I, Too, Shall Follow
(Please note this story takes place approximately 2 ½ --3 years after The Beginnings of a Death Eater, and is basically a sequel, since the characters and past references are derived from that story. It places more emphasis on Severus Snape, while continuing with Lucius/Narcissa. Severus is 16, in his sixth year at Hogwart's, and Lucius and Narcissa have been married since the summer of their graduation.)
A young Severus Snape huddled in the shadows next to a potions supply store in Diagon Alley, squatting down as he watched people go by. Not ten feet away, a man Apparated with two children clutching his arms, all three of them as pale and blond as Severus was dark. The girl kissed the man's cheek and scampered off. To the boy, he pointed his cane at the bench outside the shop.
In a smooth, deep drawl the man said, "I have business to attend to. Sit there and wait for me, then we'll go get your school supplies."
The boy wrinkled his brow in what Severus thought was the beginning of a tantrum. Instead, he merely said, "You let Aphrodite go off alone. How come I can't?"
"She's fifteen, you're twelve." The cane pointed commandingly once more. Severus noticed the head of a serpent on its end.
Still the boy resisted, which made Severus catch his breath. He'd never dare defy his father that way!
"It's not fair," the boy sulked, unmoving. His unbound, chin length hair swirled in the wind.
In a flash the cane came around to whack him hard on the upper thigh, eliciting a stifled yelp. The man leaned over, face impassive, his hand gripping his son's shoulder in what looked to be a painful manner.
"If I have to take you home, I'll teach you a lesson you won't soon forget," he murmured.
The boy gave a tiny nod, the man let him go. The lad stomped over, threw himself onto the bench, and crossed his arms. His father shot him one last warning look, then walked off. Severus hesitated for several moments as he peeked intently at the blond boy, then he slinked out of the shadows. He reached into his pocket for a thimble-sized tin he always carried with him and thrust it at the boy, who gave a startled jerk at being intruded upon.
"Here," said Severus. "My mum made it. It's really good for taking away bruises."
The boy cast a disdainful glower on the smaller lad. "I don't want to buy anything."
"I'm giving it to you. For that." Severus pointed at the mottled bruise along the boy's jawline. It looked to have been there two or three days.
Slightly confused and disconcerted, the blond boy lifted a hand to the indicated area, which did feel sensitive to the touch. He whirled to view his reflection in the store window, and his gray eyes grew wide with horror. He spun back around, evidently mortified. "I don't need it," he snapped, staring straight ahead.
"I use it when my dad hits me," Severus offered.
This statement had the desired effect. The boy lowered his defensive shield to peer at Severus. "Who are you?"
"I don't recognize the name. Where do you live?"
"At Spinner's End."
The boy shrugged. "Where's that?"
"I don't know. Here." He pressed the tin into the other boy's hand. This time he took it and slipped it into his pocket.
"Thanks. I'm Lucius Malfoy." For a second it looked like he meant to get up, thought better of it, and extended a hand.
Severus shook it, feeling an odd warmth in his chest. He'd always been shy, standoffish, and here he was meeting a boy from the richest family he'd ever heard of! He had a sudden urge to run his fingers over the fine, evidently expensive cloak Lucius wore, but wisely restrained himself.
"You don't go to Hogwart's, do you? No, you're too young," Lucius answered himself. "I'll be starting my second year in a few days. How old are you?"
"I'm eight," said Severus with dread in his voice. Now Lucius wouldn't want to talk to him, he'd think him a baby!
"Hmm," was all he said. He seemed unfazed.
"My mum teaches me magic at home. I even have my own wand," Severus revealed proudly. "And she teaches me potion making."
"I hate Potions class," Lucius remarked. "I'd rather be flying. Father said I could try out for the Quidditch team if my marks are high enough." His mouth twisted ruefully, though his eyes twinkled. "I'm going to try out anyway. Once I'm on the team, he won't mind how I got there."
A petite woman with dark hair and a very pregnant midsection exited the shop. Catching sight of her son, she called, "Come along, Severus."
She didn't even glance his way, she'd already started waddling off in the opposite direction. "I'm in a hurry, son. I'd like to get off my feet."
"Bye," Severus mumbled as he ran to catch up with his mother. He looked back to see Lucius opening the tin, smelling the cream, then delicately spreading it on his jaw.
Severus woke with a start, almost toppling off his stool as he sat perched at the Potions table. Had that been a dream? No, he remembered it well, his first meeting with Lucius Malfoy had happened exactly that way. They'd become friends that day; Lucius had owled him the next morning to thank him formally for the cream, which had completely erased his bruise, and to invite him to visit Malfoy Manor before school started. It was so many years in the past, why would he be dreaming about it now? Odd.
