Disclaimer: I own only the plot and Amarth, nothing else.

Chapter One: Ground Rules

Harry sighed, staring at the train that would bring him back to the Dursleys, leaning back against Severus' firm chest. Even with Voldemort's defeat, the Ministry's judgment stood firm, and so Harry had to return to his relatives. Fortunately, Severus was coming with him now, and both Remus and Draco, and possibly Lucius, would join him in a week.

Boarding the Hogwarts Express, Harry and Severus quickly found an empty compartment. Harry had asked why Severus didn't just apparate to the London station, but the older man had just shrugged, not answering. Harry found it sweet that he was coming on what had to be, for him, an unnecessary, stressful ride, surrounded by intolerable brats.

A few minutes later, the train started moving just as the compartment door slid open to admit Ron and Hermione. Severus rolled his eyes and sent a thought to Harry. 'Of course. The Golden Trio, united again. I should have known.' Harry just laughed, earning odd looks from his two best friends.

The trip passed pleasantly enough, the three Gryffindors always sure to include the Potions Master in their conversations, no matter how inconsequential the topic seemed to be. Severus would never admit it out loud, but he appreciated their acceptance of him as a part of Harry's life. In return, Severus allowed them to call him by his first name, and both Weasley and Granger insisted that he do the same. So Ron and Hermione it was.

When they finally arrived at the station, Harry grinned, a familiar sparkle of mischief in his eyes. He sent a few mental suggestions to Severus, who grinned back at him and nodded in silent agreement. Severus waited just outside the platform barrier while Harry sought out his uncle. It didn't take long at all, since Vernon was a bit difficult to miss.

Vernon glared at his nephew, but Harry just smiled sweetly. "You might want to be careful this summer, Uncle Vernon, or else you're going to get hexed," he warned. Vernon let out a loud bark of laughter then spat in Harry's face, spittle flying. Through the mind link, Severus was able to hear every word spoken.

"Don't bother lying to me, you worthless freak. Remember that letter? You can't do anything freakish to us, or else you'll be arrested and expelled. And no one will come for you this time, boy."

Harry just shook his head and stared his uncle in the eyes, covering his nervousness very well, in Severus' opinion. "Tell me, Uncle Vernon," he started amicably, "what deal did you make with Voldemort?"

Vernon paled, then just as rapidly flushed. Severus watched with a sort of detached fascination as Vernon went through several stages of red and purple before opening his mouth again. However, nothing came out in his rage, so he resorted to his typical method of warning his nephew that he'd gone too far, mindless of the crowd around him, most of who were from wizarding families. Raising his hand to cuff the insolent child, he was startled to suddenly feel his body freeze where he stood.

Harry grinned up at him and spoke slowly, as if to a small child, with his friends and their families watching intently. "I never said that I would hex you. Severus is quite willing to do it for me." Vernon racked his brain, trying to remember where he had heard that name before. He needn't have strained himself, because Severus chose at that moment to enter his line of sight.

If Vernon hadn't been frozen, he would have screamed. It was one of the freaks who had barged into his house last summer and taken the boy, saving his life from the people who would have gotten rid of the pest once and for all, leaving him and his family blameless. The wizard just smirked at him before turning to Harry. "Are you all right?" he asked softly.

Harry nodded and grinned, "Just peachy."

Severus glanced back at Vernon and casually waved his wand, releasing the man from his bonds. He could have done it wandlessly, since his powers had increased along with Harry's after the grounding, but he figured a wand would frighten the man more. After all, only the most simple-minded fools would fear the wand more, unable to comprehend the power needed to perform wandless magic.

Smirking, Harry prompted Vernon to move towards the car, amidst laughter from the wizards and witches at the station. After all, Harry was a hero, and the stupid muggle was getting exactly what he deserved. Actually, many of them were of the opinion that he had gotten far less than he deserved, but then again, Harry had just arrived, and it was a bit crowded at the station to do anything too horrible.

After their trunks had been loaded, along with Hedwig's cage, they were headed for Privet Drive. Harry's snowy owl had decided that she would prefer to fly and meet them at the Dursleys, so Harry had left her at Hogwarts, where she could follow at her leisure.

Arriving at 4 Privet Drive, Vernon finally broke the silence, glaring murderously and Harry and his companion. Grumbling under his breath, he growled out, "There, the boy has made it here safely. You can go now."

Severus just looked down at him, amused at the muggle's dismissal, and drawled, "I don't think you understand, Mr. Dursley. I'm here for the summer."

