Harry Potter, Gryffindor Golden Boy, Savior-to-be and Wizarding Hero was sitting at the barred window in his tiny room at number four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging. He was staring out of it, not taking in anything outside, which was partly due to the fact that it was past midnight and partly due to the heavy brooding he was engaged in.
The Boy Wonder was eaten away by guilt. Three weeks earlier, his beloved godfather and passing acquaintance, Sirius Black, had been killed due to Harry's hero complex and inability to learn Occlumency. What hurt the most was the fact that Sirius Black would be still locked up safely at his family home, number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London, hadn't it been for Harry.
Up to three weeks earlier Harry had had hope to leave his uncle's house, but after his godfather's death he was stuck with his muggle relatives. This was even worse since his aunt Petunia had discovered her fondness of sewing while he had been away at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry and had started to use his room to store her sewing things. Upon his return, she had reluctantly emptied half of the room for him, exacting the half of the room which contained his bed.
Harry was startled out of his brooding by the reflection of a burst of flame in the room behind him. He whirled around, cursing his uncle for taking away his wand from him. He sighed with relief when he recognized his headmaster and fatherly mentor, Albus Dumbledore, who was currently extinguishing the flames his phoenix had accidently set to aunt Petunia's latest project, a flowery dress.
"Professor!" he gasped.
The old wizard turned away from the needlework and stroked his long white beard, deep in thought. "Harry, my boy," he said after a short moment of contemplation. "Do you think that your aunt will accept an order? Her skills are amazing!"
"I don't know," Harry said, dumbfounded. "But I guess you did not come here to place a robes order. What can I do for you?"
"Yes, yes, indeed!" The headmaster glanced at the dress longingly one last time before he gave his mind to the teenager at the window. "Harry, my boy, we have to hurry! We need to leave this very minute! Get your wand; we have no time to pack anything else!"
"My wand is in the cupboard under the stairs. I can't get it. Firstly, I'm not allowed out of my room, and secondly, the cupboard is locked; as probably is this room."
The older wizard rolled his eyes. He looked at his pet phoenix who had sat down on top of Harry's owl's cage. "Fawkes," he ordered, "get Harry's wand!"
The bird disappeared in a furl of flames – Dumbledore extinguished them with a swish of his own wand – and reappeared in an equally spectacular fiery outburst mere moments later. In his beak, the bird carried a wand. Harry hurried to retrieve it before it caught fire.
"Good, hold on, Harry!" Dumbledore held out his hand offeringly and when Harry took it, snatched the phoenix's tail.
Travelling via phoenix felt like being squeezed into a washing machine and being centrifuged. Luckily the sensation lasted only fractions of a second and then they stood in the headmaster's office. Dumbledore rushed to his desk from where he retrieved a bowl of lemon drops which he held out to the boy wizard while Fawkes landed on his perch and started to clean his plumage.
"Harry," said Albus Dumbledore, "we are lucky we received intelligence of what I'm going to reveal to you now. Arthur Weasley overheard a conversation between his son Percival and Minister Fudge. The minister fears that people will ask for him to resign his post after the debacle at the Department of Mysteries earlier this summer. In order to strengthen his position he has enacted a law which says that any magical child needs a magical guardian."
"A magical guardian?" Harry echoed.
Dumbledore nodded. "A magical guardian; and of course he intends to become your guardian."
"What?" screeched the Boy Who Lived.
"He thinks that this will help him to remain in his office. He discussed setting you up with his daughter with Percival."
"I can't believe him!" cried Harry. "What will we do about it?"
"I'm glad that you ask that question, Harry, my boy." Dumbledore rubbed his hands. "I asked Professor Trelawney for her assistance and she pointed the way we have to take."
"Professor Trelawney? Why would anybody ask for her advice?"
"Harry, my boy, you are highly underestimating Sybil. We cannot make up a plan; we need something that the ministry will accept as legally valid. A prophecy is just what we need."
"The ministry will accept a prophecy as legally valid?" Harry whirled around when the door was thrown open violently.
"Potter, you have seen the Hall of Prophecies. Of course I should not be surprised of your inaptitude to understand the matter, seeing your imbecility when it comes to anything concerning the mind. It's a miracle a person as narrow-minded as yourself is even able to perform magic at all." Severus Snape, Hogwarts' resident potions master, entered the room in a spectacular flourish of robes.
"Severus, this is not the time for insults," scolded Dumbledore. "I'm thrilled that you came just in time to hear the prophecy I was going to reveal to Harry."
"A new prophecy?" Snape sounded sceptic.
"It's rather short, but unusually clear." Dumbledore waved his wand and summoned his pensieve out of one of the cabinets. Next, he pointed his wand at his temple and withdrew a white strand of memory. It floated in the air for a while and then sank gracefully into the stone bowl. The headmaster stirred it with his wand and the small figure of Sybil Trelawney rose from the bowl. She swayed as if drunk and then started to speak.
Harry shuddered. He knew that tone. It was a real prophecy.
"What do you think, Harry?" asked Dumbledore. Snape was as pale as fresh snow.
"What? Sorry, I was in thought." Harry blushed.
"Merlin, help me!" Snape rolled his eyes.
Dumbledore pointed his wand at the pensieve and the tiny Divination teacher spoke again.
"If the repentant servant of the Dark Lord enters into matrimony, the Wizarding World may continue to hope."
"The repentant servant is professor Snape?" asked Harry. "And he has to get married?"
"Indeed, Harry, indeed!" The headmaster beamed. "I'm glad you are so quick on the uptake."
"I doubt that Potter really understood what this prophecy implies," snarled Snape.
"Don't underestimate Harry," scolded Dumbledore. "Of course he understands."
Harry felt confused. "Just to make sure," he said shyly, "would anybody care to explain what it implies?"
Dumbledore beamed as if he had only waited for his cue. "It's easy! If you get married, you become a legal adult. I admit, marriage between two men is not very common, but it's not unheard of. It's simple, but ingenious."
"What?" Harry spluttered. "You want me to marry him?" He pointed at Snape.
The potions master smirked at his superior. "Now he has caught on."
The headmaster ignored the black clad wizard and went behind his desk to rummage in one of the drawers. "Here!" the old wizard cried triumphantly a moment later. He held up a parchment and slammed the drawer shut. When he hurried to rejoin the two younger wizards, he nearly tripped, because he had wedged his long beard in his drawer. With a yelp of pain he turned around to free his facial ornament.
When he had successfully rounded his desk, Dumbledore cleared his throat and shook the parchment dramatically. Before he could start to read, he was interrupted by the Teenage Hero.
"Just a minute, Sir, you don't expect me to," he wiggled his index between himself and Snape, "you know, with him?"
"You wish, Potter," snarled the potions master. "I feel by no means attracted to whelps." He shuddered visibly.
"Harry," said Dumbledore, "you have to understand that this union will only exist on parchment. You will be expected to share Severus's quarters, but whatever happens within those quarters is entirely between you two."
Both grooms made retching noises.
"Splendid," cried the headmaster. "I see you are of one mind."
Snape rolled his eyes, but before he could respond he was interrupted by his colleague, Minerva McGonagall. The woman slid into the room with the grace of a cat. "Albus," she whispered urgently, "Minister Fudge is on the way to your office. He looks furious. I thought you ought to know in advance."
"Thank you, Minerva. We better hurry, my boys. Severus, do you take Harry as your wedded husband?"
"Yes," snarled the potions master through gritted teeth. Behind him, Minerva McGonagall gasped.
"And you, Harry, do you take Severus as your wedded bride?"
"What?" screamed Snape. "If anybody is the bride here, it's Potter!"
"I'm terribly sorry, Severus. This is my first same-sex wedding. Let me correct myself. Harry, do you take Severus as your wedded husband?"
"Yes," Harry growled.
"Albus, what is the meaning of this?" McGonagall cried. "What are you doing?"
"According to the privileges of reinstated Supreme Mugwamp, I declare you husband and husband. You may … well, it's not obligatory."
The old wizard smiled. "All we need now is a nice pair of rings. I don't happen to carry any on me. Severus?"
"I hate to disappoint you, headmaster, but no, I do not carry any wedding rings on me."
"Nor do I," the teenage hero hurried to point out before the headmaster could ask.
"Without wedding rings, this marriage will not be valid," said Dumbledore. "You all know wizarding tradition. Minerva, can you transfigure rings for us? I will explain later."
The Transfiguration teacher hesitated but then waved her wand and conjured two simple gold bands out of thin air.
"I will not wear a Gryffindor ring," snarled Snape.
"So much for the question why you are single," muttered his spouse. "Even I, being muggle raised, know that gold is traditional for wedding rings."
"Twenty points from Gryffindor!" snarled the potions master. "If you think you have leave to be cheeky with me now that we are married, you are very much mistaken. You will still call me Sir in public as well as in private. And you will not talk back at me, whelp!" He grabbed the ring that was hovering in front of his nose and slid it on his ring finger unceremoniously. The teenager snarled back, but followed his lead.
"Done!" cried Dumbledore just as the door to his office was flung open.
"Dumbledore!" cried Minister Fudge as he stormed into the room. "I request to know why you removed Mr. Potter from his relatives' care!"
"It's funny that you ask that Cornelius," the old wizard said benignly. "Good night, my boys. And again, my heart-felt congratulations." He waved the new couple good-bye, but Fudge grabbed Harry's arm.
"Potter will go nowhere!" the small wizard snarled.
"Unhand my husband this moment!" hissed the potions master. He growled and pulled Harry towards him.
"Husband?" Fudge laughed humourlessly. "What have you done now, Dumbledore. Hogwarts is a school, not a ship, and you are a headmaster, not a captain. You cannot marry people!"
"As a matter of fact," Dumbledore smiled, "I am the captain of a boat called Hogwarts. The Hogwarts lies in anchor in a small harbour north of Aberdeen. But that is beside the point. I am, as you know, the Supreme Mugwamp of the Wizengamot and as such am very well within my rights to marry people."
"Mr. Potter is my ward! You cannot marry him."
"I can and I did. Besides, Mr. Potter and my potions master were meant for each other. I have a prophecy and I will gladly show it to an authorized unspeakable."
"If everything was legal, then why did you marry them in the small hours?"
"It's a matter of choosing the right moment. With an important young man like Mr. Potter, many things have to be taken into account. Astronomy, Divination, even Arithmancy. We identified a period of ten minutes this night."
"I will not accept that!" shrieked Fudge.
"What do you want, Cornelius? Do you want to read in the Prophet that you separated Mr. Potter from his husband right after their wedding night?"
