Severus *Sighs* Prompt: 3. Valentine's Day was meant to be a day for lovers to bask in each other. Unfortunately someone forgot to tell Severus.

Author's Notes: With much gratitude for all the fabulous art, Olimpia, I give to you the two sexiest men in the fandom. Thanks for the beta, snow and Torina.

I do not own anything related to Harry Potter... except my Snape doll, that is.

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~ Black Velvet and Pink Taffeta ~

"Pass the marmalade, Severus."

Severus did so and found his hand held fast against the pot by a bony grasp. He raised his eyebrows at his Deputy Headmistress.

"Just so we are reading from the same parchment, today is Valentine's day and—"

"Yes, yes. I know full well what day it is, Minerva," he broke in.

"Be that as it may, I want you to reassure me you are not going to create havoc like previous years." Severus sighed at her admonishing tone. "The children should be allowed to enjoy their romances today. After all it is harmless fun, Severus, and…" She narrowed her eyes at him. "You do know what that is, don't you?"

"Of course I do. I am not a simpleton. It means the opposite of perilous and offensive—"

"Not harmless, you curmudgeon, romance."

"You are being ridiculous, Minerva." He tried and failed to extricate his hand from between hers and the marmalade pot.

"What is it then?" she asked.

"Well, it means… It is…" Damn. Nonplussed, he scrunched up his brow and searched through his internal library for a concise definition. Damn again. He searched about the Great Hall for inspiration. And had it slam into him. "It's all that!" He waved his free hand to encompass the chaos around them.

From wall to wall, floor to ceiling, the Great Hall was adorned with heart-shaped balloons, swathes of pink taffeta tied into huge bows, and garlands of pink and white roses. Every nook, cranny and niche was filled with them, while above the tables chubby cherubs strung sickly ballads on their harps and fairies in bright taffeta dresses sprinkled tranquillity dust.

"It means cosseting to quixotic emotions at the expense of good taste," he sneered and made a mental note to bar Hufflepuff from taking charge of future decorations.

McGonagall sighed, her face pitying. "Severus, I had hopes that by now you would have found someone. After all You-Know-Who is long gone…" she trailed off when Severus' eyes narrowed to dark slits. Unfortunately, she merely shrugged those particular thoughts off and bravely resumed her chiding. "Notwithstanding your own dislike for the warmer feelings of the heart, promise me you won't spoil it for everyone else."

Chagrin radiating from every pore, he steeled his glare. "If you recall I have already made plans to separate your fun and frolics from myself – the antithesis to such antics. These plans allow you and the mindless brats to immolate good sense and all decorum, while affording me protection from losing all wit and reason."

With a sigh, Minerva released his hand.

"To ensure we are all 'on the same parchment'," he continued in a louder voice to encompass the line of teachers and professors either side of him, "today the plans are…?" he lifted an eyebrow at his staff and waited.

Obediently, they all chorused, "No Valentine's cards, gifts of chocolate, tales of heart-ache are to be directed at the Headmaster. No glazing of eyes, deep sighs or hands clasped to bosoms will be executed in his presence. No involving him in recitations of witlessness and foolishness and the disastrous results thereof. Instead the Headmaster is to be left to the solitude of his chambers and under no circumstances is to be interrupted."

Pleased to note that only two at the table had needed to refer to handwritten notes, he nodded. "Excellent. It seems the prospect for navigating this day intact is good."

With a final wince and pained look at the mêlée, that just the day before had been straight lines and conformity, he rose from the table.

~ss~ss~ss~

Half an hour later Severus reached the safety of the Headmaster's office and its muted tones, closing the door firmly against all madness.

Winded from having taken too many detours to avoid being doused in the tranquillity dust, he leaned back against the door and strived to get his breath back.

His long and winding route from the Great Hall had garnered him one success, however. While pausing in the Transfiguration corridor, he had yielded to temptation by taking points from two unwary love-struck teenagers. It wasn't that he took a particular enjoyment in punishing the romantic fools, per se, but the sight of them sequestered in a window seat, fixed by the lips as though guppies cleaning the sides of a fish bowl, was ultimately too much for his stomach to digest.

He would just have to bluff out that lapse when Minerva noticed the points loss.

Hanging his outer robes on the coat rack, he sighed in relief. Although the duties of a headmaster seemed to be all-consuming at times, the benefits of Severus Snape taking on that role removed certain obligations. The main one, as far as he was concerned, was that the staff and children were more than keen to exempt him from the usual requirement to join in with the more pallid and facile goings-on of Hogwarts.

"Isn't this a delightful day, Severus?" Dumbledore's enthusiastic smile lit his eyes. "All the soft sighs of a new romance, the heart-felt declarations and, most of all, that wonderful state: love."

"Albus, if you think romance is anything other than rampant hormones and snares for jewelled gifts, you are a fool."

"Oh, no, my boy. It is not that at all. It is nature's way of hinting our bright young souls into the realm of pleasure and love's embrace." He sighed and the crackle glaze over his left cheek fractured even more. "It is passion, Severus. The surety of a fervent abode in the arms of the one you love."

"Well, that is an immense relief to the vacillation that is my life. As one of the main items on today's agenda is a good, long, and highly pleasurable hour or so of masturbation at my own hand, I feel my life is now heady and romantically fulfilled."

With which sentiment, he strode through his office into the sitting room.

"Ah! But Severus, what about the companionship, the feel of a man's body pressed against…"

Severus shut the door on Dumbledore's defence and made straight for his bedroom. Doffing his jacket, waistcoat and boots, he wrapped himself in a soft lawn robe of the deepest green and slid his feet into black suede slippers. Breathing a sigh of contentment, he returned to the sitting room and meandered – for there was no need for haste today – over to the gramophone cabinet.

A slice of aural stimulation was just what he needed before indulging in stimulation of another kind later on.

"Which of you would care to open this day's events?" he asked the collection of records. "Hm? Rachmaninov with your 2nd or Delibes with your fanciful arias?" He inclined his head. "A very good choice, Signore Paganini; then your violins it will be."

As the first gentle brush of horsehair sounded against catgut, the last remnant of the day's threatened inanity slid from his shoulders. He closed his eyes and allowed his head to lilt towards each end of a sul ponticello stroke. Merlin save him from puerile and sham metaphors, but this music was all the romance he needed. With the detached and eager touch of a street whore and the skill of a high-class courtesan, there were no promises, and no declarations of fidelity. It was what it was, and entirely better for its indifference towards its audience.

He waved his wand until the volume reached a point high enough to reverberate in the chimes of the grandfather clock.

Settling himself down in the wingback, he poured himself a cup of strong tea from the tea tray already laid out and set by its arm. With slow languor, he stretched out his legs and let the flames of the fire massage its warmth into them. The cup resting in his lap, he let his head roll back and his eyes to close.

