In Certain Instances
Dusk was settling maternally over the cozy encampment. Crickets chirped merrily and the little fire crackled. Already, the moon glowed in the sky and a few stars were waking over the mountainside. The pup tent in the center of the clearing wobbled precariously, and a man emerged.
He straightened and breathed deeply the cool night air, tossed his long, white-blonde locks over his shoulder. Any average onlooker would have thought a shampoo commercial was being filmed.
But this man was hardly average. And he would be highly offended were a muggle to approach him about starring in a shampoo commercial.
This man – wizard – was Lucius Malfoy. And he was on a very important mission.
He was digging in an enchanted chest near the tent when a crackle in the brush caused him to whirl. His long, heavy cloak whisked about his ankles, and he drew his wand from it smoothly.
"It's only me." Another wizard stepped from behind a cluster of shrubbery.
"Ah." Lucius stowed his wand. "Severus." He went back to searching the trunk. "See anything?"
His companion was perhaps an inch taller, but definitely darker. Darker in a quite literal sense. He was head to toe covered in soft black wool, and as severe as his name suggested. His sinuous pitch robes flowed about his lithe form and sluiced across the ground after him like liquid night, affording him a generous measure of grace and intimidation.
But for now, he huffed sullenly and flopped onto a wide stump beside the fire. "Not a damned thing," he groused.
"Hmph." The elegant blonde Malfoy wand-tapped a folded lounge chair across from Severus. It opened up at his command and Lucius comported himself neatly into it. Then, he wand-tapped the jar in his hand. The lid popped open obediently. "Hungry?" He proffered the jar.
Severus regarded it balefully. "What is that?"
Snape snorted. "You can't be serious."
Lucius dipped a thin cracker into the dense black eggs before popping the delicacy into his mouth. "I am always serious about food, Severus." He ate another cracker. "Besides, Narcissa never lets me eat out of the jar."
Snape scowled, then slapped his knees and stood. It was his turn to rifle through the trunk. He emerged with a plate. "Fine," he said, approaching Malfoy. "Share."
Lucius chuckled and dumped a hearty helping of caviar onto the plate. Severus took a few crackers and returned to his stump. They ate in silence.
In the distance, an owl hooted forlornly. Somewhere, frogs joined the cricket chorus. The sky darkened. The moon brightened. The stars multiplied. It was a beautiful spring night. Truly peaceful.
The peace was broken by Lucius Malfoy's loudly scraping the nearly emptied caviar container with a silver spoon. When he'd extracted every last ovum, he carelessly tossed the jar over his shoulder. It thunked in the brush and he folded satisfied hands over his belly. "That was rather palatable."
Severus shook his head, finishing his own meal less obnoxiously.
Lucius lazily flicked his wand toward their deceptively tiny tent. A wine bottle sailed out and into his hands. "Well, Sev." He tapped the cork with his wand, and smirked at the tell-tale pop. "I'll say this much. If these…consulates don't show up, we've had a hell of a nice vacation."
Severus quirked a brow. He couldn't argue with that statement. Easter holidays away from Hogwarts' drudgery or the noisy muggle streets at Spinner's End had been relaxing, even if it meant working for the Dark Lord.
They'd been assigned to meet two representatives from a large clan of werewolves. But already two days had passed, and they'd seen neither hide nor hair of a werewolf. So they were to spend one more night before breaking camp empty-handed of werewolves.
Lucius thrust the wine bottle toward Snape. "Come on, then," he said. "Have a drink. This is a fine elven vintage. I've brought along a few."
Severus relented to Malfoys' invitation and unfolded another chair alongside him. They drank directly from the bottle, passing it easily between them. When it was gone, Lucius summoned another. The libation loosened their tongues.
"How is my son?" Malfoy asked.
"How the devil should I know?" Snape snorted.
"I mean in school, you great arse."
"Oh." Severus gestured amorphously in the air. "He's an awful prat. Like you."
"Excellent." Lucius smiled. "His marks?"
"More than adequate. He studies."
Malfoy's brows shot up. "Really? Well, that's good. I never studied."
"Unimaginable," Snape delivered dryly.
Lucius missed the sarcasm. "It's true! I was naturally gifted." Severus laughed aloud – a deep, rich, rare sound. "What?" Malfoy asked, affronted. "I had exemplary marks!"
"Your father paid for your marks." Severus said.
Malfoy didn't deny the accusation. He waved off the comment. "Either way. I was smart enough."
Lucius gave the other wizard a suspicious brow. "Well, we couldn't all go about with our noses in books, you know." He snatched the bottle back from Snape. "And look at you now. Lurking in the shadows like a vampire. Billowing out of nooks and –"
"Billowing?" Severus interrupted.
"Oh, come on." Malfoy groaned. "You know what I mean. You and those puffed up robes. Yes, billowing!"
"Billowing." Severus repeated slowly.
