Title: The Fountain of Dreams
Parings: Harry Potter/Severus Snape
Warnings: Mild child abuse, some violence (because of the former), slash (which should be apparent) and, to top it all off, a touch of angst
Disclaimer: Not mine, poems are (quite proud of those really :)...)
Summery: A reluctant prince holding a ball. A dying girl. A beaten boy defying the odds to save her. A chance meeting. A desperate race against time. Love has a habit of blooming at the most inopportune moment there is. A very different look at Cinderella
Author's note: Back again. Welcome, dear readers, to a very different version of Cinderella. I know, I know, its been done. But in my opinion there's so many ways to tell a story that no one could ever exceed them all. This version, I can promise you, is quite unique. Disregarding the use of magic its also a quite believable—and if you disagree then I'll plead poetic licence (or is it creative licence? Oh well). In any case, enjoy the story and remember to read and review! So here it is, part one of four parts (Figments Forever all over again!) ready, set, go!
Will you buy my treasured things?
My lace, my comb, my art?
My silk, my clothes, my finery?
My daggers, hair or harp?
It's not at all expensive
Its real as evening dew
I tell you what, because you're smart
I'll cut the price in two!
You simply must try my meals
My cooking is the best
My food is quite exotic
And outshines all of the rest
Don't walk away, come gaze a while
I know that soon you'll fold
But heed my words, be careful child
Or you'll lose more than your gold
Part One: The Market
"Get up! Get up, you lazy boy! Now!"
Harry awoke abruptly, his dreams shattering into a thousand pieces. He heard the sound of his aunt's footsteps as they retreated and knew, from experience, that he had five minutes before they returned. If that happened it would mean a beating. He deeply considered waiting it out, just to spite her, but he had burnt the dinner the night before and was still smarting from his uncle's chastisement. He wasn't up to another. So, reluctantly, he got up, barely managing to stretch in the small place that was his cupboard, and dressed swiftly.
He made his way immediately to the kitchen. If breakfast was late and Dudley left hungry too long it would mean a beating and, as stated, he really wasn't up to another so soon. With a sense of routine, he began making bacon and eggs, working himself easily around the kitchen. He noticed, as he worked, that they were almost out of eggs. Looking at the fridge he saw that butter and milk, as well as a few other things, were also running low. He'd have to inform his aunt and she would no doubt send him to market.
Market was always fun, especially in the Hogwarts Kingdom. If Ron was free, he sometimes came along and, once they got there, they would always duck into the Book Shop where their good friend (and Ron's love interest) Hermione worked. It was a rare treat because Harry only saw Hermione once a week and Ron every few days. It was hard to see his best friend when the Dursley's almost never let him out.
Harry had known Ron Weasley since he was eleven and he and his family moved into their neighborhood. He knew, because Ron had told him, that their family had once been very poor but all this had changed when his father, a member of the Royal Army, had been promoted. It was a good thing, really, because with seven children the Weasley's could use all the money they could get.
Ron had, at first, thought Harry was a servant. He had been appalled when Harry had patiently explained that he wasn't paid for his work and that they were not his masters, they were his family. Ron had, unfortunately, seen the marks that said family gifted him with whenever they were displeased with him (which was, he could admit, annoyingly often) as they were, after all, a little hard to miss and Harry had told him that, as a minor, there wasn't anything he could really do about it without being thrown into an orphanage.
Ron had been adamant that he should tell someone but Harry explained that while he was not really a servant, legally his guardians could claim him as one. His chores, they could say, was his payment for their care. Since there were no laws regarding the mistreatment of servants, his beatings could be seen as legit punishment for not completing his work adequately. Though usually a servant was hired and given wages, the laws were so tangled that loopholes were easily found. A servant wasn't always hired; after all, they could serve a family if they owed that family a debt. Even in this situation, however, (the one that Harry himself was in, according to his aunt and uncle) the servant was treated well and paid (however little) for their work.
When Ron pointed this out, Harry had told him there was no law on how much a servant was paid and so his relatives had decided to pay him nothing, reasoning that his work was his payment to them for their care. Though his 'masters' were his guardians there was no law objecting to that—simply for the reason it never happened. What sort of family, after all, would take their own charge as a servant? Since he had no money his wages could not be cut (the usual punishment for a servant doing his chores badly) and the beatings could be seen as a substitute for that. In Harry's words, it was brutal, it was cruel, but it was legal. Whatever his relatives were, it wasn't stupid.
