I wasn't suppose to write any more, but it wouldn't leave me alone...

This is the story that doesn't end. It just goes on and on, my friends. One day I started writing it, not knowing what it was. And I'll continue writing it forever just because...

Ok. So here's chapter eight of my five-chapter story...it's something of an epilogue. Hope you guys enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I can assure you this is the last part.

R&R, if you please.


"I enjoy having you over, Severus. It's been weeks since you've come just to visit."

"I have been very busy." Severus sat in the wingbacked chair across from Lucius and set his tall brandy glass on the spindelly-legged table beside him.

Smiling, Lucius said, "Then you must start making yourself unbusy a little bit."

"With classes to teach and all, that is a little bit difficult."

"Ah, yes." Lucius shifted in his seat, leaning forward, his expression glowing. "I haven't thanked you yet."

Severus scowled slightly. "What for?"

"For whatever it was you said to Draco. I was trying to convince him to stay on at school, but you know how well he listens to me." Sitting back, Lucius set his own glass on the table with a hollow thump.

Severus could feel the sound vibrating through the air, all the way to his very bones.

"I'm sure he changed his mind because of something you said. You always give him such good advice, and he always seems more likely to take it when it comes from you."

It took every piece of Severus's self-control to utter his next comment: "As a teacher, I do what I can."

"So, how is he doing it school?"

Severus peered across at Lucius, wondering if the man was doing this to him on purpose. He wouldn't have put it passed him. "He's doing very well. In the top three of the class."

Looking emmencely pleased, Lucius refilled his brandy, then topped off Severus's glass as well.

"For conversation's sake, when was he Marked?"

"Draco?"

A tangle of nerves and guilt that had been bundled in his stomach since August first began to unravel, squirming inside him sickeningly. He both needed and dreaded the answer. No matter what the man said, it would be his fault. If it was July thirty-first, or August second, it would be Severus's fault...

Severus nodded slightly.

"June, the fifth," Lucius replied without hesitation.

"The-- But that would have been on his birthday."

"He's been waiting since he was fourteen to be able to take the Mark. He's always been impetuous. You didn't think he'd wait any longer than he absolutely had to, did you?"

All Severus could do was shake his head. The knot in his gut was gone. It wasn't his fault. None of it was his fault. Draco didn't turn to Voldemort to impress him, nor to spite him. Free and clear of guilt, Severus took his drink and swallowed half the glass in one, grateful gulp. It burned his throat, and nothing had felt so good in months.

"I'm surprised he didn't tell you."

"Oh, he told me. He just didn't say when he had it done."

There was a pause. "You thought he might have done it for...someone?" More silence. "Like you did?"

Severus looked into Lucius's eyes, which still glowed in the firelight. "I suspected," he confessed softly.

"He did it for me, Severus." The man's tone was even. "You need feel no guilt."

"Nor you." It was not something he'd planned to say, but it came out just the same. Suddenly relieved of his own guilt, Severus could not allow his friend to go on suffering.

"What?"

"I don't blame you. I never did. I would have done it anyway."

Lucius smiled sadly. "Thank you for that, Severus."

Severus returned the smile. Leaning back in his chair, he sipped his drink, looking at his friend. He felt relaxed. It had been far too long since he and Lucius had just sat with each other, he decided. Too long since he'd seen the way the candles lit the man's face. That dancing light in those haunting eyes... It was everything he wanted.

END


First, another thank you to all my reviewers. (showers people with thanks) Second, answers to reviews, because I just have to on some of these.

Winter: The age differnce between Severus and Lucius is about six years, so that would put Lucius at about 23-24 when their flashback scene happened. Not too much older, but by that time a Malfoy (grand air of importance) should already have been married and had an heir. So the "age difference" is more of a "social difference" in that scene.

And I wasn't suppose to write any more on this...and now I have to. What can I say? Your reviews have inspired me... I'm thinking a sequel instead of more chappies here, though, so look out for that.