"Your seriously expect me to remember every single question they asked me?" Harry asked in exasperation.
"I told you that I expected this before you began, Harry," Severus growled with a hint of impatience. "I warned you that I wanted to know all the questions they asked."
"I thought you meant tell you if they asked me anything inappropriate. How am I supposed to remember each question they asked within a two hour timeframe?" he objected. "I can hardly remember their names and there were only four of them!"
"I am the judge of what is inappropriate or not," the veela reminded.
Harry's eyes narrowed at the tone and he glared stubbornly at the older man. "So you don't trust me to decide if something is okay or not?"
In response to that question, Severus relaxed his tensed stance and sent his lover a fond, albeit exasperated look. "It's not that I don't trust you, darling, but I also don't believe that you can always tell between what is acceptable and what isn't. You are much more willing than me to overlook some things."
Harry bit his lip at those words and reflected back upon the rude questions that Nicholas had asked. Admittedly, he knew Severus would have a problem with them. Even he had wanted to say a few things to the man. "I'll tell you all of the questions they asked that were rude or odd," Harry compromised. "But even if I wanted to tell you all the rest, I wouldn't be able to remember them all."
Severus obviously wasn't pleased by that answer but he conceded the fight. "Very well, though in return I ask that you allow me to discuss something else today."
"What," Harry questioned warily. His suspicion grew when his mate refused to meet his eyes.
"Do you accept?"
A soft groan was his answer and the Slytherin smirked victoriously. Now he just had to decide if he wanted to know about Harry's relatives or his nightmare. They would be talking about both, regardless, but he definitely wanted to hear one today.
"The dominant was asking me a few questions, but I don't think he meant anything bad by them," Harry admitted. "He was just being a little tactless."
Severus raised a silent eyebrow and Harry reluctantly continued. "He asked If I had done anything to 'provoke the attack' then he asked me if anyone else as there to witness it."
The Veela growled in irritation a the questions and clenched his fist to control his reaction. So, essentially, this dominant had both questioned whether his submissive had done anything to deserve it and if anyone could prove his accusation. Both were unacceptable in his mind.
Harry was waiting patiently for the outburst he thought was coming, but he was surprised when his mate merely took a single breath and let the tension out of his body. Upon seeing Harry's questioning look he managed a small smirk. "I'll decide what I'd like to do upon reading the final report."
"When we read the final repot," Harry immediately corrected, a glare forming. "You are not the only one who has a say in this."
Severus sensed the warning in the message and forced himself to nod in agreement. He wanted his mate to have a say, of course. This was an event that impacted his mate the most and it was only fair, but that wasn't to say that he would be deciding what happened on the matter of Markmson. He wanted formal action taken on this matter, not just a half-hearted attempt to smooth things out by the council. If it was necessary, Severus would have no problem alerting others to this transgression. Possibly those who would take matters into their own hands; after all, dominants didn't tend to take well to submissive ones being mistreated, especially not by their own kind.
"Tea," Harry interrupted Severus's inner monologue.
"Excuse me?" he replied, caught off guard by the sudden conversation.
"If you're going to wrap me into this terrible compromise of telling you something else, I deserve tea."
Severus laughed softly, successfully distracted by the request. "Of course, love."
A good ten minutes later, Harry and Severus were snuggled up on the couch, each possessing a hot mug of tea. "So, what's you poison?" Harry asked amusedly. "You must have something you're dying to know to try and weasel it out this way."
"Tell me about the nightmare," Severus requested as he took a sip of his drink.
"I told you I would tell you, Severus, you didn't have to try and make a deal for me to explain," the Gryffindor reprimanded before settling deeper into his seat and considering where to start. "It was another Voldemort nightmare, obviously."
"Yes, your skin was feverish and your scar looked on the verge of bleeding. Does that happen every time?" Severus interrupted.
Harry sent him a put off look for interrupting him already but answered nevertheless. "Usually. Sometimes it bleeds, sometimes I just get a headache. It depends on how strong his emotions are."
Severus's eyes were narrowed slightly in concern but he motioned for his mate to continue, content not to raise any issues about the information he was given until later.
Another sip of the drink was taken, then the explanation was continued. "He was in a room with a few other death eaters. There was a family in their too, muggle, I think," he looked away and took a deep swallowed, wincing slightly as his stomach rebelled. "There was a child. Couldn't have been older than eight. He was torturing them. Everyone, even making the parents watch..."