Ron had gone to his father with this information and his father had confirmed Harry's words. He had, however, been horrified with how the Dursley's had been manipulating the law to beat their own nephew and had, since then, been quite an advocate for child and servant rights. Since his power was quite small, however, his protests went all but unnoticed.
"Boy!" his uncle called, disrupting Harry's thoughts "Where's our breakfast?"
Harry, hastily finishing up, put the food onto their respective plates and made his way to the dining room, awkwardly carrying the plates with him. It was moments like this that he wished his relatives let him use his magic. Servants always did, to help them clean the house, but his uncle had said, quite harshly, that he wouldn't allow any such shortcuts in his house. Dudley delighted in this, for he used whatever little magic he had (which was, Dudley being quite a weak wizard, very little indeed) to make Harry's job even harder. This gave Ron yet another thing to complain about but there was, once again, no law saying that a servant (or anyone, for that matter) could not be forbidden from using their magic. Harry used it in secret, of course, in order to keep it honed, and often stole Dudley's magic books in order to learn more (servants were usually of age and, therefore, already schooled. If they had children it was up to them how they were educated- at home or at school- and, the Dursley's, being Harry's guardians, chose neither.)
"Sorry uncle Vernon, aunt Petunia" Harry said politely as he served them their breakfast "We are running out of everything, and I had to improvise a little to make enough"
"You'll go to the market today then" Petunia snapped at him "And because of your lateness, you'll get no breakfast"
"Yes aunt Petunia" said Harry who, having foreseen this, had stolen some toast while cooking
"And you better not forget anything" Vernon warned, "I won't have you missing another day of work because you did."
"Yes uncle Vernon" Harry replied. "When am I to leave?"
"Off with you now, your making me lose my appetite" Petunia said stiffly, summoning some gallons from the room beyond (they trembled in the air as she fought to hold them there) and handing them to Harry "I'll be counting what you come back with"
"Take so much as a knut and you'll be punished, boy" Vernon added, glaring
"Of course" Harry said, pocketing them. Some days he would make a sarcastic remark at that but he was in far good a mood to start an argument.
"Off with you then" Petunia said harshly "And you'd better be back in time to make dinner"
Harry certainly didn't need telling twice. He was out of that house as quick as a flash and made his way immediately to Ron's house. Ron lived at the other end of the street and, luckily for Harry, he had to pass that way in order to get to market. He practically ran there (despite the pain in his ribs) and knocked heavily on the door which was (after a hell of a lot of 'I'll get it' from inside) flung energetically open
"Harry!" Mrs Weasley called, drawing him into a bone crushing hug (Harry winced even as he smiled) and gushing over him
"Hello Mrs. Weasley" Harry greeted breathlessly and she finally released him before dragging him inside
"Hello Harry" Mr. Weasley greeted him, amused. His amusement faded rather quickly, however, as he looked at him. Harry shuffled nervously
"What's that on your neck?" He demanded, walking forwards to take a closer look. Harry rose a hand automatically to it and winced as his enquiring fingers touched upon a bruise.
"Er… a bruise?" Harry said awkwardly
"A bruise?" Mrs Weasley cried, horrified "Let me see"
She looked at it intently, touched it reverently, then looked at him with sad eyes
"Let me fix it, dear" She pleaded, "It looks rather bad"
"Its fine" Harry insisted "Uncle Vernon will only be mad if he thinks I've been healing myself"
Mrs Weasley pursed her lips, her opinion of his uncle quite obvious, and Harry hastily changed the subject
"Is Ron here?" He asked her "I get to go to market today and I was wondering if he wanted to come"
"Of course, dear" She said, still sounding upset "RON!"
A thunder of footsteps sounded before Ron appeared in view
"Harry!" He cried joyfully when he saw him. He too, however, noticed the bruise. He frowned at it and looked at Harry
"What'd you do this time, Mate?" Ron jested
"Burnt dinner" Harry said swiftly "Want to come to market with me?"
