A/N: This is unbeta'd crap, but I like it. It's rated for drug use and sexual references. This may or may not be a one-shot. I dunno. If you don't like James and Severus in awkward situations, don't read.
Disclaimer: This was inspired by J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Fight club, Dave Matthews and Pulp fiction. I don't own anything but my soul.
There is a warehouse in the outskirts of London.
It was once a paper factory. Now the boarded up windows house a circus of hippies, drugs and music every Friday night. The lights, pink, neon green, purple cascade from the brick building and the rock and roll pulses until plaster falls from the ceiling. It's a modern speakeasy, clinging to the expanding culture of another generation. The magical and the muggles stare at lava lamps and talk random philosophy. It's a beautiful thing.
That's the only reason I agreed to go there, I think, to get away from ministry racists and insane killers. I truly love muggles, even when they are puking their guts out over the trash. It's a place where I can be temporarily free.
The cops ignore the warehouse because this part of London is so dirt poor that it could us the business of lame stoners walking into random restaurants and ordering more than they can eat.
Sirius was the one who brought me there, he wanted to "experiment" he said. Sirius wore leather too much now, drank too much, slept around too much, listened to rock and roll and smoked too much. Sirius Black was too much.
He had a mean, rebellious streak, which hardly bothered me, I mean… he always had it. When you're fifteen being rebellious makes sense, even when you're eleven it makes sense. But when you're twenty-two you're supposed to be figuring out what you want from your life. "Settling down" like my mum says. Not wasting your life away on drugs and sex, not pretending you don't have any responsibility when you do, not denying someone loves you. I told him I wouldn't hold his hand if he died before he was fifty. I wouldn't even come to the wake. Sirius laughed and rolled his eyes, and said, "Sure you would, pal," giggling his nuts off from the after affects of some drug. But a part of me was completely serious.
I want to be free, but also to be held responsible for things now. Be a citizen and not a marauder. Sirius doesn't get that. Maybe that's why he brought me to the warehouse. He wants me to still be part of the gang.
I asked Lily to marry me two weeks ago, and she left me hanging without an answer.
She always leaves me dangling. I only love her as much as she hates me.
"This place is good," says Sirius as I smell oregano from inside as he opens a rotting door, "I don't think it's too intimidating." There's a mushroom cloud of smoke that fogs everything.
Hindu tapestries, a plastic Buddha, a beard as long as Dumbledore's pinned underneath a pale blue guitar, Led Zepplin, red lipstick, underwear on the floor, women in purple tights, how would it not be intimidating?
I take one, two, three breaths, and already I felt woozy. Sirius is gone.
I love Sirius, I do love him, but in that moment I couldn't handle the feeling of being sucked into the smoke. Sucked into nothingness, like a black hole, the shadow of the sun.
I lean towards the door, and Sirius is suddenly there, breathing bourbon-stale breath into my ear, "You don't like it? Here… go to the roof and light up… I'll be there in a minute." He hands me a joint and his American-flag lighter. I smell perfume above the overpowering cloud of oregano, and there's a blond tugging at Sirius' leather jacket (the jacket I gave him) whispering sweet nothings, with a skirt that is so small he'll have no problem slipping between her legs… I have a feeling it'll be a while till I see him next.
What the hell, I think to myself, as I clunk up the rotting steps, careful not to misplace my foot and land two stories down. I put the joint between my teeth and inexpertly play with the lighter. I've never not used magic to light it up… what's that wheely-thing for? I'm getting angrier with every step. I miss Lily. Why did Sirius bring me out to ditch me? Why didn't he bring Remus too? We never see much of him anymore. I know Peter would just piss himself if he was here, but Remus… I wonder if Sirius is mad at him for some reason…
And than that sweet, spring night air hits me, it sprays up my skinny legs and down my neck and freezes the tip of my tongue. The stars are beautiful, the sky black and blue, the heavens are a vast expanse above me and I am now free, no longer confined by the tapestries and plaster of the warehouse.
Laughter. Gorgeous, calming laughter echoes across the sky and then settles near my chest. I don't really register, I just stare at the sky, hands in my pockets and blunt between my teeth. I smile when I shiver. Only when I've walked towards the source of the song do I look down.
