Author: Nienna
Title: On Raven Wings of Change
Feedback address: tarrashenna@yahoo.com
Homepage: http://gondor.adsl.dk/leone/
Rating: PG-15
Pairing: SS/HP
Disclaimer: Belongs to JKR. No profit being made. No infringement intended.

Summary: A Raven's wing rather than a Lion's paw changes everything.

Challenges: (in order of appearance): 139: "What if Harry had been sorted into Slytherin? (Kira)"
35: "When Harry finds the Mirror of Erised again, it's not his parents he sees, but Snape and
himself (Kira)" 135: "Harry is given/finds a box of his parents' mementos. What's in it?
(Downdilly)" combined with 137: "While going through a box of his parents things, Harry finds a
contract where he was betrothed to Snape as an infant (ProfSnapeFan)" and 85: "A wizarding
world marriage ceremony (Kira)"

NOTE: Part of "From Dusk til Dawn - the Harry Potter/Severus Snape Fuh-Q-Fest" at:
http://www.kardasi.com/HPSS

A/N: I own Theseus, Ursula and Rosaline Blixencrone, and would appreciate it if you ask before
using any of them. I'll most likely say yes, but I'd like to know where they end up so I can brag :-)
Also, Peter Pettigrew doesn't exist in this universe. Severus took his place amongst the Marauders
(if you want to know (because it isn't mentioned in the story) his animagus form is a Green Iguana,
and his nickname is Viror). A big thanks to my twin for coming up with the title and summary, as
well as being my idea girl/sounding board, and to Tigerlily for being my other sounding board, and
going above and beyond the call of duty more than once to get me unstuck. Last, but not least,
thanks to Bella Ireland for her help with the wording on the official document.

IMPORTANT BIT (for those of us who aren't Brits): In England, the three daily meals are
breakfast, dinner and tea. Dinner is what Americans refer to as 'lunch', and tea (which is served at 5
or 6 pm) is the evening meal. (Okay, you might think 'well, that's obvious', but I'm mentioning it
because *I* didn't know, and figured that others might not either).

Beta: Sammi Jo. The Birds. Tigerlily.

Warning: Extremely AU. OOCness. Character deaths, but nothing that isn't mentioned in the books.
Also, there are a few scenes that are copied from the first book.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

31. October, 1981

Lord Voldemort turned to his most trusted servant with a pleased, and wholly evil, smile. "Come,
my faithful. It is time to get rid of the Minister of Magic and her family." He waited until his
servant stood beside him, then turned to the rest of the Death Eaters present. "Guard him well until I
return." He gestured to the prisoner, who, under Veritaserum and against his will, had just betrayed
one of his best friends. The Dark Lord waited for his other servants' assenting murmurs to die away
before he spoke again. "If he escapes or dies while I'm gone, I will be very displeased." With that,
he turned back to his highest-ranking Death Eater and with a short, terse nod, the two of them
apparated.

They appeared in front of the Minister of Magic's residence, situated a little outside a small village.
The house was nothing big and fancy, as you would've expected from the British Wizarding
World's official leader. Rather, it was a medium sized family home, obviously intended for a
normal family with children. It clearly wasn't meant to be used to entertain foreign dignitaries. But
then, the Minister of Magic had never used her own home for that. She had a mansion close to the
ministry building for official functions. Being quite young for someone in such a high post - not to
mention, female - the Minister preferred to keep her private life just that, private.

Voldemort, like everyone else in the Wizarding World, knew this, and he was about to take
advantage of it. With another brief nod to his companion, he walked up to the door, drew his wand
and, with a softly spoken 'alohomora', opened it and entered, closely followed by his servant.

James Potter, coming into the hall from the living room, wand in hand, greeted them. Before Potter
had time to react, Voldemort threw the Killing Curse and watched impassively as the dark-haired
man fell to the floor, lifeless.

The Death Eater didn't wait for the body to hit the floor. As soon as his master had thrown the
Killing Curse, he quickly ran up the stairs where he knew the bedrooms were. He knew that Lily
Potter would've gone to get her child as soon as it was apparent that her home had been invaded. He
was proven right when he heard her voice coming from one of the rooms.

Walking to where the female voice had come from, the Death Eater stopped in the doorway to what
was obviously the child's room. Seeing Lily Potter picking her son up from the cot, her back to the
door, he took out his wand and aimed it at her. He watched in silence until she straightened up, with
the baby in her arms, and turned to the other door in the room. "Going somewhere, Minister
Potter?" he asked, confident that she wouldn't recognize his voice, due to the voice-altering spell
he'd cast before answering the Dark Lord's summons.

At the sound of the voice, Lily gasped and turned around, clutching her son closer to her. She took a
step back when she saw the tall figure, dressed in a long black robe and with the characteristic white
mask covering his face. "What do you want?" she asked, proud that her voice was steady, and
didn't betray her fear.

"Me? I don't want anything," the Death Eater replied, as he stepped into the room. "My master,
however, wants your son. Hand over the child, Minister, and Lord Voldemort will let you live."

Lily moved further away from the Death Eater, instinctively tightening her hold on the child. "No!
I'm not giving my son to that monster!" she said firmly. "What does Voldemort want with my son,
anyway?"

"Stand still," the Death Eater ordered. "And what *Lord* Voldemort wants with your son is no
concern of yours," he snarled. "But if you're worried, rest assured that the child will not be hurt."

Before Lily could express her doubts about the last statement, the Dark Lord entered the room. He
moved towards Lily, who, despite her fear, stood her ground, meeting his eyes defiantly. "Give me
the child," he ordered.

"No. Not Harry," Lily refused. "You can kill me, but I'm not giving you my son!"

"Don't be foolish, girl," Voldemort said. "I have no wish to kill you. Such a young and ambitious
woman as you will be quite an addition to my Death Eaters. Twenty-two and already the Minister of
Magic." There was a hint of admiration in the sibilant voice. "It's such a shame that you're a
Mudblood, otherwise you would have been a Slytherin. You have all the characteristics that Salazar
Slytherin prized in his students. But, no matter. You can't help your unfortunate background, and in
your case, I'm willing to overlook it."

Lily's green eyes flashed in defiance and anger. "I'm not going to join you, and I'm not letting you
have my son. There is no way you can get me to do either."

"Of course there is," Voldemort said and lifted his wand. "Impe…."

"Do you really think that will work?" Lily interrupted, her voice mocking. When the Dark Lord
lowered his wand slightly, she continued. "I'm the Minister of Magic. I've been taught to throw off
the Imperius."

Voldemort's eyes flashed in anger, realizing that she was right. "Give me the boy," he hissed, as he
took a step closer.

"No," Lily refused again. "I'd rather die than let you anywhere near Harry."

The Dark Lord's reaction was instantaneous. "Have it your way," he said, as he lifted his wand
again. "Avada Kedavra."

Green light shot out from Voldemort's wand, heading towards Lily, who swiftly turned around,
making sure her son wasn't hit by the Killing Curse. Her last action as the curse hit her, was to turn
a bit, ensuring that the child wasn't crushed under her when she fell.

As Lily hit the floor, Voldemort closed the distance and pushed her lip body away with his foot.
Getting a clear look at the now-crying baby, he smiled sinisterly. "Well, child," he hissed, as he
lifted his wand once more. "You're right to be afraid. Your mother can't protect you now. Avada
Kedavra."

Once more green light flew towards the victim, only this time something unexpected happened. The
curse hit the child's forehead and bounced off, leaving a lightening-shaped wound. Before
Voldemort could react, the curse returned to its caster and hit him hard.

Seeing his master about to be hit by his own 'Avada Kedavra', the Death Eater quickly aimed his
wand and threw the Killing Curse at Voldemort with all his magical strength. Then he watched in
silence as the two curses hit their target, and Voldemort crumbled to the floor, dead.

Letting out a sigh of relief, the Death Eater removed his mask and threw it to the floor, then lifted
the charm on his voice before walking over to kneel in front of the crying baby. "Sssh. Don't cry,
Harry," he said quietly. "There's nothing to be afraid of now. The bad man is gone." He continued
speaking in a low, soothing voice until the child stopped crying, and looked at him. Then he
cautiously held out his arms. "Come, Harry. We need to get out of here before someone figures out
that something's wrong and they send the Aurors to check it out."

Harry looked at the man kneeling in front of him. Mummy was sleeping, and daddy wasn't here, but
at least the one with the frightening voice - the one who frightened mummy - was gone, and this
man had a nice voice. The man also felt safe, like mummy and daddy, but worried. Of course, Harry
didn't know the names for the feelings, but he recognized them from his parents. And he recognized
the open arms to mean that he was to be carried.

After a moment of silence, the child crawled over to the man, who picked him up and rose to his
feet. Then he turned and started walking to the door he'd entered by. On the way, he stopped and
picked up his Death Eater mask and put it in a pocket on his robe, then continued out of the room,
down the stairs and into the living room. Walking over to the fireplace, he took a handful of floo
powder, and was about to throw it into the fire when a thought occurred to him. Cursing softly
under his breath, he tossed the powder in, waited until the fire turned green, then stepped in and
called out his destination. "Albus Dumbledore's office."

The man watched as fireplaces rushed by, holding the newly orphaned boy to him, making sure that
the child's face was turned against his shoulder. He didn't want Harry to become dizzy. Finally,
they arrived at their destination, and the man stumbled out of the fireplace. Fortunately, someone
was there to steady him, preventing him from falling over and hurting the child in his arms. As soon
as he had regained his bearings and was sure Harry was okay, the man looked up into the twinkling
blue eyes of Albus Dumbledore. "Headmaster," he said urgently. "You need to send someone to the
Potters' house before the Aurors or other Death Eaters arrive. Whoever you send needs to collect
the baby-things, and whatever else you think Harry might want when he's older."

Albus didn't hesitate, or ask any questions. He just motioned for the other man to step away from
the fireplace. Then he took a pinch of floo powder and threw it into the fire. When it turned green,
he stuck his head into it and called out, "Minerva McGonagall." A moment later, he saw her sitting
in her living room. "Minerva, I need you to go to the Potters' residence and pick up the baby-things,
family pictures and…."

The other man in Albus' office stopped listening, and glanced down at the baby in his arms. Seeing
that the child had fallen asleep, he smiled slightly. The smile vanished, however, when his eyes fell
on the wound on Harry's forehead. He needed to get him to the Hospital Wing and let Poppy have a
look at that. A touch on his arm made him look up, once again meeting Albus' eyes.

"What happened, Severus?" the headmaster asked quietly.

Severus sighed and glanced briefly down at Harry. "We need to get Harry to the Hospital Wing. I
can tell you on the way there," he said, his voice just as quiet as the headmaster's had been.

Albus nodded in agreement, and left his office, Severus following closely behind, the sleeping child
secure in his arms. "What happened tonight, Severus?" the headmaster asked, as the two of them
moved down the stairs.

"Voldemort killed Lily and James, then threw the Killing Curse at Harry. However, he hadn't taken
into consideration Lily's sacrifice when she died to protect her son, so the curse… bounced off of
Harry's forehead and hit Voldemort instead. When I saw what was happening, I threw another
Killing Curse at him," Severus said, no hint of emotion in his calm voice.

Albus stopped and looked at the other wizard. "Severus, are you telling me that Voldemort is
dead?"

Severus glanced at the older wizard, as he passed him. "Yes, Headmaster. His body lies on the floor
in the nursery."

Albus stood where he was for a long moment, allowing Severus' words to sink in completely. A
rush of pride and joy shivered through his body, and he smiled to himself, then began walking in
earnest to catch up with the younger wizard. Now, what to do with young Harry Potter? Albus
would have to find someone to take care of him. He briefly considered leaving him with Lily's
sister, but then remembered Lily mentioning how her sister hated magic. So, Harry would have to
be placed with a wizarding family. Poor little thing, losing his parents at this age. He wouldn't be
able to remember them when he grew up.

Severus slowed his pace, allowing the headmaster to catch up with him. He held his young charge
tightly, fearing that given the opportunity the tyke would scramble from his arms. He refused to
think about what the future now held for the orphan. Growing up in a world without the benefit of
parents was not something he would wish on anyone.

Soon enough, the two wizards found themselves outside the infirmary. Albus opened the door for
Severus, and allowed him to enter first. As he followed in, he called out for Madam Pomfrey.
"Poppy."

Poppy Pomfrey came out of her office immediately, responding to the slight urgency in the
headmaster's voice. "Yes, Albus?" She caught sight of the baby in Severus' arms. "Who is this?"
she asked, then noticed the wound on the child's forehead. "And what happened to the little one?
Put him on the bed." The last was addressed to Severus, as she motioned to the nearest bed.

Severus obediently walked over to the bed, and reluctantly lay the child down, then moved away to
allow Poppy room to work. "That is Harry Potter," he replied.

Poppy glanced up sharply. "The Minister's son? Why is he here? Has something happened? Where
are his parents?"

"Yes, Lily's son. He's here because Voldemort killed his parents tonight, and this was the only
place I could think to take him," Severus answered, then added, "His wound is the result of the
Killing Curse."

As Poppy opened her mouth to speak again, Albus held up a hand to prevent more questions.
"Poppy, just heal the wound, please. Severus will tell us what happened tonight, and answer all our
questions later," he promised. "But we have to wait for Minerva. I sent her to the Potters' house to
gather some things, and I'm sure she'll have questions as well."

Poppy nodded in acquiescence, then took out her wand. Aiming it at Harry's forehead, she muttered
a healing spell. A moment later, she put her wand away again, and looked at the two wizards. "I've
healed the wound, but as it was a result of Dark Magic, I'm afraid that he'll always have the scar,"
she told them.

Albus wasn't surprised. Scars left by powerful magic usually couldn't be healed. "Scars can be very
useful," he said. "I have one above my left knee, which is a complete map of London
Underground."

Severus frowned slightly. He felt guilty. Maybe if he had acted sooner, he could've prevented the
child from being hurt. True to his nature, he didn't mention that, though. Instead he addressed
another aspect of the mark being permanent. "Tonight's events are going to make Harry famous,
and that scar will make sure everyone knows who he is as soon as they see it."

"You're right, Severus," the headmaster agreed. "Which is why I would have preferred to leave him
with his Muggle relatives. Unfortunately, I can't do that. Lily once told me that her sister hates
magic, and I'm not sure how she and her family would react to having a wizard in their home."

