Chapter Sixteen: The Professor Who Lived

A/N: Again, I'd like to express my undying gratitude to Yolanda and Zsenya, my Sugar Quill beta-readers, for all their help and encouragement, I literally couldn't have done it without them. And thank you to all the lovely readers who stuck with this story to the not-so-bitter end.


Severus felt himself being flung forward into a sitting position. He heard the sound of pillows being patted and fluffed behind him, then his unknown assailant threw him back down onto the fluffed pillows. "Now, isn't that much better?" said an irritatingly cheerful and familiar voice. "Would you like some tea?"

Severus opened his eyes and groaned. Standing over his bed with a merry smile and a cup of tea was the long-deceased Muggle nurse, Miss Robbins, still in her white uniform and starched white cap. Strangely, he saw that he was lying in Hogwarts' hospital wing, not the ghostly version of St. Mungo's, which was usually the backdrop for her periodic visits. Severus glared at her and threw the covers over his head. "Go away and let me be dead in peace."

"You're not dead, you're just in a very deep sleep." Miss Robbins yanked the covers back. "Do you know that you snore?" Then under her breath, "With a nose like that it's hardly surprising."

"I do not snore!" Severus protested indignantly.

Miss Robbins rolled her eyes. "Whatever you say, but when you wake up, you might want to ask her why she's got cotton in her ears."

Severus only just now noticed that Veronica was sitting up, wide awake, in the bed next to his, wearing those horrid blue flannel ducky pajamas of hers. Her right hand was bandaged; her neck was still covered with Balin's savage bites, but they were beginning to fade. Her curls covered her ears, so Severus had no way of knowing if Miss Robbins was just teasing him about the cotton in them. He noticed that Veronica's bedside table was covered with flowers and Chocolate Frogs, no doubt Neville Longbottom's doing.

"Veronica," Severus called, but received no response.

"She can't hear you," Miss Robbins said. "I told you, you're asleep." The nurse sat down in the chair next to Severus' bed and regarded Veronica thoughtfully. "She looks rather gloomy, doesn't she?"

"Yes, she does," he said with concern. "Doesn't she know I'm going to be all right?"

"Of course," Miss Robbins replied in that irksome tone of voice that told Severus she knew far more than she was letting on.

As he continued to study Veronica, the reason for her sorrow became clear. Severus felt the anger and jealousy welling up inside of him. "She's mourning that son of a bitch, isn't she?"

Miss Robbins nodded. "In a way."

Severus muttered a particularly venomous oath. "Do you know what Veronica told me right before she was kidnapped? She said that he was the most important person in her life. Sometimes I think she," he swore again and tasted bile in his throat, "--loved him."

"She did--a little. But that's what she does. And that's why that evil geezer needed her so much."

Severus sighed heavily. It wasn't as if this was a startling revelation, he'd figured as much all along, but could never bear to express it before now. Bloody Hufflepuffs. "Balin wanted to destroy her."

"Because that's all he could do." Miss Robbins shook her head sadly. "He was a pathetic creature, really."

Severus glowered at her in disgust. "Don't tell me you feel sorry for him?"

"No, I'm afraid even my compassion has its limits. And before you get too upset with Veronica, just remember that it was her love for you that saved you and blinked Balin out of existence." Miss Robbins seemed to have predicted his next question, because she added with a grin, "She'll explain it to you when you wake up."

As if Veronica were suddenly conscious of their conversation, she looked over at Severus as she lay her head down on her pillow. She smiled at him and whispered softly, "I love you."

"You're the most important person in her life now." Miss Robbins leaned over and kissed him on the forehead in an almost motherly fashion. "Goodbye, Severus." He was barely aware that she was gone before he slipped into the oblivion of a dreamless slumber.


"Wake up, you great lump! I haven't got all day!"

Veronica roused herself from a fitful sleep to see Minister of Magic, Euphemia Wilmont poking Severus with her perfectly manicured finger. Severus continued to snore like a mountain troll as he had done for the past two days.

"Leave him alone!" Veronica said firmly.

Wilmont spun around in surprise, her blood-red robes rustling regally. Wilmont took a few steps back, no doubt recalling their last encounter, during which Veronica had hit Wilmont in the eye with her broom. Madam Pomfrey joined the pair and regarded the Minister sternly.

"You're interrogations can wait, Euphemia," Poppy snapped. "My patients need their rest."

