Title: Wild Bells Rating: NC-17 Pairing: Snape/Draco Disclaimer: JKR owns them, although I think I'm nicer to them than she is. Summary: Draco gets the shock of his life, but he's happy about it. Warnings: Technically an AU (not DH-compliant). Contains Snape, Draco, snark, and sex. Author's notes: Happy holidays, Goosey! (My deepest thanks to A, who got me back on track, and to gmth, because.)
As the nauseating Portkey effects subsided, Draco Malfoy looked around. He was in the middle of a wide field, near grassless and becoming increasingly muddy as a fine mist came down. Sighing, he tucked his trousers into the tops of his boots, and set off toward the road he could see beyond the field's edge. His mother had been as clear as possible given her circumstances: Go. Go now. I can't, so you must. Quickly, before your father returns. The problem was that he had no idea what she had meant.
Each step across the field was a battle, made worse as the mist gave way a steady rain. Draco slowed his pace even more, trying not to sink too deeply into the sticky mud. Low stone fences cordoned off small plots of land as far as he could see, tucked between the looming hills on each side of the valley where he'd arrived. Each plot appeared to have either a flock of sheep or a small cottage: each, that is, except the plot where he was currently stuck. With great care, he wriggled his boot out of the muck and stepped forward. He tried to imagine his mother taking the same path, her elegant strides hobbled and her hair falling across her face, and found himself chuckling at the image. Perhaps she'd never been here in early December - but why had she been here at all? It had been more than four years since the Malfoys had moved to France, and as far as Draco knew his mother had not left the Continent since then: the weekends at Cap d'Antibes and the long visits with old school chums now in Italy and Spain seemed to take up much of her time. He shrugged and tucked the chain around his neck back beneath his shirt, the Portkey locket cold against his skin.
Lost in thought and head down so he could keep the rain out of his face, Draco made his way across the field. Suddenly, the crown of his head hit something. Draco looked up, startled, but saw nothing there. He reached forward and felt something: invisible, smooth, magical. "A ward? In the middle of a bloody field?" His laughter was cut short as he began to concentrate, smoothing his palms across the unseen wall. A faint tingle tickled his left hand; he pulled his right hand away, and the tingle grew stronger. "Interesting," he muttered, and paced slowly to his right, his left hand flat against the warded boundary. Something here that recognizes me, but the ward doesn't drop at a touch. Voice-warded? No, there's such a thing as too secure. If Mum sent me, she thinks I can get past it. He felt a sharp corner under his hand and made the turn. After a few paces more, he felt something rougher against his skin, and then the outline of vertical boards. Draco reached to where he thought the gate's latch might be: a sharp shock made him glad for the mud, as he swayed backward but did not fall.
Draco frowned and placed both his hands flat against the gate. "Alohomora!" The tingle was more intense here than it had been on the previous side, but nothing moved. He stepped back and pulled his wand, trying the other opening spells he knew with equally disappointing effect. As he slid his wand back into the pocket along his trouser seam, he thought he heard soft laughter on the wind coming down the valley. "Right," he muttered. "I doubt it's the Falcons motto, so let's try the obvious. Toujours pur." Magic pulsed through his hands, but when he reached for the latch, it shocked him again. "Pure blood?" The magic pulsed. Draco racked his brain for ideas, then remembered the volume of poetry next to his mother's bed. He shut his eyes tightly and tried to see the words on the page.
"Ring out false pride in place and blood, the civic slander and the spite," he said softly. As he took a breath, the gate swung open under his hands and the ward shimmered out of existence.
"Finish the couplet, Mr. Malfoy, if you please." The voice was rusty from disuse, yet still held a familiar tone of command.
"'Ring in the love of truth and right, ring in the common love of good.' Mum has a terribly bourgeois fondness for Tennyson," Draco said as he stepped onto the pebbled path that led from the gate toward the door of the small crofter's cottage, now visible. "Severus?"
"Indeed," Snape said from the doorway, the eaves shielding him from the rain. He narrowed his eyes, suspicious. "Where is your mother? You are soaking wet and covered in mud, Draco."
