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“He said what?” Sirius’s fork clattered to the wooden table as it slipped out of his hand. His gaze swung up from the overcooked hunk of meat he’d been struggling with to stare at Harry with an evident mixture of disbelief and outrage. 

“It’s no big deal,” Harry said. “He says worse to Neville all the t - where are you going?”

Sirius stood by the front door jamming his arms into the leather sleeves of his jacket when his godson caught up to him, panting slightly from the mad dash through the house. 

“Why are you putting that on?” Harry asked, momentarily distracted. “It’s September.”

“I’m wearing the Clash shirt James gave me,” Sirius said. “I don’t want to get blood on it.”

“Very funny,” Harry said. “I hate Snape as much as you do but-”

Sirius cut in with, “No one hates Snape as much as I do.” He flung the door open in a spectacularly dramatic fashion and Harry couldn’t fully bite back a smirk. “Finish your dinner, get on with your homework, all that good stuff. Call Remus if you need anything.”

“I’m ordering pizza,” Harry called after him and shut the door before Sirius could argue.

If Sirius was a smarter, more even-tempered man, the twenty-minute drive to Snape’s house might have been long enough to bring him to his senses and turn the car around. Instead, he blasted music that thundered in beat with the angry pulses in his chest and he gripped the steering wheel with much more force than necessary.

So he arrived at Severus Snape’s home even more worked up than when he’d left his own. He near sprinted up the walk to the door and beat his fist into the wood, envisioning the same motion but with Snape’s beaky nose in place of the door.

His hand met air as the door swung open. Sirius, despite his aggravation, laughed. “Is that what you sleep in, Snivellus? Your mum’s old dress, hey?”

Snape stared at Sirius in unconcealed surprise for perhaps a single breath before his features rearranged themselves into a sneer. Sirius caught the look anyway.

“Should I call the mental institution or the police?” Snape drawled. To his credit, he didn’t move to shut the door. Sirius found that satisfying. He wasn’t forcing this fight on Snape, then. They both wanted it - and hadn’t it always been that way?

“I’m just here for a parent-teacher conference,” Sirius said and pushed his way past Snape into the house. Snape moved aside easily and swept his arm out in mockery of a welcoming gesture.

“If you wanted to come over so badly, you only had to ask.”

Sirius paused in his inspection of the living room - small, square, stacked with books, sparsely furnished with chairs that looked uncomfortable to walk by let alone sit on - and turned back to Snape, eyebrows knitting together.

“What? No - that’s not - I’m here because of what you said!”

Snape shut the front door quietly and prowled his way over to stand next to Sirius. He dragged his gaze over Sirius in a way that made him begin to realize he might have made a mistake.

“Potter is an overly sensitive child.” Snape smirked. “Can’t imagine where he might have gotten that from.”

“I’m not sensitive,” Sirius said and lashed one hand out to the closest bookshelf. A smattering of thick texts fell to the carpeted floor and Snape’s smirk only grew. Sirius frowned down at the books and had the feeling he seemed more petulant child than threatening nemesis.

“Indeed.” Snape sat down in one of the ridged chairs and rested his elbows on the armrests to steeple his hands under his chin. “Go on then. What horrendous thing did I say?”

“You,” Sirius said, still looking down, “told Harry - hold on a minute.” Flushing slightly, he squatted down and swept the books into his arms. Then he stood and reshelved them as quickly as he could manage. “That was bothering me. Capote shouldn’t be on the floor.”

“For perhaps the first time in our lives, we agree,” Snape said.

“Not true,” Sirius said and found himself taking a seat. The chair was at least twice as uncomfortable as it looked. “Remember that time James put Lily’s tampons up his nose? We agreed he looked ridiculous.”

Snape blinked.

“Also for Lily’s 19th birthday, we both agreed never to let her talk us into drinking Firewhiskey again.”

“Firewhiskey,” Snape echoed disdainfully. “Lupin must have divined inspiration for that one from the depths of hell.”

