Won't You Please Stay With Me?
Summary: Before his 40th B-day, Snape must acquire a potential spouse before the Ministry arranges one. Of all the people, he chooses Harry. Everyone seems to think it's a great idea, except Harry. Can Snape woo Harry's love before it's too late?
A/N: I am aware that Cho Chang is a year ahead of Harry, but I have placed her in Harry's year. Also, I am looking for a third person to edit this fiction.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything HP related. It all belongs to JK Rowling, Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Inc., Warner Bros., and any other entities involved.
Edited July 27, 2009
"The Ghastly News"
At least for those whom were present in the room, no one was quite sure how it had happened. Nor did anyone know how to bring it up with Harry, who was still fast asleep in his world of dreams upstairs. If he only knew the nightmarish news that awaited him downstairs, then maybe he would never wake up. Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody, Tonks, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley all sat down together by the hearth with their hands planted firmly on either laps or their arms crossed. Each one seemed to be in deep thought, their faces inscrutable and yet troubled.
Everyone was brought back from their thoughts when they heard creaking upstairs; the tension escaladed tenfold. Mrs. Weasley reached for her husband's before she was renewed the anxiety. "We'll just have to be truthful with him. It's the best way."
"But he's going to think that we didn't even put up a fight and tossed him out like a bag of rubbish." Sirius was frustrated and distressed that he could not save his godson from this latest adversity to befall the boy.
"It's for the best, Sirius. His safety will always come first," Remus reached out and rubbed Sirius' back. "If you morph yourself into a dog, I'll give you a belly rub."
"Well," Moody begun, "Who's going to be the one to break it to poor Harry?"
Their lips pursed, no one volunteered. In the lengthening silence, all that could be heard was the crackling of the fire as it burned the wood and the running of water in an upstairs bathroom. Today was going to be Harry's first day back at Hogwarts, and the adults didn't want to give him a reason to panic. "Maybe we shouldn't tell him." Tonks suggested.
"And wait until he approaches him?" Mrs. Weasley stood up. "The poor kid will have a heart attack!"
"He's not a kid anymore. He's come of age," Remus reminded his company.
Suddenly, the door creaked open and all the adults gasped and stood up, eyes shooting to the doorway. Standing there were Hermione and Ron who seemed to have come to a standstill in face of the near physical tension emanating from the adults. The two youngsters dimly registered that while some of the room's occupants looked a little relieved, one or two others were definitely in line for a heart attack. "What's with everyone?" asked Ron. "The lot of you look like you've just seen You-Know-Who."
The adults chuckled nervously and with a distinctly brittle edge as they returned to their seats. There was that tension again. Hermione and Ron exchanged looks. "What's going on?" asked Hermione.
"Is Harry up?" asked Sirius, dodging the question.
"Yeah. He'll be down soon," Ron confirmed.
The adults looked at each other as if the answers they sought were written on each other's faces. Hermione and Ron sat down on the table and then Mrs. Weasley moved towards the kitchen area, muttering about breakfast. As her back disappeared into the larder, the door to the hallway opened again and everyone paled. Not as observant as his two friends, Harry just walked in rubbing his head and yawning. "Morning everyone!"
When everyone mumbled their greeting, studiously avoiding his gaze, Harry finally began to sense the tension. He looked at them suspiciously and seeking out his godfather, he asked him, "Is something wrong?"
Before Sirius could bluster an answer, Mrs. Weasley strode over, pulled Harry away from the group and had him seated at the table where she served him breakfast. "Harry, I have eggs and bacon ready for you. Eat up."
Momentarily lost in a haze of hunger, Harry dug into his eggs. However, during a pause between mouthfuls he noticed that everyone was watching with concern. "What's with them?" whispered Harry, leaning over the table.
"Don't know. They were acting like this when we came down too," said Ron. "I think they're hiding something."
"And whatever it is, it can't be good. Just look at Sirius' face. He looked absolutely mortified when you walked in." Hermione commented.
After Harry finished eating breakfast, he decided to address the issue, but then Sirius intervened before Harry could form a sentence. "Well, get your trunks. We're going now. Don't want to miss your train!"
