- Story Summary:
- Severus Snape considers an old photograph and his emotions while visiting Lucius Malfoy's manor.
- Author's Note:
- Part of the Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest (http://www.sockiipress.org/~luthien/snapeff/warning.html), in response to scenario 15: Snape bitterly watches them together, so oblivious in their happiness that they don't even notice him. Enormous thanks to the squeeful Nny for beta-reading, and also to Carrot, Shiro, and Nekochan for reading the story before release.
"Wait for me in here," Lucius said. "I won't be long. Narcissa asked me to approve of Draco's clothing before his friends arrive. They're having a little Yule party. Are you going to make an appearance?"
"Why would I want to show myself to students outside my workplace and inside your home?"
"To sneer and glare at them, perhaps? Do try not to break anything while I'm gone."
Severus shrugged and turned away when the door clicked shut. He did not know why he had been invited to visit the Malfoy manor, but he told himself he must use the opportunity to collect information for the Order.
He wondered why Lucius selected this study for a waiting room; it brought back too many memories of long-gone times, when he used to relax by the fire with an antique book or on the couch with Lucius. Though unused for over a decade, protective spells kept the room mostly preserved against the years. Lucius must have a good reason for keeping it closed, but Severus doubted the past had anything to do with it. Perhaps Lucius simply did not care for it any longer.
A few flicks of Severus' wand cleared away the dust lingering on the furniture-- nearly empty bookshelves along the walls, an overly filled trunk in one corner, thickly cushioned chairs near the windows, a faded leather couch in front of the fireplace... He remembered how comfortable that couch had once been, but he quickly turned his thoughts away from it. In the past, the formerly polished desk had always been cluttered; only some scattered parchment and a few framed photographs rested on it now. He grabbed the nearest picture and tucked it under his arm as he approached the windows along the back wall.
Snow covered the grass and the trees outside, but magic protected the rose bushes against the winter weather; they also reminded him of too many things. He turned the old photograph up to catch the moonlight and flinched, but he forced himself to ignore his emotions and examine it.
Severus noted the display of affection between his and Lucius' younger selves as they shared a sweet kiss amongst snow-speckled rosebushes. His memory might not be of the particular moment captured in his hands-- such activities were common for them back then-- but he could clearly imagine how it might have happened. Lucius' hands pulling him into the garden before he could protest or catch his balance, their lips meeting as they stood straighter, forgetting the outdoor chill and just enjoying the warmth--
He needed to focus on considering the picture in a detached fashion, instead of letting any pathetic emotions get involved.
Nearly twenty years old, the photograph was obviously taken before Severus had received the Dark Mark, as Lucius rarely acted so kindly after Severus officially became a Death Eater. The Dark Lord had permitted lust and sex, especially when it involved inflicting pain, but he was intolerant of affectionate displays between most of his followers.
Over fourteen years had passed since the last time Lucius had kissed Severus.
Severus did not think it wise to consider kissing now.
It was hard to believe that he had once been strongly affected by emotions other than anger, that he had once been almost joyful. He could never recapture that happiness, definitely not with the very person who had been responsible for destroying it, yet he did not regret leaving Lucius after the Dark Lord's attempt on the Potter boy.
Severus gripped the frame tighter as he noticed the look in his picture-self's eyes, the open display of feelings that he would never allow himself to experience again. Even if he did feel such emotions, he would have to shut them out and carry on as if they did not exist, as he had done so many years ago.
But sometimes Severus wished he had never lost his old relationship with Lucius, even if it had faded beyond all hope of restoration.
The young Severus in the picture did not know what his future held; his dreams of having Lucius reciprocate his love would not last after he realized any hints that it could happen must have been a horrible-- but clever-- manipulation. He did not know that he would one day be looked down on by the older Severus, who would wish he could knock some sense into the foolish boy, or at least draw attention to the impending upheaval in their lives. The couple kept holding each other and kissing tenderly, not caring that anyone would some day watch them together.
Severus found the sound of the shattering glass satisfying, but he resisted the urge to crunch it under his heel; losing his control and hurling the picture to the floor was enough of an indulgence in weakness. He could make an excuse for the broken frame if Lucius asked about it, claim the cleaning spells had thrown it across the room.
Why had Lucius framed this photograph and placed it on top of the desk? Had it been forgotten and left behind when the room was sealed, or was it set there deliberately as a taunt?
The young lovers hardly cared that Severus crushed and wrinkled them under his boot, or that he sneered down at them before turning away.
He drew his wand and lit a fire in the hearth, which needed no logs to provide heat and light. As much as he would have enjoyed the photograph twisting and burning in the flames, that would be a bit more difficult to explain. He could hardly tell Lucius that the picture had to burn because it stirred up emotions thought to be long dead and beyond any chance of rekindling.
The couch made an excellent place to sit and stare at the fire while he waited. He pretended the Dark Lord was trying to break into his thoughts and closed them off accordingly. The mind must be emptied of emotion...
After a particularly strong imaginary attack, Lucius stepped into the room and hung his cloak on a hook. He locked the door with a wand-flick and strode over to the couch.
"Dear me, Severus, you must have been bored. Cleaning the room, and even warming it... All of this for me?" Lucius stretched an arm along the couch back and sat close to Severus, his fingers brushing Severus' nearest shoulder.
"For my sake, not yours." The Dark Lord must be probing very deep; Severus focused on the fireplace and not the fingertips, not the past. "I'm not your slave."
"Yes... what a pity," Lucius drawled.
"You know you don't own me." That was a long time ago.
"Don't I?" Lucius tilted his head and smiled slightly.
Severus scowled and shifted his shoulder away. "Not any more."
"You're in a foul mood tonight."
"I usually am, am I not?"
