Disclaimer: Anything recognisable does not belong to me. Story is based on the books by JKR and inspired by other writers of this genre.
Harry sat down at the desk in his and Severus' temporary office and took his time to actually consider how to present his case to his godfather and the rest of his acquaintances without estranging himself from them completely. The truth of course was out of question. What remained was either the reasonable or the unreasonable route.
One moment he was actually tempted to write a lengthy explanation presenting his reasons and arguing their validity, but then he remembered who he was dealing with here and dropped the idea completely.
No, the reasonable approach would simply not fly with Sirius in his current state of mind. And the rest of them would not understand either. Thus, the only remaining option was to play the role of a stubborn, petulant and decidedly lovestruck teenager. To remain on speaking terms they had to talk on the same level of understanding. Anything else would be just a waste of time.
He took a piece of parchment out of the drawer, checked if it was unmarked just in case and set out composing his replies to this morning's mail.
I know you would have preferred to have this conversation face to face, it's simply that I don't think it would be a good idea at the moment. So, I decided to spare us both the inevitable shouting match and will try to explain myself to you in a hopefully understandable manner.
I can well imagine that there is only one question in this whole debacle that would be of concern to you: Why Snape of all people? Right?
Well, the answer is rather simple. I love him and he loves me. End of story. The rest are just details.
And yes, I know very well what you think of that. And I can also well imagine what you have to say on the matter. And honestly, I don't care. I've made my decision and I won't change my mind. Whether you like it or not, is not important.
Please, just give Severus a chance, will you? You don't have to like him, but you could at least not be an arse to him every moment of every day. Please, think about it.
PS.: Please, remember that the Lordship ring protects me from harmful potions. That includes love potions.
PPS.: And no, he did not put me under Imperius. I can throw it off easily enough.
please make sure that Sirius won't run off on a murdering spree. He just got out of prison recently after all. Thank you!
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Weasley,
I know that the news of my secret engagement to Severus Snape must have come as a shock. Thus, I will forgive you the unkind words you have written in your recent letters. You must however understand that I will not allow any further slander against my intended.
I am an emancipated adult and Lord of my House and thus perfectly entitled to a match with the Heir of the House Prince. Our alliance is prosperous and most eligible, therefore I do not see how it is even your place to speak out against it. Please refrain from such foolishness in the future.
PS.: Please, advise the rest of the Order people that have written to me to mind their own business. Thank you!
There! That would do quite nicely. He smirked smugly to himself imagining the looks on their faces. Stirring the pot was just too enjoyable at times to resist.
Harry supposed he should be grateful that it was still in the middle of the Christmas break and the student body of Hogwarts largely absent from the school. As it was, his little indiscretion had yet to become public knowledge. Thus, his and Severus' shopping trip at Diagon Alley had been mostly uneventful.
They had decided to order everything they would need to refurbish their new home now, as long as they still could do so without being hounded by reporters and nosy folk alike. They had gathered curious looks enough already, being accosted from all sides as well, was not something either of them cared for overly much.
Potter manor was the property they had agreed upon in the end. The house itself was not overly large, yet had just the right number of well proportioned and well outfitted rooms to suit both their needs in full. The grounds were quite beautiful as well, even in their unkempt state. They would definitely need more house-elves though. The two he had assigned there previously had their hands full already. Nolly, the elf that had served Severus at Hogwarts during his time there, had shown up yesterday unexpectedly and offered herself to him for a permanent bond. Severus had accepted of course and Dobby had informed them that he knew of at least four others back at Hogwarts that would be interested in serving a family again. Harry made a mental note to send him poaching tonight.
Despite his earlier statement that he did not need anything fancy, Severus turned out to be almost embarrassingly fastidious where the paint, wallpaper, draperies, carpeting and furniture for every single room from the dungeons to the attics was concerned. Wisely deciding that he did not want to be smothered in his sleep, Harry hid his grin well away while nodding and paying for everything without a word. Not that there was anything to complain about. As opposed to him, Severus did have an excellent taste.
