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When Severus Snape is nine years old his nose is broken for the first time by his father, Tobias Snape. He doesn’t cry. He just sits in a corner, huddled in on himself with dark listless eyes while he waits for his mother to get home from the diner she works at. Thus, this is how Eileen Snape née Prince finds her son. When Severus glances up at Eileen his eyes are so much like the black pools of Tobias’ that she’d been swept away by. But unlike her husband’s gaze, which was so often blazing in fury, Severus’ dark eyes are cool and detached, yet wary in the way of some caged animal that isn’t exactly sure if the hand reaching out would pet it or hurt it. It causes Eileen’s heart to clench in sorrow, although it’s the sight of his swollen nose—crooked now—with dried blood all over his face that has her heart feeling as though it’s being ripped right out of her chest.

“I want to go to the park,” says the nine-year-old Severus as he rises to his feet on shaky legs, his face upturned towards his mother so that she can wave her wand around to make him presentable. Severus absolutely hates the hours he has to spend at home, and thus usually is out until the first street lights turn on. Unfortunately, when he’d returned home from school to put his backpack away, he’d ran straight into the path of an infuriated Tobias Snape. That isn’t entirely uncommon, but instead of getting slapped around a bit which usually resulted in Severus being tossed into a wall or something, Tobias had actually swung a fist at his malnourished son and subsequently broke the poor boy’s nose.

Severus had learned from an early age how to hide his bumps and bruises but he knew that going outside with his face all bloody and swollen as it is would lead to nothing but another, much worse, beating. So he’d waited, and now that his mother is finally home he isn’t going to wait another second to be rid of the foul presence of this house. Which is why he’s confused by the fact that his mother hasn’t whipped out her wand yet. Severus stares up at her, his dark brows furrowing a bit in confusion, but it’s when he sees tears suddenly falling from his mother’s eyes that Severus takes a step back.

“What...what’s wrong?” he asks, voice tight with nervousness because this is new. This isn’t part of the routine. If Severus finds himself injured enough that he had to seek out his mother her usual response was tight-lipped fury while she saw to his bruises. Severus usually tried to avoid having the witch heal him because it undoubtedly always led to his mother finding herself in a much worse position as she’d angrily go and confront her husband. Sometimes the confrontations could last for hours, but no matter the length of time, it always ended with Eileen with a busted lip or a black eye, two injuries that are actually preferred over the other punishments up Tobias’ sleeve.

Severus doesn’t see his mother use magic much as his father absolutely abhors it, but the spell she seems most adept with is glamours. Makeup costs money. So to cover up the damage that Tobias’ angry tirades cause his muggle father would allow that one spell. In some sort of sick way, Severus thinks his father actually likes seeing him and his mother all shiny and new courtesy of the glamour, while knowing that secreted away beneath the veil of magic the imprints of his touch were ever constant. Sometimes, Tobias would even like to see if he could add bruises on top of the glamour but, mercifully, he’d given up that interest when it became clear that anything he inflicted after the glamours were applied would be hidden as well. That is probably the only mercy Severus has ever gotten from his father.

“Did father snap your wand?” Severus finally asks, finding his mother’s tears disconcerting as she’s never cried in front of him before. She doesn’t even cry in front of his father and it angered Severus sometimes, as he is sure that if his mother actually did cry then Tobias would leave her alone faster; that he would stop at the tears and not at her huddled figure all black and blue from his fists. But other times, Severus feels a bit of pride at his mother for weathering the storm that was his father’s rage with such tenacity, and with so much strength that his father could do nothing but try to beat at it, to break it. But he never did. He never had, at least. Until now.

Eileen tears turn into heartwrenching sobs now as she takes Severus into her arms, the woman pressing her face into his silky hair while crying for all the years of pain and abuse that she’d not been able to shield her once bright and exuberant child from. She loves Severus, and she never blamed him for the abuse even though she knew he sometimes blames himself. Before Severus had started doing accidental magic their lives with Tobias, while not a fairytale, hadn’t been a nightmare either. But once Severus’ magic had manifested Eileen had been forced to spill the truth to her husband. The results had been catastrophic and had led up to this very moment now, of her sobbing for the last five years of horror they’d lived in with Eileen trying to protect her son in the only way she could.

Neither Severus nor Eileen are aware of how long the embrace lasts, but a wince from Severus finally has Eileen drawing back with a start, the woman remembering that the boy’s nose is still swollen, broken, and in pain. Eileen pulls out her wand, and with a quick flick of her wrist, the dried blood is gone. There’s nothing Eileen can do for the pain or the swelling, not with magic at least as she’s no medi-wizard. Instead, Eileen gets some Tylenol from the cabinet for Severus to take and a bag of frozen peas for him to hold to his face.

“Stay right here,” Eileen tells Severus, and the boy just gives his mother a nod as the witch heads upstairs to, unbeknownst to Severus, pack up all their belongings with a few more quick flicks of her wrist.

Yes, Severus Snape is just nine years old when his nose is broken for the first, and last, time.

It is a day ripe with fate for the young boy, with Severus Snape’s destiny teetering on the edge. In the end, it’s the love of his mother that decides the future of the malnourished wizard. Because if Severus Snape had gone to the park that day as he’d planned, he would have met one Lily Evans, and we all know where that tale will lead him. But this isn’t that tale, not anymore.

As Severus continues to press the frozen peas to his throbbing nose his mother returns downstairs with a small bag. “Come on,” says Eileen, reaching out a hand to take hold of one of Severus’ own while maintaining possession of the small bag that had their whole lives shrunken and packed into it. She can see Severus giving her a cautious and confused look out of the corner of his eyes and it causes Eileen to give her son a wan smile. “It’s ok. You’re ok. We’re going to be just fine,” she breathes in reassurance before she pauses her steps at the beat down curb of their house. Eileen’s hold tightens on Severus’ hand, the witch taking in a deep fortifying breath as she holds out her wand arm. In the blink of an eye, a triple-decker bus appears in front of the pair. Severus’ hand tightens on hers as the boy gasps in shock, his gaze wide as he turns to look at his mother before the sound of the doors opening on the purple bus has his dark-eyed gaze staring transfixed at the driver.

“All aboard the Knight Bus!” the driver calls out before leaning over in his seat a bit to get a closer look at the pair. “Just two?” he asks, giving the younger of the two a curious look due to the frozen peas the boy is holding against his face. “That’ll be twenty-two sickles.”

Eileen ushers her son onto the Knight Bus before paying the driver the appropriate amount. When she gives the address the driver turns his curious look to the woman now but he doesn’t comment. Instead, he closes the door behind the two before speeding off. Rides aboard the Knight Bus are always a bit bumpy but Eileen keeps an arm around Severus to make sure he doesn’t get jarred around too much, and before long, the bus comes to a stop in front of one of the homes of Godric’s Hollow.

Severus is still deeply confused by what exactly is going on but he’s learned from a young age not to ask questions as that usually results in a slap upside the head from an angry Tobias. So Severus keeps his mouth shut, his gaze roving around as he takes in the grounds of a home that is much nicer than where they live. The house, while quant looking from the outside, is two stories with many large windows taking in the sunlight. There’s a small wooden gate but the fence is an ancient one built of stone. When Eileen and Severus cross onto the property, even though just a small boy of nine, Severus can feel the shimmer of magic washing over him. The feeling is a startling one as Severus has never felt anything like it as their own home did not have any wards. It causes his feet to stumble but Eileen just strengthens her hold on him before she leads Severus up to the stoop.

Eileen doesn’t knock once they reach the front door—she knows the wards would have announced her arrival already—and indeed the Snapes only have to wait for about half a minute before the door is opened and she’s met with the surprised face of Euphemia Potter. “Eileen! Whatever are you doing here?” Euphemia’s hazel eyes dart from one dark head to the next before she hurriedly steps to the side. “Do come in,” she says.

“Thank you, Effie. This is my boy, Severus. Severus, say hello.”

“Hello,” Severus says politely, and as his mother leads him into the Potter home Severus’ dark eyes widen in shock. The cottage is homey, yes, but even to the untrained eye of one Severus Snape, the young wizard easily takes note of all the expensive paintings and china and heirlooms around the hall. When they’re led into the sitting room Euphemia offers them a seat before asking if Eileen would like a cuppa.

“That would be lovely, Effie. However,” at this point Eileen waves her wand towards Severus, undoing the glamour she’d cast earlier. It causes Euphemia to gasp in horror as she takes in Severus’ swollen face. Poor as the Snapes are Eileen had not had the proper poultices and such to treat the injury outside of the muggle medicine she’d already used. However, even if she’d had the coin, Eileen would have not brought the magical objects into their home due to Tobias’ explosive temper “If you can perhaps have one of the house-elves see to Severus’ injuries while we talk?”

“Yes, of course,” says Euphemia before calling for one of the house-elves to do just that. Severus gives his mother a wary look over his shoulder but despite all of the strangeness of the day Severus bites his tongue, stays quiet, and follows the odd-looking creature to another room. It’s when Severus is gone that Euphemia turns her gaze back to Eileen before asking in a hard voice, “Who broke his nose?”

“My husband, Tobias,” says Eileen, not bothering to make excuses as she sips at her tea. “Severus is a beautiful child and he...he doesn’t deserve that.”

“From the look of him, I wouldn’t guess tis the first time. Why now? Why here?”

Eileen just sighs heavily, her shoulders sagging as she stares into her cuppa before glancing back up at Euphemia. “You know why I left the wizarding world: I had no choice.”

Euphemia winces slightly because that choice was directly tied to her and Fleamont, or more specifically, to their son. “Had you but waited another decade or two then I would have been out of my childbearing years and you could have—”

Eileen just scoffs, the woman placing her tea down with enough force that the liquid nearly spills over. “If I had waited until deemed appropriate by Pureblood customs then I would have been nearly past my own childbearing years and at that point, the Prince line would have died out.”

“Eileen, but was that really worth condemning your son to practically being ostracized from wizarding society? Even if Severus’ home life was a happy one, the burden you’ve placed him under within the wizarding world is a heavy one and a weight that he’ll have to deal with for the rest of his life.”

“Look, Effie. I didn’t come here for you to judge me, or my son, for the decisions that I made—”

“You know that’s not what I’m doing—”

“—besides, you’ll be quite happy to know that all of those morbid predictions you have in mind for my son are nonexistent.” Euphemia just stares at Eileen blankly. “You are an honorable woman, yes?”

“Well, of course,” says Euphemia. “Tis why I’ve seen to the boy’s medical treatment despite your own transgressions.”

Eileen’s lips purse at that but she just continues. “Nothing is by chance. The tapestry of life is forever intertwined, and everything that we do is because that is precisely where we are meant to be.”

“I didn’t know you kept up with divination,” Euphemia says dryly. “But despite the arcane teachings you wish to quote, that certainly isn’t enough to alleviate Severus of the guilt that you’ve heaped upon him. I felt his magic, and for one so young, it’s strong. Yet, even so, I doubt that he’ll be receiving a Hogwarts letter in a few years or a letter from any magical school in Europe. Eileen, I have always seen you as family, you know this. But even if the contract was to the Potters there is nothing within our power to undo the deeds that you’ve done.”

“Severus will receive his Hogwarts letter.”

“You sound sure of this.”

“I am sure because I know there is something that you can do to give Severus the place in this world that he was born to take.” Euphemia just arches a brow. At the woman’s look, Eileen tells herself that this is why she’s here. That after everything that’d happened, it was time for her to finally do what she should have done years ago. She takes in a deep breath, and another, knowing that once she speaks there’ll be no way to undo this. “Severus is a male bearer.”

“Well,” says Euphemia, the older woman sounding both winded and excited at the same time. “Now that, that...changes everything.”

Eileen gives Euphemia a curt nod before taking up her cuppa again for a huge gulp because her throat suddenly felt as dry as sandpaper. When she finishes, Severus has returned with his nose once more at its aquiline glory. “Ah, perfect timing. Come here, Severus.” Severus glances from one woman to the next before walking across the room so that he can stand in front of his mother. Eileen lowers her cup of tea yet again so that she can take both of Severus’ hands with her own. “Severus, you want to go to Hogwarts, don’t you?”

“Yes, of course,” says the young boy, sounding truly excited for the first time in a long time. He’d heard so much about Hogwarts and magic and the wizarding world from his mother but after seeing and experiencing more magic than just a glamour charm, it’s the first time that Severus actually feels some of the wonder that magic brings to the world instead of the pain that it causes Tobias to give to him and his mother.

Eileen smiles at his words, her hands squeezing his in that way of reassurance before she asks her next question. “Do you want to see your father again?”

Severus tries to draw back, completely appalled by the question, but Eileen’s hold on his hands is firm and her soft brown eyes are imploring as she stares into Severus’ dark gaze. “I…”

“Shh, Severus, it’s ok. I know...I know I should have done a better job of protecting you long ago. I’m sorry, and I won’t let Tobias ever hurt you again but for me to protect you we can’t go back. Do you understand?” Severus just gives a nod. “No, baby. I need you to speak. Do you understand?”

“...yes. I understand.” Severus sucks in a deep breath, squaring his shoulders before speaking again. “I don’t want to see father again.”

“Good, good,” says Eileen, giving his hands one final squeeze before she drops them. Now, she raises her hands to Severus’ shoulders so that she can turn the boy to face Euphemia. “Do you see Effie here? She’s going to be your mother-in-law, and she’s going to help me protect you until her son takes up that duty.”

Severus’ brows furrow in confusion but out of everything that’s been said the thing most confusing is, “Her son?” he asks.

Eileen nods. “Yes, her son. When you two get married then he will look after you, and protect you, so that bad people like Tobias will never be able to hurt you.”

“Eileen,” Euphemia says sharply, but her words cause Severus to flinch at the tone. Quickly, Euphemia softens her gaze, the woman climbing from her seat so that she can kneel in front of Severus. When she speaks, her voice is soothing. “What Eileen said isn’t a lie.”

“But, but...I’m a boy. How can a boy marry another boy?”

Euphemia shoots Eileen a look before she returns her gaze back to Severus. “Severus, you’re a very special little boy, and in the wizarding world, when people like you are born then two boys can get married. But it’s your choice,” at this she shoots Eileen a hard look around Severus before softening her gaze on the boy again. “I don’t know what Eileen told you about why she left the wizarding world but for your mother, she didn’t have a choice of betrothal—that is decided by the parents—as is the case with you. But, despite being a male bearer, you are a boy and in this, unlike your mother, you do have a choice. You can marry a boy or a girl.”

Severus falls silent, the boy pondering the words the woman had spoken to him. The silence in the room is finally broken as he speaks. “But if I marry a girl, you won’t be my mother-in-law, will you.”

