Author Notes: The title already says it, this OS is of the Bonding Ceremony of Harry and Severus and part of the "Ultimate" Series. The story probably won`t make any sense to you if you haven`t read the other parts of the Series, so I suggest everyone to read them first, before reading this one.^^

I would also like to mention that I didn`t include Horcruxes in the Series, if someone might wonder about certain things in this OS.^^

Appreciation: Special thanks to YenGirl, who beta-read this story, although she was very busy herself and who is responsible for the improvement of this OS, since I sent the first draft to her. Thank you, dear!*hugs*

Ultimate Ceremony

A cloudless sky and bright sunshine with the sound of the rushing sea. Waving palms lining the path on either side and white sand all around.

The whole place looked and felt exactly like a beach in the Caribbean, except…

Severus shook his head, a look of awe crossing his features. All right, he had told Harry to organize their bonding ceremony and reassured him that he didn't mind a romantic touch, but this was… unexpected.

Although Severus knew how versatile the Room of Requirements was, he wouldn't have guessed that it could imitate the look and feel of a tropical beach. It felt so real that he was tempted to remove his shoes and feel how soft the sand was with his bare feet… but that would have ruined his reputation. While he didn't mind Harry seeing all of him, including his gentler side, the prospect of anyone else witnessing such actions wasn't very appealing to him.

The Potions Master glanced behind, taking in the audience seated on wooden chairs arranged behind the path made of wooden planks, the path he and Harry were supposed to walk in a few minutes' time.

Dark orbs swept over the few people who were attending their official bonding ceremony. Black and Lupin were there as well as Albus, Molly and Arthur Weasley, and of course, Harry's best friends, Granger and Weasley.

A resigned sigh escaped Severus's lips. It could have been worse. At least there weren't any reporters around, although he was sure that would change as soon as the media got to know of their bonding. He glanced at the young man beside him.

Harry looked very handsome in a plain white, button-down shirt tucked into black trousers which hugged his behind like a second skin. They had both decided against formal dress robes or Muggle suits, partly because of the casual setting and partly because it would be... inconvenient later on.

Severus then glanced down at himself. He didn't think he would ever be able to compete with Harry in terms of looks, but Harry had assured him that the black button-down shirt and the trousers looked good on him... although the young Gryffindor had used the word hot.

"Ready, Severus?"

The words were whispered, but Severus heard them just fine. It was time they started their bonding ceremony and if forced to tell the truth, he was looking forward to it.

Somewhat.

It wasn't that he was against the idea of bonding with Harry again. He just didn't like the fact that they had witnesses this time... although that was part of the fun, he told himself again and again.

At least Severus didn't have to fear any innuendos from Draco. He and Harry had invited his godson and Ginny to attend, but both declined, opting to leave the UK as fast as possible since the death of the Dark Lord had caused some trouble for the Malfoy family. Severus just hoped that they were safe, wherever they were.

Nevertheless, it was a little miracle that Molly Weasley had allowed her only daughter to go on holidays with Draco. But Severus assumed that they were all so glad that Voldemort was finally gone that they were a little more liberal than they normally would. Otherwise, Molly certainly wouldn`t have allowed her precious daughter away from her watchful eye, when she was only together with Draco for three months now.

At a gentle nudge on his arm, he nodded and started down the path together with Harry, hearing a soft sniff that sounded like it had come from Molly. He didn't turn around, but allowed himself a small smile as a soft sea breeze tousled his hair.

The bonding ceremony didn't just feel like a new beginning. It truly was one.

Again, dark orbs looked at the young man walking nearby, a bright smile mirrored in his green eyes. Severus had never told Harry this, but he was very glad that he didn't have to kill Voldemort. A relieved smile spread over his features as he remembered what had happened.

Instead of the prophecy becoming true, the Dark Lord was responsible for his own downfall. He had tried to trap his former Potions Master by sending him a bogus invitation to a Potions Master conference. Severus was ashamed to admit that he had almost fallen for the fake invitation if his former friend Lucius hadn't had the guts to tell Severus and Albus of the Dark Lord's plans.

Severus still didn't know why Lucius had decided to warn him, but in the end, only the outcome mattered.

Albus had taken it upon himself to appear at the meeting point, after making sure that the place was specially warded, so that no one could Disapparate from there. It was an epic and vicious battle, one that still made Severus shudder at the memory even two weeks later... one week after the summer holidays had started.

