Disclaimer: Not mine, JKR's.

Warnings: Mention (briefly) of rape, parental abuse, and other nasty things. These boys are a little fucked up.

* * * * *

He never noticed me sitting there, when he'd get back from those little…interludes with him. I don't think he'd have noticed if Voldemort himself were sitting in the Gryffindor common room, so what's one brooding friend? His oblivion allowed me a great deal of latitude…I could stare, and stare, and stare, and he wouldn't know the difference.

Tonight is no different than usual. He drifts in with that dreamy expression that means he's been doing a hell of a lot more than studying. I watch him idly push his too-long fringe of honey brown out of those too-pretty eyes, glancing blankly at the fireplace and entirely missing me, sitting in one of the over-stuffed armchairs. He clutches his books to his side, and lets out a long sigh, leaning briefly against the portrait hole. His normally lush lips appear almost swollen in the flickering fire light, crimson stained with guilty pleasures.

And now he's pushing away, trotting across the room, heading up the stairs to the dorms, his robes flickering raggedly at his ankles. I watch him go, feeling my heart screaming at me, until he disappears around a corner. And then I turn my own eyes back to the fire, and wonder what I'm going to do about the fact that while I certainly am starting to hate Remus Lupin for being involved with a boy who had assisted in my rape some five years previously, I also seem to be falling in love with him.

There's always been something about me and people I just can't have. And if I'm being completely honest with myself, Remus may just be a convenient substitute for James. It's hard to tell…I didn't think twice about him, except as a good friend, until he decided to throw himself into that smug bastard's arms. That slimy, vicious, sneaky, vile bastard…but do I care? Or do I just want to screw my friend stupid to forget a pair of warm brown eyes beneath a mop of untamable black hair?

Sometimes it really, really sucks to be me.

"Sirius?" And I was thinking Remus was oblivious…I don't even notice Peter come downstairs and perch on the chair across from me.

"Yeah, Pete?" I ask tiredly. I've been waiting down here for hours…it must be gone midnight by now.

"Waiting for Remus again?" He asks the question softly, and I pull myself from my inner turmoil to give him a sharp glance.

To say that I never thought much about Peter Pettigrew was a bit of an understatement. Sure, I like the kid, he's sweet and always good for a laugh, but I've never been quite sure why both Remus and James keep telling me he's actually pretty smart. I mean, yeah, becoming an Animagus at 13 is a pretty amazing feat, but I always sort of passed it off as dumb luck. I mean, he has to work so hard at everything else, how could he possibly have brains under that girlish cascade of strawberry blonde curls?

But James never noticed me waiting for Remus. And here Peter obviously has. I look into those pale, pale green eyes and see something there I had never noticed…or maybe dismissed. A gleaming intelligence and a sort of empathic melancholy. I realize I want to talk to him, explain, and maybe ask his advice. It's a stupid impulse-- Pettigrew the confidant?--but still, I'm tired, and I find myself opening my mouth before I can stop myself.

"Yeah, I guess so."

"You do this every time he goes out?" Peter tilts his moonish face as he talks to me.

"Pretty much, yeah."

"Why?"

"I'm worried," I answer, and it's partially true. No, it's wholly true, I am worried. Snape is bad news; it's only a matter of time before he breaks Remus' heart, and worse.

"Worried." Peter rolls the word around his mouth, tastes it, then spits it back out. "No, it's more than that, isn't it?"

"No." My reply is sullen, childish. I forget my previous urge to spill my guts, and find myself crossing my long arms in front of my chest.

"Want me to tell you what I think it is?" Peter smiles kindly at me, and I hate it. Him, smiling kindly at me! I'm not the overweight, desperately unpopular one! And for a moment I forget that he's my friend, someone I've shared countless thoughts with, countless pranks with, and I just hate him for his too-sharp eyes.

"No, I don't really want to hear what you think, Wormtail."

"I think you're jealous."

I sit up, ramrod straight and angry. Some of it must have flashed in my face, because Peter flinches back suddenly, biting nervously on his delicate lower lip. This is the Peter I know, shining through his momentarily wise exterior. "Well, I guess that shows how far off the deep end you've gone. What do I possibly have to be jealous of?"

"Because he's happy. With someone, you know." A trace of nervousness creeps into Peter's voice, but he forges gamely on. "And you're not."

"Do you even know anything about Severus Snape?" I ask him acidly.