Neither man spoke for a moment. Sirius thought about James, his best friend, and how he started dating Lily; she dragged Snape kicking and screaming into their friend group. They’d had Harry, a happy accident, and then they’d had the other accident which was anything but.

“You told Harry he’d never amount to anything,” Sirius said flatly, shaking off the memories and willing to bet Snape was doing the same.

“Not quite as uncreatively as that,” Snape said.

“Dammit. It’s not a joke. That’s Lily’s son and you know everything he’s been through. How can you look at him and say that?”

“All I see when I look at him is the reason she was in the car that night.” Snape dropped his hands then, rested them on his knees instead. 

“That’s sick. He was a child. He is a child. Do you think Lily would be happy-”

“She’s dead. She’s not here to be happy or unhappy about anything I choose to do,” Snape said and rose out of the chair. “You should go.”

“You should be nicer to your students,” Sirius snapped back as he followed suit and stood.

“Have you ever tried to control a class of thirty preteens? If I sometimes go too far - I didn’t say I did but if I do - well, they don’t listen to nice,” Snape said.

“Harry listens,” Sirius said indignantly. “The kid doesn’t have a defiant bone in his body.”

Snape smiled at that - genuine amusement, not a twisted smirk - and said, “One of the other students couldn’t find their textbook. Your precious angel suggested it was in my well-proportioned hiding spot.” He pointed at his own nose.

Sirius barked a laugh and said, “Well that’s just funny, can’t fault him for that.”

“I can. Imagine if every student decided to be funny. We’d never get anything done.” Snape waved his hand between them. “This is far more inappropriate than anything I’ve said.” His hand dropped but his eyes stayed locked, piercing. “I confess I’m surprised you remember where I live.”

Sirius flushed then. He felt the heat creep up his chest and concentrate around the collar of the leather jacket. Casting around for a way to avoid the observation, he blurted out, “Why haven’t you moved?”

“My parents owned it. It’s paid off. Why would I?”

“I had to move,” Sirius said. “Couldn’t stand looking around the flat and seeing James everywhere.”

“I see her everywhere anyway,” Snape said then looked like he thoroughly regretted his words. “You’ve far outstayed your welcome, Black. Considering you never had one.”

“Fine.” Sirius crossed the room and started down the hallway back to the front door, turning his head to speak over his shoulder as he went. “But don’t let me hear you’ve said anything else nasty to Harry.”

The threat fell flat between them. Sirius didn’t feel the urge to pummel Snape black and blue anymore and Snape could obviously sense that. He looked bored rather than concerned. But as Sirius straightened up, he was sure he saw something like regret in Snape’s features.

By the time he climbed into the driver’s seat, he was equally sure he’d imagined it.

—-

“You can’t keep showing up like this,” Snape said as he drew open the door. 

This time Sirius didn’t allow himself to be distracted. He swallowed the retort that bubbled up and drew back his fist.

“Surely you’re not-” Snape began and broke off into a pained grunt as Sirius slammed his fist into his cheek.

Sirius had not punched anyone in nearly thirteen years and he let out his own heavy exhale as he shook his hand, tensing up for the retaliation that he was sure would come.

Snape only looked at him, a hand pressed to his cheek, and Sirius felt a twist of guilt and regret in his stomach. Some people with higher emotional intelligence than Sirius might even call it self-loathing.

“That may have been an overreaction,” Sirius said, “but also, you deserved it.”

“Agreed,” Snape said quietly. His hand fell, revealing a red mark blooming just below his left eye. “Is that all?”

Sirius gaped wordlessly for a moment and then managed, “Did you want me to hit you?”

“Yes.”

“So, you told Harry…”

“And you acted predictably as ever.” Snape leaned against the door. “You can hit me again if you like. Last week I gave him an entirely unwarranted detention and made him transcribe old news articles, including ones about the accident and your arrest. I suppose he didn’t tell you about that one since you didn’t show up then.”

