Title: As Yet Unwritten
Disclaimer: Not mine. JKR's
Pairing/Characters: Remus/Sirius, Snape/Lily, others
Summary: What does the future hold for a Sirius sorted into Slytherin and Snape recast as his best friend? Follow their adventures in life, love and ferocious Potter hating from 4th year to Voldemort's attack.
Notes: The inspiration for this came from the fic Shoebox Project by ladyjaida and dorkorific, one of my all-time favourite fics, and there are sure to be parallels and a joke or two relating to it. Thanks for reading, and any comments/constructive criticism are welcomed with open arms!
CHAPTER 1: HEXES AND LOVE NOTES
It was the bouncing that woke Severus up. The persistent, unavoidable bouncing.
"Severus…" the bouncing said, somewhere near his right shoulder. "Severus!"
He kept his eyes firmly shut, pretending not to notice it in the hopes it would go away.
It never did. "What," he murmured drowsily, rolling face-down into his pillow so he didn't have to open his eyes.
"Seeeveruuus, wake uuuup! It's time for breakfast!" the bouncing said, now on either side of his head.
"I'm not hungry," he told it, which came out, muffled by his pillow, as something like, "Mmm mnph mm phm."
"Yes you are," the bouncing insisted, now so close to his ears that it made his head jiggle back and forth. "You're skinny as a rail. Don't your parents feed you over summer holiday?"
"Mmph mm mmm," he told it, bringing up a hand to bat it away. Why had his life turned out this way? It didn't seem fair. Severus hated bouncing. But then, when had life ever been fair to someone like him?
"Come on, Severus! Pancakes! Sausages! Orange juice! Little ickle eggies," it chortled, suddenly sounding like an overly-doting aunt, "for little ickle Sevie!"
Having accepted once again that his life was naught but misery and blackness and woe, Severus rolled over to acknowledge his very bouncy fate. Half a second later, he had a lap full of hyper, grinning boy.
"Morning!" it beamed down at him.
Severus sent it a glare he hoped looked sufficiently stern but had a feeling only looked sleepy and pouty at best. "Good morning, Sirius."
"Good?" Sirius asked, grinning even wider. "Brilliant! I'm so glad to be back here, I could spit! My house is the awfulest, have I told you about the house-elf heads?"
"You might've mentioned them, oh, three hundred times or so," Severus sighed. And he wasn't exaggerating. "Now get off me before I hex your ears off."
Sirius looked unconcerned but climbed off him anyway, tucking a strand of longish black hair behind his ear. "You really should be nicer to me, you know, I've been through a lot over the past two months. I mean, you just go and sit and read your boring books in your boring little house, and you don't have to worry about elf heads and vampires and cloaks that eat your arms, and…" the boy plastered an overly-distraught expression across his well-shaped features, "well, my Mum's already talking about marriage, can you believe it? Marriage! I'm fourteen years old! 'We need to find you a suitable pureblood match,' she says. Oh, and you should hear who she considers 'suitable matches,' you'll never believe…"
As Sirius continued with his story, Severus half listened, making uninterested grunts at what seemed appropriate times whilst he changed into his school robes.
It wasn't as if he disliked Sirius. In fact, if Severus had anyone he could call a friend, it would be him. Without Sirius, he had the feeling he'd have ended up rather consistently miserable at Hogwarts, since the Black boy was one of the only people to ever pay him any attention at all. Of course there were times, like now, when he could've done with a bit LESS attention, but on the whole, it was alright. Better than home, in any case.
Then again, he mused as Sirius waved his flapping tie above his head to illustrate a particularly poignant and thoroughly irrelevant point, it would be pretty hard for school to be more miserable than home. "Put that thing on," Severus interrupted him as he slid his own tie around his neck, "if you don't, you'll probably forget where to sit in the Great Hall and end up with the Hufflepuffs."
Sirius squawked in indignation but did as he was told, tying the green striped fabric in a messy knot vaguely about the region of his neck.
His own tie tied and tucked neatly into his robes, Severus hoisted his book bag, packed since last night, onto his shoulder and approached Sirius to fix his tie. "You'd think the heir to the Great and Most Ancient House of Black could manage to clothe himself properly," he groused.
Sirius rolled his eyes. "It's the NOBLE and Most Ancient House of Black," he corrected, "and we purebloods are not obligated to-- ouch, don't yank!-- to comport ourselves in… well," he waved his right hand in a dismissive movement, "you know. We're above the rules."
His housemate's tie fixed, Severus turned on his heel and stalked out of the room. Above the rules, indeed. Idiot. Always going on ridiculously about such nonsense. About being better than everyone else, being richer and cleverer and more--
"Oi! Severus!" he heard Sirius calling from behind him as he mounted the stairs to the common room two at a time. "Wait up!"
"Wouldn't want to miss out on the eggs," he grumbled as Sirius caught up, glaring coldly at a first-year who was blocking his path. The girl hurriedly moved out of the way, looking sufficiently terrified of the older boys.
Sirius laughed at him and started in about bacon, and that helped a little. Before long, the two boys could smell its aroma drifting into the corridors out of the Great Hall, and they pushed open the doors to reveal the Hall, its benches already filled with students and tables piled high with breakfast.
"Hey, there's my kid brother!"
