"How did you find this place?" Harry asked, looking around the small register office. "I doubt they've had anyone get married here for twenty years."
"Twenty-seven," an elderly gentleman with white hair that stuck up in tufts said as he stepped out of his private office. "Did you make an appointment?"
"Yes," Severus replied crisply. "Potter and Snape."
"Let me see here...." The official heaved a massive book onto the counter and began flipping through it, dust thickening the air.
The man drew his finger down the page and then looked up at them. "The cost for a civil ceremony is £46 or nine Galleons, one Sickle and two Knuts. Paid in advance."
"Galleons?" Harry blinked. The man blinked back.
Severus pulled a small pouch from his pocket.
"You don't need to pay." Harry reached out to stay Severus's hand, trying to intercept the bag. They never discussed finances as it was well-understood that Harry had more money than he knew what to do with.
Severus raised a brow and Harry drew his hand back. There were some things Severus insisted on paying for—generally work-related items. However, this was clearly something he felt strongly about.
The man opened the bag, pulled out a Galleon and bit the gold coin.
"Very well," he said once satisfied the coin was genuine. "Do you have two witnesses?"
Severus smirked. "They should be here any moment."
"Dad? You home?"
Harry set his teacup down and made his way to the Floo.
"What is it, James? Everything all right?"
"Don't play innocent with me, Dad," James said, exasperated. "Did you and Severus get married?"
"I—" Harry waited a moment too long, he realised, to deny it. "Yes."
Harry ran a hand through his overly-long salt and pepper hair. He should have got it cut before the ceremony but it didn't matter now. They hadn't even taken pictures.
"Thursday last, around eleven."
James's mouth hung open. "On a Thursday morning, just like that?"
"It was the only time we were both free. I promoted a class of Aurors Wednesday evening and Severus had that conference to go to Friday." Harry shrugged. "How did you find out anyway?"
At this, James smirked. "One of your two witnesses was not as tight-lipped as you might have hoped."
"I knew it was a mistake to involve Malfoy." Harry groaned. Still a ferret after all these years.
"It wasn't him, Dad, it was the Headmistress. She told Madam Pomfrey but Al overheard them as he was bringing a student to the infirmary."
Harry sighed heavily. "I guess I should expect to see it in The Prophet soon."
"Did you truly think you could keep it a secret?"
"I'd hoped for at least a week, though now we won't have to make excuses when we go on our trip to Italy next month. You'll watch the crups?"
James nodded then grinned. "Sounds awfully romantic."
"You know how terribly romantic Severus is." Harry rolled his eyes. A bouquet of thistle was Severus's idea of romantic. "We'll undoubtedly gather potions ingredients from the slopes of Mount Etna."
James shook with laughter as he closed the Floo.
A tapping on the glass alerted Harry to an owl. Holding a Howler.
Harry opened the red envelope and recognised his daughter's voice immediately. "DAD, HOW COULD YOU? YOU KNOW I WANTED TO BE THERE...."
"Merlin help me," he muttered, letting his daughter have her say as he walked back into the kitchen to refill his tea. Severus would be there at one for lunch and he'd promised to make his favourite lamb stew.