hair was twisted up into an elegant bun atop her head, with tiny ringlets cascading down from multiple angles. Emily helped her daughter get into her dress while Molly made some last minute adjustments to the size, perfecting it to compliment Hermione's slim figure. As a final touch, Hermione grabbed the moonstone necklace that Severus had gotten her and placed it around her neck. The stone swirled like a rainbow fire as it touched the skin of her neck.
As Hermione gazed at her reflection in the mirror, she couldn't help but feel like the most beautiful bride in the world. The three women she loved most had transformed her into the epitome of perfection; a grown woman.
She was pulled from her reverie as Ginny cleared her throat. "Now," the red-head told her friend. "It's time for us to do the time-long wedding tradition." She looked expectantly towards Emily, who smiled warmly towards her daughter.
Emily reached into her purse and pulled out a black velvet box. "Hermione," she spoke softly. "Ever since you were little, I knew that when you finally got married, this would be the perfect accessory." She opened the box, revealing an antique silver comb. It was studded with crystal rhinestones in the shape of flowers. Together it formed a sparkling garden of jewels. "Something old…" Emily told Hermione. She took the comb and carefully stuck it in front of the stylish twist atop Hermione's head.
Mrs. Weasley suddenly extracted another small black box from one of her many pockets. Extending it in Hermione's general direction, molly said, "Here you are, my dear. This is a small wedding present from Ginny and I." As she opened the black container, a small tennis-bracelet appeared, lined with tiny diamonds. "Think of it as something new."
"Wow," Hermione gasped. "Molly, it's so beautiful. Thank you very much." With the help of her mother, she placed the bracelet on her wrist.
"Ah, but wait," Ginny shouted enthusiastically. "There's more…" She skipped over to her bag and pulled out something concealed within her palm. "First," Ginny said, displaying a miniature scroll in front of Hermione. "We have this." She placed the mini scroll in Hermione's palm. "It's the Marauder's map," Ginny informed Hermione, noting her confused gaze, "only shrunk."
Hermione nodded in understanding. "Oh, how clever."
"Considered that something borrowed, because Harry wants that back," the red-head spoke. "Relatively soon, I've been told to add."
Hermione took the shrunken map magically stuck it to the inside of her gown. After making sure it was firmly in place, she looked at Ginny. "What's that," Hermione asked, indicating toward the other item clutched in her friend's hand.
Heaving a loud sigh, Ginny opened her hand to expose a crumpled blue handkerchief. "This was all Ron could find that was blue," she said sadly. She dangled the hankie from her fingertips as she passed it over to Hermione. "I'm not exactly sure what you want to do with it…"
"Thanks, gin," Hermione said. With a wave of her wand, she shrunk the handkerchief to be the same size as the map. She swiftly stitched the blue fabric inside her dress, next to the tiny scroll. "Well," Hermione spoke after a moment of adjusting herself. "Now that I have something old, new, borrowed, and blue, am I ready to get married?"
"Not quite," Emily said. She moved forward and embraced her daughter into a strong motherly hug. "I love you so much, Hermione. Never forget that."
"Thanks mum," she replied, clutching her mother with equal enthusiasm.
Molly clapped her hands together a few times. "Alright, the time is now ten after three. Is everyone all set?"
Emily released her daughter and stood back to gaze over her. A slow slime spread over her face as she took in Hermione's beauty. She looked into her eyes and whispered, "You've always been such a strong woman." Her voice rose as she turned to gaze upon the other women in the room. "Let's go have a wedding."
Ginny squealed with delight and ushered her and Hermione's mothers out of the room. She gave her friend a quick wink before stepping out into the hallway with Molly and Emily.
Hermione stood in the center of her Head Girls room staring around at the scenery. By tomorrow morning, she would never have these rooms to sleep in again. Her new quarters would reside in the Dungeons. She sighed as her eyed wandered around the room, stopping to linger on every unique crevice on the walls. Her gaze traveled to her bed and the familiar comforter and mattress she'd grown so accustomed to sleeping on. She'd read so many books in that bed, so many essays, and relaxed with Crookshanks more times than she could count.
