A/N: So...here it is, the final chapter. An awful wait, but I found my muse at last!
One request: If any of you know of any really good Snape/Black fics out there please let me know their names and authors and I'll definitely check them out. Many thanks!
The next morning, a rather wary Remus Lupin accompanied a rather groggy-looking Sirius to breakfast. James was already at Quidditch, and Peter was probably not very far away from him.
Remus took a nervous sip of pumpkin juice and eyed his friend across the table.
"Did you…did you go a courting again last night, Padfoot?"
Remus was so preoccupied in waiting for an answer from his friend he quite forgot to tell the ladle to stop scooping out baked beans until it was too late, and they began to plop over the edge of his plate. Sirius looked up, a slight, but secretive smile creeping over his face.
"And what's got you so distracted and desperate to know, Moony?"
His friend frowned slightly then shot a furtive glance at the Slytherin table. Snape didn't show for breakfast that often, and wasn't there today, which was a blessing. He reached for his glass to take another sip.
"We got a bit more than kissing done this time…she's a real wild animal when you stoke her up, you know…" smirked Sirius flippantly, dipping the end of his sausage repeatedly into his fried egg.
Remus twitched, inhaled some juice, spluttered, and banged his glass quickly down on the table as if it had suddenly grown too scalding hot to touch.
"Padfoot! Better late out of bed than never!"
Sirius grunted as James strode up and thumped him enthusiastically on the back, all mud-splattered Quidditch robes and scruffy hair. Sirius's smirk lessened still more when the boy leaned over him to nab a few slices of fried bread, deliberately jolting his arm and causing his sausage to slide off the end of his fork onto the table.
"Hey!" he growled.
James raised a cool eyebrow. "Hey, indeed! I think we need a little tête-à-tête later Padfoot, don't you? One where you tell me everything about la foxy lady?"
"Prongs said he won't speak to you again properly until you do," added Wormtail officiously, plonking himself down at the table and stacking up toast and fried mushrooms into a double-decker sandwich.
Padfoot shot him a deadly glare.
"Well, I'm going for a shower now Moony, Wormtail – see you both later," announced James loudly, before sauntering off down the hall.
"Why does he have to be so bloody immature," muttered Sirius. "Bloody four-eyed idiot."
He glanced up to notice his quietest friend looking rather pale.
"And what's the matter with you, Moony – you look like you've seen a bloody Dementor!"
Remus rubbed his forehead with a clammy hand and gave a quick sideways glance at Wormtail. "Ah, well. I'm sure it's just my furry little problem again."
"Tonight, isn't it?" Sirius nodded quickly in understanding. Wiping his plate clean with a bit of crust, Padfoot stood and swiped another couple bits of bread and some rashers of bacon, squeezing them together.
"Can't be going hungry during Herbology again, can we?" He winked as Remus caught up with him. Wormtail scurried on behind, his mouth and hands full of toast.
Remus looked back at his friend with a wan smile. Going hungry during Herbology was probably the last thing on his mind at that moment.
o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o"Ah, Mister Black; so kind of you to turn up to my lesson, even if you didn't have the decency to turn up to your eight-o-clock detention the other night…" remarked Professor Sprout crossly the moment she saw the young misfit enter her classroom.
Black gave his best cheeky smile as he threw his bag on the desk. "I'm really sorry Miss, but something…came up…"
Lupin frowned as he heard James snigger to the left of him.
Sprout put her hands on her hips. "Is that so? Then you will just have to do your detention this lunchtime to make up for it, won't you, Mister Black?"
Sirius Black's cheeky smile evaporated. He shot a sour look back at James, who was still sniggering. "Yes Miss."
Professor Sprout's face went as red as a radish then. "And, Mister Potter, seeing as you find it all so very amusing you are more than welcome to join him!"
Remus next saw James and Sirius after lunch in Potions, looking in a slightly worse mood than they had before Sprout's detention.
"Old Compost Breath made us do the Mandrakes again," hissed James as he pulled up a stool to the desk.