Euphemia gives him a sad little smile. “That’s right, Severus.” Euphemia sucks in a deep breath, that sad smile still upon her lips while the woman silently curses Eileen for putting her in this position but she knows what the Slytherin is doing. Knowing, however, isn’t enough to stop it. “If you decide to marry another that is not my son, James, then I’m afraid you won’t be able to go to Hogwarts and...other things.” Euphemia didn’t want to mention Severus’ father and the abuse that Severus’ suffered, but based on Eileen’s behavior earlier with the boy, it isn’t hard to imagine that the two would probably wind up in Tobias’ clutches again if for no other reason than financial. At that moment, Euphemia wants to cry for him in a way she’d never been able to cry for Eileen because, of everyone, Severus is the most innocent yet he is the one who’ll suffer the most. But...she could help him. She could help fix this. And just that fast, the quick well of anger she’d felt at Eileen’s earlier manipulation is gone. Euphemia is an honorable woman, yes, and this is the honorable thing to do. “Severus, I want to protect you as much as your mother does but, due to the rigid structures of the wizarding world I won’t be able to unless…”

“Yes,” says Severus. Euphemia blinks up at him and Severus repeats himself. “Yes. I’ll marry your son. I don’t...I don’t want to go back to that. I like it here.”

“...alright,” says Euphemia, the woman rising to her feet carefully as she’s getting up there in age. Euphemia feels a bit bad for falling into Eileen’s trap and manipulating the boy as she had but how could Euphemia send him back to that abusive environment with a good conscience? How could she, when she and Fleamont would finally be able to right a wrong that had sat in the back of her mind for the last decade?

Eileen smiles at her in a way that’s almost reminiscent of a Cheshire smile, and in that moment Euphemia almost wants to slap the woman. Not for the manipulation because Euphemia would have given the offer anyway, but for Eileen having waited nine years before coming here. For poor Severus having to get his nose broken before his mother saw fit to put to rights everything that she’d wronged. Yet, who is Euphemia to judge? All she can do is help—now that she actually could—and honor her forefathers and the generations of Pureblood traditions before them as though the last thirty years had never happened.

It wouldn’t be easy but it’s doable, and Euphemia has exactly two years to do it so that little Severus can receive his Hogwarts letter with all the other eleven-year-old witches and wizards. But first, she needs to talk to Fleamont and James.

Chapter Text

Euphemia sends Eileen and Severus off to a nearby bed and breakfast. Severus seems a bit reluctant to leave the house that’s so full of magic and love that he can practically feel it wrapping around him. In the end, he does so happily with a whispered promise from his mother that they’d be returning soon. Eileen speaks the words to her son but soft-spoken or not they’re loud and clear for the older woman to hear. It causes the hazel-eyed woman to let out a sigh as she closes the door after the two because she knows this is only the beginning of Eileen’s manipulations.

When Euphemia had attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry—so long ago that it’s almost but a distant memory—she’d been sorted into the house of Ravenclaw. Her house was one that could easily be overlooked due to the boisterous Gryffindors and the cunning Slytherins, but Ravenclaws are wise, intelligent, and quick of mind. Thus, Euphemia can easily discern the how and the why of Eileen’s manipulations. In fact, she’s quite sure that Eileen is aware of this fact but the Slytherin woman doesn’t care enough to hide the overhanded gestures as it wouldn’t change anything. Euphemia has a duty to fulfill and thus, she will do it. Even without the weight of Pureblood propriety on her head, Euphemia can’t help but feel a bit responsible for the unfortunate situation and she knows her husband is of like mind.

Euphemia just sighs and continues about her day as though it’s never been interrupted in the first place. Just thinking about the situation with Eileen leaves Euphemia with the image of the dauntless task of unweaving a spider’s web, but with a bit of finesse and with a bit of brute force, she’ll see the situation put to rights. However, she really needs to speak with Fleamont about it first, and then their son. Therefore, Euphemia forces her mind upon other tasks until, just after dusk, the wards inform Euphemia of her husband and her son’s impending arrival.

“Oi, Effie! You don’t usually catch me at the door,” says Fleamont with a boyish grin upon his face as he places his hat and coat upon the coat rack. Afterward, he wraps an arm around his wife to press a happy kiss upon her lips. James just makes a gagging noise before running around his parents towards his room so that he can play with his toys for a bit before changing for dinner. The two adults don’t mind him, although Fleamont draws back from the kiss quicker than usual to gaze down at his wife. “Effie, what’s wrong?” he asks, noting the difference in her mood as usually a kiss from him would have her mouth curving up in pleasure.

Instead, as he gazes down at her, the face of his wife is a serious one. “Eileen Prince stopped by earlier today. Let’s go and talk in the study.”

Fleamont’s own face now mirrors the seriousness in Euphemia’s as he lowers a hand to the small of his wife’s back as he leads her to the privacy of his study. The news is quite shocking and Fleamont isn’t quite sure what to make of Eileen showing up at their doorstep but he knows he won’t have to dwell on possibilities for long: Euphemia will tell him.

“What happened?” he asks as he closes the door behind them. He puts his griffin headed cane in the rack, his hands moving by rote as he removes his ivory gloves. Despite this, all of his attention is solely focused on Euphemia.

“She came by a few hours ago, with her son, Severus. The poor boy was holding a bag of frozen peas to his face and it wasn’t until Eileen removed the glamour charm that I discovered that his nose was broken. His father did it.” Fleamont’s mouth thins into a hard line at that news but he doesn’t interrupt Euphemia. “I had Twiggy see to his injury, of course, before I sent the two to that bed and breakfast about five kilometers from here, near the old city gate.”

“Effie, Godric’s Hollow may sport a sizable muggle population but it’s also a wizarding community. I know you’ve felt a measure of guilt over the situation for quite some time. We both have, but this isn’t a good idea.”

“I know that, Fleamont. But Eileen didn’t come here empty-handed.”

“You are not respon—”

“I do not want to have this discussion again and that isn’t even what I’m talking about. Severus is a male bearer.”

“So, she’s come to have her son fulfill a contract that she herself ran out on?”

“Really, Fleamont! Perhaps she waited until the boy was of an age where he could make his own decision about it.”

“I am not so inclined to agree. You said his nose was broken, yes? We both know muggle medicine is crude at best. I’m sure she just wanted to get the boy—”

“Regardless,” Euphemia quickly says as she interrupts her husband before he can work himself up. “Severus has said he wants to fulfill the contract. He is young, just a boy, I know. But we cannot blame Eileen for this. If she had waited any longer, there's no telling what type of state Severus would be in. Too, there is his schooling we must concern ourselves with. Something that will already require a great deal of time, coin, tact, and sway which—even with two years—is barely enough time.”

“Alright, Effie. This is going to be a bloody tightrope walk.” Euphemia just gives him a half-smile and a shrug of her shoulders because there’s not much else she can say or do in the face of facts. From the moment Eileen had shared the news of Severus’ status Euphemia knew that their path would be a treacherous one; at least at first. “I need to talk to Charlus and Dorea. They frequent more Pureblood wizarding circles than we do and swaying public opinion on this matter will be highly important before I can even think to bring it up to the Wizengamont. Eileen is lucky her son was born with the gift. There hasn’t been a male bearer born in more than thirty years besides young Sirius, which most Purebloods attribute to his immaculate pedigree.”

“Good. Use that for Severus’ case.”

“Effie, you know it’s not the same. He’s a Half-blood.”

“True, but so was Tom Riddle. Besides, Albus Dumbledore is considered a Half-blood due to his mother’s Muggle-born status and no one can deny that Dumbledore is one of the most powerful wizards in the world. The gift has always been tied to one’s magical prowess and can be traced back to one powerful wizard or another, all the way to Merlin. The fact that young Severus has been bestowed such a thing that has nearly always been tied to ancient Pureblood lines speaks volumes of his magical potential and the power he will one day wield. Why, one could even say that the Prince line is such a prestigious one, that even when Eileen ran off to marry a muggle, that it had no effect on Severus’ ancient pedigree. It wouldn’t be the first time such claims were made, especially about the son of Merope Gaunt, a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin himself.”

Fleamont just chuckles wryly as he gives a shake of his head at his wife’s fast-talking. He was a Pureblood himself and was aware of the same things yet the decades since he’d learned these things were immense. It always amazed him how quickly his wife could discern a situation due to that Ravenclaw mind of hers. Fleamont’s mouth curves into an indulgent grin before the man pulls out a golden pocket watch to check the time. Supper would be soon and if they didn’t want James barging in on their conversation they’d need to wrap it up. “We’ll have to talk to James.”

“I know,” says Euphemia with a small sigh.

After the whole betrothal fiasco with Eileen, she and Fleamont had decided against going the traditional route and instead had planned to let their son choose his own spouse when the time came. Although many Pureblood marriages are due to contracts signed by their parents, such a thing is usually typical only of the firstborn—the heir. Euphemia had been blessed to conceive James at such a time when she’d thought it was impossible after decades of trying. And as aged as she and her husband were getting, they both knew that there wouldn’t be any other children. Even for Pureblood families that conceived much younger, it was quite a feat to have more than one and near impossible to have more than two. But despite this James would still have had his pick, especially with the affluent position Fleamont held at the Wizengamont as well as the vast riches that he’d accumulated as an accomplished Potion’s Master.

Fleamont draws Eileen from her thoughts by wrapping a warm hand around her wrist. She offers him a sheepish smile before a sudden thought strikes her. “You need to go to the Wizengamot tonight.”

“I really don’t think—”

“No, it’s not about that,” Euphemia quickly says, knowing that her husband is referring to his earlier words about speaking with his younger cousin, Charlus. “Eileen packed up her things and took Severus and left. She’s a married woman, muggle or not, and the boy has a father. The Wizengamot will understand taking the necessary precautions to ensure that a male bearer is kept whole and hale within the wizarding world.”

“You know the Wizengamot hates dealing with muggle law enforcement and something like this—the revelation of a male bearer—will be nearly impossible to keep under wraps for long, despite the usual secrecy charms.”

“Fleamont, of course I know this, but we don’t have much of a choice. It’s better to deal with this now before this turns into an even bigger problem later. Perhaps we can release something in the Daily Profit? No, no, that’ll look too sloppy,” murmurs Euphemia as she makes small humming noises, the woman briefly dwelling over the matter. “Fleamont, you go, now. I will...I will talk to Charlus and Dorea myself. Walburga still hasn’t decided on a contract for Sirius yet, has she?”

“What? No.” As Fleamont speaks he goes about putting his gloves back on before he wraps his silken hand around the golden head of the stylish cane he used.

“Well, I will speak with Dorea about some decoration advice for hosting a soiree for the engagement of our son, as she’s already done so for Ignotus. That woman loves to gossip and you know she’ll just have to go run and tell her niece about this male bearer business because, as everyone believes, Sirius is currently the youngest male bearer with the gift.”

“Walburga will blow a gasket if she hears about this; she’ll think the bearer we’re talking about is her son.”

“Oh, I’m counting on that,” says Euphemia with a pleased grin. “I will speak with Dorea first while you handle this Tobias business and then tomorrow, I’ll have the notice posted in the Daily Profit before sending out invitations. We’ll definitely have a full house as those who actually wish to give their well-wishes will arrive as well as those itching for a good show because, as you said, Walburga definitely isn’t going to keep her mouth shut about this one.”

“What a cunning little wife I have, my dear Effie. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were a Slytherin.”

Euphemia just lets out a small laugh as she playfully slaps at his shoulder. “Oh, hush. If I were half as sly as you thought you wouldn’t have been able to figure it out so quickly.”

“I suppose that’s true. Half the people who stop by will be here because they’ll think you’ve started scheming in your old age.”

“My old age!” exclaims Euphemia with mock indignation before she gives her husband’s shoulder a harder slap this time. The corner of Fleamont’s blue eyes wrinkles in mirth before the happily married couple are laughing together. It takes a few moments for the laughter to die away and for Euphemia to speak without chuckling. “Good, good,” she says with finality. “That’ll make the reveal of Severus’ status much sweeter and, hopefully, the contrast of their expectations versus the reality will be enough to present Severus to wizarding society in a more favorable light.”

“If nothing else the masses should be happy for the brouhaha.”

“Yes, there’s that too,” Euphemia says with a pleased smile before pressing a quick kiss to her husband’s lips. “Now go. I need to speak with Dorea before dinner before I speak with our son.”

At the mention of James, Fleamont’s look turns solemn, as James poor little world is about to be flipped upside down. But, as with Eileen, James doesn’t have a choice in this. Fleamont and his wife had signed the contract more than thirty years ago with Eileen’s parents, and it was just a sick misfortune of fate that he and Euphemia hadn’t been able to conceive until just a decade ago. Eileen had truly been left in a hard position as the possibility of him and Euphemia having a son, of having any child, continued to dwindle with each passing year. Probably the cruelest part of the whole thing was that three months after reading about the marriage announcement in the Daily Profit, which was right above the brief article of Eileen’s expulsion from wizarding society, Euphemia had discovered that she was pregnant.

If only Eileen had waited a bit longer then she would still have had her place in society as the last heir of Prince. But Eileen had made her decision, and despite how impossible such a decision had been, it was that same decision that has led them to this moment. As Fleamont nears the front door the coat rack holds out his hat and jacket for him, and the wizard dons himself thus before stepping out the front door as though he’s going away to war. It’s such an uncanny analogy because that’s almost precisely what Fleamont is about to do. However, unlike the time of his youth at Hogwarts when he was in duels left and right over the teasing due to his name, this war will be one he’d need to win by playing the intricate game of a few words here, a few coins there, and a few veiled suggestions elsewhere.

Fleamont and Euphemia are no Slytherins. But they’re Purebloods. Society will expect them to do what is necessary and, in doing so, Fleamont hopes it’ll be enough to wipe the black smear off of the Prince’s name. There will always be talk surely, but once the Prince family can welcome Eileen back, Fleamont knows that most of it will die. What little talk does linger should remain focused on Eileen’s shadowed past, and not that of her son’s. Out of everything, it is the most important because it will be a tragedy if such talks are brought into the marriage of his son and Severus Snape. It will not happen though, Fleamont silently assures himself, because if such talks persist long enough for it to cast a shadow in their marriage then the misfortune would undoubtedly go on to taint the Potter line.

Fleamont and Euphemia aren’t Slytherins, no, but they’re Purebloods. The befouling of their line is something that neither of them will permit, so they’ll get through this. They’ll fix this—they have to—because the only other option is utterly unthinkable. And Fleamont will be damned if he’ll have everything he’s ever worked for and built crumble right up beneath him.

Chapter Text

“Severus,” says Eileen, drawing her son away from the homework he was finishing. The witch knows that her son’s life is about to change—has already changed—irrevocably. There’s no reason for him to even complete his homework as Eileen knows he won’t be returning to his muggle school, not after this. In fact, Severus is completing his homework for no other reason than the fact that it’s by rote and Eileen has been loath to turn the boy’s world further upside down. But she’s delayed long enough already, and the small comfort of routine is the last thing that she’ll need to take from her son.

Upon hearing his name, Severus had glanced up from his homework, the slight figure placing his pencil down as he pads over towards his mother. The room that Euphemia has arranged for them is homey in that way of most bed and breakfast inns but it’s clear to Eileen that the Ravenclaw has paid for the best room the place has to offer. It is clearly meant as a family suite as it has an area for Eileen—with its large bed and vintage cherry vanity—as well as an alcove for Severus which has a child’s sized bed with a canopy and a matching side table. Severus’ area is much more modest than the four-poster bed for Eileen that almost dominates the room but already Eileen can see that her son is more comfortable here than he’s been in years.

