Christmas Presents

Severus signed the letter he had worked all evening composing. Laying his quill down, he waved the ink dry and then closed his eyes. A sigh sounded out of him as he let the parchment roll up and he sealed it with a tap of his wand. Now, no one but the person it was intended to could open or read his missive. It took less time to go through the protocol for sending post from the embassy to the British Ministry than it had taken to write it.

Severus walked slowly back to Harry's and his rooms, his mind filled with wondering how his missive would be received. His steps came to a halt outside one of the many parlour doors, his eyes going wide at the sight that greeted him. There, lining up along the walls and out the large patio doors, were children ranging from toddlers to first years. That was not what had stopped his feet though. No, it was the man dressed as Santa sitting in an ornate chair near a lit fireplace.

Severus melted against the wall, a tactic he had not used since his Hogwarts years - his student years – and slipped through the door and behind a tapestry. He moved as close to Santa as he could without giving away his presence. Focusing his senses, he watched as child after child sat on the man's lap. Part of his wanted to hurl the children to safety, and another part was positive he was mistaken. The man sitting there could not be Rudolphus Lestrange.

Grasping the coin that was always in his pocket, one modelled after the DA coins created by Hermione, Severus sent a silent message to the entire security detail and Harry. He needed Rudolphus to react to someone, and he wanted Harry there to guard his back as he exposed himself. The security detail would keep the children safe. Moving carefully, Severus stopped near the edge of the tapestry.

His coin warmed under his fingers with Harry's signal letting him know everyone he had called was there and ready. Closing his eyes briefly, Severus pulled up a persona he had not used in years. Flinging the tapestry aside, Severus Snape, Professor and Death Eater, strode across the room, stopping in front of the Santa, his wand drawn and the children behind him.

Santa jumped to his feet, wand in hand, and the child that had been upon his lap tumbling to the ground. Severus didn't waste time stopping the child's fall, and was glad when someone else did.

"Ah, there you are, Snape."

Severus recognized that booming voice and let his face become more glacial as Lestrange continued.

"I've been scouring the world for you and you can have no idea how pleased I am to have found you."

Severus knew the moment his team moved in and when Harry stopped behind him.

"Rudoplhus Lestrange." The word was spoke in a low hiss, one all his former students recognized as Snape at his worse. "Thank you for stopping by and giving me the best Yule present I could think of receiving."

"Hah! I would never bring you a present."

That was all the confirmation Severus needed of the man's identity. A slash of his wand had a spell flying toward the Death Eater.

Lestrange dodged to the side and the chair fell in pieces. "Is that anyway to greet an old friend?" His wand was moving sending a spell towards Severus.

A quick shield stopped the Blasting charm from finding its target.

"You lost that title long ago, Lestrange." Severus noted the children were outside of the room, and that Madeleine Nigel was standing in the doorway, her wand drawn in defence. Gregory, Michael and Anna were surrounding the children while Lindsey and Cassandra were in the room, one near the door and the other quickly checking behind all the tapestries and other decorations.

Harry moved out from behind him, spells already flying from his wand.

Lestrange's eyes widened even as he dodges the two Incarcerous spells and laughed. "I didn't know you were still babysitting the Saviour of the Wizarding World, Severus."

A feral smile curled Severus' lips and with two quick flips of his wand while the man was distracted laughing he moved closer to his target. "I am not the only one stuck in old habits, now am I."

Lestrange gasped and clawed at his throat. Severus stood there watching as the man slowly turned a blue shade, his fingers loosing their grasp on his wand. Once Harry had summoned it away, Severus bound the Death Eater with ropes. Only when he was positive Lestrange would not get away did he flick his wand.

Lestrange drew in a long shuddering breath while four people stared down at him. "You are still as black as they come, Severus." His head shot up and glared into the cold black eyes looking down at him. "You should have rotted in Azkaban with the rest of us."

Lindsey cast a silencing charm on the prisoner and nodded to Cassandra. A quick signal to Michael had him running through the doors. Madeleine barely moved out of the way in time.

Cassandra grabbed the ropes now binding the prisoner's hands, Michael put the man in choke hold. "We'll take care of this one, sir."

With that, the portkey strung between them activated, taking them straight to the Ministry holding cells.

Severus conjured a new chair after banishing the pieces of the old one as Harry and the team erased all other evidence of the fight.