"You're five years dead and you're commenting on my grooming?" Draco raced up the path, but stopped just short of embracing Snape, dropping his arms at his sides. "Mum's sick. She gave me the Portkey and told me to take care of what I found at the other end. I thought it might be Nymphadora's son - I never imagined...." His words slowed and he stared at Snape, dumbstruck. "You're alive and I didn't know."
"That was the intent, yes." Snape frowned. "How ill is she? Does your father know you're here?"
"No. He thinks I've gone to Marseilles to visit the whores." Draco shuddered, then sighed. "Mum's feverish and coughing. The Healer says it's something with her lungs, but I don't know how serious it is."
"Serious enough to send you instead of herself," Snape said. "However, I doubt she'd be pleased if I sent you home with the same complaint. Remove your boots, please, and strip out of those trousers and that jacket." He turned abruptly and went inside.
Draco automatically bent to his laces at the familiar tone in Snape's voice, kicking his boots free and shedding his trousers atop them. He peeled off his leather jacket, shivering when the icy wind blew through his shirt, and nearly ran into the cottage as the wooden door shut behind him. He followed the sound of running water to a tiny bathroom where steam rose from an ancient copper bathtub.
Snape glanced at him and turned his attention back to the shelf on the wall. "Into the tub, please." He selected a few of the glass jars and opened them, sprinkling a bit from each into the water. A warm scent rose into the humid air, bay and myrrh and cedar. He looked at Draco again, shivering in the doorway, and laughed softly. "Very well, Mr Malfoy. I shall grant you your privacy, even as you have invaded mine." His dark trousers scraped against the gooseflesh on Draco's thighs as they traded position in the small room. "There is clean clothing in the cupboard, and tea when you are warmed."
"And brandy," Draco said.
"If you like," Snape said as the door fell shut behind him. "You are, after all, finally of age."
Draco climbed into the tub. The water was hot enough to make his skin prickle, but he lowered himself slowly until he was almost completely underwater. A folded washcloth cushioned his head against the rim as Draco stretched out and rested his toes against the tub's far side. Severus is alive, and Mum knew? Why didn't she tell me? He sighed and sat up to soap away the mud that had managed to ooze through his clothes. He looks the same. Sounds the same. Bloody Severus - and I'd just gotten past him being gone. He slumped back down into the water and tried to relax.
"Tea is on the table," Snape said as he looked up from his book, "and brandy in your cup."
"Thank you," Draco said. He made his way to the sofa, trying not to trip over the too-long legs of the corduroy trousers he'd pulled from the cupboard and cuffed generously. He pushed up the sleeves of the worn grey woolen jumper, richly cabled yet frayed at the cuffs, and poured his tea. "What are you reading?"
"In Memoriam." Snape closed the book and placed it neatly on the table. "I'm afraid I pick it up every time I hear that ridiculous ward-key spoken. Your mother.... Well. I find the conceit insufferable."
"You would," Draco murmured into his cup. He pulled his legs underneath him and smiled a bit. "You're alive," he said, almost giggling at the strange idea.
Snape sat quietly for a moment, then refilled his cup. "Your powers of observation are as keen as ever, but I suppose you deserve an explanation." He studied Draco's face. "Tell me what you know."
"You died," Draco whispered. "The Dark Lord - he killed you, or Nagini did, which is practically the same thing. That night was horrible, Severus, blood and fighting and not knowing what to do, and then losing you...." He gripped his knees, trying not to shake as he remembered. "Father took us home to the Manor after that, but it wasn't long before we went to stay with Great-Aunt Claudine near Chateau-Thierry, and we've been there ever since. Hiding from everything but each other and the past." He looked up again, locking eyes with Snape. "But you died."
"Not quite." Snape's voice was gentle. He rose slowly from his armchair and took a blanket from the carved chest beneath the window. After draping the blanket around Draco, he sat at the other end of the sofa. "Tell me, Mr Malfoy, what is one of the best ways to defeat a poison?"
