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GIFT: The Thin Man (R), for bethbethbeth

Title: The Thin Man
Author: duniazade
Beta Reader: melusin_79
Recipient: bethbethbeth
Rating: R
(Highlight to View) Warnings: bad language, a bit of nudity, liquor and pseudo-mathematical gobbledegook.
Recipient's Prompt: Everybody's intrigued when The Quibbler announces the marriage of Associate Editor Luna Lovegood to naturalist "Rolf Scamander," especially when they remember Newt Scamander and his wife Porpentina never had children or grandchildren.
Summary: Trust Luna to marry someone who doesn't exist.



1. Aunt Fickle's Will

Fickle Mansion, Friday June 1st 2012

Severus used to think of the house as a head—with the point of its long nose sticking into Knockturn Alley—where the narrow door would only become visible to those who partook of the Fidelius; that is, Luna and himself, except that he never went out by that opening. Those transactions were carried out by Luna.

The magical gardens that stretched out in the back, under Undetectable Extension and Unplottable Charms, were the delectable body, in which boring, reassuring routine entwined with renewed surprise; and the little gate at the bottom that provided access to Muggle London... Let's say sometimes, at night, Severus slipped through it to delight in total anonymity.

Fickle Mansion had been one of the first houses built in a time when Diagon Alley did not yet exist, and Knockturn Alley was the most fashionable avenue in Wizarding England. The Founders were still in their nappies, the Fickles and their relatives were powerful, and nobody had bothered yet with separating the Dark from the light, nor folly from reason; the house and its gardens were endowed with all the commodities that magic could provide.

As he watched through the bow window of the kitchen, revelling in the scent of his mug of fresh coffee and trying to ignore the whiff of Gurdyroot infusion coming from the self-cooking kettle on the stove, Severus was about to observe one of those commodities at work.

The Flutterby bush, a few yards away from the window, seemed even more agitated than usual. Its branches were writhing frantically, at first in a seemingly disorderly pattern, then in a distinctly spiral one until a vortex formed in the middle of the quivering leaves. It whirled faster and faster, pulsing, until it spasmed before enlarging sufficiently to spout on the lawn a girl in a loose t-shirt, pleated skirt and blue Doc Martens.

Her wand was tucked behind her ear.

She waved at him with her left hand, the other being clutched around a pulsing ball of white fur, and headed off towards the pens at the back of the garden.

He almost smiled. A baby Lethifold was a true prize.

~*~*~*~

The Schwarzschild wormhole had already closed, but the Flutterby still looked flustered when he passed it on his way to the Harpyria's cage under the beech trees.

The invisible walls of the wards opened silently. He waded through the thick raspberry bushes, cautiously approaching the ladder propped against the trunk of the bird's favourite perch.

The creature shifted awkwardly on the branch, long claws raking against the bark.

Severus stopped on the fourth rung of the ladder, pail in hand, waiting for the bloody beast to settle down.

To the ungainly body of a turkey, the Harpyria Ideobati joined a heavy, sulky human face. It reminded Severus of the suspicious landlady of that seedy pub in Spinner's End. Unlike the landlady, the Harpyria fed exclusively on raspberries, and the byproducts were precious. Her bowels both concentrated and fermented the stuff, providing a unique flavour to the raw material from which Severus would distill Aunt Fickle's favourite liquor: the only rent she demanded in exchange for the use of the grounds.

The ritual was always the same. Irritated by his presence, the creature would fret and shuffle back and forth on the branch, trying to keep one eye on the lush bushes, heavy with fragrant fruit, and the other on the intruder. Then, she would turn her rear end towards him, shoot a malevolent look over her wing and simultaneously let loose the most unearthly string of strident curses and a load of the sticky stuff.

Severus had by now got the hang of holding the pail exactly where the precious crap would fall. In fact, he had noticed that it always came after a particular item in the string of curses.

