"The Santos Clan will be here the day after tomorrow, at precisely ten o'clock our time." Severus informed Alfred the moment the elder vampire stepped into the Grand Hall. "I want them to feel welcomed, but I do not want anyone to be lax, the security will be tightened. Simon and the others will be here tomorrow morning. Judging by the number he says is coming with him, it will take at least until lunch. Harry and I will be doing this engagement together."
"Of course," Alfred agreed, opening his ever-present portfolio, that had a day-to-day diary in it. He carried with him at all times. He wrote everything down and rearranged the schedule magically, making a note to change meetings that were in those slots. Luckily it was only two and they weren't exactly of vital importance.
"Add in some shopping time, the district in Wales will do," Severus added, "My mate wants to do it in person. Have the shops closed and ensure they know they'll be compensated for their troubles and…" before he could finish what he was saying, he was interrupted.
"My Lord have you seen this?" Don asked, entering the Grand Hall, waving a piece of parchment around in clear indignation.
It had the Prince crest and it was part of the stationary set he and Harry used. It didn't take a genius to deduce what had bothered Don at all. He could smell the scent of the ink Harry had used earlier wafting up from the dried ink. Every single thing had a singularly unique scent, the ink, even the parchment.
Alfred was peering curiously at the missive, wondering what had gotten Don's hackles up. Then again, it was easily done, Donald was rather highly strung, especially these days with their 'advice' not being taken for granted. Then there was the fact Severus never asked for their opinion on anything before seeing it through.
Severus sighed nosily, a show of his frustration than anything else. "What is it?" he asked Don, staring the elder vampire down. He knew perfectly well what it was, he was being deliberately obtuse.
"He's demanded the Elders' presence! With less than a day's notice!" Don said, waving the paperwork again. "He is the Lord Consort only! A child! He needs to be reined in before he harms your position! Don't you understand this?" he was utterly and diabolically ignoring all the rules and regulations of what Consorts were allowed to do.
Severus' gaze became increasingly frosty as he listened to Don spew out that outdated bullshit. Normally he wasn't one for thinking or speaking vulgar language, but nothing infuriated him more than someone talking badly of Harry. The fact that he was continuing to do so after he'd warned him was worse.
"Don, the times have changed, you must get with them," Alfred informed the Elder. "Women or bearers or mates of the Prince line are more than just arm candy or bearers of the next in line. They're people with hopes and dreams and feelings of their own. If you continue on in this vein, it will be the end of the Prince line." He was actually grateful that Harry wasn't a witch, otherwise it would have been worse for him. If Don and the other Elders pushed too much, Harry would leave, he cared very little for any position of power. He cared for the people, and when that child was conceived…he had zero doubt it had become the most important thing in Harry's world.
He would not allow anyone to use, manipulate, hurt or harm a single hair on that babes' head when it was born. Everyone could see just how protective he was of Severus, of his unborn child, of Remus and his two best friends. Severus would follow, of that Alfred had no doubt. He'd leave all this behind and follow where Harry went. He had a responsibility to his people, but his first responsibility would always be to his mate. He had not been raised in his position as he should have. So, it would be no trouble for him to leave it behind. Well, some trouble, but not the kind a wizard who had been raised to this would have.
"They have a position to fulfil! He's gotten away with far too much, to call the Elders…well, I…it's…unbelievable!" Don stuttered unable to think of a word strong enough to convey his anger. Disregarding Alfred's words, as he always did, he'd abandoned them, his word didn't mean squat. Also disregarding that Severus had asked for him personally. "You're just as bad for encouraging this unbecoming behaviour." Too set in his ways to change, same as many of the Elders.
Never in their history, had a Lord's Consort called the Elders to a meeting.
"Do we need to revisit my earlier statement, Donald?" Severus asked calmly, calm as he may sound, there was a threat lingering in his statement. He had warned the wizard about speaking to or about his mate in such a manner.
"He's not here! There's no need to pretend for his sake," Donald blustered, shaking his head exasperatedly. He was too far away to hear anything either, visiting Black and Lupin – a werewolf in the clan! For shame! – honestly, surely, Severus wasn't going to abide by this. Or were they to tolerate it until the heir was born?
"Pretend?" Severus echoed, black eyes glittering with malevolence.
"You're Lord Prince! You hold the seat of power within our community!" Donald cried out, "Surely you're not going to cater to his every whim!"
Alfred barely supressed a groan, honestly, he'd been expecting this for months now. Alfred had been bemoaning about it to the Elders, only half really listened to him. He honestly couldn't say if more than five actually agreed with him. Then again, there would be something seriously wrong, if Donald didn't have something to complain about.
