The first kiss between Sirius Black and Severus Snape was meant to be a prank. Of sorts. The rest of the Marauders had gone home for Christmas so, on only the second day of break, Sirius was bored out of his skull. He'd wandered around the castle for a good thirty minutes before returning to the common room and spotting something promising. A cluster of sixth and seventh year boys were playing Truth or Dare (though only pansies picked Truth) and Sirius plopped himself down in the circle and declared his turn to be next. He meant his turn to dare someone, but instead they dared him. To kiss Snivellus, without any offensive magic involved. The idea was purely revolting to Sirius and he considered obliviating the lot and pretending it had never happened. But then they'd started calling him a chicken and a girl and a Slytherin, so he'd swept away his nausea and went off to find Snape.

Which was the easy part. He was always in the dungeons, making dodgy potions and kissing Slughorn's ass. That last part was a lie. Snape was not any teacher's favorite and didn't even try but it gave Sirius satisfaction to insult him in any way. Especially when he was about to put his gorgeous lips on those thin greasy ones. Godric, he hoped he didn't taste like skin grease. That would be the worst.

"Hey Snape," Sirius said after throwing the door open. Snivellus immediately abandoned his potion, spinning around and grabbing for his wand. Sirius cast a shield charm with a lazy wand movement and laughed. "Come on, we can't have a friendly chat?"

"No." What an uncompromising little brat! So what if they'd hexed each other at every possibility presented during the past four years? People changed and shit.

Sirius kept his shield up as he strolled closed to Snape, grinning. "There's something I've been meaning to show you for a long time," Sirius said, casually, taking his wand and Conjuring mistletoe. It was lame but the only way he could guarantee a kiss without breaking the terms of the dare. Mistletoe used by wizards forced the two people underneath it to kiss, unlike the Muggle stuff which was merely stupid tradition.

"What are you doing with that?" Snape asked, warily, angrily, taking steps backwards. Sirius just smirked, held it above his head, and leapt forward. They were only close for a few seconds before Snape starting backing - running - away, but the mistletoe had its two victims and began to work. Sirius tried his best to actually aim for Snivellus's mouth because any awkward teeth hitting would be...awkward. And disgusting. But Snape, even as the magic propelled his head forward, twisted back and forth. For a while. Then he was forced to hold still and Sirius pecked him on the mouth before pulling away with a grin.

"Happy Christmas," he said, already raising his wand in preparation for the ensuing duel. Snape just stared.

"Did you mean that?" he asked and then pulled a face as if he couldn't believe what he was saying. Sirius was tempted to shoot back a number of very clever responses but then stopped and actually studied Snape's face. He looked...vulnerable. Which was not a word Sirius had ever expected to be able to use to describe this beast of a Slytherin, but now that he could he didn't feel like crushing him.

"Er, yes," he said, unsure of where this was going.

"No," Snape said, already sealing off any emotion. "Is the horror of kissing me really worth seeing my revulsion? I suppose asking that question would be giving you credit for any sort of intelligence." He didn't look or sounded revolted. Then again, Sirius didn't really feel horrified. He just felt bad. He hadn't meant to bring out this self-loathing side. So he did the first stupid idea that popped into his head.

Sirius grabbed Snape by his shoulders and jerked him forward. That part was pretty bad but once they were actually kissing, it was alright. Sirius had to say most of that was his own work, but Snape couldn't be very experienced at this, if at all. Then Sirius was shoved against a desk and the mouth left his lips and went down to his neck, which felt really really good. Sirius tentatively brought his hands up and rested them against the back of Snape's neck. His hair really did need to be washed though but what the hell was he doing with his mouth it felt so -

The cauldron Snape had been working on exploded. The contents landed mostly on Snape's robes but the bit that did get on Sirius got directly on his face and in his hair. It burned, Merlin did it burn. His instinct was to touch his face or cast Augumenti or something on it but as he had no idea what the potion had been, he had no idea what would react badly with it.

Then something, a cloth but covered with some substance, was thrust in his hand. "Wipe your face." Sirius did so without another thought, wondering if he would have melted skin or if it had just been burned clean away. It didn't hurt too bad when he removed everything. Maybe it was just a sensation.

When he finally opened his eyes, Snape had flung his robes on the ground and was spelling the potion off any surface it had touched. "Why don't you let Slughorn take care of that?"