Severus nodded in silent agreement. He, too, had heard of Petunia Evans' feelings about magic,
although his source of information had been James, not Lily. He and James had been neighbours
until they graduated from Hogwarts. The Death Eaters had killed James' parents shortly before
graduation, and James hadn't wanted to stay in his childhood home, surrounded by memories.
Following his instinct, he had bought the house in Godric's Hollow in secret, telling his friends only
that he'd bought a house, but not mentioning where it was located. That had come in handy when
Severus discovered that Voldemort had targeted the Potters, and they needed to go into hiding.
Even then, only their secret-keeper had known the exact location. Not even Albus Dumbledore had
been informed. Only recently had James, again following instinct, told his old Head of House where
he and Lily lived.

Severus was pulled out of his musings when Minerva McGonagall rushed into the Hospital Wing.
She wasn't quite running, but it was a very close thing, and from the way she was panting for breath
when she finally stopped in front of the headmaster, she *had* been running, probably all the way
from Albus' office. "Albus gasp the Potters pant dead…. Voldemort...."

The headmaster interrupted her. "Calm down, Minerva, and catch your breath," he suggested
mildly. "I know the Potters and Voldemort are dead. Severus told me when we brought Harry down
here."

It was then that Minerva caught sight of the child sleeping in one of the hospital beds. Noticing the
scar on his forehead, she turned a quizzical gaze at the headmaster, about a million questions on her
mind.

"Just a moment, Minerva," Albus said, then turned to look at Madam Pomfrey. "How is the young
Mr. Potter?"

"He's fine, Albus," Poppy answered. "Other than the wound on his forehead, he wasn't hurt."

"Good, good. Do you think you can leave him for awhile?" Albus asked. "I would like you to be
present when Severus tells us what happened tonight."

Poppy considered the request, then nodded. "If we don't go too far away it shouldn't be a problem.
I'll cast a spell to inform me if the child wakes up, is uncomfortable or has nightmares."

"That's fine," Albus said. "We can use your office. It's close, but private enough that we won't be
disturbed."

"Yes, that will do nicely," Poppy said, then cast the spell before leading the other three into her
office. She quickly made her way to the lounge area and, taking a seat in one of the armchairs,
gestured for the others to sit. Once everyone was seated, she summoned a tray with a pot of tea, four
cups, teaspoons, a small plate with slices of lemon, a bowl of sugar and a jug of cream. "Are any of
you hungry? Would you like something to eat?" she asked, as she poured the tea.

"No, thank you, Poppy," Albus replied.

Minerva shook her head, and said, "I never eat after dinner. It makes my sleep unrestful."

Severus just shook his head in negation and took a drink of his tea before placing his cup on the
coffee table. He wanted to get this over with as soon as possible so arrangements could be made for
Harry, and someone could go rescue the Potters' still-captive secret-keeper. Preferably *before*
something permanent happened to him.

Albus glanced at Severus over the rim of his cup. Seeing the impatience and worry on the younger
wizard's face, he decided it was time. Clearing his throat to get the others' attention, he met
Severus' eyes. "Severus, tell us what happened from the moment you answered Voldemort's
summons tonight."

Severus nodded grimly. "When I arrived, Voldemort told me that the Potters' secret-keeper had
been captured. He was being held in a small room at the Manor, and the Dark Lord was looking
forward to breaking him. Within a few minutes he was brought in before Voldemort and underwent
several hours of torture by the Cruciatus curse. When that failed to produce the information that was
wanted, the Imperius was used, again, with no effect, as he threw it off almost immediately. Finally
he was given Veritaserum. Try as he might, he was unable to resist it, giving away the location of
James and Lily's home." Severus kept his voice neutral while he spoke, betraying nothing. To his
own ears, he sounded quite detached from the tale he was telling, even if he felt the direct opposite.

Minerva and Poppy shivered as they listened to the story. Their hearts immediately ached for the
young man who had suffered so to keep his friends' location secret, only to fail in the end. Albus
showed no measurable emotion, other then a slight flicker of dullness in his eyes.

Severus didn't wait for his audience to comment, just continued his account of events. "As soon as
he had the information he wanted, Voldemort gave the other Death Eaters present the order to guard
Sirius well until his return, then told me to come with him to get rid of the Minister of Magic." He
felt his tightly held control beginning to slip, and took a deep breath to help him regain his
composure. "James was first. Voldemort threw the Killing Curse before he had time to react. I
immediately went to find Lily; she was in Harry's room with the boy. I tried to get her to hand him
over to me. I was hoping to get out of there with the lad before it was too late. She refused to let
him go. Unfortunately, the Dark Lord came in quickly. He tried to convince her that he wouldn't kill
her if she handed Harry over to him. He even went so far as to offer her a position among his elite
group. Finally, he decided it wasn't worth his time or energy, so again the Killing Curse was
spoken, and Lily fell over, managing to turn so she was protecting Harry just before the curse hit
her. Somehow, she even managed to ensure that she wouldn't land on him when she fell. Voldemort
pushed her out of the way, and threw the curse at Harry, but something unexpected happened. The
curse hit him on the forehead, and seemed to bounce off, back at Voldemort. As it hit him, I threw
another one at him, and he crumpled to the floor, dead. Then I picked up the boy and came here as
quickly as I could."

When Severus stopped speaking, silence reigned while the three others digested what they'd just
been told. Their emotions about the events were mixed. On one hand, they were horrified that
Voldemort had managed to find, and kill, the Minister of Magic and her husband. On the other hand
was the relief that the Dark Lord was finally gone, hopefully for good. And then there was the now-
orphaned child, sleeping in the infirmary. In one night, Harry had lost both his parents and survived
the worst of the Unforgivable curses, defeating Voldemort in the process.

Albus looked at Severus. {Well,} he thought. {Harry didn't defeat Voldemort on his own. He did
have help. Harry Potter and Severus Snape, the Saviours of the Wizarding World.} The last thought
made his blue eyes twinkle merrily. His next thought, however, made the twinkle fade. For his own
safety, Severus' role in the war against Voldemort would have to be kept secret until all the Death
Eaters had been captured and imprisoned, and by then it might very well be nearly impossibly to
convince the Wizarding World of the truth. Only three other people knew that Severus - on Albus'
request - had been spying on Voldemort. Two of them were in the room, and the third had just been
murdered.

Albus sighed softly and shook off his thoughts, then addressed Minerva. "Did you get Harry's
things?"

Minerva blinked and focused on the headmaster. "Yes, Albus. As well as a few other things, like
you asked." She looked at him quizzically. "Why? What do you have planned, Albus?"

"We need to get Harry placed with someone before the Ministry comes along and decides to put
him with his Muggle relatives," Albus replied. "The obvious choice would be Molly and Arthur
Weasley, as they have a son about Harry's age…."

Minerva interrupted with a frown. "Yes, but Molly is also expecting their seventh child, and they
can't afford one more," she said. Seeing Albus' expression, she shook her head, having a good idea
what he was about to say. "And Molly would refuse to accept money to take care of a child. You
know that, Albus."

The headmaster nodded. Yes, he did know. "You're right, Minerva," he agreed. "So, since the
Weasleys aren't an option, do any of you have any suggestions?"

"Theseus and Ursula Blixencrone," Severus said quietly.

"What about the Patils? They have children around Harry's age," Poppy interjected.

"Don't you think Harry would be better off here?" Minerva asked. "There's no place safer. Severus
said it himself, people will know what happened, and they will know who Harry is. If he stays here
we can protect him from people looking for revenge, or those who will want to exploit him. Aside
from that, there are many who can care for him and he will be around so many children."

"While I agree that Hogwarts would be safe for him, he needs to grow up in a normal home. I don't
believe that being exposed to hundreds of older children ten months out of the year would be good
for him. No, I think it would be best if we contacted the Blixencrones and see if they would be
willing to raise Harry," Albus answered. "They really are the best choice. While they don't have
children at Harry's age, they have plenty of friends who do. And if I'm not mistaken, Charlie
Weasley is a friend of their daughter Rosaline. Besides, Theseus and Ursula knew James' parents so
they'll be able to tell Harry about his father," he said, then looked at Poppy. "I wouldn't ask the
Patils to take Harry. While they do have children his age, I think that it's better if he stays with a
family who doesn't. Harry will need a lot of attention and care right now, and I fear that the Patils
would not have the time and energy to give him that. They do have their twin daughters to care for."

Poppy nodded, understanding the headmaster's reasoning. That also explained why his first choice
had been to place Harry with the Weasleys. While they did have six children, Molly Weasley was a
very caring person, and under normal circumstances, she would be able to give the child what he
needed. With one more child on the way, though, the Weasley matriarch would have less energy,
and babies took a lot of work.

"So we contact the Blixencrones," Minerva concluded, conceding to the headmaster's point.

"Yes," Albus agreed. "I'll invite them here, and explain the situation." He rose and started towards
the door. "I'll be in my office. Theseus and Ursula will probably want to see Harry when they've
been informed of the situation," he added, and left.

*~*~*~*~*

Half an hour later, Albus returned to the Hospital Wing, accompanied by Theseus and Ursula
Blixencrone. A quick glance around showed him Severus sitting in a chair beside Harry's bed,
while Poppy and Minerva stood a short distance away, conversing in hushed voices.

As he neared the bed, Albus noticed a trunk at the side of Severus' chair, and rightly assumed that it
contained the things Minerva had collected at the Potter residence. He turned to the Blixencrones
and gestured for them to come closer, then turned back to Severus, touching the younger man's arm
gently to gain his attention. "Severus, the Blixencrones are here," he said quietly.

Severus turned his attention from the sleeping boy to the witch and wizard behind the headmaster.
"Good evening, Theseus, Ursula," he greeted them calmly.

While Theseus just nodded in acknowledgement before moving to study the child, Ursula smiled
and returned the greeting. "Hello, Severus. How is Harry?" She didn't inquire after Severus' health
or emotional state, knowing him well enough to know that he would likely be devastated by the
night's events. Even if he didn't allow it to show.

"He's sleeping peacefully. So far, he hasn't had any nightmares," Severus replied and -
uncharacteristically for him - hesitated for a moment. Then he asked the question foremost on his
mind. "Are you and Theseus going to take Harry?"

"Yes, we are," Ursula answered with a reassuring smile. "And you're welcome to visit him
whenever you want to."

Severus inclined his head slightly in thanks. "I believe that I will take you up on your offer," he told
her, then added, "But it will have to wait until Headmaster Dumbledore deems it safe for me to
leave Hogwarts."

Albus had been silent as he followed the conversation between Severus and Ursula, but at the
younger wizard's last statement, he spoke. "I actually wanted to speak to you about that, Severus,"
he said. "If you'll come with me to my office, I have a proposition for you."

"Of course, Headmaster," Severus replied, and rose from his chair. With a last glance at Harry, and
a polite 'goodnight' to the Blixencrones, he followed Albus out of the Hospital Wing, wondering
what the elder wizard had in mind.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

24. July, 1991

The sound of wings made Harry look up from his breakfast to watch the unfamiliar owl that had
flown in through the window. The bird dropped its letter in front of him, making him blink in
surprise for a moment before he picked up the envelope. As he turned it over, he was barely aware
of the owl leaving, too busy reading the front of the cover.

Mr. H. Potter
Blixencrone Manor
Linton
Cambridgeshire

Opening the envelope, Harry pulled out the letter, unfolded it and read:

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorcerer, Chief Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International
Confederation of Wizards.)

Dear Mr. Potter,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress

Harry laid the letter on the table beside his plate, then glanced at his mother. Seeing the quizzical
look on her face, he smiled brilliantly. "It's my Hogwarts acceptance letter, Mama."

"That's great, sweetpea." Ursula Blixencrone returned his smile, pleased that it had finally arrived.
She knew that Harry had been looking forward to getting his acceptance letter ever since she and
Theseus had told him that he would be going when he turned eleven. Lately, however, the boy had
begun to worry that he wouldn't receive it, as the days and weeks passed without any word. She had
tried to tell him that it wouldn't arrive until the end of July, but Harry had still worried.

Harry nodded enthusiastically, then looked at the supply list to see what he would need.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Uniforms:
First-year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear.
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)
Please note that all pupils' clothes should carry nametags.

Course Books:
All students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk
The History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginners' Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self Protection by Quentin Trimble

Other Equipment:
One wand
One cauldron (pewter, standard size two)
One set glass or crystal phials
One telescope
One set brass scales
Students may also bring a familiar. (Snakes are not allowed)

PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN
BROOMSTICKS.

Harry put the list down and looked at his mum again. "Mama, can we go to Diagon Alley and get
my things today?" he asked eagerly.

Ursula sighed softly. "You'll have to ask Severus if he'll take you. He's coming to watch you while
I visit Mrs. Singleton, remember?" she reminded her son.

"Oh." In the excitement of finally getting his Hogwarts letter, Harry had forgotten what day it was.
His mother always visited Mrs. Singleton on Tuesday. Usually Rosaline watched him, but she was
on holiday with her current boyfriend, so Severus was coming over instead. "I'll ask him when he
gets here."

Ursula smiled at her son's eagerness. "Severus should be here in half an hour, so you had better
finish your breakfast."

"Okay, mama," Harry sighed, and then did as instructed. He really wasn't hungry; he was too
excited. He kept looking at the letter, in between bites of his breakfast, grinning.

Just as Harry finished his meal, Kampy, the house-elf, crackled in, announcing, "Professor Snape is
here."

Harry jumped out of his seat and raced to the living room. Seeing the older man he, he jumped into
the waiting arms and yelled, "Severus! I got my letter! I'm going to Hogwarts!"

Severus smirked in amusement at Harry's enthusiastic reaction, caught the hyper child with an
'ummph', and gently returned the feverish hug. "That's wonderful news, Harry." Then he let him
go.

Harry continued to hop around, unable to stay still. "I'm going to be at your school! You're going to
be my teacher! Isn't that great?"

Just then Ursula entered the living room, Harry's supply list in her hand. "Harry, calm down,
sweetpea. Wasn't there something you wanted to ask Severus?"

"Yes, mama," Harry said and obediently stopped his bouncing. He looked at Severus. "Can we go
to Diagon Alley and get my school things?"

"You don't want to wait, and go with your parents?" Severus asked.

Harry shook his head emphatically. "No. I want my school things *now*," he replied. "So, can we
go? Can we? Please?"

"Impatient child," Severus muttered under his breath, then answered the question. "Very well.
We'll go to Diagon Alley as soon as you're ready."

"I'm ready now," Harry said promptly.

