Alfred entered his Lord’s quarters the next morning, carrying a tray of two goblets filled with fresh blood and their breakfasts, letters and newspapers. Setting it on the table in the little sitting room they had. He pursed his lips seeing Severus had been relegated to the sofa. News had naturally gone around about what had happened last night. Including what Harry had informed Severus after decapitating Lord Voldemort.
He couldn’t deny the true horror he felt when the wards around Prince Castle – particularly the Lords wing – had been smashed to smithereens. He and a dozen others had stormed up the rooms to find nobody there. Fortunately, he’d had the forethought to use the bond all vampires shared with one another – truthfully for the most part it was forgotten – and found out that Harry was at their location and they would return home momentarily.
He hadn’t just broken through Prince Castle wards, but the very secure wards at Voldemort’s location. He had broken through secure wards, only a few wizards had those capabilities and they were ward breakers, sometimes known as curse breakers in their chosen fields.
It made him wonder if that’s exactly what Harry was…or if he was just extremely powerful. They already knew he was powerful, but that kind of power? Was almost obscene if he had multiple gifts. It boded well for the continuation of the Prince line, and the Prince seat in the future.
“Good morning, Severus,” Alfred murmured quietly, as he placed everything down.
Severus sighed, giving up the pretence of trying to get any sleep. Grumbling incoherently, he sat up, “Morning, Alfred, what’s on the agenda for today?”
“Nothing,” Alfred informed him, he could spend the day grovelling, but he had a feeling Harry would continue this for a while. He was nothing if not a little bit vindictive when he felt wronged, they’d all seen it.
“Then I suppose I should get in touch with the Santos Clan,” Severus said, absently folding up the cover and setting it aside.
“Would you prefer they come here? I can set up a meeting?” Alfred questioned; he had no qualms about making them sweat further in his opinion they deserved it. They should have known what their clan members were up to. Off planning a war…with someone they were trying to gain an alliance with. It was at the height of incredulity really, to be that unaware of what was going down.
Naturally, he didn’t want to recall the fact they too had been grievously betrayed. He hadn’t been immensely popular, but he had been a friend to them all at one point or another. His devastating betrayal still resonated within them all, even knowing he had paid for his crimes.
“It’s very doubtful they’d put themselves in harms way,” Severus said wryly, “Especially not if they fear that I am still pissed off and that they might be killed.”
“Then simply make sure that they know they don’t have a choice,” Harry said, his voice sleep rough, as he opened the doors.
“That would make them even less likely to show up at the door,” Alfred said wryly, “Good morning, I hope I didn’t wake you?”
Harry shot Severus a look before shrugging, “Time to get up anyway, I’m not used to sleeping late.” Truth was, he’d already forgiven Severus…and he hadn’t slept much last night…it felt so odd not sleeping next to Severus now. He had felt like a part of him was missing. He’d refused to cave though and invite Severus back to bed. He reckoned it would set a bad precedence. He wanted to be Severus’ equal, not protected and sheltered, even if he understood why it had been done.
In the end, regardless, even if they had discussed it beforehand…he would have gone to Severus’ aid.
Severus sighed, resigned to another day of the ‘cold shoulder’ being in a metaphorical sense not just a literal one. He did not like being ignored, he wasn’t used to it, it was humbling as it was irritating. He deserved it, but it didn’t make it any easier to bear. He could only wait until Harry was ready to forgive him, whenever that would be. “Very well, inform them that I shan’t be leaving Prince Castle for the foreseeable future, that if they want an alliance, they will need to come themselves. They can bring up to five guards, but five guards only.”
“I shall do as you ask,” Alfred agreed, inclining his head in understanding. “Do I have permission to share the good news?” it would make them extremely understanding in a way nothing else could. It was one of the most protective times in a vampires’ life. Even after they were born, they were usually kept out of the limelight.
“What do you think?” Severus pondered, glancing at Harry, hoping he’d have an opinion one way or another.
“I don’t know them,” Harry broke the silence he’d had with Severus, this was business after all, not personal. “Are they liable to think we better get them before they get us? Because if that is the case then better to smooth over egos and pride.” It was the whole point of alliances with other clans, to prevent attacks, to get along with one another in the event of another clan invading on their territory.
Alfred and Severus shared a look of pride at the Lord Consort’s forethought.
“What’s their reputation like?” he asked after a few moments of silence.
“All clans have a bred in ruthlessness to them,” Severus replied, “It comes with the territory, you have not only your family to protect but everyone living under your care. It’s difficult to differentiate what is rumour and what is genuine actions pertaining to clans and what they’ve done.”
“Indeed, but it’s more than likely that there’s an element of truth in all rumours, however small that slice of truth is to the entire rumour.” Alfred fully agreed, “Clans make no move to confirm or deny the rumours…it helps make them seem more frightening. Less likely to be attacked.”
