A gift for the lovely petulantpoet who recently gifted me. I simply adore gifts and I do believe in reciprocation. Do check out her subtle prose. My blatherings do not compare. But we work with what we know, right? Also, this is a pairing I've only toyed with in the past. As much as I love it, it doesn't flow as easily for me as deviance and incest does. Hmmm... Well-rounded opinions are appreciated.

The Danger and Delicacy of Unintentional Legilimency

In Theory

Healer Mingey (an unfortunate agnomen if Severus had ever heard one) had a very solid theory explaining his patient's condition; and said patient (a paradoxical nomenclature of the highest degree, in this case) was listening to said theory with practically scowling ears.

"So you see, Master Snape (this in a high, nasal drone), I believe that because you were transmitting your memories through legilimency to Mr. Potter at the moment you succumbed to coma, your brain has become trapped in that open legilimencial connection." The diminutive physician shoved overly large spectacles up his oily nose. "You understand?"

Severus' lip curled. "Indeed, I understand, Healer Mingey." He dearly wished his voice was as strong and certain as it once was. "And I congratulate you on your astounding ability to diagnose the obvious." (What had Minerva said? Oh, yes. "Be nice." Snape forgot.) He crossed his right leg over his left. The leather chair creaked. "However. I was under the impression physicians were in the practice of solving their patients' problems. You have simply reduced mine to terminology any moron could understand."

Mingey gulped. Snape raised a brow and paused elegantly. "Do you have a solution? Or have you spent these last days since my visit toiling over the most dunderheaded approach to regurgitating that which we already know?"

Mingey sighed. Pinched the bridge of his oily nose. Nudged the first spare streak of his comb-over. "Master Snape. I hate to point out that we're still not even certain how you survived Nagini's attack, sir, much less why you can't shut off your legilimency now. We hope that a working theory will help us begin to cure your ailment."

Severus rose abruptly to his full 6'2". He towered over Mingey's desk. "I see," he snapped. "So I am to continue to suffer debilitating headaches and endless images in the minds of all whom I encounter?" He leaned on Mingey's desk. "What a positively delightful existence. Is it any wonder I would have preferred death?"

He swirled away from the healer's gaping maw, strode (fiercely) to the office door. Hand upon the latch, he cast over his shoulder: "Perhaps were you not so…preoccupied by your lovely wife's extramarital escapades, you would be one. Step. Closer. To being remotely useful to me."

Snape billowed out of St. Mungo's.

He apparated to Hogwarts. It wasn't home anymore, but it was his second home. Minerva had generously (and guiltily, perhaps) allowed him use of his old lab to continue some potions research. In the months following his recovery, and Potter's Gryffindorishly overdramatized appeal for Severus' innocence (as it were), the Ministry of Magic had remembered (in a rare moment of clarity) that Snape was rather a genius with a cauldron. They'd given him a generous pension, a truly generous research grant, and thoroughly swept him underneath the rug.

And that was fine by Snape.

In Poppy's office, he sunk tiredly into another creaky leather chair. He rubbed his temples while she tutted over him and tea. Nice, really, to be tutted over… Poppy massaged his tense shoulders briskly, pressed a headache potion into his palm – his latest creation, actually. It worked quickly, but left a lingering euphoria.

He loved the euphoria. Loved Poppy, too.

She prepared his tea and commiserated. "Well, Severus, it's just proof positive that the title 'Magical Mentality Specialist' does not denote a person of specially magical mentality."

He sipped his tea. Perfect. "No, Poppy. It does not."

She settled into the creaky leather chair beside his. "I know you're disappointed just the same." He grunted. She hummed. "Well, in the meantime we've got your brilliant headache brew." He nodded sullenly. "And you know to avoid eye contact as much as possible." An even more sullen nod. She patted his knee. He would not have allowed such a gesture from any other living soul. "I still think this may pass, Severus. We've seen it recede a time or two. And I certainly won't condescend to you by reiterating my pet theory."