Severus looked up to the boy in question, seeming very small and intimidated in his green-lined robes next to his fellow first-years. The boy went rigid when Sirius grabbed him into a bear hug from behind, lifting him clean off his bench. "How's sweet Baby Black this morning? Wetting his nappies in fear of his very first day of class? How adorable you are, Reg!"
Trapped in the giant brotherly bear hug, Regulus appeared caught between feeling humiliated at his brother's actions and terrified he might actually wet himself at the thought of classes. The best he could manage was to hiss "Sirius! Stop it!" and tug at the older boy's arms ineffectually.
"Black!" shouted an older boy with a prefect badge sitting further down the table. "Stop making a scene and eat your bloody breakfast!"
Sirius showed him his middle finger and gave his brother a very loud kiss on the cheek, ruffling his already messy brown hair. "Good luck, Baby Black," Sirius told him as he stood up, "and make sure you don't upset the Defence against the Dark Arts teacher. She's been known to hex students' tongues out for giving wrong answers!"
Severus rolled his eyes as Sirius trotted off, calling to him that there were two seats open and he should hurry before all the eggs were gone. Severus set a hand on Regulus's small, thin back. "Don't worry Regulus, you'll do fine," he told him in a reassuring tone. "Sirius doesn't know anything about the Defence teacher. We get a new one every year. Just do your best," and at this, he bent down to whisper with a smirk into the boy's ear, "Baby Black."
Regulus's face went beet red, and he turned back to the cereal he was eating without so much as a peep. The other miniscule Slytherins began whispering frantically as soon as Severus's back was turned. "Who are those guys?" "Is that one your brother?" "How old are they?" "He's SCARY!" "Do they play Quidditch?" "What's Quidditch?"
Severus ignored them and slid into the empty spot beside Sirius. "Saved you some eggs," the other boy told him.
"I'll try to contain my glee," he drawled with a roll of his eyes, reaching for the proffered plate of what appeared to be at least a half-dozen eggs sunny side up. He hadn't had eggs in months. In fact, he hadn't had breakfast in months. Suddenly realizing how hungry he was, Severus's stomach started to grumble.
Of course, things couldn't be that easy. As soon as his fingers made contact with the plate, it was jerked out of reach, a wand pressed suddenly to his neck. "Say please, Mr Snape," Sirius commanded, eyes glittering with mirthful evil. "Mustn't forget our manners, after all!"
Severus swore and reached for his wand, a half dozen hexes ready on his tongue. How could he have forgotten the ritual? It'd been this way ever since first year when an older boy had been pushing him around and Severus had jinxed him whilst Sirius watched.
It was a good jinx, nicely executed, and had resulted in the older boy's skin secreting a hideous yellowish, slug-like mucus. Very nice effect, considering Severus had never actually tried the jinx before. As the other boy oozed his way down the hall to Madame Pomfrey's, Severus had been only too relieved that he'd got out of harm's way, and paid the event no more heed.
Sirius, on the other hand, had had a rather different opinion. As someone placed almost immediately on Severus's Incredibly Loud and Annoying List and treated as such, Sirius had earlier regarded his scowling, bookish housemate as though he were something nasty he'd found stuck in the treads of his shoe. He now stood before Severus absolutely enraptured.
"Do it again!" he'd shouted triumphantly, as though he'd somehow had something to do with it. Severus had told him no, absolutely not, it wasn't a game, which had only made the other boy more adamant. "But that was so COOL, I want you to do it AGAIN!" eleven-year-old Sirius had insisted, following him down the hall to Charms and yanking on his arm. "Hex her, hex HER!" he yelled, pointing at a Ravenclaw walking nervously past. "Make her face green! Make her grow a tail! Turn her into a newt!"
After nearly five minutes of increasingly ear-splitting persistence that threatened his very sanity, Severus finally gave in. He made sure no one was looking too closely, turned his wand on Sirius, muttered an incantation under his breath, and said very calmly, "Eat slugs."
Charms class that afternoon was very quiet, as was dinner. In fact, Severus's entire evening was Sirius-free and calm, and he rather wondered why he hadn't tried that sort of thing some time earlier. The boy was such a pest, really. Impossible to accomplish anything around him at all.
It was a shame Severus had made an enemy in his own room though, and he began to regret it. He'd have to be extra careful to protect himself from now on. That in mind, he then spent over an hour attempting to bewitch his bed curtains to scream when touched to alert him if Sirius tried to sneak up and murder him in his sleep, but to no avail.
It was well past dark and nearly everyone was in bed when Sirius returned from the infirmary, but Severus was only feigning sleep. He'd be ready for Sirius's attack when it came.
Except that it never did.
"Merlin's BALLS that was AMAZING!" Sirius shouted ecstatically, waking half the boys' dorm. "I puked for HOURS!" He went on to beg for the incantation, proclaiming Severus his new best friend and a Huge Great Genius, all at the top of his lungs.
When the sixth-year prefect had tired of cussing and threatening Sirius for the night, the boy had crawled into Severus's bed, his face still slightly green from the charm, whispering vows of everlasting friendship if only Severus would teach him such brilliant things.
His face so earnest and eyes wide in wonder, at that moment, Sirius had been like a stray puppy just begging to be taken in. Despite the fact that Severus knew better than to feed strays, he'd never had anyone want to be his friend before, let alone declare him a Huge Great Genius. In the face of such flattery, he'd caved. He'd promised to teach Sirius hexes and jinxes and curses, anything he wanted… provided that Sirius could force Severus to perform them on him.