Ursula cast a critical eye on her son. "You are not going out wearing that robe," she declared firmly.
"Go change." As soon as Harry had run upstairs to change, she turned to Severus and handed him
the parchment she'd brought with her from the dining room. "Here's his list of school supplies.
Don't worry about getting him a familiar. He can bring Chase with him to Hogwarts." While she
spoke, Ursula got some money out of her purse and handed it to Severus. "This should be enough to
pay for all his things."

"I'm sure it is," Severus said, as he put the money into one of the pockets in his robe. Then he
looked up at the sound of Harry running down the stairs, his familiar following close on his heels.
Severus lifted an eyebrow. "Do you plan on bringing Chase with you?"

Harry turned hopeful eyes on the older wizard. "May I?"

Severus glanced at Ursula who nodded her permission, then turned his attention back to Harry.
"Yes. Just make sure he behaves. I don't want an out-of-control Demiguise running around."

Harry smiled brilliantly. "He'll behave," he promised. "I'll put him on his leash." He quickly got
the leash and snapped it on his familiar's collar. Then he looked at Severus. "We're ready."

"So I see," Severus answered with a ghost of a smile. "Say goodbye to your mother, Harry, and then
we'll go."

Harry gave his mother a quick hug. "Goodbye, mama. I'll see you later."

"Goodbye, sweetpea. Be good, and don't give Severus any trouble," Ursula said, and watched as
her son almost ran over to the fireplace, his 'yes, mama,' not diminishing his excitement in the
least.

Severus quickly walked over to Harry and put a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Harry, you know that I
have to go through first."

Harry looked up with a grimace. "I know, Severus. I forgot."

Severus didn't comment, just took a handful of floo powder and handed it to Harry, then took
another handful for himself and threw it into the fireplace. When the fire turned green, he stepped
into it and called out, "Diagon Alley."

When Severus was gone, Harry threw his floo powder into the fire, picked up Chase and stepped
into the fireplace, calling out his goal. Keeping a firm grip on the Demiguise, he watched silently as
fireplaces flew by, until he reached his destination and was kicked out of the floo network. He
stumbled and would've fallen if Severus hadn't caught him. As soon as his slight dizziness quickly
dissipated, Harry gave the older man a grateful smile, then put Chase down on the ground before
giving Severus an expectant look.

"We'll start by getting your school robes," Severus said with an amused smirk, then started towards
Madam Malkin's shop at a calm pace, making sure the child was able to keep up.

*~*~*~*~*

After they had finished in the robe shop, they went about purchasing the various supplies listed,
until all that was needed was Harry's wand. Walking side-by-side, Severus glared at anyone who
gawked at the sight of the Boy-Who-Lived, making people avert their gazes quickly. When he felt a
small hand sneaking into his about halfway to Ollivanders, Severus glanced down at Harry in mild
surprise. He didn't comment, but didn't pull his hand away either. He knew how shy Harry could be
when around strangers, especially if those strangers stared at him.

Finally, the two reached their destination, a narrow and shabby shop. Peeling gold letters over the
door read, 'Ollivanders: Maker of Fine wands since 382 B.C.'. In the dusty window, a single wand
lay on a faded purple cushion. A tinkling bell rang somewhere in the depths of the shop as they
stepped inside. It was a tiny place, seemingly empty except for a single spindly chair. However, a
closer inspection revealed thousands of narrow boxes piled neatly right up to the ceiling by the
opposite wall.

Harry was staring at the boxes in awe of the sheer number, and didn't notice when the proprietor
arrived, so he jumped at the unexpected sound of a soft voice.

"Good morning."

Harry turned towards the voice was greeted by the sight of an old man with wide, pale eyes that
shone like moons through the gloom of the shop. "Hello," Harry said awkwardly.

"Ah, yes," said the man. "Yes, yes. I thought I'd be seeing you soon, Harry Potter." It wasn't a
question. "You have your mother's eyes. It seems only yesterday she was in here herself, buying her
first wand. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Nice wand for charm work."

Mr. Ollivander moved closer to Harry, who wished he would blink. Those silvery eyes were a bit
creepy.

"Your father, on the other hand, favoured a mahogany wand. Eleven inches. Pliable. A little more
power and excellent for transfiguration. Well, I say your father favoured it -- it's really the wand
that chooses the wizard, of course."

Mr. Ollivander had come so close that he and Harry were almost nose-to-nose. Harry could see
himself in those misty eyes.

"And there's where..." Mr. Ollivander touched the lightning scar on Harry's forehand with a long,
white finger. "I'm sorry to say I sold the wand that did it," he said softly. "Thirteen-and-a-half
inches. Yew. Powerful wand, very powerful, and in the wrong hands...well, if I'd known what that
wand was going out into the world to do...." He shook his head and then, to Harry's relief, spotted
Severus. "Severus! Severus Snape. How nice to see you again…. Juniper and sphinx tail hair, 11
inches and bendy, wasn't it?"

"Yes, sir. That's right. Good for defence," Severus replied.

Mr. Ollivander nodded in agreement, then turned back to Harry. "Well, now, Mr. Potter. Let me
see." He pulled a long tape measure with silver markings out of his pocket. "Which is your wand
arm?"

"Right," Harry answered without hesitation.

"Hold out your arm. That's it." He measured Harry from shoulder to finger, then wrist to elbow,
shoulder to floor, knee to armpit and round his head. As he measured, he said, "Every Ollivander
wand has a core of a powerful magical substance, Mr. Potter. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail
feathers, and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wands are the same, just as no two
unicorns, dragons or phoenixes are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good
results with another wizard's wand."

Harry suddenly realized that the tape measure, which was measuring between his nostrils, was
doing it on its own. Mr. Ollivander was flitting around the shelves, taking down boxes.

"That will do," he said, and the tape measure crumpled into a heap on the floor. "Right then, Mr.
Potter. Try this one. Beech wood and dragon heartstring. Nine inches. Nice and flexible. Just take it
and give it a wave."

Harry took the wand and waved it around a bit, but Mr. Ollivander snatched it out of his hand
almost at once.

"Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try…."

Harry tried… but he had hardly raised the wand when it too was snatched back by Mr. Ollivander.

"No, no… here, ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, springy. Go on, go on, try it out."

Harry tired and tried. He had no idea what Mr. Ollivander expected from him. The pile of tried
wands was mounting higher and higher on the spindly chair, but the more wands Mr. Ollivander
pulled from the shelves, the happier he seemed to become.

"Difficult customer," he commented. "Don't worry, we'll find the perfect wand somewhere among
my products…. I wonder…. Yes, why not? Unusual combination… holly and phoenix feather,
eleven inches, nice and supple."

Harry took the wand and felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wand above his head,
brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of coloured sparks shot from the end
like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls.

Mr. Ollivander cried, "Oh, bravo! Yes, indeed, oh, very good. Well, well, well…how curious…how
very curious…" He put Harry's wand back into its box and wrapped it in brown paper, still
muttering, "Curious…curious…."

"Sorry," said Harry, "but what's curious?"

Mr. Ollivander fixed Harry with his pale stare. "I remember every wand I've ever sold, Mr. Potter.
Every single wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another
feather… just one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its
brother gave you that scar. Yes, thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Curious indeed how these things
happen. Remember, the wand chooses the wizard…. I think we must expect great things from you,
Mr. Potter. After all, Voldemort did great things… terrible, yes, but great."

Severus, who had watched in silence, spoke up. "How much do we owe for the wand?"

"Seven Galleons," Mr. Ollivander replied. He took the money Severus handed him, then bowed as
they left his shop.

*~*~*~*~*

As they walked away from Ollivanders, Severus pulled out a pocket watch and looked at it. "It's
time to go back to the Manor," he said, as he put the watch away again. "It's almost dinnertime."

"Okay," Harry said, and slipped his hand into Severus'. Holding the older wizard's hand made him
feel safe and comforted.

It didn't take them long to reach the fireplace they'd arrived at. Luckily, it was still early, so they
didn't have to wait in line. Severus gave Harry a handful of floo powder and gestured for him to go
first, not wanting the boy alone in Diagon Alley.

Harry threw the powder into the fire, stepped inside and called out, "Blixencrone Manor."

Severus waited until the fire had returned to normal, then repeated the child's actions. A moment
later, he stumbled out of the fireplace in the Manor and was greeted by the sight of Harry dusting
the soot off of his robe. When he'd brushed the filth off of his own robes, the two of them went into
the dining room and sat down before Severus summoned a house elf and ordered dinner.

When they were halfway though their meal, Severus remembered something he had meant to talk to
Harry about, and cleared his throat to get the boy's attention. When he had it, he said, "Harry, we
need to talk about how things are going to be at school."

"What do you mean?" Harry asked.

"Well, I'm going to be one of your teachers...."

"Yes, I know. I can't wait!" Harry interrupted.

Severus smiled. "As I was saying, I'm going to be one of your teachers, and as such, you won't be
able to use my first name during school hours or while in class."

Harry looked at him a bit oddly. Or so Severus thought, until he spoke. "I know that, Severus.
Mama told me that I have to show all the grown-ups the proper respect."

Severus was a bit taken back by the boy's tone. "I just wanted to make sure you understood that we
can't be friends during school hours," he said, then added, "But I want you to remember that you
can always come to me if you need help with something, or just need to talk."

Harry's face lit up. "Thanks, Severus…. Oh, I mean, Professor Snape," he finished with a giggle.

Severus looked sternly at Harry, then gave a slight smile. "Brat."

"Yeah, but you still like me," Harry grinned.

"Yes, I do," Severus replied, then smirked. "You know, Harry, all other children your age are
terrified of me."

Harry sent him a look that clearly communicated his disbelief. "How can anyone be afraid of you?"

"Probably because I like to terrify my students," Severus admitted. "Either they learn to work with
me breathing down their necks, or they'll be too afraid to brew potions on their own. Besides," he
added thoughtfully, "if my students can do their work despite the distraction I provide, then they're
better equipped to deal with the real world once they finish school."

Harry shrugged at that. He wasn't convinced that Severus really was all that frightening when he
was teaching. As for the rest of it…. Well, Harry assumed that it made sense. He didn't have a lot of
experience with the adults' real world, so he couldn't tell for sure, but Severus had never lied to
him. He shrugged it off as unimportant at the moment, and returned his attention to his meal. As he
finished eating, he remembered about the question he had planned to ask the older wizard.
"Severus?"

Severus glanced at the child. "Yes, Harry?"

"You went to school with my parents," Harry began hesitantly. When Severus nodded in
confirmation, he continued. "Well, mama and papa have told me about them, mostly about dad…."
he trailed off.

For a moment, Severus frowned in confusion, then he realized what Harry was getting at. "You
want to know about your mum." It wasn't quite a question.

Harry nodded fervently. "Yes. I mean, I know what she looked like from the pictures, and papa told
me that she was the Minister of Magic, but that's all. I don't even know which House she was in."

Severus glanced at the boy's plate and, noticing that he had finished his meal, said, "Let's go
outside for a walk, and I'll tell you about your mum." He waited for Harry's agreement, summoned
a house elf to clean the table, then rose and led the way out into the garden. Once they were outside,
he looked at the expectant child by his side, and began. "Your mum was in Ravenclaw."

"That's the House for those who like to study, right?"

"Yes. Your mum was very smart, and ambitious as well," Severus said with a smile. "She should
really have been in Slytherin. She was ambitious and cunning enough for my House. Unfortunately,
she was Muggle-born, and there has never been a Muggle-born in Slytherin House, and there
probably never will be."

"That's stupid," Harry declared, stopping. "There's nothing wrong with Muggle-born."

Severus halted as well, and looked at the boy. "Be that as it may, there is nothing you or I can do
about it," he said calmly. "Now, your mum…." As he and Harry resumed their walk around the
garden, he relayed his memories of Lily's school days.

*~*~*~*~*

1. September, 1991

Harry and Ursula arrived at King's Cross twenty minutes before the Hogwarts Express was leaving.
Putting Harry's trunk on a cart, they swiftly made their way to their destination, and through the
magical barrier to platform 9 ¾, and into the crowd of Hogwarts students and their parents. Harry
and his mother walked along the train until they found an empty compartment, then Ursula levitated
Harry's trunk and guided it into a corner of the cubicle. Once the luggage was taken care of, she
turned to her son, who had sat down, with Chase lying by his feet. "Owl papa and I and tell us
which House you were sorted into," she instructed.

"Yes, mama."

"I think that you'll probably end up in either Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, but it's okay even if you get
sorted into Slytherin or Hufflepuff," Ursula continued. "Papa and I will be proud of you as long as
you honour your House, and do your best in your classes."

"I will, mama," Harry promised.

Ursula took out a pouch and handed it to her son. "Here, take this." Seeing Harry's questioning
look, she explained. "It's your allowance. You won't be able to go to Hogsmeade, but the train has
a witch who sells sweets. Now, don't buy so many sweets that you get a stomach ache, and eat your
dinner first."

"Yes, mama," Harry replied, as he put the pouch in a pocket in his robe.

"Good." Ursula bent down and kissed Harry on top of his head. "Enjoy school, have fun and don't
get into too much trouble," were her final instructions before she got off the train, Harry's 'okay,
mama,' floating in the air behind her.

After his mother had left the compartment, Harry got up from his seat and opened the window,
poking his head out to take a look. As he'd expected, his mother came into view a moment later,
smiling at him. He returned the smile cheerfully. Just then, a whistle sounded, signalling the train's
departure. "Goodbye, mama," he said quickly, and waved as it started moving.

"Goodbye, sweetpea."

Harry kept waving until his mother was out of sight, then he closed the window and sat back down.
He looked out at the passing landscape for a while, but soon became bored. Since it seemed that he
was going to stay in the compartment alone, he decided that he might as well read. Getting up, he
went over to his trunk and retrieved 'Magical Drafts and Potions', then returned to his seat. He'd
started reading it one day out of boredom, and found it quite interesting. {Maybe that's because it's
the subject Severus teaches,} he thought, as he opened the book, ready to lose himself in the world
of Potions.

Harry was so engrossed in his book that he didn't notice when, half an hour later, someone opened
the door and entered the compartment. He didn't realize that he had company until a familiar,
cheery voice spoke.

"Harry. There you are. I've been looking for you," Ron Weasley said.

Harry looked up from his book. "Oh. Hi, Ron." He smiled at the redhead. "Was there any particular
reason you were looking for me, or did you just want to get away from your brothers?"

