White Roses Beneath Snow

by KC

Disclaimer: I don't own none of this.
Pairings: Lucius/Severus and Lucius/Narcissa/Severus
Other Info: Although this takes place years before Oath Breaker I, around the time of Draco's birth, you don't need to read that to understand this one.
Summary: Severus has been hurt badly in his life. Narcissa fulfills an arranged marriage barely knowing her new husband. Both claimed by Lucius, Severus and Narcissa work out their places in the Malfoy family and with each other.

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Prologue

Only his practice with Lucius saved his life. From their duels, Severus recognized the sound of a curse speeding through the air and lunged, and the bricks in the corner of Spinner's End exploded instead of his head. As he turned, spotting his would-be assassin on the other side of the street, he realized his error. He'd been walking before, a moving target, but his charm couldn't deflect a spell sent right at him.

He leaped as the next spell flew towards him, drawing his wand as he fell. A green colored spell blasted the wall above him, and another was following on its heels. Severus leaped forward and cast sectumsempra in the man's general direction, knowing he wouldn't hit but hoping he might drive him back and buy himself a few seconds.

The front door was open. He ducked inside, slamming it shut, but he still felt exposed. Most of the furniture had been sold or burned, too stained with blood to be cleaned, and the curtains had been stripped from the windows, leaving them bare. Sunlight streamed in, and he was all too aware that he was surrounded by little more than glass and old stone.

The house shook. He stumbled into a wall, grabbing the staircase railing for support and running up to the second floor. As he reached the top, the door rumbled in its frame and smashed in, followed by a red curse that blasted the top steps as he cleared them.

Severus turned into the nearest room, his old bedroom. His duffel bag sat on the bare mattress. In a few minutes, he was supposed to meet with Lucius, to move in as his personal potions master. Lucius had assured him it was a traditional role, a patron hiring the services of a master much like an artist or a poet, and a role that Abraxas would know and accept.

Now Severus wondered if Lucius hadn't overestimated his father's embracing of tradition.

"No use running, mudblood! I'll scatter you from here to London!"

Severus raised his wand. How easy it would be to panic, to lose himself in his wild heartbeat and mispronounce the spell. His pursuer came up the stairs, pounding his feet on each step. If Lucius hadn't spent so much time teaching him to duel, he would have waited for the assassin to come through the door and hoped to beat him to the spell. Instead Lucius taught him to turn, to aim through the cheap drywall as if it wasn't there, and cast.

Calm, steady, Severus cast sectumsempra.

The wall cracked and burst outward, followed by a shriek cut off short. Blood splashed the far wall and the ceiling. Dust flew up like white paint in water, slowly settling again and revealing the body.

For a moment, Severus couldn't look away from the corpse cut perfectly in half. Intestines pooled on the stairs. The eyes gazed in eternal surprise at nothing, mouth frozen in a scream.

His first thought was to run far away and never return, not for his own safety but for Lucius. The son of a wealthy pureblood would be better off without a mudblood stone around his neck. The thought of Lucius was what convinced him to stay, though, to stay and immediately apparate to his manor. Abraxas thought nothing of hiring out Severus' death, and he didn't know what punishment might be in store for a wayward heir.

He left his bag behind. He'd only been to the manor once, but he'd gazed at it from the village below many times. It was beautiful, built more like a castle than a house, made of dark gray stone and white columns, surrounded by carefully tended gardens and an iron black fence that kept everyone away.

Lucius had called it dour. Severus thought it looked like paradise, secure, safe and strong.

He apparated not at the front gate but at the side where the trees hid his presence. The fence provided a challenge, being long and tall without ornate decoration to provide a foothold, but he'd been scaling privacy fences for years, trespassing on vast estates to poach the wild berries and toadstools the owners didn't even know they had.

Once he was over, he dropped to the grass and crept along the edge of the fence where the shadows were deep, cast by willows and thick bushes. Were there alarms spelled to go off? He didn't hear anything. The only sound was of birds singing and a cicada singing in the garden. When he neared the back of the house, however, he heard something that he didn't recognize. A whistling, a crack in rapid succession, which repeated over and over.

Someone was near. He had to creep painfully close to see through the bushes without revealing himself. Two voices mingled in the air, one that kept time with the whistling, one that cried out in time with each crack.

Severus saw his lover beneath the balcony, wrists bound to the column. His robe had been torn open and his white linen shirt ripped and stained red by the whip lashing his back. Abraxas threw his entire body into each swing, cursing his worthless heir for cavorting with a mudblood. Lucius tried to grit his teeth and hold back any sound, but his body reeled with each strike.

Only a few days had passed since graduation from Hogwarts, since Severus watched his mother die and killed his father in revenge. Less time since Lucius had found him hiding from aurors, shivering and in shock, promising a home. For days the world seemed like it was spinning violently beneath him and responded in a rage.

His crucio spell flew across the vast lawn, striking Abraxas in the back. As the man went down, shocked silent, Severus came closer, focused on a second crucio spell. Abraxas arched in pain, unable to move.

"Severus..." Lucius mumbled, hanging sickly against the column.

Severus didn't hear him. He cast a third crucio. He wanted the bastard to feel pain, to drown in it, to dig down into the earth and bury himself in an attempt to escape. Could someone rip themselves apart trying to get away from the curse? He would find out.

"Sev!"

At the harsh tone, Severus dropped his wand. He couldn't help it. His mother had scolded him constantly, reaffirming her confidence every time Tobias Snape hurt her, and his father only ever yelled at him. Yielding was simply a conditioned response.

"Severus," Lucius said again, fighting not to scream. "Untie me and give me your wand."

Flinching at the steel in his lover's voice, Severus sliced the ropes apart and handed over his wand.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, unable to meet his eyes. "I thought..."

Lucius put his arm over his shoulders, leaning heavily on him. Severus nearly buckled and had to react fast before they both toppled.

"No apologies," Lucius said softly, and now Severus heard his voice trembling. "You did right. But if you kept going, he'd go insane."

He focused on his father, aiming his wand deliberately at his hateful glare.

"And I want him to feel everything that's going to happen."

TBC...