Secret Snarry Swap: FIC: Bottled Thoughts Title: Bottled Thoughts Author:sheankelor Other pairings/threesome: None Rating: PG-13 Word count: +/- 6.2K Content/Warning(s): None Prompter/Prompt: No. 44 from alisanne: Severus reluctantly agrees to attend The Weasley Christmas party with Harry, but he'll be damned if he doesn't take some of his homemade brandy to survive the evening. What happens when he's persuaded to ~share with other guests? Summary: For seven years, whenever Severus went to the Weasleys for a birthday party, he watched the children and avoided the adults. This year, Harry convinces him to come for Christmas, he planned to do the same. His hostess gift changed that, and some honest - if inebriated - conversations flowed. A/N: Thank you, my dear friend, who took the time out to beta this.
Ever since the war, Severus Snape hid away from the public eye. If he didn't want you to know where he was, you didn't. Many previous Death Eaters discovered this fact to their dismay – the barriers he had in place around his likely localities sent them directly into the DMLE's hands. Many Aurors discovered this fact not only through the appearing Death Eaters, but because all their hunts turned up fruitless. A multitude of Ministry officials and members of the Order of the Phoenix also came back empty handed. Severus' restrictive guest list permitted him to brew contentedly, allowing him to stock different magical schools' Infirmaries, apothecaries scattered about the UK and Ireland, as well as fulfilling St Mungo’s special requests.
Those who knew where he lived tended to respect his brewing schedule. They let him know ahead of time that they were coming, or invited him to where they were. The older staff members at Hogwarts were regulars at both. A very few Aurors—mostly previous Order members—also knew, and a select group of potion masters, all of whom tended to invite him to their places.
There was only one person who had unlimited access to his cottage. One person who could walk in uninvited and not be hexed. Who could poke his nose into Severus' lab and smile at his glare while backing up with a warning that dinner was going to be soon and Severus needed to be there. One person Severus still had no true idea how he wormed his way into his heart, because when Harry Potter was his student, he couldn't even think of him without cringing.
Stretching his shoulders, Severus studied the potion gently roiling in the cauldron. It was the last he needed for the day. It was a rendition of a simple cheering potion, but wouldn't interfere with most medical potions. This brew only lasted for five hours before it expired and became toxic, but it only took a moment to deliver it to St Mungo's. He knew the elves put it into the staff's lunches, but he suspected that they also fed it to the children and permanent residents. Rolling his wrist to loosen it, he picked up his wooden paddle to begin the next minute of one second stirs to the right. Once the potion was ready, he would bottle it up and send his morning's endeavours on their way. It was his Christmas present to the Healers at St Mungo's that helped to heal both the minds and bodies of the many war victims.
A smile curled his lips. Many people wouldn't enjoy spending their Christmas sending off presents that they'd never see opened, brewing presents that the recipients would never know they were being given – he delivered his brew to St Mungo's kitchen elves and they discreetly distributed it – but it was his Christmas.
Besides, Harry wouldn't be over today at all. The younger man spent Christmas Eve night and Christmas with the Weasleys ever since the end of the war – years before he wormed his way into Severus' heart and house – and it was a tradition Severus would never begrudge. Just as he would never stop sending Pomona, Minerva, and Filius their Christmas bottles of his homemade apple brandy. That tradition reached all the way back to his third year teaching, though he started making his first batch his first year as a staff member at the school. He just didn't crack the cask open until the third year.
'I swear Minerva could hear that sound from anywhere on Hogwarts' grounds. The moment I had the first test glass poured, she was there, eyes gleaming and a scold on her lips. It took her less than a second to have a transfigured glass. Filius could hear the sound from anywhere in the castle and Pomona' ability stretches from the greenhouses and through the dungeons. They arrived not long after Minerva. She transfigured them glasses as well.' A smile curled Severus' lip as he lifted the paddle from the potion, tapping it lightly on the cauldron's edge. 'And since then they’ve helped me to prefect it to what that brandy is now. There's barely a hint of the alcohol content in the flavour, but a little will go a long way.'
Decanting the cheering potion into a large recycled bottle, he corked it and placed it in the last slot in the crate that already held eleven others. Sealing the top onto it, he flooed it to the St Mungo's kitchen. A smiling house-elf confirmed its arrival just as his lab door was opened.