The Harpyria took a breath and began her shrill, drill-droning litany: "By Poseidon's pimpled arse, fuck off, rotten Flobberworm spawn..."

Severus surreptitiously climbed another rung and positioned the pail. The strident screech was climbing to coloratura heights:

"You couldn't hit a turd in a Delphi sewer, slippery Nargle shit on a stick; go eat Troll brains..."

At that moment, the garden shuddered. A deep, sick, groaning rumble as if the earth had been stuck through the bowels. Severus felt the rung slide under his feet, let the pail fall, grabbed the upright of the ladder with one hand and with the other clutched instinctively on the Harpyria's tail.

He felt the feathers slice through his hand, then a thick, lukewarm, sticky, overpowering goo fell on his head and slid down over his eyes and up his nostrils. The ladder swung and sent him reeling, and then he knew no more.

~*~*~*~

The first thing he grew aware of was something or someone pulling him by the hair, presumably through the gates of hell; the second was a splash of cold liquid on his face, trickling into his nostrils and creeping into his ears.

He was on his back, in the grass. A second splash fell on his eyelids; fingers moved over his face, washing away the dreadful, raspberry-scented goo. He opened an eye tentatively. A sliver of blue sky tilted, then a straggle of flaxen hair unrolled over the swaying horizon.

"Don't move," said Luna. "It needs to be cleaned away before it sets."

She was kneeling behind him, a basin wedged between her thighs; his head was craned back over the hard, rounded rim.

She finished washing his face and tugged on his hair again, tilting his head further back so that it was immersed to the hairline. The cold was now seeping to his scalp. Luna ran her fingers through his locks, parting them, and the black hair unfurled in the basin like dark, sluggish seaweed. With each pass of her fingers, the cloying stench was diminishing. I will never again approach raspberry jam, he vowed silently. I should have known something Dumbledore loved would be the death of me.

She was now rubbing his scalp, slowly, methodically, with meticulous care, from the nape of the neck to the temples, circling the forehead and coming back to the crown and down again to the secret place where the spine joins the skull. The hateful scent was no more than a lingering presence in the distance, growing ever weaker until at last he could smell the grass again, the wet fabric of Luna's skirt and the warm fragrance of her thighs.

She lifted his head with one hand and began to wring his hair carefully. A very peculiar whiff of bitter, crushed vegetation joined the other scents.

He sat up abruptly and glared at her.

"You have washed my hair in a Pensieve?"

"We've always done that in the family," she answered with a cheerful smile. "It loosens up the ideas, and it will make a great watering for Trobby and the vegetal doe."

"Using my whole reserve of Weeping Willow tears?" he asked in an outraged tone. "It's the only known solvent for Harpyria shit. How am I now supposed to distill the damn liquor for your blasted aunt?"

"That tremor," she said, wiping his hair with a fold of her skirt, "was probably Aunt Fickle dying. The house and the garden feel the passing of their owners and help them through the gates."

~*~*~*~

Luna carefully spilled half of the Pensieve's contents at the root of the cutting she had taken from Dobby's tomb at Shell Cottage. It was a less-known trait of elves' physiology that they could reproduce vegetatively as well as through eggs. Dobby's tomb, however, had taken a very long time in producing any shoots.

The sapling was still formless, enfolded in its green sheath, but it vibrated gratefully. Luna poured the other half of the dark liquid at the feet of the vegetal doe.

She was splashing off the last of it when a lugubrious shriek rang out. The first drops of rain began to fall when they were halfway to the house, and they had just reached the door when the Augurey swept in and dropped the black-rimmed scroll on the threshold before vanishing away in the downpour.

Luna unrolled the parchment on the way to the kitchen.

"Aunt Fickle passed away while the Crab was high in the sky—not a very good configuration, I have to say. She left the house to us... on condition that we marry before the next new moon at our place in the Forbidden Forest. Otherwise, it will go to the Riddick cousins, Brobdinag and Grondireck."