"I wanted to get away from my brothers," Ron replied, as he sat down. "So, what are you reading?"
Harry held the book up so Ron could see the cover. Ron grimaced in disgust. "*Harry*. The school
year hasn't even started, and you're already studying?"

Harry grinned at the expression on his friend's face. "Not really," he answered. "But since I was
alone in here, and looking out the window was boring, I decided to read. I started on this a few days
ago, and it's really interesting."

Ron just shook his head in exasperation. "I can't believe you're interested in reading the
schoolbooks before we have to," he said. "You know, you'll probably get sorted into Ravenclaw."

"Well, that *is* the House my mum was in," Harry said. "I'm sure she'd be proud if I get into her
House. Beside," he added. "It doesn't matter which House I'm sorted into. Mama and papa are
proud of me anyway."

Before Ron could comment, the door opened again and three boys entered. The smallest of them
was blond, with a pale, pointed face and grey eyes. The other two were thickset and looked
extremely mean. Standing on either side of the pale boy, they resembled bodyguards. The blond
spoke. "I'm Draco Malfoy, and this is Crabbe and Goyle."

Harry rose and shook the offered hand. "I'm Harry Potter, and that is Ron Weasley." He nodded
toward the redhead, and let go of Draco. He turned to the two other boys and nodded in greeting.
"Hello, Crabbe, Goyle."

Crabbe and Goyle nodded back, but remained silent. Neither was comfortable speaking around
strangers, and besides, Draco Malfoy was their leader and had made it quite clear that they should
keep quiet for now.

Meanwhile, Draco stepped closer to Ron. "It's nice to meet you," he said as they shook hands.

"It's nice to meet you, too," Ron replied, then nodded a greeting to Crabbe and Goyle.

Draco looked from Harry to Ron, and back again. "Do you mind if we stay in here with you? The
train is quite full, and this is the only compartment that has room enough for all three of us."

Harry exchanged a glance with Ron, then turned to the blond. "No, we don't mind. Please have a
seat," he replied, as he sat down again.

"Thank you," Draco said, sitting down beside Harry, while Crabbe and Goyle seated themselves
beside Ron. "So, any idea which House you'll be sorted into?" Draco asked.

"No, but I hope I get into Gryffindor," Ron replied. "I have three brothers in Gryffindor, and my
two eldest brothers were there as well when they attended Hogwarts. As were both my parents."

"Ah, yes," Draco said. "My mother told me that the Weasleys have always been Gryffindors. I
don't think you'll have too much trouble getting into that House." He turned to Harry. "What about
you?"

"I don't really know," Harry said with a shrug. "My dad was in Gryffindor, and my mum was in
Ravenclaw. So was papa, but mama went to Beauxbaton. Grandma is the British Ambassador in
Magical France."

"Harry will probably be sorted into Ravenclaw," Ron remarked. "He was studying when I came in
earlier."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Ron. I *told* you. I was reading because I was bored," he said. Then he
turned back to Draco. "What House do you think you'll get?"

"Slytherin," Draco answered promptly. "Both my parents were in that House. Besides, I'm planning
to rule the world one day, which is a worthy goal for any Slytherin."

"Yes, it is," Harry agreed. "But, are you *sure* you want to do that?"

"Of course I'm sure," Draco said indignantly. "Why do you ask?"

"My papa always has *tons* of paperwork, and he's just the Department Head of Wizarding
Education. Imagine how much paperwork you'd have if you ruled the entire known world," Harry
said.

Draco considered the point for a moment, then shrugged. "I'll just outlaw paperwork," he said
decisively.

Harry snorted. "Papa says that it's one of the things you can never get rid of. No matter what you
do, there'll *always* be paperwork," he told the other boy. {Besides,} he thought. {It's not the
ministries that run the countries, it's the corporations.} He might be young, but several of his
parents' friends were business people, and he'd overheard enough conversations to know that.

Just then, a great clattering outside in the corridor interrupted the children's conversation. A
smiling, dimpled woman slid back their door and asked, "Anything off the trolley, dears?"

Harry and Draco got up and went out into the corridor. Between the two of them, they bought a bit
of every kind of candy on the trolley, more than enough for five eleven year olds. Arms full of
sweets, the two boys returned to the compartment, and their seats, dropping everything on an empty
seat.

The five boys spent the rest of the trip eating candy and talking.

*~*~*~*~*

Hogwarts, the Great Hall, early evening.

Harry stood in the front of the hall with the other First years, and waited to be sorted. The old hat
had just finished its song, and Professor McGonagall began speaking, giving the new students
instructions on what came next.

"When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted," she said, holding
a long roll of parchment. "Abbott, Hannah!"

A pink-faced girl with blonde pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat, which fell right down
over her eyes, and sat down. A moment's pause….

"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat.

The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the Hufflepuff table.

"Bones, Susan!"

"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat again, and Susan scuttled off to sit next to Hannah.

"Boot, Terry!"

"RAVENCLAW!"

The table second from the left clapped this time; several Ravenclaws stood up to shake hands with
Terry as he joined them.

"Brocklehurst, Mandy" went to Ravenclaw too, but "Brown, Lavender" became the first new
Gryffindor, and the table on the far left exploded with cheers; Harry could see Fred and George
Weasley catcalling.

"Bulstrode, Millicent" then became a Slytherin, as did "Crabbe, Vincent" while "Finch-Fletchley,
Justin" became a Hufflepuff. The list went on for a while, until….

"Malfoy, Draco!"

Draco swaggered forward and got his wish at once: the hat had barely touched his head when it
screamed, "SLYTHERIN!"

There weren't many people left now. "Moon" "Nott" "Parkinson" then a pair of twin girls, "Patil"
and "Patil" then "Perks, Sally-Anne" and then, at last…. "Potter, Harry!"

As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like little hissing fires all over the hall.

"Potter, did she say?"

"*The* Harry Potter?"

The last thing Harry saw before the hat dropped over his eyes was the hall full of people craning to
get a good look at him. The next second he was looking at the black inside of the hat. He waited.

"Hmm," said a small voice in his ear. "Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad
mind either. There's talent, my goodness, yes…. And there's quite a lot of ambition and cunning
too. I think the best place for you would be SLYTHERIN!"

Harry heard the hat shout the last word to the whole hall. He took off the hat and walked
confidently toward the Slytherin table. He wasn't really surprised by the hat's decision. When it
was just the two of them, his sister usually called him her little Slytherin. She had started calling
him that after she discovered that he was a parselmouth. She'd also advised him to keep that ability
to himself. People were wary of those who could speak to snakes because the last person who was
able to do that had been Voldemort.

As he reached the table and sat down beside Draco, Harry shook off his thoughts and watched as
the last first years were sorted. Ron got into Gryffindor, as he had hoped, and Harry was pleased for
him. He just hoped that it wouldn't ruin their friendship. Rosaline had told him about that
happening. On the other hand, Severus and his dad had been friends since childhood, and hadn't
allowed House rivalry to ruin that friendship. Severus had even accepted, and befriended, two of
James' Gryffindor friends, Remus Lupin and Sirius Black.

While Harry had been lost in thought once again, the last of the First years had been sorted, and
Albus Dumbledore stood up.

The headmaster was beaming at the students, his arms opened wide, as if nothing could have
pleased him more than to see them all there. "Welcome," he said. "Welcome to a new year at
Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are:
Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you!" He sat back down.

Everybody clapped and cheered, including Harry. Rosaline had told him that, despite being the best
wizard in the world, the headmaster was a bit mad, so he wasn't surprised by the elder man's
apparent craziness. He did notice that one of the First year Ravenclaws looked startled. {She has to
be Muggle-born,} he thought. {Dumbledore's craziness is a well-known fact in the Wizarding
World. What's her name again? Oh yes. Hermione Granger.}

Harry's train of thought was interrupted when Draco tapped him on the arm. He turned to the other
boy with a quizzical look.

"Congratulations on getting into Slytherin," Draco said with a smile.

Harry smiled back. "Thank you."

"You didn't seem surprised that you got sorted into our House," Draco observed.

Harry shrugged. "I wasn't. I know Ron expected me to become a Ravenclaw, but my sister said that
I'm a Slytherin, and she's usually right about these things," he said, as he started piling food on his
plate.

"You didn't seem all that Slytherin on the Hogwarts Express," Draco said.

Harry grinned. "You mean because of my comment about the problems with ruling the world?"

"Yes."

"Well, it's true," Harry said. "Besides, there's better ways to take over the world than by running
the ministries."

"There is?" Draco asked. When the other boy nodded in confirmation, he asked, "How?"

Harry glanced around quickly, then returned his attention to Draco. "You don't really expect me to
tell you *here*, do you?"

It was Draco's turn to look around. Seeing the curios looks on the faces of those close enough to
hear the conversation made him agree and change the subject. "So, tell me about your sister."

*~*~*~*~*

After tea was finished and Dumbledore had made his announcements about the Forbidden Forest,
not using magic in the corridors between classes and Quidditch trials, everyone sang the school
song. Then the First year Slytherins, like everyone else, followed their prefect to the dungeon where
their dormitory was located.

They stopped in front of a statue, then the prefect turned around. "Okay, listen up everyone. The
password is 'Sidewinder'. Remember it. If you forget, you'll have to wait for one of your fellow
Slytherins to let you in."

Beside the statue, a stone door concealed in the wall slid open. The students entered, and found
themselves in the common room. It was a long, low underground room with rough stonewalls and
ceiling from which round, greenish lamps were hanging on chains. A fire crackled under an
elaborately carved mantelpiece ahead of them.

"We'll wait here," the prefect told the curious new Slytherins. "Our Head of House will be here
shortly to welcome you properly to our House."

The prefect had just finished speaking when the door opened again, and Professor Snape entered.
He moved into the middle of the room, then looked at the First years. "Gather around, children," he
instructed softly. He waited until they'd obeyed before speaking again. "Welcome to the House of
Salazar Slytherin. I am Professor Severus Snape, the school's Potions master, and your Head of
House.

Despite what you may have heard, we are *not* the dark house... but the other three Houses will
believe that, so the only allies you are likely to make during your seven years here at Hogwarts will
be those in your own House. You might win over some Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. The
Gryffindors are, for the most part, a sorry lot. Don't expect to get along with them.

Not all Dark Wizards from Hogwarts have come from our house... just the most famous in the last
century. I do *not* expect another Tom Riddle, he who was known as Lord Voldemort. While
having goals is a good thing, too much ambition can make you ruthless, and uncaring about others.
Cruelty will not be accepted in this House." He gave the entranced children a stern look. Seeing that
they had understood the warning, he let his expression soften a bit. "Lastly, there are no surnames in
Slytherin. Everyone addresses each other by the first name, including me. So, as long as only other
Slytherins are present, you are allowed to call me 'Severus'."

When he'd finished his welcome speech, Severus asked the First years to introduce themselves.
There were two girls, Pansy and Millicent, who didn't want anyone to call her 'Milli', and six boys,
Vincent, Gregory, Blaise, Draco, Aaron and Harry.

Once introductions were done, Severus spoke again. "I'm always available to you if you need
assistance, or just need someone to listen to you. The prefect, or one of the older students, can show
you where my office is located. If it is urgent, and I'm not in my office, try my private chambers.
They are located further down the hall from here," he told them. "Now, off to bed with you. It's late
and classes begin tomorrow. Goodnight."

"Goodnight, Severus," the children chorused, as they headed to their dormitories.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

23. November, 1996

The students, third year and up, were in Hogsmeade, but Harry had been in detention earlier. When
he had finally been let out, he'd decided not to go the village, but instead stay and explore the
castle. Even after more than five years, he still occasionally found new rooms. This was also the
occasion now. Coming across an unknown door, he'd opened it, and entered what looked like an
old, unused classroom.

At first sight, the room seemed completely empty. There were no chairs or tables; even the teacher's
desk had been removed. The only thing that revealed that this had been a classroom was the
blackboard on one wall. However, when he took a closer look around, Harry noticed a mirror at the
other end of the room. Curious why a mirror would be in an otherwise empty room, he approached
it. As he got nearer, he saw that the mirror was as high as the ceiling, with an ornate gold frame,
standing on two clawed feet. There was an inscription carved around the top: Erised stra ehru oyt
ube cafru oyt on wohsi.

Puzzling over the words, he stepped in front of the mirror and, automatically, glanced into it. To his
surprise, he didn't see his own image in the blank surface. Or rather, it wasn't a reflection of him as
he was. He seemed older, especially when you looked at the eyes, and he wasn't alone. Standing
beside him and looking at him with a facial expression Harry had never seen directed at him from
*anyone* was Severus Snape.

Harry blinked in astonishment. Severus' dark eyes were soft with… love? Yes, that was definitely
the expression of someone in love. Harry had seen that expression often enough between his parents
to recognize it. He turned his head to glance at his mirror self, wanting to see the look on his own
face. He was startled to realize that it matched Severus' look exactly.

Harry blinked, looked at the couple in the mirror, blinked again, and finally took a few steps back.
Then he raised his eyes and read the inscription again. It still didn't make any sense, and he frowned
as he attempted to work out what language it was. Suddenly inspiration hit, and he tried reading it
backwards. {Ishow no tyo urfac ebu tyo urhe arts desire. Hmm. Something about desire,} he
thought. {It doesn't make much more sense this way, but at least it's English. Maybe if I divide
it…. Well, the first two are easy enough, I show…. What's next? Let's see…. Not yo… ur fac… e.
Oh! 'I show not your face'. Hmm… What *does* it show, then? Next is, but your he… arts…
hearts desire. 'I show not your face but your hearts desire'? But, that would mean….}

Harry's thoughts trailed off, as he took another look into the mirror. The image of him with Severus
was still there. {Oh, Merlin! When did I fall in love with Severus?} he wondered. {And why didn't
I realize it until now?}

Harry stared at the couple in the mirror for a while longer, then tore himself away with difficulty.
When he left the room, his head was reeling with so many thoughts that he didn't know which one
to consider first. He was so preoccupied that it was pure luck he didn't walk into something or
someone on his way back to the Slytherin dormitory. In fact, he barely even noticed where he was
headed, so it came as something of a surprise when he suddenly found himself in front of the
entrance.

Shrugging off the fleeting question of how he'd gotten there, he muttered the password, then
entered the common room, and headed straight for the sixth year boy's dormitory. He closed the
door behind him, then walked to his bed and lay down. It was time to straighten out his head.
However, now that he was someplace safe where he was unlikely to be interrupted, there was only
one thought running through his mind. {I am in love with Severus.} The thought repeated itself
constantly, as if it was stuck in a loop.