"Thank you, Poppy." She was his favorite kind of physician. How and why a malady occurred fell second to what she could do to treat it. And she'd noticed a spectacular pattern in Severus' condition.

In the five years now following the war, Severus had experienced a few minor…setbacks. Well, to be fair they'd been more like petrifying nervous breakdowns. He simply couldn't bear to socialize, for one. Being constantly bombarded with terrifying battle recollections or saddening memories of loss every time he met a pair of eyes was emotionally impossible. He'd thought the condition his albatross - his punishment for oh so many wrongs.

Add to that his own guilt, the nightmares, the often threatening public opinion toward his continuing to draw breath and one ended up with a large sum of crying, crawling, drunken stuporing, blackouting and (at its worst) suicide attempting.

And it had been Poppy through it all. "Look away, love," she'd murmur, cradling his sweaty, vomit-streaked head. "You'll only cry to see how I fear for you." So he'd cry anyway while she rocked him like a babe. Truly embarrassing.

But always following the breakdowns were blissful legilimency-free days. Poppy believed, and probably rightly, that expressing his emotions – however destructive they were – alleviated his condition. But he couldn't very well go about daily life a blithering mess of weep, could he? Hardly acceptable. Far simpler to hermit himself away in the lab or at Spinner's End. To look away when anyone spoke to him. Awkward, but simpler.

And the headaches? Well, euphoria and minor hallucinations were preferable over headaches any day. All in all, he felt he dealt with it okay. He just wasn't…okay.

"What do you intend to do about the ball?" Poppy asked.

He groaned. Covered his face with his hands. "Ohhh, bugger my face and arse, Poppy. You can't seriously expect me to attend?" He looked at her sharply, grimaced at the image his words had conjured, and quickly looked away.

"Sorry," Poppy mumbled. "I'm just worried suspicion might arise if you don't make an appearance. And we've talked about how you must handle social events."

Again, she was right. Already there was wild speculation as to his disappearance from the public eye. It ranged from still pining over Lily Evans to experimenting with resurrection spells to vampirism. His favorite was that he had indeed died, and was some other Death Eater polyjuiced as himself. He grinned at that one. Always did…

"I think you should go," she continued softly. "At least for a moment."

She spoke of the upcoming five-year Victory Over Voldemort Ball the Ministry intended to host. As both a major participant (he couldn't bring himself to think 'hero') in the war and a higher-up employee of the Ministry, he'd been most formally and cordially invited. Hell, the guest invitations were printed in the bloody Daily Prophet. Half the wizarding world would be there, none of which he wanted to see, let alone read their damned minds.

But still. He sighed heavily. "I'm fucked."

Another knee pat. "You'll be fine, love. Keep your potion handy. Avoid long gazes. Take frequent breaks for air."

He dropped his face back into his hands. "Definitely fucked."

Having a Ball!

Deep breaths. He took four of them. The crisp November air felt good in his lungs, bracing. So he braced himself, and strode past the two elves at the doors.

"A gala event!" The Prophet had proclaimed. And it was that. The Ministry's main thoroughfare glistened with enchanted décor. Around their new statuary – a witch and wizard holding aloft an olive branch – a thirty-piece orchestra played a spirited waltz. They were already bloody dancing. His head began to ache.

"Severus Snape!" Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister of Magic himself, approached with wide arms. Severus tensed, looked at the bridge of the other man's nose, and was hugged. "I was afraid you wouldn't come."

"I wouldn't miss this, Minister." Liar! No. Slytherin! Better.

Accidental eye contact brought a quick image of Dumbledore's memorial service. Severus winced.

"Of course you remember Hermione Granger Weasley?" Kingsley was ushering the Gryffindor know-it-all toward him.

"But of course." He shook the young woman's hand. "May I offer my late congratulations on your happy nuptials, Mrs. Weasley?"

