The Anatomy of a Snowman's Heart
She couldn't remember a December quite so cold as this one. Or nearly so bleak. Even gloved, her hands were frozen through. But she intended to finish this project, and patted a chunk of soft snow into place. She smiled, remembering Draco's boyhood holidays – when he'd been eager to build snowmen alongside her. Now… She sighed. She felt Draco's absence bitterly.
He'd chosen to stay at Hogwarts. To help rebuild, he said. But she knew the truth in her aching heart: that he wanted to avoid seeing his father. And she hardly blamed him. Lucius still wore his family's resentment – and wizarding Britain's resentment – on guilty, sloping shoulders. He mostly milled about the manor barefoot, reading or muttering to himself. Acquitted by Potter's word. Damned by the word of the rest.
She reached into the charmed pocket of her red woolen frock coat and produced two pinecones. They were tied together with a green string. She adjusted them briefly before reaching toward her completed snowman.
She jumped, spun in the snow and nearly lost her balance in the thick, dense fall. "Oh!"
His black clad arms steadied her. "Forgive me. I didn't mean to frighten you."
She shifted her boots in the snow, noticing how she'd become embedded there. "Not at all, Severus. I was lost in thought."
Snape gestured to her snowman. "A fine specimen."
"Thank you." She looked up at his face. His breath was visible in the unrelenting chill.
His own gloved hand reached into the snow sculpture. "You seem to have a bit left here to fill."
"Oh. No." She blushed and looked down at the cones in her hand. "Um… It's for these." He blinked, followed her gaze. His eyes were deeply brown against the grey day. She tucked the cones into the hollow and Severus suddenly saw.
"Ah," he intoned simply. His face softened. Lines smoothed. He looked at the witch who was gathering snow to cover her handiwork. "Why?"
She shrugged as she pressed the snow over the spiny fruits. "Draco and I always gave them 'hearts.' Then when the thaw came, we would plant them."
Snape thought of the numerous impressive firs dotting the Malfoy grounds and wondered how many began as snowman hearts. The gesture shouldn't have surprised him. He'd seen love in this woman; the way she'd once begged for her son's life, comforted her husband despite the Dark Lord's literally looming presence, the way she'd frantically braved battle searching for Draco.
Mother love. Indomitable and undefeatable. A wife's love. Unappreciated and unreciprocated. He scowled. Surviving the war had made him overly emotional. He alternately hated and enjoyed this new ability to empathise.
"How fares my son?"
He shook himself. "He's well. Keeping very busy. He intends to come home for Yule dinner, I believe."
Her smile was beatific and genuine. It took ten years from her face and added an adorable joy. "I'm so glad!"
"I knew you would be." The smile must have been contagious, too. Severus felt it attempting to edge its way onto his unpracticed face. Her pink cheeks and nose may have been contributing, as well. Perhaps it was just the red of her coat and jaunty beret… It was a damned flattering color on the pale princess.
"You're here to see Lucius again?"
He was quiet a moment, staring at her cherry lips. The truth? No. He was far too Slytherin for that. "Yes. Has he…improved?"
"No." She dusted snow from her woolen coat. "But he hasn't worsened. And I suppose that's something."
Severus nodded. "It is a slow process." Standing before her made him suddenly self-conscious. He was very aware of the puckered scar tissue standing out against his jaw. He wished his thick black scarf was even thicker.
She looked to the right, to the white-dusted tree line in the distance. "It's good of you to come."
"I bring the potions."
She swallowed. Her little gloved hands fussed at each other. "You bring more than that, Severus. At least to me."
The last comment was a quiet murmur. But he heard it. And his forehead creased. "Are you alright, Narcissa?" He knew the answer. Day upon day imprisoned in that huge empty house with an equally empty companion. Not to mention Lucius' condition required her care, her attendance. At least Draco had escaped. Plenty of times, Severus had watched the tortured face of this witch's son and thought Lucius would have better served his sentence as a Dementor's date...
Narcissa shook her head and gave a cold sniffle. "I'm well enough. Come along, Severus. I'll make us a hot toddy."
Sounded wonderful. A very light snow flurry had sneaked upon them. He gestured to the manor, offered her his arm. "Lead the way, madame."
Her head ducked on a shy smile when she took the proffered arm. Then, "Oh!" She tugged the arm oddly. Severus looked down to see her pulling a long green thread from his black woolen sleeve. She held it up between them. "It must have come from the snowman's heart," she whispered.
The string blurred until it disappeared. It seemed all he could focus on was her precious face. The trouble on her brow. The purse of her bow-shaped lips. Her wide eyes sliding to his. "Will he need it?"
"Er..." She blinked several times. A fleck of snow settled on long dark lashes. They reached toward the chilly offense at once, wrists awkwardly clashing. "Ah!" She smiled. Let him reach for her cheek. Her eyes fluttered closed.