Oh, this was a precision of peace indeed.

The luscious harmonic counterpoint of the piano and woodwind made his blood warm, and the timpani in the percussion kneading its rhythm into his body. Smoothly, he allowed it to consume him. The elevations and butter-soft timbres of the lows became his own body's movements, its speech. He followed each cadence, each note with drawn-out rapaciousness into an allegory of sex.

As the concerto escalated, the timpani jumped in strength. It beat hard and – strangely – very much off composition. Confused, he tried to will the drum into the score, but it only increased into a physical disharmony in his brain. Confused, Severus opened his eyes and squinted to bring the room into focus.

Poppy was prodding his forehead with a finger.

"Severus! For goodness sake, I've been banging on that door and your head for a good while!" she yelled over the music, hands firmly planted on hips.

He waved his wand in the direction of the gramophone and lowered the volume. "Excuse me?"

"I need your help in the infirmary," Poppy said with a rather accusing tone to it. "We have a problem that requires your expertise, Headmaster."

"Oh no you do not," he snarled. "I thought it had been made perfectly clear that I do not intend to set foot outside these rooms until tomorrow morning."

"I am well aware, but this is an exceptional circumstance, Severus. I am in desperate need of potions expertise, and you are still the best."

She tapped her foot as they engaged in a contest of wills.

"Severus!" she growled.

And that was it. While he might have reached his current position of superiority, it was very difficult to subjugate a woman who not only had tended his teenage pimples, but also conducted his prostate exams every five years.

Assured of her victory, she turned on her heel and swept out of the room in a halo of starch. "I will expect your presence shortly, Headmaster," she called out over her shoulder.

Spitting his impotency, he stormed into his bedroom and kicked off his slippers. Replacing his lounging robe for the less comfortable waistcoat and jacket, he cursed and relegated his mediwitch to a speedy retirement and headed for The World Outside.

Stopping at the coat rack for his outer robe, he breathed deeply to regain some of his temper.

"Finished already? My, your hands are indeed quick workers. What happened to the hour or so of self-gratification?"

Turning to meet the twinkling blue eyes, he bit back on a cutting retort. "I need to visit the infirmary," he sneered instead.

"Oh dear! Well it happens to all men at some point, my dear boy," the portrait smiled comfortingly, "No need to be embarrassed."

"I am functioning perfectly!" he spat. "Poppy is demanding my assistance, as you very well know."

Not at all put out Dumbledore nodded his head in understanding. "Yes, yes. The role of Headmaster is a demanding one." He sighed and popped a pale-ochre sweet into his blush-rose mouth.

Rolling his eyes, Severus grabbed his black velvet outer robe and made for the staircase.

~ss~ss~ss~

Striding along the corridors, he swept into the infirmary and flush into the bosom of the mediwitch.

"About time," was all he was greeted with.

Stepping back abruptly, he recovered his composure. Once done he adopted his most threatening expression. "I do hope, Poppy," he hissed at her ominously, "that this problem is proportional to the disruption to my plans for the day."

"Oh, it is!" she said humourlessly and not at all perturbed.

She stepped aside to afford Severus a clear view of three beds with a student sitting in each. He snorted.

Turning back to the mediwitch he raised an eyebrow. "Do I hazard a guess at this problem or shall I assume balloon heads are not their original forms?"

"Of course they aren't!" she snapped back. "One of them tried to make a love-enhancing potion that went wrong."

"I see," he said, although he didn't. "And this potion contained what, may I ask?"

Poppy huffed her exasperation. "Well we don't know that, do we, because balloons don't have mouths!" At the pointedly raised second eyebrow, she continued more evenly, "One of their housemates found them, with this." She held out a small glass potion bottle, empty now. "I will need an antidote, Headmaster."

Taking the bottle, he looked again at the three balloon-students. Their heart-shaped heads floated and bobbed above thin, pubescent necks and he sneered in distaste. Sniffing at the bottle, he could detect Horny Goat Weed, ambergris and ginkgo, but there was also a faint scent of inflatorensis; a bitter variant of the powerful love-inducing substance, amorensis. He eyed the occupants of the ward, smirking as one balloon drooped, bobbing down the wall above its bed.

Severus and his most sardonic expression strode slowly over to the students and both were gratified when the blinding cerise of the three balloons paled with each step.

"Someone has been using parts other than their brain to guide their potion-making, it would seem," he sneered and the balloon on the far left muted into a pale baby pink. "Mmm, quite so."

Turning his back to the beds, he addressed the mediwitch. "I fail to see the urgency of the situation, Madam Pomfrey," he said. "Perhaps a night of having vivid pink, heart-shaped balloons for heads will serve to—"

Severus and Poppy whipped round to look at the three balloons as a high-pitched 'ishweee/i' sounded from one of them. The balloon in the middle bed shrank noticeably as air leaked out.

"As you can see, Headmaster, there is no time. A person needs air to survive," she sniffed as though personally affronted, "even if that person is half balloon."

"Oh for the love of…" Inwardly cursing the day to hell, Severus pressed a hand to his eyes and sighed. "Very well!"

~ss~ss~ss~

"… of course Gellert didn't exactly tell me – well he might have hinted – but I could have sworn he felt the same way about handcuffs and so I…"

Severus allowed Dumbledore's monologue to float over him as he focussed on stirring the cauldron four turns counter- and two clockwise. He pushed out his lower jaw and set his lips to exhale cool air across the top of his face. Several lank strands of hair lifted from his sticky forehead, while others stuck fast in the sweat. He dragged his forearm across his face impatiently to loosen the strands. Now able to see, he bent over the simmering potion.

"Hmm," he murmured absently.

The cauldron bubbled energetically causing a dark green gelatinous substance to swell and morph its way up the sides and over the rim. Slashing his wand Severus lowered the flames until the potion settled.

"… and you should have seen his expression. There he was, trussed up like a chicken and all he had to say was…"

He grabbed a handful of boshwood seeds from the rack on his workbench. Trickling them into the cauldron, he waited until the concoction thinned to a stock-like consistency. Two more stirs widdershins and he turned the heat down to just a sliver of flame. Drawing a small amount into a pipette, he squeezed two drops onto some of the students' mal-creation he'd managed to scrape from their potions bottle, and waited for a response. When no visible reaction presented but an aroma of bad eggs twitched at his nostrils, he nodded.

Reaching over to the jar of Purple Beetle spore, Severus shook a measured amount into the cauldron. Dark green plumes of smoke rose in a swirl and the rancid stench of bad eggs increased.

"… I was so excited I didn't know where to start. So, I ripped open my trousers and took out my—"

Severus whipped round and flayed the painting with a hard glare. "Say one more word of that sentence, Albus, and I will banish you to Trelawney's bedroom."