"What? Certainly not! You will hear from me, Dumbledore! You will hear from me!" The minister wrapped his cloak around himself in a dramatic gesture and left the office at a run.
Dumbledore waited until the sound of Fudge's footsteps on the stairs had faded in the distance before he pushed Snape and Harry to the door.
"Thanks you for defending Harry against Fudge, Severus," he beamed. "I knew you had it in you! Now, have a nice rest of the night and don't be shy to sleep in a little tomorrow. It's been a long day and we don't want you to cut your wedding night short."
"Albus!" snarled the potions master as he turned around, but before he could continue the door had been closed to his face. The man growled in frustration and hurried down the spiral staircase. He stopped when he had nearly reached the bottom. "In case you don't plan to sleep on Albus's doormat, you'd better come, Potter!"
The Boy Who Just Had Been Married considered the doormat for a moment just to watch it go up in lilacish smoke. With a sigh he gave himself up to his fate and followed the potions master. He didn't manage to catch up with the man before they reached a piece of bare wall way past the potions classroom.
"This is where I live," snarled Snape. "If you tell the location of my private quarters to one living soul, I shall chop you up and use you for my more adventurous brewing." He grabbed Harry's hand and pressed it to the wall. He muttered in rapid Latin under his breath and the wall under Harry's skin warmed and flashed in green and orange in turn.
"I do not use silly means like portraits or passwords," Snape explained. "The wall now recognizes your DNA when you touch it and will let you in. Try it."
Harry lifted his hand a little and then touched it back to the wall. A section of the wall dissolved into thin air and as soon as Harry and Snape had stepped through popped back into existence.
The quarters they had entered were not at all what Harry had expected. They had stepped into a vast living room with a large fireplace, thick rugs and a large booth of upholstery in a tasteful shade of chocolate brown. One wall was covered with bookshelves; opposite the fireplace stood a large showcase with crystal glasses, fine bone china and exquisite goblets. In one corner stood the biggest desk Harry had ever seen.
"This is the living room, obviously," said Snape. "You will sleep on the sofa." He pointed his wand at an empty corner of the room and a small chest of drawers appeared out of thin air. "You can put your things there. This door," he pointed at the door beside the chest of drawers, "leads to the guest bathroom. This is all you need to know. You will under no circumstances enter any of the other rooms."
Harry nodded mutely and Snape set out for a door on the other side of the room. Just before the man reached it, Harry found his voice. "I need a blanket and pyjamas."
When Snape turned around, his face was a mask of glee. "A blanket is in the bottom drawer, as for pyjamas you should have brought some if you need them. I strongly suggest you leave your underwear on. Good night!" That said he swept through the door in a flourish of robes and slammed it shut behind him.
With a sigh Harry went for the blanket – he was certain he had seen aunt Petunia using newer cloths to clean – and sat on the sofa at a loss. It was certainly uncomfortable to sleep in his jeans, but he really did not want to undress to his boxers in Snape's quarters. At last he decided to sleep in his clothes and lay down.
There was no pillow for him and the armrest of the sofa had the wrong height to be comfortable. Harry considered sleeping on the rug in front of the fireplace, but he knew Snape too well to act against the man's orders.
Harry could not have cared less for Snape's orders though, when he woke up two hours later feeling all stiff. With a pained moan he slid down on the carpet and crawled closer to the fireplace. With the warmth from the fire he could afford to crumple the blanket to make a pillow.
The new spot was a bit better, but the damage had already been done. When Harry got up the next morning, woken by Snape exiting his bedroom rather noisily, he felt sore all over.
"Morning, Snape," Harry muttered while scrambling to his feet.
"What did I tell you about calling me Sir?" Snape huffed.
The teenage hero rolled his eyes. "Morning, Sir," he corrected himself and padded off to the bathroom he had not even taken in properly the night before. There was not much to take in though. The bathroom contained a toilet, a sink which was barely big enough to wash a pair of socks and a shower without a curtain. Harry considered going without a shower when the price for one was cleaning the whole bathroom, but seeing that he was going to live here for the foreseeable future, he'd better get used to it.
The boy turned on the water and stood under the spray when he realised that there were neither soap nor shower gel and, on second sight, no towels either. Harry turned off the shower and wiped the water off his skin with his hands to his best abilities.
"What have you done now?" Snape asked when Harry exited the bathroom.
"There are no towels!" the Boy Who Was Wet pointed out.
"This is not a hotel, Potter. You were supposed to bring your own towels."
"But I haven't!" Harry cried angrily. "Dumbledore snatched me out of my room at Privet Drive with only the clothes on my back!"
"You could have said something," Snape sneered. He went to his bedroom and returned with a fluffy dark grey towel.
Harry caught it when it was thrown at him and started to towel his hair. The towel smelled of sandalwood. Harry coughed. "And the fact that I didn't bring a bag or something was no clue to you?" he huffed angrily.
"You are a wizard, Potter! I thought you had your shrunken possessions in your pocket. Who in their right mind carries a bag?"
"Well," Harry threw the now wet towel back at the man, "teenagers too young to do magic at home do." He glared daggers at the man.
"Be that as it may," Snape side-stepped the towel and it landed on the floor, "if we hurry, we may be able to catch breakfast. Come on."
The potions master hurried through the dungeons and Harry had to jog to keep up, his muscles protesting after the uncomfortable night he had spent. The Great Hall was empty but for a round table in the middle. There, professors Dumbledore and McGonagall were chatting merrily over cups of tea.
"Ah, in time!" Snape sighed happily as he dropped into the chair on Dumbledore's left. A fresh pot of coffee appeared before him along with a bowl of porridge. Harry sat beside Snape and was happy to see a full English breakfast appear in front of him.
"Ah, my boys! To be honest, we didn't expect you up so early." Dumbledore beamed and turned to face the two younger wizards.
Harry snorted in reply. "How would I sleep with this guy making a racket and me feeling sore all over?"
Dumbledore turned to look at his deputy pointedly.
"Really, Severus," McGonagall huffed. "You are a potions master. There are salves for that! Why did you have to leave your young husband in pain?"
"What?" shrieked Snape, dropping his spoon and splattering porridge all over the table. "You filthy old woman, how dare you imply that I …" He was lost for words.
"I had to sleep on the floor," Harry added, ever helpful, from the side. "And he did not give me pyjamas."
"Severus!" Dumbledore was scandalized.
"I had to beg him for a towel after the shower," Harry hurried to complain.
Dumbledore got up, shaking with anger. "I'm so very disappointed in you, Severus! The point of this whole issue was to protect Harry, but what are you doing?" He shook his head. "I severely misjudged you." That said, he swept from the room with McGonagall in tow.
"Albus!" Snape looked at the door with a mixture of shock and anger, but the anger won and turned to fury. "Potter!" he cried. "You know what that means! We are officially at war!"
Harry swallowed the beans he was chewing and shrugged. "If you want to, I'm game. Though I have to say it's not a clever move from your side. I mean, look at us. I'm fifteen, young, innocent, the Wizarding World's Darling, while you, on the other hand, are a fifty year old dungeon bat." He smiled sweetly. "You can't win, Sir."
"I can and I will," growled Snape, "and for your information, I am not fifty!"
Harry snickered. "Thirty, forty, fifty… Who cares? You are the old man who corrupts the Golden Boy."
Snape smiled nastily. "Don't forget I'm also the old man who warrants that the Golden Boy is not used as the minister's personal poster boy. You need me, so you'd better play nice!"
Said Golden non-poster Boy did some quick thinking. "Truce!" he then called, extending a hand to his husband.
"Truce," smirked Snape, ignoring the hand. The potions master pushed his bowl away and set out to leave. Harry hurried to follow him since he was not entirely sure he would be able to find the right piece of wall to enter their quarters.
"I need my things," he panted once they were safely back at their living room, "and a pillow, towels and most importantly a bed! I can't sleep on that sofa forever."
"You'll get used to it," snarled Snape. "There is no room for an additional bed in my quarters and you certainly are not suggesting sharing mine!"
Harry made a face. "No I do not suggest sharing yours! But if you make me sleep on your sofa every night you'd better not be surprised when people think I'm your abused boy toy!"
"Good," snarled Snape. "I'll transfigure something for you come evening. Anything else?"
"A shower curtain," Harry requested boldly. "I want a shower curtain."
The potions master pointed his wand at the guest bathroom. "Done," he growled. "Now let's go fetch your things."
Snape led the way out of the castle and down towards the gates.
"Do you have to run all the time?" panted Harry when he caught up with the man just inside the gates.
"You can't blame me. Running to get away from you comes to me naturally," smirked Snape. He held out his arm to Harry when they had stepped through the gates. The potions master raised a brow when the teenager didn't take it.
"What?" snapped the boy. "Do you expect us to walk to the train station arm in arm, or what?"
Snape rolled his eyes. "Your idiocy is only surpassed by your ignorance, Potter. I have no intention to spend all morning on the express. We are apparating."
"Apparating?" echoed the Golden Gryffindor.
"Apparating, Potter," confirmed Snape with a sneer. "Apparition is the way most wizards choose to cover great distances. It takes, however, a degree of concentration and focus that you will most likely never achieve. Luckily it is possible for the accomplished wizard to take one person with them when they apparate. To achieve that, bodily contact is absolutely essential. So, if you don't want me to throw you over my shoulder like a cave man, you'd better take that arm."
"I'd like to see you try," snorted the boy wonder but nevertheless grabbed Snape's elbow.
The potions monster turned on the spot without further warning. Apparition was worse than travelling via phoenix. Harry felt as if his body was squeezed into a much too tight space. This must be what it felt like to be forced through a hose.
It was over some instants later. Harry blinked. They were standing on the pavement of Privet Drive, a short distance from number four.
"You should have changed into something a bit more muggle," the boy pointed out with a glance at Snape's billowing black robes.
"Certainly not," growled the potions master. "Lead the way now. We don't need muggles gaping at us." He looked a bit surprised when the younger wizard did as he was told without discussion.
A very large man with hardly any neck flung the door open so violently when Harry knocked that Snape would not have been surprised if the doorframe would have given way.
"Potter!" the man roared. "Where have you been? We have been looking for you! I had to stay at home from work because your aunt is beside herself! And how dare you turn up with another freak at our doorstep after scaring your aunt so much!"
"I'm sorry, Uncle Vernon."
As much as it amazed Snape that the fat muggle managed to do what he himself had been trying for years without success, he had no time for nonsense.
"Go and tell your wife the whelp is back. We'll just get his things and you'll be rid of us. You may even get a chance to go to work."
"Get his things?" snarled Vernon Dursley. The man did not like his nephew, but that did not mean that he was ready to let him leave if that was something the boy wanted to do. "I think not. Who are you anyway?"