Smiling, Hermione tilted her head to look at the beautifully-crafted nightstand beside the bed. Like her bed, it had been a crucial part of the room of her previous life. It had held many things that were close to her heart. Her important books and trinkets were kept in the drawer, while she always kept her wand on top next to her head while she slept. It was funny, she thought, how such a simple piece of furniture could affect a person so emotionally. She walked over to her nightstand and placed her wand on top of the wood. The handle of the wand tapped against something with a clang.
Hermione looked down to see the ring Draco had given her laying beside her wand. She eyed it curiously for a moment. It gave off a creepy presence that it hadn't emitted before. The ring felt engulfed in negative energy. She reached her hand down to grab it and toss it in the drawer, when Ginny popped her head back into the room.
"Um, I know that you're sad about leaving Gryffindor, but your room will be here when you get back. Professor McGonagall said that she would wait until tomorrow morning…in case you wanted to use it one last time." She beckoned Hermione with her hand.
Hermione withdrew her hand and stepped away towards the door. "Well, I may come back for a moment of privacy after this whole ordeal, but I will definitely not be sleeping here." She gave the room one last look before stepping through the door and shutting it behind her.
"So the dungeons, it is?"
Hermione nodded her head slowly. "The dungeons, it is, I'm afraid?" Her smile held a tint of mock sadness hidden behind eyes filled with joy.
Ginny looped her arm through her friends' and gave it a light squeeze. "Well, then," she said with a smirk. "Let's go get you married to the old bat."
Lucius Malfoy sat in a large leather chair, studded with golden accents. He sat in his study with the curtains tightly closed and only cindering coals in the fireplace. The dim light made the room appear ominous and dark. Shadowed corners looked as if they held unknown demons just waiting to lunge at victims.
He sat sipping at his Brandy in a crystal glass, tapping his finger against the glass. His gaze was narrowed at the smoldering embers.
Behind him, Draco paced like an anxious child. His arms were crossed over his chest as a scowl covered his face and marred his features. "Why must you always tap your glass?" he snarled towards his father. "You know the sound that ring makes against the glass irritates me…" His lip curled as he turned his head away from his father, and began to stare intently at a random spot on the wall.
Lucius smirked as he gazed at the ring on his right hand. He had gotten it from the Dark Lord himself, at the time of his downfall. Although injured, he'd had just enough strength to Accio his Master's old ring toward him after Potter delivered the final blow. The remaining Death Eaters who had survived both envied and worshipped him for it. With the Dark Lord's ring on his finger, he felt empowered and commanding. Most importantly, he had a delicious taste for some revenge.
A revenge involving a certain Gryffindor witch…
"Patience, Draco," Lucius spoke softly. "Patience." He still toyed with the glass in his hand, as he twirled it in the light of the flames to create dancing shimmers on the wall.
"How can you expect me to have patience at the time like now? Our window of opportunity is closing. Fast." He had moved to stand right next to his father, staring down with a fierce expression. "We need to stop sitting around and make our move now," he pounded his fist into his hand.
Lucius tilted his head towards his son, a slow sinister smirk spreading over his face. "Think rationally, my boy. If we strike now, we may lose all opportunity entirely." He watched Draco untense his shoulders, as his jaw twitched in frustration. "Right now, many powerful witches and wizards guard our prize. All perimeters surrounded." Lucius stood up from his seat, finishing the last of his drink and slamming the glass down on a table beside him. "Now…" he faced his son. "Wait until no one is around, and the time to strike will be upon us."
Draco slowly smiled in understanding, as an angry glare crossed his eyes. "She will be ours."
"With patience, my son." Lucius smiled evilly. "With patience."
Hermione did everything she could to stifle a gasp as she stepped outside onto the scene that had been transformed for her wedding. She had less than 10 minutes to quickly observe the scenery before a wedding march would play and she would be required to walk down the aisle.
A long white carpet served as the aisle, flanked on either side by white chairs. Graceful lilies accented each chair lining the sides of the aisle in decoration. A wide arch, consisting of white lilies and roses, stood resting at the end of the aisle, indicating where she and Severus would be standing in just a few moments. Gazing above, Hermione noticed that Professor Flitwick had charmed bubbles and butterflies to swirl and float gracefully above the proceedings.
As if he had appeared out of thin air, Hermione noticed Dumbledore standing calmly beside her. "Are you nervous, my dear?" he asked her.
Nodding, Hermione spoke, "a little."
