Chapter 4

Prime – The Beginning

In which we discover more of the bond which unites our heroes and of their past. Lily decides to act on her suspicions, Grandfather Potter is shown to be good hearted but sexually amoral—and what Dear Reader I'm sure that like me you have long suspected—James Potter may have inherited from the Black side of his ancestry more dark genes than are beneficial to those around him.

(Yes, after many years of arduous and painstaking research—discovering and translating ancient parchment scraps and scrolls telling of long forgotten magics—I have at last found a way of combining the power of the magic inherent in the old Wizarding world and the magical power of a writer to write whatever she pleases, into an awesome magic enabling you, Dear Reader, to travel back with me to the time when Harry was a small and innocent child. However it is incumbent on me to issue a grave warning; for one of your delicate sensibilities much of what you will learn about the licentiousness of Charlus Potter must be very shocking. Indeed, it pains me greatly to have to write of it, but alas, I feel it my bounden duty to reveal the truth. Dear Reader, should you decide to read of it despite my warning, then I must urge you to take the precaution of ordering your maid to have ready Salts of Hartshorn to revive you should you faint.)

May 1980

Lily was not concentrating on her book, she was looking over at her son who was sitting on Severus' lap and was clutching a lock of his hair in both his small hands. Harry was looking up at Severus, giving the hair sharp tugs and pausing after each tug to hear Severus' response. At each squeak of pretended pain and "Oh no! Spare me, spare me. Oh Merlin, spare me I pray," Harry giggled excitedly.

After a few minutes of this Lily intervened "Severus, please think of another game. I don't want Harry to think he can … never mind, just play something else."

Severus lowered his eyes. "Yes Mistress, I am sorry Mistress."

Lily turned her gaze to Harry who was still pulling Severus' hair and impatiently demanding, "More, more! Go skeeks!"

"I'm sorry Master Harry, we..."

Severus' attempt to explain that he could not play that game anymore was interrupted by Lily. "Harry, stop pulling Severus' hair. You must be nice to Severus; he won't want to play with you if you hurt him." She could see that Severus was about to protest that he had not really been hurt. "No Severus, Harry thought he was hurting you even though it was only a little, and I won't have that."

"Hawwy no urt! Sev good, play 'tend!" Harry protested loudly. He stood up on Severus' lap and wrapped one small chubby arm as far as it would go around Severus' neck, and stroked his face with the other. "Kiss better." He kissed Severus' cheek noisily and then turned to glare fiercely at his mother. "No urt!"

"Well, all right Harry. I'm pleased that you were not really hurting him and kissed it better too, but Mummy would still like you to play some other game. I don't like games were people hurt or even pretend to hurt other people. So, run to your room and find another game for you and Severus to play."

At which suggestion Harry struggled to get out of Severus' arms and down off his lap. "Down!" He demanded.

"Harry! What do you say when you ask for something?"

"Peas."

"Good boy, you can put him down now Severus." Severus carefully placed his charge on the floor and stood up intending to lead him to his room, but Harry shook off the proffered hand. "No! Sev sit. Hawwy get toy," and started to toddle off in the direction of the nursery. Severus threw an apologetic glance at Lily, who motioned him to follow Harry.

Several minutes later they came back into the room, Severus carrying Harry on one hip. Harry himself was clutching a board game in both hands and trying to wave it at his mother. Severus put him down so he could show her what he had chosen.

"Snapes Mummy! Sev wand toy."

"Oh this is the one Severus wants is it? Very good."

"No no! Wand toy."

Having by then taken hold of the board, Lily could guess what he meant. "I see, Severus used his wand to make it lighter so you could carry it. That was good of him wasn't it. Did you thank him?"

Harry shook his head and protested "Hawwy no ask."

"Just because you did not ask for it does not mean that he does not have to be thanked for doing it. Thank Severus please."

Harry looked mutinous, "Hawwy no ask. No peas."

"You do not have to say 'please' but you do have to say 'thank you Severus,' because he has just done something for you. Now say 'thank you Severus', there's a good boy."

Harry was unconvinced. "Dada no tanks."