She blushed. Bushy hair swayed. "Thank you, Master Snape. It's…wonderful to see you looking well, sir." She sounded genuine. A brush of a glance and they were in his old potions classroom; a very young, very snickering Draco Malfoy, and himself sneering, 'I see no difference.'

He blinked. Felt like a monster. Voice even weaker, he managed, "You look more than well, yourself, Mrs. Weasley. That is a very becoming frock."

Her mouth gaped. Harry Potter approached, smiling. 'Absolutely not,' Snape thought. He focused on the smile and barely followed the platitudes exchanged. His head was pounding. He sought escape and found it. In the distance, a side door opened onto a tented patio. Solace? Excusing himself from a growing crowd, he navigated the edge of the crowded dance floor. He nodded at Weasleys, Lovegoods, Longbottom and Filius Flitwick. All were smiles to him – the eyes he avoided.

The patio was large and twinkling with fairy lights. It was sparsely populated with unrecognizable couples and cliques converging upon tables that sported elaborate centerpieces. He made his way to a shadowed corner, hidden behind a spray of flowers, and leaned upon the iron railing.

Discreetly, he sipped the potion in his pocket. He breathed. The ache abated. Euphoria set in. The lights really were lovely… Minutes passed. He felt better. He could do this. He would go back in. Chat with a few honored guests. Make a nice photo for the Prophet with Minerva. That would please her immeasurably.

"Severus?" Some sweet voice behind him. He turned…and smiled – a true and unpracticed smile, albeit small – at Narcissa Malfoy.

Of course it would be Narcissa Malfoy. Scandal couldn't defeat the witch just as the Dark Lord couldn't. And she'd suffered both of those plagues in scores. After Lucius was sentenced to Azkaban, she'd divorced him. For weeks, the Prophet had blared headlines of her ditching her husband in shame, how she'd taken everything, refused to even visit him. Rumors of French lovers and secret Gringott's accounts, how she'd bought her son's freedom with exorbitant bribes.

Bollocks all of it, he knew. She'd been nearly as reclusive these last years as he had.

Merlin, help him… She looked good. Breathtaking. Avoiding eye contact wasn't difficult at all when all he could focus on was a slip of creamy leg peeking from a modest slit in red velvet. Rivulets of pure platinum silk spilled over enticingly bare porcelain shoulders. His headache gave way to a much lower and far more primal ache in his groin. And that was certainly interesting…

"I apologize," she said. "I saw you inside and followed. But you wish to be alone."

He looked at her mouth, the glossy sculpted lips. "No," he whispered. Cleared his throat.

Her mouth smiled. "Good! I'm very happy to see you." Her hand was reaching out. He took it – not in a shake, but…just holding it. Her fingers were chilly. "It's been so terribly long," she continued. "I must say, you look wonderful."

"You as well, Narcissa." His gaze rested safely on her trim, Patrician nose.

She slid a little slip closer to him and her lips quirked. "In fact," she purred, "I want to call you quite devilishly handsome."

Oh, bloody hell. The steely eyes he remembered from years before were actually quite soft – a muted grey and glinting in the fairy lights. And it may have been a mistake looking at those eyes, but he'd simply had to.

In them, the patio was empty save for them. Her chilly fingers were unbuttoning his frock coat, tugging at the cotton shirt beneath it. His hands were in her hair, tilting her head back. He was kissing her glossy lips. She was moaning in his mouth, gasping as he devoured her neck…

"Severus?"

Shite! Gods! She was speaking. He nearly groaned. "What?" From where did that volume suddenly arise? Look back to her nose. Quickly!

"I asked if you'd care for champagne?"

Champagne? "Yes," he answered too swiftly. How the hell was she even composed? He shook his head. Must be the potion…

"Shall we go back inside?" She asked. "Draco is here with Astoria. I'm certain he would like to see you."

"Of course." He cleared his throat and offered his arm. She took it coyly.

"You're warm." Her voice was honey.

He was burning up, actually, and all too aware of a straining erection. Hopefully, his frock coat would hide it. He hadn't suffered this particular embarrassment for quite some time. It was a welcome vexation.