Lucius nodded once. "Very true."
"And being called here on a whim of yours--"
"Oh, you had other exciting plans tonight?"
Severus remained silent as Lucius scooted closer and draped his arm over Severus' shoulders.
"Of course you didn't. Besides... it's been a long time, hasn't it?"
"It's been a long time since many things happened. What do you mean?"
Keeping the Dark Lord out of his mind might have felt slightly less uncomfortable than sitting next to Lucius on the familiar couch. At least this most likely did not pose a risk to his continued existence, but it might threaten his mental state.
"Why, Severus, apart from our infrequent visits over these last months, we've hardly spent any... personal time together." Lucius smiled again and turned Severus' face away from the fire with a light touch.
What a pity for the Order if this was a mere social call. They did not need to know Lucius still had smooth hands, and his eyes were not as cold as usual; perhaps it was merely the firelight shining in them.
Severus tensed and lowered his voice, "You asked me over for my company? I didn't think you valued my conversational skills."
"I sometimes do, but we can speak later. I wouldn't have picked this old room of ours if I just wanted to speak with you."
Lucius' arms encircled Severus' waist, and he leaned in until their foreheads touched. A faint hint of roses in Lucius' clean scent reminded Severus of their old winters together.
Control over his emotions must hold when faced with the unexpected, Severus reminded himself; he could be killed, or cause the death of others, if he slipped at the wrong time.
He blamed the fire for the warmth he felt, and its bright glow straining his eyes must be the reason he closed them. Forgetting about his mental exercises, he concentrated instead on his lips being brushed by Lucius' before meeting in a light, lingering kiss.
It did not seem important to regain control of himself when he was pulled closer and kissed harder; what mattered was Lucius' arms around him, hands sliding up his back, lips pressed to his. He wrapped his arms around Lucius' shoulders as their mouths parted and came together again, opened to each other as their tongues touched and swirled.
Severus stroked Lucius' soft hair as Lucius held him tighter and lowered them both to lie on the cushions. Lucius carefully unbuttoned the top of Severus' black robes and pulled the collar down to bare more skin. When the kisses moved down Severus' cheek and to his neck, he bit his lip and moaned. He definitely couldn't blame the warmth on the fire any more; the heat spreading through him was certainly because of Lucius.
The kisses turned to gentle nips, then a hard suck that he almost hoped would leave a mark. Gripping Lucius' hair and gasping, he pushed his hips up against Lucius' and found they were both equally aroused.
It had been a long time since they were together, but now... Lucius kissed with more passion than ever, fumbled for the rest of the robes' buttons, breathed heavily and whispered softly, tugged clothes open to run hands over pale skin, pressed and rubbed their hips together harder and quicker...
Severus shoved Lucius hard against the pillows and rolled himself off of the couch, not caring if he bruised when he fell to the floor. He tried to slow his rapid breathing and looked around the room to keep his gaze away from Lucius. A mistake, a mistake, he shouldn't have let it happen, shouldn't have let it go that far, shouldn't have stayed after it started...
"What in Salazar's name did you do that for?" Lucius sounded quite furious. "Changed your mind already?"
"You shouldn't have... done that." Slowly sitting up, Severus tried to steady his voice. "It's over-- it's still over, it's been over--"
Lucius' words slowed slightly with his breathing, though the anger remained. "If you still want it to be 'over,' you shouldn't have responded to me."
"You're right-- and that's a rarity, isn't it?" Severus buttoned his clothing and stood to face the fire. "Did you ask me here to attempt a seduction, or was that simply a last-minute decision?"
"I thought you knew me well enough to work it out on your own."
He did not think Lucius, of all people, would find reason to call anyone to his home for a seduction, not when he already had a beautiful wife. And that beautiful wife happened to be downstairs with their son, entertaining the younger generation while her husband tried to lure his son's current teacher and his own former lover into sex.
"And fix your robes; you missed a button," Lucius said.
At least none of the buttons had been broken in Lucius' haste, as had happened on several occasions in the past. When he finished straightening his robes and looked around the room, he saw Lucius had risen from the couch and crouched beside the broken picture frame.
Lucius started at it for several seconds with a neutral expression, then picked up the frame and shook the cracked glass from it. "What is this doing here..."
"It was on the desk." And then it had somehow ended up broken.
"It was? I didn't realize I had put it there." With his gaze still fixed on it, Lucius carefully pried the photograph out of the frame. "This was many winters ago."
"Yes. We were young, and I was stupid." Very strange, the dull throb in Severus' chest; he couldn't find a reason for it.
He walked over to the windows and lightly pressed his fingertips to the cold glass. The snow fell harder and almost hid the rose gardens from his eyes, though he could still clearly remember them from nearly twenty years ago.
"Ah, Severus... if you had been stupid, I wouldn't have bothered approaching you. I certainly wouldn't have kept you around as long as I did."
"Why did you keep me, then?"
He turned his head when he heard Lucius crush the photograph in one fist.
"Perhaps I was stupid." The crumpled picture landed in the fire with a casual toss of Lucius' hand. "Get out of my home. And don't show yourself downstairs when you leave."
The ache seemed stronger; Severus ignored it and sneered. "Oh? You suddenly don't want your wife and son to know I'm here after all?"
"Narcissa knows why I called you here; she always knew."
"And Draco? Does he know his Head of House once lived here, was once his father's--"
"Leave." Lucius did not move from the fire. "I will send for you when-- if... just go."
Severus walked behind Lucius on his way out, brushed his shoulder against Lucius'
stiffened back, and again caught the faint fragrance of roses. Smoke from the
burning picture covered the sweet smell before he could stop to enjoy it, but
when he closed his mind against further weakness, Severus found it best to leave
any longing and regrets behind.