“Here, sit next to me,” says Eileen, reaching a hand forward to draw Severus down to her side. Between the two sleeping areas, there is a sitting area as well, along with a modest work desk. Although it’s nothing extravagant, it does offer both of them the chance to settle down comfortably without having to lie around in bed as well as a place for Severus to do his schoolwork.

“Are we going back home?” Severus whispers out, his dark eyes wide and his voice forlorn as he questions his mother.

Eileen has no idea her heart could break more than it already has but at Severus' sad and resigned tone it seems that last bit that had been holding together inside of her shatters. “No, baby, I promise. We’re never going back there, ok?” Severus just gives a nod, his mood barely lifted and with a small sigh Eileen knows that only time will be able to convince her boy that he’s safe so she doesn’t waste more words on it. Instead, she pulls him in for a hug before she presses a soft kiss to the top of his silken head. Severus remains silent and unsure although Eileen doesn’t hold the position for long.

When Eileen draws back to meet his gaze, her voice is soft in the quiet of the room. “There’s a lot I wasn’t able to teach you with your father around and with me working odd hours as it was. But with your betrothal to James Potter, there are some things you need to be aware of because if I don’t tell you Merlin only knows who else will.”

Severus gives a small nod and Eileen takes in a breath of air before continuing. “A long time ago, when my mother attended Hogwarts, she and Effie became acquainted while taking divination together. Over the years, their friendship grew and the two, close as they were, wanted to one day join their two lines together. Once they reached maturity and finally married, they managed to convince their husbands of the wisdom of such a thing as both the Potter and Prince lines are old, wealthy ones and both women come from affluent wizarding stock. In the past, before your birth—when two families were very close—it was not uncommon to agree to a marriage contract even before a child was conceived. That was the case with my parents when they bound our lines together in impending matrimony.”

Severus' face scrunches up a bit in that way that happens to some children when they are processing information. “But...but father is a muggle.”

“Yes he is,” says Eileen resignedly, even if a part of her still believes that Tobias, while not a wizard, came from a line of something else. No human has eyes are dark and fathomless as Tobias’ are, no one except her son that is. They had drawn her in, like a fairy ring, and it was many a night that Eileen had woven fanciful tales about the volatility of the fae as a warning for her young son to avoid Tobias when he was in his moods. “It was a cruel twist of fate that had me born more than twenty years before the Potters finally produced their own child, and had I not run off to be with your father then in another ten years, I’d be the one marrying James Potter instead of you.”

Severus scrunches up his face again, this time in disgust, and Eileen just laughs. “Yes, I know. The wizarding world is indeed a world of wonder but there are many traditions that are a bit...outdated, so to speak. However, with all the uproar that my departure caused, I doubt that Purebloods still write up contracts before there’s even a child born. Indeed, it’s not the first time such a thing caused a small hiccup but usually, a younger sibling will just fill in the role if something happens to the elder. Unfortunately, that was not an option as the Potters had failed to conceive, and if I had chosen to remain in the wizarding world then my line would probably have died out and you, my little serpent, wouldn’t be here.”

“But why did you marry a muggle? Couldn’t you have just chosen a wizard?” Severus asks petulantly, because if his mother had chosen a wizard then perhaps Severus would have never had to live under the cruelty of his father’s explosive outrage. For the last five years, Severus’ world has been akin to walking on pins and needles, with his only defense a cloak of meekness and submission that usually helped in minimizing his father’s rage.

Eileen sighs. “Believe me, Severus, I would have if I could. The wizarding world is a society full of rituals and customs and it was one of these such customs that bound me to the unborn son of Fleamont and Effie Potter. No wizard would have me. Even if they wanted to it was impossible because, unlike the muggle custom, wizarding bonds are irrevocable; they cannot be undone. With my life bound as it was, my only option was to wait on the whim of fate, or do the only thing that could save one of the last few remaining Pureblood lines of Great Britain from dying out as so many others have before me. I did what I had to, and I’m not ashamed of it. And you never forget that, no matter what anyone may say about it. Without my choices you wouldn’t be here, and special as you are, there’s no denying that Lady Magic made sure to bring you into this world and I wouldn’t have been able to do that had I stayed.”

The room is silent for a few moments as Severus soaks in everything his mother has revealed to him. “You said I’m special.”

“Because you are,” says Eileen with a small smile on her lips.

Severus returns the gesture before continuing. “Yea, you always tell me that,” he says, almost shy now as he glances up at his mother. “But you never told me what my gift means except that it’s something only a handful of people have. But...but without it, I can’t marry a boy, right?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

Severus’ face scrunches up again before he asks: “Am I a girl?”

“Of course not, Severus. You’re a boy, and you always will be, no matter what?”

“Really?” he asks, finding the notion of suddenly being a girl a bit jarring but how else could two boys get married if one of them weren’t actually a girl?

“Yes. Remember when I use to help you in the bath when you were little?” At Severus’ nod Eileen speaks again. “Well, one day that place that’s hidden behind your bollocks will start releasing eggs which is when your body will be ready to—”

“What?” Severus gasps out as he interrupts his mother. “I’m going to lay eggs? Like a chicken!?”

“Of course not,” says Eileen with a small laugh at the look of horror on her son’s face. “Nothing of the sort, we’re not birds. We don’t lay eggs.”

“But you said…”

“The eggs will be inside of you. They are now, actually. But when you’re mature that means they’ll be ready to grow into babies.”

Severus glances down at his crotch in horror at the thought, mouth hanging open in shock as though he were imagining hundreds of little eggs inside of him. He probably is, going by the look on his face. Eileen takes his hands in hers as a way of drawing his attention on her and away from his neither region. “Severus, you don’t have to worry about this for at least another five years. But now that you’re getting older, and that you’re betrothed to another boy, you need to be more aware of your body.”

“Am I a freak?”

“What? Of course not!” says Eileen vehemently. “Who called you a freak? Was it one of those little cretins at your school?”

Severus gives a shake of his head, and when Eileen’s eyes narrow her son quickly stutters out, “N-no. They only say I’m ugly and poor. It was father.” Severus lowers his head in shame which means he doesn’t see the mixture of sadness and outrage on Eileen’s face. Severus’ head shoots back up again as Eileen takes his hand, dragging her son off towards the attached bathroom before she stops in front of the mirror.

“Severus, look up.” When Severus does so, albeit a bit reluctantly, Eileen uses her pale fingers to draw the length of Severus’ hair back, holding the strands away so that he can clearly see his face. “You’re beautiful, Severus, and anyone who has ever said otherwise is a blind fool. And you’re not poor, far from it in fact.”

“What? What do you mean?” asks Severus in confusion as he meets his mother’s gaze in the bathroom mirror.

“Once you reach your maturity and marry James, you’ll be firmly in the line of succession to inherit the sizable Prince estate. Even without this, the Potters will make sure to set you and James up comfortably until the two of you have established your careers and such.” Severus gives a nod of understanding as Eileen gently releases Severus’ hair. “And you’re not a freak, dear one, you’re a wizard. And even among us wizarding folks you are quite special. And for special little boys there are special responsibilities.”

“Responsibilities?” Severus asks, not able to fathom what it could mean given his limited knowledge of the wizarding world.

Eileen inclines her head at the question before turning Severus around so that he can face her. “The wizarding world is a place steeped in tradition, and you will be expected to uphold them despite being a Half-blood. You’ve already helped me in the kitchen plenty of times as well as help mending a few things but as for the rest, you will learn these things when you start school.”

“At Hogwarts?”

“No, at Godric’s Hollow Primary School for the Gifted.”

“But I already go to primary school.”

“You won’t be going back to that school, Severus. I know it’s a lot of change, that it’s been a lot in these last few hours, but it’s all for the best, alright?”

“...okay.” Severus is sounding unsure again and Eileen knows it’s perfectly normal. Even for her, having to learn all of these things as a child had been a mixture of excitement and anxiety and she’d been well prepared. For Severus, she hadn’t really prepared him for anything except instilling within him enough resilience to get him through the inevitable drama and upheavals that are on the horizon. At least she hopes so.

Eileen takes Severus’ hand again as she leads him back to the seating area. “Here. Effie gave me the school pamphlet so that you can read the overview of the courses you’ll be taking.” The two had settled back on the settee before Eileen draws the pamphlet over with a flick of her wand so that she can look at it with Severus.

“The pictures are all moving,” he says in awe, because even if he’d been told that magical photographs are charmed to move it is the first time Severus has actually seen one. Eileen just offers him a smile as the two of them flip through the pamphlet and read over the details. They’re about halfway through before Severus speaks. “Why do all the pictures only have girls?”

“These are the classes you’ll be taking, Severus. You always wanted to learn an instrument, right? Look, there's the pianoforte and the harpsichord…”

“But why are they all girls?” Severus asks again, before the boy quickly flips the pamphlet over to the front. On the cover, there’s the name of the school Godric’s Hollow Primary School for the Gifted, and underneath there’s also the words guide for the young witch. “...this is the wrong one.”

Eileen lets out a soft sigh as she wraps her hands around Severus’ so that they can open the pamphlet up again. “There’s Essential Potions for a Young Lady and Helpful Household Aids, which is a bit like cooking and cleaning so I don’t think that’ll be a problem for you. And look, here, there’s Methods of Embroidery which shouldn’t be too hard either.” Severus is silent as the two finish looking through the rest of the classes.

Eileen knows enough from her own primary school days to understand that the classes are taught on a rotating basis, and without private tutors, most children won’t make it past the basics. It’s not until Hogwarts that the extensive class list is narrowed down, which is good, considering that the school taught the girls music, painting, emroidery, potions, herbology, flower arranging, Pureblood customs, folklore, arithmetic, and calligraphy. The school is from 08:00-15:00 hours with a thirty-minute lunch and two fifteen-minute breaks. The ten classes are put into pairs of twos so that during the same time period each week one might take potions Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then on Tuesday and Thursday take arithmetic instead.

All of this is familiar to Eileen as it’s how her primary school was structured so long ago and it’s really no surprise that the same school system would be in effect all these years later. In the past, the never-changing wizarding world had been a comfort to her, but after the last decade in the muggle world, Eileen can see that the wizarding world could due to benefit from a bit of change. It is nearly impossible though given how strict the structures are and how tightly Purebloods cling to them. She remembers reading about Tom Riddle making waves with his liberal talks about implementing what, at the time, had sounded like a radical change to the wizarding school system. From what she can see, however, not much of it, if anything, has actually changed.

“Is this a girls’ school?” Severus asks, drawing Eileen away from her thoughts.

“No, honey, it’s a mixed-sex school. However, the classes are divided between witches and wizards. You’re a wizard, of course, but it has always been the way for those with the gift to study the female arts as your duties, once married, will be those that are expected of any other lady of good breeding and standing.” Severus frowns a bit because he doesn’t want to take classes with a bunch of girls but at least he probably won’t have to worry too much about bullying. If it’s the same as his old school, most bullies are older boys bigger than he is. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about that in these girlie classes. “Once you go to Hogwarts, the classes are all mixed,” Eileen says hurriedly as she tries to reassure her son because the silence had stretched to the point of awkwardness. “It’s only for the next two years. Do you think you can manage?”

“...yes, I’ll be alright.”

“I know you will,” says Eileen with a smile as she leans over to hug her son. “You’ll be more than alright, but if anyone says anything or does anything that you don’t like, I want you to tell me right away, ok?”

Severus nods, although he’s not sure if he’ll actually do it. In the past, it always hurt more when someone who is supposed to help, like a teacher, would hear the teasing or see the bullying and just pretend like it never happened. And his mother...Severus knows that she’s protected him from much of his father’s abuse but she’d reacted the same way: pretending as though nothing had happened. It’s why Severus himself behaves in much the same manner because that’s how the adults in his life had taught him.

He doesn’t want to get bullied though, hopes that he won’t at this new school. But if he does, Severus will do the same thing he’s done with every other bully which is being meek and submissive. It doesn’t stop the bullying once it’s already started, of course, but most bullies grow bored of Severus pretty quickly. Therefore, being invisible is his best method when dealing with bullies and their undue cruelty. Severus just hopes it’ll work at this new school of his. Though, if life were fair he wouldn’t have to worry about this at all. But if Severus has learned anything in his nine years on Earth it’s that life is most definitely not fair.

Chapter Text

“Your father had to return to the ministry,” Euphemia says before James can question her as she can already see his hazel eyes, a match to her own, glancing around the dinner table at the missing setting that indicated where his father usually sat. It isn’t the first time Fleamont has missed a meal due to his ministry work, but it’s quite unusual for him to come home and leave again, especially without saying goodbye to James first.

“Wha—”

“Supper,” says Euphemia succinctly, cutting off her son’s questions as she moves to take a seat at the dining table. James clamps his mouth shut but follows suit, knowing that his mother will answer his questions once the meal starts.

Mother and son are seated across from each other around the family dining table which is a round one. Typically, if there’s a dinner party happening then the house-elves would put out the long formal dining table. However, when it’s just the family eating alone dinner is a much more intimate, and less formal, affair. For one, the courses served are half of the opulent fourteen and much more family-friendly for the young picky eater that is her son.

Once the two are seated, they both reach forward for a cloth napkin to drape over their laps. Afterward, there’s always a few seconds were the house-elves presumably wait for everyone to properly settle before the food begins to appear. The first course is soup, of course, and tonight it’s mulligatawny soup which is one of James’ favorites due to the shredded chicken. Euphemia has the elves prepare it often when it is only their small family dining as she’s found it’s the easiest way to get her young son to eat his vegetables.

“How were your classes today?” asks Euphemia as they dine, not having seen her son after school as he’d gone on a playdate with his cousin Ignotus. James happily goes onto explain that Dorea had collected both Sirius and Regulus from their school as well, which doesn’t surprise Euphemia as it isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that the four end up on playdates together.

James excitedly chats away through the first course, and then through the second course of chicken fricassee. However, once the dishes are magically cleared and replaced by the third course—roasted brussel sprouts and steamed asparagus—James stops his excited chatter about the latest prank he and Sirius had played on Ignotus so that he can let out a groan of misery.

“I hate vegetables,” whines James as he pokes at his food with a fork.

“You know the house-elves won’t change the courses until your plate is clean.”

James pauses in thought because he’s forgone eating his vegetables before, and even though he still manages to get dessert it’s always something fruity, like citrus ice. Fruit is fine and dandy but what James really wants is the cake that he knows comes after the icky vegetables. Vegetables are so gross that it’s always a tough one but he’s nearly halfway there! As Euphemia watches James mull over his options the woman reaches forward to take a third of James vegetables off his plate which has her son beaming up at her in happiness.

“Thanks, Mum!” he says before diving into the rest with a vigor that has her chuckling. Like most children, her son certainly despises vegetables but even so, there’s almost no stopping him once he’s set his mind to something.

'He’s so like his father,' Euphemia fondly thinks, her gaze softening as she watches her son who is the spitting image of Fleamont minus the sparkling blues of her husband’s eyes.

Eventually, James seems to notice his mother’s look which he’s seen enough times to know that she must be thinking about his dad. “So, where’s Dad?” asks James around a mouthful of food.