"I'm his husband." Snape smirked as Vernon Dursley's large face went through a number of different shades of red in record time.
"Petunia!" roared the muggle. "Petunia!" He rushed off, leaving the door open.
The potions master glared at the younger wizard. "Is he always that dramatic?" When the boy nodded, Snape pushed him into the house and pulled the door closed behind them. "Where are your things now?"
"My clothes upstairs and my school stuff under the stairs."
"Then let's get the clothes first." Snape looked up the stairs and the boy led the way to his room. The potions master barely managed to stifle a gasp when he saw the locks on the boy's bedroom doors. Potter blushed and busied himself with packing his belongings.
There was surprisingly little to pack; a spare pair of jeans, some too big t-shirts and a photo album. Potter put the things into an old satchel and Snape shrank it for the boy. Normally, the potions master would have been tempted to taunt the boy for his meagre belongings, but the thought of the locks on the door was sickening. He made a mental note to ask the boy about them later.
Once the clothes were safely tucked into Potter's pocket, they made their way downstairs to retrieve the boy's school trunk.
The fat muggle and his wife were waiting for them. "I'm telling you, Petunia, that freak said he was Potter's husband!" the man was just saying.
"Severus Snape!" Petunia shrieked when she saw who was coming down the stairs behind her nephew. "I knew it! I knew you were evil the first time I saw you! Don't you dare touch the boy, you monster!"
"Petunia, charming as ever, I see." Snape waved his wand at the cupboard under the stairs and signalled his spouse to get his things from there once the small door was unlocked.
"There must be a law against that even for you freaks! I will sue you for kidnapping and child molesting! Shame on you!"
"You know my husband, aunt Petunia?" Harry asked from under the stairs. "How come?"
"He was lurking around Lily and me when we were kids. Now that I think of it, he was a child molester even back then!" She took a step back to hide behind her husband.
"I was a child back then," Snape snarled. "Hurry up, Potter. I don't want to be insulted longer than strictly necessary."
"You will not take Potter with you!" said uncle Vernon after a push from his wife.
"Stop me, if you can," smirked Snape.
"It's alright, aunt Petunia," the Golden Gryffindor intervened before the situation could get out of hand. "I volunteered to marry him."
"Volunteered?" echoed Vernon. "I knew you were a freak! Marge was right! We should have sent you right to an orphanage the moment they dumped you on our doorstep! Out! Both of you! Out of my house! Filth! Abominations of nature!"
The muggle had gone too far. Of course he had no idea that Severus Snape was not only a teacher, spy for the light and husband to his teenage nephew, but also a full-fledged ex-deatheater with a very short temper. Snape had thrown the first hexes at the man before the teenage hero – and he was the only one present who stood even a tiny chance against the enraged potions master – had even drawn his wand.
The Wizarding Hero's hand stopped short mere centimetres from his pocket. The sight of Vernon Dursley tap-dancing would have made harder boiled wizards hesitate.
"Stop it!" shrieked Petunia Dursley. "Do you want him to die from a heart attack?"
Snape laughed cruelly. "I could not care less!"
"Harry!" the horse-faced woman screamed. "Do something!"
His aunt's pleas raised the teenage wizard from his stupor. He drew his wand and cast a counter-curse.
Snape laughed. Although it sounded a bit cruel, it was also a hearty laugh, not only full of glee but also full of heartfelt joy. It was the most beautiful sound Harry had ever heard from his potions master but perhaps when he had given Draco Malfoy detention back in their second year. The laughter took at least twenty years off Snape's face.
"Are you really foolish enough to think that you are powerful enough to cancel my spell?" The potions master laughed again and cast another spell. Vernon Dursley started to sing in a high pitched voice. Aunt Petunia screamed at the top of her lungs.
"Sir!" cried the Boy Wonder. "If Uncle Vernon dies from a heart attack we will be in serious trouble!"
"Don't be a coward, Harry!" cried Snape merrily. "It's fun! Why don't you try your own jinx? The ministry can't stop you! You are a legal adult thanks to our marriage! You may do as much magic as you like!" He giggled.
The teenage boy pinched the bridge of his nose. "Severus! Be reasonable! You cannot walk around and curse my muggle relatives!"
"Of course I can! I'm doing it right now!"
"Merlin, help me!" the young Gryffindor muttered. "Severus!" he then shouted at the top of his lungs. "If you don't stop it right now I will tell everybody who will listen how you are mistreating me!"
Snape stopped giggling immediately. "You wouldn´t!" He pointed his wand at the muggle, who was by that time panting like a walrus. "Spread lies about me and suffer the consequences! I know of methods of abuse you can't even think of! And should you provoke me, I might try every single one on you! You will beg the Dark Lord to rescue you from me!" In spite of his threats, he cancelled the spells on Uncle Vernon.
The obese man leaned against the wall heavily. "Out!" he panted. "Out of my house!"
"Your things, Potter," Snape sneered.
The boy pointed at his school trunk which he had left half through the cupboard door. Snape shrunk and pocketed it before he turned on the spot and stalked out of the door. Harry had – again – to run to keep up with the older wizard.
"What can you tell me about those methods of abuse?" he asked while he jogged alongside the potions master.
"Why would I?" snapped the ex-deatheater. "Planning to try them out?"
The Boy Who Lived blushed. Snape raised an eyebrow at him. "I can explain some of the more simple ones to you in the evening. A demonstration can be arranged."
Harry gulped, but did not decline the offer.
The Golden Gryffindor was surprised to find himself not near Hogwarts after another side-along apparition, but near the Leaky Cauldron.
"What are we doing here?" Harry asked, surprised.
Snape smirked. "I saw what you packed. You don't think that I will endure your sight in what I just watched you put in that satchel? We go shopping. Now."
"Shopping?" Harry hopped up and down like a rubber ball and clapped his hands. "Nobody ever takes me shopping! Oh, thank you, Severus, Sir!"
It came as a complete shock that Snape did not take the teenage hero to the bank, but directly to Gladrags. "No husband of mine will walk around in rags, no matter how much I despise him!"
"Sir, I have no money with me," Harry pointed out.
"I will pay," growled Snape. "In exchange I get to choose what you wear."
The teenager gave it a bit of thought. "I will not wear billowing black robes," he stated matter-of-factly.
Snape laughed. Again, it was that deep rich laughter Harry had liked so much back at Privet Drive. "That would not be the appropriate attire for a boy toy, would it?" He laughed again.
The two wizards spent more than three hours choosing shirts, pullovers, trousers, socks and shoes. In between, Snape withdrew for a little while to give his husband some privacy when he bought underwear. When Harry returned with a bag full of new boxers and three pairs of pyjamas, Snape showed him a stack of towels and a bag of toiletries he had bought in the meantime.
When the saviour in the making and his ex-villain finally left the clothes store, the former was wearing a brand new outfit – tight black trousers and a bottle green silk shirt which made him look like a Slytherin poster boy – and the latter sporting a Gryffindor red tie. Snape was walking a step behind the teenage wizard to enjoy the view of his husband's behind.
Harry stopped short when a camera flashed in front of him. A curly blonde in bright red robes stepped into the boy's path.
"Mr. Potter," cried Rita Skeeter, her ever-present quick quote quill hovering beside her, "me, myself and I would like to know whether it is a wedding ring a witness spotted on your finger. Is it true? Has the Boy Who Lived found his Chosen One?"
Harry turned around to Snape for advice, but that turned out to be a mistake.
"Professor Snape!" Rita Skeeter tottered around Harry. "Is this a matching ring I see on your finger? Now here's a real surprise!" She turned to her quill. "It came as a complete surprise to me," she said in a monotone voice, "when I met no other than Mr. Harry Potter on my quest for owl treats this morning. Mr. Potter, the wizarding world's most eligible bachelor is no longer free. Mr. Potter was just exiting Gladrags in company of his new sweetheart, Professor Severus Snape. – Note down that we need a special feature about deatheaters and their love affairs. – Professor Snape and Mr. Potter were showing off their brand new wedding rings proudly."
She turned away from the quill and faced Snape and Harry again.
"Professor Snape," the reporter said sweetly. "Please, inform our readers how you convinced our hero to join hands in matrimony."
"I said yes when asked," growled Snape. He pulled Harry close protectively.
"So it was you, Mr. Potter, who did the asking? How exciting! Our readers will be thrilled. I beg you to share with us how you proposed to Professor Snape. Reveal how romantic you are! Was there music? Did you go down on bended knee?"
By then the ex-deatheater had regained his wits. He stepped in front of Harry. "All that, Miss Skeeter, is for me to know, and for the rest of the world to never learn. I suggest you keep your nose out of our private lives. Come, Harry."
The teenage hero was relieved that Snape had taken control of the situation and followed his husband – again at a run – to the apparition point from where the potions master took them back to Hogwarts.
Once down in their chambers, Snape unshrank Harry's things and purchases and left the Boy Wonder to sorting his things into the chest of drawers he had assigned him. The sorting took quite a while and when Harry had finally finished his task, it was already time for dinner. They went up to the Great Hall for if they didn't there was a good chance that Dumbledore and McGonagall would come searching for Harry.
"Harry!" Dumbledore stood when they entered the hall. "You look radiant, my boy. Marriage seems to be good for you! Or is it a new haircut?"
The Golden Gryffindor, still in a good mood from sorting through his new wardrobe, turned on the spot to show off. "Severus, I mean Professor Snape, bought me some new clothes!" He turned again.
"Severus!" cried Dumbledore. "I had no idea you had such an exquisite dress sense! Did you notice what these trousers are doing for Harry's bum?"
The potions master blushed.
"Hey! I don't need clothes to look good! It's all quidditch-toned muscles!" protested Harry.
The deputy headmistress made a face. "I'm quite sure Severus knows that. Shepherd's pie, Mr. Potter?"
"Yes, please." Harry sat down beside Snape, wondering who was going to join them. There were several empty chairs left and it was not like Dumbledore to conjure more than necessary.
They were halfway through dinner – Dumbledore explained that they handled meal times very informally during the holidays – when Professors Flitwick and Vector made their appearance. Harry nearly choked on a bean when he realised they were holding hands.
"Congratulations, Severus and Harry!" they chorused.
"How do you know?" asked Snape.
Flitwick giggled. "But Severus, the whole wizarding world knows! The Daily Prophet dedicated a special issue to you two lovebirds!" He pulled some scraps of paper from his pocket and enlarged them to become thick newspapers. "I thought you'd like to keep some for your children. Help yourselves!"
Harry, Snape, Dumbledore and McGonagall reached for the newspapers while Flitwick and Vector fed each other lasagne.
