by Conqueror Worm
James scowled at the ugly, pallid reflection glaring back at him between two curtains of black hair. "Dear God, Snivellus! Don't you ever wash your hair?" He flicked disgustedly at the greasy hair lying flatly around his face. With a dramatic sigh, he pushed down the tip of the large, hooked nose. "How can you even see with this beak in front of you?"
"Oh, shut up, Potter," a strangled voice said from a closed stall to his left. "You're not exactly God's gift to women."
"I'm not?" James replied cheekily. With a frown, he asked, "It will still work if you puked it all up, right?"
"I didn't, for lack of a better word, puke," Severus Snape answered back stiffly, stepping uneasily out of the stall. "Is your eyesight really this bad, Potter? No wonder your glasses are so thick."
James pouted but still handed over his glasses to Severus. "How can you stand being this filthy, Snivellus?" he retorted.
Severus glared and shoved the glasses onto his nose. "You can't call me that. You have to call me Potter." He smirked. "Now, I know your brain is quite small, but do you think you can remember that for an hour?"
James considered hexing Severus but thought better of it. There would be plenty of time for that after the Polyjuice Potion wore off. He looked up from his private smirk to see Severus looking critically at him.
"What? Stop looking at me like that, Snivellus." He grinned. "What? Finally noticing how big your nose looks from other people's point of view?"
"Call me Potter," Severus snapped. "And no, I wasn't. I was thinking that you're not standing right."
"Excuse me, but I think I know how to stand by now. I'm sixteen years old!"
"No, you git. You're not standing like me. I don't stand like an arrogant ass."
"Oh, haha. Clever, Snape." James turned towards the mirror and hunched over dramatically. "Like this?"
"I'm not a troll, Potter." The scowling reflection behind him told him that Snape wasn't amused by his antics.
Snickering to himself, James settled for an awkward hunch, letting the greasy hair of Severus Snape fall over his eyes. "I suppose this is how you stand? All awkward and weird like this? You can't tell me I'm wrong."
Snape sighed a little dejectedly. "No, I suppose you're not." He straightened up dramatically, throwing his shoulders back and smoothing his robes. With a curl of his lip, he fluffed the short black hair on his head until it was sufficiently ruffled. He plastered a cocky grin on his face. "Now I really look like you, don't I?"
"I don't stand like that!" James said indignantly.
Snape slowly raised one eyebrow behind his circular glasses. "Oh?"
"Okay, fine!" James was fuming. "That's how I stand! Happy?"
"Oh, yes, Potter," Severus hissed silkily. "I'm overjoyed to be standing like a pompous ass, periodically ruffling my hair." With a more serious tone, he added, "You kept your promise, right? You didn't tell anyone?"
"No." James was back in front of the mirror, flicking at the greasy strands of hair in front of his eyes.
"I know this may come as a shock to you, Potter, but not all of us spend hours in front of the mirror, nor do we all constantly play with our hair like children." He sneered. "I don't think even children do that..."
"You could stand to. Seriously, Snape," James said, turning away from the mirror. "I'll give you some shampoo."
Severus let out a soft, derisive snort. "I'll pass. Now come on. I didn't spend over a month making this potion to spend an hour in the bathroom with you."
"How much time do we have left?"
"Forty minutes, thanks to you."
"I believe you were the one puking for so long," James replied haughtily.
"For the last time, I didn't puke!" Severus turned to leave the bathroom and let out a soft squeak as he ran into a boy sporting Gryffindor robes. They both jumped awkwardly backwards.
"Oi!" The tall, attractive boy yelped loudly, rubbing his chest. With a start, he realized who it was that had run into him. His eyes widened until they seemed almost too big for his handsome face. "Prongs, mate," Sirius said uneasily, staring openly at Severus. "What were you doing in the bathroom with Snivellus?" He looked back and forth between the two, before settling on Severus.
"Er..." James said. Severus elbowed him violently in the side.
"Nothing," Severus said. "Snape was just in there too."
"Oh." Sirius could be a bit dense sometimes. "Okay." Slowly, a wicked grin spread across his face as he looked down at James. "So, Snivellus, what were you doing in there? Obviously you weren't washing that hair." He let out a short, cruel laugh, and in one quick movement, he was lunging at James, tackling him to the floor.
A quick struggle ensued. With the reflexive skills Quidditch had helped him develop, he managed to sock Sirius in the stomach and scramble out from under him. He choked on the "Sorry, Padfoot" lodged in his throat. He had never been so shaken before, he decided, as he stumbled to his feet, disentangling himself from his Slytherin robes. Never, in all of the time he had been friends with Sirius, had the fellow Gryffindor attacked him in such a violently hostile way.
He was still trembling as Sirius slowly rose to his feet, clutching his stomach. "You'll pay for that, Snape."
James looked back at Severus, who looked just as shaken as he felt. The normal tanned skin he had from so many Quidditch practices had gone pale on Severus' face. It must be hard to watch yourself get attacked, James thought.
"Jinx him, Prongs," Sirius wheezed over his shoulder.
"Oh, no you don't, James Potter! Sirius Black! You leave him alone this instant, or I'll give you both detention," Lily Evans suddenly yelled over the noise of the crowd now spilling out of the Great Hall. She puffed out her chest, flashing the prefect badge pinned to the front of her robes. In the background, Remus Lupin shuffled uncertainly, his eyes flickering around the scene.
"What did I do?" James asked indignantly as the crowd quieted, watching.