He wasn't sure how long the duel had lasted, but he remembered the feeling of utter disbelief and overwhelming sense of relief enveloping him when Albus recounted the duel. The Dark Lord's own killing curse had rebounded upon the powerful and undetectable shield Albus put up and hit its caster instead.

Of course, the Wizarding World had celebrated for days after that. Severus had hoped that they would start losing interest in Harry since he wasn't the one who defeated the Dark Lord, but that didn't happen. They still continued talking about the defeat of You Know Who at the hands of Harry Potter who wasn't even present at that time.

Severus could only imagine what the newspapers would publish once they found out about their bonding.

A firm hand closing around his fingers stopped his thoughts. He looked down, seeing bright green eyes smiling at him and offered a small smile in return.

Harry was right. Today was their special day and no Dark Lord was a part of it… especially when his marks were also gone – Harry's famous scar had faded to a small, almost invisible line while Severus' Dark Mark had vanished completely, leaving nothing else behind than smooth and unmarked skin.

They were finally free of the darkest wizard of this century and more than deserved a fresh start in a happy and new life.

OOO

At the end of the path were two dark red cushions placed side by side, embroidered with a pattern of two entwined roses. In front of each cushion was a large seashell filled with a dark red potion. The scent of rose and sandalwood from the potion arose and enveloped Harry and Severus as they knelt down.

A brief nod was all the confirmation they needed from each other before picking up a shell and holding it to their lips. They could feel everyone's eyes on them and Severus found himself hoping that he had brewed the potion correctly, even though he knew he did.

After all, the bonding potion he brewed for Harry's birthday was perfect in scent, taste and effect, and that had been much more complicated to brew than this one. Nonetheless, Severus felt nervousness rising in him as he set the empty shell down. If this potion didn't work, then…

Another gentle nudge on his arm made him turn to lock eyes with Harry. The sight of those green orbs shining bright with love and affection calmed his nerves at once.

No. Everything would be fine. They only had to activate their bonding potion now. And as if the room had read his thoughts, the shells disappeared and in their place, a bed with a mound of pillows emerged.

Ah, perfect! And there he was, thinking they would have to lie down on the sand...

Severus glanced at Harry who was blushing a little as he stared at the bed. They had agreed beforehand that Severus would top. Normally, they both preferred to decide on the spur of moment who would claim whom, but they didn't have much time now. The bonding had to take place before the effect of the potion wore off.

Severus bit his lower lip as he got smoothly to his feet and followed Harry to the bed of pillows.

"Harry."

He grabbed the upper arm of the young man to stop him.

"Are you sure that I should take you this time? If you are uncomfortable with the idea, I certainly won't mind if you… take me."

A slight blush graced Severus' cheeks at these words, but he forced himself to hold Harry's gaze as the young man looked up at him in confusion, before a beautiful smile brightened his eyes.

OOO

It wasn't the first smile Harry had directed at Severus today, but behind this one lay more reasons than the others. Harry had looked forward to their bonding ceremony for weeks now and he couldn't help the happiness that swelled up inside him, whenever he looked at Severus.

He had enjoyed planning the ceremony and discussing with Hermione how the Room of Requirement should look like on this special day. The only thing he feared was that not everything would be as perfect as he wished, but so far his worries had been unnecessary.

Even Sirius had behaved well and hadn't tried convincing Harry that he shouldn't bond with the Potions Master… although that might be thanks to Remus.

But now, the day had just gotten better.

Harry took in the faint pink on Severus' normally pale features and his unwavering gaze. Those words had surprised him. They had discussed often enough who would top at the ceremony and Harry hadn't minded that Severus would… claim him. He always enjoyed their love making, no matter who took the lead and he doubted that it would be different today.

Nevertheless, he admitted that he was a little… nervous. Gulping past a dry throat, he glanced at the other end of the path where their audience was seated. It felt different, making love with Severus when they were alone and doing the same thing while being watched.

Even if they had taken certain steps to ensure their privacy, Harry couldn't deny that they didn't have their privacy this time. They weren't alone and if something went wrong, they would have a lot to explain… and that was the exact reason why Harry had wanted Severus to take the lead.

Reaching out with his right hand, he placed it on Severus' cheek, smiling as his bond mate leaned into the touch.

"I'm not uncomfortable with it," he said earnestly, "only… a little nervous. I want it this way. We can switch later once we are alone again."

Those last few words were underlined by a cheeky grin. It wasn't that Harry didn't enjoy taking Severus, but he knew all too well how insecure his lover could be sometimes.

