Celebrating The Spring Equinox
NOTE: Amy doesn't get changed back. Willow finds Rack by herself and goes to England to recover. AU from there on
NOTE: This is definitely an AU. I might have muddled up events in the canon timeline so please forgive any inconsistencies. This is after the Glory mess but before the First. There is no First. The Geeks were run of the mill demon worshippers (for power, etc).
NOTE: AtS until Connor. AU from there on. Cordelia accepts demonhood. No Jasmine. AI doesn't own Wolfram and Hart.
NOTE: Post GoF. OotP didn't happen per say. Sirus is alive.
AN: Buffy & Xander having difficulty forgiving Willow's actions - nearly destroying the World and hurting Dawn. Dawn is more flexible especially since she has a new love interest.
AN: Harry grows up.
AN: Some R rated imagery, nothing NC17.
~*~ Celebrating The Spring Equinox ~*~
Harry glanced down over the greenhouses of Hogwarts. Ever since the year started he had found it difficult to adjust to the changes. No one was talking but the teachers were more relaxed and joking and that told Harry that Voldemort had been somehow neutralized. Every time he tried to talk to the Headmaster he had been distracted by something or another. Deep inside Harry knew better, he knew he did not want to ask the questions, to hear the answers he didn't want to hear.
Everyone was having a wonderful time including the git Malfoy, everyone but him, Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, the boy who was supposed to be the saviour of the wizarding world. It was what he wanted, wasn't it? To be normal, not to have the pressure of so much expectations? Harry sighed and tried to put such thoughts out of his mind. Tonight was the Spring Equinox, the night of celebrations, of new beginnings, the time to sow new seeds for a rich fall harvest...
Then what are you doing out so late? Harry asked himself but he had no answer. He didn't even ask Ron or Hermione to join him on this midnight jaunt. Harry had patched up his friendship with Hermione but he was too afraid to test it with the way he was feeling. Besides he wasn't in the mood for company. Surprisingly he hadn't encountered anyone: students, staff, Flitch or Mrs. Norris. Everyone was exhausted from the Spring Equinox celebrations. There had been a big feast and lots of inter-house games that lasted until nearly midnight. Everyone was tired but Harry Potter. Feeling exasperated he removed the cloak and slung it over one arm as he leaned over the carved stone of the terrace railing.
"Finding it difficult to sleep?" Harry started and spun around drawing his wand. The Headmaster had joined him on the terrace in his usual purple robes. "I can't sleep myself. I always feel energized on celebratory nights. And there is even more reason to celebrate now that Voldemort is gone."
Harry was shocked and intrigued. "He is gone? For good? But how? When? I thought I had to defeat him."
"So did I Harry. But the future is not set in stone and even prophecies can be circumvented. I learned that talking to our new MS teachers. And their friends."
Harry frowned. Why was it everyone but him had been invited to spend the holidays in America? "But what about Voldemort? Are you sure he is gone? He won't be back?"
"Tom is gone." Dumbledore reassured the teen. "His body was destroyed, spirit shredded and bound to stone that was purified by a Coven."
"Did you do it sir? Defeat Voldemort?"
Dumbledore laughed. "As much as most would like to believe I did not. The credit for that belongs to others."
"The new MS teachers, Professor Lupin, Bill Weasley, Professor Snape, and your year mates, Hermione Granger and Connor O'Roarke."
Harry was startled at the information.
"Hermione didn't say anything about defeating Voldemort. Ron hasn't either. But she has changed and is good friends with Connor." Harry admitted.
Dumbledore smiled slightly. "They made a pact to remain silent about events that led to the Dark Lord's defeat." He explained gently seeing Harry's need to understand. "It involved a great deal of trust on their part and they are not prepared to share the experience with others. Not yet any ways. Perhaps in a few years."
"Does the Ministry know? That Voldemort is gone?"
"The Aurors do. They captured several Death Eaters who witnessed Voldemort's death and tried to turn evidence for lighter sentences. Lucius Malfoy was determined to take the Dark Lord's place in the Death Eater ranks. He tried to sacrifice his blood for power but was stopped by his wife." Dumbledore expanded on the rumors Harry had heard about on the Hogwarts Express.
Harry thought for a moment. "Did they defeat Voldemort late June?"
"My scar hurt really bad then. After that I didn't experience a twinge." Harry murmured.
"But why didn't anyone say anything?"
Dumbledore shrugged. "The Ministry wasn't ready to believe. Besides even though the main pressure was gone there were still Death Eaters running about. The last of them were caught a few weeks ago."
Harry glanced at the Headmaster sharply.
"You didn't tell me."