Inside, Narcissa guided them toward a small table near the back. He saw Draco there, looking quite fit, and his lovely young wife looking quite pregnant.

Severus looked down at Cissa's fingers on his arm, thinking of them on his buttons. Unfortunately, they were detained my Arthur and Molly Weasley, looking quite ginger. "Master Snape!" Arthur cried. "Mistress Malfoy! Lovely to see you both!"

Snape imagined just how lovely it was, but Narcissa was thankfully a social butterfly. "Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. We are all so fortunate to be here this evening. And I congratulate you on your upcoming grandchild."

Molly beamed at this. "Thank you so much. We should do the same for you!"

Arthur was grasping Severus' hand, saying something or other. But Snape had met the man's eyes and was distracted by a fascinated dissection of a muggle hemorrhoid suppository. All he could do was nod and resist laughter.

Narcissa pulled them away. "Are you alright?" She asked.

"Yes," he answered. Get it together, man!

"You took Arthur's vampire joke rather well."

"Oh." So that's why Molly had been picturing his mouth on Minerva's neck. He'd wondered. He grinned and glanced down at the top of Narcissa's head. Only it wasn't her head. She was looking up at him.

Blast! His mouth was somewhere else entirely in her mind. And she was decadently wanton with the pleasure it was giving her, curling fingers in his hair and hissing deliciously salacious encouragements.

Severus looked up abruptly, stymied and painfully aroused, into the eyes of Draco Malfoy and an entirely different image.

In it, Narcissa was crying, seated in the Malfoy library. Draco was handing her a tissue. "Let them talk, mother," he was saying. "Let the Daily Prophet go to hell. We all know the truth…"

A gentle touch to his shoulder brought him back to the present. "Severus?" She was so quiet.

He grasped Draco's awkwardly hanging hand. "Draco. I'm glad to see you."

Draco smiled relief. "It's good to see you, too, Master Snape." He gestured to his right. "You'll remember Astoria Greengrass? Now Malfoy?" The relieved smile grew proud.

The young woman was pregnant, pretty and pale. She was tired, thinking of her bed. Severus gave her an abbreviated bow. "Congratulations, Mrs. Malfoy. I hope you are well?"

"Very well, Master Snape," she replied. "A bit tired."

Draco looked to Narcissa. "Mother, I'm going to take Astoria home to rest. Shall I come back and collect you?"

"Stay with your wife, son," Narcissa admonished. "She needs you. I will be fine, I assure you."

Draco's forehead creased. "I don't want you apparating back to that empty manor alone," he whispered. He looked at Severus. An image of Snape gallantly seeing Narcissa into a dimly lit Malfoy Manor entry hall. "Perhaps Master Snape would escort you?"

"Draco!" A blushing Cissa scolded. "I can see myself home adequately, son."

It was the potion talking when Severus spoke up. "Your son is right, Narcissa." He looked at her. The image was very quick, very strong; Narcissa pressed breathless against the ornate doors of her home, dress hiked sloppily around her waist, legs hiked firmly around Severus' waist, fumbling with his trousers, arching against his fingers, sticky wet heat under his touch and then the satisfyingly violent banging of their bodies against unforgiving mahogany. He didn't look away. "It would be my pleasure," he rasped.

She flushed gorgeously. "Very well, then. Thank you, Severus."

After an exchange of hugs with Narcissa and final handshakes with Snape, Draco and Astoria departed gracefully. Severus sipped a little potion while Cissa watched her son leave. He felt infinitely more at ease with a sumptuous curl of desire tickling his belly. When Narcissa sat beside him, she offered him a flute of sparkling gold.

She met his eyes almost shyly over a toast. He saw the two of them nude, upright and coiled like mating snakes, a tangle of arms and limbs as she undulated on his lap. Her bed? Probably. Piled high with lush silver pillows and a thick duvet.

He cleared his throat. "To peace."

