Actions

Work Header

Finale

Chapter Text

Chapter One

The Hogwarts Express pulled into the station with a gentle series of clangs. The red engine gleamed under the bright sun of the summer afternoon. Anxious parents of first years crowded the doors and craned their necks. A tall boy in jeans and a short pink shirt was the first to descend the steps, tugging the hem of his shirt down as he scowled at his mother. “Mum! Why did you pack this for me?”

“Oh, sorry dear,” she said and with a wave of her wand the shirt doubled in length as it turned a more appropriate brown.

More and more children poured out onto the platform. Some tearfully reunited with their families while others chattered animatedly about recent exams and upcoming summer plans. A young girl with curly black hair tripped over her own foot, dropping the owl cage in her arms. The door popped open and the owl excitedly zoomed off into the air, ignoring her dismayed cries.

Time passed and the crowd thinned. A group of four young men stepped out just as the train began to depart from the station, stumbling a little as they landed on the concrete, laughing. “Peter!” A short pudgy man barreled down on the group, anger flashing in his eyes. He quite forcibly dragged his son away from his friends. Peter cast a wordless look of goodbye at them and then turned to his dad to begin spouting excuses about the delay.

“James, have I ever told you how much I appreciate you dropping me off?” Sirius asked, watching their friend go with a shake of his head.

“Mate, your dad would never do that to you,” James said. 

“True,” Sirius said. “He’d have to care enough to get mad.” Sirius stretched his arms over his head, a self-deprecating grin on his face. “Well, let’s get on with it. You ready, Remus?” Remus nodded as he zipped up a small pocket on his suitcase, now containing a prefect badge. He ran his hands over his frayed jeans before falling into step with his friends. Talking, they leaned casually through the brick barrier of Platform 9 ¾.

As they merged into the crowd of Muggles, Remus looked over at his friends. “I’ll write you both when I’m home,” he said and his eyes went to the sky. “I’m really going to miss you guys. This past year during, well, you know, was the best year of my life.” 

“Don’t get girly on us,” James said brightly. “You know we’ll be there for full moons. Right, Black?”

“Right on, Potter,” Sirius said and clapped a hand to Remus’s shoulder. “Take care, Remus.”

“He always does,” James said, elbowing Sirius out of the way to shake Remus’s hand. “Have a good summer, mate.” With a few more words of farewell, Remus turned away and began the walk to the nearest bus stop. James watched him go and then put a hand to his forehead, shielding the sun as he scanned the road for the taxi his parents had said would be waiting.

“Why is it this sunny? Someone forgot we’re in Britain, eh?” James complained as they began to walk up and down the pick-up lane. 

“Hey, enjoy it,” Sirius said. “It’s probably the only sunny day we’ll get until July.”

“I hope so,” James said. “I hate the sun. Ah! There it is.” The teens hoisted their luggage back into their arms and made their way over to the idling car. “How great would it be to use magic right now?” James asked as they struggled under the weight of their trunks.

“Maybe you just need to work out more,” Sirius said, ignoring the drops of sweat beading on his hairline. “You’re stuck thinking sitting on a broom is exercise, you’ve gotten weak.”

“Okay,” James said, panting slightly, “let’s arm wrestle as soon as we get in the car.”

“No, arm wrestle now, trunks and all,” Sirius said, quite seriously, and James began to laugh.

“Stop, dammit, I’m going to drop this on my toe.” They bickered their way into the back seat, James gave the driver Sirius’s neighbor’s address, and the arm wrestling commenced. By the time they pulled up to Number 11 Grimmauld Place, Sirius had soundly beaten James in arm wrestling three times. Unfortunately, James liked to take revenge in the form of a game of Mercy, which Sirius lost quite quickly.

“My tolerance for pain is low,” he said as he slid out of the car.
 
“Well, good luck this summer, then,” James said with a grin. Sirius enthusiastically flipped James off with both hands. “I’ll floo call you tomorrow night. Talk to your parents about you staying for my dad’s work holiday, yeah?”

“Of course,” Sirius said. He pulled his trunk out and let it fall to the ground with a thump. “Bye James,” he added with another one finger salute for good measure.

“You love me,” James said and shut the car door. The taxi drove away and Sirius felt the smile slide off his face. He’d done his best to put up a good front for James, he always did, but as he turned to face his unplottable home, a heavy pit settled in his stomach.

“This is the last time,” he whispered to himself, heaving the trunk off the ground. “Three months and you’ll be free of them forever.” At the door, he pulled out his wand to perform the necessary spells to enter, and then shouldered into his personal hell.

Sirius paused in the entrance hall and listened to the depressing sounds of the Black house. Soft music drifted down the stairs, undoubtedly from his brother Regulus, who always Side-Apparated here with another Slytherin’s parents. Slithery sounds came from the kitchen. Undoubtedly Sirius’s parents were hosting whoever had brought Regulus home this time. He briefly debated breaking the cultured silence by dropping his luggage or knocking over a vase but in the end he opted for a quiet retreat. He cast a Featherlight charm and Levitated his trunk as he slowly climbed the stairs, avoiding any creaky step with purpose.

Sirius opened the door to his room and grinned at the sight. His pictures and posters were still firmly attached to the wall, although the singe marks around several of them left evidence of his mum’s desperate attempts to remove them. He left his things on his bed and walked around, admiring the images he hadn’t seen in almost a year. He stopped to watch picture-versions of him and his friends. One picture showed fifth-year James holding up the Cup-winning snitch triumphantly and cheering. He wished with pathetic ferocity that he could be back at Hogwarts.

Sirius turned away from the pictures and returned to his door. He double-checked that he had locked it and cast a strong locking charm on it for good measure. He threw himself across his bed to easily rummage underneath it, hands running over cardboard and metal boxes alike. After a few moments of groping, he found the box he’d been looking for. He sat up with it and put it in his lap with a guilty look toward the door. He could still hear Regulus practicing and his parents chatting so he figured he was safe. With a steadying breath, he pulled the lid off the box and dumped the contents across his cover.

Muggle and Wizarding images alike flashed before him. A man flexed his muscles, grinned, and turned his head to kiss both biceps. Two men ran their hands up each other’s naked bodies as they kissed. Sirius reached out and picked up his favorite shot. It was a simple one, Muggle, of a man in leather assless chaps. The man had his back to the camera as he leaned against a motorcycle but his head was turned back, a mischievous smile permanently poised on his face. Sirius ran a trembling finger over the man’s curly hair, the bright brown eyes, and then with abrupt violence gathered all of his materials and shoved them back in the box. His heart pounded as he shoved the box back under his bed. He settled down in his bed and stared at his erection as it bobbed occasionally and rather helplessly.

“I’m not going to do it,” he whispered to his own prick. It throbbed against his jeans in response. His mind travelled unwillingly back to the picture of the man that combined two of his biggest fetishes: motorcycles and looking like James. “Fuck,” he swore and reached down to undo his pants.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

“KREACHER!” Small feet padded lightly against the steps of the staircase followed by much heavier, louder steps. “Kreacher, get your ugly little-” Sirius’s words fell short as Kreacher scampered off into the kitchen and his mother stepped out with an all too familiar look of disapproval. “Hi, mummy,” he said cheerfully. “Having fun sending your pet to spy on me?”

“Kreacher has as much right to be in that room as you do. Or dare I say, more? He does actually contribute to this household. I can’t say the same for you,” Walburga Black said. Her thin black hair fell in uncharacteristically messy wisps around her face and Sirius noticed for the first time that she was out of breath.

“What were you doing in there?” he asked. Her dark eyes flashed and she took a step closer to her son.

“Whatever I want,” she said. 

“Oh,” he said, “you’re fucking one of my father’s friends, is that it?” He knew he’d taken it too far when he saw her small chest trembling under the weight of her rage. He casually slipped his wand into his hand and waited for her reaction. She mouthed silently at him for a few moments and then shook her head.

“You, Sirius Black, are on very thin ice,” she said in a suddenly steady voice. “You may be 17 but you are still living in our house and you are still living off our family’s money. You will respect your father and myself.”

“Nah,” he said. “I don’t think I will, actually. I can’t respect anyone that wants to see Muggle heads on spikes.” 

“Sirius.” Sirius stiffened as he processed who was speaking now: his father. “Go to your room.”

“You’re joking,” Sirius said. “You think you can send me to my room like a child?”

“You’re worse than a child,” Orion said. “You’re a fool.” With a dismissive wand wave, he levitated Sirius into the air and sent him up the stairs. “I don’t want to see you the rest of the day. Study potions, I talked to Horace the other day and he told me you earned an E in his class. The lengths you go to in order to embarrass me, Sirius.” 

Sirius burned under his father’s words. He had worked hard in Potions for that E. It was a NEWT level course and he wasn’t one of Sluggy’s favorites, there was no way he would have gotten an O. He tried to tell his father all this but found not only was he adrift in the air but his mouth was now spelled shut too.

Sirius’s first week back home passed in a series of confrontations and conflicts. On his first weekend home, he came downstairs dressed in his best robes.

“Mother,” he said, “I’m going to Diagon Alley for next year’s books. If you’re going to keep me locked in my room all summer, I might as well get my homework started.”

“Fine,” Walburga said without looking up from her knitting. “Take Regulus.” Regulus looked up from the Daily Prophet’s crossword with a mingled look of fury and exasperation.

“Mother, please don’t make me chaperone him,” Regulus hissed.

“Chaperone me? I’m older!” Sirius said indignantly. “She probably wants you to get out of the house. I’m beginning to suspect you’re a vampire with how often you’re inside. Then again, that crossword suggests you’re merely old…” 

Ten minutes later, Sirius emerged from the house waving away the last remnants of a Bat Bogey Hex but blessedly free of his younger brother’s presence. After a quick Muggle detection spell, he Apparated from the doorstep to the entrance of Gringotts. He entered the lobby whistling loudly, drawing the mutinous glares of all the working goblins and more than a few waiting wizards.

An hour later, he walked back out into the overcast day clutching a sackful of Black galleons. As he stood on the stairs of Gringotts, wizards and witches streamed by him in partners and groups. A young couple walked by holding hands while nearby a toddler began to scream as his mother pleaded with him to be quiet. He tucked the pouch into his robes and strolled around Diagon Alley aimlessly. The shops and people were so familiar to him, he might as well be back in his room for all the excitement it brought him. He toyed with the idea of setting off a few dungbombs from his ever-present emergency stash but in the end he didn’t really feel like running away from beefy security wizards.

The unmistakable smell of fresh parchment wafted and the small tinkle of a bell jerked Sirius out of his wandering reverie. He found himself standing, slightly dazed, in Flourish & Blotts. The shopkeeper was a young girl that looked vaguely familiar, almost definitely a Hogwarts classmate working a summer job. He watched as she glanced around the store, spotted him, gave a half smile, and then turned away and leaned against the wooden counter of the register. She began to talk animatedly to another teen, one that Sirius also almost recognized.

He slipped in between the bookshelves and made his way to his favorite section – Muggle. He liked to buy a few and leave them scattered around the house to piss his parents off. “What kind of filth is Pride and Prejudice?” his mum would ask to Sirius’s great amusement. This was also where he found most of the posters currently plastering his walls.

Sirius flipped through the posters and saw nothing to his liking. As he scanned the section, his eyes fell on an entirely new stock. Muggle calendars. He was vaguely familiar with the Muggle way of keeping track of dates and he picked one at random. A fluffy orange kitten stared up at him with big blue eyes, lying on its side in a bed of flowers. With a snort, he placed it back and picked up another one. On this cover, a man stood flexing with an axe, covered in red clothing and an oddly shaped red hat. Sirius glanced around to make sure he was alone and flipped through the rest of the pages. June showed a shirtless man tucking his thumbs into his belt loops as he grinned smugly, brown eyes crinkled in some secret mirth. 

Sirius suddenly wanted the calendar quite badly. 

He relished the idea of spending his father’s money on such an object but couldn’t bring himself to have anyone else witness his purchase. Instead, to get around the anti-theft charms around the entrance, he dropped some coins on the shelf and slipped the calendar into the folds of his robes. He continued browsing for a few moments. The glossy calendar grew slick with sweat against his skin. 

The shopkeeper didn’t even bother with another smile as Sirius strode out. The alarm did not go off and as he stepped back into the streets he carefully avoided the crowds. The last thing he needed was for his, ah, private purchase to fall open on the street. He made his way to a designated Apparition point, heart pounding with the reckless action he had just taken. 

“Sirius!”

“FUCK!” Sirius screamed inside as he hurried to avoid whoever was calling him.

“Sirius Black! I know you hear me, get over here right now!” With a sigh of defeat, Sirius turned and glared.

“Yes, Evans, how could I not hear your shrill, bossy voice? I hear it in my nightmares so I might as well hear it during the day too,” he said. Lily rolled her eyes and he did his best to subtly shift the calendar closer to his body.

“I’m going to ignore that because I need your help,” she said. 

“What do I get out of it?” Sirius asked. “James would be horribly furious if you fucked me as payment.”

“I hate you,” Lily said, “and that’s exactly why I need you. Petunia is inviting her new boyfriend over for dinner tomorrow night. I need you to come and be as horrible as possible – so, yourself.”

“Lily Evans, plotting and executing secret schemes?” Sirius asked. “What is this world coming to?” Lily rolled her eyes once more and this time followed it with an impatient hair toss. Her red hair cascaded against her bare shoulders, brushing her freckles and mesmerizing Sirius just a little bit.

“So, will you help or not?” she asked and he shook himself out of his stupor.

“What do I get out of it?” he repeated.

“I won’t tell anyone that I just saw you steal something from Flourish and Blotts,” she said with the most evil smile Sirius had ever seen. He contemplated hexing her, wiping her memory, and/or killing her. It would solve so many problems.

“Fine,” Sirius said. “On one condition. You have to drive me to, uh, those Muggle places that sell motorcycles.” Lily’s brow furrowed.

“What?” She sighed. “Fine, whatever. Deal. You should really go put that back, you know. Stealing is wrong.”

“Stealing is wrong,” Sirius mimicked in a high voice and tossed his curly black hair out of his face. “I’m Lily Evans and I’m perfect, I never steal or cheat or tell my best friend to go suck a dick.” For a second, Sirius thought he was going to be hexed. Lily’s cheeks turned as red as her hair and she pulled her wand.

“Don’t ever – you – let’s not talk about the bad things we’ve done,” she stammered out. “Severus is not my best friend, either. And my comment, while…crass, was very well deserved.”

“Don’t defend yourself to me,” Sirius said. They quickly worked out the details of Sirius’s arrival at her house and parted ways with reluctant, mumbled goodbyes. As Sirius walked away, he had to question what James saw in her. She was beautiful, sure, but also bossy, self-righteous, and, oh yeah, a girl. “That’s only a problem for you, dummy,” he mumbled to himself before squeezing himself into the tight tube of infinity that is Apparition. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Three
Lily Evans lived in a small cottage. The front yard was almost entirely planted with an assortment of blue flowers. A placard on the front door, nailed in slightly crooked, read, “Welcome to our home!” The scratchy doormat read, “Love lives here,” with assorted hearts repeating around the text. When Sirius arrived, it gave all the appearance of a quiet little home of a retired couple with three cats.

An hour into the dinner, a loud roar erupted from the kitchen, followed by raucous laughter and soothing murmurs. Ten minutes later, there was a crash. Approximately 90 seconds later, Sirius Black stepped out into the cool of the night. He stood on the mat and shook with laughter, even as he ruefully considered the pudding that now splattered his only Muggle suit. Lily followed shortly after, wand aloft. The dim porch light reflected off her hair, now gathered in a bun at the top of her head.

“How was that?” he asked as she spelled his clothes clean.

“Perfect,” she said, smiling widely. “Just perfect. Petunia is going to smother me while I sleep.” Sirius made a mental note to tell James to ask Lily out again. She was so…different. They might actually have something in common now, besides being attractive, young, and hormonal. “Are you ready to go?”

They drove silently to what Lily had called a “dealership.” When they arrived, a thin man in a gaudy suit looked them over with disdain. “Where are your parents?” he asked.

“Right here,” Sirius said and pulled out a thick wad of Muggle bills, grudgingly converted at Gringotts. 

“Don’t ever do that again!” Lily shrieked at him five minutes later as they drove away from the dealership at high speed. 

“I can knock out the police,” he said confidently.

“Please don’t,” she said. “Just…be normal. It’s not normal in the Muggle world to carry a million dollars.”

“Is that a lot?” Sirius asked mildly. “It was only a couple hundred galleons.”

“Only a couple hundred galleons,” Lily repeated under her breath and shook her head. 

“Okay,” Sirius said. “Next time, let’s pretend to be a young married couple. We’re hardworking and innocent. I’ve spent all year saving up enough money to buy my dream and you are fully supportive even though it means Sirius Jr. didn’t get to play, base…foot…sports.”

“We’re too young to have a child,” she said, “but otherwise, okay. Let me pull out enough money for you.”

The second trip ended much more successfully. Sirius magically forged a motorcycle license at the salesman’s request, to the quiet disbelieving moan of Lily, and rode out of the lot on a slightly used cruiser.

“Get a helmet,” she advised as they idled next to each other at a stop sign.

“I’m pretty sure my skull can withstand a few cracks,” he said and rapped on his head. “Magic, remember?”

“And what are you going to do when the police see you and try to ticket you?” Lily asked.

“Run,” he said happily and revved the engine. “Thank you for being so sensible and boring, Lily.”

“Thank you for being so reckless and repulsive,” she said evenly and peeled out of the parking lot. Sirius watched her go and then, heart pounding, took off in the opposite direction. He had no idea where he was and his motorcycle riding was limited to joy rides of James’s uncle’s sport bike. He kept his wand in his hand and used magic to keep the bike steady and running.

The longer he rode, the more he relaxed into the bike. Above him, the night sky twinkled with stars. The moon was no more than two days away from fullness. It illuminated the road with eerie light and Sirius passed very few cars as he rode, wind whipping through his hair, goosebumps erupting across his skin as he reached higher and higher speeds. He felt absolutely alone in the world and surprisingly found that very peaceful.

It was only when he began to doze off on his bike that Sirius decided to return home. He Disillusioned the bike and then side-along Apparated it to his house. A few more spells later, his new treasure was successfully hidden in the front yard. No one would find it other than Sirius himself.

Sirius entered his house humming, exhilarated, cheerful, and also quite sleepy. The clock in the sitting room told him it was nearing two in the morning. He was careful to keep his steps light as he climbed the stairs. He had every right to stay out late, of course, but his parents might not see it that way. Had they even known he was gone? Maybe they had just appreciated the quiet.

Sirius slipped into bed fully clothed and quickly slipped off into sleep.

He jolted awake only a few hours later to find his mother standing over him, wand out. “Get up,” she said. “Sebastian is here for a fitting.”

“A fitting?” he repeated blankly, still half-asleep despite her spell. Instead of answering, Walburga simply prodded him with her wand. Another jolt of Ennervate ran through him and he close to leapt out of bed. “Mother, if you do that again-”

“Don’t threaten me,” she said. “It won’t end well for you.” She tucked her wand away and turned to him with a critical eye. “After the fitting, I’m taking you and Regulus for haircuts. When your father and I went to school, haircut length was strictly enforced. You’re both starting to look like girls.” Sirius frowned and put a hand to his hair, already scheming how to get out of the cut as he made his way downstairs in his pajamas. 

Sirius found Sebastian already measuring Regulus in the sitting room. He settled into the only remotely comfortable chair in the room and began to badger Regulus about his now exposed torso. “You look like a first year,” he said. “You look like you’ve been forced to only eat Kreacher’s cooking. You look like you haven’t been outside in three years. Oh wait. That part’s true. The Slytherin dungeon is no good for you, Reg.” Regulus took it all silently but the way his lips quivered was enough of a reward for Sirius.

Regulus finished and jumped down, tearing off for the stairs. Sirius sighed, not looking forward to being stuck thirty times, and stood. He started to remove his shirt per Sebastian’s instructions but stopped upon hearing his mother’s scream. The scream sent a stab of fear straight into his heart – not for his mother, but for himself. He knew that octave. It meant he was in for a world of pain when his father returned home from work. Sirius shook his wand out of his sleeve and did his best to shake off the fear too. He was 17 now, not 7. No one was going to do anything to him.

“SIRIUS BLACK, GET UP HERE NOW!” Stiff and guarded, wand held up, Sirius ascended. What he saw in his room made any semblance of confidence melt. Kreacher stood in the corner, the jerky motions of his head and hands indicating happiness. His mom was frozen kneeling on the floor and before her laid the contents of his box. His box. The box no one else was ever supposed to see. Shame, fear, anger, defiance, denial – it all ran through him in seconds and then hardened into resolve.

“What are you doing in my room?” he demanded. His mother looked up from the pictures with the most crazed look he had ever seen.

“What. Is. This?” she asked in stuttering, whispered words. 

“I don’t know, mum, your private stash? Why’d you bring it in my room? Gross,” he said.

“No,” she said and, to his horror, began to rock back and forth. “No, no, no.”

“Mistress Black, get rid of the blood traitor, the abomination, let’s purge the house,” Kreacher said excitedly.

“Mother?” To complete Sirius’s nightmare, Regulus poked his head into the room. “Is everything-” Silence fell upon the room and Sirius was hyper aware of everyone staring at the images he used to masturbate. 

“Actually,” Walburga said, standing in one fluid movement, “everything is fine.” She turned to Sirius. “Get rid of this filth and we won’t speak of it again.”

“Filth?” Sirius asked.

“Get rid of it,” she repeated, “before your father gets home.” She smoothed her hair away from her face and took shaky steps to Regulus. “Dear, will you make me a cup of tea?” Regulus shot Sirius a look of revulsion but, as usual, kept his mouth shut and escorted their mother downstairs. Kreacher stayed in the corner, mumbling about filth and abominations and purges. Sirius aimed a swift kick at his back and sent the elf yelping out of the room. Sirius slammed the door behind him.

Heart pounding, Sirius gathered up all of his pictures and replaced them in the box. He then pulled out his trunk and lifted the lid. He had never bothered to unpack it. All of his school clothes and supplies lay shrunk and neatly stacked inside. He scanned his room and saw nothing of value. The pictures of his friends, maybe, but those weren’t going anywhere. He could leave those behind as a memento for his family and all their future dickhole descendants.

Sirius went back to the box and picked out a few select images, including his new calendar, and buried them at the bottom of his trunk. He shrunk his trunk and tucked it into his back pocket then hefted the picture box under his elbow and climbed down the stairs two at a time. He heard his mother murmuring in the kitchen with Regulus and crept quietly into the sitting room. With one quick spell, the pictures flung out of the box and plastered themselves around the room. Now there were naked and fucking men all over the ceiling, walls, and furniture. It wasn’t a permanent sticking charm, he didn’t have time for that, but it would do.

Sirius paused at the front door and turned around to take one last look at the house that had been his own hell on earth. “Good riddance,” he whispered and slipped outside. James’s house was only a thirty minute drive away and Sirius needed time to think. He disenchanted his bike then jumped on and took off.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four


"So, what happened?” 

Night had fallen at the Potter household. The quiet snores of Mr. Potter snuck in through the cracked door of James’s, and now Sirius’s, room. When Sirius had shown up on their doorstep, they had immediately welcomed him in and waved away his promises to get a job and pay rent. They had spent the day running around picking up extra groceries and bedding. They hadn’t asked what had happened, just accepted, “I’m not living there anymore.” Sirius supposed it was only fair for James to ask but he had no idea how to answer.

“I don’t think I can tell you,” Sirius said and shifted on the futon to face James. James lay on his side, head propped up on a fist, questioning eyes focused on his best friend.

"Me? You can't tell me? It must be really bad.” In the dim light, Sirius saw James pull his bottom lip in and begin to chew on it. 

“I can,” Sirius said, his voice dropping to a whisper, “but you might hate me.”

“I would never hate you,” James said earnestly. “Hey, weren’t you the one that said friends don’t turn on friends? When we figured out Remus’s little furry problem?”

“That’s different,” Sirius said. “This is worse.”

“Worse than being a werewolf?” James asked.

