Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: This is my Snarry-A-Thron entry for 2012. I'm sure that you are all aware of the recent purge on . I'm still posting and still updating but I also backed up my stories on Archive Of Our Own (AO3). You can find me there. Feel free to let me know if you don't know how to reach me.

On another note: I also have a tumblr and a facebook account. Should you want to stay up to date with me. Let me know and I will add you.

Those are all the important updated for today.

Title: A Hero's Duty
Author: laurenke1
Other pairings/threesome: Mentions of previous Harry/Ginny, Ginny/Draco, Hermione/Ron and Molly/Arthur
Rating: R
Word count: 20,997
Content/Warning(s): (highlight for spoilers) *Smut and sex, angst, somewhat Dark!Harry, Virgin!Harry*
Prompt/Summary: The Ministry arrests everyone who cast an Unforgiveable during the war, including Harry. Will he survive prison to become the next Dark Lord? Can Severus save him again, or does he become Harry's right-hand man in a new dark era?
A/N: I want to thank the mods for the fun fest. And my beta Karen for doing an amazing job!

A Hero's Duty

The raid came in the middle of the night, as these things often did. The war might have been over but the Ministry was determined to make sure that another war would never break out. They would uphold the laws and they would not be lenient, it was discovered the hard way when the arrests began.

It started out as whispers in the night. People taken from their beds and carted off to Azkaban to await trial. The laws were passed as swiftly as judgement was. Every witch or wizard who for whatever reason had ever cast an Unforgivable was to be taken to Azkaban, no matter the circumstances.

Within the following months the trials would take place and the sentences would be reduced or perhaps even increased, depending on the crime. But until that time, Azkaban would be filled with the cries of the hopeless as they awaited judgement.

"The Ministry is at it again! They've made three arrests this week and it is only Tuesday." Ron glanced up from the Evening Prophet.

"It is almost as if they are afraid that unless they move quickly enough they can be overturned again. But there is peace; I don't understand why they are taking this path? It is almost as if they are afraid of power." Hermione took a sip of her evening tea.

"They are even arresting people who attempted to cast the Cruciatus Curse to protect their loved ones from Death Eaters. It is a good thing that they arrested the Death Eaters but the ordinary people too, and without a trial? The Wizengamot actually stated that they will start looking at the individual cases when the dust settles down and they are sure that everything is peaceful. They probably mean when they have everything in hand," Ron grumbled as he folded up the paper and tossed it into a corner.

He looked around the room. "Where's Harry?"

"Upstairs, I suspect. He's not happy that he can't go to Remus' funeral." Hermione's voice dropped and Ron's eyes narrowed.

"Damn Ministry. This is supposed to be a time for celebrating that Voldemort is finally gone and a time to bury our dead and heal our wounds, not haul innocent people off to Azkaban."

"Well, I'm not so sure how innocent those people really are..." Hermione began.

"How can you say that? These people were protecting their loved ones…" Ron rounded on her.

"I'm not agreeing with the Ministry, Ron, really, but I'm just saying that there has always been a sentence on the casting of Unforgivables. They are a one-way ticket to Azkaban. If the Ministry starts to make a difference between innocent people and Death Eaters and treats them differently, then it can mean that the Death Eaters can get their sentences reduced. And that isn't what we want. But I don't agree with the way they're going about this. It isn't right, invading people's houses with arrest warrants…"

"They don't even get a warning…" Ron mused, thinking of the story they had both heard of people being taken from their beds and never seen again.

Suddenly there were the sounds of pops that could only come from Apparition. Even before Ron or Hermione could draw their wands, wands were training upon them. The black robes of the special Unforgiving Team rustled as they held both teenagers at wand point.

"Where is Potter?" one growled. Ron's eyes narrowed as he hissed, "What do you mean?"

"We're here to arrest Potter for the use of the Cruciatus Curse upon Amycus Carrow at Hogwarts on May the second, 1998." A piece of parchment was unrolled and Hermione gasped.

"I'm here."

"No, Harry, don't! You don't have to do this! It isn't right…"

"To Azkaban is it?" Harry sounded remarkably peaceful and resigned. Ron struggled against the bonds suddenly placed upon them.

"You are hereby placed under arrest, Harry James Potter, for the use of the Cruciatus Curse on Amycus Carrow on May the second of 1998. Will you come quietly or will we have to use force?" Ron couldn't believe what was happening. They couldn't arrest Harry and Harry couldn't let them. Surely his best friend had something up his sleeve.

"I'll come quietly. No need to make a scene when the Ministry hates me enough as it is."

"Your wand?"

"Upstairs, third bedroom, on the bed. I knew you were coming." And as Harry smiled one last time, Ron and Hermione could only stare as their best friend was taken to Azkaban.

"Harry Potter was arrested last night." Minerva looked up wearily from her morning tea. Bill Weasley was standing in front of her. His scars stood out against the deeply tanned skin. This was not going to be a good morning, Minerva decided; good mornings never started out this way.

In some ways she still preferred the war—at least then she knew what to expect. But with the new laws the Ministry passed daily and the arrests made, she never knew.

"It was only a matter of time before he would be arrested. I was there when he cast the curse. Did he make a fuss?" Bill shook his head.

"No, he went quietly. It was unexpected, but Ron and Hermione were very upset and Apparated to the Burrow the moment the team gave the house clearance. Harry's wand was taken and Hermione said that they even questioned them about the Elder Wand of all things. Why they would imagine Harry to have it is beyond me." Bill sounded weary as he sat down. Minerva pushed the teapot towards him wordlessly.

These past few months hadn't been easy on anybody. Family members and friends disappearing did that to you. Even Kingsley was struggling as the Acting Minister for Magic to control the Ministry as best as he could. Bill had gone back to work for the Ministry together with his father.

"There is talk about a new law being passed soon. It requires everybody to register their wand every three months. It will be used to see which spells are cast. There is also talk about a new classification system for spells so that the truly dangerous and damaging spells will not even be taught at Hogwarts anymore."

Minerva's head snapped up and her eyes narrowed behind her glasses. "This is unexpected."

"It is only the next logical step that they think they must take. I believe—and I think that Kingsley thinks this, as well—that the Ministry wants to monitor every witch and wizard in the country and be aware of how powerful everybody is. It is possibly also one of the reasons why they have arrested Harry. What better way to control the most powerful wizard in the country than by locking him away? I'm trying to see if I can visit Harry in Azkaban. Despite the Dementors being gone, Azkaban is a terrible place." Bill didn't sound hopeful and Minerva couldn't blame him.

Hope had been replaced by horror in the last few months. At first everybody thought that the Ministry made a mistake, but soon, when the laws were passed and the first arrests had been made, Minerva knew. Changes were coming and they were not very good changes.

"And there is nothing Kingsley can do?" Minerva knew the answer.

"No, he is Acting Minister, and while there is a good chance that he will be chosen, the elections are in September; if he wants to remain in power, then there is nothing he can do to stop the laws from passing or the raids from happening. You know as well as I do that the best way to protect Magic folk is to have people in power who can change things. Kingsley's position isn't stable enough at the moment, so we must bide our time. I believe it was a tactic that Snape employed, as well, last year when he was Headmaster. And it is something that you have to do as well, Professor. If you are the Headmistress at Hogwarts then you can protect the students here."

"Of course the students must be protected and the renovations to the school must be done as soon as possible so that the students can return to school and start a regular life again." The renovations had taken the better part of the summer and were far from done, but Minerva wanted the renovations done far enough in September that the students could return to Hogwarts.

Minerva glanced up as there was a tap on the window. She rose from her chair a little bit stiffly. Opening the window revealed a windswept brown barn owl that extended his leg with an extra edition of the Prophet. Feeling her stomach tighten with tension—the extra addition of the paper never meant good news—she gave the owl a treat.

She unfolded the paper as she scanned the headlines. "Cornelius Fudge has been appointed as the Chief Warlock for the Wizengamot. Dolores Umbridge will act as his secretary. Fudge is quoted as saying that 'more changing will be coming for the Wizarding world and there will be more focus on control of power and to make sure that such strong individuals as Voldemort or Albus Dumbledore cannot rise again without guidance from the Ministry.'" She threw the paper on her desk in disgust.

"This is what Albus has fought all his life to prevent. We might as well have let Riddle win and be done with this charade."

"But that isn't what the public thinks. The public saw how powerful Voldemort was and now they see the Ministry doing something to control those powerful wizards and witches. They will be cheering them on." Bill unfolded the paper again.

Minerva finished her tea before she said. "Perhaps it is time then, Mr Weasley, to resurrect a certain Order and meet again. I'm more than sure that you can inform those qualified or interested in discussing the changes taking place in our world of the next meeting."

She was met by Bill's grin, which reminded her, eerily enough, of the Weasley twins. "Of course, Professor. I shall eagerly await your next letter, telling us where and when to meet."

With those words the wizard rose from his seat and left. Inside her office, Minerva turned in her chair to glance behind her at the sleeping portrait of Albus Dumbledore. "Oh Albus, this was not the world we envisioned but it seems that our fight isn't over yet. I hope that we can count on your guidance."

And yet her eyes drifted to the empty portrait that hung in the corner labelled Severus Snape. Perhaps that wasn't the only guidance they needed.

Harry had never been to Azkaban but the stories he had heard about it had always described it as a horrible place. It was smack in the middle of the North Sea and Harry could feel the magic wards that protected the prison and kept the prisoners inside.

He kept his head down as he was walked inside. Azkaban was a building with grey stones and there was nothing friendly about the place. Before he could take a good look at the place, he was pushed down a corridor, a wand trained at his back.

Walking slowly, Harry tried not to trip. They had bound his hands and feet and cast a magical dampening spell upon him. He knew better than to try and shake it off. It would only reveal how powerful he was and if he wanted the chance of a fair trial, he had to cooperate now.

They walked through the dark corridors that were filled with cells. Harry allowed his thoughts to drift. He had been expecting the raid for quite some time now. It was only to be expected that he wouldn't escape the storms of arrests. This new Ministry would not make any exceptions, not even for their saviour.

While normally Harry would have been glad for that, this time he was a little bit worried.

"Your cell, Potter. We will unbind you once you're in your cell. Do not even think of using magic, there is a spell on the room that dampens any magic. We will know if you to attempt to use magic and measurements will be taken should you fail to comply with the rules. This cell will be your home until the trial is scheduled to take place and your sentence will be announced. Until then, welcome home."

The guard seemed nice enough but as the door banged shut behind Harry and the bolt slid home, he was left alone. He shivered in the sudden cold of the room and out of instinct he would have cast a warming charm. He could barely stop himself in time.

He wasn't sure how right the guard was regarding these punishments and he didn't want to find out. At least not yet. If his trial was scheduled for this week, he didn't want to have to drag himself into the room. His friends were surely already worried for him. Knowing Hermione and Ron, they were already at the Ministry, trying to get him released.

Harry sat down on the cot in the corner. The cell was bare and cold. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to stay warm. He glanced around. The cell was small but he could move around a little bit. There was a door with bars in it and a small cat door, much like the Dursleys had installed in his bedroom door.

There was a toilet. The sheets on the bed were thin and dirty, filled with holes.

Great, I save the world and this is what happens to me. This isn't right. I may have never asked to be a hero but I would have liked to be treated a little bit better than this.

Harry shivered again. He was quite sure that he could get used to the cold and the way they threatened him, but not being able to feel his magic, that was worse, much worse.

And so the waiting began, and with each passing day on which no news came, Harry's hopes were dashed a little more and he grew a little bit more desperate.

