Title: Birdseye
Author: Nimori ( nimorii@yahoo.ca )
Pairings: HP/LM, SS/DM, assorted others
Rating: PG (oh my god, I wrote something PG...)
Disclaimer: See that lady over there? Hers, not mine. See all the money? Same deal.
Archive: Beloved Enemies, my site, others on request. If you already have permission for Je Te Plumerais and The Exaltation of the Lark, help yourself to this one.
Warnings: very odd style
Feedback: is a wonderful thing.
Summary: Allouette universe. Friends and family observe the lovebirds.

A/N: I despise present tense. It's difficult to write well in and difficult to read, but this series is strange anyway, so here we are. I'm pretty sure this will be the last one, but that's what I said after JTP... Thanks to Maeglin for telling me this made sense, even though I'm pretty sure it doesn't. ;)




NOTE: I strongly recommend reading 'Je Te Plumerais' and 'The Exaltation of the Lark' before 'Birdseye'. You can find both here on FF.net.

* * * * *

Birdseye
by Nimori


"Do you need help with that?"

He looks at the Gordian knot his necktie has become. "No."

Severus is silent for a moment, then, "We'll be late."

"Do I care?" he snarls, yanking the tie off in hopes of beginning anew. "It's only the rehearsal. Why the fuck am I wearing this thing anyway?" He throws the unoffending scrap of material into the fire, and fifty galleons worth of green Italian silk shrivel and turn to ash. Under Severus' motionless and watchful gaze he undoes the top two buttons of his shirt, then a third for spite. He stomps into his shoes -- also Italian -- and bends to tie the laces, automatically turning to give Severus the best view. It is habit; neither is truly interested in his ass at the moment.

Severus sighs, and unlaces his own tie, but hangs it neatly over a chair back. It is black, of course, and worth fourteen sickles, six knuts, and no one cares where it was made.

The show of solidarity soothes him, balm to his temper, even though Severus' buttons remain firmly in their buttonholes -- he'd suspect polyjuice should Severus ever appear in public with a clothing fastener of any sort undone. Severus does not ask if he is ready or any other such inanity, and only looks at him with those dark, depthless eyes until he feels his own childishness curling his flesh like a silly-skin hex. He dons his robe, checks his slicked-back hair, and holds the door open for Severus, which screams -- for a Malfoy -- of silent apology.

"Apparate or take a cab?" he asks, and curses himself for compounding his error.

"A cab, I think," Severus says, his mocking smile a reminder of the vast gulf of time between them. Severus thinks he is sulking. Severus thinks he is throwing a *temper tantrum*.

Severus is usually right.

He snorts and awkwardly stabs the button to call the claustrophobic box that will take them to street level. The ride to the cathedral will give him time to cool his temper enough to make it through the mock-ceremony.

* * * * *

"Does my hair look all right?"

"Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! If you ask me again, I'm going to shove that corsage in your mouth."

She takes a deep breath, counts to three, wonders if agreeing to marry into his family was such a clever idea. Percy never speaks to her like that, but she has to wonder at the genetics, as every other Weasley's mouth is wired directly to his brain without a breaker. "You've got dirt on your nose," she says, instead of what's on *her* mind, and Ron crowds her at the mirror.

"Why did you have to change, anyway?"

"I can't wear the same thing to the rehearsal and the dinner."

"Why not?"

She smooths imaginary wrinkles from her red dress -- she wore deep yellow to the rehearsal, both dresses chosen in protest of the ban on house colours during the actual wedding. "Because the first was at a cathedral, the second is at a pub."

"You think there'll be those tiny sausages at the reception?"

"I doubt it. More like canapes. Caviar, perhaps. I'm ready to go."

"I've always wanted to try caviar."

She decides not to tell him what it is, even though revenge for the corsage comment tempts her. "If it makes you feel better, I'll arrange to have sausages at my wedding."

She regrets the reminder of her engagement as Ron wrinkles his nose, and she sees he has missed some of the dirt. "Harry and Malfoy hooking up was bad enough. I can't believe you agreed to marry that prat."

"Be nice. He's your brother."

"Exactly. I'm in a position to know him."