Spinning about, Severus stared at Harry, who was leaning against the doorjamb. 'My imagination is providing what I want to see, what I want to happen. Harry here, on Christmas, inviting me to lunch now that I've finished brewing. Me kissing him, pushing him against the wall and feeling him against me, and then going to enjoy the meal he cooked while I brewed. Then we could retire to the bedroom. The fumes must be getting to me.'
"Come on, Severus, you're spending this year's Christmas with me at the Weasleys'." Harry grinned, but Severus could see that his fingers were clenched tight – a habit when Harry was nervous.
"Harry, we've discussed this many times. There's nothing left to say. Go, enjoy your day with them." Severus sent the dirty cauldron to the lab's sink and started the water while ignoring his real desires. ' ‘So it wasn’t the fumes. He's real, he's truly here!'
Harry shook his head and jammed his hands into his pockets. "I want you there, the children are asking for you. Rose can't understand why you're there for their birthdays, but never on Christmas, and the rest of them are starting to ask the same question."
"Surely, their parents can explain how my presence would dampen the Christmas spirit," Severus' voice echoed in the cauldron as he leant into it to clean the bottom. "Or you could."
A hand rested on his back, causing him to tense up before relaxing. Harry's voice came from near his shoulder, "I can't because I want you there, too. It's just not Christmas without you around."
His heart clenched at the forlorn words that echoed his own thoughts in reverse. Could he subject himself to an afternoon with the Weasleys? Yes, he did – as Harry pointed out – go for all the children's and Harry's birthday parties there, but he spent over ninety percent of the time with just the children. He purposefully stayed away from any person he'd taught and did everything in his power not to see or be seen by Molly or Arthur. Not until they cut the cake, and even then he tended to hide in the background. He'd been doing this since Rose's first birthday. 'I can watch the children. Surely, that's why they want me to be there. Ever since Hugo they've been passing them off to me before they were even a year.' Glancing over his shoulder, he fully caved to Harry's hopeful expression. 'I've finished my Christmas obligations anyway.'
"I'll come," as soon as the words were out of his mouth, Severus realised he'd have to bring a hostess gift. He always did. Typically, it was a useful potion, but he didn't have time to brew one. He glanced around, his gaze stopping at the small cupboard that held this year’s stock of brandy. They were also stored in recycled bottles, bought not for the cheap alcohol they carried, but for the bottles themselves. ‘It’s almost a shame that the bottle has more worth than the alcohol that comes in it. Though, to be honest, the alcohol does a decent job of cleaning the potion residue in my cauldrons that won’t dissolve in water.'
He could take one bottle for Molly and then another for himself. He wouldn't drink but maybe a glass and then he could bring the rest home. Straightening up, he moved the cauldron to the drying rack along with the paddle. "Give me a moment to switch to a dry robe," he moved towards the lab door, opening it for Harry. "I'll meet you up front in a moment."
Harry hugged him tightly from the side, letting his lips graze Severus' cheek before he stepped out, and called over his shoulder, "If you're not here in five minutes, I'm coming to get you."
Clamping down on his desire to growl at the ultimatum, Severus shut the door and headed back to the cupboard. Hanging on a small hook were the black, magically enforced bags he put the brandy in when he took it to Hogwarts; there was no need for the students to know he was delivering alcohol to their professors. Picking one up, he slipped two bottles into it and then headed through the back lab door to his room to change.
He needed to hurry – they would never make it to The Burrow if Harry found him changing.
As soon as Harry opened the door, Ron swept him away with Hermione calling them from the stairwell. Severus watched him go, knowing that Harry would find him later, but doubted that the younger man would honestly miss him. This was his day to be surrounded by his friends and family. Before he could think about going back home, Victoire beamed at him.
"Uncle Severus!" She hurried over, leading the entire pack of younger clan members with Ginny's youngest, Arthur, toddling in the rear. Victoire reached for the black bag and passed it off to Hugo, who ran with it to the kitchen. "You came..."
Fred pressed closer to his robes, his eyes glowing, "I got a broom, Uncle Severus!"
"We did too!" Molly and Marcus both chimed. Molly's gaze darted to the door, "Can we go fly them?"
Louis and Lucy pouted, "We wanted to go painting!"
"We want to play hide and seek!" the rest of the twelve children said as they surrounded Severus.
A quick glance around showed not another adult in sight.
"They wandered off the moment they heard Uncle Harry and you Apparate," Victoire smiled while rolling her eyes. "Left Dominique and me in charge."