"Snape," I said to myself. There he is, the slimy git, the prey of the marauders, the dark arts student. "What the fuck are you doing here?"
It should have looked odd; the lover of the dark arts, the 'mudblood'-hater, the boy that would rather roll in shit than shake a muggle's hand sitting on the edge of this brick building, the muggle haven of 'love' and 'expanding the mind'. But it didn't. Severus Snape even, dare I say it, looked good.
He held a smoking blunt between two fingers, his neck was adored with silver necklaces, some even baring the slytherin mark. He wore a black shirt, black trench coat, black pants. His legs were folded across the leather. His hair was half in a ponytail, something he had never done in school.
His laugher hadn't stopped, and it didn't sound as unnerving as it should have. It was deep and rumbling, but not in a Santa Claus way. It hissed at the edges, like a giggling snake. It went up and down, like music, really, hitching upwards occasionally. He pressed his lips together until he stopped. "What does it look like I'm doing, Potter? I'm smoking a joint…"
"No, what are you doing here?" I ask.
He bursts out again, as if me being here was the funniest thing he had ever seen. "I live here, you jackass," and he pointed, pointed to where the sky was still fading red, to some black apartments by the riverbank.
"You do, do you?" I ask again, not quite believing that someone so involved with Voldemort would be living among muggles, much less smoking their pot.
"You… you!" says Snape inarticulately, raising and lowering his hands to emphasize his disbelief. His laughter is fading, and he coughs deeply. "Fucking you!" he says again.
"Fucking me," I say.
"Why are you just holding that?"
I play with the lighter again. "I don't know how to fucking work the thing!"
He sniggers and hisses, taking Sirius' American lighter out of my hands and expertly flicking it to life.
He is so close to me, now. He lights me up, holding fire so close to my face that I wonder why he doesn't just light my hair on fire like a younger Snape would have done. But this Snape is different, he's smirking, and with a start I realize that I've never heard him laugh before. He's not looking at me like he hates me, but with calm, passive interest. Yet there's mischief in his Cheshire cat smile, and I can only compare it to an alley cat rubbing his head against my leg. I feel like I should be on my guard, but I'm not.
And I'm just as calm. There is no Hogwarts and teachers, no Lily, no Dumbledore. There's no one I have to prove myself to. And so my instinct to prove I'm a hero has subsided on the rooftops London. I stare into his eyes as he gives back the lighter.
I don't say thank you.
I take a deep drag, and I can feel it in my throat, nose, eyelids…
"What brings the Head Boy to smoke a joint I the shittiest place in London?"
I want to say "none of your fucking business, Snape," but cough out, "Sirius."
"Somehow I predicted that," Snape takes a hit, slow and long. He's not laughing anymore though. I want to make him laugh again. He just smiles, "The fall from grace is long and sweet."
I have no idea what he's talking about.
"You still dating Evans?"
I cough again. "Yeah…" I whisper, hesitantly.
"That's too bad," the blunt smokes on his knee.
"Too bad for you maybe."
He rolls his eyes at me. His whole head sways with the action, "I have no attraction for the red head. Don't worry." He closes his eyes. "I mean… you never got to explore other options, did you? Never had a night on the town. You were stuck with the witch since you laid eyes on her… since you were eleven. Don't know what you're missing."
"Isn't that what 'true love' is? Falling in love and not looking at anyone else?"
Conventionally? What does he mean conventionally?
Apparently I asked the question out loud.
"Well, there are all sorts of non-conventional love. Adultery, incest… homosexuality…"
I rub my eyes and shake my head, "You're so fucking weird, Snape."
"We both knew that already."
When he smiles, I figure out what "smoking the peace pipe" really means. It means, via marijuana, you can get someone who hates your guts to have a normal conversation with you. It's awesome.
I can't ignore, though, the old rivalry and pretend it didn't happen. I don't know what makes me say it, perhaps it's the mention of Lily, but I whisper to him. "You know… in school."
He already looks uncomfortable.
