The Vow And its Consequences

Chapter 41

True to Severus' words, the Malfoy family and Minerva made their way to Prince Hall just before lunch. The group had become very close, Severus and Minerva due to the betrayal from someone they had thought of as a mentor and a friend. Lucius aiding Severus when he needed it most had warmed Minerva to him, and the trio's friendship had strengthened as they went to whatever length they needed to in order to get to the bottom of the truth. Along the way Remus and Sirius had been let in on the truth, Minerva, Lucius, and Severus had a genuine friendship but the two Marauders had been tolerated for Harry's sake. Severus didn't regard them as friends, but they certainly had come along way from the enemies they'd been once upon a time. Dumbledore had screwed over them all, and so it stood to reason they would always have that in common.

Still, Severus could scarcely believe he was sitting having lunch (and dinner later) with them on Yule of all times, time had changed them all. Glancing at his son, watching him interact with Draco, both of them beaming with exuberance, Yule was for them, and more than it was for the adults. Despite their excitement, he was pleased to see neither of them were forgetting their manners and were eating appropriately.

"What did you think of Harry's gift, Severus?" Narcissa asked, smiling sweetly at the children, Draco had picked out a beautiful opal necklace for her, which she was wearing today. She had been informed of what Harry had picked out for Severus despite Lucius' gentle nudging towards other items but Harry had been adamant about getting the doe figurine. Picking up her napkin, she wiped away the bit of soup that had dripped down her son's mouth absently before replacing it on her lap.

Severus glanced drolly at the woman, "It's a very appropriate gift," Severus replied, only slightly irritated after all he wasn't one for talking about his feelings or rather feelings on gifts he received. He was very touched by the gift, but he definitely didn't want to come outright and say that, least of all with Black and Lupin at the table.

"What was it?" Minerva enquired curiously, ignoring the mutter of 'Potion ingredients probably' that Sirius said.

"A doe," Severus replied.

"Why's that appropriate?" Sirius asked his brow puckered; when he noticed everyone including Remus staring at him incredulously he realized it was something very obvious.

"Lily's patronus was a doe," Remus said quietly, heart clenching, just thinking about the vibrant woman they'd all known but Harry would never get to.

"As is Severus'," Lucius pointed out smoothly after swallowing his roast tomato and mascarpone soup. "I wasn't aware that Harry knew what your patronus was though,"

"I imbued my patronus into a globe for Harry as a night light," Severus explained, not surprised they didn't know.

"That's a brilliant idea, Severus, you should see about selling that idea," Lucius said shrewdly. Many children were afraid of the dark, and this was a very good idea, the patronus charm would exude the feeling of safety which was only an added benefit to help them in the long run.

"It would be a good idea, if most could actually perform the charm," Severus pointed out, the empty bowls of soup they'd all consumed disappeared. Butternut and sage Risotto was the next meal brought through by the extremely busy House-elves.

"That unfortunately is all too true," Minerva agreed, a lot of powerful people had been in the Order and yet only a few had been able to cast the Patronus charm. Although by the end a few more had been able to due to necessity, the rumours that the Dementors had joined forces with the Dark had been the motivator behind that. "This is amazing, Severus, you'll have to give my compliments to the House-elves." she added as she scooped up more of the Risotto, something that most definitely wasn't served at Hogwarts, not even during Yule.

"It is," Narcissa agreed. Giving her son a spoon to help him eat it, and save it from going all over Draco in the process. She noticed that Severus had already done the same thing for Harry, both kids were making their way through the Risotto with haste, no doubt they wanted to play with their shiny new toys.

"I'll be sure to pass along the compliments," Severus replied, despite Sirius and Remus coming early he had actually enjoyed himself. Harry and Draco still had gifts to open from Minerva as well as Lucius and Narcissa since they'd come through in time for Lunch there hadn't been time to open them before. "Lucius are you alright?" Severus asked him, noticing the frown on his face; he was quieter than usual and seemed as if he had something eating at him.