"Do you want to join them?" Severus asked quietly. "Fourteen is quite a grown up age."
Her eyes darted towards the kitchen door and then at her cousins, "They're just going to be talking and reminiscing..."
"Then, come join us," Severus gestured for her to lead the way, "it's all right to be a child a while longer."
Her eyes brightened at the invitation. "Thank you, Uncle Severus." She started towards the front door, but stopped. "Why are we going to the front garden?"
"Because they have too much energy to be contained in the playroom and your grandma will be setting up the back garden for the meal," Severus replied.
Molly, Marcus, and Fred cheered, "We're going to fly!"
They rushed to get their brooms while Lucy and Louis pouted. Severus flicked his fingers towards the tree, "Go, get your paints and paper. We'll do both."
Their faces lit up as they rushed away too.
Soon they were boiling out the door and out into the frigid winter afternoon. Focusing, he moved his wand in the runes for transfer, ground, and warm over a suitable sized rock he found in middle of the garden. It was the same set of runes he cast every day in his potions classroom to make it more bearable. It brought the ambient temperature from below the frost line up into the air, making the space far warmer than it had been.
"Stay within the front garden – do not leave the fenced area," he called out to the scattering children. "I suggest we start with a game everyone can play." Most of the cousins moved back towards him, three with their brooms almost dragging on the ground. "As hide and seek will be too easy here, I suggest a game of tag."
"The rock near Uncle Severus is base!" Hugo called out, "and Fred's It!"
"I am?" The boy spun about as the others scattered. He took off after them, his little legs pumping as hard as they could.
Severus summoned the dropped brooms and paint and placed them on the porch before standing behind the rock keeping the route to base open while watching to make sure none of them left the relative warmth of his spell.
Tag gave way to Blind Man's Buff, which in turn became Duck-duck-goose, then Red Rover, and finally ending with London's Bridge. The cousins dropped tiredly onto the ground, laughing as Victoire easily broke free from her arm prison.
Severus leant against the porch railing, his eyes hooded slightly, studying the children. “Molly, Marcus, and Fred, your brooms are here. Do not fly too high or too far out. Lucy, Louis, and anyone else who wishes to paint, come up to the porch. Everyone else, you can play marbles, exploding snap, gobstones, hop scotch, or anything else, just stay within the garden. If you need anything transfigured, ask.”
He filled a transfigured mug from an earlier water break with water for the paints. Sitting on the steps, he watched the children flying, those playing in the garden, and those painting. Hugo was pressed against his side, and he was pretty sure the boy was drifting. He moved his cloak just enough to drape over him as extra insurance from the wind. Lucy carefully carried her paint tray to him and set it down near his knee.
"Can you mix my favourite colour?" she asked as she leant against his other side, snuggling into his cloak too.
Reaching into his robe pocket, he pulled out a small old mortar and pestle he'd long ago designated for the job. As he crushed just the right amount of red, blue, and white to get the proper shade of lavender, Lucy grinned.
"Mummy won't mix it for me," she leant slightly closer, watching as the cakes of colour crumbled and combined.
Severus wondered at that, but didn't comment. Maybe she didn't know the correct proportions of the colours. He'd write it down and send it to her later. A flick of his wand had the perfectly blended colours forming a new cake, which he put onto her paint tray.
Hopping up, she carefully picked up the tray, "Thanks, Uncle Severus."
Victoire took her place, though she didn't take an edge of his cloak.
"Was it worth coming out here instead of being with the adults?" Severus narrowed his eyes as Arthur attempted to toddle out the gate. A flick of his wand had the three-year-old back in the centre of the garden.
Victoire grinned. "It was."
Fred landed near the porch, jumped off his broom and stormed over to Molly, who'd landed nearby. "I'M going to Uncle Severus' first!"
Even before Molly could reply, Rose screeched, "NO WAY! I AM! He came to my birthday before anyone else's, I get to go to his house first!"
All the cousins in the garden flocked to them, each yelling louder than the last that they would be first. Lucy, Luna, and Louis leant over the porch railing to join in.
Hugo stretched, blinking as the yelling woke him from his nap. "We’re going to Uncle Severus’?"
Severus was asking the same question. Did he want these children to come to his cottage? Was he willing to spend that much time with them? He thought of all the birthdays they spent like they were today, of the trips with Harry taking them – individually or in family groups – shopping in Diagon Alley or meeting up with the older ones in Hogsmeade. 'Yes, I wouldn’t mind them on occasion. I don't think their parents would let them, though.' Shaking that thought away, he turned an inquiring look at Victoire.
