Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. It mainly belongs to the goddess JKR or an awfully long list of people... (the MOSSes -Ministry Officers of State Security- are mine). If you like it, review and feed my soul. And since we don't need to hurt each other, if you don't like it, don't tell me ! Flamers will be adopted by my family (if you don't believe it's a threat... too bad for you !)
Miranda edited that chapter... May she be praised! (I know I'll ask Severus to deliver her Christmas present to thank her!)
Chapter Nine - Partying! Or What Happened on Remus's Side
Before they open the door, Severus and Harry check each other's Muggle clothes.
Still holding Harry's hand, Severus whispers, "Ready ?"
"No! But I hope one of them will remember I have to be alive *and* sober in the morning!" Harry declares.
Severus presses Harry's hand and opens the door.
Instead of Remus and Albus the Weasley twins are there: they have been appointed guides.
One of the twins takes Harry's hand, pulls him into his arms, and whispers their destination in his ear. Harry's eyes grow to Dobbyesque proportions and the young man turns to his other half, hoping he'll rescue him, but Severus knows better than interfere with Albus's party plans, and he lets his soulmate be reluctantly dragged away by 'Fred'...
"Where are we going, Fred ?" Severus asks.
"I'm George, sir! The one who's been won by Remus's team!" the young man exclaims.
"You know, Fred... First, call me by my name... and I am certain that you can fool anybody, including your own parents, but I *know* you swapped," Severus quietly explains.
"You won't tell... Severus ?" Fred asks.
"As long as you have no trick in store for me, you're *George* if it pleases you," Severus says.
The 'George for one night' smiles and tells his charge where they are going.
Severus and his guide walk till there are no more Muggles around, and they disapparate to Hogsmeade.
As soon as he is sure both men are away, Percy knocks on their door, and Jules lets him in... as planned.
Remus, Minerva, Bill and the Malfoys are expecting Severus and George in the Three Broomsticks. Exceptionally, Rosmerta has kicked out all her customers and when Severus comes in after George she looks like she's about to cry.
"There, there, my dear.." Remus says, trying to soothe her.
"I can't help it... There will be a wedding tomorrow, and those two *really* deserve to be happy!" she practically sobs.
Severus walks to her, elegantly bows and kisses her hand. Her cheeks become redder than her cherry dress, and she giggles like a schoolgirl.
"Thank you," Severus whispers.
"What for, Professor Snape ?" she wonders.
"Accepting me the way I am, and being happy for me," he tells her, and adds for all the persons present, "And will you all call me by my name, please ?"
"Yes, Professor Snape!" a chorus declares.
Severus blinks, looks at his friends, and starts laughing. In a split second he finds himself in the middle of a group hug, and he does not even think of complaining... 'Harry must have done something to my brain!' is all he can think of.
"My dear friends!" Remus starts, "I think it is high time for us to reassure the groom and tell him that this reunion is not going to turn into a "traditional" Muggle bachelor party... Whatever *that* is..." They all chuckle, "Because there's no Muggle here, and, well, Severus is no longer exactly a bachelor!" Remus adds, making everybody laugh heartily.
Suddenly, Severus stops and turns to Minerva asking, "What is Albus doing with Harry tonight ?"
"I don't know... He wouldn't tell me!" she growls.
"But there's Hermione and Charlie with them, Severus. You should not worry. Besides, I doubt that even Albus would be ready to face an angry priest if Harry were not perfectly fit to exchange his vows with you tomorrow..." Bill adds.
Severus sighs, and concedes that he *must* be right.
Minerva looks at Remus, who discreetly nods. The merry and gay (um, yes, the pun *is* intended) werewolf has shared his duty and privilege with each member of his team: they all had things to do. Minerva is opening the ball.
"Since, tonight, you are our *bachelor*, we all have presents. Presents for you, Severus... Tomorrow we will have gifts for you and Harry, but tonight is only for you..." the Head of Gryffindor declares.
She invites him to sit down at the table where they will soon be having dinner. He obeys, and she gives him a small parcel wrapped in green. Severus opens it and finds some sticks of magic wax and a new private seal: it's a lion intertwined with a snake. The wax is green and Minerva tells him that she's made it in such a way that the imprint will take a silvery colour.