"I know I used to pick on you for just being weird. And I… it was totally undeserved most of the time. It wasn't right. I tortured you daily for no reason other than boredom."
He isn't looking me in the eyes now, just into the vast, inky sky.
"I never looked at your side or your perspective at all. It wasn't right. I don't like myself anymore. I should have…" my throat catches on what I should have done. "You weren't a bad guy… I might have thought you were but you weren't. And it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, really. The more I thought you were bad, the more you defended yourself and the more I thought you were bad. But you're not bad. I'm rambling… but you know what I mean, don't you?"
He nods to the floor.
"I treated you like shit… and… it wasn't right. I was too self-righteous to recognize another person in pain. I guess what I'm trying to say is… I'm sorry, Severus, for what I did to you. Everything. Really, I'm sorry."
The inky black head turns back and forth a few times. His nostrils are flared and his jaw is set in stone. Beneath strings of black hair, his eyelids blinked from the smoke. But there was wetness at the corners of his eyes.
Holy shit, I think to myself, He's crying!
He lets out a soft sob that he attempts to disguise as a cough, and rubs his eyes with the back of his hand. The blunt between his fingers has almost completely turned to ash.
Before I know it I'm freaking hugging him.
He struggles, "Stop it, Potter," but the quavering of his voice is a dead giveaway.
"Please don't cry! I'm just an idiot! Smoke you joint!" I say pressing his head to my chest a little overdramatically.
He laughs out another sob, until he's calmed down. He pulls away, running pale fingers through his hair. He voice is low and normal again, "If you call me Snivellus I swear I'll kill you…"
"No, I won't… Sirius might, but I won't."
He sniffs, wiping his tears away with his sleeve. I can see through his attempts to look distinguished and mature, the straightness of his spine, his highness of his chin, but he's still a teen to me. "Thank you," he says softly. "That… it means a lot to me, that you said that." He smiles a little, drawing his coat around him. He shivers, and takes a final drag, and gets up. "It's cold… want to go get something to eat?"
"Sirius will be pissed if I waste this…" I raise the blunt. "…but…." I take a final puff and scrape the smoking joint on the bottom of my foot, "He can go fuck himself. Or fuck that bird. Whatever."
His smile does me in right then and there. I'm dead. It's hard to believe that Severus has become my femme fatal.
Moments later, after the bearded man his waved goodbye to Severus, and after we've passed the plastic Buddha, and after I can't find Sirius, we're out on the pavement strutting in the direction of lights and cars.
"Shouldn't you try to find him?" Severus whispers. Why is he whispering? Or maybe I'm just imagining that he's whispering.
"His bike's not here," I say, too loudly. "He went to go sleep with that blond."
"A blond guy?"
"N-n-nooo… a woman," I say.
Severus sniggers again, it's high pitched and hysterical. It's infectious and I giggle a little too. "Shuddup!" I laugh. "Sirius isn't gay!" He doesn't stop. His giggles bubble in up my stomach. He's stirring me like the potions genius he is. "He's not!"
"He's made me wonder… once or twice," said Snape.
"You're one to talk," I say to him.
"What's that supposed to mean?" It's hard to tell whether or not he's actually mad at me.
"I mean…" I couldn't help to run my fingers through the fine, black hair. It wasn't as greasy as I always thought it was. "Look at your hair."
He felt the back of his neck with pale fingertips. "What's wrong with my hair?"
I play with his half-ponytail. I'm astonished that he doesn't pull away. "It's girl's hair."
He is mad, but he's blushing all the same. Or maybe he's just red from the smoke...
"Thought it was supposed to be greasy…"
"No…" I trail my fingers through the hair on his neck. With a thrill, I think to myself, I'm touching Severus Snape. He reminds me of a cat that usually won't let anyone near him, that suddenly lets a stranger touch him. You touch him, just enough to hear him purr, but not enough to make him lean away. "Not as greasy as it looks. It's shiny. But… I mean… it's in a ponytail. Not the most masculine thing."
He hisses out his breath, my hand droops to the base of his neck; it's as soft as a dove's wing. "No maybe not. But… then again, maybe you should wonder…"
I'm suddenly dizzy… his statement has hit me in the stomach. "You… what?"
