Masquerade Ball

Katie woke up disoriented on the floor of the tiny practice room. She had no idea what day or time it was. The sun shone through the window and the room was bright and becoming hotter as the morning wore on. Napping in the floor of the practice room was not out of the ordinary for her after long hours of practice, but this time was different. She had difficulty waking up and remembering where she was. Her back was stiff and her head throbbed, causing her vision to blur. It was as if she had been under anesthesia and couldn't wake up easily.

Placing her hand on the piano bench to pull herself up, she realized she was wearing a formal evening gown that she had never seen before. Although her clothes were beautiful, she felt violated not knowing where they came from or how they came to be on her body. She assumed she had been to a party and got too drunk to drive home and had passed out in the floor of her tiny practice room. She recalled a dark man giving her instructions, but she dismissed it as a resulting dream from her stupor.

She picked up her bag and held onto the wall as she made her way to the ladies room. While washing her hands, she glanced in the mirror and saw a shimmering diamond and pearl necklace, sparkling with powerful tiny explosions as the stones from the matching earrings flickered like small strobe lights. When she touched them, an overwhelming feeling of longing and sadness overtook her, as if someone or something had been taken from her. She began to cry, feeling sick at her stomach, and soon heaved into the sink, still sobbing.

After splashing water on her face, she began to feel physically better, but she still had an emptiness coming from deep within her soul. She left the building and headed to her car. The parking lot was full, and people were staring at her as they passed by, whispering to themselves. She ignored them, seeing a few other girls in formal dresses walking through the parking lot on their way back to their sorority houses. They were also carrying their shoes in their hands as they walked, trying to hide their disheveled hair and black mascara streaks down their faces. Katie did not feel so alone in her appearance.

In the distance, she heard the roar of the stadium and the band playing Forward Rebels, indicating a touchdown. At least now I know it's Saturday, she thought. Putting the shoes into her bag, she clutched the canvas to her chest , and she lowered her head, ignoring the stares of tailgating football fans. She began to walk in time to the fight song and chanted with the crowd under her breath, Hotty Toddy! Gosh a Mighty! Who the Hell are We!.Hey! Flim Flam Bim Bam Ole Miss by Damn! The campus thundered with excitement, but something about the cheer made her feel melancholy, and the emptiness returned in the pit of her stomach.

Standing next to her red Volkswagen Beetle, she reached into her bag and plunged to the bottom to dig for her keys, but easily found them snapped neatly to the band at the top. That's weird, she thought aloud, I can never find them in that bag. She plucked the multitude of pink parking tickets from under the wiper blade and threw them flying in the wind, cussing out loud as she cranked the engine and slammed the car door shut.

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As the days passed, Snape remained alone in the tower, only leaving for meals or necessary business. He spent most of his time either staring out the window or looking at the pictures Harry snapped of them at McGonagall's feast. In his favorite magic picture, Katie's red dress and jewelry sparkled, showing off her beautiful smile as she playfully threw her arms around him, laughing, as the camera is snapped. He watched the short scene repeat over and over.

The things she left behind were neatly folded and sitting on the dining table in front of the Great Windows. Snape took time everyday to carefully unfold and refold Katie's black sundress and matching sweater, as well as her nightgown, and perfectly stacked them in the same place every time he touched them. He had placed her tattered sneakers next to them and he carried her wristwatch in his pocket.

Hagrid frequently made his way to the castle to try and make him feel better, but it was to no avail. Snape had returned to his previous miserable way of being and he sulked around, snapping at everyone who came near him. Finally, Hagrid had enough and spoke up.

"I miss 'er, too! It's not fair that you get ta set up here all day 'n sulk. Ye did what ye had ter do 'n that's that. Without the key ter open tha book she won't be a comin' back!" Hagrid's eyes were streaming with tears running into his wiry beard. He turned his back and wiped them on his arm, adding to the existing dried, salty tear stains on his coat.