Looking back he should have known that it had been too smooth a going to end well.
Done with their business for the day, they were going down the street towards the Leaky Cauldron to take the public Floo back to Malfoy manor when a shout somewhere from behind startled them enough to go for their wands. Just in time too, for a nasty coloured hex slammed into Severus' shield not a moment later.
The Daily Prophet, December 29th, 1995:
HARRY POTTER SECRETLY ENGAGED!
by Beth Belby
A violent brawl outside Cogan's Cauldrons in Diagon Alley yesterday afternoon has revealed the most unexpected development of the decade. Lord Sirius Black, the recently recovered Head of the Black family (for more details, turn to page 2), has attacked Mr. Severus Snape, now former Professor of Potions and Head of the Slytherin house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, on the grounds of according to eyewitnesses "...seducing and defiling his godson...", Harry Potter.
What followed was an exchange of hexes and curses in the middle of a well frequented street, until the two duellists could be pulled apart and subdued by their friends and companions, including Lord Potter himself. According to witnesses, Lord Potter has apologised to the passers-by caught in the crossfire, compensated them for any resulting damages and assured them that any injuries acquired will be treated at St. Mungo's on his account, before taking his leave together with Mr. Snape. Lord Black had to be dragged away by his companions struggling and cursing up a storm (random comments and witness accounts, turn to page 3).
As one can well imagine, dear readers, this incident has brought up many questions. Is Lord Potter indeed having an illicit affair with one of his professors? Or was it all just a misunderstanding?
An inquiry at Hogwarts itself has brought to light a most scandalous discovery. Professor Snape and Lord Potter were indeed found out to have not just an affair but actually a secret engagement almost since the beginning of the school year. Both the professor and the student were dismissed on the grounds of sexual misconduct only three days prior. Despite it being an eligible match, the relationship seems not to be looked upon favourably by Lord Potter's godfather, thus the confrontation in Diagon Alley (for biographic information on Mr. Snape, turn to page 4).
Dear readers, a most intriguing situation has opened up before us. Is this a story of a star-crossed romance between a young Lord and his older mentor or a nefarious plot of a lecherous former Death Eater taking advantage of an inexperienced youth?
Neither Lord Potter nor Mr. Snape were available for comment. Nor was Lord Black. This reporter will stay on the lookout for further information.
Rereading the article that had brought the Malfoy household much amusement this fine morning Harry put the paper aside and massaged the throbbing vein at his temple. That was one headache he would have preferred to not deal with until after New Year's, thank you very much, godfather mine. Resigning himself to the inevitability of humiliation he wrote a note to Rita, asking for an immediate interview. Setting it aside to be sent via house-elf as soon as possible, he took out a fresh piece of parchment and inked his quill. A deep breath. Right. Insolence had obviously failed, let's try emotional blackmail.
was that really necessary? I have thought that we could go about this like adults, but I see now that such hopes were pretty foolish. Besides, if you have to be angry with someone then be angry with me, not Severus. Stop treating me like a child and acknowledge the fact that whom I do or don't love is my choice alone. The only say you have on the matter is whether you do or don't accept it.
I would rather not have to choose between you and Severus. So please, Sirius, don't force me to! Because if it will come to that, my choice will not be in your favour and that will only hurt us both.
I really don't want to see Sirius in serious trouble again. Yes, he pun was intended. Please, be more diligent. I was able to pay our way out of any legal charges this time. Next time that might not work. Thank you!
The Witch Weekly, December 30th, 1995:
A STORY OF A WAYWARD LOVE:
AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH HARRY POTTER!
by Rita Skeeter
Dear readers, we all and the rest of the wizarding world are positively buzzing with excitement ever since the revelation of the identity of Lord Potter's secret beau. Who would have thought that it would be Mr. Severus Snape, once the Potions Master of Hogwarts and Head of the Slytherin house, of all people that has managed to capture our beloved hero's heart?
Certainly not anyone I have asked. So, what could young Lord Potter have possibly seen in this man, well known for his harsh and forbidding manner, as well as unattractive countenance and disposition, that is worth loving and risking his reputation and the disapproval of his family for?