"How I wish you to behave and how Daddy behaves are two different things. Now say thank you to Severus or I won't let you play with him." That threat was no idle one Harry knew, so he hastened to appease his mother.

"Tank oo Sev." He smiled at her.

"Say it to Severus, not to me."

"Tank oo Sev."

"That's alright Master Harry, it was my ..."

"Severus, stop, don't give him the impression that he does not have to thank you. He is always to say thank you whenever you do anything for him. It makes no difference if it is your duty or not, and you must insist on it, whether I am here or not." 'There is already one spoiled child in this house, I don't want another,' she thought.

"Oh do get up, you fall to your knees far too often."

"I apologise Mistress," he said, standing back up again.

Harry had been watching this exchange with interest. "Mummy say peas!"

"What dear? Oh yes, mummy was naughty. "I'm sorry Severus, as Harry has pointed out, I should have said 'please get up Severus'."

Severus did not know how to respond to this so he merely murmured "thank you Mistress," and lowered his eyes.

"Dada 'aughty." Harry announced. "Dada no peas."

"Well dear, it is true that Daddy is sometimes naughty, but you are not to say that to Daddy. Mummy will tell him." In fact Mummy keeps telling him, she said to herself.

"Dada cwoss."

"No, but he might get cross if you tell him to say please. Best leave that to me."

"'K, no cwoss."

"Now, what board game have you chosen?"

Harry handed her the board. "Snapes. Like Se'wus mummy, lots snapes!"

"Ah yes, I see, snakes, 'Snakes and Ladders', and yes there are lots and lots of snakes. It looks like a good game," she said, rapidly handing the board back to him before any of the small wriggling snakes could reach her fingers.

Harry had no such concern, and putting his hand in amongst a slithering and entangled bundle of them, picked up a green, black banded snake that had been at the bottom of the pile. It slid around his hand and then settled itself around his wrist. "Snape good," he said with satisfaction, leading Severus by the hand over to a table at one side of the room.

As they settled down to play Snakes and Ladders, Lily started to read her book again, or rather, to pretend to read it. She was concerned about Severus, and had been for quite a while. James disliked him intensely, and she suspected that the feeling was mutual. On the other hand Harry seemed to love him, he seemed far more fond of Severus than he was of his father in fact. If James had his way and stopped them being together, Harry would be extremely upset, as would Severus. Severus might start to behave even more oddly than he did at present, and the consequences of that might be unpleasant. She had warned Severus to be careful around James as she might not always be able to protect him. That might not be enough however, somehow she had to stop the situation deteriorating any further.

She observed Severus and Harry as they played. Severus had infinite patience with Harry and never seemed to be bored by having to play one childish game after another. His expression as he gazed down at the toddler was one of love, in fact he looked almost besotted.

The more she saw how they interacted with each other the more convinced she became that her 'wild' theory was not as wild as she had thought it when it first occurred to her. James was away, so now would be a good time to act. If she was right then James would find it almost impossible to separate them at all, and if she was wrong then they would be no worse off than they were now. In fact even were she wrong, she still might be able to persuade her father-in-law to decide Severus' future himself rather than leaving it up to James. Charlus obviously had a soft spot for Severus; she could not think of any other reason why Charlus had not done something about Severus after James' continual complaints about him.

"Severus."

"Yes Mistress?"

"Leave Harry for a moment and come here please. No, don't worry, he's fine, he's fascinated by the snakes."

Severus walked over and stood before her, eyes properly lowered.

"Severus, I do not need to give you Veritaserum for you to tell me the truth do I?"

At that he raised his eyes in indignation, an indignation that was quickly masked.

"No, I'm sorry, of course I do not. The thing is, I need a totally truthful answer to what I'm about to ask you, not an answer that you think will please me. This is serious, important for both Harry's future and for your own."

Severus sank to his knees and let his defences fall. "I pray thee Mistress, search my mind."

"Good, I don't need to do that, but look at me please. What do you think of Harry?" she said.

A far-away look came over his face. He said simply, "Young Master Harry is wonderful."