"Leave me! Get out of here!" Snape snapped, "Do not talk to me about her anymore! She no longer exists! You know full well I saw to that!" He turned back to the window and put his forehead on the glass pane, as if it would somehow take away the aching inside him.

Someone knocked lightly on the door. Hagrid did not wait for Snape to move, and he answered it, ready to handle whoever was there. He was shocked to find Aberforth Dumbledore waiting to enter. Hagrid held open the door as Aberforth shuffled in, followed by Minerva McGonagall.

"Could I have a word?" He asked Snape, meekly holding his hat in his hands, twisting the brim nervously.

Aberforth Dumbledore was an ancient man, with distinct similarities to his brother, Albus. They shared the features of a long white beard and sterling blue eyes, but had completely different views on life. Aberforth was not as much of a positive thinker as his late older brother, but his heart was in the right place when it was absolutely necessary.

Hagrid started to leave, but Aberforth insisted that he stay.

"What is it you want? Make it quick!" Snape snapped, not turning around.

"I know who she is," mumbled the old man.

Snape spun around, listening intently. Aberforth did not speak right away, but he slowly shuffled toward Snape, and dropped his hat on the table. Pulling out a chair, he sat, breathing as though he had just completed a race. What he knew was apparently difficult for him since he appeared uncomfortable and did not know how to begin. He continued to rub his forehead with his weathered fingers before he spoke.

Albus Dumbledore breathed an audible sigh of relief as he sat back in his portrait, offering support for his brother.

"Well?" Snape was losing his patience.

Aberforth looked individually at everyone in the room, and sighed as if he was about to give his last confession. "I am an old man with many regrets."

Exhaling, he looked at his hands and clasped them together, squeezing them until his wrinkled hands turned white. His blue eyes turned into slits of liquid as he began to sob.

McGonagall patted his shoulder, trying to comfort him while they were all eagerly awaiting his story. The old man raised his head and looked at Snape with an apologetic expression.

"She is my great-granddaughter," he sighed. "I figured it out the day she came to the pub and played the piano. Covering his eyes with his hand, he sobbed, "It was just like seeing Arianna!"

Mcgonagall interjected, "I saw it too! I knew she looked familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. I wanted it to be her, Albus, she looks so much like her mother!" Looking at Snape apologetically, she added, "That was the day I realized who she was."

"I thought she looked fermiliar when I first saw her 'n Snape snoggin' by the lake...er...I shoudn't a said that," Hagrid said, shrinking under Snape's glare.

Glaring at McGonagall, he snarled, "Of course you knew it was her, Minerva. You may stop pretending now".

Taking a seat across from the old man, Snape spoke empathetically to him, "I never knew you had a family, Aberforth."

"No one did," rasped the old man, clearing his throat. He looked at McGonagall, appreciative she had not betrayed the blood oath between them. Aberforth continued studying his hands as he spoke. "After Arianna's death I ran off to get away...Ended up in Russia. I stayed there for years trying to forget. Met a red haired Veela named Penelope in March and I married her in April...Loved her so much I couldn't breathe. A year later we had a baby girl...Named her Kenya after my mother. When Kenya was six years old, Penelope died from the fever." Putting his hand over his eyes, he propped his elbow on the table, trying to regain his composure.

Snape pursed his lips, listening intently for the man to continue his story. McGonagall crossed her legs in Snape's leather chair across from Hagrid, whose massive body took up most of the sofa. They did not speak, but patiently waited in unison for the explanation.

"I did the best I knew how to raise a little girl, but she grew up full of energy and rebellion. I guess she was angry she grew up without a mother. I didn't know what I was doing." He paused and took in a deep, slow breath, followed by a tearful exhale. "I was harsh on her. She was a month away from turning eighteen when she ran away. I looked everywhere for her. I always wanted to apologize for the way I was, but I never found her, so I moved back here to help my brother. She came home a few years later to ask my permission to marry a wizard named Slavinovsky. I had heard of him and didn't like his dealings with the dark arts. I didn't give it, but she married him anyway. I didn't hear anything else from her until she came home with a baby girl... She said they were in danger of a Dark Lord her husband had betrayed. I gave her the Family Book and turned it into a port key so she could get here to safety whenever she needed it. I was still angry with her for marrying that man and I charmed the book with restrictions so she could only use it at certain times..." He closed his eyes in pain of the regretful memories of his life and cried into a handkerchief he pulled from his pocket.