"To freedom," she added.

"Cheers." Just over her shoulder, he saw a hat approaching, tall and stiffly pointed. Red and gold brocade. Minerva McGonagall.

"Severus Snape!" The Hogwarts matron sang out. She towed a young man with a camera in her stead. 'Fantastic,' Snape thought (only ninety percent sarcastically). He and Narcissa rose respectfully.

"Headmistress." He bowed.

She tisked. "Balderdash. At Hogwarts you call me Minnie to irritate me. All this formality's striped your brain." She looked to Narcissa. "Mrs. Malfoy. Excellent to see you. And in by far the finest frock of the evening. Wouldn't you agree, Severus?"

She had to be in the cups. Snape smirked in reply. Minerva caught his eye on purpose.

"Why, Headmistress," Cissa was saying. "You have been reading Salazar Slytherin's book of flattery." She smiled warmly at the older witch.

"Nonsense." Minerva was still looking at Snape. "I'm a brash old Gryffindor through and through. Just ask Parvati Patil over there. I told her she looked like a Knockturn Alley reject and to change before she embarrassed herself further." Over Cissa's laughter, Minerva raised a brow at Severus. The image she forged was of him unhooking the back of the Malfoy witch's recently flattered frock. "Leaving soon, Severus?"

He coughed, and boldly laid a hand upon Narcissa's back. Minerva's other brow raised. "I shall be escorting Mistress Malfoy back to her home when she is ready to depart, Minerva."

"I see," McGonagall delivered dryly.

Narcissa looked at him askance. But even her half-gaze had him taking her from behind, sliding his hands from her flaring hips up her sweat-slicked back. He shifted uncomfortably.

"Well," Minerva said. "I was hoping to have a photo with you, Severus, if it isn't too much to ask."

"It is."

"And you, Mrs. Malfoy!" Minerva ignored him, taking Narcissa's hands.

"I'm afraid my presence in your photo would…scandalize your fine reputation, Headmistress." Narcissa whispered. "But I am honored by the offer."

"Pish." McGonagall shoved the blonde against Severus' left side and tucked herself into his right. "I've never had a scandal. Sounds fun." She gestured to the cameraman. "Smile!"

A series of bright flashes even after Minerva stepped away. "Thank you, Severus. I do hope you weren't scowling. And Mrs. Malfoy? Thank you for the scandal." She winked. "Have a lovely evening." She shuffled off, no doubt to find other victims.

"Well, that was unexpected." Narcissa was still pressed rather snugly in the crook of his arm. "But delightful."

"Always." Severus looked at Narcissa. She blinked up at him. More kissing, biting his earlobe, whispering something as he peeled a strapless corset from her full breasts. He glanced over her head to the main doors and nearly moaned aloud. Gods help him if her breasts truly looked like that…

"Severus?"

"Hm?"

"I believe I've had my fill of socializing for one evening. If you don't mind seeing me home?"

She was blushing. How pretty. He focused on her cheeks. "Not at all. Shall we?" Again she took his arm.

Their departure was swift. He met few curious glances on the way out, treated to images of Ronald Weasley asking his wife to inspect an angry boil on his arse, Ginevra potter inelegantly disposing of a burnt roast and (most disturbingly) Neville Longbottom tied to a chair while a leather-clad Luna Lovegood smacked his thighs with a riding crop. That last one almost gave him pause, but the witch's fingers stroking his elbow spurred him on.

Company

They apparated smoothly to Malfoy Manor's imposing front gate. Torches there flared at their mistress' presence. She noticed his appreciation. "I was tired of the darkness," she said softly. "My son will be pleased to know my wards appear undisturbed. You needn't feel obligated to stay, Severus. But I would…enjoy your company. Immensely. Could I offer you tea?" She looked up at him.

She imagined giving him far more than tea; one of his legs hooked lazily over the arm of a wingback chair, his hand stroked her hair as her mouth stroked his cock. He seemed to be immensely enjoying her company, too.

