The Contract and the Guide
Summary: Harry's subconscious pleaded in desperation "Please! Anything! I'll give – !" and a goddess heard his plea and offered him a deal. She will save Sirius, if Harry agrees to marry Severus Snape in return. Mild Slash.
Warnings: Mild slash. Language used not entirely proper (which means there will be cussing). Spoilers for all seven books, though only consistent with the first 4,9 books (in other words: with the first four and most of the book five).
English is not my first language and so corrections are very welcome as is all other reasonable feedback, reviews etc.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Chapter 1: Contract
Harry saw the red curse hit his godfather and he knew what was coming, he knew there would be no stopping the fall through the Veil. The only conscious thought in his head was a loud "NO", his subconscious pleaded in desperation "Please! Anything! I'll give – !" And time stopped.
"Anything?" A smooth female voice said from behind him. He swirled around. There was a woman standing not two feet from him. She had long golden hair that she wore in a braid around her head like a crown, her skin like porcelain and eyes like twin suns, so bright and yellow they were. Her clothes were the purest white, the fabric so fine and translucent that it looked unreal, ethereal. She looked eager. Harry wasn't sure he wanted to know for what. "Anything?" The woman repeated.
Harry swallowed nervously before agreeing: "Anything. I'll give anything to save him." He glanced at Sirius, perfectly still in his mid fall, unmoving like everyone and everything else, except for Harry and the woman.
"I'll save your beloved godfather from immediate doom if you agree to marry Severus Snape", the woman bluntly stated.
Stunned silence and then... "What!?" Harry exclaimed his shock, blinking furiously. "Why? Who are you?"
"My name is Minerva, I'm sure you've heard of me", she ignored the first two questions for now.
The first Minerva that came to Harry's mind was of course Professor McGonagall, but after a moment of confusion, it came to him. He'd learned this while still in muggle school. "Minerva the Goddess of Wisdom and War?" It sounded crazy but a part of him knew this was true, this woman, while human in appearance, held a presence like no creature he'd ever met.
"That's me", The woman hummed pleased, "And I've decided to help you to victory should you agree to make a contract with me." She held out her hand and a scroll of parchment appeared unrolled in her hand.
Harry turned his attention to it, to read it but he didn't need to bother as Minerva summarized the main points for him: "You will agree to marry one Severus Tobias Snape before the end of the summer, remain married to him for the minimum of five years and you will agree to make it clear to everyone that you've done this out of your own free will, with no one forcing you. You may share the reasons behind this with your immediate circle of friends and people you consider family but apart from them, no one is to know. I will in return save your godfather, make sure he lives to see another day and I shall provide you the knowledge to defeat your nemesis, Tom Marvolo Riddle, the road that is quickest and with the least amount of casualties. Whether you choose to follow the road I provide you, is entirely up to you, of course." She smirked. "Just sign here", she pointed at the line at the bottom of the document.
"Snape will never agree to something like that", Harry pointed out. And he's a Death – … No, The Order is here so he must have realized we've left the castle and warned them.
"You can assure him that after he has married you, he will receive the two things he desires the most, not immediately, no, but still in the not too distant future."
"The two things he desires the most?"
"One is freedom", Minerva answered, "I will give you the knowledge you need to remove his Dark Mark. He will be bound to his Master no longer."
"And the other?" Harry asked increasingly curious.
"The other shall remain secret."
Harry frowned. "Then how would I be able to give it to him?"
Minerva laughed. Her laughter reminded Harry of rain on a sunny day. "I never actually said he would be receiving it from you", She pointed out. "But your assumption wasn't incorrect. You will be the one to give it to him, and you will even if I don't tell you. You will, I have no doubt about that. All he needs to do is have a little patience, as should you, and before the five years are out he'll have received the two things he most desires in the whole world. You should probably also mention that his chances of outliving Tom Riddle will improve significantly. Tell him that and he'll agree. Reluctantly, no doubt, but he will agree." She extended her free hand towards Harry and a golden quill appeared on her palm. "Sign now, let's not waste time in idle chitchat."
Harry took the offered quill but made no move to sign, "But there's so much more I need to ask you!" He protested.
Minerva shook her head, smiling softly, "I promised you all the knowledge you need, did I not?"
Harry nodded hesitantly and then after much hesitation signed his name on the line in swift strokes. The moment he finished writing the scroll and quill vanished and a dark gray book appeared in Minerva's hands instead. She handed the book to Harry, "You'll find everything you need right here. The contents are ever changing, keep that in mind."
Harry stared at the book. 'Minerva's Guide to Victory' it said on the cover in golden cursive. He opened it to the first page where he found a copy of the contract he'd just signed and when he leafed the book through, he found all the rest of the pages blank. He turned his eyes back to the goddess and was about to voice one of the many questions in his mind when she placed a silencing finger on his lips.