Rita Skeeter: Would you mind to unravel this little mystery for us, Lord Potter?
Harry Potter: Well... it's a long story. He smiles sheepishly. I am well aware of Severus' reputation, I have been sitting in his classes for nearly five years now after all. He is a strict teacher and a harsh task master, and most certainly not the most approachable of man. All my classmates could confirm in an instant that he has always been doubly as harsh towards me from the very first time I have set foot into his classroom.
RS: Then how did this relationship even come to be? Surely, the line between hate and love could not be quite that thin?
HP: One may not believe it, but it is! He laughs. But of course, it was not quite that simple. It has been a gradual process for sure. And yes, I know what people would say at this point. "How could I have ever seen anything worth falling in love with in him at all?" Isn't it? Well, in my books actions have always spoken louder than words. People may see me as the hero always ready to save the day most of the time, but even the most strong of heroes needs saving on occasion. Severus Snape may not look the part of a handsome, charming knight, and his armour is far from shiny, but to me he has always been my saviour in the hour of need.
RS: So, he became the Saviour's saviour then. How so? And was there really no one else to look out for you?
HP: Being the Boy-Who-Lived and the sole heir to the House Potter, I have always had powerful enemies striving to either harm or kill me. Ever since I have entered the wizarding world there were no less than six attempts on my life and countless others on my health and sanity. I have no parents to protect me and my muggle guardians were useless in that respect as well. My friends were always very helpful and protective, but a handful of school children can do only so much. The Professors at Hogwarts were doing their best of course, but they also had hundreds of other charges to look after. They could hardly be expected to keep an eye on me all the time.
RS: And yet, Professor Snape apparently did?
HP: Yes, even though it was not always obvious. It was quite some time until I began to notice what he was doing for me and even longer until I began actually appreciating his efforts.
He smiles. I have been quite stubborn in my determination to dislike him on principle, but in the end my heart has overruled me. Though, it was more like it went behind my back and confronted me with the deed after it was already done.
HP (grinning mischievously): Yes. I had no say in it whatsoever, I assure you.
No, honestly, I may have never imagined anything of the sort would happen, but looking back I can clearly see that it was all but inevitable. When you watch a man throw himself in front of werewolves, Dementors and mass murderers to shield you, you just cannot help yourself and get a huge crush on him. Whether or not he is handsome or nice, is of little consequence.
Provided that you're playing for his team of course. He winks suggestively.
And when not half a year later the same man goes out of his way to see you through a life-threatening public event that you have been dragged into for better or worse alive and in one piece, that crush turns into something strong and deep and undeniable, despite your best efforts.
RS: I see. How incredibly romantic, if I may say so! And the sentiment was returned?
HP: Oh, no. That would have been too easy, wouldn't it? No, the sentiment has been thrown right back into my face together with a most scathing dressing-down one can possibly imagine.
He sighs lost in memory, before perking up. I however am nothing if not stubborn, I let you know, and am not easily discouraged in the face of resistance. Thus, seeing as the direct approach has failed, I have switched to a well planed, strategically refined and unwaveringly persistent courtship.
RS: And that worked?
HP: Nope. It's Severus Snape we are talking about here after all.
RS: And yet, the two of you are together now. What did the trick?
HP (grins slyly): Well, what do you think? We happened to visit this party over the summer, some time after my emancipation. He got a bit tipsy and I was kind enough to help him to bed.
HP: Yes! Contrary to popular belief, Severus Snape does frequent parties and he also does get drunk on occasion. As luck would have it, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
HP: Yes! Well, as you can imagine, this was able to convince him to give me a chance. It turned out that he has thought I was just playing a prank with my earlier confessions and attempts at courtship. Waking up next to me in the morning has shown him that I was earnest. The courtship went far more successfully from then on, all the way to the point when he has accepted my offer of marriage.
RS: Well, that is quite a story you have here! Deliciously scandalous, but also so sweet! And yet, your family seems to be not very supportive.