“That's twisted,” Sirius muttered. He massaged his wrist as a deep ache set in from the punch. “You doing that and what you said and wanting to be hit. You need therapy, Snape. You shouldn’t be around children.”

“So I’ve told Albus a thousand times. Maybe if you complain he’ll finally fire me.”

“You could quit,” Sirius said.

“I could,” Snape agreed.

An extended silence settled. Sirius inspected his shoes - scuffed and worn black trainers - and then Snape’s socks - dingy white with a hole that allowed his big toe to peek out. He looked up. The red mark was developing dark angry lines exactly the width of Sirius’s knuckles.

“If you want me to kick your ass you could just ask. Leave Harry out of it.” He couldn’t explain why he said it. He didn’t enjoy punching people even if Snape surely deserved it.

“I’m asking.”

Sirius burned under those words. Heat bloomed in his ears, his cheek, his neck. He remembered Harry grimacing down at his feet and asking, Did my mum love my dad? Snape said-

Sirius crossed the threshold much like the weeks earlier, knocking past Snape and into the sitting room. The door shut softly and Snape hovered into the room. He wore the same ridiculous gown as the last night. Made out of a heavy-looking black fabric, it hung to the floor, concealing most of Snape’s body save for his hands and feet. Even as he regarded Sirius with his first signs of apprehension, the main expression on his face was of weariness. That could explain why he was dressed for bed at 7:30.

Sirius took it all in - the unbrushed locks of hair framing Snape’s face, the light purple shadows under his eyes, the slightest trembling in his hands as they hung at his side - and took a step closer.

“You’re a fool,” Sirius said. He lifted his arms and wrapped them around Snape’s shoulders, holding him closely even as Snape began to struggle against the hug.

“The fuck,” Snape hissed among a litany of other expressions of dissatisfaction. Sirius rested his cheek on Snape’s shoulder. He was bumped and jostled for his effort.

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent,” Sirius quoted. “I think Churchill said that.”

“Let go of me,” Snape insisted. Sirius felt fingers brush against his forearms but it seemed Snape wasn’t flexible enough to fully reach behind his back.

Sirius tightened his hug, ignoring the throb of pain in the hand that he’d used to punch Snape, and said, “Although to be fair I suppose I already used violence.”

Sirius pulled back enough to look into Snape’s face and realized his mistake the exact moment a forehead collided with his nose.

Pain and shock existed in equal measure. His hands slipped off Snape to clutch at his nose. Within seconds blood coated his palms and fell to the floor in splatters. Snape scurried across the room and up a set of stairs.

Sirius didn’t follow. He held his nose and stumbled through the bottom floor to the kitchen. He bent over the sink and washed his face, wincing as his fingers ghosted over certain spots and sent pain lashing through his face.

He patted the scratchy tea towel against his face and wiped his hands dry. Then he slipped out of the room and up the stairs. All the doors were shut but he went to the one he knew led to Snape’s bedroom.

“Do you know how ridiculous you are?” Sirius asked through the door. “You broke my nose over a hug.”

“I would rather you leave and we never speak of this again,” Snape answered.

Sirius stood there, forehead resting against the wood, and contemplated his options. He could pound on the door and attempt to aggravate Snape into coming out. He could pretend to leave and skulk around until Snape left of his own accord. He could try to break the door down.

He couldn’t find a compelling reason for any of it. The idea of forgetting about the evening became more appealing each second. Eventually, he lifted his head, trotted down the stairs, and walked out the door.

—-

Sirius yanked down the sun visor and frowned at his reflection in the small streaky mirror. He brushed the too-long floppy pieces of his hair to one side and then the other before attempting to slick it back. His hair fell in a natural part, crooked and slightly angled to the left. 

He reached up to fuss with his hair again and Harry kicked the back of his seat. “It’s a conference, not a date. Can we get going? Or should I call Tonks in?”

At the mention of his hairdresser cousin, Sirius snapped the visor back in place and met Harry’s smirking gaze in the rearview mirror. “If you do she’ll only get distracted by that mess you call hair.”