The snow crunched beneath his dragonhide boots. He wanted to remove his glove. To touch her bare skin with his own. To feel the moth soft eye against the pad of his thumb. But he resisted that humiliating temptation. Wiped the icy crystal away briskly if gently.
Her eyes flashed open again and he realized the hand holding a green thread was pressed to his chest. The other touched her cheek when he withdrew. "Thank you." She spoke softly. Only the snow - and he - could have heard her.
She was so very small... He wondered at the feel of her in that moment. Her petite frame folding in his arms. Her pliant curves pressing to his hard planes. This new desire frightened him. And rightly so.
At that moment, she tensed. Her hands left him swiftly, scared as doves. He followed her gaze over his own shoulder, behind them. Framed by an enormous picture window overlooking a patio was Lucius Malfoy. His lip curled. Eyes flashed silver. His hair could not be differentiated from the swirling snow...
"We should go." And she stepped around him. No more her arm curled within his.
Feeling both slightly chastised and strangely bereft, Severus followed her.
The manor doors closed with a resounding finality. The clamor echoed throughout the empty foyer. Narcissa flashed her wand, casting a drying charm on her attire and shedding her boots for the elf to collect. She seemed chastised as well, reluctant to meet his eyes now. "Please make yourself at home, Severus. I'll send Mim in with drinks. You know where to find my husband, I believe."
And that was all that was spoken on the matter. He watched her pad barefoot to the stairs and up out of sight. Alone, he gathered himself and set off down the corridor to the solarium.
Lucius Malfoy still stood at the window. He stared out at the falling white with a fixed scowl and didn't turn when Severus knocked politely upon the open door. "Do come in, old friend."
Snape felt the heavy warming charms pressing on his shoulders. He removed his gloves as he approached the sullen wizard. "Lucius. How are you?"
"You know how I am." Still he didn't turn. Didn't blink. Although his left eye did twitch slightly. "What have you brought today? The miracle that will turn me back into a handsome prince? Or shall I be a frog for all eternity?" He spoke this way often now, in allegory, riddles or obscure reference. "There's no princess to kiss me, you know." A bitter chuckle.
Severus paused in withdrawing a potion bottle from his frock coat. He looked cautiously to the Malfoy man. "Lucius -"
"She needn't flaunt it in my face," he hissed. He whirled from the window at last. Cast bloodshot eyes upon Snape. "And you needn't feel special. Don't think you are her only knight in woolen armor. I hear them at night." He gestured with a skeletal hand to the firmament. "Under my own roof. My wife!"
"Calm yourself." Severus spoke solemnly. "Don't be ridiculous."
"But I am ridiculous!" Lucius lashed out suddenly, swept a vase of roses from the table. Severus snatched the potion there quickly, rescuing it from the other's wrath. "How ridiculous is a wizard with no wand? I'm the champion of the mediocre! Of the failures! The king of their lot!" He twirled, laughing. Dropped into a nearby wingback chair. It rocked backward but Lucius didn't seem at all fazed by the upset. He went on ranting.
"And if I am their king, Severus...you must be...their hero."
"Yes! The hero come to save the townspeople from the lunatic monarch! It is in all the books, Snape. Are you daft?"
Severus sighed. It was a bad day. He pulled an ottoman to within a few feet of Lucius and sat facing the man. He'd learned quickly not to produce his wand. Such an action would lead to a complete breakdown in Lucius' remaining faculties. "Perhaps I am daft." He gestured to Lucius' feet. "But at least my socks match."
"Hm?" The blonde unbrushed head dipped. "Oh. Yes." He snorted laughter. "Well. These are my kingly robes, Severus." He plucked at the stained lapel of his worn smoking jacket. "You've arrived on an auspicious day."
Snape smirked. This was actually Lucius approaching a semblance of sense. He brandished the potion. "This is more of the calming draught. Nothing new. You should be due for a refill?"
Lucius' face worked maniacally as he stared at the potion bottle. "Meh." He flicked his wrist at it. "I'll give it to the birds."
Severus grew...severe. "No, you shan't. Not again." This sigh was one of frustration. "I won't have you wasting another full day's work on those bloody peacocks. Besides, you killed two of them when you fed them this."
Suddenly, Lucius' face quivered. His lips shook. "I know. I know! Marianne and Clem! Gods rest their souls..."
Footsteps saved Severus from further drivel and both men looked up to see Narcissa entering with a tray. Her expression read 'steeled and determined.' "Gentlemen."
"There she is!" Lucius pointed and Severus winced. "My lovely queen. Queen of the lost causes!"
She fussed over the tea, smiled patiently as a nurse at her husband. "Nonsense, Lucius. You are improving every day."
"Improving what?" Malfoy groused. "No wand. A useless cock. What exactly do you see improving, my darling?"