Snape did not pause in his cleaning as he snapped, "Oh yes, great idea Black. I suppose when he asks me why I let the potion overheat I can simply explain that I was-" He stopped abruptly.

"Snogging me?" Sirius suggested and wanted to laugh despite the fact any exploding potion had the potential to be fatal. Snape siphoned off the last bit and pocketed his wand. Another few seconds passed before he turned around, his face very dark and ugly with hatred.

"Yes, that, and if you ever say another word about it to my face or otherwise, I will demand my payment in blood." Sirius didn't really know how to answer that overdramatic statement. He knew how to insult Snape but it didn't seem so much fun immediately after they had swapped spit. And he'd never had someone be angry right after snogging him. That was supposed to cheer people up. Well, he'd only kissed girls before this. Maybe that was why. No, cause Sirius and all the Marauders loved kissing, so maybe it was a Slytherin thing. That had to be it.

"This is a one-time deal then?" he asked but not really sure why he was even curious. Snape folded his arms over his chest and stared at some point between Sirius's nose and chest. Snivellus sure did take a long time to answer. Calling him Snivellus was not really fun anymore. Sure, he had a huge nose, but it hadn't gotten in the way of anything. That wasn't it though. Something made Sirius want to hear that this would happen again. This fucked up situation that James would die if he ever heard about. Ugh James. He'd hear about the dare eventually and - oh right, this had been a dare. He'd have to tell the older kids about it. How could he make it sound disgusting when it had been almost the exact opposite? Well they'd just been expecting a peck and wouldn't want to hear about the quality of it.

"Black, are you listening to me?"

"Nope," Sirius said, automatically, and seconds later realized maybe honesty wasn't the best policy right now. Snape exhaled through his nose.

"I will not repeat myself."

"Then I'll just assume you said, 'Sirius Black, our hatred has blossomed into unexpected love, and I would enjoy it very much if you carried me into the Gryffindor tower and ravished me in front of all your friends.' Unless you'd rather do it in Slytherin."

"Are you flirting with me?" Snape asked flatly. His tone indicated very strongly that he would not tolerate any such behavior. But he wanted Sirius. Of course he did. Who wouldn't?

"I'm not into labels," Sirius answered easily. "So I'll meet you in the library after dinner? No one goes there during the break. Or ever, if they know what's good for them." Snape took a bit more convincing but eventually agreed and they parted temporarily. They did not snog in the library, of course, but instead Sirius showed Snape the secret passage to Hogsmeade. He was glad that he had kept the Marauders' Map but knew James would kill him if he ever found out Sirius had revealed a secret. Yeah, that would really be James's biggest concern if he found out about this whole situation.

They met every night until Christmas Eve. Snape said he'd rather enjoy the festivities without Sirius but he'd be back. So Sirius went out and bought him silk boxers imprinted with cartoon snakes. They had speech bubbles with phrases like "Bite me!" and "Kiss my tail!" that alternated between parseltongue and English. Well, it was fake parseltongue because there was no written language, but Sirius found the idea pretty funny anyway. Then, at the last minute, he purchased a pack of Slytherin winter wear - a pair of gloves, two scarves, and one sweater. Anyone who wasn't an idiot could see Snape could not afford new or well-fitting clothes.

That night, as Sirius wrapped the Slytherin-themed presents in gold and red wrapping paper, he felt a stab of insecurity and confusion. What if Snape didn't like them? Why did he care? Why had he spent his money in the first place? What if Snape felt bad for not buying him a gift? Well that last question was pretty easy to answer. Sirius knew there would be no present from Severus Snape.

He sent off Snape's presents with a school owl, without his name attached. Snape could figure it out but it would be better if no one else could. Sirius managed to push most of his worries away as he went to sleep and instead felt only excitement at the thought of presents in the morning. Which, upon waking, he discovered were plentiful and nice. Nothing from his family, of course. There were a few practical gifts from school friends and past girlfriends. Peter sent him a calendar of Bikini Butterbeer Babes - pretty self explanatory, if silly - but Sirius felt uninterested on the whole. Remus had gone the regifting route with a few paperback fiction books and then the cheap route with chocolate frogs, but everyone knew he was lacking in money.

James was the best, by far, and sent him two cases of Butterbeers, Honeydukes chocolate, broomstick wax, and a book entitled Prank Hexes: For the Enemy You'd Almost Break the Law to Hex. The title made Sirius laugh because he now had one less of those enemies. Not that James would ever know that.