“Yes,” Sirius said and moved to sit in bed next to James. “Okay. Are you ready?” James nodded and Sirius opened his mouth then closed it. He rubbed his palms on his newly purchased pajamas, trying to dry some of the sweat and cleared his throat. “Do you have any paper?”

Five minutes later, Sirius leaned over a piece of parchment and scrawled I’m gay with a trembling hand. He handed the parchment to James and promptly buried himself in the blankets on his futon. When it felt like an eternity had passed, Sirius lifted his head and found James scribbling furiously on the paper.

“Here, you giant prick,” James said, quite angrily. Sirius frowned and looked down.

Sirius Black, you are my best friend and a total jackass. I always have your back, no matter what. Who took detention for a week so you wouldn’t get expelled? Who lied for you when you were too hungover to go to McGonagall’s class? Who loves you like a brother? Me!! I feel really sorry for you because blokes are gross but if that’s what you like, that’s what you like. Nothing’s changed. Also, no offense, but you’re right, that is worse than being a werewolf. 

Sirius looked up and found James grinning. “Really?” Sirius asked. James threw an arm around Sirius’s shoulder and pulled him into a side hug.

“We’re brothers, Sirius, forever.” Sirius thought of the pictures buried in his trunk, the ones that looked the most like James. He thought of the many times he had jerked it to fantasies of James, of all the peeks he’d snuck in the dorm, of how jealous he’d been about Lily. Immense guilt swept over him. 

“Brothers,” Sirius agreed, with only a little twinge in his stomach. 

The next day, true to his word, Sirius went out into the neighboring Muggle town to look for a job. He tried a few shops, a fish and chips shack, a plant nursery, and then just as his shoulders began to slump in defeat he saw the perfect place: a deal…car…the place where he’d bought a motorcycle! Not the same one, of course, but the same type of place. 

Sirius pushed back his hair out of his face and smoothed out his leather jacket before pushing open the door to the lobby. A woman about his mother’s age looked up when he entered and smiled sincerely. “Welcome to Pott’s Auto Shop,” she said cheerfully, teeth gleaming against her dark skin. “What brings you here today?”

“I wanted to apply for a job,” he said, doing his best to channel all his charm at the woman in front of him. 

“Ah, okay. Well, we are accepting applications at the moment.” She turned away and swept a packet of paper into her hands. “Just fill these out and if we’re interested we’ll give you a call.” Sirius accepted the application and skimmed the pages. Education – none in the Muggle world. Experience – uh, did owning a motorcycle one day count? He had no references either.

Sirius took about two seconds to debate with himself and then turned back to the receptionist. “Who does the hiring around here?” he asked pleasantly.

“Oh, that’s my husband, Mr. Potts. Would you like to introduce yourself?” she asked.

“Yes, please,” Sirius said and waited as she stepped out to the garage. When she returned, a beefy, equally dark skinned man walked by her side.

“The wife said you want a job?” he asked, looking Sirius up and down with a frown. “Aren’t you a little young?”

“Yes,” Sirius said and, hands hidden by the receptionist counter, waved his wand. “You’re going to give me the job, though. You’re definitely willing to train me.”

“Welcome to the team,” Mr. Potts said, although he still did not smile. Sirius shook the hand of his first boss. When he walked out the front door fifteen minutes later, he held a set of uniforms and a card reminding him to start the following Monday.

When Sirius walked in the door, James pounced on him. “I told my parents,” he said. Sirius threw his uniforms at James.

“Why?” he demanded.

“They’ve been asking questions, and they deserve to know. They took you in, after all,” James said, pouting slightly, bending down and picking up the discarded clothes. “What are these?”

“I got a job,” he announced as Mrs. Potter entered the room.

“That’s great,” mother and son said in unison. “We have to take you to dinner to celebrate,” Mrs. Potter added, coming over and hugging Sirius tightly. “We are very glad to have you here, Sirius. You know you are our son, too.” Sirius had to blink very rapidly to get rid of the weird wetness in his eyes that was definitely not tears.

“Wait,” James called from his chair. “We can’t go to dinner tonight. It’s, uh, we promised to go see Moony today.” 

As soon as Mrs. Potter left the room, Sirius hissed, “You told them about me but not Remus?” He received only a shrug for his effort.

They Apparated to Remus’s soon after and spent the hours before sunset playing Exploding Snap and chess. 

“Peter couldn’t make it, then?” Remus asked lightly, his eyes on the horizon and the darkening sky. The trio lay stretched out on the grass, talking and joking to kill the last few minutes before they had to transform.

“I guess not,” Sirius said.

“You know, he hasn’t been in touch at all this summer,” James said. “It’s been a week, normally by now he’d have begged me to come over at least ten times.” Sirius chuckled but Remus just frowned.

“I hope he’s okay,” he said as he began to sprout fur.

The rest of the night was fairly uneventful. They had mastered their Animagus forms the previous summer and had spent their entire sixth year transforming together. Moony’s wolf was very comfortable with his animal friends. They ran into the forest and spent the evening howling and playing.

Sirius returned to the Potter house in the morning and spent the remainder of his free time hanging out around the house and getting in trouble with James. The third time they set off dungbombs, Mrs. Potter said that she didn’t care how old they were, the next time she was going to bend them over her knee. After that, they switched to impromptu duels. Sirius would be reading and suddenly find himself hoisted up by his foot, or he would be eating lunch with James and get the fancy to send soup up James’s nose. It was great fun, although less fun for their nerves. The duels came to an end the day Mr. Potter surprised James and James instinctively knocked him down with Locomotor Mortis.

Sunday night, Sirius made the grievous error of drinking Firewhiskey with James. He woke up on the first day of his new job with a pounding headache. His attempt at a hangover cure spell helped mildly but he still felt near death as he stumbled onto his bike and drove over to the auto shop. He quickly discovered the difference between where he had bought his motorcycle and where he now worked – Pott’s was purely a repair place. Sirius had no experience with engines and although he tried to learn, it was difficult to listen instead of going hands-on. He ended up spelling a lot of parts into place. Mr. Pott’s was thrilled with his speed and apparent skill and customers even started tipping him when they saw how fast he worked.

“You know what would be cool?” Sirius said to James as they ate dinner that night. “If I made my bike fly.” 

“Definitely,” James said and began to rapidly shovel potato into his mouth. “Let’s get started tonight. Just don’t let Mum know, she’d report us to the ministry herself.”

Sirius and James quickly fell into a routine – Sirius would work all day at the auto shop while James ran errands and killed time in town, they would come home and unwind with Quidditch scrimmages, and finish up the evening with a few secretive hours of enchanting the bike. Sirius had to admit it was his best summer ever. When he received his first paycheck, he cashed it and left the entire wad in the Potters’ bedroom. When he returned home from work that day, Mrs. Potter had stuck it back on his futon. After a few more passes back and forth, James threatened to take it himself, and Mr. Potter suggested a reasonable monthly rate that made Sirius feel less of a mooch without angering Mrs. Potter.

The first day of July came in hot. By the time Sirius arrived at work, his jumpsuit was already damp against his back and underarms. Luckily, sweaty and smelly was practically part of the job description. The morning passed uneventfully. Sirius had picked up a few things during his weeks there although not as much as he would have liked. He spelled quite a few car parts and, in one case, the car itself. 

As Sirius tried to leave for his lunch break, Mrs. Potts motioned him over. "You can work on motorcycles, right?” she asked in a whisper, glancing at a man reclined in the lobby. Sirius looked him over as he did almost any man around his age. The customer was definitely a few years older, 21 maybe. He wore a plain black shirt that hugged his biceps. A few small holes dotted the hem of his shirt. The jeans were a dark wash and tucked into black leather biking boots. One ear sparkled with a single piercing stud.

“Of course,” Sirius said. He knew more about motorcycles than vehicles thanks to his and James’s time applying enchantments.

“Well, go talk to him, see what he needs. We really don’t get too many of that type here.”

“What type?” Sirius asked, thinking she meant the build of the bike.

“Oh, you know. Alternative.”

Sirius walked over to the customer and extended a hand. “Sirius Black,” Sirius said and added, “Resident motorcycle mechanic.” Sirius definitely did not imagine the man looking him up and down. He didn’t even attempt to hide it. Sirius gave a small, self-conscious sniff. Was he that dirty?

“Richard,” he said. “That’s not your real name, is it?”

“Yup,” Sirius said, feeling slightly goofy. “My dad’s name is Orion, so it’s just a whole line of stars.”

“Ah,” Richard said. He leaned back to where he had been sitting and picked up a black helmet and a well-worn brown leather jacket. “So, the bike’s in the garage?”

“Oh, yeah,” Sirius said. “Follow me, watch your head.” They walked in silence that suddenly felt awkward. Sirius was normally quite good at socializing but Muggles were different. No one else had ever questioned his name before. Was there something wrong with being named Sirius? No, of course not.

Sirius decided this guy was a snot.

Once out by the bike, the man explained he had dropped it three times without doing any maintenance in between. The damage showed – scrapes, a bent rim, and probably some mechanical faults. “I’ll have it fixed in about ten minutes,” Sirius said and Richard’s eyebrows quirked in surprise.

“What are you going to do in ten minutes, replace it with a new bike?” he asked.

“Just trust me,” Sirius said. “I have a reputation for being quick.”

“That sucks,” Richard said and smiled. 

“With repairs,” Sirius amended. “Let’s say, I do exactly what needs to be done.”

“Wow,” Richard said. He shifted his helmet in the crook of his elbow and contemplated Sirius for a moment. “How did you end up working here? You seem young.”

“I’m just that good,” Sirius said, grinning before remembering he was working with a customer. He quickly dimmed the bright smile to a more professional watt. “Now, uh, sir, you can wait in the lobby and Mrs. Potts will let you know when it’s done.”

“Could you get me? I’d like to ask you what you did, exactly, that’s only going to take ten minutes.”

"Uh, sure," Sirius said and Richard nodded acknowledgment. He started to walk off then paused and pointed at Sirius’s bike parked around the side of the building. 

“That yours?” Richard asked. At Sirius’s nod, he whistled and without another word continued inside. True to his word, Sirius went back into the lobby after ten minutes. Technically, he was done within sixty seconds, but he had to make it at least a little believable. When Richard came back to look at his bike, he frowned as he walked around it and inspected it. “So, what did you do again?”

“Fixed the body, replaced a tire and rim, and your clutch was pretty much destroyed so I had to replace that too,” Sirius said, touching each part of the bike as he mentioned it. 

“Man, you just saved me so much money,” Richard said and glanced down at his watch. “You’ve eaten lunch? I’d love to take you as a tip, you can tell me how your cruiser rides.” His dazzling smile was back. Sirius looked at the earring winking in the sun and nodded. Richard gave directions to a nearby diner and they rode separately. When Sirius arrived, he pulled into a driveway. Richard sat on his bike and watched him approach.

“Lunch?” Sirius asked. This was clearly not a diner.

“Well, you know, I have food here,” Richard said, “and I’m pretty sure you want me to fuck you.” Sirius couldn’t help it – he gasped. When he had been confused about his sexuality and flirted with women, it had been easy. He hadn’t cared if he got rejected or not, he hadn’t been flustered by hormones, it had just been another conversation for fun. Having an extremely attractive man proposition him just about knocked any confidence out.

“Um,” he said.

“Come inside,” Richard said and Sirius did. The second the door shut, Richard pressed Sirius against it, and grabbed Sirius’s hips as he kissed him. Quickly, very quickly, Richard’s hands slid down the back of Sirius’s pants and squeezed his ass. “God,” Richard panted and Sirius jerked back as he remembered he was with a Muggle and his wand was, as always, stashed in his sleeve.

“Um,” Sirius tried again, as eloquent as before.

“How old are you?” Richard asked, stepping back and sweeping his eyes over Sirius for the second time that day.

“19,” he lied. “But, um, I haven’t…”

“Been with a man?” Richard supplied and grinned in a way that reminded Sirius far too much of Remus during a full moon. “That’s okay.”

“I need to pee,” Sirius said. “I’ll meet you in your room.”

“Okay,” Richard said and jerked a thumb down the hallway. “This way, when you’re ready.”

Sirius slipped into the bathroom, thought for several minutes, splashed water on his face, and then stripped down to his underwear. He bundled his wand up inside his clothes and then carried the bundle out with him to Richard’s room.

Sirius saw that Richard had the same idea, except he was entirely naked. Sirius carefully set his uniform down on the floor and got on the bed next to Richard. “I only have thirty minutes left,” he said as Richard leaned forward and began to kiss Sirius’s neck.

“That’s okay,” Richard said against his skin. “There’s always tomorrow.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Five
July passed in a blur. A few sweltering days snuck in amongst the rainy ones. If James noticed that Sirius was staying much later at work several days a week, he didn’t comment on it. Sirius, for his part, did feel guilty hiding his new sex partner from James. He tried a few times to tell his best friend but the words always seemed stilted. What could James say, really? He’d ask uncomfortable questions or brush it off or something else that made the effort of confession not worth it. 

Most of the time, though, the guilt he felt was quite buried under his insatiable lust. He had quite quickly overcome his virginal shyness and soon found himself consumed with every opportunity for sex. Richard worked nights so Sirius went over almost every lunch break for a quick shag and almost every afternoon for a round two. After a few weeks, he mastered the art of casting a subtle stretching spell on himself as he disrobed. Richard was a respectful but not altogether gentle lover. Sirius wore the marks from fingernails digging into his side with a secret twisted pleasure.

August bloomed with a few awful, gloomy days. Sirius got off of work quite early the first Friday of the month and decided to go see Richard. The ride to his house was almost automatic at that point. Sirius rode and let his mind wander to fantasies about what was about to happen. How lucky was he, really? Not only had he found a gay man in this little town but an attractive one, one that Sirius wanted to fuck and that wanted to fuck him. It was quite a happy circumstance, and all because his parents had discovered his box. He almost wished it had happened sooner. 

Sirius pulled into Richard’s driveway and began to pull his helmet off when the front door banged open. “What are you doing?” Richard hissed as he charged over. “I told you not to come over today.”

“Oh, right,” Sirius said, leaning away from the other man’s anger uncertainly. “Well, you thought I’d get off at five but I got off work early. I thought we could fit in a quick shag.” 

“No, you absolute tosser, get out of here right now,” Richard said. The almost inhuman rage on Richard’s face set off Sirius’s unfortunate tendency to rebel.

"Okay," Sirius said and rolled his bike off the driveway and into the street. He rested his hands on the bars and began to whistle, looking around the neighborhood. It was remarkably similar to the one the Potters lived in. It only needed some enchanted decorations and giggling gnomes.

"What are you doing?" Richard asked, advancing on Sirius.

“Hey, this is a public street, right? I’m just enjoying the weather.” He looked up at the dark clouds gathered in the sky. “Or, er-” He stopped speaking as Richard stuck out his hands and pushed him off the bike. They fell together and with a sickening snap the bike landed on his leg. The entirely familiar pain of a broken limb radiated through Sirius and he grit his teeth against it as he struggled to get his wand.

“Richard?” A slightly panicked voice floated over to them. Sirius twisted his head to see a thin woman standing uncertainly a few feet away. She held a brown bag full of groceries and a small child stood by her legs. “Are you fighting again?”

“It’s not a fight,” Sirius said, speaking loudly to cover the soft pop of his leg magically healing. He pushed his bike off and struggled to his feet. “Just a misunderstanding. I’m leaving.”

“Come on, honey,” Richard said, extending his arms to the woman and aiming a steely glare at Sirius. “Don’t let this ruin your first day back from holiday.” He bent down and picked up the little boy. “What did you get for dinner?” They disappeared inside the house, the woman casting a last anxious look over her shoulder as Richard shut the door firmly.

Shaking, Sirius climbed back on his bike and took off. He went straight to the Potters’ and carelessly propped his bike in the driveway.

"James?" he called as he opened the front door. James popped out of the living room with a grin.

“You’re back!” he said enthusiastically. “My parents are gone for the night, and guess what they still haven’t learned to lock up?” James held up a full bottle of Firewhiskey. “This time when you get a hangover we can just sleep in and be miserable together.”

“Sounds great,” Sirius said and sunk into an armchair. The sick knowledge he had just learned spun in his stomach. Richard had a wife, a family, he had betrayed them to get a few shags in, and Sirius had let it happen. Disgust and shame rolled through him. 

"Sirius?" Sirius jerked out of his reverie and found James staring at him, frowning. “You alright?”

“Of course,” Sirius said. “Actually, no. I royally fucked up.” Sirius grabbed the bottle out of James’s hands, twisted the cap off and chugged directly from the bottle. The whiskey set a fire through his body as it travelled down and Sirius found himself explaining everything to James. They passed the bottle back and forth as they talked and soon enough they found themselves drunk enough to fall over.

“He’s a shithead,” James said as night began to fall and Sirius finished his story. “‘Snot your fault. You couldn’t know.”

“I should have,” Sirius argued. “I let a leather jacket and brown eyes fool me.”

“Brown eyes?” James asked. “That’s not that rare, Sirius. Hell, I have brown eyes.” James giggled and hiccupped for several minutes and Sirius leaned back against the chair. The world spun around him and he had a hard time remembering why he’d been upset. It was Richard’s fault. Prick. Big prick, he did have, and now Sirius would never get to enjoy it again. No, no! That wasn’t the important part! And what was that about brown eyes?

“Right,” Sirius said although several minutes had passed. “Well, that’s the point.”

“What’s the point?” James asked, suddenly looking and sounding half asleep.

“You have brown eyes. I like brown eyes. Your brown eyes.” 

"If you like ‘em so much, why don’t you marry ‘em?” James asked.

“I will!” Sirius declared. “I will marry your eyes. Kiss me so I can pronounce us husband and eyes.” They both laughed and then James, unsteady and chuckling, leaned over and planted a sloppy, silly kiss on Sirius’s cheek. 

Drunk, entirely a fool, and unable to stop himself, Sirius turned his head and put a hand on James’s wrist as he started to pull away. James stilled, his eyes suddenly alert, and Sirius leaned forward and kissed his best friend. It made sense, in the moment, the Firewhiskey mushing his thoughts, James so close and handsome as always.

At first James sat still and stiff beneath Sirius’s lips but when Sirius pulled away to apologize, James leaned forward and closed the gap. They were kissing, messily, but still kissing. Sirius was instantly hard, his hands gripping James’s shirt tightly. He ran his tongue along James’s lower lip and James moaned.

They continued kissing on the couch, soft wet sounds the only noise to break the silence, then James shifted and Sirius felt his best friend’s erection on his thigh. Sirius groaned and, for the first time in his life, came in his pants. The wet spot quickly spread and grew cold, a slightly sobering sensation. The reality of what he was doing crashed down on Sirius painfully.

“James,” he said and pushed gently on his friend’s chest. “James, stop.” They broke apart panting slightly and then James hunched forward and buried his head in his hands.

“What the fuck,” he whispered.

“I’m sorry,” Sirius said.

“I’m going to bed,” James said. “Please…sleep out here tonight.” James left, came back with a set of pajamas and a blanket, and then returned to his bedroom to shut the door firmly. Sirius spent the night tossing, turning, and wondering if he had just ruined the best friendship he’d ever had.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Six
Sirius woke the next morning to the worst headache of his life and the Potters yelling in the kitchen. “You may almost be 17,” Mr. Potter thundered, “but that’s not the same as 17.” Sirius opened his eyes blearily and looked over at the kitchen, squinting into the light. James sat at the table with his head in his hands, clearly suffering a similar headache. 

"Okay,” James said, ending the similarity between Sirius’s usual blow ups with his parents. “I’m sorry, Dad, Mum. You’re right. I just wanted to show Sirius a good time.” The kitchen chair creaked as Mrs. Potter lowered herself into it and patted James on the arm.

“We know,” she said. “Surely there’s something else you two can do for fun.” Sirius turned away at that, burying his face into the couch out of shame.

Their voices turned softer as the discussion continued and Sirius, for the first time since coming to the Potters, desperately wished for school to resume. He lay there and tortured himself with the hazy memories of the night before. He had kissed James and cum because of him all while sloppy drunk. And James had…kissed him back…but that just made everything worse. 

James slunk out of the kitchen and stopped at the couch. "I'm sorry for putting you out here last night,” he said but he spoke distantly, politely. “And I’m sorry for us both. I’ve been grounded.” Sirius lifted his head in horror.

“Grounded?” he repeated. “You can’t fly? For how long?”

“The rest of the summer,” James said and flopped onto the couch with a sigh. “I have to go work for my mum for the rest of the summer, too. Can’t say I don’t deserve it. Clearly Firewhiskey is not a good idea for us.” He chuckled nervously. “Right?” 

"Of course," Sirius said, sitting up. "Last night was a huge, huge mistake." James nodded but the awkwardness on his face remained. Sirius felt quite sorry about misbehaving under the Potters’ roof when they had helped him so much and so he spent the day doing chores by hand with James.

Sirius thought they were past their drunken mistake but that night, as they once again settled down to sleep in the same room, James turned to Sirius.

“Was I an awful kisser?” he asked.

“Do you really want me to answer that?” Sirius shot back, his stomach instantly twisted into knots. 

“Yeah,” James said. “I mean, you’ve kissed other blokes. How do I rank?”

“Only one other,” Sirius said, “and you were better if that’s really what you want to hear.” James smiled, pleased, and Sirius pinched himself to see if he was dreaming. As he hissed in pain, he wondered if maybe this was a hex instead. A curse of having the object of his desires kissing him and talking about kissing him. Wait, what was bad about that? Oh, right, they were supposed to be brothers.

"You were good, too,” James said and even in the dark Sirius saw the redness that spread across his face. “Really good, actually.” He paused. “Would you want to, again?” Yes, this was definitely a hex – the hex of living a dream that could never come true. But, Sirius thought, he might as well go along with it.

“If you want,” Sirius said and, glancing at the cracked open door, crossed the room to James. Closer now, Sirius saw James was fully flushed and trembling. 

They kissed again and again and again. It was like the first time all over, every time they broke apart for air. Just the right amount of hesitance, awkwardness, and enthusiasm. “This is better than sex,” Sirius mumbled when they broke apart for good, bathed in midnight moonlight. James laughed and rolled over, almost immediately falling asleep. Sirius slid back onto his futon, envious of James’s easy thoughts. Was this really so simple for him? What had happened to “brothers?” 

The next morning, James shook Sirius awoke, and they dressed in comfortable silence before departing for their respective jobs. Out of the presence of James, Sirius had time to fully process the past day. He had gone from shagging a married man to making out with his best friend.

When he returned back to the Potters', it was a little weird to enter an empty house now after a summer of coming home to James. He took the opportunity to shower and then went out to tinker on his bike. It would be flying by the end of the summer, he was sure of it. He and James had researched the charms used to make brooms fly and they weren’t terribly difficult, all things considered. Definitely no harder than the Marauder’s Map had been.

When Mrs. Potter pulled into the driveway, James jumped out before the car had fully stopped and bounded up to Sirius. “That was the worst day of my life, mate,” he said cheerfully.

“Well, good,” Mrs. Potter snapped as she walked past them, purse swinging. “This is supposed to teach you responsibility, not fun.”

“What’s fun about working with Muggles?” James asked. At that, Mrs. Potter and Sirius both sent James a nasty look. “I mean, er, Muggles are wonderful and all, but I just prefer a little more excitement in my day.”

“Heaven forbid you go a day without blowing something up,” Mrs. Potter said and snapped the door shut behind her.

“What did you do to get her like that?” Sirius said in amazement. Mrs. Potter was far from the kind to snap and snarl, especially when it came to her only son.

“I was just my usual charming self,” James said, flopping down on the ground next to Sirius’s motorcycle. “And by charming I mean annoying, and by usual I meant extra. Hopefully if I piss her off enough she’ll stop bringing me.”

“She might,” Sirius said, “but then she might also remove your Hogsmeade privilege like she did last year.” James rolled his eyes and mimicked pulling a hood over his head. “Yeah, sure, you have the cloak. That’s a load of fun, isn’t it, sneaking around under the cloak and making us act like you’re not there?”

“I see your point,” James said. His shoulders slumped in defeat. “I guess I have to be better.” 