"It's because you came today. It's got their hopes up," she explained.
Weasley blue eyes canted up at him, "Yes, but I don't expect to be first. Rose is right."
The sound of a spoon hitting the side of a cauldron caused the squabbling to stop.
"Dinner!!" The children boiled up the stairs, avoiding Severus' cloak as they rushed to the door.
"Get cleaned up," Severus called after them, "and take your paintings to Grandma Weasley."
The door closed behind them, leaving Severus sitting in the now quiet garden. 'They all want to come. Can I fit them all in at once? It would be a never ending one-up-manship if one visited before the others.' That was something he didn't want. Ever since he started watching the children he tried to treat them as he'd have wanted to be treated as a child. As equals with each other and worthy of notice. He'd have to see if Harry could arrange it with Ginny, Ron, Fred, Percy, and Bill. Then he'd have them all Apparate to just the edge of his property and upon counting to three, get them all to step forward at the same time. Maybe make it a game. 'First thing I need to do is to clean out the attic and make it into bedrooms and a play area.'
With a game plan in mind, he cancelled the warming charm, dried the paint in the trays, and cleaned up the paint mess off the porch. Gathering the paint trays, he knew there was no more delaying. It was time to face the adults.
He barely got through the door when he spotted Charlie leaning against the back of the sofa. The man's eyes raked over him, lingering on his crotch.
"Big han-nds, big no-ose, big fe-eet," Charlie slurred in a singsong voice as he leant forwards, his eyes going to each area on Severus that he mentioned. "Since six-sixth year I wondered if … if what they say is true. Harry won't say."
Severus started to back out the door – there was only one way that saying ended – but Harry's name stopped him. Charlie had honestly asked Harry about his penis size?
"Harry shouldn't be the only one who knows." The slurring was getting less and Charlie started towards him. "Just sh-show me yer bits and I'll be happy."
Severus couldn't stop his reflex covering of himself with his cloak, his arms crossing his chest, barricading him from the other man. Dragging out his best professor voice, he scolded the redhead, "Mr Weasley, I do believe you are out of line."
He slid to the side, preparing to stalk to the tree, put the paint trays down, and then escape if Charlie pursued.
"I ju-just wanna know, Snape." Charlie stumbled slightly as he tried to follow Severus' path to the tree. "I don't wanna screw ya, just want to know if it's true. If it is, you have'ta have one nice package. Worth showin' off."
George rushed into the room and pushed Charlie onto the sofa, and held him there. "Snape doesn't need to flaunt his junk, he needs to explain about my ear!"
Severus narrowed his eyes as he judged the distance between him and the door. Unfortunately, the kitchen door appeared to be closer. Even though this was a conversation he'd been avoiding since the one time it came up right after the war, he knew there were more adult Weasleys with more issues behind the kitchen door. "We have discussed your ear before, Mr Weasley."
This was going to get hard – it always did, but not one of them had granted him permission to use their personal names. Only Arthur and Molly and the children.
A hand wildly waved his words aside.
"Not an apology, or even why you did it." George's words were slightly slurred and Severus noticed his eyes were just on the wrong side of glassy. "No, why didn't you come up with an idea to fix it?"
Severus blinked slowly in an attempt to hide his surprise. The last conversation they had about the boy's ear he was left with the impression that George treated the scar and lack of his outer ear as a war trophy. A badge of honour gained protecting Harry. "You do realize that St Mungo's can attach a prosthetic ear. The spell should have done nothing to your ability to hear, it's just the outer ear is missing so you have problems collecting sound. It's easier than replacing an eye."
George's eyes widened as he sagged onto the back of the sofa, his weight luckily still holding Charlie to it. "Really?"
Arthur walked in and studied his sons before offering Severus a glass. "Molly found this in a black bag in the kitchen. It has a nice flavour, very smooth and crisp. You can have what's left in my glass. The children have finished off one bottle already between them, and are working on the other." He shook his head at the boys. "I didn't think they were that lightweight."
Severus accepted the glass, filled with three fingers full of his apple brandy. 'So that's why they are acting like that. Surely, they didn't finish it all between them. No, if they had, they'd be suffering from alcohol poisoning. The others had to help too.' He couldn't help but wonder if Harry had indulged as well. Raising the glass to take a sip, he stopped halfway as it dawned on him that one, he wasn't going to have a bottle to take home, and two, this glass was from the hostess gift. Taking in the mournful look on Arthur’s face, he offered him the glass back.