He went down to Christmas breakfast wearing a new stupid hat and carrying a Butterbeer. Nothing like a sugary drink in the morning. The 20something other students who had stayed behind were mostly already there, but no Snape. Sirius wondered briefly if he should worry. The excuse of wanting to "celebrate alone" was a little odd, after all. Just when these thoughts were really starting to take hold, Snape strode through the door. Wearing nothing Sirius had gotten him, not even the sweater. Sirius did his best not to feel disappointed and instead engaged the third year girl next to him in conversation.

Sirius spent the day in relatively good, if bored, spirits and ended it by playing Exploding Snap with a first year. The firstie had agreed because he'd thought the game was all luck. Which was almost true, but the little amount of strategy involved made a huge difference. After losing a dozen hands in a row, the kid called it quits and Sirius went to sleep, having nothing else to do.

The next afternoon, Sirius got an unsigned owl with nothing more than a time. He tried not to smile. It was wrong to care this much. He'd had hookups like this before, girls that he'd made out casually for weeks at a time. Most had been much better looking than Snape and some had been far more talented. But, he supposed, they just didn't have the history he had with Snape. But that history was fighting and hexing and hatred. Not real hatred, if a single mistletoe kiss could undo it all. This was stupid to think about. He passed the time by reading the Prank Hexes book, practicing on his chocolate frogs with half-gestures and mumbled incantations.

Snape was waiting for him in the passage wearing nothing but Sirius's presents. Which made him wish he had not bought a sweater. Not to say Snape had a nice body. He was painfully thin and pale and he looked irritated and embarrassed. Until Sirius pushed him against the wall and snogged him thoroughly. There was just some about the gesture and their nights of making out that made Sirius wanted to curse himself for even thinking of Snape as such. But he was.

Maybe it this newfound sexiness that pushed Sirius into stripping Snape of his shirt. Then he realized Snape was practically naked and he was fully clothed and he hurried to fix that. When he yanked down his pants, his underwear came too. It was an accident but he was not sorry at all when Snape responded by hooking his thumbs under the waistband of his boxers and pulling down. They did nothing further than kiss, but at the same time it was more than kiss because Sirius had never felt anyone else's penis before. Not that he hadn't felt Snape's boner before, but that was through clothes. Maybe it was time to stop calling him Snape.

"Do you still call me Black?" he asked while they were redressing.

"Yes," he said and his voice sounded funny but Sirius could guess the same thing was happening to himself.

"I still think of you as Snape. Maybe we should switch to first names." It was really weird to be dressing with a full erection and kind of sad to think that he would be taking care of it all on his own when Sn-everus was right there. But neither boy had moved to initiate anything like that and Sirius didn't want to be the first.

"As you wish, Sirius." He made this face that was partially a smile but mostly a sneer. Sirius grinned back.

"Of course it is, dungeon bat," he said and stepped forward and hugged Severus and kissed him on the cheek. It was something a boyfriend would do, not whatever they were, but Sirius felt entitled after what they'd done.

They never did much more than get naked after that. They also never did much talking but Sirius was fine with that because he figured talking meant making sense and making sense meant stopping their weird fling. Which is why his stomach sank when he entered the passage the last night of break and Severus said, "We should talk."

"I would rather not. There, I talked. Your time. Keep it brief. Four words or less." Severus snorted and shook his head.

"Immature as always. Did you think this would last when your friends came back? You won't be bored enough to need a distraction," Severus said. There was that self-loathing again. Sirius sat down and yanked on Severus's belt loop so that he stumbled into a sitting position. He glared and Sirius ignored it. Severus was wearing his Christmas scarf. Sirius reached out and took the end in his fingers.

"I just like you," he said quietly, and he did. Even though all Severus really did was alternate between snogging and sneering, Sirius liked him. Maybe he wouldn't if he got to know him but he wanted the chance to find out.

Severus focused on his scarf in Sirius's hands, or Sirius's hands on his scarf. "I was afraid you would say something like that. Then I have to do this." He reached into his pocket and Sirius thought he was going to obliviated. He had not brought his wand, had never brought his wand after the third night, and tried to decide if he should physically attack Severus or just run off. He wanted his memories. Then Severus pulled his hand out and a small jewelry box was in his pale hands. A surge of guilt hit Sirius like a jinx in the stomach. He tried to hide his original thoughts as he accepted the gift and opened it.

Inside was a simple silver ring and Sirius picked it up, viewing it inside his palm. "Late Christmas present?" he asked.