As he lay, staring blindly at the canopy of his bed, he slowly realized that he needed to talk to
someone. His first inclination was to go find Severus, but he dismissed it instantly. He couldn't talk
to Severus about this. In fact, there was no one at Hogwarts that he would feel comfortable
discussing this with. Then it hit him. He'd owl Rosaline and tell her that he needed to see her.

Getting up from his bed, Harry got a piece of parchment, a quill and ink, then quickly scribbled a
note. Then he put everything away, left the dormitory, and headed for the owlery. He had an urgent
message to send.

*~*~*~*~*

When the owls arrived during brunch the next morning, Harry looked up, hoping that there was a
reply from Rosaline. The thought had barely formed when, much to his relief, his sister's red-tailed
falcon swept down toward him. The bird landed on the table beside his plate and stuck out a leg so
he could obtain the parchment it carried.

Harry obediently took the letter, then unrolled it and read the message. It was brief and to the point,
as he'd expected. 'Meet me in The Three Broomsticks at one o'clock.' He gave a mental sigh of
relief, as he refolded the note and slipped it into a pocket. Then he took a few pieces of bacon from
his plate and fed them to the waiting bird before sending it off again. {One o'clock. Well, that gives
me about two hours,} he thought. {I think I'll go to Hogsmeade when I'm done here. I need to visit
the bookshop to see if they have that book.}

Harry quickly finished his meal, all the while trying not to look at the teacher's table. He didn't
want to see Severus just yet because he had no idea how he'd react. But as he put down his utensils
and rose to his feet, he finally gave in to the urge and glanced toward Severus' usual seat, only to
discover that his precaution had been in vain. The Potions master wasn't there. Harry didn't know
whether to be relieved or disappointed, but quickly shook it off and headed back to the Slytherin
dormitories to get his cloak.

*~*~*~*~*

When Harry reached Hogsmeade forty-five minutes later, he headed straight for the bookshop. He
quickly found the book he wanted, 'Machiavellian Mischief Makers: The Life and Times of James
and Lily Potter' by Remus J. Lupin. Then he decided to see if they had anything else of interest, and
browsed through the bookshelves. Much to his delight, he found a few that looked appealing:
'Everyday Charms,' by Meline Sikeran, 'The History of Wizard's Chess' by Isheran Tulv and 'An
Easy Guide to Become an Animagus' by Albus Dumbledore. Just as he'd decided that those were
enough to keep him occupied for a while, he spotted a Potions book he hadn't seen before. Taking it
down, his eyes widened when he read the cover. 'An Easy Guide to Basic Potions Making' by
Severus Snape. {I didn't know that Severus had written a book,} he thought, and added it to the
other books he wanted.

Deciding that he had enough to keep him occupied for a while, Harry carried the books to the
counter. When he'd paid for them, he pulled out his wand, shrank his books and put them in a
pocket, then put his wand away and left. Once he was outside, he glanced at his wristwatch, and
was slightly surprised to discover he'd been in the shop for an hour. {Why am I surprised?} he
wondered. {Mama does say that if I could, I'd be happy to live in a library, or bookshop, and I
know she's right.} He shrugged it off, and headed for The Three Broomsticks at a leisurely pace.
He had fifteen minutes until he had to meet his sister, and the pub wasn't that far from the
bookshop.

As Harry walked towards his destination, he noticed Hermione across the road and called out to her.
They met in the middle, and he told her about the books he had gotten. One thing they had in
common was they love for the written word. While they were talking, they were both greeted by
other students, all calling out a 'hello', although some, such as Ron Weasley, decided to give them a
hard time for standing in the middle of everything and 'holding up traffic'.

Taking Ron's advice, the two said their goodbyes: Hermione was going to go and buy her own copy
of 'An Easy Guide to Become an Animagus', and Harry went on his way to The Three Broomsticks,
getting there with only a few minutes to spare before he had to meet Rosaline. Knowing from
experience that she was probably early, he went inside and glanced around, trying to find her.
Before he had a chance to succeed, he heard her calling to him.

"Harry. Over here."

Turning in the direction her voice came from, Harry saw his sister sitting in the back of the pub, in a
semi-dark corner that would ensure their privacy. Grateful for her discretion, he headed over and sat
down across from her. "Hi, Rosaline," he said quietly. "Thank you for responding to my note so
quickly."

Rosaline waved off his thanks. "You're my brother, of course I'll come see you when you need to
talk to me," she said, then added, "Besides, your message said that it was urgent."

Before Harry could respond, Madam Rosmerta arrived at their table with two butterbeers. She sat
the bottles in front of the siblings. "Would you like anything else?" she asked with a smile.

Rosaline glanced quizzically at Harry. When he shook his head, she turned back to the proprietress.
"No, thank you, Madam Rosmerta." She waited until the other witch had left, then turned back to
her brother. "Okay, Harry, tell me what's so important that it couldn't wait till the Christmas
holiday."

Harry looked around, making sure no one would overhear the conversation. When he had
ascertained that no one was within hearing distance, he turned back to his sister, and spoke in a low
voice. "I didn't go to Hogsmeade yesterday because I had detention. When it was finished, I
decided to explore the castle and see if I could find any new rooms," he began.

"Did you?" Rosaline wanted to know.

Harry nodded. "I found an old, unused classroom," he replied. "The only thing there was a mirror."

Rosaline raised her eyebrows. "That doesn't sound particularly interesting."

"I know, but it was beautiful, so I took a closer look," Harry said, and described the mirror. He even
mentioned the inscription, but didn't reveal what it said.

"What did the inscription read?" Rosaline wanted to know.

"I'll get to that," Harry answered. "At first, it didn't make any sense, but I figured it out later, after
I'd looked into the mirror." He paused for a moment, then said, "This is where it gets interesting. I
didn't see a reflection of me. Well, not of me as I am now," he added. Seeing the confused
expression on his sister's face, he explained. "I saw and older version of me. And I wasn't alone."

"You weren't?" Rosaline asked. When Harry shook his head, she enquired, "Who was in the mirror
with you?"

"Severus."

"Severus Snape?" Rosaline repeated, clearly surprised. "As in, Potions master of Hogwarts? Your
Head of House? *That* Severus?"

Harry nodded in confirmation. "That's the only Severus I know. And there's more."

Rosaline blinked. "I'm almost afraid to ask," she remarked. "What else?"

"He was looking at me strangely, or what I thought was strangely until I looked closer." Harry
hesitated for a moment; worried that his sister would think he was completely crazy. "He was
looking at me like I was the only person in the world. Like he was in love with me, and I was
looking back at him the same way." He quickly ran out of steam, and sat back, waiting for
Rosaline's reaction.

Rosaline considered her brother's words for a while, then refocused on the young wizard. "So, you
saw you and Severus being in love with each other in a mirror?" she asked, wanting confirmation.
When Harry nodded, she said, "I admit that would be surprising, but I don't really see what the
problem is."

"Rosaline!" Harry hissed quietly. "The problem is that it's Severus! I mean, I've known him all my
life. I can't be in love with him." He sounded as frustrated as he was. He wanted his older, wiser
sister to help him, *not* make matters worse.

"Are you?" Rosaline asked. Seeing the startled expression on her brother's face, she said, "You told
me that you saw an older mirror image of you being in love with a mirror image of Severus. That is
different than you being in love with him."

"Oh," Harry said, realizing that he hadn't explained about the inscription. "It would be, except…."
He trailed off.

"Except what?"

"The mirror shows your hearts desire," Harry muttered.

"It does?" Rosaline asked. "How do you know?"

Harry sighed and met his sister's eyes. "That's what the inscription says: 'I show not your face but
your hearts desire'."

"I see. So, you *are* in love with Severus?"

Harry swallowed hard, bit his lower lip and finally gave a quick nod of confirmation. "And now I
don't know what to do, or how to act around him."

Rosaline's heart melted when she met her brother's pleading green eyes. She thought for a minute,
wondering if her idea was the best or not. Decision made, she said, "Harry, you can't avoid him.
You know Severus. He will realise something is wrong, and pursue you until you tell him." Harry
nodded his agreement to that assessment of their family friend. "So, you have to either decide to
explore your feelings, privately and quietly, or you just have to forget it for now. But keep in mind
that if you go with the second option, you can't act any differently around him, or he'll know
something's up."

"I know," Harry responded to the last comment. Then he sat quietly for a while, considering
Rosaline's advice. Finally, he looked up and met her eyes, aware that she was curious about what
he'd decided to do. "I think that I should probably leave it alone," he said. "I don't think I can just
forget how I feel, but I can ignore it. I hope. Besides, I don't even know how he feels about me. I
mean, I know that he cares about me, but other than that…." He didn't finish the thought. "I mean,
yes, the image I saw in the mirror was in love with me, but that was what my heart wishes for, not
reality. For all I know, Severus thinks of me as a child, possibly even *his* child."

"That might be best," Rosaline said. "Although I'd see about finding out how he really feel about
you. Severus has a tendency to keep his feelings well hidden. Just don't drive yourself crazy over it.
If it is meant to happen, it will."

"Maybe I will," Harry said thoughtfully. "I'll have to be discreet about it, though, so I'll spend
some time figuring out the best approach."

"Good plan." Rosaline smiled in approval. "Let me know if you need ideas."

Harry grinned. "I will," he promised, knowing that his sister could be very sneaky if necessary.
People who didn't know Rosaline were always surprised by her Slytherin cunning. It wasn't a trait
normally associated with Hufflepuffs. Harry was pulled out of his thoughts when Rosaline rose.
"You're leaving?"

Rosaline smiled gently at the disappointment in Harry's voice. "Yes, I am. I need to get back to the
Ministry. My superior doesn't like when I leave for too long. He claims that the department would
fall apart without me."

Harry laughed. "What is he going to do if you get sick? Or decide that you'd rather work
somewhere else?"

"That's what I always ask when he makes that claim."

"And?"

"He says that as a Hufflepuff, I'm too loyal to just leave." Rosaline sniggered. "I always remind
him that I may be a Hufflepuff, but most of my ancestors were Slytherins or Ravenclaws, with a
few members in the other two Houses."

Harry chuckled as he got to his feet. "I know you, Rosaline. There may be some Slytherin in you,
but you're too much Hufflepuff to just leave your job without a proper warning," he said and
hugged her.

"You're right, of course. Besides, I like working in International Affairs," Rosaline said, as she
returned the hug. "I really have to go now. I'll see you at Christmas. That is," she added, "if you
don't need to talk to me in person before you come home for the holidays."

"I'll see you at Christmas," Harry said. They hugged again, and Rosaline left.

Harry returned to his seat. He needed to think about what his sister had said. He had to figure out a
way to find out if Severus felt more than just 'fatherly' love towards him. This was going to take
some time, but he was a Slytherin. He was sure he'd think of something.

*~*~*~*~*

It was late afternoon by the time Harry returned to Hogwarts. After leaving The Three Broomsticks,
he spent some time walking around Hogsmeade, visiting the Apothecary to get some potions
ingredients, and Dervish and Banges to get a new broom maintenance kit. He also stopped by
Honeydukes to buy some sweets before he left the village.

Harry walked slowly, so lost in his own thoughts that he didn't hear Draco calling to him. It was
only when the other wizard tapped his shoulder that he realized he had company. "Oh. Hi, Draco."

"Hi," Draco returned the greeting, then asked, "What's on your mind?"

Harry turned his head and looked at the other boy. "What makes you think something's on my
mind?" he wanted to know.

Draco lifted an eyebrow. "It's obvious," he replied. "You didn't hear me yelling for you to wait.
Heck, you didn't even know I was here until I nudged you."

"I guess I *am* a bit preoccupied," Harry admitted with a sigh. "I met my sister this afternoon. We
were sorting a few things out and, well… I guess I'm still doing that. It's not a big deal."

"Okay," Draco said and let the subject drop. He had to admit that he was curious about what Harry
had talked about with his sister, but he recognized the expression on the other boy's face. It was one
that clearly said not to ask questions. Instead, he changed the subject completely. "Have you started
your Christmas shopping yet?"

"Actually, I've got presents for everyone."

"Already?"

Harry laughed. "Yes. I got them last summer when we were visiting my grandparents in France," he
said. "It saves me from the shopping rush during the holidays."

Draco grinned. "Smart. Maybe I should do that next year."

"Maybe you should," Harry agreed. "Avoid the madness in November and December. So," he
added. "Are you going home for the holidays?"

"Yeah. I don't like the idea of my mum being alone on Christmas. Not that we celebrate it like the
Muggles and some wizards and witches do," Draco added.

"Neither do we. We exchange gifts and have friends and family visiting," Harry said. "But no tree,
or decorations."

"It's the same at our house, only without the family stopping by," Draco said. "Mum doesn't have
much family left, and the rest of the Malfoys aren't talking to her because she turned dad in during
the clean-up after Voldemort was killed."

Harry winced. "That sucks," he said sympathetically, then he brightened. "Hey! Why don't I ask
mama and papa to invite you and your mum over to our place for Christmas?"

"Really?" Draco looked hopeful. Although he enjoyed spending time with his mum, he had to admit
that he got bored during the holidays. None of his mum's friends had kids his age, so there was no
one he could talk to. The prospect of staying with Harry, if only for one day, was thrilling.

"Sure. I'll even ask if you and your mum can stay for a few days," Harry promised.

"That'd be great." Draco smiled, pleased with the world. The only thing that would be better was if
Slytherin won the first Quidditch game of the year next week. Of course, there was a very good
chance that they would, with Harry as their Seeker, and himself as one of the Chasers. They were,
however, playing against Gryffindor, which also had a good team, no matter how much Draco hated
to admit it, so it was entirely possible that Slytherin would lose the game. "So, do you think we'll
win the Quidditch match against Gryffindor next week?"

The two boys spent the remainder of the walk back to Hogwarts, and the Slytherin dormitory,
discussing Quidditch. As they approached the entrance to their common room, they met their Head
of House, and Draco stopped to greet him. "Hello, Severus."

The Potions master smiled at his two favourite students. "Good afternoon, Draco, Harry."

Harry's head whipped around when he heard the older wizard's voice. He blushed slightly. "Hello,
Severus," he responded, unable to meet the dark eyes. He had hoped that he would've had some
time before he was be faced with the man who'd suddenly invaded his every thought.

