"That was pretty good, Prongs! Try the flip-twist thingy again!" Sirius yelled. He was sitting idly on his broomstick thirty feet above the sandy pitch. There was a strong breeze gusting across the grounds, carrying his bellowed instructions away from his mouth like they were scraps of tissue. Remus was lounging on the ground, reading on the soft grass of the sidelines.
"No! James! Not that way!" Sirius roared. "To the left!... Yes! That's good! One more time!"
James pushed his broom into a steep nosedive before veering to shoot back up above the goal hoops. He turned and parked right above the tallest center hoop. Sirius could see him mouthing something, but the sound was lost on the wind.
"What?" Sirius hollered, cupping his hand to his ear. James gave him an exasperated look and then drew a circular shape in the air.
"Oh," Sirius said to himself, pulling his satchel over his shoulder and opening it. He withdrew the quaffle and looked back up to James, who gave an affirmative nod. Sirius drew his arm back and threw the ball as hard as he could toward the goal hoops. That's when he heard the faint scream. He abruptly turned from James and looked back towards the castle. What he saw nearly made him fall off his broom.
Someone was hanging upside-down off the balcony of the Astronomy tower, with only one person holding desperately to his ankles!
He frantically looked around for help, but James was tossing the quaffle like a kitten with a ball of string. He looked down to the ground to see that Remus had evidently heard the scream too, but couldn't see over the stands.
Oh gods... I've got to do something! he realized and zoomed off towards the castle. Squinting into the distance, he could see that the hanging figure was a boy...a boy with black hair. He gripped the handle with renewed fervor, straining, urging his broom to go faster. The wind whipped violently through his robes, chilling his skin and face and slowing his progress.
He could fall any second! he thought hysterically. I have to get closer to the ground! He reached the bank of the lake and zipped along the surface, sheets of water flaring in his wake. He could see a group of students standing on the opposite bank.
"Look out! Get outta the way!" he hollered, flailing his arm. They ducked and dove just in time to feel him zip right over their heads. He was only one hundred yards away now. Seventy-five yards...Fifty yards...
He looked up at the tower to see that the boy was now hanging by only one ankle. It could have had something to do with the boy's robes billowing down over his head, disorienting him and revealing skinny legs and graying shorts underneath.
"Oh god! Snape!" Sirius shrieked before pulling up on his broom with every ounce of strength he had. He shot towards the balcony, aiming carefully for the flailing body hanging above him.
Suddenly, Snape was falling! He was a jumbled mass of tangled robes and legs, plummeting down the side of the tower. Sirius dove, his mind screaming that he would run into the wall, but he ignored it. His heart was beating crazily; he felt adrenaline throb all the way to his fingertips. This is it... he thought, bracing his legs and holding out his arms as best as he could.
With a gut-wrenching wump, Snape crashed into him! The collision knocked the wind out of him and made his eyes darken for a moment before he realized that they were now both falling. Stupid! Quidditch brooms aren't made to carry two! Gritting his teeth against the throbbing pain in his arms, he pulled up on the handle with all his might. It didn't have much affect, and the ground was closing fast.
"Up!" he yelled hysterically. "Up!" He could feel his fingernails digging into his palms, but the broom seemed to be slowing. It was too late! They were going to hit! Sirius squeezed his eyes shut and held onto Snape tightly.
They met the ground with a crash! Snape flew from his arms and Sirius felt his leg curl underneath him with a sickening crunch as he tumbled head over heel along the grass. He finally came to a halt with a thud. Red stars danced in front of his eyes as he clumsily sat up and tried to make the world stop spinning.
"Ugh...Snape. Snape..." he muttered, trying to get up. A spear of hot pain shot through his leg and he yelped. His eyes began to clear and he could make out the mass of black robes about ten feet away from him. It wasn't moving.
"Snape!" he shouted, more coherently. He winced as he pulled his body around and started dragging himself towards the pile. He heaved himself up next the Snape and began unwrapping the robes. He's like a present, he thought stupidly. At last, he found the hood and pulled it gently over Snape's head. The boy's eyes were closed and his mouth was hanging open slightly, the breeze blowing a few strands of hair across his face. Oh gods...
"Snape! Wake up!" he said frantically, gathering the shoulders up in his arms and giving them a little shake. Surprisingly, the black eyes instantly flew open. Snape seemed shocked for a minute, and then his face drew into a look of distaste.
"Black, how is it I have the extreme misfortune of being saved by you again?" he groaned.
Sirius's relieved grin quickly turned sour. "Well! I hoped you be a bit more appreciative, after I, you know, risked my life to save you."
"That word..." Snape said, gritting his teeth. "It seems like all I ever am these days is appreciative!" Sirius gaped at him in angry disbelief.
"But you would have died if I-"
"And I should have! I am indebted to you enough, Black, without you swooping around, plucking me out of the sky!" Snape bellowed. Sirius's disbelief melted into cold anger.
"Fine. The next time you fall off a balcony, I'll let you plummet to your death!"
"And I'll thank you to!" Snape snarled before cringing in frustration.
Sirius just sat in silence for a minute, festering over the words. Why had he rescued the slime-ball in the first place? Why had he stepped into the spat with Malfoy at lunch? Why was he bothering at all? He didn't understand this creature sitting next to him. He saved Snape, and now the boy was biting his head off. Best get it over with. On with the formalities.
"Are you hurt?" he asked, resigned.
"No, I don't think so... Are you?"
"Oh, no. I'm fine," Sirius said, shifting around to stand. The pain shot through his leg again and he gasped. Snape gave him an unimpressed look.
"Oh yes...When I'm fine I cringe in pain too," Snape said coolly. Sirius sat back as gently as he could, but even that small movement made his injured leg twist agonizingly. He grimaced and bit his lip.