The Order met at night. Unlike the previous times in the past few months, they did not have to sneak around to do so. They met at Hogwarts, in the Headmistress' office. Minerva supplied tea and biscuits as she glanced around at the pale faces before her.

There were Ron and Hermione, both pale, but Ron was shaking, whether it was with rage or something else, Minerva didn't know. Bill, Molly and Arthur had come as well. Molly's eyes were red-rimmed. "Poor Harry, he has been in that terrible place for a month now."

"Yeah, when are we going to get him out?" Ron's voice was hoarse and he pulled his red Auror robes tighter around him. Hermione put her hand on his arm and said, "The Wizengamot refuses to give any details about Harry's trial or when it may take place. They will not let us visit or give any information on how he is doing. Even the Aurors know nothing. It has been a month, surely they must know something."

Settling in her chair with her own tea, Minerva gazed at Bill. "Any word if Aberforth or Kingsley will be joining us?"

"Kingsley said he will try, and Aberforth—you never know with him. But we need to make plans. We have other priorities than Harry. I know that he is in Azkaban, Ron; I was there when you barged into the Burrow when Harry was arrested. At the moment our biggest concern is to know what the Wizengamot has planned and to see about Harry's welfare. We cannot break him out of Azkaban."

"In the past month we have all noticed that the Wizengamot has distanced itself more and more from the Ministry. They have passed every law imaginable to take most of the power away from the Minister. At this moment the power of that office has been greatly reduced. There is nothing that Kingsley can do about Fudge." Arthur took a sip of his tea before Ron cut in.

"But we have to get Harry out. They can't continue with this. Everything we have fought for is falling apart and only because the public is afraid to stand up for what they believe in. The Wizengamot and the Prophet make it seem like the people who have been arrested are insane and criminals. They make Harry seem as the new Dark Lord. If anybody knows anything about Harry, it is that he doesn't want power."

"It is admirable that you stand up for your best friend, Ronald, and while I do care about the welfare of Mr Potter, I fear that unless we go rogue as an organisation we cannot do much to prevent the Wizengamot from doing what they are doing. We have lost the majority of our members in the last war." Minerva took a sip of her tea.

Hermione nodded at her and then said, "Going rogue isn't going to help Harry. It will only put us in a bad light. At this moment, the public agrees with Fudge because they think that dangerous criminals are being caught instead of innocent people. There has not been any mentioning of Harry being arrested. The Daily Prophet is under the control of the Wizengamot and the public does not realize that at this moment the Wizengamot is trying to gain control over the Ministry, instead of the other way around. If we make a public stance right now, then we will be the bad guys and we could very well end up in Azkaban."

Minerva nodded at Hermione. The girl had always been clever and it showed. Ronald seemed to catch on as he leaned forward. "So you're saying that we need to show the wizarding world what the Wizengamot is up to?"

Hermione smiled at Ron. "That would be a way, but I think that first we need to investigate just what the Wizengamot is up to and what Fudge has planned. Does Percy still work for him?"

It was Arthur who answered instead. "Percy works for the Ministry and he has told me that Fudge has asked him to become his junior secretary. Because Percy had been working for them during the war as well, even when the Ministry was under Voldemort's control, even Umbridge will approve him."

"But would he be interested in turning spy for us?" Minerva spared a thought for the other spy she had known. She glanced at the empty portrait. Severus would have come in handy here. He would have known what to do, though chances were that he would have been arrested as well.

"I'm sure that he does. I shall talk to him, together with Dad. Percy isn't blinded anymore by the love for the Ministry. I think that he will be willing to report back to us. At this moment we need intelligence more. We need to gather information and evidence before we decide upon a new move. But I do agree with Ron. We have to check up on Harry." Bill nodded at his father.

"Is there no way for us to get visitation rights to Harry?" Molly glanced around and Arthur shook his head.

"There are no visitation rights unless it is in dire circumstances or there are family ties. Harry doesn't have any family members left, unless you count the Muggles. But Muggles can't visit Azkaban. There are Muggle repellent charms. We will have to figure out a way around it." Arthur gave his wife a small smile.

"Can't we bribe one of the guards?"

"I doubt that the guards can be bribed. I know that Seamus has been training as an Auror and he is interested in joining the Unforgiven Team. I can talk to him and hear what he thinks about our proposal?" Ron worked closely together with Seamus in Auror training.

"We have plenty of ideas. I suggest that we adjourn for tonight and meet again in two weeks. Bill, I take it that you will inform Kingsley. Ronald, let me know as soon as you hear anything from Seamus. We need to start gathering information and think of our strategies." Minerva nodded at everybody. There was a scuttle as everybody left and goodbyes were uttered.

Finally Minerva was left alone. She turned to regard the empty painting that hung in the corner. I know that I promised that I wouldn't contact you again, Severus, but we need you. I know that you deserve peace and are glad to be dead but we could really use your guidance. You can get things done that nobody else can do. I know that you do not wish to be bothered, least of all to aid Potter, but I fear that before this thing ends we will need you. I hope you forgive me for this, old friend.

And as Minerva took up her quill and drew a piece of parchment to her, she hoped her letter would reach Severus and he would come to their aid.

The days seemed to draw together in a blur of time. Harry could only tell that one day had passed and another began by the darkness that came each night and the fact that the light came back. He had no idea how many days had passed but he just knew that with each day he grew a little bit less hopeful and more depressed.

Besides the darkness falling and the sun rising again, the only clue he had that any time passed was by the meals that were delivered three times a day. The first few days he had tried to engage the guards in conversation but nobody answered back, so finally Harry gave up.

He had paced his cell, looking for ways out, and had even examined the wards with his magic. He did so cautiously, not wishing to trigger anything with magic and cause something that might warrant a punishment.

The dreams and nightmares were back with a vengeance. He slept fitfully if he slept at all. Each day he hoped somebody would come for him. But that hope had dwindled; now he just waited for news.

The prisoners were not allowed outside, but it wasn't until Harry saw them dragging in Draco Malfoy and putting him in the cell opposite Harry's cell that he realized that no news was coming. The Ministry or the Wizengamot, or whoever the hell was behind this, wasn't going to come forth with information anytime soon.

Harry glanced through the barred window and down the corridor. It had been abandoned as soon as the guards had tossed Malfoy into his cell. It showed how much Malfoy had changed that he didn't immediately begin screaming that he was going to call his father and sort this mess out.

Harry decided to take a chance. He wasn't sure if there was a punishment for talking to other prisoners but he had to take this chance. "Hey, Malfoy!"

It took a moment for Malfoy's pale face to appear in the barred window. "Potter?"

"Yeah, it's me."

"What're you doing here?"

Harry shrugged until he realized that Draco wouldn't be able to see it. "Got arrested with the new Ministry policy."

"You cast an Unforgivable?" Draco seemed sceptical and Harry nodded.

"Yeah, I cast two actually. The Cruciatus on Carrow during the Final Battle and the Imperius Curse on two other people during the war. Guess the Ministry is determined about the new regime if they are even willing to lock up war heroes." Harry said it with a lighter tone than he really meant. It was bothering him more than he let on.

"Guess they don't make a distinction anymore. You save the world and you can still get arrested. I cast the Imperius as well. I knew that it wouldn't be forgiven but I didn't expect the Wizengamot to take these steps and arrest everybody." Draco sounded weary and he didn't look like his usual immaculate self.

"Perhaps they have lost their mind." Harry sat down with his back against the door. He took a deep breath and then said. "I've been here for a month now and no news. No visits either! It's like they've forgotten all about us. I wouldn't put it past them. The Ministry likes to put whatever they don't want to see away so it doesn't have to deal with it. I guess that's what's happening here."

"Perhaps we need a new government."

"Yeah, if we can rule the Wizengamot while we're in Azkaban. It's worth some time to think about this."

Harry grinned unexpectedly. "Yeah and we have plenty of time here to think."

And perhaps Draco was right, it was certainly worth some time thinking about this.

"Now, this better be good for you to even dare contact me." Minerva was careful to suppress her smile as she glanced up at the shadowy corner of the pub they had promised to meet in. Trust in Severus to arrive before her.

"Prompt as always, I see. Thought I would send the Aurors after you, did you?" She picked a seat and watched as the different emotions played over Severus' face. He had always hidden his emotions well, but she had known him since he had been a teenager. He couldn't hide as well from her as he would like to think.

"I'm quite sure I would have been in Azkaban or have been hexed by then if they had. But I haven't stayed alive for this long because I blunder into every situation as you Gryffindors do. Now what do you require?" Severus nodded at the waiter as she came and took their order.

Minerva ordered a Firewhisky. She feared that she needed one when dealing with Severus. She glanced up at the man. He was no longer pale and the lines in his face had eased out a little. But the dark gaze was still as sharp as ever. She met his eyes, not backing down.

He finally smirked at her and said, "I should have known better than to think I fooled you into believing I was dead. But now the real question remains, did you tell anybody else?" He leaned forward and Minerva raised an eyebrow.

"I didn't tell anybody anything, Mr Prince. If the Ministry suspected that you were alive there would be a manhunt for you! I asked you to come because we need help, Severus. Your help! I'm not sure if you have been reading the paper on everything the Ministry decided and the arrests they have made?" Minerva had never been one for small talk and she knew that Severus had never been one either.

"I have been keeping up with the news, yes. It even reached me where I was trying to build a new life for myself."

"And where is that place? Or is this the part where you are going to say that you will have to kill me if you tell me." She saluted the man with her glass and took a sip. Minerva had known that Severus had never died. When the reports had come in that Severus' body had disappeared, she knew that he had left. She didn't know how he had done it and she didn't care to know. If anybody deserved peace it was Severus, but right now they needed his expertise.

"I suppose I can tell you a little bit. I have been working for the Guild in Rome. Since they seem to be the only ones who appreciate my skills."

"I appreciate your skill, Severus. It is one of the reasons I asked you here. I would have liked to leave you in peace, young man, but it seems as though duty demands it once again." She saw the way his eyes narrowed.

"I should have suspected that you didn't ask me out here for small talk. Get to the point, woman." His voice dropped to a growl but his eyes brightened a little.

"I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but the Ministry has been arresting people for the use of Unforgivable curses in the war. Draco Malfoy was arrested last week, which made the papers, and Harry Potter was arrested last month, which didn't…."

"If you're going to ask me to rescue Potter then you can save your breath! I won't do it! I…"

"Severus Snape, shut up this instant! It isn't only about Harry Potter but also about all of those other dozens of people who have been put into Azkaban without a trial. I'm not saying that what they did was right and that they shouldn't be punished but there are other ways to punish them than to let them rot in Azkaban without a trial. We are not allowed into Azkaban and there is only one man I know who can sneak into Azkaban and talk to Potter. You do not have to break him out. At the moment we need to gather information and then decide upon a course of action."

"And who is we?" Severus' eyes had narrowed but he was smirking.

"The Order of the Phoenix. Percy Weasley is gathering information for us because he works closely together with Fudge, and Bill reports to us from the Ministry. Now all we need to do is to find a way to reach Harry and see how he is doing. Poor lad has been in Azkaban all by himself without any news."

"And once you gather your precious information, what do you intend to do with it? Go rogue? Topple the government? Kill in the name of justice? You think you have what it takes to make these kinds of decisions? Will you be that kind of leader? Or Potter for that matter? Or do you intend that I take that place?" Minerva was not impressed by Severus' growl but the man did have a point. They only had the information to go on; any other plans were for the future.

"We have not decided upon that yet. Right now the information is more important! Can we count on you, Severus, to get a message to Potter?" The man could be infuriating sometimes but he did have a point.