"Don't be crude." Narcissa handed Severus a cup and saucer. "Is that calming draught, Severus? How thoughtful." She took the bottle. Popped the cork. Poured it into a cup. Handed the cup to Lucius. "Mind your manners before our guests, darling."
"You're a frozen cunt," Lucius said matter of factly. "And this arse is hardly a guest. In fact, bugger off, Snape. No one wants you here." He lifted the cup to his lips.
Severus lifted a hand. It was a rather large dose... But Narcissa's hand stopped his own, pressed a biscuit into his raised fingers. "These are delightful, Severus," she growled pointedly. "Do put one in your mouth."
"Of course." Snape shoved in the whole biscuit.
"I'm going to the Ministry of Magic tomorrow." Lucius sipped his tea. "I'm going to shove a fish in my arsehole and go to the Ministry of Magic." He sipped again. "I'm going to request an audience with the Minister with a fish shoved in my arsehole." Sipped. "And do you know what I'm going to tell him?"
"What, darling?" Narcissa lifted a serviette from the tea tray. Her velvet skirt rustled against Severus' wool as she brushed past him, approaching her husband.
"I'm going to tell him -" But Lucius spoke no further. His head snapped forward very suddenly and tea poured from his lax lips. Narcissa was quick with the serviette and pressed it to her husband's mouth, catching the mess as though practiced.
"Gods above, Narcissa," Severus breathed. "He'll be out for days on that dose."
"Good." She pressed her husband's head none too gently backward till it lolled over his shoulder. He was drooling. She sighed. "Don't you dare judge me."
Snape raised his hands in surrender. "Not at all." He withheld a smirk, in fact. "I imagine it grows...tiresome."
"You've no idea," she mumbled. Silence settled. They let it rest. Narcissa seemed to relish it for a moment. "Severus?"
"Have you to return to Hogwarts soon?"
He cleared his throat. "No... My tasks there are complete for the day." He felt rather nervous of a sudden. Not quite sure why.
"Excellent." She looked down at him squarely. "Would you come to bed with me?"
"I believe you heard me."
Yes, he'd heard her quite clearly. He simply didn't believe what he'd heard. His eyes slipped to Lucius, snoring in his chair. Then back to Narcissa whose expression of determination had not wavered. Had she gone round the bend, as well? "Er..."
"He'll be out for at least several hours." She held out a hand. "Please, Severus. I'm not asking for another Unbreakable Vow. Just a shag."
His chin rose. He couldn't say no. Wouldn't really. Not in a million years. He took her hand and she grinned, tugged him up from the ottoman, toward the door, tripping into the hallway. "Come," she said breathlessly. "East wing. It's warmer."
They scampered across the first floor to another stairway. Their feet pattered on the stairs and then - too quickly for second thoughts - she was pushing him against a slammed guest room door and climbing him like a tree.
The kiss was molten. Her curves were more than he could have imagined. Hips beneath his hands. Breasts against his chest. He squeezed and she squealed in his mouth. The sensation was...amazing. And was she undressing him? A chill crept across his chest. Yes, she was undressing him. "Mm." He pulled from her lips. There was too much light in this room. She simply couldn't see him. "Narcissa -"
But she was working open his trousers. "I don't care," she said. Her voice shook with excitement. "I don't care about scars or Dark Marks or any of that. I simply can't be arsed." She pulled his head back down, sucked his bottom lip. Bit it. He surged against her and they staggered backward toward a bed. "You could have a fucking third nipple, Severus. I only care that it's you."
"Me?" She twirled them and he landed gracelessly on an over-thick mattress. He sank at least a foot into it.
She began shedding her own frock impatiently. "Yes, you." She spoke while she undressed, briskly ignoring Severus' curiously groping and touching hands. "All these months you've come here. Dead and alive just like me. Frozen like those snowmen." A shoe attempted to elude her. He steadied her so she could jerk it off and send it flying across the room. Naked, she slapped her wand onto the side table and clambered atop his lap. "Let's melt, Severus."
And there was no question they would melt. For she was hot as fire in his arms and moving with the same speed. He could hardly keep up with her caresses. Hands and arms everywhere. It was like snogging the Hindu goddess Kali. Her eagerness was a dizzying drug.
Her mouth on his neck - over his scar - brought him close to the searing edge of reason. He grunted. "Cissa."
"Severus." She answered, attempting to push him onto his back.
He resisted, attempting to meet her eyes with his own. "Narcissa."
"What?" She snapped. Downy fur brushed his pained erection and he felt wetness.
"Gods," he muttered. "Never mind!" He flipped them both. Pressed her into the swallowing down and she gasped pleasure. He kissed his way down her body. Worshiped her breasts, belly and thighs. She plucked at his hair and bucked like a pixie in first heat.
"Severus, please! Don't tease me! Not now!"