"Our place?" asked Severus.

"The Nemus where all the Fickles, the Lovegoods, the Scamanders—even the Riddicks a long time ago—got married. It's by the pond, so the river gods can drop by easily."

Severus went very still. He had known it was too good to last.

"Is it possible to negotiate with the Riddicks?"

"They're a bit odd." Luna sounded hesitant.

Severus quirked an eyebrow.

"Or maybe not, considering they've got three-quarters of Ogre blood, but when they had eaten everything alive on the island, including all the sharks in the surrounding waters, gnawed the coconuts and started on the rocks..."

"And they would have the use of the Schwarzschild wormholes if they inherit this place?"

"Well, yes," said Luna.

Snape shivered. The whole world would be eaten.

"Of course we can't marry. You're dead," said Luna. "Except..."

"Except nothing," said Severus. "I'm dead, full-stop."

It would have been easy to corrupt the Supreme Pogwump, who presided at wizarding nuptials. Everyone knew the current Pogwump was Mundungus Fletcher, who donned a tufty wig for the occasion and took his one and only bath of the year. However, the Conjugo charm was cancelled in the presence of Polyjuice or in the absence of witnesses.

And there was no way in hell he'd play at being Severus Snape, resurrected war hero and romantic basket case.

He would have to move to bloody Durmstrang again and give private tuition in toenail-growing hexes to idiot parvenus.

Luna looked thoughtful. "I'm going to see my godmother, Porpentina."

Severus snorted. If anyone could be more hopeless than the Lovegoods, it was the Scamanders.

"Do you want some pudding?" asked Luna. "I've made gingerbread snaps and newt jelly."

~*~*~*~

By five o'clock, Luna still hadn't come back.

Severus made a tour of all the pens and cages, checked the wards and Summoned food when necessary. The Harpyria gave him a dirty look and uttered a string of unholy expletives when he passed by.

"Wait until the Riddicks take over," he muttered bitterly.

The elf sapling hadn't progressed much, but the vegetal doe had benefited enormously from the Pensieve watering. It was now almost perfectly formed with a foreleg slightly bent as if ready to bolt, and the ears were twitching.

He glanced at the tank containing the baby Lethifold—it had unrolled, and except for the lazy undulations, looked every bit like a small, white, straggly hearthrug. It would turn black in about three months, but the chances were good that he wouldn't see that. Then he stopped by the cage of the Runespoors.

The male was nowhere in sight—probably dozing under the pile of rocks that served as shelter, but the female was coiled against the magical mesh. Two of her heads continued to feign indifference, but the critical one, Sally, reared and rubbed against the divide, greeting him in a flurry of hisses. He hadn't bothered to name the planner, who was keeping a watchful eye on him, nor the dreamer, still lolling on the floor with an absent gaze.

As often happens, the planner and the dreamer had ganged up on the critic and had almost shredded her throat. Severus, using both wandwork and dittany, had managed to save her, but she now needed a permanent reinforcing bandage to keep the head from drooping. Severus had imbibed the wrappings with a bitter potion, meant to dissuade the two other heads from biting again. It had worked.

He put a finger through the mesh and tickled under her chin. Sally flicked her tongue against his finger, once, then drew back with utmost dignity. The audience was over.

The wizard stood up and took the path back to the house. He had some research to do.

~*~*~*~

By eleven o'clock, Luna had still not turned up.

Severus took two steps back and inspected his travelling coat critically. It was hanging in the middle of the room, supported by the Vestemlevis spell that made it turn very slowly, spreading its folds for easy inspection of the lining.

"Stop," he said.

The cloak stopped obediently in mid-air. Severus checked the hidden pocket in the twenty-fourth division of the right hem, gauging the magical extension spells. With the addition of an Air Charm, it would do nicely for Sally and, alas, the other two heads. The dreamer wasn't much of a bother, but the planner irritated the hell out of him.