He brushes off my hand, and turns away.
My mouth is dry, "You're gay?"
"I didn't say that… I just said that you should wonder," he mumbles.
My grin is twice as wide as normal; I feel it splitting my face, "Don't worry, Snape. I won't tell anyone…"
He sniffs, "Yeah, sure. Tomorrow, I'll expect rainbow balloons in front of my house courtesy of Sirius Black."
"So you are a homosexual?" I think it was Lily who told me that saying 'homosexual' was more sensitive than calling a person 'gay' or 'queer'.
He sighs, "You're annoying."
We turn the corner, the road is getting blacker and blacker. I assume that the conversation is over until he whispers, "Not having a girlfriend even when your twenty-two makes you wonder about your sexuality. I'm questioning."
Severus has divulged something really embarrassing about himself… willingly… to me, of all people. I feel like I should receive a medal for befriending him…
"Just because you don't have a girlfriend, it doesn't make you queer," I advise.
"Yeah," he looks back at me, "but just because you have a girlfriend… it doesn't make you straight, either."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You're just so cock-sure of yourself, especially when it comes to Evans."
I chuckle hysterically, "You said cock."
"Does Snape like butt sex a little too much? Cock on the brain?"
"Shut up," he's smiling and trying to hide it. "Stop teasing me."
"You started it. You made the sex reference."
"You're so stupid, Potter," he's almost laughing now, almost there. "I was talking about a rooster, you know, male chicken. Cock."
I can't stop laughing.
"Oh, go back to Hogwarts. You deserve to be stuck with the fourth years, who burst into laughter every time someone yells 'penis'."
"I lost fifty points in one year for playing that game."
"I believe that. Still amuses you, does it?" Snape's blushing.
I shrug, "What can I say, I find sex funny."
He rolls his eyes, his eyelids are still puffy, "You would, Potter."
We stumble into a gross-looking diner. Morrey's American Café hangs in neon above the door. Everything is fifties style, from the metal-rimmed booths to the smooth milkshake glasses. I take a seat across from Severus in a red-cushioned plastic booth. "Come to this place often?" I ask him.
He waits until the waitress has handed them the one-sided menu and says, "Only when I'm stoned."
He shrugs, "Not that often."
I look over the menu: All American Burgers, Cheese-loaded fries, Choco-rama Milkshake, and in the vegetarian section, grilled cheese. A ton of greasy food. "What's good here?" I ask him.
"Burgers," he hums into his menu. "And Shakes."
I look back down. There's a barbeque and cheddar burger that catches my eye. "Wanna share cheesy fries?" I ask.
"Sure," Snape whispers, eyes on his menu.
I swallow a lump in my throat, like I've asked him a much more important question than cheesy fries and that his answer means something special. "Kay," I say.
I fold my legs. An older waitress who chomps her gum takes our order. Snape breathes in and out, watching the dinner as it shifts and changes color.
"What makes you come here, Snape?"
He looks at me through heavy-lidded eyes.
"I mean, don't you hate muggles?"
He licks his lips, "No." He reaches for a drink that's not there, "I just don't think they should mix with witches and wizards, that's all." The waitress brings us our drinks. Mine's a cola, but Snape got a chocolate shake. He licks the spoon and makes euphoric little noises.
"But aren't you mixing with them, right now?" I ask, eyeing the spoon with envy.
His eyes light up as he sucks the spoon into his mouth and lets it out with a pop. "Until the wizarding world has fattening little munchies at midnight in the middle of London, I guess I'm stuck with them, aren't I."
"I mean… the warehouse…"
"Oh…" he puts down the spoon and unwraps the straw from its paper lining. "Mmm… I don't go there to have sex. I just… like pot."
I snort, "But don't you think that these muggles are… beneath you?"
"Jamessss… Potter…" he drawls, "Just because I was sorted into Slyterin, it doesn't mean I don't like guys."
