Title: Young and Stupid

Authors: Creed Cascade and SassyInkPen

Fandom: Harry Potter

Pairing: Severus Snape/Sirius Black

Rating: [Adult]

Archive: No, not without explicit permission from us.

Feedback: creed_cascade@hotmail.com and sassyinkpen@yahoo.com

Other websites:
http://insaneasylum.slashfanfiction.com


Disclaimers: We have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. You don't ask where we get these strange plots starring mysteriously familiar characters, and we won't tell you that I make no money, only deliriously happy satisfaction. Very hush-hush.

Notes: Please, do not archive without our permission.

Summary: An alternative interpretation of the events leading to and at the Shrieking Shack.

<><><><><><>

Young and Stupid

Written By Creed Cascade and SassyInkPen

It was late in the evening and most of the younger Gryffindor students were already sleeping. The Marauders were occupying their usual spot in the Gryffindor common room that had been occupied by the most popular students for generations. James and Sirius were lounging together on a window seat, while Remus was pointedly avoiding looking at the moon and sat with his back to the window. Peter sat on the floor like he always did, his pudgy legs crossed.

"Lily called it an early night, Jamie," Remus pointed out. She often joined them, but it was nice just to have the boys around. They could talk about things they never dared bring up around a girl.

"She wanted to get some extra studying in for the NEWTS," James sighed and rolled his eyes.

"Suppose that might be something smart to do," Sirius said, only keeping a straight face for a few minutes. "But if my scam to get the questions in advance works, then we'll know exactly what to study."

James smacked Sirius on the arm. "Your scam, huh?" he asked. "Your scam won't work without my invisibility cloak."

"Details... details..." Sirius repeated.

"I saw the greasy git watching you again!" Peter suddenly interrupted out of nowhere. He hated being left out of conversations and made a point of reporting any gossip he could to get their attention.

"That's the *idea*...." said Sirius, speaking slowly and rolling his gaze toward Peter. He went over and sat cross-legged facing Peter and looking at him as if he were a small child. "I get Snivellus eating out of the palm of my hand, then he uses a few of his less
socially acceptable spells to get me into the prof's offices..."

"Using *my* cloak," said James, pointing at Sirius with his quill. "And if you let that freak mess it up, I'll kill you."

Sirius ignored him and continued on, "I'll be able to get anything we could possibly need. Piece of cake." He poked Peter in the chest, "Your problem is that
you're always playing with yourself when you *should* be paying attention."

Peter blushed and blinked at them and said, "Why's it gotta be you all the time. How come I don't get to try?"

Sirius smirked and said, "'Cause you don't have the least idea how to flirt. You couldn't even pick up lint. Besides, as you so cleverly pointed out, he watches me. He's already interested. Anyway...who wouldn't wanna get under a cloak with me and do a little heavy breathing?"

"Me!" Remus and James repeated in unison.

"Oh, shut up!" Sirius shot back good-naturedly. "Jamie might have Lily now, but I swear you were like humping my leg last time you wolfed out, Moony."

"Just for that you deserve the torture of having to seduce Severus Snape," Remus snapped back and made a disgusted face when he mentioned the Slytherin. "I still can't believe he isn't Malfoy's little bum boy."

James reached out his foot and pushed on Sirius' arm, trying to tip him over. "He's just so pretty Snape can't resist him. Lily told me that Malfoy's parents arranged a marriage for him with a pureblood from France. Getting involved with a near-squib like Snape would mess something like that up."

Sirius scooted backwards, curling his lip slightly. "You might wanna be careful who you go running around calling squib. Snape's anything but, and inept as he usually seems to be around us, I've seen him pull off some rather amazing stuff." He paused and looked
from face to face of his friends, all of whom were giving him some kind of look. Shrugging, he explained, "Well, we are after his skills as a wizard, aren't we?"

James gave him a disgusted look. "Snape's an ass," he said, glancing at the clock on the wall. "And you're supposed to be 'running into him' in about ten minutes."

Remus looked dubious and got up to stand by the table eyeing James and Sirius. "Are you sure we want to do this? I mean, we're all smart enough to get by all right on our own..."

"I'm not," grumbled Peter, struggling up and trying to look nonchalant. "I need this or I'm not gonna pass. Do you have any idea what my parents would do to me?" He gave them all a pleading look.

"Relax," said Sirius, draping an arm around Remus' shoulders, "This is just a little chance meeting to test the waters, see if the plan's even gonna fly."

"Half of the seventh year class is in love with you Sirius, so why not Snivellus?" Remus said.

"Oh, I know you're in love with me too, Moony," Sirius hammed it up and leaned over to give Remus a sloppy kiss on the cheek.

Remus was turning red and wiping his cheek off with his sleeve as Sirius backed away. "You're worse than a dog," Remus complained.

"At least I'm not a bitch," Sirius quipped and then he was off towards the portal.

<><><><><><>

It was at least half an hour before seventh years had to be back in their respective house towers. The Marauders had been keeping a close eye on Snape and knew that he stayed in the potions laboratory late every night and only left shortly before it was mandatory. As he moved towards the dungeons, Sirius contemplated Severus Snape. Most of their class called him ugly with his big nose and greasy hair. To Sirius though, it was the other boy's anti-social and abrupt personality that made people dislike him. Snape was slow to speak and more likely to hide behind his curtain of black hair, rather than talk to anyone. If he did speak to anyone, it was usually a cutting insult followed by a sneer.

Sirius slowed his pace as he rounded the corner and approached the door of the potions lab quietly. He peered around the edge of the door and when he saw Snape bent over a notebook, flipping pages with one hand and stirring a small cauldron with the other, he
leaned against the frame and watched. Honestly, he had to admire the guy's dedication, and James was wrong, Snape was no squib, he was brilliant. Whether it was by choice or by force was up for debate, Sirius knew all too well what kind of lessons certain families held at home.

Straightening up, Sirius moved quietly into the room. Snape was so intent on his work that he didn't notice him until Sirius' shadow fell across the table. When he did look up, it was with a sharp jerk of his head, and he snatched his wand up, pointing it at Sirius, eyes glittering out from between locks of heavy black hair. 

"What are you doing here, Black?" he spat, backing up a step but keeping his attention divided between Sirius and the cauldron. 

Sirius held his hands up and smiled broadly. "Take it easy, Sev... I was just snooping around down here. Slytherins fascinate me, you know. I should have been one. Everyone else in my family was, or most of them at any rate, there's too damn many to really keep track." As he spoke, he inched slowly nearer, eyes casually fixed on Snape. He stopped at the table's edge and peered into the cauldron, "What'cha cookin?"

Snape made a rude noise, "What I'm *brewing* is hardly any of your business, and I don't for one moment believe that you have no ulterior motive for being here. I could easily take you for a spy, of course, but not a casual one. What are you up to?"

"Really, Sev," Sirius said, holding up his palms. "Stop being so suspicious. It might be a Slytherin trait, but it's dead common. I was just bored."

"Don't call me Sev," Severus snapped sullenly. "And I'm surprised you even have the mental capacity to be bored. As for your family, their best accomplishment was debauchery and inbreeding."

Sirius leaned against the workbench with a cocked hip and picked up a bottle. "Fennel?" he laughed when he read the handwritten label. "Isn't that for cooking? You didn't strike me as a Master Chef." He picked up another bottle and whistled low when he recognized the contents. "That must have cost you a pretty penny..." At Snape's blank look, Sirius added, "It's a Muggle expression. It means this ingredient must be expensive. I know it's damn rare and the school doesn't stock it for students."

Snape snatched the little bottle from Sirius' fingers, dusting it off and regarding it with possessive pride. "For students, no," he said smugly, "But Professor Unger keeps certain personal supplies on hand that few are privy to. I am one of those few."

Sirius was on the point of making some crass remark, but checked himself just in time. He needed to remember his purpose here. Snape's vanity over his privileged status hadn't escaped his notice and he decided to play to that. He perched himself on the edge of the table and grinned amiably. 

"You must be brewing something very complicated then. And complicated usually means *interesting*..." he peered over the edge of the cauldron at the simmering amber potion and then glanced at Snape's notebook. "Come on, fess up."

Snape eyed him with confused suspicion, flipping his notebook shut and clutching it to his chest with both arms as he backed up a step. "I told you, it's none of your business," he muttered, hunching up to protect himself. There was a tinge of pink creeping over his pale cheeks and Sirius knew he'd struck home, even if it looked as though befriending Snape was going to be harder than he thought.

Sirius swung his legs over the table and sat facing Snape, trying to get closer each time Snape retreated. He leaned back on his palms and looked at the lanky geek. Snape's whole appearance was that of general cowering, pressed back against the stone mantle of the empty fireplace, but the curves of his body suggested a serpentine grace that would probably be quite elegant if only Snape knew how to use it. 

"I'm sorry..." said Sirius suddenly, though he wasn't entirely certain what for. Not that there wasn't plenty to be sorry for, but that went both ways. Still, he hadn't meant to say it and chewed his lip trying to think up a quick recovery.

Severus tried to hide behind the cover of his hair. He pressed even harder against the cold stone wall, wishing the chill would drive away the rising warmth he felt on his cheeks. It had been so easy to admire Black from afar, knowing the Gryffindor bastard would never pay attention to him. But now Black was far too close and real.

"Just leave me alone," Snape hissed, his voice cracking at the end.

Sirius didn't budge. He remembered every single time Snape and the other Slytherins had humiliated him, pushing out the feelings of sympathy he felt at this moment. "You're always alone," Black pointed out, hopping down and standing directly in front of Severus.

"Shut up!" Snape snapped and tried to push Sirius away violently. Sirius was equal in height to Severus, but he was much bulkier. Snape was one of the youngest in his year, having been shipped off to Hogwart's as soon as possible by his family. Snape tried again to push Sirius away, but Sirius used his greater strength to stay parked right in from of him.

"Stop that..." said Sirius catching hold of Snape's wrists. Snape was still clutching the notebook and Sirius plucked it out of his fingers, tossing it back onto the table. Snape struggled weakly in his grip, looking embarrassed and cross. "Why do you do this?"
purred Sirius, "Why are you always pushing people away?"

"Shall I list the reasons alphabetically or chronologically?" groused Snape, still tugging his arms, but trapped by the hard stone behind him. His brow was furrowed and mouth set in a thin line, his breathing heavy with effort and a hint of panic.

Sirius found that he enjoyed the feel of Snape's smooth, delicate wrists. He let his gaze wander over the lanky form, wondering if all of him felt that way. His attention snapped back to the task at hand when Snape kicked him fiercely in the shin. "Ow!" he yelped, "Damn you..."

Snape used the distraction to yank his hands free and dart out from between Sirius and the mantle, making for the table. Sirius was quicker, though, and spun around to snatch the notebook and tuck it behind his back, scampering around the table with a broad grin.