"I...I think I might ought to go see Madame Pomphrey," he stuttered. Snape sneered.
"I think that's a good idea," he said sarcastically, but his body abruptly stiffened.
"Snape? What's wrong? Are you- ...oh," he said breathily. He suddenly realized that the hand that he was resting on Snape's knee wasn't touching robes, but was warming against bare, pale skin. Snape cast his eyes down to the unmoving hand and then slowly gazed back at Sirius.
"Oh thank god!"
They both jumped away and turned to see Lily running for them. "Oh Merlin, Severus, are you all right?"
"Yes, I'm fine, though it looks like Black's leg might be broken," he said and Sirius winced.
"Oh my gosh, Sirius that was incredible! I saw everything! Are you ok? You were amazing!" she babbled, helping to pull Sirius to his feet. She didn't stop blathering until they had climbed all the way up to the infirmary.
"Lily, I must speak with you," he began seriously. Lily's face glowed with happiness and his stomach ached with guilt at the sight. They were standing behind one of the cloth partitions in the infirmary, holding hands. Lily had instigated the latter. After they had brought in Black, Madame Pomphrey had assured them of his swift recovery. "He'll be out in two shakes," she had said with a scolding glance.
He had absolutely no idea how to tell Lily. How can you tell someone something that even you are not completely sure of? It had just been a vague feeling, lodged in the back of his mind for four years. Or was it five years ago? Or three? Dates had begun to blend together, turning the memories of his life into a bit of a soup. In truth, he had felt the vague feeling ever since he had first ridden the Hogwarts Express. He had been so young; it almost made him laugh to think about it. And cry. He had tried, he really had. He was just never any good at making friends. Maybe it was years of living at a secluded manor, practically alone.
But when he boarded that train and saw all the other children laughing and talking around him, even at eleven years old, he felt it. He couldn't tell what it was back then, but he felt it still, and eventually came to suspect it. Then he came to hate it. And now he was backed into a corner facing a choice between the lesser of two evils:
Tell Lily, face possible school-wide humiliation.
Don't tell Lily, face great personal humiliation and discomfort.
But maybe he wasn't at all. Maybe he was just the same as everyone else, but going through some strange phase. Was he willing to give up, in his opinion, the prettiest witch in school, all for a vague feeling? And now, suddenly, the decision was upon him. Lily was standing in front of him, expectantly knotting a strand of red hair about her fingers. He fretfully pulled his hands away from Lily's to rub the bridge of his hooked nose.
"Severus?" she asked, her happy face falling. "Severus, I'm so sorry for what happened. I don't pretend to assume that after I almost killed you, you'd be willing to...um...be with me. But I was sort of hoping...so I leave the decision entirely up to you."
Oh. Well, that makes everything better, he thought sadly. He drew in a deep breath.
"Wait," she stopped him, putting a finger to his lips. "Severus, I think I know what you're going to say, and I understand." Severus gazed at her helplessly.
"Really, Severus, it's all right," she reiterated, but her eyes said it wasn't all right. In fact, they were glittering with tears. "I'll see you at dinner, ok?" she choked, and turned to walk towards the infirmary doors.
Severus gazed after her pathetically before gritting his teeth.
"Lily! Wait," he called and saw her stop abruptly. I just know I'm going to regret this, he thought as he strode towards her.
"All right," he said, grasping her hands. She gave him a skeptical look.
"Are you sure?"
Don't do it... Don't say it... "Yes, I'm sure."
Lily smiled at him softly and squeezed his hands. "All right." And with that, she leaned in on her tiptoes and brushed her red lips against his pale ones. It briefly reminded him of the behavior of magnets when someone tries to push two together their opposite poles. He forced himself to relax this time, and actually, it wasn't that bad. It was very warm. But even so, his heart and his mind were finally in complete agreement over the matter. He felt absolutely nothing, save the cold grip on his heart that said that this was fundamentally wrong.
Lily drew away finally and gave him another smile. He did his best to smile back and let her lead him out of the infirmary. Neither of them had realized that a silhouette of the entire scene had been cast up onto the cloth partition, and a boy with a splint tied to his leg had been watching the whole thing with a crestfallen expression.
What's wrong with me? he thought angrily, gripping his head. Sirius was still laying in the white hospital bed three hours later, his leg almost healed. Pomphrey had bustled around him most of the time, applying cooling spells to his leg.
"No need to look like that, now," she said, mistaking his depressed expression for one of pain. "Here's another cooling spell. Feel better?" He forced a smile and nodded.
"I thought so," she said with a smile, but then went grave. "Mr. Black, these reckless Quidditch practices must stop. I insist that you and Mr. Snape wear proper protective padding while you are teaching him to fly. After you brought him in the other day, I should have said something, and if I have either of you in my infirmary once more, I will consult the head of your houses immediately. Do I make myself clear?" Sirius had the feeling that this was a command rather than a request and nodded meekly.
That had been some quick thinking on Lily's part when they had first brought Snape to the infirmary. At the time, Sirius hadn't really seen the point in lying to Pomphrey about their injuries, but it was proving to be a good excuse for their increasing number of visits.
"Now, just another fifteen minutes or so and you can be on your way. Lay back now."
Sirius did as he was told, but as soon as he was comfortable, the images and sounds of Lily and Snape flooded into his mind. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing them away, but they wouldn't stop. He threw his arms back in frustration.
I don't even fancy Lily! Why do I feel like this? he thought angrily. He glanced back to the cloth barrier that had held the shadows just hours before. He was still in shock over what had played out there before him. He sighed dejectedly. Black, you've really lost it this time. Suck it up.
When the old nurse came back later and removed the dressings, Sirius gave her a winning grin and thank you, and walked confidently out of the infirmary.