"Mr. Snape, who was that?" Madeleine tried not to start when those black eyes focused on her. In all her days, she had not seen anyone quite as cold and calculating as this man appeared at that moment.

Harry rested a hand on Severus' arm before he answered for his partner. "His name is Rudolphus Lestrange. He is one of the reasons my detail is so … diligent. At least we caught him and he appeared to be alone."

Severus rested a hand on Harry's shoulder. "He was, you are safe."

Harry whipped about, his eyes narrowing. "He was after you! Not me. He was genuinely surprised I was here."

Dark eyes looked deep into green ones, spotting the worry and fear in them as well as the knowledge it was not going to end anytime soon. "We stick together Harry, and we will always know where the other is, and we can guard the others back."

"Works better that way, far better than you just guarding mine." Harry pulled a tight smile onto his face. Turning slightly, he looked back over at Madeleine. "Do you need us for anything else? If not I think it is time for us to slip away. No need to create more of a ruckus than what has already occurred."

"Go on. I have to find someone else to be Santa for the children now." Drawing a breath, she watched as they left the room as if nothing had happened.

A moment later Santa came through the door, his eyes bright with laughter. "I am sorry I am late. Did something happen while I was missing?"

Madeleine stared into the man's face trying to determine if this one was safe to let near the children. She blinked as recognized the man as one of Potter's security detail and then a slow smile curled her lips. She was well aware of the children pressing around her. "Someone arrived impersonating you."

A smile curled the lips almost hidden by the white beard and moustache. "I am sorry if my early Christmas present was scary, but I knew all would be well."

A childish voice spoke up. "You knew the bad man would be captured? You know what we wished for from the bad man?"

Santa dropped to one knee and looked the little girl in the eye. "I knew Severus Snape and Harry Potter were here, and that they would not let their present escape. As for your wishes, why not say them again, just in case my elf didn't hear over the plans being made."

Standing up, Gregory headed for the chair. He had always wanted to play Santa.

~.~ HP/SS -.-

Harry stood stock still, staring at the man attempting to understand what he just said. "You want my spouse to join the other spouses singing Christmas Carols?"

He caught sight of Lindsey's shoulders shaking slightly where she stood at her post near his suite's door.

Althaus smiled and gave a slight nod of his head. "We moved the Christmas party to Christmas night just to accommodate you and your spouse, surely you can agree to join in this small function. They will stay with more secular songs, or ones open to interpretation."

Harry sighed lightly, staring into space while wishing Severus was there to give him some hint of what to do. His partner was currently immersed in a long distance floo call debating over the use of some ingredient in some unknown potion. Coming to a quick decision – they did owe the ambassadors for moving the party date for them – he focused on Althaus. "We will be happy to lend a hand at the carolling."

"We?" The German Ambassador frowned slightly.

"Yes, we. My security detail, my spouse, and I will all attend the event and lend our voices if they wish us to." Harry almost laughed at the resigned slump of Lindsey's shoulders.

Althaus raised an eyebrow at that but just nodded. "I will let Mrs. Nigel know you are to be expected."

~.~ HP/SS -.-

Severus felt he did well at not yelling at Harry for volunteering them for this. Albus had never got off as easy, but then again, Albus never buggered him to the mattress for accepting either. 'Thank goodness – that would be too scary to imagine.'

As they walked through the ballroom door, Severus noticed Madeleine had positioned herself in a way that she could work while watching the other wives during their arrival. After the Santa event, he was not positive of his welcome with the one spouse he had come to appreciate. The glint of satisfaction in her eye eased his uncertainty.

"Master Snape, I am glad you and your detail are here today. Ambassador Potter, I am sure you can find other things to entertain yourself." Madeleine almost laughed at the quickly masked surprise on Potter's face.

"I will be staying since my entire detail is here. I am not allowed to be without them."

Severus watched as Harry settled into a nearby chair, a small smile curling his lips. His attention shifted as one of the other women approached the group, singling out the three girls, Cassandra having made it back last night.

"Which one of you are the ambassador's wife?"

A wave of jealousy, one he thought he had quelled a long time ago, surged through Severus. He didn't expect one of his team to lay claim to Harry, but for someone to think that one of them might be was not acceptable. Grappling with the green-eyed monster, he forced it away. There was no place for it here, not now.

