Darkness is a Harsh Term
20 years earlier
Draco climbed the stairs to Dumbledore's office with a growing sense of dread. He was never called here for any positive reason, mostly just to be reprimanded for an ill-deed against Potter. Draco arrived at the top of the staircase and knocked softly on Professor Dumbledore's door.
At the signal he pushed the door open and entered the office. There was a rather odd selection of people in the Headmaster's office. Draco's father was there, and Professor Snape next him. On the Professor's other side was an older gentleman whom Draco didn't recognise but held a remarkable resemblance to his Head of House. Across the room sat Potter, Professor Lupin and Auror Moody. Professor Dumbledore sat between the two groups behind his desk.
"Good afternoon, gentleman." Draco said politely.
"Good afternoon, Mr Malfoy." Professor Dumbledore replied. "Do come in and take a seat."
Draco did as he had been instructed. "May I ask why my presence at this gathering was required."
"Well, Mr Malfoy," The Headmaster began, "it seems that your father wishes to ally himself with me." Potter snorted his disbelief in the background. "To that end, he has a proposal to bind the Malfoy family more closely to the side of the light."
Draco's eyes flicked to his father. "And I suppose that this proposal concerns me." His father had never been adverse to selling his son as a commodity.
"Indeed." The Headmaster took a deep breath. "As you may be aware, the Vampire Coven here in Scotland actively supports the light, and the head of that Coven in Lord Snape." Draco registered mild surprise. If the Professor's Coven was light, then why had he joined the Death Eaters?
"How exactly does this concern me, Headmaster?"
"Well, in order to assure us of his intentions, your father has proposed an alliance between the Malfoy and the Snape families."
Draco swallowed but retained his composure. "A marriage?" It was the usual way.
"Yes, Mr Malfoy. We believe a marriage between you and Professor Snape would be most prudent."
"It's completely out of the question." Professor Snape spoke for the first time. "Mr Malfoy is my student, any sort of relationship between us would be completely improper. Mr Malfoy is half my age, a mere child, I will not see his life destroyed this way." His voice was quiet yet firm.
The older man, Lord Snape, shook his head in exasperation. "This is not your decision, child."
The Professor bristled. "I am hardly a child any longer, Father."
"You have yet to reach your majority and you will do as you're told." Lord Snape thundered. Draco knew from his extensive lessons in wizarding law that vampires, because of their infinite lifespans, did not reach the age of legal majority until their fortieth birthday. Until that time they were completely under their father's control, as wizarding children were until the age of seventeen.
His son merely raised an eyebrow. Across the room, Potter smirked, Auror Moody muttered something only he could hear and Professor Lupin frowned his discontent. Draco understood now, though. Professor Snape had joined the Death Eaters as a bid to get out from under his Father's thumb. At that point in time, Draco understood the impulse.
"I'm afraid, Severus, that certain sacrifices must be made for the greater good." The Headmaster had on that disgustingly patronising look of sympathy of which he was so fond. "The Malfoys will be a valuable ally for the light." Draco was sure that his mother was already pregnant with an heir to replace him. "Well, Mr Malfoy, will you agree to this?" As if he had a choice.
"Of course, Headmaster, I will do whatever my family requires of me." Draco dipped his head in acquiescence.
"Well, if that's all, I'm sure the arrangements can be made without my input." Professor Snape rose with dignity and swept out of the room.
Lord Snape sniffed. "That boy is too wilful."
Professor Lupin swallowed loudly. "Severus is my age, Lord Snape, he's hardly a boy."
"Hold your tongue, werewolf." The vampire lord sneered.
Draco sighed. "Well, gentlemen, I fear I too will find myself superfluous to requirements. With your permission, Father, Headmaster, I will take my leave."
"Of course, Draco." His father dismissed him with a waved hand.
"Have a good afternoon, Mr Malfoy."
Draco stood and left the office.
Draco found Professor Snape pacing around his office. He sat in the chair behind the desk and waited to be acknowledged.
"Perhaps you ought to call me Draco, sir, given the circumstances."
"Draco, I do apologise for this turn of events. I can only imagine how... upsetting this must be for you."
"It is not unexpected, sir." Draco shrugged it off delicately.
Draco chose his words carefully. "I have always known that Father would marry me to whoever seemed most prudent at the time. I feel I have been rather fortunate."
Professor Snape inhaled sharply through his teeth. "Fortunate? I'm twice your age. I have nothing to offer you. How can this union possibly be fortunate?"
"If I may speak candidly, sir?" The Professor nodded. "You are intelligent, attractive and male. These are three attributes I had never expected my betrothed to have, but which I covet highly. I hold a great deal of respect for you, Professor, and I do not think I will find this as arduous as the the other likely arrangements would be."
Professor Snape sighed and leant against the wall. "I am most flattered, Draco. However, what I fear is that we will never experience the joys of married life." This was said somewhat dryly. "Do you know what the outcome is of the majority of forced bondings between vampires and humans?"
"The human is killed at the first feeding." The sacrifices the Headmaster had spoken of suddenly seemed all the more sinister.
Draco swallowed, then he stood and walked around the desk to stand before his betrothed. "Perhaps, in that case, we should ensure that the bonding will not be forced, sir."
Professor Snape's lips pursed. "What are you suggesting?"
"That we come to an agreement to develop this relationship until I am no longer in danger of dying." Draco replied cooly.
"I can see why that would be... advantageous. I will do my utmost to ensure your safety."
Draco lightly laid his hand over the Professor's heart. "Thank you."