"Right. Good. Thank you. Stand up now. I'm going to see Lord Potter. I'll call Prester and you can both look after Harry while I'm gone." Lily paused, then continued, "James is unlikely to come home until tomorrow, but should he return early, and you and Prester will no doubt sense his return if he does, then you are to Apparate yourself and Harry to me before James comes into this room. Do you understand?"

"Yes Mistress."

"Prester!"

A young female House-elf, clad in a tunic made of two thick towels which had been sewn together at the shoulders and sides, and which was so white it almost hurt one's eyes, materialised into the room.

"What can Prester do for Mistress Lily Potter?"

"Go to my father-in-law and ask him if he is at home to visitors this afternoon. Tell him that what I want to talk about may take as much as an hour."

Prester bowed until her nose reached the floor, at which point she vanished. A few moments later she re-appeared. "The Great Lord Potter says you is to come Mistress. The Great Lord Potter is in his bedroom."

'That is what I was afraid of. He had better be alone and not entertaining some of his friends,' Lily thought. "Thank you Prester. While I'm gone you are to stay here and help Severus look after Harry. Severus is in charge, and you are to obey him as you would me. If you sense that James has returned, Severus will Apparate himself and Harry to me, and you will remain here to greet Master James. Should he come looking for me tell him that I'm worried because something has broken some of the bristles on his new broom, and it seems to be resisting the spells Huly is using to mend it... Yes, I am quite worried, Huly should check out the damage right now. Tell him to be careful, it would be so easy for some of the spells to accidentally make it worse instead of repairing it. When James goes to see his broom you are to pop to me. Do you understand?"

Huly stood ramrod straight and stuck out her chest. "Prester understand everything Mistress. Prester make Huly understands too. Prester very wise understanding House-elf." .

"Yes, indeed you are Prester. I have often noticed it; I don't know what I'd do without you." Lily said, meaning it seriously, even though she was struggling not to show her amusement. She turned to her son and Severus. "I have to visit grandpa for a while Harry dear," she said to Harry's back. "You must be a good boy for Severus and Prester while I'm gone."

Severus tugged gently at Harry's arm. "Master Harry, your mummy is talking to you, turn to look at Mistress Lily please."

Harry turned slightly, his attention still riveted on the snakes, and waved an impatient little hand. "Me good. Bye bye."

"Right. Bye darling, back soon," Lily said, feeling slightly deflated, and Apparated to Lord Potter's wing of the house. She landed in the ante-room outside his bedroom, and walking a few steps to the door, knocked on it. On hearing his characteristic bellow of, "Come in my Fragile Lily!" she opened the door and walked towards him.

Charlus was sitting in an armchair beside his bed, and wearing a long, dark green, embroidered brocade dressing gown. "Don't worry Dear Heart. I sent the girls and boys off to amuse themselves at least five minutes ago. I'm free for you." He gestured towards his bed.

Lily knew better than to let him see her embarrassment, he enjoyed shocking her far too much.

"Father, that is all very well, but you know that it is not advisable to have no-one here at all. Your nurse should be here, or someone at least, in case you fall or are taken ill. There was not even an elf at the door."

"But I knew you were coming my sweet." At her frown he added in a fractious old man's voice, "Oh, they annoy me, fussing around all the time, anyone would think I'm an old man." He could see that Lily was not impressed, and was about to insist that he had someone with him at all times. He gave an annoyed "huh" then added. "They listen at the door anyway; if something happened they'd be in here faster than a young man comes when he fucks his first woman. Ah, at last, a blush, but you are not so much fun as when you first arrived, you were such a prim little thing, why, I remember the day you came back from your honeymoon and I ..."

"Father! Do stop please, and call the nurse back in, or alt least call someone useful who knows a few spells, not one of your other 'attendants'."

Charlus grinned at her. "Can't even say the word can you? What they are is … oh, alright, alright," he grumbled, taking pity on her as her blush deepened. "Anyway, you make it sound as if I have dozens, there are only a couple, I am not so virile as I was. If I must have someone sensible then Murphy is the least objectionable. Murphy! Come in here; my daughter-in-law thinks I'm about to meet Death at any moment. She wants someone here to share her enjoyment at seeing me carried off to Hades."