He gestured to her gates. "Lead on, Mistress." He remembered well the lengthy walk from her manor gate to the doors. He'd walked, stalked or run it plenty of times, but it had never felt quite this interminable.

The witch was nervous. He didn't require legilimency to know that. Confident as she was in her fantasies, being confronted by the possible reality of fantasy was an entirely different creature. And it was also possible she didn't want him at all – that the idea of having him was a pleasant amusement during an otherwise boring or dreadful event. How many times had he entertained the odd fantasy of a first year student bursting into flames? Didn't necessarily mean he wanted such a thing to happen in reality – at least not by his own hand.

He watched her hand wave over the door's elaborate latch and suddenly understood. Perhaps the witch desired him, yes, but she was still Narcissa Malfoy, a pureblood aristocrat born and bred into ages old restrictions of tradition. She was hardly going to seduce a wizard, though it was fairly obvious she could if she tried. And Severus was also fairly certain the only man she'd ever known in any intimate sense was her now ex-husband.

Perhaps she'd chosen Severus because she knew him – dare he say 'trusted' him? Was it easier for a witch to have intense sexual fantasies about a wizard who'd given her an Unbreakable Vow? Maybe so.

In the warm foyer, she took his cloak, sent it flying to a high peg. She hung her own cloak on a carved snake coat rack. "So." She laughed nervously as she sled him past the stairs and into the drawing room. "Shall I call for tea? Or would you prefer something stronger?"

She was wand-lighting the fragrant cedar in the fireplace. When she straightened, he was right behind her. She gasped and froze when his hands cupped her cool bare shoulders. He needed to know before he made a terrible mistake. "Narcissa," he whispered just above her ear. Her breath quickened like a frightened rabbit's. "Please, look at me."

It happened so fast he could barely keep up. She turned, yes, but her arms were around his neck, she was on her toes, and her lips were on his before he could even make eye contact.

It was rather a shock, but as his tension relaxed so did hers. Soon, they melted together naturally, falling into the in-and-out breathing pattern necessary for long-term kissing. And it must have been a while since the witch had been kissed because she didn't seem to be letting up in the slightest. But when her tongue met his, Severus' knees weakened. He pulled away, bottom lip snagged in her teeth. He groaned. Closed his eyes. Pressed his forehead to hers and held her face wonderingly in his hands.

"Do you not want me, Severus?" Her whisper was warm on his face. "I would understand if – "

His thumbs silenced her lips. "I want you, Narcissa. I want to be certain you want the same."

In answer, her hands pulled his from her face. She said nothing, stared at their hands, and tugged him backwards into the hallway. Finally, she turned, leading him to the staircase, up the steep stone incline.

Her second floor bedroom was not what he'd expected. He doubted she'd ever shared this particular room with her husband. The walls were a deep burgundy and a plush Turkish rug warmed the dark wood beneath them. Indeed, her bed was outfitted in lush silver silk, plied with pillows – not a bed for sleeping alone.

But there was a newness to all this – from her décor to her nervous fingers working his fine woolen buttons. The witch had been lonely. He was well acquainted with the feeling.

A fire burned behind her. Its backlight caught and glistened in the floss of her hair. Realizing how still he'd been, he slid his fingers into that floss, tilted her head back and again kissed her. No rush. He plucked her bottom lip between his, sucked it as he'd seen in her imaginings. She whimpered. Her fingers were at his forearms, deftly loosing those buttons and when they were free, she slid her hands to his shoulders.

Severus lowered his arms, allowing her to push his coat to the rug. Her little puffs of breath on his face were quite sweet, revealing her well-hidden eagerness. Hungrily, he gathered her to him and plundered her mouth.

Narcissa's body was nudging him toward her bed. He sat when his knees hit its edge, breaking their connection. Her lips were swollen and red. She was focused on his shirt, quick with the buttons on it. She stood between his legs, close enough for him to slide a hand into her dress slit and up, pushing the heavy velvet over a smooth thigh.