He slid his hand over the other side of the cloak. Spare wand, liquorice allsorts, spare silver dagger, reading glasses... There was a very small pocket above the last division of the left hem. His fingers closed on the thick, black glass of the tiny bottle.

It was a powerful potion—one drop was enough to corrode and send into nothingness seventy square miles of land. The Riddicks' island—he had checked—was about fifty square miles. But it was a hundred miles from the nearest coast and flying over the devastated island, even under Disillusionment, was risky. Ogre sense of smell was extremely keen, and combined with wizarding powers, it could lead to unpredictable outcomes.

The house was very quiet.

He folded and put away the cloak, put on his old nightshirt and slipped between the tangerine sheets. He stayed awake for a long time, trying to ignore the faint peppermint and jasmine fragrance of Luna's pillow, before falling into a troubled sleep, rife with ogre teeth, exploding islands, and toenail-growing hexes.

~*~*~*~

He woke to the hopeful scent of warm coffee and the contented hum of the house.

Luna was seated at the kitchen table, nibbling the iced head off a gingerbread man between sips of her Gurdyroot infusion.

"Want some coffee?" She pushed the steaming mug towards him.

He was going for it when the Fwooper swept in, dropped The Quibbler into his outstretched hand and swooshed out in a garish, frenzied flurry of multicoloured feathers.

"I can't get used to these damn birds," he growled.

"I'm glad you thought up the serial Silencing Charm for them. Daddy is very grateful. They're faster than owls and get a lot of attention."

There was no answer. She finished nibbling the head and looked up.

"Severus?"

Snape had unfolded The Quibbler and was staring at the front page. He was as white as chalk. Finally, shaking his head, he turned the paper towards Luna.
The front page read: 'Associate Editor Luna Lovegood to marry naturalist Rolf Scamander, son of the famous magizoologist Newt Scamander and his wife Porpentina.'

Her eyes were guileless.

"Aren't you happy?"

"Lovegood." It was a raspy hiss. "The Scamanders have no children."

She tilted her head and, for some unfathomable reason, he noticed the white icing from the ginger biscuit had melted and stuck to her fingers.

"Precisely."

His lips half-opened, closed again, twitched, fighting against some inner pressure, and widened in an irresistible grin.

Luna smiled and delicately licked her forefinger.

2. The Proof of the Pudding

21 Dulwich Road, Lambeth. Saturday, June 2nd 2012

The sun-flooded windows of the Granger-Weasleys' living room at 21 Dulwich Road opened onto Brockwell Park. At Ron's insistence, Hermione had managed to put a bit of the park under Muggle Repelling charms and convert it into a private Quidditch pitch.

Harry stretched and yawned.

Ginny had taken the children—all of them, Rose and Hugo included—to a Quidditch camp in France. Harry and Ron were on duty, and Ginny knew better than to ask Hermione. The Trio had reunited again, in blissful peace, over a late breakfast.

"How is the portrait going?" asked Ron. He was toying with his unsweetened porridge.

Harry shot a guarded look at Hermione, but she was deeply engrossed in the International Journal of Arithmancy. He scraped the top of his treacle tart and smoothly dumped it in Ron's bowl before answering.

"The background is great.You wouldn't believe how this new painter has got the Potions office just right: you can almost touch the slimy things in the jars on the shelves. It made me squirm, I swear—incredible detail. The problem is the man himself; however much Ricci paints, the paint is just absorbed into the canvas or something. It leaves like a black hole. A Snape-shaped hole, all right: perfectly recognisable. Still, it's not a portrait. Ricci is getting frustrated—I'm afraid he'll quit like the three others."

Hermione shut the Journal abruptly and flung it on the table. Ron leaned over.

"That Wittgenstalt again?"

"Of all the narrow-minded, stubborn provincial smugness... How dare he claim the fundamentals of my reasoning are not sound! That old fraud! His equations are all wrong!"