One moment of weakness, and look where it had got him. With a wand to his jugular and his delicious eggs half a foot out of reach. He'd been reduced to battling for his breakfast. And Slytherin was bound to lose points for this. Bloody Buggering Hell.
Drawing his wand, Severus was about to cast a jelly-fingers jinx when the offending wand was lowered, and the plate was suddenly thrust at his chest with a muttered string of expletives. Grasping it thankfully, Severus pocketed his wand, barely sparing a glance up at Sirius, who was glaring across the hall. Severus dutifully ignored him, intent upon shovelling as much breakfast into his mouth as he could in case Sirius remembered what he was supposed to be doing.
He shouldn't have worried though. If there was one thing that could distract Sirius Black from practically anything, even particularly genius hexes, it was--
"Those bloody Gryffindors! The nerve of coming into the Great Hall while I'M EATING! Just look at them. So pathetic! I can't eat with those THINGS in the room!" Sirius announced loudly, pointing. A few sniggers and nods of agreement passed among the Slytherins.
Severus did have to admit they had a rather pathetic air about them, the Gryffindor boys. First of all, there were only three in their year, as opposed to their five Slytherin, and the measly three they had were hardly awe-inspiring. First, there was Remus Lupin, who looked continually on the verge of passing out from exhaustion, with his ugly torn jumpers and uptight attitude. Next was Peter Pettigrew, a mousy-looking, chubby boy with watery eyes and a vapid, blank expression who'd once tried to cheat off one of Severus's History of Magic tests. Last, and in everyone's opinion least, was James Potter. He was a messy-haired, loud-mouthed git who had decided his status on Gryffindor's Quidditch team meant he could do or say whatever the hell he wanted whenever he wanted. Even worse, with the special treatment he got, it seemed he was right.
It was really Potter who annoyed the piss out of Sirius, as the Black boy demanded everyone's full attention at all times and resented anyone who took it away from him. The continual presence of the other two boys at James's side, nonentities that they were, was incidental at best.
"All right, that's it! That is IT!" declared Sirius suddenly, slamming his fists down angrily on the table and nearly upsetting Severus's plate. He pulled it closer for protection, a bit of egg dripping down his chin.
"What is WHAT?" he heard a female voice say.
"I'll tell you what's WHAT!" Sirius told her. "Those Gryffindors are done for. Finished!"
"Finished?" Severus heard the same girl say in an incredulous tone as he stole a gulp of Sirius's orange juice.
"You heard me! Because I have a plan that's going to make James Potter wish he was never born!"
"Black!" A harsh voice cut through the breakfast chatter. "Sit down and shut up before I shut you up permanently!"
But Sirius wasn't fazed. His mind now set on his new and lofty goal, he dragged Severus to his feet by the back of his robes, threatened to lick his face clean if he didn't wipe the egg off, and hauled him out the door.
"So I have a confession to make," Sirius declared when they'd taken their seats in Double Potions twenty minutes later.
"I'm sure I don't want to know," Severus told him, taking his book out of his bag. "Wait," he paused, "this doesn't have anything to do with Scriggly, does it?"
Sirius scowled. "I told you about a billion times I don't know anything about that!"
Severus rolled his eyes. At the end of last year, Sirius's owl Scriggly (Merlin only knew how it had got that ridiculous name) had eaten Severus's toad and regurgitated it at the foot of his bed. Sirius claimed he had no idea how it had happened, but Severus was almost entirely convinced he was lying. Not that he missed the toad. Worthless creature. It was the principle of the thing.
"It's about my plan," Sirius clarified. When Severus said nothing, he said, "You see… I don't actually have one… yet…"
Sirius had the gall to look crestfallen.
Severus sighed. "Well, throw something in Pettigrew's cauldron again, I'm sure that'll give you some inspiration."
"Yeah… yeah, you're probably right," Sirius conceded after a moment. "It's just that I really WANT to have a plan! You know, something big, not just random hexes like last year. I mean, what do you think of--"
"Ah, welcome back, everyone! So pleased to see you all again! Stebbins, glad to see you've fully recovered from those boils! Black, I haven't heard from your father in ages, how is he?" There were still a few minutes until class began, but the students collectively straightened in their seats as Professor Slughorn, a fat man with a blond moustache that made him look like a sun-bleached walrus, entered from his office.
Sirius flinched but managed a rather natural-looking smile. "He's quite fine sir, thank you for asking!"
"And how's my favourite fourth-year, Miss Evans? Ready for a brand new year?" he asked one of the Gryffindor girls who had just entered, puffing up his chest a bit.
"Yes, sir," she told him breezily, sliding into a seat in front of Severus and smoothing her deep red hair behind her ears. "Ready, sir!" Evans was an excellent student and rather a suck-up, but Slughorn saw no problem with brownnosers, as his blatant favouritism showed.
Severus heard Sirius hiss as the Gryffindor boys entered the room, Potter alone receiving a greeting from the professor. The prat rattled on to the eagerly listening Potions Master for a good minute and a half about his summer exploits with various Ministry officials, likely making most of it up on the spot.