"I am so sorry, dear boy, I was attempting to cheer you up – and failing miserably, it would seem." He placed a hand over his mouth theatrically and settled back into the painted Master at Study scene, its rightful occupant having succumbed to a swoon behind him. His eyes gleaming merriment he asked, "I have composed some poetry to celebrate St. Valentine, shall I recite it to you?"

"Only if you want me to hex your varnished balls off," he said conversationally. "Besides, I am finished… and famished," he added after casting tempus and realising he'd missed lunch.

He grabbed a clean bottle and carefully decanted the completed potion. That task done, he quickly banished the remains and cleared the workbench. Satisfied, he hurriedly left his potions lab, with a parting, 'You may inform Poppy I shall be with her momentarily,' directed at the ex-headmaster, and the antidote securely ensconced in his pocket.

Taking the stairs two at a time, he had just turned the corner into the Main Hall when for the second time he flew pell-mell into a bosom.

"Headmaster!" McGonagall exclaimed, "Please!"

"What is it, Professor?" he snapped out, shooting menacing glares at the sniggering students dotted about the entranceway.

McGonagall followed his eyes to the listening ears and, straightening her spine, hissed, "You promised me, Severus. You promised you would allow the students to enjoy today in peace if we allowed you to remain in your chambers undisturbed."

Reluctant though he was to admit it, even to himself, there was one thing and one thing only he hated about this woman. Minerva McGonagall was one of very few people – women particularly – who could meet him at eye level. The singular advantage, though, was it also meant he could pierce her with point-to-point precision.

"My apologies, Minerva, but I will need you to be specific in your allegations," he said in a voice of deceptive calm. "How, exactly, have I managed to dampen the wonderment and joy of our little beaus and sweethearts?"

"You took points from two fourth-years for – and I quote – flooding the corridor with drool and hormones. Just once in your life could you not resist savaging St. Valentine's day?"

"I can assure you, Minerva," he ground out through clenched teeth, "there is nothing I would like more than to leave the idiots to exclaim the good fortune of cards drenched in cheap perfume and poetry. All of which hide earthy innuendo and sexual immorality behind romantic promises. But my heart-felt desire for my blindness aside, should the uncouth enter itself into my sphere I feel no compunction in acting."

McGonagall sighed disappointedly. "Severus, if you would just set aside time to sample the delights found in intimacy for yourself you would see… what in heaven's name is that look for?"

"Minerva, you are sadly correct in that at this exact moment I could be 'sampling' the warmth of a male body; a hard, lean-limbed kind of body with black hair and dark eyes, and the long-fingered touch that knows its way over my body down to its last birthmark." He fought off the thought of another lean-limbed body and brought a hand to rest over his heart. "Should the opportunity present itself, I promise you most sincerely to address this deficiency with alacrity." He pointedly glanced past her towards the staircase. "Now, if I may?"

They engaged in a short stand-off before, huffing, she stepped aside to allow him to pass. After all, Minerva had never had her fingers up his arse and pressed against his prostate.

Adjusting his robes for a more efficient snap and billow, he gave her a curt nod and swept up the staircase in a wave of black velvet. With a side-step to dodge the fairy hovering above the half-landing, he resumed his journey back to the infirmary knowing Minerva's pitying gaze followed him.

~ss~ss~ss~

"Regardless of the enticing and mouth-watering smell of bad eggs, Mr Frobisher, this antidote will return your acne and falsetto. However you need to hold still!" Severus tried to yank the balloon back onto the pillow, but succeeded only in knocking it to bounce erratically against the bed-frame.

The tip-tapping of sturdy hospital shoes announced Poppy's arrival just in time to rescue him from a vision of popping balloon-Frobisher with his tie-pin.

Giving him a look that told him she was perfectly aware of what he was thinking, she took the potion from his hand. "Is this the antidote, Headmaster?" she asked ingeniously.

He rolled his eyes.

"No, Madam Pomfrey. I just selected that vial purely for the amusement its company provides on the off-chance I found my journey here lonesome."

Poppy sniffed her opinion of him and glared.

"Poppy, I am eager to return to my rooms and to my plans for the day," he said, ignoring her look. "Plans, I might add, on which we were all agreed. Therefore, and though I am on tenterhooks for the great unveiling of stupidity, can you manage minus my help?"

She sniffed again and Severus resisted the urge to plaster his handkerchief over her nose with the injunction to 'Blow!'.

"Of course I can manage, Headmaster. It is simply a case of dousing them."

Glaring at the three balloon-students he raised an eyebrow in question. They bobbed their balloons wildly, which Severus took to mean they would be perfectly submissive for the mediwitch. Then it struck him. For the first time that morning Severus registered that there were three of them in this enterprise: two wearing trousers and one a skirt. Briefly he wondered at the mechanics of their liaisons, but that brought unwelcome and highly improper thoughts to the fore.

"Thank you, Madam Pomfrey. I bid you good day."

With a last punishing glare and a demand for their attendance in his office the following day, he left them in Poppy's capable and irascible hands.

~ss~ss~ss~

"Does paradise reign, Severus?"

Ignoring Dumbledore, he warded the office door with a complex intertwining of spells. Secure from unwarranted intrusion, he hung up his robes, arranging them in a fashion that would minimise creasing, and headed for the sanctuary of his inner chambers.

A minute or two later, he emerged from his bedroom draped once again in the soft lounging robes and the suede slippers on his feet. A small repast had been laid out on the small wine-table by his chair, complete with a single glass of wine. With the gramophone set to emit the strains of Rachmaninov, he settled into his chair and turned his attention to lunch.

The melodious rampaging of keys that marked the composer's heritage like nothing else could, sent waves of pleasure through his body. Severus almost drowned in the piquancy of the exhilarating sounds and he thought hard on the emotions demonstrated in every pitch and twist of this particular piece of music. If he were prone to the tender feelings, then this would be foreplay to love, he knew. As it was, it sent jolts of arousal that leant nothing to the yearnings of the heart and everything to base need.

Well, there was an idea.

Setting aside his plate, he stretched out his legs and ghosted his fingers to the opening of his robes. He stroked a hand under the silky fabric and rubbed the cotton of his shirt over a nipple. His cock twitched in appreciation as sweet shards of desire crept down into his groin.

Sprawling further into the chair, he ran his other hand down to the buttons of his trousers. At the same time sliding languorously over his chest to the other nipple, flicking it with a nail. He pulled the trousers open and traced the length of his semi-hard cock with idle, unhurried fingers. Groaning, he arched his back into his caress. Tightening the grip, he pressed the palm of his hand against the shaft and ran his fingers to drag at the soft, silky skin.

