Pairings: Lucius/Severus, implied Lucius/Narcissa
Summary: Lucius finds out that he will be a father... What should have been a happy occasion leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to JK Rowling, no copyright infringement is intended. I play with them, without permission, in my head and for fun; not earning money from sharing it. No real people were harmed in the writing of this story.
Archive: Sure, but please ask first?
A/N: Written for Starkiller's 'The Battlefields HP Quote Challenge'. For the quote: One evening I sat Beauty upon my knee - and I found her bitter - And I reviled her. (Arthur Rimbaud, 'A Season in Hell.')

A Bitter Taste

By LdyBastet


She stood by the window and the setting sun painted rose reflections in her hair. The light also gave her pale skin a light flush, as if there was life, lust, and passion underneath the marble, and indeed there was a change in her. Proud and straight, she looked at her husband of two months. A small smile played on her lips, a smile that turned the corners of the lush mouth up in an imitation of joy.

"I'm pregnant," she said, and triumph spread its gleam over her and made her eyes shine. "I will bear you an heir."

"An heir would be a son; can you tell me this is a boy already?"

"Don't underestimate me," she said haughtily, accusing him of something he had never thought of doing. "You will have your son; I don't intend to do this more than once."

"It's that kind of attitude that is the cause of the decrease of our numbers," he said, quietly wondering who this woman standing before him was. Her demeanour seemed changed only since the previous day, and an impostor had surely taken her place.

"I don't care. It's not my task to populate the world." A touch of childishness at the core.

"I see." He nodded and smiled faintly.

"Are you happy?" She looked expectantly at him. "Your father promised me a reward if I bore you a son."

"I am well pleased, yes..." But it was not entirely true; he had not known about this part of the marriage arrangement -- that his father had bargained and drawn up a contract with this woman, that his father had thought him incapable of inspiring the will to bear children in the woman he married. (Woman? She acted like a small girl still.) The taste of this knowledge was bitter on his tongue, a foul flavour that would follow him through the years, he suspected. "A reward you say? Then why don't you speak with him, then, since it was he who bought you?"

The words that were formed by his tongue carried with them the taste, sent it back to her.

"I will..." She looked less than pleased, despite her achievement. "But I want something from you as well." She tipped her chin up in defiance. "I want my own rooms; I need peace and quiet now."

So soon the sweet days of newlyweds turned to business transactions and demands... as if he had ever gone further than she wanted, as if she needed to keep him at bay. No, it was nothing but an excuse. But if the warmth and fondness had been nothing but an act, was it not better to put distance between them? For if such bitter emotions had built their nest inside her, would he want to risk being slowly polluted by it? Or perhaps she would poison him swiftly? He didn't want a bitter life, but a life of pleasures and success, a life with a companion.

"You shall have them, because I believe it's for the best. But I will hear nothing from you from now on about whom I take to my bed, not a word or a rumour." So be it, and better he banish her from his bed than she him.

"You're mine!" Anger stole the classic beauty of renown and replaced it with a cheap imitation, like a piece of art being expertly copied yet still lacking in the spirit and subtle glow that makes the beauty alive rather than flat.

"No." Chill crept into his voice. "You are mine, because my father bought you for me, and you have not yet fulfilled your part of the contract." She had no retort to this, and how could she, being faced with the truth? His grey eyes lingered for a moment on her abdomen; the child that was his.

"You will have a more noble name than Black, more wealth than the noble House of Black, and your own rooms to count that wealth in. But you would do well to remember that I have the power to take it all away from you, and let the world know that you sold yourself and your body, when what you wanted could have been yours for free."

Lucius found a pale satisfaction in the look on her face, and rose from the bed he had thought was theirs. "I will arrange for your new bed chamber to be ready within a few days." He knew exactly which rooms to give her -- they were cold and dreary, and in another wing of the house. He buttoned his robes and took his wand into his hand. "Until then, I will be in Diagon Alley."

"With whom?"

"That, my dear, is no longer any of your concern, but for your peace of mind," or rather, to make her feel the consequences of the separation she had requested, "I will let you know that I intend to spend the next few days and nights in Severus' company."

Narcissa sneered, attempting to strike back with poisonous fangs. "He can't bear you an heir!"

"No, he cannot, and therefore I know that he has not been paid to share my bed or my passions. And he will never ask for separate bedrooms." The fangs missed their target, and he tore them loose and threw them back at her. He was better at this game then she.

A moment of movement, then the brittle statue of Love's goddess shattered on the floor, and Lucius calmly watched as Aphrodite's head found a resting place under a chair.

"I expect that to be restored to its original condition before I return." Lucius gave Narcissa a curt nod and left the room. The disappointment he felt was hidden under a layer of cold politeness, and the betrayal he would not think of until he had left the mansion. That his wife was deceptive he could bear -- he could control her through the simple use of the twain tools: reward and punishment -- but his father's contempt and low thoughts of him and his abilities cut deeply.

When Severus Snape stepped into the room that Lucius had rented (not a simple room of an inn, but a luxurious one in one of the finer buildings) Lucius raised his glass in greeting.

"Lucius." Severus nodded and took off his cloak.

"I will have a son."

"And this is how you celebrate?" Severus looked at the bottle with its shimmering green contents.

"My father bought him for me," Lucius said as he carefully poured a trickle of water over two perfect cubes of sugar and down into the glass. They both watched the emerald swirls pale and dim, and then Lucius said, quietly, "She wants her own rooms now."

"The Blacks always were opportunists."

"Only the recent generation, Severus." Lucius handed him the glass as Severus sat down next to him.

They sipped their drinks in shared silence, letting thoughts carry them away, perhaps aided by the soft stirring of fairy wings.

"I find more loyalty in you than in my own family," Lucius commented.

"And yet I have neither pure nor noble blood." Smoothly, with a single, raised eyebrow arching.

Lucius laughed. "You're a Prince. That's good enough for me." He took the empty glass from Severus' hand and put them both down on the small table, then turned back to pull Severus close, whispering softly, "My prince."

He kissed Severus gently, claimed the lips that he had tasted so often, yet never tired of; lips that were soft and pliant, giving in a way that the man's words would never let anyone guess. As sharp and reviling as the young man's tongue could be, for Lucius it was the opposite, and both men moaned as they succumbed to the pleasure of the deepening kiss and lay back on the soft bed with its lush fabrics and protective canopy.

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