"You didn't need to know." Dumbledore replied equanably.
For the first time in a long while Harry bit his tongue. Lashing out at the Headmaster wouldn't change anything. Besides Voldemort was gone, that was the important thing.
"So it's over."
"Yes. For now anyway." Dumbledore glanced over the top of the shaped shrubbery. "It seems as if they have finished their celebrations."
"What?" Harry looked in the same direction.
Eight forms emerged from the trees edging the Forbidden Forest. They were accompanied by three centaurs and several magickal creatures Harry had only read about in COMC.
~ * ~
From the shadows a griffin with orangey-red coloring emerged butting its beaked head against Hermione Granger who was wearing a burgundy silk robe that slipped to expose one shoulder and a generous curve of her breast. Connor O'Roarke, in a pair of gym shorts T-shirt and bare feet, moved closer and unselfconsciously adjusted the material. He leaned down and kissed the Gryffindor student with heated ardor slipping one hand behind her neck under her hair flowing loose in a wild mane, the other going to the curve of one hip.
~ * ~
The red robes clung and flowed in a fashion that told Harry Hermione was naked underneath and from the way she was responding to Connor, clinging to his shoulders, added to the impression they had been doing something more serious than snogging in the shrubbery.
"Have you seen a griffin before? No?" Dumbledore asked his voice easy unconcerned with the blatant rule breaking taking place below them. "Godric Gryffindor considered using them as his emblem before settling on lions. Griffins exemplify bravery, courage, truth and valor. No lies can be spoken near a griffin. In the old days before Veritaseum and truth spells magistrate mages used to travel with a griffin companion to ensure witnesses gave truthful testimonies."
~ * ~
"I love you so Nox." Hermione's normally crisp tones were husky with emotion and carried clear through the night air.
"And I you Diem." Connor's voice was slightly unsteady. "I never thought I'd say it to anyone. Not like this. It is easy to tell Cordy and the others 'I love you' but not like this. Not like this."
"And do you regret this?" The Potion Master's silky voice held understanding and warmth as it drifted from the trees. "Do you worry that it is wrong? That things will fall apart?"
"Yes." Connor answered bluntly. "Do you?"
Severus threw back his head laughed. "When you reach my age and lived through what I have you don't give a damn about the future. Carpe Diem. Seize the Day as it were."
"I will." Connor vowed looking straight at Hermione's face. She responded with a smile.
"Do you regret our bonding Severus?" Cordelia's typically strident voice was uncertain.
The potions professor and the dark haired MS teacher emerged into the light of the full moon. Her small hands rearranged the silky material of her aqua silk robe at her neck before tightening her white silk cord girdle. He wore a hunter green bed robe that parted to expose a bare expanse of hairless muscled pectorals and long legs corded with tendons and sinew dusted with dark hair.
Severus stopped and reached out to grab her by her shoulders before bending his head to cover her mouth with his. Long black hair slipped free to hide the long passionate kiss. Their companions halted without sniggers and watched and waited. Finally he lifted his face.
~ * ~
Harry shifted on the balcony feeling he shouldn't be watching. He was intruding on their privacy. Even he, an insensitive teenage male, could sense the passion and desire flickering in the air.
~ * ~
"Never." Severus spoke softly as onyx black eyes bore into hazel eyes flecked with gold dilated with passion as he noted her hitched breathing with satisfaction. "Never." He repeated firmly.
Cordelia Chase sagged into his waiting embrace as she wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her face into the velvet material of his robes.
"I'm sorry." She wailed softly. "It is so hard to remember that this is real."
A slim serpentine form emerged from the shrubs hissing softly, forked tongue darting out. A massive two meter long form covered with iridescent green-blue-silver scales coiled around the couple raising its head hissing in almost comforting reassurance.
"" A broad flat arrow-shaped head butted against Cordelia's hip almost like a puppy seeking reassurance. ""
~ * ~
"Miss Chase is pregnant?!" Harry couldn't stop the words from tumbling out.
Dumbledore smiled with satisfaction though his voice only held mild interest. "Is she? I have to go shopping for a nice baby shower gift. Well it is not a surprise... Severus has been alone for a long time despite all my efforts; it makes sense they decided to start their new family as quickly as possible." He studied the couple that rocked slightly on bare feet. The Potion Master shifted resting his cheek on top of his fiancee's head.
Harry was confused. "The snake. It called her Dark Mother of Mortals." He wanted answers.