The need for more washed over him, spiking into the tops of his thighs and stomach. He pulled out his cock and circled it with his thumb and forefinger. The rest of the fingers he spread to reach down and massage the wrinkled skin of his balls. A meeting of arousal, from the base of his cock to its head, wrought a gasp and his ribs spasmed. Still maintaining an almost tortuously slow pace, he stroked his cock, full and hard now, pressing his thumb over his slit. His hips bucked his cock into his hand and his breathing quickened.

"This is obviously not the best time," Filius Flitwick said from the fireplace.

Thrusting his body into a sideways position in the chair at the same time as shoving his cock back into his trousers, Severus screamed epithets at the diminutive face in the orange flames.

"Sorry, Severus, but – hm-hum – there's a major contretemps in the Great Hall. We did try your office door, but, erm… found it locked." The flames crinkled and cracked as Filius tried to find an eye-line that didn't further embarrass the Headmaster. "Will you come right away?"

Severus gnashed his teeth and snarled.

"N-no! No-no-no. I meant will you come down to the Hall. The – erm – Great Hall. Yes, that's all I meant, Severus." Filius flustered and blustered until the flames were a bright red.

Severus pondered floo theory, specifically the affinity of the flames of a floo-call to the state of mind of the caller. But when that failed to remove the red from his own cheeks or abate the swelling in his trousers, he moved onto torture theory. Specifically height-deficient victims hanging upside down from the dungeon walls, writhing under Cruciatus while wrapped in barbed wire.

A second or two of that image and thence successfully composed, he addressed his professor. "Filius, we had an arrangement," he spat into the flames. "You fools have the responsibility for this mockery of a Sunday and I have peace and quiet. That means whatever debacle occurs – no matter the severity – you deal with, not me." By the last few words, his voice had narrowed to a searing cold that made the flames around Filius' head turn back to orange.

"I do understand that, Severus, but this really needs your authority," said Filius shakily. Knowing continued persuasion would only earn him more verbal abuse, he hastened to add, "I shall let them know you are coming – that you are on your way, I mean." Thus said, he dipped backwards out of the fire with a poof of ash.

His arousal took a last rattled breath before it curled up its toes and died. "Get back here, Filius, you little runt!"

Seething, with both mortification and ire, Severus stormed into his bedroom and kicked his slippers into the wall. Levying blistering curses, he buttoned his boots and whirled out of his inner chambers.

"How discomfiting, and you were so very nearly there…"

Severus slammed the door, hard.

~ss~ss~ss~

Scattering students left and right, Severus arrived at the doors of the Great Hall just in time to duck.

"What the fuck…?" he snarled as another pink missile shot over his head.

"Severus! There you are!" Minerva called from somewhere over the other side of the Hall. Scanning in that direction, he found her hunched low in the gap between the Gryffindor table and the far wall.

"As you can see! Now I entreat you, and you may observe me on my knees, to tell me what the hell is going on."

Instead, she gesticulated for him to join her behind the tables. With a put-upon sigh, he bent low enough almost to be a crawl, and zigzagged a route to the Gryffindor table. Grasping a table leg, he pressed his face to the floor to avoid a taffeta streamer from whipping his head.

Looking up, he saw that as well as Minerva, the table was asylum to Hooch and Trelawney and several second year students. He raised his eyebrows and gestured for Minerva to explain.

"Apparently," she said, "one of the cherubs propositioned a fairy and a bit of a squabble ensued."

Sweeping the room, Severus catalogued the situation into easily manageable pieces. Above them, cherubs, golden curls standing all on end, were hurling solidified taffeta arrows at the fairies. In return, the bruised and battered fairies, dresses ripped to shreds, were loosing volley after volley of animated pink and white posies in all directions, only occasionally finding a target of the plump little enemy.

Beneath the aerial fracas, the downed taffeta arrows were launching themselves at the posies, which were giving as good as they got by enveloping and then squeezing the taffeta blades with their animated stems and vines. Collateral damage littered the floor in the form of ornate vases and Grecian-style urns, broken harps and mortally wounded heart-shaped balloons, plus the odd candelabra and silver salver.

On the other side of the Hall, he could see Flitwick's head peering over the Slytherin table, with the main doors creating a lee of defence to his right. Other little heads bobbed up and down to his left, informing Severus of the presence of more students.

The whole scene, when taken together, was an eruption of whirling cerise, blood red, white, and that sickly pink Severus really, really hated. The sound of it, though, was more jarring. The fairies were screaming at the cherubs, baiting them with size-related ridicule, while the cherubs screamed back in language so coarse it made Severus falter.

"Even by the most lax of semantics," he snarled at Minerva, "this hardly equates to a 'squabble'."

"Well it was only a squabble until Sybill encouraged them to kiss and make up," she curled her lips into a moue of distaste. "The result was quite the demonstration of impropriety, I can tell you." She glared at Trelawney, causing her to drop her wand and have it disappear into the multitude folds of her shawl. "Rolanda, Filius and I have attempted to stupify them, banish them, shrink them, and even to petrify them, but they are too quick. And that, Severus, is the situation in a nutshell."

He banged his head against the table leg and called upon all the gods to return the Dark Lord and normality.

"Right," he said. Shifting to his haunches, he squared his shoulders and reset the grip on his wand. The second-years' jaws dropped in awe. "Right," he said again. "Enough finesse."

With these words, he stood up and walked around the table, stopping with the back of his knees pressed against the bench. He waved his wand in an arc to encompass the table's edge.

"PROTEGERE!" he shouted, and an iridescent haze welled out and up from his wand to form a dome over the table. Turning around, he made for the other side of the large hall. Avoiding the warring taffeta and posies as much as could, he leaped and dodged, landing in a crouch in front of the Slytherin table. Taking a deep breath, he rose to his full height and cast another domed shield over the cowering children and professor.

As soon as it was securely attached to the table, he then whipped round and flicked his wand in the direction of the head table, traced a wide arc to the high window, and flicked it again.

"INCARCEROUS OMNIA!" he bellowed, "SILENCIO TOTUS!"

A thick rope flew out from the tip of his wand, which then split into numerous thinner cords. Shooting out in every direction, the cords wrapped around everything that moved, binding them and tying themselves into knots that fastened limbs, fabric tails and posy stems.

When all movement in the air and on the ground stopped, he tugged sharply on the single thick rope still affixed to his wand, drawing the cords to form a wedge of thrashing creatures and objects. Wild-eyed cherubs and cursing fairies fought silently against their bonds, while red and white posies and pink taffeta were pulled inexorably together to blend into a wedding nightmare. Grabbing onto the rope with his left hand, he flicked his wand to break the link and tugged again.

He strode over to one of the pillared niches that bracketed the window and tied the loose end of the rope around a column, and then turned back to face the Hall.

