March 25th dawned cool and sunny. Annie spent the morning getting ready for the most important day of her life. She was assisted by her best friend, Petunia, her mother-in-law, Walburga Black, and her mother, Carla, who had finally managed to reconcile with her only child. The elder witch had been shocked to receive an invitation to the wedding of pureblood Sirius Orion Black and Anne Lyons, because she had assumed her disfigured daughter would remain a spinster forever. What she had never expected was that Annie would marry up into such an illustrious family, especially given her scars. This had prompted Carla to come and visit her daughter. Over some tea and scones, mother and daughter managed to iron things out, though not without some sharp words and tears along the way. Since that visit, some two weeks prior, Carla and Annie now talked on a regular basis, and Carla had dined with Walburga, Orion, Sirius, Regulus, and Cindy.
Carla was still a bit in awe of the Blacks, but she was slowly overcoming it. She picked up Annie's wedding dress robes, they were made of satin and velvet, white overrobe and a gold tissue underrobe beneath. Underneath that was silky ivory trousers that belled a bit around the ankles and a matching camisole top. The overrobe had etched symbols for luck, prosperity, love, and faithfulness about the hem and sleeves, runes that Walburga had sewn on herself for her new daughter-in-law, as a bridal gift. Carla had added the collar of topaz, citrine, and clear Swavroski crystals to her daughter's bodice, and also made a matching belt. Petunia had purchased the veil, embroidered with roses and lilies, which was held in place by a lovely tiara.
Annie wore matching white pumps with tiny diamonds on them, a gift from Lily. Sirius had given her traditional diamond dangling earrings and a beautiful choker as a morning gift.
When he had woken her with a kiss that morning and presented them to her, she had grinned and said, "But Siri, isn't the morning gift supposed to be given to the bride after her wedding night?"
"Yeah, well, I decided to change the rules a bit. Hope you don't mind." Sirius asked, gently putting the choker around her neck.
"Not at all." Annie hugged and kissed him. "They're gorgeous and will keep people from being revolted by my face."
Sirius frowned. "Don't say that."
"Why? It's the truth."
He deliberately traced his fingers down the weeping scars on her face and murmured, "There is nothing revolting about you, my sweet Annie. And if anyone dares to offer you an insult today, he's going to be turned into a toad and decorate my mother's garden." He kissed her back. "But of course that's not going to happen, because today is your wedding day and all of our friends and family are here and it's going to be perfect."
"Oh, Siri. You always know what to say to make me feel better."
"That's because I'm your husband—or I will be—and I love you."
Annie giggled. "I love you too. Now you'd better go, before my mother and yours come in here. The groom's not really supposed to see the bride on her wedding day."
"Generations of grandmothers and mothers. It's tradition. Now scat, Mr. Black!"
Sirius grinned wolfishly. "All right, Mrs. Black. I'll see you later, sweet thing." He bowed to her with a flourish and let himself out of the room, going back to his flat to get ready as well, assisted by James and Orion and Regulus.
Annie took a long hot shower and scented herself with her favorite perfume, which was cucumber and watermelon, a fresh clean scent. Then came Petunia and her two mothers to help her get dressed.
They all admired Sirius' gifts and Walburga said proudly, "One thing my son does have is good taste in jewelry. He gets that from me."
"Thank goodness!" Petunia laughed. "Because some men have horrible taste and think the bigger the rock, the better, and some of it is so gaudy." She was wearing a lovely lavender maternity robe, as she was Annie's matron of honor. The robe was generously cut without being overly so, and flattered her rounded figure. "I can thank my lucky stars that James isn't like that."
Together, they all helped Annie into her finery, and then Petunia did her hair, pulling it back partially with some decorative silver combs and then letting the rest cascade in a mass of curls down her back and shoulders. Once the veil was in place and the tiara placed just so, Petunia stepped back and said, "You look beautiful, Annie. You're going to knock Lover Boy right over when he sees you at hall."
Annie blushed. "Surely not, Tuney."
"Hey, would I lie to you?"
"Never," Annie shook her head, tears shimmering in her eyes. "If it weren't for you, I'd still be in that hospital bed, feeling sorry for myself."
"That's what friends are for." Tuney smiled, then she gently blotted Annie's eyes with a tissue. "No tears, you'll make your mascara run."
"You make such a lovely bride." Carla said, sniffling. She was dressed in a coral colored dress and soft pink day robes. Her blond hair was cut short and fell in a wave about her forehead. She was wearing pink pearls and looked very classy.