"Give me that," seethed Snape, looking stricken.

"Oh, no. Not so fast," taunted Sirius cocking his head and wagging a finger at Snape. 

"Give it back," Snape demanded again. Right about now he was wishing he had put magical shields on the notebook. "I'll hex you if you don't give it back."

"You wouldn't do that, Sev," Sirius said. Now he was sure Snape had something inside the notebook that Severus didn't want him to see.

"Don't call me Sev!" Snape all but shouted and made a quick lunge across the workbench to try and reach his notebook. No one called him that ridiculous name. If he was lucky, his own house members would simply refer to him as Snape, but more often than not he was 'that greasy git' or the hated 'Snivellus' to both Slytherins and Gryffindors.

"What do you have in here?" Sirius asked, easily dodging Snape's attempt to grab for his notebook. "Some dangerous spell? Or, maybe a love letter?"

"None of your...*fucking* business," stammered Snape. He stiffened up and bit his lower lip sharply. He loathed resorting to swear words. They were common and unimaginative, and they only slipped from his mouth when he was nervous or flustered. Crossing his arms over his chest, he tried to look disinterested and sniffed. "You wouldn't understand any of it anyway. They are advanced potions I'm working on for extra studies."

Sirius grinned and opened the notebook, flipping through the wrinkled pages filled with tiny black scribblings and stains of various ingredients. He raised his eyebrows as he scanned the formulas, and the notes Snape had made about them. "Some of this stuff is really good," he said with quiet surprise. He furrowed his brow in suspicion, "Why the heavy interest in werewolves?"

Snape puffed up proudly, "Professor Unger has devised some unique theories on the treatment of lycanthropy. He's asked me to assist him in some of the trials. It's a very great honour, and there aren't any other students up to the task." He thrust his chin in the air and glared at Sirius defiantly.

"So that's why you spend all of your time in here and not plotting to take over the world with the rest of the Slytherins?" Sirius asked, his tone implying it was a soft tease. Sirius closed the notebook and held it out to Snape. The other boy looked at him suspiciously. "Go on, take it."

Severus snapped the notebook away from Sirius and clutched it to his book. "Now that you're done taxing your brain, do you mind leaving now?"

"It's almost time for curfew," Sirius told him. "I might as well help you clean and lock up the lab."

"Why would you do that?" asked Snape, wrinkling up his nose. "You hate me. You've been making that clear for six and half years." His guard was up because Sirius was most definitely *not* acting as though he hated him, and that was extremely unsettling.

"I don't *hate* you," said Sirius, feeling mildly uncomfortable discussing his past behaviour. "I just... Well shit, Sev, you make yourself so easy to pick on, I just can't help it." He shrugged guiltily and held his hands up.

Snape grimaced, "So, now it's my own damn fault that I'm relentlessly persecuted?"

"It's not like you're a totally innocent victim," grinned Sirius, turning to the table and starting to gather bottles together and sort them into a wooden tray that was sitting nearby. "I seem to recall some viciously unpleasant hours I spent retching green foam a couple of months ago..."

"That was completely deserved," Snape shot back. He slipped the notebook into an inner pocket of his robes and fussed with his vest. He hated appearing unkempt, even if it was only in front of Sirius Black. "Someone asked me to get revenge for them and I was more than happy to oblige."

"Oh, who was that?" Sirius asked, continuing to work. He was curious who would approach Snape to do their dirty work.

"I am not a rat," Severus snapped. He was starting to clean up the side of the workbench furthest away from Sirius. Snape wasn't going to reveal that a Hufflepuff girl had approached him. Sirius had bedded and abandoned her, provoking the girl into approaching Severus for revenge, knowing his potion making skills and distaste for Black. He had done her dirty work, but had also slipped her a potion that caused cramps simply because she pissed him off for having touched Sirius.

"Hmm, I don't know...." mused Sirius good-naturedly. Despite his curiosity, he wasn't going to push. That wouldn't help his cause at the moment, and he might find out later anyway. "I think you were just enjoying a little of your own handiwork."

"Oh, I won't deny enjoying it," said Snape quickly, mouth curling in the faintest of grins. 

Sirius steered himself closer to Snape without seeming to, and started working in the same area. He cleaned carefully, making sure to brush Snape's fingers, or bump shoulders with him every so often. A grin spread slowly across his face. He was in his element now. There was nothing he enjoyed nearly as much as flirting, and even better if it was a challenge. It didn't get any more challenging than Severus Snape.

Snape growled in frustration and smacked Sirius' wayward hand. "I realize that your eye-hand coordination is limited to a good wank, but for god's sake, stop crashing into me like a drunken skrewt."

"Pardon my lack of coordination," Sirius answered. "You're right, it must be all that wanking. You should see me after a good Quidditch match..."

"Stop!" Severus snapped. A faint blush of colour rose to his pale cheeks. "I... I don't want to hear about over blown... I mean, over exaggerated jock tales. Quidditch is overrated, if you ask me."

Severus was obviously trying to attack something Sirius loved to drive him away. "I've seen you at every one of my matches," Sirius pointed out.

Snape rolled his eyes and let his hair fall down over his face, flushing and wondering if Sirius really knew that. "That's a complete fabrication. You wouldn't know if the *snitch* was at every one of your games... you're too busy preening and showing off for the crowd."

Sirius hooked a hand under Snape's chin and forced his head up to look him in the eye. "If you don't go to the games," he said with a quiet smile, "How do you know I show off?"

"Well, I..." stammered Snape, taking a step back. He huffed and said, "It's common knowledge and everyone talks about it." He tried to look everywhere but at the dark haired boy in front of him.

"No..." pressed Sirius, "I know you're there because I *look* for you. And, you *are* there, Sev...."

"Why?" asked Snape weakly, "Why would you waste time looking for me?"

A soft smile grew on Black's face. "Because I know you're watching me," he answered. Now he was telling the complete truth. He liked being the centre of attention and Snape was always watching him. He would rather someone hate him than ignore him. "I like that."

Severus remembered watching Sirius in his most recent match against Hufflepuff. Sirius controlled both his broom and the game with unquestionable confidence. It was an attractive feature and everything Severus knew he wasn't. He was drawn to Sirius Black like a magnet and couldn't remember a time he hadn't liked the other boy. Sirius was his first crush and a long obsession over his years at Hogwarts.

"You would like that," sneered Snape, close to panic and lashing out. "You're a complete egomaniac and you're delusional to boot. You think the whole school wants you."

"I don't really care about the whole school, right now," said Sirius, evenly. "I'm just talking about you. I know you watch me, I can tell...I pay attention, Severus." He moved closer to Snape, and gave him a smoky gaze, "I watch you. How else would I know that?"

Snape swallowed hard and started in the usual argument, "You only watch me so you can pick on me..." He trailed off into silence as Sirius shook his head slowly. "Then why?" he asked bluntly.

"I'm curious," answered Sirius honestly.

"You're curious..." Severus repeated after Sirius slowly. His eyes narrowed into a dark scowl that would frighten most adults. "I am not an oddity. I am not some freak you can tame like Pettigrew."

Sirius stepped away from Snape's sharp hatred. "That's not how I meant it."

"I'm just some sick joke to you," Severus hissed. With that he stormed past Sirius, his robes fluttering behind him.

As soon as he was in the hall, out of sight of Sirius, he broke into a full run until he reached the end of it, then slowed, chest heaving. His heart was pounding for a variety of reasons, the least of which was his burst of physical effort. Sirius Black was acting very strangely, and Snape found it completely unsettling.

He turned the corner and stopped completely, throwing his back against the wall, letting his head hit it with a soft thunk. The problem was... he'd liked it.

He'd liked being alone in that room with Sirius Black paying attention to him - only him. It was exciting and alluring and he was sure that if Black had any idea what kind of thoughts ran through his mind he'd hex him in an instant. He cursed himself for his desires and shoved away from the stone, sulking down the hallway with a sullen gait.

He'd not gotten very far when he was startled out of his gloom by footsteps close behind him. "Where have you been, Severus?" the cultured voice of Lucius Malfoy demanded. It was also toned with more than a hint of annoyance.

"I was in the potions lab," Severus answered, keeping his eyes hidden from the older boy.

"I was expecting you," Lucius prodded. He stepped closer and reached out to tug on Snape's greasy hair. "I don't like it when you forget your responsibilities, Severus, just to play with your little potions."

"I wasn't playing," Snape winced, grasping at Lucius' hand and trying to pry it from his hair. "I was doing work for my professor. Important work." 

Lucius pressed him up against the wall and smacked him, "Stop you're struggling, Severus. If I have you, you're not going to get away. Nor should you try." 

Lucius kept him that way for several long moments, simply staring and trailing his fingers over places that made Severus blush and tremble. Finally he released him with a shove and said, "Come along. I don't have all night, and I don't like spending excess time in this mouldering castle now that I don't have to."

"You shouldn't be here, Lucius," Severus said. It took him a moment to speak after a shuddering breath, but he recovered quickly and followed after the older boy. He had thought his life would improve now that he was a seventh year and Lucius had graduated, but there was apparently no way to escape a Malfoy.

"I can be anywhere I wish," Lucius laughed. "My father is good friends with the head of the Slytherin house and I'm just looking in on old friends... aren't I, Severus?"

"Of course, Lucius," Severus echoed back. "I just would have thought you'd be occupied with your new fiancée."

"She is perfectly well occupied with herself," Lucius sneered disdainfully. "Besides, the only two times I actually need be in her presence are at the marriage ceremony and when I plant an heir to the Malfoy throne in her."

Severus blushed at the reference and stumbled along after Lucius sullenly. He was beginning to have doubts about his supposed friendship with the older boy, but there seemed to be no getting out of it now. He tried to avoid Lucius, by keeping out of his way, or, like this evening, conveniently forgetting appointments they had. But Lucius always tracked him down. Several years ago, when he was young and scared in a new school, Lucius had taken him under his wing, and seemed exciting and magnificent. But now, he was arrogant... and dangerous. He seemed bent on dragging Severus into his new associations.

When Lucius led him out of the castle and started across the darkened grounds, Severus asked warily, "Wh-where are we going, Lucius?"

"I'm taking you out," said the blonde proudly, "Some friends and I are meeting for drinks to discuss some wonderful new philosophies and I want you to join us." He dragged Severus down to the gates and waved them silently open with a swish of his wand.

Lucius wrinkled his nose as they started down the path to Hogsmeade, "It's a pity you can't apparate yet. Few more months yet, isn't it?"

Severus nodded and hedged around a little, finally he said abruptly, "You know, Lucius, I really don't think I should-"

"That's enough," said Lucius bluntly, seizing him by the back of the neck and propelling him down the path. "If you keep on this way, I'm liable to think you don't enjoy my company."