James and Sirius continued to chat as the sky darkened around them. When Mr. Potter came home, they abandoned the motorcycle and scurried inside to clean up for dinner. They went in the bathroom together, a customary habit, and fought each other over the sink.

“Sirius?” James, the victor, asked as he dried his hands. 

Sirius stepped up to the water. “Hmm?”

“Last night and everything, that’s just fun right?” James said. They met eyes in the mirror. “You don’t fancy me or anything?”

“Of course I do,” Sirius said. “You’re the great James Potter, everyone fancies you. I bet even Snivellus wants in your pants.” James swore under his breath and aimed a kick at Sirius’s calf.

“I’m being serious you twit,” James said. “I do like snogging you but I don’t fancy guys.” Sirius turned off the water and dried his hands, trying to weigh his options. He could admit he did like James, quite a bit, and make their friendship awkward while at the same time missing out on extremely hot kissing but at least be honest. Or he could lie, hide it, and hope it all worked out for the best. Yep, that was the better plan, definitely.

“You’re not my type,” Sirius said with a grin. “Way too square.”

Square?” James repeated, genuinely outraged. 

“It’s the glasses,” Sirius said. “Sorry.” 

“That’s pretty sad a square is going to beat you in a race to the dining room,” James said and unceremoniously shoved Sirius before dashing out of the bathroom. Lacking James’s Quidditch reflexes, Sirius tumbled backward and landed in the bathtub wrapped in the shower curtain.

“Prat,” Sirius grumbled. He began to carefully unwind the shower curtain from his body as he plotted the many ways to get revenge. In the end, he went simple, and as he entered the dining room he ran into James’s chair, causing it to teeter on one leg before crashing to the floor.

“Boys,” Mr. Potter said as James jumped to his feet, red-faced, “can we have one peaceful dinner?”

"Sorry, sir,” Sirius said as he sat down, smirking at James’s glower. “I think the lack of Quidditch is getting to our heads.”

“Right,” James said, instantly catching on. “We have so much stress, tension, and testosterone that are released when we fly. Being grounded, well, I’m going to have to find alternative methods of, ah, release.”

“We’re not lifting your punishment,” Mrs. Potter said, though fondly. “Now be quiet and eat your peas.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven

The rest of August passed quickly in a blur of muggy days and quiet snogs in the dead of night. The full moon went as easily as the past two had and for the third time Peter did not show up. They also noted he had answered none of their owls but agreed as a group there was no way he could be in trouble. He was just weasley enough to get out of any punishment while still being boring enough to hardly ever receive punishment in the first place.

Sirius quit Potts a week before term and then three days before term was to start, Sirius and James realized quite suddenly how much homework they had avoided doing. The two were sent into a mad panic trying to complete all the assignments on time. Mr. and Mrs. Potter watched their son, exhausted from a night of frantic writing, fall asleep at the breakfast table and wondered where they had gone wrong in raising him.

The night before term, the boys haphazardly chucked all their belongings into their trunks and then sat down to finish up the last assignment, an essay for Transfiguration. James finished first and then packed away that too and flexed his fingers as he watched Sirius write.

“Hey, Padfoot?” James asked as Sirius blotted the final period onto his essay. “You’re okay with us, uh, stopping what we’ve been doing, right?” Sirius carefully rolled his parchment and avoided James’s eyes as a cold hand plunged into his chest and squeezed his heart tightly.

“Course,” he said, bending over his trunk and attempting to straighten the contents. “I won’t tell anyone, either, if you’re worried about it.”

“I knew you wouldn’t,” James said. “I don’t want Lily to find out and think the wrong thing.” Sirius froze over his trunk.

“Lily?” he repeated.

“Yeah,” James said. “Listen, I’ve got this new plan to ask her out. I mean, you said you helped her prank Petunia, right? She must be softening up. If I prank someone that she thinks deserves it-”

“That’s great,” Sirius interrupted and slammed his trunk shut. “You do that.” Silence fell on the room and Sirius slumped down on his futon moodily. Yes, he had set himself up for this. He had fooled around with James knowing that he loved him, as more than just a best friend, and now he was feeling the repercussions of his own bad decisions. Knowing this didn’t shake away the desire to hex someone, anyone.

"You told me you didn't fancy me," James said and although Sirius didn't look at him he could hear the betrayal in James's slightly pitched voice.

"Well, I don't," Sirius said, wheeling around. "I love you." James's face flashed pure terror at that and Sirius engraved the image on his heart, a reminder to never let himself be this stupid again. 

“Sirius, I love you, but like a-”

“Brother?” Sirius finished for him and snorted. “Yeah, you keep saying that, but how many people do you figure snog their brothers?”

“Sirius,” James said, “you’re being ridiculous. You said-”

“I know what I said-”

“Stop interrupting me,” James shouted, jumping to his feet.

“No,” Sirius said, also standing. “You thought you could fool around with me and then end things and jump straight into Lily’s arms? Fuck you, James. You’ve been a selfish prick. You just used me as…as practice.”

“Me, selfish? You’re the one that came running here, expecting my parents to support you the whole summer, taking over my room, and then kissing me on top of it.” The two stood toe to toe, their voices snarling but their tones low, both conscious of their desire to not be overheard.

“Well, if that’s how you see me, don’t worry anymore,” Sirius said. “I assure you, I’ll never come running to you for help again. In fact, I won’t come to you at all. We’re done.” James, for all the anger in his eyes, blinked at that.

“Done?”

“Yes, done, as in, not friends. Now, goodnight.” Sirius marched out of the room, snatching a blanket as he went, and settled down on the couch in the living room. He threw the blanket down on the couch and punched it, once, twice, and then soon his fists were flying, pounding the blanket into the sofa. “Fuck you,” he whispered to the blanket as he landed a particularly heavy blow.

“Sirius.” Sirius pulled his fists towards his body and looked up. James stood in the hallway, dim light outlining his figure. “You’re not ending our friendship,” James whispered, walking closer as he spoke. “You want to punch me? Punch me. Then let’s put this behind us.”

“I’m not going to punch you,” Sirius said, although he had to admit he wanted to. 

“We should have talked more, we got carried away,” James said. “I got carried away. I…really like kissing you.”

“So, if you like kissing me, and you like hanging out with me, then what’s the problem?” Sirius asked, failing to stop his voice from turning petulant. “Isn’t that already dating?”

“Well, lips are lips,” James said. “It’s the, um, other stuff that I don’t like.”

“How do you know?” Sirius asked. “You’ve never done it.”

“I just know,” James said. “I’m sorry, I’m really sorry, but I don’t want to be with you.” Sirius didn’t answer. James sighed and put his head in his hands. “This situation is so fucked. I feel like a fourth year with how stupid I’ve been.”

“Well, as long as you admit you’ve been stupid, I guess I can forgive you,” Sirius said. James smiled at him, a cautious smile, and Sirius wanted to return it but just couldn’t. He felt as though his heart had been ripped from his chest and now lay on the couch between them, beating weaker and weaker by the second.

“Come sleep in my room,” James said, standing. “My parents are going to think I did something wrong if you’re out here. They’ll probably make me walk to the station.”

“You would deserve it,” Sirius said but picked up his blanket and returned to the bedroom he had just fled. He quickly climbed onto the futon and rolled away from James, squeezing his eyes shut. He wanted to be the first to fall asleep but soon enough gentle snores broke the stunted silence. Sirius sighed, sat up, and looked over at James. The lines of tension their argument had caused were smoothed now in sleep. He felt, suddenly, a disconnect between them. The James he thought he knew would never string him along like this James did. He’d been an experiment, a chance to practice, a toy to be discarded after use. Anger and loss pulsed through him in alternating beats and he realized his heartbreak wasn’t from the rejection but from the ending of an illusion. 

Sirius had always done everything he could to please James. Taunts, pranks, bewitchments all for James’s amusement. Well, no more. Sirius rolled over and swore to himself that this year would be different. Hogwarts would experience Sirius Black as it never had before.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight

The first breakfast of term was legendary as usual. Students served themselves from golden platters. There was a stack of pancakes a meter high and a veritable mountain of scrambled eggs. The first years talked excitedly as they took in the sights of the Great Hall with eyes as wide as the giant teacup Sirius sipped from. Besides him, James sat, sullenly picking through his breakfast. “I can’t believe we start the year in double potions with Slytherins,” he said, scowling at the aforementioned students. 

“At least you got into NEWT potions,” Peter said glumly. “I’ve got a free period, my scores were so low.”

“Well, that’s your fault,” Sirius said and took another drink. As one, James, Remus, and Peter turned and gaped. “Don’t look at me like that, James, you’ve told me the same thing yourself.” Peter shifted his gaze to James and then back to Sirius before excusing himself and scurrying off, red faced.

“What was that about?” James hissed. Sirius shrugged and skewered a sausage with his fork.

“I’ll go see if he’s okay,” Remus said, ever the peacemaker, and swung his bag over his shoulder as he stood. “You should really apologize, Sirius.”

“Is this about what happened between us?” James asked in a low voice, leaning close to Sirius to keep their conversation private. Sirius snorted and leaned away.

“No.” He took a final bite of his breakfast and then pushed away from the table. “See you in class.” He took the shortcut to the dungeons, behind the portrait of Weezelbus the Cowardly, and was the second student to arrive. The first, predictably, was Snape. Feeling reckless, Sirius plopped into the chair next to him. Or tried to. His bottom had not yet brushed the chair when Snape turned, wand out, and shot Sirius with an Expelliarmus charm. Sirius promptly toppled to the ground, his bag shooting off his shoulder and hitting the wall.

“I see the summer hasn’t mellowed you out at all,” Sirius said. His head throbbed where it had slammed into the rough stone of the dungeon floor. He gingerly brought his fingers up and felt wetness. A peek at his hand confirmed it was blood. “That was unnecessary,” he added. His shoulder also ached where his heavy bag had dragged. 

“On the first day of school, really, boys?” Professor Slughorn boomed out as he walked into the classroom and surveyed the scene before him. “Five points from Slytherin and five from Gryffindor. The first day of term, Snape!” Slughorn paused and shook his head. He continued talking as students began to file in. Their curious eyes swept from Sirius’s bloody head to Snape’s sneer and back again to the blood. “No, points are not enough. This behavior needs to stop. In a few short months, this kind of brawl would draw the attention of Aurors. The both of you will be serving detention with me all this week and next. It starts tonight immediately after dinner. Do not be late. Now, Black-” Slughorn twirled his wand and a soothing warmth pressed against Sirius’s head. He was familiar with the sensation enough to know he had been healed. “-go sit down anywhere else.”

Sirius sat down next to James and subtly edged his chair away from the other boy.

Later, Sirius skipped dinner and opted for a visit to the kitchen instead. The elves swarmed around him with trays of pies, skewers of meat, and an ungodly portion of sweets. He stuffed himself silly and made small talk with the elves, who he now found more interesting than anyone in the Great Hall. He promised to come back in the morning, filled his pockets with wrapped treats, and took off for Slughorn’s office. 

He entered to find Slughorn sitting at his desk writing. Snape sat before him, tense in his chair, face pinched and fingers twisted together in his lap. Both men completely ignored Sirius’s entrance so he flopped down into the open chair, slouched down, and spread his legs out casually.

“Hi, Snape,” Black said cheerfully and Slughorn looked up abruptly.

“Now that’s the kind of behavior I expect from you two,” he said approvingly. “You don’t have to like each other but for Merlin’s sake you do have to get along! Now, Severus, what do you have to say?”

Snape glowered at the ceiling for several moments before turning to Sirius. “Good evening,” he said stiffly and Slughorn brought his hands together in one muffled clap.

“Excellent,” Slughorn said. “Here’s how these detentions will work. You will both report to my office every night after dinner and I will relay a project for you to complete. The more you work together, the faster you will be done. Squabbling will only result in longer nights. If I ever catch you fighting, I will add another day of detention. Is this all clear?”

“Yes, sir,” they said in unison, though Snape spoke quite sourly.

“Good,” Slughorn said. “Tonight you will be refilling and reorganizing my supply closet so I can keep a close eye on you. I’m sorry to treat you as first years but frankly it’s the treatment you deserve.” At that, Slughorn dismissed them with a wave of his hand and returned to his writings.

Sirius and Snape walked into the closet and surveyed the jumble before them. Large cauldrons covered the floor, filled to the brim with different bug parts and vials of blood. Small jars stood in a rack, most of the labels faded to the point of illegibility. An unlocked cabinet held boxes of stones and other clunky bits. It all looked quite overwhelming.

“Great,” Sirius groaned. “Why did you have to attack me?”

“Why did you sit down next to me?” Snape hissed in return, glancing over their shoulders at Slughorn. 

"Last I checked, I can sit anywhere I want,” Sirius said and stepped deeper into the ingredient closet, feet moving carefully to avoid contact with the cauldrons. 

"Of course you can," Severus said. “You’re a Gryffindor, a golden boy, why should normal rules of social situations apply to you?” 

“Is that how you see me?” Sirius asked, fingers ghosting over the corked vials. “I’m flattered.” 

“Just rewrite the labels,” Severus spat. “I’ll restock.” 

Sirius wanted to argue but instead he grabbed a few sheets of parchment from a dusty stack and began to snip them into label sized strips with his wand. Silence fell as they worked. Most of the labels were indecipherable and the contents unrecognizable so Sirius fetched an ingredient index. When he came back with the thick book in his grasp, Severus looked up and snorted but did not comment. 

Sirius dropped the book next to the vials and began to flip the pages, seeking any pictures or descriptions that vaguely matched the ingredients before him. After five minutes of completely unfruitful searching, Sirius glanced over at Snape. 

The Slytherin was crouched on the floor, a hand lightly resting on a cauldron to keep him steady, as he worked. Up on the counter sat several small piles of ingredients and Sirius realized they were going to go inside the vials. 

"Snape," Sirius said, "I bet you know the name of all this stuff.” He gestured at the ingredients and Snape looked up, a slightly dazed expression on his face, as if he had forgotten where he was.

“Of course I do,” Snape said. “It’s pathetic you’ve managed to stay in Potions this long without such knowledge.”

“Sorry, I must’ve missed the days we spent memorizing what Monkshood looks like,” Sirius said. “But I do have quite a knack for matching, let’s switch jobs.”

“No,” Snape said flatly. “You have no idea what is in these cauldrons so you have no idea how to handle the contents. If you touched Wolfsbane and then touched St. John’s Wort without a thorough cleansing spell in between, you would then get to enjoy the delightful sensation of skin slowly dissolving.” Snape scratched the bridge of his greasy nose. “On second thought, please, go right ahead.”

"Fine, then, I’ll just sit here and do nothing,” Sirius said, swinging his legs carelessly. 

“Why don’t you add breathing to the list of things you’re not doing?” Snape suggested as he turned back to his cauldron.

“I heard that,” Slughorn called from his desk. “That’s another detention.” Snape swore. Sirius groaned and pulled the text into his lap, continuing to flip pages without success.

Several hours later, a chair scraped to indicate Slughorn rising to his feet. He strode into the closet and looked at the two boys. Sirius was listlessly sorting bezoars as Severus finished up the last of the labels. “It’s quarter till one,” he said. “You boys are going to be very tired tomorrow. Seems like you didn’t work very well together, eh?” After a long pause during which neither boy spoke, Slughorn sighed and gestured towards the door. “Let’s go to bed.”

Slughorn escorted Snape to the nearby Slytherin common room first and then he and Sirius started the considerably longer trek to the Gryffindor common room. Sirius itched to duck into a secret corridor that would shorten the trip, if only Slughorn wasn’t with him.

By the time he made it to his bed, he barely had the energy to drop his robes on the floor and crawl into bed before falling asleep.

The next day, Sirius moved as though through water. Every step felt sluggish and slow. He dozed off in the middle of Charms and lost another ten points from Gryffindor. He slept through his afternoon study period and most of dinner then raced down to Slughorn’s office. 

Slughorn assigned them to tag along with Filch. They spent the evening lugging buckets and scrubbing floors by hand. Filch kept them busy until well past one. Perhaps he would have worked them longer but it was at that point Sirius began to fall asleep while walking. He tripped over his own feet and dropped an almost full bucket of dirty water. Filch began to howl and Snape smiled meanly as he flicked his wand to scoop the water back into the bucket.

"Get your useless hides to bed,” Filch barked and Sirius happily, if blearily, followed that order.

Sirius went to breakfast the next morning, too tired to stumble into the kitchens and too hungry to skip the meal altogether. He sat beside Remus and Peter smiled at him tentatively.

“Everything okay?” Peter asked.

“Sure,” Sirius said and picked up a piece of toast. He normally liked to slather it was jam and honey but the effort of wielding a knife seemed too much. He bit into the plain bread and crumbs dusted the front of his robes.

“Quidditch try outs are Saturday,” James said from his seat next to Peter. “Think you’ll come watch?” It was a bit of a tradition, Sirius cheering from the stands as the hero James dominated the field, making try outs ten times more difficult than they needed to be.

“Can’t,” Sirius said, reaching for another piece of toast. “Detention, remember?”

“I’m starting them early this year,” James said, “so you can catch at least a little.” He smiled so sincerely that Sirius had to look away. It made him think of the summer’s late nights, when they would break apart and James would be grinning, flushed, lips swollen, cock hard and warm against Sirius’s stomach even through their pajamas. 

“No, thanks,” Sirius said. “Why don’t you invite Evans to watch?” 

“That’s a good idea,” Peter agreed enthusiastically, twisting slightly to look down the table towards Lily.

“No,” James said, now no longer looking in Sirius’s direction, “I’ve already got plans for Lily. Starting…now.” At that, the post swooped into the hall, a dull buzz filling the hall as dozens of wings beat in flight. 

The Gryffindor quad watched as a small owl brought a thick envelope to Lily. She received the letter with a frown and her friends leaned in to read as she folded the parchment open. Slowly, she began to smile and a small chuckle escaped. Then she looked up, caught the boys watching her, and quickly stuffed the letter in her bag.

“Hey, that’s progress,” James said brightly. “She didn’t tear it up or Transfigure it into a giant spider trained to chase me.”

“What was in the letter?” Sirius asked despite himself.

“A poem extolling the virtues of Petunia Evans,” James said. “I have to thank you for that, mate, I’d’ve never known she hated her sister if it wasn’t for you.” 

“Yay me,” Sirius said and stood.

“Wait, let us finish, and we’ll walk to class together,” James said to the enthusiastic nod of Peter. Remus, for his part, buttered his toast and seemed entirely out of the conversation.

“I’ll go on ahead,” Sirius said lightly and left without waiting for a response.

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine

By the fourth night of less than five hours of sleep, Sirius was quite delusional, emotional, and unstable. Even Severus seemed less enthusiastic to insult people than usual. On the fifth night, Slughorn told them to go gather ingredients from the Forbidden Forest. The list was long and most of it hidden quite deep in the woods. Sirius wondered what Slughorn would do if he started to cry. He wasn’t so sure he would be able to stop himself.

“Let’s go, Black,” Snape said, looking at Sirius standing there with something that, strangely enough, wasn’t pure animosity. Sirius trudged into the corridor after Snape, wondering what would happen if he just went upstairs and went to sleep. They couldn’t expel him for that, could they? Maybe he should talk to Professor Dumbledore…

“Black.” Sirius looked up and found Severus several meters ahead. He realized he had stopped walking and was instead leaning against the wall. “We are going to be out all night again if you can’t pull yourself together.”

“I think I’m going to die,” Sirius said faintly and sunk to the floor. He heard Snape’s footsteps as the other teen marched away. Was he going to fetch Slughorn? Did Sirius even have the energy to care? The stone felt pleasantly cool against his cheek as he sat there, face turned, hair splayed across his eyes and providing a merciful curtain against the light of the corridor’s torches.

He would just sleep there, then. It was as good a spot as any. Sirius eased himself down flat on the ground, hands folded under his head as a makeshift pillow, and closed his eyes.

 He got perhaps half a second of blissful sleep when a sharp thump in his ribs made him jerk awake. Sirius groaned and reluctantly rolled over, squinting at the one who had just kicked him. He tried to ask Snape what the hell was wrong but his mouth resisted movement.

“Drink this,” Snape said. “It’ll get you up so we can finish this waste of time and get an actual night of sleep.” Apparently Sirius was not the only one suffering from exhaustion but whereas sleep deprivation made Sirius a loopy child, it made Snape an actual human being. Sirius started to file this information away for later reference and then realized there was no need. He was done pranking with James. Instead, he just appreciated the gesture, however grudgingly it was being delivered.

Sirius took the potion as a man dying of thirst would take water, cradling it gingerly before carefully tipping it past his lips. As he swallowed, he considered that the cool liquid could actually be poison. 

Before the thought could fully realize, Sirius’s sleepiness began to dissipate, and as he stood he no longer felt as though he was slogging through mud. He probably wouldn’t be able to successfully mount a broom but at least he could function. The rush of energy made him a bit lightheaded and, forgetting who he was talking to, he turned to Snape and smiled.

“Brilliant,” he said and received a sneer in response.

“It only lasts a few hours,” Snape said. “Let’s get this over with before I have to deal with your unconscious body.”

“How would you deal with it?” Sirius asked. Snape stared and Sirius realized he had taken a step closer to Snape and sounded downright flirtatious. He hastily backed up and shook his head. “Er, after you.” Snape turned on his heel and began to glide down the hallway, his black cloak streaming behind his thin body. Still, if Sirius looked close, he could see Snape did have a bit of an ass, the curves were just hidden beneath all the extra fabric. And he wasn’t really bony like Sirius had always thought but rather more…lithe. 

It was with sudden horror that Sirius realized he was checking Snape out and had started going hard while doing so. He contemplated just running away and taking whatever punishment he would receive later but then Snape turned around to glare at him and Sirius lost all desire to leave and lose the view.

Sirius followed Snape into the Forbidden Forest and at once Snape began to give directions on where to find the ingredients but Sirius was rather distracted by his sudden carnal thoughts. He really wanted to bend Snape over – no, he wanted to throw up at the thought – but actually, how big was Snape’s prick anyway – NO!

“Excuse me?” Snape turned around, looking extremely harassed. “No, you’re not going to collect the Veil Mushrooms. So, what are you going to do then? Sit on your ass and twiddle your thumbs?”

“I’m going to fuck you,” Sirius barely managed to not say and, in the effort of holding back the crude comment, stayed silent. Why was this happening? The thoughts and desires were overwhelming, it was kind of like that one time James had slipped him a love potion and – “Potion!”

“So now you’ve been reduced to one word sentences,” Snape said. “Fascinating that your intelligence has stooped so low - but not entirely unexpected.”

“No, what – the potion – what was it?” Sirius managed, all the while fighting back a stream of vulgarity. 

“A simple energy booster,” Snape said. “Also functions as a powerful aphrodisiac, so the next time you are failing miserably with a woman, give it a shot, if you can manage to brew it successfully.” Snape paused. “So, don’t bother.”

“You gave me an aphrodisiac,” Black repeated. “Why?”

“It should have no effect on you with no women around,” Snape said with an eye roll that suggested a first year should know this. “Unless you’re turned on by woodland creatures.”

“Or men, you fucking idiot, which you are. A man and an idiot. Idiot.” Sirius had expected disgust, revulsion, rejection, derision, anger – really, the normal Severus Snape emotions. Instead, Snape smiled, genuine contentment relaxing his features.

"You’re sexually attracted to me right now,” he said. Sirius made a gesture as if to choke Snape and his smile only brightened. “Oh, you are. Fascinating. This has got to be the single most humiliating event of your life, hmm?” Snape leaned back against a tree and folded his arms across his chest. “How are you feeling right now? Tortured by your desire to suck my cock?”

Sirius stood there, utterly humiliated, as his erection throbbed at Snape’s words. He was painfully hard even as he wanted to retch at the idea.

“I’m leaving,” he said and turned to go.

“Alright,” Snape said. “Good luck with the Forbidden Forest. I took a direct path here but you could easily take days to get out.” Sirius ignored Snape and pulled out his wand.

“Point me,” he said. His wand lay still in his hand. “Point me.” Nothing.

“Oh my, Black never learned which spells don’t work in the forest,” Snape murmured. “I hope you don’t try one of the non-working spells when a creature attacks you. By the way, what is the best defense against a Hijinxy? You do know that if you’re going to wander off, don’t you?”