"The dark wizard murdered her to get even with Slavinovski." He sobbed harder and cried as he recalled the painful memories. "She looked so much like her mother...the same red hair...green eyes..." He sighed and looked at the picture Snape gripped in his hands. The old man held the picture close to his eyes and touched it gently with his fingers.

"After her death," he continued, "the dark wizard caught up with Slavinovsky and battled him in a duel. Slavinovsky thought he had defeated the dark wizard and left him for dead, but he lived through it with dark magic. The dark wizard made it publicly known that he was hunting Slavinovski and his family so he came here with baby Arianna. We sent her as far away as possible to a family I knew in Russia. Arianna turned out to be a musician. She grew up and married a wizard composer named Dimitri. After all, she was part Siren from her father's side and Veela on her mother's side. I heard her sing once in London...It was the only time I ever saw her, and she never knew I was there."

Aberforth stopped talking and conjured a glass of water. He picked it up, trembling, spilling droplets onto the table as he lifted it to his mouth to drink. Closing his eyes, he sat back in his chair and turned his face to the ceiling, tears trickled from the corners of his eyes, bouncing over the wrinkles around his eyes. He stared sadly at his brother's portrait, who nodded approvingly for him to continue.

"Arianna and Dimitri were touring with an American symphony in the States. They were in New York City when they went on holiday from the tour to spend time with their baby. They were killed in an automobile accident leaving the city. The baby was in the back seat and survived with only a few cuts. She was adopted by an American family who could not have children of their own. Until last week the dark wizard, Voldemort, continued his hunt for the Book of Lineage to kill every last one of them." His steel, blue eyes stared out the window, feeling relieved that he sought retribution after a long life of stubborn silence in order to protect his family.

"What is her birth name? Snape asked, as if in a trance.

"Katerina Aleena Copland. And she has no idea who she really is."

Aberforth took his hat and pulled himself up from the chair. "Minerva, thank you for keeping my family's dark secret all these years. I apologize to you for putting you in that situation, but as you know, it had to be done."

Aberforth said nothing, but tossed a small key onto the table, jingling as it bounced, coming to rest in front of Snape. Shuffling to the door, he looked back at Snape, "She chose you, Severus. The rest is up to you now." He walked out, closing the door quietly behind him.

Snape found the rolled up manuscript Winky had given him in his hands. Untying the ribbon, he unrolled it. On the paper was her written notation of 'Sev's Theme'. Katie had only scratched out the Melody, but her notation was impeccably neat, he thought. At the bottom of the page, she had written, "In case you are ever lost, my address is 1458 University Avenue, Oxford, Ms, USA." He closed his eyes and held the paper to his chest.

McGonagall gently pulled it from his hands, and read it. Wiping her eyes as she passed it to Hagrid, she said empathetically, "Severus you must not make rash decisions. You run the risk of exposing our world if you go into the Muggle world looking for her!"

"She belongs here with me, Minerva!" He asserted. "Sometimes I feel our...connection when she sings. The Death Eater Movement is over and she will be safe here."

Hagrid took timid, slow steps toward Snape, "She won't remember ye. An she loved her folks...Maybe it's better fer her not ter know 'bout all this. It'd break 'er heart. I want 'er back, too, but she's better off where she is."

Snape spat back, "And what about her magic? It is dangerous for her to not know how to properly use it!"

Two weeks later, Katie wore the sparkling, red evening gown to her recital. The pearls and diamonds encased in her jewelry sparkled impressively under the spotlights on the stage as she approached the piano. She felt confident in her attire, and she played the program to an audience of twenty five people. Five of them were faculty members and a few of her friends, but mostly students who were required to attend. She played from her heart and poured her soul into getting every note and dynamic just right. She thought it odd that she felt confident about her repertoire, as if she had already performed it. She never became nervous at any point before, during, or after her performance, which was rare for her.