"If I were to say no, would you allow me to live it down? You need to think carefully on what you're doing here, Minerva. You cannot merely gather information, because if I know you Gryffindors, and I do, then you will try and reshape the whole future of the wizarding world. This will end in disaster if I let you go unsupervised and I will not be held responsible for that. Perhaps a Slytherin should supervise this so that it doesn't come to haunt me in a few years' time."

"So I can surmise from that little speech of yours that you will help us?"

"If you are planning to change the wizarding world, then I would like to actually take part in it. Make sure that things end well for me. If you do not happen to change the world, well, I'm assuming I can count on your word that you will not betray me to the enemy."

Minerva rolled her eyes. "Of course not, Severus! Now can we count on you?"

"Seeing as you managed to make Percy Weasley your spy and somebody needs to get word out to Potter who will not get caught, I would say that you do."

Minerva allowed herself her own smirk. Now she hoped that Potter and Severus could get along. Because she knew one thing, if the Ministry learned Severus Snape was alive, they would love to get their hands on him.

Azkaban, the one place I have been trying to avoid for all these years and now I enter it willingly. And to help a Potter of all people. Severus kept his face carefully blank as he nodded at the guard. He had been glamoured. It had been a tricky bit of magic and only those who knew him well could see him behind the guise of a tall, young lawyer.

Severus had to resist the urge to sneer. It wasn't getting into Azkaban that he had a problem with; it was getting out of it. It had taken another week for them to get the information they required. Once a month all defenders and lawyers were allowed into Azkaban, and as luck would have it, Bill Weasley had already made up an alias to go and visit Harry. He had been keen enough to give his spot to Severus so he could get the message to Potter.

They shuffled into the hall and Severus gave the piece of parchment that they charmed to the guard. The guard looked him up and down and then nodded. "Third corridor to your right and then keep going all the way until you hit the end and then go to your left. Third cell to your right should be your guy. If we had known you were coming we would have given them all baths so I hope you won't mind the stink. Though with your profession, I'm sure you're used to stink. Don't mind the prisoner opposite the client's cell; he is a bit insane and attention seeking. Thinks he's a hero, that one."

Severus merely narrowed his eyes into a glare and his mouth curled into a snarl. The guard seemed to realize he may have overstepped a line and nodded quickly at him. "Sorry, sir. The prisoner is waiting for you."

Severus nodded curtly and followed the direction that the guard had pointed him in. The name on the piece of parchment was actually Draco Malfoy, but it wouldn't be hard to find Potter. If the guard's description was anything to go by, then Potter would be in the cell opposite him. Severus surely hoped so; it would only make it easier for him.

The more turns he took to get the cellblock he needed, the more empty cells he encountered. Severus frowned at that. It seemed that they had put Potter and Draco separate and away from other people. He wondered why that was.

Did they really think that Potter was that dangerous? Potter was predictable at best, and he did not possess the cunning needed to break out of Azkaban. Or the sheer power, for that matter.

He finally stepped into the corridor that seemed to be Potter's and Malfoy's. The cells were dark and Severus wondered for a moment if there was anybody in here.

That was, until he saw a pale face appear before a barred window. The flash of blond hair was familiar, and Draco's grey eyes widened before he said, "Severus?"

"Started hallucinating, Malfoy? Can you at least picture somebody who can help us?" Severus was surprised by Potter's voice. It was soft and rough, as though he hadn't used it often. Potter's face appeared behind the door opposite him. The green eyes widened behind the cracked and greasy glasses. "Snape?"

Potter rubbed at his eyes behind the dirty glasses as if he couldn't believe his eyes. The green eyes opened again and then focussed on Snape before Potter said, "I take it, that you being here looking like there is a glamour over you, that you didn't die in the Shack."

It didn't surprise Severus that Potter could see through the glamour. What surprised him was that Potter could see the remains of the glamour. He dismissed it for later. He glanced back at Draco and then back at Potter as he said, "Are you both alright?"

Draco smiled thinly. "It is cold in here, the food is bad and I have no idea what is going on but the company is better than expected, even when Potter yaps constantly. I suppose it could be worse."

Severus nodded and Potter said, "Well, at least we get food. I just hate not being able to communicate with anybody and not knowing what's going on. Well, and besides hating being in here, but that isn't going to change anytime soon. They haven't beaten us or anything. They just ignore me mostly though I get fed, but that is about all. Is there any news from Ron and Hermione?"

Potter didn't seem anxious or anything. He seemed resigned. The green eyes were bright, brighter than Severus remembered, and Potter's hair was longer. There was even a faint stubble that covered Potter's chin. Despite looking unkempt, it was a look Potter wore well.

"Your friends are alive, Potter, and unharmed, or so Professor McGonagall tells me. I have yet to see them with my own eyes but I suspect if I were to encounter them without making sure that you were alright, I wouldn't live through it."

"You survived a giant snake and Voldemort, I'm sure that you can survive Ron and Hermione. It's Mrs Weasley that you need to be afraid of." Severus leaned against the wall next to Draco's cell. This way he could watch Potter.

"So do you have any idea how to get us out of here, or will you let us rot?" Draco rested a hand against the door. The grey eyes regarded Severus curiously.

"The Order seems intent on gathering information before they settle on a course of action…." Severus had already cast privacy spells. Anybody who walked by here would think that they heard him discussing legal trials with his client. Severus in turn would be alerted should anybody come their way.

He glanced up as Potter huffed out a bitter laugh. "What course of action will they take? Think that they can just get us out of here without any fuss from the Ministry or the Wizengamot? Laws have been put into place to punish criminals like us and to give the Ministry full control of anybody with an ounce of power. Why do you think that they have taken me? They're scared that I will become the next Dark Lord. The Ministry won't stop! They never have before. They're afraid of power, always have been. They hide behind rules and laws while we're the ones who should wield at least some of the power."

"And let me guess, you do have a plan?" Severus crossed his arms over his chest as he regarded Potter. The younger man snorted.

"Hardly, just had too much free time on my hands. I tend to think."

Severus smirked. "So, if we had given you time off during your Hogwarts years, you would have thought on your own. Miracles do exist, it seems, and one may find them in the strangest of places. So, what have you decided upon then?"

"Just a thought that we have been playing around with. It is hardly serious." Draco's tone was dismissive.

"Tell me." Severus dropped his voice just a little bit. It hurt his throat to do so but he wasn't going to show that. He would never show weakness; that had been taught to him.

"Perhaps the wizarding world needs a new leader. One who isn't afraid of what needs to be done. One who is powerful and who is noble and brave. One who isn't afraid to speak his mind and work in the open. One who would wear his heart on his sleeve…. In short, a Gryffindor."

Severus could only stare at Draco, mouth opening before he hissed, "You mean to make Potter the new Dark Lord?"

"Yeah, that was my reaction as well. Though after some thought, Draco has a point."

"I think that there has been a change in plans. Unless I get one of you out of here right now, you will do things we will all regret, such as making Potter into the new Dark Lord and letting our world be ruled by a Gryffindor." Severus pushed himself off the wall.

"Just think on it, Severus. The world ruled by a Gryffindor and us behind the scenes, giving hints…"

"And besides, the Hat almost wanted to put me in Slytherin," Potter helpfully quipped. His eyes flashed up at Severus as he approached.

"Here, read that and stop listening to anything Draco says." Severus could feel Potter's magic flare up as their fingers brushed when he handed the parchment over. The feeling shot straight to his cock, hardening it. He merely met Potter's gaze, seeing the brightening of the green eyes that indicated Potter had felt the same thing.

"And you, stop making ridiculous plans. Unless you can come up with a really good one, then you can share it. Otherwise, keep them to yourself. Knowing Potter, he may decide to act on it and then we're in real trouble. I will return as soon as I can." Severus nodded at Draco.

He really hoped that Draco did not go on about Potter ruling the world because if Severus knew one thing, Potter was too damn powerful to be given complete freedom to reign and how would their world be when ruled by a Gryffindor?

"So, is there any news from Harry? Do we know how he is doing? Is he even alive?"

Hermione tried to lay a hand against Ron's arm, but in truth, she wanted the answer to these questions as well. The past few weeks she had been worried sick about their friend, especially because there was no news from Harry and because of the fact that they couldn't get a message out to him.

Harry was known to do rash things when he was left to his own devices, and while Hermione doubted that even Harry could do much in Azkaban, she was still worried because he was Harry. And Harry had a way of getting into trouble.

"I'm sure that if you give Professor McGonagall a moment to answer, she'll answer all your questions." Bill's voice was amused. Ron scowled at his older brother.

Arthur leaned forward in his seat as he asked, "I find myself equally curious about the person you sent into Azkaban posing as Harry's lawyer and how that person came back out again?"

That was another question Hermione wanted an answer to.

"Why, the only one who was a double agent in the service of two mad masters and survived it while keeping all his secrets." Hermione knew that silky voice, but even she couldn't hide a gasp at the sight of Severus Snape. She had known that there had been a good possibility that the man had survived, especially when his body had disappeared, but to see him step into the room so boldly and so clearly alive, that was another matter.

He looked different. His hair was a tad shorter and he wasn't quite so pale. The lines in his face had eased some and he wasn't wearing robes. In fact he was…were those dark jeans? She had to tear her gaze away from what her former professor was wearing and back up to meet Snape's smirk. Those dark eyes were as sharp as ever as they regarded her before they swept across the room.

"This is the Order of the Phoenix?" There was nothing dismissive in his tone, merely curiosity, and Hermione glanced around the room herself.

"Yes, Severus, our numbers have dwindled some since the Final Battle and we're supposed to be a secret organisation. We cannot go out onto the streets to recruit more people. These are all the people we're working with, except for Percy Weasley, who is in a meeting with the Wizengamot."

"Yes, your little spy. I heard that he's working as the junior secretary to Fudge and Umbridge. It is a task that is suited for him." Snape crossed his arms over his broad chest.

It was the first time that Hermione had ever heard him give praise to anybody, however backhanded it may appear. Ron fidgeted in his seat and Hermione hoped that for once Ron wouldn't let his temper rule him. They both knew Snape and how nasty he could get when he was in the mood.

"Glad to see that you have returned to us safe and sound, Severus." Professor McGonagall smiled at Snape but the man merely smirked at her.

"Professor, did you see Harry?"

"I'm not your professor any longer, Miss Granger, but you may use the title, seeing as Master is not a title I'm comfortable with. I saw Potter, and Malfoy as well. They have been put in the same corridor and in opposite cells. They were both well considering the circumstances. While I do agree that Azkaban is not a good place for them, it is not an immediate concern of ours to get them out of there. We have a slightly more pressing concern." Snape shifted so he was leaning against the doorframe as his dark eyes regarded the room thoughtfully.

"What could be more pressing than getting Harry out of Azkaban?" Ron's voice rose in disbelief as he stared at Snape.

The older wizard merely sneered at Ron before he said, "Oh, how about how he and Draco Malfoy are making plans to make Potter the new leader of the wizarding world?"

Severus surveyed the pandemonium that erupted around the room. Ron Weasley rose to his feet as he shouted, "Harry would never consent to that."

Severus sneered at Weasley as he said, "I never said that they would go through with their plans but at the moment, they are very much making them. And if I know one thing about Azkaban, it is that in there, plans like that can seem like the only way out."

Severus had known the hopeless feeling of being trapped all too well. He had imagined countless different futures for himself and countless different ways of ending the war, from seizing the power for himself to killing Voldemort, all of them dark dreams.

"But Harry is smarter than that. He'll never fall for such a plan." Ronald grinned as he glanced around the room.