HP: Unfortunately, yes. I haven't even told my muggle relatives, since they simply don't understand our ways. And my godfather is vehemently against it, as the recent fight in Diagon Alley has shown all too clearly.
He sighs heavily. My father, Sirius and Severus have a history of enmity going back all the way to their schoolboy days, you must understand. And while Severus has found it in him to look past my name and see me as my own person and not just as my father's son, I fear that to ask for acceptance and understanding from Sirius would be an exercise in futility.
RS: It must have been very hard to have to decide between your love and the only family you have left in the magical world.
HP: Yes, it was. But I have Severus to lean on now. His steady presence makes this easier to cope with. I haven't given up hope for a reconciliation yet. So, maybe one day, when everyone has had time to cool down and think everything over properly, we will be able to talk to each other again as we had before.
RS: I do hope so as well. Was the anticipation of this conflict the reason you have kept your engagement a secret all this time? It has been quite a risk you have taken, to observe the bonding rituals while being a student at Hogwarts still.
HP: Partially, yes, but also for reasons of safety and security. As I have said before, I do have powerful enemies and keeping trouble at bay is hard enough with just me in the picture. Severus and I are powerful wizards. The strain of the bonding was therefore manageable and did not afflict or daily school work.
RS: Quite ingenious! It is still a rather unusual development and many will question Mr. Snape's integrity in entering a relationship with one of his former students and two decades his junior at that. His past as a former Death Eater is not speaking for him either.
HP: Yes, I know. In my eyes though, this development is like the ultimate redemption. Many may assume that a man like that is not capable of any proper feeling and his reclusive lifestyle and short temper are not speaking in his favour. But they are also overlooking the fact that he is just a man like any other. He has been young and foolish once and has paid for his mistakes quite dearly.
He is perfectly capable of showing kindness and affection, it's just that he has been shunned and rejected for so long that he has almost forgotten how. I have accepted him just as he is instead of trying to change him and have discovered that there is really nothing wrong with him at all. He is simply not one to advertise his private business in public and that's perfectly all right with me.
SR: That is quite understandable. Are there perhaps some other redeeming qualities you are not telling us about?
HP (smiles knowingly): Ah, dear Rita, that would be kissing and telling. Let me assure you though that I have nothing to complain about in that quarter. You won't believe what he is hiding under those billowing robes. He winks giggling slightly.
SR: And you really are not going to tell us?
HP: Nope. That's for me to know and for you to wonder about.
SR: A pity! Well, let me officially congratulate you then and wish you and your intended all the best for your joint life in the future.
HP: Thank you, Rita! I am confident that your well wishes will come true indeed.
Well, dear readers, that was quite a turbulent ride Lord Potter has taken us on. A story of true love, despite its unconventional nature. On the other hand, when was anything to do with the Boy-Who-Lived ever conventional? Your everyday romance would simply not cut it. Which is a good thing, since we would not have the joy of reading all about it otherwise. More will be coming soon, I promise.
Harry sighed throwing the copy of The Witch Weekly he was reading on the coffee table in front of him and took a large swallow of his tea, wishing that it were something stronger.
"Why so irritated? It's quite well done on such short a notice," Hermione was sitting in front of him with stakes of texts on rites and rituals, as well as parchments and quills strewn everywhere around her.
"I'm not irritated, I'm just tired. This whole circus is getting on my nerves. I really have better things to do than catering to the stupidity of the masses."
"The evils of rule," she shrugged smiling slyly, before making another note on the checklist in her lap. "You should get yourself a PR-Manager before too long."
"Have you someone in mind?"
He was certain that she had meant it as a joke, but given a serious thought, it was actually an excellent idea.
Just as he had predicted, she looked up at him in surprise.
"Well... Not right now, but if you want me to seriously see to it, I'll have a list for you after the New Year's."
"Please, do. This can't go on like that and since you are at it, please also look into having a law firm on retainer. I have been going without professional legal support for far too long as it is. It's a miracle I haven't actually deeded any yet."