"Now don't you start," Walburga ordered. She had on a beautiful black and gold ensemble, robes, skirt, and a ruffled blouse, the height of fashion. Her black hair was piled elegantly atop her head. She looked sophisticated and queenly.
"Kreacher!" she called, clapping her hands.
The elf appeared immediately. "Mistress calls? What does Mistress need?"
"I need for you to take a picture of my daughter-in-law and her mother, first of all. Then I'll need a picture with me and both my daughter-in-laws."
"Right away, Mistress." Kreacher snapped his fingers and a camera appeared in the elf's hand.
The women all began posing for the pictures, all their tears banished, and Kreacher snapped them as quickly as he could.
Meanwhile, at Sirius' flat, there was much joking and teasing going on as the groom made ready for his big day. Sirius had opted for a charcoal gray suit and gold tie and elegant pearl gray robes slit up the side for ease of movement. He was wearing expensive black shoes that his father had picked out and he knew cost many Galleons, for Orion was very fashionable when the occasion called for it.
James had presented him with a pair of gold and diamond cuff links, since he was Sirius' best man. "I would have liked to get you a book on fun sex spells, but your dad said we were too old for that kind of thing now and Reg said you hardly needed help in that department, so I decided to go with the cuff links."
They all shared a good laugh over that, and Sirius drank off a glass of fine Cristal champagne. "The cuff links are fine, James old boy. They match Annie's diamond choker and earrings."
"Ah, bought her jewels fit for a queen, my son?" Orion teased, grinning.
"Right on, Dad. And tonight . . . she'll be wearing nothing but her jewels to bed," Sirius smirked. "And so will I."
"I hope Annie's impressed," said Regulus insolently.
"Watch it, little brother." Sirius waggled a finger at him. "No insulting the groom allowed. It's my wedding day."
"Sorry, Siri. I'll just save them up for tomorrow," chuckled the irrepressible Regulus. It felt good to joke around with his brother again, it was something he had missed during their stormy adolescence.
There came a knock at the door of the flat. Sirius opened it to reveal Remus on the other side, bearing a bottle of wine. "Sorry I'm late. I overslept."
"Don't worry, Moony. You didn't miss much. Come in. Join the party." Sirius waved him inside. He knew why the werewolf had overslept—last night had been the third night of the full moon.
Remus was greeted enthusiastically by James, and more cordially by Orion and Regulus. The three Marauders spent the next hours till the ceremony reminiscing about their "good old schooldays", making Regulus roll his eyes, and Orion's eyebrow shoot up into his hair.
"You're lucky I never knew about half of those pranks you pulled, Sirius. Otherwise you'd still be on restriction and probably bread and water as well, if your mother had anything to say about it."
"Ha! If she ever knew half of the things he did, he'd still not be able to sit down," Regulus chortled.
Sirius shot him a black look. "Nobody's perfect, brat. Besides, at least we have some decent memories of our time at Hogwarts. Something besides getting all O's on our OWLS, I mean."
Regulus turned and poured himself a glass of champagne, hiding the sudden quiver that ran through him. If only you knew, Siri, about the memories Sev and I have, you'd not think me the perfect prefect ever again. While you were pranking half the student body, Sev and I were infiltrating the Death Eater Youth. Not exactly the kind of thing you'd care to share with your family. He took a large gulp of the bubbly liquid, almost choking in his haste to get it down.
Sirius swatted him helpfully on the back. "Take it easy, kid. You choke to death on my wedding and Mum and Cindy will string me up by the bollocks."
"I'm . . . all right." Regulus gasped, feeling stupid.
"Don't you know how to drink champagne, Regulus?" James queried with devilish grin. "You're supposed to sip it, not gulp it like ale."
Regulus blushed and clamped his mouth shut before he said something rude to Potter. The last thing he wanted was to quarrel at his brother's wedding.
"So, Siri, are you looking forward to tying the knot?" Remus asked.
"Yes, I am, and you know that's a thing I never thought I'd say." Sirius replied, looking blissfully smug. "Now all that's left is for you to get hitched, Moony."
Remus looked uncomfortable. "I don't think that's going to happen any time soon."
"Don't sell yourself short, Remus." James told him. "There's a girl out there waiting, you simply have to find her. Look at me. I spent all those years chasing after Lily and in the end I married her sister. You'll see, someday she'll find you and probably when you least expect it."
"Maybe." Remus shrugged. "But at least I'll be employed when she does. I've just taken my teaching exams . . . and I believe I passed them with flying colors."
"Congratulations," Orion offered. "What subject will you be teaching, if I may ask?"