A door at the back of the room opened to admit an old woman. She was tall, almost skeletally thin, and had black eyes and blue-black hair. She was not in robes but was clad in a turn-of-the-century long black silk dress with a high lace collar and the hint of a bustle. Lily had not met her before and held out her hand, but Murphy bowed low and then knelt.

"Greetings Mistress. I am honoured to meet you at last My Lady."

"And me you, Mrs Murphy, but please get up, do." Lily grasped the frail looking old lady by the hand and helped her to her feet, then turned, glaring, to Charlus. "Really father! I thought better of you. Making her kneel to me like that!"

"Not my fault I assure you. Murphy does exactly what she pleases, always has, always will. It's been many years since anything I've said to her has had any noticeable effect at all."

"It pleases the young Master to make fun of me My Lady," she said with a small smile. "I obey him of course, but he is correct, I often do as I please. Luckily I have a better sense of what is correct than does he."

While Lily was still trying to digest the idea of the hundred and sixty year old Charlus as being anyone's 'young master', Charlus started to speak again, calling her attention back to him.

"Lily, Murphy is one of my oldest friends. You may have heard me speak of her from time to time. Murphy is her given name by the way."

"Oh" said Lily. "I thought, … well yes, I have heard you mention someone called Murphy, but I've always imagined a tiny bent old man with red hair and an Irish accent."

"Sorry Murphy," she added. "It's good to meet the real Murphy."

"My Lady," Murphy started to sink down again but was stopped by Lily's "No, no, please don't do that. Can I get you a chair?"

For that Lily received a look that was suspiciously like a glare, before Murphy bowed to her, and, straight-backed, strode over to stand behind her master's armchair. Lily was not unaware of Murphy's disapproval or of Charlus' smiling, "You won't win with Murphy my girl, believe me, I've tried," but she decided to ignore both of them.

"Can we speak seriously for a moment please father. I swear, sometimes it is almost as difficult to talk seriously to you as it is to James."

"Below the belt my dear, below the belt... However, what do you have to tell me that's so serious and important?"

"It's about Severus," she started to say, and noticed Murphy placing her hand on Charlus' shoulder.

"It always is about that boy! What has the lad done now? I hear more complaints from James about him than I do about anyone or anything else at all." He reached up and placed his hand over that of Murphy's.

"Father, you know very well that James, as much as I love him, is still a spoiled child. He is jealous, mostly I think because you have shown Severus a little favour over the years. I admit that Severus does not always behave the same way the other servants do, but James exaggerates."

"He tells me that Severus is impertinent. I cannot tolerate that in a thrall, you know I cannot."

Lily felt annoyed. "Nonsense! Severus is not impertinent at all. My darling husband is so used to everyone around him behaving as if he were some sort of minor god that he thinks Severus' slightly less obsequious manners are impertinence."

Charlus sighed. "You're probably right, you are always right. I've ruined that boy haven't I? He is much improved since meeting you though, you keep him in line when no one else can. I have great hopes of his growing up quite soon now."

"But that is enough about my unsatisfactory son, he may be a lost cause, but what is it you wish to say about Severus? I'm relieved it's not a complaint."

While they had been talking, Lily had been thinking about how much Severus resembled Murphy, and how close Charlus and Murphy obviously were. Murphy perhaps was not as old as she looked. 'I think I know why it is you have a soft spot for Severus, you randy old goat,' she thought.

Charlus, catching the direction of her gaze, started to laugh. "You are wrong. Quite wrong."

"What? What do you mean? Wrong about what?"

"Wrong about what you are imagining is written under 'Sire' on Severus' pedigree. Murphy and I have never been anything other than friends," he said, patting Murphy's hand again. "Should we tell her our history Murphy?"

"It would seem advisable Master."

Charlus sat up straighter, took a deep breath and began. "Murphy's mother was an Elven changeling and she became my great-great-grandfather's special friend for many years until his death, after which she decided to go back to her people. Murphy here was the only Fertile they ever produced, and the only female. She had several brothers but no Fertile amongst them, let alone any Bearers."

