Pairing Severus Snape/ Lucius Malfoy, Abraxas Malfoy Rating PG 13 Warnings None Summary Severus plays Lucius and Abraxas against one another, but will he get caught in the crossfire?
Disclaimer The world of HP and its characters belongs to J K Rowling. The author of this fic has borrowed them for the purposes of storytelling. No profit was or will be made. Word count 3213 Author Notes Janus asked for Deatheaters bonding - kindness between them in the darkness of their lives. I hope that this is close to what you want.
Battle Not With Monsters
Severus leaned into the rough brick wall, shivering in the frigid night air. Raindrops dripped from the portico and hissed as they fell upon the hot, blackened flesh of his upturned left arm. The brief flash of candle light from within the Manor went unnoticed as he scrunched his eyes and fought to control the pain. He debated staying out in the rain, trying to hold out until that fool Lucius came to retrieve him.
He expected that Abraxas Malfoy was laying into his son to do just that, and, given the lack of spine his old schoolmate had often betrayed, Severus deduced that Lucius would go so far as to offer guest accommodations for at least a day or two. His small bunk in the dungeons was preferable to his father's...late father's, home, and a bit more cheery than his childhood room, but his aching body would appreciate a feather bed and satiny sheets at the moment.
Holding back the urge to fish a small vial of Pain Potion out of his pocket, Severus twisted to watch the elaborately carved doors leading to the main salon. He wondered what was taking so bloody long. Surely, the impropriety of hanging about in a downpour was grating on the Malfoy patriarch. He'd often arrive from one errand or another, dripping wet and windblown, and had suffered quite a few lectures as to the proper comportment of a Malfoy lackey.
Sod it all, Severus thought, he'd be safe with a weak warming charm. It would ease the shivering, but not the overall effect of his half-hour spent at the mercy of the weather. Huffing in frustration, Severus performed the charm, then settled back against the wall, determined not to give in to his throbbing flesh. He'd expected a bit of pain, but he could not help but notice that the other recruits had not suffered as long a bout of Crucio that he had. And that bloody great snake had scared the piss out of him. No one else had endured the writhing coils and flickering tongue of that beastly serpent.
Well, he mused, he had received looks of pride from the Malfoys, and that eased the sting of the most painful interlude of his pain filled life. All he wanted was a hot bath and a soft, warm bed. And maybe a roast beef sandwich or two with a pot of tea. Not much to ask in return for the torturous evening he had endured.
Finally, Severus smirked, his arm was going numb. He touched a finger to his mark, surprised that the flesh was smooth. The skull and snake lay quiescent, and he suspected that when activated, it might have a more three-dimensional quality, not that he was eager to find out just now. Lucius had not gone into much detail about his own experience with the mark, typically leaving out the small detail of just how painful the process was. Speaking of the blighter, just where was Lucius.
Pulling his new black cloak over his arms, Severus practiced the mind-clearing exercises that Abraxas had taught him. The promise of the Dark Arts tutelage from one of the most respected members of Pureblood society seemed too good to be true, and Severus would learn as much as he could, lest the tides turn and he found himself expelled from the Manor by his patron. Soon the slow breathing pushed the irritations from his mind and he settled back to await his rescuer. --
Abraxas swirled the brandy in his snifter as he peered out the window, contemplating the sodden young man huddled against the inclement weather. Slowly, he let the silk drape flow through his fingers, and the spells woven into the fabric once again blocked out the sound of the pounding rain. He gingerly walked to the settee and settled his aching bones into the cushions.
“We know his sort is rough and tumble,” Abraxas stated, as he waved an arm towards the French doors, “but we have brought him thus far, no need to squander our hard work now.”
Lucius tilted his head, nodding slightly.
“I have found that he is most pliable if he is left to brood. Let him sulk in the rain if he so desires,” Lucius replied.
Abraxas lifted the snifter, then swallowed the remainder. He was inclined to agree with his son, but the Snape boy had been thoroughly tested this night, and there was always doubt that this experiment, this half-blood, might revert to some overlooked weakness and resent the price paid for his naked longing for acceptance.