Dumbledore settled for confusing the teen. "Really? Interesting. It fits, Severus has always been the stern unbending paternal type. Miss Chase is very maternal despite her abrasive exterior. Has Hagrid covered Water Dragons in COMC? They are very secretive creatures. Not really dragons. Salazar Slytherin classified them more accurately with their Latin names - Aqua Azure Serpentoza. Blue Water Snakes. People mistake them for dragons because of their whiskers and large bat shaped ears. They aren't real ears of course, snakes don't have ears."
~ * ~
"We should go in." Willow spoke smiling with gentle warmth. The moonlight hitting her saffron robes and auburn hair made her look as though she were clothed in liquid gold and shadows.
"There is no rush." Her companion had long unbound bright red hair and wore only a pair of dragon hide trousers and an unbuttoned black shirt that exposed pale skin covered with wiry red hair. "It is not like we need to sleep tonight." He grinned as he looked at his lover with bright blue eyes. "I have to say I do like the extra energy."
"Bill!" Willow Rosenberg blushed brightly but her green eyes held laughter.
"Willow!" He teased her back. "You can't say I'm lying. Not with a griffin near by." He pointed to the cat-hawk creature covered with rust-fawn fur and yellow feathers.
"True." Willow giggled. "I do like this. I like feeling the Lady within." She spun about her arms spread wide like a child. "With Tommy-boy gone the cycle is returning to its normal rhythm. The energy from his death has renewed an exhausted land. It has been enriching the fields all winter. This year's harvest should be very good."
"If the Green Lady is pleased the Forest Lord is thrilled." Bill responded caressing a pale cheek. "Death and Life are serving the Goddess and Her Consort as they should."
Two mature unicorns stood near with three foals that gamboled around the two redheads kissing with heated passion. Not an innocent present.
~ * ~
"What is Bill Weasley doing here?" Harry was confused. "I thought he is in Egypt."
"He has spent the past months in London for me." Dumbledore admitted. "He has been helping Ministry Aurors break curses on Death Eater artifacts."
"But why are the unicorns here?" Harry asked the Headmaster. "I thought unicorns wouldn't go anywhere near someone who is not an innocent."
"Innocence does not always equal virginity Harry." Dumbledore corrected ignoring the blushing boy. "Life requires renewal just as the land does. Unicorns understand that. They care about the state of the person's soul."
"But Professor Rosenberg said she practices the Dark Arts." Harry protested.
"But have you asked her why?" Dumbledore responded in equitable tones.
Harry didn't have an answer for that.
~ * ~
"Break it up you two." Amy Madison spoke with laughter in her voice as she tilted her head back savoring the experience of the crisp night air and full moon.
"Why should they?" Cordelia Chase retorted tossing her hair back. "We are celebrating."
"I must agree." Severus Snape murmured dropping a kiss at his fiancee's temple.
Remus Lupin shrugged turning his face up to the full moon. The bright silvery light shone on his lean sinewy form only clad in a pair of loose jeans. The triangular mat of brown hair on his chest was liberally sprinkled with silver like the hair on his head.
~ * ~
Harry's green eyes widened in shock and awe.
"Remus! He's human! How?"
"Side benefits." Dumbledore spoke knowingly.
"Of what?" Harry wanted to know. "He hasn't told anyone. Sirus didn't say anything!"
"Sirus hasn't been willing to accept the changes that has happened." Dumbledore spoke sadly. "Things change and until Sirus accepts that fact Remus will not tell him about his new condition."
"Does it have something to do with Professor Snape? And them defeating Voldemort?" Harry asked shrewdly.
Dumbledore smiled but refused to say anything.
~ * ~
Remus smiled as he savored the experience of gazing upon the full moon. For so long his greatest fear had been the full moon. Now he wondered what it was. Perhaps he should find out with the boggart he kept in a trunk for his DADA classes.
"Are you still going to be stubborn about it?"
He glanced down and at his fiancee and lover. Her tousled blonde hair fell about her heart shaped face untidily as her bright blue eyes gazed up at him. Her pale blue robe slipped off her shoulders untidily as she folded her arms under her breasts.
"About what?" He asked Amy.
"About having a baby." She spoke impatiently.
Remus Lupin nearly jumped out of his skin.
Everyone watched as Amy nagged and berated the normally mild-mannered even-tempered DADA teacher into a flustered state until he finally gave in.
"All right!" Remus growled torn between delight and despair.
"Yes!" Amy Madison reached out and hugged her lover and fiancee fiercely. "I love you Remus and I wasted too many damn years trapped as a rat. I'm not going to waste any more!"
"Hunt Mistrrresss is rrright." A large leonine form emerged from the Forbidden Forest. A gryphon with the head, wings and fore claws of a raptor, the body and hind legs of a lion; a blend of white specked mahogany fur and blue and black marked feathers. It had nothing human about it but it managed human speech with its beaked mouth.