"All you need will be the contents of that book, a little courage, compassion and patience. Believe in yourself. Remind yourself that everything comes with a price." She offered her last advice. She took a step back from the boy, no, the young man – no boy could bear such a heavy burden and still stand straight, no boy could have eyes that old – and she walked past him towards the Veil. "I wish you luck, Harry Potter. May the winds of Victory be on your side."
She waved her hand and suddenly everything was moving again, all the noises were back. Harry hadn't even realized how quiet it had been when everything had been completely still. Sirius was falling again, Harry watched in alarm but then Minerva appeared next to him and grabbed the man's wrist and pulled him back away from the Veil, in the blink of an eye she appeared behind the gleeful Bellatrix and knocked her unconscious with a swift blow to the back of her neck. And then she was gone.
Harry stood silent and still while the Order subdued the Death Eaters, the battle quickly over now that Albus Dumbledore was present. Harry stood there with a book tightly held to his chest and he barely reacted at all when Remus came to him and promptly grabbed his bare wrist activating a ring portkey transporting the two of them to the kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place.
Harry took a seat and kept the book protectively in his lap. He was barely aware of Remus taking a seat next to him, looking at him worriedly while placing a steaming cup of tea in front of him. He barely noticed when the rest of the uninjured Order members who had participated in the battle, joined them in the span of half an hour. He wasn't paying much attention at all – he felt so numb! – until he heard Sirius raising his voice: "Someone grabbed my wrist, I told you! Someone grabbed me and pulled me away from the Veil!"
"There was no one there", Remus gently pointed out, he wasn't the only one who'd seen Sirius' most astounding survival but he hadn't seen anyone anywhere near Sirius.
"Sirius, even I couldn't see anyone shielding themselves from sight", Albus pointed out. It was vastly known that he could see through all forms of invisibility and disillusionment.
"I saw her", Harry intervened. His voice was rough, like he hadn't spoken in days.
"Saw who?" Kingsley Shacklebolt asked.
Harry tried to say her name but no sound came from his mouth, he couldn't even move his lips to form the name. He sighed in defeat and instead replied: "The one who saved Sirius. She did it for me."
"This lady, who's name you don't know and no one else but you could see, saved the mutt just like that?" Severus asked with his most mocking voice. He considered Harry delusional and it showed.
Harry ignored the nastiness and shook his head, "Everything comes with a price", He parroted Minerva's words.
"And what did you pay, Harry?" Albus asked staring at Harry intensely.
Harry considered his reply for a moment before replying: "The discussion from this point on is something I should have with only the person involved before sharing with anyone else."
"Involved?" Sirius asked frowning. He didn't like the sound of his godson paying for his mistake.
"What I agreed to do requires another person's involvement", Harry took a deep fortifying breath, "And that person is Professor Snape."
All but Albus and Severus voiced their confusion. Severus was glaring at Harry, like it was his fault. Albus looked pensive and then he said: "Perhaps we should respect Harry's decision. If you would all leave us, we shall resume the meeting after the private discussion."
"I'm afraid you misunderstood me, sir", Harry calmly said to the Headmaster, "When I said 'only the person involved' I meant it quite literally." He rose and shortly addressed Snape: "If you would accompany me somewhere private." He walked out of the kitchen ignoring the gaping crowd. He knew he was acting rather out of character for him. He felt more mature, like he'd gained years in the matter of one evening. He had run into a trap and nearly lost his closest friends and the one person he could call family. He had agreed to marry one of the people at the top of his shit-list. He had lost all illusion about the war, he knew now from what Minerva had said that it would be up to him to finish Voldemort. He had no choice but to grow up. He had been touched by a goddess. He didn't feel blessed. He did feel older. So he walked out of the kitchen with his head held high, the book held tight in his arms and with the certainty that Severus would follow no matter how the man despised him.
Harry took them to the library. Severus followed him inside and wasted no time to mock Harry: "As arrogant as ever. Expecting everyone to pamper you like a prince. One might think the events of this evening would have forced some humbleness through your thick skull."
"Would you ward the room against eavesdroppers?" Harry requested and took a seat in an armchair by the fireplace. Severus narrowed his eyes but complied and then sat down across from Harry. Harry took a deep breath, let the air out slowly. He kept his eyes on the flickering flames. "I don't know how to say this. You're going to think this is a prank or something, you think I'm exactly like my father. But I'm not. I'm dead serious about this, I swear", a hint of desperation leaked into his voice, "Sirius almost died tonight, he's the only one alive that I consider family. I wouldn't joke right after something like that. This is going to sound ridiculous. I can't believe I'm saying this..." Harry trailed off uncertainly. He snapped his eyes to those of the Potions Master. "I need you to marry me."