“Don’t speak with your mouth full,” says Euphemia with a small shake of her head. That fond look, however, never leaves her gaze as she watches James finish off his vegetables. Euphemia has already finished her own plate so once James is done chewing his food, their meals are promptly replaced by lemon sorbet. “Your father had to return to the Ministry about some news that...actually concerns you.”

“What? Really!?” James asks in excitement as he’s always enjoyed being the center of attention, and being an only child he’s used to being showered in it from his parents. James discovered at an early age that nearly anything his parents do for him almost always leads to pleasant results. Even when being chastised his parents usually softened it with gifts or sweets afterward.

“Yes,” says Euphemia, not knowing how to explain to her young son that he’s betrothed. Euphemia and her husband have always told James such a decision would be his to make given his inquiries after having discovered the status of some of his classmates. “You know that your father and I were betrothed at a young age, yes?”

“Yea!” James chirrups, the nine-year-old happily gobbling up his sorbet.

“Well...a long time ago, before you were born, your father and I did the same for you.”

“Hm?” asks James, only half paying attention now as most of his focus is on the dilemma of eating his sorbet quickly or taking smaller bites so that he can enjoy it for longer. The serving was just one tiny little scoop and James knows from personal experience that he can eat it in two bites. But if he does that James will regret it almost immediately and boy is this a hard decision.

“James.” His mother’s hand on his own draws James from his tough decision. “Did you hear what I said?”

“Er, what?”

“You’re betrothed.”

James blinks up at his mother in confusion before jumping up from his seat with enough force to have his chair teetering. “Wh-what!? I don’t want to marry some icky girl, gross!”

“James!” exclaims Euphemia in alarm because she knows that her son is gearing up for a full-blown temper tantrum. “This is no way to behave at the dinner table,” she gently admonishes. James sticks out his bottom lip at her words before taking in a deep breath of air, probably gearing up for another explosive outburst. Euphemia hurridly cuts him off before he can get started. “You don’t have to worry about any icky girls, James. You’re betrothed is a boy.”

All of the wind seems to be knocked out of James as he stares at his mother, completely flabbergasted. “But, but…a boy.”

“Do sit down, dear. He has the gift so it’s perfectly acceptable.”

James settles back in his seat, seemingly in shock, before his hazel eyes suddenly grow bright with excitement. “Is it Sirius?”

“No, of course not. You know Dorea was a Black before she married Charlus. The Blacks have enough offspring to spread their influence through many Pureblood houses. They certainly wouldn’t marry another one to ours.”

“But Sirius said…”

“Sirius said what, dear?”

James’ mouth is clamped shut as he crosses his arms over his chest while his face grows increasingly red. “But I don’t want to marry an old man!” James suddenly bursts out, and at this point, Euphemia can see that his eyes are gleaming with unshed tears.

Euphemia is more taken aback by his outburst than by the fact that he seems on the verge of tears. It only takes a handful of seconds for her to be out of her chair, her arms wrapped around her son as she stares down at him. “Shh, James, calm down. You’re not marrying some old man.”

“But Sirius said his cousin Bellatrix was marrying Mr. Riddle, and I don’t want to marry Mr. Dumbledore Mum!”

Despite how serious and distraught her son is Euphemia can’t help the small chuckle which has James gazing up at her in horror. “Son, you couldn’t marry Albus Dumbledore even if you wanted to. You’ve not been paying close enough attention in your classes, have you?” James just stares at his mother with a blank look before she smothers her next chuckle in his hair with a soft kiss to the dark, wild strands. “Albus Dumbledore is married to Gellert Grindelwald.”

“But Grindelwald is a criminal!”

“Yes he is, dear. That’s why Mr. Dumbledore decided to keep his maiden name. Although after dueling his own husband and landing the man in jail I don’t thin—”

“Mr. Dumbledore did all that!?”

“Really, James, you should pay attention to your lessons. But yes he did. Therefore, t’would be impossible for you to marry a married man, so you don’t have to worry about that. Your betrothed is a nine-year-old boy, just like you. His name is Severus Snape.”

“I’ve never heard of any Snapes.”

“That’s because it’s a muggle name.” James’ whole face scrunches up at that because even if the thought of marrying a girl is gross, and the thought of marrying an old man is definitely worse than that, the thought of marrying a muggle is just...completely abnormal. James can’t really comprehend the thought, his mind wrestling with the idea of it all and making quite a few strange faces as he does so. Eventually, his mother takes pity on him as she clarifies the situation. “He’s a Half-blood but his mother is from a very prominent Pureblood family.”

James seems to relax at that revelation before he gives his mother a shy, hopeful smile. “And he has the gift.”

Euphemia returns the look with one of her own as she ruffles her son’s hair before returning back to her seat. “Yes, that’s right. Some of his classmates might say cruel things to him because his father is a Muggle, so if you hear anything you’ll need to defend him, alright?”

“Of course!” James says, puffing his chest out even though he has no idea who this Severus Snape is. At nine, James doesn’t really have a concept of love and such but what he does know is that Sirius Black seems capable of getting away with nearly anything because he was born with the gift, just like this Severus Snape, and it’d be bloody epic to add another member to their band of mischief. James almost thinks his head is going to explode from all the pranks and such that they’ll be able to get away with once they rope this Severus Snape in. The thought has James grinning from ear to ear as he quickly gobbles up the last of his sorbet.

The two get through the next course of dinner rolls with sweet cream butter and onto dessert which is a chocolate cake without any more outbursts from James. In fact, James is nearly bouncing out of his seat now as he hums and moans happily over the cake that Euphemia had specifically asked the house-elves to serve today once she knew she’d need to give James the news of his betrothal. It was the least she could do after dropping this bombshell on her son, and though he seems to be taking it rather well now, Euphemia knows that the real test is yet to come.

Later that night, after Euphemia has tucked James into bed and retired to her own chambers, Fleamont returns. She has the house-elves send him up a tray of food to eat in the outer chamber of their room while she waits for Fleamont to get settled in. Once he’s seated on the divan Euphemia sits next to him, close enough that she can feel the heat of his thigh against her own through her nightdress. Fleamont reaches out a hand, placing it gently upon her knee before he presses a soft kiss to her temple.

“How’d James take the news?” he asks, drawing back so that his blue eyes can meet her hazel ones.

“Quite well, actually. Although he did have the notion that his betrothed was none other than Albus Dumbledore, and made it quite clear he did not wish to marry any old men.”

Fleamont chuckles at this as he gives a shake of his head. “Sometimes, I don’t even know where James comes up with these ideas.”

“Well, it wasn’t too far off the mark as I told him it wasn’t Sirius and he’s perfectly aware of Tom Riddle’s impending matrimony with Bellatrix Black. That doesn’t leave too many possibilities,” says Euphemia with a chuckle.

“Once word gets out about Severus’ status I’m sure Tom Riddle’s sphere of influence will grow. Four male bearers alive during the same time is rare enough, but with three of them being Half-bloods, it’s enough to add legitimacy to many of his positions.”

“Fleamont, you know as well as I that change comes slowly to the wizarding world.”

“Naturally, but much of that change is pushed forward by bearers given the dual nature of their positions in society.”

“Yes, and certainly if Grindelwald had been smarter about it instead of resorting to criminal activities much of his political positions could have progressed with Dumbledore at his side. The man was impatient. Let’s hope Mr. Riddle isn’t the same.”

“You agree with his stances?” Fleamont asks curiously, pausing in his meal to give his wife his sole attention.

“You know it was such a scandal Fleamont! Dumbledore managed to keep it out of the papers but at that point, it didn’t matter as the gossip was on every Pureblood’s tongue. And how simply such a thing could have been avoided if Muggleborns and Half-bloods are properly educated before their attendance at secondary schools. Why, the same thing could well happen to Severus if Eileen had managed to get him into Hogwarts without revealing his status.”

“He won’t be dorming with other boys; it’s improper.”

“That’s not what I mean Fleamont. However, given the lack of proper primary education before Riddle’s entrance at Hogwarts, the boy certainly couldn’t be blamed for the mishap, nor could the Hogwarts staff. Magic blossoms in a child well before their eleventh birthdays. It seems an oversight that certain measures have yet to be taken for children that are Half-bloods and Muggleborns, especially since their numbers continue to grow.”

“That is certainly one of his more reasonable ideals, but it will be difficult for him to get such things implemented with the scandal of Hogwarts still at his back.”

“That was ages ago, Fleamont.”

“Yes, but you know as well as I do that much of the men he’s managed to persuade is more due to what’s between his legs than that silver tongue of his.” Euphemia gasps in shock at the accusation and Fleamont just gives a shake of his head. “I’m not saying he’s a harlot, Effie. Merely that the men whose company he keeps are those seeking a marriage either for themselves or their sons.”

“But they know he’s engaged to Bellatrix,” says Euphemia, still a bit flustered by the news.

“Of course they do. But many believe that he only agreed to the engagement because of the scandal.”

“Well, even if he did that doesn’t change his bonds and obligations. Not unless he runs off and marries a muggle as Eileen did.”

“That, or he could just run off and marry a man. The contract only prevents him from being bond to another witch.”

“What despicable men these are,” says Euphemia with a gasp as she finally understands what her husband is hinting at.

“Yes, and yet it seems Riddle still cannot understand why the Wizengamot has no desire to let such a man teach our precious wizarding youth.”

“But you think that by revealing Severus to wizarding society that Riddle will actually make some progress with his ideologies?”

“Once he finally ties the knot with Bellatrix then it’ll wash that last bit of filth off of him.”

“Well, I’ve only met Riddle a few times but from what I’ve seen and heard he’s certainly not the type of man who wants another to rule over him. If these men that you spoke of earlier could look past their own desires and ambitions then t’would be easy to see that Tom Riddle won’t be wife to anyone.”

“Greedy, desperate men see what they want to and that’ll continue until the goals they strive for are entirely impossible. As tiny as the possibility, one of them could still wed Riddle if he wished it and being a Slytherin I doubt he’s turning them away from the idea.”

“Tom Riddle would be a fool to anger the Black family given the size of their influence. It’s been a long time since a family has been so fruitful, and the Blacks have living relatives in nearly every Pureblood line within wizarding Britain.”

Fleamont grunts in agreement as he works on finishing his meal. “Well, none of this is our concern at the moment, not until it winds up in the Wizengamot.”

Euphemia gives a nod before speaking. “And how did it go earlier, with the Wizengamot?”

“As well as can be expected when one finds out that a male bearer, Half-blood or not, was being abused by his own father who happens to be a muggle. People were quite outraged. It didn’t take long at all to have the Aurors sent out to deal with the muggle law enforcement. Mind you, there were quite a few that were scandalized that Eileen had left her husband. However, once I mentioned the broken nose they seemed to realize the grim reality of the situation and shut up right fast about it.”

“I’m relieved to hear that,” says Euphemia with a small sigh of relief. “I’ve already spoken with Madam Malkin about Severus’ attire and sent word to Eileen so that she can send Severus over tomorrow to be fitted. I think it would inspire too many questions if someone knew Madam Malkin was seeing a client at the bed and breakfast instead of at a wizarding residence.” Fleamont gives a nod, nearly finished with his supper now as he continues to listen to his wife. “I’ve also instructed Eileen to make sure Severus’ table manners and such are up to par for the upcoming dinner party.”

“And did you speak with Charlus and Dorea?”

“After dinner while James bathed. If Walburga hasn’t heard a word of it tonight than she’ll certainly hear about it in the morning, especially after the engagement party is announced in the Daily Prophet.

“And the invitations?”

“Already written up and ready for delivery first thing in the morning. Don’t be nervous, Fleamont. We’ll be alright,” says Euphemia as she reaches out a hand to pat at her husband’s knee. The two have been married for a long time. Fleamont trusts her and knows what she’s capable of so when he questioned her about tasks that should already be completed it’s usually a sign of some frazzled nerves. It’s been a long time since he’s done such a thing and it brings up feelings of nostalgia in Euphemia along with her own bought of nerves because even if there’s no going back now, tomorrow is definitely the start of more than a few rough and rocky days. It’ll be tough, she knows, but it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Chapter Text

“Mum! You didn’t tell me that Mr. Dumbledore was pregnant when he dueled Mr. Grindelwald!”

“James, do settle down. We have a guest. And if you had been paying attention to your studies you’d have already known this.”

“A guest?” queries James, not bothering to respond to the other bit his mother was hissing at him as she takes his shoulders in hand to turn him to face the aforementioned guest.

The guest is a boy. A really...strange looking boy. Even though he isn’t speaking James just gets this rather uncanny feeling that this isn’t the type of boy like him and Sirius that like to run around roughhousing and playing pranks on people. No, he doesn’t get that feeling at all. Instead, he blinks at the ungainly figure in front of him that is much too pale—did he ever go out in the sun?—with hair that is the complete opposite. James has dark hair too but it isn’t the complete pinch darkness that is this boy’s hair which is a shocking match to the beetle black eyes staring back at him.

James isn’t sure how long the two stare at each other in silence but it’s the slight nudge from his mother that has James finally opening his mouth again. “Hello, I’m James Potter. A pleasure to meet you,” he says, formal because the situation is so awkward he can’t think of anything else to say plus his mother’s practically breathing down his neck.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you as well,” the boy says a bit stiffly but there’s a shy little smile on his lips that soften his words. “I’m Severus Snape.”

James' eyes go wide as saucers, mouth falling open to gape at the boy before he turns a baffled look towards his mother. She clears her throat pointedly before shooting a quick glance at Severus. It takes a little nudge from her to finally have James remembering all the boring hours of tutelage he’d had to sit through. James steps forward, standing before Severus in order to take hold of the fine-boned hand so that he can bow over it and place a kiss to the back. Father would be proud.

When he’s upright again it’s to find the other boy blinking up at him owlishly before a quick blush steals across his cheeks. It causes a corresponding heat to bloom in James’ face before a touch to his shoulder has him glancing up at his mother again. “Come along,” she says, her other hand on Severus’ shoulder as she guides the two to a nearby settee. “I will have Minny bring you two some tea and biscuits. I have some business to attend for the next hour so do behave yourself, James.”

“Of course,” says James, before offering his mother a reassuring grin because even if he’d been too excited earlier to remember there’d be a guest, he does understand that they’re to learn a bit about each other before the upcoming party on Saturday.

“Good,” says Euphemia, giving Severus’ shoulder a small pat before excusing herself.

The two boys sit in awkward silence as Minny pops in the room to deliver the tea and biscuits they’d been promised. The sight of the house-elf literally popping in out of nowhere causes Severus to jump slightly as he’s still not exactly use to that all this magic. The movement catches James’ eye, and It’s that little motion that manages to break the ice between the two.

“Not many house-elves in the muggle world?”

“...none, actually. The only magic I ever saw before coming here was mum using a few glamour spells.”

“Oh.” The two fall into silence again, although there’s the noise of Severus preparing tea and James simple scarfing down a few biscuits before James speaks again. “So you’re my fiance?”

“It would seem so.”

“But you’re a boy.”

“I know I’m a boy,” says Severus, and this time there’s a little scowl on his face and two spots of color in his cheeks. It causes James to laugh which makes Severus’ scowl all the more and in turn, has James laughing even harder. “I don’t see what’s so amusing. You’re a boy too, you know.”