She bites her lip to keep back the nasty retort. She knows Harry has put Ron in a difficult spot, partnered with her since the only alternatives are Severus and Draco. The tension between them goes unnoticed amidst larger conflicts, but it drags at her, weighs her down and distracts her, and she must make one more attempt at resolution. "Ron, you know it wouldn't have worked, we're too different--"

"Stop. Just stop." His face has gone quite red, ripe with Weasley temper. The smudge of dirt remains. "Let's just get through this dinner so our idiot friend can marry Lucius fucking Malfoy tomorrow."

"All right," she whispers, and licks her thumb, and rubs away the dirt.

* * * * *

He is in hell.

The music pulses with the beat of a headache, battling the lighting for most annoying stimuli. The smoke clings to his lungs, coats his bronchi. Were he working on a potion with such fumes he would have taken precautions, but the fools around him breathe in their chosen poison, and share it with observers, willing or not. He mutters another purifying charm, but it is not strong enough, and soon the toxin creeps back into his chest.

Nicotine is not the only poison in the room. Draco has already fought with Potter, insulted every Weasley except Molly -- whom even Draco does not dare take on -- brawled with Finnegan in the men's room, and given a set of donkey ears to Longbottom, who is too drunk to remove them and too drunk to care. Granger sits between two Weasleys and doesn't speak; Ron and Percy exchange glares over her head. The air turns rancid whenever Lucius and Arthur cross paths. Lupin told Fudge off before the appetizers arrived, and Pansy Parkinson left in tears half an hour after the rehearsal. He wishes he could do the same. Minus the crying part.

At a quarter to one, an explosion rocks the back of the restaurant, pausing all chatter and leaving the music a solitary, garish noise. Then shrill, too-familiar laughter joins in, and conversations resume. Just the Weasley twins. No harm. Obliviate the staring muggles. He can see Lucius is annoyed. He also sees Lucius flick a glance at Potter -- they're his friends after all -- and he sees Potter flash a smile and turn back to Lupin. Lucius frowns, sips from his glass, and resumes his own conversation with Llewellyn Sinclair, whom Lucius is courting for an investment in his newest efforts at rebuilding his fortune.

He sees Draco jab a finger at Ron Weasley in the midst of some slurred tirade about regulation quidditch gloves and how all redheads are pricks, his aim and unfocused glare off target by a good eight inches, his rye clasped in careless fingers, poised to fall. He sees Draco start to tilt sideways in their booth, preparatory to sliding under the table, and slips an arm around the narrow shoulders.

"We're leaving," he says to no one, and Lucius' gaze lights on them briefly, his mouth carved of granite, eyes hungry and jealous. Then Lucius throws an arm around Potter, whispers something in his ear which makes the brat laugh.

They leave, and Draco clings to him as they stumble back to the hotel, whimpers uneasily in the lift, rubs his eyes like a child. Half a dose each of pepper-up as a prophylactic to hangovers once they reach their room, and they spend the rest of the evening making love in the semi-darkness.

* * * * *

Both grooms wear white. Their attendants wear black. He is not sure how much of this is choice and how much Severus' refusal to wear any other colour, only that they said nothing to *him* of a dress code. Harry looks amused at his orange and purple robes; Lucius just looks resigned.

He opens the book, though he doesn't need it, and pretends to read aloud to the congregation, as they pretend to listen. Only Harry and Lucius care what he says. Ron and Hermione stand stiffly apart, Draco and Severus stand stiffly together. No one wants to be there.

He invents the ceremony as he goes along, but it does not distract him from his regrets as he hoped. Had he kept closer watch on Harry... but Voldemort is dead now, so he supposes it doesn't really matter. Perhaps he should have interfered earlier. Perhaps Harry will provide a control on Lucius. Perhaps Lucius seeks to raise Harry as a new Dark Lord.

He doesn't know, and for the first time in his life, he doesn't *want* to know.

He is tired. So very tired of it all. He wants to return to his castle, spend a few more years shaping the wizarding world's future -- just enough to ensure the taint is truly gone -- then he wants to return to that island in the south Pacific, to the sands so fine it was like walking on drifts of pixie dust, to the gangling trees that seemed to dance in the warm wind, to the gentle dark-eyed people there, the women flashing searing smiles that burned across their bronzed skin like the sun burned the sky.

For now his robes are itchy, his bones tired, his heart skeptical at this joyful occasion that has somehow twisted.