They good-naturedly bickered their way out of the car, through check-in, and to Harry’s first-period teacher. Mrs. Weisel was a stocky gray-haired math teacher who reported Harry’s progress as a bland satisfactory before dismissing them. On the way to the next class, Sirius badgered Harry to explain why she’d had a table in the back of the room serving as a home to thirty plush frogs.

They rotated through several parent conferences that made Sirius audibly question the purpose of it all - Harry was unremarkably fine by all accounts. 

The complaints were an attempt at distraction but the gnawing in his stomach only grew more ferocious as they approached the final classroom where Harry learned biology. Only one other student stood in line before them.

“You don’t have to come for this one,” Sirius said to Harry as they waited. “We already know he’s going to be a miserable git.”

“Good try,” Harry said. “But you both need a chaperone.”

Sirius entered the classroom spluttering indignantly. The protests died on his lips as he spotted Snape and a roiling disquiet settled through him. 

Snape sat at his desk behind neatly stacked papers, organized by color. The bored disdain on his face tightened into dislike as he looked Sirius up and down.

“Mr. Potter,” Snape said flatly. His eyes stayed locked on Sirius. “Take a seat.”

He shuffled through the stacks, pulling a sheet from each, and straightened them into a single bundle before passing them across the table. Sirius snatched the papers away from where Snape offered them to Harry and scanned them.

“Harry’s failing your class?” Sirius asked. “How is that possible?”

“All graded assignments are listed on the cerulean sheet.”

“Cerulean,” Sirius muttered, flipping the pages and then elbowing Harry lightly. “What’s cerulean?”

“Blue,” Harry said a little hesitantly.

“This is fascinating,” Snape said. “You are raising a boy and you don’t even know your colors. Little surprise he can’t hack my course.”

“It’s not the course that’s the problem,” Sirius said and unceremoniously wadded the papers into a ball. He tossed them into the nearest wastebasket and climbed to his feet. “Let’s go, Harry. I’ll speak with Professor Dumbledore about transferring you.”

“I’m the only science teacher,” Snape said with no small amount of satisfaction. 

“He’ll take it online. Or I’ll homeschool him. You’re not failing him just because you had a pathetic creepy little crush on his mother.”

Snape was on his feet in an instant, gliding over to Sirius in a towering rage, and Harry shifted on his feet uneasily.

“Sirius,” Harry hissed reproachfully but Sirius didn’t need the reprimand. He knew already that the comment was unnecessary and juvenile. Lily was the sorest spot Snape had and poking at it really was a step too far.

Before his lips could loosen to find some sort of apology, Snape finished the walk around his desk and leaned down to growl, “Pathetic crush? Aren’t you the one that tried to kiss your best friend the night he proposed?”

A bright flame of embarrassment caught in Sirius and charred quickly to burning embers of hatred. That wasn’t what had happened - Snape knew - and to say it in front of Harry?

The world narrowed to the ugly fury on Snape’s face, the tightly clenched hands at his own sides, the unresolved anger between them, the memory of his regrettable attempt at burying the hatchet and being headbutted for his efforts.

He was in his body and he was out of it as he darted forward. The next moments passed in flashes - knocking Snape to the ground and sitting atop his chest, fists raising and lowering with sickening thuds, his heart crashing so wildly against his ribs that he felt the impression of each beat, red smearing against his knuckles with each punch.

Eventually, Sirius registered Harry yanking at his shoulders, struggling to pull him away, and with a labored gasp, Sirius slid off Snape and stumbled away. Snape pushed himself up to his elbows and touched long fingers to his bleeding lower lip. Too stunned, apparently, to enact revenge or even to gather his thoughts enough to be angry. He looked lost, confused, small.

Sirius wiped his throbbing knuckles on his shirt and wrestled the animalistic urge to spit on Snape where he lay bleeding.

“Let’s go, Harry.”