“No no, I know. I know,” James repeats, lifting up a hand to dash the bit of moisture from the corner of his eyes because he’d actually laughed that hard. “It’s a good thing, don’t worry. Girls are bloody gross.”

“That is true,” Severus concedes, and his words of agreement has James grinning at him.

“Yea?” says James, his eyes gleaming in amusement because as strange as Severus had seemed when they’d first met perhaps this could work after all.

“Mhm. No one wants the cooties.” Severus’ words have the two boys giggling together like a bunch of schoolgirls before the sounds are smothered by tea drinking and biscuit eating.

“...but do you actually have one?”

“Have what?” asks Severus, arching a dark brow at the other boy.

“A you know. Down there. Sirius wouldn’t show me.” Severus almost chokes on his tea, the boy sputtering incoherently as all the blood in his body seems to rush to his face. James, trying to be helpful, reaches a hand around so that he can pat at Severus’ back until the other boy manages to stop coughing.

“That’s completely improper! Of course Sirius wouldn’t show you,” gasps Severus, face still blazing with embarrassment as he manages to get the words out, despite the fact that he has no idea who this Sirius person is.

“Yea, but you’re my fiance so it should be ok, right?”

“...I don’t know. Mum says I’m not supposed to show anyone my private parts.”

“If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.”

“Why do you want to see so badly? It’s kinda weird,” says Severus because it really is yet the hopeful look on James’ face is almost blinding. Is this what he has to look forward to in the wizarding world? Sure, it wasn’t an uncommon thing for people to get pantsed which he’d been the unfortunate victim of quite a few times, but never had anyone asked him to remove his pants. And it wasn’t just his pants either if James actually wanted to see what he was asking about.

“Well it’s called the gift, right? So maybe you can gift it to me for a bit? I just wanna know how it feels to be all cool like Sirius. I mean, I get away with a lot of stuff too but he can do practically anything.”

“...I don’t think that’s how it works.”

“Well, it won’t if you keep hiding it. You’re a boy but you’re also kinda like a girl too. So, if you give me your cooties then maybe I can have it for a bit, yea?”

Severus frowns a bit in thought. He doesn’t really like the girl analogy but after being in the wizarding world for the last few days it’s becoming something he’s getting used to. Certainly, it’s a better reality than being slapped around by Tobias. Plus, James is right. Mum had made it clear about what’s between his legs, so Severus knows that even though he’s a boy he does have something girly down there. Could he really infect James with girly cooties?

James is looking at him with such hope that it makes Severus want to help him out even if he does find the whole thing a bit weird. “You know, looking at private parts isn’t actually how you get the cooties.”

“Oh, right,” says James, snapping his fingers at the realization before he leans forward and unceremoniously plants a wet one right on Severus’ lips. Shocked, Severus’ tea drops to the floor with a crash of undoubtedly priceless china at the unexpected move from the other boy.

James, for his part, takes Severus’ shoulders in hand, eyes closed and lips puckered as he kisses his fiance. Severus’ lips are warm under his from the tea, and the sweetness from the honey he’d sweetened his drink with has James licking at the lips unconsciously because he certainly has a sugar tooth. That motion causes Severus to gasp in shock, causing his mouth to part beneath James' lips at his seeking tongue. By now, Severus' own eyes have fallen closed, which is why both boys are surprised when a shocked exclamation from the doorway has the two boys jumping back from each other.

“James! What in the world…”

“Severus was giving me his cooties!”

What?

“His girl cooties so that I can have the gift too.”

“Oh for the love of Merlin,” says Euphemia as she presses her thumb and forefinger to the bridge of her nose, her gaze accessing the two boys. Severus looks sufficiently embarrassed if the color in his cheeks is anything to go by. Although James just looks incensed; probably from being interrupted. Euphemia just gives a shake of her head as she lets out a sigh of exasperation. “That’s not how it works, James,” she says, pulling out her wand for a quick repario to fix the broken china.

“See, I told you you should have just let me look at it.”

“Look at what?” asks Euphemia, feeling a wave of horror take over as James points down towards Severus’ crotch.

“Ow, Mum, that hurts!” exclaims James, and it’s only at this moment that Euphemia realizes she’s marched across the room to take her son’s ear in hand. She’s literally that shocked and appalled by the situation. Euphemia thought she’d taught her son better manners than this but apparently she’s overlooked something somewhere.

“Why were you trying to look down Severus pants? You know that’s no way you treat a lady!”

Severus looks about as shocked as Euphemia but the color that his earlier embarrassment caused has all but drained from his face, and it takes Euphemia a moment to realize it’s due to the physical discipline. Hastily, she lets go of James' ear before stepping back, not wanting to frighten Severus with reminders of the physical abuse she knows he’s suffered.

Free now of his mother’s pinching fingers James finally manages to get more out of his lips than his laments of ows from earlier. “Mum, I know not to look under a lady’s robes.”

“Then what were you trying to do with Severus?” Euphemia hisses out, completely exasperated with her son yet needing to get to the bottom of whatever it was she’d walked in on so that there won’t be a repeat. Thank Merlin she’d had the wisdom to have them meet before the party this Saturday or this incident would probably be all over the society pages.

Euphemia is drawn from her thoughts by her son’s reply. “Severus is a boy.”

Euphemia lets out a sigh as she pinches the bridge of her nose again. “James, boy or not, Severus is your fiance. You must treat him with all the respect that his title is due and not take liberties where none have been given.”

“Ugh, Mum! It was just so I could get the cooties, it’s not a big deal.”

“The cooties aren’t even real, James.”

“Mum, you’re just saying that because you’re a girl. All the girls say that so they can infect you with their germs!”

“Cooties aren't—you know what, never mind—just no more of this funny business James. Do you hear me?”

“What funny business?”

“Trying to get into Severus’ pants. No more of that until you’re wedding night.”

“Wedding night?”

“Nothing you need to worry about now. Severus dear, are you alright?”

“Er, yes,” Severus replies, voice soft in that way he’d learned to speak in order to alleviate danger. His face is still a bit pale from having witnessed Euphemia taking hold of James’ ear. It’s not very shocking—it shouldn’t be very shocking after all the physical violence he’s witnessed. Indeed, it barely qualifies, and from Severus’ own first-hand experience he knows James was more shocked than hurt by the action. What Severus finds most shocking, however, is the fact that James had gotten through that whole conversation with his clearly upset mother without getting even one slap to the back of his head.

Severus can feel his heartbeat racing but the kindly smile from the older woman has him relaxing a bit, as well as James' exuberant manner which, despite his scolding, clearly shows a boy who’s used to doing as he wants without many repercussions. “Yes, I’m fine,” Severus says, voice a bit stronger now because the warmth of their home that he’s felt from the moment he set foot here hasn’t diminished in the least.

“Good, good,” says Euphemia, giving his silken head a small pat. “Now I just need to figure out how to tell this to your mother.” The giggle from James causes Euphemia to give her son a stern look. “You’re not off the hook either, James. I’ll be sure to tell this to your father as well.”

“Aww, Mum, really?”

“Don’t ‘Aww, Mum,’ me. Now outside, both of you. Go run around and get some fresh air.”

“Woo, hoo!” says James, excitedly jumping up to his feet before reaching down a hand to help Severus up. “Come on, Severus. You should see the gardens; they’re super cool! Dad uses them for his potions. There’s devil’s snare which you have to watch out for and then the mandrakes which look sooo funny with their little shriveled faces.” James giggles at his description, the boy scrunching up his own face as he tries to mimic the weazened faces of the mandrake roots for Severus’ benefit.

“Severus is still learning about the wizarding world so stay out of the Southwest greenhouse.”

James just gives a quick nod before taking Severus’ hand in his as he darts out of the house.

“That boy is going to be the death of me,” says Euphemia with another sigh and shake of her head, before she calls for Minny to keep an eye on them. It’s to make sure they don’t run into any of the more dangerous plants, because despite her words to James and the protective enchantments that are in place around the grounds, it never hurts to have an extra pair of eyes. It also never hurts to have the house-elf keeping a lookout for any further funny business, because as thick-headed as her son is she knows that it’ll take more than the one scolding to get him to stop doing something.

Her only hope is that there aren’t any repeat performances this Saturday.

Chapter Text

“Fleamont, this is not funny! If I hadn’t walked in on the boys…”

“Effie, they’re nine. It’s not like they could get up to much even if you hadn’t walked in on them.”

“Be that as it may, Severus already has to deal with enough things given his mother’s decisions. If this had happened at the party then, well...poor Severus inception into the wizarding world would be even more difficult.”

“Effie,” says Fleamont, moving to stand before his wife so that he can wrap his arms around her waist that is still delightfully trim despite her age. Even the blond of her hair seems to be enhanced given that the few greys she has mingled to give her hair the appearance of spun silver and gold. It was quite attractive—not something he ever suspected he’d enjoy. And unlike his wife whose greys appear evenly dispersed, his own seem content to remain primarily at his temples. “Don’t you think you’re overreacting. Just a bit? Our first kiss was in the astronomy tower during fourth year.”

“Well, you weren’t trying to look under my skirts. And besides, if our parents had found out they’d definitely have insisted on us being chaperoned, probably until marriage.”

“I wanted to.” Euphemia arches a brow at her husband which has the man shooting her a roguish grin. “To look under your skirts.”

“Fleamont!”

“I didn’t,” he says with a chuckle before leaning down to give his wife a quick kiss. “You should know, you were there. Even though you seem to be growing senile with age, I still love you; my sweet Euphemia.”

“Whose the one growing senile?”

“Isn’t love the greatest senility?”

Euphemia gives a small snort as she steps out of her husband’s arms. “Just make sure you speak with James. Even if I know he’s the one who roped Severus into his shenanigans, certainly Severus would be to blame.”

Now it’s Fleamont’s turn to arch a brow. “What?” he says with a startled laugh. “In this case, I think people would rightly assume that an overeager fiance was trying to wrangle a kiss or two from his innocent little fiancee.”

Euphemia just sighs. “I have my doubts given Severus’ muggle heritage.”

“He’s not Tom Riddle. He’s a child, Effie.”

“I honestly don’t think age was much of a factor in that particular brouhaha. You know Mr. Riddle’s muggle heritage was a huge component of the whole thing. Already there’s more than enough propaganda about Muggleborns corrupting our fair wizarding youth with their lasciviousness and lack of morals, just to name a few.”

“Most of that’s rubbish.”

“Most?”

“Look, I don’t blame the Muggleborns. They don’t exactly have the same upbringing as us wizarding folks, so it’s a bit ridiculous for one to assume they’d conform to social norms and propriety when it’s doubtful that they even have realistic notions of what that is in the first place. In fact, the Wizengamont has growing concerns over this very issue considering the steady increase in Muggleborns and even Half-bloods. With Severus entrance into the wizarding world the Wizengamont believes this will be just the right push to convince the Hogwarts School Board of Governors to make some changes to Hogwarts’ curriculum. However, given that Severus is in our care I’ve requested that they wait until after the engagement announcement this weekend.”

“What sort of changes?” asks Euphemia curiously.

“Nothing that really affects James or the other Purebloods. But perhaps it’ll help lessen the divide between the various blood statuses. The wizarding world may be founded on Pureblood traditions and values but Pureblood lines steadily continue to dwindle, and everything that we hold dear may very well crumble if change isn’t implemented. Many see Muggleborns as a plight, and Half-bloods as traitors, but in order for the wizarding world to remain prosperous we need to come together. Tom Riddle has already put himself into the thick of things and I fear Severus won’t have much of a choice, whether he wants to or not.”

“Making Hogwarts more inclusive to Muggleborns should help. Actually inclusive. Just accepting them as students isn’t enough.”

“You know as well as I do that Hogwarts prides itself on its equality of education which is the same for everyone, be them a witch or wizard. It’s rather progressive in that aspect. Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, like many other traditional wizarding institutions, continue to reject the idea of progress and as such, their schools remain solely for one sex or the other.”

“Yes, but what does this have to do with the Muggleborns?”

“It’s not really just about the Muggleborns, but if we decided to enroll James in Durmstrang then that wouldn’t be a problem at all. However, for Severus, that’s not the case. Due to their strict traditions he’d be unable to attend given his status. And what makes him ineligible for Durmstrang doesn’t help much for Beauxbatons because Severus isn’t exactly a witch either. It’s why Hogwarts was founded in the first place because there was no wizarding school where Salazar Slytherin’s heir would have been able to legally attend.”

“I’m surprised you remember so much from Hogwarts a History,” says Euphemia with a small laugh even though she knows much of Fleamont’s recollection is due to his seat on the Wizengamot and not from those long boring hours in History of Magic.

“Hmm, yes,” says Fleamont as he shoots his wife a playful smirk. “Most of those on the Hogwarts School Board of Governors try to shield their prejudices for Muggleborns under the cloak of equality, as they claim it would be unfair to create curriculum that only a fraction of the pupils at Hogwarts would be able to take advantage of. But as loath as they are to the notion of progressing any Muggleborn agendas they can’t ignore the fact that half of the male bearers are Half-bloods.”

“You really think Severus' presence is enough to change all of that?”

“It already has. Just this morning, Charlus informed me that once Bellatrix graduates from Hogwarts at the end of the school year that she and Tom Riddle will be wed. Just in time, it seems, for Mr. Riddle to finally get approved a teaching post at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But enough about work, my dear. I wish to properly enjoy the evening with my sweet wife.”

Euphemia's cheeks blush a soft rose at the heat in her husband’s gaze that all the decades they’ve been married has yet to quench. “I suppose I should let you look under my skirts,” she says haughtily over a shoulder before playfully dashing off towards their bed with a small giggle. Fleamont gives chase, and it’s not long before the two have tumbled onto the bed wrapped up around each other and laughing together before their sounds of mirth are replaced by soft sighs and breathless kisses.

The following day is a flurry of activity as Euphemia gets everything ready for the upcoming party. Severus and James meet again for another playdate, with no further incidences as Euphemia makes sure to put Minny on chaperone duty. Fleamont is as busy as ever with his time split between the potions business and the Wizengamot but before long the anticipated day arrives.

“Don’t worry, dear; it’ll be alright,” says Euphemia to a nervous looking Severus. He’s dressed in baby blue robes with silver trim. With the haste of the party, there hadn’t been time for either Eileen or Euphemia to embroidery any protective runes into the fabric but Madam Malkin had done well enough with her designs assisted by magic. “Eileen went over everything that’s expected, yes?”

Severus gives a quick nod which causes his midnight hair to fall forward, shielding his face from view. He startles, however, at the soft touch of Euphemia’s hand against the crown of his head as she gives it a reassuring pat. Just then, the doors to her bedroom are thrust open by an excited James whose own robes are a darker blue, meant to compliment Severus’ own. “Mum! The carriages are pulling up!”

“Really, James, you’re always so excitable; there’s no need to shout. Now, come here,” says Euphemia, using a gloved hand to gesture for her son to step closer. When he does she places both of her hands upon his shoulders, leaning over so that they can meet eye to eye. “Do you remember what I told you earlier?”

James grins, nodding his head excitedly. “Are you really going to get me a nimbus, Mum?”