Taking her bows, she saw a tall, dark figure leave the shadows of the balcony as her instructor walked onto the stage and handed her a mammoth size bouquet full of red roses, sprinkled with lavender and baby's breath. Attached to the card was a small key. The card read:

Break a leg!

-Sev-

On the way out of the auditorium, she asked her instructor who the flowers were from. He said they were sent to him during the recital with instructions to give them to her, but he did not see who gave them to him. She stopped walking and looked at the card again. Sev, she read aloud. Must be a secret admirer, she laughed to herself, but she felt an unexplainable sense of longing when she put the key on her keychain. She cranked her car and drove home.

A month later, Katie accepted a job in New York, teaching music to inner city children. The job didn't pay much, but she wanted to be in the cultural center of the country and she needed a change of scenery. She thought a new challenge would bring her spirits up. She continued to feel as if something was missing, but she lived her life the best way she knew how, and thought the job would be fulfilling.

Halloween came on a Saturday, and she spent the morning in her pajamas, watching television and eating ice cream out of the carton. Her fluffy cat, Skittles, was curled up on the couch beside her, licking the lid. Katie put down the carton and looked around at her miniscule, messy apartment. Clothes were strewn everywhere, books were scattered all over the floor, and the litter box reeked.

She eventually made it to her bedroom after cleaning the rest of the apartment. Opening her closet door, she started tossing things into a huge, green garbage sack. She decided to be ruthless and throw away everything she thought she could live without. She found a box of old family photos and she looked at a few while she cried, but put them away and continued cleaning.

Everything had been pulled out of the bottom of the closet except her Ole Miss bag. She started to toss it in the garbage bag, but she decided to see what was inside it. She could hear her cell phone ringing in the other room so she carried the bag with her to answer the phone. On the way into the living room, she tripped over the vaccum cleaner, and spilled most of the contents of the bag. She left the mess to answer the phone.

Her new friend, Sophia, was a fellow teacher at the middle school where Katie taught. She invited her to a costume party being held in the Village later that evening. Sophia finally convinced her to put on some overalls and come as a hillbilly. They laughed at the thought.

"I think I'll go as a vampire....a dead prom queen vampire who's had all the life sucked out of her" The cat was noisily knocking something around on the floor. "Let me call you back." Katie closed her phone and yelled at the cat, "Stop that, Skittles!" He playfully scattered everything that fell out of her bag. He had crawled into it and pulled out anything he could put his paws on and was now attacking her lipstick, knocking it all over the hard floor.

She began picking up the scattered mess, dropping everything into the bag. Reaching under the couch to retrieve the tube of lipstick, her hand found something that felt like a bracelet. She pulled it from underneath the sofa and removed the dust balls from it. Sitting up cross legged on the floor, she held the bracelet in her hand, trying to remember getting it, but she thought it was simply something she had bought on impulse, and had forgotten about it. Taking a closer look, she saw that it was made of real pearls with tiny shells in between each one, and strung together with a strange type of knotted string, like seaweed.

She put the bracelet around her wrist and felt the smoothness of the pearls. Scenes from a dark lake with the reflection of green mountains began to flash in her mind. She saw the trident come out of the water with the bracelet hanging from it, and she saw herself pulling Snape out of the lake, giving him CPR. She remembered kissing him in the green grass, and Hagrid belting laughter as he slapped the table. She became dizzy as all her memories from Hogwarts spun into her heart and mind. Suddenly her sadness made sense, making her excited and happy.

Sober with excitement and reality, she tried to figure out what she had done with the book. Picking up the bag, she dumped out all of the contents onto the hard wood floor. She finally found the small, ancient book hidden between two old notebooks. She looked at the Liszt music, realizing the strange message written across the front of it was Snape's penmanship and she hugged it to her chest.

