- Story Summary:
- Narcissa Malfoy opens a door at the worst possible moment.
- Author's Note:
- Co-written with Ashinae for the Contrelamontre "If you tell anyone, I'll kill you" challenge.
As pleasure explodes through him, Severus Snape is vaguely conscious of a door swinging open and a draft of cool air falling across his exposed chest. But his eyes are filled with Lucius Malfoy, and he is in no position to wonder about the change until his body stops shuddering and his lover jolts upright with a hiss.
Lucius falls very still, then, his hands still braced on either side of Severus' head. He stares down at Severus for a moment before slowly turning his head to look over his shoulder, expressionless.
"I should have known," says a voice like ice. Though Severus cannot see Narcissa Malfoy's face, he would recognize that tone in the dark. "So this is why you haven't shared my bed all these months."
Lucius doesn't seem particularly worried as he takes his time moving away from Severus, getting to his feet and picking up a discarded robe. "If you should have known," he says, "you shouldn't look so surprised."
Severus struggles to sit up, his head still pounding from the intensity of his climax. He cannot reach his clothes, so he pulls a decorative pillow over his body to hide his waning erection, trying not to stain it with the fluid that coats his skin. Bending his legs, he tries not to stare at the tableau before him: the beautiful, furious Narcissa, and the equally beautiful, preternaturally calm Lucius, who are staring at one another.
"We are supposed to be furthering a dynasty," she hisses. "I have never fooled myself that you married me for love, only to merge our two families...but where is our brood of little Malfoys?" A deep breath steadies her rising voice. "What do you have to show for your life, besides what you've inherited from your father and..." She gestures contemptuously in Severus' direction, refusing to look at him. "This."
Lucius secures his robe rather haphazardly, as though he's not expecting to be wearing it for very long -- more of a way to ward of the chill than anything else. "Is this supposed to upset me?" he asks, sounding vaguely amused. "I'll give you a child when I'm ready to. Until then, I need my...distractions."
Severus can see that Narcissa is on the verge of calling him a name that might send Lucius into a rage. On the other hand, Lucius might consider it weakness on her part to have to utter such a thing. Her throat works as though she is swallowing back her first several responses to his dismissive comment. "Is there any reason that I should wait for you to give me a child?" she asks finally, knuckles white as her fists clench.
"We would appear to be bound to the arrangements of our marriage. It will be extraordinarily difficult to save face if either of us chooses to back out now, wouldn't it? And think of what your father would say." There is amusement in Lucius' voice.
"I wasn't speaking of backing out of our marriage!" Now Narcissa's eyes are glittering, and her lips remain parted in triumph; she believes she has something to hold over him. Her eyes flicker over to Severus, aware of his gaze on her, and she tosses her elegantly coiffed head. "It is not necessary for the Malfoy heir to be fathered by a man who prefers to..." Her lips curl in a half-smile, eyes on Severus once more. "...who prefers to expend his energies elsewhere."
"That would be a very foolish thing to do, Narcissa," Lucius says, still calm, but his amusement gone. Suddenly this isn't quite a game anymore. "The things they say about married women who find their way into the beds of other men? I doubt that this is worth that sort of price."
"And the things they say about the husbands of married women who find their way into the beds of other men?" She tosses her head again, posturing defiance. "Is this about me, Lucius, or about you? What would someone like Nott say, or my cousin Sirius?"
Lucius' jaw works, clenches. "The opinions of your cousin Sirius mean very little to me." He moves towards her, and his voice drops. "But I promise you one thing, my dear. If you tell anyone...I'll kill you."
"You'll kill me!" The false, high tinkle of her laugh belies her sudden step back, hand grasping at the doorknob. "What will you do, Lucius, come into my bedroom and whisper an Unforgivable Curse while I sleep? Do you think you can find my bedroom?" Suddenly her eyes turn on Severus. "What makes you think he won't betray you?" she asks shrilly.
Still Lucius does not raise his voice, but he follows Narcissa forward. "Severus would not betray me. I know him too well." He pauses a brief moment, then continues darkly, "This is my house. Do you think you can hide from me? Do you think you would be safe if you talked about what happens within these walls? Do not presume to think you know what I would and would not do."