"It's not that I don't appreciate everything you've done for me Lucius, but..." Severus started to talk nervously. The truth was he had never enjoyed Malfoy's company. Lucius was just someone he had to hang around with if he wanted any sort of protection and companionship. Slytherins rarely liked each other, instead just spending time together out of House loyalty.

Lucius stopped and pinned Severus abruptly up against a nearby tree by the throat. "But what? Do you think you're something special now that you're in seventh year?"

"N-No," Severus tried to deny, croaking as Lucius squeezed his throat.

"I made you, Severus," Lucius hissed. "And I could just as easily break you."

"I'm s-sorry," Severus stammered.

"You're forgetting your place since I've been gone," Lucius moved his hand up from Severus' throat to his chin. "Don't tell me you've found someone you think will protect you better than I will?"

Severus sucked in a breath of air, "No, Lucius. You must know I'm quite grateful to you. You've always taken care of me."

Lucius looked down his nose at Severus for a long moment, and then nodded smugly. He released the boy and started down the path once more. Severus followed him in an uneasy silence.

When they reached a dingy tavern in a little used side street, Lucius stopped and turned to Severus, pinning him with a gaze. "You are to sit still and listen carefully. Don't speak unless you are spoken to, and if you do open your mouth, make sure you use that smug intelligence that you're so fond of. Just don't piss them off."

Severus knitted his brows and tried to peer in through the dirty windows. Before he could see much, Lucius had pulled his face around to study him. With a mildly disgusted face, Lucius raked gloved fingers through his hair trying to straighten it out.

Lucius was preening in a way that Severus hadn't seen him do before. When he was younger Severus used to have a crush on the older boy, but he had grown out of it quickly when he was the brunt of much of Malfoy's cruelty.

When they entered the tavern, Lucius' face lit up at a tall figure standing in the shadows. "Tom, I'm here," he all but purred.

"I can see that, Lucius," Tom answered, stepping into the light cast by the lantern.

He was a tall man that Severus immediately recognized from dated school photographs as Tom Riddle.

Tom peered at the lanky teenager hedging behind Lucius. "And this is him?" he asked in a quiet voice. The heads of several people seated around the tables in the dim light turned, and all eyes were on Severus. 

Lucius pulled Severus out from behind him and thrust him into the middle of the room. "It is," said Lucius smugly, "The pride and joy of the Snape family."

Severus felt a shudder run up his spine and had to resist the urge to flee. Tom was circling around him with glittering eyes, appraising him. When Tom reached out a hand to touch his face, Severus shrank back. Tom smiled genially and moved closer, "No need to fear, young Severus, you're among friends here. I knew your father, you know... or rather, admired him..."

"I know very little about my father," Severus responded coldly.

The truth was he didn't know much about his father, nor did he care to. He father had sired him simply out of responsibility to carry on the family name, not out of any sort of love. He had married an appropriate blue blood wife, bedded her and then mysteriously buried her after a healthy son was born. Snape had distinct memories of being raised by cruel nannies and seeing his father maybe once every six months. When he was ten, younger than the other students, he had promptly been sent off to Hogwarts with instructions that he had better become a Slytherin and not to embarrass the family.

"He was a very... ambitious man," Tom said. He could sense Snape's uneasiness and smirked slightly. "You know, Lucius was quite wrong. You aren't ugly at all." Tom had backed Severus against a table and there was no room for him to step away as Riddle slowly traced one finger down the bridge of Snape's nose. "Quite distinctive features... very pure blood."

Severus shivered as Riddle touched him, and looked nervously to Lucius for guidance. He was unaccustomed to such attention and knew little about how to deal with it. He was smart enough to know that rejecting it would be a mistake, but he was also aware that he was rapidly getting caught up in something that was well over his head.

Lucius came up behind Riddle and peered around his shoulder, reaching out to grasp Severus' chin. "Do you really think so? I don't deny the pure blood..." He narrowed his eyes and cocked his head with an appraising air, "I suppose it's his constant scowl and lack of proper hygiene that make him seem ugly. Perhaps if we cleaned him up..."

Riddle brushed his hand away and turned to Lucius, resting a protective hand on Severus' shoulder. "You are much too blunt and crude, Lucius. You need to learn a little finesse or you're likely to offend our young guest."

He turned to Severus and eyed him genially, "Come, let me introduce you to our friends."

Severus spent the rest of the night seated at Tom Riddle's right side, considered a place of honour undoubtedly, by the dirty look Lucius could not hide. He knew this was exactly where his father would want him to be...but, he was decidedly uneasy as Riddle sat too close to him. Conversation was guarded, centring on the superiority of wizards and the malevolent plague of muggles. Riddle's so called "friends" kept a careful eye on him the entire time, monitoring his reactions.

Severus was finally able to slip away on the pretence that he would be missed at Hogwarts if he stayed any longer. Of course, he had not been able to get away without promising to meet with Riddle and his cronies again. Apparently, he had passed their first test, whatever that was. The question was, why did he feel sick even thinking about laying eyes on Riddle again?

<><><><><><>

The Marauders were lounging around the bedchamber they all shared, mulling over the project they had made of one Severus Snape. 

"It would be easier to even think about kissing another boy if they at least *looked* like a girl," Peter said. "You know, a prettyboy..."

"That greasy git is *not* a prettyboy," James snorted. "A fag yes, but nowhere near pretty. I bet you ten galleons that Sirius won't be able to kiss him when the time comes.
Too difficult or daunting for the great Sirius Black."

Peter screwed up his face, "Yeah, but kissing Snivellus? That's gross."

"Some people might think kissing you is gross," teased James, giving his friend a poke in the chest. Peter blushed to his toes and mumbled something unintelligible.

James turned to Sirius and said, "Well... how did it go? Are you gonna be able to make this work?"

Sirius smirked and rolled his eyes, "Am I gonna make it work..." He glanced balefully at Remus, "Sheesh, no faith." He told them a short version of what had happened with Snape, leaving out a few details he preferred to keep private. As the three of them started in analyzing it and planning the next move, Sirius watched his lupine friend and wondered if he should tell Remus what Snape was working on. In the end, he kept his mouth shut, not wanting to get Remus' hopes up...or give him any reason to want to thwart their plans. Sirius was finding more and more reasons to want to go through with it.

"Sirius..." James' voice interrupted Sirius' thoughts. "Sirius, you drifted off again. You're starting to act like poor Mooney."

"Hey!" Remus protested.

"You can't help it if you're a little scatter brained, now can you ol' boy?" James said good-naturedly.

Remus and Sirius were lying close on the same bed, as they often did. Even though everyone said James and Sirius were inseparable, when the Marauders where alone, it was Remus who was nearly Sirius' second skin. Remus was the quiet one who liked to touch, and the moral core of the group. He didn't like the way Sirius looked when he talked about Severus Snape. Remus prided himself that he knew the real Sirius better than anyone, even James.

Remus' leg slowly worked its way out to rest against Sirius' lower thigh, rubbing slowly. Sirius let him touch him like this when the Marauders were alone. When he left his playthings after sex, sometimes he would crawl into bed with Remus and they would talk all night.

"Maybe we should just leave Snape alone," Remus said quietly.

"Are you nuts?" protested Peter, sitting up awkwardly. "I need this or I'm in really big trouble. There's no way I'm gonna get through without help."

"Yeah, Mooney..." said James in an oily voice. He placed a hand on Peter's shoulder. "Would you condemn your dear friend to the horrors that await him at home if he doesn't make grade?"

Remus rolled his eyes and heaved a sigh. "I just think..." he chewed his lip knowing from past experience that he was fighting a losing battle. "I just think this might be going a little too far. This isn't really some prank anymore."

"Poor Mooney," soothed Sirius, ruffling his friend's hair. "Always afflicted with so much conscience. You don't need to worry so much. If things work out I'm gonna leave Sevvie with the patented Black shit-eating grin, Peter's gonna finish school, and no one will ever be the wiser."

Remus opened his mouth to say something more, then thought better of it. He huffed and shoved himself off the bed. "I'm going to sleep, you all carry on."

He went to his own bed at the far end of the room and pulled the curtains shut around him. Remus lay on his back, starring up at the velvet panelling over his bed. A few minutes later, the drapes parted and Sirius slipped inside. He lay down next to Remus and rested his head on his friend's shoulder.

"The other's have gone to bed now," Sirius whispered.

"You haven't," Remus whispered back.

"I have..." Sirius answered with an amused snort. "Just not my bed."

Remus didn't answer right away, just shifted closer to his friend and wrapped his arm around Sirius' shoulder. "You like Snape," he said it quietly. It wasn't an accusation, but a simple statement.

"No, I don't," Sirius denied. "He's just another challenge."

"Aren't you getting a little old for challenges?" Remus' hand was playing idly with Sirius' hair, which was kept shoulder length in typical wizarding fashion.

It was Remus' way of asking if Sirius was done playing games yet. "Not by far, my friend, not by far," Sirius told him. "I'll let you know when I've grown up enough for that."

Remus was the kind of person who fell in love once in his life and stayed committed to that person. Sirius knew that Remus was in love with him and some day when he was done fooling around, he would probably settle down with Remus Lupin.

<><><><><><>

The next afternoon, Sirius strode into Potions class with Peter in tow. Remus and James were already sitting at their table, heads bent close together and whispering. 

He passed in front of them and hissed quietly, mouthing, "Watch this." Then he moved up toward the table where Severus sat, alone, hunched over his notebook scribbling intently. With a careful sidestep, Sirius managed to bump Severus' arm and send the notebook and inkbottle crashing to the floor.

"Stupid fool," Severus hissed automatically, before he looked up. When he did look up and saw it was Sirius, Severus became a bit flustered. "Black, watch where you're going." The words were civil with a bite to them, but for Severus Snape, it was out right soppy.

"Let me get that for you," Sirius volunteered and scooped up the book. They had already worked it out that it would be good for the cause if Sirius "defended" Snape from someone. Peter made a remarkable asshole, so the Marauders had elected him.

Sirius handed the book to Severus with a flourish and a grin, enjoying the look of confused panic in his eyes. He glanced over Severus' shoulder to where Peter was fidgeting at the back of the room, and gave a barely imperceptible nod.

Peter jumped a foot off the ground and then scurried up toward them, little eyes glassy with excitement. He came up behind Severus, stammering, "Yeah, you big...big greasy *git*. Watch what the hell you're d-doing..." 

He thrust his chin in the air and Severus turned to glare down at him as if he were a mosquito. Sirius couldn't help himself and clamped a hand over his mouth to stifle his laughter. He was more likely to have to defend Peter from Snape at this rate.

Peter gave Sirius a wounded look. Then he gritted his teeth and darted forward giving Severus a hard shove that sent him sprawling across the professor's desk.

Sirius was about to laugh again, this time at Severus, but the other boy's expression stopped him. Severus went from pissed off, to a brief flash of worry as the Professor's papers scattered onto the floor.