Severus was far from shy when they were alone, but Harry didn't want his lover to feel uncomfortable at their bonding ceremony… and he knew that the Potions Master wouldn't be able to relax if he felt himself being watched.

"Please, Severus," Harry added as he saw that Severus was preparing himself for more arguments. "I want you… now!"

That was cheating.

Harry knew that he was pushing the right buttons on purpose and that Severus wouldn't be able to deny him his wish if he said that. But sometimes, even a Gryffindor had to act like a Slytherin in order to get what he wanted.

And Harry got exactly what he wanted.

Severus had looked doubtfully at him a moment before, but now, his eyes were clouded with passion. Instead of another argument, a longing groan escaped Severus' lips as he kissed Harry.

OOO

Harry was so hot!

Severus had always known that, but he was more conscious of it today. It took only a wave of his wand to free them both of their annoying clothes. A simple movement which didn't take longer than a mere second and which in turn, gave Severus more time to enjoy his lovemaking with Harry.

Grinning, the Potions Master kissed his way from Harry's collarbone to his left nipple, only to tease it with a skilled tongue. He looked up at the sound of low moan and was greeted with a deeply flushed Harry.

The tempting lips, slightly parted and pink from kissing, looked as hot as the tousled black hair, which spread nicely on the creamy pillows. Before he could think twice, Severus brought his lips to Harry's and claimed his mouth in a hard and passionate kiss.

Tongues danced together, fought… and invited. Teeth cut the tender flesh of their lips. Heated moans escaped them as Severus pressed his lower body to Harry's and ground against him.

The intoxicating feel of their hard erections rubbing together only served to increase their lust and the tightness in their loins.

"Sev… ahh!"

Harry tilted his head back, breaking the kiss, but giving Severus access to his exposed throat at the same time.

Normally, the Potions Master wouldn't leave any love bites on Harry where someone could see them, but he didn't care about that today. Attacking the tender pale skin with his lips and teeth, he soon had Harry's throat adorned with a deep red mark.

Gently, Severus licked over the abused flesh and then kissed his way down, only stopping once at Harry's navel to hear his lover's low chuckle, before reaching his final destination.

"Severus… you… we… you know…"

The Potions Master only raised an eyebrow at Harry's stuttered words. He knew what his lover wanted to tell him - that they had to minimize the foreplay, because they didn't know how much time they had, but Severus wasn't going to rush.

Harry was much too hot when he was pleasured and Severus didn`t want to miss a single second of the pure lust that was mirrored in the green orbs.

"Patience," was the only word Severus said before closing his lips around Harry's throbbing erection.

OOO

Severus was so hot!

Harry threw his head back as the skilled tongue of his lover circled the tip of his erection. Merlin, he hadn't expected that!

Since they didn't know exactly how long the potion would be effective, he had told Severus that he didn't mind a quickie. After all, this wasn't their first time, but… Holy Gryffindor, this was so much better!

That willing tongue, which licked up and down his whole rigid length.

The teeth, which nipped carefully at the very tip of it.

Those long and skillful fingers which massaged his balls so expertly.

Harry didn't know what to do!

If Severus' goal was to make him crazy, then he was well on his way to achieving exactly that. Their surroundings didn't matter anymore.

Why should Harry care that he lay on a soft bed of pillows instead of enjoying Severus' touch on familiar silky sheets?

What did it matter that sunshine greeted him whenever he opened his eyes instead of the twilight of the dungeons?

Only Severus mattered. His touch and nothing else.

Drops of precum started to leak rapidly from the tip of Harry's length as Severus sucked him in whole. He was close to passing out from the sheer lust that raged through him.

Or maybe, the last conscious part of Harry's mind remarked, it was because all the blood had left his head and flowed downwards instead. A very reasonable explanation he thought since his entire lower body seemed to throb with lust.

If Severus kept going like this, Harry knew he wouldn't be able to last much longer. As if the Potions Master had read his mind, the hot mouth and the skillful tongue vanished and left Harry's length exposed to the relatively cold air.

Clouded green eyes fluttered open. Harry was just about to utter a protest when he felt a faint wave of magic and frowned. At first, he was still too aroused to think straight, but then he remembered that Severus needed to cast a spell on him so that his body would be ready and not need to be prepped.

But Severus had already cast that spell right after he removed their clothes; why would he need to cast it again?

And why didn't Harry feel that loosening tingle this time?

His frown deepened when he saw Severus kneeling over him, knees on either side of his thighs, spreading himself open above him.

