The frantic search through the mess formerly known as the library took ages, but at last Sirius found what he knew to be there. Clasping it in his hand, he crept upstairs and headed straight for the bedroom. It was well past midnight already, and Sirius had every reason to assume that Snape was already fast asleep. Carefully he opened the door and cursed as it squeaked like a dying rat.
He waited for a moment in the doorway, but as the figure in the bed did not seem to be moving, he ventured to walk closer. As slowly and quietly as he possibly could, Sirius climbed onto the large bed, where Snape was lying on his back, snoring steadily. The curtains had not been drawn and the moonlight dyed the whole room an eerie shade of blue, including the blade of the letter-opener in Sirius' hand.
His plan was equally simple and desperate. If he was quick enough, it would be possible to thrust the knife into Snape's heart before the collar had time to do him in. Surely with Snape gone, he would find some way of contacting Dumbledore and he, in turn, would find a way to lift the spell off him. This was the last thing he wanted to do, but Snape had certainly left him no other choice. One more day in the house of Snape, wondering whether his Master would shag him or kill him, and Sirius would go utterly mad, if he had not already.
He crawled closer to the sleeping figure and bent over him. The sweet smell of whiskey was still distinct in Snape's breath as it swept over Sirius' face. Both of his hands wrapped around the handle of the letter-opener, and he raised it high above his head, ready to thrust it straight into the man's chest. The time for hesitation was over, now was the time to act. One, two, th
"I knew I should have been more specific when forbidding you to touch another knife in this house."
His hands shaking somewhere over his head, Sirius stared down at the pair of black eyes glowing up from the pillow. Little by little, he let the letter-opener drop until the sharp tip of it was pointing directly at Snape's throat.
"I could do it," Sirius said, trying to put some confidence in his words. "The collar's not fast enough."
"Yes, I'm quite aware of that," Snape said calmly. "Why do you think I let you get this far in the first place? So, go on, do it."
"Do it. That is what you are here for, isn't it?"
For a moment Sirius' grip tightened around the handle, but the moment seemed reluctant to end.
"The throat is quite effective," Snape continued in a pensive voice, "and perhaps a tad more original than simply stabbing me in the chest. Of course, if you want me to suffer as much as possible, then the stomach is surely the optimum choice, although there is always the risk of missing all the vital organs..."
Sirius looked down at the naked body next to him and saw the tiny drop of blood right where the blade touched the skin of Snape's neck. There was no hint of fear on the man's face; in fact the way he looked back at him was almost resigned.
"Why did you bring me here?" Sirius asked, the letter-opener trembling in his hand.
"You're a clever enough chap, Black, can't you tell?"
"You wanted revenge."
"Justice," Snape corrected. "But yes, I wanted to punish you, I wanted you to suffer, I wanted you to..."
"To do what?"
"Nothing, absolutely nothing," Snape sighed, closing his eyes.
The letter-opener slipped from Sirius' hand and landed on Snape's chest, where he quickly picked it up again. Sirius needed to believe that he had heard more than nothing in those words.
"However," Snape continued, keeping his eyes tightly shut, "I was soon to discover that there's no such thing as justice."
"You're not making this any easier for me, you know," Sirius said, feeling increasingly annoyed by Snape's attitude. "One day you let me shag you up the arse and the next you have me die for just one bloody snog!"
"There are things you are not aware of."
"I know that!" Sirius roared in a fit of despair. "For fuck's sake, Snape, that's why I'm asking!"
"It might be difficult for you to comprehend, but there are things best left untold." As Snape looked at him, Sirius could see the black eyes glisten even more distinctly in the darkness. "What happened here..." Snape paused and swallowed. "It was a mistake on my part, and I... I apologise for what I did."
Sirius stared at him, not knowing whether to stab him or slap him; either the man was taking the piss or Sirius' lunacy was contagious.
"Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it my cock up your arse and not the other way around? So I think the guilt trip is all on me, just like you intended it."
"I had no such intention." Snape frowned, looking surprised. "Is that what you thought?"
Sirius looked at him in disbelief. When he finally managed to open his mouth to ask the question that had haunted him since that evening, he was certain he would throw up from sheer excitement. "Then why didn't you stop me?"
"Because I'm weak." Snape closed his eyes again, as if looking at Sirius made him sick. Sirius wondered whether the night would end with two men spewing up side by side and then dying in a shared pool of sick. But Snape's serious voice dispelled all such notions, as he continued, "I allowed it to happen, and that is why I must apologise to you."
