All Harry Potter characters belong to Ms. Rowling.
A Snake in Sheep's Clothing
What we need.
Amidst a small crowd of silent onlookers, a gold band was pushed onto Tiberius' ring finger. Tiberius' face was impassive, what could he say, what could he do? Nothing, it was done. He was the bonded of Lorne Draconius Malfoy Castille. Besieged by a myriad of contradictory emotions he stood composedly next to the older wizard and accepted the congratulatory wishes. He had not crossed word with the wizard since yesterday and he had to admit that he was on edge. Trying to keep his face a mask of civility he turned to his young Lord, Severus Snape-Malfoy. The child stepped forward and looked at him searchingly. Tiberius couldn't help the reassuring smile that touched his lips. Hopefully his would be the last generation of squibs that was married off in such a manner. Taking the young hand into his, he accepted the good wishes. One day it would all be worth it but for now there was nothing to do but live the life that had been thrust upon him.
Smiling back weakly the dark-haired boy turned to Lorne Malfoy, remember your promise, he thought. All the answer he got from the Master Occlumens was, I will.
Lucius grimaced as he watched Severus' somber pale face. Severus was still recovering from Black's attack. His parlor which had been on the pale side to begin with now had a slightly grayish tint. A tint neither the squib doctor nor the healers could explain. Shaking the hands of the newly bonded couple, he moved aside and went to stand next to Severus while the rest of the small gathering filed by. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Lady Gytha's triumphant stare. The witch was finally getting what she had wanted for years, new wizarding blood. Looking away in disgust Lucius turned to his bonded but Severus was deep in thought. With an inaudible sigh, he observed the gathering; it seemed that lately all Severus did was think.
The day before….
Severus waited for the wizard to walk into the garden like he did every morning. Lorne Malfoy had gotten in last night after a three day absence. He had been attending Malfoy business Lucius had explained. When Severus asked what kind of business, Lucius had grown embarrassed, "I wasn't told Severus." Since the attack Lucius had been kept in the dark about various goings on in the family. Lord Abraxxas had explained that under the circumstances it was for the best. Although the young pair agreed with the old Lord's decision it didn't offer Lucius any comfort to know that he had become a liability to his family and to Severus. It hurt Severus to know how badly Lucius felt, one day he'd be able to take the hurt away. One day, he promised.
Lorne rounded the corner picking up on the singular presence of Severus and had to admit that his interest was peeked. What could the child want to talk to him about?
Severus heard the footsteps before he picked up on the wizard's mind; the power was hard to miss. He wondered what it would be like to be on the receiving end of such ability. Hopefully neither he nor Lucius would ever have to find out.
"Good morning Sir Malfoy." Severus greeted bowing his head formally. Lucius had been teaching him about formality. Pureblood's admire, respect and expect formality, if you want to talk to us you'd better be ready to offer it or you won't even be acknowledged. It's a sign of upbringing and yes it might seem silly to you but it's that important.
With a blank face, the wizard returned the child's bow and greeting, "Lord Snape I trust you are fairing better."
"I am thank you. I wanted to speak to you about my cousin." Severus was a direct creature and Lorne appreciated the quality.
"Lucius is not here." Severus fidgeted, Lucius would not be happy he had gone off without him but the truth was that he was afraid the blonde might be able to talk him out of speaking to Lorne Malfoy. "He's unaware of my being here."
Had the child come to tell him he would not be signing the contract? The ceremony was scheduled for tomorrow evening. Lady Gytha had giving her approval of the match but even he knew her approval meant nothing if the contract was not signed. It was clear that Lucius was letting the young Snape Lord control the marriage if it was so then he'd have to speak to Abraxxas about it. "I see, then I'm sure you will understand why I can not speak to you."
"I'm not doing this to keep Lucius in the dark. I'm telling him as soon as I get back. It's just that if I told him I wanted to speak to you he would not be pleased and I don't like him to be angry at me."
Lorne's eye brow shot up. Direct if nothing else. "And you don't think he'll be angry once you tell him you've gone behind his back?"
"He will but at least I will have spoken to you. Will you hear me out?"
Lorne scrutinized the Lord of Snape, his mind open to whatever deceit might come from the boy. "Very well."