“Yes, what are you thinking?” Severus asked, truly curious about his thoughts, as he stood from the sofa and sat on the chair, sorting through the mail but keeping his primary focus on Harry so that he didn’t think for a second he was being ignored.
“They’re a big clan, almost as big as ours, and quite a few of our own number – which I still don’t know in its entirety…are abroad.” Harry commented, shrugging, “Might be a good idea to keep the peace, especially since they’re only one of two clans in Portugal.” Which means they’ll be desperate to keep their position, and constantly worrying about the other clan trying to muscle in.
“Simon has actually begun the return journey with more than a few potential candidates that are interested in joining us.” Severus confirmed, the letter confirming his return trip, written out in the parchment in his hands. “And our figure is significantly much larger than the Santos Clan and they know it.” they wouldn’t come out unscathed, and definitely no guarantee of winning. He wasn’t bragging…much, but he was rather proud of the numbers they held even with recent losses they’d sustained. With the vampires Simon was bringing back it would bring their numbers back up stronger.
“That’s wonderful, we’ll definitely need to get everything prepared,” Alfred said pleased, and give everyone a warm welcome.
“And they will be sworn in to both of us,” Severus said smugly, for the first time they’d be sworn to the others as a couple. “I have amended the vows they make,” his tone going dark, “To forsake all other vows and adhere to only the ones they’re about to make.” It would prevent another betrayal like they’d suffered in the past. Which he still blamed himself for, if only he had been more cautious with the vows they took.
“May I see them?” Alfred asked, curiosity getting the better of him, he’d like to see what they’d be swearing. He didn’t profess to be an expert by any means, but he’d like to see if there were any other additions that maybe should be added in.
“In the third drawer down, right hand side,” Severus gestured to the drawers he was referring to. The dark oak wood, deep drawers, but the third one was usually just for paperwork and his journals and such.
“How long will it take for Simon to return?” Harry questioned before he could stop himself, scowling mutinously at himself.
Severus smothered his amusement, “A day or two, they’re feeding as they come,”
Harry pursed his lips, stopping the next question on the tip of his tongue coming out.
“They’re not taking Portkey’s because they prefer not to,” Severus took pity, “And most vampires would rather not Floo, and as for Apparation, not all vampires have magic, they prefer to stretch their legs and have a good run…its surprisingly uncommon that they get a chance to do so.” A cross-country run was very easy for them, it barely left them tired, although, it could cause aches for a bit, especially if they were particularly lazy and didn’t spend a lot of time on the move.
“How can they swear Vows if they don’t have magic to hold them to it?” Harry stared incredulously at both Alfred and Severus befuddled.
“They don’t,” Severus said simply.
“I’d ask if Rodney was a Muggle vampire…but I know he wasn’t…” Harry said perplexed, “But you still trust them?” it didn’t seem very likely, “And are they even able to feel the bonds at the back of their minds?”
“Yes, they can actually,” Alfred commented, “It’s part of being a vampire, it’s just they’re unable to Vow, they take them, swear them, but they aren’t beholden to them the way the others are.”
“Do we have a lot of them?” Harry asked curiously, craning his neck to follow Alfred, who was collecting the parchment that had the amended vows on them. He placed them in his folder, that he carried with him pretty much the whole time.
“No, not at all, only three, it’s exceedingly rare,” Severus commented, whether he meant it was rare for Muggles to accept and survive the change, or whether clans rarely took them in, he didn’t specify.
Harry made a small sound of agreement, not surprised that he was still learning everything he should know. It wasn’t something simple and easy to learn, there weren’t exactly books for 1001 questions you could ask as a novice and get answers. The journals were informative, truly, but they didn’t tell him much of anything…just things they picked up if they felt like writing it in their journals.
“Just for clarification, I shall inform the Santos clan about the good news?” Alfred asked, standing at attention near the door.
Harry glanced at Severus, a mouthful of blood in his mouth, curious himself.
“Yes, go ahead,” Severus confirmed, none of his hesitance showing, but the Santos Clan wouldn’t get near his mate, not until ironclad contracts had been sworn. In fact, he would prefer him not to have to deal with any of it, but his mate wanted to be part of all aspects of his life. If he kept shutting him out…well, he’d lose him.
Now that was definitely NOT something he desired; he’d rather give all this up than lose him. He had a responsibility to his people, so he would do his level best to ensure he could keep both promises until such time he was freed of his obligation…and he knew it wouldn’t be just in seventeen years, regardless of what the Elders would believe.
Harry had made it more than clear it wasn’t the life he wanted for their child, and Severus fully agreed. It was far too much pressure for a child, even a teenager. He’d felt that immense strain and he’d been twenty-one years old.
Then again, he’d had laws, regulations, fighting, attacks and an inheritance as well as learning how to fight thrust upon him in rapid succession in order to make sure he learned it all.