Now it was Sirius' turn to close his eyes. It was just too much to hear the man he was threatening to stab to death apologise to him - particularly when it was for something Sirius himself had done.
"Let me get this straight..." he said slowly, trying to take it all in. "You don't apologise for making me go through the agonies of death over and over again, or for torturing me with pointless house chores even though they nearly cost me my hands and my sanity, but you do apologise for what I did to you here, in this bed?" As Snape did not answer, Sirius took a deep breath and tried to regroup. "You are one seriously disturbed wizard, you know that?"
"Yes, I suppose I am," Snape replied calmly. "But that is scarcely surprising after the years of torture you've put me through." The black eyes burnt in the dark again. "So do excuse me if I consider the dying to have been only a justified retaliation for that."
For some reason, all Sirius could think about was that time in their fourth or fifth year when he had cornered Snivellus after their Care of Magical Creatures class and forced him into the bin with the blast-ended skrewts. He now knew what he had seen in Snape's eyes that day: panic in the face upcoming death. Perhaps they were now more even than Sirius had initially thought.
"However, what happened here, in this bed..." Snape continued uneasily, his gaze wondering around the dark room. "I knew I would never get what I wanted otherwise, so I used your anger for my own pleasure and I shouldn't have."
Sirius knew he should have paid more attention to what the man was saying, but all he could hear was that one word.
Snape nodded slowly, still looking somewhere past Sirius.
"Pleasure," Sirius said, unable to hide the smile in his voice.
It was amazing to discover how that one word could wipe away all the horrid things Snape had done to him over the past six days. There was nothing more important than to hear that the naked man lying next to him, the man he had been determined to kill with a letter-opener, fancied him.
"Seriously, Black, must you repeat every single word I say for you to understand..." Snape's eyes turned back to him and grew wide with surprise. "You find something amusing in all of this?"
The letter-opener still pressed against Snape's throat, Sirius bent down and let his lips brush against his, then again, staying on them long enough for Snape to respond, and then pulling away.
"Does that answer your question?"
"I would have to say that that was the most comprehensive answer imaginable."
Sirius was already on his way back to Snape's mouth when he suddenly stopped and pulled back. A thought had entered his head, and a thought at a time like that was a dangerous thing to have.
"One more thing. It's about those engravings in that cupboard..." Sirius started, then paused. "They are yours, aren't they? I mean, you're not by any chance a paedophile in your spare time, are you?"
"Excuse me? What engravings?"
"In the cupboard, where you locked me when Dumbledore paid his visit. Those markings, they are yours, right?"
Snape kept opening and closing his mouth, evidently not certain whether he should shriek or bellow at Sirius.
"And you haven't ever touched Harry, have you?" Sirius continued quickly, knowing his voice was about to fail him. "You know, done things to him, or made him do things to you. Maybe while giving him the Occlumency lessons?"
"For the love of Circe!" Snape finally growled. "Let me make this simple enough even for you to grasp: I do not like children, in fact I rather dislike children, your godson in particular!"
"I can take that as a no, then?"
"Give me that blasted knife and I'll stick it through my throat myself!" Snape yelled and tried to tear the letter-opener from Sirius' hand. "Even death is better than having to listen your demented notions any further!"
"All right!" Sirius hurried to say, lifting the letter-opener out of Snape's reach. "I get it! You don't like children."
"I loathe children."
Sirius waited for the man to get his breath back before lowering his hands.
"Ever thought that you might have made the wrong career move by becoming a teacher?"
The sullen face below him was making Sirius' heart race like he was being chased by a herd of Death Eaters - and yet there was only one. He wanted to make it up to him for having doubted him, for trying to murder him, even for all the things he had gone though as a child, locked in that cupboard.
"Let me put it this way..." Sirius pressed the letter-opener again on his throat. "I'll grant you a choice: either I stab you to death with this..."
"I trust the other option will be equally tempting."
"...Or I give you a good, hard shag." The blade was scratching Snape's skin as Sirius waited for him to answer. "So, which one is it going to be?"
Snape looked past him at the canopy, apparently deep in thought. After a while he lowered his gaze back to Sirius and asked quite seriously, "This stab, will it definitely be fatal?"
"You cheeky bastard!"
Sirius threw the letter-opener over his shoulder, heard it smash into something but there was no force strong enough to make him turn to see what it was.
He pressed his lips firmly against Snape's, not brushing them lightly as he had done before, but sucking them, biting them in the heat of passion. Snape's hands travelled down his back and grabbed his buttocks, squeezing them and rubbing them as if attempting to bruise them.