"I shall leave the rest in your capable hands, Professor McGonagall."

"Thank you, Headmaster. Now if you would just…" He waved a hand over his shoulder in farewell and made for the door, not waiting to witness her rapping her hands against the inside of the shield, which he knew well she would be doing right… about… Now!

Some few feet from the door, a screaming cherub launched himself through the open doors and headed straight for Severus. He acted entirely on instinct. In one practiced move he fisted a hand, drew back his arm and forced it forward into his attacker.

Propelled backwards and into the door, the cherub landed in a heap of curly locks and rosy cheeks against the architrave.

"You killed it!" was squealed as he passed into the Main Hall, accompanied by a shrieked "Don't you dare walk out that door, Severus!" from Minerva.

~ss~ss~ss~

Working on the assumption it would take Minerva precisely ten minutes to break through his protegere, he rushed up the main staircase (swore at the waylaying fairy with her tranquillity dust) and made a beeline for his chambers. Deciding against the full complement of wards, instead relying on those reacting in reflex to the closing of the door, he paused only to hang his robe on the coat rack.

"All sorted, Severus? I recall the time when…"

In the sitting room the scratch and jump of a gramophone needle with no more grooves to settle into was the only raucous component amid the otherwise womb-like feeling that spread over him. After stopping the needle with a swish of his wand, he closed his eyes for a moment, breathing in the stillness with starving gusto. Opening them again, he looked down and cursed, "Bugger!"

"… how he ever managed to father three children after that, I cannot imagine."

Marching over towards the office door, Severus snatched his dark green lounging robe from over the top of his outer robe and executed a neat about turn.

"It might possibly be that being one of identical twins – and in the dark, of course, she wouldn't notice the lack of balls…"

Back in his inner chambers, he retrieved his slippers from under the bed and behind the armoire and returned to the peace of his sitting room. Not wanting to risk further unexpected appearances through the floo, he warded it closed and sat, a little stiffly, in his chair.

He looked over his shoulder at the grandfather clock and compared what its hands displayed with a Tempus. An hour until dinner.

One black, lawn-covered leg twitched over the other, as its slippered foot swung into a restless and repetitive bounce. He uncrossed his legs and pulled the frogged edges of his robe together.

He would eat in the comfort of his rooms, he decided. Then he would enjoy a leisurely bath and the long-awaited and sweet pleasure of languid autoeroticism.

The deep reverberating tick-tock of the clock seemed to speed up and wreak havoc with time.

By bringing his hands to clasp in his lap, he stopped his fingers from drumming on the arms of the chair.

"Damnation!" he directed, unfairly, at the wine-table.

Casting his eyes around the room, he looked for something to soothe his agitation. As it reached the bookcase, he jumped up, slid Carlyle: Sartor Resartus from its place, and sank back into the chair.

Though Lucius had given the book to him at Christmas, amid much pomp and ceremony, he had yet to open it beyond the frontispiece, or to look more closely at the handwritten notations. Reputed to be the margin notes of the essayist himself, the book was – as expected from a Malfoy – suitably exclusive and therefore nearly priceless. Relishing the softness of the leather binding, he gently opened it to rest into a wide 'V' by curving a hand under its spine, and began with the introduction.

Only three pages in, the words began to swim and his head nodded onto his chest. Jerking his head up and blinking fiercely a couple of times, he made slow and steady progress through two more before he fell fast asleep.

~ss~ss~ss~

A very loud hollering snapped him awake in a second, causing the book to flip-flop in his hands before he could lay it safely on the table.

"SEVERUS! GET UP!" Dumbledore's rich tenor yelled from the Falò delle Vanità hanging above the fireplace.

"Thank you for that intemperate awakening, Albus!" Severus yelled back. He dragged a hand across his face and modulated his voice to a degree above seething. "What is so important you renege on our long-standing agreement for my privacy?"

"I am sorry, my boy, but Minerva needs you," Dumbledore said earnestly.

Of all the… Severus' temper soared back to fuming.

"Why, so she can ram crochet hooks into my eyeballs for marooning her with an over-large and screaming bouquet of decorations; force-feeding me sonnets until I bite my own ears off? Does she require me, as the resident demagogue, to prostrate myself to the naked charms of Eros and lead a tulle-draped line of nymphs and sylphs in the can-can? Or have they tossed Valentine to the four winds and she merely requires my blood in a salutation to the newly-formed St. Satan's day?" his voice rose back to a yell, "Thank you, Albus, but forgive me if I sit this one out!"

Throwing himself back into his chair, he snatched up his book and slumped with it covering his face.

"Actually," Dumbledore chided, "a student is about to jump off the West Tower, from the Owlery."

That got his attention.

"Fuck!"

~ss~ss~ss~

Letting the door swing open into the room at the base of the Tower, Severus eyed the quiet huddle of staff with disdain.

"Yes, do let's stand around, wringing our hands, shall we?" he said levelly.

"Oh, Severus, am I glad you're here!" Minerva made her way towards him, her arms outstretched.

To his utter horror, the look in her eyes suggested she expected a comforting hug. Pulling his robes about him for protection, he fended her off with a sharp glare.

"Perhaps a résumé of the situation?" he said in question.

"We've tried everything, Severus, but the bairn seems intent on jumping!" she said, her voice quavering uncharacteristically.

Sighing, he repeated his request, "Professor, I am still unaware of events. A résumé, if you please?"

"Oh, yes... One of the third-years, Mr Littlewhit, found—"

Unbelievable!

"Excellent, excellent, Minerva," he snarled, "but your humoristic tragedies will not force me into some semblance of compliance—"

"Severus!" Minerva screeched. "This is no joke!"

Severus crossed his arms and studied her. "Am I to understand that there really is a student readying himself to jump off a tower?" Minerva nodded. He raised his eyebrows. "And his name is Little Wit?" She nodded again, as did the huddle of professors behind her. His eyes rolled.

Minerva huffed a bit, looking down her nose at him. "I agree his name is unfortunate, but it does not negate there being a thirteen-year-old boy ready to dash himself to the rocks at this very moment." Despite herself, her voice quavered again, "What are we to do, Severus?

Severus sighed and bit back every retort that slipped to the tip of his tongue and tried for something more sympathetic. "What are his grades like? Is he likely to be a loss?"

She merely narrowed her eyes and thinned her lips. He knew that pattern and it heralded no good for him.

"All right, on reflection, perhaps Darwin's vaunt of the survival of the fittest is rather too constraining for our needs," he back-peddled. "So, in our efforts to detach Mr No Wit from the temptation to execute a Wronski Feint without benefits, what have we done so far?"

"Severus, you really need to search harder for your sensitive side," she reproached coldly. "And if your search comes up with nothing, then I urge you to put a seal on your eremitism and give us some peace!" She covered her eyes with a hand and took a deep breath. "We have all tried to coax him down, of course, but our every persuasion has failed."