"Severus?"

Dark orbs met his and a reassuring smile appeared on the thin lips. Then Severus leaned forward and whispered, "You can call me a masochist, Harry... but I want to feel you inside me this time."

All Harry could do at hearing those enticing words was gape at Severus… and then he nodded in wholehearted agreement. A moment later, he groaned in ecstasy as his erection was engulfed in tight heat.

OOO

Merlin, it felt so good!

Severus closed his eyes for a brief moment to savor the feeling of having Harry inside him. He hadn't planned on this. No, he had been quite content with their former plan and… to tell the truth, he had been relieved that Harry didn't mind being taken by him at their bonding ceremony.

As Harry levered his upper body higher to kiss him, Severus admitted to himself that earlier, he had felt insecure about being the one at the receiving end. He had feared being exposed in front of everyone and feeling humiliated, but right now, he couldn't even understand how he had come to that mistaken conclusion.

There wasn't anything humiliating about accepting all of his lover… in every meaning of the word.

Severus realized that now. He was entering a new period in his life and it was time to leave behind as many of his insecurities as possible. That was one reason why he had decided to let Harry take him… but more importantly, he found it utterly thrilling to feel Harry inside him and still be in control of the situation

Severus moved his pelvis, allowing Harry to claim even more of him and enjoying the sight of pure passion painted all over his lover's face. He leaned towards Harry, feeling the sensitive tip of Harry's erection brush his inner walls as he did so and swallowed the moan of his young lover with a kiss.

"Severus… you…"

When green eyes looked pleadingly up at him, Severus nodded. If they had been alone, it would have been fun to make Harry beg… at least a little, but since they weren't... he raised his hips and lowered himself again, feeling Harry slide almost completely out of him and then surge deep within him again.

Their bodies started to glisten with pearls of sweat as Severus rose and fell again and again, the speed of his movements increasing. They were both panting by now, their agitated breaths surrounding them and shielding them from everything else.

Severus felt Harry wrapping a leg around his waist, bringing him forward a bit and changing the angle of his position. A wave of pure pleasure flowed through Severus, making him shudder in passion. He lowered himself onto Harry even faster, losing himself a little more each time Harry's erection hit his prostate.

In fact, Severus had almost forgotten about their time constraint. If it was up to him, they would enjoy their lovemaking for hours to come.

Somehow, the Potions Master still remembered that they had a deadline to meet. He pushed himself down one last time and cried out, stumbling over the point of no return and coming hard between them.

OOO

He was so close!

Harry wasn't able to wonder anymore why Severus had changed his mind about claiming him. He would ask him later, but right now, he couldn't form a single conscious thought.

His whole body seemed to consist of nerve endings that were being set alight, sending waves of pleasured bliss to his mind. They blocked any higher brain function and allowed him to fully enjoy every minute of his love making with Severus.

Somehow, he knew that it had to end soon as he felt Severus increasing his speed. Panting, Harry wrapped his leg around Severus' back to feel even more of his lover. He caught a glimpse of black orbs looking down at him, clouded with lust and then Severus' inner walls were tightening around him and a warm fluid spattered onto his stomach.

Harry tossed his head back. The extra stimulation was too much for him to take and with a final, upward thrust of his hips and a groan, he followed Severus and came deep inside him.

With his chest heaving, Harry held onto Severus as the Potions Master collapsed on top of him. Then he felt it - a gentle, joyful wave of magic washing over them. As overwhelmed by their lovemaking as Harry was, he knew instinctively that they had succeeded in forming their bond.

The potion had worked so far… he only hoped that the other would as well.

OOO

Oh, a traditional ceremony!

Ron sighed in complete and utter relief. He had feared the worst, the very worst, when he had entered the Room of Requirement and found such a romantic setting. He had shuddered at all the dreadful scenarios playing in his mind's eye as he walked stiffly to his chair, conscious of his best mate and their former Potions Professor standing beside each other at the beginning of the path.

Ron had attended numerous weddings in his young life. He couldn't avoid such ceremonies when he was a member of the widespread Weasley family, but he had prayed to Merlin and the four founders of Hogwarts that this ceremony wouldn't be anything like one of his cousin's.

Jack and his bride had thought it to be a good idea to celebrate their special day in white clothes… only to be bathed in foam as soon as they had exchanged their vows. Until today, no one really knew who had been responsible for that prank, but Ron suspected Ginny had been behind it. After all, for what other reason would the twins suddenly take over all her chores for a whole week? Fred and George probably bet that she wasn't able to do that prank… and lost against her.