"None of us are. We are members of his security detail." Lindsey cast a cautious look at Potter and then Snape before making sure her gaze landed on every member of the team in equal measure. "We are not going to revel who Ambassador Potter's spouse is, so let's move on. You have carols you want to sing and refreshment you want passed out. Tell us what to do and we'll get it done."

At the knowing look that passed between the other ladies, Severus bit back a sigh. He met Madeleine's eyes over the others heads. "Shall my team run a perimeter sweep before we set up?"

Madeleine nodded yes to the surprise of the other wives. Watching the team fan out, Madeleine knew the only reason her team wasn't there was because she knew Potter's would be. After the Santa incident, she didn't want to take any chances. 'Simon and I are the only ones who know just what happened that day. The children only mentioned an early Christmas present, and there was no one else there to see or hear anything.' They had decided not to mention anything, but had quietly increased the security on the Manor itself. It didn't change the fact that she was more than happy to let Potter's team sweep the area.

While the sweep was being done, Madeleine convinced the other wives it would be a good idea to have the male voices in their group.

Harry perked up from where he was sitting next to the door, watching Severus work. "I can mange the refreshments while you sing. I'll keep anyone from spiking the punch bowl and slice cake. It'll be fun."

"Thank you, Excellency." Madeleine put a box of sleigh bells on the table. "Do you mind hanging these about the room as well?"

Levitating one set of bells to the ceiling, Harry grinned as he also charmed it to ring in time with the music. Flitwick had taught him the spell over one of the Christmas holidays. "Not in the least."

While Harry was discretely changing colours of the floating Christmas ornaments between floating up bells, the chorus practised the songs.

~.~ HP/SS -.-

Harry stood behind the refreshment table, doing his best impression of a waiter, as guests streamed into the room and gathered about talking. Most of them stood near a tall tree that was nothing like the little one up in his room. 'Mine look like the tree I saw in a Christmas special the day the Durselys had gone shopping and I could get to the telly. I think it was a Charlie Brown Christmas special. Any rate, ours is a small tree planted in a pot. Severus calls it a Solstice tree. At least he allows me to decorate it however I want.'

A tiny smile curved his lips as he thought about how the other characters had given Charlie Brown such a hard time for the tree he purchased. His team has picked on him every year about his tree choice, but the tiny tree always reminded him of the true meaning of Christmas. It was not the presents or the family and friends that gathered about. No, the true meaning was the birth of Christ by a very brave girl and her husband. 'Severus once teased that Mary was either a Gryffindor or a Hufflepuff, and Joseph was a Hufflepuff.'

Focusing back on the crowd, he watched as Michael and Gregory ushered the guests to their seats before joining the other performers. The lights in the room flickers, and the talking hushed.

As carols filled the room, Harry soaked up the sound of Severus' rich baritone sounding beneath the entire group. 'I want to show the world he is mine. I don't want to hide us, I don't want to hide what he means to me.' Closing his eyes, he let that rich baritone fill him. 'Severus wanted to soar, to fly far from his past, from all that held him down. Maybe I am holding him back – I know he isn't flying as high as he could because of me. When he was known as my partner, I was a weight holding him down. I still am.' Clutching his fingers onto the edge of the table, Harry rested his gaze on the man he loved. 'I can't let him go, though. I just can't. So, we continue on as we have. No regrets. We are as we are.'

Releasing the table, Harry let his happy mask slip back into place. Severus would never know he was dissatisfied.

Later, during the performance, Harry grinned widely as Severus shot him a disbelieving look as the rest of the people were trying to figure out who was causing the bells to chime.

~.~ HP/SS -.-

Christmas morning dawned, the sunlight flooding Severus and Harry's bedroom. The light picked out the edges of the two glasses left, forgotten, on the coffee table sitting in front of the low burning fire. It As it moved through the room, it glinted off the sheen of sweat that covered the two intertwined bodies.

Harry felt a moan escape his throat without his permission. He didn't mind though since the sound caused Severus to finally push into him. Arching his back off the bed, he quickly dropped back and canted his hips up, forcing his lover deeper. The chuckle that sounded near his ear came quickly after Severus' own gasp of pleasure.

"Demanding, aren't you. Can't wait, eh?" Severus stroked a few times, loving the feel of Harry around him, under him. Each stroke sent him higher and higher, soaring like he loved to do. Leaning in closer, he kissed Harry's lips before travelling down his neck and shoulder alternating between gentle nips, licks, and the fleeting press of lips.

