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 !)
There was one beta injured in the process of creation: SilentG [http://www.fanfiction.net/profile.php?userid=197488] devoted precious time to check my poor spelling and grammar! May she be praised! (I'll have Severus delivered to your doorstep as a 'thank you' present!). The remaining mistakes are aaaall mine, and I apologize for those.
Chapter Eleven - Tying The Knot
Jules knocks on Severus and Harry's bedroom door. It's still early, but he wants them pretty awake to exchange their vows.
"Breakfast, gentlemen!" he shouts.
He hears Severus coaxing Harry out of sleep, and goes to the kitchen where he finds a beaming Kâly in front of the stove.
"Hello, Kâly! You look radiant this morning!" Jules says.
The house elf turns towards the priest, she's grinning as she pours him tea.
"My little one is exchanging vows today... I haven't seen him that happy in decades," she declares.
"You really do love him, hey ?" the priest asks, almost rhetorically.
In a mock-conspiratorial way, Jules leans on the table towards Kâly, and whispers back, "Don't worry, I won't betray your secret."
As the house elf smiles, Severus pilots a barely awake Harry into the kitchen.
Harry sits at the table, crosses his arms on it, and places his head on that new pillow.
"He's even less a morning bird than usual," Jules states.
"Maybe Albus's party has something to do with it," Severus suggests as he pours his partner's tea.
"It's those cocktails from hell," Harry murmurs, "I'm going to kill Albus... It's not a hangover, but I feel like sleeping for a hundred years..."
"And you would find me waiting to awaken you with a kiss," Severus murmurs in Harry's ear, caressing his hair.
Harry cracks an eye open and smiles at his love.
Jules thinks that *he* is the one who's going to have a word with Dumbledore: he had requested no nasty side effects!
The priest takes the hand of the young man, and casts a charm that settles the magic in Harry's system.
The three wizards finish their meal, and Jules sends them to shower the one after the other: he doesn't want them to *play* together in the tub!
At five to eleven, wizards and house elf apparate into the heart of a forest in Brittany. They apparate in the circle formed by their guests. Kâly takes her place among the witnesses and closes the circle.
There are Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, Rubeus Hagrid, all the Weasleys, Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger, Remus Lupin... and Sirius Black.
Remus is on one side of Sirius, Kâly on the other, and the Animagus is looking at the ground as Remus instructed him.
They are all wearing formal robes of various colours.
Jules is in navy blue.
Severus and Harry are wearing black.
Jules takes possession of the ancient altar on the sacred ground, and places on it the tools he's going to need. He stands with Severus and Harry on a huge and old stone where runes are carved.
Jules looks at the witnesses and at the two men he's about to bless, and silently asks them if they're ready, they all nod. Except Sirius...
"My friends, we gather here..." he starts.
A woman apparates inside the circle. Even if she were not wearing the formal robes of her Order, and if he didn't know her, Jules would have felt that she is a priestess; he gasps in dismay, for this can only mean trouble. Jules looks at Sirius, and the shadow of a smile on the man's lips confirms his worst fears.
"Hold the ceremony!" she says.
"What are you doing here, Annamaria ? The blessing can take place. These men are already bound together," Jules declares.
"The mission of my Order is to guarantee the validity of any blessing or union," the priestess explains, she holds out her hand to stop Jules, and she goes on, "Someone brought this ceremony to our attention, telling us that some witnesses would not be free to express their feelings during the proceedings..." this being said, she looks straight at Sirius who blushes at being betrayed, "I am here to assure the perfect legality of this blessing..."
After winking at the three men inside the circle, making them sigh with relief, she casts a charm which shows the witnesses 'not free to express their feelings'.
Annamaria puts Dumbledore's spell off Molly, and she asks the extremely disoriented woman, "Do you object to this blessing ?"
Ignoring what it's all about, Molly Weasley murmurs, "Er... No ?"
The priestess turns towards Sirius Black then, "Tell *me*, Mr. Black... Why are you objecting to this ceremony ?"
This is not at all what Black had been expecting. He thought the priestess would call off the blessing. Yet, if he has to speak his mind right here and now, he'll do it.
"Harry cannot be bound to that scum," he says.
"Excuse me, Mr. Black, but they are already bound," she extends her wand-hand towards the couple, as if she were trying to touch their aura, "Those men are soulmates... Extremely rare... Precious wizards... Both deserving happiness... Tell me, Mr. Black, why do you want to cause pain to your godchild ?"
Sirius is opening and closing his mouth, unable to deliver any coherent speech. Annamaria extends her hand towards him; all she can feel is his hatred for Severus, and a latent, but strong, homophobia.
"Argument inadmissible. You are dismissed from this circle, Mr. Black," she says, and with a movement of her wand, Sirius finds himself gagged and bound to a nearby tree.
Remus practically sobs. Harry's *godfather* was to give him away, and now the Werewolf fears that his stupid idea has ruined everything. If the legal representant of Harry's parents does not perform his task during the ceremony, it simply cannot take place. It can *never* take place... And Remus cannot stand being once more the cause of pain and sorrow in Severus's life... Adding Harry in the disaster this time...