Lily was almost disbelieving. She had thought changelings to be myths. She looked at Murphy, who, knowing what she was looking for, held her hair up and away from her slightly, but distinctly, pointed ears. Lily bowed to her in great respect and with a feeling of awe, "Magic has blessed you My Lady, and your presence blesses this house and all of wizard-kind," she said.

Charlus was delighted to have surprised her. "I told you she was alright," he said to Murphy. "She knows the old legends, and what our Magic owes to your mother's people." Turning to Lily he added, "you did have one thing right, Severus is Murphy's son. It explains a great deal about his power does it not? and about his so-called impertinence too I imagine."

"Indeed yes. Does he know who his mother is?"

"Yes, of course, we are not that cruel, but he knows neither what she is nor what his grandmother is."

Lily started to look indignant so Charlus hastened to add, "We thought, given his status here, that it might distress him to learn his ancestry. Unfortunately the High Elves had exchanged his grandmother with a female slave child, so despite her being a High Elf, all her descendants would be, could only be, slaves. As for Severus' father, he was a wizard friend of ours to whom Murphy took a great fancy...

We Obliviated him afterwards of course, when Murphy grew tired of him, or he would've spent the rest of his life pining for her. Yes, yes, I can see your next question; 'why did they have children at all if the children could only be slaves?' Well, High Elves, and also the Fertiles amongst their offspring usually, need to mate when they are, well, not to put too fine a point on it, when they come into season, or they become extremely ill, mortally so. Luckily, judging from Murphy's case at least, they seem to come into season very rarely. The pregnancies cannot be artificially terminated either, as that has the same lethal result for the mother. From that point of view it was just fortunate that neither of Murphy's female siblings, were Fertiles."

Lily, though fascinated by what she was learning about Severus' ancestry, tried to put all that aside for the moment. She needed to get back to the purpose of her visit. "Thank you Charlus, and you too Murphy, for telling me all this. If I may, I would love, would feel very privileged, to hear more later. But forgive me, I do need to get back to what I wanted to talk to you about."

At Charlus' nod, she continued. "First, Severus' behaviour; I hate to admit it, but James is right in a way, Severus' behaviour isn't impertinent, but it is often strange. He sometimes behaves in an un-slave-like manner, never to Harry, but to James quite often. I think he actually dislikes James. Even what you have just told me does not explain it completely, even though, qas you say, he doesn't know about his High Elf ancestry. I think I know what might explain it though. His devotion to Harry is extraordinary and, as I've said, he dislikes James, perhaps as much as James dislikes him."

"Rubbish girl. You know that's nonsense. With the bond that is impossible. Absolutely impossible, he cannot possibly dislike James or any family member."

Lily paused, what she was about to say would probably make her father-in-law think her unhinged. She noticed that Murphy had clutched Charlus' shoulder even more tightly than before; it seemed that she at least had thought of a way such a feeling could be possible. It gave Lily the impetus to continue.

"Think about it Charlus; behaviour unprecedented in a slave, sometimes he even verges on disobedience, almost unnaturally extreme devotion to Harry, who is not actually his master, or no more than James is anyway. Also, I often notice a glow which surrounds them both when they are together."

"He loves you too, probably because you spoil him."

"Yes, he does, but do you know when his attachment to me suddenly started? It was when I became pregnant. In fact, when I counted back, I realised that it was on the same day, probably around the very time, that Harry was conceived."

Charlus at last caught on. "That's impossible, quite impossible. There hasn't been a Prime born for centuries, if indeed there ever has been; they are a family myth."

"I do not think they are mere myths Master. It is highly unlikely I know, but it might be possible," Murphy ventured quietly.

"Humph, you girls are such romantic creatures that you would believe anything," Charlus said dismissively. "I have no wish to offend you Murphy, but naturally you want to believe it because he is your son. But think about it; the fact is that even if Primes and Prime Bonds are not myths, as much as I like the lad, he is an extremely unlikely candidate to be the subject of one. He is not beautiful, no, sorry girls, if not ugly then at best he is remarkably plain. Those fairy stories you believe in, they all rave about the beauty of the Primes. There has never been an ugly one, never."

"So, according to you father, the stories are all myths, however despite the fact that the tales are myths and so not to be believed at all, some of their content, that is, what they tell about the way Primes look, is factual and to be believed. Surely you cannot have it both ways?"