Ron's cheeks turned red at the memory. He had seen everything. Everyone there had seen everything… and more when the bridal pair started groping and kissing each other… in front of everyone.

Ron swallowed. He wasn't as prudish as Hermione kept saying he was from time to time, but he firmly believed that some activities should not take place in public... especially when they concerned his best mate and their ex-Potions Master together. It wasn't because they were both men, but because Ron knew them both and he just didn't want to see what Harry did with Snape in private.

That was the reason why he had been dreading the bonding ceremony so much. Each time he thought of it, the binding potion he had found came to his mind and he swore to himself that the next time he found something new, he would read all the instructions and not just the beginning before opening his mouth.

Of course sexual intercourse was a popular method to make binding potions work. Hermione had told him so after she couldn't stand his blushing and stuttering any longer, but Ron really didn't want to see - no, no, it was too gross to even imagine, let alone witness!

In the end, all his fears were for naught and his desperate prayer came true. All he witnessed were Harry and Snape walking down the path, never even touching each other, until they knelt down on the two pillows placed in front of two shells which Ron suspected contained their binding potion.

For one moment, he was afraid his fears would come true after all… but today was obviously his lucky day. The Potions Master and his best mate drank from the shells, only looking at each other once after they put down the shells again.

Ron blinked as he saw a smile appearing on Snape's face. He had only ever seen the man smirking or sneering… maybe grinning, but never smiling. The sight was almost enough to make Ron doubt his sanity, but then he just shrugged. If Snape had let his guard down so far as to let a smile appear on his face, that must mean he truly loved Harry… and that was all Ron needed to know.

Hence, instead of passing out from sheer shock at seeing Snape happy, Ron watched closely as the couple lowered their heads and started chanting strange words. He had read about certain vows which were often exchanged during bonding ceremonies, and that required meditation by the couple afterwards to activate their bond.

It looked like Snape had insisted on an old fashioned bonding ceremony and no one was more thankful for that than Ron. He even had a chance to witness what he had read about in his mother's book about such bonding ceremonies.

Glancing at Hermione and his mother, he hoped they weren't too disappointed, especially Hermione. She had told him that she hoped that Harry and Snape would show how… attracted they were too each other.

OOO

They were so hot!

Hermione forced herself to hold back the grin that threatened to spread over her face. She had feared that Harry would be disappointed they couldn't use the binding potion in public and hence, wouldn't be able to enjoy the ceremony to the fullest.

Obviously, her fears had been for naught. She smiled proudly as she took in the way the leaves of the palms moved in the gentle sea breeze. It had been her idea to ask the Room of Requirement to make the room look like that.

Hermione chuckled as she remembered how she had gotten that idea. A friend of her father's had married his boyfriend in the Caribbean, in such a setting. She still recalled how sexy she had found it when the male couple kissed each other… and had been a little disappointed when nothing else had happened.

Of course, Hermione hadn't expect them to make out in front of everyone, but a little more body contact wouldn't have hurt anyone. Maybe she had read far too many manga about boy love and her expectations were just too high.

That was the reason why she had told herself not to hope for too much at this bonding ceremony.

But her secret dreams came true after Harry and Snape walked down the path together, holding hands all the time and smiling at each other.

How sweet!

Hermione had never thought that the Potions Master could look at someone else with so much love in his eyes, but it was obvious that Harry was an exception in this regard. She watched as they knelt down to drink the potion and made a mental note to herself to ask Harry later which bonding potion they had decided on, whether it was just for show and they were later going to bond in private with the potion Ron had found.

Hermione gave a happy sigh. They were even holding the ceremony in almost the exact same way she had read about in a manga, holding the shells for a moment before bringing them to their lips and taking little sips. They then placed the empty shells back down and bowed to each other.

Just as Hermione was trying to remember what the guys in her manga had done afterwards, the couple stood up and then Harry grabbed his bondmate and drew him close. Hermione's eyes widened as the lips of the couple met in a kiss, and not just a kiss, but a rather passionate one.

Snape's arms encircled Harry and pulled him hard against his body. The young Gryffindor then looped one arm around Snape's neck while his other hand gripped the man's behind and squeezed it.

Cheeks hot, Hermione stared at them both. She had no idea how long they kissed and moved against each other, but she was sure that she wouldn't ever forget those passionate moments. It was even better than how she had expected the ceremony to be.

She only feared that it wasn't romantic enough for Mrs. Weasley and much too… provocative for Sirius' liking.

