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Get Back | Tomorrow Never Knows

Snape could snicker all he pleased, Sirius thought, but he did have an idea. It wasn't precisely a new idea. It had been lurking in the back of his head for a few weeks now, ever since he'd first learned of Snape's plans to go off with Malfoy. It wasn't precisely a good idea, either. Hell, in many ways, it was utterly insane - but the more Sirius thought about it, the more he liked it.

And to think that it had been Wormtail - Wormy, who half the time couldn't wipe his own ass without first looking up the instructions - who had given it to him.

All of the other Marauders were leaving Hogwarts for the holiday. James was going to tour Egypt with his folks, and Moony and his parents were going to see relatives in Ireland. Peter wasn't going anywhere, but his mum's three sisters were coming for an extended visit, and Mrs. Pettigrew wanted him home. Peter was beside himself. All three of his aunts were violently healthy and painfully thin, and two weeks with those carrot-eating bitches was going to be a nightmare, he said. No junk food. No second helpings. No desserts. "Nothing but veggies and water and raw fish," he had told Sirius glumly the night after he got his mum's owl. "I expect I'll be half-starved by the time I get back."

"I expect you could live off what you've got on your arse alone for twice that long," Sirius had retorted, then immediately felt guilty. He supposed it wasn't a particularly kind thing to say. But he couldn't help it: this was also the night after Snape had announced he was going off with Malfoy, and Sirius was feeling rather tetchy himself. "Anyway, what are you moaning about? At least you have somewhere to go. I'm stuck here alone for the fortnight."

Peter's grin was sudden and sly. "Not all alone, though, eh, Sirius?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

The grin faltered. "Well...Snape. You've got Snape, right? You spend most of your time with him anyway lately, so I just thought...I just thought you'd have plans with him." He glanced at Sirius, pretending a casual indifference Sirius saw right through. "You do, don't you? Have...plans...with Snape?"

Plans. Sirius snorted. Well, that was an interesting word for it, anyway. "You mean for him, don't you, Wormy?"

Peter shrugged.

"You know, for someone who's so repulsed by homosexuals, you get an awfully rancid gleam in your eye whenever you ask about me and Snape."

Wormy blushed and shrugged again, but he did not look away. "I'm curious."

"You're nosy," Sirius corrected, though there was no bite in his voice now. For once in his life, Wormy was being honest, and Sirius supposed the least he could do was respond in kind. "Oh, what the hell? Snape's going to Lucius Malfoy's for the holiday. He told me so last night."

Peter's eyes popped. "Snivvy's fucking Malfoy too?"

"Don't call him 'Snivvy' - and no, he's not fucking Malfoy,” he lied. “Not anymore."

"Then why's he going to--"

"I don't know! Because - because he has to, I guess. That's how it sounded, anyway. Like he doesn't want to go, but he has to."

Peter pursed his lips. "And you don't want him to."

"Oh, no, I'm chuffed to bits about it. I offered to help him pack. Bought him some sexy new underthings. I'm hoping they'll take pictures of themselves fucking and sucking and owl them to me every day." He glared at Peter. "How bloody stupid are you? Of course I don't want him to go!"

"Then don't let him."

Sirius blinked. "Huh?"

Peter gave him a look of exaggerated patience. Oh, and I'm the stupid one? that look said. "Don't let him. Forbid him to go, and if he tries to go anyway, stop him."

"And how do you propose I do that?" Sirius asked. At this point, he had only been toying with the idea of playing the red-eyed-man card - he really didn't want to blackmail Snape unless it was absolutely necessary. And perhaps Peter's idea would prove better. Even a blind niffler found a coin once in awhile, as the saying went.

"Any way you can." Peter frowned. It was a rather reproachful frown, as if Sirius had disappointed him in some way. "He's yours, Sirius. He belongs to you now. You can't ever let someone else take what's yours."

Sirius nodded impatiently. Well, sure, of course, he knew that, but-

Then Peter said, "Maybe you could take him home with you," and Sirius sat up straighter, eyes wide and startled. Peter continued speaking - his lips were still moving, anyway - but Sirius heard nothing after those first eight words.

Take him home with you. Shit! Why hadn't he thought of that? It was so simple, and so perfect - and what an opportunity it could be! Two weeks of perfect privacy, with no more locks or wards or cloaks or doors, no more sneaking and skulking about...sweet Merlin, it would be heaven. And not just for the sex, either, but for...well, for everything.