“Well, I’m going to pass out soon, isn’t that what you said? So I’m buggered whether I stay or go,” Sirius said.

“I promise,” Snape said, “if you stay and let me humiliate you, I’ll take you home once you pass out and when I deliver the ingredients I’ll tell Slughorn how well we worked together.”

“Chivalrous,” Sirius said and saw that he had no other choice. “Fine, whatever gets you off.” He sunk to the forest floor, still resisting the impulse to try to fuck Snape.

“You’d like to know what gets me off, wouldn’t you?” Snape said.

“I don’t know,” Sirius said, and buried his face in his knees as he suddenly began to cry. Exhaustion, lust, and frustration made a terrible combination. He felt weak, powerless, and useless. He also, suddenly, wanted James, although thinking of his friend didn’t help ease the aphrodisiac effect at all.

“Perfect,” Snape said and Sirius heard the rustling of robes. A moment later and all the feelings were just…gone. He was himself again. It took a few moments but his tears dried. He wiped his face before standing.

“You did it on purpose?” he asked.

“Of course not,” Snape said. “It was a happy coincidence. But you’ve suffered enough. I can be forgiving.” Something in the way Snape spoke made Sirius feel a twinge in his groin, this time not at all caused by a potion. 

“Forgiving?” Sirius asked.

“Yes,” Snape said. “You made me suffer these past few years and now I’ve made you suffer too. It’s not even, exactly, but it’s fair enough.”

“Fair enough?” Sirius asked and knew he was just echoing everything Snape said but had a hard time processing anything enough to truly speak.

“For this,” Snape said, pulled Sirius closer, and kissed him. It was nothing like kissing Richard and nothing like kissing James. With both of them, the kisses had made him feel safe, soft, and comfortable. Like hanging out with someone you trust. 

Kissing Severus Snape felt dangerous, like at any moment he could pull away and laugh at Sirius for doing such a foolish thing. It was electrifying to be so close to the person he had hated so long. Snivellus Snape, he and James had called him, and spread the name among the other students. Now Snivellus kissed him with exacting passion, just hard enough to remind Sirius that they weren’t friends, they didn’t like each other, this was never going to be another James situation.

It was comforting to be so uncomfortable. Sirius kissed back rougher until he had Snape’s hand at his throat, choking ever so lightly, and then they were not really kissing but rather pressing their lips close as Sirius gasped for breath. Somehow, he already trusted Snape, and his trust was rewarded with heightened pleasure and sensation.

Sirius began to feel dizzy and as he pulled away Snape immediately let his hand drop. The dizziness didn’t fade and he suddenly felt quite sleepy again. “The potion is wearing off,” he said and Snape nodded.

“What’s the Gryffindor password? I’ll leave you in the commons,” he said brusquely, all business, and Sirius told him with a rush of gratitude. Snape was never going to hurt him because neither of them would ever care enough to get hurt. After his whirlwind summer of broken trust and broken hearts, it was a wonderful thought.

Sirius fell to the forest floor and slept.

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten
Sirius watched James and Lily for a moment, feeling for all the world a creep. They’d been officially together a few weeks now and Sirius hadn’t said a word to either of them in that time. They looked happy though, sitting next to each other on the couch, Lily’s red hair spread across James’s chest as she leaned on him. She read a book as he flipped pages in the latest Quidditch Weekly. It was everything James had always wanted and that hurt.

“Can I talk to you?” Sirius asked, startling them both into looking up.

James immediately popped to his feet. “I’ll be right back, Lils,” he said. Lily waved him away, engrossed in her book. Sirius caught of glimpse of runes scattered across the pages. Then he turned and led James over to a quieter area of the common room and cast Muffliato.

“Oh,” James said and his smile fell. “You want to talk about-?”

“I need to talk about it,” Sirius said. “I love you.” James said nothing for a moment and then sighed.

“I thought we talked about this.”

“No, we had a stupid fight,” Sirius said. “Just listen. I love you like you love Lily. You are it for me, you’ve always been. But I know it’s not going to happen. I respect you and Lily and I don’t want to lose your friendship. But I need…time. I need to get over you and I don’t think I can do that if we’re talking. So that’s why I’ve been avoiding you.” Sirius took a deep breath. “Is that all okay?”

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” James said. “But can’t we still hang out? At least sometimes?”

"No," Sirius said and James slumped forward.

“Alright,” he said, “and I guess I can’t give you a hug either.” Sirius knew he should say no but the temptation was too great to resist. One last hug with the man he loved. It was poetic.

“One would be okay, I think,” Sirius said and James reached out and practically crushed Sirius in his Quidditch player grip.

"I know I fucked up this summer,” James said as Sirius let himself relax. “Everything you said – me being selfish and all, it was true.” James pulled away and Sirius felt the loss viscerally. “So take the time you need, I’ll always be here, and I’ll fix myself.” James smiled. “Soon we’ll be friends again, better than ever.”

Sirius said goodbye, smiled at Lily, and walked out of Gryffindor tower feeling distinctly like he had just gone through his first break up, a month after the actual heartbreak. Now that the anger had ebbed, he didn’t enjoy the breakfasts alone, the solo walks to class, or being the only one sneaking into the Prefect bathroom. It had been a pretty lonely month and who knew how many more stretched out ahead of him?

Sirius went to the library after that, lugging a giant stack of books with him. Last year, Sirius Black wouldn’t have been caught dead in the library on a Saturday. Studying was part of the whole new man he had promised himself he would be.

Sirius studied until his brain hurt, thought about quitting, and then studied some more. Eventually Madame Pince forced him to leave and after a brief visit to the kitchen he departed for the grounds with a stash of snacks and a buzzing mind.

As much as he didn’t enjoy studying and wandering around alone, at least it was better than the two weeks of detention that had kickstarted the term. He now happily went to bed before ten each night, relishing the chance to get a full eight hours. And the other, more unexpected benefit…

With that in mind, Sirius paused his stroll and began to dig through his bag. Eventually he located the desired scrap of parchment and pulled it out. It was disappointingly blank. Sirius started to shove it back away when dark inky letters bloomed upon the page.

Fourth floor, second corridor, tenth door, now.

Sirius let the grin play on his face as he put the sheet away and began the considerable trek to the named room. One time he had taken so long that Snape had left, and that had been enough disappointment for a lifetime.

Sirius arrived out of breath and flushed from sprinting the last half of the walk. He found Severus sitting in the unused classroom, bent over an essay scroll, quill scribbling furiously. He looked up when Sirius entered but then went back to his homework without a word.

Sirius, used to this routine after only a few shorts weeks, began to loosen his tie.

“No,” Snape said. “Come here.” Sirius realized he wasn’t speaking in the commanding voice that had become so familiar. He sounded more relaxed, natural, and overall less desperate to establish dominance over Sirius.

"Which essay is that?” Sirius asked as he dropped into the desk next to Snape. 

“Arithmancy,” Snape said absently and rubbed his nose. “What were you working on in the library today?”

“My – wait. You were there? Why didn’t you say hello?” Sirius asked. Snape snorted without looking up.

“Yes, that would go over well,” he said.

“No one would care,” Sirius said. “If you haven’t noticed, James is too wrapped up in Lily to bully anyone and, well, you know why I won’t mess with you. No one really cares about that stuff anymore.”

“The difference a single summer can make,” Snape said and cast a drying spell on his essay. “I wanted to ask you, though. What did happen this summer? You and Potter haven’t been the absolute rotten team you normally are.” 

“We grew up,” Sirius said and then, after a pause, added, “And apart.”

"Hmm.” Snape reached out and ran his hand down Sirius’s clothed thigh. “So, how quickly can you get rid of these bothersome robes?”

In less than thirty seconds, Sirius stood naked in front of Snape as the Slytherin walked around him, inspecting him, commenting on his features and flaws. Snape always wanted to do this first and it was always humiliating enough to get Sirius into the right state of mind to take what happened next, which did vary a bit. Spanking, wax dripping, experimental but ultimately harmless hexes – it depended on what struck Snape’s fancy that evening.

Then, the part that most bewildered Sirius and that admittedly he enjoyed the most. Snape would suck him off, taking his cock deep in his throat, gagging and slobbering on it, acting as if it was Snape’s privilege to dole out such treatment. 

Then, of course, Sirius would return the favor. He’d lay down on a conjured mattress and open his mouth and Snape stayed in charge, using the hole however he wished with a little added breath play, pinching Sirius’s nostrils closed as he jammed his cock particularly deep in Sirius’s throat.

Normally, Snape would spend himself on his own stomach and make Sirius’s lick it off. Then they would get dressed and part ways. 

That night, Snape gave no warning before cumming in Sirius’s mouth. Sirius swallowed without a second thought and then Snape leaned down and kissed him. 

“You taste good, right?” Sirius asked and Snape just smirked before, in yet another unexpected move, pulling Sirius close and wrapping his arms around him. 

“Is this okay?” he asked, always surprisingly gentle after he had his fun abusing Sirius.

“ ‘Course,” Sirius said and let himself snuggle deeper into Snape. Snape was all angular joints and pale skin and he still had that same beaked nose Sirius had made fun of so many times but still this new contact was enjoyable. 

“I should have said something,” Snape said, “in the library.”

“Getting sentimental?” Sirius asked.

“No,” Snape said, “I’m just positive if I approached you in public you would turn a very unflattering shade of red. I’d like to see it.”

“Do it then,” Sirius said. The same reckless feeling that had made him sit by Snape in the first place took over again. “Have breakfast with me tomorrow. I’ll be really flustered and uncomfortable, I promise. Plus James will be stuck between picking on you and keeping Lily happy. It’ll be great.”

“I’ll see,” Snape said and Sirius recognized it as yet another attempt on Snape’s part to maintain control. Sirius let him have that illusion, despite them both knowing just one word from Sirius would end everything.

It wasn't the next morning or even that same week that Snape finally joined Sirius for breakfast. It was on Sirius’s 18th birthday, September 15th. 

Sirius woke up with the same little pile of presents as years past, although it was admittedly smaller without his parents’ contribution. James broke their agreed upon silence to wish him a happy birthday and Remus stayed behind to chat and walk him to the Great Hall.

“I asked the elves to serve you a cake,” Remus said, looking immeasurably pleased with himself. The last full moon had been a thankfully gentle one. Maybe the tension between Padfoot and Prongs had been affecting Moony. 

“Only one cake?” Sirius asked. “Shame. I expect better of you.” 

Sure enough, no sooner had Sirius sat down than a large chocolate cake with Butterbeer flavored frosting appeared on his plate. “Perfect,” Sirius said happily as he devoured a bite. “Thank you, Remus.”

“Aren’t you fat enough, Black?” The drawl sent a jolt across the Gryffindor table – James’s head snapped up from a few seats down and Lily also looked up from her spot next to him. Remus shifted in his seat as he frowned and Peter pretended not to notice what was happening. For Sirius, the jolt went straight to his cock.

“Come on, Severus,” Lily said. “Leave it alone.”

“That’s good advice, Snape,” James said, his tone casual although his flashing eyes relayed his fury just fine. “Get going now.”

“No. Black wants me here, don’t you?” Snape asked and forced a third year to scoot down so he could settle onto the bench next to Sirius. 

“Yeah, it’s fine,” Sirius said and carefully avoided looking directly at James’s resultant shocked glare. 

“As I was saying,” Snape said loudly and Sirius suddenly knew Snape’s reason for coming over. He wanted to have the control in a showdown with James, for all the times he had been the one humiliated. “Isn’t that why your mother kicked you out? Eating her out of house and home and embarrassing her all the while?”

James stood up and Lily placed a hand on his arm. “He’s not worth it,” she murmured. James looked down at her, over at Sirius, and finally at Snape.

“What’s going on?” Remus asked, in the same tone he would ask a question in class. “Why haven’t you cursed Snape into last week?”

“Oh,” Sirius said. “I know he’s joking.”

"Joking," James repeated, still standing and staring at Snape. He looked on the verge of capturing a mental snitch, an idea just out of reach. 

"Yes, of course,” Snape said and stood. “We all know the real reason you’re homeless, right, pillowbiter?” He whispered the last word, reserving it for the closest people. By the time James had his wand out Snape was halfway across the Great Hall and when he tried to go around the table Sirius and Lily both stopped him.

“I’m going to kill him,” James said seriously as Sirius pushed him into the corridor. “How could he know?” 

“Know?” Remus asked, he and Lily following behind closely, the door to the Great Hall falling shut behind them. “Know – that’s why you were kicked out, really?” 

"James, quit struggling," Sirius said, let go, and turned to Remus. “And yes.”

“So how does Severus know?” Lily asked. Sirius noted she looked completely unsurprised, especially in comparison to  Remus’s suddenly white face, and knew James had told her. 

"Probably Regulus,” James said as Sirius rounded on him.

“Or maybe it was you,” he said angrily, “since you’re so keen on telling other people.”

“Lily is not ‘other people’,” James said defensively. “I needed someone to talk to.”

“Why, exactly?” Sirius asked. “Talk about what, specifically?” Sirius could see the fear on James’s face and changed track. “You know what, nevermind. Now everyone knows. Sirius Black is a fag.”

“Doesn’t explain why you were so okay with Snivellus bothering you,” James said.

“I’m leaving this conversation,” Sirius announced, unable to come up with an explanation and not wishing to endure questioning. “Thanks for the cake, Remus.” Before anyone could attempt to stop him, Sirius turned and hurried down the hall. He made it to the second floor before a hand grabbed him. “What-” he started in exasperation but fell silent when he turned and found Snape, smirking.

“Did you enjoy that?” Snape asked, his hand still on Sirius’s shoulder.

“It was awful,” Sirius said. “They were asking me all these questions, I was afraid they would somehow think I fancy you.”

“Don’t you?” Snape asked, suddenly glaring, a glare just as intense as any he’d ever shot Sirius’s way during an argument in their younger years. Before, the look had been amusing, but now it drove a genuine spike of fear into Sirius.

"Er," Sirius said.

“Careful,” Snape said. “You don’t want to hurt my feelings. I might have to punish you.” His hand slid down Sirius’s back and grabbed Sirius’s ass tightly, squeezing and kneading. Someone was talking somewhat nearby and it sounded as though the speakers might be moving closer but Sirius didn’t ask Snape to stop.

“I like this,” Sirius said. “Is that the same as liking you?” Snape drew his hand back and spanked Sirius, the muffled slap of skin against robe quiet in the empty corridor. A very faint sting stayed behind even as Snape pulled away and took a step back. The voices were even louder now. 

“Let’s find out,” Snape said. “Let’s have lunch next weekend. You probably can’t afford to dine at La Sur, now that you’re destitute, so it will be my treat. Just don’t embarrass me. Wear something nice…nothing scarlet.” Then Snape was gone and Sirius tried to look casual as the group of third years passed by, discussing a Care of Magical Creatures essay. 

A lunch date? It sounded like fun and fun was Sirius’s ultimate goal in pursuing this fucked up relationship. At the same time, he was half in-love with James, buried under school work, and freshly 18 with nothing to show for it. Dating had never been his intention. Still, Snape hadn’t left much room for discussion. There was no harm in going, anyway. It was not as though he was going to actually develop feelings for Snape, no matter what banter they threw at each other.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven

Sirius showed up at La Sur in his absolute best – a light washed pair of jeans, a Pink Floyd T-shirt, and his favorite leather jacket.

“I’m going to kill you,” Snape said as Sirius sat down, smiling. Snape had actually dressed up. Comfortable in the privacy of the dim lighting, Sirius reached out and touched Snape’s neat ponytail, only have to his hand smacked away. “I’m serious.”

Their waiter pulled up to the table and looked Sirius over with an ugly sneer. “We have a dress code,” he said.

“I apologize for his inability to dress himself,” Snape said and stood up. “We’re going.” Sirius grabbed a free dinner roll and then hurried after Snape as he strode outside, pulling his cloak back on as he walked.

“I’m still hungry,” Sirius whined. He fell in step beside Snape, though he had to power walk to keep up.

“That’s your own fault. I tried to take you to a nice meal and you showed up looking like – that.” Snape’s eyes swept up and down Sirius and his lip curled in an impressive rendition of the waiter. As they walked, they passed The Three Broomsticks. It was full of students and through the window Sirius spotted a flash of red hair. They moved too quickly to know for sure but Sirius wondered if it was James and Lily.

“Wait. We’re leaving?” Sirius asked as they approached the entrance.

“I’m leaving,” Snape said. “Do whatever you’d like, Black.” 

"Wait,” Sirius said again and this time he reached out and grabbed Snape’s hand. Snape jerked away as though burned. He wheeled around to face Sirius, a cool mask in place. “You’re really mad?”

“I gave you a direction and you didn’t follow it,” Snape said. “The only enjoyable part of this for me was having power over you. I don’t have it anymore though so run along.”

"So I have to do everything you say all the time?” Sirius asked. “That’s the only good thing about spending time with me?”

“Don’t tell me you thought this was about the stimulating conversation.”

Sirius said nothing, regret and humiliation running through him. Those had been fun before but now it was just painful. Digging a hole in the ground and never coming out sounded greatly appealing at the moment. Maybe he could just permanently live in the shack, his only socialization monthly visits with Moony. Anything sounded better than seeing Snape every day knowing what they had done while no longer doing it.

“Yes, I thought not,” Snape said and turned to leave. Sirius acted without thinking – he stepped closer to Snape and shoved him. Instantly, Snape’s wand came out, but Sirius easily knocked it out of his hand before he could cast anything. It flew ten feet and landed in a patch of grass. Snape dove for the wand and Sirius jumped on top of him before he could reach it.

They wrestled in the muddy grass, fighting for control. Sirius was on top, then Snape briefly, then Sirius. The more they wrestled the more apparent it became that what they had been doing had been solely thanks to Sirius giving up control. Snape strained but was weak against Sirius’s force.

Eventually Sirius gained a firm lock on Snape, knees holding him in place, hands pressing down on his shoulders, and Snape stopped struggling. He just looked up at Sirius with animalistic hatred burning in his eyes. The expression was so familiar that it made Sirius freeze.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to ruin this.” Sirius slid off Snape and sat on the cobblestone road next to him. Snape leapt to his feet, snatched up his wand, and busied himself with cleaning his robes.

“I knew it would end.” Snape tucked his wand away and turned to face Sirius. The hate was gone and replaced with an expression of emotionless stone. “I expect you will be telling your friends now.”

“No,” Sirius said. He finally stood and, after a moment of internal debate, reached for Snape’s hand again. Snape surprised Sirius by not pulling away. He just watched their hands come together, tan skin covering pale. They stood there holding hands and to Sirius it was the most intimate thing they’d done yet. It was the first time something stirred in his stomach, the faintest echoing breeze of what happened whenever he looked at James. The feeling startled and soothed him all at once.

The bell at the entrance of The Three Broomsticks jingled. Their hands abruptly parted. A crowd of students exited the pub, laughing, chattering excitedly. They looked to be fourth years and wore a mix of House colors. A girl with sleek black hair eyed Sirius as she walked by but otherwise they were ignored.

Once they had passed, Snape turned on his heel and continued the walk back to Hogwarts. Sirius trotted beside him. The animosity had gone out of the space between them but Sirius could not identify what was left in that place.

“Can we talk?” Sirius asked as their feet hit the stone ground of the Hogwarts corridors.

“Follow me,” Snape said. Sirius did. They ended up in yet another unused classroom. They sat at desks next to other and looked at each other but said nothing for a long while. “Well?” Snape finally asked.

“What are we doing?” Sirius asked in response.

“Previously, I was exerting some measure of control over you for both of our sexual pleasure,” Snape said. “Now that you’ve broken that illusion of control, we are sitting in a classroom, wasting each other’s time.”

“Am I wasting your time?” Sirius asked. “What else would you be doing if you weren’t here?”

“Homework,” Snape said, lip curling. “Brewing Potions. Plotting to kill Muggles. The usual.”

“That’s not funny,” Sirius said. He thought of his family and shuddered. 

“What would you be doing?” Severus asked.

“Absolutely nothing,” Sirius said brightly. “You are the most exciting part of my life.”

Snape flushed and Sirius thrilled to see it. Somehow, suddenly, it was very important to him that they continue seeing each other. Snape cleared his throat and said, “What now? I wasn’t joking when I lamented your conversational ability.”

“Stop talking then,” Sirius said, “and just fuck me.” The words felt somewhat awkward but he forced them out and was rewarded with a searing look from Snape. Sirius stripped under those intense eyes and then stood naked, waiting. The possibility of rejection was excruciating. It was worse than the degradation he’d been enduring because that he had always been able to stop. If Snape walked away now, that was it. Sirius was completely out of power.

Before Sirius could even fully worry, Snape stood and grasped Sirius by the shoulders, turning him around roughly. “Bend over,” he growled. Sirius’s cock leapt to life and he once again did as he was told. He placed his hands on the desk and realized belatedly he had not cast a stretching charm as he did with Richard. 

Sirius steeled himself for pain but gasped when he felt one of Snape’s fingers, slippery with some substance, slip inside. It was a new sensation to Sirius and soon his cheek pressed against the desk as he panted, three of Snape’s fingers sawing away, bending and twisting and Sirius gasped with pleasure.

Then Snape pressed his hard cock against Sirius’s ass and bent over to growl in his ear. “Ready?” Sirius could only moan. Snape pulled back and then slid inside, inch by tantalizing inch, and Sirius stroked himself as Snape pushed his full length inside. “So this is what you’ve been waiting for?” Snape asked, at once mocking and breathless as he thrust in and out, pushing Sirius into the desk each time. “You wanted to be fucked.”

“Yes,” Sirius whispered. “Yes, please.” The pleasure built, robbing all energy and breath from his body.

Snape brought a hard smack down on Sirius’s ass. Then another and another and Sirius sensed it as a punishment for overpowering Snape earlier. The slaps hurt, his ass began to sting and burn, but it only made everything more intense, and as Snape lashed out with one particularly violent strike, he came in his own hand.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve

The first week of October, Sirius, James, Remus, and Peter sat in the Gryffindor common room, furiously working on a Divination essay due the following morning. The thick crimson curtains of the great window were pulled back, revealing a nearly full moon gleaming in the night sky.

“What are you putting for the third eye under Sagittarius?” James asked Remus, leaning over to look at his paper. Remus rolled his eyes and turned the parchment so James could see.

“Make sure to change at least one word,” Remus said. “We don’t need Professor Harrow ripping up our scrolls like last time.”

“That’s not fair,” James said indignantly. He gestured with his quill and flung several drops of ink across Sirius’s essay. “I changed five words last time.”

“Harrow’s just that brilliant, I suppose,” Remus said and snorted.

“Well, I’m done,” Sirius announced as he cast a drying spell. Three heads swiveled to gawk at him. “What?”

“You’re done first?” Peter squeaked.

“Let me see that!” James reached out but Sirius shook his head and quickly rolled up his scroll.

“I put a lot of homosexual predictions in mine,” Sirius said. “If we both do it, she’ll think it’s a joke.”

“She’s going to think it’s a joke anyway,” Remus said, bemused.

“Exactly,” Sirius said and stood with a grin. “Then when she gives me a bad grade, I complain to Dumbledore about discrimination and she has to give me a good grade to save face, even though it really is shit.” 

“That’s not fair,” James pouted. “I want to be gay.” There was a pause as heads now turned to look at James. James locked eyes with Sirius and went bright red. “Come on mates, not literally…”

“Well, I’m off,” Sirius said with a theatrical yawn. “Enjoy your night, boys.” Sirius winked and took the stairs to the dorm two at a time.

Once at his bed, Sirius took out the rubbish essay he’d just scrawled and tossed it into his bin. Then he pulled out the essay Snape had helped him with and tucked that into his bag for the next day. That done, he stripped down to his underwear and crawled into bed. 

Sirius fell asleep smiling.

The next morning, Sirius alone helped himself to a generous serving of his favorite breakfast foods. James, Remus, and Peter listlessly picked at toast and eggs while they tried to keep their drooping heads from hitting the table. Lily sat next to James, alternating between daintily eating her own breakfast and glaring at her boyfriend for being so tired.