The Great Hall was full of hushed whispers at dinner. Candles floated lazily above the tables, lighting the food and faces merrily.
"Did you see them?"
"Yeah, they were walking through the halls, holding hands!"
"That is so disgusting."
"I don't believe it!"
"I saw them out on the grass by the lake. She kissed his cheek!"
"Look! There they are!"
Lily strolled into the Hall leading Severus by the hand. He wished that it were a bit darker in the room so he could crawl under a table and disappear, but he did his best to look cheerful. It came out as a crooked scowl. If he had thought that the first day he had sat with Lily was uncomfortable, it was nothing compared to this. Lily looked back at him and gave his hand a little squeeze as they sat at the usual place towards the end of the Gryffindor table.
"So," said Molly with a sickening smile. "Back again, are you?" Lily glared at her for a moment and then straightened up.
"As a matter of fact, Molly, he'll be eating here indefinitely. Severus and I are going steady."
Severus tensed and cast a panicked look at Lily as the entire table went silent. Molly seemed just as shocked as he was.
"Oh...really?" she choked. Lily whipped her napkin out with a flourish and laid it across her lap.
"Yes, really. So you better learn to be nicer to him," she replied and began daintily cutting her pork chop.
Soon the chattering and laughing had built back up again, though now it was mixed with low whispering and fleeting glances toward the couple. Severus ate quietly and tried to pretend the morning had never happened.
Sirius limped his way down to Filch's office that night. His leg was fully healed but it still ached when he put his full weight on it. As he dragged down the dark corridor, he suddenly heard the sound of glass shattering and a short scream.
Oh no, not again, he thought as he quickened his pace towards the source of the sound. He rounded the next corner to find Filch running towards him, chasing a small, neon pink mass of fur. The yowling animal dashed between Sirius's legs and disappeared down the hall.
"Mrs. Norris! Come back!" Filch cooed, tripping over his own feet and coming to a halt. He looked up to see Sirius grinning, and his face twisted into a snarl.
"T'was you, wasn't it! You turned my poor Mrs. Norris pink!" he panted, straightening up.
Sirius immediately relaxed his face. "Why, no sir. I'm just reporting for detention."
At that moment, Sirius saw Snape dash around the corner that Filch had come from. Upon seeing Filch and Sirius, he slowed noticeably. I would too.
"A likely story! Same as that ruffian!" Filch hissed, jabbing a finger back at the slowly approaching Snape. Sirius couldn't suppress his smile any longer, and Filch glared at him menacingly.
"Think it's funny, do yeh? Well let's see how funny you think it is after you've found her! The both of yeh! Don't yeh come back 'till you've got my Mrs. Norris!" And with that, the grimy man turned and stalked back down the hall.
Sirius sniggered and turned to see that Snape was glaring at him. For just a moment, his eyes caught again on the way a fringe of dark hair curled under the angular jaw, but he shook it off as images of the infirmary popped into his head. He felt instantly angry.
"What?" he snapped. "It's better than writing lines, isn't it?" He pointed after where the pink cat had vanished. "Come on. We best should go after her. Flea-bitten old nag..."
They set off down the dark hallway. "Mrs. Norris..." Sirius clucked. "Come on out, Mrs. Norris, you nasty little bugger..." The torches lighting the way became fewer and further between, and soon Sirius was struggling to see ten feet in front of him.
"Lumos!" he heard behind him and the limestone walls lit up with a dim glow. Ah yes, sometimes I forget I'm a wizard, he thought, drawing out his own wand and whispering the incantation. White light splashed against the ornately carved moldings lining the ceiling and Sirius realized that he didn't recognize this particular corridor. He walked to an alcove containing a statue of what looked to be Rowena Ravenclaw. Maybe the little git is back there, he thought.
"Here, kitty kitty..." he cooed. "Meow..." He knelt down and crawled into the shadowy alcove, scurrying all the way around and coming out on the statue's other side. Getting to his feet, he saw that Snape was standing in the middle of the hall, watching him with a sneer.
"Aren't you going to help?" he asked irritably.
Snape just crossed his arms and glared daggers. Sirius began to feel anger boiling in his gut.
"What, giving me the silent treatment again? I thought I did us a favor," he snapped.
Snape's glare finally broke into incredulity. "There's no point in it anyway. An you've just gotten us hopelessly lost."
"I didn't-" Sirius let out a long sigh. "Ok, look. You're obviously pissed at me, and I'm definitely not happy with you. Why don't you go that way," he pointed angrily down the hall, "and I'll go this way," he said, pointing in the opposite direction. "We'll meet back here in thirty minutes."
Snape suddenly looked stricken, but gulped and straightened up. "Fine," he replied and spun on his heel.
Sirius turned as well and began striding purposefully down the hall. His heels clacked noisily and the sound ricocheted against the cold walls. Chilly air blew up into the sleeves of his robes and he was struck by how very cool it was. He slowed and looked behind him to see that the light from Snape's wand had disappeared around a corner. Good riddance, he thought tetchily. There was a steady dripping sound coming from further down the hall, where the last bits of light graduated into complete darkness. He pointed his wand at the void in front of him, but the blackness just seemed to swallow the beam.
That's odd, he thought, glancing back towards the lighter end of the hall, but he walked a bit further. Suddenly, he felt something cold clamp down on his arm.
"Arrgh!" he shrieked and spun around. Snape pulled back his hand and looked startled.
"My wand went out," the boy said, shivering. "Frightened, were you?"
Sirius took quick gasping breaths. "Oh- you didn't- frighten me... Just- gave me a- bloody heart attack!"
"Where's that legendary Gryffindor courage?" Snape sneered but then quietly added, looking at his shoes, "We could use some right now."
