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Someone To Run To (20/32)


Chapter Twenty, In Which All Good Things Come To an End


 

"Marriage is a public proclamation of the love two people share for another…" I heard him begin, but I my blood was beating hard and fast, and time was moving both extraordinarily fast and terribly slow, so that at one moment everything moved fast – Pachelbel's "Canon in D" raced in the background, but little things Fleur (being either French, a romantic, or practising for her own wedding in the summer) had managed to put together with the inn's help stuck out in breathless – the bouquet of green cymbidium orchids and hydrangeas, white freesia, and pale satin ribbon in my hand (and Ginny's too, because she said the only way she'd go along with the wedding was if she'd be my bridesmaid); the way the purpling light came through the windows that overlooked the garden behind us, where a few birds rested the ligustrum that shone like gold in light – stuck in my mind. And his eyes, his beautiful dark eyes, they glittered warmly as they watched me watching him. And I, with my eyes, which threatened to cloud with tears of joy as the ceremony proceeded, watched him watching me watch him, and I wondered if it was really possible for a person to get everything they'd ever wanted without waking up to find it was all a dream.

Dumbledore, who held amongst his many, many positions the ability to officiate weddings, continued in his pointed maroon-and-lime hat, "And so we have come together, we friends and family of Severus Eteocles Snape and Alexandrie-Margaux Éléonore Henriette Black Potter, to witness and share in this declaration of their love and commitment to one another…"

I couldn't believe this was happening. Here I was, and my cobbled-together family, and my friends, and though they frankly couldn't understand why I loved this man, they knew I wanted to marry him (and though they couldn't understand, because I'd not told them about the child I was carrying, why I insisted it had to be today, on the fifteenth anniversary of my parents' death, on the fifteenth anniversary of my "triumph" over The Dark Lord) and would sit here behind me and watch, because it made me happy. Sure, I was fairly certain Mrs. Weasley had forced Ron to come (because he kept on saying, the whole time I tried to explain that I loved Severus, and that I wanted to marry him of my own free will, that I was mad, surely drugged, and that undoubtedly it was a trick of the enemy's to get me into his hands), and that Hermione was torn between wanting to see me happy (which I truly do think she wanted me to be), thinking that this was a desperate attempt (on account of the mental pathologies surely created in me on account of my troubled childhood) at unconditional love, and that this was surely all wrong (because I was sixteen and he thirty-six) but here nonetheless. And I knew Sirius still thought St. Bernard's a better choice then this future, but was here because he was my father, however that had come about, and loved me and would stand by me if this was truly my wish, and that everyone else was seriously considering what was going on for me to want to marry in the middle of my Sixth Year, when there was no possible reason (in their eyes, not knowing what I did, that I was doomed to kill or be killed) why I couldn't wait to graduate, wait for the war to be over so that they didn't have to loose their spy, and so on and so on… Perhaps I was crazy, perhaps this was all madness, but they were all here, every one of them.

"…for, as is said in First Corinthians, chapter thirteen, verses four through eight: Love suffers long and is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. Love rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there is anything in this world that cannot be understood by those who have never experienced, it is love. If anything in this world exists that is stronger and less breakable then magic, it is love. And, if any one thing in this world can keep what is Dark and cruel and breakable at bay, it is love. It is a power understood by so few, but felt by so many, and never more strongly then here, today, between dear Severus and Éléonore.

"The love of those who find love in each other is the greatest and most precious thing of all. Perhaps it was AA Milne who said it best: 'Let's look for dragons,' I said to Pooh. 'Yes, let's,' said Pooh to Me. We crossed the river and found a few…" Severus looked like he was about to roll his eyes at the Headmaster. I tried not to burst into laughter, succeeding only in keeping my smile one of amusement. Sometimes, I think Dumbledore does these sorts of things on purpose, just to annoy Severus. Good-naturedly, of course. He continued, "'Yes, those are dragons all right,' said Pooh. 'As soon as I saw their beaks I knew. That's what they are,' said Pooh, said he. 'That's what they are,' said Pooh. 'Let's frighten the dragons,' I said to Pooh. 'That's right,' said Pooh to Me. 'I'm not afraid,' I said to Pooh, and I held his paw and I shouted 'Shoo! Silly old dragons!' … and off they flew. 'I wasn't afraid,' said Pooh, said he, 'I'm never afraid with you.' So wherever I am, there's always Pooh, there's always Pooh and Me… 'It isn't much fun for one, but two can stick together,' says Pooh, says he. 'That's how it is.'" Dumbledore turned towards Severus and began on the rites. "Do you, Severus Eteocles Snape, take Alexandrie-Margaux Éléonore Henriette Black Potter to be your wife?"

"I, Severus Eteocles Snape, take you, Alexandrie-Margaux Éléonore Henriette Black Potter, to be my wife."

"To be your constant friend, your faithful partner, and your love from this day forward?"

"To be my constant friend, my faithful partner, and my love from this day forward."

"In the presence of God, your family and friends, do you offer your solemn vow to be this witch's faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, in joy as well as in sorrow?"