"A bit," he admits. "Remus talks to me about him, sometimes."

"I mean, besides what an obviously biased source tells you."

He shrugs. "Not much, no."

"Then don't open your mouth when you don't know what you're talking about. Snape is evil, has been since he was a kid. Do you know he came to this school knowing more Dark spells than practically anyone else? Even more than most of the kids in Slytherin?" The boy was probably born and bred to be a Dark wizard…I know nothing about his family, but some of the stuff I had heard being bandied about by other students in his year…

"I didn't know that." Peter's answer is soft, subdued, but I can see he's still not convinced. Of course, he would stick up for Remus…he practically idolizes the other boy.

"He's also done some pretty nasty stuff while he's been here, to other kids." I bite off any details that might have come spilling out of me. "He's going to hurt Remus, I know he is. Him and that Malfoy…they're planning something, something bad, I'm sure. Why else would he be interested in Remus?"

"Maybe because he really cares about him?" Peter throws the thought out carelessly, and I resist the urge to slap some sense into him.

"Bullshit. That black snake doesn't care about anybody but his precious Malfoy."

"Sirius, in case you haven't noticed, Remus is an intelligent, kind, and actually pretty good looking bloke. Why is it so hard to believe that someone might be interested in that?" Peter sounds like he's explaining something to a child, and I glare at him.

"Look, I know all that. But Snape's not the type that appreciates those things…I'm the only-" I cut myself off, angry at how carelessly I've revealed my other, more confused motives.

"No, you're not the only one who recognizes that, as you would know if you opened your eyes to someone other than James. There're several other people who are quite appreciative of our Mr. Moony, Snape just happens to be the one that caught his fancy back." Peter sighs, leaning back in his chair, looking at me with quiet sympathy. How could I have underestimated him so badly?

"Peter, you just don't get it. It's not about me," I try to explain to him, covering my embarrassment. "It's about Remus. Snape…he's just not a good person. Jesus, you've seen his friends, those other Slytherins…they're the worst in that House! Malfoy, Goyle, Rosier, LeStrange…how many other students have they hurt, and covered it up…? You just don't know, Peter!"

His eyes dart down to where his hands are clasped together in his lap, those strange eyes that are almost colorless, like bath water with just a tiny touch of green. "I do know, Sirius. They…they scare the bloody hell out of me…but I don't think Snape's like that. From what Remus has said-"

"Fuck what Remus has said," I snarl, leaning forward. "He's been totally fooled by that arse. I'm not going to let him get away with it."

"What do you mean?" Peter casts his eyes back up at me again, and I can read the fear there. Good. It's about time somebody figured out that Sirius Black is more than just a pretty face and a quick tongue. I'm going to protect Remus, whether he likes it or not.

"I mean, I'm going to do something…"

* * * * *

There's something blank about Gavin Crabbe that makes him endlessly easy to be around. We sit together in the common room, me staring fixedly at the portrait hole, him gazing mindlessly down at a half-filled piece of parchment. He's been examining that same piece of parchment for the past three quarters of an hour. Gavin is probably the least demanding of all my friends, and at this point in time, I need the blessed undemandingness of him.

Ever since my Severus had…broken up with me? No, it was something far more violent than that. Broken my heart? I know most of the other students are firmly convinced I don't have one, but the steady pulse of blood in my ears is a good indicator that I do. Still, it's not broke, because I know I'll get him back. The simpering Gryffindor can't hold his interest forever, and when Severus is tired of him, I'll be waiting. Tried my patience? That's closer…I hate having to wait for anything, let alone the person who completes me.

Severus never could figure me out. He thinks that our relationship started with love and ended with pain and indifference. I didn't love him at first; I befriended him out of a keen sense of self-preservation. At twelve I had been slight, and I was quick enough to make clever comments, not quick enough to dodge the punches that followed. So naturally I surrounded myself with larger boys. Gerald Goyle was one of those boys, and easy enough to acquire; his father and mine were business associates and friends. Gavin Crabbe is another of my protectors, huge though only fourteen. Severus had naturally drawn me; he towered over the other first years, and with his swarthy skin and scowling features he was incredibly intimidating for an eleven year old. Perfect for my purposes, younger than me, and therefore easier to control.