He closed his eyes again, shutting out the drooling ninnies in his class attempting to formulate the stipulated potion of the day. He'd not heard from Lucius for some time, which wasn't unusual, but maybe he should send an owl to make sure everything was alright. No, that was silly. If Lucius needed him, he'd be in contact.
He let his mind drift back to the manor, the first time he'd seen it from one of the fireplaces where he'd come in via floo powder. He'd been astounded that such luxury even existed, yet as often as Lucius taunted others with his wealth, he'd never once in all these years lorded it over him. He'd treated Severus as an equal, which was saying a lot, considering how the Malfoys valued pureblood superiority so highly.
"Mr. Snape." The name was repeated more forcefully a few more times before he lifted his head.
He blinked several times, remembering where he was, and pushed his shaggy black hair off his face. "Yes, Professor?"
The other students tittered and snickered at his apparent bewilderment.
Slughorn pursed his lips in a tiny frown. It wasn't like Severus to drift off during Potions class. "See me after class, please. Miss Evans, can you answer my question?"
"Stir in three drops of distilled wolfsbane in a counterclockwise motion," she rattled off. "Exactly eight stirs."
"What happens if you continue to overstir the concoction, Mr. Nott?" asked the teacher to the boy assiduously following Lily's advice.
Nott raised his head, surprised. Slughorn never called on him! "Um, I…don't know, sir." Nervously he gave the potion a few extra twirls; it began to froth and foam until it spilled like lava over the sides of his cauldron onto the table and over the edge to drip on the floor. "That?"
"Yes, that," sighed Slughorn. He waved his wand to scourgify the mess. Ordinarily he'd make the student clean it up, but with Nott it was best not to take chances. He might end up exploding the place. "Place your potions in labeled vials, you know the drill. Mr. Nott, that's a zero for you. Again."
"Yes, sir," the boy said. For being at marginally above Troll level, he seemed remarkably unconcerned.
Severus, who'd finished, bottled, and labeled his potion half an hour ago, placed it on the desk alongside the rest, which he viewed with distaste. If he didn't know better, he'd swear the oafs had bottled their own urine in lieu of doing the assignment. Then again, he hadn't been watching them… eeewww, he grimaced. Most of the potions didn't even approach the copper sheen it should have, although a few were varying shades of brown or yellow. Only Lily's came close, and if he hadn't been so hopelessly enamored of her he would definitely have found fault with hers as well.
"Severus, come here," said the professor. The lab was empty now save the two of them. "Is everything alright?"
Severus' lip curled as he considered the question. The girl he loved had begun dating the boy he hated more than anyone on Earth, the Marauders made his life a living hell at every opportunity, his only friends were either Death Eaters or Death Eater-wannabes, and Christmas holiday was around the corner, which meant going home to Spinner's End. In a nutshell, things sucked ass!
"Fine, sir," he mumbled.
"I'd like to ask you a favor."
Snape perked up a bit.
"I'm behind on restocking my supply closet. Don't think I'm flattering you to say you're the finest potions master I've ever known, especially for one so young. Do you have time to help me brew some potions this week?"
"Yes, sir, I'd like that," answered Severus, truly honored to be singled out for this chore, and highly complimented besides. Lord knows, none of those other dolts in class would last through a basic stain removing cream! "When would you like me to begin?"
"Whenever you're available. And Severus," he went on, lowering his voice, "I'm sorry about Miss Evans."
"W—what do you mean?" Snape sputtered.
Slughorn began sorting through his students' vials, clucking his tongue and shaking his head. "I'm a man, Severus. I notice things, people—loves, hates, rivalries, they all play out in my class. You and Lily used to be close, now you speak only if necessary."
"That's her fault."
"Nonetheless, the tension between you is plain to see. I feel bad for it." Quill in hand, he rapidly marked things down on a parchment, then handed it to the boy. "Here's a list of potions I need. I'll let you get on to lunch."
Snape wandered out into the empty hall, perusing the list, hoping for something challenging. The concoctions they made in Advanced Potions were ridiculously simple, hardly worth his time, and if he had anything better to do, he would. At the bottom of the list, to his astonishment, he spied Anti-inhibition Potion. The very one he'd brewed for Lucius three and a half years ago, the one responsible for three students being expelled, Lucius nearly being number four. He had no idea they kept elixirs like this on hand! At least it would be a diversion, if not a real challenge.
A hard shove from the side sent him spinning off balance. He struck the wall with a thump and crumbled to the floor, his books and the parchment scattered about him. Sirius Black stood over him, arms crossed, laughing. Surprisingly, none of his cohorts were lurking about.