A shudder shook him as Harry's hands found their way to his back, nails gently scoring paths down his ribs to his waist where those hands clasped hard onto his hipbones.

"Har-r-r-ry." His release took him by surprise, just as Harry's covered his chest. Slumping onto his trembling forearms, he rested his forehead on Harry's, their breathes intermingling between them.

The absolute bliss of their release was fleeting but the wind it gave under his wings was longer and stronger than anything else. He could soar further than any time else in his life, as long as Harry was there to support him, to anchor him, to be with him.

Slipping out of his lover's body, Severus rolled over and pulled Harry into his arms. "Merry Christmas, Harry."

A small smile curled Harry's lips. "And a Merry Yule to you, Severus."

Severus rested his head gently against Harry's, their messy black hair blocking the view of the fireplace and the pair of wine glasses Grumpy hadn't cleaned up yet. The same small smile that graced Harry's lips curved his own. Last night they had curled up on the sofa, sipped wine, and talked - cuddled according to Harry - the wee hours of the morning in. Pulling Harry close, he drew the blanket over them. It was time to catch another quick nap. The glasses would have to wait a bit longer to be cleaned.

~.~ HP/SS -.-

"Harry, Molly out did herself this time." Severus held up the dark grey jumper with a cauldron steaming away on the front of it. Under it was a wand and a knife crossed where the flames should be.

"That is the Mastery emblem for Potions, isn't it?"

Severus nodded slowly, his fingers curling into soft wool. "What is on yours this year?"

Harry held up his present. It was burgundy with a 'HSP' on it. The letters were so woven together that it took a moment to see what they were. At first glance they appeared to be a bit of Celtic knot work. "She truly did out do herself."

Severus watched as Harry lowered the jumper to his lap, his fingers tracing over the letters. He also noticed the number of times they went over the 'S'. Leaning closer to his partner, he caught the moving hand. "Let's slip these on and then head down to see what she designed for the team this year."

A green gaze shot up to meet his, and those eyes were filled with uncertainty and a deep desire.

"I can wear it? It has the 'S' on it."

The hope that laced Harry's voice told Severus he was doing the right thing. Raising an eyebrow and folding his arms for the effect, he answered. "I should not have to repeat myself, Mr. Snape-Potter."

The happiness that shone from Harry's face clenched his decision.

~.~ HP/SS -.-

Severus came to the conclusion that Molly had a sense of humour. He had decided that a long time ago – she survived her children – but this year she out did herself with the jumpers she had sent to the team. Each were a dark shade of blue and on the front was a sleigh filled with items that represented the team member it was gifted too. The blown snow from under the sleigh runners formed their initials. Crossing over to a mirror, Severus looked closely at the steam rising from his cauldron and notice it had 'SPS' worked into it. A curl of satisfaction wrapped his heart. He realized he missed the Potter attached to his name.

"The jumpers are a hit this year." Harry grinned.

"At least you and Master Snape can wear yours all year. Our are definitely Christmas' Jumpers." Anna ran a hand over hers and then tugged at the bottom hem, her smile showing that she didn't mind.

"We need to have our portrait taken so we can send it back to Mrs. Weasley." Gregory pulled out his camera. "I still remember the first year that she didn't receive one. That howler is not something I want to relive again."

Severus turned about quick enough to see the rest of the team nodding and Harry chuckle. "Outside. She needs to see the North Pole as well."

"What about The Italian and his daughter?"

Lindsey's question caused Severus to look over at Harry. "What would you like to do?"

The dark messy head tips slightly to the side. "Have them take the picture."

Laughter followed the group as they headed outside.

~.~ HP/SS -.-

Aida Vitrano had searched the Manor high and low looking for her soon to be husband. Her father already had everything arranged for a New Year's Eve wedding. Their marriage kiss would be at midnight, sealing them together forever and starting their year and life together perfectly. The daydream was filling her mind when she saw him and his security detail crossing the front entry hall, heading for the door.

Rushing down the stairs, Aida succeeded in getting outside before them through a parlour garden door. She rounded the side of the building the moment the group clumped in the front of the Manor.

"Ambassador Potter," She stepped carefully through the snow, trying to look elegant while sinking in ankle deep snow. " I am so happy to have finally found you."