When he tired of making gagging motions at Potter from behind his book, Sirius crumpled a piece of parchment and threw it at the Gryffindor boy's messy-haired head. It missed and hit that of the red-haired girl beside him instead, and she whipped around to find the culprit. As Sirius was now flipping innocently through his textbook, her accusing glare fell upon Severus, who glared back with equal venom.
As soon as she'd turned back around, Severus hit Sirius and called him an aim-impaired dunderhead. When Slughorn had quieted his raucous laughter, class began.
Potions had never been one of Severus's favourite classes. He found it dull and repetitive, simple memorization and replication, rather like History of Magic with shrivelfigs. Although Sirius could likely brew anything in their textbook, he tended to get bored with their potion about half-way through, and Severus would have to finish it on his own while the other boy fiddled with his potions-making kit and daydreamed up ways of bringing about the downfall of Gryffindor.
Today's class was no different, with Evans and Potter's potion finished just slightly quicker and more perfectly than Severus and Sirius's, though he was sure they'd receive full marks. An unidentifiable ingredient seemed to have blown up Pettigrew and Lupin's, though. The two ended up covered in goop which, under normal circumstances, should have made hair sprout from anywhere it touched, but since they'd mixed the potion so badly in the first place, all it did was make them reek of dead fish. If they hadn't been Gryffindors, Severus might almost have felt sorry for them.
That afternoon in their dorm room, Sirius laughed uproariously about it. "It was like the ocean threw up on them! God, that was so VILE!" he declared, bouncing exuberantly on the end of Severus's bed.
Severus was just finishing his potions homework and was eager to look over his Defence Against the Dark Arts book again. Of course he'd already read the entire thing twice since he'd got his book list, but it didn't hurt to be prepared. "So have you made any progress on your plan?" he asked, not really interested in the answer but sick of hearing about how disgusting Sirius's prank had been.
"Yeah, I think maybe I have," he answered, somewhat pensively. In contrast with Severus, Sirius would screw around all night, do his homework ten minutes before class began, and forego opening his Defence text altogether. If he weren't disgustingly gifted, he'd have failed out first year.
"And?" Severus prompted, going back to the top of his essay to check for grammatical errors.
"Well, I sort of need your opinion on something first. I was wondering if you'd noticed in potions today…"
Severus hated the I before E except after C rule because it didn't always work. There were those sneaky words that defied all logic and refused to follow the rule, positioning their I's and E's in backwards order without any regard for common courtesy. Words like "weigh" were easy to remember, but when it came to something like "surfeit," he always second-guessed himself. Maybe the spelling had something to do with their language of origin, and he could come up with a separate rule in his head to differentiate between--
"Are you listening to me, Snape?"
Severus blinked and then scowled. "I'm having a spelling emergency here, Black."
"Right," Sirius told him unconcernedly, "so what do you think of Lily?"
"Lily who?" he asked. Now was it "inveigle" or "inviegle"…?
"What do you mean, 'Lily who?' LILY, Lily!"
"Shut up, I don't know any Lilys." Maybe he should just change it to "entice" instead…
"Lily EVANS!" Sirius fumed. "Don't you know anything at all?!"
"Oh, get over yourself, Sirius. How would I know a Gryffindor's first name? And why would I care?" Definitely "entice," he decided, and changed it forthwith.
"You'll care when she's my girlfriend!"
And suddenly "entice" was the last thing he wanted to write in conjunction with the use of sneezewort infusions. "What did you just say?"
"It's the perfect plan!" Sirius exclaimed with accompanying wild gesticulations. "Potter was staring at her so much during class he nearly cut his fingers off! And you can hardly blame him, she's rather a catch, don't you think? Can you imagine how mad he'll be when she's mine?"
Severus stared, not quite sure he was hearing right.
"Just think of it. She's the cleverest girl in our class and everyone says she's the prettiest, and she'll be mine and not Potter's, and the whole school will be jealous of me, and I'll shove it right in those Gryffindors' faces that I'm better than them! Oh, and she's Muggle-born, and Mum and Dad will hate her, so bonus on that one. Isn't it brilliant?!"
"Oh, I get it," Severus said after a lengthy pause, "You've finally gone round the twist."
For a few disturbing seconds, it looked as if Sirius was going to lose his temper. He suddenly became eerily still, and his face contorted into something dangerously close to rage. Severus's hand inched toward his wand.
The Incarcerous spell he had planned to cast suddenly became a moot point as Sirius jumped down from his bed and stormed to the door. "I'm not going to speak to you when you're like this," Sirius shouted over his left shoulder, "so you'd better adjust your attitude if you think I'm going to have her invite a friend so we can go on double-dates!"
Severus sighed heavily and looked back down at his essay. The word "entice" seemed to pop viciously out at him, its six simple letters turned malevolent in the still-resounding echo of Sirius's last statement.
Faced with such an insurmountable obstacle, he ripped the paper in half and started anew.
If you asked Severus Snape why Defence Against the Dark Arts was his favourite class, he'd say he found it interesting. The subject's combination of theory and practice in conjunction with its sordid history and ambiguous nature piqued his interest. It was ever-changing, multi-faceted, and anything but dull.
But this was only partially true.
The real reason that Severus Snape loved Defence Against the Dark Arts, childish though he knew it was, was because it was heroic. If you could defeat the Dark Arts, you could help people, save them, and that was what heroes did. They saved people. And it wasn't because they were brave or clever or hard-working, though all of those things helped. It was because they had power.