Severus felt the power of the older wizard and swallowed involuntarily. He hoped he was doing right.
"Why did you offer for my cousin?"
"Because I find him appealing."
Severus was bonded to Lucius and thought the blonde was the most perfect being in the world but Lorne wasn't bonded to his cousin so how could he find the doctor appealing. "I don't understand."
He doubted Severus would understand the physical attraction that had erupted the minute he had seen the doctor and he was not going to go into the workings of a male/male relationship with a child of eleven. "You are much too young to understand, for now it is all I can say."
"He doesn't want to be bonded."
"He's lived a life that was not his own Lord Snape." When Severus opened his mouth Lorne raised his hand. "Please allow me to finish." Severus closed his mouth and nodded for the wizard to continue. "If the Snapes were not squibs he would've been bonded at least a decade ago. At thirty five he is still young enough to adapt and retake his carrier heritage without too much of trial. Why him you ask? I don't know Lord Snape, I don't know why it was that after seventy six years I was drawn to your cousin."
Severus looked away confused, "you love him?"
Lorne was taken a back by the boy's conclusion. "We are wizards young Sir, love is not something our kind can rely on when choosing a mate."
"But he's weaker than you are, he has no magic, he has no money, even his name is nothing to write home about. I mean Snapes have been shunned for generations. What possible reason can you have for wanting a person who until two weeks ago did not know you existed?"
He's got a quick mind, he can slice through a problem and tell you who, what, when, and where, in matter of moments. The boy is an asset to our family. Lord Abraxxas had told him four days earlier, the old Lord was correct. "I must apologize if I my answer does not satisfy you, but it is the only answer I can give you."
Severus grimaced feeling Lucius through the bond. The blonde had risen and found him gone, oh boy! "He doesn't want to be bonded and I can't sign and condemn him to a life he doesn't want."
Lorne was not about Tiberius and decided to play his ace. "If I do as you would like me to do. It will ruin him."
"Ruin him! How?"
"If I withdraw my suit, people will suspect there is something wrong with him or with Snapes in general. If that happens, the Snape gene will come under scrutiny. The Ministry has been trying to get its hands on your wealth for generations you will have given them the opening to do so if you refuse to sign the contract."
"But it is I who is refusing your offer, not the other way around."
"You don't actually think I'll have it known that a squib turned the house of Malfoy down." Lorne whispered threateningly. Hopefully Severus would not see the weakness in his argument. If he did as he was threatening it would indirectly affect the Malfoys, they were their caretakers until Severus came of age after all.
"Lady Gytha said you were honorable! How can you stand there and threaten us with that?"
"I am honorable!" The tall blonde hissed angrily. How dare the brat question his intentions? "That's why I do not care with the way my intentions are being questioned."
"But we have nothing to offer!" Severus argued back.
"Severus!" Lucius shouted coming down the pathway. "What's the meaning of this?" the young blonde demanded furiously.
"I wanted to speak to him and since I knew you'd object I did not tell you." Severus explained unable to meet his mate's eyes.
Lucius was furious but he held himself in check. "Behind my back. Very well we'll discuss it later, finish speaking to him then."
"Lucius-" Severus wanted to apologize.
"Later Severus." Came the tight-lipped reply. How could Severus do this to him? Did his bonded trust him so little?
Taking a deep breath, Severus turned to the older blonde. "Will you withdraw your offer?"
Lorne tried to keep the sneer of his face. "No."
Severus had tried everything and he had failed miserably, he wanted nothing more than to cry. "Is there anything I can do to change your mind?" he asked quietly.
The answer was the last nail on the coffin. Unwanted and much to everyone's dismay especially Severus', his eyes began to water. Before he knew what was happening he was openly crying.
Unused to crying of any sort, Lorne Malfoy Castille was rooted to his spot. The great Sir Lorne Malfoy Castille, the duelist. Feared and respected wizard by young and old had made an eleven year old cry. It was a first and he had no idea of what to do.
Lucius of course rushed to his bonded's side. "Severus hush, calm down."
"He's going to be horrible to Tiberius!" Severus accused through tear-filled eyed.
Lucius was flustered but tried to reassure his mate, "Of course he won't. Will you Sir Malfoy?"
The wizard was incredulous of the scene before him, "Of course I will do no such thing."