“Just one of the practice brooms, so I want to see you on your best behavior and no fooling around with Sirius, understand?”

“Yes!” James exclaims in excitement at the thought of finally getting a racing broom, even if it is the kiddie version, before turning his attention to Severus. The huge grin on his face has Severus offering a hesitant one in return as James bounces over to the other boy. “Awesome!” says James, apropos of nothing before planting a wet one right on Severus’ lips. He doesn’t get very far this time—no tongue action—before Euphemia has him by the collar of his robes, practically yanking him back.

James Fleamont Potter! Now, I’ve told you ab—”

“But Mum! I need Sev’s cooties!”

“The only thing you need is food, water, and a place to sleep.” James rolls his eyes at that because clearly he needs more than just those three things as his mother continues. Euphemia lets go of James robes in order to put them back to sorts as she shakes her head at her son’s shenanigans. “Besides, cooties aren’t real and even if they were it didn’t work the first time. Why would kissing Severus work now?”

“Well, he wasn’t dressed like a girl the first time.”

“But I’m wearing the same thing as you,” says Severus, finally speaking up because out of everything that had happened his attire being girly is the only thing that isn’t entirely clear. Sure, it’s his first time actually wearing wizarding robes but they kind of remind Severus of muggle bathrobes, minus the sash. It causes Severus a moment’s curiosity as he wonders if witches and wizards also use bathrobes.

“Well, yea,” says James, giving Severus an incredulous look before he suddenly remembers that the other boy is still learning loads about the wizarding world. “But the length is different, see?” James says, pointing his leg in Severus’ direction so that the other boy can indeed see that while his robes are floor-length James’ robes stop about mid-calf, and it’s at this point that Severus realizes that James is wearing trousers.

“May I have trousers too?” asks Severus, his attention already well past the kiss because he’d gladly undergo dozens of those instead of avoiding the angry fists of bullies. Besides, James is his fiance so even if he does still find James’ penchant for kissing a bit weird it makes sense, especially when one factors in the cooties.

“Not until after the party dear.”

“But—”

“Sirius always wears trousers with his robes,” interjects James, trying to help out Severus.

“Yes, much to Walburga’s consternation and if you ask Dorea that’s because he’s constantly sneaking them out of the house but even so, I’m sure Sirius will be dressed properly today. Walburga at least puts her foot down about his school uniform but Sirius’ even more headstrong than you are.”

“I didn’t really understand all that but it sounds like a no,” James says to Severus, offering the boy a small shrug.

Severus bites his bottom lip softly before deciding to just let it go. The breeze underneath his robes would take some time getting to as he was stark naked beneath them, besides his undies, of course. It helped to know that he wouldn’t be the only boy walking around without trousers, even if it was only just the one.

Severus’ inner musings are paused by a knock on the door before it’s pushed open by a younger looking Fleamont. Severus blinks at the man in confusion although it’s cleared up rather quickly when Euphemia speaks. “Charlus,” she says by way of greeting as the man moves forward to play a quick kiss to the back of Euphemia’s hand.

“As lovely as ever, m’dear.”

“Oh, stop. You’re almost as bad as Fleamont,” says Euphemia with a laugh although her cheeks do pink a bit at Charlus’ playful flirting.

“Cousin Charlus, is Iggy downstairs?” James chirrups, as Ignotus is obviously the most important thing about his much older cousin.

“Indeed he is, James. But methinks you may want to introduce me to your fiance first, yes? May as well get some practice in before you’re swamped by all the harpies downstairs,” says Charlus with a laugh although he does wince slightly at the sharp-eyed look from Euphemia.

For a brief moment, James wonders if there are actual harpies downstairs before he remembers his parents' promise of a training broom. With that thought in mind, James takes ahold of Severus’ hand so that he can guide the other boy forward. He stops walking once the two are standing before Charlus. His cousin gives him a critical look as James gives a bow and Severus a curtsy. James is briefly surprised that Severus does so without all the grumbling Sirius usually gets up to by now. “Mr. Potter, what a pleasure to see you again. I do believe you’ve yet to meet my be...be—”

“Betrothed,” says Euphemia as James struggles over the word.

“—trothed, Severus Snape.”

“Snape? What a...unique name.”

“It’s muggle but my mother is a Prince,” says Severus, not quite able to meet Charlus' gaze even if he does have a striking resemblance to James’ father.

“Prince, you say? I did not know that Sabastian and Clarissa had another child.”

Severus gaze lowers to the floor, the boy squirming a bit before James gives his hand a squeeze. It’s enough to help Severus continue. “That’s because they did not, Sir. My mother is Eileen Prince.”

“Ah,” says Charlus, but he doesn’t add any more. Instead, he just quirks his lips before turning his attention to Euphemia. “I suppose that will do. ‘Tis a good thing you’ve already announced that James’ betrothed has the gift or I daresay this poor boy would have to undergo an even greater line of questioning. You did very well, boys. No one should be pushier than that but if they are you can always excuse yourselves. Understood?”

Both boys give a quick nod of their heads as Euphemia loops her arm through Charlus’. “You’ll both do splendidly,” says Euphemia before Charlus leads her out of the room with James and Severus following.

The party goes as expected. There are whispers that follow Severus around but he ignores them. Luckily, most of the guests have children of their own which meant that the boys’ main concern was other children around their own age. Ignotus has already been prepped to aid his cousin if necessary but under the watchful eye of their parents, most of the children are well behaved, if a bit curious. Their curiosity, however, was less about Severus being a male bearer and more about him being a Half-blood. It’s at this point that Severus realizes that all of the children—all of the people—in attendance are Purebloods.

When Severus had found out about the party he’d desperately wanted his mother to attend, to have something familiar in this unfamiliar world. Yet, in this moment Severus is relieved she had been unable to because from all the whispering Severus is sure his mother would have gotten more than an earful of disapproval. Severus can’t help but squirm at the thought, feeling uncomfortable in his own skin, especially with the unfamiliar clothes he’s wearing. James must be able to tell he’s squirming again because the other boy gives his hand one of those squeezes of reassurance that he’s been dallying out for most of the party.

A dark-haired couple show up fashionably late, as Severus knows the saying goes. The couple arrives with two boys dressed in much the same way as James and Severus with their own complimentary robes in green. It’s at this point that Severus realizes the boy that’s dressed as he is, in the floor-length robes that only witches wear, must be the much talked about Sirius. The identity is confirmed when James jumps up from the sofa, dragging Severus with him by the hand.

“Sirius!” James happily greets before he suddenly remembers himself. He gives a quick bow and Severus does the curtsy he’d practiced with his mother before James is chattering away again. “Mr. and Mrs. Black, Regulus; as always, a pleasure.” James is grinning from ear to ear unlike the dozen other times he’s been forced to greet people but most of his attention is focused on the other two troublemakers, or more specifically, the one troublemaker known as Sirius Black. “Allow me to introduce my betrothed, Severus Snape.”

“A pleasure,” says Severus, his attention too focused on Sirius because this is the first time that Severus has ever met another person like him.

“Snape? Now that name does sound familiar, doesn’t it?” says Walburga to her husband, Orion, her grey eyes meeting his own as her lips twist into a cruel-looking smirk. Whatever else Walburga is preparing to say is cut off by the appearance of Fleamont and Euphemia.

“James, why don’t you take Sirius and Regulus so that they can get acquainted with Severus,” says Fleamont, although his gaze doesn’t stray from Orion and Walburga.

For once James doesn’t ask a thousand questions, probably due to the fact that he wanted to run off with Sirius and Regulus anyway, plus questioning his parents at this party definitely wouldn’t help him get his promised training broom. “Yes, Father,” James says dutifully before heading back the way he came, Sirius and Regulus close on his tail. “I’m starved. Maybe we’ll finally be able to eat now that your parents showed up

“Yea,” Ignotus interjects, gaze moving between his cousins and towards his parents who have joined the Potters in the hushed conversation with Walburga and Orion.

Ignotus’ attention is drawn back to his younger cousins at a cry from James. “Ow, Sirius! What was that for?” says James, using his free hand to rub at his shoulder where Sirius has just punched him.

“You didn’t tell me you had a fiance,” hisses Sirius, his gaze darting around because he didn’t want to bring his mother swooping down on his head.

“Well, I only found out earlier this week and you should be happy; he’s just like you.” James is grinning from ear to ear. “Man, we’re going to get away with sooooo many pranks,” giggles James, eyes full of mischief at the thought. Sirius opens his mouth to add something else but it’s cut off as the dinner bell rang, and it seems that dinner really was on hold for his parents' late arrival.

The rest of the evening is pleasant enough if one enjoys idle chit chat, although Tom Riddle is mentioned a few times given that Cygnus and Druella are in attendance and can actually offer something more substantial than newspaper gossip. The date of his upcoming wedding to their eldest, Bellatrix, is mentioned to the delight of those present even though it’s bound to be in the society section in a day or two. Naturally, a conversation about Tom Riddle when two other male bearers are in the room lead to talk about Albus Dumbledore and his son, Aberforth.

From what Severus can pick up at the dinner table Aberforth is in the same year as Cygnus’ and Druella’s second-born, Andromeda. There’s a bit of lamenting about wasted talents considering both of Aberforth's parents, although one person does quip that ever since that goat incident the Dumbledores have kept a low profile, despite Albus Dumbledore making Headmaster.

“Well, I’m sure at least one of his parents were pleased,” says Walburga that has the rest of the Blacks chuckling save for Dorea who just presses her lips into a line.

The rest of the dinner is uneventful, and afterward, when people break up to enjoy a walk on the grounds or music in the drawing-room, Walburga and Orion take their leave. Instead of leaving their sons with Dorea or Druella they take their children with them, much to James consternation as he wanted Severus and Sirius to hurry up and become friends so that they could start playing pranks together. He’ll just have to wait for school on Monday.

“Finally, we can run around and have some real fun,” says James, dragging Severus outside so that they can run around and have fun with the other children. All of the boys unbutton their robes so that they can run around more easily while the poor girls have to make do with the floor-length of material shrouding their forms, but even so, Severus has more fun with these strangely dressed children than he ever did in his old neighborhood. Once again, Severus can’t help but think that being engaged to James Potter is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Definitely worth all of James’ strange and sporadic kisses.

Chapter Text

“I hate you, Severus Snape.”

Severus stands in shock, dark eyes wide as he swallows thickly. It isn’t the words per se, but the absolute rage he can see gleaming from Sirius’ grey eyes. Severus feels as though he’s petrified because it seems his brief time in the wizarding world has made him forget about bullies like this—boys who hate him for no other reason than the fact that he is pale, and small, and poor. Even the whispers at the party hadn’t made him feel quite like this, because whispers he can ignore. But this, Sirius angry in front of him with clenched fists that could easily punch and bruise, is not something Severus is prepared for. He should be though, but how quickly Severus had shoved the wrath of his father and his old classmates to the back of his mind. He won’t forget again.

“Sirius!” James exclaims angrily, dropping Severus’ hand so that he can stand in front of his betrothed, shielding the other boy’s body from view. “You can’t speak to Severus like that, he’s my fiance!” Sirius just makes a choking sound and Severus has a terrible realization that Sirius is about to cry, or perhaps he already has. Severus isn’t entirely sure because a moment later Sirius dashes off, fleeing towards the playground at the back of the school. “Sirius, what’s wrong!?” roars James in confusion as he runs after his wayward friend.

Severus is left standing awkwardly near the front entrance, not exactly sure where to go for his first day of wizarding primary school and wondering if this is a premonition for the rest of his life.

“Sorry about that,” says a voice off to the side. Severus turns his head, drawn from his melancholy musings by the figure of Regulus, who he recognized from the engagement party. “Mum finally decided on a match for Sirius and he’s not too happy that it’s a Slytherin, which isn’t really the guy’s fault since Sirius is probably the only one in the family who thinks Slytherin is a bad thing.” Regulus just shakes his head in exasperation at his brother, and older though Sirius may be, Severus figures that Regulus must be the mature one of the two.

“But what does that have to do with me?” asks Severus, voice small as he glances towards the area the other two boys had run off to.

“Nothing really,” Regulus says quickly. “It’s just that it all happened after the party and Sirius thinks it’s cause Mum wants to outdo Mrs. Potter, but Sirius is my elder brother; it was going to happen at some point.” Regulus gives a shrug, clearly unperturbed by the whole situation. “Oi! Class is about to start, we better get going.”

“Shouldn’t we go and get James...and Siri—”

“The Headmistress will when they don’t show up to class, but you shouldn’t get into trouble because of my stupid brother. Come on, I’ll show you where your class is.”

Severus gives a nod of agreement before Regulus begins chatting away about teachers that Severus has never met but some whose wrath—and ruler—he should try to avoid. Regulus’ chatter makes it easy for Severus to push the whole Sirius incident into the back of his mind. Before long, the two boys are standing outside of a classroom door that’s full of young witches wearing the same navy robes that he and Sirius have to wear.

“Have a good day in class,” says Regulus politely, manners seeming to stick to at least one of the Black boys though that’s more than Severus can say for the other.

“You too,” says Severus, offering a shy smile to the dark-haired boy before Regulus takes his leave.

Severus returns his attention back to the classroom and is met with a dozen pairs of eyes staring back at him. Many of the girls are familiar as Severus had met them at the party, however, that doesn’t make the situation any less intimidating. As Severus steps into the classroom, he can see some of the girls leaning towards each other to gossip, but unlike their parents, they clearly have no idea how to keep their voices down. Or perhaps they don’t really care to.

“I heard that his Mum ran off with some Muggle.”

“My Da called her a Muggle lover.”

“He’s already engaged to James, I don’t see why he’s being escorted to class by Regulus.”

“You know how Muggles are…”

“Shameless and lacking in decency is what me Mum says.”

The wretched gossip continues, the girls turning gleaming eyes laced with cruelty in his direction. It’s almost a complete one-eighty from how they’d behaved at the party, but perhaps the girls had only put on polite airs, and now from under the watchful eyes of their parents their true feelings are being revealed. If Sirius had arrived to class by now perhaps Severus would have thanked him, because Sirius’ outburst from earlier had given Severus a chance to harden his armor. Just in time, apparently, because the gossip is decidedly vicious and is only getting worse.

Severus steadies his resolve, and though he drops his head a bit so that the long length of his hair can shield him from view, Severus doesn’t flee the classroom. Instead, he moves to one of the empty seats near the back of the class, keeping his eyes downward as he settles onto the hard chair. The gossip continues, producing a few more vicious jibes before, abruptly, the girls fall silent.

“Good morning, Mrs. Montgomery!” Severus jumps slightly in his seat at the cacophony of noise, the whole class speaking in perfect unison.

“Good morning, girls,” replies the stately looking woman. Severus is instantly reminded of Mrs. Potter, although this woman has way more greys than Mrs. Potter which contrasts against the dark brunette of her hair. “What’s this? A new student,” says Barbara with a smile, although Severus is sure she already knew he would join the class today. “Come to the front and introduce yourself. Now, where is Sirius?” Barbara mutters to herself as she uses her wand to take roll. Now that the absence is marked, the Headmistress would be notified of the missing student before he’d promptly be brought to class.