Severus Snape wanted power. He supposed that was why he'd been placed in Slytherin. He'd heard whispers of others from his house whose motivations differed from his. He knew there were people who wanted power so that they could control others, force them to do their bidding. These wizards had given themselves over to the Dark Arts in body and soul, and the Dark Arts had repaid them in kind.
But this wasn't why Severus wanted power. He wanted power because he knew so well what it was not to have it, and he refused to live that way ever again. He would gain power or die trying.
He'd never told anyone this before, and he didn't plan to. It wasn't as if he thought about it night and day, or really much at all. It certainly wasn't his ultimate goal in life. It was just something, a part of himself, that he knew from the depths of his soul to be true. Once he had power, he could save people, starting with himself.
By this point, Sirius was used to him forgetting meals. If he read straight through dinner, or wrote lengthy essays during lunch, or ran to the library without breakfast, Sirius snuck him something so he wouldn't go hungry. He'd hand over the apple or chicken sandwich while making an impertinent joke or two about Severus's brain exploding from Dark Arts overload, or his skin becoming as pasty as his parchment.
When Sirius stalked into their dorm that night without so much as a cracker, Severus was mildly perturbed. He was rather hungry, and if he'd known he wasn't getting anything, he'd have gone down to dinner. It wasn't like Sirius was REQUIRED to bring him something, it's just that he always did, and now he'd thrown Severus off. He was about to say something when Sirius exploded.
"Rubbish, that's what it is!" he shouted at no one and nothing in particular. "Absolute and total bullshit RUBBISH!"
Severus started and nearly dropped his book when Sirius kicked the foot of his bed. "And I KNOW I forgot to nick you a snack, and I'm SORRY, but I can't-- it's just--" he grasped handfuls of his hair and tugged, his face screwed up in fury. "GAH!"
"Does this have something to do with your plan?" Severus asked, hoping this was the right thing to say and wouldn't prolong the outburst or turn it on himself.
"Oh, that Evans!" Sirius fumed. "She turned me down flat! In front of everyone!"
"And she said-- get this--" he continued, "that if it were between dating me and the giant squid, she'd-- and she actually SAID this!-- she'd take the GIANT SQUID!"
"How could she say something like that to me-- to ME?! Am I not GOOD ENOUGH for her? Not rich enough, not clever enough, not good looking enough? I'M BLOODY GORGEOUS!"
Somehow, Severus didn't think it had anything to do with any of those things, but he kept his mouth shut. Not tickling dragons and letting sleeping dogs lie, and all that.
Sirius raged about the dorm for another half hour, kicking, hitting, and throwing things, his fury so great that Severus didn't even dare reopen his book. Sirius's temper was legendary, only eclipsed by his enormous ego. It wouldn't do to go against either, so Severus lay on his bed as still as possible. He tried his best to come up with a strategy, since there was no telling how long this would go on if he didn't put a stop to it.
"You could always come up with a different plan," he told Sirius when the other boy had finally exhausted his immediate topics of aggravation and was pausing for breath before he started in again. "That, or try again. Maybe she'll change her mind, right?"
Severus didn't believe for an instant that Evans would change her mind, but Sirius seemed intrigued. He looked thoughtfully about the room for a few moments, eyes finally settling on Severus's motionless form. Severus resisted the urge to squirm as Sirius looked him up and down, as though searching for something Severus couldn't identify. He wished Sirius would stop. It was unnerving.
Suddenly, a grin broke out across Sirius's face.
"Flowers," he announced, and darted from the room.
Severus let out a sigh of relief and went back to his studies.
And flowers it was.
Flowers, and chocolates, and love poems, and everything Severus could imagine a girl ever wanting.
And Lily Evans wanted none of it.
Especially after James Potter caught on.
It had been going on for several weeks when Potter drew his wand on Sirius in the hall, and the insults and hexes started flying. "Keep to your own kind, you disgusting, slimy Slytherin! No Gryffindor in their right mind would come within ten feet of you, especially Evans!"
"Oh, you think so, Potter? If you wanted her so bad, you should've claimed her first!"
"She's a person, Black, not an object you can claim! She doesn't belong to anyone! And besides, you can't have her, she's MINE!"
Severus stood with his hand in his wand pocket just in case things got out of hand. Sirius liked to handle these things on his own though, so Severus let him. Not as though he wanted to join in on such foolishness anyway. He noticed Lupin and Pettigrew watching from the sidelines, one looking anaemic and the other terrified, but Severus made sure to keep them in sight anyway as he monitored Sirius.
The small group soon gathered a rather substantial crowd, which gasped and ahhed when Sirius was hit with a leg-locker curse just seconds before his silencio hit Potter. Sirius tried to remove the curse as Potter waved his wand about uselessly, shouting soundless incantations to no effect.
Severus felt quite impressed with both himself and his housemate, as he'd been the one who taught Sirius the silencing charm; it wasn't on the syllabus until fifth year. He felt highly superior to Potter, already having begun to teach himself how to cast silent spells. There was no way the Gryffindor boy could beat him, he decided. In fact, if both Potter and Black worked together, they'd probably be hard-pressed.
It was with that malicious thought rather happily traipsing about in his brain that Professor McGonagall showed up. She gave both duellers detention for a week and took ten points from each house, declaring them to have the manners of ill-trained Hippogriffs.