"He'll kill me," Severus muttered as he scrambled to put the desk back into order. The Potion's Master at Hogwarts was a meticulous Hufflepuff that was distrustful of all Slytherins. It was only through hours of extra work over the years that Severus had managed to get any sort of respect. Hours spent in his seventh year helping to grade the first year's scrolls would all be wasted if that damned Hufflepuff found even one paper out of place. When Sirius tried to help, Severus grabbed the scrolls out of his hand quickly. 

"I'm only trying to help," Sirius said.

"You and your pitiful friend have already helped enough," Severus hissed.

"Peter's just being an ass," said Sirius quietly as he picked up the last few rolls and moved close to Severus to put them back on the desk. "He tries to show off for us. I think we've been a rather bad example..."

Severus snorted, "Oh, really? I never would have imagined that." He was fussing frantically with parchments and quills. Sirius was a little taken aback by his classmate's panic over such a minor situation. Then again, he knew what Professor Unger could be like.

Just then, the professor's voice could be heard outside the doorway. Sirius gave Severus a little shove towards his table, "Quick, go sit down." Then he hoisted himself up on the desk, sitting cross-legged and scattering the scrolls all over again.

"Mr. Black..." growled Professor Unger from the back of the room. "What on *earth* do you think you are doing?!"

"I had a question for you, Sir," smiled Sirius.

But Unger didn't turn his anger on him like he expected, rather the irate old man snapped at Severus, "Snape, I thought I told you not to let anyone in here?"

"You did, Sir," Severus admitted, his gaze lowered. "I'm sorry."

"And IF you had listened to me, Mr. Snape, then my desk wouldn't be in such disorder," Unger started on one of his typical Hufflepuff rants. "Ten points from Slytherin. How many times do I have to tell you... hard work, Mr. Snape. You must stop all of the Slytherin plotting and conniving if you want to make anything of yourself. Potions require dedication and right now I question whether or not you have any."

"It was my fault, Professor Unger," Sirius interjected. "I was just asking Severus if he would think about tutoring me in Potions."

"I'm quite certain Mr. Snape has better things to do with his time," blustered the professor, shooing Sirius off his desk and starting to sort the mess back into order. "Although, I have no doubt you could use the help. You used to make quite good marks, but they've slipped off as of late."

"Yes, Sir," said Sirius in an ingratiating voice, "And I am certainly as concerned as you. That's why I was considering some extra tutoring." He noticed Severus rolling his eyes and making a rude face.

But you could have knocked him over with a feather when Severus raised his hand and said, "Excuse me, Sir. But...I think I could spare an hour or two a week. If you approve, that is..."

Professor Unger didn't stop as he continued his work. A Hufflepuff would never discourage someone from hard work or self-improvement. "Fine, fine, just both of you get out of my room now," he said, dismissing them. "Perhaps too little, too late, mind you."

"Thank you, Professor," Severus said quickly and gathered his scrolls, quills and books. He was out of the room quickly, his robes swirling darkly behind him.

"Tell me again why you like potions?" Sirius asked when he caught up with Severus.

"They are simple," Severus answered curtly.

"I don't think so, last week ol' stick-up-the-arse there had us do a potion with no less than sixty seven separate ingredients," Sirius argued.

"No, I mean they are simpler than people," Severus answered with a long-suffering sigh. "They are easy to understand when you know what to do."

"Huh," said Sirius, falling into step with Severus who eyed him uncomfortably. "And here I think that people are the simple thing...most of the time..." He nudged Severus with his elbow and grinned.

Severus swerved away from him and rubbed his shoulder as if Sirius had punched him. He stopped dead and sized up Sirius from behind his curtain of hair. "What the hell is going on, Black? You've obviously mistaken me for a simpleton if you think I haven't figured out you're up to something."

Sirius gaped like a fish for a split-second, knowing Severus was dead right. Then, he regained himself and grinned slyly, taking a step closer, "I told you... I'm curious. I don't think you're a freak. I think you're interesting, and I realized I should get to know you better."

As Sirius stepped in close, Severus clutched his schoolwork close to his chest. "Why?" he asked.

"Do I need a reason?" Sirius asked. They were in the dungeons and no one was around anymore.

"Sirius Black always has a reason for something," Severus responded. "Whether that be a pretty face or the great accolade of Gryffindor. I most certainly do *not* have a pretty face and would rather spend the rest of my life at Hogwarts than give Gryffindor any advantage above Slytherin."

Sirius tilted his head and regarded the cowering Slytherin thoughtfully. "I do have my reasons, Severus..." he said quietly, drawing out the name carefully. "But...I don't think you'd believe me if I told you."

Severus backed up under Sirius' intense gaze. The way the boy was looking at him gave him shivers and frightened him. "Wha- What reasons?" he stammered, "What wouldn't I believe?"

Sirius shrugged and grinned softly. He closed the gap between them and slid his hands up the sides of Severus' face, leaning close. Severus gasped and his eyes flew wide open, as Sirius' lips drew so near to his own. "Don't," he said bluntly, just before they connected.

Sirius didn't take no from anyone until they had at least sampled one kiss. They never said no after the first kiss and he doubted Severus would be any different. Slowly Sirius teased Severus' lips with his tongue, making a pleased sound when they opened to him. He wondered if this was Severus' first kiss...

"You bit me!" Sirius yelped in disbelief as he pulled away.

"Not hard," Severus told him, breathing heavily. "You're not even bleeding."

"You. Bit. Me," Sirius repeated. He started to smile despite the slight sting of his lip.

"How astute," Severus said, his lips twitching into an almost smile. "I told you not to kiss me."

"You liked it!" Sirius said immediately.

"Maybe I did," Severus agreed with a smirk. "But you'll have to learn to listen to me. I'm not one of your groupies."

"No..." said Sirius, grinning slyly, "I never imagined you would be. But I have to admit, I never thought you'd let me kiss you, either."

Severus pressed his mouth in a prim line and thrust his chin in the air, "I didn't *let* you. In fact, I specifically told you *not* to."

"I know," smirked Sirius. Then he grasped Severus' face and kissed him hard and long, moaning with pleasure as he did so. He only stopped when he became aware of Severus smacking him on the shoulder, and released him, panting. Severus took a step or two away, staring transfixed.

"T-That is quite enough..." Severus managed to stammer.

"That's twice in one day you let me kiss you, Sev," Sirius told him. His normal smirk was much wider than usual.

"I won't let it happen again," Severus answered. He had recovered a little composure and was trying to straighten his collar with his free hand, while trying to balance his scrolls with the other. "Today."

"That's a dare if I ever heard one," crowed Sirius, backing away down the hall. "I'm going to hold you to it, too," he said with a broad grin. "I'm going to come find you after the Quidditch match tomorrow." Then he turned and jogged down the hallway.

Severus stood there staring after him, cheeks blazing and lips tingling. He had no idea what had come over him to say such things...and to Sirius Black no less. He couldn't deny that he'd enjoyed the kiss. Far more than he should have. But he was damned if he'd put himself in that position again. Sirius Black was far too dangerous and there was no way he was going to be anywhere to be found when the final whistle on the Quidditch pitch blew.

<><><><><><>

Sirius was an absolute menace on the Quidditch pitch. Potter might be Captain of the team, but Severus thought Sirius was the real backbone of the team. He hadn't meant to go to the game, but Slytherin House made a point of showing up in full force to jeer Gryffindor. He had sat in the back of the stands, making sure that Sirius wouldn't see him. He also made a point of staying behind on the pitch after it had cleared out. Sirius had threatened to look for him and it made perfect sense to him that the last place he would search would be the pitch he had just left. No, Sirius Black would never find him lurking at the bottom of the stand, he was sure of that.

"I saw you watching me," Sirius' clear voice purred directly behind him.

Severus turned to see Sirius standing very close. He was still dressed in his Quidditch robes and Severus could smell him. It made the hackles stand up on the back of his neck while at the same time arousing him unsettlingly. He hadn't really wanted to come, but found that he didn't have the will to resist.

He opened his mouth to say something as Sirius moved closer, but Sirius pressed a finger over his mouth, "Don't deny it, Severus, I saw you there the whole time. And I saw you sneak down here to wait for me."

Severus batted the hand away and snapped, "I was trying to avoid you, you imbecile."

Sirius backed him up against the post supporting the bleachers, bracing one hand on either side of the boy's head, "I don't believe you. Kiss me..."

"I'll do no such thing," gasped Severus, plastering himself as far back as he could go.

"But I want you to," prodded Sirius. He pressed his body up against Severus and looked him in the eye, lips almost touching already.

"You don't always get what you want," Severus challenged him.

"Don't I?" Sirius smirked. "This time I want *you* to kiss me." Sirius' hands were now resting on Severus' slim hips, running over the slick material of his school robes. "Sometimes it's more than nice to give into our desires."

"Desires..." Severus repeated after Sirius and licked his lips. "I don't have desires."

Slowly Sirius pressed his thigh between Severus' legs. He smiled when he felt Severus' cock start to harden. What sounded glorious to him though was the wounded sound Severus made and tried to cover up.

"Sounds to me like you have some desires..." murmured Sirius, rubbing his face lightly against Severus' neck. "Why would you want to deny them?" he asked.

"You, of all people, should know why," said Severus weakly. He reached up to push Sirius away and ended up clutching his robes instead, as the boy's warm breath tickled his skin.

Sirius grinned wryly, "Well, yeah, I know why you might not wanna trust me... but why deny them all together?"

"It's not as if anyone's been lining up to offer," snapped Severus, bristling and starting to push Sirius away.

Sirius caught his wrists and held his ground, "It's not like you ever give them a chance, either, is it?"

They stood, staring at each other in a kind of silent face-off. Then Sirius leaned closer until his lips brushed over the other boy's.

Severus was stiff for a moment, but his body almost instantly melted against Sirius. He gave another wounded sound, which Sirius took for a sound of defeat. Someone could only fight what they wanted for so long. He wondered if anyone had ever really touched the other boy unless they were humiliating or causing him pain. Sirius was the first person to kiss Severus, he knew that and liked it. As he deepened his kiss over Severus, he started to realize the kind of power he was developing over Severus.

He wrapped his arms around Severus' slim waist and pulled him tight against his own body. The other boy was taller than anyone he usually favoured with a kiss. Normally, he would have picked them off the ground, using his height over theirs. As one of his hands moved from Severus' waist to lock onto the back of his partner's neck, he noticed the other boy had washed his hair. With adept fingers he pushed the Slytherin coloured scarf to the ground and started to undo Severus' collar.

He brushed away the annoying cloth and shifted his mouth from Severus' well kissed mouth. Severus groaned, his eyes closed, and tried to follow Sirius' mouth.