A frown marred her face as the head of the security detail moved and blocked her view of her young man.

"You have been looking for me?" Potter's voice sounded out from behind the taller man.

Aida shot a glare at the tall man as she made it the wind swept walkway everyone else was on and then smiled as she moved so that she could see Potter. "Ever since Father and I made it here. Merry Christmas to you."

Green eyes looked at her, and she was transported to her daydream where those eyes were shining down at her as the priest declared them man and wife.

"Merry Christmas." Harry watched as the brown eyes glazed over and Miss Vitrano was lost in her mind. A hand slid down his back and rested at his waist, causing him to stare at Severus and not at Miss Vitrano. If he hadn't been so familiar with Severus' touch, he would have hexed first and then looked. Severus was not looking at him nor was his face giving away that he had done anything out of the ordinary, but the warmth of his hand was still there.

"Miss Vitrano." Severus' voice brought the girl back to the present. "Would you be so kind as to take our picture in front of the North Pole?"

Harry stood very still, trying not to draw attention to Severus' hand. He didn't want to dislodge it. Light brown eyes focused on him.

"You want your picture with these people?"

Harry could tell the moment she realized they were all out there in jumpers, and that at least half of them matched. "Yes, Mum sent us jumpers and we thought it would only be right to send her a picture of us in them."

"Your Mother sent you those? She sends presents for your security detail also?"

Harry raised an eyebrow at the shocked tone. "If you are part of the family, Mum will make you a jumper. Will you take our picture?"

"Do you have a camera?" The disbelief that covered Aida's face was evident in her voice.

Gregory held his out. "Just push the button on the top and that is that. I've already calibrated it."

Accepting the camera, Aida watched as the group shifted about. They finally settled with the security head and Potter in the middle surrounded by the other members of the security detail. Lifting the camera, she snapped their portrait. It wasn't until she was handing the camera back to the man who gave it to her, that she noticed how close the head of the security detail was standing to Potter. Her eyes narrowed slightly and moved to stand just as close. "Tonight, will you dance with me?"

Aida noticed the glare aimed at her over Potter's head, those dark eyes seemed to promise worse than death. She fought the need to move away from her chosen partner.

"It would not be a good thing if I danced with you." Harry stepped closer to Severus, placing a few more inches between him and the girl. "My spouse is well aware of your father's attempts to marry me off to you, and would not look kindly upon with our dance."

"Spouse?" Aida folded her arms across her chest after the detail had moved towards her the moment she reached out for Potter's arm. "I've never seen your spouse. I agree with Father, I doubt that you have one. It is all a ruse."

Harry sighed as he moved around her, his party following in his wake. "Thank you for taking our picture."

With that they disappeared back into the Manor.

~.~ HP/SS -.-

The snowstorm blew in at lunchtime. Wind was whipping about the Manor and snow was pelting the windows. The inhabitants of the embassy could hear the ice clicking against the panes of glass only to fall with a soft plop into the snow that was forming more drifts against the edges of the house.

Harry and Severus had retired to their rooms not long after the storm had blown in, and had invited the team up with them. The ground floor rooms were not easy to heat and Harry could already feel a chill setting in. The team had agreed and now everyone was sprawled about the sitting area. There was a long table against the outer wall covered with remains of Christmas lunch Grumpy delivered earlier.

"She is going to try something tonight." On the sofa, Harry leaned against Severus' side as he considered the flames in the fireplace. "They both are."

Lindsey settled deeper into her chair, her wine glass balanced precariously on it arm. "Everyone is invited, Harry. We'll stop them, that is our job." The rest of the detail agreed with her.

Severus tightened his arm around Harry and spoke in a voice so low that no one else in the room heard. "They don't have a chance. I will never lose you, Harry."

Sighing softly, Harry wished Severus would show The Italian and his daughter just how futile their attempt really was.

A soft pop came from the corner of the room, signalling Grumpy's presence. Harry moved enough to see the small elf. "Can you take the leftovers, dress them up and take them to a family that needs them? Maybe include another duck, as that one didn't last. Or a roast."

Grumpy nodded, his ears flopping about his head. "Of course, Ambassador Potter."

The food and the elf vanished.

~.~ HP/SS -.-

Jack Frost himself had decorated for the Christmas Assembly. The ballroom's windows were covered in a frost that crept in from the edges of the frames to the center. The pattern looked as if a finger had trailed across the glass directing the path of the crystals that now glinted in the candle light.