"You do know that I have absolutely no fucking idea what I'm supposed to do," Sirius whispered between kisses.
"Oh, I think you have already revealed some hidden talents," Snape groaned as Sirius nibbled the skin behind his ear.
"This much I know," Sirius mumbled as he kissed his way down the man's chest, the hair growing thicker and blacker the further down he went. "But what am I supposed to do with this?"
He wrapped his fingers around Snape's cock so hard he made him moan out loud. Slowly, teasingly he began stroking it, then paused.
"For the love of Merlin, don't stop!" Snape breathed.
"I thought," Sirius said, squeezing the cock harder and then letting go again, "that there might be something more I could try out. Perhaps something like this..."
This time it was not merely a moan but a scream of pleasure that escaped from Snape's lips as Sirius leant down and gave his cock one long, wet lick.
"You liked that?" he asked innocently. "Then how about if I do this..."
He let his tongue circle around the tip of Snape's cock while his hands reached under him and took a firm hold of his arse.
"I take that as an encouragement, shall I? Then maybe it's time for..."
The cock slid slowly into Sirius' mouth, and he could feel Snape tremble as he swallowed his flesh. It was almost too much for him to realise that he actually had the man's cock in his mouth, that it was he who was making him moan like that, and that the mere touch of the sheets under him would soon be enough to make Sirius himself come.
"Wait," Snape said suddenly, pushing Sirius' head away from his groin. "There's something I must tell you before you, we... It's about Elderlyflowers."
"No, Elderlyflowers. It seems... It seems that Muggles don't particularly enjoy their scent, for dung doesn't appear to be popular among them, not any more at least, and those blasted Muggles simply wipe away whatever they don't care for, so there..." Snape stopped his babbling to catch his breath. "There's none left."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"I merely thought you should know."
"Well, cheers. Now will you just shut up and fuck me?"
With an evil grin, Snape crawled behind him and gave him a hard shove, which made him fall right on his face on the bed. Sirius reached for the bedside table, where he had seen a glimpse of Snape's wand, and handed it to the man behind him.
"I'm sure you have some nifty little spell for these types of things, don't you?"
"As a matter of fact..." Snape said, lifting his wand. "Lubrificio."
In an instant, something cool and wet was sliding down Sirius' crack. But just as he was about to start enjoying the feeling, Snape began rubbing the liquid between his cheeks, and the next thing he knew, Snape's finger was inside him, pushing and probing in a way Sirius had never known before.
"Do you want more?"
Sirius could only hope that the sound that came out of his mouth could be identified as 'yes-dear-sweet-whatsit-yes'. Trying to indicate his eagerness, he pushed himself up on his hands and knees, and pressed his arse harder against Snape's cock.
"You do want this, don't you?" Snape asked, and Sirius could hear the smile in his voice.
Again Sirius let out that strange sort of bark, signalling for him to get inside him that instant. At last Snape appeared to believe him and slowly he began pushing his cock into Sirius' hole. There was far more pain than Sirius had anticipated, but he kept his teeth clenched together, his fingers tearing the sheets off the bed, and his head buried in the pillow as Snape forced his way inside him bit by bit.
"Black?" said Snape's breathless voice.
"Don't you dare move!" Sirius managed to hiss between his teeth. "Stay there, just fucking stay there!"
Snape leant to kiss Sirius' back, running the tip of his tongue down his spine, while his hand found Sirius' cock and started stroking it slowly. The longer the man stayed inside him, the more the pain seemed to diminish, and after a while Sirius began pushing his arse cautiously towards him. He lifted his head from the pillows and propped himself up on his arms.
"Fuck me," he whispered and felt Snape come alive behind him.
The second push brought back the pain, but Sirius bit his lip and did not make a sound, so as not to scare Snape off. Then came the third one, still quite gentle, then the next and the next. With every push, Sirius noticed his attention slipping from the pain to his own knob, which Snape was now stroking harder and harder. As the pleasure crept upwards, taking over his entire body, Sirius found himself pushing back to Snape, making him use more and more force as he fucked him.
"You are not to come until I tell you to," Snape breathed. "Do you understand me?"
"Yes, yes, yes..." Sirius repeated in rhythm with the thrusts. But even as he said those words, he could already feel the familiar tightening in his balls, telling him that his climax was near.
"Not yet," Snape groaned, pushing into him harder than ever, his hand trembling on Sirius' cock. "Not... yet..."