The front page of the paper was mostly covered by a huge photograph of Harry and Snape exiting Gladrags with Snape staring at Harry's rear. Above the picture flashed the headline TAKEN!
"Really, Severus, you should have known better than be so blunt in public," muttered Dumbledore while he turned the page to read the article on page 2.
McGonagall beat him to it by reading the article out loud.
"Today your reporter, Rita Skeeter, was among the first to be informed of what certainly is the most sensational match of the century if not millennium. The Wizarding World's most eligible bachelor has been snatched from us by no other than its most confirmed bachelor. Or is it the other way round? I'll leave the decision to the reader. Here are the facts.
Mr. Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived and the voice in the wilderness when it comes to the Dark Lord's return, certainly is – or rather was – the catch to make for any young witch. Not only is Mr. Potter of comely build with exceptionally good looks, he is also the heir to not one but two considerable fortunes, the Potter and, after the death of his godfather, the Black estates. And as a bonus, he is the most cherished hero of the wizarding world. Which mother would not be glad if her daughter introduced this young man as her future husband?
Professor Severus Snape, who was suspected to be a deatheater in the past, has starred in the daydreams of many young witches for years. The strict potions master of Hogwarts has, although seemingly never trying, wormed his way into the fantasies of his students ever since he entered that dungeon classroom. Which witch would not dream of being the one to crack the shell the professor is hiding in and find out what he hides under those robes?
Well, ladies, forget about those dreams. We never stood a chance. These two extraordinary wizards have fallen for each other. When I first learned about their union I was hurt that they had chosen a man over me, but then I realised that this was the best thing that could have happened – apart from one of them falling for me – because I have never been beaten by another witch."
McGonagall cleared her throat. "Learn more about how Rita Skeeter met the new couple, page 3. Mr. Potter's past affairs, page 4. Learn what Miss Cho Chang has to say about Mr. Potter's limited abilities as a kisser, page 5. Why we thought Severus Snape was a deatheater, page 6. What Severus Snape does hide under those robes, page 7 – Severus!"
The list went on and on. The special edition was more than 30 pages long. There were pictures of Harry and Snape, interviews with people who knew them or not, speculations on whether Snape had used the imperius curse on Harry and even a contest to guess the name of their first child.
"That's it!" snarled Snape when Dumbledore himself started to read out an article about how Harry looked like a young Tom Riddle and therefore was especially attractive to suspect deatheater Severus Snape. "I'm going to bed!"
"I'm coming!" cried Harry and followed the man.
The other teachers exchanged pointed glances.
Harry seemed to feel what was going on behind his back. "I have to," he cried as an explanation, "or it will be the floor again!"
The two wizards were just rounding the last corner on the way to Snape's quarters when the potions master stopped dead in his tracks. There, just in front of the entrance to Snape's chambers, stood a witch, tapping her foot impatiently.
The teenager whistled when he took in the slender form, the long blonde hair and black high heels. The sound brought their presence to the blonde's attention.
"Severus!" she threw her long locks over her shoulders and tottered towards them. "I had to see for myself! When I read the Prophet, I could not believe that you would exchange this," she slid her hands down her frame, starting at her plunging neckline and stopping at her hips, "for that." She sneered at Harry. "What is in this for you?"
Snape wrapped an arm around Harry's waist and pulled the teenage hero flush to his side. "Mr. Potter has some hidden qualities," he let his hand wander and squeezed Harry's bum; the Boy Who Lived yelped with surprise, "which I do not wish to discuss in public."
"I'm not exactly the public, Severus." The blonde folded her arms in front of her chest and tapped her foot.
"Now that you mention it," Harry chimed in, "I have no idea who you are."
"I, Mr. Potter," the blonde had to stoop to bring herself nose to nose with the teenage hero, "am the person whose ring you are wearing."
"Wow," cried the boy. "I had no idea that you had a girlfriend!"
"Yes, yes," the blonde turned to Snape's rigid form and pulled one of her long red fingernails down his cheek not too gently. "Always full of surprises our Severus, isn't he? He has a secret girlfriend and then goes and marries the rugrat he has been complaining about for these past five years." She patted Snape's cheek in a perversion of a tender gesture. "And said rugrat yelps like an anxious virgin when our dear Severus touches him. Hmmmm!" She gazed into Snape's eyes unblinkingly. "I will find out what this is about!"
Harry looked at the frozen potions master and the enraged blonde in turn. This was bad; very bad. If the blonde found out that their marriage was a fraud and gave it away to the minister, Harry was as good as the minister's poster boy. He could not let the blonde find out.
"I suggest you take your hands off my man," the Golden Gryffindor snarled in an imitation of his husband. "Who you are and what you think is of no importance to me. Why don't you go and stare at somebody else's mate? We are freshly married and were just on the way to our quarters when you so rudely stopped us." He boldly stood on tiptoe and pecked Snape's cheek.
The kiss woke Snape from his stupor. "You are right. We should not let her distract us." He bent down to the teenager and reciprocated the kiss with a nuzzle to Harry's ear. "Let's go." They stepped around the blonde arm in arm and disappeared into their quarters.
As soon as the wall slid back to close the entrance to the chambers, the two wizards let go of each other as if burnt. Both started to rub their lips with a hand in a vigorous attempt to clean them.
When they realised that they were mirroring each other's action, both burst out laughing.
"I'm sorry I kissed you," Harry said meekly when he had finally recovered his breath. He just hoped Snape was not going to kill him for it.
"That was quicker thinking than I thought you were capable of, Potter," said the potions master. "Discordia Barton is a true Slytherin. She would sell her grandmother if she thought it was to her advantage. If she had evidence that our marriage was a fraud, she'd spill the beans to anybody who paid her enough."
"Just my thinking," sighed Harry. "What a day! Can you transfigure the sofa for me?"
Snape smirked. "Why don't you do it yourself? A bit of practice would do you good."
"You promised!" cried the Boy Hero.
The potions master drew his wand in a dramatic gesture. "Well, if you're saying you can't do it…" he pointed his wand at the sofa, but the Gryffindor held him back. "Of course I can do it!" The boy drew his wand and cast a spell.
Obediently, the sofa turned into a bed. It was not too big and did not look too comfortable, but it was, beyond any doubt, a bed.
"Ha!" cried the teenage hero.
The potions master smirked. "One night in this piece of furniture will be a splendid motivation to work on your spell work. I take it you will not retire immediately? I'd like to read a bit to calm down before I go to bed."
Harry shrugged. "Be my guest. I'll take a shower." The Gryffindor fetched a pair of pyjamas from his drawers and went to the bathroom. "Snape!" he roared five seconds later.
"What is it, beloved?" asked the potions master in a mocking voice.
Harry stormed back into the living room. The Saviour To Be was already in a state of semi-undress. His shirt and belt were open and his hair was even unrulier than usual. "Do you call that a truce?" He threw a towel at the potions master. "It is pink!"
"What are you talking about, Potter?" smirked the spy.
"The shower curtain," growled Harry. "The bloody shower curtain is pink!"
"Yes, it is," laughed Snape. "Who cares?"
"I care!" snapped the Teenage Hero.
"Why would you? It's only a shower curtain!"
"First you said I was the bride in this marriage and then you give me a pink shower curtain! You would be upset, too, if it was you!"
The potions master laughed. "You are unbelievable, brat!" He pointed his wand at the guest bathroom. "Good night!" He got up from the armchair he had settled down in mere moments ago. He chuckled all the way to his room. Before he opened the door he turned back to the younger wizard. "You do not look like a bride, not at all!" Still chuckling, the potions master retreated into his room, leaving a dumbfounded Harry Potter in his living room.
The Boy Who Lived lay awake for nearly an hour before he decided to take a leaf out of his husband's book. He was too upset to sleep. Carefully he tiptoed over to the bookshelf and skimmed the titles. He sighed. One potions text ran on to the next. Didn't Snape ever read just for fun?
Harry was just going to give up and return to his bed – which was not very comfortable – when a plain black book leaped to his eye. He took it from the shelf to have a closer look and gasped when it fell open in his hand. What Harry had taken for a book was a collection of Playwizard editions!
Excited about his find – it seemed Snape was a more complex person than Harry and his classmates would have guessed – the Chosen One returned to his bed. He settled on the mattress face down and opened the book.
A red haired witch with a green tie winked at him. Harry blushed and the witch giggled silently. Eager to get rid of the cheeky girl, the Boy Who Lived turned the page. A blonde was demonstrating how to ride a broomstick. Personally, Harry thought that wearing high heels was not recommendable if you wanted to fly, but the blonde did a marvellous job for somebody in wrong footgear.
The teenager was woken by Snape shouting at him. He groaned. The bed was really, really, really uncomfortable, especially when one used a book as a pillow. Harry woke with a start. The book! He had not put it back on the shelf!
"Do you even listen when I'm talking to you, Potter?" snarled Snape.
"You are not talking," Harry rolled his shoulders to get rid of the stiffness the night had left in them. "You are screaming."
"Don't talk back, Potter! You deserve every single decibel! Not only did you take a valuable book without permission, you drooled on it! Look at that! Miss Halloween is all wet!" The potions master looked so murderous; Harry thought Miss Halloween must be his sister.
"I'm sorry. Can she by dried?"
"Of course, but that's completely beside the point! She should not be covered in your slobber in the first place." Snape glared daggers at Harry. "Hurry up now. I don't want to be late for breakfast again. Take a shower and try to not look mistreated."
"I could do with a massage," Harry pointed out.
Snape snorted. "You wish! You have ten minutes."
Harry hurried to the bathroom. He jumped out of the shower barely after the water had first touched him, spelled his hair dry and then cursed himself for forgetting to bring fresh clothes. The Gryffindor wrapped a towel around his frame and shyly stepped out into the living room. "Turn around!" he ordered.
Snape rolled his eyes at the boy, but did as he was told to.
"You could have made my bed while I was in the shower," Harry said while he dressed.
"I'm not your house elf."
Harry spelled the sofa back to its original state while he tried to find his second shoe.
"The colour is wrong," Snape complained.
"Yes, but the wrong shade. Look at the armchairs. That's the colour it should be."
"I can't see a difference."
"Then your eyesight is worse than I thought. We'll go to St. Mungo's today and have your eyes checked."
The two wizards continued their bickering on their way up to the Great Hall. When they reached the table, Snape pushed a bowl of porridge towards the younger man. "Here, eat that. You need something to calm your hormones."
Harry blushed. He really did not wish to discuss the whole Playwizard incident in front of Dumbledore and McGonagall who were pretending not to listen.