Lucius shook his head slightly, mouthing the word 'later' before replying, "I'm fine," children were much more observant than people realized half the time, and this wasn't something he wanted to burden his son with.

Severus' eyes flared with worry but he nonetheless nodded his agreement, it had to be something extremely worrying for Lucius to actually show it. His mind went from prospect to prospect of what it could be but nothing seemed to fit, shaking it off, he would find out later when his son and godson were safely distracted. The rest of the Risotto was finished in silence as all the adults automatically became worried themselves.

Dessert consisted of Yule chocolate pudding, with a side of fruit, raspberries and strawberries, with strawberry sauce drizzled on the pudding itself. The helpings were small, since dinner was the main course, and a filling one at that. Draco definitely showed his approval for his kind of food, as he dug gleefully into his portion.

"Can I open my presents now?" Draco begged the second his dessert plate was clean of any possible scrapings.

"In a moment," Narcissa promised, "At least let Harry finish his so you can both play."

Draco nodded somewhat reluctantly, eyeing his wrapped presents impatiently.

Sirius chuckled and grinned at Draco's impatience, now that was how Yule should be, he hoped he got to see Harry a little more like that at some point in his life. As soon as Harry was done, the empty plates disappeared and Draco all but jumped from the table and ran towards them, until his dad cleared his throat then he slowed down absently making sure Harry was with him.

Platters with tea, coffee and two hot chocolates soon took its place on the table, leaving the adults to safely digest their food.

"So what's going on?" Sirius asked, wondering if it had anything to do with his discovery.

"It's nothing I can't handle," Lucius stated, making it clear and no mistake that he could handle this on his own. It had been enough to have him revise his will and go to Gringotts to ensure it put through.

"We've been receiving increasingly violent threatening letters," Narcissa told them, placing her hand on her husband's shoulder. "One of them was addressed to Draco." thankfully though her husband had a redirecting spell on all mail, he was cautious and paranoid for a reason.

Severus sat up straighter; narrowing his eyes, "Was he hurt?" the thought of anyone cursing his godson filled him with rage.

"No, Severus, all mail comes through me," Lucius answered immediately.

"Who is it?" Severus then asked, knowing Lucius would have at least a rough idea on who was doing it.

"It must be one of the few who got off," Minerva said thoughtfully, before Lucius could answer. "The more known ones have to be Nott, Avery, Macnair…Crabbe and of course Goyle." all of whom all had children now the exact same age as Draco and Harry.

"Those are the ones who were caught and got off," Severus corrected her still staring at Lucius in silent demand for an answer.

"I heavily suspect Nott and Avery, the writing is different in parts of the letters showing at least two people are colluding together." Lucius explained grimly, "Crabbe and Goyle are useless, they can't do anything without someone telling them, so the chances are extremely of them this is slim. Nott wouldn't risk it, not since his wife died, he is all that Theodore has, he was quite happy to hunker down and play it out. He might be one of the Dark Lord's most loyal but even he knows to do anything is paramount to suicide especially against me."

"Who else could it potentially be?" Minerva asked thoughtfully, her hands wrapped around her coffee occasionally taking a sip.

"There's many who evaded justice, the Carrow twins are one of the many," Severus answered, they'd just joined the Dark Lord's cause, and had not yet really taken part in any raids for someone to get a description of them to the Ministry.

"They'll know that the mark is fading, could this be them just panicking?" Minerva questioned.

"It's possible," Lucius said slowly, "But I do not think so, it's more to do with me being seen as a 'traitor' to the cause,"

"You said there was a hex in one of the letters?" Sirius asked, joining the conversation a little hesitantly.

"The one for Draco this morning, yes," Lucius turned to face Sirius answering at the same time.

"Do you still have it?" Sirius then enquired.

"Of course," Lucius replied, "I have not yet had an opportunity to deal with it, and I refuse to let them ruin my son's Yule."