Grabbing her locked book, she began chanting, "I wish to go to Hogwarts! I wish to go to Hogwarts!" Gripping the book to her heart, she waited, but nothing happened.

Looking at it, she tried to remember what to do, and she began to lose hope until she remembered the flowers from her recital. Jumping up, she ran to her purse in the kitchen, sliding on the clean floor with her oversized bunny house shoes, and she grabbed her keys. She ran back to the living room, sliding on her knees to where the book was lying on the floor. Without removing it from her keychain, she found the small key with the skull face on it and put it into the keyhole of the lock. It fit perfectly and she slowly turned the key, popping apart the lock with a small click.

Cracking open the book, the light coming from inside it bathed her face in loving warmth. It gave her an overwhelming feeling of security and comfort, and she saw her parents among the light. They introduced her to her biological parents who presented her with the knowledge and the history of the book, as well as its significance. Behind her parents was a crowd of people waving to her, and she knew they were all of her family members who had passed on. She recognized some of them as being the strange people she had seen in the tunnel when she was sucked out of the practice room.

The last person to walk away before she closed the book was Albus Dumbledore. Wearing a vivid red Hawaiian flowered shirt over his robes, he lowered his dark sunglasses and smiled at her through his long, white beard. The old man winked as he handed her a gigantic yellow flower similar to the ones on his grave, and she was proud to know that he was actually her great uncle. Placing his shades back over his eyes, he turned, as did the rest of her family, to walk toward what looked like a well lit tunnel leading to a fantastic party.

Closing the book, she still held the flower. It filled the room with the sweet fragrance of the garden surrounding his grave. She was not sad or angry about being adopted, but grateful that she was fortunate to have had two sets of wonderful people who loved her with all their hearts.

When she arrived at Hogwarts, she landed in the pumpkin patch next to Hagrid's hut. It was dark and cold and she could see her breath as she tried to run on the uneven earth in her bunny house shoes. There was a light in the window, so she was sure he was home. Her skin was freezing and she pulled her arms inside her thin t-shirt to keep warm as she stood on the landing.

Opening the door, Hagrid didn't hesitate to pull her inside. He hugged her so hard she couldn't breathe, but he realized it when she wheezed for him to stop.

"Oh, sorry 'bout that," he grunted, embarrassed that he was always forgetting his own strength.

"Hagrid, we've got a lot to talk about, but I need to find Severus. How is he? She asked, her head bent back to see up to his face. She felt like a toddler next to his massive height.

"Oh, he's pinin' away 'roun' here' somers'. He's been a real mess since ye left. Like ta killed 'im when he had ter wipe yer mem'ry."

"Where is he?" She asked, shaking, her teeth chattering.

Hagrid grabbed a throw from his chair and put it around her shoulders.

"I serpose he's in the Great Hall gettin' things ready fer the ball. I was jus gettin' ready ter go up there when ye knocked. We'll go tergether. Let me get me costume."

Hagrid's costume consisted of a simple black plastic mask on a stick. Katie laughed, but realized she was standing there with worn flannel pajama pants and a skimpy t-shirt that said 'BAD GIRL' written in bright red letters.

"Damn! I was in such a hurry to get here I left my bag behind! I'll just use the book to run back and get it!"

"NO!" Yelped Hagrid. "Ye have ter wait! Remember?" He took the book and threw it in a drawer, slamming it shut.

There was a pop as Winky apperated into the room. She ran across the room holding up a full-length, black velvet dress.

"Winky made Katie clothes," she said, presenting it to Katie, with matching shoes.

Katie's dress was a perfect reproduction of Renaissance style nobility. The bodice was tight fitting, trimmed in sparkly rhinestones, showing a small waist leading to a full skirt with an inset section down the front that opened to show off a sparkly gold satin fabric with lace overlay. The sleeves were full at the shoulder and tight on the arms. The rhinestone trim donned the sleeves and the low neckline. The corset Winky insisted she wear showcased a cleavage she never knew she had. Winky also made her a full mask of red and black Phoenix feathers, complete with sequins.