Severus, for his part, is shuffling forward like someone being led to the gallows. He doesn’t want to stand in front of all these mean girls who’d just gossiped cruelly about himself, his mother, and his Muggle heritage. However, as nice as Mrs. Montgomery appears, Severus knows from experience that teachers won’t save him. He’d learned that the hard way.

“Hi, I’m Severus. I’m nine years old and I’m an only child.” Severus glances at Mrs. Montgomery from the corner of his eyes to see the teacher giving him an encouraging smile. She probably wants him to say something else but Severus doesn’t have anything else to say—didn’t even want to say that much. Instead, he begins his sad little trek back to his seat.

Barbara looks as though she’s about to say something but before she can get any words out the classroom door flies open to admit a ruffled looking Sirius. “Sirius Black, arriving late to class is unacceptable. Should I need to remind you again it will be with the appropriate discipline, understood?”

“Yes, Mrs. Montgomery,” mutters Sirius, before pressing his mouth into a line and stumping over to his seat. Barbara shakes her head at the boy’s antics, her gaze darting over to the other boy in her class now, one Severus Snape. His first day of class and he is already practically an angel compared to Sirius.

“Now, let us begin,” says Barbara as she waves her wand in a well-practiced motion that has all of the embroidery materials dancing from her bag and onto the girls’ desks. “Continue from where you left off last week while I attend to Severus.” Barbara rounds her desk, watching as each of her charges gets to work although she has to cast a hard gaze on Sirius before the boy grudgingly takes up a needle. “Severus, have you ever embroidered before?”

Severus shakes his head in the negative as he glances up at Mrs. Montgomery from beneath his lashes. “No, but I’ve sewed before.”

“Very good,” says Barbara before beginning her instruction.

The rest of the class is rather pleasant for Severus. Relaxing, actually, as he focuses his attention on his needle going in and out of the fabric and not pricking himself. Mrs. Montgomery has him start on some very basic figures, just so that he can learn how to make various shapes and lines which, she tells him, is essential for the careful work that’s required of magical runes.

Suddenly, Severus is full of a mixture of awe and elation as he realizes that this is his first time practicing magic. Well, it’s his first time doing something intentionally magical since he’s had his fair share of accidental magic. Even if Severus isn’t waving around a wand and is only putting the thread through cloth he finds the experience a bit empowering because this is how he could protect himself. Yes, he’d always wanted to learn to play an instrument but that wouldn’t save him. These protective runes, however, if he studied hard and learned well, could.

By the end of class, Severus has a few wonky looking shapes but even he can spot some improvements. Mrs. Montgomery assigns the class a stitch pattern for homework and Severus is surprised to see that it’s a flower and not one of the runes he’d heard so much about. For him, she gives Severus a book full of runes that he’d need to memorize, as well as telling him to continue working on his lines.

His next class is arithmetic which Severus suspects will probably be the easiest class for him as it’s the only thing he’s also taken at his old school. Severus is due for a surprise, however, because even though the class is quite similar to his old one, the way it’s taught here is geared towards finances, and volumes and weights of potions ingredients, as well as other things that make no sense to Severus because he has no idea what the words even mean. Luckily for him, it’s easy enough to work out the numbers so he doesn’t have any issues there.

At the end of class, their assigned homework just like with Mrs. Montgomery before being dismissed for a fifteen-minute recess. Most of the girls rush out of the class as soon as it’s finished, but Severus takes his time to leave, not at all eager to go because breaks are usually the times that bullies attack. As he heads towards the exit, Severus’ head is lowered in his typical fashion of hopefully avoiding any keen eyes Thus, Severus spots the pair of oxfords before he steps on them. When his gaze travels upwards, his onyx eyes are met with a pair of grey ones.

“Sorry,” Sirius mutters, apropos of nothing, and despite his words of apology, he’s practically glaring at Severus as he grouches them out. Severus is met with the abrupt realization that Sirius is only apologizing to make up with his apparent best friend, James. And despite his word, Severus is sure that this won’t be the last time he’ll hear some insincere apology from the other boy.

Sirius darts out of the classroom without waiting for a reply before Severus takes his own leave. When he exits the classroom he’s met with the bright-eyed face of one of his classmates. “Hi! I’m Marie Alton,” says the blond-haired girl before dipping into a curtsy. Severus awkwardly follows suit because that seems the way of things here. “Sorry about the girls in class earlier. They’re just jealous.”

“Jealous of what?” asks Severus, voice full of confusion before he’s walking in step with Marie. The hallways are deserted as the other students were smart enough not to waste any of their precious recess time indoors.

“You.”

“Me?” scoffs Severus. “That’s impossible.”

Marie just rolls her eyes. “You and Sirius are the only girls who can talk to boys around here.”

“I’m not a girl.”

“You know what I mean. And you’re in this class, aren’t you?” Marie doesn’t wait for a response as she rolls her eyes again. “Anyway, don’t let them get to you.” Severus just shrugs, not wanting to admit that he was bothered in the first place before the two finally make it outside.

“Severus! Where’ve you been? You’re going to miss the whole recess!”

Severus blinks as James suddenly appears out of nowhere like a whirlwind. Severus doesn’t think James actually expects any answers to his question because he doesn’t wait for any. Instead, James takes Severus’ hand in his own before dragging him off across the playground. Severus doesn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to Marie. She does, however, offer him a small wave which he spots over his shoulder. When Severus turns his head back around he’s once more face to face with Sirius Black. Luckily, the two boys aren’t alone for any other awkward encounters, because aside from James there’s Regulus and Ignotus.

“Next time just come with Sirius, alright? He apologized, right?”

“...yes,” says Severus, shooting a quick glance at Sirius although the other boy was making sure not to look at him.
“Great!” exclaims a happy James before him, Sirius, and Ignotus go back to running around like maniacs.

“So far, so good?” asks Regulus, because unlike James he’d noticed the look that Severus had shot his brother.

“Yea, it’s just a lot to get used to. You know, compared to my old school.”

“I imagine it was all pretty strange.”

“What?”

“The muggles and such.”

“Er, no more strange than this. I mean, this is more strange actually. Mum told me about magic and stuff once things kept happening around me that I couldn’t explain but this is different from some stories.” Regulus makes a small noise of agreement before Severus abruptly changes the subject, “Even during recess, are the girls and boys separated?”

“What? No. Who told you that?”

“Marie mentioned something about it.”

Ah. Well, yea. There’s no rule against it or anything but it doesn’t happen very often.”

Severus glances back towards the area where he can see some of his classmates, before turning back to glance at boys running all around, some even roughhousing and stuff. “I guess not everyone can sneak trousers under their robes,” says Severus, his gaze landing on Sirius who indeed had a pair of trousers on, made visible by him hiking up his robes so that he can run around unhampered. That seemed to be the clear divide in Severus' mind considering the girls most definitely could not hike up their robes like that. Not even Severus, in fact, as he only had his undies on again. Indeed, Severus had asked for trousers once his school uniform was known but his Mum had said he’d find enough hardships without making it worse by going against dress code. If the gossiping from earlier was any indication, plus Sirius outburst, then his Mum was definitely right.

“I suppose that’s true,” says Regulus with a laugh, drawing Severus from his train of thought. “Mum’s given up on him about the trousers lately. Probably because the whole marriage thing is a harder battle.”

“But can’t Sirius just say no? I only got betrothed to James because I said yes when Mrs. Potter asked.”

Regulus gives Severus an odd look before his gaze turns to his brother, and then to James. “Sirius doesn’t get a choice. Neither does James, right?”

Severus' eyes widen slightly as his gaze moves over towards James, laughing and screaming as he plays tag or something with the other boys. “I...I didn’t know. I thought James could say no, just like me.”

“Well, he doesn’t seem to mind too much,” says Regulus with a shrug before he rises to his feet. He reaches down a hand to help Severus up before moving to head back to the entrance. “Recess is over.”

Severus wonders if Regulus has some uncanny way of keeping track of time because just as he finishes speaking, the recess bell rings out across the playground. Severus is about to ask him because he really does want to know what Regulus’ secret is. He doesn’t get a chance to because once again he finds himself being dragged along by one James Potter. Severus can barely get his feet to work properly, tripping over the unfamiliar oxfords and the unnatural length of his robes which are practically a dress when he thinks about it.

Everything is just so new, and James is intent on having Severus follow his tempo but at this moment it’s suddenly all a bit much. “James? James. Stop. I need you to just...can you stop, please?” Severus' voice grows louder as he speaks, but with his penchant for whispering it barely makes it past room level before he finishes. Due to this, James doesn’t notice Severus distress, not right away, but once Severus yanks his arm free James becomes aware.

“Oh, sorry! Did I hurt you? Mum says I get too excited sometimes.”

James looks so sweet and sincere that Severus begins to feel a bit bad. “No, no...you didn’t hurt me,” he says, voice low as his head dips. “It’s just hard to keep up with these types of robes.”

James looks a bit perplexed before suddenly realizing that, unlike Sirius, Severus doesn’t have any trousers. “Oh, right! I can walk slower. Is that ok?”

“Yea.”

“Great!” James exclaims, back to his usual self now as he grins at Severus. This time, when he takes Severus’ hand, James walks at a pace that’s more befitting the length of Severus’ robes as well as Severus’ shorter stature. “See you at lunch!” says James once they’re in front of Severus’ classroom. Severus just gives a nod before James runs off to his own class.

This time when he enters the class, there’s no more gossiping, just stares that could indeed be jealousy, if Marie is to be believed. “Over here,” says Marie with a smile, waving her hand at Severus before beckoning him over. There are two other girls seated nearby. “This is Elizabeth and Madeline.”

“Hello,” Severus says to the two girls before hesitantly seating himself at the desk that Marie gestured to. Both Elizabeth and Madeline return his greetings before their potions teacher walks in.

Severus finds potions extremely satisfying. His Mum was right: potions is a bit like cooking even if the odors are nowhere near as satisfying as food cooking in a kitchen. But all of the chopping, and weighing, and mixing comes easily to Severus, probably because he’s helped his Mum so often with dinner and such. Severus even gets a few praises from the teacher for his technique, and by the end of class, he’s already helped both Marie and Madeline with their potions.

“Wow, you’re amazing,” says Madeline with a smile. Elizabeth gives a nod of agreement as the quartet heads towards the cafeteria for lunch.

The lunch hour passes by with James plastered next to his side while chatting animatedly with both him and Sirius. Most of his conversation is for Sirius, however, as Severus is still too shy to speak more than a handful of words at a time. That doesn’t seem to bother James or the trio of girls that have accepted him into their circle. It’s rather relaxing actually, especially when Regulus comes over because between the two Black boys Severus would much rather spend his time with the younger.

After lunch is music where Severus is surprised to learn that the class isn’t just about playing an instrument, but about learning French and Italian because every song they have to sing is in a foreign language. Even playing an instrument is a bit of a foreign language because Severus has to learn how to read music. It’s all a bit daunting, and by the end of it, Severus actually finds himself looking forward to Pureblood customs if only to move onto a new topic.

Pureblood customs is interesting because Severus feels as though he’s unraveling a puzzle—the puzzle that is his new life. Despite his practice with quill and ink from his previous classes, Severus struggles a bit with his quill running dry as he frantically writes down things of interest that he wants to ask his Mum, or Mrs. Potter about. After Pureblood customs is another recess and by now Severus is a bit mentally drained so the break comes at the perfect time. Once again James rushes over to drag him off to his area of fun but Severus really just needs a break so he declines, choosing instead to stay with his quartet.

James looks surprised, maybe even a bit hurt, but Sirius is there to drag him off again so Severus doesn’t dwell on it. As nice as James is Severus doesn’t want to spend his whole life being dragged around by him. Severus can hear some of his classmates whispering furiously to each other after witnessing that dismissal, their gazes darting from him to James and back again.

“Just ignore them,” says Marie as she glances down at her exploding snap cards. Elizabeth is seated next to Severus so that he can see her cards, the boy learning the mechanics of the wizarding game that they’d just introduced him to.

By the end of recess, Severus found himself feeling a bit bad about how he’d pushed James away so he quickly approaches the other boy before he enters the school building. “Hey...do you want to lead me to my last class?”

“No.” Severus' face falls at the word, shocked because he’s sure he’s had to practically peel James off of him a time or two. Had his earlier dismissal ruined their whole relationship? “No, I mean, I can’t,” James hastily clarifies, looking about as horror-stricken as Severus does. James had responded as though he were speaking to Sirius, and not to Severus, whose first day it was at Godric’s Hollow Primary School for the Gifted. “Your class has herbology next. The greenhouses is out back. If I’m late to class again the Headmistress is going to send another owl home,” grumbles out James irritably. “But if you wait at the greenhouse I’ll come to get you afterward, ok?” James looks hopeful as he speaks, and it’s that look on his face that makes Severus realize the truth in his words. James had said no because it was impossible, not because he suddenly hated Severus. Severus had enough people that hated him; he certainly doesn’t need anymore.

“Yes, that’s fine.”

James grins at Severus before leaning forward to plant a quick kiss to Severus' lips, right there in front of half the school. “Catch ya later,!” James darts off to class before Severus turns, red-faced, towards the waiting figures of Marie, Elizabeth, and Madeline. The trio of girls are about as red-faced as he is and giggling, which causes Severus to grow even redder. But they don’t tease him about it, which is all that Severus can hope because he’s sure the other girls will. Surprisingly enough, the other girls don’t tease him about it either. Maybe they’re too shocked but it wouldn’t be the first time that a bully kept some ammo for a later day. ’They’re just jealous.’ says Marie’s voice in Severus’ head. Severus repeats that like a mantra, cloaking himself in it in case he needs to defend against their cruelty.

Herbology class starts without a hitch. Most of the plants they learn about are ones they’d used in potions earlier today, but aside from plants whose sole purpose is for potions, the teacher also goes into those for cooking and such. Apparently, despite the reality that most of the students here have house-elves, and therefore have no need to cook, they’re still expected to know how to oversee a properly stocked greenhouse.

'At my old house, we had a garden,' thinks Severus with a small pang of...longing?

Severus blinks, his vision growing blurry, before a drop of moisture on his hand makes him realize that he’s crying. Madeline notices first. “Hey, are you alright? You didn’t cut yourself, did you?” she asks, glancing down at Severus' hands, worried as she looks to see if there’s any blood.

“N-no. I’m ok.” Hastily Severus uses the sleeve of his robe to wipe the moisture away. He’s crying. Severus never cries. Not anymore. But Severus had also never left home nor had he ever found himself thrust into a strange new world. For the first time since his mother had packed up their stuff and took them away from his father, Severus misses home.

They’d had a garden, with fruit and vegetables ripe on the vine. And when it was time for dinner he and his Mum would go and pick all the things needed, and if the bounty was great sometimes even his father would be in a good mood. It wasn’t perfect. Severus doesn’t think it has ever been perfect. But it had been his. What did he have now? Robes that didn’t fit, and a spot between his legs that meant he never would because he isn’t a boy and he isn’t a girl.

'What am I?'