"A little," Severus said and looked away now. "I want you to wear that ring and, in secret, would be..." It was the second time Sirius had ever heard Severus stumble and falter and both times had been over him. He perversely enjoyed it.

"Your secret boyfriend?" he supplied. Severus nodded, a sharp jerk of his head, and Sirius grinned. "You have to do one thing."

"What?" Severus asked and his tone did not suggest he was open to doing very many things.

"Wash your hair," Sirius said, sliding on the ring before he even finished his sentence.

"Let us not get into hygiene. You could handle shaving more frequently and cutting your hair," Severus snapped back immediately, but he did not seem genuinely angry so Sirius just laughed.

"Your hair is longer than mine," he said.

"I look dignified. You resemble a bum."

"Well I don't want to look like a bum, if it embarrasses my boyfriend," Sirius said and his stomach twisted pleasantly as Severus's face flickered through several emotions. He felt like a 12 year old girl and hoped the giddiness at saying "my boyfriend" would wear off.

They spent the night talking, if trading insults counts as talking, with only a goodbye kiss. Sirius didn't mind. He knew now that they had plenty of time. He was pretty blissful about the whole thing for about nine hours and then his friends stormed their way upstairs and James declared Sirius looked like he'd been shagged.

"What? I have not," he said, feeling distinctly affronted.

"Where's your calendar?" Peter asked suddenly, looking around the room.

"Didn't like it," he said with a shrug. He'd considered putting it up for Peter's sake but in the end he'd be too grossed out looking at the scantily clad women every day.

"I see you liked my gifts," James boasted. He gestured at the half-empty bottle of Butterbeer balancing on top of the hex book on top of the nightstand. Sirius was glad to note he'd also left chocolate frog wrappers littered about the floor and had one of the fiction books propped up against his lamp. Even if Remus had merely pulled out his own book, flopped down on his bed, and begun to read. His Prefect badge seemed freshly polished. Sirius would have to tease him about that later.

"I liked the thought, though," he added, looking at Peter and shrugging one shoulder. "My present was lame. A sneakoscope, really?" And Peter smiled a little as Sirius made fun of himself but was clearly still hurt. The day passed much quicker than break had and before he knew it, he was making his way into Charms. He'd agreed to let Severus set the schedule for their rendezvous because it was much harder to get away from Slytherins, but he already missed their nightly meetings. It was the main focus of his thoughts when his attention dwindled in classes. Until their fourth class, Potions.

Severus always beat everyone there and set his station up before the professor even arrived. Instead of feeling the usual disgust at his readiness, Sirius felt a rush of affection. Then James elbowed him and sniggered, "Look at Snivellus." His words carried and Severus turned around with a frosty glare.

"You see, Potter, this is what someone with a brain does when learning at school. I know that concept must be hard for someone who prefers to make his ingredients dance." James's ears turned bright red as he recalled the incident in question but merely reached up and smoothed his hair over his ears. And glanced at Sirius. Oh yes. This is where he was supposed to jump in. What could he say? He literally had no responses.

So he did a very stupid thing and fired off a Stupefy in Severus's direction. It was weak and had no chance in hell of hitting him, but in response Severus cast his own hair growing jinx. Sirius scrambled to shoot up a shield but he was too slow and the spell hit him directly between the eyes. His hair tripled in length immediately and did not stop. More annoying were his eyebrows, which grew to where he had to reach up and pull them out of the way.

"Looks like you need a haircut," Severus said with a smirk. And Sirius wanted to laugh so damn bad. But he put on his best angry face and raised his wand, already planning on a spell that would make Severus dirty so he could tell him to shower, when Slughorn rumbled in. He saw Sirius's long hair and Severus's smirk and James's red ears and sighed. Anyone teaching at the school longer than a month knew they were infamous for fighting each other.

"I suppose I should escort you three to Madam Pomfrey?" He indicated with his hand they were to follow and did so, Sirius and James trailing several feet behind the other two.

"He's such a git," James said, not bothering to keep his voice down.

"Yeah. Git." Sirius would have thought of better responses but he was too busy trying not to trip on his hair while holding his eyebrows to the side. If only a severing charm wouldn't make the hair grow even longer.

"What a stupid hex to use, too. Pomfrey'll fix you up in three seconds."

"Yeah. Three seconds." James stopped walking completely. Sirius also stopped.

