The owl arrives just past midnight, hooting urgently and shifting back and forth on the high window sill of his dungeon room. He quickly rises from his desk, his quill dribbling ink on parchment, the book he was using closing with a soft thud. Reaching for the owl, he unties the scroll and silently reads the small, elegantly written words.
So few, so little said, but he's learned to read between the lines. Heart racing with sudden dread, he summons his wand, his cloak, wraps the latter around himself and leaves the school.
At the gates, he apparates, drawn to her side.
She broke the wards for him years ago, but he is careful, not wanting to set off any alarms. Making his way through the silent house like a shrouded wraith, he listens for any sign that the master of the house remains. A silent spell wafts through the hundred rooms, and finally, finding his nemesis gone, he opens a door on the first floor.
The room is dark, lit only by the embers of a fire in the hearth. The smell of burning wood is mingled with other scents. Her familiar and enticing perfume. The rich, lingering scent of brandy.
But also, a hint of blood.
And the musk of sex.
He sees her sitting in a chair before the fire, feet tucked up beneath her simple white gown, curled like a child. She looks beaten, and he knows, when she'll finally let him tend her, that he'll find welts and bruises on her luscious body.
Anger floods him, but he buries it. It will do her no good to hear his rants and threats and promises. Tied to his oath to the Order he cannot kill her husband.
Not yet. Not until his secret is revealed, the truth of his allegiance made known.
Then, he will face him on the field of battle and utterly destroy him for her sake.
Tightly gripping his control, he goes to her, drops to one knee beside her, gazes up into her pale, tear-streaked face with devotion shining in his eyes. One slender, shaking hand brushes the hair from his cheek, and then she falls into his arms, weeping.
He embraces her carefully, not wanting to hurt her more, but needing to touch her, to know she's alive, that she loves him.
Her kiss is sweet, then suddenly carnal, and as her hands run feverishly through his hair and down his back, she murmurs over and over, "You came."
"How could I not?" is the only reply he can muster before scooping her into his arms and carrying her to the bed. There he will heal her and then make love to her, and they will, for the moment, forget her brutish husband, the bonds tying them to lies, a bleak and uncertain future. For the moment, they will be simply two lovers. They will not wish for more.
A/N: Severus and Narcissa (and, yes, I know there's all of a paragraph written canonically about her, but I've taken her for my own *g*)
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