71 71) Hmm

He was confused. Confused by the strange situation, he had found himself in. Angry at the mess he was in.

The Gods have a dark wit, Severus thought with a bitter smile. He knew it wasn't going to be easy. This was going to mess many things.

"You should marry Francesca." Lucius advised calmly. His grey eyes glinted with calculation as he looked at Severus.

"Lucius!" Evelyn exclaimed.

"Think about Severus and Alice too. There's no way this ain't going to muck their relationship." She said with a frown.

"But the contract is crystal clear in its terms." Lucius retorted. Evelyn was wallowing in her emotions. She wasn't looking at the things clearly.

Eileen was sitting with a deep frown on her face in the sofa. Her black eyes were inspecting the contract carefully. Every clause, every line was being checked by her. But to her disappointment, the damned contract had no loop holes in it.

Severus had instantly arrived here with the contract after his meeting with Francesco. She had seen the memory of the meeting in a pensieve.

Francesco hadn't been lying. It was a surprise and setback for him too. His whole family and their rich legacy would be absorbed by Princes. He had the right to be worried and tensed about it.

"Stop squabbling like children!" Eileen exclaimed suddenly. Her voice thin and impatient.

Her black eyes challenging both the Lord Malfoy and his betrothed to argue with her. Her gaze went to Severus who was sitting with a deep thoughtful expression on his face.

"What have you decided Severus?" She asked calmly. Her son was thinking something. She wanted to know his plans and opinions on this subject.

"It is you who is trapped in this contract alongside Francesca. What is in your mind?" Eileen asked calmly. Being raised in a traditional way Eileen knew the expectations. However she had never raised Severus in the same way. Severus had always been quick to grow. He was always dependent on his own self. A habit which Eileen was proud of. She had never been the best mother but Severus had always argued against it. But she knew the truth deep down.

Severus lifted his dark gaze. His face contorted with confusion, sadness and melancholy.

"When I took the Prince Lordship. I wanted the money, the resources, the respect and power it offered to me. Never had I thought to find myself entangled in a mess like this. . . However it's my burden to bear. I will marry Francesca. This is a cross that I will have to bear alongside Francesca." Severus said slowly. His voice soft and slow as he spoke. He had to ready himself for the worst. He couldn't see another way.

The contract was a harsh slap to him. Once again he was reminded of his weakness. What was he? Apart from another man bound to the whims of fate?

He couldn't even experiment on the contract as his knowledge on old magic was non existent. Even experimenting a single thing on this contract would be dangerous. The contract was made with blood magic which inturn was empowered more by the sacrificial essence of Lord Prince and Lord Zabini of that time.

The creator of this contract, Lord Prince. He had nothing to lose. He had an Heir who was married and had a child himself. The man tampered with the curse and yet he was able to achieve only a little. He was able to remove only a single part of the blood curse. Even for that single achievement, he had to lose his life with that of Lord Zabini of that time.

The magic in the contract was empowered by a hundred times more by their sacrifice and whole hearted support of the terms. It hasn't waned even a little over time.

"What will you do with Alice then?" Evelyn asked with a frown on her face.

Severus remained silent for some seconds. He didn't know the answer to that question.

"I don't know." He replied softly.

He really didn't know what to do.

The members in the room eyed him with various expressions on their faces.

They couldn't help him in this. It was something which Severus had to do himself.

______________________________________________________

"What do you want Lucius?" Severus asked with a sigh. It had been a hour since they talked about the contract. He had been enjoying the little private time until Lucius barged inside.

"Well I wanted to check on you. These past month had been great. . . You had stopped brooding. But then again. Fate's a bitch." Lucius said casually as he took the seat alongside him.

"I suppose you are here to enlighten my spirits." Severus replied dryly. Did Lucius really came here to simply cheer him up.

"When I was in my seventh year. There was a boy of thirteen. He once found me brooding alone during the second day of term. My father had harshly scolded me for not becoming the Head Boy." Lucius said slowly.

Severus laughed aloud. Was it why Lucius was here? To remember old tales of his school which he spent alongside him.

"You looked like a kicked puppy. I did nothing other than simply sitting besides you." Severus pointed out with a smile on his face.

"Exactly not many had the courage to bother me. But that little brat did. You know he said one thing though to me that day. An advise which I cherished till this day." Lucius said as he put his hand on Severus' shoulder.

Severus was confused. He didn't recall his words. What had he advised then?

"You said that life wasn't a dream. We don't get everything we want everytime. It's better to stand up and adapt to the world." Lucius said fondly. His grey eyes peered into the black ones of Severus himself.

"Remember them Severus. For it is nothing but the cold truth." Lucius said as he lifted his hand off from Severus shoulders.

"Think of it as a brother to brother advice." Lucius said as he got up from his seat. He had done his work. Severus seemed to be well. Which was enough for now. He had been worried that the boy might do something in his anger.

"Lucius, if I marry Francesca and be only a consort for her. Won't it fulfill the terms?" Severus asked with a frown. He had been thinking on that particular line of thought.

Lucius was surprised. He considered over the matter for a few seconds. He continued to ponder on the topic. It was an interesting route though.

"You will theoretically. However you will have to take another wife for House Prince as your children with Francesca would be heir to only House Zabini." Lucius spoke after considering the matter. He understood what Severus was going over. However he was underestimating one important thing. A very important thing.

He was being selfish without thinking of the consequences fully. He was looking for his own happiness without understanding the matters wholly.

Lucius sighed. He wasn't going to make him privy to it this time. Severus had to navigate this particular treacherous river himself.

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