He thought suddenly of all the things he and Snape had never done. They had never had a meal together, just the two of them. They had never taken a shower or bath together. They had never gone for a walk together, or argued about Quidditch, or listened to music on the wireless. They had never even spent an entire night in each other's arms. Things other couples took for granted had been denied them within the confines of Hogwarts, and the prospect of two whole weeks, of having Snape not in stolen snatches of time but in great, endless spans of it, made Sirius feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve.

And perhaps removing Snape from Hogwarts for a time would be fun for him as well. Perhaps it would relax him. Loosen him up a bit. Coax him a little farther out of his shell. And with Sirius right there, to continue molding him and shaping him every step of the way...

It was a brilliant idea. Well - he reconsidered - it was half a brilliant idea. There was no way in hell he was bringing Snape home, of course, but he could certainly bring him somewhere. Money was no obstacle; Sirius had his own vault at Gringotts, a trust fund set up at his birth by the only other human being in his family, his mother's brother Frank, and he could easily afford a flat of his own. And not some dump, either, but a nice place, posh and up-to-date. A place that would make Malfoy Manor look like the dusty, dead-century relic it was.

Peter Pettigrew was a gods damned genius.

"Peter Pettigrew, you're a gods damned genius," he declared. "Before you leave, I'm going to stuff so many Chocolate Frogs and butter biscuits in your bag that they'll have to roll you down the halls."

He bounded out of bed and dropped a loud, smacking kiss on the top of Peter's startled head before heading for the door.

"Where are you going?" Peter asked.

"Quidditch pitch," he called back. "Need to fly. Need to think. Don't wait up."

***

Now, nearly a month later, he was still thinking.

As far as he could see, there was only one real problem with Peter's idea, but it was a big one: how to get out of Hogwarts without parental consent. He was underage, as was Snape, and neither of them would be allowed to leave Hogwarts without a signed permission slip from a parent or guardian. Forging the proper documents would not be difficult - James, for one, could conjure a first-rate forgery in his sleep - but if the school ever followed up on their whereabouts or contacted their families, they'd both be in trouble. And not the detention-for-a-week, fifty-points-from-Gryffindor sort of trouble that Sirius was used to being in, but real trouble. Even, perhaps, the leave-and-please-never-come-back sort of trouble.

Or - in Snape's case, at least - the beat-you-til-you're-black-and-blue sort of trouble.

Sirius wasn't much concerned about his own parents; he doubted they would raise a hair if he was supposed to show up at their doorstep and did not. They had stopped caring what he did at least ten years ago, and they had stopped seeing him altogether around the time he turned fourteen or so. The way Sirius had it figured, he could actually drop dead at the dinner table some evening and his folks wouldn't notice until he failed to pass the salt.

But what about Snape's father? How would he react if they were caught? What he would say to Snape - or, worse, what he would do? Sirius didn't know, but he had his theories, and none of them were particularly pleasant.

On the surface, of course, it didn't appear that Snape's old man cared any more about Snape than the Blacks did for Sirius. He certainly didn't seem to care how thin and pale Snape was, or whether or not he ever washed his hair, or if he had a proper, warm winter cloak or even a decent pair of underpants. He never visited Snape on Family Day at the end of term, never had him home on holidays, never sent him so much as a single gift or package or letter. The Howlers Snape occasionally got - and they were the work of a certified lunatic - were the only owls he ever got.

But Snape's father did pay him some attention. Sirius knew that much. If Snape's nightmares were any indication, it was extremely abusive attention, and it both angered and saddened Sirius to think the only time Snape's father acknowledged his existence was when he was beating the shit out of him.

We're alike, he thought suddenly, shocked and a bit horrified at the realization. Sirius's mother had never hit him - Rhiannon Black would never resort to anything so common, so Muggle-like, as corporal punishment - and his dad had never administered anything more than an occasional hard spanking, but Sirius had been abused by them nonetheless. Their weapons of choice were not belts or fists or slapping hands, but an icy, acid coldness they masked as disappointment. He was lazy. He was careless. He was spoiled. On occasion, if they were feeling particularly vicious, he was stupid. He was a waste of their money, their time, and the energy they had used to create him, and if his birth wasn't the single biggest regret of their lives, it was topped only by his lack of development ever since.

They were words, just words, and Sirius had learned to ignore them long ago, but, still - words could hurt, too. Words could hurt plenty.