"Shush," Sirius murmured, "Not going anywhere." He just lowered his mouth and started to nuzzle Severus' neck, intent on leaving his mark.

Severus' hands were trembling, and his heart nearly bursting from his chest. He let his head roll to the side as Sirius' warm mouth caressed his neck. His eyelids fluttered against his cheek and his breath quickened. He'd never felt anything of the kind and could barely think through the spinning in his head.

Then Sirius bit down hard on his flesh, and Severus yelped, shoving him away instinctively. "What the fuck was *that* for?" he demanded, eyes flashing.

"So you'll remember me when I'm not around," purred Sirius in a low, thick voice. "So you'll look in the mirror and think about all this..."

Severus stood staring for a moment, letting these ideas sink in. Then he lunged at Sirius, pushing him back against the opposite pole, and kissed him roughly. He was rewarded by a throaty groan from Sirius and hands at his waist, pulling him closer.

As Severus got more enthusiastic, Sirius quickly realized how this could easily descend beyond the make out session he had planned. Sirius put one hand on Severus' head and started to pretty much pet him, trying to quiet the kiss.

"Severus..." Sirius groaned between kisses. "Severus..."

"Great, you know my name," Severus hissed, trying to kiss him again.

"Severus, we need to slow down," Sirius told him.

"You started this!" Severus protested, anger flashing in his eyes. Sirius could imagine that once Severus had something he liked, he didn't like being denied or having it taken away.

"I know I did..." said Sirius, looping his arms around the other boy's waist and holding him gently. "I just think we should take it slow. I'm *trying* to be a bit more... chivalrous about this."

Severus curled his lip and arched one eyebrow, "Chivalrous? You're trying to be a gentleman about snogging me under the stands so you can get into my pants?"

"Hey," said Sirius indignantly, "I'm not just trying to get into your pants. If I was just after sex, I could get that anywhere."

"Don't play games with me, Black," said Severus, standing back and crossing his arms. "I'm sure you have some stupid bet on with your miserable friends. I'm not an idiot, I just decided I could use the situation to gain a little practical experience."

Suddenly Sirius became angry. Angry that Severus could think this was a bet, even though it was true. "Who do you want experience for?" Sirius snapped. "Lucius Malfoy?"

"Shut up!" Severus hissed and backed away from Sirius.

"That's what everyone in school says," Sirius lashed out. "They say you bent over for Malfoy, but I knew it wasn't true when I kissed you. I'm the only one whose ever kissed you, aren't I?"

In Severus' mind, what Sirius was saying came down to a simple statement. Sirius was the only one to take pity on an ugly git like him. Lucius even loathed to touch him, so even if he wanted Malfoy, there was no chance that would happen.

He sneered at Sirius and stomped off across the grass in the dim light, his cheeks burning with shame. He didn't really care if the school had been speculating about him and Malfoy. But, to his great discomfort, he realized that he did care what Sirius thought. Very much. It started to rain and Severus picked up his pace, heading for a side door with stairs straight into the dungeons.

Sirius watched him go and then smacked his head against the post he was leaning on. How could he have been so stupid? He was supposed to be getting on Snape's good side and all he managed to do was keep starting fights. The Marauders would kill him. At least that's what he told himself when he took off after Snape, slipping along on the wet ground.

He caught up to Snape as he was pushing open the heavy wooden door. Sirius crowded through it with him, panting, "Severus... please. I'm sorry."

"Sorry for what?" snapped Severus, leveling his gaze on Sirius.

Sirius pushed his sopping wet hair out of his eyes, "Sorry I said that stuff. I didn't really mean it. I just... well, you got mad at me first."

"I did not get angry. I spoke the truth. Was I wrong?"

"That's not the point, I-"

"Was. I. Wrong?" interrupted Severus, trying to keep the hurt...and the hope... out of his voice.

"You were wrong," Sirius told him. A lie. He was telling Severus a bald-faced lie, but he couldn't tell Severus the truth. Seven years at Hogwarts and loyalty to his friends kept him from blurting out the truth. If he didn't lie, then he could avoid that pained looked on Severus' face again, knowing he had put it there.

Severus' cold expression seemed to crack and showed vulnerability that Sirius had never seen before. "S-So you like me then?" Severus said. He reached out with a hand and touched Sirius' robe almost reverently. 

A secretive grin spread across Sirius' face and he leaned closer to Severus, slipping his hands onto the boy's waist. "I do like you, Sev." That was not a lie. In the past few days he'd found more and more about Severus Snape that interested him. "I'll admit that it took me a while to figure that out, but I do."

Severus' fingers curled tightly around the material in his hand, and his breath came quick and sharp. He didn't back away from Sirius, but froze, uncertain of what to do or say. "I...."

Sirius squeezed his eyes shut and tried to forget about the Marauder's plan. Right now it was just him and Severus, and he found that he wanted it that way. "Severus," he breathed, "I... I know a place we could go. Where we wouldn't be bothered, I mean..."

Severus got a determined and satisfied look on his face that Sirius had only seen him wearing while he was working over a potion. "I made some... stuff," Severus said quietly.

Sirius blinked a few times. "Yeah, so. You're always making stuff. What does that have to do with..."

"Sirius," Severus sighed and moved closer to the other boy. "I made something that would be... useful in this private place of yours. I'm assuming it has at least a cot?"

A wry grin crossed Sirius' lips, as he started to catch Severus' meaning. "Sev... you dog. What have you been up to? And, ah... yeah, it's got a very comfortable couch. I transfigured it myself." 

Sirius took the other boy's hand and led him deep into the castle. When they came to a statue of a gnome holding a lantern, Sirius swung the lantern to one side and a door appeared in the wall behind them. Glancing both ways down the corridor, he shoved the door open and yanked Severus inside. 

"Y-You didn't say right now," Severus stammered out. "You just said you knew a place."

Sirius had to smile, seeing that Severus for all his grim determination was nervous and almost panicking at the idea of fucking right then and there. For just a moment he forgot that he was dealing with a virgin with enough complexes to qualify for St. Mungo's.

"Severus, why did you make that... stuff?" Sirius asked gently, starting to caress Severus' hair to calm him.

"I knew you'd want that," Severus answered. "I'm not stupid."

Sirius leaned over and started to kiss Severus' neck, easily plucking open his shirt that hadn't been closed correctly from their encounter on the field. "So, you thought you'd just lay back and think of England?" he questioned, licking salty skin.

"It can't be all unpleasant..." Severus admitted with a soft groan through clenched teeth. The truth was, he liked Sirius and knew that Sirius liked sex. Hell, the whole school knew Sirius liked sex. If he gave that to Sirius, then maybe he'd stick around longer. Maybe he'd even stick around after graduation.

"I don't think it's unpleasant at all..." whispered Sirius. He unfastened Severus' cloak and tossed it off to the side. Then he went to work on his robes.

Severus stood open mouthed and terrified, scared to let Sirius go on... and scared that he'd stop. A shiver ran through him when Sirius pushed his robes off his shoulders, even though he was still wearing a vest and shirt. Sirius moved away and, despite his fear, Severus reached out to stop him.

"Don't worry, Sev," grinned Sirius. "I'm just going to start a fire in the grate. You're cold... and we can't have that."

"Oh..." was all Severus could manage, feeling foolish, but at the same time, pleased that Sirius would be so thoughtful. He didn't bother to mention that cold had nothing to do with it.

"Do you expect me to completely ravish you?" Sirius asked him, taking out his wand and muttering the simple spell to start the fire.

"The thought had crossed my mind," Severus admitted. "You do have a certain reputation."

"Oh, really?" Severus asked with a raised eyebrow. "What kind of reputation is that? The school slut?"

"No, I..." Severus cringed with his own stupidity, hanging his head. "I didn't mean that..."

Sirius relented when he saw the stricken look on Severus' face. "I'm teasing, Sev, can't you tell?"

Severus stiffened and said coldly, "The only reason I see to believe you at all is that you haven't hexed me yet."

"You really mean that, don't you?" asked Sirius quietly, reaching up to touch the other boy's face.

"Yes," snapped Severus, swatting his hand away.

"Aww, Sev," Sirius said softly and reached his hand back out to touch Severus' face.

"I don't want your pity," Severus said coldly, but let Sirius' hand settle on his face. He wasn't used to being touched. He thought Sirius would jump straight to the fucking.

"This isn't pity," Sirius insisted. "I like you and I *want* to touch you."

"It's... off putting," Severus admitted. "All of this touching."

"I bet no one has touched you a lot," Sirius commented as he continued to stroke Severus' cheek softly.

"Not a great deal, no," muttered Severus, closing his eyes. As uncomfortable as it made him, Sirius' touch felt wonderful, and that just left him more confused than ever. 

Sirius took Severus by the hand and led him to the sofa, placed comfortably by the fire. Severus sat nervously, and Sirius couldn't help but grin. "You've got to relax, mate. I'm not going to do anything nasty...and I know you're new at this. I don't expect you to be perfectly amazing."

Severus automatically opened his mouth to say something rude, but snapped it shut again when he realized Sirius was right. Besides that, Sirius was settling down next to him, pressed close and he found he liked that very much. 

Sirius reached up to run his fingers through Severus' hair, and this time Severus leaned into the touch, the lines of his face relaxing in a most alluring way.

"The couch is remarkably... comfortable," Severus said, "Considering you transfigured it."

"Nice attempt at small talk, Sev," Sirius chuckled. Even when Severus was giving a compliment, it was an insult.

"If you ever call me Sev in front of anyone else, I'll be forced to hex you," Severus told him. He was relaxing against Sirius, as the other man massaged his scalp.

"You'd probably just hex my clothes away," Sirius teased him.

"I wouldn't want anyone else to see my..." Severus said and then stopped. Sirius wasn't his... boyfriend. Sirius would deny even talking to him outside of this room. "I wouldn't want anyone to see you naked."

"You would deny the world something this magnificent?" said Sirius with a wide grin.

Severus rolled his eyes and started to say something, when Sirius pressed his fingers over the other boy's mouth and said, "I know you would... because you hide behind your hair and high collars when you dress on the weekends..."

With deft fingers, Sirius worked open the buttons of Severus' vest and then started on his shirt. In no time at all, he was able to slide his hand in and stroke it over Severus' smooth bare chest. He moaned softly and kissed Severus on the neck, exploring with
his fingers.

"Maybe... M-Maybe we could make it darker in here?" Severus asked in a genuinely uncomfortable tone as more of his skin was exposed. "And wizard's wear high collars. It's dignified."

"Who made you think you were ugly, Severus?" Sirius asked, still kissing Severus' neck. "Because you're not..."

"Everyone," Severus answered. "And don't lie to me. I'm not beautiful."

"I won't lie to you, Severus, you're not beautiful," said Sirius with a grin. "But you are quite good looking. Especially when you relax a little." He pressed his hand flat against Severus' chest and rubbed it slowly and firmly. He was rewarded with a shiver and a gasp from the other boy.