She gasped at the contact. He soothed with a kiss to her belly. "Soft," he whispered. His fingertips fussed with an edging of lace beneath her buttock and she shoved his shirt from his shoulders. She was beginning to climb onto his lap when he rose abruptly and turned her.

The fastenings of her dress were simple hooks and eyes, baring a modest grey corset. The knickers were lace, but practical – not the lingerie of a witch planning a seduction. She turned again before he could begin to contemplate the corset.

"Gods," she murmured, exploring his chest and the hard planes of his belly. She didn't avoid his hideous scar, he noted, but only gently touched it.

He was not so gentle with her corset. The tiny hooks in front were a menace to masculine fingers desperate to caress breasts. Narcissa's fingers too over. "Easy," she said, a small smile on her face. "Like this." Her palms pushed the contraption's edges close and Severus watched several hooks release at once.

"Brilliant," he chuffed, sitting again. She hadn't even dropped the attire before his hands and mouth were on her. "Perfect," he breathed around a knotted nipple.

He kissed his way across her chest, all the while cupping and squeezing. Cissa squirmed under his ministrations, fisting his thick pitch hair. "Please, Severus," she moaned as he worshipped the underside of her left breast.

"Mm." Still slowly, he skimmed the lacy knickers over her hips and down. He looked at them pooled around her ankles, saw her legs cross just slightly. She was modest, completely nude before him. She relaxed a little when he kissed her pelvic bone, allowed him to maneuver a leg between her own. Awkwardly toeing off his shoes, he slipped curious fingers over and into the thatch of white blonde curls at her apex.

She hissed and latched onto his shoulders. "Severus!"

She was so wet, so ready. Had she been thus all night? He stood, flipped the witch onto the bed, and stripped off his trousers. She sat up, reaching for him, and they lay back together, both sighing when full stretches of bare skin met.

One of her legs slid up to his hip. He steadied her face in his hands for a moment, arms beneath her shoulders. Her eyes, now dark with lust, were barely slits. But in them he was fucking her slowly, her legs seeming impossibly high hooked over his shoulders. He couldn't contain a grin. Quite nice, knowing exactly what would please her.

His thumb stroked the edge of her lips and quite deliberately, she bit it, then sucked to soothe. "I want you, Severus," she admitted breathlessly. "I didn't know before, but I do…"

He kissed her, thrust his tongue aggressively into her mouth. She returned the gesture, whining eagerly when he shifted her legs per her unspoken desires. He had worried there would be some awkwardness, but he was wrong. They joined as if their bodies were programmed to do so.

Her head tossed. "Oh, gods!"

"Sshh." Severus stilled, tried to breathe, tried to ignore the swell and pulse in his balls. "You feel so good," he groaned into her neck. She responded with tight, catching gasps when he began slowly and longly thrusting.

"Merlin, Severus." She kissed him sloppily. "Perfect…"

If he'd been able to elocute beyond monosyllabic proclamations of lust, Snape might have agreed with her. As it was, he felt abandoned to the sweat on her thighs slicking his chest, the way her breasts shoved together between their bodies, her nails pleasantly scraping up his back and her cunt's tightening clutch on his cock.

Her keening supplications directly in his ear were forming a terrible threat to his stamina. He hazarded a strained glance in her now wide eyes and saw her atop him looking as victorious as a Valkyrie. Gorgeous. "Damn, witch." He muttered, clutched her and rolled to his back.

Her little cry of surprise morphed into a guttural growl of appreciation. "Fuck, yes," she rasped, fingers slipping down her belly.

He watched her touch herself, calculating the hitching of her breath and tensing of her musculature. A few seconds and she came hard, her face the peculiar contortion only pleasure's victim wears – hating and loving their tormentor in the same instance.

'Thank Merlin,' Snape thought. He closed his eyes and gripped her hips harder, needing a faster pace.