The central huddle broke up into its disparate parts.

"I have told him there are better things on the horizon for him and that most of them will appear in the morning, with greener grass," Trelawney said.

"I tried to persuade him with first-try on one of the school's new Nimbus brooms," Hooch said.

"I assured him of someone to talk to, someone to go to when he feels most lost and who will listen," Flitwick said to the stones of the wall behind Severus.

"Poppy is with him now, trying to distract him. You ken that soft way of hers?" Minerva nodded and gave him a look intimating he would know what that way was. However, not having ever seen more than a five-degree shift of pliability in the stern mediwitch, Severus did not.

"I see," he stalled. "And do we know exactly what it is that is troubling the child?"

The professors sighed ominously and Severus shuddered.

"It is a case of unrequited love, Headmaster," Trelawney offered, her eyes glistening.

Minerva took over. "The poor wee boy has fallen in love. He went to give the lassie a posy and a poem, only to find her in the arms of another boy. There was a tad of scene, I hear, followed by Mr Littlewhit announcing his intention to throw himself off the Tower. The upshot is, Severus, we need your help. The lassie is in hysterics and the whole of Gryffindor is in uproar!"

Severus closed his eyes and tried to curb the urge to batter his Deputy Headmistress about the head.

"So," he ground out slowly and with studied intonation, "because he deems his love life – all five minutes of it – to be over, Mr Dumb Wit intends to make himself a martyr worthy of a Hills and Broom romance novel? And, as all your attempts have failed, you need me to try my hand at defusing the situation?"

Minerva had the wisdom to pause in consideration of the state of affairs thus presented.

"Perhaps we could call the boy's mother, and—"

"Oh, no, Minerva. No. You ask and so shall you receive!" he said with a wry smile, while mentally pressing down hard on the lid of his unruly and rapidly fugitive control.

With an abrupt turn, his robes flaring about him satisfyingly, he made for the stairs, leaving, no doubt, deep foreboding in his wake.

Even before he reached the top of the tower, housing the Owlery, he could feel the biting cold seeping down through the glassless windows the owls entered and left by. Luckily, his mood numbed his senses against it.

At last at the top, Severus called down every imprecation he knew on the scourge of owl droppings. Not that it seemed to disturb the current occupants.

Poppy was standing in front of one of the open embrasures over at the far side of the large, circular room, holding her arms out to the boy poised precariously on its sill.

"Madam Pomfrey, I will handle matters from here," he waved a hand to the open door to the stairs, "if you please."

Poppy took in his demeanour and looked as though she didn't like it much. Severus didn't give two hoots, to use an apropos phrase.

"Maybe I should remain, Headmaster?" she queried.

"That will not be necessary. I am sure I can manage Mr Little Wit." Again, he gestured towards the stairs. "And would you be so kind as to close the door behind you?"

With obvious reluctance she nonetheless acquiesced. However. "If you upset him further," she warned in a lowered tone, "I'll give you a piece of my mind, Severus Snape!"

"So certain you can spare it?" Severus responded in mock concern, adding a muttered appeal to save him from being surrounded by controlling women.

With a stiff nod, redolent with suppressed displeasure, she stormed out.

Severus winced as the door slammed, then smirked as it immediately opened again. Poppy glared and snatched the hem of her cloak from where it had caught on the latch. She threw Severus another furious look before making a second noisy, but dignified, exit, leaving Severus to consider the boy in the embrasure.

While normally the youth's studied pose would encourage a glimmer of humour, he had rarely felt further from laughter… outside his days as a Death Eater and spy, that is.

Balanced side-on with his back to the central mullion, his arms wrapped behind him and around the stone upright, he certainly effected a striking appearance. Wind-tossed curls formed a burnished bronze moving halo and his burgundy robes whipped about a small form stylised by the renaissance. All in all he was the epitome of a tragic epic. To complete the picture, all that was required was—

"You won't persuade me from jumping, you know," the boy said. He turned his head to gaze towards the night-silhouetted mountains and affected a woeful and distant visage, complete with perfect pout. "From the world's bitter wind I will seek my shelter in the shadow of the tomb."†

Severus ground his teeth. Obviously, the boy had an IQ to match the February temperature.

He moved towards the embrasure, step by slow step, rage charging every measured move, every feature of his face and body. "Fancy yourself the hero of some sticky-fingered romance, do you? Do you picture tear-ridden maidens cast prostrate at your graveside, your memory forever a Byronic comparison?" He was almost within touching distance. "Shall I go hence to script the mourners in their grief and compose a eulogy expressive of the ruin your end will wreak on us, the mere mundane?"

The boy stared, seemingly completely at a loss in the face of this particular approach to his tormented mien.

One step more and Severus grabbed a fistful of burgundy robes and pulled them nose to nose. "Well, what are you waiting for, you selfish little bastard? Hurry up and jump," Severus hissed into Dim Wit's face.

In the narrow gap between the mullion and Severus, the boy's legs gave way. He started to shake and his mouth dropped open, eyes wide with astonishment. "... Y-you… I – what…?"

Severus stepped sharply backwards away from the embrasure, pulling the boy with him. "Not on my watch, Mr Halfwit," he said, his voice icy and dreadful. Feet dangling a few inches above the mouse bones and owl droppings, the boy's shakes turned into rigid fear. "Do. You. Understand?" The boy nodded jerkily.

Releasing the boy, he pushed him towards the door and down the stairs.

Immediately on reaching the bottom, Poppy and Trelawney dashed forwards, but faltered at Severus' growl.

"This," he shook the boy, "is the result of irrational romanticism. No coddling. No sympathy. I will not tolerate any pandering nonsense that serves only to encourage similar caprice and fantasy in idiotic minds too empty of lucid thinking." He took a much-needed breath.

He glared at each of his professors, daring any one of them to cross him further. Trelawney stuttered on a word before her nomadic brain reasserted itself and her mouth shut.

Out of the ensuing silence, Minerva stepped forward and sent his mind whirling.

"We appreciate your success in concluding the situation… and your sentiments on it." She then adopted the manner Severus was most familiar with, efficient and blunt, thereby drawing a firm line under the regrettable mess for him. "Now, to other matters. Albus asked me to pass on a message, Headmaster. He said to tell you your bed warmer is busy warming itself, whatever that means, and needs your attention before it explodes."

His bed warmer? His Bed Warmer!

Not possessing a bed warmer in the usual sense, it must mean Lucius was here. In his bed! Severus' groin tightened, blood filling his cock.

"Oh. Thank you, Minerva; the meaning is all too clear… Desperately clear." Severus closed his eyes and invoked his stalwart image of Hagrid bending over for Filius. Embarrassment averted he continued, "Suffice to say my presence is desired elsewhere on a personal matter."