"In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow."

"And do you promise to love this witch unconditionally, to support her in her goals, to honour and respect her, to laugh with her and cry with her, and to cherish her for as long as you both shall live?"

"I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honour and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live." I tried not to squeal with joy. We were so close… I remembered the strangest things at this moment: the first look we shared, that first kiss after I'd literally haunted his rooms for days until he returned; the conversations we'd had where, for no apparent reason, one or the other of us would look up from the caldrons I was cleaning or the papers he was grading and start talking about nothing or The Summa Theologica or De Jure Belli ac Pacis or my annoying classmates or the longness of Sunday afternoons or our mutually unpleasant childhood. I remembered the look in his eyes that day, that day I'd dreamed of Sirius dying and I killed Lucius Malfoy instead, and found me in our rooms and we made love for the first time… How I loved him.

"And do you, Alexandrie-Margaux Éléonore Henriette Black Potter, take Severus Eteocles Snape to be your husband?" Dumbledore asked me now.

"I, Alexandrie-Margaux Éléonore Henriette Black Potter, take you, Severus Eteocles Snape, to be my husband."

"To be your constant friend, your faithful partner, and your love from this day forward?"

"To be my constant friend, my faithful partner, and my love from this day forward."

"In the presence of God, your family and friends, do you offer your solemn vow to be this wizard's faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, in joy as well as in sorrow?"

"In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow."

"And do you promise to love this wizard unconditionally, to support him in his goals, to honour and respect him, to laugh with him and cry with him, and to cherish him for as long as you both shall live?"

"I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honour and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live." And if my voice was a little… higher than usual with emotion, I couldn't help it. God, how I loved him. Merlin above, I loved him. I don't remember the moment when I first knew I loved him. I don't know the first time I wanted to kiss him. And I can't remember the first time I knew, truly knew, that I wanted to spend my life with him. But, Merlin, it was finally happening…

From his pocket, Severus pulled out his grandmother Jocaste's – a ring passed along that woman's line from mother to son to give his bride, since Maria de Salinas came from Spain with Queen Catherine and married Baron Willoughby de Eresby in 1516 – wedding band, which, like her engagement ring, was small and narrow with three small diamonds. His hands, which had so sturdily stirred many a potion, seemed to tremble a little as he slid the ring onto the fourth finger of my left hand. "With this ring, I thee wed, and, with it, I bestow upon you all the treasures of my mind, heart, and hands."

His own was thicker, slightly bevelled, and I was more visibly shaking as I repeated the words and placed the band upon his hand. Was he my soul mate? I don't know. I can't even say if there was such a thing as the soul or if they were ever cleaved in two, only that there was this myth, fundamental inside of me, that there was someone out there, whatever he was called, would love me for ever and always, for what I was and what I wished to be, and would never see me as anything other. And this person, this being, would never leave me. I would not have to fear, as I sometimes thought my aunt might, that the person I married would leave me, or tire of the shit I put them through (or seemed to put them through, just by existing, just by having lived) and go away for someone younger and prettier (or maybe not) and less mentally damaging. And I wouldn't have to fear that, in his heart of hearts, this man I loved and had cloven to didn't understand me and never would because, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, for early death or a late one in our bed, this man was like me, damaged and broken, with a strange, inhuman taste for odd bits of literature (our nightstands intertwined with Heinlein and Kierkegaard, Joyce and Dostoevsky, O'Neill and Jigger), and, perhaps irrevocably, haunted by things that we had to do and still woke at night in dead sweat over. Soul mate? Maybe. I only knew that he was the one man I could love all my life and, now, I could do so openly.

Then, "By the power invested in me by the International Confederation of Wizards, the Sovereign State of England and the Suzerians of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride." I was tingling with – with – with so many emotions some did not have names, all I know it was joy that I felt as I crossed the small distance between us and as he leaned down to reach my lips, and we shared our first married kiss. So what if Ron, at least, and more than likely a few others, closed their eyes and tried not to see. I was happy. I was married. My baby was now, officially, not a bastard. No one had died so far today. Life was good.

After a long (or was it short, faked by my mind to seem like forever?) moment, we broke apart. I was Mrs. Alexandrie-Margaux Éléonore Henriette Black Potter Snape (Merlin, what a mouthful!) at last.

Mrs. Severus Snape

Lady Éléonore Snape, Countess Dover

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We stayed that night at the inn, and I was so tired from the emotion of the day and the child that was now starting its fourth month within me, that I divested myself of my wedding costume immediately upon entering the front room and changed into my old pyjamas. Then, with nary a kiss to my new husband, I curled up on the bed and fell into a heavy sleep as he read Atlas Shrugged, though, to be honest, if he was on John Galt's speech like it appeared he was, in the one thought I gave it, I could only wonder how he didn't fall asleep too from Galt's constant repetition…

For a while, if I dreamed, they were dark and unknown dreams that melted and mutated into each other before chance came for me to remember any of them. And then, suddenly, it changed:

There was a blackness, and a fire erupting from that blackness – that was all I could see at first – and gradually, out of the darkness, emerged shadowy figures, running; shouting. Both were male, shrouded in voluminous, torn, and bloody black robes. The shorter was knocked off his feet by a pale yellow spell, illuminating a face like I'd seen in pictures. So much like my father's – but the eyes were different. They were my eyes.