With that, Tonks, Remus, and Sirius all hurried upstairs to collect the luggage, while Mr. and Mrs. Weasley disappeared on no pretext at all, leaving the three friends completely bamboozled. "Maybe it's just in our heads?" asked Harry, sarcastically.
No. That couldn't be right. They were never this edgy.
Once they retuned downstairs, the quickly loaded the trunks and cases onto the Knight Bus, which had pulled up just moments before. Remus then pulled out what Fred and George called an Incognitus hat and placed it onto Sirius' head. Instantly, Sirius looked like an older man dressed in a suit; not like himself anymore. "Like the hat?" Sirius asked Harry. His voice even sounded old. "We bought it from Fred and George at their joke shop."
"It's bloody brilliant!" Ron gaped.
"Now I can see you off!" Sirius threw his arm around Harry's shoulder and guided him from of the house. Remus followed behind with Hedwig's cage under his arm.
Once everyone got into the large, purple, triple-decker bus, it sped off, nearly throwing Harry half way across it. He smashed himself against one of the beds, and somehow managed to cut his cheek. Against what? Something sharp that was poking out of the handle bar. "Ow," Harry smeared the blood onto his finger and then grabbed a tissue. He patted his cheek gently, and then Sirius, Tonks, and Remus came running towards him. "Are you okay?" asked Sirius, "Oh no," he ran his finger against Harry's cut and stared at the blood like a hemophobic.
"If he's one to overact, he's not going to like that," Remus whispered while he stood behind Sirius, who touched the tip of his want to Harry's cheek, healing the minor cut.
When they said he, Harry thought they were referring to Dumbledore, but why would he fret about a little scratch on Harry's cheek? "What?"
Once again, an anxious air descended. Having quite enough of all of their secrecy, Harry demanded. "What's going on? What are you so worried about?"
"Maybe we should tell him. He's bound to find out anyway." Remus took a seat next to Harry, but then Sirius shook his head. "If anyone is going to tell him, it's going to be me. I'm his godfather after all."
"Of course." Remus and Tonks walked away.
Sirius began to pace back and forth in front of Harry. Never before had Harry every seen his godfather act like this. "Sirius?"
"Ok, I'll just tell you straight." He sat down next to Harry and took his hand in his. "Now, what I am about to tell you might be a bit of a shock. Putting aside the fact that you hardly know what's going on, promise me you'll take this maturely and wait for us to explain everything." Harry nodded, and Sirius continued, "Well, I'm not sure how to break it to you; I haven't rehearsed anything comforting either for the aftershock. But, here it goes. Last night, while you were sleeping, we had a visitor. It… eh… was Severus Snape," Harry winced at the name but did not interrupt, "but that's not the worst of news." Sirius reached into his pocket and took out a small green box which on the top was engraved in silver writing 'Harry Potter.' He opened the box and inside was a plain white gold ring. Harry recognized it as a promise ring instantly and Sirius watched helplessly as panic exploded in Harry's eyes. Sirius continued quickly, "I guess you know the rest."
In response, Harry's eyes rolled back and he fell onto the bed in a dead faint. His friends had all watched the little scene play out, and from Harry's reaction, they guessed that Sirius had told him. Ron and Hermione, who still had no idea what was going on, just saw Sirius dismissing everyone, Sirius taking Harry's hand in his, Sirius giving Harry's a talk and Harry looking scared. They especially noted Sirius taking out a small box and presenting the ring inside to Harry who fainted. "Sirius!" Ron and Hermione ran over to him. "Did you just propose to Harry?!" They looked sick. "You're his godfather!"
"Calm down," said Remus who just appeared from behind them. "It's not what it looks like."
"Psh. Please. Would I ever give Harry a green and silver box? And look at this ring. Do you think I could afford that?"
Hermione looked struck when she took a good look at the colors. "Slytherin? A Slytherin proposed to Harry?!"
"Was it Pansy?!" asked Ron.
Remus and Sirius shook their heads.
"Crabbe or Goyle?"
They shook their heads again.
"Nope," Remus replied.
"Someone we know?" asked Hermione.
They nodded vigorously, reluctant to go further. "Oh yeah. You know him alright."