Snape squeezed his cock once more, long and hard, and Sirius could feel him starting to shake on top of him. But still the order to come had not come.
"I can't..." was all Sirius could say before the collar tightened around his neck, and as he exploded in Snape's hand, he screamed a silent scream of pleasure and died.
As the first breath of air shook him awake and he felt Snape's arms wrapped around him, all he could remember was the longest orgasm he had ever had.
Sirius was the first to jump awake at the sound of the knocking, followed closely by Snape, who leapt straight to the window. The room was bathed in sunlight, telling him that they had slept in, which was hardly surprising after the night they had had.
"Who is it?" Sirius asked, tying the tea towels in place out of old habit. For a brief moment he lost his concentration and simply stared at the pale body by the window, glowing even whiter in the bright sunlight, and wondered how he could ever have found it repulsive. "Don't tell me it's Malfoy."
"No, it's you and your blasted letter again," Snape snarled as he swept past Sirius, pulling on his robes. "I was fairly certain this would happen, but I did hope it wouldn't be until..." Glancing at Sirius, he swallowed the rest of the sentence. "We mustn't keep him waiting."
With an uneasy feeling in his stomach, Sirius followed him out of the room.
When they reached downstairs, Snape strode quickly towards the door, stopped only by Sirius' frantic scream.
"What the fuck are you doing? You can't let him see me!"
"Let's face facts, Black," Snape said resignedly. "It's over. I must open the door."
"Have you gone mad!" Sirius took hold of Snape's arm and dragged him where the cupboard under the stairs was supposed to be. "You open this door before even thinking about opening that other one!"
"Black, you don't understand..."
"Evidently more than you! Or do you actually want to give my regards to all my old mates in Azkaban?" Without waiting for him to answer, Sirius pulled out Snape's wand from his robes and handed it to him. "Just open the bloody door. He'll never find me in there."
The look in Snape's eyes was an odd mixture of despair and gratitude as he took the wand and tapped the wall with it. As soon as the door opened, Sirius hurried inside and slammed it shut after him.
Snape's footsteps sounded in the hall as he walked to open the front door.
"Headmaster. What a surprise. Again."
"My dearest Severus," said Dumbledore's voice. "You must know why I'm here."
"I confess that I do not."
There was a short pause, and Sirius could nearly hear the two men stare at each other.
"Where is he, Severus?"
"I'm afraid I don't understand."
"I do not have time for this!" Dumbledore said in a booming voice. "I have enough to worry about as it without all this silliness! I know I should have come sooner, but I did think that I had made myself clear the last time I was here." He walked swiftly across the hall, passing the cupboard only by a few feet. "Now, where is he?"
After a moment's silence a second pair of footsteps sounded in the hall, becoming louder by each step. Instinctively, Sirius pressed himself into the far corner of the cupboard, holding his breath. The tap on the door was barely audible, and in an instant, the little space was full of light, streaming in through the doorway. It hurt his eyes, which had only just adapted to the darkness, and so he shut them.
"Sirius? I trust that you are well?"
Still holding his breath, Sirius kept his eyes tightly shut, wishing he was a small child, since only small children were able to become invisible by closing their eyes.
"Severus," Dumbledore said reprovingly. "Please tell me you haven't kept him in here like this all the time, because this is truly unacceptable. The poor chap is like a frightened animal!"
"No!" Sirius hurried to answer, opening his eyes and seeing Dumbledore's head in the doorway. "I came in here only just now. Snape hasn't..."
The rest of the words stuck in Sirius' throat. Right next to Dumbledore's head, on either side of the doorframe, were the engravings he had discovered the last time. Only the slightest turn of his head would be needed for him to see them, and then Snape's most intimate secrets would be revealed.
"Headmaster," came Snape's voice from the outside, "I'm aware of my wrongdoings and take full responsibility for this."
"I know that, Severus, and I'm not here to pass judgment," Dumbledore said calmingly. "Although you could have given him at least something decent to wear. But do come out of there, Sirius, and we'll see what all this fuss is about."
"Really, I'm fine, Albus," Sirius said with a reassuring smile as he made towards him.
But when he reached the doorway, he stopped dead in his tracks and pressed his back against the frame, determined to cover as much as his scrawny body possibly could.
"I'd much rather discuss this while we're all in the same room," Dumbledore said, gesturing for him to step out of the cupboard, but stubbornly Sirius stayed put. "Sirius? Is there something wrong?"
"I... I don't know," he stuttered, still smiling like an idiot and knowing he must have looked rather deranged.