"Okay," she procured a planner out of her pocket and made a note for herself. "Don't forget that you and Severus have an appointment for dress robes with Madame Claude at five o'clock today."
He groaned and rubbed his face dejectedly.
"Do we really have to go to that blasted Ministry Gala?" It was not a whine, not at all.
Hermione's only answer was a raised eyebrow and a pointed look.
He groaned again in resignation.
Severus chose that moment to walk in. There was an angry undercurrent in his stride and the way he sat himself next to him.
Harry sighed heavily. "What crisis is it now?"
"Black has submitted a petition for my questioning to the DMLE on the grounds of suspected coercion and sexual misconduct towards a minor. I have received an official summons."
He groaned again. This time in annoyance.
"Can they even do that without definite evidence?"
"Yes, it was part of my parole conditions fourteen years ago."
"I wasn't a minor when we started having sex with each other. So, it's just a waste of everyone's time."
"I am well aware. However, the questioning will involve Veritaserum."
Harry groaned again. "I'm going to kick that stubborn mutt's behind! Do you need a solicitor?"
"I have asked Lord Prince to provide me with his. It would be better for everyone, if you are involved in the matter as little as possible."
"Of course," he nodded and rubbed the back of his neck tiredly. "The old man was quite amused I could bet."
"Indeed," Severus sneered derisively. "It must be the most excitement concerning the family he has experienced in the past three decades at least, Gustav's escapades excluded."
He rose and offered his hand to help Harry up.
"Come. We have a Portkey to catch in half an hour. It would be prudent to change beforehand."
"Right. See you later," he waved once in Hermione's direction, getting a muffled response from behind a thick tome in return
That was it, he decided. The next time a Ministry social event was due they were going to skip town. The muscles in his cheeks were hurting, dammit! And he had a great urge to wash his hand in one of the many mini-fountains in the room after coming in contact with yet another fat and clammy palm. Severus was considerate enough to cast a discreet cleaning charm for him standing mostly a step behind him.
Most of the attendants coming to talk to him were either pandering Ministry workers and their simpering wives or haughty, self-important well-to-dos and their even more simpering wives. It was beyond annoying! And he could not even get himself a decent drink at the bar, due to not being seventeen yet.
Harry sighed and took a large gulp from his glass of butterbeer as soon as the newest couple deigned to finally move on to someone else.
"Why are we here again?"
"Because it is an important socio-political event and a good opportunity to be seen together," Severus answered dutifully for the umpteenth time.
Harry could almost hear the smirk on his face. But well, at least someone was having fun here.
"Just a small recommendation. At events such as this it is advisable to seek out the conversation partners you do wish to talk to, in order to avoid those you do not."
"Great, and you could not have said that an hour or so ago?" He was already scanning the room for a potential target, despite his annoyance.
"And deprive myself of the amusement to watch you suffer? I think not."
"You are one sadistic bastard, Severus," Harry glared over his shoulder before starting towards the groups of people surrounding Minister Bones. "Why don't you go torment some acquaintances of yours for a change? Some former colleagues or students preferably. I think I saw Flint somewhere over there."
"Mr. Flint is not worth my time, nor anyone else's for that matter. However, if you would divert your course towards the boisterous, rotund man with the walrus moustache to your far left, I will introduce you to someone whose networking skills and services you might find most useful."
"Yeah?" He eyed the short, balding man in rather extravagant dress robes, who was entertaining his audience with some anecdotes and generous arm-waving, sceptically. Even though he did as he was told and moved towards him. "And who would that be?"
"One Horace Slughorn."
"Oh?" Harry eyed him again. With a bit more interest this time. He had heard through Rita that this man was supposedly the wizarding equivalent of the "People" magazine on legs. If so, it was indeed someone worth being on friendly terms with.
They approached the group inconspicuously from the side and waited politely for the man to finish the punchline, before drawing his attention to themselves. Slughorn's eyes and grin went impossibly wide in delighted, almost gleeful, surprise.