Severus shook his head and refused to listen. "But you will!"
"I will not!" Lorne argued vehemently, "On my honor I will not! He will be treated fairly always."
Severus' attention was undivided, had the wizard said on his honor. "Really? On your honor as a wizard?" he hiccupped. "You'll treat him fairly."
"Of course I will!"
"Thank you for your promise then. Thank you." Severus said smiling openly. Lorne simply shook his head and knew that he had lost his first argument against the Lord of Snape.
Later that day….
Severus waited until Lucius left the room. One would think that I'd be easy to find a quiet spot to talk in such a large house but nothing was further from the truth. If there weren't people about, there were elves, magical pieces of furniture, or paintings one had to watch out for, it was very tiresome really. No wonder no one ever really spoke their mind. Casting a privacy spell around them, Severus began, "I haven't signed the contract cousin."
Watching his young Lord do magic, Tiberius couldn't help but feel proud. He had heard that Severus' magical abilities were nothing if not exceptional; at last the Snapes had a chance. "Oh."
"I don't want to." Severus whispered earnestly. He had gone against Lucius wishes ands sought out Lorne Malfoy in private. The wizard had promised to treat Tiberius fairly, so why was he still reluctant?
Tiberius looked away feeling guilty. Part of him wanted to tell Severus not to sign the bonding contract , but he knew it was a foolish notion. The Malfoy's could not be insulted and he knew better than anyone where his duties lay. Pushing his thoughts aside, he focused on Severus. "Why?"
Severus bit his lip. "You don't even know him," he protested, " Lady Gytha says you're agreeable to the bonding and that it's good for our families, but how can it be! You've only spoken to him twice."
Tiberius moved closer and laid his hand over the young boy's shoulder, "I see. All I can tell you is that Lady Gytha is correct. I am agreeable and it is good for both our families." Not that he had much of choice.
Severus shook his head in disbelief, "But you're a doctor. You have a future in the muggle world! You can do anything there! You're free!" Lucius and he had talked for days, and although he loved Lucius and the blonde was in no way pressuring him, he wanted to please him. Everything would be so much easier if he signed the contract so why couldn't he?
"Unfortunately my life in the muggle world is not the life I was fated to live. I am a carrier and as such we have certain needs that if unmet will only cause us pain. " Tiberius said emotionlessly. "It is right. You are doing nothing wrong by allowing this bonding. If it's not Sir Malfoy now, it may be someone else less worthy later on."
Severus shook his head. "Why does there have to be anyone else! Why? You have rights just like they do! I feel like I'm selling you off! Like …like…" Severus trailed off unable to finish the sentence. Like his Grandfather had sold him. And that was it, wasn't it? He couldn't bear to do to others what had been done to him?
Selling? What had given the child such a notion! "That's not what this is about. You will receive no money from this marriage…I on the other hand will become part of a well-established and honorable family."
"But it is! I'm not stupid! I can't sell you off!" Severus whispered almost feverishly. His stomach was starting to give him trouble again; he looked at the door feeling Lucius hurrying towards the room. Poor Lucius, lately that's all he had been doing-running to and from his side. The older teen was so different now, so caring, Severus knew he was very lucky and hoped he would be worthy of his bonded. After this morning and a good talking to he had deserved, Lucius had forgiven him and had held him until he had recovered.
Tiberius felt guilty and knew he had to do something before his young Lord made himself even sicker with worry. "My Lord, you must listen and try to understand. What I say to you is the truth."
Knowing he had only minutes before Lucius reached him and ferried him away to rest, Severus turned to the older man.
"You are not your Grandfather." Tiberius said firmly when Severus stiffened he knew he had hit the mark. Touched by the child's sentiment, he plowed on. "You will never be like him. Allowing this bonding will protect me from those who would take advantage of my status in manners that you are still too young to understand. I go into the bonding not as a young child or inexperienced youth, but as a mature man of thirty-five. I know what it is that I am losing but I also know that it'll be alright. Lorne Malfoy Castille is an honorable Wizard, he will care and protect me. I will be all right you have to believe me."
Severus looked into the dark eyes searching for the truth, he wanted to read his cousin but the man had been so kind to him, he couldn't be so deceitful. "I know he'll protect you…but …?"
