A treatise on exactly what each of the three most commonly-used bondings would entail failed to entice Harry's favour as dismally as every other attempt Severus had made to make peace with his love. And so, Severus found himself leaving the castle for the summer alone and far more sullen than usual, with disturbing visions of the holiday Harry was on with that disgusting excuse for a wizard, Donivan.
He had become accustomed to vibrant conversation and a warm body in his bed over the year, and three months of loneliness was unpleasant to say the least. The only person that visited him was Minerva, and even her visits were unpleasant because she did her best during each to 'suggest' that he break down and ask Harry to marry him. As the option was unthinkable, these suggestions only served to frustrate him more. By the end of August, he was prepared to hex Donivan on sight.
The only thing that stopped him was the happiness in Harry's eyes when he met him in the hallway outside the staff room. Harry was smiling, a pleasant glow about him as though he was about to get exactly what he wanted. "Severus, good to see you. How was your summer?"
"Titillating," he answered dryly.
Harry grinned. "I'm sure it was. Did you do anything interesting or did you stay hulled up in that cave of yours and never see the light of day?"
"I was busy with my research and had no time to venture out."
"You were researching last summer, but we still went out all the time."
"Yes, but as you were with that... wretch, I was without companion and therefore had no reason to stray from my home."
Harry rolled his eyes. "He isn't a wretch and I wasn't with him all summer. I spent most of it with Ron and Hermione and the Weasleys."
"Mhmm. I got to talk a lot with Molly..."
Severus did not like the turn of this conversation, but did not interrupt in case his instinct somehow failed him and it turned out well. "As much as I dread saying this, what did the Weasley matriarch have to say?"
"She told me that you are being ridiculous, that it's natural for a couple to be married before they are bonded."
Severus exhaled and prepared himself for a very trying conversation, indeed. He would have to send Molly Weasley a thank you package, a rather unpleasant one. "Excuse me if I do not take the Weasley marriage as a model for my own."
"Molly and Arthur have a wonderful marriage! And they aren't the only ones to marry before they were bonded. So was Minerva, as she tells me. And the Tonkses, and Remus' parents. Even the Malfoys were, if what Molly tells me is true, and I know you admired them."
"Yes, but you seem to have overlooked a major factor in all of the relationships you so dutifully mentioned. They are all heterosexual."
"And? What does that have to do with anything?" There were the beginnings of a fetching flush on his cheeks and the only thing that stopped Severus from snatching him up and kissing him was the anger in his eyes.
"It would appear that your powers of observation are as lacking as always, as you have failed to notice that we are not."
Harry glared at him. "I don't see how that has anything to do with it."
"It has everything to do with the matter. Not only is marriage a farce parading around as a commitment, it is a heterosexual farce, and I have no intention of partaking in something as base as a heterosexual practice."
His love only rolled his eyes and turned away, muttering under his breath what Severus thought might have been 'I can't believe this...' He took the smaller man's arm and turned him back around.
"Why do you think that I would ever participate in a marriage? I have never given you any indication that I would even consider such an action."
Harry gritted his teeth. "You told me you loved me."
Severus blinked at him, not entirely certain how the two were connected. "I do love you, but I fail to see what my love for you has to do with a useless piece of parchment."
"It would make me happy. Don't you want me to be happy?"
"Of course, but I will not forgo my personal convictions in order to give you a gratuitous piece of parchment. That we are committed to each other aught to be enough."
"Aught to be, but it isn't. I want to be married and I want to be married to you." Suddenly and unexpectedly, Severus was enveloped in the familiar arms of his lover and Harry was kissing his cheek. "Please, I miss you. If it's not important to you and it doesn't matter, then what's the difference to you if you do it? We're committed to each other anyway, why can't you just do this to please me?"
He had a difficult time concentrating on what Harry was saying, too distracted with touching where he had not been allowed to for a very long time. "It goes against my principles," he finally murmured, nose buried in dark, scruffy hair.
"Sometimes we have to give up our principles in order to achieve our goals."
"And what goal would marriage be achieving for me?"
Harry appeared to crawl up his body to reach his ear, though his feet never left the ground, and he whispered hotly into it. "You want to make love, don't you? If you agree, we'll make love every night, twice a night, during our lunch hour, on your desk, on my desk, on the students' desks, in the staff room… anywhere and everywhere you like."
Severus felt himself harden at the very idea of such a freedom. To touch Harry whenever he liked, in whatever manner he liked; to strip him of all those layers of clothing and have him stretched out and wanton in their bed. It was quite a temptation, almost overwhelming. It did not help that Harry's mouth was doing wicked things to his ear, that his tongue was hot and wet against his skin, that his fingers had buried themselves into his hair, or that he was being pulled down for a passionate kiss more intense than they had shared since their first.
Severus groaned and pulled Harry tight against him, taking over the kiss as he pushed his tongue into his lover's mouth. Harry made a little whimper deep within his throat and melted into him. They stood kissing for several long minutes before a cough from a little ways away startled them and they pulled away to see Minerva standing at the staff room door, eyebrow raised in surprise. Harry turned a brilliant red and tried to pull away, but Severus kept him where he was, determined not to lose the physical connection now that it was being permitted once more.
"I'm glad to see that whatever differences you two have been harbouring are resolved, but if you are quite finished, I believe there is a meeting you are both expected to attend. The rest of the staff is waiting."
"We'll be there in a moment, Minerva, thank you for reminding us," Severus spoke, eyes having returned to his lover as soon as he had seen who was causing their interruption. Harry smiled shyly at the Headmistress and turned to Severus, intending to pry his arms away. "If you will promise me that you will not spend another moment alone in… that man's presence again, I will agree to take a union into consideration."
"Only into consideration?" Harry asked with doleful eyes.
"Patience is a Gryffindor virtue, I believe, is it not Minerva?"
"It is, indeed, Severus, but I believe when one is dealing with you, one needs more than the usual amount of it." With that, she disappeared into the staff room, an entreaty for them to hurry up left unsaid. Harry looked to consider this for a moment before a broad smile spread across his face and he leaned up to kiss Severus gently on the lips.
"I think I can do that, if you really think about it instead of just saying you will."
"I will take the matter into serious consideration, I assure you."
Harry grinned and kissed him again before wiggling out of his arms and following Minerva into the meeting. Severus followed suit a moment later, faint traces of a smile on his face, though they were only detectable if one really knew him.