"What is it?" Dumbledore asked, pushing Sirius gently aside and stepping inside the cupboard. "Lumos."
With horror, Sirius watched his lit-up wand sweep the walls of the cupboard. When he reached the part Sirius had been guarding, the old man heaved a sigh.
"Not a pleasant man," he mumbled, running his hand over the engravings. "Not in the least."
"No, you don't understand!" Sirius shouted. "That's not him! He hasn't held any children prisoner and he's not a paedophile!"
Sirius glanced at Snape, who stood in the hall, suddenly looking like a decorative stone statue gone horribly wrong.
"Are you quite certain you are well, Sirius?" Dumbledore asked, casting him a concerned look before returning to study the pictures. "Oh, my. What is this I see down here, Severus?"
The man was pointing at the engraving right at the bottom of the wall; the one in which the larger figure was forcing something into the head of the smaller one. Sirius felt a cold shudder travel down his spine.
"Is that what I think it is?"
"Yes, Legilimens," came Snape's voice quietly between his clenched teeth. "That was when my father was convinced that I had broken one of his precious bottles. The fact that I had not did nothing to lessen my punishment. I was in there for over six hours."
The black eyes were burning like two tar pits again, but this time all Sirius wanted to do was to wrap his arms around him and never let go.
"If only we could choose our parents," Dumbledore sighed and ran his hand up the wall. "Brooms, Quidditch, serpents and... Oh my." His hand had stopped at the snake that had no body. "I see a more mature Severus here."
"A hormone-driven teenager," Snape spat with contempt.
It was only now that Sirius realised why all the snakes he had found on those walls had been missing their bodies. Apparently Snape's sexual preferences had been a strong influence on his art.
"So, this is what you were trying to hide from me?" Dumbledore asked, turning to Sirius, who was utterly speechless. "Hardly anything to be ashamed of, is it, Sirius?"
The way in which Dumbledore pronouced his name made blood rush to Sirius' cheeks. How the devil did that man always know things even before the persons concerned had been able to figure them out? Still unable to form words, Sirius merely nodded to him and tried not to laugh out loud from sheer relief.
"Come now," Dumbledore said pleasantly.
Stepping out into the hall after Dumbledore, Sirius soon noticed that Snape was avoiding looking him in the eye. He could not understand why, though, since Dumbledore did not seem too cross about Snape's straying into the Dark Arts.
"I have been patient enough, Severus," Dumbledore began, and Snape nodded gravely. "This must stop."
"It will, Headmaster. Today."
"Good," Dumbledore said. "Otherwise I would have no choice but to inform the Ministry of this, and that is something I'd rather not do."
"No, you can't tell them!" Sirius shouted at him, stepping in front of Snape. "They'll send him to Azkaban!"
"Sirius..." Dumbledore began, but was not given enough time to finish.
"No! I won't let you turn him in!" Sirius pressed his back tighter against Snape, although fully aware that a supposedly dead man in a dog's collar and two tea towels was scarcely a figure of authority. "I know I sent you that bloody letter, and at the time I did want to go back there, behind the veil, but things have sort of changed since then, and I really won't mind if..."
"I see your time here has proved even more useful than I dared to hope," Dumbledore said softly, and Sirius could see the smile in his eyes. "Nevertheless, I've always felt that these matters should be sorted out while still alive and not left until death, for there's far too much going on behind the veil without such personal issues. When I found out what Severus had done, I trusted him not to harm you in any way and urged him to put this past him as soon as possible."
Sirius had already opened his mouth to defend Snape some more when he suddenly realised what Dumbledore was saying.
"You knew?" he asked in amazement. "You knew the letter was real and yet... yet you did nothing!"
Dumbledore bent his head down and looked at him over his glasses.
"Naturally I knew. Did you think I wouldn't recognise your handwriting?"
"And you just left me here!" Sirius growled. "For all you knew, he could've been whipping me to shreds in the cellar!"
The old eyes turned away from him and toward Snape.
"Please tell me you didn't."
"No!" Snape exclaimed, suddenly bursting into life again. "I only had him die. Several times."
Dumbledore looked puzzled, but Sirius was quick not to give him time to ask more about the dying bit.
"Let's not get into who killed who, or who raped who," he said, lowering his voice towards the end. "The important thing is that I sort of like this life-after-afterlife scenario and wouldn't mind continuing with it for a little while longer."
But as Dumbledore's eyes pierced through him, Sirius knew his end had come.
"This is not a negotiation, Sirius," Dumbledore said calmly but firmly. "We do not have a choice in front of death. You know I would like nothing better than to have you with us, but this is no longer where you belong."