"No more buts, Severus. No buts…it's done or it will be once the contract is signed. Please sign, please." Tiberius whispered. Severus pulled the parchment from his pocket he unfolded it; the legal looking documents only needed his signature.
Seeing Severus finally give in, Tiberius sighed in relief. "I thank you for your words because they show just how much you care about all of us." Severus smiled and shook his head in disbelief. His cousin was thanking him for turning him over to a man who would use him as a baby factory. "Things are as they must be. One day you will understand but for now I must beg you not to fret over me, please." The squib doctor pleaded worriedly. Severus was scheduled to go to school in a couple of days; he had to make sure the bonding did not distract the boy anymore.
"All right Cousin. I will sign and one day I will understand." Rising to his feet, he walked to the small desk against the far wall; he laid the parchment flat; a quill magically appeared before him. Taking a deep breath, Severus took the quill in hand and signed his name at the bottom. The parchment glowed and then disappeared, it was done. Seconds later, Lucius walked in and ignoring his protests picked him up and carried him to their rooms. A relieved Tiberius followed to administer several potions.
When the boy's eyes finally closed Tiberius picked up his things to leave. Severus would sleep for the rest of the after noon under the watchful eye of his mate. The youth had not said a thing to him and Tiberius wondered if the blonde blamed him for Severus distress. Wanting to offer some comfort before he retired, he turned towards Lucius, "he will be all right sir."
Lucius nodded and looked at the squib doctor, "he's worried about you doctor." The words were an accusation.
"I've tried to appease his worries," Tiberius began but was cut off with an impatient wave of the hand.
Lucius knew he was being unfair but he didn't care. Severus was so frail right now. He needed rest and this senseless worrying was only hurting him. How he wished he could take him away from everyone. "Try harder."
Tiberius blinked startled by the request. There was a coldness in the young man's eyes that was disconcerting. "He-"
Lucius' silvery eyes became glacier cold. "He's eleven. Try harder every day, every minute; try harder any time you're around him. I don't want him upset over things he can't help. One day he'll be strong and versed enough in our ways to deal with all of this. Until that happens you will try harder."
"Yes of course." What else could he say?
Lucius continued, "I'm sure you and my cousin will find common ground even if you can not be completely bound like he and I were." The teen explained turning to look at his sleeping mate. "You're an intelligent man; make sure you use that intelligence to save him and you some unnecessary grief. He can't help you and it's killing him so show him that you do not need his help. Show him that you are where you want to be. Your carrier instincts will kick in after the first night, do not fight them, they will help you along the way." Unlike his and Severus' bond, Tiberius and Lorne's binding would not be completely magical because Tiberius did not posses enough magic. This meant that unless Tiberius gave into his carrier self their bonding would resemble more a muggle marriage than a wizarding one, not a good thing when dealing with a wizard as powerful as Lorne Malfoy Castille.
Knowing what Lucius meant, Tiberius tried to reassure the blonde, "I will endeavor to do so sir."
Unable to take his eyes of his sleeping mate, Lucius simply nodded, "do that…" he whispered in dismissal.
Taking his cue, the doctor walked away. He was at the door when Lucius finally turned to him again. "Lorne Malfoy would've never offered for you if he wasn't attracted."
"Excuse me?" So far he had only thought that the man wanted him for his child bearing abilities and the fact that as a carrier he could easily be controlled.
Lucius couldn't help the amused smirk that touched his face. Guess the doctor was clueless after all. "He likes you Doctor."
Tiberius looked away from the teen's amused scrutiny, "I wasn't aware-"
"He's a Malfoy, you wouldn't be.'' Lucius offered as a way of explanation and pulled a chair close to the bed. Once settled he looked up, the squib seemed troubled but Lucius could offer no more help. It was between the pair now. "You may go. Thank you for all that you've done, and all that you will do. Oh, one last thing Doctor, do away with the muggle clothing after tomorrow. We are not muggles and are not very tolerant of them or their ways."
Tiberius nodded and left for the gardens. He had been offered wizarding clothes but a rebellious part of him had refused them. He would not be dictated to, not yet anyway. With a sigh he moved a little faster, Lorne had sent him a note earlier that morning, he wanted to speak to him before the ceremony tomorrow. Knowing that Severus would give in and sign, the bonding date had been decided days earlier by Lady Gytha, the blasted witch could be so damn insulting.