A niggling wonder of what Harry had actually put in the missive that had started Donald off. Or was it simply the fact that it had been Harry and Harry alone that wrote the missive and had them delivered to the elders. Seeing Lord Consort Potter-Prince would have been enough.
"Let me dissuade of the delusion you seem to be suffering under, I am not 'catering' to Harry, I am not indulging him or 'allowing' him to do whatever he pleases." Severus said coldly, his voice as sharp as glass. "He is my mate, everything we decide to do, we decide together. I will always back Harry up with whatever his decision. Just as I know my mate will back me up."
Donald took a step back, wariness finally setting in, able to sense and see just how pissed off he'd made his Lord.
Stepping forward, only to have Donald stepping back, entirely unconsciously.
"As far as I am concerned, you can shove your misogynistic bullshit up your ass," Severus' voice rose in volume, but not enough to say he was anywhere close to shouting. And Harry as a bearer, was considered the 'woman' in the relationship so his words were correct, even if he himself didn't agree with it. "You will attend the meeting; you will keep your caustic comments to yourself. Just remember you're on very thin ice…as I've been so graciously reminded, the Elders can be replaced, even if the traditions cannot be removed."
Alfred's eyes widened at that threat, his eyes drifted to Don, wondering if this would be what finally got through to him. He honestly wouldn't put it past Harry to replace them if need be. Truthfully, even he hadn't thought about that. It was true though, it could be done, you just had to be a certain age, and there was an abundant collection of vampires that could take Don's place. He honestly wasn't sure how Don would react to that.
Donald froze, if he wasn't already pale without blood pumping through his body, he would have looked like a ghost. His dull blue eyes staring at Lord Prince – practically the king of the vampire world – in sheer shock. He couldn't believe what he'd just heard coming out of Severus' mouth. "He's turning you against us all." he croaked out, wanting to fling himself at Severus' feet and beg forgiveness. As useless as he was feeling right now, the Elders kept him going.
"No, you did that all yourself," Severus bit out, "Or have you forgotten the very first words you said to me?" black eyes gleaming maliciously.
Alfred remained a stalwart presence, surprise tightly concealed.
Donald stared utterly bewilderedly at Lord Prince, not understanding anything.
"Typical, you don't remember." Severus sneered, "Let me remind you then…"
"Because of something I said you've…turned your back on the Elders?" Donald's heart begun to sink; he was at fault? All he had done was caution him on acting so quickly.
"You said, and I quote, I was a fifthly half-blood that didn't deserve the seat of power," Severus' mouth twisted in irony. "That I wouldn't last five minutes before someone came along and took me out. I believe the exact words were 'took the trash out'."
Donald closed his eyes; he'd had no idea the vampire had heard him say that. "You…you were there?" cringing a little at the obviousness of that answer.
"It must irk you that not only do I have a mate, but my mate happens to be a half-blood as well…" Severus drawled dangerously, ignoring the flinch and devastation written across Don's face. "Now considering I heard everything you Elders had to say…tell me why I would come to you for advice? What makes you think for a second I'd take that advice from people who so desperately wished to see me fall?"
Alfred stared at Donald, wondering just what had been said during that time. Clearly, it had coloured Severus' interactions with every single one of the Elders. It might be why Glen had called upon him, because whatever they were talking about…he had no clue. He evidently hadn't been there for whatever happened. He made a mental note to speak to Richard, as soon as possible. He needed to find out exactly what happened.
"We hadn't even met you," Donald rasped out, stunned to the very core of himself. "All we had to go on was what we were told. Primarily factored in that you were a Death Eater, a follower, and a turncoat! I was rightfully worried about what was going to become of us. As bad as Maxwell was…we had no idea what would happen after!" and Maxwell was a horrendous vampire, he'd been an utter dictator, everyone had been walking on eggshells terrified of screwing up. The news that there was a Prince vampire who could claim the throne had been welcoming news indeed. The grandchild of Rose and Glen, who was originally supposed to be on the throne and would bring back a true Prince to the Prince seat of power.
"That's funny, my being a turncoat wasn't brought up once," Severus said dryly, "My being a half-blood was brought up dozens of times, ironic given that over half the elders I found out were of unknown origins. But were likely half-blood like myself or lesser. What you discussed almost had you lot being the turncoats. You were speaking about your new leader, the Prince heir, the only blood left beside Glen." His grandfather.