"My son," I said to myself, from whatever vantage point I was watching from. He threw a curse at the second figure, a failed crucio that was easily blocked. Then the other man, now illuminated by the orange light of the fire, came into view, and ice ran through my veins, I knew that face so well. "No Unforgivable Curses from you! You haven't got the nerve or the ability-" the voice was the same too, caring over the raucous yelping of a nearby dog. One question repeated in my dream mind: what was my son doing trying to crucio his father?

There was, of course, no answer – at least, not right away. My son, clearly about my age, sent a stream of ropes at Severus, which he lazily deflected. I was almost as concerned for my child's inability to cast a decent spell as I was for why he was casting them. Even in a dream, I would have wished a child of mine would be better prepared. "Fight back!" the boy screamed at him, stupid to think his father would try to hurt him. "Fight back, you cowardly-"

Severus, finding this exaggeratedly offensive, shouted back. "Coward, did you call me, Potter?" my heart stopped for a second. Why would he call our son "Potter" unless our plans for marriage had fallen through? But, but, but, even now I had his ring on my finger, and mine on his. "Your father," my heart, which had just in my dream restarted, failed entirely. What father might that be but him? But, wait: if my son was the age I was now, then Severus would be in his mid-fifties. Why then did he look as young as he did now? What other explanation could there be, though? I had no twin, no brother. Time-travel? And why was I trying to make sense of a dream? It was only a dream – wasn't it? "Would never attack me unless it was four on one, what would you call him, I wonder?" The boy sent a stupefy that was, again, simply blocked. Could he not cast silently at all? "Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter! Now, come!" I noticed figures, wearing bone white masks I knew so well, behind Severus. It was to these he called now. "It is time to be gone, before the Ministry turns up-" what nightmare was it that Severus might still be a Death Eater? My dreams were always good ones, where things turned out well or, more often, ones where things went terribly awry. There never had been, before this, an in-between.

The boy was angry now. My son? I didn't know. Not anymore. I wanted this dream to end so I could wake and see Severus reading beside me and maybe ask him to read aloud… "…John Galt is Prometheus who changed his mind. After centuries of being torn by vultures in payment for having brought to men the fire of the gods, he broke his chains—and he withdrew his fire—until the day when men withdraw their vultures…" Yes, that would be nice. How else, though, would he know a spell I'd only seen and never dared used from Severus's copy of Advanced Potion-Making? "Sectum-!" It was my mind, though…

My fiancé's voice was a roar now – true anger. Poor boy, whoever he was. If he was my son, I was proud of him for not trembling with fear before this wrath, "No, Potter!" the child flew backwards and hit the ground hard, loosing his wand and glasses in the process. "You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them – I, the Half-Blood Prince! And you'd turn my inventions on me, like your filthy father, would you? I don't think so… no!"

Panting, "Kill me then. Kill me like you killed him, you coward-"

"DON'T CALL ME COWARD!" he sent a spell I couldn't identify at the boy. I wanted to scream – because, no matter what, even if this was a dream, I didn't want to dream of murder and other evil things, not of this, my wedding night. Even if the point of marriage – procreation – had already been accomplished and I was just sleeping side-by-side with my beloved…

I didn't scream, though, and instead woke in a cold start, Severus's hand on my shoulder. "Éléonore," he said softly, "Éléonore, wake up."

Panicked, I looked about me, as if some unnamed and faceless attacker was nearby, waiting for me to wake to kill us all. I scrambled out of Severus's reach and grabbed my wand from the night table. Only a split thought kept me from lighting my wand and having the wrath of the MoM fall upon me – and then I remembered that I was Lady Snape now, married – an adult – and could cast spells at will without worrying about RRUW being called into question by my actions. I lit it and looked at his own stricken features. "What's wrong?" I asked, anxious as to what retaliation Voldemort had sent our way for this wedding and anniversary.

"Death Eaters." I was already pulling on a robe and sliding my feet into my shoes. He was halfway into a pair of trousers himself.

"Where?"

"Northumberland – Miss Bone's family; – Devon – burning as they go, I don't know who they're after there; - and Shropshire. The Order has been called elsewhere, even those here. And, unfortunately, that just leaves us and your friends to deal with the ones downstairs."

I gave an oath Paracelsus had taught me and, tying the sash, I rushed out of the room. The noises, like a wall, assailed me. Shouting. The scent of burning ligustrum and melting stone. A scream or three rang out in the air and the birds, so lively with their joyful chirpings earlier, filled the night with the sound of their panicked escape. It was as if Eden was burning…

And so we fought off the coming darkness as we always had, and prayed for the day when we wouldn't have to.

Chapter Twenty-One.