"Well, you know if you didn't play up in her lessons, then you wouldn't have detentions, would you?" commented Lupin dryly, inspecting his quill.
"Very well said, Remus. Why on Earth can't more boys be like you?" came a cool remark from his left shoulder. Remus turned to just see a head of auburn curls turn away from him. He gave a slight blush.
"Doing anything tonight after lessons, Evans?" called out James after her.
"Yes actually, but nothing that you would know anything about," replied Lily. "It's called intelligent conversation."
"What, about make-up and boys?" smirked Black.
"No, Potions, actually," was the arch reply.
The boys exchanged intrigued glances just as Slughorn shuffled through the door and called for silence.
"Splendid, splendid. Now, I've had a while to assess your individual abilities, and there will be new partners today for a few of you, I think," he huffed.
There was a short pause wherein the Gryffindors and Slytherins blinked, then glowered at one another. It was bad enough getting used to the cross-house pairings as it was, without having to get used to yet another partner.
"Now, firstly, can we have Potter with Henderson, and Avery with Goode?"
"Yes sir," replied James wrinkling his nose distastefully. Jayne Henderson was one worse than a Slytherin; she was an ugly Slytherin. What was more it was obvious Slughorn had swapped him just to move him as far away from Sirius as possible.
James muttered a few choice words under his breath before scraping his stool loudly across the floor toward his new desk, the existing occupant of which was looking equally misanthropic.
"Secondly, can we have Evans with…" Slughorn trailed off as he glanced round the classroom frowning and scratching his moustache. "Odd, very odd. Has anybody seen Severus Snape today?"
"Migraine, sir," grunted Lestrange.
Slughorn frowned. "Again? Ah well; Lestrange, if you go and sit where Snape normally sits now, make sure you tell him I wish him to sit next to Evans next lesson, please."
As a sullen Lestrange got up to move seats, James Potter blinked, aghast. Snape being paired with Evans? Surely not.
Remus gave a slight smile. "The luck just isn't with you today, is it James?"
James peered across the classroom at Sirius and saw his eyes narrow.
"No," he muttered. "And it won't be with Snivellus either if Padfoot and I catch hold of him later."
Remus stuck close by James and Sirius for the rest of the afternoon, almost too paranoid to let them out of his sight. It was a great relief to him that Snape had failed to turn up for any of their lessons that day. As they loitered about in the corridor after Potions, Lupin took out a text book, he'd rather pretend to read rather than join in the rant about Snape being paired with Lily. As far as he was concerned, Slughorn putting the most able potion-brewing Gryffindor with the most able potion-brewing Slytherin made some sort of sense.
James, of course, would never likely see it that way in a million years, and was still ranting about it in the Common Room after dinner. Remus took care to watch Sirius' face out the corner of his eye, but saw no unusual reactions to the mention of the Slytherin. In fact, Sirius was as savage as usual in discussing the next line of tricks to play on him.
Finally, James was distracted by a member of the Quidditch team about the up and coming match. Remus finally seized his chance and urgently beckoned Sirius forward, casting muffliato around them.
"I saw who you were with last night."
Sirius frowned suspiciously. "Prongs said I was all alone when he found me – so how do you know?"
Remus pressed his lips together nervously and slid the Marauders' map up in his pocket so only the top corner was visible.
Sirius' eyes narrowed. "So…if Prongs knew…"
"Prongs knew where you were only because I told him. But I didn't tell him straightaway. I waited a while until-"
"Until whoever I was with was gone, yes…?" Sirius set his jaw and looked down at his quivering friend. "So, basically, what you're trying to say is you spied on me and know who it is?"
Remus bit his lip. "Yes. I'm sorry."
He found himself more than a little surprised however when his friend pulled an odd expression and looked away nervously.
Black lowered his voice to a whisper. "Okay Moony…if you really want to discuss this, can we at least go somewhere a bit more private?"
Remus couldn't help but blink repeatedly in shock as his visibly flushed friend beckoned him upstairs into their dorm room and shut the door.
Did he remember, after all?