"Oh! Can I mum? Please!" Ron pleaded, turning to Mrs Weasley, who nodded indulgently
"Of course dear" she said, eyes on Harry "You two be careful now"
"We will ma'am," Harry promised, grabbing Ron's arm and pulling him from the house "We will"
Ron shouted a last farewell before they tumbled onto the street and the door closed behind them. They immediately began their journey (it was a half hour walk) and started catching up. Ron explained all the spells he had learned and taught them to Harry who, as always, preformed them flawlessly
"Your so bloody powerful" Ron said, shaking his head in disbelief "I need a wand and all you have to do is flick your wrist. It's a pity the Donuts don't let you go to school"
Harry laughed at Ron's nickname for the Dursley's (he always seemed to be inventing new ones) and nodded his agreement
"I'm lucky I've got you and Hermione, otherwise I'd know nothing and all my so called power would be for naught" Harry said smiling
"I can't deny you it, though" Ron said sincerely "You've such a rotten life it's nice you've got something going for you. Power will help when you're old enough to get a job and, as powerful as you are, you could get a good one"
"My life isn't so bad" Harry said mildly "I have you."
"And I've got you" Ron returned "No offence, mate, but your getting ripped off"
Harry laughed again and Ron marveled that, no matter how persecuted and downtrodden Harry was, his laughter was always sincere and carefree. His eyes were always sparkling. It seemed that everything he endured make him stronger and more filled with life than ever. He had never seen Harry hurt another human being (he, who knew what it was to be hurt) and he thought that Harry was one of the few people in the world who was treated horribly and, because of this, wanted to make sure no one else was ever treated so.
"How's the rest of your family doing?" Harry asked, still smiling "I didn't have a chance to say hi"
"Ginny's sick" Ron informed him "But that's around it"
"Sick? What's wrong with her?" Harry asked, looking concerned. Ron smiled at him. Always worrying about others was Harry
"A virus of some sort" Ron told him "She should be fine soon. If she isn't by the end of the week mum will get a healer to look her over, you know, just to be safe. Ten gallons says she's faking"
Harry smiled at him and shook his head in mock despair
"Your on" Harry said good naturedly
They spent the rest of the trip discussing magic and (of course) Quidditch. They laughed over Fred and George's latest jokes and despaired over the stupidity of the Dursley's. Time always does pass more swiftly when one is having fun and so it seemed like no time at all that they arrived at the markets.
"We'll get what I need first" Harry said "Then we'll visit Hermione. That way, if I forget anything, it'll be a simple matter of ducking back to get it"
"Sounds good" Ron said, "I'll help you carry them"
Harry thanked him and then they were off, Harry mentally ticking off every ingredient they needed.
"Milk?" he asked
"Check" Ron replied in a firm voice, obviously enjoying himself
"All that other crap the Dursley's make me buy?"
"Check and check!" Ron cried, smiling
"Wonderful" Harry returned, grinning "Well that's that done. Lets go scare Hermione"
"Don't you mean visit Hermione?" Ron inquired and Harry smirked
"Of course. Visit. That's what I said, isn't it?" Harry asked innocently, as they made their way to the bookshop.
"Of course, how silly of me" Ron said, rolling his eyes.
Harry smirked and raised a hand to his lips. Ron nodded, smiling evilly, and together they opened the door, Harry subtly casting a silencing spell so that the bell wouldn't sound. Hermione was, as always, sitting at the desk and reading. Her mother, who owned the store, saw them but they each raised a hand to their lips, begging her to remain silent. Her eyes twinkling, she nodded and watched, with an amused smile, as they approached Hermione who was still deeply emerged in her book. They waited until they were a bare meter away and stopped. Harry raised his hand, three fingers upright. He dropped the first, Ron watching them closely, then the second and (in slow motion) the third
"Hermione!" They cried together
Hermione jumped a mile, the book falling heavily to the floor as she gave a shriek of surprise
"Ron! Harry!" She exclaimed when she saw them, pulling them into an exuberant hug. A moment later she pulled back and smacked them both on the arm "That wasn't funny!"
Ron and Harry were still laughing, showing quite clearly their thoughts on the matter. Hermione glared but, under their shining eyes, it didn't last long and she soon pulled them into another hug
"I missed you guys!" Hermione cried, "We don't see each other enough"
"Well we've got all day today" Harry told her cheerfully "come explore the markets with us and we'll catch up"
"Oh! Can I mum?" Hermione pleaded, turning to her mother who, looking amused, nodded. Hermione squealed with happiness and, grabbing both their arms, pulled them urgently from the shop.