"What's on your hand?" Oh. Holding his eyebrows had made his sleeves fall back and his ring was painfully visible. Up ahead, Severus stopped too. Slughorn did not slow down but, seeing that his students had stopped, told them they should resume walking if they didn't want extra detentions. Neither Gryffindor really cared.

"Just a ring my aunt sent me," he lied and immediately hated himself. No one in his family sent him gifts.

"Your aunt," James repeated. "Sirius, I'm not stupid. Those are specific rings passed down by Purebloods for engagement. Even if you won't be getting your family's, you should know that." Engagement what? It took a lot of willpower for Sirius not to snap his head towards Severus. The effort turned out to be unnecessary because Severus spoke next.

"Potter, your ignorance is showing. That ring was goblin made no more than thirty years ago. What Pureblood family started so recently?"

"My ignorance? More like your creepy obsession. How d'you know about Sirius's ring?"

Sirius knew it was becoming even before Severus gave a cold little smile and said, "I gave it to him." Sirius knew Severus was enjoying the total revulsion and disbelief on James's face. He didn't know whether to be angry on his friend's behalf or just stay out of it.

"What are on you on?" James asked, bewildered. "Why would Sirius ever wear anything you gave him, never mind a ring?"

"Do you really want the answer to that question, Potter?" Severus had slithered his way closer throughout the conversation and was now standing close enough for Sirius to touch him. He was feeling distinctly annoyed at the way this was going. He didn't want James to know but if Severus did, fine. Sirius would tell him on his own terms. Not in the middle of the corridor with floor-length eyebrows.

"Shut the hell up, Snivellus," Sirius snapped. "I always knew you were batty but I guess serving the Dark Lord has made you even worse." Not his best comeback ever. Not even in the top 100. But it was all he could think of and so saying, he shoved James forward and sped up to Slughorn. Severus followed and no one spoke until, as Pomfrey sheared Sirius's eyebrows, Professor McGonagall came in and asked for a recollection of events. They were given two Saturday detentions each but luckily no points were docked.

Before dinner, Sirius went to send a letter to Severus expressing his feelings about the day's events. He found Severus standing in the owlery, letter in hand. "Hi," Sirius said, and smiled. He hesitated a second and then stepped forward and pulled Severus into a brief hug. Severus kind of patted Sirius's back and he figured that was the best he was going to get.

"I apologize for today," Severus said and held up his letter.

"I was sending you a letter too. Want to trade?" They did and stood in the hoot filled, poop covered tower and read each other's letters. Severus's was a simple couple of lines saying he had been mistaken and would handle his emotions better in the future. His own letter had been long, embarrassingly so now that he compared it. To avoid standing awkwardly, waiting for Severus to finish, he reread it a few of times. When Severus lowered his letter, Sirius pocketed his own.

"This isn't going to last," he said.

"What? Why? It's been two days Severus. It takes a little while to settle in," Sirius said. He felt a strange pressure in his chest at the thought of breaking up. Even after the fiasco of the day. There was silence as Severus folded up Sirius's letter and tucked it into his robes. He might just be saving it to properly throw away but Sirius still felt a twist of pleasure at the gesture.

"I see," Severus said after several minutes of contemplation. "Perhaps I misspoke. I don't have much experience in these matters."

"Much?" Sirius could not help but smile, more at the fact that Severus was so readily admitting a mistake.

"Any," Severus said. Not referring to the neck thing he did. That had been learned.

"Well I can be patient. Or teach you," he said and his smile turned a little suggestive. The owlery was not the ideal place for their first post-coupleship snog, but it suited their needs enough to be used.

Two months passed and teachers pressed harder about OWLs. Sirius started caring a little bit while all his friends buckled down and studied like mad. Fighting publically with Severus got easier and, in a way, more fun. Often times they used their duels to get detentions together because otherwise their meetings were as infrequent as once a week. He was beginning to believe - hope - James would never bring up the ring again. Then one night James flung down his quill and flexed his fingers.

"I'm so damn tired of essays. So tell me about this ring." Sirius paused mid-scribble in his Divination dream diary and inhaled before looking up.

"Ring?" he asked, deciding to play dumb.

"Don't play dumb," James said immediately. Remus set down his homework and looked between the two.

"If Sirius doesn't want to tell you, James-"

"Of course he wants to tell me," James said dismissively, waving a hand. "So, what's it for?" Sirius had cleared it with Severus ahead of time that he could tell if he wanted. Only James and Remus, because James was his best mate and Remus had his own secret to hide. Not that Severus knew that.