"Here, Arthur, I'll see if I can get my own glass." Pushing the brandy into Arthur's hand, he strode into the kitchen to escape Charlie's crotch staring and George's stroking his ear scar. Part of him thought to warn Arthur about drinking that much of the brandy, but a small part that was wholly Slytherin wanted to see what the man would do once he had.
"Molly," he stopped as he noticed her pouring the last of the brandy onto a cake. "How much did you use?"
She smiled at him as she turned around, "So, this is what will get you to talk to me after all these years, Severus? Putting an alcohol soak on cake?"
Both bottles were empty– he could see the other sitting near the sink. Minerva, Filius, Pomona, and he didn’t go through an entire bottle during Christmas Holidays. It typically lasted until Easter!
"Ah, you've gone quiet again." Disappointment laced her tone, "I was hoping since it was Christmas and all, you'd be willing to end the silence."
Severus tilted his head slightly as he studied her, looking for signs of inebriation and not spotting any. "I hadn’t realized I was enforcing a rule of silence." Avoidance, yes, but not silence. She had plenty of opportunity to talk to him when she handed him the babies or while passing cake and tea. 'I should have brought tea instead!'
"I won't be pushy, Severus," she scolded, "I know when people don't want to be noticed, to be talked to, and that's been you for the last seven years."
"I ..." Severus studied the hurt look that covered her face. "I didn't think my conversation would be welcomed."
Molly handed him a glass she picked up from behind the cake and handed it to him, "Shows that you aren't always correct. Now, take that glass and go help set the table."
Looking at the glass with only one finger of brandy in it, he wondered how much Molly had already drunk. Taking a small sip, he went to do as told.
Harry met him right outside the door, a large smile filling his face. "Severus! You made it."
Harry took the glass out of his hand, knocked back the last of the brandy, and then banished the glass to the kitchen. Standing on his tiptoes, he wove his hand through Severus' hair and pulled him down into a passionate snog.
His mind blanking under the onslaught, Severus pulled Harry close, one hand on a slim hip and another in the small of Harry's back. Harry ground their hips together, drawing a groan from both of them. Severus moved to pin Harry against the wall, but was reminded where he was when he heard Charlie.
"That's right Harry, get him to show us what he's got! I wanna see..."
Severus pulled out of the kiss and propped his head against the Harry's forehead, his warm breath brushing the other's face. "Harry, this has to stop."
"But … but it's been too long." Harry groaned and ground their hips together again, "I've been working, you've been working, and we've not been working ..."
"There are children present."
"They know we're together," Harry pouted.
Severus pulled Harry into a tight hug that let him know just how much Harry wanted him. His interest had to be just as apparent to Harry. "But they don't need to see how much we're together."
Harry sagged in his arms and whined, "Okay."
"Besides, Molly told me to help set the table."
Green eyes flashed up at him, "In that case, you better get going." Harry gave him a playful nudge towards the tables, "You know ... I'll help."
"Thank you," and Severus truly meant it. He wasn't used to resisting Harry and wasn't truly willing to put his control to the test any more than it had been.
It took a little contriving, but Severus succeeded in sitting at the children's table. Hugo was pressed to one side and Arthur was against the other. Harry's forlorn looks from the adult's table almost made him regret his choice, but he knew that there was no way he could let the children have any of the cake. He wasn't positive if Molly planned to serve it to them, but he couldn't take a chance. Not when he didn't know how much brandy was in it. These were his nieces and nephews – even if they weren't blood and no bond bound Harry to him, they'd named him that and he wasn't going to deny them – and he was not going to let anything bad happen to them that he could prevent.
The Christmas goose, mashed potatoes, honey glazed ham, green salad and the rest of the dishes were a far cry from his yearly Christmas fare of a ham sandwich and crisps. When pudding was served, he deflected the cake from coming near the table.
Victoire watched it head back to the main table with large hopeful eyes. "I wanted to taste a bit of that brandy, Uncle Severus. They were all raving about it. Even Mama."
"When you're visiting my place and I can monitor how much you get," Severus glared when he was pinned by twelve intense pairs of eyes. "Yes, I'm figuring out how to bring you all over, but no one will be the first."