Dumbledore emitted a soft chuckle. "Don't worry, Hermione. Everything will go over smoothly. You have nothing to worry about."
"I hope so," she said meekly.
A deep throat cleared itself from behind them, causing both Hermione and the headmaster to turn around. Realizing where the sound came from, Dumbledore smiled professionally.
"Ah, Hermione, let me introduce you to someone," he said, gesturing towards the man who'd cleared his throat. "This is Cranstinious Dorgon. He will be serving as a witness for the Ministry to approve that the marriage actually took place."
The man extended his hand towards Hermione. "It's Cranstinious Dorgon, the second, actually. It's very nice to meet you, Miss Granger. And may I offer my congratulations to you on this joyous day." The Ministry official was a man of roughly six feet and dark-toned skin. His hair rested atop his head in a fluffy black mop while his eyes were a warm chocolate color.
"It's very nice to meet you, too," Hermione replied, shaking his hand. She knew that the Ministry had only had only sent this man because they did not believe that their marriage would occur. "I hope you enjoy yourself today."
After a curt nod, Dumbledore ushered the Ministry-sent man away. Hermione turned her attention towards the area where the aisle awaited her. Guests were now filing into their seats. On the bride's side, Harry, Ron, and Ginny, as well as Emily and Thomas, took up the most of the front row. Behind them, Molly and Arthur sat in the second row of chairs. Even Fred and George had made a special trip from their joke shop in Diagon Alley and were seated next to their parents. The third row consisted of Percy and Charlie Weasley, Neville and Luna. The four chairs in the third row were occupied by Lavender, Parvati, Seamus, and Dean. Bill Weasley was the only guest unable to attend, as he was preoccupied breaking curses for Gringotts in Egypt.
The opposite side of the aisle was much smaller with less chairs and guests. Taking up the seats in the groom's side was Professor McGonagall, Remus, and Nymphadora Lupin in the first row. Behind them sat Professor Flitwick, Hagrid and, of course, Fang. Hermione smirked at the sight of Hagrid's dog taking up two whole chairs. The third row consisted of Madam Pomfrey, Professor Sprout, and the Bloody Baron hovered silently above the chair beside them.
It was quite apparent that, simply by the different amounts of guests on either side, she was getting into a very new lifestyle. She had grown up surrounded by family and friends who loved every part of her. Severus didn't have that same luxury. The only individuals who showed to his wedding were three colleagues, two friends, and a dog. Even under any other circumstance, if she were to marry any other person, all of those same guests would be sitting on her side. Except, perhaps, the Bloody Baron… It suddenly dawned on Hermione that the immediate closeness she'd felt with all of her school friends wouldn't be as prevalent in her life anymore.
As she stood at the back of the ceremony location, looking at the backs of her friends' heads, tears threatened to fall from her eyes. It really was quite a beautiful scene; the decorations had been done up nicely. She truly was grateful for everything…except the entire reason behind everything. Even though Hermione had always planned on one day being married and starting a family, she did not want it to be today, especially on her school grounds.
She shook her head at those thoughts. She might not want this, but it had to be done. By the end of the evening, she would be Mrs. Hermione Snape. It sounded so foreign, yet oddly familiar.
A streak of black to her right caught Hermione's attention. She turned her head to see Severus approaching her. Her breathe caught in her throat as she saw him. 'He's so handsome…' she thought to herself.
He stood dressed in a crisp black suit with a white button-up shirt peaking out. A white rose was pinned to his jacket, just slightly blooming. His hair was sleek and smooth-looking, tied neatly in a small ponytail at the nape of his neck. A smile twitched at the corner of his lips as he gazed at his bride-to be.
"You look lovely," Severus spoke softly.
"And you look incredibly handsome, my dear," she replied with a smile.
Just then, the wedding march began to take place, and Dumbledore made his way to the center of the alter. With a kind smile, he motioned for Hermione and Severus to begin making their way towards him.
Severus held his arm out towards Hermione. She took a hold of it and grasped his arm tightly. He felt her hand shaking slightly as she grabbed onto him. Reaching over, he placed his hand over her and gave it a light squeeze. With a loving smile, he said, "don't worry. It will be over before you know it."
