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Disclaimer: As much as I would love to own Severus, I don't. I own nothing except my OCs. The rest belongs to the great JK Rowling. I'm not making any money off this fic either.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to my fab beta Trickie Woo!

Chapter 8


Her mother looked at her sternly as Camilla sat across from her. “Good afternoon, mum,” she said cheerfully, trying to mask her growing dread. She had known this would be difficult, but she hadn’t really thought about her parent’s reactions. She had mainly worried about Severus’, who had been surprisingly calm. He was probably just as relieved as her.

“How could you do this to your father and me?” her mother hissed in response. “How could you do this to yourself? Giving yourself away like some common whore.”

Camilla sat stiffly in her chair and waited for her mother to finish her rant.

“You are quickly becoming the shame of this family! This marriage was supposed to put us back in the good graces of the community, but you won’t have that, will you? I don’t know how I raised such a selfish, ungrateful child,” her mother sniffed. “We gave you everything! Good home, nice things, loving parents… does all that mean nothing to you? What will your father say when he hears? One hundred and fifty galleons a month! How do you expect your father to retire now, hmm?”

Camilla furrowed her brow in confusion. “What’s a hundred and fifty galleons a month?”

“He was quite adamant on getting rid of you. But I managed to convince him you’d be worth his while, thank heavens. As long as this little hiccup is dealt with quietly, things will go according to plan. However, instead of our original agreement of a thousand per year he wants one hundred and fifty per month. That’s eight hundred more per year than originally planned! You’re going to bankrupt your father and me!” Her mother, who had always been one for dramatics, dabbed at her eyes.

“But I thought-.”

“You thought you would get out of the arrangement by sleeping with some half-breed, didn’t you?” her mother shrieked. A few of the other customers looked their way. “Well, you’d better hope you don’t get pregnant. How would you feel then, adding another monster to the population?”

Camilla sat in a stunned, angry silence. Severus hadn’t said anything about this new arrangement to her. He had simply let her walk in there with the beautiful expectation of being freed from her horrid future.

“You will go to him and ask forgiveness for your behavior, including any disrespect you have displayed towards him.”

“I will not! He’s horrid and cruel! He hit me!” she shouted, outraged.

Now, it seemed the entire pub was staring at them, including several students from school. Camilla blushed with embarrassment.

“You deserved to be hit long before he even met you,” her mother snapped quietly, “He’s just the only one who’s man enough to do it.”

Her mother straightened up and gazed around the pub, giving people polite smiles. She had regained her composure and was back to being a decent, good-mannered pureblood wife and mother. “Now,” she said cheerfully, “Have you given any thought to the color scheme? I was thinking pastel green…”

--


Camilla stomped angrily into the small bookstore in Hogsmeade. The place was fairly crowded and it was difficult trying to pick out familiar faces in the large mass of people. But she saw him. He was in the section of books farthest away from the door. As she made her way towards him, she had to push through the crowd, making her even more frustrated and angry.

“Have a good time, visiting with your mum?” he asked, looking up from a book he was flipping through.

She stared at him, livid. “You evil, awful bastard! You had me go on about friendship and… and you kissed me all nice like you actually cared when you knew you had just gone in there and… I was forced to take my mother’s constant nagging about color schemes and flowers,” she sputtered. “You made me think… oh, I hate you! I really do. I hope you know that.”

“Trust me, I do,” he said, glancing wearily at her sparking wand.

“You’re going to turn my parents into middle-class citizens! Do you know how devastating that would be for them? We’ve never been poor!”

“Oh, Merlin, what a shame,” he replied mockingly.

“Listen, I have a confession to make. I didn’t really sleep with Remus. We just did a lot of really heated snogging. I was just saying that so that we could get out of this marriage.”

He smirked. “Well, that wasn’t very smart was it?”

Camilla sighed deeply, trying to control her growing anger. “I thought you would want out of this as much as I do.”

He closed his book and slid it back onto the shelf. “I do… but I’m much more disciplined than you. I understand the necessity of spending a few, admittedly horrible, years of my life married to you. And despite the fact that I detest everything about you, I’m forcing myself to look at the benefits of this arrangement.”

“Benefits? What benefits?”

“My benefits would not be benefits to you,” he replied with a smirk, “however, the only reason your parents are doing this is to preserve and restore their dignity as purebloods. The best they can do is force you into a somewhat respectable marriage.”

“I don’t know how they could see this as even somewhat respectable,” she sneered, knowing she was toeing the line, “with you being a half-blood and all.”

A slight smirk played on his lips. “I thought we had an understanding.”