Severus moaned softly and slouched a little lower on the couch. He'd never felt anything as nice as that touch. Without thinking, he reached out to tug at Sirius' shirt, wanting to touch...to feel...to see him naked as well. "I want..." He had only a vague idea of what he wanted since he'd only ever imagined what two people did in the dark.

"Right..." agreed Sirius, who knew very well what came next and could easily fill in the blanks. He stood up for a moment and stripped off to just his trousers, firelight rippling over his tanned skin. Then he knelt on one knee, next to Severus and pushed the boy's shirt down off his shoulders. Easing Severus over onto his back, Sirius stretched out on top of him with a low moan, planting a heated kiss on Severus' bare shoulder.

"We're just going to get to know each other," Sirius whispered to him.

It was true when he said Severus wasn't beautiful. They started to make out on the couch and Sirius contemplated why he liked Severus. James always made fun of Severus' nose, but it really gave him character. Severus didn't look like anyone else, with his sharp angles and dark individuality. He wasn't just another pretty face and it was his wounded soul that drew Sirius more than anything else.

Severus' wary hands started to caress Sirius' back as they kissed. Every moment with Severus was like a test, always cautious, as if Severus expected Sirius to say it was all some big joke.

"Yes, well... you're getting to know a great deal more about me than anyone else ever has," said Severus in a shaky voice. He ran his hands along Sirius' smooth back, marvelling at how soft and warm he was.

They kissed each other hotly, tongues exploring freely, and mouths occasionally wandering off to other exciting places to touch and taste, fitting in conversation in odd fits and starts.

Sirius rocked his hips slowly against Severus, setting up a rhythm that matched his own panting breaths. "Lucky me," he gasped before claming Severus' mouth once more.

This was normally when he'd make a move to get a little more action. Slip his hand into his partner's pants or up her skirt, but this wasn't any normal partner. Severus might be a few months shy of his eighteenth birthday, but he was much less experienced.

It had been years since he had cum in his pants, but he didn't think Severus was ready for anything else just yet. He kept up the steady rhythm of rocking their hips together and kissing Severus.

Between kisses, he whispered a litany of encouragements to Severus. "That's it, Sev. Bet you like that, huh?" Severus' response was to whimper and cling to Sirius tighter. "Just let it go, Severus. I can feel how hard you are for me..."

Severus was lost in a tangle of pleasure, kissing, hot breath and smooth skin. He moaned in response to the soothing murmur of Sirius' voice and followed his lead in every action. But when that last line sunk in, Severus' eyes flew open and he gasped, "What? Now? You don't mean..."

"It's all right, Sev," purred Sirius, running his fingers through the other boy's hair, calming him again. He increased the pressure of his hips just slightly, "I want you to. I want to see you and hear you...."

"I...I can't," pleaded Severus, arching his body in spite of his protests.

"You can... I want to make you cum. I know I'm gonna..."

"N-No," Severus denied, shaking his head, but his hips were still rocking against Sirius. "Not in my pants..."

"Everyone's done it," Sirius assured him. He could see the beads of sweat on Severus' forehead and licked them off.

Severus was shivering now. He'd never cum with anyone else before, only quietly in his shared Slytherin dorm with bed curtains drawn tight. "Not me!" Severus squeaked, even as he gasped and came in his pants.

He tried to hold back, afraid and embarrassed, but without warning, his climax ripped out of him. It was hot and wrenching, and before he knew what he was doing, he clutched at Sirius' hips and waist, pulling the other boy hard against him, and grinding into him
with shameless need.

"Fuck, Sev... *Yes*..." gasped Sirius, thrusting harder for Severus' benefit. He was completely taken aback by Severus' wanton behaviour after so much nervousness, but he loved it and did all he could to encourage more.

Sirius was delighted as he thrust against Severus, enjoying it as the other boy rode out his orgasm, but it wasn't enough to make him cum. He held Severus and stroked his hair as Severus slumped back against the couch.

"Y-You... not," Severus gasped softly. "You didn't... you know."

"I know," Sirius told him with a kiss.

"You want me to..." Severus hesitated for a moment and couldn't hide the slight long-suffering look on his face. "Take care of it?"

Sirius chuckled and kissed the tip of Severus' nose. "I'm not going to maul you... yet. I was thinking you could just... watch."

"Watch..." said Severus, feeling slightly dazed. His eyes widened, "You mean while you..."

By way of an answer, Sirius pushed himself up to his knees and sat back on his heels, rubbing a hand over his groin with a smile. He popped open the buttons of his trousers one by one, eyes locked on Severus.

For his part, Severus struggled up to his elbows, gaping, "My god are you really... I mean, you're actually..." He was caught between his own embarrassment and an irresistible desire to see more of this boy who'd suddenly taken centre stage in his life.

"That's right," Sirius confirmed. "I'm going to jack off in front of you. I want you to watch, Severus." Sirius slowly pulled his cock out, starting to fist it gently. "Have you ever thought about this?"

"W-What? Watching another boy?" Severus seemed shocked at the idea, but he was licking his lips. "Of course not."

"Never thought about watching when the other boys were doing this in the shower room?" Sirius asked as he continued his sweet seduction, shivering as he slowly masturbated.

"They do that in the shower room?" asked Severus incredulously, his eyes riveted on the other boy's hand.

Sirius grinned and said, "Well, yeah... haven't you seen them?" His eyes fluttered shut for a moment, and he let his head droop forward, rocking his hips slowly.

Severus averted his eyes, "I try to take my showers early in the morning before anyone else is around." He hated the thought of being naked in front of them, and had learned long ago that doing so only invited ridicule.

"I'll have to shower with you some time," Sirius said more to himself than to Severus. He was lost in the elation he was quickly approaching. Severus' eyes widened at the implications of that and groaned. "Would you like that, Sev?"

"I could... set a privacy spell to stop anyone from coming in," Severus stammered out, always the practical one.

Sirius chuckled, "Where's your sense of adventure?" 

"I'm practical, Sirius, not afraid," snapped Severus. The truth was that the comment stung. He knew Sirius and his friends thought he was weak and cowardly, and something in him decided to prove Sirius wrong.

He struggled to sit up, nudging Sirius off his legs, then reached out towards Sirius' rapidly stroking hand. With a shaky breath, Severus trailed his fingers over the head of the other boy's cock, and the hand gripping it.

Sirius thought the intense look on Severus' face was endearing. Severus probably was approaching the situation like he approached a potion experiment. Cataloguing every one of Sirius' responses, Severus used the knowledge to his advantage.

"I can control you," Severus whispered hoarsely, mesmerized that it was his touch that made Sirius shiver. The lust for power was a Slytherin trait and Severus just realizing he could control Sirius with sex.

Sirius was too lost in his own pleasure to argue, and murmured, "Mmm... control me, Sev..."

Severus felt bold and he placed his other hand firmly on Sirius' chest, stroking the smooth skin. He could feel Sirius panting and the little jerks of his body as he thrust into his own hand. When he played his fingers over that heated flesh, he could feel the jolt of reaction running through the boy's body. "I want to see you cum, Sirius," he said quietly.

Just hearing Severus say 'cum' mixed the sensations enough to make him short circuit. "Fuck..." Sirius groaned as he came into Severus' hand.

"Maybe sometime," Severus told him a bold whisper.

It was only when he pulled his hand away from Sirius, that he realized his hand was a mess. He held it up and looked at it. "What's wrong, haven't you seen cum before?" Sirius asked in a choked tone.

"I always cum in a handkerchief..." Severus said, still looking at his hand. "Then I perform a spell to clean it right away."

"Freak," teased Sirius with a wink. Then he took Severus' hand by the wrist and brought it up to his lips, snaking his tongue out to lick some of his cum from the boy's fingers.

Severus yanked his hand way, a horrified look on his face. "What are you doing?"

Sirius laughed and leaned closer, "Don't you think you'll taste it when you go down on a guy?"

"Well, I never... I, mean..." Severus was too flustered to think. His cheeks were blazing pink.

Sirius ran the tip of his finger through the cum and held it to Severus' lips, "Open up...."

Severus wasn't stupid enough to protest vocally. Instead, he pressed his lips tightly together and shook his head.

"C'mon now, Sev," Sirius cajoled him. He slowly traced a little of the cum on Severus' lips. "Open up and suck on my fingers." When Severus shook his head again, Sirius told him, "If you suck on my fingers this time, I'll suck on the body part of your choice next time."

"Next time?" breathed Severus, gazing up at Sirius with undisguised interest.

"Well, yeah, what did you think?" grinned Sirius, slipping his finger in between Severus' parted lips. Severus pulled back slightly but then closed his eyes and started to suck hesitantly. A shiver of lust ran down Sirius' spine as he watched. "That's good, Sev..." he panted.

"High salt content..." Severus murmured after he pulled away after licking Sirius' fingers clean. "There are potions in the restricted section that..."

"Severus, you are not harvesting my spunk to make potions," Sirius said sternly. "That's just..."

"Practical," Severus insisted. His hand reached back to bring Sirius' hand to his mouth and licked his finger again. "Most of those potions are erotic in nature."

"I'll bet they are..." he said softly, engrossed in watching Severus' tongue play along his hand. "...considering what you have to go through to make them."

The effect he seemed to be having on Sirius made him bold, so Severus pulled their hands down and leaned forward to kiss Sirius. It was gentle, yet insistent, and before too long he felt Sirius' lips part for him.

Sirius slipped his arms around Severus and pulled him closer, hot with the desire to reveal more of the lanky boy's mysteries. They continued to make out in the secret room until it was time for the evening meal and Sirius' pocket watch chimed, reading 'time to eat'. "I don't want to go," Severus protested.

"We have to," Sirius assured him with one last kiss. If they didn't go, his friends would come looking for him.

"I will have to see you again," Severus announced as the tried in vain to get rid of the wrinkles in his robes. "To act as your tutor in potions, of course."

"That was the idea," grinned Sirius, rubbing up against Severus suggestively.

When they were both more or less put together, Sirius extinguished the fire and pulled the door open, ushering Severus out first. He gave Severus one more hot, lingering kiss in the hallway, a broad smile, and then trotted off to dinner.

Severus stood alone for a long time, mulling over what had just happened. He still couldn't quite fathom it, and he had an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his
stomach. Finally, he dismissed it as his own nervous nature and went down to the Great Hall. 

<><><><><><>

"What is it?" Severus asked, starring warily at the small packet on the table.

"Open it and find out," Sirius laughed. He was almost waiting for Severus to start poking it with his finger.

"I don't think so..." Severus shook his head, but his eyes hadn't moved off the gaudily wrapped packet.

"Don't you trust me, Severus?" Sirius asked with a smirk.

"Of course not," Severus answered.