Draco smiled slowly at the first-year Potions question. "Learn to tolerate it," Draco said as he shifted to stare at Severus. "You were dosing yourself with Nagini's venom?" As he spoke the words, he couldn't believe he – and everyone, apparently - had ever thought otherwise.
Snape nodded. "For approximately two years. I managed to obtain it under the guise of developing a new poison for the Dark Lord's use, but used it myself instead. Of course, she bit me deeply enough that it was very nearly a useless endeavor, but Potter's timing was adequate."
"Potter? He told everyone he watched you die."
"Oh, he did. I made it worth his while, sharing some memories of his mother in one last grand dramatic gesture." Snape's mouth twisted.
Draco snickered and sipped his tea, then put the cup on the table and turned back to Severus. "But what happened after that?"
"Potter found Minerva, who came to take my body before the Death Eaters found me. She put me in the Astronomy Tower until your mother arrived. Sinistra, true Ravenclaw that she is, knew better than to believe I had allowed myself to be slain in such an obvious manner. They tended me until they could find and ward a safe house." Snape waved his hand. "This one, actually. Minerva's dower cottage that she never used, since Albus was more inclined to promote her than marry her. Between the three of them, they made it Unplottable and warded it as tightly as possible."
Draco frowned. "But Mum? Why her?"
"You know she swore an Unbreakable Vow with me."
"Yes. About Dumbledore." Draco looked away for a moment.
"Well," Snape said, "your mother has the irrational but convenient belief that an Unbreakable Vow binds both parties to the action being vowed. I vowed to protect you from harm, and she believes she vowed to do the same for me. Your mother, Draco, is an incurable romantic."
Draco felt a flush of rage sweep across him. "She saved your life, Severus, and you call her a romantic? You're damned lucky she is! She saved you and she saved me that night!" He threw off the blanket and jumped up from the sofa.
"I know," Snape said quietly. "Your mother has visited me twice a month for the past five years and I think I shall never repay the debt." He watched Draco pace the worn carpet. "Do come and sit down, Draco. Tell me about France."
"What I've seen of it? Filled with snobs and drunkards all too happy to take Father's money at cards while letting him ramble about how glorious it was to serve the Dark Lord." Draco shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned against the window frame, watching the dark rain clouds scud across the early grey sky of twilight. "Mother's gone most of the time, visiting her friends." He turned and glanced at Severus. "One of whom, apparently, was you."
"Yes. She brings supplies and, when she can, sits a while and talks with me. She told me about your business venture with Zabini."
Draco rolled his eyes. "It's only glamour potions and ointments for spots. We do a good mail-order business to Durmstrang and Beauxbatons." Suddenly, he grinned at Snape. "Of course, it's mostly marketing. Did she show you the advert?"
"The one with you and Zabini shirtless?" Snape attempted to frown, but gave up when he began to chuckle. "I suspect that leads to more sales than the efficacy of your products."
"Severus!" Draco crossed his arms, laughing. "Blaise and I were good in Potions!"
"Adequate," Snape said. "Enough to keep from being sued, I expect."
Snape laughed and got up, going into the kitchen to refill the kettle. "Would you have me any other way?"
Draco pushed himself away from the wall and followed Snape into the kitchen. The familiar movements from the Potions laboratory were still here: long stained fingers measuring dried leaves, various bowls and bottles in ordered rows, a deeply-scarred wooden countertop and viciously sharp knives hanging above it. He watched quietly until Snape had finished brewing the fresh pot of tea. "I mourned you, Severus. Grieved for you. I think I would have you any way I might, just to have you back."
Snape put the teapot back on the countertop, resting his palms on either side of it. "I can't apologise for what I did, Draco. I'm alive, after all, even if I'm confined to this damned cottage for a good time yet, and it was all up to chance. If Potter hadn't been there, if they'd not found Minerva in time, if your mother had cared more for Lucius than for you...."
"I'm not angry with you," Draco said quietly. "I just missed you."
"And I you." After a long silence, Snape turned slowly and faced Draco. "You should go. It's tricky to get the ward reset after dusk."
"No." Draco took a step toward Snape. "I haven't seen you in five years, Severus. I'm not leaving after two hours."