From above, she leveled an almost lazy gaze on his face. Perhaps it was her turn to read his mind because she reached casually over his shoulder and arranged some pillows against the headboard. Severus took the opportunity to nuzzle her breasts. She kissed his sweaty head. "Now," she murmured, tugging him up and over til her pressed her into the pillows. "Your turn." Her thighs spread further, rested atop his own. "As hard as you like." She whispered in his ear. "Just kiss me during."

He groaned. Done. His mouth opened over hers and he greedily drank her grunts and cries as he fucked her, doubling, tripling the taut ache in his groin until he had to give in to the blissful spillage… He remembered a time when acquaintances had called this witch 'icy' and 'cold.' How little they'd known.

His eyeballs throbbed. Every muscle burned from such exercise after such dormancy. His heart pounded in answer to the heart pounding beneath him and he rolled again to his back, bringing the witch with him. They were quiet while they caught their breath and collected their thoughts.

The perspiration thick on their bodies cooled until Narcissa shivered. Severus maneuvered them awkwardly under her duvet. Her fingers spread on his chest. "Will you stay?" she asked quietly.

Did she really want him to? He tilted her chin up to meet her eyes, to gauge her true desires, and found…nothing.

He blinked. Stared harder into her silvery blues. Nothing save for a growing worry. "You don't have to," she said quickly.

"I would like to," he answered.

Then relief flooded her features. "I hoped you would." She shifted. "Excuse me?" He let her go. She gathered a sheet around herself and headed for the lavatory.

Severus stared at the elaborately tiled ceiling. There'd been nothing! He'd met her eyes with every intention of reading her thoughts and… Well. He smiled, folded his hands beneath his head. Can't wait to tell Poppy about this cure. His lips pursed. Wonder how long it will last? He looked over at the naked witch climbing back onto the bed, a seductive smile on her lovely lips. Who gives a damn.

Headliners

Draco Malfoy folded his Daily Prophet and pulled it closer to his face. "Godric's gizzard," he groused.

"What is it, darling?" Astoria asked gently. She poured his tea.

"Bloody gossips," he answered, casting the paper to the table before her. "Look at that!"

The images on the society page smiled, waved, danced and mingled happily. Accompanying blurbs spoke of the best dressed, the worst dressed, the newly married, the newly divorced and the most surprising couples. One couple in particular garnered a three-picture spread and a bold tagline reading "Malfoy Witch's Latest Lover!"

"Oh, dear…" Astoria touched the paper, then her lips. "She'll be dreadfully upset." Her eyes tracked the images of Narcissa and Snape at the Ministry ball toasting, tucking and leave-taking together.

Draco was already rising from the breakfast table. "Yes, I imagine she will be. I'm going to check on her." Astoria nodded and smiled. "You'll floo immediately if you need anything?"

"Draco! We've nearly two months to go! Go visit your mum and give me some peace!"

He winced and kissed her cheek. "Yes, dear!"

The manor was quiet when Draco stepped from the floo. He headed purposefully past the drawing room to the solarium. There was his mother's tea, no doubt left by the elf. The Prophet lay beside the tray. His forehead creased. Her tea appeared untouched, but if she'd seen those pictures in the Prophet first…

He tried the library, expecting to find her angrily scribing a parchment to the paper. But she wasn't there either. Surely she wasn't still in bed. His mother was a notoriously early riser.

He headed up the stone steps to the second floor and the room she'd taken as her own. The door was cracked, so he peeked in. "Mum?"

Indeed, she was in her bed, but she didn't stir at her name. And she wasn't alone. Draco did a doubletake. 'No bloody way,' he thought. He gaped like a fish, then threw himself against the wall beside her door. He clapped a hand over his mouth, stifling too many reactions to express at once.

He was astounded, mainly – over several pertinent facts. 1. His mother was in bed with Snape. 2. The Daily Prophet was right for once. 3. His mother was in bed with Snape!

As quietly as possible, he sneaked back down the hall. He couldn't wait to tell his wife…