“Nonetheless, retrieve the poor wretch before he catches his death,” Abraxas ordered.
Reluctantly, Lucius rose to his feet and stood before the elder Malfoy.
“Have you a preference to which room he be shown?” Lucius asked carefully. He had learned from the cradle never to assume anything when it came to his father. It was still a mystery as to why the old man was sponsoring Snape, and, if truth be told, he held a bit of jealousy that this pitiful half-blood was given any attention at all by the old man.
Abraxas refilled his snifter, then looked up at his son, wondering just when the boy would take possession of his birth right and control over his household. Perhaps it was time to loosen the reins a bit.
“I have no care about such a trivial matter,” Abraxas replied. In fact, he had toyed with taking the Snape boy to his bedchamber, but the sad fact of it was that he no longer had the desire to pursue young flesh. Best to have the boy as a bargaining tool with the Dark Lord and leave the seduction to his progeny.
“Very good father,” Lucius said, as he swallowed his amusement. No amount of pain-relieving potion would alleviate the old man's aches, thanks to the liberally dosed brandy the old man was swallowing. He would have to thank Snape once again for supplying the Cat's Claw syrup that ensured his father's continuing discomfort.
Lucius called Tinty to the salon. He dispatched the wretched elf to gather Snape and transfer him, dripping cloak and all, to the dreary Grey Suite. The drabness would suit the taciturn young man. Lucius nodded to his father, bid him goodnight and made for his rooms. He would allow Snape an hour or so in Tinty's care, then, as a good host should do, check upon his guest's welfare.
As he mounted the main staircase, he sorted out his plans for the young man, deciding that a day or two away from the musty dungeons would do their budding Potions Master good. Lucius was a bit lonely, and he could use a spot of entertainment. Luckily, Narcissa had chosen to redecorate the estate at Avignon during the latter portion of her confinement. Once enceinte, his bride had eschewed all forms of affection and Lucius was rather well past his limits.
Oh, Snape would probably act like the blushing virgin, but Lucius was all the more excited at the prospect, as he suspected that was more likely the true state of things. He hadn't had a virgin since his wedding night. And Lucius held the key to Snape's fondest desire, a Potion Apprenticeship with one of father's oldest friends. Yes, that bit of information he had been forbidden to share, but he trusted Snape keep this a secret when the old man revealed the appointment. --
Severus settled into the fragrant, steaming bath, grateful that the elf had left him in peace for the moment. He tried not to notice the gold vein running through the creamy marble or the quality of the fluffy towels stacked beside the carved bath tub. His dungeon room had an en suite bath, but the tiny cubicle held only a stone basin that did not allow him to stretch and soak after his long days brewing for Abraxas, and now, he suspected, for the Dark Lord as well.
Best not get used to luxury, as it was as fleeting as most everything he had dreamt of as a child. Pleased that his plans seemed to be going as expected, he sunk down into the bath and stretched his toes, allowing the simple magic of hot water to work on his knotted muscles.
The elf had been most eager to accommodate his appetite, promising thick rare roast beef with fresh horseradish, some proper chips and hot buttered rum, the latter he had painstakingly described as the household was not aware of that particular delicacy. He felt a bit guilty for indulging himself, but the rum would quickly remedy that.
Severus debated re-heating the water, but his growling stomach forced him to climb out of the tub and grab one of the decadent towels. He moaned quietly as the heated cloth soaked up the droplets of water. He gathered his trousers and plain white shirt, spelled them dry, then re-dressed.
As he opened the door into the sumptuous guest quarters, he immediately spotted a small table beside the fireplace. On a delicate bone china platter lay a mountain of sandwiches surrounded by crisp, fat chips. With his mouth watering, he looked for the elf, who was nowhere to be found, then sunk into the plush chair and grabbed a handful of potatoes and stuffed them, one by one, into his mouth.