That wouldn’t be the case here, they’d be raised knowing these things, it was vital for their protection and future.
“I’ll let you know how it goes,” Alfred agreed, bowing his head before exiting the room. It wasn’t the usual guards today, who were all off with their significant other, and always did on the rare days Severus had nothing to do, and didn’t need escorting anywhere – even in the castle – they were very protective after all.
“Are you still angry with me?” Severus asked his mate, he missed him so much, despite the fact he’d been right there. Missed touching him, missed their conversations, and he missed that beautiful smile directed his way.
“Of course, I am,” Harry grumbled half-heartedly, as he drank the blood while it was still warm.
Severus badly wanted to pout, but refrained, he respected Harry too much to try and manipulate a reaction from him. He also respected his decisions, but he couldn’t wait until he was forgiven for his actions. “When do you want to set up a meeting with the Elders?” knowing that Harry would definitely wish to discuss that.
Harry did pout at that, and Severus smiled softly, he adored his mate.
“As soon as possible,” Harry eventually ventured, “I’d suggest getting a few more allies set up, but the Elders aren’t going to care what I accomplish…” they were just going to be against it anyway. “Speaking of Elders…just how many of them are there anyway?” he’d met them all at the celebration that had been help in Prince Castle many, many months ago.
Severus sobered a little, “No, they won’t,” he conceded, “They’re set in their ways, if I was not the only heir apparent when I came forth, I doubt they would have wanted me on the throne. The immovable ones? Thirty, but in total? Forty-two, forty-three if you include Alfred, but he hasn’t been considered an Elder but he left that behind after Rose and Glenn stepped down. It’s why he was given the honour of teaching me everything I know.”
“Did he use to be as stuffy as the rest of them?” Harry asked perking up in curiosity, licking his lips and smacking them in satisfaction. Food was alright, but blood? Bloody was a hundred times better.
Severus chucked, “No, he held a great deal more respect from everyone than the average Elder.” Pleased with himself that he had made Harry forget his ire.
“Do you even need them?” Harry asked mulishly, “Couldn’t we just get rid of them?”
“Sadly not, tradition isn’t easily gotten rid of, a lot of the vampires, despite the distaste for them, feel they’re required to keep the ‘Lord’ humble and ensure he or she listens to what they suggest. It wouldn’t be the first-time power has gone to their heads.”
“So, they’re like a council, that you can’t get rid of,” Harry conceded, “Which means I might not be able to get the laws changed.”
“That’s about the size of it, but they’ll be terrified of a repeat of last time, and more amendable than they’d like to laws being changed if it helps.” Severus said, “They won’t be happy about it, but they will go along with it.” reassuring him that the ammunition Harry had at his beck and call would work, one hundred percent. He didn’t insult Harry by suggesting something that he hadn’t thought of already a million times.
He was ultimately, a Slytherin, and he used everything to his advantage, including the desperation to make sure that the Prince line and its legacy continues.
“As soon as possible,” Harry murmured, before standing up and making his way over to Severus, doing what he had wanted all last night, burrowing himself comfortably in his arms, sighing softly. “Can’t even stay mad at you.”
Severus felt a smile tugging at his lips, “Haven’t we already been through this? Am I truly forgiven this time or shall I have you turning away from me again?” he wasn’t teasing either.
“Yes, yes you’re forgiven,” Harry murmured, “I really should make you grovel,” but he didn’t want to be separated. This might be the only day they got to themselves for months…and he didn’t want that wasted by fighting or avoiding each other. Almost purring in sheer delight at the light petting.
Severus tightened his hold, “I’d grovel as you put it, to the end of the earth.” He whispered lovingly into Harry’s ear. “You and the baby are my everything. More than my last breath, more than my magic, more than the Prince seat. More importantly…more than all the gold in the world.”
Harry smiled sweetly, hidden by Severus’ clothes, “Go on,” he urged him slyly.
Severus couldn’t help but laugh, he might not be able to see it but he could damn well feel it. “Incorrigible brat,” Severus murmured.
“Well, what happened to all the gold in the world?” Harry giggled as he was tickled, but not overly long, apparently Severus didn’t want him going far. As he pinned him in place, last night already forgotten just relishing in the close contact of his mate.
A/n – Yeah, another small chapter! Sorry guys, I think you’ll need to put up with small chapters for a few more days before things return to normal. I had a vet appointment today but a bus didn’t come so I had to make another appointment for tomorrow! I’m not getting much time to write much of anything ATM so forgive me for the smaller chapters! I had wondered about just waiting and posting a 6K chapter in the two days it would probably take me (since 3K seems to be what I can get done when I’m busy) but I do want to keep to the schedule, although I have zero doubt there will be a few times I can’t 😊 but we’ll get there eh! Can’t believe we’re nearly at the end of December! You guys Take care and stay safe! R&R please