Then Kâly looks at Remus and says, "There are other ways, Mr. Lupin."
Everyone looks at the little elf.
"All it takes is some planning," another priestess declares from outside the circle.
"Natalie!" Jules and Annamaria shout in chorus.
The newcomer takes the place Sirius has vacated. The priest and priestess inside the circle blink: they didn't know the most powerful Summoner had been called!
Annamaria goes to the altar and offers her help to Jules who gives her a cup of salt.
"My friends, we gathered here to witness and share the blessing by the Above of Harry Potter and Severus Snape," Jules announces.
Walking clock-wise, the priestess draws a circle of salt to protect the three wizards, and when the last grain closes it, the runes starts glowing, showing that they are warded. Annamaria stands near them, head bowed down in prayer.
"The usual life-span of our kind is a true blessing," Jules starts, "Yet, if we have no-one with whom to share the nothings of everyday life, all those years that we are granted are as many horrid stays in hell. Even when one has the luck to find someone, time takes its toll and consorts with the most hideous aspects of life to drag people apart... Severus, Harry, you have both been fighting most of your life on various battlefields. Now, in times of peace, your new battlefield will be to build life together. I do not doubt that the love I have seen in your eyes will act as a light guiding you. Pay attention to what your soulmate tells you in words, or in signs, and I am certain you will win that battle over time and life... Harry Potter, why are you choosing to link your life with Severus Snape ?"
Never taking his eyes off Severus's, and holding his hands, Harry said, "Because he is more than my life... Severus gave me hope, respect and love. He saw in my soul what I could be, and forgot the image of a child-hero everyone wanted to see in me. Even if he saved me repeatedly over the years, his most amazing action has been to listen to me and give me a goal in life. I could have gone into the world after the end of Voldemort, but Severus Snape, the Potions master of Hogwarts School, has become *my* world. That's why we handfasted, and that's why I am repeating my choice before witnesses today... Severus... I love you with all my heart. With all my soul. You *are* my life."
Only Harry hears the small gasp that escapes Severus. Jules had had each of them prepare their vows separately and their words had not been heard even by Jules; the surprise was complete.
The priest turns to Severus, and asks, "Severus Snape, why are you choosing to link your life with Harry Potter ?"
Severus clasps his lover's hands even more tightly, and answers, "Because he instilled life back into a dying heart, because he gave me a new life. Looking at him, so much like his father, usually brought back memories of my dreadful childhood and horrible adolescence... Then, one step at a time, one tiny particle after the other, his green irises forced me to acknowledge that he was not a ghost from my past, but a being I could get to know. Day after day, I started to see a young man who had nothing in common with the way people presented him. Working together all those years, I discovered an amazing, kind, caring, strong, powerful and captivating man. Harry, you made me forget all our differences and a mere glimpse of your soul possessed mine. I am grateful that your gentleness made my guilt lose that battle and that you welcomed me into your life and into your heart. You are my life, Harry. My love and my lover. You are my blessing and my redemption... I love you..."
The last words are spoken in a whisper, but all the witnesses gulp.
Sirius was supposed to intervene in that part of the ceremony, symbolically giving Harry away, but a nod from Natalie reassures Jules, he can proceed...
"Who is giving Harry Potter away ?" the priest asks.
"We are!" James and Lily say.
Summoned by the priestess, they can be heard by the living, and are almost tangible forms floating in front of her.
Severus holds his love so that the young man will not leave the circle, thus breaking the blessing spell.
All the witnesses are speechless, Sirius squeaks in spite of the material in his mouth.
Jules grins, nods, and goes on, "Who is Harry Potter's attestant ?"
"I am," Remus says, grinning at Lily and James.
One more nod from Natalie.
"Who is giving Severus Snape away ?" Jules asks.
"We are!" Severus's parents announce as they materialize next to the Potters.
It's Harry's turn to hold his love.
"Who is Severus Snape's attestant ?" Jules goes on, absolutely elated by the turn of the ceremony which was somehow proving that no amount of planning would ever replace dumb luck... and efficient priestesses!
"I am!" declares a positively grinning Albus Dumbledore.
"May the Above look upon us..." Jules pauses, grins some more, "Does anyone present objections to the blessing of the union of the soulmates Harry Potter and Severus Snape ?"
Even before Sirius has a chance to moan, Lily casts him a look that freezes him all over.
Molly has fully recovered, but the looks of her husband, her children, and the manifestations of the late Snapes convince her to shut her bloody mouth.
Jules takes the blood-red ribbon on the altar and joins Severus and Harry's left hands. He starts weaving an intricate pattern with the ribbon around their hands.
"May the Above endorse the vows!" Jules announces.
That is Severus and Harry's cue.
"I want to be with you, at your side, caring for you. I want to be yours. Body and Soul," Harry looks deep down in the eyes of the man he loves as he repeats the vows he had already pronounced in front of his parents, "Eternally."