Severus could guess the rest himself. He had attended these meetings for years, though, as a potions master, he was excluded from most of the torture sessions. It was a small grace that he'd been thankful for, even more so now. "Do you know why the family was there? Was any information said during the course?"
A small head shake was his answer and Severus couldn't help but edge closer to his mate and coo lightly in his ear in an attempt to comfort the folded form. "It's a dreadful thing, love, but we have no more need to dwell on it. Perhaps something of a pleasurable nature could take your mind off things?" In hindsight, Severus thought, the suggestion would have been better off not asked. Sadly, even when he mental control was at his highest, his Veela still had influence on his thoughts. And right now his Veela wanted to comfort his mate in the best way he thought it was possible. It wasn't an excuse, but it was a reasoning. Not that Harry wanted to hear a reasoning at that point either.
"I can't believe you just said that!" Harry hissed loudly. "Are you fucking kidding me?"
A wince was his only response. Harry very rarely cursed; he could still count the number on one hand. "I just told you I saw a toddler get tortured and you want to ask me if I'll fuck around with you?" His green eyes narrowed on Severus's grimacing face with a snarl.
In this situation, Severus thought it best to just keep his mouth shut until Harry was done ranting. When it finally seemed that his mate has ran out of steam, he cautiously set down his cup and stood up, immediately noticing that Harry took a step back to remain out of reach. "Harry…" he expressed his distress upon seeing that. "Please don't, love, I meant nothing by the words. I wasn't thinking clearly and I wanted to comfort you in familiar way. It was crass and rude and I wouldn't so much as kiss you if you did not want it," he promised.
Harry glared challengingly at him for a few more seconds before taking a step closer to his mate and nodding. "I know," he said apologetically. "I'm sorry, just…" he winced and shivered as if trying to dislodge the memories from his mind. "It makes me sick to remember, to see that they didn't even care-" Harry cut off his sentence and stared off with a forlorn look. The expressions as simply too much for Severus to bear, and he quickly matched Harry's step and took him into his arms.
Harry swallowed and cuddled into the embrace, allowing for Severus's arms to latch around his waist and pull him tighter into his firm chest. "I'm sorry," he apologized again for his reaction. "I've had these stupid nightmares before, but they've always been of meetings and death eaters, never anything else. I could ignore it for the most part." He bit his lip and cursed himself for what he was about to say next. "It's easier to ignore when they're death eaters. Easier to forget and not care." The last part was said with a voice full of shame and guilt that Severus was quick to sooth away.
"You have every right to feel that way. Naturally you would rebel more at the idea of an innocent getting harmed, there is no reason to be ashamed about that."
Harry merely sighed in response and laid his head to rest on his mate's chest. They stayed like that, silently hugging, until Severus expressed his desire to eat lunch.
They separated after that and went into the kitchen, where Harry eventually managed to persuade Severus to let him cook for once. If Harry didn't know better, he would have assumed that cooking was the potion master's favorite thing to do. Unfortunately, he understood that all Severus was trying to keep him from cooking because of his ridiculous notion that only he was allowed to cook for his submissive. And here Harry had thought that those roles would have been reversed. Though, he admitted to himself, if cooking was expected of him he probably would have stayed as far away from the kitchen as possible, just to spite the institution.
"What do you want to eat?" Harry asked at the same time Severus murmured something about having to buy a house elf.
"Sandwiches seems appropriate," Severus answered quickly but Harry had already heard and was planning to comment on the previous words.
"Wait, why would we possibly need a house elf?" he asked curiously, though he already suspected the answer.
Severus's eyes were steely and his mouth was turned down in a slight growl. Harry rolled his eyes at the expression and stared demandingly at his mate before the Veela answered. "It is my duty to take care of you. If you won't allow me to cook for you then you will allow someone else to do it. I won't have you straining yourself to cook or clean everyday."
The simple idea of Harry cleaning like a house elf grated on Severus's nerves and he found he utterly detested the idea. And, if he admitted it to himself, it also had to do with how Harry had been treated by his so-called family. He had been raised to cook and clean and essentially act as a slave and Severus didn't want any part of that lifestyle to touch Harry again.