Once the door was shut and charmed, Sirius turned and walked away from Remus and across to the fireplace. He stared at it for as much as a few minutes, fidgeting with his robe sleeves and kicking at the brickwork with his shoe. Several minutes went by with Remus worrying whether his friend was ever going to speak. Then, abruptly, a hoarse question blurted through the silence.
"Do you remember Alex Boyd?"
The question was so unexpected that Remus blinked, and took a few seconds more to answer.
"Uh, yes. He was two years above us, wasn't he? Chaser for Ravenclaw – but left last year?"
His friend nodded and began to pace slowly back and forth, hand in pockets. There followed an even longer silence wherein Remus could see his friend visibly struggling for composure.
"I liked Alex," he blurted out suddenly.
Remus' first response was to frown in confusion. Sirius gazed back at him, and once he had read his friend's expression, and thought he understood what it meant, a pained look crossed his face.
"No Moony, I don't think you understand. I meant I liked him."
Sirius watched the realisation of what he had just said steal over his friend's pale face, and suddenly felt a powerful surge of relief wash over him. He had told someone – finally told someone. He was terrified, of course, almost giddy with fear, but if there was anyone he could trust to keep this awful secret of his it was Remus.
"I told you I didn't remember anything about being outside the other night, but I lied," Sirius continued, shaking slightly and giving a nervous lop-sided grin. "I did remember something…I know…all this is about a boy. "
Remus felt his friend's' heavy gaze rest on him.
"What I don't know however," Sirius added. "Is which boy. But I'm sure you'll be able to fill me in on that one, eh Moony…?"
Remus wiped his forehead; he suddenly felt decidedly ill. "It's getting dark now, Padfoot, are you coming to Professor McGonagall's office with me?"
Sirius frown cleared as he remembered. "Oh yeah, I almost forgot about tonight – last month's gone pretty quickly, hasn't it?" Sirius grinned mischievously and put on a whiny voice. "Please Mr Lupin, can Padfoot come out to play?"
"Well, I can hardly stop you, can I?" replied Remus good-humoredly, relieved to have got him off such a scary subject.
As they trudged toward their Head of House's office Remus pondered what his friend had just told him. Technically he was okay with it, but in other ways it scared him. He'd never known a gay person before. He wasn't really sure what he thought about it just yet.
Just before they reached the door Sirius stopped him, an earnest, fiery look on his face. "I might as well tell you this. I thought I'd go outside a bit earlier tonight, just in case he's out there again. Promise you'll keep this a secret, won't you, Moony? I mean, from everyone. James, too. I can tell him everything, but I don't think I would be able to tell him this."
The two boys looked at each other; one slightly more warily than the other.
Lupin licked his lips nervously. "Sirius…it's Snape"
Sirius eyes narrowed and he looked round. "Where?"
Remus began to flush with embarrassment. "No," he whispered, more urgently. "I mean…it's Snape. He's the boy."
Sirius gave a bark of laughter. "Don't talk crap, Remus!"
"You know full well I don't ever do that, Sirius," replied Remus quietly, looking quite hurt. He pulled the map out of his pocket and handed it to his friend with a weighty look. "And you also know full well this map never lies. Look after it for me, will you?"
Sirius stared as his friend pushed past him and knocked on McGonagall's door. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but the words just weren't there.
Raking a hand nervously through his hair, Sirius turned and started to walk blindly down the corridor. As the initial shock wore off though he felt himself getting more and more worked up and angry.
Eventually he found himself pelting along the corridors at full speed. As he cleared the last corner he narrowly missed careering into James and Peter walking the opposite way. James lunged after him and pulled him back.
James looked over his friend's face with some shock. "Woah Padfoot, what in Godric's name happened to you?"
Sirius didn't reply. He slid down the wall, panting and fuming, his face twisted with rage.
Concerned, James knelt down next to him and noticed the map still clutched in his hand. Guessing that it might be the cause of his friend's anger James took it, dispelled it and opened it up.
As he scanned the layers of paper he noted two things; firstly that McGonagall was taking Lupin to the Shrieking Shack; and secondly that the dot marked Lily Evans was in the library and very close indeed to a dot marked Severus Snape.