They made their way home in silence. Harry sat in his customary spot in the back seat so Sirius caught him in snatches through the rearview mirror - a pair of too-wide green eyes, a pursed and occasionally quivering mouth, a hand going white from the force used to grip a denim-clad knee.

They didn’t speak on the drive or as they filed into the house. Only when Sirius asked, “You hungry?” did Harry unstick his jaw.

“They’ll send me back to the Dursleys,” Harry said. Anger and fear battled for dominance in his voice. 

“Absolutely not,” Sirius said. He let the fridge door fall shut and turned from the appliance to look at Harry leaning against the counter, arms folded across his chest. 

“How do you plan to stop them from prison?” 

“I’m not going to prison,” Sirius said. “Snape won’t say anything.” He spoke with conviction he didn’t feel, not sure if he was trying to convince Harry or himself.

“I can see the headline now,” Harry said as he crossed to the pantry. He opened it as he added, “Felon attacks community pillar.”

“Snape isn’t a community pillar,” Sirius protested but weakly. He was distracted by the film on replay in his mind - Snape bleeding on the floor wearing an inexplicable look of betrayal as though he hadn’t been the one to break Sirius’s nose, hadn’t been the one instigating the entire thing through his treatment of Harry.

“He’s a teacher and he’s never been arrested so he’s got two points over you already.”

Sirius considered correcting Harry on the second point but only briefly. Instead, he kept his mouth shut, returned to the fridge to stare at a container of takeout leftovers, and pretended he was contemplating dinner instead of a certain sharp-edged man.

—-

Sirius hefted the glass bottle from one hand to the other as he hesitated on the driveway, darting glances between the front door and the soft light glowing from the second-floor window.

“Don’t do it,” Remus had said the night before when Sirius spilled the whole sad tale four drinks into their monthly catch-up. “Quit while you’re ahead.”

Sirius had bitched about the cliche advice and bluntly evaded Remus’s many attempts to wrestle out a promise to leave Snape alone. But still, Sirius’s mind danced with his disapproving stare and the feeling of Harry’s equally judgmental gaze as he’d walked out of the house that evening.

The muggy autumn night left the wood damp beneath Sirius’s knuckles when he rapped on it. It felt like a familiar old friend by then, the ol’ front door.

“You’re fucking kidding me,” Snape spat as he flung it open. It thudded against the wall and Sirius straightened up, tightening his hold on the bottle in the crook of his arm.

“Listen-” Sirius tried.

“Come the fuck inside.” Snape stomped away, fury overtaking his usual slithering motions, and Sirius followed after only a moment of hesitation.

“I thought I’d have to grovel,” Sirius said as he hurried to keep pace with Snape. They landed in the kitchen, a bland beige area with a large rectangular table shoved into one corner.

“You brought booze,” Snape said. “And I did want you to hit me, didn’t I?” His eyes tightened when he added, “Not in front of Potter though.”

“I didn’t plan it. I’m not proud of it.” Sirius felt the apology he’d silently rehearsed tumbling around in his head just out of his grasp. He knew the sentiment but not the sentences.

“Shut up.” Snape pulled glasses out of a cupboard, brushed the dust out of the bottoms with two long fingers, and set them both down on the counter. Then he turned to Sirius expectantly, an unspoken but very obvious Well? falling out between them.

Sirius poured the drinks with a heavy hand. He picked one glass up and held it to his lips, watching as Snape selected the other and drained it with leisurely, throaty swallows. As the last drops of liquid slid past Snape’s lips, Sirius hastened to get down a few gulps before Snape could figure out he’d been watching.

“Do you remember when we met?” Snape asked.

“Sure,” Sirius said, slowly, trying to puzzle out the punchline to the question. “In the library. Lily brought you to study with us.”

Us being the inseparable, impenetrable fearsome four.” 

Sirius grimaced. “So we thought. Just Remus and I now, isn’t it?” Sirius poured himself another glass and moved to refill Snape’s but was blocked by extended fingers. “Why’d you ask?”