So it was a him. Hermione took into account the price of that ring. It must've been someone with money. And if it wasn't the Malfoy's… then…. "Please, if I'm right, say nothing… Did…was it… Snape?"
Heeding Hermione's request, Remus and Sirius remained silent.
Ron fainted and joined Harry on the bed but Hermione, obviously made of sterner stuff, was enraged. "How could you just give Harry away to him like that?"
Remus took a deep breath and looked her straight into the eyes. "He offered Harry security, Hermione. Because You-Know-Who is back, we're not sure how long we'll be able to protect Harry ourselves. Snape is a gifted wizard who has outstanding knowledge in all the arts," behind him, Sirius growled but otherwise kept quiet. "He has a safe home that's away from all of this, he will treat Harry well, and he'll give Harry what he never had."
"But will he love Harry?" asked Hermione.
"Severus never speaks the word," Sirius reminded the naïve girl with a dismissive wave, "But I'm sure he'll show Harry that he loves him in some way… that is if he does at all." While he said the words, he betrayed the contempt and nausea he felt at the idea.
"Yes, but does Harry love Snape?" asked Hermione. "Last time I checked, they were sworn enemies."
"It doesn't matter whether Harry loves him or not," Remus broke in. "Right now, we just need to know what he'll be secured while the war rages on."
It took another five more minutes before they arrived at the train station; five stressful, anxious minutes. Then they unloaded their stuff and headed for platform nine and three quarters without saying anything to each other until it was time to board the train. "Is he still asleep?" asked Remus.
"Nah. He's awake, but refuses to move," said Sirius as he plucked Harry from the bed and carried him through the platform.
The Hogwarts Express was whistling, pushing steam high into the rafters on the station. There were just a few more minutes before the train would depart, and even fewer minutes left for Sirius to say his goodbyes to Harry. He thrust Harry into Ron's surprised arms and pressed his mouth to the swooning boy's ear. "Don't forget to write, Harry. While Dumbledore continues to keep me cooped up in that house I have nothing else to look forward to other than your letters. And I'll finally be able to explain everything to you if you want."
"Don't you worry; I will," mumbled Harry, barely opening his eyes.
Sirius nodded with an approving smile. "Well, off with you now. I wouldn't want you to miss your train."
Harry returned it with a weak one of his own while an embarrassed Ron carried him onto the train. "Wake up already, Harry. You're making us look ridiculous."
"Do you think he'll be okay?" asked Remus as he discreetly reached out to hold onto Sirius' hand.
"As long as Snape doesn't try anything extreme."
"Now, let's hurry back. That disguise is starting to annoy me. I miss your good looks already."
"Remus, Remus," Sirius playfully shook his head.
Roughly, five minutes later, the trio of school friends was sitting in a compartment in complete silence. No one had said anything since they boarded and Harry was in deep thought; speculating on why this happened and wondering how he was possibly going to face Snape. He could just not look at him, not ask him for anything, put forth more effort in his class so that Snape doesn't hold him in after class or make him attend detention. "I'm… engaged to the greasy git," Harry slumped forwards. "I never asked for this. No one ever asked me if it was okay."
"I know Harry, but they must have another reason besides the security Professor Snape can offer you."
Hermione, while still appalled at the concept of Snape and Harry together in that or any way could still discern the advantages.
"Still… I'm going to be his…."
"Bitch?" chuckled Ron.
Harry picked up his backpack and chucked it at Ron. A moment later, he sighed dismally and pulled the box out of his pocket. He then pulled the box out of his pocket and opened it. The ring was most definitely beautiful and sparkled in his eyes. "I wonder if I can give this ring back to him."
Hermione gasped at him. "No, you can't. At least, not yet. We need to find out their incentives."
"They never tell me anything, you know that, Hermione. And even if I do, it's not until they've told everyone else."
Just then, three Slytherins appeared outside the door of the compartment. Harry, Ron, and Hermione all turned to see Malfoy flickering an idle hand at Harry, accompanied by his usual smirk. The door slide open and Malfoy entered, standing over Harry. "Nice ring," he sneered.