"Fine," he relented. "But we've got to go to a secret passage or something. It's a huge deal." James smirked.

"What, you're engaged to some girl? You took a purity vow?" James laughed at the mere thought of that one. Apparently he'd forgotten, or was ignoring, what Severus had said about the ring.

He was not laughing fifteen minutes later as they - ironically - stood in the passageway to Hogsmeade. "Snivellus?" he said. His voice was faint as though he was sick to his stomach. He probably was. "You...and Snivellus...What the fuck?" Sirius did not know what to say. He had already told the story - the bare minimum of it, the basic gist. He had nothing to apologize for and if James kept going on he was going to get defensive and angry. Which he didn't want.

"James," Remus said, keeping his eyes on Sirius. "Maybe this is a good thing. I've always thought your rivalry with Severus is childish. Just cause he's Lily's friend doesn't make him competition - clearly." James's mouth dropped.

"You think this is about Evans? Yes, okay, it started with that but that was four years ago. Four years of him hexing us and belittling us and just being a big jerk. And he's a Death Eater in training. Then in one day you just forget all that? Well I can't and don't want to." Sirius held back his irritation if only because James didn't storm out.

"We gave as good as we got," Remus said, and Sirius felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for his underappreciated friend.

"Yeah," Sirius said. Then, because the planets were aligned and Sirius had a good horoscope, the statue jumped aside and in stepped Severus. If he was stunned to find his three public enemies holding their Lumos-d wands, he didn't show it. There was a moment of silence and then James jabbed his wand into Sirius's chest, causing sparks to fly.

"You told him about the passages? What, did you show him the map and fuck under the cloak and beg him to be an Animagus with us?" Sirius had never wanted so badly to throw his wand aside and punch someone in the face. And this was his best friend? He wanted to throw up.

"I would never do that to you, or Remus or Peter. Never mind the fact you've done all those things with Evans," Sirius said, paused, smiled. "Well, except that second one, because she's never going to want you." James's fist struck out and landed right on Sirius's mouth, turning his teeth into sharp edges and cutting his lip. He stumbled back, into Remus, and James ran away towards Hogsmeade.

There was silence for a long stretch of time and then Sirius wiped at his mouth. This spurred Remus into action, who fixed and cleaned up Sirius's face and then cleared his throat. "I think I should go after him," he said. "I have my own problems with this but you don't need to hear them right now." He clapped Sirius on the shoulder and then strode down the passage. It was now considerably darker with only Severus's wand lit, Sirius having dropped his during the punch.

"Why are you fighting with Potter for me?" Severus asked and the question was not what Sirius expected. He rubbed his hand on top of his head before speaking.

"Well I mean it's about you because I love you but it's more about James accepting me," he said, a little distracted by what a shit day this had turned out to be, too relaxed around Severus to guard his words.

"Because you love me," he said and Sirius realized what he'd said. He didn't know if he should confirm or deny. Severus, as usual, gave no hint as to what he was thinking or feeling.

"Well, uh, you know. You make me happy and such. I was just babbling," he said.

"I see," Severus said and Sirius felt a jerk in his stomach. He'd just lied about something important but he didn't want to take it back and scare Severus off. Of course he didn't love Sirius. Even after all the hours spent talking and touching, Sirius was not sure if Severus could even love. It was a cruel thought but one worth thinking. To prepare himself or something. "I suppose we should take a break while you mend your friendship with that bumbling idiot."

"What? Why? I just got punched for you. I don't want to see you any less than I already do." He was really exposing his emotions tonight. He hoped it was appreciated and not unwelcome.

"You don't think we see each other enough?" Severus asked. Sirius shrugged.

"I know it's hard for you." He evaded the subject purposely; he'd been sappy enough for one night. Severus decided not to press the issue and instead told him to go find Potty and Lupin and fix things. Sirius hugged him just as he had in the owlery, long and tight and comfortable. This time Severus actually put both his arms around Sirius, although it was still not a proper return hug. That was fine. He was still growing and learning and shit.

So then there was the matter of finding his dickhead of a friend, who of course went to The Three Broomsticks. He apologized for the punch but didn't want any part of a Sirius who had part of Severus.

"And that's that?" Sirius asked, watching James gulp down his drink. "Four years of friendship, gone, just because of who I'm kissing?"