"But..." Sirius tried.
"No, I only allowed this to continue because I was certain Severus had brought you here for a reason, to settle some unresolved issues" - he turned to cast Snape yet another angry glance - "which I certainly didn't expect to include any dying." The eyes turned back to Sirius before he could make another attempt at protest. "However, judging by your behaviour, those feelings have now been resolved, even quite happily, from what I gather. Now you must go back, Sirius."
"You have my word, Headmaster," Snape cut in, "that this will all be over by the end of the day."
Dumbledore patted him gently on the shoulder and made to leave.
"Don't I have any say in this!" Sirius yelled, grabbing him by the arm. "I don't want to be dead any more!"
"Think of this as a holiday," Dumbledore said, looking him straight in the eye. "Although, I know the beginning was perhaps not what one might expect from a holiday..." He thought for a moment, then said, "Unless one has been silly enough to book one's trip from the Goblin Tours Agency because it was a few knuts cheaper, and then ended up mining for gold for two weeks on the Isle of Man - which holds no gold, by the way. But I digress," he said, shaking his head. "Goodbye, my dear boy. We'll meet again soon enough."
All Sirius could do was shake the hand Dumbledore offered him. His whole body felt numb, as if it had simply decided to shut out everything it was not able to take in anyway. The two men exchanged a few more words, which included the hated name Malfoy and the Exmortuis Spell, followed closely by utter impossibilities, aged flowers and burnt parchments. Both seemed pleased in rather a temperate fashion, and then they, too, shook hands.
In one loud crack, Dumbledore was gone.
The library was a horror. Despite - and mostly because of - Sirius' relentless efforts to arrange the books alphabetically, one could barely find enough room to stand without stepping onto some book or other.
"I made a useless house-elf," Sirius said and kicked the nearest pile of books over.
"You most certainly did," answered the familiar voice from above the fireplace. "I understand that you are leaving?"
"Yep, you may put on your funny hat and pop open a bottle of something bubbly, because the news is that by the end of the day I'm out of here."
"Tell me, is there much demand for giant house-elves these days?"
But before Sirius could finish, there was a yellow surge that swept right over his shoulder and into the middle of the portrait, followed by Gengulphus' terrified cry. He spun around quick enough to find Snape standing in the doorway, hiding his wand inside his robes and muttering, "Sod off, you balding nuisance."
Snape walked to him and lifted his hand hesitantly, reaching to touch Sirius' face, but then let it drop down to his side.
"So, ready to do me in?"
"It's not a question of doing you in," Snape said in a low voice. "There's nothing I can do, in fact. It all happened days ago."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
There was an awkward look on Snape's face as he began pacing back and forth, leaping over piles of books.
"Can you recall that little tantrum you had in my study three days ago? Among the bottles that were broken was a small vial of Elderlyflower essence."
The name rang a bell, and in an instant Sirius remembered the weird conversation about elderlyflowers and dung that had taken place right in the middle of shagging.
"Rather smelly, this Elderlyflower, was it?"
"Yes," Snape nodded. "I believe in the vernacular, the plant is known as Old Fart."
"More so than one would think," Snape said, his expression revealing a closer acquaintance with the plant in question. "Anyway, it appears that those were the last flowers in existence, thanks to Muggles and their eagerness to destroy everything they consider disagreeable."
A string of images was flashing before Sirius' eyes: the mixture of liquids on the floor; Snape shouting at him but never touching him; Snape going shopping the next day after making such a fuss about hating it; and finally Sirius himself, shagging Snape while he lay tied to the bed, and not dying in the process. The man must have already known at the time that Sirius would soon be gone for good and that might be his only chance to... anything. And the fact that a day later Sirius had died in the bathroom after kissing him now seemed hardly surprising. After all, what would have been the point of getting involved with somebody about to disappear behind the veil again?
"So, I brought this on myself." Sirius let his gaze sweep over the mountains of books. "And now you won't even have your personal slave here to help you with this lot."
"Oh, you need not worry about that," Snape said, lifting his wand. "Ordinio Libros Alphabeticis!"
In the next instant, the air was filled with books flying in all directions, followed by a booming rumble as each of them zoomed onto its place on the shelves and pressed tightly together with the others. Only a few seconds later, the floor was empty and the walls were covered with books, all in alphabetical order.
"Bloody hell," Sirius breathed, walking past the M section and distinctly sensing Arsenius Jigger's Magical Drafts and Potions sneer at him. "Couldn't have done that a bit earlier, could you now?"
