Chapter 1 : An Arranged Marriage
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Severus milled around the ballroom of the Malfoy manor, greeting familiar faces and shaking the hands of those people who were less familiar to him. It was the Malfoy family’s annual Christmas Eve party. Every prominent pureblood family was there, drinking and celebrating the Dark Lord’s latest conquest. Severus never really enjoyed these sorts of parties. He found the idea of meeting new people and listening to them speak about their families or their latest business investment as if he cared to be extremely tedious.
In fact, he was half-listening to an ancient witch talk about her eight cats and how one of them would hack up hairballs much more often than she thought to be normal when his godfather interrupted them and, with a polite nod to the woman, steered him away.
His godparents, Abraxas and Tatiana Malfoy, had raised him since he was six years old. They had raised him like one of their own sons, instilling in him the same strong pureblood values they did in Lucius, despite his mother’s foolishness and he was incredibly grateful.
His godfather led him towards his godmother who was talking cheerfully to a good-looking couple. Suddenly, his godfather stopped and studied Severus.
Severus looked back at him. "Something wrong?” he asked finally.
His godfather continued to study him silently.
A house elf bearing a tray came up to them and offered them drinks. Severus was able to snatch one off the tray before his godfather shooed the elf away. “Abraxas, why are you staring at me like a fool?” Severus snapped.
His godfather smirked. “I have good news,” he said.
Severus took a sip of his drink waiting for his godfather to continue.
“I’ve found you a wife.”
Severus coughed and sputtered. His throat had just seemed to close up. His eyes watered and Abraxas pounded his back, trying to help him recover his air supply. “I’m only seventeen,” Severus choked out.
“You’ll be eighteen in less than a month, besides Lucius married Narcissa when he was eighteen. She comes from a strong, pure bloodline. With that Prince blood in you, you two will make excellent children.”
Severus was at a loss for words, which was a rare occurrence.
“Those are her parents.” Abraxas nodded toward the good-looking couple speaking with his godmother.
“When we go over there it’s important that you make a good impression. I want a set date for this wedding before you go back to school.”
Severus’ head was spinning as his godfather lead him towards the group.
“Ah, here they are. Severus, meet Xander Portman and his wife Leila,” Tatiana Malfoy said jovially as they approached.
Severus shook both their hands firmly and tried to gauge their reactions to him. They had a regal air about them; something in the way they stood and moved exuded confidence.
“He looks like he could handle her, don’t you agree, dear? He’s got a good grip.” Mrs. Portman said, smiling to her husband. Before Mr. Portman could agree, however, Abraxas spoke.
“Of course he could. We raised Severus with-”
“Do you know our daughter? Camilla?” Mr. Portman interrupted, observing Severus carefully.
Severus had never heard anyone deliberately cutoff a male Malfoy before. It was a disrespectful action and Severus glanced at Abraxas to see what he would do.
But Abraxas inclined his head, encouraging him to answer.
“Is she a Gryffindor?” Severus asked after a moment of thought. The name did sound familiar though he couldn’t put the name to any face.
“Ravenclaw,” Mr. Portman said with what seemed like a stern tone, as if the idea of his daughter being a Gryffindor was insulting. However, the man’s voice was deep, much of what he said sounded threatening.
“Oh… well, does she spend time with Gryffindors?”
“She does, unfortunately,” Mrs. Portman answered, her expression sour, “Her best friend is a mudblood named Lily Evans. So, naturally, she hangs around delinquents like that Potter brat and Regulus’ older brother, the one who was disowned.”
“Sirius Black,” Severus replied automatically.
“Yes, yes that’s the one… Now tell me Severus, what do you think the woman’s role is in a marriage?”
He took a quick glance at his godfather, who again inclined his head just slightly.
“Well,” he began, “I believe a good wife is there to satisfy the husband’s needs. She should be selfless and respectful. Her husband and children’s needs should always come before her own. She should always comply with her husbands wishes and only speak when spoken to.”
“And if she doesn’t?”
“She should be made to.” He hoped this was a decent answer. He didn’t want to get married. He would rather live his life without some stupid girl interfering all the time, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that Tatiana and Abraxas wanted it and he owed them everything.
“Oh he’s perfect, Xander. She needs a man like that to guide her. She’ll end up embarrassing this family even more if-.”
Mr. Portman held up a hand to stop his wife. “Alright Leila, if you like him… Severus, would you be interested in marrying our daughter? We’re willing to negotiate monetary benefits.”
Abraxas smiled triumphantly.
“Well, I…” Severus began warily. He paused, vaguely aware that what he said next would impact the rest of his life. “It would be an honor, sir.”
Xander Portman smiled for the first since Severus had met him. Something in his smile made Severus think this man knew something he didn’t. “’An honor,’ hmm? We’ll see about that.”
“Fantastic! Why don’t you and I discuss details upstairs, Xander?” Severus’ godfather suggested.
Severus politely excused himself from the group and numbly navigated through the Malfoys' many guests. “I think I’m engaged,” he said, approaching the blonde man who had turned out to be like a brother to him.
Lucius raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
He nodded and motioned over to where Abraxas was still talking to the couple. “Those are her parents.”
“The Portmans? Well, that’s quite impressive, Severus,” Lucius exclaimed, clapping him on the back. “They’re old money. I remember how Mum made such a fuss over my clothes the first time they came ‘round for supper.”
“But I’ve never even heard of them.”
“They stopped coming out when their five year old daughter helped Sirius Black set fire to the Black’s nursery.”
“That was her?” Severus groaned. “Is that why they’re friends then? Because they’ve both been rebelling against pureblood society since they were born? Gods, that girl is infamous.”
Lucius smirked. “Don’t worry too much.”
Severus nodded absently. He knew he could manage some disobedient tart, but it certainly wasn’t something he looked forward to; especially since it seemed that she regularly conversed with those he considered enemies.
“You’ve always enjoyed a challenge.”
A/N: This is just a short chapter, sort of an introduction to the story. The chapters will get longer after this, don't worry. Anyway, I'd love to know what you all think, so be sure to leave a review!
Revised: February 12, 2008
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