"Well of course, if you have personal matters to attend to," Minerva said doubtfully, looking towards the shell-shocked boy, "I can escort Mr Littlewhit to the infirmary and…" she paused as Nitwit's shaking returned, "make certain he remains there."

"My strongest recommendation is for a change in name. However, should he feel unaccountably attached to it, I urge restraints and a potion-induced stupor until he emerges from the other side of puberty."

He turned to leave but stopped when a hand touched his shoulder.

"Perhaps next year we can make better plans?" Minerva said softly. "Or perhaps you can take a few days holiday?"

Severus considered her. Finding no malice in her eyes, he nodded once. Then, with a last condemning glance at the shivering Mr Fuck-Wit, he stalked out of the tower room in the direction of his chambers.

Luckily for Severus, the only obstacle to closing the distance between him and them was the inappropriate erection that hampered his normally graceful stride.

~ss~ss~ss~

Two staircases, four corridors, two first years, and one slammed headmaster's office door later, Severus leant back, panting, against the oak wood. He glared at Dumbledore's portrait.

"Tell me, how is it you know my 'bed warmer is warming itself'?" he asked when he'd caught his breath.

"Ah, well… Yes. I just popped into Love Lies Withering to see if he had everything he needed, and I couldn't help but notice." Dumbledore coughed delicately. "It was staring me in the face, you might say."

Growling, Severus shed his outer robe, waved his wand in front of the door to secure the complex configuration of wards and then headed for his inner chambers.

Immediately, he closed the door behind him firmly and cast the same intricate wards to prevent entry to anyone bar Merlin himself. Doing the same to the floo, he then considered the window. Deciding it was better to err on the side of caution, he stretched a few decapitating wards across the mullions, then, with a deep breath, opened the door to the bedroom.

Lying on his side in the centre of the bed, for all the world as though he owned it, was Lucius. Glorious, succulent, pale, and naked Lucius. Long hair spread in a wave of silver-blond silk against the white cotton, his hands stroking the smooth lines of his body, and his only company a pot of lubricant. Severus strode over to the bed and lifted a knee onto the mattress. He leant over and swatted Lucius' hand away from his oil-shiny cock.

"You might have waited," he snapped. The tone was nevertheless belied by the sweetness of the kiss he pressed on Lucius' mouth, brushing their lips together in a soft caress.

"Believe me, Severus, that was my every intention. However, after two hours I was bored to sobs."

As though to emphasise how long he'd been waiting, he rolled onto his back and curled his arms above his head, one fist pressed into a big yawn, and arched his back.

Affording Severus a perfect view of the bright pink dildo poking out of his arse.

His breathing stuttered. His vision perforated all else and concentrated on one twelve inch by twelve inch picture. The bone in his legs, arms and spine melted as all solidity left to spear into his prick. Feeling himself falling forward, he just had the presence of mind to put out an arm to stop himself from landing in a heap beside Lucius. Mesmerized, he almost missed what the man was saying.

"I confess to having missed you," Lucius said in his husky drawl, drawing up his legs then spreading the knees towards the mattress.

"Believe me, Lucius, I have missed this as well," he whispered, his voice hoarse and ragged. "I want you; want to be inside of you."

A moment's pause, and then Lucius grasped Severus's hand in his. "Exactly," he said. Severus thought he could detect a touch of wistfulness, but if it was there, it disappeared. "Now, disrobe." Lucius demanded.

Pulling away, Severus eyed the man suspiciously. Receiving only an arched eyebrow, he smirked. "As you wish." He stepped backwards, raking his eyes along Lucius' body as he did so.

Normally, they were both rather partial to the gradual rise of pleasure born from a protracted undress, but Severus could feel his cock pressing against his trousers; hard and needy. He allowed himself a minute to breath in the heightened anticipation.

But no more than that minute.

Exhaling deeply, he slid out of his green robe, threw it over the ottoman and then hastily discarded the rest of his clothes.

Lucius' gasp delighted him. Holding still he allowed the very hungry gaze to devour him. Such scrutiny didn't bother him, knowing well his body was his best feature. With its firm muscles and fine proportions, he had never been ashamed of baring himself. Neither was his masculinity embarrassed for his cock. It was large, thick and wonderfully straight. And it was currently a deep angry red, steel-hard and dripping.

Of course, in comparison he was still a Dürer to Lucius' Botticelli. All lean lines and graceful tones, Lucius was the realisation of flawless beauty. That beautiful cascade of hair that was now falling in painted drapes about broad shoulders and an athlete's chest. His face a pleasing symmetry of sharp cheekbones, warm lips and eyes so cold they could arrest at a hundred yards. But, of course, his favourite part was his cock. Slim and long, it was utterly magnificent.

Having looked his fill, Lucius stretched back on the bed and held out a hand in invitation.

"You are glorious, my friend." He pulled and manoeuvred until Severus' body completely covered his. Bracketing his head between his hands, he lifted his head and captured Severus in a heated kiss. "I couldn't count how many times I thought of your body during these last two months." Severus arched as lips and breath moved to his throat. "Thought of you… like this. Ravenous and… rabid." Hands now sketched rivulets of bliss down Severus' back and flanks. "How many times did I close my eyes and felt the ghost of your cock driving against mine." Lucius' legs lifted to wrap around his buttocks, squeezing their hips together. Releasing, and then squeezing.

Severus groaned at the physical sensations of two hard cocks sliding along their lengths and the harsh rasp of the end of the dildo nudging his balls. This was no time for foreplay. The tensions of the day had mounted and Severus was all but ready to explode with the need to release the pressure.

"I hope you are disposed for a swift fucking, Lucius." He reached down and twisted the dildo. Lucius arched under him and cried out, throwing his head back into the pillows, mouth open and eyelids fluttering. "It seems we have a consensus of opinion," he said gruffly into Lucius' hair.

Severus brought their lips together in a gentle consummation. Barely touching, he brushed a line along Lucius' lower lip, slowly and tantalizingly. He dipped his tongue to paint until the lips beneath his parted. Deepening the kiss slightly, he pressed against Lucius and closed his eyes. He could feel a corresponding tension, the want, in the body below. Lucius' hips rolled and reached for his and he plunged his tongue in and bore down: his mouth, his hands, his body. Lucius moaned so deeply he could taste raw need. It had its own flavour; a non-too subtle and very masculine musk that levitated and curled around him. Lucius was hard, weepingly hard.

Breaking off the kiss, he pushed himself up to kneel on his haunches between Lucius' legs. He gazed long and hard at the beautiful body laid out before him – for him – and stroked his cock. Opening the oil, he nudged at Lucius' inner thighs until he was spread wide and wanting, the dildo sunk deep into his arse.