Harry sent him a questioning look as the children began cheering.
As soon as they were released from the table, the children scattered to their respective parents. Hugo and Rose made it to Ron and Hermione first, followed by Victoire, Louis, and Dominique cornering Bill and Fleur. Lucy and Molly made it to Percy and Audrey at the same time that Fred and Roxanne got to George and Angelina. Ginny’s three – Luna, Marcus, and Arthur – took the longest as she and her husband, Gregory, were helping Molly stack the dishes. Severus couldn’t hear what they were saying individually until Victoire nodded sharply while looking back at him. "He said we could, Dad, tomorrow night."
Blue eyes snapped to him and Bill asked in an incredulous tone, "Yo- you invited my children to sp-spend the night to-tomor-rrow at your place?"
"I didn't state a day, but I have invited all the children to my place, yes," Severus hadn't planned on the first visit to be a sleepover, but wasn't even going to argue that point.
"Uncle Severus," Hugo spun about to face him, "it has to be tomorrow! If not, you'll forget."
The others nodded.
Severus missed the shocked expressions on the adults' faces, but he caught Molly's and Harry's morphing into happiness as the other children chimed in.
"He’s right, Uncle Severus."
"Uncle Severus, you'll start brewing something and forget we don't know the way there."
"I want you to cook us breakfast, Uncle Severus."
"I want to see your garden!"
"Please, Uncle Seve'us!"
Arthur was the last to ask and Severus sighed, "If you do not mind the children visiting, they can come tomorrow."
Dominique beamed at Bill, "See, Dad, Severus doesn't mind."
Severus refrained from reacting from the lack of Uncle attached to his name. 'Maybe it's because their parents wouldn't approve.'
"Head inside and get your things packed up and ready to take with you." Molly shooed the children away, "We'll discuss this with your Uncle Severus."
Marcus called out as they shuffled through the back door, "We all have'ta go together or none of us can. Uncle Severus said it's so we'd all be … the same."
The door closed, leaving Severus facing the Weasleys.
Ginny marched to him, only staggering slightly, her eyes narrowing, "When are you gonna make an Honest Man of Harry?" Placing her arms akimbo, she leant forwards, "Yo -you've been str-strin'in' him along lon'nough, Snape. You need to set a weddin' date. Espe – Especially, as yo-you're an uncle already."
"A New Year's wedding!" Molly beamed and practically fell into a chair. Ginny was swaying and Severus thought about catching her or summoning her a chair, but Gregory grabbed her arm.
Harry sidled up next to Severus, catching his hand.
"That's too short a time to arrange, and," he looked down at Harry, "do you even want a wedding?"
Glassy green eyes glowed up at him. "Of course I do, Severus. I love you and want to be with you forever."
His heart stuttered, but Severus ignored it. Everyone was tipsy or outright drunk. Harry hadn't even asked if he could move in, not even hinted about it, much less get married.
"Yes, a New Year's wedding, it will be wonderful! Dress robes should be blue. Dark blue for Severus and medium blue for Harry." Molly propped her chin on her hand as she gazed into space. "Flowers should be white. Lots of petals to resemble the snow."
Arthur, the only sober looking person besides Severus, rested a hand on her shoulder. "We don't have time to prepare everything."
Percy looked almost painfully eager, "I've the pa-paperwork done for th-three years."
"I can ask 'round and find jus' the righ' place," Bill added and hiccuped.
"But the flowers, the food, and finding the robes at this time of year," Arthur reminded them. Molly's shoulders drooped.
Hermione whipped out a bright planner and almost slapped it down before her mother-in-law, "I've most of that ready."
In a heartbeat, the other girls were crowding around Molly – Severus hadn’t even seen them move - all of them talking nineteen to a dozen and all of it about the wedding. Fleur and Hermione were the most vocal of the bunch.
Deciding to ignore them, Severus clutched Harry’s hand as he faced the male faction. "Back to the sleepover, do the children have your permission?"
Arthur looked at the boys before turning to Severus, "We'll need to know where your place is to drop them off."
Sighing, Severus told him. He had one more tie to this family, but with how fast the plans for his wedding were shaping up, he supposed there was no help for it.
Severus roused himself early the next morning and, after a quick breakfast, went to see if he could get the attic in some semblance of order before lunchtime. Staring at the dusty empty space, he sighed. 'At least I haven't stored anything up here.' A few wand flicks had the dust banished and a few more had the wooden floors polished.