"Nothing has surprised me since," Severus said darkly, "You all always have something to complain about. I've brought you peace, treaties, and made our clan the biggest out there, surpassing even the llwyd (Floyd) clan and yet it's never been good enough. I don't care how Prince's before me treated their mates, but mine is my partner in all ways…it's in no way an arranged marriage, Harry isn't in it for the money or prestige, he's here because he wants to be. I will do everything in my power to ensure my mate wants to remain here." he'd done more than any other leader in the past, and all they could do was complain. He would never be good enough, and if he'd been just a little less confident in himself and his abilities, it would have preyed on his mind. "You'd understand that connection if you had a mate, although I sincerely hope it's a wizard, considering you stance on carriers whether they're male and especially if they're female."
Alfred felt…defeated, just how long had Severus kept this information to himself? Why hadn't he said anything? Just how badly had they spoken about him? Merlin, help him, it's no wonder he'd never taken any advice from the Elders! The constant wonder on whether they were actually genuine in their advice or if they were trying to deceive him into failing! Did Harry know? Was that where his distaste for the Elders spawned from? Or worse has Harry pretty much had the same happen to him in the face of the Elders?
"I…I…I…" Donald opened and closed his mouth unable to articulate a sentence. The letter Harry sent slipping from his numb fingers. Slipping across the floor. Shaking his head, he backed out of the room, giving his Lord a deep bow before leaving. He wasn't known for holding his tongue, and did ignore people when their word didn't align with his own, he supposed. He just hadn't expected this at all. The comment about his lack of mate dug deeply, he was steeped in politics and had never cared what anyone thought of him. Until now, now he understood all too well why their Lord had been so dismissive of anything they had to say, and they'd brought it all on themselves.
"I assume you told Glen about everything that happened that day?" Alfred asked pensively.
"Yes," Severus confessed darkly, still dwelling on that day, "I actually came close to just leaving." Why fight for people to look down on him? Not trust him? Just waiting on him turning on them? "I owed them nothing, but Glen convinced me he'd find someone who I can fully trust. That the Elders are just a blip on the radar compared to the people who would gladly prove themselves to me."
"And I was the only Elder there that day," Alfred realized, "His warning now made sense, I thought he was just being protective." He said wryly, shaking his head. No wonder Glen had threatened him so thoroughly, questioned him for hours before letting him meet Severus. He wasn't surprised Severus had been able to sneak up on the Elders, he was amazing at magic, he could dampen his scent nearly entirely. You'd really need to focus your full attention to catch a glimpse of it and even then, you'd be left wondering if it was recent or days old.
"How much longer is this stuff going to be lying here?" Severus asked, staring at the loot they'd taken from the now extinct Abreu Clan. Anything someone liked they took, mostly books and other things. Anything with the Abreu coat of arms was destroyed, melted down if it was silver, gold or other precious metal. There was money to be made from that.
"Shall we put it in the market or put it in storage?" anything valuable they didn't already have, had already been put in the vault. Realizing that Severus definitely didn't want to continue their conversation. That didn't matter, he'd get it all out of Richard later.
"The Market, they have a lot of books the students could have used, set it up in Hogsmeade during the students weekend." Severus decided, "Have it removed to storage until then." A pureblood would never buy from a market stall, not unless it was a 'reputable' one. So those that really needed it, would get it. He knew what it was like to suffer and unable to buy the most basic of books.
"Consider it done," Alfred agreed, he'd spend some of the younger vampires to deal with it. They'd like to get out and interact with the students. He swept the letter off the floor, curiosity getting the better of him, wondering idly why he hadn't been invited. He was still technically an elder.
"Good," Severus replied, no doubt the place would be cleaned and polished to high heavens before the Santos Clan got here. "Have it cleared out before the celebration." Which he now knew to be taking place tonight, no doubt the House-elves will have the place cleared out before dinner. The House-elves had some tasks on their hands, two deep cleans in two days.
Alfred agreed, making a note of it, if he didn't things could fall through the cracks. He was often as busy as Severus, sometimes more so.
"I'll hold my meeting in my office," Severus commented, as he left the Grand Hall, it would allow the House-elves to get started. They knew better than to interrupt him when he was busy.
"Of course," Alfred replied, following Severus out, as always, the guards followed as they must.
"Has Harry came out of the vault yet?" Severus asked, listening intently for a reply from Harry's guards.
"You're joking, aren't you? I wasn't about to risk your wrath by allowing him to stay in there. I regret it already; I've been sent down fifteen times for different books." Came Kyrian's reply, his amusement evident even from so far away. He wasn't normally a guard, but it was Corin's day off.
Severus' lips twitched into a fond smile, "Thank you," the stale air in there wasn't good for either his mate or their child. It wasn't exactly a danger short term, but he would prefer Harry not spend an inordinate amount of time down there. He could always rely on his people to make sure Harry was safe, even from his own hairbrained schemes.