Severus frowned faintly when he noticed Harry's blush, and the way the boy avoided eye contact.
"Is something wrong, Harry?" he asked with barely-concealed worry.

"Umm… no. I'm just a little tired," Harry stuttered.

"Very well, then. I'll see you both for tea," Severus said, then walked away. He was still a bit
concerned. Harry didn't seem tired. He shrugged it off. {If he needs to talk, he will,} he thought.

As soon as their Head of House was out of hearing-range, Draco turned and looked at Harry. "What
was that about?"

Harry met the other boy's eyes. "What do you…." He stopped himself. He knew there was no way
he could play dumb. Not with Draco. "I told you that I have some things to think about. Severus
knows me too well. If he believes I'm having a problem, he'll want me to talk about it and I'm not
ready for that just yet."

Draco nodded in understanding. It made sense, but…. "That doesn't explain why you refused to
look at him," he commented. {Or the blush,} he added mentally, but decided not to mention that.

Harry blushed again. He hadn't realised that Draco noticed. Which meant if he did then so did the
older man. "I guess he just took me by surprise." Harry shrugged. "When I was talking to my sister
earlier, she said something, and well… Severus just reminded me of it." He paused a moment, then
added, "No, it's not something I'm going to share with you, or anyone else. So don't ask."

Draco jerked his head back slightly at Harry's words. This must be something big. Potter was never
one to snap at people. "Sorry, Harry. I wasn't trying to pry. If and when you're ready, and don't want
to talk to Severus about it, I'll be around," Draco said, as he put a supportive arm around his friend's
shoulder.

Harry smiled gratefully. "Thanks, Draco," he said, as the two of them resumed their walk to the
Slytherin dormitories.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

21. December, 1996

Harry sat on the window bench in his room, staring moodily out at the snow-covered garden. It had
been almost a month since he found that blasted mirror, and discovered that he was in love with
Severus. "I know that I'm in love with Severus, my closest friend, although I have no idea when or
why it happened," he said quietly to his reflection in the window. "The mirror showed us together,
in a loving relationship. That's my deepest desire. Is that his? We looked older… well I did anyway.
But not too much older. Does he feel the same as I do now? Or will it happen in the future? Then
again, it's my desire, it might not be his." Frustrated he laid his head on his knees. There had to be a
way to find out for sure, something to help him believe that the mirror reflected a definite future,
and not just his dream.

The crackle announcing the arrival of one of the house elves interrupted Harry's brooding. Turning
away from the window, he addressed the energetic creature. "What is it, Kampy?"

"Master be's wishing to see master Harry in master's study right away, master Harry, sir," Kampy
announced.

Harry sighed as he rose from the bench, and headed for the door. "All right. Thanks, Kampy."

Kampy's ears flapped in joy. "Master Harry be's welcome." The house elf disappeared again with
another crackle.

Harry left his room with a smile and went downstairs to the study. It always amazed him how easy
it was to please the house elves. A simple 'thank you' for anything had them practically *beaming*
with joy for hours. Of course, the creatures were equally easy to offend. {Well, I do try not to upset
them,} he thought, then shook it off. He knew, of course, why he was thinking about the behaviour
of the house elves. It was a good way to avoid worrying about what his father wanted. There was no
use in speculating about the reason, and it would only make him nervous. The study was Theseus'
private domain, where he worked on whatever he brought with him from the ministry, and no one
else entered the room without an invitation.

Noticing that he'd arrived at his destination, Harry let out a soft sigh and knocked on the door, then
waited for a response. When he heard his father's calmly spoken, "Come in," he opened the door,
and walked inside. He stopped in front of his father's desk. "You wanted to see me, papa?"

Theseus looked up from his paperwork, and smiled at his son. "Yes, Harry, I did," he said, as he
rose and went to retrieve a wooden box from a shelf. Then he went back to the young wizard and
held the box out to him. "Your mother and I have decided that it's time to give you this."

Harry took the chest from his father, and glanced at it. It was medium-sized, made of mahogany,
had intricate carvings on it and was obviously old. He looked back at his father with a quizzical
expression. "What's this?"

"From before you were born, James and Lily started collecting small mementos for you. Everything
is in that chest," Theseus explained and watched as Harry studied the box with renewed interest.
"Your mother and I would've given it to you sooner but…. Well, honestly, we completely forgot
about it until recently, and then we decided to give it to you when you came home for the Christmas
holidays, instead of sending it to you. We figured that you might have some questions about some
of the content."

"You know what's in it?"

"We didn't go through the box to see what it contains, but yes, we know of a few of the things."

"Oh, okay. I'll just go back to my room and take a look," Harry said. Then a thought occurred to
him. "Is it locked?"

"No, it isn't," Theseus replied. "Have a look, and if you need to ask me any questions, I'll be in here
until tea time."

"Okay, papa. I'll see you later," Harry said and left the study. He closed the door behind him, then
practically *ran* to his room. Once there, he sat down in the middle of his bed, and put the box in
front of him. He opened it reverently, and carefully took the items out, one by one, looking at
everything in amazement and awe.

Firstly, there were two wands, one was 10¼ inch made of willow, and the other was 11 inches and
made of mahogany. He marvelled at them, believing that they were his parents' first wands. He
remembered Mr Ollivander describing them when he was eleven. As he lifted his mum's, it seemed
to come to life. It was almost as if it was greeting a long lost friend. Harry smiled as a feeling of
warmth and comfort came over him. The wand seemed to be saying hello.

Feeling ridiculous, but remembering the way Mr. Ollivander had spoken of the wands as if they
were alive, he greeted the one he held. "Hello. You were my mum's wand, weren't you?" he asked,
not really expecting an answer. But the increased warmth he felt seemed to be an affirmative
answer. Wondering whether the wand was really communicating with him, or if it was just his
imagination, he put it down and picked up the other one. To his delight, the same thing happened
again.

After a moment, Harry put his dad's wand down beside his mum's, then returned his attention to the
contents of the mahogany chest. The next thing he took out was a pair of powder blue shorts and a
crisp white short-sleeved shirt. It was obviously for a baby. In fact, the outfit was so small that he
figured that it might've been his first clothes.

He put the garments down on the bed as well, then picked up the next item from the box: a small
book. Opening it and skimming the first page, he discovered it to be his mum's diary. Despite the
temptation to read it immediately, he laid it beside the wands and baby outfit. The diary could wait.
Right now, he was too curious to see what else was in the chest.

Next was the bankbook for his mum's Muggle account, a Muggle picture of her and what he
assumed was her family, two bundles of love letters, and Harry's birth certificate. Finally, he picked
up the last item. It was a piece of official looking parchment. He glanced at the text, then froze in
surprise. It was…. He shook his head to clear his mind, blinked rapidly, then took another look. The
words didn't change. It was an official document, signed by both his parents and his foster parents,
as well as a couple of others.

#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#

The Ministry of Magic 31 July 1981


"On this last day of the month of July in the year 1981, I, James Potter, do hereby betroth my son,
one Harry James Potter, unto one Severus Snape."

"On this last day of the month of July in the year 1981, I, Lily Evans Potter, do hereby betroth my
son, one Harry James Potter, unto one Severus Snape."

"I, Severus Snape, do hereby accept the betrothal of Harry James Potter, as permitted by James
Potter and Lily Evans Potter, on this last day of the month of July in the year 1981.

By accepting this betrothal, I am bound by the following responsibilities:

? In the event of JP and LEP's deaths, to ensure that HJP has a stable home with a wizarding
family, and that HJP learns about his biological parents
? To ensure that HJP receives the best education possible, including, but not limited to, the use of
HJP's magical abilities
? Not to make any untoward sexual advances
? To allow HJP to consider and explore his sexuality before marriage

If I am found to not comply, this betrothal will be void."

Should HJP show no romantic interest towards males, this betrothal will be void.

Either party can terminate the contract due to a lack of affection beyond that of a friend or
confidant.


James Potter Lily Evans Potter Severus Snape


This betrothal has been witnessed and accepted by the following parties, on this last day of the
month of July in the year 1981:

On behalf of the Ministry of Magic: Minister of Education, Theseus Blixencrone

Ursula Blixencrone Remus Jerel Lupin


It is the responsibility of these witnesses to validate this betrothal, as well as void it if deemed
necessary.

In the event of the death of either party, this contract will be void.

In the event of the death of HJP's legal guardians, then it is the responsibility of these witnesses to
carry out the binding of these men.

Let it be said that on the last day of the month of July in the year 1981, Severus Snape and Harry
James Potter are hereby betrothed to one another, and must marry no later than by the eighteenth
anniversary of HJP's birth.

It is the wishes of these attendees that this betrothal be valid, and so shall it be.

#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#

A feeling of unreality came over Harry, as he reread the document. This couldn't be real; it had to
be a dream. He was not holding a piece of parchment that detailed his betrothal to Severus. That
was impossible. Severus or his parents would have told him if it was true. Wouldn't they? He read
the document for a third time, then shook his head. Apparently not.

When anger began to creep through his shock, Harry got up from his bed and went to his father's
study, the parchment still clutched in one hand. He knocked briefly, then entered without waiting
for a response. Marching up to the desk, he threw the paper down in front of Theseus. "What's this?
Why didn't *you* tell me?"

Theseus, stunned for a moment by the anger seeping through the boy's tone, picked up the
document and re-familiarized himself with the words. Then he took a deep breath, and said, "Harry,
son. It's not that we wanted to keep it from you. Your mother and I, along with the others, thought it
would be best if you didn't know until you were old enough to understand. We didn't want to
burden you with the idea that you might not have a choice in life partners. Especially Severus. He
thought that it would be best for you to be a normal child; to grow up and take life as it came.
Ursula and I agreed. As the document states, you really aren't under obligation to accept the terms.
You're the one who has to decide how best to live your future, not us." He paused for a moment to
check his son's reaction. Seeing that the anger was slipping away, he continued. "How could we tell
you that you were betrothed to a man if you weren't attracted to men? You couldn't even make that
decision until you reached a certain age. Why would we burden you with the thought that whether
you wanted to or not, there was a chance you would have to live with Severus for the rest of your
life?"

Getting up, Theseus went around his desk, and took Harry in his arms. "Harry, there was no
deception involved here. All any of us ever wanted was for you to be a normal, happy child. I'm
sorry if you think we lied, or purposely kept anything from you. That was not our intention." He
looked down at the young man, kissed the top of his head and smiled. "Now, if this is not what you
want, we can terminate the contract."

Harry laid his head on his father's shoulder. "I don't know," he mumbled. "I have to think about it."
Then he raised his head and met his father's eyes. "Who knows about this?"

"Just your mother and I, Severus and Remus," Theseus replied. "We kept the betrothal a secret for
Severus' safety. You have to remember that he was spying on Voldemort, and at the time Severus,
Lily and James made this agreement, Voldemort was after your parents. In fact, they went into
hiding only a few days after the document was signed. And later, after Voldemort's fall, your
mother, Severus, Remus and I decided to keep it quiet for the same reasons we didn't tell you about
it before. And also because it'll save Severus from being humiliated if you decide that you don't
want this."

Harry nodded his understanding, then frowned as something else occurred to him. "Why did you
ask Remus to be one of the witnesses and not Sirius? He *is* my godfather, and I would think that
he'd be the first person my parents would ask to witness something as important as my betrothal."

"Normally, yes. And Lily and James *did* consider asking Sirius. In the end, they decided against
it because as an auror, Sirius was more likely to be caught or killed in the defence of the Ministry.
In order for the betrothal contract not to become void, all witnesses have to survive until the
contract can be fulfilled, or terminated," Theseus explained.

Harry frowned in thought. "What would happen if one of the witnesses died before that?" he
wanted to know.

"What would happen? Well, the contract would have to be rewritten with new witnesses. That
turned out not to be an option in the case of your betrothal because of what happened to James and
Lily. Although Ursula and I are your legal guardians, we would not be able to override the original
contract. Only biological parents can do that."

Harry considered that for a moment, then asked, "So, what would happen if mama or Remus die
before I decide whether or not I want to marry Severus?"

"The contract would be invalid. There was always the chance that any one of us could die, but
Sirius was more at risk. So, in the end Lily and James asked Remus to be the second civilian
witness."

Harry nodded. It did make sense. "I wonder why mum and dad made Sirius our secret-keeper when
there was always a good chance he'd die," he muttered.

"I don't know," Theseus said. "I can make a guess, but if you want to know, you'll have to ask your
godfather."

"I might do that, but it'll have to wait," Harry said firmly. "I need to decide what to do about my
betrothal first."

Theseus nodded in agreement and let go of his son, then picked the contract up from the desk.
"You'll probably want to keep this," he said, as he handed it to the youth.

Harry took the parchment. "Yes, I will. Thanks," he said as he turned and started towards the door.

"Harry," Theseus called before the boy could leave.

Harry turned around to look at his father. "Yes, papa?"

"You should talk to Severus before you make any decisions."

"I will," Harry promised. "He's visiting after tea, right?"

"Yes."

"I'll talk to him then," Harry said, then left the study and went back to his room.

*~*~*~*~*

After the evening meal, Harry and his parents sat in the living room. Theseus was explaining a new
course being considered for the school to Ursula, while Harry was attempting to read one of his
homework assignments. He knew his concentration wasn't what it should be. How could it? He had
decided to use the contract to find out how Severus truly felt about him. He knew it wasn't really
right of him to do that, but after trying to work out a way to find out in his head for the past month,
he thought that this was the perfect solution. Of course, he doubted that his parents would allow him
the opportunity to do this if they knew, which was the reason he hadn't told them. In fact, he hadn't
spoken to his father again since his demand for an explanation. Harry knew that his parents
wouldn't like his method of disclosure. Although he was in Slytherin, they still expected him to be
forthright and, above all, honest. Not that his house wasn't honest, they just went about it in a
different way, using all means available to reach the outcome they desired.

Harry was dragged from his musing when, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the fire in the
fireplace turning green. He found himself taking a deep breath, knowing that it was most likely
Severus flooing in for his visit. His thought was confirmed when Severus stumbled out of the
fireplace, covered in soot.

Ursula stood immediately, and went over to Severus to help brush his cloak off before taking it
from him.

Theseus smiled at his friend. "Ah, Severus, hello. Come in and have a seat. Would you like
something to drink? "

Harry could have sworn his father was nervous about something. Theseus Blixencrone never
rambled, and yet, now he was doing so.