At once, Severus felt a bit awkward. He was alone, with no one to witness his coarse table manners. Still, he wiped his fingers on the linen napkin at his side, then placed a sandwich and a generous helping of chips on a plate. Strange, he thought, how being in such posh surroundings made him temper his usual behavior. He was served plain, but filling food in the dungeon workroom, never minding his manners as he always ate quickly. Being upstairs, though still alone, was a bit disconcerting.
As Severus finished his meal, Tinty popped back into the room with a tankard of hot buttered rum. Severus remembered having it first at a Holiday do at his aunt's home. His cousins had pilfered a mug and dared him to give it a try. He found a recipe for the drink at the town library the following summer, carefully copying it into his potions notes for safekeeping. He rarely indulged, but he had earned some comfort this night. Inhaling the sweet buttery aroma was a delight to his senses, and the warmth of the alcohol sped directly to his tense limbs.
Just as Severus started to unwind, a light knock on the door had him up on his feet, wand in one hand and the tankard in the other. He winced a bit as the weight of the tankard pulled on his abused muscles. He placed the tankard on the table as the door opened.
“Ever vigilant, I see,” Lucius said with a grin. He closed the door and sauntered over to the table. Lucius summoned a chair from across the room, then gestured to Severus to be seated. He raised an eyebrow at the tankard, and plucked it out of Severus' reach.
“What is this, rum?” Lucius asked. He peered into the tankard then glanced up at his guest.
“It is a Snape family specialty,” Severus replied, “I suppose it is too common for your tastes.”
Lucius called Tinty and ordered him to bring two more of the rum concoctions, then folded his arms and fixed Severus with a challenging stare. In a moment, the elf returned and placed the tankards on the small table, then disappeared without a word. Lucius took the tankard in hand, delicately sniffed the contents, then took a small taste of the steaming drink.
“Butter and rum,” Lucius said, “how interesting.”
Severus, a bit tipsy and slightly uninhibited, offered Lucius a small smile as he informed his haughty host that the 'interesting' drink was of Muggle origin. To Lucius' credit, he merely shrugged his shoulders and took another sip.
“I must admit, Smuggles produce some of the finest wines and liquors,” Lucius pronounced. He knew that Snape was expecting a diatribe against all things Muggle, and the look on his face was priceless. “Ah, you see, I do have some appreciation for the finer things, as you well know. One must give due when it is warranted.”
Severus continued to sip at his drink, waiting for Lucius to get to the point of his visit. He felt a bit better, but he knew that the nerve potion he had ingested after his initiation would probably wear off within the hour. Calculating the dosage, and figuring in the alcohol consumption, was a bit difficult in his condition, and he lost his train of thought as Lucius loosened his cravat and unbuttoned his coat.
Well, that was unexpected, Severus mused. He had steeled himself for the father, but Lucius would do nicely. There was always a price to pay for every kindness. Watching Lucius play with his shirt collar made Severus start to fidget. Yes, Lucius was a much better prospect than Abraxas. The old man could hardly walk these days, and he wondered just what reason Lucius had for incapacitating his father. Well, he had learned to temper his curiosity about Malfoy family machinations. He kept his head down, followed orders, and he'd be damned if he would bring up that particular topic.
Lucius watches Snape squirm in the chair, and knew that he was having quite the effect with his subtle actions. Although Snape was not much to look at, he radiated such power and intensity, and Lucius had plotted for months to seduce the man, hoping to beat his father to the punch. He knew Snape would not fall for pretty words, but he had a taste for luxury, and Lucius would use that taste to his advantage.
“I take it you have more of the nerve potion?” Lucius inquired. He noticed that Snape's hands had begun to tremble, and he was all too familiar with the after affects of the Dark lords favorite curse.
He summoned a bejeweled amber flask and placed it beside Snape's tankard.
“Do go on,” Lucius prompted, “It is of your own hands.”