Words, cutting words. Sirius supposed Snape got his share of that sort of abuse as well. Sirius still remembered the Howler Snape had received on their very first day at Hogwarts - at breakfast, it had been, on the morning after the Sorting. Snape's father had not been pleased with the Hat's decision to put his son in Slytherin, and he had wasted no time letting Snape (and, by default, the entire school) hear about it. That tirade, nearly two minutes long and laced with obscenities and vicious threats, had been the talk of the school for weeks; it was that Howler, Sirius recalled now, and the humiliated, horrified tears it had wrung from the eleven-year-old Snape, which had earned him the nickname "Snivellus" for once and ever more.

Snivellus. More of Bella's handiwork, that.

And what was it Malfoy had said? That Snape's dad was a drunk, and a thug, and that he abused Snape for his love of the Dark Arts. Something else, too...something about seeing "evil wizards behind every bush." Sirius knew Augustus Snape had been an Auror, so none of those facts came as any great surprise - a lot of Aurors were hard drinkers (and hard men), and seeing dark wizards everywhere was their bread and butter. But Sirius was willing to bet most of them didn't go punching their kids around to keep them on the path to magical righteousness.

Sirius sighed. Anyone that paranoid probably watched his son like a hawk, and would likely not be overjoyed that he was going off on holiday with a boy from a family as dark as the Blacks. If they were found out...well, Sirius didn't really want to contemplate that. He didn't mind taking risks for himself - he actively enjoyed taking them, as a matter of fact - but he knew he had no right to make that choice for Snape. His father didn't beat him; Snape's did.

Shit, shit and double-shit! It was enough to piss off a priest, really, and Sirius cursed his luck. Why couldn't Snape's father be like all the other Slytherin parents, and actually want his son to be evil?

With another sigh, Sirius picked up his Daily Prophet and turned to the classifieds again. As he perused the flats-for-rent listings, he thought, for the hundredth time, how much easier everything would be if he could just do as Peter had suggested and bring Snape home with him. True, they wouldn't be totally alone as he wished, but it was a big house and, like Hogwarts, it had its secret places. And they could probably manage a few nights' stay in London without too much trouble. Ha! Given how invisible Sirius was in his parents' house, most likely with no trouble at all.

But he just couldn't. He couldn't bring Snape home. Even if he believed he could stand two weeks at Grimmauld Place without going completely bonkers (or slaying his entire family in their sleep), he didn't think chez Black was any kind of proper environment for Snape. He was not worried that Snape would be unwelcome in his ancestral home; indeed, he feared just the opposite. The Black family was dark, almost as dark as the Malfoys, with a long and proud history of darkness behind it and, no doubt, an ambitiously dark future stretching before it. His parents would take one look at Snape - Severus Snape, the pureblood Slytherin, the Dark Arts wunderkind - and they'd not only welcome him, they'd fucking adopt him.

And they'd go to work on him. Shaping him. Twisting him. Turning him darker, turning him like them. Turning him against Sirius, just as they had turned Regulus.

Sirius jotted down a few likely-looking addresses. That one with the balcony overlooking the Thames sounded particularly nice. Very continental, that. It would certainly give Snape a taste of how the other half lived, and they could make some actual use of it as well. They could shag all night if they wanted, sleep sinfully late, and have enormous, leisurely brunches on the terrace. Perhaps, if they were feeling very daring, they could even have a little romp out there, right out in the spring-sweet sunshine or under the stars. Sure. And when Snape's crazy father finally hunted them down and killed them, he could just dump their bloody, broken bodies over the side.

Sirius Black, you are one morbid fucking bastard.

Sirius threw down his quill and rubbed his eyes. He had to resolve this thing soon, had to - all this thinking was making him a drag. No wonder Snape was such a dour little prick most of the time.

Even the other Marauders had been no help. Wormy had nothing more to offer, idea-wise; apparently, he'd exhausted his supply of inspired thoughts for the year. Moony, after voicing approval that Sirius was actually considering the consequences for Snape as well as for himself (the approval tinged with a disbelief that Sirius found rather insulting), said that Sirius should err on the side of caution and remain at Hogwarts. James just thought Sirius was being a twit.

"Even if his father is as wonky as everyone says he is, Snape's survived sixteen years with him," James had pointed out. "He'll live."

Sirius frowned doubtfully.

James threw up his hands. "For Christ's sake, Paddy, why don't you just ask him, then?"

"Him? Him who? You mean Snape?"

"No. I mean Dumbledore. Of course I mean Snape, you prat. It's his father, isn't it? If anyone should know how to get 'round the old nutter, Snape should."

"I don't know, Prongs. This is a lot to get around. More than cutting classes or throwing a hex at someone. This is - this is big."