“Didn’t we already talk about your weight problem?” Snape asked as he dropped into the open seat next to Sirius. It took everything Sirius had not to beam at the Slytherin.

“Can we reschedule this another day?” James asked tiredly. “What about Monday morning?”

“I’m only talking to Black,” Snape said. 

“Well, he’s my best mate, and you’re a git, so please fuck off for today,” James snapped. Lily looked wary but said nothing.

“Do you want me to fuck off, Black?” Snape asked. Sirius looked at him and his stomach twisted. How he had ever thought Snape was ugly, he couldn’t see it now. The look in his eyes was going straight to Sirius’s dick and he was already hardening.

Sirius shook his head.

“What about fuck on? Fuck up? Fuck down? No. Okay then. Potter, kindly eat your breakfast and leave us alone to talk.” Sirius glanced over at James. James was already staring at him and as soon as their eyes locked all the color drained out of James’s face.

“No,” James said and jumped to his feet. “No, no, no.”

“James?” Sirius asked warily.

“I know that look!” James pointed a finger at Sirius. “You’re fucking him.” James had not, perhaps, realized he was yelling. At the last line, the majority of Gryffindor table went quiet. There was a pause and then Remus stood up and clapped lightly.

“Amazing, folks, isn’t he? James wants to be the next Rhodes in Wizards on Watch. He’s really perfecting those acting skills, huh?” Eventually, reluctantly, talking resumed, but Sirius was not confident many students had believed Remus’s ruse.

Remus turned to James and Sirius and looked, for perhaps the first time, angry. “Can you three take this somewhere else? You’re always embarrassing us.” 

“We have nothing to take anywhere,” James said. He no longer yelled. His voice was oddly flat. “Sirius, you were right. We shouldn’t talk. At all.” James turned and slipped out the doors and was gone.

“Walk to double potions together?” Snape asked lightly. Sirius’s stomach felt pulverized but he nodded and followed Snape out of the Great Hall. They walked in silence for a moment and then Snape asked, “What did he mean by he knows that look?”

“Huh?” Sirius asked.

“You were looking at me like you were picturing me fucking you,” Snape said. “And Potter said he knows that look.” Snape stilled, forcing Sirius to stop walking as well, and they faced each other in the corridor. “Have you been fucking Potter?” 

“Never have, never will,” Sirius said and the truth of the statement didn’t bother him at all. He considered that he was finally getting over James.

“I hope not,” Snape said and took a step closer. “If I find out otherwise, I will make you suffer, and I don’t mean in a way that you’ll enjoy.”

“Now,” Sirius said, a bit nervously, “there is one thing you should know.”

“What?” 

“Over the summer we did kiss a little. But that’s it. And never since the term started.”

“Kiss a little,” Snape repeated.

“I did fuck a Muggle, too,” Sirius added. Snape’s threat had scared him into saying things he probably should keep to himself. “Over the summer.”

“I get it now,” Snape murmured. “You’re a slut.” Sirius’s cheeks burned. 

“You didn’t fuck anyone before?” Sirius asked.

“I did,” Snape said. “But you’re the one that likes to be fucked. That makes you the slut.”

“That sounds sexist,” Sirius said and then Snape had pushed him into the wall and shoved a hand down Sirius’s pants. He found Sirius’s cock and squeezed just hard enough to hurt. Sirius cried out but could not move away. Snape had him trapped between the stone wall.

“Don’t be smart with me, slut,” Snape hissed.

“Yes, sir,” Sirius said, growing harder by the second. Snape’s grip stayed tight enough that his erection hurt him.

“What did you let this Muggle do to you?” Snape asked.

“He fucked me,” Sirius said.

“More details,” Snape demanded. 

“He put his cock in my ass,” Sirius said.

“Did you like it?” Snape squeezed Sirius’s dick in warning. “Tell the truth.”

“Yes,” Sirius said. He was starting to feel dizzy.

“How many fingers could he fit inside you?”

“None,” Sirius said. “He never did that.”

“Oh really?” Snape softened his hold and Sirius hissed at the release. “You were just that ready for him?”

“No,” Sirius said, “I had to use a stretching charm when he wasn’t looking.”

“So I’m the first person to properly fuck you?” Sirius just nodded. He was achingly hard. He wanted to cum but Snape showed no indication that he was going to make that happen. “I think we should fix that.” At that Sirius did jerk back and Snape let him. They stood a foot apart now, Sirius still red, breathing heavily, Snape looking mildly bored.

“What do you mean?” Sirius asked.

“We should find someone else who can properly fuck you. A Muggle, if that’s your fetish. Sluts can’t contain themselves to just one person and I’d rather know who this other person is.” Snape spoke matter-of-factly. Sirius squinted.

“Is this a test?” he asked.

“No,” Snape said and smiled, a curling nasty smile. “This weekend, I’ll have someone for you.” Snape turned and continued the walk to Potions, although they were assuredly late. Sirius trailed behind, confused. He had no interest in being with another man. Why was Snape suggesting that? Was this his way of saying they were done?

They sat separately in Potions and Snape hurried out of the room before Sirius could talk to him. 

Sirius caught James staring at him, white-faced with anger and disgust, and it did bother him. But in a way it also liberated him. Sirius of last year would never have done something so far outside the approval of James Potter. Sirius really was becoming a new person.

As Sirius made his way to his next class, alone, he wondered for the first time if that new person was even someone he wanted to be.

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirteen

Sirius dreaded the remainder of the week and he almost ignored when the scrap of paper told him to meet in Hogsmeade. But eventually he did get suitably dressed for the chill of late October and went to the designated place - a hotel technically outside the boundaries of where students could be.

Snape sat in the lobby reading a magazine when Sirius entered. He wore Muggle clothes, just as Sirius. But where Sirius’s clothes were dark and form fitting, Snape wore loose baggy light jeans and a plain ill-fitting t-shirt.

Snape checked them in and Sirius followed him, nerves twisting his stomach.

“Is there really someone else?” Sirius asked.

“Are you questioning me?” Snape asked with a glare. Sirius didn’t answer.

They arrived at the room and Snape opened the door. Sirius took a few steps in and then stopped. A man sat on the bed in his boxers. He had curly brown hair, bright blue eyes, and a mischievous smile. He looked Sirius up and down and grinned. Sirius stood stock still and emotionless. The man had an uncanny resemblance to James.

“He’s everything you said,” the man said to Snape. 

“Precisely,” Snape said and settled into a chair in the corner of the room. “Now, I already talked to our friend here but, Sirius, here’s the rules. You do exactly what he says or what I say. You don’t talk other than to answer our questions. And you call him James.” 

Sirius felt sick and at the same time he was already hard. He knew this was twisted. But how many times had he sought out photos of men for just this reason? How many times had he wanted to fuck someone just for looking like James? And here was his chance.

“One more thing,” Snape said, “if you want to stop, just say chocolate frog. You’ve heard all the rules. Do you want this, Sirius?”

It was the first time Snape had said his first name. That alone pushed Sirius into saying, “Yes.”

Snape smiled, a predatory smile. “Then let the fun begin.”

The man, the stand in James, came off the bed at that and roughly grabbed Sirius’s face. He kissed him, slipped his tongue in his mouth, squeezed his ass. Sirius just took it and felt dizzy and felt only vaguely aware that he was moaning. 

“Take your clothes off,” Snape said from the corner and Sirius complied. “Now tell him you want to gag on his cock. Use his name.”

Sirius complied.

An hour passed and Sirius lay on his stomach on the bed, the man’s semen slowly finding a trail out of his ass. Sirius had not cum and he was still achingly hard. The man didn’t seem to care about that. He was dressing and then, once all his clothes were on, he pulled out some Muggle bills and passed them to Snape.

Sirius had felt a lot of shame and humiliation since he had started associating with Snape. Most of it he had enjoyed. Watching this James look-alike pay Snape for the use of his body broke something inside him.

Sirius knew then he had been taken advantage again. Richard had done it, James had done it, and he thought he’d guarded himself against Snape doing it. But dammit, he’d failed.

Snape stood, the money on the table, and Sirius expected him to leave. Instead, he stripped naked, and slid onto the bed. Then he leaned forward and kissed Sirius’s forehead.

“Are you well?” Snape asked. The simple question broke open everything Sirius has been holding inside and, turning his face, he began to cry into his pillow. 

Snape said nothing but hugged Sirius to his chest and placed kisses all along his cheek, his neck, his shoulders. 

“The worst part,” Sirius said when the tears slowed to sniffles, “is I’m still fucking hard.” Snape smiled, one of his very rare genuine smiles, and used his fingers to wipe away Sirius’s tears.

“That’s my job,” Snape said and took Sirius’s cock into his mouth.

After, they cuddled again, and Sirius said, “Why did he pay you?”

“You,” Snape corrected. “It’s your money. And it was the only way I could get him to trust me. Before I presented you as a prostitute, the other men were convinced it was a ruse.” Snape traced a pattern in Sirius’s light spattering of chest hair. “You didn’t enjoy it.”

“I did in a lot of ways,” Sirius said. “But I wouldn’t want to do it again.”

“The thought of fucking Potter whenever you want isn’t appealing?” Snape’s rough voice was back. Sirius wanted to shoo it away. He needed more time with gentle Snape.

“I’m already fucking the person I want whenever I want,” Sirius said and took Snape’s hand. He brought it up to his mouth and kissed the knuckle of each finger. 

The two wizards were silent then, looking at each other, both thinking complicated thoughts and not sure how or if to say them.

“Do you have feelings for me?” Snape asked stiffly and Sirius winced.

“There’s no good answer to that question,” Sirius said. “Either I do and you don’t and it’s awkward or I don’t and you do and...yeah, still awkward.”

“Of course I have feelings for myself,” Snape said. Sirius laughed and shook his head. Then Snape exhaled and Sirius quieted to listen. “The only relationship I have ever seen is my parents. My father beat my mother within an inch of her life often. They both drank too much and slept around. Then I came to Hogwarts. No matter what I did, I alienated other students. Lily was my one friend and I drove her away. I don’t even know what it means to care about someone. So if you’re wondering if I have feelings for you, I truly don’t know. How would I know? What does that look like?”

It was the most Snape had ever said in one sitting and the most sincere. Sirius let the words settle for a minute.

“Do you like kissing me and hanging out with me?” Sirius asked, recalling the same conversation with James over the summer.

“That sounds juvenile but I suppose so.”

“And do you have any aversions to my penis?”

“I believe I just had it in my throat.”

“Then congratulations,” Sirius said, his heart in his throat. “You like me.” Sirius leaned forward and kissed Snape, their first kiss that didn’t involve Snape forcing his domination. Sirius noted for the first time the softness of Snape’s lips, the smoothness of his face, the way Snape’s breath hitched slightly each time Sirius returned for another kiss.

“You never answered my question,” Snape murmured.

“I think I’ve made it pathetically obvious how I feel about you,” Sirius said, “but if you want to hear it, here it is. I think about you all the time. You make my dick hard and my heart sing. You are the wind beneath my wings. You-”

“Enough,” Snape snapped but without any venom.

“I was just getting started,” Sirius whined.

“We need to get started on walking back. We can’t stay here.” Sirius closed his eyes and burrowed his face into Snape’s chest. Pale and thin though it was, it was also quite comfortable.

“Why don’t we just sleep here? Who will know?” Sirius asked.

“Your dorm mates and mine,” Snape answered.

“Fuck them,” Sirius said. “Fuck everyone but you and me. They’re all pricks.” Sirius wrapped his arms tighter around Snape. “I’m not leaving."

Sirius expected a fight. Snape just sighed heavily and then spelled off the lights.

“Goodnight, Sirius,” Snape said.

“Goodnight, Severus,” Sirius said.

They were both asleep within minutes.

When they woke the next morning, they dressed in companionable silence. Severus, formerly Snape, departed back to the castle first and Sirius gave him a head start by eating the free hotel breakfast.

Sirius spent the day in the library working on an upcoming Potions project, idly wondering if Severus would be impressed if he managed to scrape together an O for his final year in Potions.

He skipped the Great Hall for dinner and once again visited the house elves for snacks and silly conversation.

When he climbed up to Gryffindor tower that evening, he stepped past the Fat Lady and found his friends sitting around the fireplace, talking heatedly. When Peter spotted Sirius, he squeaked, and the other two boys turned to look. James glowered and Remus looked mildly harassed.

“Where have you been?” James demanded.

“I thought we weren’t talking,” Sirius said lightly. Images of him crying out, “James,” the night before as the Muggle man pounded him into the mattress made it hard to sound casual.

“We’re fucking worried,” James said. “Ever since this summer…”

“You already know what happened this summer,” Sirius said and, after a moment, flopped into a chair. This conversation didn’t seem like a short one.

“Well we don’t,” Remus said. “I thought we were all friends. The 4 Marauders. Not the 2 Marauders and their two sidekicks.”

“It’s James’s business to tell,” Sirius said and shrugged. James groaned.

“Fine, you really want them to know, Sirius? Well, Remus, Peter, I snogged Sirius a few times this summer. There, it’s out, now can we fix this mess?” James’s cheeks burned hotly for all the bravado of his words and Remus was shaking his head. Peter looked faintly green.

“Both of you? Merlin’s beard,” Remus said.

“No, I don’t think we can fix it,” Sirius said. “That’s not even half of our problems. What have we been doing the past six years? I mean me, Remus, and Peter? I’ve been your show Niffler, Remus has been the nerd we copy off, and Peter, frankly, I don’t even know what the fuck you’re doing here.”

“You’re sounding like your mother right now,” James said tightly. “That’s not how I view Remus and Peter at all.”

“I am a nerd,” Remus said. Peter said nothing. 

“Fine, so it’s just me. I’m the asshole and you three are the perfect best friends. Well then, let me stay out of your way.” Sirius stood up and James grabbed his arm.

What is going on?” James hissed. Sirius looked down at where James’s hand met his arm and then looked around at his friends.

“I’m in love with Severus Snape,” he said and felt, for the first time in a while, a large genuine grin stretch across his face. 

James let go.

“He’s poisoning you,” James said dazedly as he leaned back in his chair. “Has to be.”

“That’s actually how it started,” Sirius said, still grinning. “Remember when we got detention? He gave me this potion, he said it would keep me awake, apparently it was also an aphrodisiac. I got so incredibly horny that we-”

“If you at all value our friendship, please stop,” Remus said with a strained voice. James and Peter said nothing.

“Alright,” Sirius said. “But now you all know what’s been going on.”

“So...that’s it?” James whispered. “You’re shagging Snape and you hate us and that’s just the way it is?”

“I don’t hate any of you,” Sirius said. “But let’s face reality. We’re graduating in seven months. You’re going to marry Lily and pop out a bunch of beautiful babies. Remus will probably discover the cure for lycanthropy. Peter...what do you want to do, Peter?”

“I want to be a Healer,” Peter said after a considerable pause.

“Amazing,” Sirius said. “A father, a Potions master, a Healer. And who knows where the hell I’ll be. What does any of that have in common? Our friendship is doomed, lads. Time to face facts.” Sirius clapped each of them on the shoulder. “Good night.”

Sirius went upstairs, climbed into bed, and slept restfully.

The next morning, a body was found in Hogsmeade, outside the gates of Hogwarts.

Chapter Text

Chapter Fourteen

The body was found cut into four pieces, the pieces arranged into the shape of a snake’s forked tongue, and around the forked tongue someone had chalked the face of the snake.

The Dark Mark.

Hogwarts had known about You-Know-Who - it was impossible not to with all the disappearances and killings. This was the boldest act he’d committed so close to Hogwarts.

The third day after the body was found, Sirius sat at breakfast and James immediately sat next to him. They had not spoken since their confrontation in the common room.

“Did you hear about the girl?” James asked, jaw tight. His hands lay on his thighs balled into fists.

“What girl?” Sirius asked.

“The girl they found murdered in Hogsmeade. She was a Muggleborn that had just gotten her Hogwarts letter. So they hunted her down and…” James trailed off. His fists now trembled.

Sirius pushed his plate away from him, sickened. “How do you know?”

“My dad told me. He’s working the case with a load of other Aurors.”

Sirius swore and pounded the table. Dark images darted into his head and nausea rolled through his stomach.

“How do these sick fucks keep doing this?” Sirius asked. He thought of his family and his anger only increased. They’d never said as much but he knew they were working for the Dark Lord. Regulus had a countdown in his room for the day he turned 18 and could pledge himself to You-Know-Who.

“I want to tell you something else,” James said, “but don't bite my head off.”

“Just tell me,” Sirius sighed.

“Snape is being investigated for ties to Death Eaters.” James said this all in one breath as though that made it easier to hear.

Sirius wanted to lash out at James but he knew he was just telling what he’d heard from his dad. Mr. Potter’s information was always accurate.

“Just investigated?” Sirius asked.

“97% of Death Eater investigations lead to an arrest,” James said quietly. Sirius shook his head.

“There’s no way Severus is cutting up little children,” Sirius said. 

“Not personally, of course. He’s not 18. But he’s talking to several known Death Eaters - Lucius Malfoy, Sebastian Thorne, Prewitt Macnair.”
 
“They were all Slytherins a few years ago,” Sirius said. “They’re probably just his friends.”

“His Death Eater friends,” James said.

“What do you expect me to say?” Sirius snapped. “Yes, he must be a Death Eater, let’s go get him?”

“No,” James said. “Just be careful. I know we’re not at our best right now but you’re still my brother and my parents’ son.”

“I know,” Sirius said. “What I said the other night…”

“I was thinking we should have a boys night,” James interrupted brightly. “Just the Marauders. We can go to the Hog’s Head and get smashed on Firewhiskey.”

Sirius did not feel much like partying with the image of the murdered girl in his head but he recognized James’s effort and appreciated it enough to agree.

That night, he met Severus in the Astronomy tower as they had planned. His stomach was twisted up in knots.

“James told me something today,” Sirius said as they sat on the stone floor, facing each other, and Severus scowled.

“Why would I care?” Severus asked.

“He said you’re friends with Malfoy.” 

Severus squinted at Sirius and said, “Yes, he was the Head Boy five years ago. We both took a keen interest in Potions so we correspond about that sometimes.”

“Nothing else?” Sirius asked.

“What else do you mean?” Severus’s voice was the dangerous silky one that usually sent a thrill through Sirius. Today it made him shiver.

“Like...the body at Hogsmeade.”

“Potter told you I’m a Death Eater,” Severus sneered. “And you believed him.”

“If I did, I wouldn’t be talking to you,” Sirius said. “But it made me think. How do you feel about Muggles?”

Silence fell in the tower. Sirius grew more nervous with every second.
 
“My father is a Muggle,” Severus said eventually. “And I told you what he’s like.”

“Not every Muggle is like that,” Sirius said.

“Aren’t they?” Severus asked, flaring up, and as he spoke the words that fell from his mouth came passionately, the deep seated convictions of a zealot. “Their domestic violence rate is fifty times that of ours. Fifty! And they murder each other at a hundredfold rate.”

“So the answer to abusers and murderers is abuse and murder,” Sirius said flatly.
 
“I didn’t say I support the Death Eaters, now did I? I’m simply talking about Muggles. You asked what I think. I think they’re brutal, simple creatures.”

Sirius had no answer to that. It wasn't that he even knew any Muggles to proffer up as a counterargument. He'd never thought to research statistics as Severus apparently had. Richard had, admittedly, been rather brutal and simple. It was just that Sirius knew Muggles were people and all people deserved to be treated well. It was hard to put it into words an argument that came from a basic understanding of humanity and goodness.

“When’s your birthday?” Sirius asked abruptly.

“January 9, why?” As they met in the tower it was November 1st. A little over two months. Was two months enough time to change anyone’s mind? How could he even do that? Sirius’s mind raced with the possibilities. “Why, Black?”

“Back to Black, then?” Sirius asked. 

“I assume you no longer wish to associate with me,” Severus answered. “So yes, I’ll call you Black again.”

“Don't be daft,” Sirius said and tried to sound breezy rather than conniving. “I’m just processing. I never thought you’d feel that way.”

“Calling Evans a Mudblood wasn’t a clue?” Severus said with a lift of his eyebrow. Sirius flinched at the slur.

“I thought that was just to get under James’s skin,” Sirius admitted.

“A large part of it was,” Severus said. “The small part is that it’s a word I once used quite regularly.” Severus looked out into the dark expanse of the unlit grounds. “There was a time I thought I would pledge myself to the Dark Lord as soon as I turned 18. I outgrew that. I have no desire to serve a madman. But that doesn’t change how I feel about Muggles. That’s the truth, Sirius. Take it how you will.”

“I’m glad you told me,” Sirius said. “The hard thing is that I’ve known since I was eight that I hate people who hate Muggles. I’ve had to fight my parents on that my whole life. So you saying the things you’re saying, it's a bit of a mindfuck.”

“I’ll go,” Severus said, “and you let me know when it’s not difficult.”

“No!” Sirius stood quickly to match Severus and grabbed his forearm. He knew if he let Severus leave now he would lose any chance of redeeming him. The hope of redemption was what kept him going now. “Don’t go. Just kiss me.” 

And that, Severus did.

The next morning, Sirius sat down next to James and Lily at breakfast. They were holding hands, talking in low, serious tones. Still reeling from the murder of the 11-year-old, the entire Hall operated in muted tones, ones of caution and grief, save the Slytherins. Most of their hushed whispers carried an electric energy of excitement, of a promise being fulfilled. It was sickening but no one had crafted the right way to handle it yet. In other times, Sirius and James would have put their heads together and found a way to put them in their place. All Sirius could think about was one Slytherin in particular.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” he said, “but I need your help.”
 
“With what?” Lily asked.

“Severus,” Sirius said and they both broke eye contact. James stared down at his empty plate and Lily began to fiddle with the straps of her bag. “Listen. I think we can help him and I know you two don’t care about him but think of the Muggles we could be saving.”

Lily stood and swung her long red hair over her shoulder. “Severus was my best friend for ten years. We grew up together and I’m Muggle-born. That wasn’t enough to change his poisonous views. I’m sorry Sirius but you’re just setting yourself up for heartbreak. Severus is going to be a Death Eater. No one can stop him.”

At that, she left.

“James?” Sirius asked hopefully.

“So you talked to him about Death Eaters?”

“Yes,” Sirius said. He'd stayed up all night rehearsing how he would ask James for help. He'd decided success lay in total honesty. “He said he won’t be one but he does have dangerous views on Muggles.”

“And you think you can change him?” James sighed. “Dad says there’s never been a case of a successful Muggle-hater rehabilitation. And there’s been Muggle-haters long before Death Eaters.”

“How is that possible?” Sirius asked. “No one has ever changed?”

“Not in the casework he’s read,” James said. “They’ve done research. They think there’s a biological component to it. Like a mental illness.”

“So, therapy and drugs, then?” 

“Like a mental illness, not exactly one.” James didn’t meet his gaze. “I wish you the best, mate, but I’m out too.”

Then Sirius was left alone. 

That afternoon, Sirius trekked out to Herbology. He'd just approached the greenhouse when he heard a blood curdling scream. He flicked his wand out of his sleeve and dashed over. By the time he got there, a crowd had gathered. Several people were crying. Sirius pushed his way to the front and stared at the horror before him.

Another body was chopped up. Another child by the looks of it. What looked like blood had been used to write, “The Dark Lord has come to Hogwarts.”
 
Sirius turned away and barely made it out of the crowd before he threw up. He bent over, hands pressed to his knees, and had the wild thought that he wished Severus could see the body. Surely, surely that would change his mind...

A few days later, the victim's identity became known to the students through the headlines of the Daily Prophet. Another Muggleborn due to come to Hogwarts. The journalist writing the article reported a conclusion that Sirius had not reached. The boy had been found on Hogwarts grounds. That meant the culprit had to be a student or a professor.

Questioning and searches started. Aurors began to patrol the school. Sirius saw Mr. Potter striding around more than once. Students were escorted from class to class, from common rooms to meals. Any student caught alone was severely punished. Mr. Potter made James give up the Invisibility Cloak. They used the Marauder’s Map to entertain themselves in the long hours locked in the common room.

Sirius didn’t see Severus outside of classes. He couldn’t. They wrote sparse notes to each other on the enchanted parchment. There was not much to say. 