OOO

It was so romantic!

Molly blinked a few times to clear her vision as happy tears sprang to her eyes. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that Severus and Harry's bonding ceremony would be so lovely.

Of course, the Weasley matriarch reminded herself, she never expected Harry and Severus to be a couple in the first place either!

A rueful smile crossed her lips as she remembered her first reaction to the news. She had laughed.

Molly shook her head. In retrospect, she realized that not even Fred and George would come up with such a joke, but when Harry and Severus had come over for dinner, she had really thought that her sons had Polyjuiced them.

Sighing, Molly focused on the happy couple and sniffled as Severus directed a beautiful smile at the boy, who was her son in all but blood. They fitted perfectly together!

She had told Severus that over and over once she realized it wasn't a joke and saw the hurt in the dark orbs for the briefest of moments. She could only imagine how many people wouldn't believe that Harry and Severus were in love and regretted that she had been the first one to show disbelief.

Nevertheless, the Potions Master had obviously forgiven her, otherwise he wouldn't have brewed the marvelous potion he had given her yesterday. It intensified the red of her hair even more.

Molly smiled. Severus would deny it of course, but he was a very kind man… and Harry had realized that, too.

A surprised laugh mingled with a sob escaped Molly's lips as she watched Severus sweep Harry up in his arms to carry him down the whole length of the path. She wiped the moisture from her eyes and gave a rather goofy smile.

That action reminded her of her own wedding where Arthur had broken every rule and swept her up in his arms, much to the horror of most of the guests, especially the more old-fashioned ones. That had been one of the most beautiful days of her life… except the births of her children, of course.

Molly would never have imagined that the outwardly cold Potions Master would agree to such a romantic bonding ceremony. She was surprised once again when Severus knelt down in front of Harry and held up one shell to him, more tears springing to her eyes as Harry stroked the man's cheek first before kneeling down and facing his soon-to-be bondmate.

Harry was such a sweet boy!

It was a shame his parents couldn't witness his special day, but she would be sure to give the newly bonded couple a hug from Lily and James as well.

When Harry took the other shell, Molly had to blink very hard so as not to miss anything. She wanted to watch every moment as they held out their shells to each other, accepting not only the potion, but also their love.

Someone, Arthur probably, pressed a tissue in her hand and she dabbed her watering eyes with it. She was just in time to see Harry and Severus leaning towards each other and their lips meeting in a sweet and slow kiss.

It was a shame that she didn't have a camera with her, but she would be sure to show Severus her memory of him stroking Harry's hair while kissing him, if he ever tried to deny it.

A happy sigh escaped Molly's lips. She truly expected such a lovely and romantic ceremony and it was exactly what she had hoped for. Only... she glanced towards Sirius.

It was a good thing Remus was with him, otherwise she would have feared that Harry's godfather would have had a fit while witnessing the bonding of his godson to his school nemesis.

OOO

It was terrible!

Sirius clenched his fists. James was probably spinning around in his grave because of the choice his son had made.

Severus Snape!

Sirius shook his head in disbelief. He still couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that Harry… loved the greasy git. Even though Remus had finally convinced him to support Harry, Sirius still hoped that this was only a passing fancy and that his godson would soon find someone else.

Obviously not.

Sirius sighed quietly. James and Lily had always wanted Harry to have a happy life… but he really didn't know if they would have approved of this. Well, Lily would probably have accepted Snape in her son's life, but James…

Sirius shook his head. He would never know and hence, it was up to him to make the best of the situation.

At least, the bonding ceremony wasn't as romantic as Harry's parents' had been. They had gotten married in a large church, Lily in a lovely white dress and James in a perfectly fitting black and silver festive robe.

The ceiling had been decorated with clouds of all colors which rained confetti on the bridal couple and its guests, after the ceremony. There were vines of roses covering the walls of the church and the children of the guests had released their balloons into the air when the happy couple left the church.

Sirius wasn't one for romantic displays, but he conceded that had been a perfect ceremony for Lily and James. He would have gagged though, if today's ceremony had been like that.

Instead, he saw Harry and Snape walking down the path without once touching or even looking at each other. It was strange for a couple about to bind for life, but Sirius didn't mind in the least. In fact, he almost hoped that Snape would change his mind and walk away from Harry.

A slight grin appeared on the former Marauder's face at that thought. That wouldn't only free Harry, but also give Sirius the chance to hex the greasy git.