Wilmont snorted and shoved a box in Veronica's face. "I came to give him this."

Veronica took the box and opened it. She gasped. "The Order of Merlin, First Class!"

Wilmont glared at Poppy, then turned to Veronica. "I trust you'll give it to him when he wakes up."

"Of course, but I am rather surprised--"

Wilmont shrugged. "It's true, I would have preferred it if one of my own people could have made the kill, but Snape certainly did the wizarding world a great favor. I understand you had something to do with it as well."

Veronica started to explain, then shook her head. "It was Severus who blocked the curse. He deserves this." She took the medal out of its box and pinned it on his nightshirt. Severus continued to snore loudly all throughout the impromptu ceremony.

"Tell me, Professor Stanley, did the bastard suffer?"

"Really, Euphemia, I think you should go," Poppy said angrily.

Veronica couldn't help but be uncomfortably aware of the fact that these two women disliked each other intensely. As eager as she was to get rid of Minister Wilmont, she decided to answer her question now rather than later. "No, I don't believe he did."

Wilmont set her delicate mouth in a hard line. "How very unfortunate." With a parting glare at Poppy, she turned and marched out of the hospital wing.

Veronica turned and found Madam Pomfrey looking at her sadly. Veronica wanted to ask her to explain what had just happened, but something disturbingly familiar in Poppy's eyes told her to let it go for now.

"Come along, Veronica," Poppy said gently as she settled her back into bed. "Severus isn't the only one who needs rest."

When Poppy returned to her desk, Veronica rose and sat in the chair beside Severus' bed. It's going to take some time getting used to that, she thought as she listened to his rhythmic snoring. She smiled, reached over and brushed a lock of his black hair out of his face. I suppose I could always get ear plugs. It was still very strange to think of what their future might hold. She wanted him and she knew he wanted her, but would he want to solidify their relationship with a deeper commitment, given that they were both now targets of Voldemort's wrath?

Well, at least she had her finger back. When she and Harry returned to Hogwarts with Severus' unconscious body, Harry told her that Severus had saved her finger. Dumbledore retrieved it and Poppy managed to stick it back on. The bites on her neck were also starting to fade after Poppy's expert care. She bent her right forefinger and winced. It still hurt, but Poppy was certain she would have full use of it in a few days, though there would be a nasty scar. Another scar...

Guiltily, Veronica felt a twinge of loss as her hand touched the clear skin above her heart. When Balin had been killed by the rebounded Killing Curse, the shadowy Dark Mark that had been above her heart all of her adult life had disappeared. She should be glad it was gone--and that Balin was dead, but she wasn't. What's wrong with me?


When Severus awoke in the hospital wing, he found Veronica sitting at his bedside. He assumed she had been officially released by Poppy since she was dressed in her maroon robe rather than those ridiculous pajamas of hers. Her hand was still bandaged, but the wounds on her neck were gone. He looked down at himself and discovered a medal pinned to his nightshirt.

"It's the Order of Merlin, First Class," Veronica explained. "Minister Wilmont dropped it of yesterday."

"Oh dear, and I missed her," Severus smirked sarcastically. "How long have I been out?"

"Almost three days," she replied. "My parents were here yesterday as well."

"They hate me," he moaned.

Veronica shook her head. "My mother doesn't." She pointed to a small package on his bedside table. "See, she brought you pumpkin cakes. And Dad--he'll come 'round, don't worry."

He felt some of his anxiety leave him at her reassurance. Severus reached his hand out weakly and stroked her cheek. She took it and kissed it softly. "What happened back there, Veronica? What did you do?"

"It's quite simple really. Ever since Harry blocked Voldemort's curse, the question in Dark Arts research circles has been, how was it done? The other question of course was, could it be repeated?"

"It was Lily's--his mother's sacrifice that protected him," Severus said.

"Actually, there are two schools of thought on that," Veronica continued. "Some believe it was her sacrificing her life for him that did it. Others, like myself, believe it was her love that provided the protection from the curse. Unfortunately, it wasn't a theory we could test."

"Until now."

 She shrugged modestly. "I thought, what the hell? It was all we had."

"Ow." Severus winced and clutched the stinging area above his heart. "What happened here?"

"Oh, nothing," Veronica replied, avoiding his eyes.

"Then why do I get the distinct impression that it's something?" He unbuttoned his nightshirt, but couldn't see whatever it was clearly.