George is next, with a bright apple-green parcel. When Severus is about to open it, the young man gently puts one hand on his former Potions master's shoulder to stop him and leans towards him whispering in his ears, "I swear on my wand that there's no trick in that box, but you might not want to open it in public... with ladies around..."
Severus sees that 'George' really has his hand on his wand, and Severus simply smiles. He wonders when curiosity became one of his favourite sins, since he really is eager to open that particular box... After all, the twins have been kind and thoughtful these last few days.
Bill gives him a piece of parchment where a powerful Concealment Charm is written.
"I've created that charm for you," Bill explains, and he adds in a whisper, "Should you need some privacy in emergency... It's extremely powerful... And you could surprise a certain green-eyed wizard..."
Severus's eyebrows rise in utter surprise, he hadn't fully suspected that the Weasley boys were such exhibitionists...
Now, it's the Malfoys' turn. They both bring a heavy parcel wrapped in the emerald-green that is the *exact* colour of Harry's eyes. Severus looks at Ginny and Draco who are simply beaming and eagerly await the opening of their present. Severus finds a spell-locked book; it's very old, bound in dragon hide with no title on the cover.
"We spelled it to obey you and your kins," Ginny informs him.
Instead of using his wand, Severus taps the lock with his index finger and opens the book and wonders what they have decided to give him. He looks at the title on the first page... and gasps.
"You cannot give me *that* book!" The Potions master almost squeaks.
"First, we *want* you to have it. Second, *you* will use it! It's nearly been rotting in the bookcases of my family since the Middle Ages! They didn't even know what it was... Ginny and I know, but we have no use for it while you will enjoy every page..." Draco states.
"It should stay in *your* family." Severus goes on.
"We want *you* to have it... And you could always decide to share it with the whole world and edit and publish it... Then you can add it to the books required in Hogwarts and our children will get copies of that work..." Ginny says.
"Waoh! Slow down, Lady! We're not even half-way through our honeymoon and you're speaking of children!?" Draco intervenes, grinning throughout his tirade.
"Do you object ?" she asks, feigning outrage.
He shakes his head and grins even more.
"You look like an old couple!" Remus laughs.
"Well..." Ginny starts.
"Relatively we are, you know...if you consider our age and the time we've spent together..." her husband ends.
"Spare me the details! I don't want to start picturing things!" Bill declares.
During that exchange, Minerva has come near Severus and when she reads the title of the book she does squeak.
"But I thought that..." she begins, unable to finish her sentence.
"Yes, Minerva, that is, most certainly, the only copy of those potions recipes. It is absolutely priceless, and I cannot accept it!" Severus says.
Ginny comes near him, takes his hand, and says, "For protecting our relationship last year, for being a friend and a mentor, and because that book belongs in *your* collection, please accept it..."
He looks deep into her eyes, squeezes her hand and nods. She tenderly hugs him. And he clumsily hugs her back, hoping that it will not become customary with his former students.
It's finally Remus's turn.
"Severus, I have nothing for you... tonight... What I want you to have will not be tangible. It's not something you can take out in years and show your friends and family. Yet, what I have for you will be useful for your future..." Remus takes a deep breath and goes on, "Even if Lily and James blessed you, there are few people still alive who remember what their wedding bands were like, and you could always find people not to believe what happened to you... The both of you... Especially since you are two *wizards* involved together... You, Severus, have no family left who could intervene in tomorrow's ceremony, or in your future life... But... Sirius is Harry's godfather, and I reflected that that idiot could decide to interfere with your religious vows. And in that case, even Jules could not stop him..." Remus explains.
Severus wonders what Harry's best man has been planning.
"You're cryptic," George says.
"If Black, as Harry's godfather, were to refuse the blessing of the couple, even a powerful priest like Jules could *not* perform the ceremony and ask for the benediction of the Above. And Black could pester Severus and Harry ad vitam eternam..."Draco exposes.
"Exactly," Remus adds, "This is why I have *convinced* Sirius to come to the blessing and act as godfather."