The woman's eyes have not moved, though her husband is very close to her now, hovering over her. And Severus knows that look; he thinks that Lucius might not be bluffing. But Narcissa continues to study him through narrowed eyes, making Severus realize that he is in a very dangerous position...for Narcissa may not be able to strike at Lucius, but there is little to stop her from striking at him.
"And...should something happen to Severus?" Lucius pauses again and smiles coldly. "I know where I'll look first. Why don't you go now? Find something to keep yourself occupied."
Narcissa is smiling as well, but she has not turned to meet her husband's gaze. "I wasn't planning to curse you, Severus," she says in the voice of the gracious hostess which he has heard at all their parties, the ones to which he was certain she hadn't wanted to invite someone from a family as unimportant as his own. "Are you comfortable? You must be cold. Can I get you anything?"
"You don't need to get anything," Lucius says, and it's obvious he has no further patience for this. "Why don't you go buy yourself something."
This, Severus knows, is a mistake, for Lucius to treat his wife as if money and status are her only concerns. She is ambitious and not unintelligent; were Lucius so inclined, he could have a true partner in her. Severus has always been urgently grateful that Lucius prefers him -- someone more disposable, less essential to the long-term plans of the Malfoy family, and therefore more flexible, worked into his life in the invisible margins.
"Severus?" Narcissa asks, ignoring Lucius. "Is there anything you would like?" And he knows that he cannot ignore her; he must speak.
"No," he says, "I'm... all right."
Lucius glances at him, briefly, then turns back to Narcissa. "Is there anything else?" he asks. The chill in his tone makes Severus wonder if he should perhaps make a discreet exit as quickly as possible.
Still Narcissa does not turn to glance at her husband nor acknowledge his comment in any way. "If you need anything, anything at all, please tell me," she says, and this time her voice is warmer, her expression sincere. "Because I think we both know that Lucius is not always the most...accommodating," and her eyes flash over to him, blazing contempt. The loathing has not quite left the twist of her mouth when she smiles at Severus.
Severus has no idea what to say to this nor how to react to it without directing Lucius' anger in his direction. So he merely gives a little nod, which, of course, Lucius turns to him again just in time to see. But Lucius does not acknowledge it, at least outwardly.
"Goodnight, then, Severus," Narcissa says, smoothing her hands across the expensive fabric of the dress she wears; Severus realizes suddenly that she is dressed to go out, dressed beautifully, and perhaps she came to the room to collect her husband for a social engagement he had forgotten. Severus swallows as she turns her gaze away from him, lingering on Lucius for a long moment. When Narcissa is angry, her clear blue eyes turn beady and ferocious, like a hunting owl's.
Lucius watches Narcissa almost blankly for a moment before he all but pushes her back through the doorway and closes the door behind her. "I hope that didn't upset you," he says smoothly to Severus. Too smoothly; his face is a mask, with no hint of the rage with which he faced his wife. He strides across the room with his jaw fixed, straightening the bedcovers, pulling his robe more securely into place.
"Oh, no more than having your wife walk in on us would normally upset me," Severus replies, slipping from the bed and retrieving his own clothing from the floor. Casually he adds, "I'm surprised that you threatened her."
Lucius hesitates in his straightening of the room, fixing Severus with an unreadable expression. "You didn't honestly believe her offers of support to you, did you?"
Does he? Over the past few years, he has learned not to trust what is said in this house. "Perhaps I should go," he says, instead of answering Lucius' question.
"That is what she wants, you know," he agrees easily, though he turns slightly, letting his hair fall like a curtain between himself and Severus as he dresses. "She will try to have you leave, one way or another. Is that what you want?"
Merlin help him. "No," Severus admits, "that's not what I want."
"Then what she does is irrelevant." Pushing his hair back, Lucius steps toward Severus. He is not smiling, yet his quirking eyebrow and raised chin suggest genuine approval, and he reaches out a hand.
Severus can't help feeling a bit like an awkward teenager when he accepts the offered clasp. "I...suppose you're right." He feels that it would be a poor idea to try to say anything more. Or, really, try to think or analyze, because it doesn't really make sense that Lucius would choose his feelings over those of his wife.
"Are you with me?" Lucius asks in a quiet, conspiratorial tone. The question could be anything from a proposition to a demand for loyalty to a veiled threat to Narcissa. There is, however, only one possible response, and Severus finds that he has no pride left to swallow as Lucius smiles slowly at him, accepting with a bowed head Severus' unblinking answer: