Disclaimer: I wasn't JKR the last time I checked. The only thing I own is the plot, and even that's not a real plot. The rest of it's all hers -Jealous much?-
Author's note: Right, well, I should start off saying that this is my first ever fanfiction, and I really haven't the foggiest what to do. Hopefully you'll like it, 'n' all.
Whitehound pointed out to me that it may seem a little out of character, but it'll explain itself if you keep reading
By Half-Drowned Dracula
James Potter made his way through the halls of Hogwarts, concealed in the folds of his invisibility cloak. He wasn't even sure what he was doing out there so late, especially in such bitterly cold weather, which the stone walls did nothing to protect against, even with heating charms, but he had needed to get away from Peter's incessant snoring. Walking, he thought to himself. Just walking and thinking.
A sound interrupted him, a loud, half-suppressed sob, and he realized with a slight shock he had walked as far as the astronomy tower. Homesick Hufflepuff, I'll bet. It was nearly Christmas, by now the only people with homesickness left were first-year Hufflepuffs. Then again, the astronomy tower was a well-known crying spot for students of all years, and houses. Homesick or insulted Hufflepuffs, angry Gryffindors, Ravenclaws who had just got anything below an 'O' in a class, Slytherins who...
No, not Slytherins. All of the decent houses, definitely. Not Slytherins. In fact, James had a hard time convincing himself they had feelings at all. If they did cry, they'd probably find somewhere where they could hide, not where Filch checked on a regular basis. The shame for them would be unbearable.
The sound came again, louder this time, followed by what sounded repulsively like a retch. Whoever it was, they were crying long and hard enough to make themselves sick. James decided that it would be a good idea to find out what was happening up there. Put in a good word for myself to Dumbledore, too. Could get Head Boy next year. At that, he ascended the stairs, careful to keep the cloak wrapped tight about him. He did not, in any way, expect what he saw next.
There was no mistaking who it was. The awkward stance of his scrawny body and the long, dark hair gave it away all too instantly. There, hands gripping the stone, vomiting over the side of the astronomy tower, was Severus Snape.
James fought back a gasp. Snivellus Snape did not snivel. At any cost. That was just not done. It ruined the whole irony of the name, too. If he did snivel, they'd have completely different nickname for him. Actually, James thought, a hint of guilt fermenting in his mind, he probably wouldn't have a nickname at all. We'd bully him once, then leave him be. We only do it because he'll do something back.
It was true, and James knew it. Snape didn't retaliate like everyone else in the school, with watery eyes, or a 'Piss off!'. He was so much more imaginative. That was what made picking on him the most fun.
Snape's head was still hanging limply from the edge of the tower, his hair concealing his face. James moved round to get a look at him. What if he's passed out? His movement caused him to trip on the long hem of the cloak which had settled nicely around his legs, and Snape spun around at the soft sound of material and boots.
He looked awful under the light from his own lumos. Snape's hair was greasier than James thought possible, his black eyes puffy and red from crying, and his skin paler than when James had pulled him away from a transforming Remus last year, stretched taut across the bones of his face. Positively ill-looking, and he had looked so for all of the school year.
James had noticed that Snape seemed to come back from the summer holidays every year looking worn, and even thinner than usual. This year he had looked three-quarters dead, and absolutely skeletal, to the point that James had seriously considered taking a vote amongst the Marauders to lay off him for a few weeks, until Snape was back to his usual state, even though that wasn't healthy either, to be honest. Right now he looked worse than then, and he was almost glad they had just started their taunting the second they saw him get on the Hogwarts Express . He'd only think it suspicious anyway.
James held his breath as Snape raised his wand, baring his teeth, which seemed more yellow than they had previously, and James remembered Remus mentioning something about Snape's scent changing, more like Muggle cigarettes. He had laughed and thrown it off, and then asked what Snape usually smelt like, hoping for something to use against him, to which Remus had replied 'Black coffee, musk, mint and sandalwood'. Then again, why would Snape be smoking Muggle cigarettes? He was a Slytherin, and their hatred of Muggles was all too well-known. He summoned up his best Gryffindor courage to keep him perfectly silent as Snape stepped lightly around the small space.
'Who's there?' He sounded on the verge of hysterics. 'Who the fuck is there?! Just so you know, I do not care who you are, one bit! A teacher? Prefect? Some random student? Bloody show yourself, or I will kill you.'