She tipped his chin up so he was forced to look at her. "Did I tell you how much I love you?"

His black eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Get me a mirror."


"Get me a mirror, woman."

Veronica reluctantly left his bedside and returned with a hand mirror a few minutes later.

"You really should run a comb through that hair," the mirror said. "And brushing your teeth wouldn't be a bad idea either."

"I'm feeling seven years of bad luck coming on if you don't shut up," Severus barked. The mirror immediately fell silent. On his chest just above his heart was a scar shaped like a lightening bolt. Severus almost threw the mirror across the room anyway, but instead fixed his beloved with a irate glare. "You couldn't have just let me die, could you?"

"Oh, Severus, you don't mean that." Veronica was trying to look sympathetic, but had to cover her mouth to keep from laughing. "Well, at least it's not on your forehead."

"Swear to me you will not tell a soul."

Veronica regarded him sheepishly. "It's a bit late for that, I'm afraid. You see, there was a rather talkative third-year Gryffindor boy, one bed over from yours when we brought you in..."

He groaned.

"And of course, there were the reporters from WWN and the Daily Prophet..."

Severus spotted a copy of the Prophet on her bedside table. He held out his hand for it, but she hesitated.

"Perhaps now isn't the best time--"

"The paper, Veronica." She handed him the newspaper which he slowly unfolded, mentally preparing himself for the worst. On the front page, above a very old and extremely unflattering picture of himself, was the headline: 'THE PROFESSOR WHO LIVED!' Severus closed his eyes, suddenly suffering from a splitting headache. "Why is it that I'm getting all the attention when you're the one who saved me?"

"Severus, it was a team effort. I wouldn't have been able to do what I did if it weren't for you and Harry," she replied sincerely. "You were wonderful."

It wasn't that Severus doubted her words, but he knew that she had allowed herself to be relegated to the part of Damsel in Distress so she wouldn't have to explain her past association with Balin to the whole wizarding world. Severus had been willing to die to protect her, surely he could suffer through a bit of publicity. He felt her warm, soft lips against his, then she lightly kissed the scar on his chest.

Veronica looked up at him and grinned. "I think it makes you look dangerous."

Severus ran his hand through her lush, curly hair. "You did that to torture me, am I right? Lying here, barely able to lift my head, unable to reciprocate."

"Poppy says you'll be able to leave the hospital wing tomorrow." Veronica motioned for him to scoot over as she climbed into the small bed with him.

"Now I know you're trying to torture me."

"Would you like me to leave?" she said with a smile, pretending to get up.

Severus quickly put a restraining arm around her waist and pulled her close.

"You're beginning to rally I see."

"It's amazing what having a sexy woman in one's bed will do for one's recovery."

She rolled her eyes and said, "Oh, stop."

"Veronica," he began, taking her chin in his hand and looking deeply into her eyes, "from this moment on, there is only one acceptable response when I tell you you're sexy--'thank you'. I'll also accept 'yes, I know, you silly man'."

She laughed, then became very quiet. "I'm so sorry I doubted you. When I found out what Voldemort was planning, I thought-- I should have known you wouldn't turn Harry over to him."

"I almost did." Severus wrapped his arms tightly around her. "I was sure I'd never see you again." He looked up and started when he saw Dumbledore standing over them. Veronica leapt from the bed, red-faced.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, but I really do need to speak with you," Dumbledore said to Veronica. "I knew you wouldn't leave the hospital wing until Severus was awake." When Veronica started to protest, he added, "Poppy will watch over him while you're gone. Please, it's important that we talk."

Veronica shifted from foot to foot, obviously not anxious to comply with Dumbledore's request.

"Before you leave, Albus," Severus said, "I'd like to speak to you for just a moment. Veronica, would you excuse us?"

"Why don't you wait in my office," Dumbledore suggested. "I'll be there directly."

She nodded and left the two men alone.

"You knew what Potter and I were up to, didn't you?" Severus said.

"More or less," Dumbledore replied. "I knew you wouldn't kidnap Harry--"

Severus regarded him with surprise. "You knew about that?"

"Of course, I knew. What else could Voldemort have wanted from you in exchange for Veronica? But I knew you wouldn't do it." Dumbledore broke out in an affectionate smile. "I trust you, Severus. Obviously, more than you trust yourself. I also knew Harry would volunteer to help you rescue her once he'd figured it out."