Lucius pointed at him. "You know you're onto something, though. I see the way the ladies react. They're obviously enamored of this billow."
Snape grinned wryly. "You're drunk. Or daft. I haven't decided."
"We're both drunk, you twat." Lucius upended the second empty wine bottle to prove his point, then hurled it over his shoulder. It thunked in the brush.
"That's 'billowing twat,' to you, you tow-headed twig-jiggler."
"Heh. Twig-jiggler." Malfoy sniffed. "You've always been a craftsman with the euphemism." They sighed and settled drunkenly into their chairs. "Look at those stars," he continued gamely. "They're just happy to be alive, aren't they?"
Severus blinked, then looked at the blonde in disbelief. "They're hardly alive, you know."
"Stars. They're dead. Literally. Died hundreds of thousands of years ago. We're just now getting their light here."
"Bollocks." Lucius scoffed. "That's damned muggle sciencey talk."
Snape opened his mouth, then closed it. It wasn't worth arguing… "What time shall we leave tomorrow?"
Malfoy shrugged. "When we wake, I suppose. I'd say we've waited for the curs long enough."
"Right." Severus nodded and closed his eyes. He was quite pleasantly drunk… Suddenly, his eyes snapped open. "Hell. What if they come tonight?"
Lucius' eyes snapped open, too. "Who?"
"Your unfulfilled mistresses," Snape snapped. "The werewolves, you dull dandy."
"Oh." Malfoy pursed his lips thoughtfully. "I suppose we'll offer them wine."
Severus blinked at him. "You're suggesting two drunken wizards offer unpredictable and highly paranoid werewolves extremely potent elven wine and then ask them to offer their services to the Dark Lord's cause of wiping out impure blood?"
Lucius nodded. "I think it's a solid plan."
Snape gaped. "You are insane. Werewolves are not to be trifled with. They're extraordinarily perceptive and impeccable predators." His dark eyes cut to the surrounding trees. "They could be watching us right now."
An owl called hauntingly as Lucius narrowed his own striking grey eyes at the tree line. "You're the highly paranoid one, Severus." His nostrils flared. "Besides, I would smell them a mile away. And I'll have you know I'm offended by that unfulfilled mistresses comment."
"Oh, forgive me." Snape waved a magnanimous hand. "I apologize profusely. I'm certain all of your mistresses are well satisfied."
Malfoy looked remarkably sober. "Do you take me for that type of wizard? Truly?"
Severus grimaced, realizing he'd bitten off more than he could chew. "Of course not, Lucius. It was only a lark. Calm yourself."
"Have you seen my wife?"
Snape sighed. "You know I have."
"Why on Earth would I look elsewhere for sex?"
Snape blushed. "Forget it! It was a…thoughtless comment. I didn't mean to imply you were unfaithful." He looked squarely at Lucius. "I truly apologize."
Malfoy relaxed. "It's alright. I didn't mean to…overreact."
An awkward silence settled over them. Severus fired an Incendio at the dying fire and it flared back to life. Lucius settled even further into his lounge. His elbow pressed against Severus' elbow. They ignored the contact.
"Why haven't you ever married?" Lucius asked hesitantly. "You're wizard enough, I mean. Intelligent. Dark and…broody." He sniffed. "Witches like that sort of thing. You know, my cousin Lycoris – "
Malfoy shifted. His elbow pressed more firmly to Severus'. "I'm only saying." His lips quirked against a smile. "Perhaps someday – when this world is set to rights – you'll be thinking to yourself, 'Self, I certainly am a lonely old duffer. My wrist aches so badly I can't wave my wand, and I've no one to carry on my magical name. I should have billowed down the aisle when I had the chance.' That's what you'll think, Severus. You'll see. And then it shall be too late." Another sniff. "Unless you come across a time-turner. Then perhaps you could – "
"How is this in any way a relevant piece of conversation?"
"It's a curiosity, Severus. I suppose you are a curiosity." Lucius glanced at his compatriot. "You know what they call you, right?"
Snape curled his lip. "If the 'they' you refer to is the nest of devious vipers we call the inner circle, I hardly care what they call me."
"The Priest." Lucius said primly. "They call you The Priest."
Snape grunted. "Better than what they call you."
Malfoy seemed genuinely worried. "What do they call me?"
Severus smirked. "Fancy Pants."
"They do not!" Lucius turned to him abruptly.
"They do! They do." Severus chuckled.
Malfoy sighed and settled back. "Bastards." The side of his hand touched the side of Snape's hand. They ignored this, too. Lucius began to chuckle. "I suppose it is rather funny," he admitted.
"I think so."
They watched a fox slink across the perimeter. The fire popped. Malfoy cleared his throat. "Severus."
"You…you have been with witches, right? I mean…you're not…into wizards, are you?"
Snape bristled. His pinky stroked across the top of Malfoy's pinky when he shifted to face the blonde. "Why the hell would you ask me that?"