"Furniture. Who'd have an excess of furniture I can use on a short notice? Slughorn! He'll know," Severus rushed down to his floo and called his former professor and friend.
"Severus, what can I help you with this fine morning?" the rotund man called out from his overstuffed armchair near the fireplace.
Severus explained his predicament, and Slughorn beamed. "I know just the right person to help you. Mr Pucey – Adrian, I believe you were his Head of House – is running a furniture rental place. If you want, I'll floo him and see if he can do business today."
Severus shook his head, "Thank you, but I should contact Mr Pucey. If you can tell me his floo address?"
An hour later, he had five bunks and two single beds tucked up in his attic, complete with clean bedding.
Harry arrived while he was spelling a partition between the boys' and girls' sides. Severus heard a thump or two as if Harry had bumped his elbow climbing up the attic stairs.
"It looks nice, Severus," Harry clutched his head and winced as the spell flashed bright, sealing the partition in place.
"Thank you," Severus took in the green face and the grimace of pain. "Come on Harry, I brewed you a potion for your head last night."
Harry trailed after him and allowed Severus to gently push him into a chair and a phial into his hand. "Drink all of it."
The younger man eyed the contents of the phial suspiciously, sniffed it, and threw a look askance at Severus.
"It will help. Now, drink," Severus barely refrained from snapping. He never did well when his potions were questioned.
Giving the potion one more disbelieving look, Harry chugged it down. He then dropped his head down onto his arms, slumping over the table.
Severus waited for a minute before setting a cup of water on the table near his lover, possibly betrothed.
Eventually, a hand feebly wrapped about it after dropping the empty phial next to it. Sitting up, Harry sipped the water. "That was foul."
"But was it worse than the hangover you had?" Severus asked as he buttered the toast he had made while waiting on Harry to move. He set the plate near Harry.
"I don't know," Harry sighed and ate a couple of bites, "No, I do know. At least the potion was quick. What did I drink last night that did that?"
"The apple brandy," Severus paced near the table, ignoring the questioning look Harry shot him, "but we have other things to talk about." He stopped where he could look at Harry, "Do you honestly wish to marry me? To be with me forever?"
Surprise flitted across Harry’s face, "We really did talk about that, didn't we? Yes, yes, I do."
"You've never given any indication of this."
"I didn't want to scare you off. Do you want to?"
Severus paced some more, "As long as you're here, I don't care. We're together and that was all that matters."
When Harry sighed and looked down, fiddling with his toast, Severus decided he could do this much.
"Harry, if you want all the trappings etc … then it's fine. I'll talk to Molly, see what Mrs Weasley has in her planner. We'll do whatever is needed."
"You mean Hermione?"
"Why don't you ever call them by their names?" Harry stopped, his eyes widening, "Never mind – they've never said you could. I'll talk to them when everyone gets here."
Severus waited a moment for Harry's thoughts to catch up – the hangover potion tended to make thoughts lag – and knew the moment they had.
"You … you are willing to marry me?" Harry jumped to his feet, spinning around, arms thrown out. "I can live here?" He stopped right next to Severus, his eyes glowing with happiness as he stared into those black eyes. "I can stay with you?"
Severus gathered Harry into his arms, hugging him close. "Of course, you can. It's not just anyone who has free run of my house, Harry."
Chuckling, Harry wormed free enough of the embrace to pull Severus' into a kiss. That one kiss led to another, and another. Severus pushed Harry back against the table, hoisting him up onto it and stepping between his legs. Breaking his lips free from the tantalizing ones clinging to his, he trailed a series of kisses across Harry's jaw and down his throat.
A growl escaped him when he encountered the collar of Harry's shirt.
Chuckling, Harry pulled Severus' head up, and brushed his lips across the Potions Master's one last time. "Our nieces and nephews are coming and will be here within an hour. We don't have time, Severus."
"You're staying the night, right?" Severus reluctantly stepped away.
Harry beamed, "Of course! I wouldn't miss the children's first sleepover at our place."
Severus gave a slow smile, heart warming at the 'our' said so causally. "Then, we will continue this later. Right now, you should check to make sure we have enough to feed everyone or if you'll need to go back to your old house to gather supplies. I have to safeguard my lab."
Laughing, Harry darted into the kitchen. Severus watched him, a smile curling his lips. He really didn't care what Molly planned as long as Harry stayed.