His smile reassured her, just as every head in the audience turned to face them. They took a step forward and they all stood up in response. Severus and Hermione began walking slowly down the aisle.
Hermione tried to keep her eyes focused straight ahead, but found it impossible to keep her gaze from drifting to her family and friends. Her eyes passed over Harry, Ron, and Ginny, all who gave her wide grins and nods of encouragement. She then looked over to her mother, who stood there with her hand placed delicately over her chest. When their eyes locked, Emily gave her daughter a caring smile. She mouthed the words 'I love you' to Hermione. That simple action warmed her heart and demonstrated just how much support for family had for her.
She straightened up her posture and looked ahead. They continued to walk until they reached Dumbledore, who stood with his hands clasped in front of him. When everyone seated, Severus and Hermione kneeled in front of the great wizard before them.
"My friends," Dumbledore spoke to all present. "We have gathered here on this joyous day to join these two souls in matrimony." He turned to a table that was placed behind them and picked up a golden chalice. Facing Hermione and Severus, he held the chalice in the air and removed his hands.
Hermione tensed in preparation for the beautiful vessel to fall to the ground, but to her amazement it remained perfectly stable in the air. Dumbledore then poured a red liquid from a glass jar into the chalice. She assumed the liquid was some sort of wine.
Dumbledore held his hands above the chalice. They emitted a faint yellow glow, as if radiating heat towards the floating cup. His eyes closed, almost trance-like, as he spoke,
"As the stars and moon align today,
Let all those present hear as I say,
All who bear witness to the words I speak,
Are here to observe the journey which they seek.
Severus Snape and Hermione Granger,
Soon to be one name, but never a stranger,
Till the end of eternity standing strong together,
To have and to hold, now and forever."
He clapped his hands together and the cup began to float towards Severus. Hermione watched as he inclined his head to take a sip of the red liquid from the chalice. As the cup began to make its way towards her, she followed suit and did the same. The chalice then began to hover back towards Professor Dumbledore.
He held the golden cup in one hand, while extending the other towards Severus's chest. The rose that had been pinned to his jacket came loose and levitated near the chalice. Dumbledore then took the chalice and poured the remaining contents over the white rose. As the red wine hit the petals, it magically absorbed into them, rather than dripping off. Within moments, the rose had transformed from white into a blood crimson color. It slowly made its way back towards Severus, and reattached itself to his jacket.
"The red rose is passionate and fiery," Dumbledore began speaking again. "It encompasses love, desire, and strength. Let the magic of this union give you both the strength to overcome any difficulties you may face. Let it give you the desire to keep a happy and warm household. Let it give you the love that you both deserve so much." He reached out and grabbed each of their hands and brought them together.
As Hermione and Severus knelt with their hands held together, they turned to gaze upon one another. They exchanged a loving smile, each encouraging the other silently.
Dumbledore took a silk ribbon, just as red as the rose, and held it above their hands. He quietly muttered a phrase in Latin before the ribbon glowed faintly. The wizard took the ribbon and wrapped it softly around their joint hands. He tied the two ends into a bow and rested it on top. With a wide smile, he looked down happily at the pair before him. "I now pronounce you, man and wife." There was a slight twinkle in his eye as he looked at Severus and spoke, "you may kiss the bride."
With a soft smile, Severus looked at Hermione and placed his free hand lightly behind her head. He pulled her near him and he closed in and gently kissed her lips. Hermione felt a tinkle stem from her mouth all the way down to her toes. Still on her knees, she moved towards Severus and kissed him just a bit deeper before releasing him and leaning back. She smiled at the expression on his face; he appeared to be a mixture of elated and bewildered.
Dumbledore raised his head towards the audience and grinned widely. Everyone began to clap loudly as Hermione and Severus stood up before the alter. Still holding hands, the pair began making their way back down the aisle. As they passed by Lavender and Parvati, they began throwing little pieces of rice at them. Hermione giggled as they performed the childish act they'd read in her wedding book.
Severus led them past all of the guests and away from the crowd. Twirling Hermione into his grasp, Severus pulled out his wand and Apparated them off the school grounds. Hermione barely had a second to lock eyes with Ginny and flash a quick smile before she disappeared.
And there we have it folks, Severus and Hermione are officially married. Now it's time for the after-party...
Please don't forget to review and let me know what it think!