One day, a week before the holidays were to begin, Mr. Potter pulled Sirius from Charms.

“I have to work but Mrs. Potter is taking James and Lily skiing over break,” Mr. Potter said with the air of someone trying very hard to be cheerful. “Did you want to come?”

“Can I bring my boyfriend?” Sirius asked before he really thought out the question.

“Of course,” Mr. Potter said. If the question tripped him up in any way he didn't show it. Likely, a teenager's sexuality was far less concerning to him than serial murder. “Who is he?”

“Severus Snape,” Sirius said. There was barely any color in Mr. Potter’s face already but the little remaining drained away. The forced smile evaporated.

“Snape? You want to bring Snape? Don’t you know-” Mr. Potter cut off and cleared his throat. “It concerns me to hear this is who you’re spending time with. Severus Snape is not someone you should be associating with. The people he knows, the things he does...” Mr. Potter trailed off. Sirius’s stomach dropped as he understood what was being implied.

"You think Severus had anything to do with it?" Sirius asked. Mr. Potter looked away. “He doesn’t like Muggles but he wouldn’t kill them,” Sirius said heatedly even as his stomach twisted and his brain whispered doubts. Wouldn't he?

Mr. Potter pursed his lips. “Fine,” he said eventually, without smiling. “Invite him. I’ll let Euphemia know. Get back to class.” Mr. Potter paused. “And don’t let Snape know we’ve talked about him. It could have dire consequences.”

Severus accepted the skiing invitation surprisingly easily. Sirius guessed it was due to how strongly he did not want to go home. Hogwarts had decided to completely close over the break to accommodate the murder investigation. Severus had not returned to his parents since his first year.

So as the Hogwarts Express pulled into King's Crossing, James, Lily, Sirius, and Severus awkwardly disembarked together. Severus had only a small bag with a few pairs of basic robes. Sirius was glad he'd packed enough warm clothes for the both of them. A small voice inside him snarked, "You think skiing will stop him from hating Muggles? You think sharing a coat means he didn't kill anyone?"

In the car, Lily sat in the front with Mrs. Potter, leaving Sirius to sit in the back sandwiched between the other two. The ride was a very quiet one. When Severus reached out and held Sirius's knee, briefly, he felt a pang of anxiety rather than pleasure.

They arrived at the Potter house and dropped off their luggage. Then Sirius immediately ran back outside to his bike and gave it a hug, to James’s amusement and Severus’s bewilderment.

“What is that?” Severus asked.

“My baby,” Sirius crooned, rubbing the seat. His mood was considerably cheered just from seeing the thing. Severus glared. “It’s a motorcycle. A type of car. Want to ride with me?”

“No thank you,” Severus said sourly, shivering in the snow.

“Then go inside before you get sick,” Sirius said as he threw a leg over the bike. “I’ll be back soon.” Severus looked a bit angry but for just a moment Sirius didn't care. He needed the ride.

Sirius took off and within moments relaxed into the bike, his heart slowing to a steady, relaxing beat. He had missed this so much. It brought him back to the summer when times had been so simple. And they hadn’t felt simple! He’d been lovestruck over his best friend, fucking a married man, and yet he almost longed for that time now. The time when no children had been murdered at Hogwarts and his boyfriend wasn't suspected to be involved.

Sirius did fly the bike for a little but even with warming spells the air was too frigid. He landed back at the house, recast the protective spells, and re-entered the house.

He found Lily and James downstairs, chatting with Mrs. Potter. She looked as falsely cheerful as Mr. Potter had. The long hours, the terrible case, both seemed to be wearing her down as well.

“Severus?” Sirius asked, biting his lip to quash the inexplicable feeling of guilt, as if he'd been the one to burden her.

“In my room,” James said bitterly.

Sirius found Severus standing, looking out the window, wearing one of Sirius’s winter coats. Sirius wrapped his arms around the now-puffy man and kissed the side of his neck. Severus turned and smirked.

“That’s all you’ll give me? It’s been weeks.”

“Mrs. Potter is right downstairs,” Sirius said. Severus pulled out his wand and flicked it at the door. 

“If she comes up, we’ll know,” Severus said and then cupped Sirius’s face and kissed him roughly, biting at his neck and shoulders, running his nails over Sirius’s back, until Sirius was a whimpering puddle in his arms. The pain distracted him from the questions, the doubts, the fears. 

“I wish you could fuck me,” Sirius moaned, aching in his jeans. Severus smiled.

“I could be quick,” he promised. Sirius glanced back towards the door.

“Do it, please, it’s been too long.”

It was indeed quick, they used a stretching spell instead of Severus’s usual careful attention, and Severus thrust only a few times, tugging on Sirius’s cock each time, before they both came, Severus inside Sirius and Sirius into Severus’s palm. 

Severus held his hand up to Sirius. “Clean it,” he commanded and Sirius did.

Flushed, they pulled their clothes back on, kissed once more, cast a freshening spell in the room, and shuffled downstairs. Sirius could feel the cum leaking out of his ass and prayed to Merlin that it wasn’t enough to leave a wet spot on his jeans.

“Ready to eat?” Mrs. Potter asked, her eyes fixed too intensely on Severus.

“Yes, please," Sirius said, trying to be charming enough for the both of them.

They sat down to the meal with an awkward, standoffish air. So different from typical Potter meals. The only sounds were that of cutlery scraping plates and the occasional soft chew.

“So, Severus, have you ever been skiing before?” Mrs. Potter asked after an agonizing ten minutes.

“No,” Severus said. There was a pause but he said nothing else.

“Well, you’ll probably hate it,” Sirius said with a smirk. “It requires a lot of physical coordination you don’t have.”

“Then why did you invite me?” Severus asked.

“To see you fall, of course,” Sirius said and Severus actually smiled. Not his fully warm genuine one but a decently human one. Sirius noticed James gawking. Lily didn’t look quite as surprised - she had probably seen plenty of Severus smiles before - but the expression on her face was not happy.

“Then I’ll make sure to serve my purpose,” Severus said and after a long pause, speaking as though he was in pain, Severus said, “Thank you for inviting me, Mrs. Potter.”

“It’s our pleasure,” Mrs. Potter said with her first genuine smile. “Any friend of Sirius is welcome in our home.”

“Boyfriend,” James corrected. His tone made it sound as though he'd stepped in a puddle of Bubotuber pus. Lily must have kicked him under the table because he swore and leaned down to rub his leg.

“Yes, thank you James, boyfriend. It’s just that Sirius has only one of those so the sentence wouldn’t make much sense if I said “any boyfriend,” would it?”

“Well, he’s had another,” James said and now Sirius tried to kick him. His foot connected with a leg of the table. “Just that one was married.”

“If your mom wasn’t here there is something very specific I would tell you to do,” Sirius said sweetly. “It rhymes with so buck tourself.”

“Tourself isn’t a word,” James said. “Duh.”

“Okay then I just meant go-”

“That’s enough, boys,” Mrs. Potter cut in. “I’m glad to see the sibling rivalry alive and well but you both have guests.”

“And James is trying to embarrass me in front of Severus,” Sirius said petulantly, sticking out his lower lip at Mrs. Potter. “I think that deserves a spanking.”

“You’re about 12 years too late for that,” James said and stuck his tongue out.

“Stick it out again and I’ll hex it off,” Sirius vowed.

“You know,” Severus put in, “all this time I thought you two didn’t like me. I didn’t realize this is just how you talk.”

“You have no idea,” Mrs. Potter said with a long suffering sigh. “They’ve actually matured, if you can believe it.”

“But we actually didn’t like you,” James said and this time Sirius’s kick hit its target. “Ow!”

“Speaking of not liking people,” Sirius said loudly, “how’s Petunia?”

“She just got engaged to that old fat man,” Lily said, making a face. “He got her a rock the size of a Galleon.”

“Well that’s not a very big rock,” James said reasonably and Lily heaved a sigh to echo Mrs. Potter’s.

“A rock means a ring with a big diamond,” Lily said patiently, like a mother teaching a child.

“Oh,” James said. “So you mean when we get engaged you don’t want a big ring? Got it.” Lily blushed. Sirius felt his eyebrows lift. They'd talked about getting married? He sent a questioning look at James but James was too busy grinning at Lily to notice.

“I didn’t say that,” she said.
 
“Nope. It’s officially in my memory. Lily Evans - no rock. Mom, help me remember that, alright?”

“I’ll make sure he picks out a good one,” Mrs. Potter said to Lily.

The conversation continued as they finished eating and then James and Sirius washed the dishes by hand, as was tradition. Lily and Severus sat uncomfortably ignoring each other while Mrs. Potter searched for a good radio program.

When the dishes were washed, Sirius fell onto the couch next to Severus and dropped his head on the other boy’s shoulder. Severus stiffened at first but then, after a moment, put an arm around Sirius’s shoulders. Watchtower Witches played from the radio. The episode had something to do with a backfired Confundus Charm.

It was at that moment Mr. Potter walked in the front door. Dark bags circled his eyes and his hair stuck up at his forehead as though he'd fallen asleep on a flat surface - his desk? He stared at the two boys on his couch as Mrs. Potter walked up and kissed his cheek.

“There’s food in the fridge,” she said. “We had a lovely dinner.”

“Sure did,” James said, grinning at Lily where she sat on the couch, flipping through a magazine, her socked feet in James’s lap.

“Excited to get to the lodge tomorrow?” Mr. Potter asked the room at large. He spoke too loudly and looked at no one in particular.

“No,” Sirius said. “Who cares about holidays, right?”

“Let me call Remus and Peter then,” James said. “I’m sure they’ll take both your spots.”

“That wasn’t me,” Severus protested. “Leave him, I’ll still go.” And James actually smiled at that, though he looked surprised to find himself smiling.

“Sounds like a plan.”

Mr. Potter slammed the serving spoon down onto his plate. All the teenagers jumped and Mrs. Potter stepped closer to her husband.

“Fleamont?” she asked uncertainly.

“I can’t do this,” Mr. Potter said, voice shaking. “I can’t be here while he’s in my house, eating my food, touching Sirius.” A very ugly look crossed his face and he took a step closer to where the boys sat on the couch. “I can’t believe you even accepted his invitation. You know what I know.” 

Severus was no longer touching Sirius and sat stiffly on the couch, his face a stone mask. “You only know because I told you. I assisted you.”

“Bullshit,” Mr. Potter practically roared.

“Fleamont, that’s enough,” Mrs. Potter said. “We’ve invited Severus here, he is our guest.”

“I can't be here with him,” Mr. Potter said to his wife. “I’ll go stay with Arthur.” He grabbed the coat he had just recently hung up and shrugged it on as he stomped out the door.
Sirius had never seen Mr. Potter lose his temper. He became aware his hands were shaking.

“What does he know?” James asked Severus. The small amount of goodwill that had been generating between them had disappeared with Mr. Potter. James looked as though he'd smelled something nasty and though Severus's face was still his eyes roamed the room as though searching for an escape. Sirius's reached out to place his hand on top of Severus's and felt the slightest hint of relief when Severus allowed it.

“Stop, James,” Mrs. Potter said sharply. “We’ve had enough Potter men acting foolish for one night.”

“It’s a fair question,” Severus said, surprising everyone. “I will tell you.” Severus glanced over at Sirius. “Because I know you are important to Sirius and Sirius is important to me.”

I've done it, Sirius thought, thrilled. I've changed him. Mr. Potter's anger was instantly forgotten. 

Severus inhaled, started to speak, and then exhaled, some stoniness chipping off his face as he breathed. “I knew Lucius Malfoy when we were both at Hogwarts. We’ve stayed in touch over the years. After the young girl was murdered, he sent me a cryptic letter. I didn’t tell anyone because I wasn’t sure it was related. But after the boy was found, I was able to interpret the letter. It had been a clue of what was to come, and an invitation to join them. I didn’t but I suppose Mr. Potter doesn’t believe that, even though I willingly came forward to inform the Aurors.” Severus glanced around the room. “And if you want me to leave, I will. I can return to my parents.”
 
“Severus.” Sirius almost jumped when Lily broke the quiet of the room. Her face was white. “You really love Sirius.” It wasn’t a question. “I’ve never heard you talk and act the way you have tonight. If you say you didn’t do it, I believe you.”

"And," Severus added, looking only at Lily, "I've told you before but I want to say again. I apologize for calling you...what I did. It was wrong." Lily looked away and stayed quiet but something between them had changed, Sirius could feel it.

“Well, if Lily forgives you, who am I to hold a grudge?” James asked. He still stared at the front door his father had slammed.

“I’m sorry about my husband,” was all Mrs. Potter said. She looked the least happy of the bunch. She added, “We should all get some sleep. Lily, you can take the downstairs guest bedroom. I assume James and Sirius will share his room and Severus, is the couch acceptable?”

“That’s fine,” Severus said. With the sleeping arrangements settled, Mrs. Potter retired to her bedroom, looking tired from more than just a lack of sleep.

“Goodnight James,” Lily said and kissed him. “Goodnight Sirius, Severus.” She surprised both by giving them each a quick hug before stepping into the guest bedroom.

“And I’ll give you two some privacy,” James said before launching himself up the stairs.

“Are you okay?” Sirius asked, hugging Severus. “I’m so sorry.” I did it, I did it.

“It’s to be expected,” Severus said. He reached up and ran his hand through Sirius’s smoothed locks. “I really had nothing to do with any of it. After what my father did, I would never hurt a child.”

“I believe you,” Sirius said and kissed him. “Have a good night. In the ski lodge we’re going to have a room for the four of us so we won't be separated.”

“I look forward to it,” Severus said and Sirius followed James up the stairs.

Chapter Text

Chapter Fifteen

The ski lodge was not a particularly extravagant one but it was still a vacation and after the tensions of the previous weeks it was a sorely needed one. James and Lily shared a bed while Sirius and Severus shared another, resulting in a week of alternating room privileges and quickies. 

They didn’t ski often, preferring to spend their time indoors, bundled up before a fire, talking and playing Exploding Snap. Lily showed herself to be quite the prodigy and won most games handily.

At some points, Sirius rather guiltily thought this was better than any adventure with the Marauders had ever been. Maybe he would feel differently after their heralded boys night, if the post-murder restrictions were ever lifted.

When they returned to the Potter house, Mr. Potter was there, and he asked to speak to Severus. Sirius tried to accompany them but both said no. He listened outside the door to catch a few words here and there until Mrs. Potter spotted him and shooed him away.

They emerged an hour later and while Severus moved stiffly, Mr. Potter clapped him on the shoulder and proclaimed him, “a good kid.” Severus looked even more irked at that.

They arrived back at Hogwarts with little fanfare, Severus returned to his common room to do the work he’d put off over holidays, and James and Sirius met up with Remus and Peter. Remus regaled them with tales from a family reunion in Scotland. Peter was quiet and withdrawn, as had become his new normal. They both listened to stories from the ski lodge and laughed at all the right places.

The full moon was the next night, the first one since the body was found on the grounds. After much discussion and argument, Remus insisted it was too dangerous for anyone to sneak out and meet him. A giant dog and a stag would catch great attention in the halls and it would be impossible without the still-confiscated cloak.

“But you’ll suffer,” James kept repeating and Remus would shrug.


“I’ve done it before,” he’d say. “It’s just one night.”

Remus did not return to Gryffindor tower or classes until two weeks after the full moon. Poorly healed scars were visible and James and Sirius vowed at once that was the last full moon Remus would go through alone. That time Remus did not argue.

The first week of January, the travel restrictions were lifted, although the Auror patrols continued. It was just in time for Severus’s birthday. Sirius felt confident he'd redeemed Severus, his plan had worked, and they could spend the foreseeable future fucking like very perverted rabbits.

Sirius snuck into the kitchens and had a cake special made for Severus and then personally carried it to the Slytherin common room. He spelled his tie green and waited around a corner until someone exited. Then he quickly hurried into the common room.

A few glanced at the cake but most ignored him and he approached one of the dumbest looking first years.

“Where’s the seventh year boys dorm?” he asked. The first year sighed heavily and rolled his eyes. 

“Seventh years have their own rooms,” the boy said slowly as if talking to an idiot. “Up that staircase. Shouldn't you know that?” The boy studied him and Sirius turned away before he could be identified.

Their own rooms! Sirius hurried up the staircase and found the room with the placard labeled S. Snape. He knocked and after a minute Severus cracked it open.

“Happy birthday,” Sirius said cheerfully.

“What are you doing here?” Severus hissed, not opening the door any further. 

“I brought you cake,” Sirius said. “Let me in.” Severus sighed and opened the door, revealing a spacious room decorated in black, white and gray. Sirius set the cake down on a dresser and then spun around, whistling one low tune. “Why have we been fucking in classrooms when you had this the whole time?”

“Sirius, I don’t mean to be rude but I truly don’t have time for this right now.” Severus glanced at the watch on his wrist. Hm. Severus never wore a watch.

“Birthday present?” Sirius asked, pointing at it. Severus glared.

“Thank you for the cake, now please leave. I’ll come see you later.”

“I don’t even get a quick shag for bringing you cake? We both know you can bust-”

“Sirius!” Severus yelled. “Out!” Sirius was startled and, for perhaps the first time since they’d really come to know each other, hurt.

“Fine,” he said sullenly. “Enjoy your birthday without me.”

Sirius trudged out of the common room and back to his dorm. That visit had not gone at all how he planned.

Sirius spent the rest of the day in a funk. He prepared a million scathing things to say to Severus the next day in Potions. 

Only, Severus didn’t show up. He didn’t come to any of his classes that day, the next, or the rest of the week. With each day Sirius’s worry grew and by the weekend he was frantic.

“Have you seen Severus Snape?” he would ask random Slytherins as they passed by. He asked professors and ghosts and even the house elves. He tried to sneak back into the Slytherin dorms three times, got caught the last time, and given two hours’ Saturday detention. He attempted to interrogate Professor Slughorn after class and, after several minutes of needling, Sirius was informed that Severus had returned home to visit his ill father. Slughorn then expelled Sirius from the room with a flick of his wand. This excuse made absolutely no sense to Sirius as Severus despised his father and it did nothing to assuage his fears.

When Sirius walked into breakfast Sunday, he spotted Severus eating breakfast at the Slytherin table. Sirius raced over and squeezed in next to him, ignoring the disdainful looks that earned him.

“Are you okay?” Sirius asked.

“I’m fine,” Severus said dully. He was clearly not fine. His hair had been buzzed off and his eyes were flat. Sirius has had a sneaking fear the whole time but looking at Severus, he felt like he knew.

“Please tell me you didn’t.” Sirius could only whisper the words. Severus just looked at him. “Please Severus! The children…”

“Don’t talk to me about them,” Severus spat and stood up. “This is all your fault.”

“My fault?” Sirius followed Severus out of the Great Hall. “How?”

“You brought me to that nut’s house,” Severus snarked, not looking back as he strode down the stone corridors.

“James?”

“The other Potter.” Now Severus whirled around and his eyes glowed. This was not fun, sexy scary Severus. He was enraged. “The father. He told me if I didn’t do what he said, he’d have me shipped off to Azkaban as an accessory to those Mudblood’s murders. If I told you, then there was the charge of interfering with Auror work. No matter what, I was fucked. And now look.”
 
Severus pulled up his left sleeve. Sirius sank to his knees and grabbed Severus’s wrist. An ugly black snake twisted, tongue hissing, and Sirius felt a crushing rage bloom in his chest. It was not possible, could not be possible. His mind stuttered out denials but the proof stared back, an ugly truth, until Severus drew his arm back and shook his sleeve down.

“Mr. Potter made you do this? Why?” Sirius had to gasp the words. Each breath was a conscious struggle.

“To find who killed those Mudbloods.” It was a mark of the situation that the slur passed Sirius nearly unnoticed. “And I did.”

“Who did it?” Sirius asked.

“You’ll find out soon.” Severus half turned away but did not leave. “So, now you know.” Severus inhaled and despite his whirling fury of an exterior, the lightest glimmer of pain broke through. “I really would never have joined. He made me.” And Sirius believed him. 

"What are we going to do?" He stood up and reached out desperate arms but Severus pushed him away. “Severus?”

“I can’t be that person anymore,” Severus said shortly. “I’m a Death Eater. The Dark Lord knows and sees all. If I have any attachment to you, it puts us both at risk.” For just a moment, his face softened, he leaned in and kissed Sirius, for too brief a moment. “Goodbye, Sirius. I love you. I’m sorry I didn’t say it before. I love you, I love you. You showed me a possibility for life beyond hate, anger, and conflict. I’m more sorry than I can express that it won’t happen.” 

Then Severus was gone.

Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen

Sirius wrote Mr. Potter a letter telling him very clearly to go to hell and never contact him again. Mr. Potter sent several letters back and Sirius trashed them all without opening them.

He avoided James, Remus, and Peter. He never went to the Great Hall and at night he spelled his bed curtains closed and impermeable. He went to class just to stare at Severus from across the room and didn’t care when his professors began to pull him aside for meetings on his failing grades.

Sirius had nightmares about the Dark Mark, Severus killing Muggles, You-Know-Who torturing Severus, killing him. The visions burned in his brain when he was awake, too.

Sirius did not know how he made it through each day.

A month later, Mr. Potter and four other Aurors marched into Divination. They proclaimed they were arresting Peter Pettigrew for illegal Animagus transfiguration and for the murder of two children. Peter immediately tried to transform but the Aurors had already blocked his magic and he was carted away, howling.

A month ago, Sirius would have been shocked and devastated by the betrayal of his friend. He knew the rest of the school was. Sirius barely cared.

Sirius still did not talk to James and Remus, though they tried many times, especially in the wake of Peter's arrest. When the full moon came, he met them at the Shack, already Padfoot. They tried to speak to him and he just growled until they left him alone.

News started to trickle in about Death Eater arrests, Aurors closing in on the location of You-Know-Who, learning the secrets of defeating Inferni and recapturing the wills of the Dementors.
Sirius watched as Severus grew gaunter and paler. Sirius wanted to ask if he was eating. He wanted to rub his shorn head. He wanted to ask him if he was in danger, if You-Know-Who suspected him, if he was in any way okay.

Sirius knew the last question was dumb. 

In April, they were partnered together to practice a Charm. Sirius practically cried sitting there next to Severus, working on a stupid spell that didn't matter. But he said nothing and did nothing other than practice. It was the first time he participated in a lesson since he'd seen the mark but he felt, that day, he had to play along. He couldn’t risk Severus’s safety. The Dark Lord knows all Severus had said. Sirius wasn’t going to test if that was true.

Then it was the end of May and they sat for NEWTs. Sirius failed them all. In Potions, Severus was being tested at the same time, and Sirius just got up and walked out, earning himself an automatic T.

Sirius still didn’t care. His anger at Mr. Potter, at the Aurors, at everyone who must have been involved in coercing Severus, prevented him from doing so. He would have dropped out of school in January if not for the need to see each day that Severus was alive. 

On the first of June, a week before 7th year graduation, Albus Dumbledore summoned Sirius to his office. Sirius went because he had nothing else to do and sat in the plush red chair in front of the headmaster’s desk, feeling the familiar rage ready to boil over.

“Sirius, your professors tell me they have seen a large change over the past six months, and not in your favor.” Dumbledore steepled his fingers under his chin. “Is there anything we can do?”

Sirius didn't answer for several minutes. He played out how things would go if he simply stood up and walked out. Inevitably he'd be brought back another day. Idiotically, his mind toyed with the idea of trying to curse the headmaster. He wouldn't succeed, of course, but how far could he get? Would his wand even leave his pocket?

Eventually, he just said, "No."

Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and Sirius stared into his eyes defiantly. He felt the faintest stirring in his mind, and he was suddenly thinking of Severus and missing him terribly.

“Ah,” Dumbledore said and closed his eyes. “The behavior of your friend, Peter Pettigrew, is not causing you any grief?”

The mention of Peter, the murders, the event that started it all, the thought of Severus which was never very far away - it all culminated to break the dam that had been holding Sirius's fury. He leapt out of the chair and slammed his hands, now balled into fists, into his thighs. "I don't give a shit about Peter," Sirius snapped. "He's already taken care of. But Severus - Snape - aren't you working with the Aurors, anyway? Don't you know what they did?" Dumbledore had to. He was the one You Know Who feared, it was whispered, the defeater of Grindelwald, the most powerful wizard alive, organizing the fight against You Know Who. Yet he'd let an 18 year old risk his life.