"And you let us go?"

"How could I not? I owed her at least that much. Besides, it was an excellent opportunity for you and Harry to learn to work together. I suspect it won't be the last time."

"Please, Albus," Severus said, indicating the scar on his chest, "I feel bad enough as it is."

Dumbledore examined the medal pinned to his nightshirt. "I heard Euphemia was here to present you with the Order of Merlin, First Class. You must be very proud."

"Actually, I'm relieved I was asleep during the presentation. I cannot abide that woman." Severus removed the medal and put it back in the box sitting on his bedside table. "This should be Veronica's. It was her love that save me. All I did was stand there."

"You know Severus, you've suddenly turned into a compassionate and unselfish human being. Frankly, you're beginning to frighten me a little." Dumbledore grinned. "Veronica is so very proud of you--as am I. You've earned it."

"I want the two of you to be friends," Severus said as Dumbledore turned to leave.

"So do I," the old wizard replied.


Just as Veronica reached the gargoyle that guarded the entrance to Dumbledore's office, she heard someone call, "Professor Stanley!"

She turned and smiled as she saw Harry, Ron and Hermione rush toward her.

"How are you feeling?" they all three asked at once.

She wriggled her right forefinger almost painlessly. "Fine, thank you. How are you, Harry? Recovered from our little adventure?"

He nodded a bit shyly, communicating with his eyes and flushed cheeks that he didn't want her to make a fuss about what happened in front of his friends.

"You know, we would have been there too, if Professor Dumbledore hadn't stopped us," Ron piped in. "He kept us in his office for hours."

"Dumbledore stopped you?" Veronica asked, a bit bewildered.

"Yes," Hermione answered, then glowered at Ron. "And you were so broken up about it that you only managed to choke down three mugs of butterbeer and five pumpkin cakes."

Ron opened his mouth for a retort, but Veronica interrupted him, "You know, I've been thinking about setting up a weekly workshop for the three of you to learn some more advanced Defense Spells, particularly the Patronus Charm. I have a few connections in the Dark Force Defense League and I may be able to arrange getting a dementor here so you can practice."

All three of them went pale. "A real dementor?" Harry breathed.

"There's nothing like practicing on the real thing."

"Normally, I wouldn't allow a dementor on school grounds, but Professor Stanley has a point."

Veronica jumped at the sound of Dumbledore's voice. "I'm sorry, sir, I spoke out of turn."

"No, it's an excellent suggestion," the Headmaster replied, then he turned to the three fifth-year Gryffindors. "Now, Professor Stanley and I have some business to attend to and I believe the three of you are already late for Herbology."

Harry, Ron and Hermione said their goodbyes and hurried to class. Dumbledore gave the gargoyle the password and led Veronica up the stairs to his office.

She settled in a comfortable chair in front of his desk, but felt anything but comfortable.

"Would you like some tea, Veronica?"

"No, thank you, sir," she replied formally.

The old wizard grinned mischievously. "How about some Firewhiskey instead?"

Veronica couldn't help grinning herself. "It's not even noon."

Dumbledore broke out a bottle and two glasses. "Well, just this once."

Veronica downed her drink in one gulp, rather enjoying the giddy warmth that flooded through her body. "Ron Weasley said something very interesting just a moment ago."

"Really?" Dumbledore said as he sipped his own drink.

Veronica tried to read the Headmaster's expression, but he was as inscrutable as ever. "He said that he and Hermione had planned on joining Harry on his adventure, but you stopped them. Which makes me think that you knew that Severus and Harry were going to try to rescue me."

Dumbledore nodded. "I couldn't officially give my permission, but I let them go."

"I must admit, I'm rather surprised that you allowed Harry to risk himself--" Veronica felt her throat tighten and tears well up in her eyes. "After all, he's the important one." She cursed herself for downing the Firewhiskey so quickly because now she was unable to keep the tears at bay. She covered her face with her hands and sobbed, letting all the pent up fear, anger and sadness that had built up over the last week come out at once. After several minutes, she felt Dumbledore help her out of her chair and onto the cushy sofa. He sat next to her and put his arms around her, stroking her hair comfortingly. She allowed herself to rest her head on his shoulder, her tears dripping onto his long white beard.