Charlus did not respond and after a short pause Lily continued. "In any case, how many Primes have their ever been? Four or five at the most perhaps. Even if every single one of them was stunningly beautiful, that does not mean they always have to be." She paused again, "There is one more bit of evidence; Severus has twice now said to me about Harry, 'I feel so pulled to him Mistress'. I think that what he is feeling is not just a pull, it is The Prime Pull."

Charlus was quiet for a few moments, then said in a fretful old-man's voice, "Yes, yes, you may be right. You are always right damn you, whatever you say … but I just cannot see Severus as anyone's favourite, let alone anyone's Prime."

Lily replied. "We can test him for it. The myths are comparatively clear about the test."

"And the poor boy will be devastated when he gets his hopes up and then he's not," Charlus said.

"But there's no reason he has to know what the test is for," Lily countered. "We can tell him he is being examined for magical suitability for Harry's future household. From what I've read about it, the Prime test seems to be nearly the same as the usual household test. He is unlikely to know of the Prime Bond test, let alone how similar it is to the household one. If he is found not to be a Prime but suitable for Harry's household, he'll be delighted with that, and never know he failed the Prime test. I am absolutely certain that at the very least he is magically suitable to be in Harry's household."

"You sly little thing," Charlus said delightedly, "you have thought this whole Prime idea up as a way of getting me to give him to Harry instead of to James."

Lily smiled. "Actually, no, but if it pleases you to think so, then feel free to imagine and believe whatever you like; though I do admit that it would be a relief if it were difficult for James to part them." 'And to protect Severus from James,' she thought. "Shall we have both of them brought here now?"

Murphy leaned forward and murmured softly, "My Lord, Severus has done extensive reading, he may know that the way he is being tested is not exactly as it is usually done."

However Charlus was starting to feel that Severus and Harry sharing a Prime Bond might be a possibility. He replied, "In that case a quick Obliviate would be kindest."

"As My Lord wills."

"We might as well do it now I suppose. I'm starting to hope, that this wild idea of yours is right Lily, and not just all your imagination, as I admit the idea of it is beginning to excite me. Severus is unusually magically gifted and Harry has already shown that he is both powerfully and intellectually precocious; if by some miracle they achieve Prime, then eventually their combined power will be unprecedented. Well, not unprecedented perhaps, but at least not seen for centuries. If this turns out to be all romantic nonsense I shall be almost as disappointed as Severus himself. I might have to Obliviate myself as well. . . Well, I'd better read up on the test I suppose."

"There is no need father. Here are the details … I, err, took the liberty of writing them out for you." Lily handed him a sheet of parchment.

Charlus shook his head, took the parchment and read it through quickly. "Hmm. Simple indeed." At that, Lord Potter called Stripe, one of the house-elves, and told him to fetch Severus and Harry.

Moments later Severus was standing before his owner, and bowing as low as holding Harry in his arms would allow.

Lily stepped forward. "Give Harry to me dear," she said, and as Severus turned towards her she took the toddler from his arms.

Severus immediately turned back to face Charlus, knelt down and bowed with his eyes lowered, "You desired this unworthy one's presence Master?"

Lily's lips twitched and she noticed that Murphy's and Charlus' did as well. Severus was 'laying it on a bit thick,' probably hoping to prove the falsity of any complaints about his impertinence.

"Stand up Severus," Charlus' voice was solemn. "Your mistress has reminded me that Harry is going to need a few house-elves of his own when he grows up, and perhaps a human servant or two. We've been trying to think who would suit Harry best, and Lily suggested that you might be interested. Would you like me to test you to find out if your magic is compatible?"

"Yes Master, please." Severus' voice was shaky. "I would consider it a great honour to be part of Master Harry's household, My Lord."

"Good. We shall do it now. It is a simple thing, no rites or incantations at all. All you need to do is kneel and lower your head so that when Harry is standing beside you he can reach the catch at the back of your collar with his left hand. Yes, that's it, that's low enough I think. Good."