"That was perfect!" Sirius declared at the beginning of their next class, which happened to be Transfiguration.
"Well, I'll admit, the silencing charm was fairly--"
"No, not the charm! Potter!" Sirius beamed. "Did you see that look of utter, absolute loathing on his face!?"
Severus threw him a dirty look.
"That's the one!" Sirius laughed. "And soon sweet Lily will be mine, she practically is already, and James Potter will be forced to commit ritual suicide out of shame! And those other two Gryffin-losers will be so lost without their little leader, they'll go on holiday and never come back!"
Severus fussed with the binding of his copy of Intermediate Transfiguration, which was greyed and fraying. "What if she chooses him instead?"
Sirius looked baffled. "How could that even be possible? After all the things I've done for her, all the flowers and the candy, and the little singing cupid--"
"But she hates those things," Severus reminded him. Damn book was falling apart. He'd have to look up a spell on… book glue or something. Cover refurbishing. Or maybe a potion. Could you mend books with potions?
"She only thinks she hates them," Sirius countered.
"No," Severus told him, deciding he'd check in the library after class, "she definitely hates them."
And she did. She hated them even more when Potter decided to follow Sirius's lead and started sending her gifts. Evans stalked around Hogwarts looking nothing short of murderous, and Severus didn't blame her in the least.
Even when she hexed Sirius's hair to attack his ears and poured pumpkin juice into his bag during lunch, ruining several perfectly good books, Severus bore the ensuing dorm room tirade with much practiced disdain. After all, if Gryffindor Evans could put up with two completely daft men attempting to ruin her life at every possible opportunity, Severus could surely manage just one. Besides, it wasn't as if he had a choice in the matter.
What bothered him more than the issue of Evans was that of Potter. He and Sirius had taken to attacking each other in the halls on a nearly daily basis, and though Sirius knew more hexes, Potter was better at dodging them, so they ended up being fairly evenly-matched. Not only did Sirius see it as a personal shortcoming that he couldn't decisively defeat the Gryffindor before either a teacher or Filch came to break things up, but he now hounded Severus even worse than before to teach him new things.
After months of constant pestering, threatening, and begging, Sirius was jumping on Severus's bed at quarter to five one morning when their dorm mate Bertram Aubrey screamed at him to "SHUT UP, SHUT UP, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, SHUT UP!" Severus decided this was his cue to end the madness, so he cast a Full Body Bind on Sirius and left him lying there on the floor.
Sitting in Potions before class begun was a remarkably quiet affair that morning, which was very conducive to his current research on book rebinding charms. Severus didn't even care that with Sirius absent, he'd be without a partner. In fact, it reminded him of the other time he'd charmed Sirius into the infirmary, which brought back such nice memories.
If only this time could had proven as peaceful as the previous one.
"Is Black ill?" Professor Slughorn asked, looking concerned as he began class.
"He wasn't feeling well this morning," Aubrey responded with a smirk. "Flat on his back, if you catch my meaning."
Slughorn shook his head and tut-tutted, reminiscing about the time he brewed a potion for the former head of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad when he was ill and how it lead to an invitation to an especially delicious banquet. Severus looked up from his book for long enough to shoot his housemate a hateful glare. If he tried to take the credit for it himself, he would regret it. For the rest of his natural life. Aubrey seemed to realize this and ducked his head.
"And poor Lupin's in the infirmary again as well, frail for a Gryffindor, that one. Well, I suppose you'll just have to pair up with Snape then, Evans," Slughorn concluded.
Severus's head jerked up. Potter and Pettigrew were sitting in front of him at a table together, Evans beside them at her table, alone.
The Gryffindor girl spun around in her seat and examined him with a look of distinct distrust. "That's fine, Professor," she said, and turned back around. "I can work alone like I usually do when Remus is sick. I've already looked over this potion, and--"
"Oh, nonsense, nonsense!" he declared, motioning for Severus to move to the empty seat beside her. "Besides, you can show Snape how it's done. Come along then, Mr Snape."
"I'll do all the work, don't worry," she told him when he set his things beside hers at their table.
Severus opened his text to the page on Deflating Draughts as Evans wrote something in hers, not bothering to even look at him. Scowling disgustedly at the egotism of Gryffindors, he went to get the ingredients. Evans blinked up at him as he laid them in front of her.
"Sorry, was I not allowed to touch them?" he asked, measuring out powdered spine of lionfish on his scale.
"Oh, I didn't mean…" he heard her say. But then she just sighed and started cutting their bubotuber. It was strange to see delicate, female hands where he'd always before seen Sirius's short-nailed, cracked-knuckled, calloused ones. It was also strange to have a potions partner who was more interested in making potions than making other people's potions explode.
The entire class seemed rather subdued today without Sirius, in fact. A few people talked quietly about ingredients, but no one shouted or did anything at all distracting. Beside Evans, even Potter and Pettigrew worked quietly and surprisingly competently on their potion, both looking unusually tired but focused.
It was over halfway through the period when Severus was forced to break the pleasant silence. "Why are you doing that?"
Evans looked up at him as she mixed the armadillo bile and chopped fluxweed, not into their bubbling cauldron, but into a small copper bowl beside it. "They'll blend better this way," she told him.