Grey spots start appearing in his vision, and Severus tells himself to breathe. He tries to, he really does. Madeline and Elizabeth and Marie, even the teacher, are talking to him but their voices just ring in his ears, like broken music. Severus lips part, the boy trying to respond but no sound escapes. When he faints, it’s onto the softness of a pillow as the teacher has managed to transfigure one before Severus can hit his head.

Chapter Text

"You know, I think the engagement party worked splendidly," says Dorea with a laugh. She's seated across from Euphemia as the two women have a late lunch together. "Of course, you could have told me about Severus beforehand."

"But then the party wouldn't have been such a delightful surprise, would it?"

The two women share a chuckle before Dorea speaks again. "Walburga was about to have a canary, and she wasted no time in securing a match for Sirius."

"Already?" asks Euphemia in surprise. "I thought she was enjoying using him as bait while the other Pureblood families tripped over themselves trying to entice her to sign a contract."

"Honestly, if Sirius didn't take up so much of her attention I'm sure Walburga would already have turned her sights on Regulus as he’s the one due to inherit "

"How unsurprising."

Dorea gives a small shrug. "You know as well as I that Sirius is more than a handful. As difficult as Walburga can be, even I doubt if I could properly rear Sirius, especially if I had another child to look after. She needs something to keep him in line. He'll get a dowry, once he marries."

"And that's it?"

Dorea shrugs again. "It's not ideal, of course. But such an action, even if he is firstborn, isn't unheard of. It's not like he's being removed from the line of succession. In the eyes of tradition, he was never in it to begin with. He will be a wife, after all, and the only times wives inherit anything is if all their male relatives are dead. That, or some sympathetic soul deeds to them a morsel or two before giving the rest to a male heir."

Euphemia sighs because that’s the sad truth about it. It’s a long-standing tradition as husbands are expected to take care of their wives, and no family would knowingly wed their child to a spouse who would abandon her or not fulfill his duties. Therefore, it is perfectly natural for Orion and Walburga to leave the Black family fortune to Regulus as he will be the one taking a wife. Yes, it makes sense, but Euphemia doubts that’s the sole reason behind Walburga’s decision. "So who's the lucky bloke?" she finally asks, curious as to who's managed to finally sway the shrewd couple with what must be quite the tantalizing contract.

"Lucius Malfoy. He's in his second year at Hogwarts. The same year as Narcissa actually."

"Didn't you say the Malfoys were trying to agree to a contract between Lucius and Andromeda?"

"There was talk about it, yes. But once that whole scandal with Tom Riddle happened Cygnus and Druella were quick to swoop in. Of course, they'd already had that agreement with the Lestranges, but Tom is older than Rodolphus and you know one can't have a younger sister marry before the older." Dorea grimaces slightly at the thought because to do such a thing would be almost like admitting that the older sister was, as the saying goes 'put on a shelf.'

"Of course not," Euphemia agrees quickly, having the same thought. "But with the Lestrange contract falling to Andromeda now, that still leaves Narcissa Black who, as you said, is in the same year as Abraxas’ son."

"True, but Black or not, the Malfoys aren't too keen on marrying their heir to a third child who won’t receive half as many valuable heirlooms as her older sisters. Especially not when a prize such as Sirius stands unclaimed."

"He's not a prize. He's a boy."

"Of course not but that's not how Walburga sees it, nor Abraxas. Plus, this way Druella can't be offended as the Malfoys’ ties are still within the Black family."

"Ah, yes." Euphemia enjoys a sip of her tea as she takes in the latest news that would make it’s way across the gossip mill pretty soon once the announcement hits the society section. That, and the engagement party that Euphemia is sure will probably be completely outlandish but such is Walburga's way of things. "Abraxas Malfoy has always been an ambitious man."

"From what I hear, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Walburga is extremely pleased with herself and as old and pure as the Malfoy line is, it's almost a miracle they haven't died out by now. The Black blood should take care of that though."

Euphemia gives a nod because as much as the Potters had kept a long-standing distance with the dark-inclined Blacks, after decades of failed pregnancies between herself and Fleamont, it had been an easy decision for the Potters to sign a contract between Charlus and Dorea. Of all the Blacks, Dorea’s the most sensible.

Just then the flames dancing in the fireplace turn green as the Headmistress of Godric’s Hollow Primary School for the Gifted materializes within the flames.

“Hello, Mrs. Potter. Oh, and Mrs. Potter,” says the floating head of the stately witch as she gives a nod to each woman.

“Is everything alright?” asks Euphemia, abandoning her tea as she moves to kneel near the fireplace so that she can speak more easily with the Headmistress.

“Severus Snape had a bit of a fainting spell,” says the Headmistress in that no-nonsense way of hers. “He is in the infirmary now, recovering. I’m sure the day just caught up with him and the nurse suspects he’ll recover better upon waking to a familiar face.”

“Yes, of course. I’ll floo right over,” says Euphemia. The Headmistress gives another nod before disappearing. The flames quickly change back to their natural colors as Euphemia rises to her feet. “It looks like we’ll have to cut our lunch short, Dorea.”

“I’ll come with you,” says Dorea as she too rises to her feet. At Euphemia’s arched brow, Dorea continues. “Lessons are nearly over anyway, and if Severus’ recovery runs past the last bell you’ll need someone to look after James.”

“My thanks, Dorea.”

Dorea just waves the words away with a small smile upon her face. “Think nothing of it, Effie. Shall we go now?”

“Yes,” says Euphemia before turning to lead the way to the floo room. The room itself is a quaint one that’s dominated by a large fireplace with its mouth tall enough to walk right into. There’s a side table nearby with a pot of floo powder resting atop it. Euphemia flicks her wand to light the hearth. She takes up a handful of floo powder before tossing the powder into the flames. Once the flames change to green Euphemia steps inside of the fireplace. “Godric’s Hollow Primary School for the Gifted.”

Euphemia is gone in the blink of an eye, the floo ride a very short one as the distance between her home and the school is not far. Euphemia is met with the Headmistress in the flesh as she steps out of the fireplace. “Right this way,” says the Headmistress, pausing as the flames turn green again before the figure of Dorea appears. “And you are here to pick up Ignotus, Mrs. Potter?”

“And to look after James while Effie takes care of Severus.”

“Very well,” says the Headmistress before leading the way to the small infirmary which consists of two beds, one of which is occupied by the slight figure of Severus Snape. “I have some business to attend but I shall leave you in the nurse’s care.” The Headmistress gives a parting nod to Euphemia before she exits the infirmary with Dorea in tow.

“Is Severus alright?” Euphemia asks the nurse as she peers down at her charge. Severus’ jet black hair seems even more stark against the unnatural paleness of his face.

“Aye, he’ll be quite alright,” says nurse as she pulls out some smelling salts to place under Severus’ nose. The boy’s nose twitches, his cheeks suddenly infusing with a healthy amount of color as his onyx eyes slowly blink open.

“...Mrs. Potter?” says a groggy sounding Severus, his eyes wide and dark as he moves to sit up in bed.

The nurses rushes to help, using her hands to fluff up his pillow before she takes a step back. “I’ll leave you two alone,” says the woman, moving to her small office at the back of the room so that she can attend to some paperwork.

“Hello, dear. Is everything alright?” asks Euphemia, the woman carefully settling down on the bed before reaching out a hand to gently place on Severus’ cheek. Severus’ face turns even redder as he lowers his eyes in clear embarrassment. “Shh, Severus, there’s nothing to be embarrassed over. Can you tell me what happened?”

“I...I was in class. Herbology and I just...fainted, I guess.” Severus gives a small shrug, gaze still lowered to the thin sheet covering his lap. The sound of the school bell abruptly going off causes Severus to jump slightly, his large eyes darting up as his hands hastily push the infirmary sheet back.

“Not so fast, Severus,” says Euphemia, placing a hand over Severus’ own as she stops the boy from scrambling out of bed. “We wouldn’t want you to have another incident. Here, drink some water first.”

“Thanks,” mumbles Severus as Euphemia picks up the glass of water that’s on a nearby nightstand. Severus carefully takes it from her before sipping at it.

“I imagine your first day must have been quite overwhelming,” says Euphemia as she keeps a careful gaze on Severus.

“It was fine,” says Severus, the boy still mumbling as he takes intermediate sips of water.

“I know you and James are in different classes but I do hope he was of some help.”

“James is fine,” Severus says, finally glancing up to meet Euphemia’s worried gaze.

Euphemia lets out a small breath of relief as their gazes meet because whatever it was that had caused Severus to faint appears to have nothing to do with her son. She’d have scolded him fiercely if he’d put Severus in such a state. “Very good,” says Euphemia, offering Severus a smile before she rises to her feet. “If there is ever something you wish to speak about I am always here to listen, Severus. Too, you have Eileen as well. I know that the last week has been quite the adventure but I promise you, things will get easier.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Potter.”

“You can call me Effie, dear.”

“Effie,” says Severus, returning Euphemia’s smile with a shy one of his own. Euphemia lowers her hand so that she can help Severus climb out of the bed.

“It looks like they brought your school bag,” says Euphemia, nodding towards where it sits on one of the nearby chairs. Severus steps forward to grab it before the two head towards the exit. “Do you like any of your classes?”

Severus gives a nod. “Herbology was kinda fun but I like potions the best.”

“Oh, really?” says Euphemia with a smile as she glances down at Severus. He gives a quick nod of his head that has her chuckling at the way his hair swings. “You know, Fleamont is a Potioneer. James doesn’t care much for the art as of yet but I’m sure Fleamont will be delighted at the news.”

“Really?” asks Severus. In the last week of his time spent in Godric’s Hollow he hadn’t seen too much of Mr. Potter. Which is just fine with Severus. After everything with his own father, Severus has a wariness of men that will take more than just a week for him to get over. Nonetheless, it is nice to know that if he ever has to properly interact with the man that there’ll be some goodwill there.

“Of course.” Euphemia takes Severus hand in her own as a few straggler students make their way through the halls. She can see some of them stopping to stare at the two of them which causes the woman to glance down at Severus with concern. For his part, Severus is doing his best to ignore all of the looks and the not so hushed whispers. Euphemia gives Severus hand a quick squeeze, wanting to offer some support and reassurance to the boy. Starting a new school while being the center of attention couldn’t be easy.

“Severus!” is the only warning that the couple gets before James is practically crashing into Severus’ small body. “I heard you fainted! Are you alright?”

“You crash landing on top of him isn’t making it better,” says Euphemia with exasperation, as outright scolding James has always been difficult when he’s just so exuberant.

“Oi, sorry,” James hastily says, drawing back a bit so that he can gaze down into Severus’ face. “Hey, you ok?” he asks again, trying to get Severus to lift his gaze. Severus doesn’t speak, he just bites his bottom lip before giving a small nod, the movement causing his hair to sway forward again. “Good! Do you want to come to Dorea’s with me and Sirius?”

“I don’t think that’s the best idea, dear. Severus’ has had a long day.”

James pouts at his mother's words before his face suddenly lights up. “Regulus is coming too! You like Reg, right?”

“...yes. But I want to go home.” The words are barely above a whisper as Severus speaks them, his gaze finally lifting so that his eyes can meet James’.

James looks disappointed for a moment before his face brightens again and boy does he bounce back fast. “Tomorrow then?”

Severus opens his mouth. Closes it. He seems at a loss for words, not knowing if he should agree or not because he’s sure after another day of school he’ll just want to return to the relative safety of the Bed and Breakfast and not deal with more unpredictability presented by the extended company of schoolboys.

“Let Severus settle in for a few days first, James,” says Euphemia, quickly realizing that shy as Severus is, he’ll need the extra time and space while learning to deal with the other boys. “I’m going to take Severus home.” Euphemia gives a nod of thanks to Dorea for the impromptu playdate that will get James out of her hair while she tends to Severus.

“Come this way, boys,” says Dorea as she turns to lead James and Ignotus to the floo room. Sirius and Regulus will arrive a bit later. Ignotus follows right after his mother but Dorea has to stop their procession when it’s clear that James isn’t following along.

Instead, the boy jumps forward, wrapping his arms around Severus in a quick hug. “See you tomorrow!” James says, loud for no other reason than the fact that he nearly always is. Severus returns he hug a bit awkwardly but James doesn’t seem to notice. In fact, James is grinning from ear to ear before he leans forward to give Severus a quick kiss right on his lips.

“Oh, my,” says Dorea with a small laugh, one hand pressed to her mouth. Ignotus just rolls his eyes, not seeing why James needs to keep kissing his fiance so much. They aren’t the only betrothed pair around here but certainly, they’re the only couple that’s going around kissing each other.

James,” begins Euphemia, but James is quick to dart off down the hall that leads to the floo room.

“Bye!”

Once James is out of sight Dorea lets out another laugh as she shakes her head. “Really, Effie?”

“Oh, shush,” says the woman, shaking her own head now as she glances down to Severus. There’s a light blush on his cheeks but other than that he seems quite alright. “James has always been...very affectionate. I’ll have his father talk to him about this, as clearly my own words seem to have escaped him.” Severus just mumbles something that Euphemia doesn’t quite catch. “What’s that, dear?” she asks. The trio of Potters have finally left the hallway, and with the rest of the students gone now, that just leaves her and Severus.

“...it’s alright. I don’t mind.” In Severus’ mind, if people are kissing then they’re not punching. James is to be his husband one day, and if he’s learned anything from observing his parents, it that one should cherish the times of kissing because kisses mean not worrying about black eyes and busted lips. This is reason enough for Severus to dread the day that James’ kisses stop. However, during the periods of kissing between his parents, Severus’ father was never quite as...happy as James. Perhaps Severus doesn’t have anything to worry about? Only time will tell.

When the two make it to the Bed and Breakfast that is Severus’ current home, Eileen is there waiting for them. She hugs Severus to her side as Euphemia updates her on Severus’ health before Eileen sends Severus upstairs to their room. “We can’t stay here forever,” says Eileen once Severus is out of earshot.

“Yes, I know,” says the Euphemia. “Fleamont is dealing with the Muggles now, about a flat that’s not too far from the school. Here.” Euphemia pulls out a small pouch that is clearly full of wizarding money. “For any incidentals. I know with the move you had to quit your job but Severus’ education is of the utmost importance.”

“Of course,” says Eileen, quickly pocketing the coins.

“Most of the subjects you should be able to assist with if he needs tutoring but if there are any that require added resources do let me know.”

“Very well,” says Eileen before she’s turning on her heels to head up to her room.

She doesn’t bother to say goodbye to Euphemia and as rude as it is Eileen knows the other woman will understand. Eileen has made her fair share of mistakes but it’s not easy having another woman step in and take up the duties that should have been hers. Eileen is grateful, even if she can’t show it, because until Severus is wed Eileen is well and truly barred from the wizarding world. There’s no wards stopping her, of course; just the heavy weight of society that, while ignoring Eileen, will seek to punish her son for inflicting them with a presence that is anathema.

So Eileen doesn’t. She’d stayed away from the engagement party and Severus’ first day of wizarding school. She hadn’t even been notified that her son had fainted. It is infuriating yet...Eileen had known she’d have to deal with these very problems when she’d returned. She is ready for it and Severus, well, he is still learning. But soon, he will be ready as well. That is her job: to ensure that her son has all that he needs to succeed in the life that Fate and Lady Magic has prepared for him.