"What in Merlin's name…?!" spluttered James.
Peter peered round his arm at the map. His little eyes grew wide. "Snape's with Lily Evans in the library? Ugh, that's gross!"
Sirius's head shot up at the mention of the Slytherin's name.
"So!" snapped James indignantly. "What are we going to do to get revenge on that little bastard Snivellus tonight?"
Still slouched against the wall, Padfoot looked up and gave his contemporaries a decidedly ghastly, pale-faced grin.
"Oh, don't worry, Prongs," he whispered sinisterly. "I've got the perfect idea…"
The two students jumped slightly as the library door banged. The teenaged boy looked round warily and stood up.
"Don't be so jumpy, Snape; nobody ever comes down here near the History of Magic texts; just take a look at the dust on them all; they haven't been read in years!" hissed the girl.
"I know they don't usually Evans; but there's always the chance!" came the forced whisper of a reply.
Evans looked up in annoyance as her project partner went to hide amongst the bookshelves for the second time that evening. For an intelligent boy Severus Snape really was annoying sometimes!
When he came back, though, he was carrying a small rectangle of parchment, and wearing a rather quizzical expression on his face.
Lily looked up from her book and frowned. "What's that?"
"Some first year gave it to me."
"What does it say?"
Snape peered at her through narrowed eyes. "As if I'd bloody tell you!"
"Well, okay. Fair enough; don't tell me!" sniffed Lily.
Snape crossed quickly over to his bag and began packing away his quill and parchment. Lily peered up at him curiously. He was looking rather furtive, and dare she say; a little flushed.
"Does this mean I'm to finish the note taking for this chapter then?" she commented dryly.
"You asked to work with me, Evans, therefore you will just have to put up with my terms," was the irritable reply.
Lily slammed the book closed in a cloud of dust, and shot a death glare toward the retreating form of the Slytherin.
"Well! Thank you very much, Mister Snape!"
Snape crept as quickly and silently as he could along the corridors to the Entrance Hall. He was so worked up he felt as if his heart had forced its way up his chest and was presently stuck in his throat.
When he reached the massive double doors he paused for what was perhaps the twentieth time, quivering.
What if it was a trick?
He had to be reasonable, though. Why in Merlin's name should it be a trick?
But, even if it was, his raging curiosity and desire easily overruled any cautious and sensible thoughts. He was a sixteen year old boy, after all.
He opened the door and slipped outside into the moonlight.
"Evening, my greasy and gorgeous," growled a voice in the shadows to his left.
Snape turned and saw the outline of a boy watching him from the shadows.
So, this was for real, then…
He felt a tingle run the length of his spine. It could have been the cold, but it more than likely wasn't…
Wrapped in the invisibility cloak and protected by muffling spells, James and Peter doubled up laughing as they watched the proceedings from the safety of a clump of nearby bushes.
"This is easily the best prank we've pulled on the Slimeball so far!" wheezed James. "And Padfoot's acting is brill! It's pure Master class!"
"Yeah! And whoever knew Snivellus was a queer?!" crowed Peter.
They continued watching and giggling. Sirius had finished his hilariously rubbish chat up lines now, and was moving closer to Snape, who amusingly seemed pretty convinced by the whole thing.
"Oh Merlin's balls; what if Padfoot snogs him?" exclaimed Peter. "That would be gross!"
James frowned. "Are you mad? Of course he won't snog him!"
"But I dared him to, anyway!"
James gave his friend an odd look. "Dared him to snog Snape? What the bloody hell for?"
But Peter wasn't listening; he was too busy gasping, and staring agog at something happening straight ahead.
James Potter looked up just in time to catch a full on, raw man-to-man kiss complete with tongues.
The two Marauders could only gaze helplessly as their lip-locked friend proceeded to grab hold of their enemy's tie, pull it loose, and roughly began to unbutton the shirt underneath.
"Fuck-ing Hell, Padfoot!"