Even though there was a market all week, every second week it changed. The theme would alternate every second week, each named for a founder of Hogwarts. When the market was on a Gryffindor week one would expect to find red and gold colours, weapons of almost every type, Defense Against the Dark Arts books, long flowing robes (red and gold, of course) as well as many other things associated with Griffindor. On a Hufflepuff week one would expect to find black and yellow colours, books on healing and self-help, objects that shone and were pretty but served almost no purpose (and were, thus, excellent gifts), modest but stylish dresses and many other things associated with Hufflepuff. On a Ravenclaw week one would expect to find blue and bronze colours, bow and arrows of every nature, books on just about anything one could name (though they specialized on Arithmacy, Ancient Runes and Astronomy –the three A's as they were called), dresses that were beautiful, elegant and mostly in blue and many other things also associated with Ravenclaw. On a Slytherin week one would expect to find green and silver colours, daggers of almost every shape and size, books of a slightly darker nature (such as a Dark arts- although quite a lot of the books were on dueling), robes that had a tendency to billow behind you as you walked and many other things associated with Slytherin.
This week it was Slytherin week
As a result the eager trio was swamped by green and silver. Despite already having been exposed to this while they had been shopping and despite the fact he had already complained about it twice, Ron lamented about the choice.
"I don't like Slytherin" He said grouchily "Too green for my taste. Besides, there's never anything useful. Gryffindor's much better"
Each family was known for looking up to or admiring a certain founder of Hogwarts. The Royal family even represented them. Kind Albus Dumbledore represented Hufflepuff. Most kings did. It was thought a King should be kind, generous and also unbiased and Hufflepuff certainly fulfilled the quota. Most thought Dumbledore more Gryffindor than Hufflepuff but tradition was tradition and the king was almost always Hufflepuff. He was only ever not if he decreed it so—and usually that didn't get too great a reaction among the people. A Ravenclaw king would be too logical, a Gryffindor too foolhardy and a Slytherin too harsh. Hufflepuff was a much-honored house because of this.
Queen Minerva, however, was Ravenclaw through and through. A good attribute for a queen, she guided the King whenever he needed a push in the right direction. Level headed and very bright many looked up to her for wisdom and a few thought that, in regards to the ruling, she probably made a lot of the decisions. Considering how much the King loved her, this was most likely true.
Then, last of all, was Prince Severus, the Slytherin. He was cunning, sly, intelligent but fair. A nice blend of both his parents many eagerly awaited the day he would take the throne and claim the Hufflepuff house. Though his demeanor would never change (he would always be a Slytherin at heart, and in mind) it was only the title that mattered and, for the most part, that's all the people cared about
When the Prince married (when he finally did so that is. He was in his early thirties and hadn't even come close) his bride (or even groom. There were potions for male pregnancy, after all, and it had happened many times in the past) would take the title of Gryffindor.
The names, at the end of the day, really meant absolutely nothing but peopled who looked up to a certain house (eg. Hufflepuff) would usually look to the head of that house for guidance and help. In a situation of crises it made things a little easier that people usually preferred their problems to be solved by a certain head. That way the royal family all got their share of problems to work out. The ones referenced to Gryffindor were split between the three equally.
"Harry?" Hermione called to him "I wanted to show you this new spell…"
Harry blinked and turned to her, watching intently as she talked avidly about all the spells she had learnt and showed how to perform them to Harry. As Hermione was quite a bit more clever than Ron (who had no trouble admitting it) the spells were a bit harder and, thus, took Harry longer to do
"Well done Harry" Hermione said, beaming with pride as he showed her his success "Your so talented. I really do wish those horrid relatives would let you go to school. It's a crime against nature to allow otherwise!"
This was one of Hermione's most passionate arguments and Harry smiled at her indulgently
"What do I need school for?" Harry said teasingly "Your smarter than any teacher I could possibly get"
Hermione blushed bright red (causing Ron to snigger quietly behind his hand) but didn't drop the argument
"But there's no substitute for experience, Harry. I may be smart but I'm only sixteen, just like you, I'm hardly qualified to be a professor"
"You manage just fine," Harry pointed out mildly. She huffed and tossed her hair behind her shoulder in a gesture of irritation
"Through no work of my own, I assure you. Its because your so darn powerful you don't need much tuition. I haven't decided if that's a good thing or not" she said, scowling
Harry was about to say something to defuse the situation (he wasn't willing to get into a fight on a market day. They were too rare for that) when a voice- cultured, familiar and utterly despised- spoke gently from behind them
"Hello Harry. What a pleasant surprise"
In sync, all three friends made a face a turned
"Good morning Mr. Riddle. I do wish I could relate" Harry said coolly
Riddle was a Slytherin supporter to the point of obsession. He, it seemed, had only two: Slytherin and Harry. Unfortunately Harry had forgotten that the Slytherin market would attract Tom Riddle and had, therefore, neglected to keep an eye out for him—just so he could be avoided.