Vernon just gaped and spluttered for several minutes, reminding his passengers eerily of Cornelius Fudge. While they waited for him to figure out what he was trying to say, Harry and Severus climbed out of the car and walked into the house, going straight to Dudley's second bedroom. While Vernon continued to splutter incoherently, Severus cast some spells, with Harry lending him both energy and ideas.

In a matter of minutes, the room was three times larger on the inside than it had been, while still appearing the same side on the outside. All the broken toys had been banished, and the books set neatly on the bookshelves. There were two dressers and two beds, made of beautiful mahogany and covered in black silk sheets, with dark green comforters. Slytherin green curtains surrounded the perimeter of their beds, heavy and designed to hold warmth. The threadbare rug had been transfigured into a thick green carpet, and various shelves now lined the wall, as well as a locked case. These would be for Severus' potions, ingredients, and cauldrons — he had brought three with him.

Harry glared at the two beds, then shot Severus a pointed look. Severus grinned, then banished the second bed and changed the first into a Master bed, easily able to hold four full-grown wizards and a couple of children, situated in the center of the room. They'd find room for the others when they arrived.

They had just finished unpacking when Vernon slammed the door open, panting heavily from the exertion of his rage. Harry muffled his laughter as he caught a stray thought from Severus, who was annoyed that he hadn't though to erect locking and silencing charms first.

"I won't stand for this," Vernon bellowed. "We are the boy's legal guardians. Even the court supported it. You have no right to interfere in our life here," he spat at Severus.

Severus drew himself up to his full imposing height, his eyes turning icy as he glared at Vernon. It was the glare he used to terrify his students and colleagues alike. Vernon, however, was obviously too stupid to notice the warning signs, and continued ranting. Severus' attention was diverted as he felt Harry's rage and utter mortification, and realized that the boy was about to shift despite the claming influence Severus was exerting over Harry though the bond.

Desperate, Severus employed a more Slytherin tactic of calming Harry down, kissing him brutally. Successfully distracted, Harry relaxed and submitted to Severus' kiss, parting his lips and eagerly pulling the older wizards' tongue into his mouth.

When they finally broke apart, several blissful moments later, they turned to find Vernon staring wide-eyed at them, his mouth opening and closing silently, reminding the two lovers of a goldfish.

Harry's violet eyes hardened and he spoke coldly. "Things are going to change around here, and I won't repeat myself, so you had better listen the first time, Vernon. First of all, Voldemort has been destroyed. I defeated him, so any agreement you many have had with him is now null and void. The same applies to any and all of this pathetic little Death Eaters."

"Secondly, the Ministry is run by an incompetent idiot who won't be in power for much longer. The judge and jury from my trial were placed under a very powerful compulsion spell, the Imperious Curse, and then killed. The idiotic Minister covered it up, but it will come out soon. I have seen to it."

"Severus here is my mate, my lover, and you will respect him. I have given him permission to hex or curse you in any way he sees fit provided that the damage isn't permanent. He does not need a reason to attack anyone here, but unlike you, I know he will refrain as long as you treat the both of us properly."

"Lastly, in one week, my godfather and bond-brother, and possibly his father, will be arriving. They, too, are to be treated with respect. Not only are Remus and Lucius adult wizards, able to use magic like Severus here, but Remus is also a werewolf, so I wouldn't recommend pissing him off. He tends to get…aggressive when his family's threatened. We can take care of our own needs, but we will not be made to take care of yours. You leave us alone, and we'll do the same. Now, get out of our room." With that, Vernon was pushed out of the door, which shut and locked behind him.

Severus looked over at Harry, pride shining in his onyx eyes as he praised his young lover. "You did very well there, Harry. You let him know that you won't let him push you around anymore."

Harry smiled shyly up at him and whispered, "I had a good teacher." Severus just smiled at this. It was true, he admitted ruefully. Harry had certainly learned how to put an authoritative chill in his voice and to set an expressionless mask over his features. Which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as he didn't get so used to wearing it that he forgot himself.

"Like you did?" murmured Harry, snuggling up to him. Severus started, then relaxed as he realized that the were-Jachyra had read his mind. It didn't bother him when Harry did it, which surprised him. Severus Snape was a very private man, but he felt that he didn't have so uptight around his bonded. After all, it's not like Harry would ever betray him.

Smiling slightly, Severus lay down on the bed next to Harry, covering them both up and just holding the younger wizard. "Yeah, like I did," he murmured softly, as sleep gently stole over the two heroes.