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Is Snape going to wear black? I'm still laughing about that question!
Chapter Thirty-One: Dancing in the Snow
Mara woke up in her own bed on the beginning of December and dressed appropriately: a pair of black pants, a black turtleneck, black clogs, and her ring. Pulling her hair back into a ponytail, she entered the Great Hall and people gave her suspicious looks. While very few of the students actually knew what was going on, they had their suspicions. She had taken to saying that it had been her father's ring and he had always worn it on that finger. The student's suspicions were to be confirmed that fateful December morning.
Mara sat in her accustomed place next to Severus and he shot her one of his looks. He suspected something was up the moment that Albus shot them one of his twinkly-eyed looks. It seemed more forceful that usual. No use worrying Mara, but he warned her nonetheless. With a queasy feeling in both their stomachs, they sat about to eat. When Dumbledore clinked his fork lightly against a glass, Mara's mouth went dry and that feeling settled deeply into her stomach.
"Students! Faculty! I have an announcement to make!" The room quieted, somewhat suspiciously. "In a few weeks time, December 24th, our very own Professor Snape will marry our substitute Charms professor!"
There was a stretch of horrified silence and then, a trembling note of applause. It took a bit for the idea to penetrate, but in time, the Great Hall rang with applause and whistles.
Severus was mortified and he was scowling deeper than usual, his brow furrowed. Mara was glaring across the table at a supremely smug Remus and before she knew it, Severus was nudging her.
"They're waiting for a speech and I doubt that I should be the one to make it."
"Bloody buggering hell," she muttered before standing up. She cast one final glare down the table. "Apparently, I'm supposed to make a speech. I've done one too many of these and by now you should know that I am abysmal at them."
"Suffice to say that it was completely unexpected. Halloween night, we had a trick played on us. We're not sure who it was, or what, but I have a few ideas. Ahem... instead of doing the intended thing and... well, the intended thing, it ended up with me engaged to Severus. Don't ask how or why, please. I've had this ring since the end of October and we were looking for a way to get it off. Some sort of Snape spell thing kept it on my finger and kept us bound. It was only recently that I realized that I wanted to keep it there. Turns out so did Severus."
She smirked and there was a bit more laughter, hesitant at laughing at the formidable Potions Master, who scowled up at his fiancee.
"We've handed over our wedding plans to the Lupins. For the love of God, don't ask me why because I don't know that either. I must have been intoxicated or something... and that is the reason as to why I'm standing here right now, making yet another dreadful speech. So, now that we know when we're getting married, I've got about three weeks to get a dress, get my entourage, and do the other mindless things one needs to do for a wedding."
"I'd like to end my speech, however boring, on a more thoughtful note. My cousin told me something very recently, which was rather why I handed the plans to them. It's Shakespeare, a famous half-blood playwright. 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove.' Love is not conditional, my friends. When a couple does not have to meet demands for the other to love them, that is true love and it should never be released."
She held a hand to her eyes and felt them watering.
"Look at me, I'm crying in the middle of this. Guess that's a sign that I should end. Thank God."
She sat down and the applause was amazing. It was louder than ever, louder than after the first announcement. Mara held a hand to her face and smiled through her tears, the smile occasionally broken as she sobbed. Tears streaked her face and Snape, who was normally averse to showing affection in public, wrapped his arm around her shoulders and rested his temple against hers. She smiled and laughed through tears and sobs and still the applause wouldn't stop. He whispered sweet nothings into her ear and was glad that his face was hidden from the Great Hall or else they would have seen the soft smile that curved his lips.
"This is the one-time thing, isn't it?" she laughed, indicating his show of affection in public, and he pulled away, instantly schooling his expression.
"Damn right." He continued eating, reveling in her laughter.
Overhead and outside, it began to snow.
"If you think that my engagement is going to change me into a sappy hero with nothing better to do than to coddle you dunderheads, you have another thing coming," Severus announced as he entered his Potions class and the students were instantly quiet. "Page 234. Now. In silence."
"Don't think that I'm going to burst out crying every time I teach or that I'll become some sort of sappy heroine. Page 135, writing instruments out. No complaints," Mara told her class.
Later on, they all said how well-suited for each other they were. Why, they even had similar class speeches!
She was staring out the window with a wistful expression on her face, elbows propped up on the windowsill, a mug of steaming coffee between them. Her hair was bouncing down her shoulders, a delightful contrast against the black turtleneck. She was completely ignoring Hermione and Remus as they explained their ideas and Severus, bored to death, recognized the expression on her face. He stood up, bringing a Hermione on a roll to a stuttering halt and Remus lay a hand on her knee, smiling lightly.
Severus stood behind Mara, setting his hands on her shoulders and brushing away her hair, leaning his cheek against her head.
"Do you want to go outside?" he breathed.
"Oh, yes," she sighed.
"Come on then."
"What about --"
"You aren't paying any attention anyway."