Sirius threw him a dirty look but something caught his eye. Deep into the black void ahead of them, there was a sliver of light.
"Hey look. What's that?" he wondered aloud, walking towards the glow. He heard footsteps behind him trying to catch up. The strange darkness around him was almost stuffy; it felt like it was literally pressing on his skin, and he walked toward the light as if he were trying to reach the surface of water.
Severus followed closely behind Black, all too aware of the stifling darkness, until they reached the crack of light where Black languidly pushed open the door. It creaked ominously as it swung, giving them a view of a room beyond. The air was thick with dust and spider webs hung lazily from the heavy rafters.
"What is this place?" Severus asked shakily.
"Oh, you've decided to speak to me, then? I was beginning to wonder if someone had cleverly replaced you with a stump," Black replied heatedly and sneezed, forcing a cloud of dust to puff around his head.
Severus's eyes were burning almost as much as his temper, but he managed to look at their surroundings. They were in a dimly lit room packed full of boxes and angular forms that were covered in dusty sheets. The ceiling was relatively low. There was only one torch placed against the far wall, and it shone through the sheets, casting eerie silhouettes of what they concealed. As the hall had been cool and damp, this place was strangely warm, almost uncomfortably so.
"Well," Black said, walking out into the room, "this is odd."
Snape rolled his eyes. "Oh yes, a storage room is most definitely odd."
"I meant the way it's warm, you git."
"Oh, you managed to notice that then? At least now I know you're not brain- dead."
"All right!" Black yelled, whirling to face him. "That's it! I can't take it anymore! What is wrong with you?"
Severus was momentarily stunned, but then put on his best smirk. "I haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about."
"You've been scowling at me all evening! What's eating you?"
Severus felt a bit of his patience drain away. "None of your business."
Black stalked towards him, his teeth bared. "Don't you give me that. I know something's bothering you. What, you getting tired of me saving your worthless hide, you wimp?"
Something in Severus snapped. He threw his clenched fist at Black only to have it caught in midair. Black clucked his tongue.
"That move is getting a bit predictable, Snivelly," he sneered, shoving the fist down. At that moment, Severus felt the last voice of reason leave him as he lunged for the other boy, tackling him before either of them could register what was happening. They slammed into a sheet-covered pile, flailing violently.
"You bloody bastard, I'll kill you!" Severus snarled, trying with all his might to inflict some sort of pain on the soft body underneath him but succeeding in only clawing at it helplessly. His fists became more and more entangled in the mass of robes.
"Get off me, you monkey!" Black yelped, thrashing wildly. "Have you lost your mind? Let me go, or I'll-" He suddenly stopped moving. "Mrs. Norris!"
Severus paused in his mauling. "What?"
Black squirmed and pointed off between the boxes. "There! I saw her! Get off me so we can grab her and get out of here."
Severus started to pull away but hesitated. "This had better not be a trick, Black."
Black growled in frustration. "Snape, I swear to you...How 'bout if I'm lying, you can beat me senseless?"
I just know this is a trick, Sirius thought, raising up off of Black and straightening his robes.
"Well, where is she?" he sneered.
"Just hold on a second," Black snapped and walked between the piles. Severus sighed and crossed his arms. I don't know what's wrong with me. I need to relax. A few minutes later, Severus realized that he couldn't see or hear the other boy. I knew it. I should have gone with him.
"Black?" he said cautiously. No answer.
"Black, this isn't funny," he whispered. He felt the dim light fading as time passed and the dark closing in on him from all sides. The hand clutching his wand began to shake uncontrollably. He glanced down at his the trembling fingers to see...red.
"Black," he croaked, backing up involuntarily. "Black!" he managed to shout. He felt something solid touch his back and he spun to face it with a gasp. It was just a stack of boxes. He crouched down next to it and clasped his hands over his head, whimpering.
"Black," he sobbed. "Help..."
Suddenly there were feet in front of him. "Snape? Snape, what's wrong?" Warm hands lay on his shoulders. "Snape!" Black was shaking him gently but urgently. Black. He was Severus and he was with Black. Reality came rushing back to him.
"Oh gods," he hiccoughed. "Don't leave me alone again." He grasped Black at the elbows. The boy looked genuinely alarmed.
"Dear Merlin, you're pale! I mean, more than usual. What happened?" Black asked, pulling the slimmer boy to his feet. Even though the room was stiflingly warm, Severus's veins still ran cold.
"Why didn't you answer me?" he asked accusingly.
"Were you calling? I came back to find you cowering next to the boxes here," Sirius said his eyes wide with fear. Suddenly his face grew stern. "Snape, tell me what happened, now."
The note off the command told Severus that Black was determined to hear an answer. He sighed and batted Black's hands away dismissively.
"Nothing. I'm just...I'm just a bit afraid of-"
"The dark?" Black supplied. Severus scowled at him.
"Why Snape... That's positively human of you," Black said sardonically.
That was a mistake. "I knew I shouldn't have told you."
"No...Snape, I'm sorry. I wasn't making fun of you. I'm sort of afraid of the dark too," Black supplied. "Here, come with me. I found something really weird." Severus followed with a hand firmly grasping Black's elbow. The other boy didn't seem to mind.
Sirius glanced back at Snape thoughtfully. What in Merlin's name just happened? One moment he was trying to find his way back to where he'd left Snape, and the next, he'd found him cowering in a corner.
While he had gone to find Mrs. Norris, the most curious thing had happened. He had sprinted to the far side of the big room, following the flash of bright pink, when he suddenly came upon a tall mirror. He approached it to see Mrs. Norris eyeing him cheekily from the reflection, but when he turned to look at the space next to him, where the cat should have been, there was just empty space. Perplexed, he looked back in the mirror, and there in the reflection was indeed Mrs. Norris, sitting on the floor directly to his right.
Now, there were a great many frightening things that Sirius could handle alone, but a reflection that was different from reality, though he wished it were reality, was a bit too much. He had immediately headed back to Snape.
"I guess I was right, huh? I mean, about why you're angry," he said quietly as he led Snape around what was obviously a statue draped in sheets. He looked back to see that Snape was avoiding his eyes.
"I thought so," Sirius nodded in understanding and shoved his hands into his pockets, looking ahead once again. "Hey, I know the feeling," he said. He shrugged when he saw the skeptical expression on Snape's face. "No really...my family... well, it's not a big secret that I hate them. Everyone says I'm 'just being a teenager', but I don't know. I get this feeling sometimes that there's something really wrong with them. But there's nothing I can do! Can't go anywhere, can't do anything. I'm stuck with them... dependent on them. You know?" He glanced back again.
Snape didn't say anything at this little speech, but subtly fanned his shining face with his free hand. At least he's not giving me looks that kill anymore. Sirius idly worried the rubber band on his wrist.
"It was because of a combination of things," came a quiet voice.
Sirius stopped and turned to his companion. "What?"
"You asked why I'm...in a mood. It's a combination of factors," Snape said quietly. "I suppose I'm just...having a difficult day."
Sirius leaned back against a sheet-covered desk. "What made it difficult?" Snape smirked and shook his head.
"Black, even you can't be that dense. I came very close to being killed today," he sneered. "Isn't that enough to be irritable about?"
"Irritable...that's a strange way to react to a near death experience."
Snape huffed in frustration. "Black...never mind. Forget I said anything." He turned and began to walk off and Sirius stood gritting his teeth. Maybe he was just a stupid teenager. The way he kept snapping at Snape, he had no right to accuse the boy of being moody. It feels like we keep taking one step forward and two steps back, he thought grimly before trotting up next to Snape and touching his elbow.
"Wait. Um, are you hot?" he asked but cringed inwardly. Wow, I don't think I've ever said anything so stupid. The look on Snape's face said that he was thinking the same thing.
"Here." Sirius pulled the rubber band off his wrist and shoved it unceremoniously into Snape's hand. "You can pull your hair off your neck. Must be awfully uncomfortable."
For a moment, he thought Snape was going to take another swing at him. Sirius looked into the other boy's face as earnestly as he could.
"Look, I know they're there," he said, and Snape stiffened. "It doesn't make any difference now. If you're hot, pull your hair back." He turned and kept walking, and a moment later, he smiled to see that Snape was striding beside him with his hair tied into a ratty ponytail.
"Ah! Here it is."
The enormous mirror stood before them. Sirius peered into the murky depths of the reflection, only to find that Mrs. Norris was nowhere to be found. Well, so much for proving I was telling the truth. He took a moment to observe the object on front of him. The mirror was freestanding on clawed feet and its frame was ornately carved, patterns and runes dug deep into the wood. It was considerably taller than Sirius was; he guessed it to be about seven feet tall at the least. The glass wasn't clear like the mirrors in the lavatories, but had a strange haze over it, as if he were looking into a light fog.
"Isn't this the strangest-" he began but stopped. Snape was walking towards the mirror, one hand outstretched and the other placed on his nose. It would have almost been funny if it weren't for the look of sheer despondence on Snape's face.
"Snape? What are you doing?" he asked anxiously. Snape's hand met up with the glass and he traced his fingers tentatively along the reflection of his nose.
"My nose," the boy whispered. "It's...different."
Sirius grasped Snape's shoulder and looked into his face. "No it's not. It just the same as always." Snape frowned down at him.
"I know that, you twit...look at the reflection."
Sirius quickly turned back to the mirror and peered at it closely. Snape's nose looked the same as ever, but other things were different. He wasn't slouched over, like Sirius had seen him so many times before, but was standing tall and confident. And his face wasn't contorted into its usual scowl, but was rather relaxed and pleasant-looking.
As he watched, Mirror-Snape grinned and waved and casually draped an arm across the shoulders of Sirius's own reflection.
"Snape, what are you..." he began, turning to the other boy. Snape wasn't touching him at all, but was gazing at the mirror with such a strong expression of longing that Sirius was taken aback. A thought suddenly struck him.
"Snape, what do you see? I don't think it's the same as what I'm seeing."
Snape mouthed wordlessly for a moment before shaking his head. "I...nothing. I just look different."
Sirius frowned and looked back to the mirror just in time to see Mirror- Snape lean over and begin playfully nibbling Mirror-Sirius's throat.
"Holy Mackerel!" Sirius yelped and leapt back from the frame. Snape gave him a curious look before glancing back to the mirror and gasping.
"Merlin!" he exclaimed and looked to the real Sirius, wide eyed. Sirius crept back up to the mirror and stared dumbfounded at the reflection. Now Mirror-Sirius was reaching a hand around and gently petting Mirror-Snape's face.
"Snape...you don't see anything...odd, do you?" he asked shakily. Snape gaped at the mirror and shook his head rapidly.
"Good. Me neither. Shall we tell Filch we couldn't find her, then? Right. Let's be off," he said without waiting for an answer. He whirled around and trotted back towards the entrance with Snape following at his heels. They practically ran through the doorway and back up the corridor, never stopping to look back.
Once they were back in the fresh, cool air of the upper levels of the castle, Sirius's mind began to clear. Oh gods, what was that? Did Snape see the same thing that I did? If not, what did he see? They were still walking briskly towards the Gryffindor common when Sirius heard familiar voices coming from around the corner. He grabbed Snape's elbow and pulled him behind a nearby column. Snape tried to yank his arm away but Sirius tightened his grip.
