Remus and Bella get together, finally. Blaise is working behind the scenes. Greg gets lucky.
Chapter 19 - Handfasting
Seven days past Imbolg Remus again stood in the center of a great circle.
This time all the congregants, children and adults, wore white mantles over their best robes. The girls and women had garlands of baby's breath in their hair, the boys and men wore wreaths of braided bay leaves. Everyone was freshly bathed and barefoot.
Remus spoke solemnly in his deeply enchanted voice. Formal as he was, infectious joy reverberated in his voice and shone through his animated delivery.
"At this time and in this place
We do call upon the Spirits of the Land
As well as the Mighty Ones of the Skies.
We call upon the Gods of our own distant past
From lands far away.
We call upon the Gods of our spiritual brethren who once called this place their own.
Witness and rejoice with us in this moment as love is affirmed."
Remus and Bella placed simple gold rings on the ends of their wands, then placed the wands, tip to tip, on the altar.
The Druid picked up his wand and held one end before him in his right hand, the former Daughter of Vesta likewise held hers in her left hand.
Each placed a hand over the other's wand near the tip where the rings encircled.
"Above us are the stars
Below are the stones
As time passes, remember...
Like a star shall our love burn brightly,
Like the earth shall our love be firm.
We shall be free in giving of affection and of warmth.
We shall have no fear,
and let not the ways or words
of the unenlightened give us unease.
For the Gods are with us,
Now and always!
"I, David of the Order of the Blessed Goddess and the Laughing God, and Bellanca, late of the Daughters of Vesta do stand before our Gods and these, our blessed friends and our family, who witness on Earth.
I, David, wish to become one with this woman.
I do here pledge my love through all that may come
for as long as love shall last."
Bella smiled through her white veil.
"I, Bellanca, wish to become one with this man.
Before these witnesses I do here pledge my love through all that may come.
For as long as love shall last."
"Does anyone here say nay?"
Love shone through their eyes as Remus and Bella exchanged rings.
"As the Gods and the Old Ones are witnesses
With those of us present now,
I now proclaim that we are man and wife!
"Thus are our hands fasted;
we two are now one.
This work is done
and joy is begun!"
Together they lifted the veil and kissed deeply, ignoring the shouts, whistles and cat-calls of the circle of loved ones.
The feast that followed would have put a strain on Parkinson House's budget if it weren't for the anonymous gifts of food, wine and clothing.
The girls were looking doe-eyed at some of the boys, who were fidgeting uncomfortably until the games began.
The only dark spot of the evening came when Harry, Hermione and Andromeda Tonks brought little Teddy Tonks to the Druid, who held the baby with natural paternal ease. The baby loved to play in the man's whiskers, which were soft to the touch and somehow familiar. Bella stood behind her new husband and looked at the tiny face that had echoes of his face and some of hers as well.
Nymphadora had been a cousin, after all.
"See, my love, therein lies your immortality." She whispered in his ear, causing her dark hair to cascade over his shoulders
The baby reached up to grab her soft hair, but recoiled when she touched his hand; her touch was cold as ice.
Bella hadn't fed recently enough to raise her cadaverous body temperature.
Bella wished more than anything at that moment that she could be fertile and warm and fully human again. She knew she could never give him a child.
Was she being selfish; preventing Remus from finding a living, warm mate?
The bride's heart, so full of joy just moments before, felt like it might break. A single blood-red tear coursed down her cheek. Remus surreptitiously dabbed the red streak away. He led her to a quiet corner and dropped a silencing rune at their feet, insuring their privacy.
"What is it, love?"
"Oh Remus, have I enthralled you? Am I being selfish? You deserve a warm, live woman, not some cold, dead thing."
"Haven't you heard?"
"Cold hands, warm heart. . ."
"This heart does beat for you, love, but I'm still as cold as a reptile unless I feed."
"It's all right, Bellanca dear, Ipromise to warm you later."
She forced a cheerful reply,"I'll hold you to that, husband."
Michael and Deborah MacMillan had one son, Earnest, and one small daughter, Renee. Right now, thirty-seven year-old Deborah was bent over a large wine barrel struggling with the coarse ropes that held her in place.
Her family was forced to watch as she was violated repeatedly by a squad of dark-robed wizards. Deborah had been screaming, but was reduced after a while to piteous sobs as she endured the unendurable.
The Dark Lady stepped between the mother and a disappointed minion saying, "Enough!"
S/He turned a malevolent eye to the petrified family and spoke softly, dangerously.
"You will remember this night, but will not be able to tell anyone about it by the spoken or written word."
She lifted Michael's head and captured his tortured gaze with her dark, pitiless eyes.
"You will align your vote to mine in the Wizengamont, or the next one over the barrel will be your precious Rene."
Deborah MacMillan managed to choke out "No!"
Blaise smiled, "I see we have an understanding."
Michael MacMillan, nodded, his spirit broken.
Theodore Nott the Third followed Blaise out of the warehouse onto the loading dock. The area smelled of fisheries and fuel oil. Once outside he muttered something under his breath.
"Spit it out Theo."
"Well, um, they are just a minor merchant family - the MacMillan vote doesn't carry much weight in the Wizengamont."
"He doesn't have to carry a lot of weight, he just needs to help me hamstring those outdated berks until I can get my own people in there."
"How's he gonna do that?"
"Simple, he'll be neutral on all things not related to my agenda, and will always cast the blocking vote when Itell him to."
"I still say he can't do that much." Theo said, sullenly.
Blaise held a small spool of thread in front of Nott's face.