Severus eyed the bowl. It looked expensive and new, and he wondered for a moment if she was rich like Sirius. Well, not exactly like Sirius, since no one was quite as rich as him, but her family had to have been fairly well-off for Muggles. "The book doesn't say to do that," he informed her. "It says to add them one after the other, stirring twelve times in between. Didn't you read it?"
"Of course I read it," she told him, voice betraying no emotion as she mixed the bowl, "but this way's better."
"No offence," Severus said, his tone contradicting his words, "but don't you think the textbook would know better than you?"
Her mixture now a greenish paste, she scooped it into the cauldron. Their potion suddenly turned a violent shade of blue. "No offence," she countered, "but who's better at potions, you or me?"
He couldn't remember the last time one of Evans's potions wasn't perfectly concocted, so he conceded that she might have a point and only replied, "We'll see." If it didn't turn out, he'd speak with Professor Slughorn. Perhaps he'd be allowed to redo it.
Of course it turned out beautifully. So beautifully, in fact, that Professor Slughorn had the entire class gather around their finished product to inspect its outstandingly brilliant consistency and colour.
With class finished for the morning and Severus not terribly worse for the wear, he decided it was his unfortunate duty to remove the spell he'd put on Sirius and promptly ignore his ensuing rage by heading directly to lunch. Evans had other ideas.
"Snape! Wait up a minute!" she called to him, rushing out the classroom door in pursuit.
He kept walking but slowed his pace, not sure if he should admit to having heard her. Then again, was he really in that much of a hurry to unfreeze Sirius?
"Hey, I wanted to apologize, you know, for what I said at the beginning of class," she told him when she'd caught up. "I just thought you might be a little lost without Black there, so… but you're really not too bad."
Severus felt the anger rise in his chest and restrained himself with great difficulty from hexing her. How dare she. "For your information, Black is the one who would be lost without me. You think the sort of idiot who would send you dancing gnomes in pink rompers as a display of his unending love would be able to make a decent potion? Just like a Gryffindor to go around deciding things like that without any basis in actual reality. Brilliant deduction. Bravo."
Severus was quite impressed with himself when he saw Evans go pink with embarrassment. "I'm sorry, I…" she looked confused, "I thought, I mean…"
"And just to let you know," Severus interrupted, blood pounding in his temples like a stampeding thestral, "this whole business of, of WOOING you Sirius has come up with actually has nothing to do with you at all. He doesn't even like you. He's just using you to get what he wants."
"And what does he want?" she asked, expression unreadable.
"To ruin Potter's life, of course!" he spat.
His acerbic remark met with a blank stare, Evans's eyes blinking back at him as though he'd spoken in an unrecognisable foreign tongue. Without warning, her face contorted in rage, and she jerked her book bag violently onto her shoulder. "If he wants to ruin James Potter's life so much, why doesn't he ask HIM out instead?" she spat and turned on her heel, stamping down the hall.
Severus felt his anger recede to acceptable levels and decided the girl might actually be on to something. Back in their room, a fully-recovered Sirius was about to murder him until Severus told him about being partnered with Evans in his absence.
"What did she say about me?" he demanded, anger instantly forgotten. "Was she terribly worried I was gone? Wait, of course she was. Did she swoon?"
"Swoon! You know, feel faint and nearly collapse when she heard I was ill and beg to be taken outside for some air--"
"You're talking nonsense," Severus informed him.
Sirius threw a book at him. Severus was rather incensed at the abusive treatment of his literature and picked it up in annoyance. Luckily, it was just an old copy of Defensive Magical Theory, possibly the dullest book concerning Dark Arts ever written, so he let it slide. "She says she hates you," he told the other boy. "And she'll never go out with you because she knows you're just doing it to get to Potter."
Sirius's jaw dropped, and he slumped down onto Severus's bed, defeated. "Oh no. How'd she figure that out? Didn't I send enough flowers? This is terrible…"
"No idea," Severus lied. "But I think you need a different plan. A better one."
"Fantastic," Sirius said, smacking petulantly at a bedpost, his mouth screwed up into a dejected pout. "So do you have one, then?"
"As a matter of fact, I do."
Over the next fourteen days, whilst Lily Evans did not receive so much as an offhand hallway hullo from Sirius Black, James Potter received exactly twenty-three highly sentimental gifts of obnoxiously devoted love, all from a highly mysterious secret admirer.
Severus was fairly sure he'd never seen his fellow Slytherin so pleased as when Potter received the Six-Pence Pie that Severus had helped him enchant. All four and twenty blackbirds (rather, pinkbirds, thanks to a colour-changing spell) had been charmed to fly about him, singing a loudly warbled version of Celestina Warbeck's "You Charmed the Heart Right Out of Me." Every so often, one of the birds would swoop down to peck at Potter's nose. When he came to breakfast the next morning with a bandaged nose and the birds still chirping about his head, not having been able to yet find a counter spell, Sirius laughed so hard he almost choked on his pudding.
The other Slytherins caught on quickly, and they too began delivering anonymous and incredibly irritating gifts to various Gryffindors. When the Gryffindors replied in turn, it became all-out war, and it was impossible to even walk though the halls without being accosted by off-key singing corsages, pompously projected declarations of eternal love and flatulent devotion, and various love-struck farm animals.