"Shhh," he whispered, pointing down the hall. Slowly the distant voices came closer and became discernable.
"Lucius, are you sure about this? I mean, you really think she'll like me if I join the club?"
"Of course she will. I told you, Avery, she likes bad boys. Besides, she's in the club herself. It's the perfect way to prove it to Bella that you're serious about her. Trust he mean my cousin Bella? thought Sirius with surprise. He knew his cousin, a seventh year, was into dating the tough type, but why would she be consorting with Malfoy? The footsteps were almost upon them now, and Sirius began to inch around the column with Snape following at his side.
"Really, Lucius? You think so?" Avery said hopefully.
"There's only one way to find out, you know. But shut up! McGonagall will hear us!" Malfoy hissed. Sirius and Snape slid all the way around to the other side of the column as the two other boys passed within feet them, continuing down the hall. Sirius leaned over and peaked down the hall to see Malfoy's platinum tresses flutter as he and Avery disappeared around a corner.
"Black..." came a voice next to Sirius and he jumped.
"You know you have a real knack for scaring me out of my wits?" he gasped. Snape looked at him impatiently.
"Sorry. It's just that I think I ought to tell you something," Snape said quietly.
Sirius felt his stomach flutter. Oh gods. He did see what I saw in the mirror. Maybe I can pretend I didn't see it. His skin felt burning-hot against the cool stone of the column that they were leaning against. He suddenly realized that his hand was still firmly attached to Snape's right arm. It was quite bizarre that casually touching the other boy was so natural that he didn't even notice that he was doing it. He could feel the warmth of skin beneath Snape's shirt, but for some reason, couldn't pull his hand away.
"Yes?" he said and his voice cracked. Oh, that was real smooth. Get a hold of yourself, man!
Snape gently pulled his arm out of Sirius's grip and drew up his sleeve to reveal a row of untidy red lines raked across his forearm.
"I arrived at Filch's office early, and the door was open. That...blasted cat must have been sitting on top of the door, because when I tried to go in, she fell onto my head. I--" he cleared his throat, "Well, I lost my temper."
Comprehension dawned on Sirius's face. "Snape!" he gasped with an open- mouthed grin. "It was you!"
"Be quiet!" Snape hissed and twisted to check up and down the hall, but when he turned back, his dark eyes were glittering deviously. Sirius couldn't contain his excitement.
"Pink! I don't believe it! How did you do it? What spell did you use? And hey! You bastard! Filch thought it was me," he said, feigning anger.
"It was a stupid thing to do," Snape said, raking falling strands of hair out of his face. "I could have been caught." He turned and began walking down the hall towards the common room. Sirius practically skipped next to him, smiling in amazement.
"That was brilliant, Snape! I don't think I would even have the guts to mess with Mrs. Norris," Sirius said exuberantly.
"It wasn't really that impressive, Black. Besides, it will have worn off by now," Snape said dismissively as they reached the portrait of the fat lady who eyed them with a sly smile.
"Crackers...Well," whispered Sirius as they stepped through the portrait hole, "I thought it was impressive." He put a finger to his lips as they stepped into the common room. Ever since Remus had caught them the day before, Sirius had been feeling particularly paranoid about being seen. He stealthily looked around the room before waving Snape out of the shadows and tiptoeing towards the staircase. He had climbed most of the way up to the attic when he felt Snape tapping him on the shoulder.
"You don't need to walk me up," Snape whispered breathily. Sirius felt heat prickling his ears in embarrassment and without saying a word he made his way back down to his dorm room. When he reached his own four-poster he flopped down on it.
What a perfectly exhausting day, he thought wearily as he peeled of his shirt and trousers. I feel like I could doze off just like this. He flipped onto his side and curled his knees up to his chest, pulling the cool blanket around his shoulders. He raised his eyebrows contentedly and let out a long sigh.
What did Snape see in the mirror? The question came to him almost as if someone had whispered it in his ear. He huffed in frustration and rolled onto his back, staring at the canopy. Snape looked just as shocked as me when I saw the mirror. And he said that his nose was different in the reflection, but it looked just the same to me. He must have seen something different than me all together... but what?
Closing his eyes tightly, he willed himself to go to sleep. The image of Snape nibbling his neck drifted through his mind. He sat straight up. This is ridiculous. I'll just go ask him. Then at least I'll have some peace.
He grudgingly lifted himself off the mattress and pushed the covers down. The chilly air hit his bare skin as he started for the door and he remembered with a snort of laughter that he was wearing only his shorts. He turned back and walked over to James's wardrobe, pulling out the invisibility cloak. Just in case, he thought as he slung it over his shoulders. He walked soundlessly through the entrance and up the stairs to the attic door.
"Silencio!" he hissed and pushed the door open.
Severus couldn't sleep. He had been exhausted when he reached his makeshift room and had lain down on the bed without even taking his clothes off, but even though his body was fatigued, it felt like his mind didn't want any part of the respite. It raced around over the events of the day, one image after another making him cringe. Finally he sat up in irritation. Glancing over at the door, he noticed that it was ajar. That's strange. I thought I closed it, he thought as he got up and pushed the door shut. The back of his neck prickled as he was once again in complete darkness and he reached a hand out into it.
"Accio wand!" he hissed and he felt his wand suddenly resting in his palm. Shaking a bit from the blackness pressing around his eyes, he froze. Just for a moment he thought he had heard something...something like breathing. He hastily waved his wand over his head.
"Lumen Skopein!" he muttered, and the room was instantly dancing with dim, blue light. Glowing cyan tendrils laced their way out of his wand, traveling around the walls like living Christmas lights and meeting at the far side of the room. They cast little facetted diamonds of light onto the floor and ceiling, reflecting upon Severus's dark clothes as he lifted his arms out to it. Mother.