"As a matter of fact," Snape said, a smile twitching at the corner of his mouth, "I could not. The look on your face when I gave you this job was simply too precious to miss."
Sirius strolled around the room and past the portrait of Gengulphus, who pretended to be napping in his chair but was unable to resist a peek at them every once in a while.
"What about the 'damned' thing? A bit of a misunderstanding there or what?"
"A bit of a lie, actually. I was compelled to say something to make you take that potion. As enjoyable as watching you die was, I rather feared your stubbornness would have led to my being bored silly."
Somehow Sirius doubted that, but cast Snape an appreciative look anyway.
"So, what's it going to be?" he asked, rubbing his eyes. "I'll just be strangled to death again, only this time for good?"
"No, it should be quite painless. You will simply fall asleep and..." Snape swallowed loud enough for Sirius hear it. "Not wake up."
"I see. The only thing is that I don't sleep, remember?"
"You did last night, didn't you?"
Sirius stared at him, trying to bring back to mind all the hours he had been lying awake next to Snape but coming up with far too few. He remembered listening to his breathing, running a hand across his chest, pulling a strand of hair from his mouth, but as for the last couple of hours before they had been woken by the knocking, Sirius had no recollection. And the more he thought about it, the more tired he seemed to feel.
Ever since he first woke up in that house, all he had wanted was to die, die once and for all. There had been times when he had lain awake at night, thinking about the looks on everybody's faces if he just suddenly turned up at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. In his mind's eye he had seen Remus' concerned frown, Harry's bright smile and, a little later, Bellatrix's damned grin being wiped off by his wand. But as the days had passed and his relationship to Snape had grown more complicated and utterly bizarre, Sirius had found himself clinging to his new life ever more vigorously. And now, after the night he had spent with Snape, he was supposed to let all that go and simply roll over and die. Snape was right - there was no justice.
"Well, I'm still awake now," he said determinedly. "Come here."
As soon as the man reached him, Sirius pulled him in for a deep kiss. His lips tasted even better in the daylight, and Sirius enjoyed seeing the effect his touch had on the man.
When he felt the desired arousal against his own, he took Snape's hand and led him to the desk. Taking a moment to savour the surprise in the man's eyes, Sirius kissed him once more before turning him gently but assertively around and pressing him face down on the table.
"Do you honestly think we should waste more time talking?" Sirius asked, as he rolled up the hem of Snape's robes to uncover his arse. "I, for one, am going to make use of the time I have left."
"Are you now?" Snape breathed, his hands gripping the edge of the desk.
Sirius bent down to give his arse a soft kiss and enjoyed feeling the flesh shiver under his lips.
"Yes, but I'll need some help from you, so if you don't mind..."
Snape was already reaching for his wand, evidently no less eager to make the most of their time together. His hand trembling, he shoved the wand behind his back and between his cheeks.
"Lubricio!" The word was nearly a cry.
Just as Sirius pushed himself inside Snape, he turned to glance at the portrait above the fireplace. To his satisfaction, he caught a glimpse of a bald head with a bad comb-over, peeking from behind a chair. Closing his eyes to concentrate on the pleasure, he shagged Snape safe in the knowledge that they were being watched.
It felt right, just lying there on the carpet, the two naked bodies entwined. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, and every thought took ages to form in Sirius' tired mind. He still had no idea what he was doing there and why he had shagged Snape - again - but at that moment it hardly seemed relevant. Perhaps he was just as confused as Snape himself; perhaps that annoyance on canvas had been right from the start. There were rarely reasons for anything anyway. At this point, Sirius was more than satisfied with the simple fact that it felt right.
"Are you asleep?"
"No, you just wore me out," Sirius said, opening his eyes and grinning at the concerned face over him.
The smile was not returned, however, and Snape sat up on the floor next to him, looking as grim as ever.
"It won't be long now," he said quietly, turning his head away from Sirius.
"I was speaking of myself. It won't be long before I shall follow you."
"Don't say that!" Sirius exclaimed, grabbing him by the arm. "Bloody hell, Snape! You are needed here! Who else is going to make my godson's life miserable if not you?"
"I thought you would be happy to know that you will not have to be alone on the other side for much longer. Or is there someone waiting for you there?"
Only with effort did Sirius manage to prop himself against his elbows and cast the man an offended glare.
"What am I, the slut of the afterlife?"
Snape's mouth was already twitching when he answered, "You must admit that it only took you six days to yield to me."
