Disclaimer: Characters, places and various other stuff from teh HP-verse are the property of J.K. Rowling and her band of merry publishers. I made no money from writing this.
Author's Notes: Rather more dark and disturbed than I usually write. I think I was having a bout of depression when I wrote this. Anyway, it's been tidied and beta'd and is now more fit for public consumption. R rated, for references to sex and incest. Not for the squickable! Feedback is appreciated, as haven't had much for this one, and can be sent here.

Interludes from the Serpents' Den

Snape sat staring at the fire in the Slytherin common room. It was really quite a pleasant thing to do. Just sit and watch the flames twist and turn and crackle, watch small grey pieces of ash float up the shoot. The rest of the room was deadly silent. Most of the other Slytherins had gone home for the holidays, and those who hadn't were in the great hall having dinner. Snape had considered joining them, but decided against it. He wasn't hungry, and was much more content to just sit and think.

He had been left to stay in Hogwarts, as usual. There had been no question of him going home. Father would be out with the Death Eaters somewhere - probably France with Tiberius Malfoy. Mother...wasn't an option any more. He frowned, trying to block out memories, inner voices scolding him for bringing her up. There was another voice in there, though. One that told him he would probably never see her again.

Snape shivered and closed his eyes as though that would block the thought out.

Don't think about it. Then it isn't true.

Snape was ripped from his reverie by the sound of the doorway into the common room opening. He stayed facing the fire, wanting just a few more moments to himself, to hold on to the darkness for as long as possible.

"There you are, Snape. We thought you'd managed to escape to Hogsmeade somehow." Lucius Malfoy came up from behind him and flopped into a chair. His long, silvery blonde hair was braided in a serpent-like plait, which slithered down over one shoulder. The cold, grey eyes almost seemed to glow in the fire light, and Severus frowned at the unwholesome thought.

"Not at all. I just didn't want the Gryffindors putting me off my food. You know how over excitable they get at this time of year." Snape let his eyes travel back to the dancing flames as he heard Narcissa sit on his other side.

Narcissa.

She really had become unbearable over the past couple of days. Ever since that night.

She seemed to think he was going to be her white knight, and save her from the evil marriage that awaited her. One of Snape's many inner voices snorted. Not bloody likely! She preferred to live in her fairy tail world, where someone - anyone - would save her from having to marry her cousin. There was little animosity between them, usually. They got on like brother and sister.

Snape rather suspected that was the point. They were too close in the wrong way. Lucius was crazy about her, he knew that for himself. But Narcissa, for some reason, could not accept her fate. Her loss.

The Malfoys were, he supposed, the only people at Hogwarts Snape could really consider friends. He had grown up knowing Lucius, and had been attracted to Narcissa almost since the first moment he laid eyes on her. She had a very particular something that he supposed all Malfoys had - he just couldn't appreciate it in Lucius. Breeding. The Malfoys prided themselves on it. A purely pureblood line. Of course, the gene pool was very shallow. Cousins married, siblings bore each other's children. He believed there was even once a case where a girl of fifteen had carried her grandfather's child. Strange family.

But beautiful. Deadly beautiful.

Lucius followed Snape's gaze into the fire, perhaps trying to see what Snape found so enthralling. "Potter was scampering about with some mistletoe." He shook his head. "Pathetic, really. Imagine needing a plant just to get a kiss."

"Have pity on the boy, Lucius. It's probably the high point of his year." Snape's lips twitched into a wry smile at the thought of James Potter at midnight on Christmas Eve, hugging himself and rocking, clutching a sprig of mistletoe.

"Word on the grape vine is Lily's after him for a second go." Came a slithery, slippery too casual voice from his other side.

Snape refused to look at Narcissa.

Lucius wasn't talking to her, Snape couldn't remember why. Lovers' tiff.

"Odd. Usually it's only one go per person." Snape said to lift the silence.

"Perhaps she's suffering withdrawal. All the others are scared away by her body guards. Potter's the only one she can really fuck in safety." Lucius almost sounded bitter, and Snape turned to him with a raised eyebrow.

"I really cannot imagine why people are so scared of them. They're easy to out run, and have the memory span of a gold fish."

Lucius snorted. "You'd know."

Severus pinned him with a brief, half-hearted death glare. He wanted to be alone again. Christmas was neither a happy nor sociable time for him, and the last thing he wanted was to be making small talk with the most family oriented pair he knew.

"Much as I adore your company, Lucius, I am afraid I'm currently sick of the sight and sound of you. I bid you good night." Snape rose easily, smoothing down his black school robes and tucking a loose tendril of hair behind his ear.

Lucius smiled at him with...affection? Amusement? Snape couldn't tell.

"Good night, Snape. Sleep well."

"G'night Severus."

Snape groaned at himself. Internally, of course. Severus? Is the girl trying to get me beaten to a bloody pulp? Narcissa seemed to have a mental block when it came to common sense.

Snape didn't bother to get changed or turn on the light as he entered his private room - one of the perks of being made a Prefect. No longer did he have to lie awake at night, listening to the groans and hitching breath of Lucius Malfoy masturbating. Snape shuddered. Four years he had had to put up with that, every single time Narcissa wouldn't accept him into her bed. In those years, Snape had learned rather more about Lucius than he had ever wanted to.

He flopped back onto the bed and stared up into the blackness.

*****

Lucius watched, almost thankfully, as his friend walked towards the arch way leading to the dormitories. His gaze slid lazily back towards his cousin. He had been angry with her most of the day. Not being stupid, it was perfectly obvious to him that she had been playing the whore, and he rather suspected Severus had been her victim. It wasn't his fault. Lucius knew what Narcissa was like.

His anger had fueled something deeper in him. He loved to hate her, to make her hate him. It was a wonderful gift, to have her naked and screaming beneath him, while she tried to tear at his flesh with her nails. It was those nights he knew she wanted him. Perhaps it was a Malfoy trait, to want pleasure through anger. She made it perfectly plain when she didn't want him - she would simply walk into her room and shut the door in his face, and he would be forced to return to his own room and bring himself off to his mind's images of her.

"Narcissa....?" Lucius leant over the side of the chair, his eyes gazing intently at her almost still form.

Narcissa looked up from her nails, and caught her cousin's expression. She had seen that look far too many times before.

She sighed heavily. "Not tonight, Lucius. I'm on the rag." Standing quickly, she headed for the dormitory corridor before he could muster up any protest, shutting the door behind her.

"Never put you off before." Lucius mumbled into the darkness, turning back to the fire place. He stared into the flames, and for he first time in a long while, though about the future.

In two years he would be expected to marry Narcissa. This was no problem for him, but he somehow doubted she would be a willing bride.

In three years time, he will be expected to produce an heir.

This could be trickier. Naturally, Lucius had every faith in his own reproductive abilities. Unfortunately, he also had faith in every other man's she had whored around with. The discovery of pregnancy could become a game of 'guess the father'. Lucius sighed.

Wouldn't that just delight old Tiberius?

***

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