As the two boys fought, and kissed and groped each other on Hogwart's silvery moonlit lawn - both their ties off and shirts unbuttoned - Sirius had to admit; he was quite enjoying himself.
In a dark, twisted, and passionate way.
And perhaps a bit too much.
Even so; Snape still had to pay for deceiving him. This was entirely his bloody fault, anyway.
And he was Snape, after all; whether he did feel so turned on by him or not, that plain and horrifying truth just wouldn't stand. It was so fucking wrong!
Less than ten minutes of rough kissing later and they were at the roots of the Whomping Willow.
"See that knot on the tree?" growled Sirius, still slightly out of breath. "If you poke at that with a stick, then the branches will stop moving and we can go down the passageway to the Shack. It's quiet and no one will bother us. Perfect."
Snape did so, and the two boys lowered themselves down into the pitch dark hole.
"You lead the way, I'll follow," whispered Sirius, watching incredulously as his Slytherin companion blindly took his advice and began to advance into the tunnel.
"What's he up to now, Prongs? I can't see over these damn bushes!" complained Peter.
"Grow a few inches then," replied James tetchily. "As for what's going on, well, I'm not sure, they've gone right over by the Whomping…shit…Merlin, no. Oh no, Padfoot, that's gone much too far!"
Whipping off the invisibility cloak James jumped across the bushes and barrelled across the moonlit lawn. He was met midway by a bounding black dog, his tail furiously wagging and his tongue lolling out. It looked as if Sirius found something highly amusing.
"Sirius you bloody idiot!" hissed James. "Go back in there and get him, the joke's gone too far now!"
Sirius the dog, however, seemed hardly in the mood to see sense. Instead he raced across the lawn to jump and gambol around Peter, who was doubled up laughing and also didn't seem to care about how stupid a prank his friend had just pulled.
James ran as fast as he could over to the tunnel and peered down it. This was very dangerous indeed; he didn't normally go down the passageway on Remus's transformation nights, he normally left that to Sirius to bring him out. His stag animagus form made him relatively safe in a werewolf's presence, but it was much too tall to get down the passage.
He would just have to go down in human form and risk being bitten...
"Caught these four fightin' an' bein' bloody stupid down by the Whompin' Willow, 'eadmaster," reported Hagrid angrily. "I should think with their frien' bein' what 'e is at full moon they'd 'ave known better!"
After Hagrid had left his office, the Headmaster sat up stiffly and peered gravely over his spectacles at the row of students who had just been presented to him; three standing, and one perched weakly on the edge of his office chair.
"Could someone please enlighten me as to what you four were doing outside in the grounds at this hour?"
The very dishevelled and rather ill-looking Slytherin was the first to speak.
"Black was trying to kill me, sir!" he seethed, his black eyes flashing. He pointed at Sirius with a quivering finger. "And how was I to know there was a murderous, filthy Werewolf down the end of that tunnel? But Potter knew too, didn't he – or he'd have never been so desperate to drag me back!"
"Ah, I see," replied Dumbledore calmly.
Snape stared incredulously back at him. "You already know?"
The Headmaster met his student's accusing glare. "Yes I did, and may I inform you that the murderous Werewolf does happen to be a fellow classmate of yours, Severus, and that he cannot help his condition," he added gently. "He deserves to be educated as much as any other wizarding child, and I have taken steps to ensure that he is."
Snape's face turned brick red as he swiftly pieced two and two together. "Well I could have guessed it would be the missing Marauder," he snarled. "No wonder the boy looks like a vagrant!"
Dumbledore ignored the last comment, and instead turned a grave face to the three young Gryffindors stood before him. His ice blue eyes fixed on the tallest boy.
"Is this true, Sirius?"
Sirius Black shifted his body weight from one foot to the other, and scuffed his toe of one of his boots against the floor. "More or less, yeah."
Sirius looked briefly up into the Headmaster's eyes, but quickly looked away as they began to bore into him.
Why was it the man always gave the impression of being able to read people's minds?
Dumbledore's eyes returned to bore down into Severus Snape's. The boy raised his head and met his gaze, unflinching. This came as a surprise to the Headmaster.