Lucius groaned. "Oh, fuck, Severus! Everyone wants to bloody know! And Alecto Carrow said that once she tried – "
"Would you fuck Alecto Carrow?"
"Hell no!" Malfoy grimaced. "Not even with a muggle's cock!"
"Well, there you are!" Snape put a period on the end of that paragraph. "Now with all due respect, change the bloody subject."
They'd moved about so much their lounges had shifted closer together. When Severus settled back again, his shoulder touched Malfoy's shoulder. They ignored this; watched the stars twinkle, listened to the fire crackle.
Snape felt Lucius' eyes fall upon him again, but he didn't meet the gaze. His jaw clenched and he acknowledged fully that his pinky was curled over Malfoy's…
"It wouldn't matter, Severus."
"What?" Barely a whisper.
"I said it wouldn't matter," Lucius reiterated boldly. "If you were a poof, I mean." He shrugged. "I wouldn't care."
Snape swallowed. "Well, thank you for your unconditional devotion." He intended to sneer at his fellow Death Eater, but was caught completely off guard by the vulnerability on the other wizard's shadowed face. "Lucius?" The uncertainty in his own voice was unnerving.
Malfoy didn't look away. "I suppose I could see the attraction…in certain instances."
Severus nodded dumbly, slightly hypnotized by the flickering silver flecks in Lucius' eyes. "In certain instances." Almost challenging, he spread the rest of his fingers over the top of Lucius' hand.
Malfoy raised the stakes by leaning ever so slowly towards Snape. Severus' eyes narrowed. Like a striking snake, he fired his free hand into silky blonde locks and yanked Lucius' lips to his own.
It seemed neither wizard would be outdone – even in matters of homosexual experimentation. This rather dramatic form of one-upsmanship was doubtless an innately Slytherin trait.
Their eyes were closed. They slowed their clumsy, awkward tooth-gnashing to clumsy, awkward kissing, discovering the strangeness of being a man kissing a man for the first time. Lucius made a little sound in his throat, and Severus pulled away.
But they didn't exactly part. Their foreheads nearly touched, and Snape's fingers were still tangled in Malfoy's hair. "Well…" Lucius rasped.
"Well?" Severus' voice was more gravelly than usual, and Lucius shivered.
"I've…I've never – "
"Nor have I."
"I see." Lucius cleared his throat and put his hands on Snape's shoulders. "I'm not certain how to – "
"Let's go to bed," Severus said firmly.
"Ah." Malfoy nodded, nervous. "Right. Bed."
Severus stood and stalked to their tent, his cloak rippling around him like a memory dropped into a pensieve. Lucius watched, then quietly followed Severus through the enchanted tent's heavy flap...
Morning was breaking delicately over the cozy encampment. The numerous mountain birds began to chorus, and a late-foraging fox scampered through the brush to its home. The pup tent in the middle of the clearing was still and somber.
Inside, Lucius Malfoy woke gracefully. His barely slit eyes took in the empty bed across the carpeted room - his own bed. All the pieces fell into place like a charmed child's puzzle. "Oh, gods," he murmured.
"Regrets?" This whispered in his ear from behind.
Lucius ran a hand over his own face, collecting his badly scattered thoughts. Finally: "No. No regrets. Just…"
"Just what?" Severus propped on an elbow to regard his bedmate.
Lucius rolled resignedly onto his back. "Just…what the fuck have we done?"
Snape raised a wry eyebrow. "I'd say we did exactly that."
"Right, right." Malfoy slipped his hands beneath his head. He looked at Severus, then at the tent's vaulted ceiling. "What about you, then? Regrets?"
Snape shrugged. "No. Although I must confess…"
"Confess what?" Lucius was a little worried.
"It wasn't the most pleasurable activity I've ever experienced."
Lucius nodded, biting his lip thoughtfully. "No. No, I agree." He huffed a breath. "Oh, well. Can't say we didn't try."
"What say we have a spot of tea and report back?"
They dressed briskly, speaking very little. Over tea in the crisp morning air, they discussed theories as to why the werewolves hadn't shown. Reaching no satisfactory conclusion, they drew their wands and packed camp into the open trunk. Lucius shrunk the trunk while Snape cancelled their wards.
They made a final sweep of the site, making sure all belongings were secured. "Ready?" Severus asked.
Lucius nodded. "Yes." Then he faltered. "No…wait." Snape patiently regarded him. "I feel…I want to tell you something about…about last night, Severus."
A pause. "What?"
Malfoy squared his jaw. "It isn't easy, but…I have to admit that…while you were…" He gestured vaguely between them. Snape nodded. "Well, honestly? I was thinking of…of Narcissa."
Severus' brows rose, and he grinned. "Oh." He clapped Lucius on the shoulder. "So was I, my friend. So was I." And he apparated with a loud pop, leaving a gaping Lucius Malfoy fuming on the side of a waking mountain.