Severus sneered, "And what is your plan then? What do you intend to do with the information that you have gathered now? Will you just sit back and do nothing or will you act upon it? And when you do manage to do away with Fudge and Umbridge, who will lead the wizarding world and make sure that this doesn't happen again. Draco's plan has merit."

"But Harry doesn't like being a leader. He hates to control other people like that. He won't be another Dark Lord."

Severus' eyebrow rose as he glanced up at Ronald. The others had fallen silent. "Who says that I, or anybody else for that matter, will allow this world to be led by a Gryffindor? Have you considered what needs to be done? The wizarding world needs to have a leader who is fair and loved by the people. While Mr Potter is hot-headed on occasion and can let his temper rule him, he can be reasoned with, unlike some. It is just something to think about."

Satisfied that he had planted the first seeds of ideas, Severus leaned back in his seat after pouring himself a cup of tea. Let them think on his ideas and let them judge them and discuss them.

He caught Molly's glance, confused when she nodded at him. He narrowed his eyes at her. "I'm surprised to see that Miss Weasley is not currently petitioning Azkaban to visit Mr Potter."

"Ginny is away with the Harpies. She's been accepted onto their team. She and Harry broke up before the end of the war. They'd been growing apart even before. I think that Ginny would, if she knew, be petitioning Azkaban to visit Draco Malfoy and not Harry." Arthur leaned towards Severus, holding up a bottle of Firewhisky. Severus nodded and held out his empty cup.

He leaned back in his seat and nursed his drink, allowing his thoughts to drift. So according to Weasley, Potter doesn't like being in control. It would make sense, I suppose. Potter never liked being forced to fight the Dark Lord. He had no taste for his fame, no matter how many times I have accused him of that. Perhaps there is some merit to these plans that Draco is making.

Severus was not surprised that Potter was considering these plans. He would have done the same had he been in Potter's position. Potter is smarter than you give him credit for. You've always refused to see that he was an intelligent lad. Perhaps you can nurse that intelligence now. If Potter doesn't truly want to rule and yet they make him, he will make a bitter enemy. But if we play this differently and give Potter the choice...It may just play out.

Severus crossed his legs at the ankles, too lost in his thoughts to take notice of the discussion that was going on in the room. Potter could obey orders and he knew how to do the right thing; if nothing else, the war had proven that. Potter was very powerful as well, and that posed another problem for Severus—power had always held a certain appeal to him.

It would explain his sudden arousal when he had touched Potter's hand. He knew Potter had felt it as well. Severus took another sip of his whiskey. He had to be careful where his thoughts were leading.

"Severus, what are your thoughts on the plan?" He was drawn out of his thoughts as he glanced around the room. Everybody was watching him, almost expectantly. Ron's eyes were narrowed, either in anger or in contemplation, Severus didn't know.

"What is the plan exactly?" he asked. He wasn't going to say yes without hearing it first. He had done that once and that had been a long evening of chaperoning the Halloween feast.

"Well, we have all the information that we're going to get. We have enough proof to do away with Fudge and Umbridge but we will need somebody who can listen. We don't want another war. The less fighting we need to get our friends out of Azkaban and these stupid laws the Wizengamot put into place rescinded, the better. But something needs to change, so we have been thinking: Kingsley is Minister—well, as good as, with the upcoming elections. But the office has been steadily losing power ever since Fudge became head of the Wizengamot and put the laws into place that makes sure that the Wizengamot becomes a separate institution, and no longer a part of the Ministry. If we send off a proposal to the Ministry and, most important, to Kingsley, and print in the paper what has been going on and what will happen for the future, we can propose a plan to work together with the Ministry to get rid of the Wizengamot and put Fudge and Umbridge in jail."

Severus took a moment to think out his answer. He kept his gaze locked on Granger's. She had been quick to explain it to him without any fuss, and he liked that. "It is a start, yes. But what will you do about Potter? I have not heard a word about getting your precious friend out of Azkaban."

Granger shared the look, but it was Ronald who answered. "We know what Harry did was wrong but he doesn't deserve this. A lot of innocent people are in Azkaban and while it isn't right what they did, they did it to defend themselves or under orders, as you yourself did. If you hadn't been dead according to the Ministry, they would have seized you too. We know the Ministry is afraid of power and that they will never welcome it. Harry is the most powerful wizard in Great Britain right now, and perhaps we need to make concessions if we want this to work."

"And one of those is Potter? I doubt he will agree to that," Severus couldn't help but remark.

Ronald held his gaze and then said, "No, not like that. Harry would be put under watch, I think. The Ministry would do it themselves but that wouldn't be good for Harry, so perhaps somebody else has to do it for them. We're not powerful enough but you are. It may come down to this: that you would become Harry's consort, a link to his power and somebody to watch over him, or to ground his magic so to speak. I know Harry doesn't like being controlled, but with you, he would be free to use his magic and he wouldn't have to be on his guard all the time."

"I believe I liked the idea where Potter was to be the next Dark Lord better."

"Oh, that will be plan B should plan A fall through." And with Ron's cheeky whisper, Severus choked on his drink.

Harry paced his cell. For once he wasn't making plans with Draco. He had plenty to think of with the new parchment that had come this morning. This time it had been in Hermione's handwriting, telling him of their plans to tell Kingsley of the information they had gathered and to enter into an alliance with the Ministry. It would let him off the hook for becoming the new leader of the wizarding world.

He had no desire for the part or the power. He hadn't had the desire to fight Voldemort except to avenge his family, and his friends were counting on him to take that role again. He didn't want that responsibility. He didn't want to be forced to look over his shoulder every time to make sure that there was nobody to stab him in the back.

"And what did the new letter say?" Harry turned towards the door and after making sure, twice, that there were no guards coming their way, he tossed the letter to Draco. It sailed true and Draco caught it.

Harry leaned against the door as he waited for Draco to finish reading. Soon he heard the soft rustle of the paper as Draco tossed it back to him. He summoned the parchment to him, careful not to trip the alarm.

He had managed to find a way to work his magic without triggering the alarm. By only increasing his power a little and casting wandless magic he could summon things or set them on fire. He used it to burn the letter that he had received. That way it couldn't fall in the wrong hands, and the information couldn't be used against them.

"So they finally settled on a course of action, it seems." Harry couldn't pick up anything from Draco's tone.

"Yeah, they're hoping to work together with the Ministry and Kingsley Shacklebolt in particular. I think that the Order feels that if they can join forces they can convince the public of the truth of what the Wizengamot is doing. I think that they're going to keep your plan as plan B should this plan fall through."

"Severus won't let it. Though I would be surprised if the Ministry will consent to all of the demands of the Order. They may release us, but they will always monitor you."

"Yeah, I have been thinking that as well," Harry confessed. He paced the length of his cell for a moment before he said, "No matter the outcome, if they can strike a deal with Shacklebolt or make me the new Dark Lord—well hardly Dark, but anyway—I will always be watched and feared. It isn't normal to vanquish a powerful wizard when you're seventeen and live to tell the tale. I'm not at the height of my power and they know it. Already they're thinking of ways to control me and to subject me to their will. They're afraid to anger me because really, if they do, what will Harry Potter do? He could seize control of the whole wizarding world…I don't want to live with that…."

"Then don't."

Harry stopped his pacing and hissed, "What?"

"Then don't make them fear you. I know you, Potter. I've watched you. Anybody who knows you a little sees that you don't want that kind of power. If you did you would have seized it already. But others don't see that. They just hear the accounts of the battles and draw their own conclusions from that. There are other powerful wizards out there, Harry, perhaps not more powerful than you but they have learned to hide their power. You kind of put yours on display for the whole world to see."

"Forced to, Malfoy, but yeah, suppose I did. I can't undisplay it now. Everybody knows."

"I suppose that it is true." Harry wondered what Draco was going to say. "I suppose that perhaps if you are going to be monitored and watched anyway, perhaps you should get a say in this. And allow yourself to be watched by somebody you want to be watched by. Perhaps even somebody you're attracted to."

Harry frowned. That made even less sense than the stuff that normally came out of Draco's mouth. "Are you suggesting that I should let somebody control me?"

"You make it sound so dirty when you say it like that, Potter." Harry could almost imagine Draco's look. The grey eyes would shine with mischief or perhaps with mocking cruelty. Harry wasn't too sure. He didn't know Draco that well. He didn't say anything, just waited until Draco resumed speaking. He didn't have to wait long.

"No, I don't mean letting somebody control you. It isn't really how this works. If the Ministry has its way, regardless of the outcome of this war, you'll be put under supervision, for the rest of your life. Perhaps they'll even put spells in place to control your magic and weaken it. I doubt you would want that. But there is also another option. You can also bond with another magical person who then monitors you, so to speak. It has to be another magical person who may not be as powerful as you are but it would give you more freedom."

"You mean to willingly bind myself to another person?" Harry managed not to sputter.

"Yeah, something along those lines. The Ministry is not going to accept you being on your own. They will accept a bond with a wizard who is powerful and can control you in their eyes. How that bond works behind closed doors is not their business. That is between you and your bond mate."

"Wizard? Do you know something I don't, Draco?" There were times that Harry wished he could actually see Draco.

"Do you really think that you can hide it, Potter? I know that you had been sort of stalking me during our sixth year. And the whole school knows about the hatred between you and Snape. Have you never wondered if there is nothing else there, with so much passion between the two of you? But I suppose it's a moot point anyway. I was saying it because Snape would be the perfect bond mate for you! He is familiar with power; he is a powerful wizard in his own right. He doesn't want power and he knows what it is like being controlled or manipulated. He may actually be even kinder to you than the Ministry."

"Have you forgotten that the Ministry will arrest him the moment he makes an appearance?"

"They won't. He's living in Rome now. The Ministry pronounced him dead. The only ones that know he's alive are us. He even changed his name to Sebastian Prince. There is nobody that can trace him back to Severus Snape. I'm quite sure that the Ministry will agree to it should you petition for Sebastian Prince to become your bond mate." Draco sounded smug and Harry sighed.

"Perhaps you have forgotten the little fact that we have to agree as well?"

"As if you will say no when I know how obsessed you have been with him throughout our school years. And besides, you forget that I was present when you saw him again that day he came to visit. You may be able to hide a lot of things, Potter, from yourself or your friends, but not so much from the Slytherins, so think on it." Draco fell silent and Harry could hear the other's footsteps moving away from the door. He sighed and sank down to sit on the floor as he leaned against the door.

Would it really be so bad to be bonded to Snape? If this is really the way things will be in the future, either being in Azkaban or being monitored for the rest of my life by the Ministry and having my every move watched and noted, then perhaps bonding with Snape is the lesser of two evils. He is an intensely private person, and while I don't doubt that he has made a life for himself already wherever he is, he has managed to establish another identity. I think that he doesn't want to stay here, but perhaps that is a good thing.

Harry ran his hands over his face. He had so much to think about. It almost seemed like he didn't have a choice but he knew that in a way he did. He could take control over his future and make a choice. And perhaps, the choice was easier than he thought it would be.

"But what if I'm too powerful even for Snape?" Harry didn't know if his question would be answered but he decided to ask it out loud anyway.

"You won't be. With his power, he will teach you ways to control it, and he can ground you. Just give it some thought and discuss it with him when he visits next time."

And Harry vowed to do just that.

Severus had been to Azkaban a few times now, always to give Potter a message and to visit Draco. But he had never come on his own accord. This was the first time that he didn't have a message to deliver to Potter from his friends. No, this time he came because he wanted to.

He was still as careful as ever, not wanting to slip up and be imprisoned. While Severus Snape may have been dead to this world, there would still be some who would recognize him. He nodded at the guards as he walked past them.