Severus rolled his eyes, bemused that Lucius transferred all of the house hold potions that he stocked in plain, but good quality glass to the expensive gemstone encrusted vials. He uncorked the bottled potion and swallowed it in one gulp. Turning the vial in his hands, he admired the gemstones. Severus shook his head at the thought of a few sickles worth of fluid contained in a flask costing hundreds of Galleons.
With the alcohol and potion coursing through his blood, Severus yawned and stretched. Then, Lucius made an unbelievable offer of a massage, and Severus stared, open mouthed as he processed Lucius' words. Fortunately, his innate skepticism caused him to question Lucius' motives. Sex was to be expected in payment of his brief respite above the dungeons, but to be offered comfort as well, that was inconceivably over-done on Lucius' behalf.
“In exchange for what odious deed,” Severus retorted. He was pleasantly inebriated, but still wary enough not to agree to anything at the moment. “I won't kill your father for you, I no longer have the desire to commit patricide, if you must know.”
Lucius narrowed his eyes and glared at Snape. How dare he insinuate that Malfoy family business could be handed to an interloper to be accomplished. Well, to be honest, the man had been through a difficult trial just hours ago, and Lucius tempered his anger. What was it that his dear Cissy always said? Ah, 'you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar'. It was a disgusting turn of phrase, but what else would one expect from a daughter of the House of Black.
“Snape...Severus, however did you come up with that astonishing conclusion? I merely offer my services in the spirit of comradeship, and with the knowledge of how restoring a massage is after our Lordship's 'special' treatment.” Lucius attempted to smile warmly at Snape, but that just made the other man draw up and fold his arms against his body. Well, a defensive Snape was nothing novel. Application of more of the rum concoction seemed to be in order, so Tinty was called upon to refresh their tankards.
Severus was all too aware of Lucius' tactics. He had seen many an unsuspecting victim fall to the combination of the Malfoy charm and narcotic intervention. Maybe his nerves were getting the better of his logic. He was a pawn in a power struggle between the Malfoys and the Dark Lord. He had acknowledged that charming detail early in his dealings with the family. No, if the Dark Lord wanted Abraxas dead, he would have had the old man dispatched by now.
So, Severus wondered, he could string Lucius along and face his anger, for Lucius was not a paragon of patience, or he could bloody well enjoy what was offered and worry about the consequences tomorrow. Slowly, Severus rose from the comfortable chair and made his way to the huge bed. He giggled at the enormous pile of pillows covering a good portion of the counterpane. Bugger, he thought, I am pissed, then he hoisted himself up and squirmed to center himself amidst the charcoal silk bedding.
Severus burrowed into the softness of this impossible decadent bed. Oh, it would be worth anything for just one night in this cloud-soft bed. His eyes fluttered and he could not hang on to consciousness a moment longer.
Lucius removed his shoes and crossed over to the bed, then placed a hand on Snape's shoulder, shaking him lightly, but he was not able to rouse the man. Well, Lucius thought, it would be true to form for Snape to have such a low tolerance for alcohol, as he had never once seen the man indulge. He summoned a chair to the bedside and sat down, still contemplating the sleeping Snape. He would allow Snape a few hours rest, then wake him, bed him and share the secret of his apprenticeship.
Lucius summoned Tinty once more, ordering the elf to bring him a pot of tea and a book from the library. He settled in for a short vigil, and his eyes occasionally drifted to the sleeping form on the bed. Yes, once recovered, Severus Snape was going to be at his mercy. Lucius was looking forward to all the intensity and single-minded focus that Snape was known to possess. He had won this somewhat rough prize, pulled most deliciously from his father's weakened grasp. Lucius was well on his way to shifting the balance of power in the family.
As Lucius plotted his future, Severus dreamt of floating through soft, billowy clouds, basking in the warmth of the summer sun. For once, the nightmares of his past were held at bay, and he sighed as he drifted above the earth, above his dreary existence. He twisted in the feather bed, and snuffled into the violet-scented linens, content for the moment and blissfully unaware of the troubles on the horizon. For a brief moment, Severus was at peace and all was well.