A/N: Love to reviewers
And my dear Countess Black. She's always patient with even my craziest schemes.
The Death Eaters demanded equal time in terms of drabbles, so consider these companion pieces to 'Sunshine.'
Nasturtium means, among other things, 'Victory in Battle; Maternal Love; Charity' according to my sources.
"And you maintain Dumbledore asked you to do it?"
"To protect Draco Malfoy? "
"What would impel you to obey? Surely the younger Malfoy knew what he was doing when he took the Mark?"
Snape tilts his head and stares at the idiot in front of him. "Do you presume to suggest it was possible for him to deny the Dark Lord, knowing the consequences of disobedience would be his father and mother's deaths?"
"And your affection for the aforesaid Draco Malfoy led you to murder on his behalf?"
Snape shakes his head and gropes for his handkerchief, feeling his fingers brush the small piece of velum in his pocket. "Draco is my godson."
"The court is aware. Would you like to explain how one led to the other?"
"No." Likely he can't, anyway.
Snape relaxed into the chair and sipped his claret. Across from him, Lucius Malfoy was expounding on his belief that the new innovations that the Germans were making in broom technology would revolutionize Quidditch.
"That man—is it Muller?—with the ultra-light staves, he's the right idea. "
Snape nodded. "Yes, but you know how the European League is about these things." Lucius sipped his own wine and sighed pensively, wondering whether his plans to import the brooms to Britain were doomed to failure.
"Bagman seems to think it will go through."
"Bagman also thinks he's subtle in his taste for sport." Both men laughed a little, recalling the many snide jokes about Ludo Bagman's love of gambling. The door opened and a little blond head appeared, followed by the rest of Draco, clutching a stuffed animal for dear life.
"Hello, Draco. Did you have a good nap?"
"Ys' Father. Bas'l and me 'r' hidn from Tibby."
"Basil and I, love. Why are you hiding?"
Draco grinned. "Playn Peek."
Lucius suppressed a smile. "Does Tibby know you're playing Peek, Draco?"
"No." Draco toddled over to Snape and studied him seriously. " 'nape."
"Yes, I am Severus Snape." Draco nodded as though agreeing with this and lifted his arms. "Up!"
Snape looked helplessly at Malfoy, who smirked. Damned git, stranding him with the toddler, who was giving him a sad look. "Up pl'ze?"
"Very well." He lifted the little fellow, who felt a little like a cauldron, he thought; light at first, then heavy, but a good weight all the same. Once settled on his lap, Draco held the dragon against himself and chattered steadily to it, occasionally punctuating his remarks with a stern "No-no, Bas'l' or a kiss on the dragon's plush head.
After a few moments an elf appeared, looking around worriedly for her charge. "Is Master seeing young Master?"
Lucius huffed and gestured to his son, who, giggling, had buried his face in Snape's robes, curling into a ball. Snape instinctively put an arm about the boy to steady him, and was rewarded with a loudly whispered "Shhh, playn Peek, 'Nape. Don't move."
Tibby's face lit up. "Master isn't seeing young Master?"
"Indeed, no. Perhaps you should check the dungeons."
Tibby nodded gravely. "If Tibby is seeing young Master, Tibby is telling him there is being a snack waiting in the nursery." Draco sat up with a gasp. "Apple 'n'honey?"
Tibby nodded. "Yes. But only if Tibby is finding young Master."
Draco squirmed to get down. "Here I am!" Tibby's face lit up with pleasure. "Should we be going and getting young Master's snack?"
"Yes yes yes! Bye Father, bye 'Nape."
"We've been abandoned for fruit, Malfoy."
"Fruit and honey, actually." The men laughed and chatted about other things until the door opened and Draco streaked back in, holding two chunks of blue apple in one hand and the dragon in another. Putting Basil against the closest wall, he ran to Lucius and proffered a piece of fruit.
"Share?" Lucius took it from his son's rather grimy little hand and obediently ate it. "Thank you, Draco. You shared very nicely."
"Oh, that was Basil's part?"
Draco nodded, glowering. "Wouldn't eat."
"Dear me. Where is he now?"
Draco pointed seriously, looking as Lucius like as anyone could. "Corner."
"For how long?"
Draco considered. "Hours 'n'hours."
Snape raised an eyebrow. "Commentary?"
"Probably. On Narcissa, would you say?" Draco made his way to Snape and gave him the other slice of apple. Snape stared at it and Draco said helpfully "Eat. Share apple."
Snape hesitated. "Thank you, Draco, but…"
Draco turned to Lucius. "Father?"
Lucius gave his old friend a mock-stern look. "I'd do it. He's shown a willingness to make examples. Wouldn't want to join poor Basil."
Snape ate the apple. Draco nodded, satisfied, and motioned to be picked up again. Snape obliged, and within a few moments the boy was cuddling into his chest. "Father? Bas'l?" Looking slightly sheepish, Lucius summoned the toy and handed it to his son.
"Bas'l!" Draco took his little friend and set the dragon in his own tiny lap. "Be good now?" He shook a finger at the toy, and cocked his head as though listening. "All right, then Take rest." Basil apparently obeyed, because Draco, looking satisfied, snuggled into his godfather and shut his eyes.
Shoes clacked across the marble floor and Narcissa stepped into the room, face glowing with pleasure. "Severus, how good to see you again."
"Likewise, madam. I seem to have something of yours."
Narcissa chuckled and picked her son up. "I'm going to go and see my flowers, Draco. Would you like to come?"
Draco bounced with glee. "Yes! See Ridgey! Garner elf!" He wiggled to climb down. "Mother! Big boy! Wanna walk!"
"You certainly are a big boy, and I'm sure Ridgey will be thrilled to see us."
Draco walked back to Snape and solemnly handed him the stuffed dragon. "You watch Bas'l? He scare Ridgey. Ridgey garner elf." Snape nodded, pretending to understand, and took the slightly sticky toy from his godson.
"If you like."
"Quite an honour, Severus. Even I am rarely called to watch Basil." Lucius couldn't help but feel pleased by the way Draco had taken to Snape. It boded well, and Hogwarts was coming sooner than anyone might have liked.
They settled in once more, until the two adventurers came back, Draco chattering excitedly about seeing the ducks. He'd found a blossom to show Basil to make up for leaving him with a minder. He opened his palm and explained what Ridgey had said about the flower, which was a naa-terr-sh'n.
The adults watched him, charmed, until Draco stopped and listened gravely for a few moments. He thrust his hand out and dropped the flower into Snape's lap. "Bas'l say you have."
"Oh. Thank you."
"Bas'l like you."
Draco beamed. " I like you. I love you."
Snape felt his world contract just a little. "I…thank you."
Draco waved. "Bye!" He ran to follow Mother, leaving the adults to their own devices.
Lucius said nothing, but noticed Snape had quietly tucked the flower into the pocket of his robes.
" I said 'Have you any further remarks?'"
Snape shakes his head and fingers the pocket where the fragile nasturtium lays sealed carefully to a sturdy square of thick parchment. " Flowers need shadow as well as sun to thrive."
"I have no further remarks at this time."
The questioner nods. "Very well."