Harry tried to focus completely on the frost patterns and how the light of the Christmas candles played on it. The party had started hours ago, and as normal, his team was flung far and wide. Madeleine and Simon Nigel had taken Severus off not long ago, leaving Harry to watch the dancers swirling about on the floor.

'I did watch them. Couples dancing about, laughing, and enjoying themselves. I despise parties like this.' He reached out and let his finger tip touch the glass, tracing the pathway of Jack's fingers. It was parties like this one that made him feel the most alone. Severus was so distant during them and what he wanted was displayed everywhere. 'I know, no one can know about us. It doesn't change that I want to dance with him, I want to walk with my hand on his arm, or his on mine. I want to be a couple!'

Clenching his hand into a fist, he rested it against the ice cold glass as his eyes slipped shut. He didn't know just how much longer he could keep up this deception. Forcing his hand and eyes open, Harry turned to survey the room. Instead of focusing on the happy couples, he studied the Christmas candles. There were green, red and gold ones scattered about the room. White ones were suspended from the ceiling casting a warm light over the entire assembly.

Moving away from the windows, Harry drifted by Cassandra's position and a small grin peaked out. There was now a yellow and blue candle in the collection of red and green.

"Good evening, Ambassador Potter."

The voice had Harry turning about slowly, his hand on his wand. The Italian was behind him and he was positive the man's daughter was close.

"Good evening, Mr. Vitrano, Miss Vitrano." Harry was glad none of his feelings reflected in his voice.

Aida moved forward, her hand reached out to rest on Harry's arm. "It is a good evening now, Mr. Potter."

Harry moved out her reach and looked about for someone, preferable Severus, so he could escape.

"I know you wish to dance with my Aida tonight. It is Christmas, and who would not wish to dance with their beloved on this day?"

Harry's attention was quickly yanked back to the two he had wanted to avoid at all cost this evening. Seeing no escape and not wishing to dance with anyone but Severus, he answered in a honeyed tone. "You are most right, it is a night to dance with one's beloved, if you have one. Alas, I cannot find mine at this moment. I am sure your daughter will find many willing partners out there, but I fear I am not one." Turning on his heel, Harry quickly headed towards the frost covered window once again.

A growl almost escaped his throat as Aida Vitrano followed.

Aida called out to him as he walked quicker. "Where are you going?"

Desire to run, to escape all that he couldn't have, all that he wanted, was so thick Harry nearly flung open the window to flee out into the nearby forest and finally find peace. It was only the knowledge of Severus' reaction held him back. Keeping his back towards the girl, Harry answered. "Away. I told you this morning we would not be dancing, and I meant it. You are not welcome near me. I would be happy never to see you again in my life."

~.~ HP/SS -.-

Severus checked with his team to make sure all was still clear of danger. The Nigels had pulled him away to talk about the security in place for the assembly. While he was talking to them, Grumpy had called him away to take a floo call from his research partners. He made that conversation quick – he didn't want to leave Harry alone tonight and he had already been gone far too long.

Looking around, he finally spotted Harry across the room with Aida Vitrano. Hot waves of jealousy burned through him, flooding his heart and mind. He struggled against the feelings and eventually had them under control. It would do no good to curse Miss Vitrano within an inch of her life, there were too many witnesses.

Moving across the room, he didn't notice that his robe billowed about him reminiscent of his professor days, but his team did and moved to determine where the threat was coming from. Cassandra shifted to watch The Italian better, while the others made their way to either guard doors or Snape's back.

Severus reached the quiet corner where Harry was in time to hear his partner's answer to the girl who couldn't take no for an answer if her reply was anything to go by.

"You are going to marry me! And it is going to be in two weeks. Father has got everything put together – we shall be wed on New Year's Eve, and our first kiss will be at midnight."

'This ends here.' Severus loomed up behind Miss Vitrano, casting his muffling spell at the same moment. "There is no way you can marry him. I know Harry has repeatedly told you he was married, and I guarantee you that it is the truth."

He could feel the surprise rolling off of Harry, but he couldn't spare a moment to look at him. Miss Vitrano had whipped about, her eyes going wide before suddenly they narrowed.