Soon, Sirius Black was known throughout Hogwarts as The Reason Gift Giving is Now Entirely Forbidden Except on Birthdays and Holidays.
Luckily, by this time, Christmas was fast approaching, and everyone was swept away in loads of homework and plans for holiday, and they were far too busy to think of anything else. Deeply unhappy about having to return home, Sirius was distracted from further scheming as well, having begun his yearly diatribe on why he hated his family and everything they stood for.
"--and I'll have to spend all my time dressed up in fancy robes and uncomfortable shoes, and cousin Bella will get pissed and puke on something of mine-- always my stuff!-- and it'll smell for days, and Mother will lecture me on what a disgrace I am in front of everyone, and Regulus will be a snotty little--"
He could go on like this for hours at a stretch. As long as there was no bouncing involved though, Severus considered it all so much background noise for his reading.
Yesterday, he'd asked the Defence teacher about a spell they'd mentioned in passing in class, and she'd been kind (or possibly stupid) enough to give Severus a pass into the library's restricted section to research it. Madame Pince had eyed him suspiciously when he'd emerged with a heavy tome entitled Magick Most Evile, but she'd allowed him to check it out nonetheless. He was now laying propped up on his bed, the fabric of his duvet rough against his elbows as he flipped the pages.
"--Aunt Druella's Flaming Marmalade Duck, which everyone knows isn't duck at all and is actually made by house elves, but that's beside the point, since--"
Severus used the point of his wand to turn to page 156. He had to be careful of which ones he touched, because any page that was a multiple of thirteen stung his fingers something terrible. He'd have to work on his spell to flip pages. He'd started it earlier in the year, but it ended up flipping several pages at once, the incantation's wording not being precise enough. Or perhaps the double dative had been rather an overextension of Latin functionality in the instance of such a spell and, in fact, too precise. In any case, it bore looking into.
"--that her hair was on fire, and I never much liked her hair anyway, blonde is really arrogant don't you think, but I hardly see how it could've been MY fault…"
The night before hols began, Severus was nearly asleep, his beloved Magick Most Evile stowed in his pillowcase beside his wand for safekeeping (and in case he awoke in the night with the distinct need to calm himself with it), when Sirius crawled into his bed. "What're you doing?" Severus mumbled at the other boy.
"Nothing," Sirius whispered, leaning against Severus's side as he pulled the covers up around himself.
"Then do it in your own bed!" Severus hissed, suddenly feeling quite unhappily awake.
"I don't want to go home," Sirius murmured, lips close to Severus's ear.
"I know, and I don't care," Severus told him, pushing ineffectually at the arms that were encircling his rib cage.
Sirius made a plaintive little noise that sounded like a dog's whimper and nuzzled his nose into Severus's neck. Severus silently cursed the fact that Sirius got clingy when he was depressed.
What was so bad about him going home anyway? Severus had heard all the stories (well, sort of), and his house didn't seem so terrible. In fact, his family seemed just as dysfunctional as he was, so it should suit him just fine. If it were possible to switch families, Severus knew he'd do it in an instant, even if it did mean gaining a "funny" uncle Ignatius.
"This is highly… improper," Severus managed, trying his best to keep his voice down. "It is improper and… and uncalled for, and if anyone catches you here, they're sure to think very… wrong things, and I'll have to Obliviate them, and I don't properly know how to Obliviate yet--"
"You smell," Sirius informed him in a soft voice, breath puffing against his skin.
"Black, would you please just--"
"I think it's your hair," Sirius continued, pushing a strand of it behind Severus's ear with a warm, rough finger. "It's really disgusting. Do I have to? I don't want to sleep alone. I think there's a boggart under my bed. You know I hate those things. All mean and boggarty."
"Or maybe it's a Blibbering Humdinger. You can't leave me alone with one of those, they've been know to eat grown men's heads in one bite, Severus! Can you imagine how painful that would be? And messy! You don't want to have to clean up after a Blibbering Humdinger ate my head, do you? It'd be just my headless body left and blood everywhere and if I came back as a ghost--"
"FINE!" Severus nearly shouted. He heard a sleepy snort from a neighbouring bed and lowered his voice. "Fine. Just shut up and go to sleep. And if your hands end up anywhere indecent, I'll jinx your fingers off just like Goodwin Kneen!"
"Who the bloody hell is Goodwin Kneen?"
"Never mind. Just sleep!" he ordered. God, what an idiot. Their dormitory was obviously boggart-free, and everyone knew there was no such thing as a Blibbering Humdinger. He could at least come up with more convincing lies. Worthless, pointless, god-awful stupid Sirius Black, his only purpose in life was to make other people miserable.
"Severus," Sirius said, cuddling his warm, soothing body up against him, "you're the best friend anyone's ever had."
"I hate you," Severus told him, just to be clear on that point, as he wrapped an arm loosely around him. "And my hair does not smell," he added. "I wash it all the time."
"Goodnight, Severus," Sirius told him.
He sighed and closed his eyes. "Goodnight, Sirius."
In the morning, Sirius announced very loudly in front of their dorm mates that Severus was an amazing kisser and quite an exceptional shag. Severus would've jinxed him to within an inch of his life had Sirius not very prudently stolen and hidden his wand, which Severus didn't find until an hour after he'd left.
Thus ended the first half of Severus Snape's fourth year at Hogwarts.