Harry stayed silent and watched Severus, well aware that the dominant was in his own head right now. His eyes were practically glowing with anger and if Harry didn't know better, he would've been nervous himself. "Severus," he signed softly but there was no recognition.
Rolling his eyes, Harry tried for another tactic. "You know, I would've thought you'd want me in the kitchen. You know, fulfilling my submissive duties," he said sarcastically.
Severus's head snapped up and he glared angrily at Harry for suggesting it. "Only weak dominants would hide behind such power plays. I can assure you, dominants that expect such are not welcome or appreciated in any creature community, much less a Veela's."
Harry smirked and finished the sandwiches he had started when his mate was distracted by his thoughts. "Don't worry," he practically purred. "It wouldn't be well-received even if you did try. I cook because I want to and I like it, not because I think it's expected of me."
In response, Severus let out a brief chuckle. "I have no doubt you'd make your feeling known," he murmured. Harry was not the tie to roll over and accept anything he didn't like. Merlin, it had taken him weeks to even convince Harry to be in the same room as him after the mating was revealed. Still though, Severus couldn't ignore the history behind certain actions. Perhaps Harry felt too threatened or pressured to protest, as he was sure the case was with his family.
Even the thought of being compared with the disgusting muggles had his jaw clenching and his fingers flexing to stop the his claws. He was nothing like those vermin. He would never raise a hand to his submissive or treat him so poorly.
Harry gave Severus his sandwich and glared as the contemplative look returned to the Slytherin's face. "Stop it," he ground out harshly, finally realizing what Severus was having trouble accepting. "I know what you're thinking and it has nothing to do with that. Just let it go."
"I can't just let something like that go," he snarled back, having trouble controlling his baser emotions. "I can't act like it didn't happen, and I won't let you act like it either. I will not be letting this go," he repeated firmly, hoping Harry would give in and just tell him everything he wanted to know. Like their address, and schedule…
Not as such.
"Well, unless you plan on getting that information from elsewhere, you're going to have to," Harry said with huff and glare as he began eating. He wasn't going to have his mate involved with anything concerning that part of his life. It was unnecessary, and ultimately, pointless. What happened had happened, and while he hated his family with all his heart, he also didn't want to see them harmed.
"That it your final answer?"
Harry paused upon hearing it said in that tone. "Wait a moment," he cried. "What do you mean by that?"
"You will not tell me any information concerning your relatives?"
Harry was not liking where this was going. "No-I," he broke off frustrated. "Yes, I don't know. I don't see why you need this information!"
"If you will not tell me, then I will have no issue getting the details from someone else," Severus said smoothly. He needed to know that the people who had harmed his mate would never be able to do so again. There was a beast, clawing its way out inside of him, demanding to protect his mate. He'd been holding back for weeks, trying to fight this and give Harry time to come to terms on his own, but know, he didn't know if he any more time to give. But the beast was there in the back of his mind, telling him that Harry didn't need to cope on his own, that he could comfort his submissive. That there was no reason his mate should hide this, and no reason he should allow it.
Still though, if there were a chance that Harry would tell him. He wanted to hear this from his mate, wanted to hear the confirmation that he was trusted with this protected piece of Harry's past.
Harry was fuming with anger at the last statement. His sandwich lay forgotten on his plate. He knew the intentions behind Severus were good, but that didn't mean he'd get a pass for anything. "I will not trust you if you go behind my back on this," he said firmly, but honestly.
Severus faltered, the beast now recoiling in pain at the thought. "Harry," he nearly moaned. Why did his mate have to be so beautifully frustrating. "I just want to protect you."
Harry knew the words to be true and sighed in defeat. "I will tell you some things. In my own time," he added sternly. "You're not to pester me about them, or constantly ask. I don't appreciate it, especially not coming from you. If and when I decide to talk, you are not allowed to do anything without discussing it with me first. I mean it too," he growled, sounding scarily similar to the Veela sitting with him. "Unlike you, I know where they live and I will make sure that you haven't done something horrible in your spare time."
Satisfied with the response, and most of the conditions, Severus let the case rest. "Thank you, for thinking about it. I won't abuse your trust, and I won't pressure you any more about this."
Harry's eyes were still narrowed and somewhat angry so Severus decided to finish it off with a quiet, "I love you."
And if Harry looked a little bit softer after, well that was just fine too.