Taking the now familiar path to the cells that held Potter and Draco, Severus was not surprised to see a bunch of bored Aurors standing guard in the corridor. He slowed his steps as he approached them.

One of the Aurors stepped in his path and said. "Nobody passes. The Minister is here to talk to the Potter boy."

"I'm Sebastian Prince and I'm Mr Potter's attorney. Why was I not made aware that the Minister was to speak to my client?"

"I'm sorry, Mr Prince. We were not aware that Mr Potter had an attorney because no trial date was scheduled yet. Would you care to wait here while the Minister finishes his conversation?"

Severus narrowed his eyes. "I would care to be a part of this conversation."

"Let him through. I suspect that—Mr Prince, was it? Mr Prince would have instructed his client not to say a word without his being present." Kingsley Shackebolt's deep voice was a pleasant surprise, though Severus hesitated when he stepped towards the other tall man.

He wondered if Kingsley could see through his glamour. The wink he received from the Minister and the hearty slap on his shoulder told him otherwise. They rounded the corner and Severus could feel the strength of the privacy spell that surrounded them the moment they did.

Kingsley stopped a few feet in front of the cells as he said, "You're looking well, Severus, or is it Sebastian now?"

"Sebastian, Minister. Severus Snape is dead. I'm sure he would have been rotting in here had it been otherwise." Severus was not sure what Kingsley was going to do.

The other man regarded him thoughtfully before he said, "Yes, I suppose you're right. Clever man, Sebastian. I hear that you have been making quite a name for yourself on the continent in the Potions field. But that does not explain why I find you here, visiting Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy."

Severus merely shrugged. He had nothing to offer as he glanced up at the Minister. "I have been aiding an old friend."

"You wouldn't have had anything to do with the letter I received from this mysterious Order of the Phoenix, now would you?"

"No, of course not. I had nothing to do with that. You know that a spy never makes the decisions." Severus inclined his head. The plan certainly seemed to be working if Kingsley was already visiting.

"Of course not, Sebastian. And you were never a spy, were you? But that is of no matter now; somebody had to make sure that Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy were well. Not everybody has forgotten about them as Cornelius Fudge seems so keen to do."

"Perhaps we can talk to them together. It may make it easier than standing in this cramped corridor." Kingsley stared at him and then nodded. The Minister smiled at him and then clasped Severus on the shoulder.

Severus followed the other tall man to the two cell doors. Draco was leaning against the door and nodded at Severus through the barred window. Severus nodded back at the other man. Apparently somebody had given Potter and Draco a haircut and time to shave to prepare them for the Minister's arrival.

"It seems that they went to great lengths to give us a bath because somebody important was coming by." Draco smirked at Kingsley. Severus fought his groan. He turned to Potter. The other man was clean shaven as well and rolled his eyes at Draco's comments.

"And I have to listen to that every day," he said by way of greeting. The green eyes searched Severus' face before Potter remarked, "So, Sebastian now, sir?"

Severus fought his smirk. "Really, now that I changed my name you begin to call me sir?"

"Well, if I had known earlier what you had done for us, I would have treated you with the respect you deserve. I was out of place and I…"

"Save it, Potter! I'm not interested. If you think that I have come all this way to discuss our past then you're mistaken." His eyes narrowed in a glare and his voice came out sharper than he intended.

Potter's green eyes narrowed and then he nodded at Severus. The younger man chewed on his lip before he softly asked, "Perhaps we can start again then?"

Severus stared at the slim and pale hand that Potter held out to him through the bars. He glanced back up at the expressive eyes. Hopeful eyes stared back at him and Severus grasped the offered hand.

"Hi, I'm Harry Potter."

If Severus hadn't known better, he would have said that Potter was shy. He shook Potter's hand and said, "Hello, Mr Potter, my name is Sebastian Prince." He could feel Potter's magic brush his own as he shook the other man's hand. Potter's eyes widened behind the dirty glasses and Severus could feel the slow uncurling of arousal in his belly. He enjoyed it for a long moment, smirking as Potter's eyes darkened.

He held Potter's eyes before he finally released Potter's hand. Potter licked his lips and was the first to glance away. Severus glanced behind him; Draco was watching him even when he was talking to Kingsley. Whatever they had been saying, Severus had no idea.

Severus frowned. He realized that Draco wasn't looking at him but at Potter. He glanced behind him with narrowed eyes.

Potter was watching him, and he took a deep breath before he said, "Sebastian, can I talk to you for a moment?"

Suddenly suspicious, Severus nodded. He leaned against Potter's door, turning his head so he could look in Potter's eyes.

The younger man took a deep breath before he began, "I have been talking to Draco a lot, and not only because he's the only one to talk to. We talked about a bunch of things, including the future. He made me realize that no matter what may happen, even if Kingsley agrees to the Order's terms, I will always be watched. The Ministry will never consent to me not being under their control. I'm too powerful. Even now without a wand and the dampening spell, I can do magic. Not that much, but enough. I…"

"I have yet to see what this has to do with me, Potter."

"I was getting to that part. Glad to see that some things remain the same." Potter's mouth worked against a smile and then the younger man continued, "Draco raised another interesting issue. He said that there was also a way for me to bond myself to somebody so that person can ground me and keep an eye on me…"

Severus froze. He forced himself to meet Potter's eyes as he said, "What the hell are you saying, Potter?"

"Well, Draco suggested grounding mates or bond mates, I don't know anymore, and I thought that it was the only way for me to have any say in my future. He mentioned that it would have to be a very powerful wizard to be able to ground me… I don't know if this works through marriage or the linking of magic or whatever this is, but I guess it would mean that somebody would be in control of me and who…"

Severus raised an eyebrow before he snarled, his voice silky and dangerous, "Are you suggesting that I become your grounding mate? You would willingly inflict yourself upon me, boy? To be bound to me for all your life? Never to take a wife or even sire children? I, who have given up everything, even my life, so that the wizarding world could have a future again, and you ask me to become your bond mate? Do you think that I will give up everything for you? Then you have another think coming, Potter! I'm finally free to live my own life and I do not intend to give it up for anybody, least of all an ungrateful brat."

Potter had paled even more, and unless Severus was mistaken, there was a sheen of tears in his eyes. Potter shook his head from side to side as he stammered, "Of course not… I would never assume that… I had just hoped…"

"You had hoped that I would be grateful for the chance to bind myself for the rest of my life to a Potter. To share my home, my future and my magic with you? Do you really think me so desperate for a companion that I would find a scrawny runt like you attractive?"

"No, of course you would never find me attractive! Can't imagine anybody who would! No, I already saved this world and you have the chance to invent a new identity and to make a future, a life for yourself, and yes you deserve it, more than anybody else I know, but I had hoped that you would understand how I feel. I don't want to be watched for the rest of my life because I'm too powerful. I don't want to have everybody watch me with fear because at any moment I might snap and become the next Dark Lord…." Even Draco and Kingsley fell silent as Harry's voice rose to a desperate yell.

"I want to have a future, too. I don't want to know that the only choices I have are rotting here in Azkaban, or being monitored for the rest of my life by the Ministry, or becoming the next Dark Lord. Those are not choices!"

"And binding yourself to me is?"

Eyes narrowed in a glare, Severus met Potter's eyes as the younger man whispered, "No, but it is a better choice than any of the others I have."

Severus knew enough. He whirled around and nodded at Kingsley.

The other man nodded back at him and then smiled as he said, "I suppose it is settled, then, or do you have more to say to your future bond mate?"

"Not really, except that I would like to see him dressed for the occasion and not in these rags. I take it by your being here that you have agreed to accept the terms given to you by the Order?"

"Oh, even better, Severus. I fully plan to participate in them. Beginning with freeing Potter and Malfoy from their cell and marrying you and Potter. Then we can finally begin with our plans."

Severus allowed his own smirk. It widened as Potter gaped at him. "What is the meaning of this…?" The younger man finally stammered.

"This is a little planning of my own, Harry. Draco informed me of your discussion the last time we were here. Draco and I have been communicating and we decided that perhaps it would not be such a bad idea to have another leader in place. Kingsley agreed with our plan. But we needed one last thing, to see if you would be willing."

Hope shone beautifully in the green eyes as Harry said, "Oh yes, I am."

"Good, then let's get out of here and you and Potter married." Draco grinned at him and Severus allowed his own grin. Perhaps making his own future wasn't so bad, especially with as delightful a brat as Potter for his mate.

Harry had to pinch himself to make sure that he wasn't dreaming. He was sure that if he woke up again he would be back in his cell in Azkaban. Kingsley had explained that they would only take Harry out of his cell to get married, and then they could raise a motion to get Harry out of Azkaban because he was married.

Within a moment they were standing in the corridor and Harry tugged at his dirty t-shirt a bit self-consciously. He glanced up at Snape—or was that Sebastian Prince now? The older wizard was dressed in a black robe, though it was more form-fitting than the teaching robes he had worn. The dark eyes fixed on Harry and then the Potions Master said, "Perhaps not entirely dressed for the occasion, but that is of little importance right now."

Harry turned to Kingsley when the Minister opened Draco's cell as well. "Won't they be suspicious if we both disappear at the same time?"

"Hardly, Harry. Nobody will bother checking. There are people I trust completely. It has its benefit to be protected by the people that were once your friends and co-workers. And besides, we need two witnesses for this marriage, or else it will not be valid. But we must be quick about it." Kingsley was dressed in a dark blue robe. It suited him, making him appear even taller and bigger than he already was.

"Can we Apparate out of here?" Harry glanced at Snape.

Draco was stretching his legs and arms over his head. He grinned at Harry and said, "It is good to see you again, Potter. It got discouraging to only be able to hear your voice and not see your face. Not that it is much of an improvement to actually see it, but—well."

"Draco will Apparate with me. I trust that you know where we will be going, Sebastian?" At Snape's nod, Kingsley put a hand on Draco's shoulder and they disappeared. Harry was left alone in the corridor, staring at Snape as the older wizard approached him.

"I trust you know how to side-along?"

"Yeah, I've done it plenty of times." Harry stepped closer to his future bond mate or husband or whatever Snape was to him now. He wasn't sure if he should hold his hand or his arm but….

The next moment an arm was wrapped around his waist and Harry's startled yelp was drowned out by the pull of Apparition. He closed his eyes tightly, clinging to Snape as the oxygen was driven from his body. He stumbled as they landed. He had never been graceful when on the ground but he hated Apparating and portkeying.

Instead of letting him stumble and fall, as Harry had expected, Snape held onto him until Harry found his balance again. He glanced up at the other man. "Thank you," he merely said.

Snape nodded at him and the arm around his waist fell away. Harry glanced around. They were in a room with windows that showed bright sunlight. Unable to help himself, Harry had to go and see. He closed his eyes as he stood in the sun, basking in it and enjoying the warmth. In his cell he got so little light.

Opening his eyes, he looked outside. There were fields as far as the eye could see and Harry wondered where they were.

"Ah, Harry, it is good to see you again." Harry turned at the sound of the other voice. He grinned when he recognized Bill Weasley. The scarred curse breaker grinned at him and clasped him on the shoulder. "Ready to get married, then?"

Harry shrugged. He wasn't sure how much more ready he could be. This morning he had not expected to get married. Hell, he hadn't even suspected that Snape would say yes. Or the sheer fact that the older wizard had actually planned it with Kingsley.

"So, you will be my witness, then, or will you conduct the ceremony?" He fell into step beside Bill as they moved towards a desk that had four chairs in front of it.

"I will be your witness. Sebastian thought it would be comforting for you to have somebody here you knew and trusted. We could not ask Ron or Hermione to come because they are under watch. It would have raised too much suspicion and, to be truthful, they cannot really keep a secret. Kingsley will conduct the ceremony because his position qualifies him for it. I'm not sure if this is how you imagined your wedding, but this is a good opportunity."