"You are just a member of his security. You have no say in what Mr. Potter can do." Arms crossed under an ample bosom while Aida glared up at him. "And who gave you the right to call him by his given name? You surely cannot be on first-name basis with him."

Severus made eye contact with Harry and he held that green gaze while he answered her. "As Harry's spouse, I have plenty of say in if he is going to marry someone else, and I can certainly use his given name."

The absolute joy washing over Harry's face assured Severus that he had made the right decision. Looking back at the girl, he was pleased that he got to see her utter disbelief and shock.

"Yo-o-ou? You are his spouse?! Why are you playing around? There is no way you can be married to him. I don't believe you!"

"Why not? Is it so strange that I would love a man as wonderful as Severus?"

A warm glow of happiness filled Severus' heart at Harry's answer. Miss Vitrano spun about again, her robe flaring around her ankles.

"It is too easy of an out. You should have chosen one of the girls. That blonde would have done it – the one all the other women are saying is your wife. She denied it of course. That is how I know you are not married."

Severus shook his head slightly, and his tone of voice was one he reserved for his densest pupils. "McClure did not deny it because Harry was not wed, but because he was not wed to her. Harry is wed to me. It is as simple as that."

The next song started playing, and Severus moved around the sputtering girl to Harry's side. "Go find someone else to harass. Harry and I are going to dance."

Pulling his husband to the dance floor, Severus made sure to let Michael know to watch Miss Vitrano closely.

Harry swallowed hard, his eyes searching Severus' face as he was pulled into the man's arms to dance a waltz. His dreams were coming true, or he was sleeping on his feet. "You told her. She is going to tell everyone."

"Yes, I did, she will and it is okay if she does. They will all know soon enough, Harry." Severus pulled Harry closer, the distance between them now showing a familiarity instead of formality.

"But … but you … you want to soar, to fly far and wide. If you let everyone know, you will be trapped again." Harry bit back his hope, not daring to believe anything.

"I did want to soar, Harry, and I am soaring. I am soaring further than I had ever believed possible because of you. Now, I think it is time to glide at this height. I am comfortable here, circling about you, watching over you. Letting people know will not trap me; I have you and that frees me." Severus rested his hand lower on Harry's waist, his fingers brushing a hip bone.

Harry felt his eyelids droop slightly as Severus' finger moved over a bit and brushed over the top of his bottom. "But you will be pulled off my security detail."

Spinning around suddenly, Harry ended back up in Severus' arms even closer than he had left them.

"No, I will not. I've been talking to the Minister about this, and he agrees. It will not change anything if it is known that I am both your spouse and the head of your security. Anyone who has read about our history will expect it actually – my being the head of your security, that is. We both agreed that hiding who I am is doing more harm than good, allowing this issue with The Italian to continue for as long as it has."

"What? How long ago did you know about this?" Harry barely kept his question from resounding across the room.

"Since after lunch. I had already made up my mind that we would come out of the shadows even if I lost my position."

Harry stared up into the black eyes he loved and smiled. Yes, his dream was coming true. "How are we going to let everyone know?"

"We'll think of something."

Severus moved them through the end of the song, spinning Harry deep into his arms as the last notes played. Bright happy green-eyes shining at him and Harry's body pressed into his prompted him to kiss his lover.

Harry pressed closer, his hands sliding through black hair and resting against Severus' nape. When Harry's thumbs stroked the corded muscles of Severus' neck, the kiss changed from chaste to passionate. Eventually, Severus lifted his head, dark eyes glowing with happiness and desire that was reflected on his face and shone in Harry's as well. "I think we just let them know."

After a glance about the room, a quiet chuckle escaped Harry. "I think we shocked them. The team looks like they are torn between cheering, questioning us and escaping. Miss Vitrano looks livid. She was warned, I wonder why she is mad."

Severus ran a finger down Harry's cheek as he answered. "Because I have stolen her midnight kiss. Not that it was hers to take, but it seems our kiss was just as the clock struck twelve."

"But it's not New Year's yet."

Severus pulled Harry towards the edge of the floor closest to the door and signalled for the team to make their own escapes. "Ah, but now she knows that it will never happen."

With a few well placed glares, the help of the team, and a lot of practice, Harry and Severus left the party. They would deal with the fall out from this revelation tomorrow. The rest of tonight was to celebrate dreams coming true.

Harry decided that this was the best Christmas present he had ever received.