Means of Persuasion
Just A Penniless Writer
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and elements from the Harry Potter series belong to J.K. Rowling. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Plea: Eh. Will be updated more regularly on my LJ, but let's see if there is any interest, shall we? Enjoy if you can.
The scotch had been distributed liberally all evening, yet only one of the room's occupants was feeling the effects.
Of course, that had been the plan. Lucius was well aware of his friend's low tolerance for alcohol and had chosen, much as he had done on many earlier occasions, to use it to his advantage. Luckily for the dour man, there was no Dark Mark involved in this plot. All Lucius needed today was information, honest information. Information the Potions master wasn't inclined to give him sober.
It had been more than a surprise when Lucius, on one of his first outings since he had been released from home imprisonment, had come upon his former friend looking most unlike himself as he was scolded by a faintly familiar younger woman. While Lucius was not particularly inclined to involve himself in what was obviously a domestic dispute, he did owe it to Severus for speaking in his behalf at his trial, thus reducing his sentence to a lengthy stay in his own manor under Ministry supervision. As well, he found he was very interested in exactly how the scowling and ill tempered man had come to be in the company of the woman, let alone allow himself to be publicly reprimanded. It just wasn't right.
And so Lucius, ever the gentleman, had stepped in to save the man from certain death at the hands of the obviously furious woman. He had been greeted so thankfully by Severus that he knew immediately more was amiss than he had first guessed. That feeling only expounded when the woman was introduced as Hermione Granger.
Oh, that name was quite familiar to him. Mudblood Granger and her little friends had defeated the Dark Lord those ten long years ago, and while he was still quite content with his defection from the Death Eaters by means of information on one Horcrux, it had been more to save his arse than from any feelings of remorse. In fact, he thought Voldemort had, at one point, had some great ideas. Unfortunately, his methods had left much to be desired, and Merlin smite him if Lucius did not do his duty as a Malfoy and protect his own interests over everything. After his Lord left him to rot in Azkaban and then proceeded to take further punishment for his failure through Draco... well, there wasn't much that Lucius wouldn't do to extract a little revenge of his own. What good was a Muggle free world if Malfoys were not treated with the respect they deserved?
But enough thoughts of what could have been. He remembered Miss Granger particularly well due to her part in his trial. The woman was a menace. For all that she had somehow spoken on his behalf, her dubious praise and pointed statements had certainly played into the council's decision to increase the security he was under during the term of his imprisonment.
The irritating woman looked so different from the last time he had unwillingly seen her that recognition had been nonexistent until he had already taken her hand in greeting. Manners and the knowledge of the political power she now certainly held over him forced him to complete the pleasantries. When he had studied her after his initial surprise, he could see the similarities he had missed. In fact, little had physically changed about her. She was still achingly average: average height, average build, average coloring. The only thing truly remarkable about the woman was the hair that still looked positively wretched and the piercing energy that flowed from her. If he could give her any praise, it was that she certainly had presence.
The only true difference in the young woman whom had 'defended' him at trial and this young woman was the underlining hardness now present. While he had always suspected she was much more of an opponent than people, his son specifically, gave her credit for, the image he was presented with now left no doubt. This was the look of a witch who would, one way or another, get her way. He was almost impressed.
However, if the surprise of her identity and consequent changes hadn't been shock enough, Severus had finished the re-introduction with a title that was almost spoken with soft regret, something that immediately piqued his interest even as it frightened him. The woman, the Mudblood… was the intended bride of his reluctant friend.
Unfortunately, with the irritatingly kind chit hanging on every word he said and every movement he made, he had been unable to receive adequate answers from his subtle prodding. Something was terribly off with the relationship, and after a decade of silence, Lucius was more than ready to wrap his mind around this mystery. Not to mention, he owed the man a favor. His testimony had followed the Mudblood's after all and, despite the former professor's own mangled reputation, salvaged some of his freedom. So was it that he found himself requesting Severus' presence for drinks that night and subsequently in his parlor with the inebriated Potions master.
"Really, Severus, I admit I am surprised," the blond drawled after an hour of small talk. "I never much saw you as the married sort."
The drunken master snorted.
"That would make two of us, then."
It was all Lucius could do to hold in his smirk. There really was much more to this situation than at first glance, and the first glance had been very telling as it was.
"Really? Not looking forward to wedded bliss?"
The dour man sneered, though it lacked quite the effect considering the sloppy quality.
"What wedded bliss? The girl is incapable of producing bliss."
"My my, Severus. One would question why you intend to marry her if you find the idea so… disheartening."
Snape lifted his half empty tumbler of scotch and tilted it slightly, resolutely.
"We were reasonably well acquainted," he began as he studied the depths of the liquid. "No ill will towards each other. She was one of the few that accepted my explanation before the Veritaserum. However, I would never imagine marrying the chit had she not gone and gotten herself pregnant."
Lucius felt he might be scarred for life. The idea was not something he particularly cared to envision. Yes, he appreciated Severus' company and skills but visually? And with the Mudblood?
"And… how exactly did she manage to do this?"
"The anniversary party for Voldemort's defeat was last month." Lucius nodded with a wry smile. Ah, memories. "I was in my customary location, scowling at the gathering. She approached with two mugs of punch."
"I believe I can see where this is going."
"Then you will understand when I leave out the details."
"Aside from the awkwardness the following morning, I thought little of it. Until she finds me yesterday and informs me of my impending fatherhood."
"Which prompted you into a marriage proposal?"
"Ridiculous. It prompted me to request a paternity test."
"Which came back positive."
"I performed the charm myself. She was mighty smug considering she is just as at fault as I, if not more so. Surely she was not as drunk as I."
That ignited a thought that Lucius simply couldn't ignore.
"Severus," he began cautiously, "Did she know you well enough to be aware of your limited tolerance for alcohol?"
Snape only looked at him blankly, and Lucius knew all too well that his suspicion had never occurred to his friend. Now he was altogether worried. Not only was the filthy girl using very cunning practices, she was using them against a man he owed a favor to. It was simply not to be stood for.
"Never mind, Severus. Now, tell me, how did marriage become an answer to this problem?" he continued onward, pressing for more information before his friend hit the next level of drunkenness and went from morosely honest to incoherent.
"She said she would carry the child through, and that she would hold me liable. She mentioned courts and getting all her horrible friends involved if I did not marry. And, of course, the Ministry is just waiting for an excuse to put me through hell, and she well knows it." He paused with a sour yet thoughtful expression. "I have only some money put away. She said should we marry, she would primarily use her own salary. Should I refuse, she would drain my vault."
"Dear me. Quite the smug chit, is she not?"
There was a lengthy pause as Severus silently lamented his fate, and Lucius considered his options. It was tricky, but then, Malfoys never did like being in debt, monetarily or socially.
"Severus… What if she could be persuaded otherwise?"
"I do not see how."
"Would you be so inclined… to let me attempt?"
Despite his morose drunkenness, the black haired man seemed to recognize the underlining threat in the question. He looked at his companion with sloppy speculation.
"Just don't kill her."
"Ah. So you are fond of her?"
"No. The Ministry would never cease to lament."
Lucius grinned maliciously. Really, there was so many options open. This was bound to be entertaining.