Remus notices that Severus becomes even paler than usual, and he says, "You have nothing to fear! My gift is that he will only answer Jules's questions and then he will shut his mouth. I forbade him to speak, moan, sigh, sneeze or even glare. He will be there, but I swear that he'll be obedient... And then, your union will be official, for men and gods..."
Severus slowly takes in the information. Remus would *not* play a dirty trick on Harry, or even him. If Black is neutralized tomorrow, he might understand that there is nothing he can do against them and leave them alone...
"Thank you," Severus whispers.
"I really thought that might be useful for you..." The werewolf replies with a large smile.
"How did you manage that ? We all saw how Black reacted... initially..." George asks.
Remus blushes quite visibly.
"Umm! I think I'm going to like that story!" Bill announces.
"I have been able to obtain that from Sirius... This is all you should know...really..." Remus answers.
Then he invites everybody to sit down.
When Remus walks behind Severus, the Potions master, knowing that the werewolf will be able to hear him, murmurs, "How ?"
Remus discreetly leans and says, "Well applied threat."
Of course, Severus starts imagining more than he'd ever wished... What could be a 'well applied threat' ? What convinced Black ? Eventually, he'll have to get the details from Remus...
Rosmerta is personally in charge of the dinner, and she refuses to sit down with them... Severus knows how chefs can be and he doesn't insist.
All his friends plotted so that Severus would enjoy all his favourite dishes, the twins even found the way to get some information from his house elf!
While Rosmerta is finishing the lemon sauce pudding, the Weasleys bring rosé champagne and start thanking their former master.
"You may not believe it," George starts, "But you've been more than a mentor for my brother and me! Some of our present successes wouldn't have been possible without your lessons. You may think that we were not really paying attention; but in fact, we were way beyond eagerness and my brother and I thought that it'd be only normal to thank you for that... The War," some gasp around the table, but George goes on, "Has been extremely harsh and we finally got to understand how exhausting and dreadful all that had been on you... We really wish that your union will bring you the daily happiness that you deserve."
Severus nods. They all raise their glasses, and take a sip.
"Even though Charlie had never been that attentive in potions, and he took more interests in the Care of the Magical Creature courses, you never took me for granted and gave me an opportunity to prove myself in your classroom. I want to thank you as well and wish you a blessed life in the arms of your soulmate..."
All take a sip.
Minerva is sitting next to Severus. She takes his hand and declares, "I have seen so many changes in your life since I first saw you sitting under the Sorting Hat... I wish the light that is back in your eyes will never leave you ever again."
He's still holding her hand when they sip more champagne.
In unison, the Malfoys declare, "May your life be blessed, your love eternal, and your days sweet as honey!"
Minerva's hand has become his anchor, and she presses his hand back.
Rosmerta brings the cake, and Remus asks her if she wants to add her blessing. She kisses Severus's forehead and whispers, "May joy reside in your home."
"The last words for tonight, my dear Severus, are mine... a dreadful honour... I think that we all know how difficult it is to find someone with whom to envisage spending a whole life. You and Harry discovered each other over the years and you came to understand the nature of your souls. You are made for each other. If you found each other, it *must* be because the Above has some plans for you, others than defeating a lunatic, of course!..." They all smile, "I will pray for your life to be filled with love and happiness."
They all raise their glasses one more time, and they all tell Severus, "Blessed be!"
After some tea and an awfully old brandy, they all hug Severus. George goes back to Oxford with him, carrying some of the gifts.
As they're walking along the deserted streets Severus asks, "What's your present, Fred ?"
"Something for you... and Harry... But you do not want me to spoil the surprise..." the young man answers.
When they reach the door, Severus is delighted to see that Harry and George are coming down the street, and it seems that Harry got presents as well.
The twins give back the parcels to their rightful owners in front of the house, and they bid the couple good night.
They walk away and Harry and Severus can hear one of the two ask, "How was it on your side ?"
"So... What's Albus idea of a bachelor party ?" Severus wonders as he closes the door behind them.
"Oh! You don't want to know, Love!" Harry whines.
But Severus knows that Harry will eventually tell him. On their pillow, or somewhere else...
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