Snape snickered when he realised how uncomfortable the boy wonder was. "I never knew you were so naughty, Potter."
Behind the potions master, McGonagall gasped. Harry blushed even more crimson if that was even possible. Snape winked at him, which turned out to be a mistake.
"You speak of naughty, Snape? You are up to every trick to catch a glimpse of my body!" Harry smirked, but made sure that neither Dumbledore nor McGonagall could see his expression.
Just as the boy had anticipated McGonagall reacted promptly. "Severus!"
"Oh come on," the ex-deatheater drawled. "We are married. Of course I look at him occasionally. Doing that is well within my rights."
Before the embarrassing contest could escalate, the war of words was interrupted by the sound of somebody clearing his throat. An elderly wizard with thinning grey hair stood in the doorway. "I'm very sorry to interrupt, but the Ministry has been notified that a case of sham marriage occurred within these walls." He rummaged in the stack of parchment he was holding. "Ah, yes. Mr. Harry Potter and Mr. Severus Snape." He looked at the breakfasters expectantly.
"That would be us," said Snape and clasped Harry's hand. The couple exchanged worried glances.
"Who accuses them?" asked the headmaster. He rose from his seat and stepped closer to the ministry employee.
"A secret source." The elderly wizard readjusted his glasses nervously.
"My dear man," Dumbledore glared at the man over the rim of his half-moon spectacles, "when such serious accusations are uttered against these wizards, they have a right to know by whom. Apart from that, even the Daily Prophet wrote about the love match."
"A secret source? Do not make me laugh!" Snape sneered. "The minister made it perfectly clear that he does not approve of our union. Speak up! What kind of proof for the validity of our marriage does the ministry require? Do you want to watch me snog him senseless? Or did Fudge send you for an eyewitness account from our bedroom?"
Harry Potter was up in an instant. "This is outrageous! Somebody call Skeeter! I wish to give her an interview about how our future ex-minister treats the Boy Who Lived!"
"Mr. Potter! I reassure you that Minister Fudge is by no means the one who caused my investigation." The elderly wizard took a step back.
"Discordia!" snarled Snape.
"Who is Discordia?" asked Dumbledore.
Harry smirked. "His girlfriend; the one he dumped in order to marry me."
"I was not aware that you had a girlfriend, Severus," cried McGonagall.
"You left Miss Barton for Mr. Potter?" the ministry employee asked in disbelief. "She's a bit of all right. – Oh, sorry!" He apologized profusely when Snape glared daggers at him.
"What kind of evidence do you need?" Snape asked again through gritted teeth.
"It's not at all like you seem to assume!" cried the balding wizard. "I have to interrogate you separately. That's all!"
Dumbledore seemed to do some quick thinking before he nodded. "A reasonable request; you can start with Harry."
Harry felt as if he was sitting an exam. Dumbledore had led them to the small chamber where the first years used to wait for the sorting. The old man had conjured a desk and two chairs for them before he had left Harry to his interview.
"Well, Mr. Potter," said the ministry wizard, "I will ask you a set of standard questions. I need you to answer as honestly as you can. Later, I will ask your husband a similar set of questions. Your answers will tell us whether this is a real marriage."
The teenage hero had to use all his willpower not to fidget nervously in his seat. Instead, he smiled brightly at the older wizard and nodded. "Okay." He had no idea how to answer questions about Snape or their marriage in a way that let the ministry believe they were in love.
"Mr. Potter, which brand of tooth paste does your husband use?"
Harry gaped at the man. Tooth paste? As if he would know! "I have no idea," he said honestly. "I think he brews it himself. It smells of peppermint and something else I can't put a finger on. I'm determined to find out what he puts in it, but so far we had better things to do than discuss tooth paste." He shrugged apologetically.
The ministry wizard noted the answer down. "What is your husband's favourite colour?"
"That depends. Black when it comes to clothing. He prefers brown for furniture." Harry grinned cheekily. "And pink as far as my underwear is concerned. He says I look sweet in pink. He even made the shower curtain pink for me."
"When did you kiss for the first time?"
"At our wedding; Severus Snape was my teacher. Anything else would have been most inappropriate."
"Describe your husband's underwear!"
"Greying pants; to be honest, I don't like them too much. Black silk would look marvellous on him. I intend to give him something nice as a gift. I'm just waiting for an opportunity; I don't want to be rude, do I?" Harry just hoped that Snape still wore what he had seen in his pensieve.
The teenager waited at the Great Hall with Dumbledore and McGonagall while Snape was interviewed. The potions master's interview was much shorter than Harry's. After what could not have been more than five minutes, loud shouting was heard from the small interview chamber.
"I will not discuss my husband's underwear with you! What he wears is for me to know and for the rest of the world to guess! He is the bloody Boy Who Lived! If I discuss his unmentionables with you now, the Daily Prophet will have a field day in the afternoon. Do you really think that I will have that piece of information spread over the papers? You idiot!"
Snape stormed out of the chamber. "Come, Harry. This interrogation is over!" He grabbed Harry's hand and pulled him down to the dungeons in a whirlwind of billowing robes.
"Potter!" snarled Snape as soon as they were safely in their quarters. "This is worse than I anticipated! Discordia is angry with me, the Prophet is digging in my private life, as is the ministry, I can't even start to guess what the Dark Lord will do to me if he gets hold of me and to top it all, I have my personal chambers infested by the bane of my existence!"
"I love you, too, Snape!" the teenage hero spat back. "Just in case you think I enjoy this, please remember that I was taken from my home by a senile old coot who is wrong in the garret, forced into marriage with a man who hates me and who threw a jar of something green and slimy at me the last time we were alone in a room. Unlike you I don't even have a personal sanctuary, because you make me sleep on your hearthrug. And to top it all I spend half of my time pretending that I'm madly in love with you. My friends will doubt my sanity and I will be the laughing stock of the whole school, because – unlike you – I don't have the excuse that my husband is quite the catch."
"How dare you!" screamed Snape. "I sacrificed my life to protect you! I had a job – well two actually – friends and a girlfriend, but now I'm stuck with you for the next two years. By the time I'm rid of you, Discordia will be married to somebody else and the Dark Lord will have about two hundred plans how to kill me to choose from."
"Friends?" Harry shouted back. "You're calling those mask-wearing creeps your friends?"
"For your information, Potter, Lucius Malfoy and several others have been my friends since my school days. Being a deatheater is not only about torture and murder, it's also about friendship and parties. Merlin, while the Dark Lord was gone it was only about friendship and parties!"
"Oh yes. Why don't we meet Bellatrix Lestrange and her husband for a picnic? That would be enjoyable; we could kill a muggle as a starter and have his liver as a main course!"
"You are just like my mother!" screamed the potions master. "Always belittling what I have! Of all the deatheaters you have to choose the one mad maniac as an example! I've had enough of you! I can barely wait for you to become of age. I swear at midnight of your seventeenth birthday I will be out of that door!"
"You can stay where you are, because it will be me who is out of here as soon as possible!" Harry swished his wand and sent some of the knick-knacks on the mantelpiece flying at the older wizard.
"Ah, throwing porcelain now, are we? I was right when I said you were the bride. This is such a girly thing to do!"
With an outcry of rage Harry waved his wand again. Snape hurled himself at the younger wizard when a good dozen of books slammed on the floor.
"Don't you dare touch my private library! The destruction of Miss Halloween was not enough for you, was it? You have to demolish every single item I own."
"You are such an ass, Snape!" Harry turned on the spot and fled to his bathroom. He slammed the door closed violently behind himself and sat on the toilet for lack of another place to sit. With a sigh, he buried his face in his palms. What a mess!
He was raised from his brooding by the sound of almost hysterical laughter from the living room. Was Snape mocking him? Well, Harry Potter was not a Gryffindor for nothing! He quickly washed his face and stomped out into the living room to give Snape the edge of his tongue.
The sight that met the Golden Boy's eye was surprising. Snape was sitting on the sofa, surrounded by stacks of letters. "Albus sent our post through. He was kind enough to keep the howlers back though." The potions master patted the spot beside him. "Come here and enjoy!"
Harry looked at Snape mistrustfully, but did as he was told. Snape waited until his husband sat comfortably before he pointed his wand at the topmost letter. Harry nearly choked when Draco Malfoy's high and clear boy's voice filled the room.
It was with great grief that I received intelligence of your recent wedding to Harry Potter. It is an outrage that the Head of Slytherin house thought it necessary to turn to Gryffindor in order to get what he desired. You should have known that any Slytherin proud of his house would have felt honoured to be associated with a handsome and powerful wizard like yourself.
Please know, Sir, that mistakes can be corrected.
Harry dissolved in laughter at the point where Malfoy talked about proud Slytherins. "Is the ferret making a pass at my husband?" he panted.
"It seems so," Snape agreed.
The Gryffindor clapped his hand. "Can we write back to him? Please?"
"What do you want to tell him?" the potions master asked, surprised by the request.
"Hmm, how about he can have you if he turns up in a negligee and nothing else?" Harry could not stop to laugh.
"Certainly not!" Snape was scandalized. "That imbecile would probably really think I'm after him and he'd turn up on my doorstep whenever he thinks he needs a favour! I will not have my reputation ruined for a prank!"
"Then how about we send him a howler? If we're lucky it will be delivered to him in earshot of his parents or even better the Dark Lord."
"You know," the older wizard replied seriously, "that might be an idea. We could make the Dark Lord think I'm still his servant."
"Whatever for would you want to do that?"
"I could continue my spying."
"Are you crazy? You are not going back there!"
"Says I, who will go straight to Dumbledore if you keep talking nonsense."
"Oh yes, run to the crazy old coot if you can't control things yourself."
"Look," the Boy Who Lived said seriously. "I don't want to spend my time worrying whether you will return safely from a meeting. Therefore you won't go. Still, can we write to Malfoy?"
"What would you like to write?"
"Something like 'Malfoy, you trollop, keep your hands off what is mine! Go and find your own deatheater if you want one.'"
The potions master laughed. "We can do that." He summoned parchment and a quill and they spent a good hour drawing up the reply for Malfoy. When they had written it to their liking, Snape showed the younger wizard how to make the letter a howler. Once they were done, Harry summoned Dobby and asked him to send the letter to Malfoy with a school owl. The teenager was not ready to expose his own owl, Hedwig, to any tantrum the blond might throw.
The next day brought a big surprise for Harry.
"It has been confirmed," said Dumbledore at breakfast. "For once, Rita Skeeter was right with something. The Wizengamot has checked your godfather's will and declared it valid. Congratulations, Harry. You are the heir to the Black estate. I suggest you and Severus go to Grimmauld Place and sort through things."