“It is hard when the ones we love are at risk,” Dumbledore said softly. “And it is at once awe-inspiring and dread-inducing for one person to be so important, and a teenager at that. I would never have asked him to do what he did but the Aurors are more desperate than I, for good reason I assume.”

“They didn’t ask,” Sirius said. “They forced him. They said he’d go to Azkaban if he didn’t.”

“Did they?” Dumbledore stroked his beard. “That is news to me.” His surprise sounded genuine. Sirius found himself sitting back down.

“Ask Fleamont Potter,” Sirius said. “I was there the night it happened.”

“I certainly will,” Dumbledore said. “But I want you to know, Severus is not the only important person we have fighting against Voldemort. There are hundreds of Aurors and ministry officials leading the official fight but there is a smaller group of dozens leading a more selective resistance.”

Sirius just looked at the headmaster. He didn’t understand where he was going. His mind was stuck on Severus, as usual.

“There is an organization called the Order of the Phoenix. It’s a group of people with talents and skills and a strong personal desire to see Voldemort defeated.” Dumbledore leaned closer. “I see that strong personal desire in you.”

Sirius considered it.

“To be honest, headmaster, I want to kill the Aurors more than Voldemort right now. So I don’t know how much help I would be.”

“It’s a grave thing when our choices push people away from the side of righteousness,” Dumbledore said. “If you were to join, you would have input on the types of decisions the Aurors made. You could potentially stop it from happening again.”

Sirius thought of the little boy he had seen and the little girl he knew had met the same fate. He thought of Severus kissing him, holding him, saying he loved him before this war ripped them apart.

But it had been this side’s fault.

But if he had to fight, he surely couldn’t fight with Voldemort.

And wouldn’t every person fighting bring the end that much closer?

“Fine,” Sirius said. “I’ll join.”

“I think you will come to appreciate that decision,” Dumbledore said. “Come see me on the last day of term and I will orient you at the headquarters.”
 
Sirius agreed.

Sirius attended the graduation just to watch Severus approached the podium and receive his diploma from Dumbledore. He looked surly and ill. Most students received a screaming applause from their house. Only the lightest of polite clapping echoed for Severus.

That evening, Sirius packed his belongings and found James in the common room. 

“Hi,” Sirius said and James jumped to his feet.

“Sirius! Are you talking to me?” James sounded genuinely pleased. He hadn’t been holding a grudge.

“Just to say goodbye. I’m sorry how this year ended. You’re my best mate and my brother. I just...” Sirius trailed off. Words were inadequate to explain the hell he'd lived in since January.

James grabbed him in a hug and squeezed tight. “You know, I asked Lily to marry me.”

“How big was the rock?” Sirius asked and then wished he hadn't. That conversation had happened in a different lifetime, a different world, a different universe.

“I gave her a literal boulder from Hagrid’s garden,” James said. “I think she loved it. Anyway, the wedding’s going to be small, but it’ll be at her parent’s house next Sunday. Think you can make it?”

Sirius’s lips twisted. “Will your dad be there?”

“Yes but-”

“Then no, I’m sorry, but no. But I wish you and Lily nothing but the best.” James sighed but left it at that. Sirius left with his belongings levitating behind him. 

An hour later, after side-along Apparating and sharing of a secret address, Sirius stepped into a dilapidated mansion. It must have been similar to Grimmauld Place in its glory days but now it sat in disrepair.

People scurried here and there, furtive shadows in the halls. Laughter floated from some rooms while tense voices came from others. Dumbledore walked Sirius to a small sitting room where a young man with bright red hair sat talking to...Mr. Potter.

Sirius took a step back and glared at Dumbledore, not caring how important the man was. Dumbledore just smiled and said, “Arthur?”

The two turned and Mr. Potter jumped to his feet. “Sirius!” he said excitedly and Sirius chewed his knuckle to stop himself from punching the man.

“Hi, Fleamont. I hope you don’t mind me stealing Arthur away to show a new recruit around.” The smile fell off Mr. Potter’s face.

“No, not Sirius,” he practically moaned. “He’s too young, it’s not safe.”

“He had quite the motivation to join, actually.” Dumbledore was smiling, pleasant as ever, but Sirius picked up in the implication. Mr. Potter didn’t want him to join and it was Mr. Potter’s fault he had. Sirius smiled into his fist. “So, Arthur?”

“Of course,” Arthur said and, crossing the room, he offered his hand. “I’m Arthur Weasley.”

“Right,” Sirius said, shaking it. “Sirius Black.” This man was not an Auror but a new hire at the Department for Misuse of Muggle Artifacts. Mr. Potter talked about him often.

Dumbledore left and Mr. Potter followed him. Arthur started the tour of the house, pointing out the kitchen, the various sitting rooms, the bathrooms, and then brought Sirius to what he proclaimed, “The Brain.” Inside the room was a large table stacked high with scrolls and maps. Along one wall was a shelf with a long row of Pensieves. Each one appeared to be labeled with a name.

“They’re for our spies,” Arthur explained, catching where Sirius was looking. “We’re teaching them Occlumency but it takes years to master. Until then they have to store most of their Order memories when they leave and retrieve them when they return."

Then Arthur brought Sirius upstairs to a row of bedrooms. “Albus sent me a letter a few days before,” Arthur said. “He said you’d be needing a place to stay. Now, we have a lot of recruits who need a room, so you will be sharing. But it's not so bad, your roommate is often gone. And he’s actually a young student like yourself so you should get along.”
 
Arthur stopped outside a plain wooden door and rapped sharply on the door before pushing it open. Sirius felt all the wind go out of him at once. There Severus sat, perched on the edge of a small bed. His hair was still cropped nearly bald, he looked even more surly and tired than he had at graduation the day before.

“Severus,” he practically wheezed. At his name, he looked up from the parchment he held and his lip curled. His fingers quickly rolled it into a scroll as he stood. Sirius had seen him at graduation, in the Great Hall, in classes, but now they were a foot apart, and surely this place had to have some protection against You-Know-Who knowing what happened within the walls. Did that mean...? Could they...? 

Still, Arthur stood there, watching Sirius with a bemused furrowed brow. Sirius stilled his features, trying to look calm and casual even as his heart pounded wildly and his arms ached.

“Do you know each other?” Arthur asked.

“Detest each other,” Severus drawled. “Please tell me this isn’t my new roommate.”

“Sorry, Snape, but it’s Dumbledore’s orders.” Arthur clapped a hand on Sirius’s shoulder. His knees were so weak he almost fell to the floor. “I’ll leave you two at it, then.”
 
Arthur left. Sirius stepped inside the room and tried to throw himself at Severus. Severus blocked him with a hex that sent Sirius flying across the room.

“Surely you’re not trying to fight here, of all places?” Severus hissed, wand pointed at Sirius's head.

“Fight?” Sirius repeated, dragging himself up off the floor. “Severus...what are you talking about?”

“Oh, you were just coming in for a hug?” Severus snapped, sarcasm thick and edged with genuine anger. Sirius stared and then, eventually, it clicked.

“The pensieve! Severus, do you have a pensieve?” Sirius spun in place, scanning the room, and spotted a pensieve on a shelf. It was labelled as the ones in The Brain had been. He pointed, enthusiastically stabbed his finger with each word. “There! That!”

“I don’t pull my memories out unless strictly necessary,” Severus said. He still held his wand out. “Not that it’s any of your business.”

“Please,” Sirius said and fell to his knees, remembering how the Severus before had enjoyed Sirius supplicating. “Please, I’ll do anything.” 

Severus stared at him and then, after a minute, lowered his wand. He crossed the room and began drawing silvery strands out of the pensieve. After one particular strand he shuddered and paused, looked at Sirius with an inscrutable expression, and then kept going.

Eventually he stilled and closed his eyes.

“Severus?” Sirius whispered, not sure he could survive Severus not knowing who he was. Or, worse, if he knew and still kept up the facade.

Then Severus’s eyes opened and Sirius knew immediately it was his Severus. He rushed across the room once again and threw his arms out and this time Severus caught the embrace. Sirius pressed their lips together but couldn't stop there - he kissed his chin, his cheeks, the top of his head. It was almost a platonic feeling that moved his mouth, a desperate sense of needing to feel each part of Severus, alive and whole.

“How is this possible?” Severus murmured when they had squeezed themselves into one of the tiny beds. Sirius lay with his head on Severus’s chest and Severus ran his fingers reverently through Sirius’s hair.

“Dumbledore,” Sirius said. “He asked me to join the Order, and after he knew how I felt about you. And he roomed us together. Crazy old bastard.” Sirius said it affectionately, his heart thumping wildly with joy and love. 

“After all this time, you haven’t moved on?” Severus asked.

“You’re it for me,” Sirius said simply. He’d said it before to James but he had been so wrong. His misplaced feelings for James had never come close to how he felt about Severus. And then, because he’d thought it a thousand times, Sirius looked up into those black eyes he knew so well and said, “I love you.” He leaned up and kissed Severus. “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

They kissed again and again and soon the kisses became more desperate, months of distance culminating in that moment.

“I don’t want to hurt you anymore,” Severus said as Sirius slid off his own shirt. “I don’t want to hurt anyone else.” Sirius could see a cloud crossing over Severus’s face so he kissed him to try and drive it away.

“Then don’t,” Sirius said. And Severus didn't, tenderly stretching Sirius the way he liked to be stretched, entering him gently and kissing his neck. It was familiar and different at the same time. Sirius had no complaints.

After, they pushed the two beds together and held each other comfortably. “Is this safe?” Sirius asked, thinking, The Dark Lord knows all.

"I'll put it in the Pensieve later," Severus said. He reached over and threaded his fingers through Sirius's. "Can we save the talking for tomorrow?" Sirius agreed and focused instead on the simple pleasures - Severus breathing, Severus's heart beating, Severus next to him and not ignoring him, avoiding him, or going missing and possibly being dead.
 
They fell asleep together. In the morning, Sirius was pleased to note he had not had a nightmare.

Chapter Text

Chapter Seventeen

They awoke in a tangle of limbs. Sirius made a plate of food in the kitchen for them to share and they spent the morning in their room, talking, teasing, making up for lost time. Sirius found himself wishing that there existed a potion, spell, or even a curse that could freeze time. Even as he enjoyed the reunion, he knew each moment that slipped by meant another second closer to their separation. Where would Severus go next? What would he be directed to do?

Around lunchtime, Arthur Weasley knocked and called through the door. They hastily threw on clothes and Severus opened the door. Only when Arthur quirked an eyebrow at the beds did they realize they forgot to push them apart.

“There’s a meeting in The Brain starting in five minutes,” Arthur said and then gazed around the room. “I was going to ask how Sirius’s first night went but…”

“It was fine,” Severus said shortly. “Let’s go to the meeting.”
 
The three men walked together. Sirius ached to hold Severus’s hand.

The room that had seemed so large before now seemed tiny compared to the crush of people in it. The room buzzed with conversation but when Arthur walked in they all hushed. He had to be somebody important.

Sirius leaned against a wall near the front but Severus stayed standing with Arthur.

“Thank you all for assembling so quickly,” Arthur said. “We wanted to debrief you in the latest Death Eater meeting that occurred two days ago on June 10th. Severus will be sharing those updates.” Arthur stepped away and thunderous applause rang out. Sirius realized it was for Severus, not Arthur. Severus had the respect and attention of 100 wizards and witches his senior.

He still shouldn’t be here, Sirius thought.

“The Dark Lord called his remaining ten Death Eaters to his side. You all know them by now - Malfoy, Macnair, Fugaroe, Darsten, Uncher, Pelosi, Starke, Brownwell, and Garren. He believes we are loyal and that Ceviche was the leak. He stated his arrest was a cover for protecting him, just as we orchestrated.” A cheer rose up and Severus paused. He looked utterly bored. “With such low numbers and with the Inferni being rapidly controlled, he has decided to go into hiding and build up his numbers. He plans on a final farewell meeting tomorrow night and then he will be crossing borders to find a country to hide out and recruit in.” 

Arthur stepped in at this point with a loud clearing of his throat. “Obviously, we do not want this to happen. Albus proposed three options. One is for the Order to storm in on that meeting and attempt to capture or kill him. The risk with that is, of course, failure may mean we never get another chance and there will almost certainly be casualties. Another option would be to allow him to run but try and track him and get him in this new country at a later date. We risk both losing his trail and allowing his following to strengthen if we choose this.”

Arthur paused and glanced at Severus. Severus’s jaw clenched as he steadfastly studied the opposite wall. “A third option would be for Severus to assassinate him at the meeting. There is a high likelihood of success but very low likelihood of survival after the fact.” This news was greeted with initial silence. Then Arthur nodded and a dozen hands shot up.

“I say we take the first option,” a man with ruddy cheeks said. “It’s the fairest and with all of us plus some good wards, how can he slip away?”

“He’s evaded us before,” piped up a woman. “The third option has the least possibility of him escaping and the lowest casualty rate.” 

“Yeah, I agree with that. Number three sounds the best bet to me.”

The conversation spread around the room and Sirius stood frozen against the wall. They were discussing sending Severus to his death on the following night, right when Sirius had gotten him back. Severus remained stone faced. Why was he not arguing?

“Ready to vote, then?” Arthur asked. A chorus of agreement arose.

“Are you all fucking insane?” The words ripped from Sirius’s throat unintentionally but he stepped forward, glad to have said them. Every eye in the room found him. Sirius focused on the dark pair he knew so well.

“Who are you, then?” a squinty man asked.

“A new recruit,” Arthur said, shifting. “Typically, recruits don’t…”

“It doesn’t matter a flying fuck who I am,” Sirius interrupted. “The question to ask is, who is Severus Snape, the man you all are so content to send off to die?” The room was silent now. “He’s 18, if you didn’t know. How many of you have teenage sons you’d happily to send to die at the hands of nine Death Eaters?”

“He knew the risks when he joined,” someone said.

“Really? He knew a bunch of cowards would sit on their asses and send him to die, after he already spent 6 months spying for them? I fucking doubt it.”

There were murmurs spreading now, people shifting in their seats. Arthur looked extremely uncomfortable.

“Sirius.” Mr. Potter stood in the back of the room. “Every one of us would die to stop Voldemort. That’s what you agree to when you join.” Sirius flexed his fingers and vividly imagined punching the man he’d once viewed as a father. The nerve, when he knew more than anyone that Severus had hardly volunteered. But he decided not to get into that just then.

“Then let’s send one of you,” Sirius retorted. “Surely someone can brew some Polyjuice, one of you lot can go in his place. So, who volunteers?”

“I do,” Mr. Potter said without missing a beat. “Sending a more experienced wizard makes sense. I can get some Polyjuice from the Ministry and go to the meeting myself.”

“Hey now,” another man piped up. “If we’re taking volunteers, shouldn’t we duel for it? The strongest wandsman needs to go.”

“Or wandswoman,” a tall gangly woman yelled.

“Right,” Arthur cut in. “So we will vote and if the third option wins, those interested in volunteering will duel. Winner goes in the place of Severus.”

Papers were passed out and collected. A quick counting showed an overwhelming decision for the assassination option. Sirius had to sink to the floor.

If I hadn’t been here and said something, Severus would be dead tomorrow.

The reality of that was overwhelming. Sirius resolved to kiss Dumbledore’s boots the next time he saw the headmaster. 

With the decision made, Severus sat on the floor next to Sirius and they watched as the duel commenced. Mr. Potter won a few rounds but was knocked out by a portly witch. The eventual winner was a thin, wiry man with black hair.

“Frank Longbottom,” Severus murmured to Sirius. “That’s his wife, Alice.” She was crying but beaming. 

The Order bustled into activity and Severus was a very necessary part of it so Sirius merely hovered in the background and listened. 

As evening fell, people began to trickle out in twos and threes, and soon it was just a handful of Aurors, Severus, and the Longbottoms ironing out the final details. That was when Dumbledore showed up.

Sirius, true to his internal monologue, prostrated himself in front of the man. “Thank you,” He said. “Thank you, thank you.”

“Stand up and tell me what I did to be worthy of such thanks,” Dumbledore said and Sirius did.

“You let me save his life.”
 
“I thought you might.” Dumbledore smiled. “Now, I heard there’s a very brave man I need to speak with.” Dumbledore swept into the room, lavender robes trailing behind him, and he hugged each Longbottom in turn before shaking the hands of everyone else in the room.

Then Dumbledore sat and listened intently as Order members filled him in on their plan. He was mostly silent but occasionally tossed out a question that sent them scrambling to change what they’d written on the scroll.

It was past midnight when they all agreed the plan was ready and everyone headed off to sleep. Sirius prepared another tray of food and brought it up to their room. Severus was already on their shared bed, shirt peeled off, undoing his boots.

“Grapes?” Sirius asked.

They ate then slept and when they woke it felt much like the previous day, unsure where one person ended and the next began. They lounged together for a few precious minutes and then Severus dressed and stood by the pensieve.

“I have to put them away just in case,” Severus said. “I won’t remember you after, until I put them back.”

“Wait a minute.” Sirius pushed the beds apart and tidied their clothes. “Okay, now Mean Snape won’t be confused.”

“Mean Snape,” Severus repeated and smiled thinly.

Sirius sat on one bed and watched Severus pull out his memories, losing a little glimmer in his eye each time, and stopping only when his face was hard and cold.

“Why are you just sitting there?” Mean Snape sneered. “Don’t you have something useful to do?” Then he swept out of the room, surely to go to The Brain and finish planning the mission. He had left just enough of those memories in his head to continue working.

Sirius waited a minute and then headed down himself. Now that Severus was safe, the mission seemed a lot more exciting, and Sirius was interested in how it all worked.
The Order spent the day teaching Frank what to do and say to pass as Severus in the first few minutes of the meeting and get close enough for the assassination. The rituals the Death Eaters had to complete were terrifying.

A secondary strike team was going to Apparate to the meeting after 15 minutes, to assist Frank as needed (if still needed) and round up any remaining Death Eaters.

The real Severus was not part of that team to avoid confusion. Sirius felt like kissing more boots.

Night fell and Mr. Potter returned to the headquarters with the promised Polyjuice Potion. Then, plan fully cemented and prepared, all anyone could do was wait for Severus to be called.
It did not take long. Severus began to grunt, an animalistic sound of pain, and he rolled back his sleeve, offering his Dark Mark to Frank Longbottom. Frank, now looking just like Severus, pressed his fingers to the Mark.

With a light pop, they both disappeared.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eighteen

Sirius lived through those next minutes as though underwater. Sounds made no sense. Faces blurred. Movement spun him from one place to another with little regard for where he actually wanted to be.

He wanted to be with Severus, of course, and the moment the two of them Disapparated, Sirius knew it would not happen again.

Frank had a tracking spell on him and so it took only seconds for the original team to follow the two. Then more Order members were called and followed, more came and more went - almost four dozen members were dispatched within five minutes.

It wasn’t enough. The second You-Know-Who saw two Severuses, he would kill them both. He would understand the attempt at deception and act decisively. Sirius had never met the evil beast but he was not known for mercy or thoughtfulness.

Then, people started popping back in. Many were bloodied and bruised. Some appeared unharmed but moved as though severely hexed. A few carried the bodies of other members, some perhaps unconscious, some clearly deceased.

Sirius watched it all unfeelingly. He just wanted to see Severus.

Eventually, he got his wish. One Severus appeared, holding the other, unconscious or dead. 

“Frank?” Alice Longbottom called, pushing her way through the crowd of people, tears streaming down her face silently.

Severus gingerly set the body down and Sirius knew from his movements that the man walking was, indeed, Frank. Alice could tell as well because she threw herself at the Frank-Severus. It was odd to see but Sirius didn't watch long. With what felt like a very great show of strength, he took a step, and then another. Slowly, he approached Severus where he lay across two chairs. Sirius picked up his hand and found it cold. 

“Is he-?” Sirius started to ask but couldn’t say that third dreaded word.

“I don’t know,” Frank said and Albus Dumbledore strode into the room.

“We have Aurors outside ready to Apparate those who need it. Unconscious or gravely injured patients first, please.” Movement broke out as his words as members hurried to move the most ill. Frank and Arthur picked up Severus and began to move him outside. Sirius trailed behind them. Dumbledore stopped him with a hand to the shoulder.

“Transport is only for the patients,” Dumbledore said. “You need to Apparate there and check in. He should have a room by the time you get there.”

Sirius stared at him and started to leave. Then he realized something and stopped to go upstairs. He grabbed Severus’s Pensieve before dashing outside of the protective spells. It was carefully controlled chaos outside the house but Sirius didn't care about that. As soon as his feet hit sidewalk, he spun on his heel and Apparated to the hospital.

In the lobby, wizards and witches huddled together while a recording from the Ministry repeated the news of You-Know-Who’s demise. Sirius found a crush of panicked people in line before him. He contemplated skipping the check in but then, he had no idea where to go.

Eventually, an agonizingly long time later, Sirius made it to the desk and gave Severus’s name. The receptionist scanned a list of rooms and then said, “Seventh floor. Room 634. Ward for Permanent Curses.”

The word permanent echoed in Sirius’s head as he raced his way to the room. He passed room after room, and with each one he thought about the cases he knew were in the permanent ward. The ones who were forever addled, or stuck in a constant rage, or couldn't remember anything more than their own name. Which one would Severus be? 

Sirius found room 634 and opened the door, braced for whatever would be within. The quiet normalcy of the room surprised him. Severus lay on the bed, hands down by his side, eyes closed and face slack. He could be sleeping. Sirius set the Pensieve down on the nightstand next to Severus’s bed and began pulling out memories and placing them back into Severus’s mind. It would not make any difference now but it made him feel better to know if, if, if Severus awoke he would remember him.

“Are you family?” a healer asked as she bustled into the room, carrying a tray of Potions.

“Yes,” Sirius said. “I’m his brother.”

“Where are your parents?” she asked, setting the tray down and picking up a light blue vial.

“They’re working in Egypt. They haven’t heard yet,” Sirius said.

“Well, I suppose you want to know how your brother is doing.” She uncorked the bottle and poured the potion into Severus’s slack mouth. A little dribbled down the sides but most made it in. As the healer set down the empty bottle, Sirius reached out with his sleeve and wiped away the potion remnants. “He’s stable. We don’t know much more than that. He’s not likely to pass but he’s equally unlikely to wake up. We will keep him nourished and cared for as long as we can.”

Sirius looked at her as she rearranged the rest of the potions on her tray and began to leave. She had clearly given this speech hundreds of time. She had written Severus off. In her eyes, he was dead.

Sirius sat at his bedside, holding his limp hand, visualizing his eyes opening, his nose twitching, anything. Of course none of it happened and eventually Sirius fell asleep, forehead pressed against Severus’s stiff shoulder.

Sirius managed to spend two days in that room, either in the chair next to the bed or pacing, before the same healer appeared, scowling.

“You said you were his brother. His mother is here and she assured me this patient is an only child,” the healer said and then a woman walked through the open room entrance. It could only be Severus’s mother. She was wrapped in a threadbare coat, her skin as sallow and pale as Severus’s, the eyes as black and still. She pursed her lips as she looked first at her comatose son and then at the unwashed man sitting at his bedside.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“Don’t worry, ma’am, I’ll have him removed,” the healer said. “The orderlies are on their way.” 

Sirius stood. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said quietly and the healer laughed meanly.

“So you say.”

Sirius drew his wand and, without missing a beat, the healer pulled her own out. Something in her looked eager for a fight. Sirius recognized the feeling all too well. The idea of hexing someone, anyone, seemed like it would be quite cathartic.

“Don’t be foolish,” Severus’s mother snapped. “Put the wands away. There’s no need for the theatrics. If you want to sit by my son’s bedside, by all means, go ahead. Simply tell me who you are.” Sirius hesitated but then another healer began calling for the one in the room and she startled, a flush spread across her cheeks, and she pocketed her wand as she hurried back into the hallway.

“Sirius Black,” he said and her eyes rounded in recognition. 