"It's okay. It may not be what I imagined, but I made my peace with it. I had some time to get used to the idea, actually." Harry grinned. Well, that was a lie. He'd had time to get used to the possibility of the idea, not of it actually happening.

Snape glanced up at them as they approached. He was holding a piece of parchment in his hand and said, at Harry's look, "The marriage contract. It will require both our signatures. I suggest you read it before signing anything."

Harry nodded at that. He took the offered parchment and scanned through it. His head snapped up at a particular word. "An equal bonding? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of why we're here?"

Snape smirked at him but there was a different emotion in the dark eyes. Harry would almost call it pride but he knew better. "The equal bonding means that our assets will be joined together. We will be equals in status except for where our magic comes in. I am responsible for you and I will take a vow to make sure that you will not lose control or that I will do everything to make sure that you regain control, should you lose it."

The heat in those dark eyes made Harry shiver. Wordlessly and blushing faintly he handed the parchment back to Snape. "Suppose that's fair," he murmured.

"Then we are ready to commence?" At both their nods Kingsley smiled and said, "We are gathered here today to bind Harry James Potter and Sebastian Severus Prince in a union of magic and everything that is sacred. Is there anybody present who objects to this union?"

There wasn't anybody present to object and Harry shifted his weight slightly. That drew Snape's gaze to him and Harry stopped fidgeting.

"Very well, repeat after me, Sebastian and Harry: with this ring I wed thee, binding house, power and body to thine. I swear to abide by the vow that comes with this ring until I expel out my last breath or when you precede me in death. With this kiss I seal the marriage."

Turning to face Snape, Harry made himself meet Snape's eyes as he took the ring that Bill gave him. He held the dark eyes as his lips formed the words of the vow. He carefully placed the golden band upon Snape's finger. The ring magically resized itself to fit snugly around it.

The dry fingers were warm in his hand, and Harry nodded as Snape changed the grip so he could say the vow and could slide a ring around Harry's finger. The ring wasn't heavy, but the weight felt unfamiliar.

Harry flexed his hand. "Now I suppose that the only thing to do is to tell you that you may kiss the groom."

Harry was so preoccupied with the ring that he nearly missed the sentence. He glanced up when fingers curled underneath his chin and forced his head up. His eyes nearly crossed as they focused on Snape's face, and then the man smirked before he pressed his lips against Harry's. The kiss was light but Harry relaxed into it.

It was the first time that he had been kissed by a man but it felt amazing and so right. He leaned into the kiss, trying to beg for more, and the others gathered in the room chuckled as Snape pulled back and Harry tried to follow.

Feeling a flush rise in his cheeks, Harry looked up at Snape. The older wizard wore a smirk and whispered a soft promise. "Later, there will be plenty more where that came from."

Feeling the flush deepen, Harry couldn't help but grin.

"You know what is required to make this marriage valid, Sebastian. I strongly suggest that you make it valid as soon as possible," said Kingsley.

"Yes, yes, I'm hardly going to spread Harry across the table here. Not with you all watching!" Harry grinned. He wasn't sure if he could blush anymore or any deeper. He glanced up at Snape, his bond mate.

"Now that one business is concluded, perhaps it is time to get started on the next." Snape's tone changed slightly and the next moment the older wizard reached into his robe. Harry's eyes widened as he saw the wand Snape held. It was his own.

"Now, Sebastian, I believe that we have discussed that returning Harry and Draco to their cells would rouse the least amount of suspicion." Kingsley sounded more resigned than upset and Harry's gaze shot from his husband to the Minister.

"Oh, we discussed it, Minister, and I believe we both agreed that a statement needs to be made and that putting them back into their cells won't do. It is time that we make a move against Fudge and finally get things moving. It is time to take the power back, so what do you say, Minister? Are you with us or against us?"

Harry turned to look at Kingsley. The Minister frowned but then shook his head. "I don't really have a choice, now do I? I should have known that, whenever you're keen to discuss plans, they are not hypothetical. But really, Sebastian, you have to do this now? I think poor Harry deserves to have at least a wedding night before you decide to take on the wizarding world."

Harry grinned and shook his head. "Oh no, I don't mind. By all means continue. I'll stand here and twiddle my thumbs."

"Perhaps you can familiarize yourself with your wand again?" Snape's tone was dry but there was no mistaking the way the dark eyes focused upon Harry's face as Snape extended Harry's wand towards him. Harry grasped his wand, gasping softly as he felt the rush of magic. It was almost the same feeling as when he had held his wand for the first time.

This had been the longest he had ever been without a wand, any wand, and it felt so right that he had his wand in hand again. He glanced up at Snape as he felt the hum of magic settle and softly whispered, not sure if he could convey the emotions he was feeling, "Thank you…for everything…"

The other man nodded at him, and before Harry could rethink what he was doing, he stepped up to Snape and pulled the other man's head down. He leaned against Snape and brushed his lips lightly against the other man's. It was a sign of trust and when Snape pulled away, he smiled at Harry. Harry grinned back.

Perhaps the future was brighter than he imagined.

The look of awe and relief on Potter's face was reward enough, but the feel of the powerful magic as Potter kissed him made it even better. He watched Potter out of the corner of his eye before he moved towards Kingsley.

"I suppose there is no stopping you, then."

"You know what we have discussed, Kingsley. We both agreed that something needs to change. The Order needs a leader if we are to come out of this victorious. The people of the wizarding world don't even need to know something has changed. It isn't like they would bother with it. They are like sheep; they do not concern themselves with who has the power as long as they are safe. They do not abide well with fear. We do not intend to strike with fear but we need to make a move. Fudge will only continue with these insane laws the longer we wait. You know as well as I do that while Minerva is a powerful witch, she isn't cut out for this. I have learned that if you want something done in this world, you need to do it yourself."

"And proclaiming yourself the next Dark Lord?" Severus turned to Bill Weasley. The curse breaker was looking at him. Severus snorted. He knew that the sound was so unlike him that Bill looked surprised.

"Hardly. I have no taste for that kind of power. I have been around people all my life with that kind of power and I know that it drives them mad. I am making a life for myself, away from here, with people who respect me. I have been given a new chance; do you really think I would sacrifice all that to become the next leader of the wizarding world here?"

Severus could see Harry hiding a grin behind his hand. Bill looked sheepish, a little bit like his youngest brother, and it wasn't a look that he wore often or well. Severus raised an eyebrow, waiting for Bill to finish talking.

"I guess not then."

"No, I'm merely doing my duty. If I don't do this then Minerva will not let me see the end of it and she can make life very difficult for me. The infernal woman is too noisy and too crafty for her own good. No, I will make sure that Fudge will be brought to justice and then go back to my own life."

"And Harry?" Bill glanced towards Severus' new bond mate.

Harry stared back at him impassively. "You think I would willingly stay in a society that would prefer to keep me under guard than allow me to live my life in peace? No, where Severus—I mean, Sebastian—goes, I will go, I wager. I am sure it will be open to discussion?"

Severus nodded. They would have a lot to discuss. But that could wait. Right now they needed to put their plans into motion.

"I will go back to the Ministry and await your message. I would suggest that you spend some time with your new bond mate bond tonight. The plans to conquer the wizarding world can wait." Severus rolled his eyes at Kingsley's wink. With a last nod towards Harry, Draco and Bill, Kingsley Disapparated.

"I suppose congratulations are in order." Severus turned to regard Draco.

The grey eyes turned to Harry, who was standing beside Severus. "I will miss our conversations, Potter."

"Yeah, that will be the only thing I will miss. But I'm sure that we will talk again soon."

"You will want me to go with Weasley, I imagine." Draco grinned and Harry raised an eyebrow in a poor imitation of Severus.

"Yeah, you're not coming home with us. I think that the wedding night is supposed to be spent between the groom and groom and not with a third party there."

"Third parties can be a lot of fun." Harry blushed delightfully again and Severus smirked.

"Mr Malfoy, stop teasing my bond mate, I have plans for him that will make him blush just as prettily." And Severus was rewarded by another pretty blush; he could also see the heat in Harry's eyes. Perhaps this plan would have more benefits than he had foreseen.

Harry wasn't sure what Snape had planned that would make him blush, but this wasn't it. He opened his eyes when they had Apparated to find himself in an alley. He looked around as he released Snape. The older wizard was dressed in jeans and a jumper, robe and cloak forgotten. Harry had to admit that even now Snape made an impressive figure.

"Where are we?" Snape gestured for him to follow and Harry did. His eyes widened as he realized that they were in Hogsmeade.

"We're going to break into an Order meeting. No time like the present to announce the change in plans." Snape's smirk was pure danger and Harry shivered.

"Okay, and that change in plans would be?" He fell into step beside Snape as the older wizard crossed the main street to go to the Hog's Head. Harry recognized the way now.

"It is time to present them with their new leader and update them regarding our relationship status." Harry rolled his eyes. If he had thought that Snape would give away his secrets easier now, that the spy routine wasn't required anymore, he was sadly mistaken.

"Fine, don't tell me your plans. I suppose I will blunder about as usual; you know how well that worked out in the past."

Now that got a reaction, because Snape turned on lightning quick feet and stared down at Harry. "You will not mess this up! Not only for my sake but for your sake as well, Potter. Do you think I married you because I'm hopelessly in love with you?"

"I like to think it is for my charming personality and rugged good looks." Harry grinned; a spike of fear that shot down his spine made his cock harden as Snape smirked at him, amusement bright in his eyes.

"If I am to be a consort, why not of the next Dark Lord? It is time that I played a different role than what I have been playing so far. Besides, as your consort and with you in power, I at least get some satisfaction out of it."

Harry shivered as Snape leaned in to purr in his ear, "I thought you didn't want that kind of power."

"I don't! But what I do want is to live the remainder of my life in peace, and if this is the way to achieve it, then so be it. Sometimes, one must break things before they can be fixed."

"So I'm the Dark Lord and you're the consort? Can't it be the other way around? Not so sure this whole Dark Lord thing is for me. Though I can be a great consort. Fetch things for you, give you good advice, and rub your back when you're too tense. Being a Dark Lord is stressful, with enemies plotting to kill you, countries to rule, people to terrify. Are you sure I will be up for that?" Harry wasn't trying to turn it into a joke but he grinned all the same.

By the twitching of Snape's lips he realized he wasn't the only one struggling to keep the amusement inside. "Oh, I think you will do brilliantly, especially with me guiding you." Snape leaned down to brush his lips with Harry's, kissing him deeply.

After melting into the kiss, Harry broke it so he could stare up at his bond mate. "Then let's go tell them the delightful news. But Dark Lord Potter doesn't really sound so catchy. Perhaps Prince Potter? Seeing as I am married to a prince."

Snape groaned. "I don't care if you name yourself Lord Four-eyed Scarhead…"

"You should care. Do you really want to be known as the consort of Lord Four-eyed Scarhead?" Harry grinned at Snape's look. "Okay, Lord Harry it is then."

"Get inside, Potter, before I change my mind."

"Hey, no killing the Dark Lord. Not in public, at least: plotting I will allow, if it stays with plotting and not carrying out the threats. And besides, it is Prince-Potter now." He wasn't sure how much he should tease his bond mate before Snape would lose control but it was fun trying.

"Oh do not worry; I doubt that I will have much time to do any plotting. Knowing you, it will keep me on my toes to keep up with you and protect you at every turn."

"I survived the war…" Harry protested. He turned back as they stopped outside of the pub. There was light coming out through the greasy windows, and Harry took a deep breath. His hand tightened around his wand.