“I don’t know,” Snape said. For a while, there was a silence. They left the drinks in the kitchen and moved without speaking back to the sitting room. Snape was wearing a dressing gown again and maroon (see, he knew his colors) socks peeked out beneath the hem with each step.

“Alright. Yeah. We were meant to study but Lily brought you and you were difficult as always. We ended up shouting at each other and Lily dragged you out.” Sirius looked at his own hands resting on his knees as he added, “As soon as you were gone, James said, Don’t fuck Lily’s best friend.”

Sirius looked up and met Snape’s eyes evenly, enjoying the color he saw skittering out across the typically pale cheeks.

“You never told me that.”

“Why would I have? We hated each other - I told James he was ridiculous - but he always knew me best.”

“That’s why you never wanted him to know.”

Even so vaguely the reference to their past made Sirius’s stomach tighten. He thought of long black hair unfurled across his pillow, placing small kisses on the corner on thin pink lips, sliding his hand up a denim-clad thigh during a lecture.

“He never asked anything of me,” Sirius said. “I didn’t want to let him down. Then, you know, everything happened and it didn’t matter anymore.”

“Everything,” Snape echoed. Bitterness traced the word as it nestled into the empty space. “I didn’t understand everything then. The years since have only raised more questions.” 

Sirius said nothing. He knew where Snape was leading the conversation and he didn’t intend to make the journey easy on him.

“Why did the police think you caused the crash?” Snape asked. A direct course, then, which he really should have expected.

What had he expected? Weeks ago when he’d first driven to Snape’s house, retracing the roads he’d never forgotten, what had the smallest voice inside him really been cheering for?

“I did,” Sirius said and no matter how many times he talked about it, the same fingers of despair wiggled their way into his gut. “Or close enough. If you remember, I liked to work on cars back then. James asked me to replace the brake pads. Should’ve been a simple job but I fucked up somewhere. They pulled me in for questioning about it and, well.”

“You had a dime bag on you,” Snape finished. The familiarly disapproving sneer curled over his lips. “I told you not to carry that foul stuff around.”

“My best friend had just died. I wasn’t quite in my right mind.” Sirius added before Snape could, “Yours too. I know.”

“Did you ever think it should have been us?”

Sirius flinched half out of his chair at the question. Then he rose fully and took a step away from Snape toward the closest bookshelf. 

“No,” Sirius said when he’d considered the question fully. “No. It shouldn’t have been us. It shouldn’t have been them either. It shouldn’t have happened.”

Snape looked ready to argue. Sirius didn’t want to hear it. He was aware all at once that the most positive contact they’d had in thirteen years was his rebuffed attempt at a hug. He took in Snape’s lip split from his own knuckles, the dull bruise flushed out across his cheek, and the spirited intelligence that glimmered so familiarly in his eyes.

The sitting room was small so it took Sirius only a few steps to cross it. Even as Snape tensed his lips parted softly. Sirius lifted a hand to brush the backs of his fingers over the scab on Snape’s mouth.

“I’m sorry,” Sirius said. Snape gripped Sirius’s wrist and pulled his hand closer as he pressed a solitary kiss to Sirius’s hand.

“I’m not.”

For all that was still unresolved between them, nothing more needed to be said in that moment. Their lips found each other in a press of heat. They held each other with the force of lovers separated by a decade, a prison sentence, an adoption, a new career - two adulthoods played out on entirely separate stages.

They moved to the bedroom.

“Least this dress is easy to get off,” Sirius mumbled into Snape’s cut mouth as he pulled at the nightgown. His hands roamed Snape’s smooth, pale flesh and found a familiarly sensitive pair of nipples. He dipped his head to lash each in turn with his tongue. Snape’s whispery moans of approval encouraged Sirius’s head lower. As Sirius went he nipped at the trail of black hair, thickened since the last time they’d met, and without pause slipped Snape’s cock into his mouth.

Snape came quickly, hands threaded in Sirius’s hair, and Sirius nudged back the part of him that wanted to ask, “Been a long time?” 