"Excuse me?" Severus asked incredulously. He couldn't believe his ears. He had expected something more along the lines of help with a rare potion or the dark arts.
Harry nervously fingered the cover of the book in his lap, "In exchange for Sirius' life I agreed to marry you before the end of the summer and stay married to you for the duration of five years, to make it known that this is something I've chosen of my free will."
"You have got to be kidding me", Severus muttered, shaking his head in denial.
"I asked her what reason you would have to agree to this. We hate each other, after all. She told me to tell you that marrying me would significantly increase the chances of you outliving Vol–" Harry cut himself off. He had been trying to be as polite and respectful towards the Professor while making this outrageous request and he didn't want to mess it up by using the name Severus obviously hated to hear, " – Him. And that you would receive the two things you want the most. One of which she said was the removal of your Dark Mark, which she assured I should be able to remove in the near future. She refused to tell me the other one, only telling me to assure you that you will get it, whatever it is, if you agree to this."
"You're out of your mind, Potter", Severus sneered. He was entertaining the possibility that the boy before him was actually telling the truth. It was all just a little too insane to be insane.
"Do you think I want to do this!?" Harry raised his voice in frustration. "Can you think of one single reason why I might want to marry you, what I might gain from it? Because I sure as Hell can't think of anything! I signed the contract, I swore I'd marry you if only you agree and frankly I'm not sure I want to know what will happen should you refuse", Harry ran an irritated hand through his messy hair, "I hate the thought of marrying you but I know it has to happen. It will be for the benefit of us all. You're a legilimens, you know I'm not lying. Take a peek, if that's what it takes to convince you."
Severus pointed his wand at Harry, 'Legilimens'. Harry saw the memories of the time freeze clear as they had been when they first happened and when he resurfaced he found an irate Severus glaring at him, "It's all blank!"
Harry blinked at him dumbly and then chuckled, "That should be proof enough. We both know I have no talent whatsoever in Occlumency." Severus wasn't amused so he too swiftly buried his amusement and instead changed the subject. He lifted the Minerva's Guide to Victory from his lap and showed the title to the Professor. "She gave me this." He could feel that he was unable to read the title of the book aloud, as he'd been unable to voice Minerva's name.
"A book with gray covers?" Severus impatiently asked.
Harry sighed, "So you can't see the title either. Figures. Turns out I'm unable to tell it to you. You'll just have to take my word for it that she gave this to me and told me this would help me defeat Him."
Harry smirked, "I'm sure you would agree that knowledge is power."
Severus sneered. There was no pleasing the man.
It was a struggle but Harry succeeded in pushing the words out of his mouth: "Please, sir, consider it."
Severus huffed, "What is there to consider? Do you have any idea what the consequences of such a union would be? All of wizarding world would be after my head! The truth has finally come out, it will be all over the newspapers tomorrow that the Dark Lord is indeed back (This was news to Harry, something must have happened after he was portkeyed away from the Ministry.) and you will be the adored boy hero once again. Were I to agree to marry you, people would think I had poisoned you with Amortentia or were blackmailing you or something equally wicked. All of the dark side would consider me a traitor to the cause and they too would be longing to bleed me dry."
"We'll have Dumbledore marry us. His support and the lack of protest from my closest friends will be enough to convince the people well enough." Harry argued.
"Do you have any idea what you're asking of me?" Severus asked. If his voice cracked a little, he'd never admit it even under the pains of torture.
"Everything comes with a price", Harry softly said.
Severus knew he couldn't refuse. It wasn't because he had been promised freedom from the slavery he had foolishly committed himself to in his youth. It wasn't because he had been promised better chances surviving the war. It was because in that moment, with the fire light making those emerald green eyes glitter, the boy before him looked so very much like Lily, reminding him of his guilt and regret. And the boy had said 'please'.
O O O
Perhaps the war between the two of us began the night you murdered my parents. Or maybe when you sought to kill me during my first year at Hogwarts. The war had certainly begun by the time I fled the cemetery with the very portkey that brought me there. But it was never truly personal until now, until you used my godfather as a bait and nearly took him from me forever. - -
O O O
AN: Hi! This is the second fanfic I'm posting (ever). Now, this will be several chapters long (nine, I expect, but we'll see) and if you're wondering, the last paragraph of every chapter will be a continuation to the last of paragraph of this chapter, a part of a letter which Harry will eventually send to dear old Tom. It's like a little extra peek inside Harry's head. Thanks for reading!
Posted February 24th 2013