"Severus! Just the man I was looking for. Stirred up quite a bit of talk recently, haven't you. You sly devil!" He winked and chuckled candidly, grabbing Snape's hand and shaking it heartily. "How are you doing? Quite well, from what I heard."
"Indeed, I am well, thank you, Horace," Severus reclaimed his hand with a surprising grace, before putting it on the small of Harry's back and pushing him slightly forward. "May I present you my fiancé, Lord Harry Potter, Head of House Potter. Harry, this is Horace Slughorn, Potions Master gold class. Being a former Potions Professor at Hogwarts, he was one of my mentors during my school years."
"How do you do," Harry offered his hand to the same hearty treatment Severus' had received earlier.
"Lord Potter, I am most delighted to finally make your acquaintance! Let me congratulate you on making such a fine catch. Severus here is the youngest Potions Master to make platinum class, since Paracelsus himself," he addressed his audience again, "and has had an illustrious carrier as a Potions Professor and Head of Slytherin house at Hogwarts. A tiny recent indiscretion notwithstanding," he winked smartly in Harry's direction. "But honestly, who could blame him in the face of such an insurmountable temptation. We all are mere mortals after all."
The audience chuckled in good-humoured amusement to Slughorn's booming laugh.
"Oh, but where are my manners, where are my manners! Let me introduce you to..."
And so it went for the rest of the night. He had to say, overwhelming personality notwithstanding, Horace Slughorn knew his business. The man was a veritable fountain of information, most of it useless of course, with a handful of notable exceptions. The same applied to his impressively extensive network of politicians, socialites, celebrities and well-to-dos.
He had lost Severus to a circle of foreign researchers a while ago, whilst he himself had been whisked away to be introduced to half the room it seemed. It was a pity Hermione was not here. The Malfoys had decided to attend Lord Montague's New Year's ball instead.
Out of the two hundred or so new acquaintances he had made tonight there were only a dozen of true value. And out of those there were only five he had every intention to establish a close rapport with, both for business and political considerations. The most interesting of them though was none other than Mrs. Jamala Zabini.
After having found himself in close proximity to and exchanged pleasantries with her, he could tell on many levels that her reputation must be certainly well earned. Something was also telling him that if he played his cards just right, this woman might open to him the door to an entirely different circle of associates. The not quite legal and underground kind. If he succeeded, this connection could become most invaluable indeed.
With such pleasant reflections on his mind he let himself to be led from one group of people Slughorn deemed worthy of his notice to the next, until it was almost midnight. He and Severus had planned to put on a bit of a show for the occasion, thus he was unsurprised to turn and find him at his side five minutes before the start of the countdown, two champagne flutes in hand.
"As a matter of fact, I am," he smiled taking the offered drink and thanking Slughorn for his efforts and time.
"Don't mention that, my boy, don't mention that," the man waved it away boisterously. "I'm always happy to be of assistance."
And with that he left them alone, likely sensing with uncanny intuition that he should find himself elsewhere before too long. Harry watched him work his way through the room, stopping to greet and exchange a couple of words with someone or other all the time. He sincerely doubted such profound attentions and services would be extended to anyone other than someone of his own calibre, nor that they were in any way for free.
"What does he prefer in terms of a thank you gift?"
"An expensive bottle of Ogden's Old would be sufficient for this occasion."
Harry nodded and scanned the room on the lookout for the ever-present reporters and their cameramen, finding one lurking behind the column about ten feet away from them. The man was not looking in their direction a bit too studiously to be believable.
Smirking slightly into his flute Harry took a sip and turned to face Severus, just as the lights in the room dimmed and bright golden figures appeared, hovering against the far wall, counting down to zero. On the count of one they embraced and shared an aesthetically pleasing kiss, prolonging it a bit to appear believable, while colourful fireworks exploded high above their heads.
Separating again they clinked their glasses and drank to the arrival of a new year, wishing that it would bring only the best for them and their life together.
"Sirius is going to have puppies, seeing that in the tomorrow's paper."
Severus' answer was accompanied by a rather predatory looking flash of teeth.