"Why?" Draco took another step.
Snape gripped the countertop behind him, his knuckles whitening with the effort. "Because I missed you, stupid boy! I have been alone with my grief and my memories, Draco, and I won't inflict that upon you."
"Severus." Draco took a final step and rested his hands on Snape's hips. "You've already been a martyr. You can't do it twice." He raised up on his toes and kissed Snape, his lips gentle and soft against the firmly-pressed line of Snape's mouth.
With a deep groan, Snape wrapped his arms around Draco and kissed him in return, tongues sliding together as they pulled each other closer. "Impudent brat," Snape said after a while, and kissed him again.
"Taking advantage of a poor hermit," Draco said. "I ought to be fined or something." He laughed and kissed Snape's throat. "I've wanted to do that for years, you know."
Snape shuddered. "You were a child."
"Not any longer." Draco shifted his hips slightly, rubbing against Snape's thigh, smiling as he noted a matching hardness against his hip. He caught Snape's gaze and held it. "Bed. Please?"
"No," Snape growled. "Not yet." He kissed Draco again, the initial burst of need giving way to a leisurely and methodical exploration of Draco's mouth, hands wandering across Draco's back and down across his arse. Without warning, he turned them both around so that Draco was pinned against the counter. "I think this is sufficient to our needs at the moment."
Draco gasped as Snape's rough hands slid under the hem of his jumper, trying to pull Snape closer and lean back for better access at the same time. "Don't tease, Severus." A low laugh was his only answer as Snape tugged the jumper over his head and bent to suck a nipple between his lips. "Severus, please!"
"Do be more precise, Draco." Snape's voice was warm and smoky as he flicked his tongue across Draco's chest, teasing the pale golden hairs scattered between his nipples. "Please to more of this, or this" – at that, Snape ground his hips against Draco's – "or this," as he squeezed Draco's arse. "I must say that I am disinclined to grant your requests at the moment, at least until I fulfill my own lengthy list of intentions."
"Fiend. Bastard. Incubus." Draco writhed against him, arching into Snape's mouth wherever he could find it. "More."
Snape laughed as he sank to his knees, undoing the button and zip of the oversized corduroy trousers. "I am no incubus, Draco. As far as I can ascertain, you are completely awake." He pushed the fabric down to pool around Draco's ankles, the soft worn cotton shorts falling atop them. "As for more, that you may certainly have." He slid his mouth onto Draco's cock as one hand wrapped firmly around Draco's calf.
The long swipes of Snape's tongue around his cock, accompanied by the deep wet suction of Snape's mouth, nearly made Draco's knees give out. He twisted his fingers into Snape's hair – another thing that hasn't changed, he thought as the fine limp strands filled his hands – and thrust his hips as slowly as he could, trying to keep time with Snape's movements. "Severus," he whispered.
Snape glanced up at him, then let Draco's cock slide from his mouth and sat back on his heels. "Hand me that green bottle beside you."
Draco frowned, but handed the bottle over. "Are you stopping?"
"Not for long," Snape said as he removed the cork and dripped oil onto his fingers. He looked up again. "Be honest, Draco. How long has it been for you?"
"A couple of years," Draco said. "I was...there hasn't been anyone worthwhile."
"You may assume my recent sexual history," Snape said, smiling as he took Draco's cock back into his mouth and began to suck in earnest.
Draco shut his eyes tightly at the renewed waves of sensation, but opened them again when Snape nudged his legs further apart and slipped his oiled fingers behind Draco's sac. "Merlin, please, Severus...." Snape chuckled, and the reverberations against Draco's cock startled him as much as the first gentle pushes of Snape's fingertip. He gripped Snape's hair more tightly and pushed back, taking as much as he could and breathing carefully as he willed himself to relax. Soon, Snape introduced a second finger, and Draco gave up trying to control himself, rocking between mouth and fingers. "Getting close," he whispered.
Snape laughed again and sucked harder, using his free hand to caress Draco's sac as he sped the pace of his fingers. As he stretched Draco wider, he took Draco's cock as deeply as he could, swallowing around the tip and letting it slide back between his lips before taking him deep again.