"Yes, barely, and mostly on luck. It was not on skill or on your own merits. Though I will concede that you not once backed down from what had to happen. But shall we discuss that another time? We have a prior engagement."

"And here I was thinking that my wedding night was going to be completely different than this." Muttering to himself, Harry stepped into the pub as Snape held the door open for him.

"Soon, Mr Potter, I will have you bent over the nearest surface with me pounding into you. We just need to finish the business before I will take you for my pleasure." Harry shivered in response. He took a deep breath and then stepped inside. The Hog's Head hadn't changed at all. It was still dark and the painting of Aberforth's sister was still on the wall behind the bar.

The only thing missing was Aberforth, but he came from the back room quickly enough as Snape shut the door behind them.

"Bar's closed right now. Private party."

"We're special guests." Snape rested a hand on Harry's shoulder and Aberforth's blue eyes widened.

"Of course, I would love to see the looks on their faces when you two walk in. Well, come on through then. Back room, second door on the right." Snape gestured for Harry to precede him. Nodding at Aberforth, Harry did so.

He paused outside the door when he heard the voices. Ron's voice could be easily heard over the other voices and Harry allowed himself a smile. He took a deep breath and then pushed the door open. At first they didn't notice anything—their discussion was that important.

Ron was the first to fall silent before he gave a shout and came rushing across the room to embrace Harry. Harry grinned and clasped his friend on the shoulder. He nodded at Ron, and then Hermione was behind him, and he embraced her warmly.

It felt good to be among his friends again. He didn't realize he had missed them so much until he saw them again.

"Severus, it is good to see you again. I take it that you managed to free Potter?" Even Professor McGonagall's voice was welcoming.

"Yes, it is time to put some plans into motion. May I present to you Harry Potter-Prince, bond mate of Sebastian Prince-Potter. And the new Dark Lord." Harry merely shrugged and grinned at his friends.

"What can I say? He was very persuasive." He leaned back against Snape, bolstered by his bond mate's steady support. Perhaps things would turn out all right after all.

Severus massaged his temples. Perhaps he should reduce his headache some without resorting to potions. He sank gratefully down into the chair that Minerva had conjured but hadn't Vanished. Closing his eyes for a few blissful moments, he glanced up when a cup of tea was placed on the table next to him. Harry gave him a slight smile.

"Thank you." Harry nodded and then drew up his own chair. Severus took a sip of his tea.

"Glad that's over. I had forgotten how noisy a whole roomful of people can be." It seemed that Severus wasn't the only one who had a headache.

Silence fell between them and Severus reflected on the evening. It had gone surprisingly well. They hadn't been upset that Harry was married to him but more upset that Harry had agreed to Snape's plans. The arguments had been loud and plentiful and the questions had been asked harshly.

It had taken Potter to persuade anybody. The younger man had simply told them that he wasn't going to go back to Azkaban, come hell or high water. Severus had to agree with the other man. Azkaban was not an option to send Harry Potter back to. But in the end they had been willing to listen to Harry. Severus suspected that he would have to defend his plans again and possibly explain them again just to get them to see it his way.

They are Gryffindors; they need time before they can see it my way. Sadly time is not what we have.

"So now what?"

"We wait for your friends to see reason and accept our plans." Severus took another sip of his tea.

"Not that. That can take days. What are we going to do in the meantime?"

"Oh yes, that. I plan to validate this marriage."

"How do we do that?"

"By consummating the bond, or by you being bent over the nearest surface with me pounding into you. Or if that notion is too difficult to understand, by having sex. "

"Ah, I see. So the nearest surface would be that table, I suppose." Potter's eyes dropped to the floor but he couldn't meet Severus' eyes for long.

"I was thinking more along the lines of a bed, makes it more comfortable." He leaned closer into Potter, cupping one cheek with his hand. "Especially a first time should not be bent over some table in a grungy pub. If you want a table, I have a desk that will do nicely."

"Or a wall…"

"Or a bath or shower. My shower is excellent. Very strong spray."

"Shower wall then?" Potter brightened at the idea of a shower. Severus wondered how long it had been since the young man had actually bathed and not settled for spells thrown at him by the guards.

"I would suggest a bath, then. My bath is large enough." Harry grinned at that prospect and finished his tea. Taking Severus' empty cup from him, he dropped down into Severus' lap and kissed him deeply. Severus moaned into the kiss, trying to deepen it.

"Apparate us, then." With that command, Severus did. They landed in the bathtub and Harry grinned.

"Brilliant," he whispered, stealing one last kiss before climbing out of the tub. Severus followed a moment later. He turned around and began to run the taps. The tub was filling up fast, steam rising from the warm water. Turning to undress himself, Severus left the room briefly to lay his other clothes out.

He came back to an unusual sight. Potter was seated on the edge of the bathtub, trailing a hand through the water. The look on the younger man's face was one of bliss and Severus found himself smiling. Walking in on soft feet, he made sure to make enough sound so he wouldn't startle Harry. Harry didn't glance up once.

Severus rested a hand on a bare shoulder. Harry had undressed already. The only thing he wore was his glasses. Severus softly said, "Go on and get in. If it is too hot for your liking you can always add some cold water."

"Doesn't really seem to me that you're dressed for a bath. You're wearing far too many clothes." Harry turned to him with a smile.

"I am going to remove them, just have a little bit of patience, Mr Potter."

"Can I order you to remove them faster?" Severus glanced down to see that Harry was holding his wand. He realized, the younger man hadn't let go of it all evening. Harry's grin was easy but Severus could almost see a twinge of nervousness. He ran a hand down Harry's spine and then drew him in for a kiss.

Harry melted against him and Severus wrapped an arm around Harry's waist. He crushed the younger man to him, deepening their kiss as Harry moaned. Eager fingers on the buttons of his shirt made him glance down. He glanced back up at Harry to meet the green eyes. Harry grinned.

"Eager to see me undressed, are you?" Harry nodded at him. His glasses were fogged up from hanging over the steaming bathtub. Severus ran a hand down Harry's chest. He was pale, even paler than Severus. Harry was also thinner than Severus at the moment. His thumb brushed a nipple and Harry gasped, his eyes growing wide.

Severus smirked. He leaned in to brush Harry's lips with his own. "Get into that tub. I will join you in a moment." The scented oil that Harry had added to the water smelled like lavender and Severus couldn't ignore Harry's gasp of delight as his bond mate slid into the tub.

He put the bottle of lube on the chair beside the tub, the one that held Harry's clothes. "I think that we may need to burn these." Harry glanced at the clothes and then back at Severus.

"Bill Weasley was kind enough to bring some clothes with him for you. They should fit you. I left them out on the bed." Dropping his shirt to the floor, Severus reached down to undo his belt. He stepped out of his trousers and folded them neatly. His boxers soon followed and he carefully put his wand on the floor next to the tub.

He had put up wards around the property. It was a rented cottage and while there had already been wards up around the place, Severus had taken them down and added stronger ones. He didn't want anybody to find them, regardless of the recent plan to marry Potter.

Harry was staring at him, smiling slightly, but Severus could see the nervous glint in the green eyes. His husband's eyes shot down Severus' body, resting on his half-hard cock before coming back up to rest on his face. He remembered that this was Harry's first time.

He allowed his gaze to drift over Harry almost lazily as he stepped closer. The younger man was thinner than he was supposed to be, but the slender cock that was rising from the nest of dark curls made him smirk. Harry might be nervous but he was eager.

Severus gestured with his hands for Harry to make room for him and stepped into the tub. The hot water was bliss and he leaned his head back for a moment, stretching his legs around Harry. Harry glanced over his shoulder at him and then slowly leaned back so he was resting against Severus.

The trust the younger man showed him, especially when Severus had expected him to rage and rant against what life had handed him, was amazing. But truth be told, Harry had never done that. Severus had been wrong to think Harry had been spoiled when that had been very far from the truth.

He ran one hand slowly down Harry's chest, seeking to initiate the contact between them. He rested his hand on Harry's flat stomach, feeling Harry's breath quickening before he closed his hand around Harry's prick. It hardened in his hand immediately and Severus leaned forward to lightly kiss Harry's neck.

He sank his teeth into the skin to lightly nip at the exposed skin as Harry bared his neck. Harry gasped and then turned his head so he could kiss Severus. Deepening their kiss, Severus was rewarded when Harry kissed him back enthusiastically.

The younger man turned in his arms and Severus groaned softly. Harry began kissing his jaw and down his neck. Severus could feel himself tensing because Harry would notice the scars. But as the younger man's lips lightly brushed over them and then sucked on the raised skin, he couldn't contain a gasp. Harry drew back and grinned, one hand sliding in between their bodies to grasp Severus' prick. Severus' glare was a little bit distracted as Harry's hand slid up his cock.

"If you continue this, the night will be over before it begins," he told Harry.

"Perhaps we should get a move on, then?" The way Harry kept rubbing up against him made Severus realize just how eager Harry was. He rested a hand on Harry's arse to cup and squeeze a perfect arse cheek. Harry startled and bumped into him, grinding his prick against Severus'. The younger male let out a delicious moan.

"Perhaps we should. If you would be so kind as to fetch me the lube." Severus didn't even hear Harry utter the words of the spell or feel him move, but then the lube was in Harry's hand. Harry appeared to grow shy at the display of power.

Taking the bottle of lube with one hand, Severus raised Harry's chin with the other. "Never hide your power from me or anybody. It is a part of you, a vital and beautiful part. You are powerful and you should take pride in that. But just be aware who you show that power to. There will always be people frightened of it, but never let that fear bind you. It isn't your responsibility if they are fearful of power. It is because that they are weak that they fear power. They may fear you, but never fear them. You have come too far to become fearful. Power like this is arousing…" He nuzzled Harry's cheek with his nose, groaning softly as Harry's magic ran over his skin.

"Like this?" The cheeky brat had the audacity to grin at him and Severus crushed his mouth to his. He pulled Harry on top of him. He didn't care that there was water splashing over the edge of the bathtub.

"I want you….want you inside me now, Severus."

Brushing his lips against Harry's jaw, Severus nodded and grabbed the bottle they had brought with them. He coated his fingers in the thick substance and his finger slid down Harry's crevice towards his hole. He pushed it inside, carefully. Harry tensed against him and Severus distracted him with a deep kiss.

When he crooked his finger so that he just brushed Harry's prostate the younger man let out a startled shout. Severus greedily drank in the sound. He added another finger and another as he sought to stretch Harry thoroughly. When his bond mate wiggled against him in obvious impatience, Severus drew back.

"Are you sure? There is no going back now."

"Severus…I mean Sebastian. Or whatever, you have had your fingers up my arse; I don't want to go back! Now, can we get a move on?" Harry wiggled against him and Severus nipped sharply at his lip.

He took a moment to lubricate his cock before he said, "Carefully lower yourself onto me….slowly…." He had to break off to gasp as Harry lowered himself in one go. He was buried deep in that tight channel and it felt so good. Harry moved experimentally and Severus met him thrust for thrust. He kissed Harry deeply as they moved quicker and quicker, both caught in an ancient rhythm.

He began pumping Harry's cock to the same rhythm as his thrusts, and within a moment the younger man came with a cry of his name. Severus followed a moment later, too lost within his bond mate to fight it. He came in a rush of white heat and Harry's name on his lips.

Harry collapsed on top of him and Severus drew him closer. "I promise you that the bed will be even more spectacular than the bath."

He ran a hand through Harry's wet hair and the younger man nodded tiredly against his throat. He nudged Harry and Harry rose, stepping out of the tub and reaching for one of the towels.

