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There are certain things a person such as yourself must know, Lucius had told him, years ago, as they’d sat together in the corner of the Library, if they want to succeed in polite society. He’d been thirteen at the time: filled with repressed rage and unappreciative of Lucius’ posh tone. Such as myself? he remembers repeating, words dripping disdain even as his accent had thickened, anger overtaking control as he’d told Lucius exactly where he and his unsolicited advice could go.

They’d moved past that, eventually. Five years on, Severus finds himself almost grateful for the careful guidance: never quite so overt, these days, but still there. It’s been increasingly helpful as the circle he keeps continues to grow; shifts towards the right people.

Still. When Lucius had brought it up again, he hadn’t quite expected this. Whatever this is.

“More wine?”

It’s Lucius who offers, the bottle in question hovering to the left of Severus; half-empty already. He eyes it, knows he shouldn’t. He can already feel the effects of what alcohol he has consumed: not enough to ruin his judgement completely, but enough to weaken his control. Lessen the grip he has on his impulses.

He accepts anyway, and the bottle tips with a lazy flick of Lucius’ wand, a deep red liquid filling Severus’ glass. He takes sip, holds the delicate crystal in one hand – has been taught, already, on the etiquette expected when handling items of such expense – and looks to the couple in front of him.

Narcissa sits on Lucius’ lap, long, blonde hair falling behind her shoulders and a thin, pale, hand holding the stem of a wineglass. She’s dressed in a robe Severus has never seen before. Different to what she’d been wearing earlier. Plain black and almost flimsy, tight where it hugs her body. A low V cuts down her chest, offers a glimpse of a lace bralette: the deep emerald appearing almost black against soft, creamy skin. It opens high on her thigh, reveals the span of a long leg: toned and tight. Lucius’ hand rests above it, curled over the flesh, each of his fingers adorned in evidence of wealth, the jewellery ranging from simple silver to colourful gems.

Severus watches the light reflect off the edge of a ring. Watches Lucius’ thumb gently massage pale skin. Watches the way fabric ripples as Narcissa shifts, laughs, leans into her fiancés chest. He does not look at where the slit starts. Does not acknowledge the garter belt, the expensive lace that covers her legs. Does not trail his gaze up, over the slim waist, the delicate shoulders, the ample breast.

Or, at least, he tries not to.

He takes another sip of wine to wet his rapidly drying throat. Flicks through all the possible reasons Lucius had kept him back after the other guests had left, of what it is they want from him. He comes up blank. Or rather, he can’t conjure anything that requires Narcissa to sit half-naked in Lucius’ lap while Severus sits and watches.  

“Severus,” Narcissa says softly, and Severus’ head snaps up. Black meeting blue as he takes in her face: subtly painted, as if to look natural—meant to accentuate the beauty that’s already there. Her mouth is different, though. Lips coloured a darker red; curled at the corners as she looks him over. “No need to look so frightened, darling,” she tells him, and Severus’ body reacts to the endearment in a way he hadn’t expected; cheeks hot and stomach clenching. “We don’t bite.”

A huff, then. Deep and warm: Lucius’ idea of a genuine laugh. “Well,” he says, trailing off, and it’s obvious what’s implied. That quiet, not unless you want us to. It pulls a laugh from Narcissa: soft and sweet, her slim fingers reaching for Lucius’ chin, the tip of a nail scratching over light stubble, so fair it can hardly be seen.

“I think,” Narcissa says, then, leaning into Lucius’ side, her chin tilted so painted lips can graze his cheek, “it’s time we put him out of his misery, don’t you? You’ve already had your fun.”

Severus’ eyebrow arches at that; brain scrambling to put the pieces together. But they don’t fit. He’s missing something—some vital piece of the puzzle, and from the expressions on their faces, they both know it. Are enjoying watching him trying to figure it out.

Narcissa turns back to him, part of her robe falling open in the process. Severus swallows as half of her chest is exposed, holds his breath as Lucius’ hand slips beneath the fabric and hikes it up further, fingers disappearing out of sight. He exhales slowly, carefully, tries not to think of his growing arousal as he looks to Narcissa’s face.  

“You’ve never been with a woman before, have you, Severus?” she says, something mischievous in those blue eyes. It should stir embarrassment, Severus thinks, but it doesn’t. There’s only shock, surprise. A dulled spike of intrigue.  

“I…”

“Of course, we know about your dalliances with Evan Rosier,” Lucius adds, a note of approval in his tone. Severus feels his face heat, no longer able to blame the pink flush on the alcohol.  

Narcissa hums, still smiling. “And Regulus, as word has it.”

Severus stares. They have him on Evan, but Regulus is another matter entirely. Not so much flirtation as it is petty revenge; a way to piss off Black’s idiot older brother. “That’s—different,” is what he manages to get out. Short and stilted.

Lucius perks at that. He pulls away from Narcissa momentarily, gives Severus the full force of his gaze. “Sex as an act of manipulation?” he asks, and the note of approval is back again. Thick and undeniable. He follows it with a softer murmur, attention returning to the woman in his lap. “Perhaps we don’t have much to teach him, hm?”

“Teach me?” The question is out before he can stop it, but he doesn’t need either of them to offer an answer. It’s already forming inside his head: the clues, innuendo and behaviour, Lucius’ words coming together. Certain things you must know. Sex as an act of manipulation. “Oh,” he says dumbly, and Lucius chuckles again as his mouth returns to Narcissa’s neck: the tip of his tongue trailing over the marks his teeth leave. Severus watches his arm adjust, Narcissa’s robe opened further, and then—

A moan, soft and breathy. Narcissa’s body moving as she presses against Lucius’ hand. Severus puts his wine aside and Narcissa follows; uses her hands to untie her robe completely. The fabric falls way, off her shoulders. Reveals her body clad in lacy lingerie. Better than even the glimpses would suggest.  

“You can’t always rely on your intellect,” Lucius tells him, and he’s using that voice. His lecture voice. The same one he’d used when he’d explained the difference between a salad fork and a fish fork. He meets Severus’ eye; continues, “Occasionally, you’ll need a certain…” His finger slides beneath the wet fabric of Narcissa’s underwear; another moan sounding as she arches into his touch. “…other skill set.” He repeats the motion, gaze never drifting from Severus’ face. “Understand?”

“Yes,” Severus answers: tense and tight. His body is rigid, too hot beneath his robes. He can’t help but look, now. Not when he knows he’s supposed to. Narcissa is an image of beauty, always has been: all the more alluring because of her perceived unattainability. Lucius is, too, if Severus is honest. And she’s right. They both are. For all he and Rosier get up to, he’s never done anything more than kiss the fairer sex. Certainly never done anything remotely close to this.

Lucius murmurs the word, Good, the same time Narcissa says, “Come here.” It’s a gentle command, one Severus doesn’t even think to disobey. He’s up in an instant, moving toward the empty space beside Lucius and settling on the edge of the seat. “Good boy,” Narcissa croons softly, leaning forward as Lucius leans back, his hand slipping from between Narcissa’s legs so he can drape an arm across Severus’ shoulders instead.

Soft fingers curl around his wrist, guiding his hand forward. It meets the dip of Narcissa’s waist, settles against the flesh beneath the bra; beside the curve of a breast. Narcissa smirks, squeezes his arm gently. “We’ll start slow,” she says, catching Lucius’ eye. “Don’t you think?”

Lucius hums, a quiet agreement, and Severus knows he’s in for a night like no other.