The combined stimulation was too much for Draco to fight against, and within momentss he was clutching Snape's hair tightly as the first waves of his orgasm hit him. Snape stilled as Draco pulsed into his mouth and tightened around his fingers, then sucked him gently as Draco's heart slowed. He released Draco's cock and pulled his fingers free, casting a quiet cleansing charm. "Adequate?"
"Good. Turn around, Mr Malfoy." Snape got to his feet, placing the green bottle on the countertop before unfastening his own trousers.
Draco heard the soft slipping sound of an oiled hand against skin and moved his legs further apart, cradling his head in his arms. He smiled as he felt Snape step closer and rest a hand on his hip. "Want you, Severus. Take me."
"Pestilential presumptuous brat of a Malfoy," Snape said in an affectionate tone as he pushed slowly into Draco, breathing shallowly until he was in place.
"Your brat," Draco said softly. "I always have been."
Snape leaned down and kissed the nape of Draco's neck as he began to move. "I think I might learn to accept that." He held Draco's hips firmly as he settled into a rhythm, deep and fast. He leaned forward at the deepest point of each thrust, kissing or nipping or licking whatever bit of Draco's skin he could reach. As his breath grew more ragged, his pace grew stronger until he groaned and dug his fingers into Draco's hips. "Mine."
Draco lay still across the countertop, bearing Snape's weight, until the final shudders faded away. He twisted to smile up at Snape as he pulled free and fumbled for his wand, letting the familiar tickle of cleaning spells wash over him. When Snape was done, Draco pushed up and turned to pull Snape against him. "Yours," he said, muffled against Snape's chest.
"Hard to believe," Snape said into his hair, "but I suppose standing bare-arsed in an icy Scottish kitchen is proof enough."
"And you didn't think I loved you," Draco said, grinning up at him.
Snape frowned and shook his head. "Of course not. Why on earth would you?"
"Severus," Draco said patiently. "I have loved you for a very long time whether you deserve it or not, and I'm stubborn enough to keep at it just to annoy you."
"Bloody fool," Snape said affectionately, and kissed his hair. "Come to bed."
"About damned time," Draco said.
The next morning, Draco delayed drinking the last bit of tea in his cup as long as he could.
"You should go. Your mother will be worried if you're not back soon, and there's no way to get word."
"What you said yesterday, about being here for a good time yet?" Draco looked at Snape, eyes troubled. "What did you mean?"
Snape got up and took the cup from Draco, then held out his leather jacket. "Albus wrote a letter to the Minister. It will deliver itself seven years from the date of my death, confirming that my involvement in his death and the activities of the last known year of my life were at his direction. Should this be accepted as authentic, I should be able to return to my life – whatever is left of it."
"Or what you make of it," Draco said. He zipped his jacket and put his arms around Snape, holding him tight. "Please say I can come see you again before then."
"Since you know how to work the wards," Snape said, "I do not see how I can prevent you from doing so."
Draco grinned and leaned up to kiss him. "Be careful, or I'll stay."
"That would be an excessive shock for a witch of Minerva's age," Snape said as he released Draco and opened the door. They walked together down the path to the gate. He handed Draco a large vial, stoppered and sealed with dark green wax. "Four drops in tea, every four hours. That should help her breathing."
Draco slid the vial into his pocket, then nestled against Snape's chest. "I'll see you soon." He kissed Snape slowly, then stepped away and pulled the locket free from his shirt.
"I'll set the ward behind you." Snape opened the gate and stepped aside. "Draco - "
"Don't, Severus." Draco touched Snape's cheek and smiled. "You're alive, and you've got me. What on earth could you find to complain about?" He went through the gate and pulled it shut behind him.
As the ward shimmered into place, he heard a derisive noise accompanied by a deep laugh. Draco grinned and opened the locket, letting the Portkey whirl him away to Wiltshire. As much as he felt sure that Severus's potion would cure his mother, he couldn't help hoping that he could convince her she was unfit for travel for some time yet.