“About what?” she asked hesitantly, confused.

“When I asked you if you understood you weren’t to insult my blood, what did you say?”

“Yes,” she answered with a scowl.

He raised his eyebrows, waiting.

“Yes, sir.” She gave him a resentful look. He was reminding her of something she had tried desperately to forget; that horrible memory of one of her weakest moments, where she had been forced to submit to him. It was a memory she didn’t wish to repeat. “I don’t even know what to do anymore! You make me so angry and I cannot spend the rest of my life you!” she said loudly, gaining attention from the other shoppers.

Severus quickly grabbed her arm and pulled her back behind one of the bookcases, where they were hidden from view. “One,” he hissed at her, still holding her arm painfully tight, “do not raise your voice to me, especially in public. Two, you will spend as much time with me as I say you will, without complaint. Three, during the time you are with me you will do exactly what say, when I say to do it. You belong to me whether you like it or not.” He paused for a moment, waiting for her to answer him. When she didn’t respond, he smirked. “Nothing to say?”

She gazed up at him, her arm throbbing painfully in his grasp, and shook her head. His statement had left her speechless.

“Good,” he said, finally releasing her arm. “Because that’s the way it should be.” He gave her a disapproving look and stalked off to browse another bookshelf.

Sighing, Camilla leaned back into the bookcase. She wondered if her own mother was behind Severus’ new insistence on being in control.

Watching him choose a book off the shelf, she mentally went over her options. She could run away, but even if Remus agreed to go with her they wouldn’t have enough money between them to get very far. Not to mention, her parents would probably never speak to her again. She rejected that idea.

Perhaps, she thought to herself, she could make Severus see reason if she chose her words carefully and approached him without putting him on the defense. But she knew, even as the thought went through her mind, that she was trapped in this ridiculous sham of a marriage with a man who seemed to hate her, perhaps even more than she hated him. There was nothing she could do anymore. She had run out of ideas and, to be honest, she was running out of energy. Her will power and determination to stand up to him and make life difficult for her future husband were dwindling. In fact, the angrier he got, the more she found herself fearing the repercussions of her combative actions.

With a reluctant sigh and a heavy heart she decided to take Remus’ advice. She approached Severus, gently placing a hand on his shoulder as she came up behind him. He turned and fixed her with an icy glare.

“I don’t like it,” she said, her voice shaking slightly, “But I’ve realized that there is no way I can get out… I belong to you.”

There, she thought, she had admitted defeat. Not only had she admitted it to him, but to herself. The pain of her own words struck her and she felt the tears gathering, but she pushed them away. She was not going to let him make her cry again, at least not in his presence.

With a deep breath, she continued, “I just want to start over and… I’ll be better, okay? The old, argumentative Camilla will be gone. Just tell me what you want me to do and I will do it, Severus… sir… I promise.”

After her speech, he regarded her steadily and carefully as if he had never truly seen her before that moment. But just as he opened his mouth to respond, they were interrupted by a strong, smooth voice.

“Severus! We’ve been looking all over for you. Surely you haven’t forgotten that you agreed to meet us for drinks.”

“Of course not,” Severus replied, “I was going to make my way to the pub as soon as I finished my discussion with Camilla.”

The man smirked. “Ah, so you are the illustrious Ms. Portman? I’ve been told so much about you,” he said to her.

She gave him a polite smile, but didn’t say anything. He was a handsome man with blonde hair and a refined, dignified air about him.

“Camilla,” Severus said, placing a hand on her back, “this is Lucius. I believe I mentioned him to you at one point.”

“How could I forget,” she replied. It had just been that morning that they had talked about the man, almost like friends. She extended her hand to him and he took it, placing a gentle kiss on her fingers.

“You will be joining us, surely?” Camilla was about to answer, but she saw with a mixture of confusion and resentment that Lucius was looking to Severus and not her for confirmation of this. Then she remembered the society that she had just resigned herself to. The male-dominated society in which females were seen as the inferior.

“Of course.” Severus’ answer interrupted her thoughts. He had just doomed her to a good hour of his company. She groaned inwardly. Her day could not get worse.

--


Camilla glanced around the Hog’s Head with distaste. In all her years of coming to Hogsmeade, she had never set foot in the pub and now, she knew why. It was dirty and filled with all sorts of shady people. The Three Broomsticks was much more welcoming.

As they reached the table, her dislike for the place increased; for there, sitting at the table with an arrogant, smug look on his face was Cain. He was seated next to Darcy who was engaged in conversation with a young, blonde woman. Camilla stiffened and cast a dark look towards Severus.