"I say Harry, that's not very polite of you. Whatever would your guardians think?" He asked as silkily (and as dangerously) as a snake "Speaking of guardians that's quite a lovely bruise you've got on your neck. However did you acquire it?"
Tom Riddle was, above all things, as sneaky as hell. He knew Harry was abused (anyone who saw Harry enough knew—admittedly, that wasn't a lot of people. Just the Weasley's, Hermione and, of course, Tom Riddle)
"I fell" Harry said as stiffly as he was able, the lie obvious to them both "Was there something you wanted, Mr. Riddle? A message to my uncle perhaps?"
"Only you Harry" Riddle said, smirking "always you"
"I apologize, sir, I'm afraid I'm not for sale" Harry said dryly. Riddle's lips twitched in slight annoyance. He was an impatient man and Harry was starting to test it
"You need not put up with them, Harry" He told the boy bluntly "If you agreed to bond with me I'd take care of you. I'd protect you from your family"
Harry wasn't fooled. Riddle went through partners faster than toilet paper. Harry interested him because he was stubborn, powerful and untouched. If he slept with Riddle he'd be discarded within the week. Harry also hadn't failed to notice the ominous marks most his conquests came away with and wanted nothing to do with him. He got enough marks from the Dursley's
"But Mr. Riddle" Harry said, turning his back on the man "Who would protect me from you?"
With that, he grabbed his friends arms and walked calmly away, ignoring the furious and penetrating gaze that was burning into his back
"Vile, evil, awful man" Hermione hissed furiously "Mark my words, one day that horrid creature is going to get what's coming to him"
Harry didn't doubt her words. People like Riddle always did.
Love is not a word, its a sentence
"I think its time you get married"
Severus Snape, adopted son of King Albus and Queen Minerva, Prince of all Hogwarts, head of Slytherin house and content bachelor, looked up in disbelief
"Sorry mother?" He asked his mother, Minerva McGonagall (now Dumbledore) in surprise "I could have sworn you said the word 'married'"
"I did" Minerva said, a touch impatiently "You haven't got forever you know Severus, and you can hardly remain single and childless"
"Can't I just adopt?" Severus asked rationally "You did"
"Because I am incapable of childbirth" Minerva said calmly "You are not. Even if your were to adopt you could hardly raise the child by yourself. The kingdom needs more than one ruler, my son. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. You shall need someone who you can trust without question. Who will guide you, temper you, complete you and, if necessary, retrain you. You need to get married"
"Must I get married now?" Severus asked irritably "wizards live a long time, mother, I have a long life ahead of me in which to marry"
"And one day you'll decide to get married only to realize its too late" Minerva said sternly "Besides, Severus my dear, you may have all the time in the world, but your father and I do not. I should like to see you settled down before I die"
"I don't want to get married for the sake of getting married" Severus said, scowling his displeasure
"You want to get married for love then?" Minerva asked, amused. Severus was hardly the sentimental type and she wasn't even sure he thought he could fall in love
"I can't see myself falling in love" Severus said, making a face "But it would be more preferable, I suppose, than marrying someone I don't even know. I want to be able to at least choose my spouse. No arranged marriages"
"What an excellent idea" a voice said and Albus Dumbledore walked into the scene, eyes twinkling "We could have a ball. I do love balls, after all. We could invite every single man and woman over fifteen in the kingdom and you could choose you spouse that way"
"A ball!" Minerva cried, delighted "What a marvelous idea! I'm sure Severus could find a splendid partner there"
"And if I don't?" Severus asked, more of a dare than a question "If I deem no one suitable?"
"Then we'd have to pick for you, dear" Minerva admitted gravely "You would have eliminated anyone eligible and we would have to pick someone worthy."
"How could I pick anyone?" Severus snapped, not liking this turn of events "They'll see I'm the Prince and they'll be all over me. How can I know someone when no one will act like themselves?"
"We can cast the 'Mistaken Identity' spell!" Minerva exclaimed, flushed with excitement "That way everyone will be able to see you but no one will recognize you as the Prince. No one will know who the hell you are."
Severus could see, with growing despair, that he wasn't going to win this argument anytime soon
"We'll hold it in a months time and send out the notices tomorrow. That way everyone will have plenty of time to prepare for fancy clothes and such," Dumbledore decided firmly
"Oh!" Minerva exclaimed "This will be so much fun!"
Severus could already feel the migraine coming on.