Harry shook his head. "I'd rather not. The house is simply depressing."
"You need to," the headmaster stroked his long beard, "and be it only to give Kreacher orders to stay there and maintain the building. But I also suggest you go through Sirius's personal things. You know it's traditional to leave a personal message to the heir."
The teenage hero was all ears. A personal message from his beloved godfather? He could hardly wait to find it.
"Can we go right after breakfast?" the boy asked his husband. "Please?"
"Why not, brat," sighed Snape. "I'd rather get it over with soon."
As a result, Harry wolfed down his breakfast and was up and ready to go when Snape had barely touched his porridge.
"Sit down this instant," growled the older wizard, which earned him a scandalized glare from McGonagall who still had not warmed to the idea of her favourite Gryffindor being married to the head of Slytherin. "I will not go looking for any messages the mutt may have left for you on an empty stomach."
Harry sank back on his chair and hung his head.
Snape chewed his breakfast, proud to have won the argument so quickly. Potter's submission to his request made him uncomfortable though. "What!" the ex-deatheater spat after three spoonfuls.
"I miss him so much! Can you eat just a tiny bit faster, please?" the boy asked in a small voice.
"Severus!" the head of Gryffindor scolded. "I really don't know why you have to be so cruel to the boy!"
"There's no cruelty in eating porridge!" Snape snapped back, irritated.
Flitwick and Vector interrupted their whispered conversation to giggle at the potions master.
"It's not the fact that you're eating porridge per se," McGonagall admitted. "It's the lack of speed you're doing it with."
"I was not aware that this was a speed eating contest."
"Severus," McGonagall started again, but was interrupted by the Golden Gryffindor. "Leave it professor. If he's in a stubborn mood, nothing you can say will speed him up. I'll just wait."
"Fine!" spat Snape. "Now you've done it!" He shoved his bowl back violently. "Let's go, Potter, and see what the mutt had to say to you!"
They flooed to the kitchen of Grimmauld Place from the headmaster's office. The room looked abandoned. A thick layer of dust was on the surfaces.
"I suggest you put your elf in his place first." Snape said sourly.
"My elf?" echoed the younger wizard.
The potions master shrugged. "I recall an elf lurking at this house. If he was Black's, he's now yours. Try it. Call him."
Harry was not sure he wanted to see the elf that had helped set the trap for his godfather, but of course his husband was right. If the elf was his now, he could not let him do what he wanted. The small creature needed orders.
"Kreacher!" he roared.
The old elf popped into existence in front of the Boy Who Lived instantly. "Yes, Master? Kreacher is here to serve the noble house of Black." He bowed.
"It's the house of Potter now."
"Is it true," the elf murmured. "Did the traitor leave Kreacher to the halfblood chum? Kreacher felt the pull when the scum called. It can't be true! Lady Bellatrix is the heiress to the line of Black!"
"I am the heir to the Black estate!" Harry corrected the elf. "Explain why you did not clean the house?"
"Kreacher was waiting for new orders!"
"Well," snarled Harry. "Here they are! You will clean the house top to bottom. You will get rid of all the dirt and when you're done you will go to Hogwarts and help at the kitchens until I give different orders. You will not leave Hogwarts unless I expressly order you to."
Once the elf was occupied – he muttered insults under his breath on his way to the paltry where he claimed to keep the dusters – Harry and his husband climbed the stairs to go and have a look at Sirius's personal room.
On the way upstairs, the potions master kept muttering under his breath, too low for the younger wizard to understand. By the time they had reached the second landing, Harry had had enough.
"If you have to say something, tell it to my face. If not, stay quiet. I hate it when you're muttering behind my back."
"I was saying," Snape said pointedly, "that I hope Black doesn't have a portrait."
"A portrait?" Harry asked excitedly. "You mean like one of those in Dumbledore's office? One that will talk to me?"
"It's not uncommon among pureblood families to have such portraits made. It's rather expensive, but we know that the Blacks were not averse to the idea."
"They would not have a portrait made for the black sheep of the family, would they?" Harry asked, torn between hope and resignation.
Snape shrugged. "They would not know he was a black sheep. As far as I know it's traditional to have the portrait made when the child is born. The canvas is seemingly empty as long as the person is alive. The actual portrait only turns up when they die. It's considered a sacrilege to destroy the portrait while the person is still alive."
"Then let's hurry and see whether we can find a portrait!" Harry took the potions master's hand and dragged him further up the stairs.
It was easy to find Sirius's room. It was the only one decorated in Gryffindor colours. Harry scanned the walls first. His face fell when the only picture on the wall was a poster of his godfather's favourite Quidditch team.
"They would not put an expensive portrait like that into a teenager's room," Snape said soothingly. "Let's see what we find here and then check the less private part of the house. If a family affords a portrait like that, they usually show it off."
"They were not exactly proud of Sirius," Harry pointed out.
The potions master shrugged. "That's not important. As long as he was alive, the portrait was an empty canvas with only a chair in it. Every witch or wizard of breeding would have recognized it for what it was without being any wiser whose portrait it was going to be."
They searched all the drawers in the room, but all they found were some old letters. Harry pocketed them before they made their way back downstairs. "Kreacher!" Harry cried upon entering the kitchen. Somebody – the elf obviously – had cleaned the surfaces of the cupboards and the big kitchen table.
"How may Kreacher serve the noble house of Potter?" the elf bowed until his nose touched the floor. "Noble house of Potter! Ha! As if!" he muttered under his breath.
"Kreacher, were did the Blacks keep their family portraits?"
"In the small drawing room," the elf bowed again. "That is, all but the Mistress's and the traitor's."
Harry looked at his husband excitedly. "Where is Sirius's?" he then asked.
"The guest toilet," the elf explained with dignity, hardly suppressing a smirk.
Snape chuckled, but stopped when Harry punched his arm. The teenager hurried out of the kitchen, across the hall and into the indicated room, Snape always on his heels. The potions master could not be sure that there were no surprises courtesy of Mrs. Black left and he had no intention to have his young charge injured by an old lunatic's crazy traps.
As soon as they had entered the room, it was clear that Sirius Black indeed had a portrait there.
"Snape!" screeched the dead marauder in a fabulous imitation of his late mother. "Why are you following my godson to the loo? – Hello Harry! Good to see you!"
"Sirius!" cried the young Gryffindor. "How are you?"
"Dead; at least that's the only reason I can think of for talking to you in the toilet. Which brings me back to my first question. Snape, what are you doing with Harry at the loo?"
"I'm making sure it's not full of traps and trip wires."
"What?" cried the younger wizard's godfather. "Who in their right mind would lay mines to a toilet?"
Snape smirked instead of a response.
"Harry," Sirius continued, "I understand that you may need a guard, but why Snivellus of all people."
Before Harry could answer, his hand was taken and lifted to Snape's lips. The potions master kissed the fingers – Black shrieked like a banshee – and then turned their hands so that their rings were visible for the portrait. "Congratulations are in order, Black." Snape grinned maliciously. Harry gasped. When he grinned like that, Severus Snape looked dangerous in a very exciting way.
"What?" the portrait screamed. "Tell me this is a sick joke! Dumbledore would never allow this!"
Snape smirked even more and pulled Harry flush against his chest. The Golden Gryffindor held his breath. The man smelled seductively of vanilla and cinnamon. Just before he snuggled closer to get another noseful of the sweet scent, the teenager remembered his godfather. He shrugged apologetically in the portrait's direction.
"Are you serious? He did? Dumbledore agreed that he make you his catamite?" Sirius raged on.
Later, Harry could not say what had enraged him more. Sirius's hidden insult or Snape's new smirk. "Why does everybody assume I'm his boy toy? Why does nobody ever think that he could be my sex slave?" He pushed the Slytherin away with all his strength. Since the older man was heavier than he, the push sent the boy flying back onto the toilet seat.
"Are you alright, oh mighty master of mine?" Snape smirked. He held out a hand to help Harry up with a raised brow.
"Don't you two go funny on me!" shouted Sirius's portrait.
"Okay," offered Harry. "But only if you stop screaming."
"I will," huffed the portrait. "But only if he takes his dirty hands off you!"
With another evil glare at his former school nemesis, Snape raised his hands to show that he was not touching the young Gryffindor. He leaned against the door while Harry sat back down on the toilet seat.
Sirius listened intently while Harry explained the situation to him. The animagus tried to coax the boy into telling him the exact extent of his relationship with Snape, but the potions master shook his head at the young hero and Harry stayed quiet.
"Can you move my frame to a more dignified place, Harry?" asked Sirius when it became clear that there was no more information to be gained.
"You have to ask?" the boy cried happily. "I'm going to take you with me."
"Wait a minute," Snape, who had been listening quietly, cried. "There's no way in hell that a portrait of Sirius Bloody Black will enter my quarters, ever!"
"Our quarters," Harry corrected him. "And I can bring guests there if I like."
"Try!" Snape challenged.
Harry took the portrait from the wall without further ado. "Let's return to Hogwarts."
"Certainly not! You will not bring him to my quarters!"
"That remains to be seen. Can we leave this house now? I don't like it."
"At least something we are of one mind about. Why don't we go to the Cauldron and discuss the portrait issue there. If I'm lucky, I can get you drunk and we lose the mutt."
Since Snape absolutely refused to go straight back to Hogwarts and Harry refused to stay at Grimmauld Place longer than necessary, they followed Snape's suggestion and flooed to the Leaky Cauldron. The potions master had just signalled the landlord for a private room when they were surrounded by redheads.
"Harry!" Molly Weasley pulled the Boy Who Lived into a motherly embrace. "How are you my dear boy? Did he force you into anything? You can tell me! We will help you!"
"Molly Weasley!" hissed the ex-deatheater. "How dare you imply that I forced myself on Harry!"
"Severus, you can't mean to tell me…" Before the woman could continue, Snape shoved her towards the part of the pub where Tom offered private parlours for the patrons' use. The rest of the red-haired crowd and Harry followed them.
They waited until Tom had brought drinks for everybody and closed the door before the Weasleys besieged the couple with questions. Snape listened to the racket for a minute or two before he called for silence and ordered "the rugrats over there, adults over here".
Fred and George tried to stay with their parents, but were sent off to sit with the youngsters mercilessly. They arrived at the kids' corner just in time to hear Ron whisper to Harry urgently.
"Tell me that the whole thing is a trick! I mean, honestly, mate! Snape of all people! Just look at him!"
Harry looked over to the other side where his husband was listening to Molly's accusations. The woman was, like her son, whispering so that Harry could not hear what she was saying, but Snape's expression told enough. "Why? What about him?"