"I know what you are doing, Sir, and I'm not lying to you," said the boy suddenly.
"No," replied Dumbledore thoughtfully, frowning. "And I don't believe you would."
The Gryffindor boys peered quizzically at the pair. "What are you doing, Sir?" asked James curiously.
Dumbledore didn't reply. Instead, he stood and walked around to one of his shelves to retrieve a book. All four boys watched him.
Walking back round to the front of his desk he presented the book – which had a black leather cover with a golden eye embossed on the front – to Snape.
"If you are truly interested in improving those skills tenfold, you may find this book very useful," he said quietly to the baffled boy, before turning to the others, a grave expression on his face once more.
"As for you three; James, Sirius, Peter. This misadventure is most serious indeed. A student could have been killed tonight. In future may I recommend you not venture into the school grounds after dark. I will speak with Professor McGonagall and request that she arrange a month's worth of detentions for each of you."
Snape jumped immediately to his feet, black eyes flashing.
"Misadventure? They tried to damn well murder me!" he shrieked, his face livid. "And only a month's worth of detentions? They should be expelled! But oh, no just because they are bloody Gryffindors!"
The look on the Headmaster's face seemed to show he had expected this outburst. He turned to peer at the irate Slytherin; his blue eyes suddenly quite cold. "I suggest you leave the punishments to me, and keep your judgement on the matter to yourself, Mr Snape," he replied quietly. "Or I may just consider informing your Head of House about your extracurricular Potion brewing habits."
At this threat Snape visibly paled, and looked quickly away, quivering with barely contained rage. James and Wormtail both took the opportunity to glare daggers at him. Detention was going to take up all their spare time for the next month, but there would still be plenty of opportunities to hex the bastard during class…
However, Dumbledore had to raise an eyebrow when he noticed that Sirius Black didn't care to glare at the Slytherin like his friends did. He noted that the boy was instead staring straight down at the floor, fidgeting with a button on his cuff, and looking more than a little hot under the collar…
Later on, curled up in a dungeon bed and still seething from the injustices of earlier, Severus Snape vowed no one would ever, ever trick him by playing his emotional weaknesses ever again.
Oh, no. There were potions that would quite easily see to that.
Sirius Black was having trouble sleeping. Again. He watched glumly as the dark, tattered hangings of the four poster bed swayed in a draught above him. It had been many, many years since he had last spent time in this bedroom. It used to be his as a teenager, and still looked much like it did before he decided to desert his family and move in with James.
It brought back memories of those tense years. Old memories of his overbearing mother and proud father, their ideologies, their Dark Arts books in the library with their grotesque pictures and booby-trap curses, the miserable excuse for a House Elf…
His eyes narrowed. God, how he hated this place. Of course it was marginally better than Azkaban, but not by much…
If only James were here now; he'd have something choice to say about the matter, about how bloody ironic it was that Grimmauld Place was now the Order's Headquarters.
Come to think about it, he'd have an awful lot to say about what happened in the past twenty four hours too.
Fucking Occlumency indeed.
Dumbledore was truly going insane if he expected Harry to be taught anything else by that slimy two-faced git.
Sirius gritted his teeth as he recalled how Snape seemed to take great care to inflect the words "External penetration" when explaining Occlumency to Harry.
The dirty little bastard.
And how dare the man call him coward! How bloody rich was that? Considering what he did all those years ago…slithering about behind everyone's backs as usual, too afraid to be a man about it and admit he was queer…
As far as he could see he was still in the closet now. Unless he'd finally faced himself and was busy shagging Death Eaters behind everyone's backs, of course.
Of course if Snape had ever asked him when they were teenagers he would have laughed in his face in response anyway; especially with James around.
As for now? Twenty years later?
Well, there was no bloody chance in hell.
Even if he did still have the occasional erotic dream about him.
Even if he'd just awoken from an erotic dream about him.
Sirius turned on to his side and scowled as he felt himself flushing red.
Oh, he hoped to hell Snape wouldn't ever, ever, find out.