"I mean… shit… what did I just say?" I chuckle. "It doesn't mean I hate muggles. I love their rock and greasy burgers. But… I just don't think… they should involve themselves in our world, yeah? We should leave each other alone. It's better that way."
Severus just stares at me. His eyes are far away. I hear his stomach gurgle, "I'm hungry."
"Seriously. Why, Snape? We've always been at least a little bit dependent on each other. And of course our bloodlines should cross, wouldn't we die out, anyway? This mudblood business sounds just racist to me, doesn't it to you?"
"Because we'll kill each other if there's any sort of interaction."
"This is the twentieth century, Snape. I hardly think we should be afraid of witch-burnings."
"If it's not witch-burning, it will be something else," there's fire in his eyes now. He's with me; he's here. "Wizards have magical power. Human beings are naturally drawn to power. Muggles, if given the chance, will destroy everything you and I hold dear just to get a glimpse of that power. They'd abuse it."
"They'd abuse it the same way you and I abuse it, Severus."
"No," he shakes his head, folds his legs, and stares out the window. "No, it's different. It was never theirs to begin with."
If I was raised differently, I might have believed him then. I start to understand how the Dark Lord gathers followers. He hides behind popular wisdom. This was to be the "war to end all wars."
The waitress is handing us our cheesy fries. "My mind concedes but my heart denies it," I look him in the eyes, a smile playing on my face. He gives me a half grin and picks at a lone fry on the side of the plate.
We inhale the dollops of grease and cheese, I pay too much attention to how he licks the grease off his fingers. I eye his chocolate shake with envy, "Can I try some?"
"Sure," he says again, and hands me the cup. Again I feel like this exchange means a lot more than it seems.
I'm sucking his straw. My mouth is where his mouth just was. I can taste his saliva. A rush of chocolate ice cream. His black eyes are on me the whole time as I lick my lips. "Good?" he asks, his eyes are dilated. Shit, Lily told me once that when guys' pupils are dilated they're interested.
I should have been disgusted, but I wasn't.
"It's good," I say. The sweetness is still on my tongue, "Really good, actually."
"Told you," he says, taking the straw into his mouth and sucking lightly, those dilated cat eyes on me the whole time.
This could get messy.
I look away.
I wipe my hands on a napkin and attempt at small talk again. "So, how often do you go there?"
"To the warehouse, I mean."
"Uh…" He tosses is head back and forth. "Like… once a month. Depends on the month." He sips at his shake. "I've never seen you there before."
"Never been there before tonight."
The waitress brings us our food and we awkwardly make it through the meal. The burger didn't disappoint. We eat the food within five minutes after the plates were set down. We ask for separate checks. Severus fumbles with his wallet.
It isn't until we're outside on the sidewalk till we stare at each other, not really ready to leave. I stare at my trainers, shifting my weight.
"So…" Snape begins.
"Do you want me to walk you home?"
For a moment, I'm so scared he'll say no that I forget Sirius and Lily and everyone else in the world except Snape and me.
"I'd like that, actually," he burries his hands in his pockets. "These streets can be…"
"Sketchy?" I offer.
"Yeah… sketchy's a good verb… adverb…"
"Yeah, a good word."
I loop my arm around his. We walk and talk about random philosophy and muggles fascination with rock and the constellations until we're at the door of his little shack, on a side cobblestone street. "Here I am," he says, pulling out his key. "Spinner's End."
I whisper into the cool night air, now nipping at my fingers, even through the fabric of my jeans, "So… will I see you at the warehouse next Friday?"
Snape's black eyes look apologetic. He leans behind the door. "No… probably not…"
Rejection becomes a lump in my throat. I turn, disappointedly, and begin to walk back whence I came.
His voice stops me.
"I work at the Mill, on Tuesdays."
My insides have been lit with a fire I don't understand yet. "Where?"
"See it? Right up the street," He points toward a chimney of what must have once been a mill that hangs like cloud over the avenue.
"Oh," I smile. "Okay."
He hangs onto the door handle, smiling, "Night, James."
Only after I've apparated miles away do I realize that that was the first time I've heard him call me 'James'.
A/N: As always, reviews will be rewarded with a sugary substance of their choice in heaven.