"Well if you like I can investigate it…on the side, not as an Auror, but I'll be able to tell you who's magic it is, even if they've tried to mask it, it isn't as easy as you think when it comes to masking your magic. There's always a residual strand left behind, we learned this in Auror training. Only those extremely powerful have a hope in completely removing their signature."

"Why would you want to help me?" Lucius asked suspiciously, he was under no illusions that Black cared about him, they hated each other, and they'd been on the other sides of the war for Merlin sake. Unlike the others Black knew he hadn't been under the imperious curse, his change in sides now didn't better himself in Black's eyes.

"You helped my godson," Sirius said frankly, "I will always owe you for that, let me help you and your son in turn." plus Harry and Draco were like brothers, even he wasn't blind to that. It was the start of a beautiful friendship that would last well after they both graduated Hogwarts. They were lucky, and he would do anything for Harry, including help the Malfoy's. Harry would be devastated if anything happened to Lucius or Draco. For some reason Harry really, really liked Lucius which had irked him until Harry began to open up to him and trust him a little. "Narcissa and Draco are family, Black blood that means something too."

"Enough of this, let's just enjoy today, the boys are beginning to sense something amiss," Narcissa admonished them.

"They won't get to threaten Draco again," Severus said with a steely undertone, his eyes flashing with feral promise. He didn't care if he and Lucius had to hunt the wizards down and kill them, he would do it. He was by no means a good law-abiding citizen, he had done his fair share of rule breaking things and for family, and he would always do what it took to keep family safe. If they were coming after Draco the chances of them coming after Harry for being his 'son' was strong. No, they would be taken care of, and the world would be safer for it. They wouldn't leave any evidence behind either, oh no, there would be nothing to tie them to any crime.

Lucius nodded just once in a curt agreement as understanding flowed through both men. They had killed a woman for less, Figg for less than what the Death Eaters were determined to do to his son. He had chosen his side, openly declared where his allegiance lay; he would need to deal with them. He had been an idiot not to have considered it sooner but he'd assumed they'd stay away tails tucked between their legs and continued on with their lives. Their insistence on threatening his family they had made their own soon to be orphans.

"Now then, here you go lad," Minerva said, removing gifts from her cloak pocket, giving one to Severus, adding her own attempt to change the subject. Unlike the others she had understood the byplay between both men. She didn't even like to think about it if she was honest, but unfortunately both men would do what they needed to keep Draco and Harry safe. She understood that if they'd come after Lucius - using his son to achieve it - they might come after Harry and she couldn't bear the thought. She also handed out the others, nothing big or extravagant but she'd been aware that they were coming and so chose to get gifts for them all.

"I have not been a lad for a long while, Minerva," Severus accepted the gift deeply amused, she hadn't called him that in a long time.

"I've known you since you were eleven, you will always be a lad to me," Minerva brushed off his words, used to them by now.

Severus began to unwrap the gift, eyes widening in surprise it wasn't his usual bottle of alcohol. It was a book on potions, and if he wasn't wrong, the book had yet to be published. "How did…"

"I know Maria, she's a friend, when I mentioned that I would like the book for you she sent it immediately," Minerva said, thoroughly satisfied that Severus liked the book. Maria had also tried to give it to her for free, but Minerva wasn't having any of it. She had instead transferred the money into her vault, preventing her from protesting. "It won't be out until after the New Year, but as you know writers get so many books to give away or keep at their own discretion."

"Thank you, Minerva, I have been looking forward to this being published," Severus said with deep gratitude, it was in all Potioneer magazines, descriptions of upcoming books and such. It was said to fly of the shelves when it was out, and the shops were already taking pre-order sales.