This, this was why he remained, and continued on despite the Elders. That and sheer stubbornness and spite. Merlin, he had, had a lot of people he'd wanted to spite. Fortunately, as his life changed, he grew up, matured, and was much less bitter.
It was why he was able to tolerate not only Remus Lupin as part of his life, his clan. But also, someone else who had wronged him much more severely, Sirius Black. Then again, mates beat out everything, even anger towards someone.
"No problem," Kyrian commented, "Here you are, anything else?" they heard him ask Harry with a little bit of sarcasm in his voice. Severus and the others tuned it out, as they entered Severus' public office.
"Yes, actually I do," Harry commented, "I need…the fifth of the law codices." Scribbling away on the floor, surrounded by books, scrolls and parchment as he wrote hastily. He only had three more hours to get everything he needed to begin his arguments before the Elder court or as he liked to call it the council.
"Seriously?" Kyrian asked, exasperatedly, he spent a lot of time down there, didn't mean he didn't want to continue going up and down. Thank Merlin he wasn't human otherwise he would have been exhausted by this point. "Should I just not bring up all the codices?"
Harry bit his lip, "Maybe," he said, scratching his head absently, "I don't want to miss anything…because if I do, they'll never let me hear the end of it." he wanted to change things, but also wanted to make it clear he understood and had read all the laws and regulations they had. That he wasn't doing it on whim.
They had to move forward with the times.
Had to remain relevant.
"You have over thirty pieces of parchment, all at least three feet, are you telling me they're all your arguments?" Kyrian asked, staring at the stack in surprise. He hadn't exactly stuck around to find out exactly what he was writing. Or been nosy enough to actually look. It was his job to guard and watch, along with the others.
"Yes," Harry said cautiously, looking up at Kyrian.
"Why?" Kyrian queried, kneeling down, and actually looking at the paperwork. Glancing at Harry to make sure he was alright with it, which he seemed to be. "I wonder if you used to be a healer in a past life…this writing is barely readable." It was basically chicken scratch, but still readable though.
Harry laughed, "Because they're going to argue every possible point in order to stop it." and the council were regretfully the ones in power. He and Severus would need their approval to change the laws and regulations. Although, if any were actually being blindly stubborn just because…he could replace them systematically until he got his own way.
"Have you ever actually interacted with them?" Kyrian asked, smirking in amusement. How was it that he had quite a few of them pegged quite well to be honest.
"Maybe one or two?" Harry shrugged, "None directly, oh, wait, one actually, I don't think I know his name though." He wasn't one hundred percent sure, but judging by the way he was judging him he reckoned he was right though.
"Seriously though, how many of the books do you need?" Kyrian asked, splitting up was never a good idea. Instincts made him leery about it, he didn't mind doing what Harry asked though, he'd just very much not have it continue for the next few hours until the meeting.
"Just the fifth and sixth codices," Harry decided, "Please,"
Kyrian nodded, "Last time," he warned before smoothly standing.
"Thanks," Harry said, grinning, he'd beat those Elders at their own game if it killed him. He had in total sixty loads of parchment all with every single conceivable argument they could make with his points. Then he had refuted statements written up, and stored in his memory banks.
He wished Remus and Maria were here, they were really good at this sort of stuff too. That and he could use someone in his corner, he was nervous. He hated that he was, he'd faced Dumbledore down without this sort of nerves running through him. Oh, he'd been afraid, terrified really, there was no doubt, but never nervous.
Severus would be there though, and that was better.
Rubbing at his stomach, he vowed that boy or girl, he would ensure a fair life for them. He would make sure that any daughter he had would lead, they would not be treated as Eileen had been. Along the way he'd make sure that the first born didn't have to take on the mantel too. He'd support them all if none of them wanted to take the place of their father when it was time.
The Elders would have to accept it or he would simply replace them. He already had a list of names for potential replacement. He'd just need to get a read of them all and find out which ones were going to prove to be troublesome.
He had only seven months after all, until his child was born and for the laws to be changed. If that, since vampire pregnancies didn't last anywhere near as long as human pregnancies.
A/N – It was surprisingly easy to write the chapter 😊 although the next one's definitely going to be difficult if I actually write out the laws it will need to sound somewhat professional and old 😉 I'm not even sure if I could come up with old sounding laws…hmm declaration of independence might be a good way to come up with ideas though for sure! If I can't think of any, I'll just have to imply 😊 I'm glad I can still write short stories 😉 LOL it's mad but yeah, I'm glad I was beginning to think I had lost the possibility but this story has maybe 12 chapters if that left before it's finished 😊 unless another muse hits me, but it's unlikely, although I did say the same for Walking Dead Wizard didn't I?