He took her hand and pulled her out of the staff room, ignoring the looks of surprised happiness on the Lupins' faces. She stopped in the Entrance Hall, nodding hello to some passing Slytherins, and lifted her wand to summon something too lowly for Severus to hear what it was. Within seconds, a large box had fallen into her hands, followed by two black scarves. She wrapped one around Severus' neck and he wrapped one around hers and they exited to the courtyard. The lake was frozen over and Mara set the box next to the bank, frowning slightly. Severus captured her hand in his and whirled her around.
"Dance with me," he whispered and she giggled.
"To what music?"
"Our own," he told her in the same whisper of love, one of the few ways he could show this emotion in public.
She molded into his body, one of his hands on her waist and the other holding her left hand. The silver signet ring flashed in the sunlight. They waltzed across the snow-covered ground, catching the eye of several wandering students. Some Gryffindors stuck their noses up and wrinkled them. The Slytherins looked approving. Some Hufflepuffs were annoyed, and some were watching them wistfully. The Ravenclaws, rather like cats, didn't give a shit. Snow started to fall again, lightly, dusting their hair with white, to which Severus scowled. Mara laughed at him and leaned her forehead against his jaw as they slowed the pace to a simple two-step shuffle, her hips moving sensuously against his, enticing a hardness from him.
"If you don't stop that, I'll take you right here and right now. I doubt the students would be very happy about that," he growled into her ear and she did stop, giving him a look which clearly said 'Well, you'll have to make up for it later'.
"You know, Severus, you normally don't show this side of you. I hardly thought you to be one for dancing in the snow without music and rather impromptu." She pursed her lips. "I didn't think you were a dancer, period."
"There are several things you don't know about me," he muttered as she sat down on the bank, just far away enough from the ice to eye it warily. "What's in the box?"
She didn't answer, merely kept giving the ice the Evil Eye.
"If you keep looking at it like that, it'll melt."
Finally, he squatted down and opened the box himself. A pair of beautiful, turquoise skates inlaid with tiny cubic zirconias looked up at him. He picked one up, eyeing it. They were pretty, he conceded. The skate was obviously made of some sort of alloy, probably silver with whatever metal they used. The laces were white and elegant.
"They're... first-class," he said.
"Do you want to try?" he asked, sitting down fully on the snow, and her head whipped around to stare at him. "I'll be here protecting you."
"I swear you'll be safe."
It took another half-hour of cajoling and promises until she put on the skates and another twenty minutes before she took her first tentative step onto the ice. The hardness beneath her feet sent a surge of familiarity through her and she set her other foot on the ice. She wobbled, gasped, and fell to her knees. Shaking her head, she stood up again and set her right foot before the other. It slipped, and she fell backwards onto her bum.
"Are you all right?" Severus asked, alarmed.
"Fine," she grumbled. It was too familiar and it was starting to get to her. Third time's the charm.
She stood up and stuck her arms out, balancing herself. She swept her foot forward, following it closely with the other one. She managed five or six strides before falling backwards again. Staring at the sky, spreadeagled, she remembered what her mentor had told her. There will come a time when you no longer will want to step foot onto the ice, afraid of its treachery. You have to remember that you are an Artemis and you are strong. You can bend anything to your will. That is exactly what she set out to do.
Within another half-hour of falling and trying it out, she could complete a full circle. There was clapping from Severus and that familiar burst of pride swelled within her. Hands tucked behind her back, she performed several figure eights and circles. The figure eights came easier and easier and she did a large, full circle before pursing her lips, bending her knees, and pushing herself up into the air. The loop-the-loop was executed to perfection and she landed on her feet, knees slightly bent, to applause from not only Severus but the students who were watching. She found that she didn't mind. She never wanted to stop.
After the loop-the-loop came the double toe jump, the triple toe jump, a loop jump, and a variety of others. Then, she started integrating the magic. It was fading into evening already, and she knew she'd have to stop soon. She lifted her hand and steeled herself.
She leaped at the same time to gain more height and spun in the hair, hanging upside down from nothing. With a quick intake of breath, her hand slashed downward and the spell was broken. She twisted in mid-air to land on her feet on the ice. Slowly, she looked up and realized that she was still on her own two feet. Whistles from the slightly thinned crowd reigned in her ears and she skated to the edge. She'd do the Heightening Spell some other time. Right now, she just wanted to sleep in the warm arms of her lover and fiancé.
He took her into his arms as the students walked away, chattering excitedly about this new part of their professor, and laughed at the expression of sheer happiness on her face.
"I told you that you wouldn't regret it."
"I had no idea that I could still move like that," she breathed.
"Once learned, it is never forgotten."
"I can think of a number of other things I've learned and that I'm definitely not going to forget any time soon," she said seductively and he drew her up, leaving her shoes by the bank, and took her into Hogwarts, completely oblivious of the stares from a few stragglers to the dorms.
I have a lovely thing about ice skating. I don't know how but I know lots about it! It's so beautiful...
Stay tuned for: Short, transitional chapter next. Mara helps Albus and ends up doing something that could endanger the wedding.