She was reaching for Analytical and Numerical Approaches to Problems in Topomantic Analysis when the Fwooper swept in and dropped The Quibbler into Ron's porridge.

"Watch out!" cried Ron, trying to wipe the splashes from his tracksuit. "I wish they wouldn't use those crazy birds."

"It's excellent publicity," muttered Hermione, pointing her wand to Scourgify Ron's clothes. "Everyone recognises them at once, and at least they've put that Silencing Charm on them."

"What's this?" said Harry, rescuing the paper and goggling at the front page.

Hermione snatched it from his hands and read:

'Associate Editor Luna Lovegood to marry naturalist Rolf Scamander, son of the famous magizoologist Newt Scamander and his wife Porpentina.'

"Well, that's nice for Luna", said Ron.

"But I thought the Scamanders had no children?" asked Hermione. "Porpentina is the best Arithmancer since Pythagoras, but she never publishes. They say she keeps her best discoveries for improving the layout of their house."

"No children." Harry nodded. "I remember the file very well. He has the funniest forenames: Newton 'Newt' Artemis Fido. He's been in the Brazilian rainforest for quite a while now, researching Fire Slugs," he added wistfully.

Hermione bit her lip. "Hang around. I'm just going to check something."

One hour later, she was hailing them down from the Quidditch pitch behind the house.

"Come, quick. I've got a Portkey to the Scamanders'."

~*~*~*~

The Portkey had dropped them off directly in the Scamanders' living room.

It looked, Harry reflected, very cosy. The French windows opened onto the lawn, and there were lots of chintz and china. Three Kneazles played on the floor with something that bounced, giggled and looked like a silky black Puffskein.

And this, he thought, swirling the amber liquid in his glass, has to be the best Firewhisky I've tasted in ages.

A glance towards Ron, eyes half-closed over his own tumbler, showed that his opinion was shared.

Hermione and Mrs. Scamander were bending over a thick sheaf of papers spread over the low table.

Porpentina Scamander was tall, dark-skinned and wrapped in saffron robes. Her black hair was tied high on the head, but the forest of multicoloured quills pinned through the two-tiered bun trailed low on the nape of her neck, quivering at every movement. As Harry looked, she took out one of them and drew an intersecting circle through Hermione's diagram.

"... so, in a topomantic approach of non-inclusive logics, he doesn't doesn't exist?" asked Hermione.

"You could use that expression for a wider public and draw a parallel with the distinction between the unobservable-in-principle, or unobservable absolutely, as distinct from the relatively unobservable; it would perhaps be preferable to say "unexists," though, of course, only the symbolic expression is adequate." The older woman drew a series of scribbles under the diagram. "From a cosmological angle, it's not so much a displacement in Riemannian space as a materialization of the piercing through folded multi-dimensional space and time; but it's better to envision it as a congruence under certain assumptions taken in context, with a uniqueness quantification. As you know, with the advent of Kripke's models, the law of the excluded middle is disallowed since one can construct, via Gödel's incompleteness theorems, a mathematical statement that can be neither proven nor disproved. As realized in specific disciplines like Fuzzy Sets and Systems, this approach through Topomantic Logic is actually more rigorous than conventionally founded Arithmancy. I have to say that most Arithmancers, being ignorant of Muggle research, have trouble understanding these notions."

"A circle whose centre is everywhere..." said Hermione pensively. "So, it's a topomantic solution to the intersection of N sets of E with N+1 sets of non-E, or your son could be considered as the scalar product of two vectors, or the vectorial product of two scalars, and existence would be defined by the position of the observer. And it means Wittgenstalt's equations are defective."

"Definitely, my dear."

"For any values of n in n+1 spaces."

"I fear so, my dear."

"That's wonderful. Thank you so much, Mrs. Scamander..."

"Call me Porpentina, dear. You're the most gifted young Arithmancer I've seen since Perenelle Flamel."