Sirius moved his hand towards the package. "I could take it back..."

Severus' hand snapped out immediately and snatched it off the table. "No. You said it was for me."

"So do you trust me then?"

"No. But I'm willing to take the chance," said Severus pulling the wrappings loose. "If this is some kind of trick..."

Sirius sighed, knowing he deserved that. He moved up next to Severus and leaned into him gently, peering over his shoulder. "It's not a trick, I swear it," he whispered and planted a kiss by Severus' ear.

Severus slowly unwrapped the paper to reveal a small box. When he opened it, he just looked at the contents. "You gave me twine," Severus said in a monotone voice.

"It's not twine," Sirius laughed. He picked it up and put it in Severus' hand. "It's a leather hair tie."

"Why?" Severus asked, starting to rub his fingers over the hair tie.

"To hold your hair back, stupid."

"No," Severus snapped. "Why did you give it to me? What do you want in return?"

Sirius chuckled and ran his hands up Severus' sides, "It's just a gift, I swear...."

"You swear a lot of things," snapped Severus, straightening up, but not pulling free of the other boy's grasp. He was still so uncertain and so out of his element. "I know you better than that." 

"Me? I'm just trying to make a gesture of friendship here," Sirius came around in front of him, the very picture of mock indignation. "Now... if you're in the mood to do a friend a favour... that's a totally separate matter."

"I might agree to kiss you," Severus said in all seriousness. "That's it." His hands were busy running over the hair tie and then he slipped it into his hair to secure a ponytail. "I suppose I should thank you. It is a rather practical gift, which is more than I would expect from you. It will keep my hair out of the potions I work on."

"Yeah, practical was what I was going for," Sirius said with a smile on his face. He put his hand on Severus' hips and leaned over to kiss Severus' nose. "God, sometimes Severus you make me wonder how a creature like you can even exist."

Severus scowled at him and pulled his head back, "I'm going to assume you used the word "creature" out of habit, rather than actual intention."

"I didn't mean anything by it," Sirius told him in a placating tone. He was getting more used to Severus' oversensitive nature and just let it pass with a little reassurance.

"Fine. Now what is it you want?" asked Severus stubbornly.

Sirius chuckled, "I hate to prove you right, because this has nothing to do with the gift... but I did want to talk to you about NEWTS..."

"I already told you we could study together," Severus said and Sirius swore he could almost see a slight smirk on the other boy's face. "You'll need it. We'll have to spend a lot of time together."

Sirius felt like swearing when he heard Severus say that. This wasn't the direction he wanted the conversation to be going. His friends were already suspicious of how much time he was spending with Severus and wanted assurance that he would be able to deliver Severus with his dark spells to get the NEWTS test answers.

Then he smirked as he suddenly found the answer. He could use Severus' interest in him to his advantage after all. Grinning manipulatively, he slowly backed Severus up against the wall, leaning close and nuzzling his neck. "Yes, we will..." he murmured,
"We'll have to spend quite a lot of time together..." He kissed Severus' throat lustfully, sucking it gently, "But... You don't really wanna waste all that time on studying do you?"

"Sirius..." Severus growled in a deep voice than nearly shocked Sirius. But it wasn't a protest, it was the first time Severus had moaned his name like that and Sirius loved it already.

"You didn't answer me, Severus," Sirius insisted and started to nip at Severus' skin, noting that the other young man liked it when Sirius bit a little harder.

"I want to do a lot of things with you," Severus admitted with another groan.

"With me?" Sirius asked. He tightened his arms around Severus' waist. "What about FOR me, Severus?" Severus shivered in Sirius' arms and Sirius pressed his lips against Severus' ear to whisper, "I'm a friend, Severus. Have you ever had a real friend before? Friends do things for their friends."

Severus whimpered and gasped, arching his neck, "W-What things?" he asked nervously. He was afraid Sirius had forgotten how inexperienced he was, and
would ask for something he could not do. "I don't know how..."

Sirius shushed him with a quick kiss. "Not that kind of stuff, Sev. I want to take the time to teach you all of that... but, we'll need time to do it in..."

"What then?" asked Severus with a shiver, thoughts of Sirius' brand of tutoring running through his mind.

"A... shortcut," Sirius said brightly. He smirked, "It's very practical Sev, just your thing."

"I don't want practical right now!" Severus snapped. "I want..." Severus had to stop, unable to say what he really wanted because he knew it was foolish wishes. He wanted to see Sirius after they graduated. He wanted to meet with Sirius as an equal, not the scum of the school. He wanted Sirius to look at him and only him, to touch only him. "I want you to make me a promise. I'll do whatever you want if you make me a promise."

Severus had damn serious look on his face. "If it's in my ability to give to you, I will," Sirius assured him.

"No, that's not good enough," Severus demanded. "I want you to promise me that I can see you after we graduate!"

Sirius shrugged, "Well, of course, we'll see each other after school's done, it's not like th-"

"That's not what I mean, Sirius. I'm not talking about social calls," he stiffened up and pressed himself back away from Sirius.

"Ahh..." said Sirius, realization dawning on him. He grinned slyly and kissed Severus to buy time while he thought frantically of an answer to this. He was certainly quite fond of Severus, infatuated even...but he wasn't ready to start making promises. Still... he had his friends to think of, and Severus was starting to protest the kiss. 

Pasting on his most sincere expression, he looked into Severus' eyes and said, "You don't need to worry about that, luv..."

Normally Sirius would have protested any form of endearment, even still bitching that Sirius dared call him 'Sev'. Instead Severus got a very serious look on his face and the way he looked at Sirius almost scared him. "You won't regret this, Sirius," Severus told him. Severus' hand reached out to stroke over Sirius' jaw. "I know the importance of loyalty and you'd be surprised at how lax my morals can be when I want them to be."

"Severus..." Sirius protested a little. No, he certainly did not like the way Severus was looking at him. It reminded him of the way the Slytherins would look at their familiars... with a sense of affection, but also ownership.

Severus smirked at Sirius dangerously. "Really, Sirius," he said. "You're dating a Slytherin now. I'll take part in whatever silly plot you have planned. Now that I have what I want."

"But I just said..." Sirius started, trailing off when Severus rolled eyes. "What?"

Severus sighed heavily, "I'm not an idiot, Sirius. I know when I'm being set up, no matter how charming the boy setting me up..."

Sirius furrowed his brow. He was so sure he'd been smooth about it. Without really thinking, he grabbed Severus and kissed him passionately. He wasn't sure if it was guilt, or awe, or...something entirely different, but he threw himself into it anyway.

<><><><><><>

"It's all set," Sirius reported to his friends. "Severus is in."

"Severus?" James sputtered, spitting pumpkin juice over the table. "Since when have you gotten on a first name basis with Snivellus?"

"It's just a habit, Jamie..." Sirius muttered, looking down at the table.

"After we've secured our grades, you're going to tell that greasy git off royally," James laughed. "Maybe we should even mess with his head?"

"Oh, yeah!" exclaimed Peter with a piggish laugh. He nudged Remus in the side and said, "Maybe we could pull that gag James was thinking up with the puffskiens and the sticking spell...." He guffawed with laughter and sprayed a few crumbs onto the table
in front of him.

Sirius smiled and gave a half-hearted nod. He hadn't heard anything about that one, and supposed they'd been cooking it up while he was off wooing the victim in question. He poked around at the food on his plate, trying to work up that old Marauder spirit. When he looked up, Remus was gazing steadily at him, an odd expression on his face.

"What, Mooney?" Sirius finally sighed. Remus seemed to see and understand so much more than any of them could.

"I'll be happy when you stop seeing Snape," Remus answered in a quiet, monotone whisper.

"I'm not 'seeing' Snape," Sirius shot back quickly. "We're just using him... remember?"

"Oh, *I* remember... I'm just not sure you do," said Remus turning his attention back to his plate.

Sirius got angry and hissed, "What did you expect me to do? You helped hatch this stupid plan, why don't you remember that?"

Remus got up in a huff, only to see confused looks from James and Peter. Shrugging, he said, "I'm not feeling too well..." Then he stalked out of the Hall.

"You'd better go after him," James told Sirius immediately. "If you piss him off, he's going to make your life hell when you guys move in together. I know what it's like when Lily is pissed off at me."

"Stop making it sound like I'm fucking married to him, Jamie," Sirius hissed at his friend. "And who said we were moving in together?"

"You did," Peter supplied. "Remember, after the first Quidditch match of the season? You told him you promised not to keep him up nights after you were on the national team."

"He's been talking about it a lot lately when you're off with Snape," James added. "You know, making plans for after school's ended."

"Yeah, he's not the only one..." muttered Sirius squeezing his eyes shut.

James grinned, "Well then, go."

Sirius would have liked to smack the ignorant git, but he was thankful he didn't have to explain everything. He just nodded instead, getting up reluctantly and making his way after Remus. He knew Snape's black eyes were on him, but he hunched his shoulders and kept going.

Sirius wasn't surprised to find Remus in his bed, with the curtains shut. Without asking he opened the curtains and lay down next to Remus. He pulled a stiff and quiet Remus into his arms.

"Do you hate me, Mooney?" he whispered into his friend's ear.

"I could never hate you, Sirius," Remus whispered back. "You know that."

"Oh yeah," said Sirius somewhat playfully, "I know you could never *hate* hate me, but... I mean, do you hate me right now?"

"Shut up, Padfoot."

Sirius grinned in the dark. Remus wouldn't be using his nickname if he were in serious trouble. He snuggled in closer, burying his face in Remus' neck, "Mooney? If I'm feeling a little bad about this, does it mean I'm losing my touch?"

Remus chuckled, "No, I think it means you're finally gaining a conscience."

Sirius hissed in mock distaste. "Don't say such horrible things."

Remus was running his hand through Sirius' hair absently. "It really is a good thing," he said. "It means you're growing up."

"I don't want to grow up..." Sirius complained as he continued to nuzzle Remus' neck.

"I want you to grow up," Remus told him. "After school's done, we..."

"Are going to shag silly," interrupted Sirius. He rolled on top of Remus and kissed him long and slow. Making deceitful promises to Severus had been bad enough, he wasn't about to start with his best friend, too.

<><><><><><>

Severus looked in the mirror, fussing with the tie that Sirius had given him and trying to make it look somewhat better. Finally, he abandoned his attempts and left it the way it was, turning instead to gather his books and wand.

He travelled to the potion's classroom, unseen by any other students and waited in the empty room for Sirius. Several times he had to stop himself from taking the hair tie out and tapped his quill on the worktable.

When Sirius stepped in, Severus snapped at Sirius, "You're late."

Sirius took out his magical pocket watch and read what it said aloud, "Sev, it says 'just barely late'."

"You're still late," Severus complained sullenly.