Katie walked out of the bedroom after changing into the dress. Hagrid's jaw dropped and his mask fell to the ground. Winky jumped up and down clapping her hands with delight and gave Katie a long, black velvet cloak to wear over her dress.

"Hagrid," Katie said playfully, pulling the cape around her, "Take me to the ball!"

The castle was bustling with life and celebration as students frolicked from the courtyard to all over the castle. They were dressed in various costumes from the grotesque to the most beautiful fairies. Hagrid and Katie walked inside and scanned the room for Snape. Every head turned to see Hagrid walking in with the stunning woman in black velvet. He beamed, smiling with anticipation as he also looked for Snape.

The phoenix feather mask was hot, but Katie continued to wear it as they entered the Great Hall of Hogwarts Castle. No one seemed to recognize her as they stared, and she dared not remove the mask. The Great Hall was crowded with students and the enchanted ceiling held hovering jack o lanterns and floating candles among the stars.

Katie could not wait to find Snape, so she thought the quickest way to find him would be from the stage. She made her way through the crowd and waited next to the stage for the band to take a break. Professor Flitwick appeared from the edge of the stage on his way to go up the steps of the platform to tell the band to stop playing inappropriate music. Katie grabbed his arm, taking him by surprise.

"Professor Flitwick! We never got a chance to talk, but ah'm Katie. Do you remember me?"

He tried to recognize her eyes through the mask. He frowned, as if he did not remember, but suddenly caught on to her accent. His eyes opened as his face became animated, "Of course! Of course! Does Headmaster Snape know you are here?"

"No! He doesn't! That's why ah'm at the stage looking for you. Can you help me find him? Ah need this crappy band ta take a break!

"I couldn't agree with you more, Miss Katie. Follow me!" He stepped up onto the platform, offering his small hand to Katie.

The band quit playing in the middle of their song and they left the stage, disgruntled. Boos and sighs among the students filled the room at the sudden interruption of their dance music. The band quit and left for the evening as the students stopped to watch and wait for what was happening on the stage.

A full orchestra of ghosts appeared, awaiting instructions from Flitwick, who passed out sheets of music to each one of them. The horn section quickly looked over the music, while the drummer from Katie's recital winked at her. The upright bass player switched legs as he waited for the cue. She sat at the piano, scanning the room for Snape, nervously waiting for Flitwick to get the musicians tuned. He nodded to her and she began the introduction to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", just as she had played it twice before. The crowd of students began to sway, taking their partners in a slow dance.

Outside in the parking area, Snape patrolled the carriages, opening one with a flash of his wand. A cute second year named Marissa Johns, dressed up like a Mermaid, and a handsome third year named Bradley Timbers, dressed as a very mean looking Severus Snape jumped out, trying to run away. Snape caught them both by their arms.

"That's fifty points from Hufflepuff, Miss Johns, and...a hundred points from Gryffindor, Mr. Timbers, for scuffed shoes!"

As the students ran back into the castle, he stopped cold when he heard the familiar music coming from inside. How could they play this song? I knew we should have never hired this band! He grumbled under his breath, walking to the entrance of the Great Hall. Bursting in, he threw a weak stream of magic at the stage. It hit the gong, making it ring loudly. Winky, sitting next to it, put her hands on it to stop the vibration, and she smiled, happy she was able to help.

Without missing a note, Katie vamped the intro as she saw Snape's actions. Speaking through the spelled microphone, she laughed, "You'll have to do better'n that if you wanna shut me up, Severus Snape!"

The students roared with laughter and cheered for Katie, who beamed at Snape from the stage. "Ok, yaw'll, I'm dedicatin' this song to Severus Snape." She began to sing and the students swayed.

"Katie." Snape said, breathless, and he braced his hand on the door facing.

McGonagall came in behind him and gasped, "Katie!" Covering her mouth, she grabbed Snape's arm.

Hagrid joined them and told them briefly about her arrival. They listened to the music through watery eyes. Snape began inching his way to the stage, arriving at the edge just as the song ended. Katie left the piano and met him at the steps. His heart raced and she lunged into his arms.