"Yeah. The exact same situation you were in when you got your boyfriend, if you replace friendship with rivalry," James muttered, slamming the glass bottle onto the table with unnecessary force. Then he got up and left. Remus stayed and he was reluctant to accept the relationship but not completely unwilling. So Sirius was down a friend and a half for a boyfriend of two months, who he'd hated passionately for his entire Wizarding education thus far. This was not okay. He enlisted Peter's help, who knew nothing more than the two had a falling out, and began sneaking time in together. First it was group homework assignments or study sessions. Then it was being partnered in class. Then it was extra Quidditch practice together, and on and on.

Over three months later, the weekend before OWLs began, James told Sirius he was a stupid dick for liking Snivellus but he would get over it. Was over it. And for two weeks things were just great. It was too late to be studying - in the Marauders eyes, by now you knew what you knew and no use cramming. So they took strolls around the grounds and flirted with girls (well, more like stalked Lily) and played pranks and everything they'd done before the Severus fiasco but better because now Sirius felt they'd really earned each other's friendship.

The last written OWL exam was a beautiful day and the Marauders rushed outside after their exam to enjoy the weather and unwind. Most other fifth years had the same idea so the grounds were crowded, but it was in a pleasant way, like they'd all become better friends thanks to the stress of standardized testing.

"Hey look, it's Snivellus," James said conversationally but loudly enough to be overheard, flicking his eyes over to Sirius. Sirius watched, wary, but not feeling the nerd to intervene just yet. It was really unfair because James had a clear shot and Severus was still reviewing his test, deeply involved. But the fights between Severus and James had never stopped and neither had indicated a desire for them to.

So that was how he watched as James lifted Severus into the air by his ankle, exposing his underwear to the world. His silk snake underwear, well worn by now but still nice looking. Severus still had his wand and spelled himself down quickly but a crowd had already gathered and was watching and cheering James on. Only James. Sirius didn't know what to do.

James got hit with a hex that sprouted boils and Severus's mouth was filled with suds. Then the hexes got worse and more painful and Sirius stepped up to James's side. "James..." he said, quietly, not wanting to draw attention.

"Hey, it's a fair fight," James protested and then laughed. It wasn't a fair fight because he had started it and Severus was getting humiliated and now his wand had been Expelliarmus-d away and he was lifted up once again and it was no longer cute to see his underwear.

"James," he said, going over to his friend and pushing his arm down. He didn't want to get involved and ruin the newfound peace but he couldn't just see Severus get beat up. "Stop." Remus was sitting under a nearby tree, clutching a book face level but watching with interest. Peter had morphed with the crowd cheering for James.

"Oh come on, Sirius, just having some fun...well, I dunno, do you think it's fun to scare all the firsties by showing them what's under those cute snakey boxers?" Theatric screams came from the smallest kids in the crowd and Sirius felt his patience grinding thinner and thinner. Severus was still dangling from the spell, not twisting because it was useless and would only make him look silly.

Sirius was on the verge of pulling out his wand and lowering Severus himself when Lily Evans pushed through the crowd and marched up to James. "James Potter, you let him go right this instant! It's not funny!" Indeed, she seemed so offended by what was happening that tears were sparkling in her eyes. Sirius felt the stirring of jealousy that James had always felt.

"Aw, Evans, it's just some innocent fun." And he rumpled his hair. And looked so stupid. And lifted off Severus's underwear. That was when Lily raised her wand and lowered him, which she was only able to do because Sirius tackled James and began to punch his face. He was aware that he was shouting insults and curse words but not aware of which ones. Because Severus had finally made eye contact with him and it was the most horrible, resigned, humiliated expression Sirius had ever seen. And it was on the face of the man he loved.

When he got over his wave of blinding rage, he found himself straddling James, James with the bloody face. The crowd had fallen silent because everyone loved Sirius and everyone loved James. This fight could have no winner. Sirius felt no regrets, not when Professor Slughorn and Professor McGonagall stormed through, not when James spit out a stream of blood and said their friendship was over, not when Remus and Peter went to see James in the hospital wing and refused to even look at him, and especially not when he hugged Severus and said he loved him and Severus said, "Me too."

A/N: First, this one shot is a set up for a longer piece. How long, I'm not really sure. Also not sure when it'll get uploaded cause my internet crashed and when I do get online, ff is having erorrs all over the place.

Now I want to justify all the weaker points in my story but I'm not going to.