It was finally coronation day. Prince Draco of Slytherin entered the city of Gryffindor, only to find it almost empty. A small group of supporters thronged around him and his retinue, opening the gates enthusiastically, but the vast majority had either locked themselves inside or had simply disappeared.
"My lord, it seems as if the war had destroyed them. We don't even have to take the city" one of the Slytherin guards chuckled.
"Quiet, Goyle. I suspect a trap. There must be an ambush planned for us. I do not want to stay long, but only to claim my bride" the Prince of Slytherin raised his hand to silence the guard
"It is most likely a bluff, my prince. Calm your quivering nerves and press on; they must be on their knees" Severus rode up to command the prince.
"Your confidence in their weakness cost us the war and has led me into marrying a low-born trollop. I would rather marry a disease-ridden wretch from the sewers than that harpy" Draco snarled.
"If your father realized how careless you were about your duty to Slytherin, you would lose your inheritance" Severus' growl was deeper and quieter, but his voice had a sword behind it. Onward they rode.
The drawbridge was open and smoke rose from the kitchen smokestack, but instead of the prince and his men, the Slytherins were greeted by a pale girl in a bizarrely patterened colored cloak and two guards.
"Stand aside, we come for an audience with Prince Harry" Draco stood tall and straight, preening the black feather on his cap.
"Do you have an invitation?" the girl smiled up at them, seemingly oblivious to the command
"What is the meaning of this?" Severus spoke as evenly as he could muster
"The coronation and wedding are, by the prince's order, by invitation only. You'll have to show me your cards in order for you to join in. You'd better do it soon; the wedding is about to start"
"You said they would surrender and allow me to marry the mudblood!" Draco roared impatiently as Severus
"I said it was a possibility. It seems as if though the cretins think they can defy my request. Stand aside now, girl"
"I'm sorry, I can't do that. Queen Cho told me that all guests must be obliged to follow the prince's orders" the smile never left her face
Draco drew his sword and prepared to strike when Sir Seamus, the fair lady Lavender on his arm, rushed to the scene.
"Stay your hand, good prince." His voice seemed laced with sarcasm, but not thick enough for Draco to take offence, "We will allow you entry"
The Slytherins dismounted and were taken into the castle. Everywhere, the sounds, sights, and smells of celebration filled the hallways; even the stone corridors and courtyards were adorned with sweet-smelling flowers and colorful tapestries.
"Disgusting" Severus muttered
"My wedding will be grander" Draco swore
"Ooh, that pudding looks delicious" Goyle rubbed his mailed hands.
Finally, they arrive in the court itself, climbing up a wide staircase to the platform of the courtroom, only to find the duchess in a lip lock with Sir Neville as he sat by her side at the high table. Cheers turned to gasps as Draco and Severus stormed in.
"What is the meaning of this?!" This time Severus was losing his temper.
"My old friend" Prince Harry replied with a cold smile, "the duchess has made her decision and will be married to Sir Longbottom"
"You fool, you have just declared war on Slytherin" Draco drew his sword.
"You are in my court, in my castle, and the castle is full of my best guards" Harry said calmly, "you cannot escape to get to your army"
He gestured, and armored guards closed off the wide stairway the Slytherins had came. It should have ended peacefully, had not Draco's bodyguard Sir Goyle drew his sword and attacked the guards. Draco charged the table, while Hermione pulled herself and Neville down just in time to avoid a deadly curse that pulverized the wall behind them.
Sir Seamus struck off Goyle's head, but Draco almost had his sword at Prince Harry's throat. It looked as if the prince was doomed when Duke Ronald rose to his feet, drew his sword, and hewed at Draco. The prince of Slytherin fell on his back with a scream, his severed hand still twitching on the table. Only Harry's hand stayed Ronald from slaying Draco then and there.
Severus fired another curse of black magic at the prince, but this time it was deflected. From out of the hole in the wall Minerva stepped in. Severus paused. To the right were the Ravenclaws, and their small, wizened, but powerful sorcerer Flitwick was closing in. On the left were the Hufflepuffs, and the formidable witch Pomona was closing in from the other direction. Severus took this all in quickly, and turned tail to run.
To Hermione's horror, Sir Neville climbed onto the table and jumped after the fleeing wizard. Severus realized he had a pursuer, and gestured. A suit of armor belonging to Harry's uncle Sirius flew towards the boy. Hermione screamed, but Neville and the armor collided.
It looked like it was over as Severus tossed the guards aside with a gesture. But he heard a clanging that made him turn around. Apparently the suit of armor had not stopped Neville, and both boy and armor were locked in a tangle of limbs and metal that was hurtling towards him. His triumphant smile faded and was replaced by a look of realization and horror that only lasted moments before he was struck by the cartwheeling tangle. The three figures hurtled onwards and bounded down the stairway. They came to a stop on the foot of the stairs before there was a burst of flames.
Hermione had run after her fiancé, and it was only through a quick burst of effort that she dragged her unconscious knight from the flames. Apparently the ride halted with the armor falling to pieces with Neville on top of it and Severus crushed underneath. The fire and smoke that poured out of the wizard's broken body threatened to choke the room when a gesture from Flitwick dissipated it like a strong breeze.
Guests clamored around. Some helped the injured guards and looked to the dead knights and soldiers, and others looked to the prince's safety. A healer dragged Draco away as he wept in pain, clutching his stump of a wrist. No one would come near Severus' still smoldering corpse except for Pomona, who conjured a shroud around the ghastly husk and levitated it, carrying it away from the room in the air. The Slytherins had succeeded in disrupting the party, but, like all evils, it would not last forever.
As it turned out, Slytherin did not declare war. No sooner than King Lucius march out than he was forced back, lest the wizards destroy his son's hand instead of restoring it. News of threats from the empires of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons forced them into a peace that the people of Slytherin welcomed against their leaders' cries for war. Beauxbatons had been linked to the city of Gryffindor by marriage of their princess Fleur to Sir William, Ronald's older brother. Durmstrang was allied by the love of Khan Krum for Hermione. The Khan accepted and blessed the wedding for propriety's sake, and was invited to the wedding.
On Harry's personal request, the wedding took place just before the coronation. Peace was the new term of the day; Prince Draco renounced any pretension to any throne but Slytherin's before riding away with his parents, leaving many of the Slytherin guests without their ruler. The Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws vowed their own peace, acknowledging Harry as King.
The thousands of guests to both events would endlessly debate which was more satisfying; the wedding of Sir Neville and now-Princess Hermione, the coronation of King Harry, and Harry's own wedding to now-Queen Ginevra. Was it the love of each couple, with everyone present looking happier than they had ever been seen before? Was it the flowers, grown by Sir Neville himself and his men? Was it the sumptuous food? Was it the sheer satisfaction of King Harry standing in from of the cheering multitude wearing the crown of his father? Was it the dignity Minerva, who had presided over each and every one of the event, placing the crown on Harry's head herself?
For the people, the questions had just begun, but for Harry and his friends in the castle, their questions had been answered at last after years of searching. Harry was a king and Ginevra his radiant queen. Hermione was now a princess, and Neville and Ron were princes. It wasn't the rank that made them so happy, nor was it the death of Severus and the peace with Slytherin. It was the love they had found in each other.
And they lived happily ever after.