And the Dog Returns

Part one: Real Effort

A/N: Thisi s probably a three part fanfic, jsut a short story I'm splicing so I can actually toss it up. The focus is Severus and Sirius, with no pairings save canon.

"What… what if I'm a bad person? What if… all that's happened… if something's gone wrong, inside of me?"

Assurances offered, consolation given, and the boy seemed to perk right back up. Right as rain, quick to rebound, just like his father.

To that last thought, Sirius smiled. It was assurance and comfort, and to both the edgy pressure that hung over his shoulders like a shawl let up for a bit.

Quiet as a ghost, -the proverbial mouse had nothing on his old buddy, probably snapped up during "that time of the month" and all- Moony drifted in and before drifting out tossed his two knuts down. Seeing Sirius' smile, a rare expression these days, he'd wondered what was so funny.

"Not funny," Sirius corrected, "right."

The boy (his but not) was a chip off the old block. A knock off the old antlers. Like Father, like Son.

All was right with the world.

Rolling the glass of fire whiskey in his hands Sirius Black smiled wider. Took a draw and lounged a bit. Order meeting was about to start up, so Molly had told him. Not that he cared. Today, like yesterday, and the day before that, was a wonderful day for spending a bed. So he'd lounge before the fire on the decrepit old couch so aged and dusty its true colors were a mystery. A hint for the unworldly: grey probably wasn't the right hue, and though while mother was unhinged (just like brother and sister and father and hell... everyone but him) she wasn't nutters enough to use gossamer thin spider webbing to "spruce up" the unoccupied corners.

A door opened behind him. "Disgraceful, I'll have to empty out the Burrow of all our cleaning potions and tonics to get this place spruced up a bit for when Harry visits. Poor dear…" and closed. Mercifully cutting off Molly's babble.

A little longer, he'd rest a mite before hauling his arse up and getting to work. He yawned and stretched, responsibility nagging at him. Still, he didn't quite get up just yet. Lazy bug bit him and all that. Scratching at the black scraggly growth that scarred his face and made his eyes seem wild and Padfoot's fur seem tame he grunted and tried to sit up. Sorta succeeded with that, plopped on his side at an angle garenteed to make him fall asleep, still Sirius didn't care.

Meeting was in a bit and all, Molly would really tell him if it were starting, so he hardly cared.

Then he did care, suddenly, and not in a good way.

Because, before him, the fire became an unburning inferno. Red and orange embers bloomed into an unnaturally green, and with only that as a warning Severus Snape slipped out of the emerald blaze. Black eyes glittering, shallow face flushed a pukers hue from the illumination behind him, the man looked about. From walls to furniture, at last to occupent. The scrawny man's Lips curled into a familiar sneer, baring crooked yellowed teeth that only served to accenting his hooked nose, black eyes met Black's gaze.

And in their depths, in the space between namesake and actuallity, there was a world of loathing.

"Charming place, the headmaster's picked this week." Drawled that familar hated voice. "He's even set the unwelcome mat right by the Floo."

With a grunt, Sirius, who'd sorta risen hoping beyond hope it was Harry. Now knowing it wasn't and hope was as good as gone he let himself fall into the folds and fluff of the decrepit couch.

"Go to hell, Snivelus."

Even his hate was absentminded, an afterthought really. Real hate just didn't seem worth the effort.

But Snivelus, Snivelus was a special sort of soul. He wasn't content to be an afterthought, even if it was for someone who he'd always hated and in turn been hated by. There was quiet, a few breath's span where Sirius closed his eyes and was content. He'd snapped at Snape, that was enough to keep things as they were. I hate you you hate me, both knew, both confirmed, and once that was done Black was content to let it go.

But not Snivelus, never Snivelus. He never let anything go, the old snakey bastard.

"I'd thought I'd just entered Hell, but thanks for the invitation Mr. Black."