When her crying subsided, Dumbledore took her hand in his. Veronica felt a familiar jolt of energy spread up her arm, but why it was familiar, she couldn't rightly say. Her eyes grew wide with recognition when she finally recalled when she first felt it. "I remember this. After I tried to commit suicide, I felt this surge of strength every day, that made me hang on. I thought it was me..."

"And that's what I wanted you to think," Dumbledore said gently, "but now I realize it's much more important for you to know that you weren't alone, and that I did care about what was happening to you. I'm so sorry for the unbearable pain he caused you, but I'm quite delighted to see how wonderfully you've turned out."

"Thank you for telling me, Albus," Veronica said, wiping her eyes. "To be honest, I was getting rather tired of hating you." Veronica thought she saw a tear glistening in the Headmaster's eye. "I think I could do with that tea now."

"So could I," Dumbledore said, rising to his feet. "Oh, yes, something tells me this is this perfect moment for me to ask you if you plan on staying on as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor."

Veronica smiled broadly. "Only if I get hazard pay."


When Severus was released from the hospital wing early the next evening, Veronica was not there meet him. She was in the dungeon, "preparing things".

Though she had not specifically said it, Severus knew she was readying herself to make love with him for the first time. He would have felt more comfortable if he could have been the one to initiate intimacy, but he realized that he needed to let Veronica do this in her own way, though it did make him feel a little like a sacrificial virgin getting ready to be thrown into a volcano. His mouth curled in a wicked grin. Somehow he didn't mind

Severus entered the dungeon and was assailed by the sweet, fresh perfume of flowers. His room had been straightened, but thankfully all his possessions seemed to be in their proper place. Several vases full of black roses and orchids were placed all around the room. An ancient bottle of red wine from Hogwarts' own cellar sat on a table along with one empty wineglass. The other glass was being held by Veronica, who was sitting on his bed, his bedspread strewn with black rose petals. She was trying very hard to strike a seductive pose, but was failing miserably in the most sweetly charming way.

One corner of his mouth curled up. "Someone's been reading Witch Weekly again."

"You don't like it," she said, crestfallen.

"Oh, it's very nice--the black flowers are a particularly good touch--but it's not quite you."

Veronica put down her wineglass and folded her arms across her chest. "And what, pray tell, would be me?"

Severus thought for a moment. "Balloons. Lots of big, colorful balloons. You're a very balloony sort of person."

"Balloony?" Veronica broke out in a twinkling, bubbly laugh. "I like that. Oh, you haven't noticed my surprise!" She stood before him expectantly. She was wearing a pink gauzy robe, tied below the bust with a deep square neckline. She had never looked prettier, but there was something else...

"Oh, my..." Severus reached out and gently brushed his hand against the skin--the perfectly beautiful skin--above her heart. "It gone!"

"Do you know what this means?" Veronica said happily. "When Voldemort is destroyed yours will disappear too."

But Severus wasn't listening. He knelt down and kissed her where the ugly Dark Mark used to be. He heard Veronica's breath catch in her throat, and felt her fingers dig into his shoulders. He kissed her throat, her neck, then her lips, with an urgency he hadn't dared before. He swept her up in his arms and was just about to carry her to his bed when he stopped himself and put her down.

"Why did you stop?" Veronica said, flushed and frustrated.

Severus almost choked on his next words: "We don't have to make love tonight if you're not ready."

Veronica gaped at him in disbelief. "Severus, look at me! I'm ready!"

"I-I just don't want to rush you," he stammered. "If you'd prefer--"

She pushed him down on the bed and settled into his lap.

"We could just talk--"

Veronica placed light, sensual kisses on his lips and neck while she ran her fingers through his hair.

"Or we could go for a stroll around the lake--"

She ran her tongue behind his ear, then took his earlobe lightly in her teeth. She sat up and wriggled a bit, causing him to gasp, as she started to unbutton his robe. Severus noticed that her hands were shaking a little.

Severus took her hands in his. "Are you sure?"

Veronica laid down on the bed, pulling him down with her. "I'm sure."


Several hours later...

"I should have asked you this before..." Severus began, absentmindedly running his fingers through her hair.

"Don't worry," Veronica told him, "I took precautions."

"No, not that."

"What then?"

"Veronica," he began in an overly serious tone.

"Severus," she said, mimicking him, then flashing him a smile.

"Will you marry me?"

Veronica sat up in shock. She giggled nervously. "I was that good, eh?"

