There are many unusual things about Celena Costello. She is part dryad, she is a descendant of Nicolas Flamel, and she was one of the most prominent beauties of Beauxbatons, outshined only by her friend Fleur Delacour. But her most extraordinary achievement lies in capturing the heart of Severus Snape.
Summary of the prequel: Celena arrived at Hogwarts to become Master of Potions, and almost immediately finds herself at loggerheads with Professor Snape, now Deputy Headmaster and teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts, regarding how her subject is to be taught and her students are to be managed. She soon decides Professor Snape is the most unpleasant man she had ever had the misfortune to meet, and her aversion towards him grows stronger when she finds out he used to be a Death Eater.
But then she discovers other things, in particular the tragic past of Severus Snape and his unfortunate love for Lily Potter. Gradually, she begins to understand, appreciate, and admire him, while he, in his turn, finds himself irresistibly attracted to her. To general astonishment, the business is concluded in their wedding the following summer.
And now the story continues…
The sun slanted across the cozy wood-paneled room. Lacy curtains were billowing in a gentle breeze. A young woman stretched like a cat, her silky nightshirt slipping off one of her white shoulders. She rested her beautiful chestnut head on the chest of the man who lay by her side.
"It's morning," he said.
"Yes," she replied, smiling sleepily, "today we are going home."
It was the last day of summer. The man sat up in bed and brushed a lock of hair from her face.
"I keep telling myself it was madness," he said, "I should never have let myself get involved with you… let alone marry you."
"You're making it sound as if I had no say in the matter," she smiled.
"…What could I possibly offer you? A man nearly twenty years older than yourself, aging in bitterness, plagued by memories, and worst of all, putting you in grave danger by this connection. All this need for concealment…"
"A secret marriage," she replied, kissing his beaked nose, "how romantic. Fleur was all in raptures when she heard about it. I, on the other hand, don't think it's quite necessary –"
"But that is just the point, Celena. It is. It is.With you in London, perhaps living with your parents again and managing "Costello Concoctions", or back working at St. Mungo's, I would worry less. But in Hogsmeade, I don't know how we're going to pull this off. A village full of witches and wizards, all of whom know you and me, it's only a matter of time until they notice. Won't you reconsider..?"
"No." She firmly said. "I want to be close to you, and I want to live as normally as possible. Just imagine how cozy we'll be at that cottage, it's almost like here, only it won't be the south of France. I will expect you home for dinner every night, Severus. And I'll keep that potions workshop running, people will think it's natural "Costello Concoctions" is expanding now that I've completed my education and got some work experience under my belt. And what place can be better than Hogsmeade, which is simply packed with shops? Anyone would want to open a shop there. I designed a special line of beauty potions for witches – "Celena's Serums", how does that sound?"
He bowed his head and stared at her right hand. A large emerald glittered there, wrought into a thin golden hoop – his engagement gift. He also slipped a ring on her finger during their wedding, but it was hanging on a long golden chain on her neck. He insisted that she shouldn't get used to wearing the ring, because one day she might forget to remove it, and get out of the house with the ring still on her finger. How would it look, eligible single young witch Celena Costello - wearing a wedding ring?
"I know what it's like to lose loved ones," he said, "and to have your conscience weighing on you for decades. I won't ever let that happen again. I'd rather be ridiculous taking every possible precaution, than have something happen to you."
...Snape was still skeptical as they stood in McGonagall's circular office that afternoon.
"We will miss having you among our staff, Celena," said Minerva McGonagall, "you made quite an impact in just one year. I understand, of course, why you and Severus decided you should resign. With both of you constantly present in the castle, it would be next to impossible to hide that you are married. Not to mention that you, of course, want to have a home of your own. But I daresay we will be seeing you often enough in Hogsmeade. Now remember, Severus, you must be careful when you go home at night. You can use Floo Powder and go straight to your fireplace from here, but it's too risky, as the Floo Network can be easily traced. You can travel to "The Three Broomsticks'" fireplace, but only every so often, because you're not a man to frequent pubs and it would arouse suspicion, so save it for the stormiest nights. You can ride a broomstick when nights are clear, or walk to the border of Hogwarts grounds, so you can Disapparate there and Apparate at home. Be even more careful in the mornings – if you truly want to keep appearances, which, I must say…"
"I do," he interrupted. "The Death Eaters know I betrayed Voldemort. Now that they are rearing their head again, they will be after my blood. Using family and loved ones to extort, blackmail and threaten those they wish to influence is a favorite strategy with them. You should know it as well as anyone else, Minerva. I have been alone for many years, thus invulnerable to this tactic. If they know Celena and I are married, do you really believe they would not take advantage of that?"
"Then don't get out of the house in the mornings. Disapparate and Apparate near the Hogwarts grounds."
The office door opened, and a beaming Remus Lupin walked in. He put an arm around his niece and kissed her on the cheek, then shook hands with Snape. Snape didn't back off, but the expression on his face was more than cool. Despite all that has passed, the common work in the Order, and now becoming related, old grudges don't die easily, and Snape would probably never quite forget all that happened in the old days between him and Moony, Padfoot, Prongs and Wormtail.
"Marriage suits you, Celena," said Lupin, "and you too, Severus. I imagine you had the most enjoyable honeymoon in France?"
"Oh, the best, Uncle Remus. It was the most wonderful summer. Severus looks well with a tan, don't you think?"
"Remus," hastily said McGonagall, noticing the scowl on Snape's face, "I thank you again for agreeing to take up the Defense Against the Dark Arts vacancy once more. It seems that no matter what we do, we're a teacher short every year. I must say I'm quite surprised you asked to return to teaching Potions, Severus, after just two years at the Defense Against the Dark Arts position."
"I didn't expect that myself," admitted Snape, "but I missed the coolness of the dungeons, the hissing of cauldrons, the bubbling of ready solutions… not being a Potions' Master, I felt something is missing."
"It's a comfort to me, to have you two in the castle at these troubled times. And remember, Severus – you're Head of House, and as you know, something unexpected comes up at night at least once a week. A student releasing a Fanged Frisbee in the dormitory, or a couple of sweethearts caught wandering about the grounds at midnight… when you are needed, no one must suspect you don't live in the castle anymore. Be careful to leave signs of habitation in your bedroom. And be ready for us to call for you in the middle of the night if need arises. Take care to look as though you're coming out of your bedroom if that happens."
"Wouldn't think of doing anything different, Minerva."
"Good. Now, remember – the start of term feast tonight. Severus and Remus, I expect you two downstairs at seven o'clock. Dress robes please. Celena, would you like to come too?"
"Thank you, Minerva," Celena shook her head, "but I think I'll just spend the evening holed up at home, preparing everything to be nice and cozy when Severus arrives. It's our first day here and I want it to be special."