He returned her look with a scowl. He pulled out a chair and nudged her toward it. She sat carefully, not able to shake the feeling that he might yank the chair out from under her. He didn’t. Even more surprising to her, was that he gently eased her cloak from her shoulders and draped it over the back of the chair.

She glanced up at him, confused at this display of courtesy. He didn’t acknowledge it however, and took the seat between her and Cain for which she was grateful.

“So you’re Camilla? Severus has told Lucius so much about you.” Camilla looked up and smiled at the woman. Lucius had gone to get drinks after introducing her as his wife.

“Nothing good, I’m sure. Severus and I don’t get on very well,” she replied kindly.

Despite the fact that she truly hated the lofty attitude the pureblood, upper class held, she was very capable of mimicking their mannerisms accurately, a talent she was sure would come in handy in her future married to Severus.

“Oh, on the contrary, Camilla. He has been very complimentary of you.”

“He has?” she said, slightly surprised.

“I think he’s especially taken with those stunning eyes of yours and I can understand why. They’re quite beautiful. I wish I could have had eyes like that.”

“Oh,” Camilla said, blushing lightly, “thank you. However, I was under the impression that Severus found my eyes to be about as attractive as dishwater.”

Narcissa laughed lightly. “What would give you that idea?”

But just as Camilla was about to respond, Lucius returned with drinks and the topic was changed. She glanced at Severus who seemed to purposely avoid her gaze.

Camilla was surprised at how fast the time seemed to pass. She found herself actually enjoying the company of these people who she would have, at one point in time, regarded as enemies. Not that her opinion of Cain had changed much, but she found that he was much more polite to her when in the presence of Lucius and Narcissa.

She also found herself admiring the older couple in a way. Over the course of conversation, they had mentioned that they themselves had had an arranged marriage. Camilla wondered if she and Severus would ever relate with the same ease and comfort that Narcissa and Lucius seemed to.

After an hour or so of pleasant conversation, Camilla began thinking up ways to excuse herself politely. She had promised to meet Lily, James, Remus, Sirius and Peter at the Three Broomsticks for Butterbeers. And though she had had quite enough to drink already, she didn’t want to miss her friends.

She cleared her throat, gaining the group’s attention. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I really must go. I promised to meet a friend and I don’t want to be late.”

“Of course,” Narcissa said, smiling, “Don’t let us keep you.” Camilla stood, pulling on her cloak. Narcissa stood as well and, to Camilla’s surprise, gently embraced her. “It was so nice to have met you, Camilla. I hope that we will see much more of each other.” Strangely enough, Camilla found herself hoping the same thing.

As she left the table and headed for the door she heard Lucius’ voice ringing with sarcasm, “How kind of you to walk your fiancé to the door, Severus. I’m sure that with you walking beside her, the disgusting vermin that come around this filthy pub won’t dare stare at her like she was a piece of meat.”

Camilla smiled to herself, her back to the group. Yet, looking around, several ragged looking men were gazing at her lustily. One unshaven, wrinkled man licked his lips as she passed. She shivered and hurried out into the street.

--


“So… you think things will be better then? Despite what he said…?” Remus made a face, “That you belong to him?”

She sighed. “I hope so. We both agreed on it,” she lied. Severus had made no such agreement and was likely to continue acting as he always did, but she didn’t think that would be very reassuring to her friend.

“I wish I could do something, Camilla. Everyday it gets harder.”

“What do you mean?” she responded, although she was fairly sure what he meant. He stopped suddenly and she turned to look at him. His eyes scanned her face. Stepping closer to her, she could feel the warmth from his body. She looked up at him, knowing what he was about to do. As he leaned toward her, Camilla put her hands on his shoulders to stop him. “I can’t, Remus. I’m sorry.” His eyes flickered with hurt. “It’s not that I don’t want to. You know that… but Severus will know.”

“There’s no one around. He wouldn’t find out unless you told him.”

Camilla shook her head. “No, you don’t understand. He always knows where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I don’t know how he does it, but he knows, Remus. I mean, I’ve just promised him complete control. I can’t start out by defying him.”

He nodded silently.

Camilla sighed. “Maybe…” she began, trying to give him some kind of hope, “maybe after he trusts me a bit more. You know, when he’s not so alert. I’ll lure him into a sense of security and then we can risk more, okay?”

He nodded again, this time with a bit more optimism in his eyes.

A/N: Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far both by reading and reviewing! It means more to me than you know. It really inspires me to continue Camilla and Severus's story.

Revised: March 4 2008

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