As Severus got into position, Lily stood Harry beside him. Harry reached over and patted him on the back. "Sev good. Pay dag'n" he told them. "Up Sev' and then looking at his mother, "Up peas."

"Yes Severus is good dear, but he doesn't want to be your dragon at the moment. No, I won't help you climb on his back. This is a different game. Severus wants you to stand still and feel the catch at the back of his collar, no, with your other hand, this one. Move your hand up there, that's it, can you feel the catch?"

Harry nodded.

"Give it a squeeze and then rub your fingers over it darling, like this ..." She held his hand and circled it widdershins over the catch. "That's it, rub it in circles just like that." Harry rubbed twice then started to move his fingers in the opposite direction. "No, no. Back the other way as Mummy showed you … that's it, good boy. Keep going, just a few more now."

Charlus was watching and counting, and, as Harry completed his thirteenth widdershins circle, he placed his left hand on Severus' head and his right hand on that of Harry. Harry looked up at his grandfather and his circling of the collar's catch hesitated. Lily grabbed his arm. "Keep going darling. Just a few more and we might see some lovely colours shoot out like fireworks."

At the prospect of fireworks Harry rubbed circles on the catch more enthusiastically. However Lily was starting to be concerned. There had not been even a small spark of anything yet. A positive result to even the normal compatibility test always produced the first blue flares long before …

"Ahh!" She screamed as she and Charlus were thrown across the room.

"Mummy!" Harry yelled and tried to take his hand from Severus to go to his mother, but was frustrated by its being stuck to the collar. Murphy came forward and bent down to him. "Just stay with your Severus for a moment little Master. Mummy is alright. She has just had a small shock but she will be alright in a minute, and she wants you to stand here a little longer. Can you do that?"

Harry calmed at her words and touch. "'Es lady."

"I will get Mummy for you dear." She said and went over to help Lily to her feet. Lily was feeling groggy but triumphant. "That was a pretty definite answer! It couldn't be stronger than that." Then catching sight of Charlus who was lying against the wall, she added. "Is he alright?"

"My Master will be fine. He is unconscious and will be for a while yet I think. Master Harry needs you though. He does not know what happened and is worried about you."

While Murphy went to attend to her master, Lily rushed to her son. "Mummy's fine darling; how do you feel?"

"Han uk!"

"Yes dear, your hand is stuck, but it will come free in a minute." At least she hoped it would. "Look at Severus' collar, isn't it a pretty colour now!"

Harry however was not interested in the collar, pretty or not, he was feeling deprived. "No works!" he grumbled.

"Oh but it did dear. It worked wonderfully … oh, I see what you mean, no fireworks. Never mind, Mummy will get you some tomorrow. Ah good, your hand is free now. Does it feel alright? It doesn't hurt does it? Let Mummy see." Harry held up his hand for inspection and Lily turned it over to look at his palm. As Lily examined his palm an intertwined H and S appeared for a second before fading away.

"Harry, please put your other hand, your right hand, on Severus dear."

"No. Uk!"

"No, it won't get stuck and hurt this time. Just put it on Severus' head or back for Mummy. Good boy."

Harry had been looking at Severus. "Sev 'ick" He announced. "Sev 'ick Mummy!"

"Yes dear, but he will be alright again in a minute. Poor Severus needs you to help him feel better."

She took Harry by his free hand. "Stand in front of him darling," she said, and then led him around to stand in front of Severus' head and face. "That's right. No, leave your hand on his head. Good, now look at him and say 'please stand up for me Severus', there's a good boy."

Harry was still staring at Severus whose eyes were wide open and staring at the floor. Harry pulled his left hand from his mother's grasp and patted Severus with it, while turning to look at Lily. "Hawwy Sev."

"Yes dear, he is your Severus now, or he will be. Now say 'stand up for me please Severus', that's a good boy, or he won't be able to stand up."

Harry turned back to Severus. "Up peas Sev, das good boy."

"No dear, you don't have to say the 'good boy' part, you have to say it just like Mummy did, say … oh... apparently that was close enough. Look, he is getting up now."