"What?" hissed Ron. "He's ugly like hell!"
Harry could not agree to that. Since their wedding he had come to realise that Severus Snape was quite the looker. His hair was silky and although his features were a bit harsh, the man looked exactly what Harry thought a man should look like.
"He smells of vanilla," the saviour to be pointed out.
The Weasleys made faces. "I really don't want to know how you know that!" cried Ron. Ginny looked at Harry with teary eyes.
"Finally some reasonable people," Sirius chimed in from under the cloth they had wrapped him in for the transport. "Ron, is that you?"
"Wicked!" cried Fred and George in unison.
"Is that what I think it is?" Fred asked. "I've never seen one of a person I knew in life!"
Grateful for the distraction from the Snape-topic, Harry unwrapped the painting.
"Woah! The whole clan is present! It's good to see you all!" smiled Sirius. "Perhaps you can talk some reason into this boy."
"Stop it!" growled Harry. "Or I won't be able to convince him to let me hang your picture in our quarters."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "I will be good. Has anybody ever explained to you how to cast a permanent sticking charm?"
Harry laughed. "You want me to stick you permanently to Snape's wall? I'm not suicidal!"
"I have changed my mind," Snape cried from the other side of the room. "He can have the wall in the bedroom."
"You perverted swine!" Sirius exploded. "I knew something was wrong with you the first time I saw you! Year after year I kept you at bay, but now that I'm dead and cannot fight you but with words, you show your true colours again. You don't recoil from using Harry to torture me! That is so like you, Snivellus."
"Harry and I are married," Snape swept over to the teenagers, Arthur and Molly Weasley at his heels. The potions master smirked at the portrait. "I will put a silencing spell on you and the knowledge that you watch us mutely will spice things up for both of us."
"Severus!" Molly Weasley cried, scandalized. "I can't keep you from talking like this in front of your spouse, but you will stop that behaviour in front of my children immediately. Two of them are under age and they are all very impressionable! You will not corrupt them or Dumbledore will hear of it!"
"Woohoo!" cried the portrait of Sirius Black. "Finally somebody with reason and a wand! Go on, Molly! Put the greasy git in his place! Somebody has to protect Harry; I can't and Dumbledore seems to be unwilling."
"I suggest we go home now," said Harry. "Sirius, I want your word that you will be good. And you," he turned to his husband, "will not keep me from hanging up my godfather. If you try, I may use that permanent sticking charm."
Resigned, Snape agreed and they flooed back to Hogwarts after a quick good-bye with the Weasleys. Harry felt exhausted and disappointed. Ron of all people thought the worst of him for the arrangement he had had to agree to in order to stay away from Fudge without even hearing Harry's side of the story.
The boy could not tell when Snape had become that important to him, but it also hurt him that the Weasley children badmouthed the man without a closer look at him. True, Snape always looked a bit dirty and greasy during the school year with all the potions fumes, but during the holidays he didn't look so bad. Actually, Harry thought, the man looked even a little attractive.
"Harry needs his own room," Snape stated when they exited the fireplace in the headmaster's office.
"Why's that?" asked Dumbledore.
As a reply, Snape motioned towards the frame Harry was carrying.
Dumbledore beamed. "Sirius! How good to see you!"
"Albus!" growled the dead animagus. "How could you!"
"Did Severus not explain?" the old wizard asked. He told the marauder about how Fudge wanted to take Harry as his ward in order to remain in office.
"You could have said something!" Sirius growled at Snape and the Golden Boy when the headmaster was through with his tale. "I nearly suffered a heart attack!"
"You are a portrait, sonny. There's no reason to panic over medical issues," Phineas Nigellus chimed in from his own frame on the wall of the headmaster's office.
"You!" screamed Sirius. "If there's one good thing coming off this whole dying business it's that I'm finally able to get my hands on you!" He stormed from his frame, lunged at his ancestor and wrapped his hands around his throat.
"Stop it!" cried the former headmaster. "Stop it!"
"Why would I?" cried Sirius. "Ever since my childhood you were against me! Whenever there was a difference in the family, you took the other side!"
An elderly witch in a magnificently embroidered dress entered the frame and tried to pull Sirius away from Phineas, but the animagus was stronger. When she failed to pull him, she started to kick.
"Ouch!" cried Sirius. "Ouch!" He tried to put Phineas's chair between himself and the kicking woman without letting go of the older man. "Stop it you witch! This is within the family!"
"Yes, it is!" agreed the witch, kicking again. "For your information, I am Desiderata Fatenoir. I married into the Black line some five hundred years before you were born. It was my dowry that formed the basis for the Black fortune."
"If it's so, why didn't I ever hear of you before?" asked Sirius.
The witch interrupted her kicking and stared at Sirius angrily. "Why, dullard? Because none of the Blacks wanted to acknowledge that their fortune was married and inherited. They liked to make people believe they were rich thanks to their wits."
"Calm down, Desiderata!" cried Dumbledore. "Sirius, go back to your own frame this instant!"
Muttering under his breath, Sirius obeyed. Desiderata stayed with Phineas and fanned him with her embroidered handkerchief.
"To return to the subject at hand," Snape said with a side-glance at the portrait, "Harry needs a room. I won't have the mutt anywhere in my quarters where I have to see him."
"I guess it would be wise to provide a room for peace's sake," agreed the headmaster. "Let's get it done at once."
The three wizards walked down to the dungeons together and once they had reached the potions master's quarters, the old wizard rolled up his magenta sleeves and waved his wand. A door appeared beside the door to the guest bathroom. The old wizard gestured at it invitingly.
The Boy Who Lived hurried to the door, the portrait of his godfather under his arm. "Oh, Professor!" he cried after the first view of his new room. "That's marvellous. Thank you!" The room was generously sized with a huge bed in the middle, a wardrobe and a chest of drawer on one side and an enchanted window with a big desk in front of it on the other side. The window showed a view of the Quidditch pitch. The walls of the room were a creamy white, the furniture was done in cherry wood and all the hangings were a deep burgundy red.
"What about there?" asked Dumbledore and pointed at the wall above the chest of drawers.
Harry nodded and the headmaster hung Sirius's portrait up with a spell.
"What's behind that door?" Harry asked curiously. He went through the room and opened the door which led to an en suite bathroom. It was a lot bigger than the guest bathroom and had not only a shower but also a big tub. The teenage hero thanked the old man profusely.
"You are very welcome, my boy," cried the headmaster. "It's the least I can do!"
"Is that so?" snarled Sirius. "In that case I'd like to know why you haven't done it before."
Dumbledore ignored the painting and returned to the living room. "I'm starting to see why you didn't want to have that portrait in your living room, Severus," he said, his eyes twinkling madly.
Harry spent most of the afternoon in his room. He chatted with Sirius for a while and then read the letters he had found in his godfather's room. It was the last one which brought a pleasant surprise. Apart from a thank-you note written in his mother's hand it contained a photograph of his family, mother, father and baby Harry on a broomstick.
The Boy Who Lived looked up at his godfather teary-eyed. "Was it always like that?" he asked in a small voice.
"No," Sirius answered softly, "most of the time it was even better."
Harry lay on his stomach and cried for a while. When he looked up, determination was written all over his face. "Voldemort will pay for taking this from me! He will pay!"
There was a knock at the door. "Time for dinner, Potter!" After a quick good-bye to his godfather, Harry left his room to walk up to the Great Hall with his husband.
"Well done, Potter," Snape snarled on the way up to the Great Hall. "Red rimmed eyes, eh? Everybody will believe I mistreated you again!"
"We can say we had a quarrel over Sirius. Everybody will believe it and nobody will think you forced me into anything."
It turned out that Harry was absolutely right with this. First, everybody – but Dumbledore who always assumed the best about people – glared at Snape murderously when his young husband came to dinner in a state that told only too clearly that the poor boy had been crying his eyes out. After a mumbled explanation from said boy, Minerva McGonagall snapped at Snape that he could be more empathetic about Harry's loss of his godfather, but apart from that, the potions master was left alone.
When they returned to their quarters, Snape surprised Harry by asking whether the boy wanted to play chess. Harry smiled at the man brightly and agreed that, yes, he would love that.
Harry had just lost his second knight to Snape when they were interrupted by shouting from Harry's bedroom. "I know you are back!" shouted Sirius. "I heard you enter! Snivellus, what are you doing with the boy? Harry! Harry, do you want me to go to Dumbledore for help? Do you hear me, Snivellus? I'll fetch Dumbledore and you will get your due!"
Snape ignored the shouting for three moves, but when Sirius threatened to bring the headmaster to his quarters, he sighed. "We'd better show him that I have not shackled and gagged you, Potter."
"We can finish the game in my room," suggested the Boy Who Lived.
"Potter, why would you want to continue playing? I'm skinning you alive here."
The teenager shrugged. "I'm a Gryffindor. We don't give up when we lose."
Snape pointed his wand at the chess board and followed Harry to his bedroom with the board hovering in front of him.
"There! Content, Black? I'm not touching your precious godson!" the potions master snarled at the portrait when he sat down beside Harry on the bed with the board between them.
"I'd rather you not sat on the boy's bed!" Sirius snarled back.
"For Merlin's sake! I'm fully dressed and there's a chess board between us!"
The portrait shrugged. "A chess board will not make me trust you!"
They continued their game silently. Snape made sure to shield the chess board from Sirius's view with his body after Harry had taken both his bishops after hints from the dead marauder. The potions master was just going to give Harry checkmate, when a jolt of pain shot through his mark.
The man moaned and held the arm that bore the mark to his chest.
"Is he calling you?" asked Harry.
"No," Snape hissed through gritted teeth. "He's punishing me, killing me!"
"Show me!" insisted the boy.
"I will not provide for your entertainment in my death struggle!" snarled the older wizard.
Harry pulled the man's arm free not too gently. He tried to roll up the potions master's sleeve, but it did not work properly and one quick spell later, Snape was completely topless. Harry let his eye wander over the plains of fine muscle before he concentrated on the problem at hand.
Snape's left forearm was angry and red. Blisters were bubbling up around the Dark Mark and the ugly snake that was winding from the skull was writhing in an eerie dance.
"I knew it!" screeched Sirius. "I'm sure you'll find some petty excuse to take your trouser off in a minute!"
"Sirius, it was I who removed his shirt," Harry pointed out.
"Even more despicable to make you think you had to do it!"
"He's pretending to die!"
"Go and get the headmaster!"
Harry never looked whether Sirius did as asked. Instead he concentrated on the serpent on Snape's arm. Somehow he knew that it was killing the potions master. He clutched the man's wrist hard to better see.