Severus handed his cloak to Ursula, acknowledging her with a smile and a nod. Turning to his
friend, he said, "Hello, Theseus. Yes, a drink would be quite welcome, thank you." He coughed.
"Ash in the throat does not leave a pleasant taste." Then he looked past Theseus to see Harry sitting
with a book in his lap. Was the boy staring at him? Strange. Harry never blatantly stared at him as
he was doing now. Well, not unless he'd said something unexpected, or something that Harry found
incomprehensible. Then again, lately the boy did seem to be acting oddly. "Hello, Harry. Are you
enjoying your holiday?" he asked, deciding to shrug off the young man's behaviour for now. He
was certain that Harry would explain when he was ready.

"Hello, Severus. Yes, thank you. It's been a most insightful holiday so far," Harry replied
cryptically.

Severus lifted an eyebrow in surprise. "Insightful? That sounds like something important
happened," he commented.

"Something important…." Harry pretended to consider that. "Well, yes, you could say that, I
guess."

Severus waited for a moment, but when no further information was forthcoming, he asked, "Are
you planning to tell me? Or is it private?" he added when it occurred to him that the younger wizard
might not want to reveal what had happened.

"It's private, but as it concerns you, I'll share it with you. Later," Harry replied.

Ursula, having placed Severus cloak on the rack, called for a house elf to bring some tea for their
guest. When it arrived, she served him, then inquired about the previous semester of teaching and
whatever else he had been doing. They spoke for a while, Theseus joining in the conversation, again
explaining bits about the possibility of a new course at the school.

Harry sat and listened passively to the conversation. After what seemed like an eternity, but was no
more than half an hour, he spoke up. "Papa, mama, would you mind if Severus and I went into the
library to talk?"

Theseus knew what Harry wanted to talk to Severus about, and thought that, yes it would be best if
he and Ursula were not present. "Of course we don't mind, Harry. Your mother and I can entertain
ourselves while you do. You can use my study, if you like."

Harry nodded and rose. "Thank you, papa. Your study would probably be more comfortable than
the library," he said, then turned to Severus. "Would you mind, Severus? Coming to my father's
study with me now?"

"Of course I don't mind, Harry," Severus answered as he stood. "You said that you wanted to speak
to me earlier. Now is as good a time as any."

Harry flashed the older man a quick smile, then led the way to his father's study. Once they arrived
in the room, he gestured to the couch. "Let's sit down," he said. "This may take a while."

"That sounds serious," Severus remarked as he sat down on the sofa.

"It is," Harry replied. "This afternoon, papa gave me a box that contained some of my mum and
dad's things. On the bottom, I found this." He withdrew the betrothal contract from a pocket in his
robe and handed it to the other wizard. Then he sat down in the armchair across from the sofa, and
waited for Severus to see what it was.

Severus unfolded the parchment and glanced at it. Instantly recognizing what it was, he heaved a
mental sigh, then raised his eyes to look at Harry. "This was created while you were a baby, Harry.
If you wish not to accept it, that is your decision and one I will abide by," he said calmly.

"I know, Severus. I never thought that you'd hold me to the contract against my wishes," Harry
reassured. "I just have a couple of questions before I make my decision."

"Of course. You can ask me anything you like, Harry. You know that. I will answer to the best of
my ability."

"Why did mum and dad decide to betroth me and, more importantly, why to you?"

Severus leaned back in the couch, considering the best way to answer those two questions.
"Because of who your mum was, James and Lily thought it would be best to betroth you to
someone, rather than have to worry about scrupleless wizards or witches," he explained. "As for
why to me…. Well, I was your father's best friend, and they both knew that I would never take
advantage of you. Also, given my preference to share life and love with a man, I was the logical
choice."

Harry considered that information for a moment, then asked, "Why did you agree?"

"James, as far as I am concerned, was my brother. I loved him as such. Just as you love Rosaline,
without her being your blood relative. Because of that love, throughout the years, both James and I
did things for each other without hesitation. I could no more turn down his request for help than you
could turn down Rosaline."

Harry frowned in thought. He understood Severus' reason for agreeing to the betrothal. He just
didn't like it. He couldn't wed someone who felt obligated to marry him. After a moments silence,
he looked at the older man. "How do we annul the contract?" he wanted to know.

Severus frowned slightly at the well-hidden distress he detected in the youth. "We tell Ursula,
Theseus and Remus that we've agreed to terminate it," he answered and watched as Harry nodded,
rose from the chair and headed for the door. "Harry," he called before the younger wizard could
leave the study. "Is that what you want, to cancel the contract?" he asked when Harry stopped.

Harry turned around and met Severus' dark eyes. "It doesn't matter what I want," he said quietly.
"I'm not about to let you ruin your life just because you feel obligated to honour the contract and
marry me." With that, he turned back to the door, and started to open it. Only to be stopped once
again by Severus' voice.

"I don't."

Harry sighed, removed his hand from the door handle and turned once more to see Severus
approaching him. "You don't what?"

Severus stopped in front of Harry, and lifted a hand to brush a lock of hair out of the younger man's
eyes. "I don't feel obligated to marry you," he said quietly. "I, too, would never wed someone out
of obligation. That's one of the reasons I made sure that it's possible for either of us to call off our
betrothal."

"Are you saying that you could love me as more than just the son of your best friend?" Harry
whispered.

Severus' eyes softened as he realized the source of Harry's earlier distress. "I'm saying that I
already do," he replied softly, as he put his arms around the other wizard and bent his head to
capture Harry's lips in a gentle kiss, endeavouring to drive the point home.

For a moment, Harry stiffened in surprise. In the next instant, he melted into Severus' arms and slid
his own around Severus' neck, as he returned the tender caress. "I love you," he murmured against
the supple lips.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

28. December, 1997

Albus Dumbledore walked up to the front door of Blixencrone Manor and was surprised to see
someone else there. "Minerva. Remus. Sirius," he greeted them. "I didn't realize that the three of
you were invited as well." As he spoke, Poppy Pomfrey joined them, and he turned to greet her as
well. "Hello, Poppy."

Each in turned shook off their surprise and greeted the others cheerfully. No one knew that there
had been others invited for tea. "Well, why don't we knock and find out what the special occasion
is?" Albus suggested.

Remus acknowledged the suggestion, and knocked. The door was almost immediately opened by
Ursula. "Good afternoon. Come in," she greeted them with a smile, as she stepped aside to allow
her guests to enter. "Give your cloaks to Tilly and Kampy, and go into the living room."

Everyone handed their capes to the two house elves, then headed to the living room. They were met
by Theseus, Harry, Rosaline and Severus, who had been talking while they waited for the guests to
arrive. Theseus rose from his chair, and welcomed everyone, shaking hands with the wizards and
bowing slightly to the witches. He offered them each a seat and refreshments, then inquired as to
their general health.

Harry rose and went over to hug his godfather. "Hi, Sirius. I haven't seen you in a while. How are
you? Busy at the Ministry?"

"Hello, Harry," Sirius returned the greeting. "I'm good. Yes, I've been a bit busy lately. Things
have calmed down some, though, so I have the next week off. How are you doing? Still enjoying
school?"

"I'm doing really well, thanks," Harry answered. "You know I love school."

As they were talking, Arthur Weasley arrived with his wife and their four youngest children,
accompanied by Ron's long-time girlfriend, Susan Bones. And a moment later, Draco and Narcissa
Malfoy came in, followed by Ursula. They too were welcomed, and offered drinks. The
conversation flowed freely, the youngsters talking about school and the Weasley twins' joke shop,
and the older witches and wizards discussing politics and various other subjects.

Remus sat back in his chair, watching Severus and Harry for a few minutes. He had an idea why
they had all been invited here. He didn't want to say anything, though, so he'd just have to wait until
someone in the family said something about it.

Theseus gave Ursula a brief nod, and she rose, announcing that tea was ready in the formal dining
room. Everyone followed her in, and sat in the seats she directed them to. There was a brief pause in
the conversations as the first course was served and everyone began eating. Then the talking
resumed, and the meal was consumed while conversation moved from one topic to another.

When dessert was served, Theseus stood at the head of the table. "May I ask that you give me your
attention for a moment before we have dessert?" Everyone around the table ended their
conversations and looked at him. "Thank you. I'm sure that you are all wondering why Ursula and I
have invited you here today." A general murmur of "yes" was heard, and he smiled. "Well then, I
suppose we shall not keep you in suspense any longer. Ursula and I wanted you all to know that
Harry and Severus are betrothed, and will marry after Harry graduates this summer."

There was a moment of silence after this announcement, then congratulations were offered to the
couple. Finally Albus rose, glass in hand and called for silence. "I propose a toast. To Harry and
Severus, may they have a long and happy life together," he said and lifted his glass to the two in
question.

Everyone else, save Harry and Severus, rose and lifted their glasses, repeating Albus' wish for
happiness.

*~*~*~*~*

Later that evening

After the guests had left, Theseus, Ursula and Rosaline were in the living room, and Harry asked his
betrothed to accompany him to the library. It was one of his favourite rooms in the house. He'd
always loved the scent of books.

As the two of them sat down on one of the sofas, Severus put an arm around the younger wizard,
and sighed. "Finally alone," he said with a faint smile, as he turned his head and placed a light kiss
on the unruly dark hair of his companion.

Harry hummed his agreement, then laid his head against Severus' shoulder. "This is nice. I wanted
to grab you and go hide for most of the evening after papa's announcement," he admitted.

Severus chuckled softly. "You wouldn't have gotten any complaints from me," he agreed. "Some of
comments they made…. I don't think I've been more embarrassed in my life."

"I know. I had a hard time keeping from blushing at some of the suggestions."

Severus turned slightly to look at his betrothed. "I noticed that you didn't answer Draco's question,
though."

Harry lifted his head and met the older wizard's eyes. "You mean the one about when I realized I
was in love with you?" When he received a nod of confirmation, he shrugged and said, "Well, I
thought I'd tell you that in private."

Severus looked at Harry expectantly. When no explanation was forthcoming, he prompted, "Well?"

"Last year. The twenty-third of November, to be exact."

Severus blinked in surprise. "How in the name of Merlin can you be so specific that you can put a
*date* to it?" he wanted to know. "I know I fell in love with you during the summer after your fifth
year, but I couldn't tell you the date."

"Oh, I can't do that either," Harry said. "Twenty-third of November was when I realized that I'm in
love with you."

"What happened that day?"

"I found a mirror."

"You found a mirror," Severus repeated. "And…?"

"And in it was an image of the two of us, and it was clear that we were in love with each other,"
Harry explained.

Severus frowned in confusion for a moment, then his expression cleared. "You found the Mirror of
Erised." It was more a statement than a question.

"Is that what that thing is called?"

"Well, I assume that's what you found. It's the only explanation that makes sense," Severus replied.
"It has an inscription that, read backwards, says 'I show not your face but your heart's desire'."

Harry nodded. "Yes, that's it."

"I, for one, am glad that you saw something you liked," Severus said, then leaned in to place a brief
and gentle kiss on Harry's lips. At least, he intended it to be quick, but when the younger man
opened his mouth and ran the tip of his tongue over Severus' lips, all thoughts of anything other
than his betrothed fled.

Harry gently pried Severus' mouth open, and let his tongue delve into the hot, wet cavern so he
could explore to his heart's content. Without breaking the kiss, he turned and slid his leg across the
other man's lap until he was straddling him. Feeling the arousal against him, he started a slow
rocking motion, then slid his hands from where they were entwined in the dark shoulder-length hair,
and down to the robe's fastenings.

Severus broke the kiss and pulled slightly back. "No, Harry," he said, as he grabbed the younger
man's hand and stilled them.

"Why? What's wrong?"

Severus met the passion-glazed green eyes. "We can't. Not here."

Harry considered it for a moment, then nodded. "You're right. The library isn't the best place to
shag," he conceded. "Let's go to my room."

Severus was shaking his head before Harry had finished speaking. "No, Harry. We're not going to
have sex now."

Harry frowned. "Why not?" he wanted to know. "It's not our first time."

"Because," Severus said, "I am not going to make love to you in your parents' home."

Harry stared at his betrothed in surprise. "Why not? It's not like they don't suspect that we're
sleeping with each other," he pointed out.

"Suspecting something and knowing something are two completely different things," Severus said.
"I'd like to be able to look your parents in the eye, and I can't do that if we shag under their roof
before we're married," he explained, then added under his breath, "I don't know if I can, if we do it
after we're married either."

Harry snickered and laid his head on Severus' shoulder. "That has to be the silliest thing you've ever
said to me. Where else would we have sex? I mean, it's better than doing it in Diagon Alley, isn't
it?"

Severus growled deep in his throat. "Be that as it may, I will *not* have sex with you in *this*
house, now."

Harry stopped laughing. He knew his fiancé was serious. "I'm sorry, Severus. I didn't mean to make
you angry. I love you, and I respect your dignity. I'll stop teasing you, for now. Maybe I can come
to your place for a visit tomorrow?" he asked suggestively. "I'll die of a serious case of blue balls if
I have to wait until the holidays are over."

Severus snorted at the declaration of certain death by his feisty lover. "Horny brat," he muttered. "I
rather doubt you will *die*, but I'm sure that we can come up with a solution to your problem. And
thank you for understanding. I know you find it old-fashioned, but I believe it's a show of respect
towards your parents."

Harry smiled at the promise Severus made, and kissed him as he removed himself from the older
man's lap. "You're welcome."

*~*~*~*~*

12. July 1998

Ursula and Theseus stood near the balcony doors in the gardens of Snape Manor, receiving the
guests as they arrived. The original plan had been to hold the ceremony at Blixencrone Manor, but
after the news of the wedding was announced, Ursula received an almost constant stream of
requests for invitations. *Everyone* wanted an invitation to the event of the decade: the wedding
of the two Saviours of the Wizarding World.

At first, Ursula had politely refused the requests, explaining that it was going to be a small
ceremony, for friends and family only. However, as the days went by and still more inquiries
arrived, she began to panic. Finally, barely a week after the public announcement, she contacted
Albus Dumbledore, who, after hearing the problem, offered the use of his office to ensure complete
privacy. Ursula gratefully accepted, then owled Harry, Rosaline and Severus, asking them to meet
her there. She dragged her husband away from his work, telling him it was a family emergency, and
brought him with her to Hogwarts.