Lily looked confused for a moment before regaining her composure. "I'm sure you did nothing, Snape. Potter and his cronies have a tendency to attack you whenever they're feeling particularly arrogant." She shot a nasty look at Severus.
James swallowed loudly, his sallow skin flushing at Lily's words. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Severus glaring at him. Merlin, he was screwing this whole charade up.
"He started it," Severus spat with more venom than James could have ever managed. Good, James thought. Severus was screwing it up too. "This is all his fault. Filthy Snivellus here was skulking about, snooping around Padfoot and my business again." James paled as he realized what Severus was doing. Before he could say anything --before he could ready himself-- he was hanging upside down in midair, his black robes suffocating him as they fell over his face, revealing the pale, skinny legs of Severus.
"Put me down, you bloody git," he yelled, blood rushing to his head. He frantically tried to pull the robes up enough the cover his thighs. Honestly, he was not going to flash his underwear in front of the whole school. And while he had imagined many scenarios involving Lily looking at him in his skivvies, this was certainly not one of them. He had never been so embarrassed in his entire life.
A roaring sound, which he had formerly associated with the blood rushing to his head, reached a peak, and something finally clicked in his brain. With a cold jolt to his stomach, he realized what it was. Laughter. People were laughing. The entire hallway was laughing at him. He was being humiliated, and they were all getting a kick out of it. Everyone.
In front of him, he could see a brief, almost imperceptible smile flicker across Lily's beautiful face. And Sirius was letting out one of his famous barking laughs that had once been so welcome but now seemed sinister. In the background, he could see Lupin watching, a disapproving frown creasing his face. Disapproving, yet he wasn't helping James. He didn't even try.
And finally, there was his own face, upside-down and staring back at him with a cruel smirk. Really, James knew, Severus couldn't be enjoying this. He was just pretending. The slightly forced look about his smirk and the way his face had paled considerably gave him away to anyone who was watching closely enough. Only James saw.
And luckily, only James saw the look of horror that creased Severus' face before the ground came up to meet him. He let out a cry of pain and clutched at his nose. With a start, he realized that his nose was much too small to belong to Severus. He jumped to his feet and ran down the hallway without a backward glance, Sirius' shouts of "Where are you going, Prongs?" echoing in his ears as Severus followed him.
James barely made it around the corner before Severus tackled him roughly from behind. James angrily shoved Severus off of him and pushed himself up into a sitting position. He came face to face with Severus' big nose. So they were back to normal. Good.
"Why did you do that?" he yelled, furious at how hysterical his voice sounded. "What's wrong with you, you greasy git?" He quickly wiped his sleeve across his eyes. He wasn't going to cry in front of Snivellus.
Severus let out a harsh, humorless laugh. "What's wrong with me? With me? What's wrong with you? You do that to me practically everyday. You've been doing that since first year," he spat.
"No," James said, his voice rising. "Don't turn this around on me. You just humiliated me in front of the whole school, in front of my friends, and in front of Lily, for Christ's sake."
"No," Snape spat. "I humiliated me in front of the whole school, your friends, and your precious Lily."
It took a moment for the meaning of the words to make sense to him. "Oh."
"Yes, 'oh.' Honestly, Potter." With a huff, he climbed to his feet, yanking irritably at the Gryffindor robes he was still wearing. He stared down his hooked nose at James, who was still sitting on the floor. "Not so fun from my end, is it?" he asked quietly.
James felt too guilty to look up at him. "No," he whispered.
"Did you enjoy being Snivellus, Potter?"
"No, I didn't think you would." Severus nodded solemnly. "Because I hate it, you know? I hate every moment that I'm me, Potter. I hate my filthy hair and my huge nose and my second-hand robes. I hate the fact that people would rather laugh at me than help me. I hate the fact that I'm a joke to this whole school. But most of all, Potter," he paused until James looked up at him. "I hate the fact that you hate me enough to enjoy making me feel that way."
They stared at each other in silence for a moment, James' guilt rising in his throat and choking him. "I don't hate you," he managed to say around the lump in his throat. Severus raised a skeptical eyebrow in reply. "Okay," James sighed. "I kind of did before. But now..." He looked up into the pale face staring down at him. "I'm just sorry."
"In a couple of ways," Snape said, snarky as ever. "Do you enjoy sitting on the floor, Potter?"
James laughed shakily and pulled himself to his feet. "I'm still not sure how I got roped into this whole thing."
"Honestly, you're dense. It was a bet, Potter. Remember? Though, I must admit, you were right. I did enjoy being big-headed, cocky you. I owe you twenty galleons, it seems."
"Nah. If you'll just wash your hair, I'll consider it even."
Snape groaned and rolled his eyes. "All right. I'll wash my hair. Happy?"
"Actually, yes." James threw an arm across Severus' shoulders, earning him a reproachful look. "Now, we'll have to come up with a nickname for you. I don't suppose you turn into any animals?"
Snape looked taken aback. "'We'll?' And what are you going on about? I thought Snivellus was my nickname?"
"It won't flow with our group's name pattern though."
"What are you talking about? What group? What pattern?" Severus was quickly getting annoyed with this new, friendly James.
"The Marauders, of course. Now, Sirius might not take it so well at first..." James stopped in the middle of his thought and grabbed Severus by the shoulders, his eyes wide. "Snape, do you think Lily will go out with me if I make you a Marauder?"
"How the hell should I know? I still don't even know what a Marauder is!"
James reached up and ruffled his short hair. "Well, only one way to find out." He shot Severus a cheeky grin and led him back towards the crowd.