"Severus! If your hands do not make contact with Malfoy terrain soon, I will rupture something," Lucius complained hoarsely.

"So needy," he murmured, taking a firm hold of the dildo with one hand and resting the other a bare inch from Lucius' twitching cock.

Easing it out a bit first, he twisted the dildo and then moved it steadily back in. Lucius arched, throwing his head back into erotic curves at throat, spine and legs. They purred together. Watching every electric spasm and listening to each moan and gasp, Severus fucked Lucius' arse with the pink dildo. Moving his other hand to trace cock, balls and buttocks, then to slide, palm up, between sheet and skin, he spread his fingers over a tight, muscled arse and squeezed.

A drawn-out hissing sound was Lucius' fine response. "Merlin, Severus!" Severus smiled and squeezed again, earning him two quick, needy thrusts. "Just move your skinny arse and fuck me!" he hissed again.

In answer, Severus pulled the dildo out until it only just still breached, then pushed it in again, hard. The sight of the pink rubber disappearing into Lucius' body rent shafts of heat into his stomach, and his cock twitched happily. Uncomfortably aware he was too close to coming to continue, he pulled out the dildo one last time. Lucius sagged into the mattress, panting, causing Severus to adopt a smug smile. Reaching into the jar, he smeared his cock in the pungent oil.

"Wipe that self-satisfied look off your face," Lucius panted.

Looking into his eyes, Severus felt a different kind of warmth flood his body as Lucius' smile wrought the ice-blue of his eyes into the colour of a summer's sky. Thrown for a second, he smiled back. The moment seemed to pause everything, confusing him even more.

Then Lucius smirked and the world jolted back into being.

"Your promise of a 'swift fucking' impressed me as including speed," he drawled in that precisely intoned way of his. "I certainly gained no concept of loitering being invo—"

In one smooth move Severus thrust his cock into tight heat.

The sensation of Lucius' arse gripping his cock in welcome sent a spark, wide and thrilling, up his spine and down to coalesce as pure pleasure in his groin. With his balls pressed tight against Lucius, he waited for him to adjust. It didn't take long and he slowly withdrew. Teasingly slowly.

This was heaven.

This feeling, this absolute and utter perfection of feeling, was not just sending his body into remembered spirals of pleasure in familiarity of Lucius, it was also snapping at all the inconsequential facets of his life. Bringing each irritating, tedious, regretful strand and drawing them together to form a blissfully healing counterpoint. He pushed in again and exhaled a deep rumbling moan, as his life became this one moment of time, one hinge of reality. He closed his eyes tight to enhance his sense of rightness as it enveloped him.

He felt a hand slipping into the crease of his arse, an oiled finger probing his hole until it twitched and drew it in. Lucius worked first one then two fingers in and out, slowly fucking Severus with them to the same rhythm with which he fucked Lucius.

He rolled his hips, canting them; his name on Lucius' lips driving his pleasure higher. Their months-long separation, although mourned, had seemed to him to be merely an itch that wanted scratching. He had felt it as frustration invading his mind at odd moments and a purely primal longing for satisfaction. It was not until now, until he had Lucius under him and around him, that he felt the chasm of disconnection meld them together again in a sweeping and soaring of fulfilment. It now became a thing of wonder. A thing, he thought to himself, he would not contemplate the meaning of until he had blasted Lucius' arse with his come.

"Severus!" Lucius gasped out.

Which would not be long, Severus assessed.

He sped up his thrusts, driving his hips into the back of Lucius' thighs. Again and again he pounded his cock into Lucius' arse, and the sizzle of orgasm rose with the dual sensation of his cock deeper and deeper inside Lucius and Lucius' fingers inside him. Too soon, the spiral gathered every last flayed and unwanted emotion and buried them in an expanding current that sensitized his thighs, his spine and his stomach. He gasped. Thrusting harder, faster, his muscles clenched.

"Come, Severus. Fill me," Lucius moaned.

Fucking hell, he thought, and come he did.

Legs trembling, he thrust a few more times as his orgasm crashed over him, drenching him. He arched back, his hips pressed hard into Lucius' arse until his arms gave way with a final, liquefying, tremble.

Lucius stroked his back for a short while, then eased out from under him. Rolling him over, his face pressed against the pillows, Lucius sidled between his legs, checked his position, and then pushed inside Severus.

"So delicious!"

Severus' afterglow spread out like a wide ripple as Lucius thrust into him. Angling his shoulders and neck, he sought the seal of lips to keep the wave inside him. They kissed, a harsh and uncoordinated mashing of flesh and teeth, flanked by panted breaths. As the afterglow faded, he became more aware of the feel of Lucius' cock pounding into him. It roused him, bringing with it a radiant arc of satisfaction. Lucius was deriving pleasure from his body, from him. He, Severus, was making this man moan as he plunged into him. It was him enticing tremors and shudders to echo in the body above him. Him being filled with Lucius' come. Lucius had chosen him, just as he chosen Lucius.

That was it. They were comparable and equal; each of them attuned in lines that if not entwined, were undoubtedly parallel.

He just didn't know what it meant…

Rolling off to lie along his side, Lucius kissed him once more, a soft, embracing kiss, involving cheeks, noses and feather-light touches of lips. It was nice – felt good.

"Nice, Severus? Good?" Lucius chuckled a low, soft sound and Severus clenched his mouth tight. "My, my. I have rarely seen you so gauche." He chuckled again.

Severus glared.

"I was not expecting…" he waved a hand between them impotently "this. And I don't even know what I mean by 'this'."

Lucius didn't answer. Sitting up he retrieved his wand and cast a cleaning charm before drawing the bedcovers over them both. Lying on his side again, pressed close against Severus, he carded his fingers through black hair, teasing out the tangles. The touch was so sure, so gentle.

"This is exactly what Valentine's day… should be like," Severus murmured, "silent, peaceful… in erudite… sensible company. No madness… just good company."

Severus felt his limbs numbing with the onset of sleep. He closed his eyes and let his mind glide.

He was dimly aware of Lucius tightening his arms around him and he also, strangely, sensed his smile.

"Yes, with the one who loves you," said Lucius, casually.

Severus fought sleep to open his eyes a moment. Through the semi-darkness, Lucius was looking back at him, his face devoid of all expression.

He closed his eyes again and drifted off to sleep, a warm summer's sky reflected in beautiful eyes his last, confusing, thought.

~fin

† From Adonais, verse LI, by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The un-butchered lines read: 'Of tears and gall. From the world's bitter wind / Seek shelter in the shadow of the tomb.'

(Loose) Translations:

Protegere – Shield another person(s)

Incarcerous omnia – Capture everything

Silencio totus – All silent