"Closer to four, actually, but who's counting," Sirius said, grinning back at him. "But it's nice to know you drooled after me for considerably longer, even named your feathered friend after me."
Snape's eyes flashed, but his lips curved into a smile.
"And how are you to know what I had planned for your namesake? Owl is, after all, in season."
There was nothing Sirius could do to stop the laughter from bursting out of him, and with tears in his eyes he reached to touch Snape's face. It was precisely that tiresome feeling of never knowing what the man was thinking that made him want to suck his lips until they bled and shag him until he screamed. But as he pressed his mouth against Snape's, he suddenly felt the arm he was propped up on give way, and he fell on his back to the floor.
"It's OK," he hurried to say as Snape's concerned face returned over him. "I was just thinking about having a little lie down. Nice ceiling you've got there. Needs a lick of paint, though."
"Are you quite comfortable?" Snape lay down next to him, pulling him closer to him before Sirius could even nod. "I could try to take that wretched thing off," he suggested, pointing at the collar.
"It scarcely matters any more." Sirius ran his hand over the leather band. "Unless you intend to put me through a dress rehearsal before the main event?"
"Not even if you held a knife at my throat," Snape said in a low voice, his dark eyes beginning to glisten.
"Or a letter-opener," Sirius added quickly, in an attempt to lighten the mood a bit.
Snape lay down next to him and pressed his head against Sirius' chest, his hand drawing circles on his belly.
"Please don't remind me. It's embarrassing enough that I didn't think to include that one when forbidding you to touch any of the knives."
"No need to be embarrassed, mate" Sirius said, fiddling with Snape's hair. "After all, it took me nearly a week to figure it out. I certainly could've used that thing with those bloody carrots."
A curious smile on his lips, Snape lifted his head to look at Sirius.
"I always meant to ask you how ever you managed to make the carrots look like that. It was almost as if they had been chewed into pieces..."
Sirius merely grimaced and turned his head to kiss the man, thinking that there really were some things best left untold.
Another thing, which definitely fell into that category, was the question of Malfoy. Judging by the fragments he had heard of the conversation between Snape and Dumbledore, Malfoy had evidently been left with neither the Exmortuis Spell nor the Good Morning Potion, and so would luckily not be raising an army of corpses with them. But the relationship between Snape and Malfoy would most likely remain one of mutual distrust and personal gain, which might include doing more of the thing Sirius could not bring himself to think about. He wanted to make Snape promise never to let that bastard touch him again, but at the same time he was well aware that that was not something Snape was bound to agree to, nor was it something Sirius wanted to spend his last moments arguing over.
For a little while, Sirius found himself wishing Snape had been right about following him behind the veil in the near future.
"Would you, perhaps," Snape said awkwardly, pulling Sirius back to the present, "like to listen to some music before... while we wait?"
"As long as it's not Death Eater Metal."
Snape gave him a quick kiss before reaching for his wand.
The gramophone came flying through the doorway and landed right next to Snape.
"My grandmother had a soft spot for anything Muggle-made," he said as he placed the needle carefully on the record. "And I must warn you that her taste in music was a bit on the soft side as well."
Sirius could barely keep his eyes open any more and could not have cared less about the choice of music as long as Snape was there, preferably quite close to him. With a deep sigh, he closed his eyes as he felt the warm body press against him.
A holiday. That was what it had been, and unlike Dumbledore's trip to the mines, Sirius did not regret one minute of it - except the most gruesome ones, of which there had been quite a few. Again he tried to pin down the exact moment when Snape had transformed from a concentration of evil into something so... human. Perhaps it had been the day Sirius had burnt his hands in the Super-whatsit, which had led to some foolish raging and to some amazing snogging. Or it might have been the night before that, when Snape had pulled him from under the collapsed shack and attended to his wounds in such a caring - though admittedly painful - manner. Or maybe it had already happened the day before that in the study, in front of a certain pain in the arse who simply would not shut up.
None of it mattered, though. Sirius was too tired to think any more and knew sleep would take him away any moment now. The important thing was that it all felt right, like it was proverbially 'meant to be', and there was nothing left for him to worry about. Even the Muggle music did not sound so bad with Snape there, arms wrapped around him, holding him tightly. Slowly Sirius let himself relax and be taken away with the sound of the dark female voice...
"...Ev'ry time we say goodbye
I die a little,
ev'ry time we say goodbye
I wonder why a little,
why the gods above me
who must be in the know
think so little of me
they allow you to go..."
(A/N: The song is, of course, by Cole Porter)