Amy snorted. "This Huntress is intent on one objective - having a family. And she will use any means to achieve that end."
With that she pulled the gray streaked head down to kiss Remus Lupin long and passionately.
The other three couples watched indulgently conversing softly among themselves.
"Are you going to get married?" Hermione asked Willow.
Willow smiled wryly. "Bill and I already are married Hermione."
Hermione scowled fiercely and placed her hands on her hips. "Not the Goddess ceremony Willow! I mean in a wizard or Muggle ceremony."
"Actually we are married." Bill corrected flushing slightly. "Mum was on our case about making an honest witch out of Willow so we got married in a Muggle style register ceremony in Las Vegas."
"What!" Hermione's voice rose into a shrill shriek. "Why didn't you tell me?!" She wailed
"You were busy catching up on your lessons." Severus murmured reaching out to tilt the sulking Gryffindor's chin up. "And you were truly enjoying your time at Hogwarts. There weren't any adrenaline rushs of terror and delight keeping one step ahead of Death Eaters and the Dark Lord. You and Connor were having a well-deserved relaxed year off."
"You can't argue with that Mya." Connor pointed out sensibly.
Hermione sighed. "Oh all right."
"Don't worry. Molly isn't letting them off easy." Cordelia grinned. "She is determined to have a full-scale Wizard marriage ceremony over the summer. In fact Red and Bill spend their weekends working out the details with Molly at The Burrow." A sly smile quirked her full mouth. "So you'll get your chance to be a bridesmaid."
"That's not it!"
"Oh really?" Cordelia wasn't fooled.
"Oh okay! I want to be a bridesmaid." Hermione admitted grumbling.
"But are you willing to wait for your own wedding?" Severus asked in even questioning tones.
Hermione reached out to squeeze Connor's hand.
"Connor and I talked about it. We want to wait until we finish our apprenticeships before marrying."
"Apprenticeship in what?" The Potion Master was curious.
"Modified Hitwizard training." Connor explained. "I talked to Professor Dumbledore and he introduced me to a few Unspeakables who were interested in having an apprentice. It would help me when I return to LA and work with Dad."
"Charms and Potions. Slanted towards Defense Against the Dark Arts." Hermione spoke in a quick rush. "Connor and I have been owling Angel and Wesley regularly. Wesley and Giles offered to guide the practical component of my apprenticeship in LA. And I've started a correspondence with Fred; she has the most interesting theories Severus! She has been doing her own research into the physics of magic using Muggle Quantum Mechanics. I've read some of her work and it fits what I've been able to find in the Library. And she's not a witch!"
"Fred's always been like that." Cordelia commented smiling. "A little distant and different. She sees and understands things that the rest of us don't. She will enjoy having someone other than Wesley who understands what she's talking about."
Severus frowned. "Do your research Hermione but do not talk about it to anyone outside the Circle. Angel and Gunn can be trusted to hold their tongues but don't be so free with your theories. You should know the Ministry will not tolerate anyone questioning their history and beliefs. And you know what the Muggle military could do with such research."
Hermione nodded solemnly. "I have charmed my research journals and I'm trying to be discreet. Professor Flitwick got flustered when I asked him a few questions so I haven't been talking to him about my more newer ideas. Professor Dumbledore gave me a pass to the Restricted Section so Madame Pince doesn't know the details of what I am researching."
Severus smiled briefly. "And your friends? Does Potter and Weasley know about your new interests?"
Hermione shook her head. "No. They don't understand. Every time I try to talk about what Connor is to me they change the subject. If they don't listen to that they don't deserve to know what happened on the Solstice."
~ * ~
A pang of hurt stabbed him in the heart, but Harry knew Hermione was right. He and Ron had been avoiding her attempts to talk to them about her love interest believing it was temporary and just a passing fancy. They hadn't realized Connor was It for Hermione. But everyone else, including Snape, seemed to know that Hermione was crazy in love with the new Hufflepuff student.
He looked at Dumbledore who was sympathetic but unbending.
"Things change Harry. The best thing you can do is change as well."
Harry turned back to look at one of his oldest friends standing close to the American Hufflepuff. She looked so happy, so certain of her choices. Choices that were leading her away from him, them.
Then and there Harry made a silent vow to try harder to re-connect with Hermione. True, they were changing, but it didn't mean their friendship couldn't change and grow with them.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
AN: I picked up the tid-bit about griffins detecting lies from Tamora Pierce's (a children's fantasy author) Immortals quartet.
AN: Made up Water Dragons - Aqua Azure Serpentoza. Blue Water Snakes
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