Once the five of them were gathered in the headmaster's office, Ursula explained the situation.
Harry and Severus both blanched at the prospect of half the Wizarding World attending their
wedding, threatening to elope and get married the Muggle way. Possible options were discussed,
and rejected, but it was Rosaline who came up with the solution that would make sure no uninvited
guests would intrude. "Hold the ceremony at Snape Manor," she said. "Keep the change of place
secret, and don't send out the invitations until the last possible moment."

Everyone approved, and Severus agreed to let Ursula have free reign of Snape Manor. He even got
Albus and Sirius to help him reinforce the wards on and around his ancestral home, to make certain
that none other than invited guests were able to enter. In the end, even the wedding date was
changed, and as an extra precaution, when the invitations were sent out, they said that the location
would be revealed to them the morning of the wedding, thus insuring that those who weren't invited
wouldn't find out beforehand.

Ursula and Rosaline had both been busy with the preparations, and had not only used the house
elves at Snape Manor, but those from Blixencrone Manor as well. The two sets of house elves had
cleaned the house from top to bottom and cooked food enough for a much lager crowd than was
invited. It had been hectic, and at times both women had doubted that they'd ever be done in time
for the wedding, but they had managed, barely. And now, the day had finally arrived.

As the guests arrived, Ursula and Theseus greeted them joyfully, thanking each one for coming,
before Ursula directed them to their seats. Once all the guests were seated, the two of them took
their seats at the front.

Arthur Weasley soon walked up the centre aisle between the seated guests. When he was at the
beginning of the seating area, he stopped and turned to smile at all those attending. "Good day,
everyone. On behalf of Severus and Harry, I'd like to thank you all for coming, and for being
understanding about the need for secrecy. Now, if everyone would please stand, the ceremony can
begin."

Everyone rose and turned expectantly towards the house, waiting for the couple to appear. They
didn't have to wait for long, as Harry and Severus came out of the house and walked down the aisle,
hand in hand. People smiled at the sight, especially when they noticed the two men's dress robes.
Both were in the Slytherin colours, green and silver, but Harry's robe was emerald green to match
his eyes, and Severus' was forest green, a lighter shade than his betrothed's robe.

The couple stopped in front of Arthur, who waited for the guests to be seated before he began the
ceremony. "Friends, today we have come together to witness the joining of Severus and Harry.
Their future together depends on many things, first and foremost their love for each other, but also
the support and love of their family and friends." He smiled, and added, "Which, I believe, is
everyone here." He turned his attention to the two men in front of him, and spoke his next words to
them. "Severus and Harry, I need to ask you a few questions before we can start." Arthur stopped,
waiting for an affirmation from both wizards. When he received two nods, he began again. "Harry,
you have accepted Severus as your betrothed and now wish to join with him in marriage, correct?"

"Yes," Harry answered in a clear, strong voice.

"You are willing to be bonded to him for the rest of your natural life as his spouse and confidant,
correct?"

"I am willing." Again, Harry's voice was steady.

"You promise before all gathered here today to never turn away from him, to always support, care
for and love him with all that you are?"

"I promise," Harry stated, his tone now a bit shaky.

Arthur turned to Severus. "Severus, you have accepted Harry as your betrothed and now wish to
join with him in marriage?"

"Yes."

"You are willing to be bonded to him for the rest of your natural life as his spouse and confidant?"

"I am willing."

"You promise before all gathered here today to never turn away from him, to always support, care
for and love him with all that you are?"

"I promise," Severus said in the same calm, steady voice he'd used to answer the other questions.

Arthur smiled gently at them, and gave a slight nod before moving aside. Harry and Severus then
walked past him to the table that held the plants they had selected for the next part of the ceremony.
The only one who knew what they'd each picked was Arthur. Not even they knew which plant the
other had chosen.

Severus removed the cloth hiding the flower he'd opted for. He lifted it from the table, and held it
as he spoke. "The peach blossom means, 'I am your captive'," he said softly. "And that's what I
am. You stole my heart from the first moment I saw you when you were just hours old. How could I
not love you? You were the son of the one I considered my brother. For years, that's how I saw you.
Then one day, I looked at you and saw, not James' son, but a young man who was very much his
own person, and you captured my heart once more, but this time in a different way. I saw the one I
wanted to spend the rest of my life with." With that, he held the flower out to the younger wizard.

At the end of Severus' speech, Harry's eyes sparkled with tears, and his hands trembled when he
took the peach blossom from the other man. He set it down on the table, then removed the fabric
covering the plant he'd chosen. Like his lover had done, he picked it up and held it as he talked.
"Severus, I have chosen to give you a Honeysuckle, because it means 'Bond of Love'. For as long as
I can remember, you have been a part of my life. I have always loved you, first as my friend, then as
my teacher and confidant, and finally as my betrothed. The day I realized I was in love with you, I
must confess, was a difficult and strange day for me. My fear was that I would end up losing my
friend, teacher and confidant. That fear became joy when I learned that you returned my feelings.
Now I shall have my heart's desire: your love for all my life."

When Harry fell silent, Severus accepted the flower from him. Though his hands were steady, Harry
noticed that the dark eyes were misty. They smiled at each other, acknowledging yet again that they
felt deeply about each other.

Arthur Weasley stepped in front of them and the table again. "Gentlemen, you have, in accordance
with the ancient ritual of bonding, exchanged psychical signs of your declarations. Now we must
plant them and cast the Committo spell. After that the ceremony will be complete."

At this point, Sirius and Remus got up and moved the table to the side, then took two shovels and
dug holes to the proper depth. Harry and Severus stepped up to the holes and each placed the plant
they received in one of them. The two friends then refilled the holes with the dirt and stepped to the
side.

Once satisfied that the plants were properly transplanted, Arthur began to chant the words of the
spell, soon joined by all the guests to seal the plants', and the two wizards', bond. When it was
done, he motioned for Harry and Severus to stand side by side next to him. "Friends, thank you for
being here for these two wonderful wizards, and may I be the first to congratulate Severus and
Harry on their marriage." He turned to each of them and shook their hands. Turning back to the
seated, he said, "Please, everyone stand and greet Severus and Harry Potter-Snape."

Everyone stood and applauded the couple. Then, starting with Theseus and Ursula, each person
came up and congratulated them in their own unique way. Harry's parents hugged their son, Ursula
sniffing and wiping her eyes. She also hugged Severus, which caused him to stiffen slightly.
Theseus shook his hand, and welcomed him to the family. After them, Remus and Sirius offered
their best wishes, also hugging Harry, and shaking hands with their friend.

And so the procession went, hugs for Harry and hand shakes for Severus, except when a witch
would approach them. Each time, both received a hug and Severus would straighten his back. Half
way through, Harry leaned in close and whispered, "Severus, you might as well be prepared. These
women *are* going to hug you. Stop acting like they're going to infect you with something."

Severus gave him a slight sneer. "You know how I feel about overly emotional women," was all he
said, as if that explained everything. Their quiet discussion was ended by the appearance of Draco
and Narcissa Malfoy.

"Congratulations to both of you," Draco said has he shook both wizards' hands.

"May your life be long and full of happiness," Narcissa added, as she followed the way of all the
women before her and wrapped her arms around each of them.

Once everyone had filed past them, Theseus called out, "Please join us in celebrating this union
inside." He then ushered the guests into the Manor for a party that had the makings of one that
would last well into the night.

*~*~*~*~*

Late evening, unspecified location

Harry and Severus arrived at a cabin by portkey. Severus had arranged for them to stay there during
their honeymoon. He had kept the location secret from everyone, even Harry, to ensure that no one
would discover where the two of them were for the next fortnight. The small house was well
prepared, thanks to his personal house elf, Biddy. Severus had even allied himself with Kampy,
who had packed everything Harry would need for two weeks.

Severus took his husband's hand, and led him inside into the living room, where Biddy had left a
plate of sandwiches and a pot of tea for them. Neither was hungry, but they agreed that something
non-alcoholic to drink would be nice. Severus poured tea for them both, then handed one cup to
Harry before sitting down beside him on the sofa. He drank some of his own, then put the cup on
the coffee table and turned to study the younger wizard. "It's been a long day," he said, noticing the
faint signs of fatigue on Harry's face.

Harry sighed softly and set his cup down before turning to meet Severus' eyes. "Yes," he agreed.
"But it went well, I think."

Severus' lips quirked up in a slight smile. "Yes, it did. I'm glad it's over, though, and that we don't
have to go through it again."

Harry grinned. "What? You don't want to renew our vows in a couple of years?" he teased. When
all he got in reply was a snort, his smile widened. "Okay, so not in a couple of years," he conceded.
"But maybe in a few decades?"

Severus considered the suggestion. "Maybe on our fiftieth anniversary."

Seeing the seriousness in his husband's eyes, Harry leaned forward to place a gentle kiss on his lips.
When he pulled back, he was smiling. "That would be nice," he said. There was a moment of
silence, then he changed the subject. "Hermione and Percy seemed to get along well."

"Well, they do have a lot in common," Severus observed. "I think that Percy should've been in
Ravenclaw. He studied enough to be in that House." He considered his last statement, then added,
"On the other hand, he's ambitious enough to be a Slytherin."

Harry laughed. "I can just see the horrified expression on his face if you ever told him that."

"Well, it's true."

"I know, but I still think he'd be shocked if anyone ever told him."

Severus chuckled. "If you think Percy would be shocked, imagine how Arthur and especially Molly
would react."

Harry was silent for a moment, imagining the scene. Then he lost it and laughed until his stomach
hurt. When he calmed down, he said, "I want to be there if you ever do tell them."

Severus grinned. "Of course, Harry. You'll have a front row seat," he promised.

"Good," Harry said with a smile, then shifted and laid his head on his husband's shoulder.
"Speaking of Arthur…."

"What about him?" Severus inquired as he slid an arm around Harry.

"Is it just my imagination, or did he avoid Draco and Narcissa as much as possible?"

Severus turned his head enough to glance at the top of Harry's head. "Observant Slytherin," he said
with a smirk. "No, it wasn't your imagination. Arthur *did* mostly stay away from Draco and
Narcissa."

Harry frowned. "What's with that? It's not like him to steer clear of people. Even if it's someone he
dislikes, he's always polite."

"What makes you think I know the answer to that?" Severus asked, quirking an eyebrow.

Harry lifted his head from its resting place and gave his husband a look of pure disbelief. "Because
you always seem to know these things."

"Since I became its Head, I always make sure I know everything that goes on in Slytherin House,"
Severus corrected.

"So, you're telling me that you have no idea why Arthur would react to Draco and Narcissa the way
he did." Harry didn't sound convinced.

"Not for sure, no. I only know what your father told me when I asked him about it."

Harry waited in expectant silence. When no explanation was forthcoming, he prompted, "Well?"

"You are aware that Theseus and Arthur were year mates when they went to Hogwarts?" Severus
inquired. When he received a nod in response, he continued. "Well, Lucius Malfoy was also in the
same year, and according to Theseus, he and Arthur started dating in their fifth year."

Harry's eyes widened. "You're having me on!"

Severus shook his head. "No. Your father told me that at the time, it was the best kept secret at
Hogwarts."

"So, what happened?" Harry wanted to know.

"Lucius' parents were Death Eaters, and they expected their son to follow in their footsteps,"
Severus said. "Shortly after graduation, Lucius gave into his family's pressure and received the
Dark Mark."

Harry winced. "Let me guess. Arthur couldn't accept that."

"You're right. He couldn't accept *or* forgive it. He broke up with Lucius, then went to his best
friend and told him the whole story. Your father told me that Arthur felt betrayed by Lucius'
actions."

Harry nodded in understanding. "Okay. That explains why Arthur would be uncomfortable around
Draco. After all, everyone who knew Lucius, always comments on how much Draco resembles his
father," he said. "But I don't understand why Arthur would avoid Narcissa as well. He can't blame
her, can he? I mean, it's not Narcissa's fault that her husband joined Voldemort."

Severus shrugged. "Jealousy maybe. It doesn't make sense, but it's the only explanation I can think
of."

"Actually, it does make sense," Harry said. "Think about it. If Arthur was in love with Lucius, he
was probably going to forgive Lucius and take him back. He just needed to work through his
feelings of hurt and betrayal first. Then, before Arthur can tell his ex-lover that he's forgiven him,
Lucius marries Narcissa, and Arthur has lost his chance to make up with him."

Severus was shaking his head even before Harry had finished speaking. "It's a very good theory,"
he complimented the younger man. "The only problem is that it didn't happen like that. You see,
Arthur married Molly about a year after he'd broken up with Lucius. Lucius didn't even meet
Narcissa until a few years later."

"Oh." Harry considered it for a few moments, then focused on his husband. "Maybe it's
possessiveness, not jealousy," he suggested. Severus' raised eyebrow prompted him to elaborate.
"Arthur didn't want Lucius because Lucius was a Death Eater, but that didn't mean that he wanted
his ex-lover to get over him and marry someone else."

Severus' other eyebrow joined the first on his forehead. "That's a very Slytherin way of thinking,"
he pointed out. "And Arthur was in Gryffindor."

"Severus! Just because someone is in Gryffindor, it doesn't mean that they can't have Slytherin
traits," Harry said. "Look at Percy. Not to mention Headmaster Dumbledore."

"Albus?" Severus questioned. "What does he have to do with anything?"

"Well, most people assume that he's a Gryffindor, despite all his scheming."

Severus laughed. "That's true. Although, how anyone can think that is beyond my understanding,"
he said. "That old man is way too cunning and manipulative to be anything other than Slytherin."

Harry smiled at his husband's amusement. "That's exactly my point. People know how he is, and
yet, they *still* believe that he's a Gryffindor."

"All right, so Arthur could have been possessive of Lucius, despite being married to Molly,"
Severus conceded. "Can we stop talking about Arthur, Lucius, Molly, Narcissa, Draco and everyone
else now?"

"Sure. What do you want to talk about instead?" Harry asked.

Severus leaned closer to the younger man. "I wasn't planning on talking," he said, and captured
Harry's lips in a passionate kiss.

Harry moaned softly into Severus mouth, as he slid his arms around the other man's neck and
returned the kiss. All thoughts of the outside world fled his mind, leaving only one notion in his
head. It was his wedding night, and it was high time to consummate his marriage.

When the need to breathe became imperative, Severus broke the kiss. "Let's take this to the
bedroom," he panted. Before his husband could do anything other than nod in agreement, he rose
from the sofa, then bent down, and swept Harry up into his arms. Straightening again, Severus
carried the younger wizard into the bedroom, closing the door behind them with his foot.

The End