He doesn't know what Harry and Lucius are thinking.

He doesn't want to know.

* * * * *

She's not unhappy to be missing the ceremony, guard duty being preferable to witnessing the culmination of ill choices. She wonders where she went wrong with the boy, and her skin prickles with irritation, and she savagely soothes her fur with her tongue, ears swivelling like muggle radars for sounds of approach by man or beast.

Dumbledore has spoken of retirement recently, and she entertains herself with thoughts of changes she would like to implement, feels the first stirrings of impatience to run the show herself, though she has not been unhappy with her position.

The sunlight is warm on the steps of the cathedral, and she watches the muggles bustle about their business across a lawn and beyond a wrought-iron fence, until a heavy step catches her ears. She steps back into the shadows, transforms, steps out again to meet him.

"Mr Black. I don't believe Mr Potter and Mr Malfoy invited you to this affair."

"Please," he says. He's pale, too thin again, but his clothing is nice, if not formal enough, and his hair is tied back neatly. "I just want to see him."

He is too late, even if she were inclined to let him pass, for the doors are opening, and people are streaming out, and Harry is there, and Sirius smiles his most harmless smile, and steps back.

Harry sighs, and follows, hugs him, yelps when his godfather crushes him close.

She hears his whispered apology, over and over.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry I wasn't there. I'm sorry."

And she sees Lucius' gaze lighting on them again and again, though he remains where he is, chatting with Albus.

And she wonders what really happened in You-Know-Who's house to put that look of starvation in his eyes.

* * * * *

He is very much out of place, both for his absence at the ceremony, and his informal dress robes. He takes it as another sign of Harry's increasing change, for the unassuming boy he knew would never agree to such a posh reception.

He blames himself, and refuses to drink lest he lose control. He blames Voldemort, and tries as hard to talk to Remus as Remus tries to politely excuse himself. He blames Malfoy, and eats the caviar before he realizes what it is.

He's sorry he let things get so bad, but he's not sure exactly what he did wrong. Harry never expected him to take the news well, and forgave him his initial weeks of horrified shock, forgave him his suspicions of dark magic and blackmail. He's not sure when Harry's patience ran out, or why he refused to back down, give the semblance, at least, of acceptance.

He watches Harry dance with Malfoy, and Snape with Malfoy's son. Ron and Hermione dance stiffly, and separate as soon as polite, Hermione to join Percy and Ron to set up shop at the bar. Then everyone is moving for the floor, and he sees Ginny and Colin, Remus and Minerva, Seamus with one of the Patil sisters... even Neville has a date, and he chokes on his canape when he sees it is Charlie Weasley.

They all dance, and he knows damn well they disapprove as much as he, and how can they stand there and do nothing? How can he?

Someone taps his shoulder, and he turns to snarl them away, only to meet the one person he cannot intimidate.

"Black." Snape is holding out a hand, and it takes him a moment to realize he is being asked to dance. He almost refuses, but thinks Snape might expect him to, and so, sneering, accepts Snape's hand.

It's cold, to his clammy, and Snape insists on leading. Neither speaks, until the song ends, and Snape leans in and says two words.

Stop.

It.

Snape leaves him on the dance floor, and he goes back to his corner, watches Harry laugh and and talk and cast looks at Malfoy that Harry seems to think only the two of them notice. He wonders what he did wrong, and he wonders what really happened in You-Know-Who's house to give Harry such an air of self-confidence, and he wonders why he couldn't be the one to give that to him.

* * * * *

They're lying in the sand, some meters away from the porch of the oceanfront house, looking up at the stars and listening to the waves suicide against the beach. A light breeze cools their naked skin, and it delights them to know they will not have to dress for weeks; the island is theirs.

Lucius whispers outrageous things to Harry in French, which Harry doesn't understand, but replies to in Parseltongue. And they touch each other in a slow, unhurried way, comfortable with the timelessness, the starlight, the clean nudity, the solitude.

Lucius points to Cassiopeia, and Harry runs his hands through his lover's long, blonde hair. They're happy in the absences which surround them, the sheer *lack* that reminds each that all he needs is the other.

Harry looks at the sky then, smiles, and says, "Allouette, gentile allouette."

And Lucius rolls over, and kisses him. "Harry, je t'aime, but if you don't shut up I'm filing for divorce."


~end~