"Uh . . . I'm not sure yet, but I could teach Defense. Or even Care of Magical Creatures. I've heard Professor Kettleburn's retiring next year so . . ."
"Care of Magical Creatures?" Sirius sputtered, amused. "Now that would be ironic, considering . . ."
"But rather appropriate . . ." Remus chuckled.
"I'm sure you'll do well, after all, you manage to get my scapegrace son to mind you some of the time," Orion pointed out.
The ceremony was short and sweet, and then Sirius and his new bride were free to mingle and dance with their guests. This was not a large wedding, though most of the Auror Department was there, along with some school friends of Annie's, and many cousins on the Black side, including the Malfoys, Severus and his wife, and Andromeda. Even Bellatrix was there, and to Sirius' relief, did not go crazy and embarrass him, but actually behaved.
All in all, it was most memorable and wonderful day, the food was excellent, Walburga, Orion, and Carla had spared no expense, and everyone mingled, drank, and danced without mishap. Finally, the party wound down around midnight, and by then Sirius was quite ready to have some private time with his wife.
Sirius carried his wife into the bedroom, kicking the door shut behind them. Then he set her down next to the bed. He eyed her up and down, slowly, giving himself time to peruse her. "You, darling, look absolutely ravishing." With a wave of his wand, she stood naked before him, clothed in nothing save her hair.
In spite of herself, she shivered. Though she had slept with him once before, she sensed that this time would be different, because this time she was not merely lover, but wife. Mrs. Black. For the rest of her life.
Unconsciously, she dropped her eyes to stare at her bare toes, it was reflex from her days in the hospital, to try and avoid showing her scarred visage to anyone, to hide the mark of shame from the world. "Sirius, really, I . . ."
One lean hand came up to cup her chin and lift her head up. "You don't believe me, Annie? Even after this?"
"I know how I look, Siri. Mirrors don't lie."
"Ah, yes they do. For mirrors show only the surface of something. But what's on the outside doesn't always mirror the inside. And it's what's on the inside, love, that counts." He drew her close, pulling her against him. It had taken him years to learn that lesson, but now he would never forget it.
Sudden tears sparkled on her lashes. "It's just . . . I don't know how you can find—this—attractive." She made a gesture at the ruined half of her face.
"Because I love you, Annie Black. And you know what they say . . . love is blind, for it sees the heart and not the outer shell." His fingers gently traced the ropy scars, then he lowered his head and began to kiss her, featherlight kisses starting at her temple and slowly making his way down her face, until her mouth met his.
She melted against him, her fingers burying themselves in his dark hair, her wanton body responding with eagerness to his deft touch, pressing against him lean body with utter abandon. There was no hesitation as he kissed and touched her, only a glorious heat that burned her from the inside out. And his hands upon her skin, cooling it yet renewing the embers of passion. With a wild groan, he swept her up against his chest.
She could feel the steady thrumming of his heart, quickening slightly as he laid her on the bed. A second pass of his wand removed all his clothing and he stood before her, like a sculpture of some ancient Greek god in all his glory. Broad shoulders tapered to a lean waist and taut hips and well-muscled legs. Tentatively, she ran her hands over his sleek frame and he shivered with ecstasy at her touch. His eyes gleamed, hot and wild, yet gentle. There was no need for words between them. He knew perfectly well she found him irresistible.
Her hand caressed his cheek, sliding down his chiseled jaw and he arched his head back, baring his throat to her. She tenderly kissed the hollow of his throat. "Sirius . . . I want . . . I need . . ."
"I know." He murmured huskily, and began to touch her in return, playing her like a maestro playing a favorite instrument.
All her awkwardness vanished as she accepted at last the truth—they belonged together, two parts of the same whole, and nothing—least of all her scarred face, would ever come between them. Then he showed her what had long been denied her, and she discovered the pleasure of two joined into one—one heart, one mind, one body. She flowed into him and she did not know where she began and he ended. Not that it mattered. For she was his and he was hers, till the end of all things.
Spent, they lay curled about each other. Even now she could hardly get enough of him, savoring every inch of him. "I never knew it could be so wonderful. I feel as if I've died and been reborn."
She could see his smile in the dark. "You flatter me."
"No. I speak the truth."
"It was that way for me too. You are like no other woman I've ever known, Annie. And I am the luckiest man in the world, because you chose me for your husband."
"That's my line, Siri." She replied, chuckling.
"So sue me."
She shook her head. "No thanks. I have better things to do." Surprising herself with her boldness, she turned and showed him just what she meant, and he was quite content to let her set the pace this time.