“A Black? So I suppose Severus made some important connections after all,” she said.

“Only I’ve been disowned so not much good my name alone could do him,” Sirius said. Had it only been a year since his mother had discovered his porn collection, since he'd fled Grimmauld Place for the Potters? It had all started then, really, the series of events that flipped his life on its head and led him to Severus Snape's bedside.

Sirius sat back down and returned to holding Severus’s hand. If Mrs. Snape found that unusual she said nothing, only stood in the doorway for a moment and then left.

After that, Sirius and Severus were alone for several days, save for the occasional healer visit. It was almost always the same one Sirius had almost attacked but she acted as though it had never happened and treated him with the same calm, distant manner she always had. She hadn't gotten him barred from the hospital and he didn't care to question why.

The next visitor was Albus Dumbledore. He explained what had happened but Sirius could barely take it all in. Severus and Frank had managed to defy the odds and, with the back up of the order, kill You-Know-Who - fuck it, Voldemort - but as soon as Voldemort was dead all the Death Eaters collapsed, comatose. The theory was that some part of their soul or spirit had been traded for Voldemort’s when he marked them, and now they could not fully live with him vanquished.

“So what are we doing about it?” Sirius asked. Dumbledore rubbed his chin, beard hairs bristling under his fingers.

“Right now, unfortunately, there are a very many great things to take care of. The whole wizarding world is changing now that Voldemort is no longer a threat. No one is particularly eager to devote precious time and effort to rescuing his former Death Eaters,” Dumbledore said.

“So, you're doing nothing. Severus single-handedly destroyed Voldemort and we are going to do nothing to help him,” Sirius said angrily. “Well, maybe that’s the Order’s plan, but I’m going to figure out something.”

“The time will come to help Severus, and when it does the greatest wizarding minds will be devoted to the cause. You have to be patient.”

“I already have a great wizarding mind,” Sirius said and jumped to his feet, electric with ideas. “So does James and so does Remus. We’ll figure this out. We’ve done harder.” Sirius thought of the map, of secretly becoming Animagi, of all the pranks and tricks and cheats. It had all prepared him for this moment. Sirius was suddenly very sure of that.

“I see,” was all Dumbledore said. "I also want to remind you there is a wedding taking place tomorrow. I believe both the groom and bride would like you to be there." He looked like he wanted to say more, perhaps chide Sirius for his foolishness, perhaps wax poetic about love like he was known to do. In the end he said nothing else and then he left.

Mind still buzzing with schemes, Sirius knew it was time to end his watchful vigil. He bent and kissed Severus and although he just lay there motionless, his lips cool and thin and unmoving, Sirius took strength from it. He left the hospital and returned to the headquarters, only for a lack of any other place to go. He showered and slept on the couch to avoid the room he had shared with Severus. The next day he did venture in just to grab his things. He dressed in his finest robes, although since they had been bought since before his disownment and shoved in a trunk for a year they were quite wrinkled and dusty.

Then Sirius Apparated to the Evans’ household. Judging by the crowd milling about, he had missed the ceremony. Sirius squeezed by celebrating men and women until he found James, sitting with Lily on his knee, both of them beaming.

When they saw Sirius, the smiles dropped, and both enveloped him in a hug. Sirius pulled his own hair to ground himself. It wasn't time to feel sorry for himself. He was ready to take action.

“We heard...well, the whole wizarding world knows,” Lily said softly. It explained the electric mood of the party - beyond normal happiness for two newlyweds. The guests were on the border of hysteria.

“Congratulations on your marriage,” Sirius said, “and I am sincerely sorry for interrupting. But I need your help with something.” Sirius looked between James and Lily. “Both of your help, actually, if you wouldn’t mind.”

“Of course,” James said immediately. Sirius almost smiled at how readily his friend agreed but the muscles in his face weren’t quite ready to cooperate with that.

“Let’s find Remus, then,” Sirius said and the three of them began to move through the house.

They found Remus outside, talking to a petite witch with shockingly blue hair, and James shouted an apology as he grabbed Remus and dragged him inside to Lily’s bedroom, one of the few empty rooms in the house.

Sirius laid out his plan and had to credit his friends for not reacting negatively. James immediately launched into a detailed list of spells he knew that might help, while Remus began to muse aloud about books he had read in the library. 

And just like that, the three remaining Marauders fell back into place, fitting together as easily as if they’d never been apart. They never mentioned the fourth piece they used to have but instead let Lily fill the gaps.

With Voldemort gone and all his followers either in the grave or in St. Mungo’s, there was no looming threat, no reason to be fearful, and they threw all their free time and energy into discovering a way to remove the Dark Mark. Eventually, as the months melted into each other, they rented a 3 bedroom flat together, using the reserve of Galleons Sirius still had from his last visit to the Black vault.

As busy as they were, Sirius visited Severus every day, and kissed his still mouth and promised he would wake up, soon.

Summer ended, fall began, Halloween passed,?the world geared up for Christmas. Sirius spent the holidays alone in his room. He couldn’t celebrate them. He didn’t have the necessary joy or the desire to fake it.

Then early in December, the four gazed out over their past six months of work, and Remus nodded approvingly.

“This should work,” he said and that was all Sirius needed to hear. He grabbed the completed scroll and Apparated to St. Mungo’s.

It was only as Sirius approached Severus’s bedside that the first doubts crept in. Sirius has been so sure his Polyjuice plan would work and look where that left Severus. Who was to say their spell would have any better effects? He didn’t know everything, he couldn’t, and they were only 18. Maybe they had been foolish, maybe he should wait for Albus and the others to solve it in their own time.

Then Sirius looked at Severus, immobile and destined to never awaken, forgotten by the very world he had saved. His resolve strengthened. He had to try something.

Sirius pulled back the sleeves of Severus’s medical robe to reveal the cursed mark. He placed the tip of his wand on the mark and uttered the spell in the clearest incantation he could manage.

Instantly, the mark began to smoke, the ink burned and curled back on itself, and within minutes it was gone. A light scar remained in its place. Sirius grabbed Severus’s arm and showered it with kisses, overcome. It had worked. It had worked.

Sirius looked up at Severus’s face and nearly screamed.

“You’re awake!”

Chapter Text

Chapter Nineteen

Sirius threw open his bedroom door and, whistling, crossed into the kitchen. He turned on the kettle and as the water heated he prepared eggs, sausage, and beans. The whistling continued.

Eventually, James stumbled out of his room, shirtless and bleary-eyed. “What time is it?” he asked.

“Half past four,” Sirius said cheerfully. “And happy Christmas to you!” Sirius turned from the stove and threw his arms around his friend in a tight hug.

“Christmas already?” James grumbled, heaving himself into a wooden chair. “Can’t we wait two hours for it to start?”

“You can,” Sirius said, “but I’m bringing breakfast to Severus and visiting hours start at six. I’m not missing a minute of it.”

A pause.

“He’s eating, then?” James asked.

“Maybe he will today,” Sirius answered.

The kettle began to whistle.

“And has he said anything?” James asked.

“Don’t tell me you think I should give up on him.” Sirius’s good mood, which had been mostly bravado anyway, slid away easily at James’s questioning.

“I didn’t say that,” James protested. “I just think we should be...realistic.”

“I am,” Sirius said, pouring the tea into a large travel thermos. “Severus is going to get better. Maybe not today or tomorrow or next week. But it’ll happen. And I’m going to tell him everything I did for him while I was waiting.” Sirius slid the cooked food into a plastic takeaway container.

“Okay, okay,” James said. He held up his hands in defeat. “You’re right. I’m sorry for bringing it up.”

“It’s easy for you,” Sirius said, tugging on his jacket, trying to keep petulance out of his voice. “You have Lily, here and healthy.”

“Tell Severus I said happy Christmas,” James said and slipped back into his room.

Sirius flew his bike to St. Mungo’s. He needed the time to prepare himself. 

Severus had opened his eyes when the Dark Mark had been removed. Then he had closed them. In the weeks since, he’d twitched a couple times, moaned here and there, and blinked occasionally. Most of the time he looked just as he did before the Mark was gone.

Sirius was starting to understand why the healer had written Severus off. Would he do that? Never. But it was increasingly difficult to be positive.

Why hadn’t taking the Mark off worked? Was it really like Dumbledore had claimed - Voldemort had taken a piece of Severus’s soul when he’d died? That couldn’t be it. That would be unfixable.

Sirius landed in a side alley and spelled his motorcycle into place so no one could take off with it. Then he pinned on his, “permanent visitor,” badge and strode through security, up to the 7th floor. It was his new normal.

Sirius carried the tea and breakfast into the room. He’d spent the past few months sticking up various posters, reminiscent of his bedroom at Grimmauld Place but without the permanent sticking charm. There were no pictures of them together. Sirius had taken one, once, posed against Severus's comatose body but upon seeing the image he'd instantly shredded it. It sickened him.

Severus, as always, lay still on the bed. He’d been propped up to an inclined seated position and an elf hat had been placed at a jaunty angle on his head. Sirius scowled and snatched it off.

Then he pulled out the food, made them each a plate, and set the plates on the nightstand. He couldn’t actually eat in front of Severus. The sights and smells of the hospital made him lose his appetite entirely.

So Sirius sat there and talked quietly about this and that, alternating between looking at Severus and looking out the tiny block window, though it was blanketed in white and not much to look at.

After a few hours, Sirius cleaned up the food and leaned over to kiss Severus goodbye. He leaned forward and pressed their lips softly together, then promptly leapt backward. He was convinced he'd felt the slightest pressure. Severus had kissed him back.

“Severus?” Sirius asked excitedly, grabbing one of his hands and shaking it. “Severus? Can you hear me? Can you open your eyes?”

After a long minute, Severus’s eyes fluttered open. Then shut. Then open. And for the first time, Severus’s eyes slid around the room. He took in the white walls and floor, the sink, the obviously medical curtains. Then he looked at Sirius.

“You’re awake.” Sirius could not raise his voice above a whisper. He just held Severus’s hand and stared into his open eyes. “Severus, you’re awake! Can you hear me?”

Severus just stared.

“If you can hear me, blink.”

Severus blinked and Sirius bent his head as a rush of emotion swept over him and he, embarrassingly, began to weep.

“I’m sorry,” he said to Severus. “I’m sure you don’t want to be greeted with this. It’s just been…well, there’s time for that later. I’m going to go get the healer.”

Before Sirius could stand, Severus’s finger twitched within Sirius’s palm, and Severus began to blink rapidly.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be back,” Sirius said but Severus kept blinking. “Okay, okay. I’ll stay.” Sirius climbed off the chair and into the rickety hospital bed, snuggling as close as he could without squishing Severus. “I can’t believe you’re awake,” he murmured.

Over the course of the day, it was remarkable how quickly Severus seemed to be gaining his strength. He soon was able to squeeze Sirius’s hand and twitch his feet.

Finally, Sirius stood and said, “Visiting hours are over. That healer is going to kick me out.”

Just as before, the mention of the healer sent Severus into spasms. This time he was able to flail his hands and feet too.

“Merlin, Severus, what is it?” 

“Don’t,” Severus croaked, his voice hoarse and barely discernible, “tell her.” Then all at once he stilled his body, closed his eyes, and adopted the perfect picture of comatose.

“Severus?”

“No response yet?” the healer asked as she bustled into the room, holding that same blue potion she always gave Severus. Don’t tell her, Severus had said. That had to mean the healer. But why?

Sirius trusted Severus above all else, even feeble as he was, and so he only said, “Not yet.”

The healer uncorked the potion. “Well, visiting hours are over.” She moved closer to Severus.

“Wait,” Sirius said, brain churning. “Let me give it to him. Please? Then I’ll go, I promise. It is Christmas, after all.” The healer looked between the bottle and Sirius a few times. Then she shrugged and extended her hand.

“Five minutes,” she said and left. 

Sirius grabbed the cork, stoppered the potion, and slid it into a pocket in his robes. Then he leaned over and kissed Severus, delighting in the light pressure he felt back.

“I’ll be back tomorrow,” Sirius promised. Then he hurried out.

The next day, Sirius thundered into St. Mungo’s. He marched up to the head healer’s office and, an hour and three invasive security checks later, slammed the blue potion bottle, now half empty, on her desk. 

“Can I help you?” she asked warily.

“Do you know what this is?” Sirius growled. The master healer inspected the bottle with the air of someone playing along with a child. Then her expression straightened.

“Where did you get this?”

Sirius filled the head healer in on the events that had transpired and watched the color drain from her face with every word.

“And I’m taking Severus home right now,” Sirius said.

“Didn’t you say permanent curse?” the healer asked.

“Didn’t I also say, ‘greatest scandal to rock St. Mungo’s shareholders since witch slavery’?”

An hour later, Sirius pushed Severus out of the hospital in a wheelchair. He was bundled up in several blankets and looked almost comical. But the beautiful part, the part that took Sirius’s breath away, was that Severus's eyes were open and alert. Sirius even thought he saw the slightest turn of neck.

Sirius did not want to risk Apparating Severus in his condition so he hailed a taxi and paid the hefty fee for the hour’s ride back to the flat. The other three occupants were at work so Sirius had privacy to roll Severus up and into his room.

“It’s small,” Sirius admitted and then carefully transferred Severus to the bed. Sirius tucked the blankets around his thin legs and sat on the edge of the bed, Severus’s hand folded within his own. “I’m just so happy you’re here, awake, with me. I wasn’t sure…” 

Sirius didn’t finish the thought.

After a while of sitting in silence, with nothing else to do, Sirius pulled out a Muggle novel and read it aloud to Severus.

A few hours later, Severus shit himself. 

As the smell permeated the room, Sirius realized all the spells that had been sustaining Severus, keeping him clean and comfortable - those spells were no longer in force.

“I’m so sorry,” Sirius said to Severus. Severus just stared at the wall. Sirius stripped his clothes off - a lot harder now that his body was all dead weight within the fabric instead of spelled light - and cleaned Severus and the bed. Then he slipped a pair of his own pajamas back on Severus and took the soiled robe down to the laundry.

And so began the next phase in Sirius’s life. His waking hours were no longer devoted to the mental task of removing the Dark Mark but to the overwhelming task of nursing Severus back to full health. Sirius researched physical therapies, spells to promote muscle growth, potions to prevent bedsores. Lily, James, and Remus, having accomplished the initial goal, mostly moved on with their own lives. Lily and Remus started apprenticeships, James went to Auror Academy. Sirius’s didn’t begrudge them any of it. They had saved Severus’s life. It was a debt he couldn’t repay.

While diapering his love was no fun, Sirius lived every moment with a smile, unable to believe his luck. Severus was awake, listening, and unfreezing with each day. So Sirius happily adjusted Severus in the bed every hour, cleaned him when he soiled himself, prepared his liquid food and spoon-fed him. Every day he kissed Severus good morning and good night.

One morning, as Sirius straightened after the kiss, Severus spoke. “Good morning,” he whispered. 

“Good morning!” Sirius trilled back. “You have no idea how long I’ve waited to hear your voice.”

Severus cleared his throat and whispered, “Water.” Sirius fetched him a glass from the sink and held it to his lips so he could drink. 

“How long?” Severus asked as Sirius set the glass in the nightstand. It took Sirius a moment to understand the words.

“Do you really want to know?” Sirius asked and Severus nodded without hesitation. “Seven months.”

Severus closed his eyes. Saying it out loud made it sound so long. Time felt even longer still when Sirius considered the last time they’d been truly together and happy was a year ago, at the ski trip. It was dizzying to consider what he’d invested in Severus and how much more he had left to give.

“How many did you fuck?” Severus eventually asked. He managed a sardonic look. Sirius wanted to clap with glee but he stuffed it down. He was determined to provide Severus as much normalcy as he could.

“I would say a half, since your comatose corpse doesn’t count as one,” Sirius said thoughtfully.

I fuck you,” Severus said hoarsely.

“I can’t wait,” Sirius said with a wolfish grin. But even that short conversation seemed to tire Severus out and he soon fell asleep. His muscles had relaxed enough that he was able to lay on his side and bend his arm behind his head as he slept. So much change from a few weeks ago.

The morning of Valentine’s Day, Sirius was able to bundle Severus up in his wheelchair, and roll him out to the living room. James, Remus, and Lily had not seen Severus since he’d been released from St. Mungo’s. Severus has not wanted them to.

“Wow,” James said as he watched them come out together. “Severus has you so whipped.”
 
“Hear that, Lily?” Sirius asked. “Your husband thinks love and devotion is a bad thing.” He only just managed to duck the balled up napkin James sent whizzing towards his head.

The day passed smoothly, quietly. Severus didn’t say much but he seemed content sitting among the buzz of conversation and music.

That night, as Sirius burrowed into his chest, Severus asked, “Do I embarrass you?”

Sirius kissed him everywhere, lingering on his lips, and when he felt the tell-tale press of an erection, he lowered his mouth there, too.

“No,” he said after. “Never.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty

Slowly, Severus recovered. He began to walk in little bits without the chair and then he could move freely about the flat with only the occasional lean against a wall or chair. One morning, in March, they bundled up and made the short walk to the nearest tea shop. Sirius delighted in being out in public with Severus, walking, alert. But as they sat and talked and drank, Sirius could not fail to notice how reserved Severus still was. That shadow lingered in his eyes. He wasn’t happy, not really. As a deliriously happy person, Sirius was stumped as to why.

Eventually, one afternoon as they played chess in front of a smoldering fireplace, Sirius asked.

Severus made his next move to take Sirius’s rook and then kneaded his forehead.

“Did you ever ask why Candace was poisoning me?” he eventually said.

“Who?” Sirius asked.

“The healer. The one who administered the Potions.” Sirius growled and Severus smiled a dim, crooked smile. “Yes, her. Do you know why she chose me?”

“She was a sick twisted bitch,” Sirius said.

“Her husband was killed by Death Eaters,” Severus said. “She told me all about it while I was frozen under the potion.”

“Yeah but she knew you were spying. She knew you killed Voldemort.”

“Does that matter?” Severus asked. He stared at his own fingers. “I did kill people. I would have been killed myself otherwise. A ministry official who wrote an editorial on the importance of marrying Muggles. A former Hogwarts professor. A random Muggle we happened upon.” Severus’s fingers were clenched now, his robes furled under his grip. “Were their lives worth less than mine?”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Sirius said. 

“It was my choice, though. I could have died instead.”

The words sat between them. Sirius said nothing and Severus apparently had nothing else to add.

Sirius made his next move. Severus contemplated the board and Sirius contemplated him. He knew the question he needed to ask but he was terrified to hear the answer.
 
“Are you not happy to be with me?” Sirius asked.

“It’s not that simple,” Severus said flatly.

“Isn’t it?” Sirius asked. “If you’re happy, if I make you happy…”

“There’s other things to happiness than romantic relationships.”

“Oh,” Sirius said. All at once, he understood. Severus did not want to be with him. He had not even considered that possibility. All of his fantasies had played out with Severus waking up and going right back to loving him. Sirius had been cuddling him, kissing him, sucking his cock, all under the impression that Severus wanted it. But Severus never had asked for it. He’d never initiated. He’d been damn near comatose for most of it.

Sirius felt sick and foolish. Severus made his next move.

“So what now then?” Sirius asked. “Do you want me to help you look for a flat?”

Severus did not look at Sirius as he said, “Albus Dumbledore has offered me a teaching assistant position.” Sirius stared at the board but now the pieces swam before him. It was all he could do to maintain even breathing. He felt guilt, hurt, anger, all different threads of a knot now twisted in his gut.

“I see,” was all Sirius could choke out.

“It’s better for you,” Severus said and although he clearly intended to say more, Sirius stood up and shook his head violently.

“Just don’t,” he said. “If you don’t want me anymore, I can’t change that. Don’t pretend it’s for me. You’re all I’ve wanted for the past year. And I…” Sirius trailed off. He thought of the long vigils in St. Mungo’s, the endless staring, the failed courses, the rapidly draining Galleon stash.

He’d let his life go to shit for Severus. 

Sirius looked at the man sitting opposite. Severus still stared at his clenched hands. His features were so permanently etched into Sirius’s brain. The slope of his nose, the curve of his lips, the paleness of his cheeks, the dark lashes.

He’d let his life go to shit and he had zero regret about that. This was his person forever. He could not let Severus go that easily.

Sirius strode forward and seized Severus by the chin, tilted his face up, and kissed him roughly. Severus resisted, trying to twist away, but Sirius overpowered him, kissed him again and again, opening his mouth to suck Severus’s lip into his mouth. As Sirius bit down, Severus moaned and melted, his hands curved around the back of Sirius’s arms, and Sirius shoved a hand down the front of Severus’s sweatpants.

“You’re mine,” Sirius said against his lips, jerking roughly but not meanly, sure Severus was enjoying it by the way his hips began to buck. “Say it, Severus.”

“I’m yours,” Severus gasped as he came. Then he kept gasping, face reddening, and for the first time since boyhood, Severus Snape cried.

Sirius held him, wiped his tears, stroked his hair. A mantra of mine, mine, mine beat in his head. Sirius was afraid if they stopped touching, Severus would try to leave.

“I think teaching will be good for you.” Sirius said once Severus had gone quiet,  “but you’re doing that with me by your side.”
 
“I’m sorry,” Severus said. “It seemed logical to me that I should unburden you from me. You could have anyone you wanted.”

“I already do,” Sirius said. “In fact, we’re going to get married.”

Severus arched an eyebrow. His face was colorless once again but his eyes still shone wetly. “Are we?”

“Yes,” Sirius said. “I’m thinking June since school will be out. Or do you prefer July?”

And that was how Sirius Black proposed to Severus Snape.

Chapter Text

Epilogue
Five years later


“HARRY JAMES POTTER!” Lily’s voice thundered from the upstairs bedroom. Remus jumped and Severus sneered. James looked completely unaffected.

A blur with messy black hair streaked past and James called, “He’s down here, Lily.”

The redhead stomped down the stairs. She held up what appeared to be strips of fabric. “This is a brand new set of robes that cost us 10 galleons! Do you see what your son has done?”
 
“Well, I don’t know what you ever expected out of my son,” James said and then, when Lily advanced toward him, hastily jumped to his feet. “Okay, okay, I’ll go get him.”

“Remind me why I decided to do this again,” Lily grumbled, slowly lowering herself into a stuffed armchair, one hand on her swollen belly.

“You’re having the kids we can’t,” Sirius said cheerfully from his place next to Severus. Their threaded hands lay on Severus’s knee.

“I have kids,” Severus said. “Two hundred annoying brats.”

“They’re not that bad,” Remus said lightly.

“Easy for you to say,” Severus snapped. “They all like you.”

“You could try not insulting them,” Remus suggested. “And quit showing blatant Slytherin favoritism.”

“I can’t help it that Slytherins are superior,” Severus said with a rather smug grin.

“Superior at sucking up and having rich parents, of course,” Sirius said. 

“As my husband, shouldn’t you be on my side?” Severus asked.

“I’m on your side,” Sirius said. “It’s that Professor Snape I don’t like. Ghastly fellow. I heard he likes hanging students up by their thumbs.”

“I heard he has a pet cat he’s in love with,” Remus said.

“I heard he’s never showered in his life,” James added as he re-entered the room, a squirming four-year-old hefted under his arm.

“You’re lucky you have Harry,” was all Severus said with a very significant scowl.

“Enough, children,” Lily said. “I need to discipline my son.”

As Lily launched into a tirade, Harry frowned at his shoes. Sirius looked over at Severus and noted his husband seemed to be enjoying the lecture very much.

Then Severus caught him looking and flashed a genuine smile his way, a smile that touched his eyes and made Sirius want to plant kisses all over his face. They had come so far and not a day passed that Sirius didn’t appreciate the distance.

But more and more, Sirius was starting to appreciate the future. He looked at Severus and saw evenings playing chess, mornings bickering over who made better tea, weekends bundled up in bed. He saw adventures in other lands, new spells shared, and he even saw Severus cajoling him into being a Potions test subject.

Sirius saw in Severus a content life and after everything, it was all he could ask.

“Ready for lunch?” Lily asked, Harry now snuggled in her lap, barely fitting with the baby bump crowding him out.

“Ready,” Sirius said cheerfully and stood up with Severus, hand in hand.