The first time Sirius had taken Snape those many years ago, it had taken months of preparation. They’d pored over explicit books together, participated in copious amounts of foreplay, and spent more time than perhaps was reasonable discussing the, as Snape called it, logistics.

Sirius felt a twisting thrill at how easily now Snape turned over and wriggled into position on the bed, openly displaying every part of him without an ounce of shame.

Sirius buried another question - “How many others?” He didn’t have the right to ask simply because he’d been the first. It wasn’t even that he would have minded any particular answer. It was only a matter of curiosity.

Snape directed Sirius to a jar of lube in the nightstand. Sirius watched his coated fingers slip in and out of Snape until he was relaxed and writhing. Then Sirius replaced them with his cock.

He held Snape’s hips, bit his shoulder, tugged his hair, slipped his hands over his slim hips, and found Snape hard once again.

This time Sirius couldn’t help himself. “Impressive for an old man,” he murmured in Snape’s ear. Snape’s reply was mostly unintelligible but Sirius would haphazard it to be something along the lines of fuck off.

Sirius barely noticed his own orgasm, busy enjoying the telltale grunt of Snape finishing himself off.

He slipped out of Snape, who rolled over onto his back, and relaxed into the bed. He took in Snape’s profile for a moment - the sharp slope of his nose, the flush across one cheek.

“Did you need anything else?” Snape asked into the silence.

Irritation swelled, crested, and broke inside Sirius. That familiar urge to hit Snape itched at his sore knuckles. They owed each other nothing and Sirius couldn’t even say why the dismissal rankled so much.

“Fuck you,” Sirius said as he pulled his shirt over his head.

“Likewise,” Snape said lazily, still naked and reclined on the bed.

“I’m not coming here again,” Sirius added as he buttoned his jeans.

“Small mercies,” Snape responded. 

Sirius hurried out of the room and down the stairs before he could succumb to the voice in his head insisting that striking Snape again would be a good idea. He left the shattered sleepy contentment of the hookup back in the bedroom and drove home boiling in his hatred for the other man.

Of course, he knew the truth as he drove, as he stomped into his flat, and as he stewed in the shower. He didn’t hate Snape at all. If he was really honest with himself - honest in a way he never could be - he’d admit that what he felt most closely resembled the exact opposite.

—-

“That was downright professional,” Harry said. He stuck his hands in his pockets as he shuffled down the icy steps outside the grand entrance to Hogwarts. Sirius focused on his own careful trek over the treacherous concrete and didn’t answer. “Told you he’s left me alone since you hit him. He must be scared of you.”

Sirius looked up only after his shoes landed on the far less dangerous asphalt of the parking lot. Sleet crunched under their boots as they walked.

“He’s not,” Sirius said. “He’s scared of you.” 

Harry grinned as he pulled open the car door and slid into the backseat. “If you say so.”

They picked up takeout on the way home and ate on the sofa in front of the TV. Harry fiddled hopelessly with a pair of chopsticks before fetching a fork out of the kitchen. Sirius crammed an entire egg roll into his mouth and nearly choked on a particularly thick shred of cabbage. 

Harry went upstairs to brush his teeth and Sirius stuffed their leftovers into the overly full bin. He debated commanding Harry to take it out before tying up the bag himself and hauling it out to the community compactor.

He tossed the bag into the contraption, closed the door, and turned away as the machine groaned into action. He headed back to the stairwell to their unit but stopped abruptly when he spotted a familiar black sedan gliding into a guest parking spot. 

The headlights turned off and after a moment the driver’s door opened. Snape unfolded from the seat with his eyes locked onto Sirius. Sirius stared back, hoping he didn’t look as startled as he felt.

Snape shut the door and crossed the parking lot without looking away. He came to a stop before Sirius and the men stood in silence for long enough that it became uncomfortable.

Sirius cleared his throat. “Can I help you?”

“Manners don’t suit you, Black.” Snape’s gaze stayed steady. “I much prefer you threatening to punch me. Or actually doing it.”