James' entire body remained rigid as Snape prowled the tower, locking the door. That was another thing he'd noticed. Snape had started swearing. Normally, everything he said was laced with painful irony and cutting sarcasm. Now it was mainly the swears. Physical violence too. James never thought he'd see the day Snape punched Sirius in the face, but he had done so. Just last month. To the tiniest taunt, too - 'I think Snivellus is getting upset. Won't find a shoulder to cry on here, go weep to your Mummy.'. The whole moment had happened in slow motion, Snape's twitchy walk, his growl, his bony fist colliding with Sirius' chiseled nose, and his impressive run as he escaped Sirius' wrath. James knew Sirius' pride hurt more than his face.
'Or is it someone who wants to see me like this. Death Eater?' James frowned. Why would Death Eaters be out to get Snape? Snape's head suddenly snapped up. 'Oh fuck. Marauders. It's you, isn't it. Bloody Prongs, Padfoot, Moony, Wormtail. Under that bloody-arse invisibility cloak too, I'll wager.' He knows about the cloak? 'Bloody fucking shit. Well, you've seen what you wanted all these years, now show your idiot faces before I start throwing Avada Kedavras around.'
There was something in Snape's eyes that suggested he really would do just that, and James took a sharp intake of breath. Gryffindor, bravery, courage, all of that. He dropped the cloak.
'Marauder, I think you'll find. Singular.' He took another shaky breath, and sneaked a frankly terrified glance at Snape.
'Fuck!' Snape stretched the word out to a ridiculous length, sliding down against the wall, head in his hands.
Neither of them dared to speak for seconds which felt like hours, staring at each other with shock in their eyes. Snape bit his lip.
'Why did you come up here?' His voice hiccoughed with the sobs he'd heard earlier, which he'd obviously just been in enough of an adrenaline rush to leave behind in his rant mere seconds ago.
'I... Uh, I heard someone being sick. I thought I could... You know.' His bravery faltered and an odd nervousness he'd never experienced before took over, leaving him speechless. Snape seemed to catch his drift.
'There is no way I'm going to the hospital wing, Potter. Best to leave me now, I think. Would be unfortunate if Filch were to find you in the corridor. Although I'm sure Dumbledore wouldn't let him take too many points from his beloved Gryffindor' Snape's speech seemed to be calming, his sarcasm returning.
'Then it'll be even worse for Slytherin when he finds you, won't it.' James snapped as Snape Alohomora-ed his locked door open. 'And I'm not going anywhere anyway.'
At that Snape whispered a colloportus at the door once again 'I don't care much for house points anymore, to be perfectly honest. I locked that so Filch can't get in then, I'm not going to murder you. I think I'm quite over my murderous stage for tonight.'
'Filch has all the keys in the building, he can unlock that if he wants to.'
'Filch is a squib. He couldn't unlock the door under that spell.' James thought he caught a murmured 'Idiot', but brushed it off. He's being almost civil. He must be exhausted. Before James could even speak again, Snape seemed to think aloud.
James was caught off guard. 'What?'
'Why me? Why, out of a whole school, do you pick on me? I've never done anything to you except exist.'
He remembered his words from last year and felt uncomfortable.
'I mean, yes, nothing wrong with that. Everyone else in the world hates me for existing, but perhaps you can explain just what is so wrong with my presence on this planet.'
Snape was staring at the floor, his face full of self-hatred.
James had never seen anyone like this before. He felt stuck. He could tell Snape the truth, yes, everyone did hate him, even his family, judging by how he looked after every summer, but he was sure if he did, the second he left the room, Snape would leap from the tower without a second thought.
'Not everyone hates you -'
'Name someone who likes me.'
'Slughorn?' He noticed Snape's brows furrowing. 'And... Mulciber, Avery, uhh... That prat who was Slytherin prefect... Malfoy?'
'They don't like me, and even if they did, that'd be pretty paltry, would it not. You never answered my first question anyway. Why?' Wet, black eyes stared at him for a second, before being re-directed at the cold ground.
'Uhh, I guess you fight back. You make us mad. You get the last word, we want revenge.'
'I fight back because no-one else will for me.'
James felt a surge of sudden anger. 'Lily! Lily stood up for you, you called her a Mudblood!'
Snape's voice constricted like he was fighting not to cry again 'I never meant – I didn't want - It was a mistake – She -' He put his face in his hands again, his overlarge nose between his palms.