But he tasted her anyway. She didn't complain. Besides, he needed a moment to process her 'not now.' She was like spiced cider. 'Not now' implied there would be a 'next time.' A 'later.' An 'again.' He stroked her, sampled her readiness. It had been an embarrassingly long time since he'd done this, and the minx had him teetering on a brink already.
"Now!" A sharp tug on his hair brought him lunging up her body, into a firm embrace of arms and legs.
He was wholly unprepared for the tightness of her, the heat and the bliss enveloping him. "Oh, sweet Merlin. Bless me." He vomited words into the crook of her neck and shoulder.
She vomited right back. "Severus! So good! Oh, my love!" (And he filed that one away for later, too.) She undulated against him, met his own hip rolls. He couldn't exactly thrust. She held him so close to her body even their sweat was claustrophobic.
But the end was near. He lacked the stamina he'd had in his youth, and he'd had no prep time. He cradled her head in desperate hands, pressed his forehead to hers. Let her read the dilemma in his eyes.
"Oh, hell yes," she growled. The voice was unearthly. Her body snapped taut and his simply had to follow. Then there was a vice grip on his cock, and waves of something the Dark Lord knew not rippled between them, sparked their magic.
The sound he made was ridiculously humiliating. He would have experienced shame if he wasn't experiencing Nirvana. But when the guttural groan one emits when death comes hurtling like a juggernaut at one's face abated, there was just their breathing. Heavy. Fast but slowing.
Then a soft, contented sigh.
He mustered his strength and looked down at the witch. She smiled up at him. "Lovely." Her voice was hoarse.
"I concur." His was even more hoarse.
"Will you be my lover?"
She was certainly a bold thing. But then, Narcissa had ever been pragmatic. And she'd never shied away from asking for exactly what she wanted. He barely considered. The prospect of regularly experiencing this activity with this woman was...fucking fantastic. "I will."
She grinned. "Perfect."
He rolled off of her. Onto his side. Brought her along. "I suppose I shall have to brew more calming draught."
Her fingers dallied in his scattering of chest hair. "Or something stronger."
"Mm." A lassitude wrapped round his bones.
She must have sensed it. "Let's rest for a bit."
"A bit?" He worried.
There was a bustle as she freed the duvet and arranged pillows behind their heads. "Yes. A bit." Tucked in, she snuggled against his side. "Then...we'll go again."
"Of course we will." She felt nice fitting like a puzzle piece within his ribs. Odd, considering she might be the death of him...
It was well into evening before he departed. Lucius was still asleep in his chair. Severus paused outside the solarium, nodded to the wizard inside. "I worry. He's getting worse. If he should -"
But Narcissa pressed her fingers to his mouth. "Don't worry. I've a wand. He doesn't. Simple as that."
He nodded. She spoke truth. "I'll return in a day or two."
"Please do." A secret smile peaked her lips and he kissed them. He apparated back to Hogwarts and into yet another light snow flurry. He took a deep breath and looked up at the recovering castle he called home. It was beautiful in the winter...
If Draco Malfoy was surprised to find Severus Snape building a snowman in the little used courtyard, he didn't show it. "Headmaster." He nodded to the older wizard.
"Mr. Malfoy." Severus stood back from his rather...deformed creation. He gestured to it.
Draco nodded. Slipped his hands into his cloak pockets. "It's um... It's good, sir."
"No, really!" A smile crept onto the youth's face. "It looks fine. I mean...except for..."
"Except for what?" Severus snapped.
"Well, there's a big bloody hole in it there!" Draco pointed.
"Of course there bloody is!" Severus wrestled in his own cloak pocket. Withdrew the two pine cones tied with a green thread. Wordlessly, he shoved them toward the Malfoy.
Draco took the odd parcel slowly, almost reverently. "How did you..." But Severus was looking at the snowman and offering no explanations. Draco tucked the precious objects inside the snowy cavern. Glanced at the stern headmaster, then bent to retrieve a lump of soft white filler.
The creation now complete, they regarded it. "Thank you, sir." He was quiet. The plume of his breath attested to his speech.
Severus nodded. "Leaving for the holiday, aren't you?"
"Yes. On my way now."
"Good. Your mother misses you."
"I know. I miss her too." Unspoken things. Draco looked sideways at Snape. "Perhaps we'll see you for Yule dinner?"
"Perhaps." This meant 'of course.'
Draco nodded. Tipped his hat. "Until then, sir."
Severus watched him go. Listened to the sound of his footfalls crunching in the snow. When Draco was out of sight, he looked back to their snowman. He thought of the heart inside it, tied with green thread. He stretched his neck inside the thick black scarf and headed back inside the warm castle.
His footfalls crunched in the snow...
AN: A late Yule gift for zeshadesofjustice. I hope you enjoyed it, gentle one.