Suddenly a voice was in the Wizarding Hero's head. "Kill him, my snake! Kill the traitor!" it repeated again and again.
Harry straddled the potions master's arm and sat on the ugly tattoo. "No!" he cried in parseltongue. "He's mine! Go away!"
"Take your dirty hands off my godson's bum, you pervert!" shouted Sirius.
Harry wriggled said bum on the Dark Mark. The snake screamed in agony within his head. Snape screamed in agony on his bed. Sirius screamed with frustration and fury in his frame. Harry wriggled his backside again and again until the snake's screams died down and then a little more, because wriggling his behind on Snape's arm felt unexpectedly good.
He only stopped when Snape stopped screaming under him and instead whimpered deliciously.
"Dumbledore is taking his time," Harry grinned awkwardly. "Sirius, didn't you tell him it was an emergency?"
"I told him nothing!" cried the dead animagus. "You didn't seriously expect me to leave you alone with a half-naked pervert on your bed."
Harry rolled his eyes. He lay down beside the older man and rested his head on the potions master's chest. "Go and tell Dumbledore!" he smirked.
Snape wrapped his arm around the teenager and by the time the man had left his frame, both wizards were fast asleep.
Harry woke to comfortable warmth, the delicious smell of vanilla and the soothing monotonous beat of a heart in his ear. With a start he realised that he must have fallen asleep on his husband.
He tried to scramble away from the man, but an arm was wrapped around his shoulders and pulled him back close. Since he had woken in less comfortable places in the past, Harry didn't fight the insisting arm and snuggled up to Snape. Somebody had put a blanket on them. Never in his life, had Harry felt so cosy.
When a hand started to stroke his head, Harry stroked back. His hand was somewhere on Snape's ribcage and the man chuckled when Harry's hand passed a ticklish spot. The sound was a low rumble in Harry's ear.
Something, Harry realised, was missing. He could not put a finger on it first, but Snape seemed to guess his musings. "Albus must have put a silencing charm on him."
Harry turned his head to see his godfather, brick red, jump up and down in his frame, screaming soundlessly.
"This will be one of my most cherished memories," grinned Snape. He guided Harry's head up until they could look each other in the eye and then leaned in to kiss the teenager gently on the lips. Harry found it was not the worst experience in the area of kissing ever. Unlike his experience with Cho, with Snape, it seemed at least one of them knew what he was doing. It really was a pity Snape was not a girl.
"Stop torturing my godfather," grinned Harry and whacked Snape playfully.
"Why not?" smirked Snape. "He's a Gryffindor; red suits him."
Harry whacked the older wizard again and scrambled out from under the blanket. "I'm hungry! Let's go eat! And lift that silencing spell, will you?" The boy took some fresh clothes from his chest of drawers and disappeared into the bathroom.
A little later, Harry was just duping his chest, a screamed tirade from Sirius and the clap of a door indicated that Snape had done as his husband had asked.
When Harry came to the living room, Snape was already waiting for him and the man looked excited. "Look at that!" he cried. He rolled up his left sleeve to reveal unblemished skin.
The flames in the fireplace roared to life and the headmaster stepped through. He dusted off his forget-me-not blue robes and smiled at the two wizards.
"Ah, finally awake my boys?" The old man snapped his fingers and a house elf balancing a huge breakfast tray popped into existence. The small creature put the tray on the coffee table before it bowed low and disappeared.
The headmaster sat down and poured three cups of tea. The younger wizards followed the silent order and sat on the sofa. Harry helped himself to a plate of baked beans, bacon and scrambled egg while Snape sugared his bowl of porridge liberally and added a small pile of fresh fruit to it.
"Yesterday evening, Sirius Black turned up in Phineas's portrait, which came as a surprise. It was considered certain knowledge that portrait subjects can only visit frames within visual range or their own portraits. It turns out they can also go to the frames of blood relatives. I and my predecessors in office experimented most of the night. Anyway, Phineas recovered from the shock at some point around dawn. Sirius, as I mentioned, came to me to inform me that Severus had followed through with his threat and bedded Harry in plain view of him, Sirius, and that Harry had been screaming for help in parseltongue."
Snape snarled angrily and Harry nearly choked on a piece of bacon.
"I hurried down here and found you fast asleep in each other's arms. Since you both looked exhausted, but happy, I assumed that Sirius must have misunderstood the whole parseltongue issue. I guessed it was either a kink you both enjoyed or the result of some or other magical peril which obviously had passed by my arrival. Therefore I took the liberty of covering you with a blanket and letting you sleep."
The old man paused to take a bite of the scone he had been buttering.
"If you two really… uhum… set out to shock Sirius, I do not wish to intrude in what is not my business, but if there was a dangerous situation that caused you to speak parsel, Harry, I have to know what it was." Dumbledore picked some crumbs out of his beard and looked at the two wizards expectantly.
Harry left it to Snape to tell his superior how Voldemort had attacked him through the mark and show the now unmarked forearm. He only added what he had said to the snake to the tale.
"That's completely unheard of!" cried Dumbledore. "Harry, you have found a way to free all the deatheaters! We can take his minions from Voldemort and weaken his forces that way! Brilliant!"
Harry made a face. "There's no way in hell that I will sit on Lucius Malfoy's hand!"
Dumbledore looked scandalized. "But you have to! It's for the greater good! What's the worst he can do to you without a wand? – Of course we would not allow him or anybody else to carry a wand in the procedure!"
"I really don't want to find out what he could do without a wand. And I do not care about the greater good. Lucius Malfoy, and for that matter any other deatheater either, will not come near my bum!" Harry folded his arms. "This is my last word, so don't try to argue, headmaster."
Snape grinned lopsidedly. "He's right, Albus. Please take note of the fact that I will not allow anybody at all near my husband's bum."
"What a pity, my boys! It was such a great opportunity!" Dumbledore emptied his cup. "Well, I'll leave you to your own devices for the moment." He got up and stepped into the fireplace without a further good-bye.
Harry spent quite a portion of the morning trying to calm down Sirius. Around lunch time, when the animagus still kept yelling blue murder, he gave up and went to the Great Hall with his husband. Snape was in a very good mood, which was understandable seeing that he was finally free from his connection with the darkest wizard of all times.
There was a guest at the round table with the headmaster and other teachers. Harry beamed when he saw Remus Lupin.
"Remy!" he cried and fell to the werewolf's neck. "How good to see you!"
The man returned Harry's hug and kissed the unruly mop of hair. "It's good to see you, too, Harry! Why are you here at Hogwarts during the summer? I thought you had to go to Little Whinging for protection?"
"Um, I married Snape last week," Harry said with a blush. "I live with him now."
"You did what?" yelled the werewolf. "The man's old enough to be your father!"
"Please, do calm down, Remus," interfered the headmaster. "They got married with my blessings. I will explain later."
"You knew about it?" Lupin sat back down and cut a slice off his rare beefsteak. Blood dripped down on the plate. Seemingly it was close to the full moon.
Harry and Snape sat and helped themselves to salad both.
After the meal, Dumbledore asked the couple to join him and their guest at his office and the two wizards complied with small sighs.
Upon reaching the office, Dumbledore served tea and then explained the situation to Lupin. "Can I hear the prophecy?" asked the werewolf.
The headmaster summoned his pensieve and put the memory of Trelawney making the prediction into it.
"If the repentant servant of the Dark Lord enters into matrimony, the Wizarding World may continue to hope." The tiny figure of Sybil Trelawney sank back into the stone basin.
Lupin gaped at Dumbledore. "And this is the reason you married Harry off to Snape? Are you crazy?"
"The prophecy is unusually plain," Dumbledore defended himself. He held a plate of gingerbread men out to the other wizard invitingly.
"Indeed." Lupin snorted and bit the head off one of the biscuit creatures. "As far as I'm concerned, Lily's old friend Severus is supposed to get married and claim guardianship of her son."
"What?" croaked Harry.
"Harry, this prophecy says that Snape has to get married. It does not say it has to be to you! If Snape had a wife, he could claim magical custody for you since he was a friend of your mother's. They could hardly refuse him. Their only excuse would have been that he's single and if he got married that problem was solved."
"Thank you, Lupin," snarled the potions master.
"What?" the last marauder looked at Snape questioningly. "Do you mean to tell me you understood?"
"Of course I understood. I'm not a crazy old coot on a constant sugar high."
"Then why did you marry Harry? Is it that you saw a chance to have your wicked way with him? I trusted you, Snape!"
Snape growled. "Why does everybody assume that I have been lusting after the brat? I wanted to avoid revealing my friendship with Lily!"
"You married me because you didn't want to tell me you were friends with my mother?" the Boy Who Lived cried in disbelief.
"Of course!" the potions master snapped. "If you had known about my friendship you would have pestered me for information about her and telling little stories about Lily would have been much too painful."
Harry rolled his eyes. "You do know that I will pester you as soon as we are back to our quarters, do you?"
"Harry," cried Lupin. "Don't you understand? You don't have to go back there. You can get a divorce; Snape can marry somebody else and then adopt you!"
Harry laughed humourlessly. "Oh yes, I can see the minister waiting for a week whether somebody speaks up to adopt me when I get my divorce. I can also see women queue up to marry Snape and then the ministry agree to Snape adopting me after we have been married. Oh yes, all that is very likely to happen."
"Harry is right," the headmaster pointed out. Lupin beheaded another gingerbread man. "They have to stay married until either Harry is of age or Fudge is replaced by a more reasonable minister."
"We all know the likelihood of the latter," snorted Snape. He was interrupted by a noise by the window.
Dumbledore waved his wand and let an owl in. It delivered another special issue of the Daily Prophet. The front page was made up of two photographs. The left one showed a furious Cornelius Fudge, the right one a man with reddish blond hair which made him look like a lion.
"Scrimgeour?" Dumbledore asked in disbelief. "They replaced him with Scrimgeour?"
"What does that mean for us?" asked Harry. "Will he insist on that stupid magical guardian act?"
"Probably not," sighed Lupin, "but he will want you as a ministry poster boy as well. I guess you'll have to stay with Severus until you are of age."
"As much as I hate it, I have to agree," sighed the potions master.
Harry shrugged. "I guess I could get used to it. I'm sorry you are stuck with me, Snape."
The ex-deatheater grinned. "There are worse things. We could give Black another heart attack."
"Sirius?" Lupin asked excitedly. "You can talk to him? Does that mean you have his portrait?"
The Saviour To Be nodded. "I have."
"Please," begged the werewolf. "May I speak with him?"
Before Harry could answer the question, Snape interrupted with an evil smirk. "You may, Lupin. But only if you promise to tell him that you caught Harry and me snogging on the Astronomy Tower."