'She was my best friend! My only bloody friend! One of the only people who ever thought about liking me, and she's gone!' His tone raised in anguish. 'I apologized ten times every day since then. I apologized every day of the holidays, dammit!'
It was James' turn to make incoherent sentences. 'You – Her – Friends? What?'
Snape looked almost angry at him for not noticing. 'There was a reason we sat together on the Hogwarts Express the first time, Potter. I've known Lily since I was nine years old, Potter. My only friend ever.'
'Well, no, you do fight back, worse than we do to you. You punched Sirius! He didn't even give you any reason!'
He rose, and for the first time, James noticed that Snape was actually taller than him. He probably always has been.
'My mother is dead, Potter.'
He spoke before he thought. 'Never bothered you before.'
Snape's entire face began to twitch, as though he was working up the energy to scream, his eyebrows threatening to infiltrate his oily hairline as they rose. When he did speak, his voice was so calm it was disturbing.
'My mother died this summer.'
James' jaw dropped and his glasses slipped down his nose.
'Do you know what else? She killed herself. Not even with magic, because she was so afraid of my father finding out she did magic if she failed. Guess who found her hanging that morning. Go on, take a guess.' His tone had lowered, his eyes slitted, their faces mere inches apart, and James could smell the smoky, minty scent Remus had described. 'She didn't care about me. She abandoned me with my evil, evil, ape of a bloody Muggle father. And she was the only person I had left.'
His mouth was dry, and he spat out the first thing that came into his head, his face full of fear and confusion.
'Your father's a Muggle?'
'Nicely caught on. Yes, my life's brilliant, isn't it. Half-blasted-bloody-blooded outcast Slytherin, hated for myself and for befriending Lily, butt of Gryffindor jokes.' his voice rose to a scarily accurate representation of the tone of the current Head Boy, a Slytherin called Archibald Figg. 'Absolute filth, the shame of our noble house, rant, rave, etcetera.
'Oh, here's a thought. You're a pureblood. Black's a pureblood. Pureblood Lupin, pureblood Pettigrew, Christ, it's the bloody pureblood Marauders versus dirty half-blood Snivellus Snape.' He gave a deadly pause. 'Makes you seem awful – prejudiced, doesn't it.'
James looked appalled, and Snape simply walked away, tapping the door with a soft Alohomora. He picked up the cloak as James still seemed rooted to the spot, and passed it into his stiff hands.
'I think it would be best if you left now.'
Pulling himself out of his daze, James began to walk across the room to the unlocked door, and was just seconds away from wrapping the cloak around himself when he heard Snape again.
'And – Potter -' James turned around. I know what he'll say. 'Don't you dare tell anyone'. Snape was in close to him, and when he spoke again, his voice was barely above a whisper.
Author's Note (Again): Well, there you go. If you actually got to the end of the story, I applaud you. And I love you this much. Which is loads.
Small point, before you ask, yes, that Slytherin Head Boy I made up is the nephew of good ol' Ms. Figg, as to be a Squib, you must be related to wizards somehow, because otherwise you're just a Muggle, right?
Ah, another point. Thanks to Useless19 and Whitehound for pointing out to me that both Peter and Remus are half-bloods. In this story, Snape does not know this, as being a half-blood himself, I would assume that he would be mostly unaware of who the main wizarding families were. He's just using it to strengthen his argument, and, in actual fact, the Marauders were really mainly James and Sirius, they seemed to be the ones who caused all the trouble, and they are both canon-assured purebloods.
And even more thanks to Whitehound for noticing that I spelt 'Gryffindor' wrong in my first version, and not being cruel or patronizing about it.
I should probably point out that this was rather a weird point of view for me to write this from, being that I dislike the character of James Potter. Having been subjected to much more than my fair share of bullying in my relatively short life, for, like Severus, being a bit out of touch, befriending the wrong people and not being anywhere near 'classically' attractive, I find it hard to sympathize with a character who could act so downright cruel.
However, I do not think him evil, and I tried to portray that he has got a soul, and he did take what Severus said to heart. Shame it was all lost at the end, one might say.
I wrote this completely on whim, it came to me the other night and I couldn't get it out of my head. It ended up about twice as long as I thought it would be.
As this is my first fanfic I'd very much appreciate reviews, especially those with constructive criticism, I'd just love to make this better.
Press the little button. You know you want to :D