Severus took his own towel and reached out to muss Harry's hair. "Come, the bath will still be here tomorrow."

Harry grinned up at him and kissed him deeply as he murmured, "So, I should tell the press that you lured me into this marriage with the promise of a hot bath and a large bed. Oh, and a very large cock."

"Imagine their surprise, because they would have never suspected that you were batting for the same team."

"Oh, I'm gay, alright. I think I am going to have some very pleasant dreams tonight, especially about a certain part of your anatomy."

Severus smirked as he followed Harry into the bedroom. He was enjoying the view. "Hopefully you will be dreaming what you can do with it. But for now, sleep first, I think." And as he noticed how Harry's green eyes brightened as he caught sight of the bed, he realized that those dreams might just come true.

The final stand happened on a Friday. It happened during a meeting of the full Wizengamot with Cornelius Fudge in charge and Dolores Umbridge acting as the senior secretary. The Wizengamot was talking about a new law—not that they did anything else—when suddenly the doors flew open.

Harry should have been feeling nervous, especially when striding into a hall full of people. He reflected on the first time he had been here, filled with so much anger and hate. Now he should have by rights been more angry, and yet he was calm and collected and in control.

He nodded at some of the people sitting on the stands, smiling as he said, "By all means, do not get up. This won't take long."

Fudge, already purple in the face, rose to his feet as he hissed, "What is the meaning of this? You should be rotting in Azkaban."

"Yeah, about that, you see there has been a change of plans."

"Oh, and what would that be? You think that you can just waltz in here, Potter, and seize control?"

Laughter went up around Harry but the younger man smiled himself. He held Fudge's eyes and then said, "I actually do—and it isn't Potter any longer. It is Potter-Prince. And may I present my husband, Sebastian Prince." Harry enjoyed the look of surprise on Fudge's face.

He stroked his wand as he glanced up in the stands to see Umbridge trying to rise. He had cast the spell to immobilize her even before Umbridge could utter a word. The look on her face was worth the stirring of fear he saw in some of the eyes of the members of the Wizengamot.

"There is no need to fear me. This will actually go pretty peacefully if you all cooperate with us."

"Who else did you bring, then?" One of the witches in the front row spoke up. Harry smiled at her. He gestured with his hands and Severus stepped into the room. He was followed closely by Ron and Hermione; both had their wands in hand. Harry knew that the other members of the Order were hidden, staying out of sight for as long as they could. He hoped Kingsley had held up his side of the bargain.

"That man is no Sebastian Prince; that is Severus Snape!" Fudge's eyes narrowed in fury.

Harry shook his head. "No, Severus Snape was declared dead by the Ministry. It was just a shame that there was no body to identify, but then again, a lot of Death Eaters mysteriously vanished that day…"

"I'm sure that you know where they are, controlling them as you do."

Harry shook his head again. "On the contrary, Mr Fudge. I believe that you know exactly where those Death Eaters are! Wasn't it you who ordered everybody arrested who ever uttered an Unforgivable Curse, starting with the Death Eaters on the battle field? They were sent straight to Azkaban to await trial. It has been six months and plenty more arrests were made but you just never really got around to those trials, now did you?" There was soft muttering that went up around the room.

"We just survived a war. We have been a little bit busy with rebuilding from that…"

Harry raised his eyebrows and glanced around the room. "It was your doing that Voldemort got that far. You ignored my warning when I told you four years ago that he was back. You called me a liar and decided I was mad and crazy. It isn't my doing that he got this powerful. Hell, I was the one who stopped him! Neither one of you ever did anything. You put your faith in a boy of 17 and then you lock me up because I took every measure I knew to try and stop a madman? You are the insane one here, Fudge, not me!" Harry's voice rose to a shout.

Sebastian's hand brushed his shoulder and Harry took a deep breath to try and reclaim that control. After a moment he continued, "You had your chance. I spent a year telling anybody who would listen that Voldemort was back and all you did was call me a liar instead of using your resources and energy to try and see if I possibly was right. You preferred not to believe me than to know that what you were doing was wrong. The only people who helped me are the people who stand with me today. It's time that you face up to the consequences of the choices you made all those years ago."

"And you would have me believe that you paid for the choice you made, Potter?" Fudge sneered.

Harry forced himself to remain calm as he smiled grimly. "I watched my friends die! Hell, I died myself! I never saw any of you on the battlefield, taking hexes or fighting for our freedom in the Final Battle! You were all hiding somewhere, just waiting for the storm to pass. Did you even participate in the battle?"

He glanced around the room, noticing how some of the members of the Wizengamot shared looks with one another. Shameful looks—and he knew enough.

He clenched his fist, fixing his gaze upon Fudge as he said, acting calmer than he felt, "And now you dare to make decisions regarding the freedom of the wizarding world when you would rather hide in your houses than fight for that freedom? What do you know of being enslaved? You just stood there and let it happen. You would rather let a boy fight for you, a child, than raise a wand to help him. And now that he has survived, against all odds, you decide that you have no place for the likes of him so you'd rather do away with him! Screw that! It is my call now, and we're going to bring some justice back into this world. You really think that you can control people through fear? You're as bad as Voldemort if you think that."

"We are making this world a better place by controlling people like you! You can't control your own power! Why should we allow you to walk through our world freely when it is all too clear that you're going to snap soon?" Fudge looked around but Harry could hear the soft muttering of voices; it seemed that not everybody agreed with their leader.

"And this is how you deal with people you think are insane? You lock them in Azkaban without even the decency of a trial? Has it perhaps ever occurred to you that should anybody who is, in your opinion, insane ever come out, they would trust the government? You're repeating past behaviour. It happened with the Death Eaters as well. You locked them up and removed them from society and from the social pressure to do right. They were loyal to Voldemort and he gave them a chance for a decent future. A future in which they would not be oppressed and in which they could have their freedom. Really, Fudge, you should learn from your mistakes because you keep making them, and this time they come back to bite you in the arse."

Harry looked around the room as silence fell. Fudge was staring at him before he said, "And what do you intend to do? Seize control?"

Harry shook his head. "I never wanted control. But if you had bothered to get to know the real me instead of trying to control me, you would have known that. No, I just want my freedom. Sadly, that comes with a fight. A fight I have to win. A fight I intend to win."

"And what do you intend to do when victory is yours? Are you really going to stop there when you can have the wizarding world? Who is going to lead our world? You?"

Harry actually laughed this time. He had to wipe the tears of mirth away from his eyes as he straightened. He could see an amused smirk on Sebastian's face but the dark eyes remained fixed on Fudge. Harry kept his wand trained on Umbridge, in case she tried anything. He thought he saw a glimpse of red hair as Percy Weasley raised his own wand.

"No, I don't want power! Nor do I really want to lead! I'm just the right kind of leader at this moment; I suppose you can call me the temporary leader. Or Prince-Potter, if you prefer. But I suppose that the right thing for us to do now, before I introduce you to the real leader, is to negotiate terms. You agree to our terms and you may get off lightly."

"You intend to punish me then?" Fudge's sneer would have done Sebastian proud, but Harry merely shrugged.

"I don't know. I really don't. That isn't for me to decide. Do you want to hear the terms or not? There is no use fighting us. We have got plenty of Aurors and we even have a reporter with a Quick Quotes Quill. Right now, every word that you say to me will be carried back to the public. Let's see what they think of your judgement then."

Fudge seemed to purple another shade. For a moment, he looked a little like Uncle Vernon had done whenever he had been angry at Harry.

Harry felt weary suddenly. He had had quite enough. "I think I've heard enough. You can tell the rest to the Aurors. We're bringing you in, Fudge, on a count of not carrying out your job. You said that everybody who ever cast an Unforgivable Curse was to be arrested and put into Azkaban to await trial. Unless you're late with his particular arrest, you have missed somebody."

For the first time, Fudge looked uncertain. Harry allowed himself a small smile before he said, "Your senior secretary, Dolores Umbridge, has cast an Unforgivable. She cast the Cruciatus Curse at me and yet you have failed to arrest her. So I believe that you will be arrested now, for failing to do your duty as leader of the Wizengamot."

"Under whose power do you arrest me?"

"Under mine." Kingsley's voice was a welcoming sound and Harry enjoyed the look on Fudge's face as the Minister stepped into the room. Kingsley struck an imposing figure in his dark blue robes, making him appear even taller than he already was.

In a moment it was done. Aurors swamped the room and Harry, unable to help himself, pressed closer to his bond mate. The hand on his shoulder grounded him in more ways than he dared to admit. Fudge and Umbridge were taken into custody and Kingsley put Percy Weasley in charge of the Wizengamot until a better suited leader could be found.

In the commotion, nobody noticed two wizards Apparating away.

They were in a warm place when they landed and the sun was shining. Harry blinked into the strong sunlight and within a moment a cooling charm was cast upon him.

He squinted up at Sebastian as the older wizard said, "Welcome to Rome, Harry, and my home."

His home was a small house with a front and back garden, two stories, and a balcony that faced south. It was a white brick house with shutters that could close.

Harry fell in love with it instantly. He turned back to Sebastian, growing shy as he asked, "And my home?"

"For as long as you want, yes. I have barely begun starting a life here, and all new beginnings are hard, but if you are willing to learn a trade and learn the language, you will have a good life. Should you not, then I suggest you leave now."

"I made a choice, Sebastian, one I intend to honour. Wherever you go, I go. I love you, and if that means learning Italian and living in the sunshine for the rest of my life, then so be it. We're heroes and our duty is done. It is time for the peace we deserve."

"I'm not a duty for you to look after, Harry…"

"Oh, I know, and neither am I. We're equals and I meant it when I said it that I love you. I want to be here."

"Good, then perhaps now we can begin to get to know one another properly and start our lives—unless you are looking to be a kept man, because then you will find you are sorely mistaken."

Harry merely smiled and shook his head, laughing. "Hardly, I would get bored out of my mind and what would I do with my time then? I would only start bothering you. You know, for sex and stuff. I know how much you detest it when I bother you." He was rewarded when a hand dropped to his shoulder and he was turned around.

Lips pushed onto his and Harry moaned. He wrapped his arms around his bond mate's broad shoulders and tried to deepen their kiss. He could get used to this. He didn't know Sebastian. He had known Severus a little bit but he had never known the man Snape had become after the war.

But that didn't matter. He would have a lifetime to get to know Sebastian Prince-Potter, his bond mate. If this was to be his life, filled with passion and quite possibly love, then he would have a good life. And he had been truthful when he said that he loved Snape. He did, even when the man didn't believe him.

He owed Sebastian a lot. His life if he was honest. If it hadn't been for the man, then Harry would still be in Azkaban and this nightmare would be far from over. Why would Sebastian have offered to marry Harry if he didn't care for him one bit? Perhaps Sebastian had a different way of showing it.

"I must be doing something wrong if you are this lost in thought when we kiss." Harry smiled up at the man. The dark eyes peered down at him.

"Sorry, couldn't help myself." He shrugged and then leaned in to softly say. "I have never properly thanked you, Sebastian. So thank you, for everything that you have done for me. I know it must have been hard, to come back when you have made a life for yourself, and save me again."

"Sadly, a hero's duty is never done," Sebastian replied gravely.

Harry grinned and leaned in. "But you will reap the rewards of this one, which is a promise."

There was a flash of heat in the dark eyes and then Sebastian said, "As I said, a hero's duty is never done, but I will graciously accept the rewards that you bestow upon me; it is the least I can do."

"Then I will consider it my duty to keep you rewarded on all counts." And as their lips met again, Harry realized that their days as heroes might be over, but the happy duty to another never was, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

-The End-