Sirius walked over and tried to kiss Severus, who turned his face. Sirius just chuckled, finding a pissy Severus endearing and kissed his cheek instead. He reached out and played with the hair tie. "I like that you wore this for me."

"I didn't wear it for you," snapped Severus, batting Sirius' hands away. "I wore it because we're going to be brewing some rather messy potions and I wanted to prevent my hair from obstructing my view."

"Oh c'mon, Sev..." Sirius moved in close, breathing against the side of Severus' exposed neck. When Severus stepped back, Sirius followed. "I thought we had better things to do than study."

Severus took one more step backward and bumped into the mantle of the large fireplace. Glaring at it, and then spinning around to eye Sirius, he groused, "You have a nasty habit of backing me into things, you know that?"

"And you have a nasty habit of backing away," countered Sirius in a low voice.

"It would seem the sensible thing to do," Severus muttered. Sirius had manoeuvred Severus against the stone wall and Severus wasn't trying to get away. 

"Are you always sensible, Severus?" Sirius teased.

Severus looked Sirius right in the eyes and answered softly, "Not when it comes to you." He reached out and traced his hand along Sirius' neck.

"Severus..." Sirius whispered, seeing something far more solemn than he wanted to see in a lover at his age. The only other person who had ever looked at him like that was Remus. 

"What?" asked Severus brusquely. He didn't like the tone of Sirius' voice, or the direction this was turning. He pushed out from between Sirius and the wall, not really wanting to hear the answer. "I think we should either try to get a little work done
or..."

"Or, what?" prompted Sirius.

"Or, I won't brew the potion to use in your little scheme," Severus spat back. Sirius had told him just enough information about his plan to enable his help. Severus knew Sirius wanted some sort of potion to incapacitate an adult human, without any adverse reactions. "Then what would your precious Marauders think of you?"

"This isn't about them!" Sirius nearly shouted.

"Isn't it?" Severus' voice was softer now. He was turned away from Sirius, his robes wrapped around him like a shield. "After school's finished... you don't have to tell them about me. I'm sure there are ways we can see each other with out any of your friends knowing."

Severus had given up any foolish daydreams of ever having a normal relationship with Sirius. The best he could hope for was to become the man's dirty little secret.

Sirius squeezed his eyes shut as he tried to figure out when things had gotten so fucking complicated. This should have been fun. It should have been a glorious romp to finish out his school career with.

"Dammit, Severus..." said Sirius, seizing his shoulder and yanking him around. He stared at Severus' startled face for a long time, trying to figure out what he should say. But the truth was...he didn't know. He'd gotten himself far more entangled than he ever should have.

With a frustrated growl, he grabbed Severus and kissed him hard, then stormed out of the room to go think. Far from Severus... and far from Remus.

<><><><><><>

Sirius thought he was alone at the base of the bleachers in the Quidditch field. That was...he thought he was alone until Severus stepped out from the dark and uttered a deep throated, "Lumos."

The spell lit up Severus' face and Sirius sighed heavily. "How did you find me?"

"I'm a wizard, dolt," Severus snapped back at him. "You weren't at supper."

"I needed time to think," Sirius told him.

"So, you've had time, now you can eat," Severus said, trying to cover his concern by holding out a handkerchief filled with food to Sirius.

Sirius had to admit he was hungry and took the food, noting when he opened it that it was most of his favourite food. Severus must have watched him eat in the past. "Thanks."

"It doesn't matter." Severus was standing with his hands behind his back and looking away from Sirius. "I came to make sure you didn't starve your fool self again and to tell you that you misunderstood me. When I said we could see each other after school is done..." Severus stopped and his voice got deeper. "That is to say, of course a boy like you would see other people." 

"You are something else, Severus," said Sirius, shaking his head. It would have been exactly what he wanted, except that it made him feel like a heel, and he couldn't get Remus' accusing eyes out of his head.

Severus smirked, taking that for acceptance of the situation... and of him. He sat down on the bench next to Sirius, close, and said, "So, when do we do this thing of yours? Your great plan?"

"Tomorrow," Sirius said. He was hoping that if he rushed the plan into action that his fellow Marauders would forget about the prank they were planning on Severus. "Now that we have that stunning potion you brewed up."

"I'll deny it if you're caught," Severus told him, but again he was smirking.

"I wouldn't expect any less," Sirius snorted. "But do you really think anyone would believe I brewed a complicated potion like that?"

"Of course they would. Professor Unger knows I've been tutoring you, something like that would be natural if..."

"If we'd been doing any real studying," grinned Sirius, finishing off the remains of his dinner. He dusted off his hands and stuffed the napkin in his pocket.

Severus blinked at him awkwardly, wanting some of just that kind of studying...but still terribly unsure of how ask for it. He turned to face Sirius and reached out to touch the necktie that was loosened, but still knotted at his throat.

Sirius was mildly amazed and sat still, allowing Severus his moment and waiting to see what would happen next. Severus' hand fussed nervously with the tie and finally he ended up pushing it back to fit perfectly at Sirius' throat. "Really, you are quite the slob, Sirius," he muttered. "You need a keeper."

And once Sirius' tie and collar were fitted back perfectly, Severus used the tie to pull Sirius in for a kiss. Severus lips lingered over the other young man's and he even dared to be so bold as to use his tongue, but only for a moment.

Sirius groaned and opened his mouth, pulling Severus closer and deepening the kiss. His concerns were entirely forgotten for the moment, as he worked a hand up under the other boy's robes to grope along his thigh.

"Sirius..." protested Severus mildly, turning his head to break the kiss, but only ending up with Sirius' tongue in his ear. It wasn't that he didn't want the attention, it was just that they were so... public, at the moment.

Sirius was about to hush Severus up with another kiss when he looked over towards the school and saw Remus watching them. He had never seen that exact look on his friend's face before... a mixture of sadness and anger. Remus didn't get angry.

Sirius gripped the back of Severus' neck and laid it on his shoulder. He had to keep Severus from turning around. "I'll stop because you want to, but maybe we can... stay like this for a while instead of snogging. It's nice just touching you."

Severus froze, mystified, because this really wasn't something he'd expected from Sirius. And frankly, he wasn't entirely sure how to handle it. If it was possible, this was harder than any physical interaction they'd ever had.

But it was nice too, and as Severus started to relax, he noticed things like the warmth of Sirius' skin, the rhythm of his breathing. He let his eyes drift shut, "Sirius...what are you up to?"

"Trying to figure you and myself out," Sirius whispered to him as he watched Remus disappear from sight.

"You can't figure a Slytherin out," Severus told him. "You'll just have to trust me."

"Trust a Slytherin?" Sirius couldn't help but laugh.

"I know, next thing I'll be asking a majestic Gryffindor such as yourself to lie." 

<><><><><><>

"What do you mean it's tonight?" Sirius demanded. "Jamie, I thought we talked about this... Snape helped us with our plan. Without his potion, we wouldn't have been able to get the answers to those NEWTS."

"And that's precisely why we strike tonight," James laughed and patted Sirius on the shoulder. "If anyone suspects anything, the teachers will be on extra alert. If we strike tonight, that damned Slytherin will have no one to protect him." 

"But..."

"But nothing. Give it up, you did your part," interrupted James, giving Sirius a hard look. "You didn't enjoy that more than you should have, did you?"

Peter just snickered wickedly, but James was thinking of Remus and continued to glare at Sirius, until Sirius shrugged and said, "No, man... I just don't think Remy would approve of us messing with him."

"What Remus doesn't know, won't hurt him," James said. "And don't be surprised if afterwards he's thankful. He doesn't like that git. He came back the other night and called Snape a bastard. This is Remus we're talking about... he swore."

"He's always been the good one," Peter echoed back the concept James was trying to get across.

"Can you at least tell me what you have planned?" Sirius asked.

"Just put a little scare into him," James said dismissively. He shifted his position on the sofa so that he could lean forward, eyeing Sirius. "He's been lurking around us far too much lately, and I want to teach him a lesson."

Peter smirked and added, "Yeah, and I'm hopin' he pees his pants. Fuck I wish we could get an audience for this."

Sirius turned sharply to the boy on the floor, "If you tell a single soul, I'll beat the living crap out of you. You'd give Remus away and wreck everything for him." Then he turned back to James, "Speaking of that, Severus could just as eas-"

"Severus won't do a damn thing because Severus is a coward at heart and telling anyone would mean having to admit what he was up to. Would you fucking relax already?"

"This just seems so childish," Sirius argued. "Maybe it's time we started thinking about growing up. We'll be leaving Hogwarts soon."

James reached behind Sirius and slapped the back of his friend. "And that's exactly why we have to live it up now, mate. I swear you sound like Lily," James said and then switched over to a falsetto. "It's time to grow up, Jamie. It's time to think about our future, Jamie."

"He's calling you a woman," Peter snickered and pointed at Sirius. "Maybe that's the problem. You've been spending so much time with Snape that you're a fag now!"

Sirius had had it with both of them and scowled at James. He got up to leave, but not before grabbing Peter by the hair and couching down to lick his neck, groping him in the process. "I was a fag before that," he hissed in Peter's ear.

He stood up again, and said to James, "If you wanna do this, then you make sure no one gets hurt."

Sirius stormed out of the room, not caring where he went. He felt like a louse for using Remus and plotting against Severus, but he really didn't think he could go warn either of them. Remus would be disappointed in him... and Severus was sure to hate him. And he couldn't stand either of those things.

"Maybe we shouldn't do this, Jamie," Peter whined pathetically. "Sirius has always played along. What if we get caught?"

"We won't get caught," James assured Peter. "And Sirius will have our back. Everyone will think he did it if we get caught. It's common knowledge that Sirius hates Snape."

<><><><><><>

Severus got a note delivered by owl that wasn't signed, but it could only be from one person. He held it and read it again, his hand shaking slightly. It simply said, "Meet me by the Shrieking Shack. I have something special planned for you," in Sirius' distinctive scrawl. Severus had gotten ready quickly and at the last minute, he put on the hair tie that Sirius had given him. He thought that now was finally the time they were going to go all the way.

<><><><><><>

Three hours later he was lying in the hospital wing staring at the ceiling, face frozen with anger and humiliation. He felt numb everywhere except his chest, which lodged a dull ache. There hadn't been any Sirius when he'd arrived there...only that monster. What happened after that was only a blur, but he knew that Potter had yanked him out of there. 

And that Sirius had been nowhere to be seen. Everything had been a lie. Anything he felt had all been carefully constructed by the Marauders to humiliate him. He still remembered Peter Pettigrew hissing into face as he lay in the dirt of the shrieking shack, "You think he loved your faggy ass? This was all his idea from the very start. You're such a pathetic loser! Who could love you?!"

He had been a fool to think anyone could love him. Now he had to accept the truth he had always known. He was meant to be alone. But perhaps he could still have a few real friends like Lucius Malfoy and Tom Riddle...

END.