It wasn't until his third year, my fourth that I realized quite how perfect he was for me. For me, not for my purposes, not for my protection, but for me. It wasn't much longer until I realized I was in love with him, but it took me the rest of the year to be able to deal with it. Lucius Malfoy does not fall in love, I told myself, despite all evidence to the contrary. Poor Severus went through several months of discomfort and indecision as I ignored him utterly, trying to tell myself I didn't need him the same way I needed air.

That summer, he spent a month with me at the manor.

My father hated him, of course. He referred to him almost continuously, as 'the little rat you dragged home'. In front of him. But Severus, despite that wonderful predilection for victimization, would simply stare at him with those fierce black eyes until Father said he something else to do, somewhere else to be. I think it was that marvelous dichotomy that made him so fascinating. It was also terribly flattering that he would only let me treat him horribly.

That summer was simply amazing. We were like one person, we never left the other's side. We slept in the same bed, ate together, rambled the dusty length of my ancestral home together, fucked like minks whenever the opportunity presented itself, which it often did. I loved feeling him up under the table during any of the formal dinners we had with the rest of my family; he'd turn the most delightful shade of dusty rose, and brush feebly at my hand.

And oh, how he loved me to hurt him, and I adored obliging him. He never came so hard as the first time I used the knife. We'd lie in bed for hours, and I'd kiss along his healing scabs and fresh wounds, marveling in the taste of his blood. "These mean you belong to me," I'd whisper to him, and he'd purr under me like some great panther, and nod languidly.

Lately, I've been going absolutely mad without him. I can't sleep without sneaking into his bedroom to make sure he's there, and not out with his whore. If he's gone, I toss endlessly in my bed, my entire body filled with minute tensions twisting me this way and that. He ignores me in the Great Hall now, sitting with Gavin or Nickolai more often than not, sending lovelorn glances at his little fling. I have to tell myself it's a fling.

He finally comes back, tonight, beautiful shoulder-length ebony silk tangled and curled around his flushed face. His dark eyes slide over to me, then onto Gavin, before he firms his mouth into a thin line and stalks past us and down the stairs. I used to make him look like that. I used to paste his hair to his face with sweat and come and slick saliva from sloppy kisses.

Suddenly I can't stand sitting still any longer, and I leap to my feet, pacing the length of the common room. Gavin stopped staring at his parchment when Severus entered, and now he gazes numbly into the waiting darkness that leads down into the dorms. I'm not the only one who suffers from his absence. The younger boy worships Severus like a god, hangs on his every word, comes to him whenever he has those urges. But all of a sudden Severus doesn't have time for his own House anymore.

"Gavin," I hiss, gratified when the boy pulls his eyes from darkness, focuses their mud-brown on me.

"What?"

"Does Severus ever…talk…to you anymore?"

"Um, sometimes." The boy thinks, his broad forehead wrinkling. He's really rather stupid, but I suppose he means well. Sometimes.

"What does that mean?" I probe patiently, folding myself up into a chair nearer him.

"I mean…well, when I can get him to, but not as much as he used to. It's getting kind of…"

"Kind of what, Gavin?"

His voice drops into a guilty whisper, "Hard not to do it."

I nod in understanding, steepling my fingers under my chin. Severus had told me about Gavin shortly after the boy's first year: it seems that he had been killing stray cats before he started at Hogwarts, and still did, sometimes, on his summer breaks. Occasionally a dog. Severus had tried to discourage the behavior in him, and had apparently had some success, but the urges often got worse during times of stress or periods when he wasn't in contact with his friends. The boy had an absolutely horrific home life, to hear tell. Of course, Gavin expected me to know everything about it, he knew what lay between Severus and I.

"Why don't you then?" I ask smoothly. I have to admit, my motives aren't all pure; while I think this might be an excellent way to draw back Severus' attention back to his own House, it also has a certain entertainment factor to it. And those with needs like Gavin's can make the best tools.

"Oh, I can't," he whispered again, and there was something precious in the way his entire face was infused with deep shame. Quite beautiful, actually.

"But if Severus really didn't want you to, wouldn't he be talking to you about it?"

"I shouldn't," he said again, eyes cast on the floor.

"Mmm," I murmur neutrally. "Perhaps things would be easier if Severus were around more often."

"Yeah," Gavin agrees, and his face takes on a mournful quality. "But he's with that Remus now. He doesn't…"

My god, I think the boy's actually on the verge of tears. I feel my lips curving up in a smile as I lean forward. "Maybe," I say, reaching out to lightly stroke the boy's cheek. "Maybe there's something we can do about that…"