In the garden….
Tiberius got to the garden seconds before Lorne Malfoy arrived. "Good afternoon," the blonde greeted his future bonded.
"Sir Malfoy." Tiberius answered clutching his hands behind his back and bowing his head in acknowledgement. As a wedding gift Lord Malfoy had knighted his cousin, you're loyalty to name and family must be rewarded Lorne. The older wizard had said when Lorne had protested. Knighthood was rarely bestowed, what Lord Malfoy had done had catapulted the wizard to even a higher standing. His power over the Malfoys was second to Abraxxas' now.
"Have you spoken to the Lord of Snape?" The taller man asked eyeing his soon to be bonded critically. What was it about the Snapes and the blasted color black? And why was Tiberius still wearing muggle clothes?
"Yes, he is worried but he has signed the contract." Tiberius relayed the information searching for some kind of reaction but the wizard seemed to be made out of stone.
"How did you do it?" The taller man asked walking down the garden path.
Leaving Tiberius no choice but to follow, the doctor tried to keep up with the longer strides and did not hear the question. "Pardon me?"
"How did you persuade him?" Lorne repeated. Tiberius was not only wearing all black but muggle clothes, was the squib trying to make a point?
"I told him I was agreeable to the idea and that it was the right decision to make." Tiberius explained noticing the piercing glare his attire seemed to be receiving. He should've just changed. No! He shouldn't have. He was fine, it was his last day of freedom and he would not be cowed!
"And are you? Agreeable?" The tall blonde asked stopping to look straight into the squib's dark eyes. Although he could just enter his promised's mind he didn't want to, the process could be painful to the receiver the first time. He didn't want any incidents before the wedding. Besides, the good doctor was so easy to read.
Tiberius shifted before answering. The wizard had a stare that made him decidedly uncomfortable. "Whether I am or not-" he began trying to stall.
Lorne interrupted impatiently, "do not dance around the question."
Offended at the tone the Wizard used, Tiberius bristled and turned away, "What do you want me to say? Yes, I like the idea of being controlled and having to walk away from my life."
Lorne snorted in disbelief. Everyone knew carriers were not fulfilled until they became pregnant! "You are a carrier and squib. You can not be truly happy unless you are bonded and-"
Maybe it was the condescending tone or maybe it was the fact that the wizard was right that made Tiberius shout back. "Don't be an ignorant fool!" The second the words left his mouth he knew he had made a mistake.
Lorne fought the instinct to draw his wand. Wizards had died for what his future bonded had just done. Pinning the squib with a stare that could melt steel, Lorne said nothing. Seconds turned to minutes and Tiberius fought the reflex to flee. Meeting the silvery eyes Tiberius apologized. "My tone and words were unnecessary I apologize, I truly do." The wizard could curse him and there was nothing that he could do! Gods he was insane!
Lorne's stare only became colder, the blasted promise was going to cause him nothing but grief. After a few seconds, the wizard turned away and left a surprised squib alone. "Bloody hell! I'm still alive!" Tiberius whispered.
Lorne did not fully regain his temper until he realized that he his promise required him to treat his bonded fairly. That meant that he could still exercise his authority so long as it was done fairly. Fairly...the word gave him some comfort.
Back to the present…
After a brief toast, the newly bonded couple made their way to the large fireplace in the welcoming hall. Three days had been set aside for their bonding time or as muggles called it for their honeymoon. It was before the enormous fireplace that the finality of the situation hit Tiberius and he faltered in his step. Lorne who suspected something like this may happen, took him by the forearm, "Severus is watching." The words did the trick and Tiberius found the will to move again. He had to do his duty. He was a Snape, he had to do right by the house that had always protected him! This was the right thing to do. He would be all right. If Lorne Malfoy hadn't killed him after his outburst yesterday maybe there was some truth to young Lucius' words. Looking into the cold grey eyes, he hoped there was.
Severus held his breath when Tiberius stopped, had the doctor changed his mind? He would never know because after a few whispered words, Tiberius moved again and disappeared into the green flames.
End chapter one.
Look who's back! Back again! Your comments are appreciated. I'm debating whether to actually write chapters of their three day honeymoon. What do you think?