“I’m tired. I was just about to go to bed.” Sirius hadn’t felt tired before but suddenly he was exhausted. The weariness etched deep into his bones and settled comfortably into his joints. He was tired from the day, from the parent-teacher conferences, but mostly he was tired from the mental energy it took to deal with Severus Snape.

“Up for a drive?” Snape asked. 

For some reason, Sirius felt himself nod. 

He went back inside, washed his hands, made sure Harry was in bed, and then locked up the flat. He slid into Snape’s passenger seat and Snape shifted the car into drive without another word between them.

Out the window, street lights blinked by as streaky blurs. They passed walk-ups and corner shops and a neighborhood full of small old houses. Eventually, Snape navigated onto the motorway and only then did Sirius turn away from the glass.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“Nowhere,” Snape answered. He extended his right hand and fiddled with the radio. Music burst out of the speakers - thundering drums, harsh chords, a gravelly voice.

“You don’t like this kind of music,” Sirius said, a bit stunned.

“We were sophomores,” Snape replied. “The last week of spring term. We drove out to the-”

“Stop,” Sirius snapped. “I don’t want to reminisce with you. I don’t want - I don’t even know why I got in the car.”

Snape said nothing but his knuckles whitened on the steering wheel. He took the next exit and looped back the way they’d come. 

“I reacted poorly the last time we saw each other.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Sirius said. “I beat the shit out of you. It was all a mistake in the first place. We shouldn’t have opened this can of worms again.”

“Sirius.” Hearing his first name softened him although it really shouldn’t have. “I’m trying.”

“It’s been three months. Why now?”

“I’m fucked up,” Snape said and a grin came easily to Sirius then.

“What made you finally realize it?” Sirius asked.

“When we were sophomores,” Snape began again with a withering glare at Sirius warning him not to interrupt, “we drove out to that big field. We were half an hour from campus so there was hardly any light. You played your offensive music and we looked at the stars. Do you remember that?” Sirius hummed affirmatively. “That was when I realized I loved you.”

What?”

“That’s when I started pushing you away. Demanding you tell Potter, picking arguments, avoiding you as much as possible. It was all unhealthy and juvenile. As the years went on I thought I’d moved past that kind of behavior. Then you showed up at my door and we fell right back into it.”

Sirius was stuck on the confessed feelings and barely keeping up with Snape’s continued sentiments. The words washed over him, lights winked in and out of view, and Sirius settled on answering with, “Fuck you.”

The rest of the drive passed silently. Snape pulled the car up to the apartment building and Sirius flung his seatbelt away with a mildly dramatic flair. Then he looked at Snape impatiently. 

“Aren’t you coming up?” Sirius asked. A few moments of open confusion crossed Snape’s dark eyes and then smoothed down into something harder to decipher.

“Potter?” Snape asked.

“He’ll be asleep,” Sirius said and Snape undid his seatbelt.

Sirius tried to be angry. He was, partially, and he focused on that. He heard his heartbeat in his ears as he fucked Snape. He turned his lips away from the searching mouth without missing a beat.

Sirius did want to hit him, in a way, and he was undeniably frustrated by the emotional whiplash of the past few hours. Still, when they finished, he threaded his arms around Snape’s waist and pulled the man close. If Snape was thrown off by Sirius’s conflicting behavior he didn’t show it. He only ran a pale hand down Sirius’s markedly darker shoulder and came to rest on his forearm, fingers twitching slightly into the dark curly hair found there.

“This is stupid,” Sirius said but quietly. When Snape tilted back to look at him, Sirius kissed him softly like it mattered. He didn’t think about their college days or their lost friends or the past few months of turmoil between them. He focused on the soft thin lips against his, the gentle movement on his arm, and the undeniable comfort of a firm chest pressed into his own.

In the morning Harry would find them tangled up together in sleep. Then Sirius would feel a flurry of regret and shame. But for the night he felt content with Snape softened in his arms and he let that be enough.