"Yeah, I see it, it's fucking thread; so what?"
S/He pulled a small length of the thread from the spool.
"This is pure silk, don't underestimate its strength. Here, put your arms around this piling."
"It's not a request, Theo, do it now!"
"Now, cross one thumb over the other."
Blaise wound the silk thread around the second joint of Theo's thumbs just a few times, and then tied it off.
"All right, Theo, get loose."
Nott smirked and tried to snap the thread and found he couldn't.
"You've charmed the thread!"
"No, I haven't, it's just simple non-magical, muggle thread. Come on Nott, surely you can break a few strands of silk!"
He tried but found he couldn't
"Okay, I get it. Now let me loose."
"Perhaps you'll actually think before questioning my judgment in the future. As it is, I think we'll just let you think about this for a few hours."
Having said that h/she poured salt in a circle around Nott, effectively forming an anti-apparition zone around the piling before disappearing with a loud "crack!"
"Zabini! Get me loose! Gods damn it, Zabini!"
Bella came to Remus for the first time in her human form. She refused to enthrall him except in the manner in which women have managed to do so for millennia.
"Remus, love, will you do something for me?"
"What is that?"
"Would you please shave? Fur is all well and good for our wolf forms but I'm terribly sensitive to whiskers when I'm like this."
He laughed. Then asked, "Do it for me?"
"You're going to let a vampire near your neck with a cutting spell? What if I slip?"
"Then I'll know you're hungry. Do you need to feed?"
"Perhaps, just a little?"
"Where would you like it from?"
"Where do you think."
He smirked; she always liked the femoral artery, close to his manhood, the source of his most potent need."
"Come along then my lady wife."
She smiled broadly, "At your service milord husband."
Millie and Greg had just put what they thought was the last of the excited sprogs to bed and were heading back to their own room when they were distracted by quiet sobbing. It sounded like someone had lost everyone who had ever been dear to them.
"Hullo?" Millie called out kindly.
The sobbing stopped. Somehow the silence wore worse than the piteous cries had.
"Let's have a bit o' light." Greg suggested. Millie nodded and together they drew their wands and said"Lumos!"
Greg caught a movement from beneath the staircase and stepped between the steps and his girl.
"Oi, it's all right, lil' one. It's just Uncle Greg and Mummy Millie."
"Go way!" a small girl's voice trembled from the shadows.
"Best let me handle this one Gregory."
"Okay, Millie, I'll be over there," he said, pointing to the long table along the wall.
The big girl pulled a rough wooden chair over to the staircase and sat down. She closed her eyes and began to rock back on the chair's hind legs, humming to herself.
After a few minutes the little girl asked, "what cha' doin'?"
Millie smiled and said, "Din't you know? This is my let it be place."
"Let it be?"
"Oh yeah, I got lots of let it be places. The space under the stair is one place cause I can see everything from there and no one can see me. That way I can see and everything just lets me be.
She leaned forward and asked,"You know that big willow in the back, near the forest?"
"Well it's got two big roots that point off toward the road and sometimes I'll just sit there between the roots and watch the world go by, and it just let's me be."
"You're needin' some 'let me be'time, so I'm just gonna leave you alone. But I love you too much to leave you lonely."
The brown haired girl shot from under the stair and into Millicent's arms.
"Oh Mummy Millie, that's what I'm afraid of more'n anything!"
Millicent recognized little Allison now that she was out of the shadows.
The full-sized young woman held Allison tight, rubbing her back as she did so, "You ain't gonna be alone poppet, you got all your brothers and sisters and me and Mummy Pansy and Uncle Greg and we ain't goin' nowhere."
Allison sniffed, "Odin's leaving."
Neither girl noticed Greg leaving quietly.
"What makes you think Odin's leaving?"
"He's got his mum and da' and they're married and all and when they go he's goin' too."
Millie smiled reassuringly and said, "David and Bellanca might be gone a few days, but wild hippogryphs couldn't keep em' away from us. They're here to teach us and protect us and Odin will stay right here while they do.
Allison spun in Millie's lap and saw little Odin, dressed in his night clothes, rubbing sleep from his eyes.
The little girl practically tackled the suddenly wide-awake boy.
"I thought you'd left with your Mum and Da'."
She was still in her white robe, her baby's breath garland slightly askew. Odin felt so good in her arms, like he belonged there. Odin, for his part couldn't think for the life of him why she would think he'd ever leave her.
Odin hugged her back and said,"Listen Ali, we're mates you an' me. You know what I am and what that means."
She looked at him uncertain about his meaning.
He leaned forward and whispered in her ear, "Wolves mate for life."
Odin took her by the hand and led her back to her room, not even looking to see what the grownups were doing.
"Awww," Greg whispered to Millie in a sotto voice, "they's so cute together, y'know?"
"Gregory Goyle," she said, her voice thick with emotion, "You are so gonna' get lucky tonight!"
The recipe is coming together; there will be a mixing of Sons of the Serpent and our favorite Slytherin alums. Throw in a couple of vampires and a werewolf or two for spice, shake well.
Let me just take a moment to plug a story on this site in the Books section under "His Dark Materials." My good friend and sometimes beta-reader Guitar Gurl has written a hot little piece called "Forbidden Fruit." If you've read Phillip Pullman's "Golden Compass,""The Subtle Knife," and "The Amber Spyglass," you'll recognize the characters and, more importantly, the framework of GG's little one-shot tale.
Even if you haven't read the original book(s) Guitar Gurl's story is a diverting read.