The light reminded him of her. It was one of the few things about her he could remember. He knew the spell was Dark, but then she had been Dark, in a Light sort of way. The Darkness had coursed through his mother like a necessary evil. Every summer must have a winter, he thought grimly. She had taught him the spell when he was about nine years old when she had found him in his room, cowering under the covers.
She sat down on the edge of the bed. "Severus, what's wrong?" she asked soothingly.
"I'm scared," he whimpered, pulling the sheets down to see her. "Father said that a werewolf would get me if I didn't mind him." He lay there, taking in the beautiful sight of his mother. Her auburn hair shone in the candlelight and her pale cheeks were rosy as she smiled at him and gathered him into her slender arms.
"Would you like me to show you something that will keep the werewolves away?" she had whispered into his hair. He nodded and snuffled as she pulled away and stood in the middle of his room. She was wearing an emerald green nightdress that hugged her slim figure.
She sang the incantation and with a flick of her wand, the blue kaleidoscope of light wove its way around his large bedroom. He lay back in wonder as the tendrils twinkled above him and his mother laughed affectionately. She sounded like bells...
Severus snapped out of his reverie and let his arms fall back down to his sides. Striding over to his trunk, he carefully pulled the lid up and extracted the black journal from its secret pocket as he did almost every night. Returning to the bed, he set the book onto his pillow. The pajamas were folded neatly on the edge of the bed where he had left them that morning, and he began to unbutton his vest.
In the dim light, Sirius could make out Snape's figure lying on the bed, still wearing all his clothes. I'll just tap him, he thought as he padded closer to the bed. Suddenly, he saw movement. Snape swung his legs over the side of the bed and walked right towards him.
Sirius sucked in a breath and leapt to the side just as Snape unknowingly strode right past him. Turning, he saw that Snape was closing the door, and then they were in complete darkness.
Where is he?! he realized. He held as still as he could. Snape didn't make a sound, and Sirius was instantly aware that he was panting under the silky cloak. Can he hear me? He held his breath.
"Accio wand!" rang out Snape's voice and Sirius jumped. He knows I'm here! He began inching his way back away from door, his stomach flip-flopping, when he heard another incantation.
Very slowly, an eerie blue light erupted from a point in the darkness, and shimmering trails of the illumination weeded around the perimeter of the room. It gradually lit up Snape's face and made his dark eyes glitter.
Thank Merlin! At least I can see, Sirius thought with relief. For a moment, he had the sinking feeling that maybe this strange light was a way to see through invisibility cloaks, but the other boy merely held his palms out to the glow, ignoring Sirius completely. Well, I guess it's too late to announce my arrival.
Snape let his arms fall and walked over to the trunk, and Sirius backed up against the wall. Snape was close enough that if he had taken a step or two in Sirius's direction, they would easily collide. What's he doing? The boy let the lid close and turned to reveal that he was holding the journal, then gently set it on his bed. That's when Snape started taking off his clothes.
Sirius's eyes flew open. Oh gods! I've got to get out of here! He threw a desperate glance towards the door, but he couldn't open it without being seen. Snape pulled his vest off of his shoulders and Sirius squeezed his eyes shut. I'm a Gryffindor, I'm a Gryffindor, he chanted. Gryffindors don't spy. Gryffindors don't watch people undress. They certainly don't watch Snape undress! He lifted one eyelid cautiously. Snape's shirt was untucked and he was obviously unbuttoning it. Sirius pressed his palms against the wall, breathing a quietly as he could, though he felt like taking great gulps of air. Snape grasped his collar and pulled the shirt off over his head. No!!! he thought as he clenched his eyes shut.
His heart racing, Sirius cracked an eye open again. Snape's back stretched languidly...almost cat-like. His back is lighter than his face and hands, Sirius remarked to himself, a bit hysterically. I didn't know it was possible to be that pale...like milk. The scrawny boy's ribs were clear along his sides as he took a deep breath and stretched again. Thin arms swung gracefully at his sides, accentuating the angular hips.
He's almost...pretty, Sirius thought and then quickly added, in an aesthetic sort of way. With the blue light and everything... He mentally slapped himself. Aesthetic or not, you're watching Snape! A guy! What's wrong with you? Sirius could hear only his own heartbeat in his ears and the rustle of Snape's clothes.
Snape reached a hand up to the back of his head and gently pulled the rubber band, causing the dark, lank hair to spill down over his bare shoulders. Sirius stared, open-mouthed. He's like some sort of painting. Black on white... Snape began tugging at the waistband of his trousers, and Sirius turned and faced the wall. That's a bit too much. He focused on the stone wall in front of him. I was only looking because I was curious. Anyone would be. Even James would be.
He turned back when he heard the sheets rustle softly and saw that Snape was sitting on the bed and opening the journal. Why would anyone want to look at those depressing entries? Snape pulled his wand out of the pile of clothes at the end of the bed and jabbed the open journal with it.
"Severus Snape, master of this school, commands you to yield the information you conceal!" the boy said with grandeur. Sirius choked on a laugh, and Snape suddenly jerked his head up from his journal and looked right where Sirius was standing.
"Who's there?" Sirius froze. Snape unfolded his legs and put a foot out onto the floor, grabbing his wand in the process. "Hello?"
Sirius didn't even breathe, thought his heart was racing a mile a minute. The other boy peaked around the bed hangings with a look of suspicion. Sirius edged towards the door in case he needed to make a getaway. Snape surveyed the room once again before backing up onto the bed and pulling the curtains closed.