Harry, turning red in the face, closed the box and pushed it back into his pocket.
"You know, I think my godfather would appreciate it if you wore the ring. My father told me Snape spent a fortune on it. He must really love you, Harry," Malfoy's tone was sardonic to the extreme. With another sneer he left the compartment.
"It's Potter to you, Malfoy!" he yelled after him, painfully aware of the impotency of the riposte.
"Bloody hell! Malfoy's going to be a new addition to the family!" Ron scoffed.
"All the more reasons to give Snape back his ring."
"Do you think he'll address you casually, Harry?" asked Hermione. "And do you think he'll let you address him as 'Severus'?"
"Even if he did, I wouldn't allow him to."
"Um, sorry to interrupt, um, can I talk with you, Harry?"
Cho Chang had suddenly appeared in the compartment. "Um, sure. I'll be right back." He left the compartment with Cho who looked rather nervous as she fiddled with her fingernails. "I want to ask you for a favor."
"Well," Cho gave the impression that whatever she was going to ask for would definitely sound either really stupid or difficult. "You see, over the summer, my friends tried to get me to hook up with Perry Meek, and I really didn't want to so… I sort of told them that I already had a boyfriend."
Harry swallowed hard. Oh Merlin! Harry guessed that Cho dragged him into her charade. "Go on."
"Well, it kind of slipped that I was dating you. No, Harry, please understand!"
Harry started to roll his head as if he was annoyed with what Cho was saying. "What on earth have you gotten yourself into?"
"Nothing big really if we just played the parts."
Harry nodded. He knew that he definitely liked Chang Cho before… Like last year… Maybe, if he was really fortunate, he could summon up those feelings again so that he could truly go out with her. "Alright. I'll do it."
"Thank you so much!" Cho threw her arms around Harry and ran down the hall.
"What was that all about?" asked Ron.
"I just agreed to be Cho's pretend boyfriend until she gets rid of this bloke."
"What! What if Snape hears about this!" asked Hermione.
"Relax. I told you. I plan on withdrawing as soon as we find out more about this forced marriage thing."
"Anything from the trolley, dears?" asked the lady at the door. "Is that you Harry? I have a message from Professor Snape. He apologizes for his last-minute intentions and will be able to explain everything later, but, for the time being, he'll treat you to whatever you like."
"No thanks, I can pay for my own stuff."
"You're not going to be the one harassed about this later. Pick a few things and sit back down."
Finally giving in, Harry picked out a few snacks for himself and several things for his friends. "Can't fight Snape on an empty stomach."
Thirty minutes passed before the Hogwarts Express pulled into its station. Once the train stopped, the students poured out of it and onto the platform. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were some of the last students to disembark. Harry wanted to make sure that there were plenty of students swarming around in order to make it harder for Snape to spot him just incase that he was looking for him. "Come on, and remember, keep your heads low," said Harry as he dashed through the open gaps to blend in with the crowd. He knew that if Snape was in fact looking for him, he would try to pick out the distinctive aspects of his friends, like Hermione's untidy mass of curls or Ron's blazing red hair.
Like last year, they had Thestrals waiting for them with carriages. Harry quickly got into one of them and shut the door. He could've sworn he saw greasy hair moving around.
From outside Harry's carriage, Snape, along with McGonagall and Dumbledore were waiting patiently to greet Harry, but not one of them, except Dumbledore of course, had spotted the boy. "He's probably already on a carriage, Severus," said McGonagall.
Snape half expected the boy to ambush him with nasty insults and questions, but running away was far from his mind. Well, Potter. Where's your Gryffindor bravery now?
"You need to give him time, Severus." Dumbledore graciously placed a hand on Snape's shoulder. "After all, it's not everyday that you wake up to find that you were engaged to someone you thought you would hate forever. I also suggest that you keep a distance from him so that he has time to adjust. And please, when he is ready, be prepared to answer his questions."
"Of course, headmaster," the three of them boarded one of the carriages before all of them were filled up.
A few carriages away, Harry sat nervously with his two friends. This year was not going to be like any of his pervious years. He hadn't even set foot inside the castle walls and already, he had an idea of what was in store for him.