Severus got to his feet, only to nearly fall down again. Lily started to reach to steady him but before she could do so, Harry glared at her. "No! Hawwy Sev. Sev up!" At which order Severus seemed to shake off his confusion and straightened up. "My Master," he said, bowing deeply to Harry.

"Harry, can Mummy talk to Severus now dear? I think he may need me to explain what has happened."

Harry glowered. "Hawwy Sev, Sev Hawwy." He protested.

"Yes dear, you both belong to each other. I'm not going to take him away. He can stay here right beside you, but let Mummy talk to him please, and perhaps you had better ask him to straighten up again and to look at me."

Harry considered for a moment and then agreed. He reached out and clasped Severus' right index finger in his small hand. "Up Sev peas.'Ook at Mummy."

Severus, whose eyes were glowing, looked at Lily, as ordered.

"How do you feel Severus? Do you understand what has just happened?"

"Yes Mistress. Magic has found me worthy of service to Master Harry."

"Well yes, that part is certain, but that's not all. It is more than just your being part of his future household. Once Harry has reached his majority, and if he then fully accepts the bond between you, you will not only be one of his people, you will be the most senior of them, his closest advisor and companion, both in this life and in the afterlife or afterlives as well. After the final bonding, although that will probably be years in the future of course, it will be impossible to part you, nor will it be possible to transfer you to the ownership of another."

As Lily spoke, Severus, his finger still firmly grasped in the hand of his future master, started to feel hopeful of a life which previously, even at his most optimistic, he had not dared to hope. Slaves bound to a comparatively indulgent master shared a great fear; that of being sold to or inherited by some other master, a master unlikely to be as kind as the one they had. This, he realised, meant that after Lord Charlus Potter's death, he would be inherited by Harry and not by James as he had feared. James would only be his master's regent, until Harry became of age.

"Even now, before Harry's majority and before your formal and final bonding," Lily continued, 'it will be difficult for anyone to part you, and neither of you will be able to live completely happily without the other. You have told me that you felt pulled to Harry. That, I believe, was an early manifestation of The Pull… Ah, I see you understand fully now."

"The Prime, Mistress? Can that really be true?" His voice was husky. Lily thought that if Severus continued to glow as he was now they'd never need candles.

"Yes it is true. Feel deep within yourself. I think your magic will tell you. Look down at your master; Harry cannot bring himself to be away from you, he has already told me that you belong to each other. He said 'Hawwy Sev. Sev Hawwy', and was very reluctant to let me touch you."

Severus looked down at Harry, sank to his knees and would have continued down until he was prostrate on the floor but Harry still held his finger so he had to be content merely to kneel.

"My Master. My Lord."

Harry let go of the finger, flung his arms around Severus' head and smacked rather wet and sloppy kisses on his cheek. "Sev good boy."

At that point Lily was distracted by noises indicating that Charlus had woken up and was talking to Murphy, asking her what in Hades had happened. She turned back to Severus and Harry, intending to tell them not to attempt to separate from each other for a while as it might make them feel unwell, but then saw that any such advice was superfluous. Harry was totally concentrated on Severus. Lily felt a pang at the realisation that from now on there would always be someone of more importance to Harry than she was herself. Then she shook herself mentally and took a few deep breaths. She must not think of that, she must only let herself think of what a good thing this would be for Harry, for Severus too of course, for them both, A but her main thoughts were for her son.

She turned towards Charlus who was now half sitting, half lying, on what had been his armchair but which apparently Murphy had now Transfigured into a chaise lounge. Charlus was still looking rather shaken. He was an old man, and because Severus was his property, the surge that had ripped through them had been far stronger in his case than in Lily's. Magic's rejection of him had not been merely because he had been touching Severus, it foreshadowed the total breaking of the bond between him and Severus.

As Lily approached the chaise lounge, Charlus managed a weak laugh. "You must be feeling very pleased with yourself, very smug, you were right again. I'm still finding it difficult to believe. I had thought that if the result was positive then the rejection might well be more significant than just the reluctance to keep touching that you get when testing for a household, but that was … just … well … any stronger and I'd have been through the walls and out beyond the gates."

"Do you still think that Prime bonds are just a silly romantic family myth Charlus?' Lily asked, smiling from ear to ear.