To his utter disappointment, Snape didn't do anything of the sort, but what made Sirius frown was the way Snape didn't once look at Harry. When they reached the shells, Snape gestured for his godson to pick up the shell with the potion without even meeting his gaze.

That made Sirius growl. He had known it from the beginning - Snape was a cold and heartless bastard. Sirius didn't understand what Harry saw in him. He had even asked Albus if there was the slightest chance the Potions Master had hexed his godson, only to be thrown out of the headmaster's office.

Fine. Snape might not have hexed Harry, but it looked like he hadn't courted his godson either!

Sirius glared as the couple drank their potion. It was over, all his hopes that they would break up and…

He frowned. He couldn't hear what was being spoken from where he sat, but the way Harry was gesturing and the way Snape was gripping his arm spoke of an argument.

Sirius grinned to himself. Maybe not all hope was lost yet. Maybe, there was still a chance that they would break up and then… but if that happened, Harry would be heartbroken and Sirius knew he wouldn't be able to comfort his godson.

It looked like the alcohol in the champagne they had all drunk earlier to toast the young couple had finally cleared Sirius' head. That champagne had tasted a little strange, but he finally realized that it wasn't important who Harry's bondmate was - even if it was Snape - but that his godson was happy.

Sirius was sure that James would have come to the same conclusion with a little help from Lily. He should probably start accepting that Snape was a part of Harry's life now. Just as that thought crossed his mind, the couple stopped arguing and the Potions Master sealed Harry's lips with his.

Sirius almost gagged at the sight, but he gave a rueful smile when he saw the brilliant smile that lit up Harry's face. All right, he would make an effort to be polite towards Snape if that would make his godson smile like that more often.

As the bonded couple walked back towards them, Sirius conceded the ceremony had gone even better than he had expected it to be, with regards to Harry's happiness. He just wondered what the other guests thought about their bonding and the little argument he had just witnessed.

Well, the former Marauder shrugged, he would find out at the party, which would take place now.

OOO

Everything had gone according to plan.

Severus gave a slight smirk as he stood beside Harry and watched their guests chatting with each other. They had decided to set up the buffet table outside on the school grounds so that everyone could enjoy the fabulous weather.

The Weasleys had lent them the big tent which had already played host to the guests of numerous weddings and birthday celebrations. The tent provided some shade from the bright sunshine, but most of the guests preferred to stay outside.

Severus looked around and saw Black and Lupin standing next to the Muggle stereo they had managed to set up, obviously arguing about what song they should play.

"I hope they don't expect us to dance."

Severus suppressed a chuckle as he heard Harry's words in his mind and took in the horrified expression of his bondmate at the same time. He still remembered how awkwardly Harry had held his dancing partner in his fourth year at the Yule Ball.

"I rather assume that your godfather would get a heart attack if we waltzed to the music."

To tell the truth, Severus was surprised that Black hadn't yet insulted him or threatened to make Harry leave him. Thoughtful dark orbs focused on the two Marauders again.

Perhaps it was thanks to Lupin's influence that Black had behaved well so far… or perhaps the mutt was so confused about what he saw at the ceremony that he didn't know what to do.

"I wonder what they all saw at our ceremony."

Severus gave a light laugh, not because of the words, but because of Harry's joy at being able to talk with him through their mind link instead of speaking aloud.

Of course, he wasn't the only one.

Severus allowed himself a rare smile and summoned two glasses of champagne, giving one to Harry. They had already drunk a glass after the bonding ceremony was over and everyone had congratulated them. Nevertheless, Severus was of the opinion that he and Harry deserved another glass.

After all, their plan had gone perfectly.

Molly Weasley had told them that she thought their wedding more romantic than her own.

Granger had blushed as she shook his hand and then hugged Harry.

"They all saw exactly what they expected to see," Severus answered his bondmate's question with a grin and took a sip from his glass.

He had laced the earlier bottle of champagne with the potion he had thought of when Harry told him about his plans for their bonding ceremony. It was the only way to make their… unconventional bonding possible.

No one would see what they were really up to, but each would believe that Harry and him were doing exactly what they had expected them to do.

"Maybe we should use that potion more often?"

Severus laughed quietly. He was glad that Harry hadn't known about that potion until now… otherwise, Severus wouldn't have been able to hold even one seventh year potions class without some… distractions.

OOO

Harry smiled.

Today had gone better than he had hoped. Not only because the potion worked and they were able to make love in front of everyone, but also because he felt even closer to Severus now. He only had to open his mind to Severus' presence and to share his thoughts with his bondmate.

