Pairings: Severus Snape/Narcissa Malfoy/Lucius Malfoy
Author's note: I asked for bunnies and jothanbar said he was certain Draco was Severus's child and could I do something with that. It turns out I could, and have.
Disclaimer: It’s JKR’s world, I just mess about with it.
When he was small, Severus Snape’s mother had read to him about King Arthur, his bride Guinevere and Sir Lancelot and explained to him how all stories were true. Some of the stories, she had said, told that Lancelot had stolen Guinevere away from the husband she cared for as little more than a friend. Others, Severus remembered, had said that the king had invited this other man into the marriage and that the only betrayals in the tale were of selves. Severus remembered thinking at age nine that it was very odd of his mother to tell him such tales, especially as he suspected that of the two of them, he somehow might understand these whispered narratives of grasping adults better, but he had had so little then and had never stopped wanting so much.
In the early afternoon of the day Severus finds out about Narcissa Malfoy’s death, he feels his life get just a little bit longer. It tickles, and, once he hears the news, he imagines it as the puff of her breath in his ear, rather than the dissolution of a debt. Severus has always been unimpressed with the unbreakable vow’s ready escapes, and he remembers the pledge of that particular evening as if Narcissa had been asking him for her murder.
Four years his senior, Narcissa, then Black, had gotten married at age 17, but though they were strange friends Severus had not been there to see her part the crowd, veiled and trembling. He had been too young to be invited to such an event without family, and his family had not been worthy of such an event. He had sat at home that August day instead, playing desultorily with toy soldiers he could not recall having ever touched prior, and he remembers wishing he had had a boat to board them on to so that they might sail to France.
Severus knows that for the longest time he had thought of Narcissa as brash, but it was only after he himself had graduated Hogwarts that he began to understand that she was merely older than him and had always seemed brave simply because she was able to venture before him into those places barred to certain types of children and ugly boy children in particular.
Just before Narcissa’s son entered Hogwarts, Severus had finally thought to ask if she had been scared when she married and Lucius first took her to his bed. She nodded, head bobbing furiously in assent and quick, giggling relief. Severus had smiled wanly then. No one had ever asked before, clearly, and even though years had passed since it mattered, Narcissa’s gratitude was obvious in the way she leant forward from her chair to his and took and squeezed his hand.
Draco Lucius Malfoy was born with a full head of thick, black hair.
“He has black hair,” Lucius had said instead of hello when Severus came to visit the family a week after the birth, and for a moment Severus had felt, and perhaps even looked, terrified.
“Perfectly common,” he said brushing past Lucius so he wouldn’t have to look at the man who should never have been his friend, being so much older. “It’ll start falling out any day.” It was a ridiculous conversation considering it was Lucius who had invited him into their bed, although for no reason that Severus was ever privileged enough to discern.
In all the stories his mother had told him of Camelot, Lancelot had always had black hair. When Severus later discovered that his mother had clung to this detail where authors had not, he had puzzled over it, wondering if she had sought to make him an interloper or had merely known that he was such from the moment of his birth. Severus remembers caressing the words on the page one night in his fifth year and whispering, "A dagger between ribs."
Severus knows that divination has always been the most useless of subjects at Hogwarts, but that doesn’t change that there are two points he thinks every man and woman should know about the so-called science until they believe them as unarguable truth. Sometimes, you know things and It doesn’t matter.
Lying in the Malfoy bed, he had merely watched them for ages at first, trying simply to understand people for whom nudity did not make them feel small. Severus remembers that in all her gasping and panting that evening Narcissa had seemed so old to him and so lost. After, he had been struck with a terrible clarity when he couldn’t stop touching her, had needed to pinch and scratch at her randomly so she wouldn’t stop mewling, had watched as she hid her face against Lucius’s chest, instead of turning, as she had so obviously wished to do, into Severus’s arms. Later, after Lucius had taken her again, Severus had put his mouth to her and licked her thighs clean and had not moaned into her, but had simply said “Mine,” obscured though it was in flesh.
In Draco’s nursery, Narcissa had fluttered her eyes at Severus, for the first and only time in all the years of their acquaintance. Severus had wanted to laugh at her then, but had kneeled by the chair where she sat with the baby instead, and put his hand to tiny Draco’s head and whispered, “In six months, he’ll be as blond as you.”
“I know,” she had said very softly as she gazed at her boy.
Over the years, Severus visited the Malfoys when he and Lucius had business to discuss, when Narcissa had insisted, and on little Draco’s birthdays. With his limited means, Severus’s gifts to the boy were restricted to sentimentalities the parents did not understand – toy soldiers and a book about King Arthur. And when Draco turned ten, Severus gave him a dagger.
“You wear it close to your heart, here,” he said, showing the boy how to hide it under his robes. “And if you need to kill, it goes here, between the ribs.” He poked the boy to show him the spot, and Draco had giggled and fled up to his room, Lucius shaking his head in bemused silence.
As a Hogwarts instructor, Severus had found Draco a plague and loathed the necessity of seeing him daily until the child’s baby fat had fled and enabled the man to see clearly that while the boy had his mother's hair and eyes, mouth and nose, he had his father’s bones, a sharpness that lurked in wrist and cheek and chin and a fragility that spoke too clearly of the small creature’s tremulous origins.
In the early evening of the day that Severus finds out about Narcissa Malfoy’s death, Draco comes to visit him at Hogwarts.
“I am alone now,” the man, no longer a boy, says, wavering in the door of Severus’s office, Lucius dead so many years before in the war.
“You are not –“ Severus begins to say, but cuts himself off, oddly wanting to hear more of Draco’s melodramatic pronouncements before issuing the required platitudes.
“It’s all right,” he says with a sweet, sad grin, so much like his mother’s. “I’ve always wanted to be more like you.”
Draco ducks his head then, and walks into the office, and Severus finds himself wondering if the gesture was something Lucius did as a boy; he can easily imagine it.
As he has never done before, Draco seats himself without waiting for invitation, and Severus can merely stare for a moment.
“Will you tell me about her?” Draco asks. “When she was a girl? Father never said much.”
Severus swallows and nods and seats himself behind his desk, examining his hands and casting an eye over his bookshelves before he speaks.
“I always thought she was brash,” Severus begins, “until I realized she was just older than me.”