The morning after the wedding:
Severus rubbed his temples, trying without success to massage away the pounding in his head. He was not usually subject to hangovers, but it would seem he had drunk one toast too many last night at the wedding, trying to match James in that ridiculous bet. He knew he shouldn't have gotten involved in that ludicrous bet with the Gryffindor, God knew Potter had the ability to drink Hagrid under the table with his misspent youth.
Well, Snape, you were an idiot, and now you're paying for it, he scolded himself sternly while massaging his aching head. He considered brewing up a Hangover Cure, but then decided he could endure the throbbing for an hour more. Perhaps some fresh air would help.
He checked the clock in his office. He had about half-an-hour before he had his second period class of the morning. He rose and headed outside, using the secret tunnel behind the tapestry of Salazar Slytherin.
The cool March wind did seem to help clear the champagne fumes from his head, and ease the throbbing somewhat. As he continued walking around the lake, breathing deeply, a small form slammed into him.
"Professor Snape!" gasped the Ravenclaw now lying on the ground in front of him. "Oh, I'm so sorry, sir!"
"Are you hurt, Miss Fielding?" he asked as he helped Misty to her feet.
She shook her head, blushing slightly. "No, sir. I'm . . . just in a bit of a rush, you see, because . . ."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Not late for class, are you?"
She glanced over her shoulder, her expression fearful.
Severus frowned, her expression reminded him all too eerily of himself at that age, running away from the Marauders. "Miss Fielding, is someone chasing you?"
He had his answer a moment later when three older girls came around the side of the lake, wands out, looking ready to take poor Misty apart. Two of them wore the green and silver of Slytherin, the other wore Ravenclaw blue and bronze.
"Fielding, you rotten little bint!" bellowed the tall Slytherin, she was broad and had shoulders on her like a rugby player. She played Beater on the Slytherin House team. "I'll show you what happens to smarty-pants twits who think they're too good for the rest of us."
"Yeah, you should have just kept your mouth shut about the homework, Fielding, like I warned you last night," snapped the Ravenclaw, a skinny girl with bulging eyes and a wild mane of corkscrew curls.
"Now you're going to get your teeth shoved up your tattletale ass!" gloated the last girl, she had even features and sleek blond hair, looked like a model for Witch Weekly, but the glare on her face could have frightened a gargoyle.
Misty looked panicked and would have darted off towards the castle had not Severus put a hand on her shoulder. "Wait, Miss Fielding. They wouldn't dare harm you while I am here." He stepped protectively in front of the girl, a terrible scowl highlighting his features.
Lately, the rivalry between all the Houses had become intolerable, and he had been forced to break up numerous quarrels among all the students.
The three girls had been so intent upon attacking their quarry that it was a few moments before they registered the fact that Severus was standing there, his face like a thundercloud about to spew lighting. Upon seeing their professor glaring at them, they skidded to a halt, and tried to plaster innocent looking expressions on their faces.
But Severus wasn't fooled. "Rosier, MacCoombe, Livingston, what is the meaning of this? Why were you chasing Fielding with your wands drawn?"
"Uh . . . hello Professor Snape!" cooed Elen Rosier, who was the younger sister of Evan Rosier. She quickly tried to hide her wand behind her back.
"Rosier, take your hands from behind your back and hold them where I can see them," ordered her Head of House. "You too, MacCoombe. And you as well, Livingston."
The two others fidgeted but did as ordered, holding their palms out with their wands resting across them.
"Sir, we can explain . . ." began the Ravenclaw, Livingston, uneasily.
Severus crossed his arms over his chest and pinned them with a frigid stare that promised many hours in the dungeons. "By all means, Livingston, explain why you were pursuing Fielding across the lawn with wands drawn, threatening magical mayhem upon her. For I was under the impression that dueling is strictly forbidden at Hogwarts, as was bullying of your fellow students. You do know the penalty for dueling, don't you?"
All three girls swallowed hard.
"B-But . . . sir . . . we weren't going to duel Fielding," purred Elen, simpering up at him, fluttering her thick eyelashes like mad. "We just wanted to demonstrate a new spell we learned in Defense, one that she missed because she was busy taking notes . . .we wouldn't have harmed her, professor."
"I wasn't born yesterday, Rosier." Severus drawled. "If that was all you wanted, then why was Fielding running as if You-Know-Who himself was after her?" He turned to Misty, who up until then had been silent. "Miss Fielding, tell me what happened before you collided with me. The truth, not some half-baked cockamamie story."