"Thank you, Porpentina. If you'll excuse us, I'll set to work on that article."

"Hoppy, Mauler and Miller will see you to the gates, if you wish," said Porpentina amiably. "I thought you might enjoy the park. Gentlemen, it was a pleasure. Follow my friends and stay on the path."

The Kneazles, tabby one in the front, immediately surrounded the Trio and led them through the French windows and onto the strip of white gravel.

~*~*~*~

"Look, Harry, a Chimaera!"

"Isn't that a Manticore?" asked Harry. "Looks just like it does in 'Fantastic Beasts.'"

The Kneazles were flanking them with Hoppy leading the way proudly, tail held up like a flag.

The flock of Diricawls on the left of the road parted, revealing the silver gleam of a river. Ron leaned over.

"Stay on the path, Ron!" hissed Hermione.

A large shadow dived over them. Ron ducked.

"I saw that in a Muggle book," whispered Harry.

"I hope you did. That's a pteranodon."

"There was something in that river," said Ron. "I thought it waved at me."

"Could be old Scamander. We were told in History of Magic, don't you remember?"

Ron muttered darkly.

"I'll be glad to get home, too." Harry grinned. "But... how?"

"A simple and elegant application of Porpentina's work to the Transfiguration-related problem of folding multi-dimensional space and time. I'm so glad we came!"

The thick hedge was already parting. The Kneazles sat on the gravel and gave a small nod.

Hermione took the boys' hands in her own and pivoted. It was with a queasy relief that Harry felt the swirl of Disapparition engulf them.

3. A Slice of the Man

Fickle Mansion, nineteen days later…

The vegetal doe had grown beautifully. Perfectly formed, she looked, in the slanted light of the dusk, ready to detach. Only the thinnest of threads still rooted the points of her hooves to the rich soil.

Luna crouched to the left, holding the wooden bowl, and stroked her side. The smooth, luscious green flank quivered.

Severus felt along the sternoclavicular joint and poised the tip of the dagger on the subclavian vein. A short thrust, and the milkblood began to flow, a lactescent, thick sap that turned to dark red as it fell into the bowl.

The doe tensed and strained against her roots. Luna soothed her again.

When the bowl was full, Severus applied a marigold leaf on the wound and pressed carefully, whispering a few words. At once, the leaf blended in the vegetal skin, as if there never had been a wound.

The doe pulled one last time, hard. The roots gave way; she leapt to her freedom and disappeared into the bushes.

"Here, or in the house?" asked Severus.

"In the house," answered Luna. "I want to watch the news."

~*~*~*~

Luna leaned over and tapped the small TV on the floor with her wand, then lay back on the pillows with a satisfied sigh.

The black and white image whirled, then, as the sound came in, stabilised. The chubby presenter winked at her. She winked back and reached out with her naked foot, pushing the set around so that she was just out of his vision field. He strained against the frame.

"I need both your feet," grumbled Severus.

He was kneeling on the rug, well out of the presenter's line of sight, the bowl of milkblood in reach of his right hand.

Except for the livid flicker of the TV, a single, floating candle lighted the room.

Luna obediently brought back her foot.

Severus was now holding both her feet in his left hand. In the pale light, they looked like twin almonds, fresh in their shell. He waved the candle nearer, dipped his right forefinger into the milkblood and began to paint. From the point of the toes, up the instep, the unbroken string of symbols expanded slowly towards the ankle.

"And now," the presenter was saying, "the most anticipated programme of this evening. I'm honoured to host The Magic Hour talk show, and this evening's subject is the Lovegood-Scamander wedding that is supposed to happen tomorrow evening before the new moon shows its crescent. I'm very pleased to welcome Mrs. Granger-Weasley, the renowned Arithmancer, whose last article in the International Journal of Arithmancy is said to be Bridget Wenlock Prize material, as well as Professor Wittgenstalt from the Wizarding University of Lübeck..."