"I'm just glad you like it," Minerva said, the others were all giving thanks of their own; Remus had received a voucher for clothes from Gladrags. Sirius had received a book, a muggle book on how to interact with abused children and how their reactions and inactions should be read as and a selection of sweets since Sirius had a sweet tooth a mile long - as evidence he had took a sweet from Harry earlier that week. Narcissa and Lucius got wine, a good year too; she knew they liked their wines. Abraxas used to own a winery, and sold it before Lucius had come of age, and many of those wines (which had been placed in the cellar) had been used over the years depleting their supplies. A small box of chocolates was also in the box for them to enjoy.

It was her turn; she received a large selection of shortcake and gingersnaps from Narcissa and Lucius. Scottish whiskey from Sirius and Remus. A hand made card with a cat lying stretched out under a Yule tree on front that looked remarkably like her Animagus form from Harry; Severus had got her a fairly rare Transfiguration tome. She graciously thanked them; giving a small smile to Harry for his 'wonderful' card she was delighted with it. She beckoned them forward, giving them their gifts.

"Happy Yule," she said as they sat beside her and eagerly opened, Harry more sedately but enthusiastically nonetheless. Inside they found a selection of sweets, a book each on Latin for children, a fun book apposed to the dry and boring lessons one receives. Seven packets of Quidditch trading cards the book to go with it and toy snitches - she didn't bother with broomsticks since both boys already had one or would soon enough knowing Sirius.

"Thank you!" both boys chorused before they gave her a hug, and then proceeded to drag their gifts to the centre of the room to investigate more thoroughly. They had been well and truly spoiled today.

"Honestly, I'm surprised you didn't end up with a Quidditch career," Severus said dryly, shaking his head in amusement.

"Merlin, no, I am not that must of an enthusiast," Minerva denied.

Severus, Remus and Sirius snorted in amusement, while Narcissa and Lucius just tried to prevent the rising of their lips since that statement had well and truly amused them. "If you say so," Severus replied sardonically. She was extremely competitive and absolutely loved when her team won and she wasn't even the one playing the game. 'Denial' wasn't only a river in Egypt, apparently.

Severus smiled slightly when he saw Draco explaining what to do with the trading cards. The others all turned as well; just content to watch the kids enjoy themselves and talk. Quidditch and anything associated was one of the things Severus had no interest in, and hadn't bought anything for Harry. Not out of spite or not wishing for Harry to take to the game, far from it, he knew the others would buy him gifts in that area aplenty and he wasn't wrong. Surprisingly Sirius hadn't gone overboard with gifts, he'd given Harry five, one of them a new child broom with the latest safety features, stuffed teddy's in the shape of a stag, wolf and black dog which he had pointed out was actually a panther for all the good it did and colouring in books and crayons with words and numbers surprisingly - it wasn't something he'd expect Black to do but suspected Remus had hand in it.

"Come by tomorrow," Severus said quietly to Lucius, "Black found the files, in fact bring the letter and let him do what he needs to here while you and I look over the documents."

Lucius perked up at that, "I will," he agreed immediately, the sooner the last part of the Dark Lord was dealt with the better, at least he would only have to worry about vengeful Death Eaters if that were the case. The thought of the Dark Lord returning quite frankly terrified him to the bone. In fact he was almost curious enough to try and get Severus to show him now, but he knew his wife would not allow it, not on Yule. He worked a lot and missed quite a bit of Draco's development, Yule was family time, time that Draco would get to spend with all of them together.

I would say there is only ooo five or six more chapters of this story left, although someone did give me the idea of adding to it now and again, just add on chapters that act more like a one shot how would you like that? Just scenes of life for the Snape family, will Harry be told he used to be a potter or will Severus keep it from him until hes seventeen at least? just to keep him all the more safer? will the Death eaters prose a threat to Harry as well? well anyway next chapter will we see Severus and Lucius dole out vengance against those who dare to harm their kids? I always did say that neither were law abidding men remember? they do what they have to :D and don't trust the law to deal with it appropriately. Will Severus visit Dumbledore in prison with the news that voldemort is gone? or will he find out after he's released? R&R please