"Oh, Sev! Ah was almost afraid to come back 'cause ah was scared you'd be dead after that night," she whispered to him in his ear, hugging him tightly.

Neither one realized her voice was still enchanted with the microphone spell. Everyone in the Great Hall heard every word of their conversation. The room was deathly quiet, and all ears and eyes were on the two of them.

Her warm breath on his ear awoke in him the euphoric feelings he had begun to enjoy so many months ago. His voice broke as he began to ask, "How did you..."

Katie put her finger to his lips to stop him from asking questions. She knew they would have time to catch up on everything later. Hagrid was, of course, crying and Mcgonnigall put her hand over her heart and swooned. Harry and Ginny entered, followed by Hermione and Ron to join the crowded room in watching the reunion of the two lovers.

Pulling her mask away from her face, he leaned down and kissed her openly. The students were staring with their mouths open and Professor Flitwick started applauding. The room erupted with applause when Snape bent her slightly over, kissing her for everyone to see, and he reveled in the fact that they were the center of attention.

She looked into his black eyes, now gleaming with delight, "I love you, Sev." Her words were louder than the cheering and applauding in the room, but that made it louder. Bringing her upright, he broke into a blushing smile, nodding as she bowed and curtseyed to the crowd, laughing and holding onto his arm.

As soon as the noise began to die down, Snape cleared his throat, looking around with an expression that threatened taking points from every house. "As soon as these pesky students are quiet, I would like to say something to you, Miss Hawkins." The room immediately became deathly silent. Turning to Katie, he said sweetly and softly, "Katie, you are the love of my life." Kneeling before her, he took her left hand and placed a rather large, sparkling diamond upon her finger. "Marry me, Katie."

Everyone waited for Katie's reply. She playfully acted as though she was thinking it over. "Will you do what ah tell you ta do when ah tell you to do it?"

"Yes." He said.

"Will you love me no matter how mad ah get at you?"

"Yes." He replied, smiling.

"Will you take out the garbage?"

"Yes, if you require me to do so," he replied, becoming amusingly annoyed.

"Then, yes, Severus Snape, I will marry you." She pulled him up by his hand and the room cheered, thundering with applause. Hugging him tightly, speaking breathily into his ear, "I will love you til the day I die, Sev."

Professor Mcgonnigall made her way to the stage and announced, "I would like to introduce you to Katie Lee Hawkins. She is a musician from the United States and you will be seeing a lot of her from now on. Katie, would you please come and play something else for us?"

The students cheered and applauded as Snape walked her to the steps and gentlemanly helped her up, shooting an unapproving glance at McGonagall. Katie and Professor Flitwick momentarily huddled with the orchestra. She sat at the piano, nodding that she was ready. Seeing that it was the Steinway, she glanced at Snape. He looked down, blushing and smiling with memories.

The students loved her right away as she played an entire section of popular music most of them were familiar with. They danced until their feet hurt, and they shouted requests at the end of every tune. When she wanted to take a break, they booed and she would give in and play one more and then one more. Finally, Snape playfully stalked up the steps, stone faced onto the stage, and picked her up. The students booed and hissed as he carried her off the stage, out of the Great Hall, and into the garden to the beat of another thunderous applause.

"Thanks for the flowers," she said as soon as they were alone outside in the quiet of the garden.

"What flowers?" he asked, playing innocent. "I am only joking. Nothing could have kept me from going to your recital. You played wonderfully! I was so very proud of you." His breath took form in the cold night air. Holding her tightly to him, he said, "Now you are home."

She pulled her velvet cloak around them, relaxed into his embrace, and she sighed, "Yes I am."

They lived happily ever after.

The End.

End Notes: Thank you soooo much for reading my story. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Please leave some feedback and tell me what you thought, unless you didn't like it and that'll just hurt me if you're mean on purpose. Please be nice to me. This is my first completed fic and I'm celebrating with a Snicker's and a real can of Coke with actual sugar!