Severus pulled her down gently and kissed her. "You were a veritable goddess."

She gazed up at him eagerly. "Want to have another go?"

"Not until you answer my question."

Veronica raised an eyebrow. "You mean to tell me our making love again is contingent on whether or not I consent to be your wife?"

"No, but the quality of my performance may very well be affected."

She cuffed him playfully on the chest and pouted. "Well, I suppose I could stand to look at you for another fifty or sixty years, but after that I'm off."

He slipped his hand underneath the sheet, then kissed her deeply. "I can live with that."

"Can we have a traditional wizard wedding?" Veronica asked hopefully.

"Anything you like as long as we don't invite the whole world," Severus replied. "I'd prefer a small, quiet affair--"

Veronica patted his cheek. "Of course, sweetheart."

Sweetheart. Damn, I like the sound of that. "I was thinking we could go to the French Riviera--or better yet--Venice for the honeymoon."

She nodded. "That's sounds nice, but what about Disneyworld?"

Severus scowled. "Isn't that a Muggle amusement park in America?"

"It's supposed to be brilliant!" Veronica said brightly. "I've always wanted to meet Mickey the Mouse."

"Who is Mickey the Mouse?" Severus asked.

"Only the most beloved animal in Muggle history," Veronica told him, obviously stunned that he was unaware of that fact. "He lives at Disneyworld. Can we go?"

Severus rolled his eyes. "We'll see."


As they walked up the stairs to the Great Hall the next morning, Severus made Veronica promise not to tell anyone about their engagement for the time being. It wasn't that he didn't want people to know, it was just that he wanted to do his best to prevent the occasion from becoming a circus. Unfortunately, Veronica was positively glowing and looked as if she were about to bust with the news at any second.

During breakfast, Lupin looked over at them and smiled widely.

"Can I help you with something?" Severus asked with mild sarcasm.

"Sorry, Severus, but I was just thinking, I've never seen you looking so--relaxed."

Veronica blushed a deep crimson and giggled like a little girl. She turned to Lupin and blurted, "We're getting married!"

Severus put his head in his hand.

The entire staff table exploded into congratulations. Minerva and Professor Sinistra hugged Veronica in turn. He heard Professor Sprout mutter, "Generations of Hufflepuffs just turned over in their graves, but as long as you're happy..." then she squeezed Veronica warmly.

Any irritation he felt melted away when he saw Dumbledore hug Veronica tightly and place a kiss on her forehead. Veronica hugged him back and pecked him on the cheek. The only two people he'd ever really loved were friends again.

Hagrid walked over to Severus as he dabbed a few tears from his eyes with a handkerchief large enough to cover most first years. The half-giant pulled Severus to his feet and hugged him so tightly Severus thought he might have broken a rib or two.

"I jus' love weddins!" Hagrid sobbed.

"Well, you're all invited, of course," Veronica told him.

Severus sputtered and coughed when Hagrid finally let him go. He then waved his arms at Veronica to get her to stop before she had invited the whole school, but it was too late.

"What's going on, Hagrid?" Ron Weasley yelled from the Gryffindor table.

Hagrid pointed madly at Severus and Veronica and yelled, "They're gettin' hitched!"

Like a wildfire, within seconds, the news traveled through the Great Hall. Everyone but the Slytherins started applauding. Severus sat back down wearily and Veronica joined him a moment later. She regarded him sheepishly. "I'm sorry."

One corner of his mouth curled in a sardonic grin. "No, you're not." Severus gazed out on the Great Hall pensively.

"What are you thinking?" Veronica asked, wringing her hands, a touch of anxiety in her voice.

"I was just trying to pinpoint the exact moment when I lost complete control over my life."

She looked downcast. "I'll understand if you want to change your mind about getting married. Perhaps this isn't the best time for a wedding, after all. I mean, Voldemort wants us both dead, the Slytherins don't trust you anymore. I've ruined your spying career. I've sort of ruined everything."

He took her hand and squeezed it gently. "Veronica, my life needed ruining. Besides, we can't cancel the wedding, you've already invited the whole school." 

She smiled with relief. "We'll go to Venice for the honeymoon."

"No, no, I'll take you to Disneyworld," Severus sighed in loving resignation. "I wouldn't want to deprive you of the privilege of meeting Mickey the Rodent."

"Mouse," Veronica corrected, "Mickey the Mouse."