It had been going on for days… weeks, even. With the seventh years’ Leaving Ball approaching fast, everyone had taken it upon themselves to secure the best date possible. Unfortunately for Harry, being the saviour of the wizarding world, his name was at the top of nearly everyone’s list. He was starting to regret coming back to complete his final year.
“You look like hell, mate.”
Harry had just slumped down next to Ron and Hermione for breakfast, carefully avoiding the numerous questioning, hopeful, gazes aimed in his direction as he reached for a slice of toast. Thank God it was Saturday.
“Did you have to run the gauntlet again?” Ron continued, his expression torn between sympathy and amusement.
Harry stabbed butter onto his toast with unnecessary force. “I took a short cut and got cornered by three Hufflepuff fourth years and a Ravenclaw sixth year. I only got out of there by threatening to hex the lot of them.”
Ron’s snigger was cut off by a swift whack over the head from Hermione, who, flashing Ron a disapproving ‘you should be more supportive’ look, leant across the table to speak to Harry quietly.
“You know there’s only one way to solve the problem, Harry.”
“Hire his own personal team of Aurors?” Ron snorted, quickly adopting a serious expression when Hermione turned on him.
“No,” Hermione replied slowly, narrowing her eyes at Ron before her gaze returned to Harry who was eyeing her suspiciously.
“Accept one of the offers,” Hermione said simply.
Harry’s shoulders sagged. It wasn’t the miracle answer he’d hoped for. “I’ve told you already, Hermione. I can’t.”
“Why not?” Hermione pushed. “It’s only for one night, Harry… hardly on the same scale as fighting Voldemort, for heaven’s sake.”
“I’ll take another fight,” Harry replied moodily, tossing his toast back onto the plate. More than anything, he wished he could just tell the rabid masses the truth. That would send them running quickly enough. A smile almost broke through his scowl at the thought.
“Hey, Harry! Did you get my note yesterday?”
The shout came from an enthusiastic Gryffindor fifth year along the table, who was plainly ignoring the looks of displeasure and even hostility from her fellow house members. They had all become rather protective of late. The Slytherins were merely enjoying the show, whistling and laughing loudly.
Harry let his head drop onto the table with a groan. Before he could muster up the energy to raise his head and respond, as politely as his mood would allow, a familiar voice cut through the loud murmur of conversation.
Harry’s head snapped up and he looked up at the staff table as silence fell. Professor Snape was sneering in his direction, a calculating glint in his dark eyes.
“Up here. Now.”
Ron’s outrage made itself known immediately. “What the hell’s he going to accuse you of now?” he hissed as Harry slowly got to his feet. Hermione placed her hand on his arm warningly.
“It has come to my attention,” Snape said icily, his voice commanding the attention of everyone in the hall as Harry moved to join him, “that there is a great deal of speculation as to whom Mr Potter will be taking to the ball next week. While I generally take no interest whatsoever in the idle chatter of weak minds, I feel it is necessary in this case to make one thing perfectly clear.”
Harry felt an unaccountable thrill of anticipation as the black eyes locked with his. Surely he wouldn’t… Severus hated public displays. His thoughts were effectively halted by the lips which descended firmly on his. There was a collective gasp of shock from the crowd.
Momentarily forgetting about the hundreds of pairs of eyes which were staring at them, Harry moaned and pulled Severus closer, feeling Severus’ arms enclosing him possessively. The kiss was forceful; a clear statement to everyone gathered. Harry’s mine.
Needless to say, it made Harry’s insides turn to mush. When Severus pulled back, Harry had to blink several times to get his brain working again.
“I believe that has solved your problem,” Severus murmured in his ear, smirking, before turning to address the rest of the students once more. The array of shocked faces was almost comical; several students had actually fainted. “I trust that settles the matter?”
With that he swept out of the room, cloak billowing in that impressive way that only Severus could achieve. Harry shrugged, grinning sheepishly at a gobsmacked Ron and a smiling Hermione, and then followed.