It was wonderful and… so intimate that Harry felt a small languorous shudder, whenever he heard Severus' voice in his mind.

Sipping at his champagne, he glanced at his best friends. Ron and Hermione seemed to be discussing something and if he was right, then they were probably speaking about what they each saw at the ceremony.

Harry chuckled when he saw Ron starting to frown. He would have to ask his two friends later what they had seen, but that could wait. Right now, he only wanted to enjoy his time with Severus. To most people, the man still seemed as cold as he always was, but Harry sensed that something had changed. It wasn't like his lover was suddenly and openly smiling at everyone, but he seemed more relaxed now, as if something had lifted from him.

As if he was... freed.

Harry frowned a bit as the word sprang to mind and he nodded to himself a moment later. It made sense that Severus was feeling like that. After all, the war was over and they had made their relationship public so no wonder he felt that the Potions Master was sure of himself.

Harry leaned against Severus side and felt an arm draping over his shoulder.

"Do you want to provoke your godfather?"

Harry shook his head at Severus' words.

"No, I just want to enjoy being close to you."

Harry looked up, fascinated as a slight blush appeared on Severus' cheeks. He hadn't asked why Severus had decided to let himself be taken, but he thought that he already knew the answer to that.

A new life was about to start for them both and Severus' decision was probably his way of moving on. Harry was just about to comment on that when the Headmaster made his way over to them.

"My dear boys, I am overjoyed that you are both so happy."

Blue eyes twinkled at them and Harry felt a smile grew on his features in return.

"Thank you for allowing us to hold our bonding ceremony at Hogwarts, sir."

The elderly wizard waved Harry's thanks aside.

"This is your home and it's only to be expected that you would celebrate your special day here. But I would never have anticipated just how special it was."

A sudden icy chill ran down Harry's spine as he noticed the ominous gleam in Dumbledore's eyes. Severus' arm had stiffened over over his shoulder, but other than that, the Potions Master didn't reveal his emotion in any other way.

"What do you mean, Albus?"

"Let's just say, my dear boy, that I was young once. I saw exactly what I expected to see."

Harry gulped. Dumbledore couldn't mean that he - he...

"I just hope that you'll take more time at your wedding night than you did this morning."

Harry gaped at the Headmaster who just twinkled at them both before moving over to the buffet.

"How can - how did he… know?" Harry managed to formulate in his mind as he glanced up at Severus.

The Potions Master was staring after the old wizard as if turned to stone, the blush in his cheeks much more pronounced now.

Harry nudged him. He didn't want his lover to feel uncomfortable or to regret what they had done. He wouldn't allow his bondmate to feel insecure again, no matter what it would take him to convince Severus that there was no need to feel ashamed.

Of course Harry didn't like the idea that Albus had obviously looked through their plan, but he feared more that Severus would react badly to the news once he had thought things through.

OOO

That damn old coot!

Severus cursed to himself. He should have expected that Albus wouldn't be fooled so easily, but he hadn't thought that he would be able to see everything.

He shifted on his feet. His first impulse had been to Obliviate the Headmaster, but that would have been in vain. Albus hadn't defeated the Dark Lord because it was easy.

Hence, Severus realized he could only choose between feeling horrified and ashamed at the idea of Albus having seen them or… just enjoy his day with Harry and dismiss everything else.

No doubt Albus would probably tease him about their little… performance as often as possible, but to tell the truth, that was nothing in comparison to the torture Severus had experienced during the last war.

He looked down at Harry who was staring up anxiously at him. His bondmate probably feared he would storm off and lock himself in his lab for days to come. If this had happened a year ago, Severus would have done just that. But he had just told himself that it was time to move on and leave the past behind, and if he truly meant that, then…

"I don't know how Albus was able to see… us, but I think he made a good suggestion."

When a frown appeared on Harry's forehead and paired with a relieved sigh, Severus gave a typical Slytherin smirk before sweeping his surprised bondmate up in his arms.

"Severus, what…?!"

The Potions Master grinned at the surprised voices behind them, but didn't stop striding towards the entrance of the castle.

"Albus told us to take more time on our wedding night. I plan to take his words to heart... and get an early start as well."

An understanding grin crossed Harry's lips and he leaned his head against his bondmate's chest.

"You'll have to ward the door against Sirius."

Severus smirked as he carried Harry down the staircases to his chambers.

"I know."

With a thud, the door closed behind the freshly bonded couple.