"Well, sir, it's like this . . ." pale and sickly looking, Misty told Severus about discovering that her Housemate had made a deal with the two Slytherins to copy the answers for that day's Herbology homework, since the Slytherins had forgotten to do it and didn't want to lose points. They had then agreed to pay Livingston two Galleons each in return. "That's cheating, sir, and I . . . I just couldn't stand by and watch it . . . so I . . . I told Professor Sprout and she gave all of them a zero and detention mulching the vegetable garden with dragon dung for a week. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut, but . . . Andrea's a Ravenclaw and she's shamed her House by letting them copy her answers for money and . . .I don't care if we lose points, it's wrong!"
"You spineless tattletale!" spat her Housemate. "I should have hexed your tongue to your mouth as soon as I saw you eavesdropping on us, Freaky Fielding! Next time mind your own business!"
"You cheating is my business!"
"Says who, wench?" demanded Della MacCoomb.
"I do," Severus informed her. "You two are both old enough to know better, you are third years and know to take the consequences for unfinished homework. That might have cost you a few points and a lecture from Sprout, but cheating carries a far worse penalty. I shall be speaking to your parents tonight, young ladies, and you will also be in detention with me for the weekend, gathering stinkweed and gutting black fish for two hours for potion ingredients. How many points did Sprout deduct?"
"Twenty-five each," groused Rosier, her complexion turning a rosy pink.
"To that I shall take twenty-five from Slytherin and the same from Ravenclaw," Severus bit off.
The girls cried out in dismay. "Please, sir, the detention's enough!" begged Rosier prettily, tears welling in her eyes. "Don't take points, please!"
Severus cast her a disgusted look. "Wipe those crocodile tears off your face, Rosier, they won't work with me. Comport yourself with dignity, if that isn't beyond you. Your behavior disgusts me. You have shamed yourself and your House past bearing, Rosier and MacCoomb. I told all my Slytherins at the beginning of the term that I would not tolerate any underhanded attempts to gain points. I expect you all to work hard and to your fullest potential, cheating is the refuge of a fool and a coward."
"But Slytherins are expected to cheat!" objected MacCoomb.
"Perhaps that was true once, before I became Head of House, but no longer. I will not tolerate it, MacCoomb. Nor will I tolerate your persecution of Miss Fielding. For that alone, you shall serve detention with me, and if I hear of any mishap or harm befalling Fielding after this, I will hold you personally responsible and move for expulsion. All of you! Now, get back to the castle and start studying, your detention will be at seven o'clock AM on Saturday and Sunday morning, if you're late I shall dock five more points."
The three miscreants groaned loudly. Severus ignored them, and then took their wands away as well, saying they would get them back tomorrow. If they managed to behave till then.
The two Slytherins slunk away like whipped mongrels, but Livingston turned back, a pleading expression on her face. "Professor, please don't tell my parents. They would never understand and they'll be so—"
"Disappointed? Ashamed? Angry?" Severus snapped. "I would feel the same were I to receive a report like this. Cheating is something that carries a harsh penalty and it is only fair your parents be apprised of the fact that you almost got expelled for doing so. You knew what you were doing was wrong, so do not even try and tell me otherwise. The consequences are therefore upon your own head. You have no one to blame but yourself."
"You're so unfair! You nasty git, I wish you drowned in your cauldron!" Livingston sobbed, then turned and ran back to the castle.
"Ten more points from Ravenclaw for your disrespect, Livingston!" growled the Potions Master.
"What an utter idiot!" Misty snorted. "And she says I've got problems shutting my mouth."
"Pay no attention to her, Fielding. She seeks to pin blame on you because she cannot face the consequences of her own actions. Professor Sprout would have discovered the cheating even if you had not revealed it to her, she recognizes the style and sentence structure of all her students."
"She does? Then she didn't really need me to tell her anything."
"The fact that you did so shows integrity. Twenty points to Ravenclaw, Fielding. And watch your back, girl."
Misty looked delighted. "Thanks, sir! But surely after what you threatened, none of them would try anything."
"They might not, but they could persuade others to do so. Be careful, and go nowhere without someone you trust." Severus warned. "Come, let us go back to the castle. I shall escort you to your second class."
"It's Transfiguration, sir," she informed him, her eyes wide.
Severus merely nodded, striding slightly ahead of her. His headache had vanished, having vented much of his tension upon the three bullies. Now he was ready for his second class of the day, which hopefully would go smoothly.
Hope you all liked this chapter! Please review, thanks! Next chapter will feature Voldemort and Regulus and the fulfillment of Lily's vision of the lake of fire!
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