"So sorry, Snivellus. I guess I didn't see you."
Snape surreptitiously slipped his wand from his pocket. Before Sirius had a chance to catch sight of it, he aimed a silent stupefy at him, propelling him off his feet to land with a thud on his back. He lay there winded, gasping for air.
Severus stood up and brushed off his robe. "I most definitely saw you," he replied, sneering happily. Today wasn't shaping up so badly after all.
Abraxas paced impatiently in the foyer for Lucius, rapping his cane on the floor each step of the way. His son hadn't come down to breakfast, neither he nor Narcissa, and he'd hoped to speak to the young man before leaving for work—without Narcissa around. He loved the girl, she was proper and sweet and everything she ought to be… except with child. His own wife had conceived their first son only four months into the marriage, their daughter three years later, and Lucius three years after that. Surely he'd waited long enough to have this talk!
"Lucius!" he bellowed. "We'll both be late for work!" He realized the futility of shouting through a house the size of Malfoy Manor, but in any event it gave him an outlet for his agitation.
Lucius came sauntering in wearing a satisfied smirk. He was, as always, immaculately groomed, long blond hair pulled back in a black ribbon, robes adjusted just so. "You screamed, Father?"
Abraxas scowled. "Don't mock me, son."
"I wouldn't dream of it," drawled the youth, entirely serious. The very sound of his father's cane tapping the floor brought back a slew of very painful memories. "Did you want to see me?"
"As a matter of fact, yes. I've been putting off discussing this, but now is as good a time as any. I'm not getting any younger."
His son peered at him, not quite sure what he was getting at and wondering what this was a prelude to. "That's kind of how aging works. You get older. You're only forty-six… or forty-seven, I get confused," he confessed.
"Let me start again. You've been married almost two and a half years, and I still have no grandchild. I thought you were so anxious to perform your, ah, marital duties."
Lucius smiled slyly. "Why do you think I'm late coming down?"
Abraxas averted his face, actually blushing. "That's not something I needed to know."
Sensing his father's discomfort, he pushed on, "We have sex constantly, Father. Nearly every day, sometimes twice—"
"Lucius! A gentleman does not speak about his personal relations this way," he said, tight-lipped, embarrassed at his own embarrassment.
"But you asked, sort of," Lucius contended. "I don't know why she isn't pregnant."
"Are you sure she isn't using a potion to prevent it?"
"No! I mean, I don't think so." He thought back to conversations they'd had about children, all of them positive and hopeful. "She wants a baby as much as I do."
"Lucius, you're still here?" Narcissa came in to where she'd heard the voices, brows drawn in a frown. She wore only a deep blue dressing gown, cinched at the waist, reminding the men of Lucius' recent boast. Her husband's eyes lit up and a warmth rushed over him; Abraxas, on the other hand, suppressed the urge to order the woman to dress decently in common areas of the house. She wasn't a peasant, after all.
"Yes, my love," cooed Lucius, taking her hand to kiss it. Had his father not been standing directly beside him, he might have snatched the robe off her and gone for it right there in the foyer. "Father was asking me if you—"
"Son, this isn't the time," interrupted Abraxas.
"If I what?"
Lucius looked questioningly at his father, whose glance bounced back and forth between the couple, then he let out a disgruntled sigh. May as well spill it.
"Narcissa, I asked my son if you've been using a contraceptive."
All sound stopped, save the ticking of the wall clock, which reverberated through the deathly silent room.
Finally Narcissa addressed Lucius. "What did you tell him?"
"I said you weren't, of course," said Lucius, very much wanting to ask if he was right, yet absolutely certain he'd better not.
An icy breeze seemed to waft through the room as Narcissa's blue eyes glowered coldly at the two of them. How dare they stand around discussing the intimate details of her marriage! Abraxas—well, he was far kinder than she'd believed before moving into Malfoy Manor, but this subject matter wasn't something one spoke of in polite conversation! And Lucius should know better than to chat blithely about their love life!
"Might I ask both of you why or how this topic surfaced?" she said with a sweetness capable of producing tooth decay while her eyes blazed daggers.
Lucius literally flinched. He knew that tone, and he didn't like it one bit. His first instinct was to point accusingly, which might be interpreted as a bit juvenile. He was, after all, twenty and a half years old; he was more mature than that.
"Father brought it up," he tattled.
Abraxas shot him a look that very succinctly said 'thanks for covering your own ass while hanging me out to dry'. Lucius cocked his head, shrugging and offering a sheepish smile. "Narcissa, please don't think I'm being nosy or overstepping my bounds. I have no desire to hear about your… lovemaking. I'm only concerned because you haven't yet—typically couples conceive within a year, and…"
"And I'm abnormal," she finished for him.