Sirius clutched at his chest, taking deep, silent breaths. He didn't know whether to feel relieved or disappointed. If Snape hadn't heard him, he could be looking at the contents of those pages at this very moment. Instead, he stood shaking, gazing at the impenetrable curtains. Moving so slowly that it was almost painful, he grasped the doorknob and prayed that the silencing charm was still functioning as he gave it a twist. The door swung open soundlessly and he glided past it, pulling it shut behind him. The light from a torch burning further down the staircase shone dimly against the wall and he realized that the light was orange compared to the striking blue of the room he had just left.
Why am I thinking about the stupid light? I just watched Snape take his clothes off! And I didn't even get to ask what he saw in the mirror. He grudgingly walked a few steps down the stairs. I guess I'll just ask him in detention tomorrow. Oh, damn. This was the last detention of the week. He wouldn't see Snape again until next week. He turned on his heel and stepped eagerly back to the attic door. After reaching for the knob, he scolded himself and knocked lightly on the wood. No answer.
He probably thinks it's someone else. He knocked again, just in case Snape hadn't heard him and then tentatively opened the door. The room was black and all traces of the tendrils of light had vanished. He walked towards the bed.
"Snape?" he said. The curtains flew back instantly to reveal a confused Snape.
"Black? What do you wa-...?" Snape paused. "Where are you?"
Drat. Sirius looked down at his invisible body, remembering with a blush that he was wearing only his underwear beneath it.
"Uh...well. I...oh, hell. Here." He pulled the hood back from his face, careful not to reveal his bare shoulders, and Snape gasped.
"That's an invisibility cloak! Where did you get that?" Snape asked, his voice filled with wonder. Sirius felt slightly annoyed, more at his forgetfulness and embarrassment than Snape's questions.
"Never mind that," he snapped. "I need to know how we're going to get you up here tomorrow night. Since we don't have detention, we'll have to meet or something."
Snape's shoulders visibly slumped. "Indeed. Well...how about the library?"
"Too public," Sirius said, biting his lip. "Why don't you just meet me out in front of the fat lady right before curfew?" Snape snorted.
"Oh, and that isn't too public?"
"Do you have any better ideas?"
Snape sighed. "I suppose not. In front of the fat lady it is, then."
"All right," Sirius replied, turning back towards the doorway. "Goodnight, Snape."
Sirius turned to leave. "Oh, and Snape?" he whispered with his back turned as he reached the door.
"You're not a...wimp." He shut the door behind him without waiting for a reply, though he knew there wouldn't have been one.
A/N: [EDIT 7-31-04] hey yall. I know... I know I've been missing for 2 months. I have some things to tell you. First of all, yes, I am working on the story. Mostly, I'm revising, reworking, basically ripping it apart. Almost everything will be the same, with a little addition: planning on my part. This plot is just too good to pass up.
In writing this monstrosity, it has come to my attention that I can't just sit down and write until my fingers fall off, with no REAL plot to stick to. I got to about the 6th page of chapter 7, and I suddenly realized that I had NO idea what to write next. The reason? Planning, or lack thereof. I started off with a beginning and an end in mind, but no plans for the in- between. That's what I'm working on right now. This story, though for the most part will remain a romance, is also going to incorporate some political and general aspects. Wish me luck, cause I really suck at that kind of thing...of course, 6 months ago, I thought I couldn't write fiction at all. Heh. It will also focus a bit more on the relationships between the marauders, lily, and surprisingly enough, prof. Mcgonagall (I can't wait to write that).
If I didn't tell you this before, I am trying to make this fit with canon. I'm trying to tell the story of what might have happened before. I want it to be POSSIBLE. So don't be freaked out when Lucius is replaced with another character (spoiler alert). Erm, Molly and Arthur are already long gone in my latest draft. Sorry if yall were attached. It's better. Believe me. Also, if any of you die-hard fans out there can spot anything that doesn't fit with canon, please email me and tell me. I've probably caught it already, but you never know.
Anyways, I am not sure when I'm going to have the next chapter up; it's hard to find the time or inspiration to write when my mother is constantly shooting daggers at me cause I'm such a worthless deadbeat. What I CAN tell you, for sure, is that I will no longer be updating it here. FF does not allow the kind of formatting that I require, so any further updates will be on my website (also cause, heh, it's going to be harder than R). Any notices about how the writing is going and such will be on my LJ, which can be accessed through my website: "askandrea . com / soliloquy" (remove the spaces). Heh, look at the fiction page for a commentary on my writing skills by Mr. Severus A. Snape himself. And look at my art page for illustrations of the boys and company.
(wrings 's proverbial neck) god, how I wish I could reply to your comments on the reply board. Grrr...so here are replies to the biggest questions (if I didn't already answer above):
Ashii Black: S & S could be gay. Who knows? In fact, there has been a lot of evidence that they WERE gay. AU....ugh. As for James, maybe he just didn't realize that he was crazy about Lil; sort the same thing that's going on between S & S. He just hasn't figured out yet that he hates her cause he's been in love with her. As for lily being marysue: as Fabula Rasa said to me when I was sobbing over this comment (jk), it's difficult to write a Lily who ISN'T marysue, as her character in the books is so underdeveloped. So yeah, she based a lot on me cause I'm the girl I know the best. But truthfully, if you want to find a marysue in my fic, look at Sirius. If I was male, I'd BE Sirius. Seriously (snerk). Oh, and I'm so glad that someone liked my filch too. God, he is so much fun to write, even if I'm the only one who thinks it's funny. And I'll give you a big nasty clue to the ending: this story WILL be completely canon-possible.
Long Live Sirius Black: please, no rats. My house is already infested with fleas (scritch scritch). Believe me, I am ashamed that I've let the fic sit this long, especially without telling you folks. It will be MUCH better once I'm done working on it. Bear with me.