There was a brief shuffle. The sound derailed and screeched with interference, then picked up again: "... I'm sorry, but it seems Professor Wittgenstalt has had to attend to a personal emergency. Miss Lavender Brown, from the "True Hearts" Agency, has volunteered to replace him. We are also greeting Mrs. Molly Weasley, Family Undersecretary, Ms. Rita Skeeter and Mr. Rubeus Hagrid. And now, Mrs. Granger-Weasley, could you please explain in simple words how this marriage is possible?"

Luna giggled. "It tickles."

"Just be still."

The interlaced runes had wound around the right leg and were plunging in the crease of the thigh before climbing again towards the navel.

"Mr. Scuttlebutt, I regret that my distinguished colleague saw fit to leave in such a hurry, but in simple words, I can tell you that I have proved, by a rather straightforward application of the premises of Muggle paraconsistent logics to Arithmantic hitherto unchallenged axioms, that for a given set of conditions, the appearance of an existential singularity was possible under the principle of explosion, or ex contradictione sequitur quodlibet."

Severus stopped to kiss the navel before filling it with milkblood and resuming the complex interweaving down the left leg towards the foot.

"Just a moment, please... Mr. Hagrid?"

"Never taught young Rolf, I'm pretty sure of that."

"Thank you. Miss Brown?"

"Truth is in the eye of the lover."

"As it should be. Thank you. Ms. Skeeter?"

The dark lace had already dried up on the left toes. Severus put down her foot and took the right hand.

"My own investigations revealed that a Muggle information organ, known as the HP Lexicon, lists Rolf Scamander as being either the son or the grandson of Newt and Porpentina. How does Mrs. Granger-Weasley explain that?"

The filigree of charms glided smoothly to the tip of the left fingers.

"In even simpler words, Ms. Skeeter, it would prove my point that Rolf Scamander exists as a set of possibilities including non-existence. How an observer would perceive him would depend on the complex coordinates defining said observer's position in a multi-dimensional space and time existential contiguity."

"But," Molly interrupted acidly, "wouldn't that be like marrying more than one man?"

Severus rested his head on Luna's knees. He was shaking with silent laughter.

Chuckling, she lifted his head between her painted hands. From behind the curtains of black hair, a sliver of white face grinned at her before the kiss obscured it.

4. An Ancient place in the Woods

"... now this Korzybsky is the top art critic, so he came and said Ricci had invented negative art and was a genius. Ricci was very happy."

"And asked for twice the money," added Ginny tartly.

The Potters and the Granger-Weasleys were teetering on the mossy path towards the edge of the Forbidden Forest where the Thestral-driven carriages were waiting.

"Great wedding," slurred Ron. "Best Firewhisky in the world."

"Special Newt's reserve," Harry announced with great pride. "Distills the stuff himself, straight from the strongest Fire Slugs."

"The pictures on her hands and feet were lovely. Mum, can I have them when I marry?" asked Rose.

"Of course, dear. Many Muggles do that too, you know." Hermione's enunciation was painstakingly precise.

"The tiara was beautiful. Shame I couldn't see the groom—wonder what he looked like. Oops." Ron had stopped to pick up Hugo's teddy bear.

"He had a big nose," piped Albus Severus.

"You prat," spat James. "One can't see him. Didn't Aunt Hermione explain?"

"That's not what she said, but you wouldn't understand."

"Stop that, you two." Ginny's voice was firm. The two boys sulked but kept silent.

"... I don't know," mused Harry. "I couldn't see either, not really—but... it was impressive. Like a rift in the night... When they passed under the bower, it looked like the branches were making a crown for him, too..." Harry hesitated. "Like he was my Patronus... only not white, you know?"

"You've had too much Firewhisky, mate." Ron guffawed and slapped him on the back. "Anyway, trust old Luna to marry someone who doesn't exist."
Tags: *fic, 2009 giftfic, author: duniazade, recipient: bethbethbeth
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