"No, I'm not saying that."
"But it's true!" she exclaimed, stamping a bare foot on the stone floor. "Do you think I haven't wondered why? It's just like Bella! She's been married for years longer than us and she never got pregnant, either." Her lips started to tremble, bringing Lucius rushing to hold her.
"Honey, it's okay. I'm sure it'll happen," he said softly, crushing her to him.
"What if it doesn't? What if there is something wrong with me?"
"There's not, you're perfect."
Abraxas cleared his throat, drawing their attention. "It wouldn't hurt to see a medi-witch, would it? To make sure."
"Father, please," Lucius pleaded. His wife was already upset, he didn't need a complete emotional meltdown. He had to get to work at the Ministry, and he was already late, which would reflect badly since he'd been promoted from entry level to second tier only a month ago, an honor only familial connections could have bought. Even so, it wasn't that he didn't have time to deal with the issue; the fact was, the expression of hurt on his wife's lovely face made his own heart contract painfully.
Abraxas held up his hands in surrender. "I don't wish to be meddlesome. I'll be going."
"Brax, wait," said Narcissa.
The man halted in mid-stride, his back rigid. On her wedding day he'd invited his daughter-in-law to call him Father or Abraxas; she'd opted for Abraxas. Until this moment, the last person to ever call him Brax had been his beloved wife, whose death eighteen years ago had shattered him.
"You're a healer as good as any medi-witch. Why don't you evaluate me?"
"That's an excellent idea, Father," Lucius chimed in.
Unaccustomed to being blindsided—at least since Lucius had completed his headache-inducing, trouble-ridden schooling and come back to live at the manor where he could be watched—Abraxas looked like a deer caught in Muggle headlights. He wasn't entirely sure whether Lucius was agreeing with Narcissa to spite him or because he honestly felt it was a good idea. He resisted the urge to smack him on general principles.
"Son, I wouldn't feel comfortable treating your wife in that manner."
"But I trust you," Narcissa insisted.
"She's practically your daughter," added Lucius.
"Exactly my point!" Abraxas exclaimed, growing red in the face again. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been repeatedly embarrassed, but he knew he didn't like or appreciate it. "The examination involves touching a woman in intimate ways only her husband should touch her. I wouldn't have agreed to handle Aphrodite that way, either."
"Father, you're being childish," admonished Lucius with a sage shake of his head.
There was a pause, as if determining whether he'd heard right, then the older man's head swiveled toward his son, his astonishment evident. "Excuse me?"
Lucius took a big step backward, dragging along Narcissa, who was still clinging to his breast. Now seemed like a good time to re-think his hasty statement. It may be true, but that wouldn't prevent a pop upside the head. "I mean, we're all adults here. Neither of us would think you perverted."
"Perverted," Abraxas repeated. "Funny how the word jumps to your mind, though."
For God's sake! Lucius grumbled inside. "Father, unless I believed in your skill, I wouldn't let you within a mile of my wife!" The phrase 'Grow up!', thankfully didn't leave his lips. He rather liked his lips the way they were, especially as compared to puffy and bleeding.
"Fine!" his father barked back. "I'll do it this evening, but if you so much as hint, even in jest, that I'm depraved, I'll knock you through the wall!" He stalked past them out the door and Disapparated.
Narcissa stared after him, then gazed up at Lucius. "That could've gone better. You don't think he meant it, do you? About knocking you through the wall?"
With an impish twinkle in his gray eyes, he pulled her in and kissed her deeply. "Yes, my love, he most assuredly meant it." He kissed her again, harder, and pressed his body against hers. If only he had time for one more shag! "I have to go. I'll see you this evening." He stepped outside and Disapparated as well.
To alleviate any suggestion of impropriety, Abraxas had ordered his son present while examining Narcissa, a chore he wholeheartedly abhorred. Nevertheless, he refused to shirk his duty, and had duly performed the necessary incantations and charms while lightly skimming and tapping his wand on her abdomen and laying hands on her in a—to his mind—wholly inappropriate manner. The entire process took no more than a quarter hour. When he finished, he grunted a directive for her to get dressed.
He scourgified his hands, put his wand back in his pocket, and slipped his robe over his clothing. The grim set of his face didn't bode well. "I wish I had good news," he said quietly.
Narcissa, still only half dressed, burst into tears. Lucius, not quite comprehending yet, dropped to his knees beside her to comfort her. When the realization that he'd never have children finally hit home, he clenched his jaw to fight back a torrent of his own. No family, no son… no heir. The enormous weight of the situation threatened to crush him. His brother had died at the age of seventeen, his sister three years ago. He was to be the last of the Malfoy line.