Title: Truth in the Illusion

Rating: PG13

Authoress: FloweringWolfsbane

Spoilers: Nope.

The atmosphere was thick and rich, the emotions bought forward by half forgotten memories of similar meetings weighing heavily upon the younger of the two diners. Both clad in black, they appeared to melt into the dim candlelight easily and elegantly. There was truth in this illusion; both were the heads of respectable families, strong, pureblood wizarding families, and both had descended into the darkness of the Forbidden Arts. The only difference between them was that Lucius Malfoy revelled in his own devilish evils, and Severus Snape lived to regret his actions, and despise himself.

The goblets before tem were half filled, delicate engravings finely wrought into them. Their meal over, a miserable house elf came in to clear the plates and utensils away, leaving the two men alone. Narcissa had been denied involvement in their discussions; Lucius demanded obedience as the first quality in a woman, and he saw, as many old pure-blooded families did, that wives should remain firmly out of their husband's business.

The dining hall of Malfoy manor was large, filled with ancient tapestries and panelled with ash, a fire rippling in the grate, a healthy supply of wood nearby for the house elf to use. The Malfoy crest was carved into the area above the fire's mantle, subdued as the occupants were in shadow.

Small talk, of old friends and enemies, of old times spent together were picked bare over their food, leaving both free now of topic.

Severus waited for Lucius to make his move; he was, after all, the guest, and would not have been invited merely for small talk. They had barely seen each other since the last summoning, nearly 16 years ago, when Voldemort had bought them together to witness the initiation of Peter Pettigrew into their midst. Both had grown since then, and much had changed. Lucius was marred, with a son and heir. And Severus was not.

The silence was stifling; both seemed to be considering the other. Related as second cousins, there was no similarity in looks. One was lean and seemed too tall, the other tall yet well proportioned, with a head of blond hair and blue eyes. But his eyes held no warmth or cheer, as if the Dark Lord himself had banished all goodness from him. Sitting away from the fire, Severus had to deal with both the intensity of the heat, and Lucius penetrative gaze.

As ever, the golden hair was combed immaculately, straight and shining in the candlelight, making the Devil that was Lucius Malfoy appear almost divine and angelic.

Appearances were very misleading, as Severus gad found out. The weed that was Pettigrew was pathetic, and he had caused more heartache and sorrow for more people than ever Lucius could have hoped to achieve.

"Why the silence, old friend?" Lucius daubed at his mouth, placing the napkin back down on the table. "I thought we never kept secrets or silences between us."

He stood up, making his way over to a drinks cabinet, taking some fine old bottle from within its depths and unstopping it. Severs watched those fingers, stronger than his own and yet still delicate, it was like watching a magician, nimble, quick and so sure of their purpose. But that was the character of Lucius Malfoy, manipulative, arrogant and filled with an air of superiority over his fellow wizards. He weaved words as a seamstress makes silk; fine and delicately considered, and he knew the inner workings of a mind and how to make his victim crumble. He was the Devil, and every bit as Beautiful as such a demon could be.

"We are upon different sides, Lucius. It is not…appropriate for me to discuss certain things."

Lucius' eyes narrowed a little, but otherwise no more emotion was shown. He passed a glass to his companion, and took a chair closer. A skill all Malfoys seemed to own was that to hide and deny emotion. Draco was learning this skill, a little slowly but still showing the trait clearly. But it was Lucius who was the master, his beautiful mask rarely cracking, save for a smirk or seductive smile that arrived after successful dealings.

"Not appropriate, cousin…and yet you have never denied me anything else deemed inappropriate. Joining the Dark Lord, for example. And killing the Prewitts, you never tried to resist me then." Lucius considered aloud, before drinking the ancient whiskey. Severus avoided his gaze, his long hair falling to conceal his face. Lucius placed his glass down loudly, and leaned to carefully stroke the hair behind his cousin's ear. It was a tender gesture for so evil a man, his eyes softening to mirror his whispered tones. "We should not allow such things to get in our way, Sev, so much has come between us already…" his hand slid to touch Severus' cheek, raising their gazes once more.

What exactly passed between them is hard to say;

Intensity, passion, sorrow, yearning, pleading, desire, need, want, craving, loss…

There had been a time, long passed now, when the two cousins had been close, a great deal closer than one might actually be aware of. They had a great deal in common; abusive fathers, Dark Arts interests, a certain way with words….And thought Lucius was unable to protect Severus from the outside world, he was able to give him a healing of the soul. A shoulder to cry on. And advice that never lead him astray.

"I can't go through my life knowing I am your weakness, coz, I cannot be the one the Dark Lord uses to manipulate you." Lucius' fingers now touched Severus' lips, silencing him.

"You need not be, Sev. If I take your allegiance back to the Dark Lord, if you would become his agent again…"

Lucius' eyes allowed a hue of sadness in, silently begging Severus to take the offer, to obey the Dark One they swore allegiance to all those years ago...

"You cannot ask me to do this!" Severus pushed the chair back, breaking the contact between them. "I swore an alliance to an oath to uphold ideals; Voldemort broke his promise, and so I see no reason to uphold mine!"

Lucius remained quiet, still seated, allowing Severus' verbal lashing to wash over him. He had feared his hidden volatile nature has withered and died over the years. He was glad it remained.

"No, cousin, it is I myself who stick his neck out. I know, deep with yourself, you wish to rejoin us."

Severus avoided his gaze; Lucius smiled.

"So I was right, you grow tired of babysitting Potter, of licking Dumbledore's boots. You are stronger than that, Sev! You are more than what you have become. Prove your loyalty, my dear cousin, and I will beg the Dark Lord himself for clemency!"

Lucius was before Severus now, his fingers curled about the came he had picked up for fear of Severus turning irrational.

"It hurts me, my cousin, because I know if you den me, I shall have to kill you. Or you may be forced to betray me to Dumbledore." The cane was used to turn Severus' head back to face Lucius, a hungry look upon the elder's face now..."Please, do not make me hurt you, cousin." A leather covered hand toyed with a black fringe, as his mouth moved to his ear. "Well, cousin? To whom do your loyalties lie?"

Severus closed his eyes. He knew the right choice, and he knew what he wanted. And they didn't correlate. With his beautiful Devil so close, he knew the answer to the question. And he feared he may later regret this choice too.

"My loyalties lie to the one they always have." He lent forward, reaching to touch Lucius' cheek, pressing his lips carefully against an open mouth, carefully kissing his older cousin with a passion. "I'll take my leave now, cousin, if you will."

Breaking their embrace sadly, Severus walked away, leaving Lucius to his thoughts and the kiss. There was truth in the illusion; Lucius Malfoy, closest thing to Devil Incarnate, could not understand love. But he understood him, and so…Severus still held onto hope for his cousin's soul; maybe his love would be enough to save him from Dumbledore when the Dark Lord fell. And maybe not.