"I want to be with you, at your side, caring for you. I want to be yours. Body and Soul, eternally," Severus repeats. The lump back in his throat as it was on the night he said those words first.
Jules somehow braids the ribbon some more, and, as he finishes his task, he and the two priestesses declare in unison, "The knot is tied!" and Jules nods at Percy.
"Blessed be!" the witnesses cry.
Annamaria frees the wizards from the circle, and the late Snapes and Potters hug their children.
"We have to leave you," Severus's mother says, "But we watch over you, my darlings. We love you and we are proud of you!"
One more hug, one more blessing, and they dissolve into thin air.
Severus is too stunned to speak, but Harry turns towards Natalie and mouths 'Thank you'.
All their friends seem to awaken then, and they hug them all in turn. When Molly aproaches them, Harry tenses.
"I still don't get it, and I'd prefer to forget about it, but I'll say nothing. That's the only promise I'll make," she says.
It finally seems that what her children had said, combined with the spell Albus had put on her, had given her a wish to stay in her kitchen, and seldom leave the place!
From the corner of his eye, Severus sees the priestesses chatting: there is still the issue of Black...
Remus and Albus walk to the altar to sign the legal parchment, but Jules cannot find it.
"I have the document," Natalie announces, as she goes to the altar.
Jules reads it, and gasps, and then signs it. The two attestants have the same reaction: the Summoner has created a new parchment wherein the parents of both wizards clearly state their consent to that union. On top of it, the presence of both priestesses, who have been contacted by Kâly, adds to the holiness of the blessing.
"We cannot sign with our hands tied," Harry says.
"You'll have to, because no-one can untie that ribbon but you... and without magic!" Jules answers with a grin.
When the parchment is signed, and sealed, Jules gives it to Severus... Harry is busy trying to figure out how it's been woven and where the hell the knot is hiding. Much to the witnesses' amusement for they see Harry does not know the meaning of what he's doing...
"Aren't you going to help me, Severus ?" Harry purrs.
The Potions master shakes his head, and though *he* knows, he lies to his love and says, "We cannot have two hands looking for the knot, and I trust you'll solve that puzzle, Harry..."
Harry resumes his search.
"Mr. Lupin ?" Natalie calls.
"Yes, Ma'am ?" the Werewolf says.
She places a parchment in his hands and tells him, "There's been a slight change in your legal status. I witnessed the modification."
Natalie signals Annamaria, and the witches walk towards Sirius.
"We're going to take care of this gentleman, if no-one minds..." Annamaria offers, "He has some explanations to give to my Order for intending to disrupt a blessing..."
The trio disapparates in the blink of an eye.
Jules was about to say something when he finds himself supporting Remus who has just read the parchment he's been given.
"What's wrong, Remus ?" Minerva asks.
"Lily and James..." he starts.
Harry stops his tasks, and wonders, "What ?"
"They... They... When Kâly contacted the Summoner when she feared that Sirius would try to prevent the ceremony, the priestess contacted the parents, and... And..." he says.
"What ?!" They all shout.
"Lily and James named me Harry's second godfather..." Remus says in a low voice.
Harry hugs him with his free arm.
Everybody now wears a more or less goofy grin.
It's Jules who brings them back to reality when he says, "Don't you think it's time for us to apparate to the Snape-Potter household and have a proper celebration ?"
As the witnesses disapparate to Severus and Harry's garden in Oxford, both wizard notice that Jules is still holding Remus...
Severus and Harry are alone in the clearing.
"May I have our vows sealed with a kiss ?" he asks.
"A thousand times a day!" Harry eagerly answers, before he tenderly kisses the man he loves.
Severus and Harry apparate into their home, and they tell their guest to make themselves comfortable in the garden.
Both wizards intercept Kâly in the kitchen, and Severus hugs her with more feelings than he'd ever shown any member of his family. Harry reflects that a blushing house elf is an entertaining sight!
When Kâly brings the cake, Harry is still working on the ribbon, but as Severus feeds him, he has made some progress...
"Aah! I've got it!" he shouts as he frees their hands.
All the guests become silent.
Severus awaits Jules verdict.
"How many, Percy ?" the priest asks.
The young wizard takes out of his sleeve a small ball very much like a Remembrall. He taps his wand on it and whispers something into Jules's ear.
"Harry," Jules announces, "I have to confess that I trapped you... I knew there was one aspect of the ceremony involving soulmates which you totally ignored. It is customary for the priest who performed the blessing to ask one question to the Above. The way to ask the question and the means to obtain the answer are never the same... Each minute you've spent fighting with the ribbon represent one year of married life. In the device I gave to Percy Weasley, there are one hundred and thirty-nine grains... Blessed be!"
Severus didn't know what Jules would ask, and he never heard his friends cheering them as he broke the first promise he had made to himself which was not to demonstrate his love in public: he kissed his Harry senseless.
His lover soon responded in kind.
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