"So is sneaking off to Malfoy's," James reminded him. "That lot are up to their necks in the Dark Arts, and if Snape's old man is really so set against dark magic, he couldn't know about that."

It was a fair argument. It was also embarrassingly obvious, now that Prongs had pointed it out for him.

"I wonder what Snape told him," Sirius mused. "If he told him anything. For all I know, he's just planning to take off for the fortnight, and counting on Malfoy to cover his arse. Maybe he plans to have Malfoy's old man bribe his old man--"

"There's only one way to find out," James cut in. There was more than a little irritation in his tone. "Stop bloody guessing and just ask him. And give the rest of us a break." He shook his head. "I love you, Paddy, but I have better things to think about day and night then how to set you and that walking corpse up in some love nest."

Sirius had given him a very dirty look, but he'd said nothing more. He didn't want to push his luck with James. James had accepted Sirius's growing infatuation with Snape, but that didn't mean he liked or understood it. Sirius suspected the only reason James had been tolerant for this long was Lily Evans, and the fact that James knew better than anyone the strange ways of foolhardy obsession.

Now, as he gathered up his parchments - three inquiries for more detailed information on three very expensive flats - Sirius thought, only half-joking: Probably end up just bloody kidnapping him. Probably just stuff the little git in a sack and carry him out the door. And then, if the worse came to the worst and Snape's father did find out, well...? Well, maybe Sirius would just have to get involved. Sirius thought he might even enjoy getting involved - it might be fun to give that abusive old boozer a taste of his own medicine.

As he walked up to the Owlery, a new thought occurred to him. Maybe Snape would not have to deal with his father at all. Maybe neither of them would. Sirius was going to turn seventeen on June 24, and he already planned to get his own place for the summer. If the spring holiday experiment worked and he and Snape proved they could actually live together without killing each other, well...who knew? Maybe--

(oh, don't be so stupid, he's not going to live with you, next thing you know you'll be picking out rings)

--maybe Snape could move in with him.

He wondered when Snape's birthday was. When would Snape be seventeen? Funny, how he knew so little about Snape, even after three months of intimate relations. He supposed he could find out easily enough. He needed to know for sure, if he was going to make any long-term plans. Madam Pomfrey probably had records of all the students' birthdays somewhere in her office, or perhaps Dumbledore did. Sirius supposed he could even ask Snape outright, if it came to--

He cut the train of thought off abruptly. He was a bit alarmed at how exciting he found the idea, how immediately his mind seized on it and ran with it and began racing with extravagant plans. Slow down, you berk, he chided himself sternly. First things first. Worry about now, now. Worry about the rest later.

Still, his heart was lighter than it had been in days as he entered the Owlery and sent his eagle owl, Lucifer, off with his mail, and he was whistling as he headed back out the door.

"Oof!"

And ran straight into Bellatrix Black.

Literally ran into her, just outside of the Owlery. He was coming out, she was coming in, and they collided full force, their bags and books spilling between them. Sirius was knocked flat on his ass; Bella managed to grab the door frame and keep her balance, though just barely.

"Why don't you watch where you're going, you stupid quiff?" Pain, more than anger, made him snarl the words. He had allowed Snape to top him for the first time just the night before last, and while Snape had been very, very good - that prostate thing was even better than all of Snape's moans and yelps and sighs had led him to expect - Snape was also very, very large, and Sirius still couldn't sit down without his ass wanting to floo the Fire Department.

Bella looked down at him coldly. "I believe you ran into me, Sirius. Now get up. You look remarkably stupid, and you're blocking my way."

Sirius ignored her. He rather gingerly got up on his knees and began stuffing scattered school supplies back into his bag. If she wanted to mail something, she'd bloody well have to wait.

"Get up, I said!" She kicked him, not gently, in the ribs. He scrambled to his feet. The movement made the ache in his ass flare sharp and hot again, and he drew his wand and pointed it in her face.

"Kick me again, you fucking bitch, and I swear I'll--"

"Oh, save your blustering," Bella said impatiently. "I've no time to play with you now." She drew her own wand from one green brocade pocket and gave it a wave; books and parchments and quills sailed neatly into her bag. She snapped her fingers - Sirius rolled his eyes and thought, Oh, yes, gods forbid Bellatrix Black should have to stoop - and the bag went to her hand like a faithful old dog. "There. That's got it, I think. Now, will you please get out of my way? I have mail to send."

Without waiting for an answer, she plowed past him and into the Owlery, knocking him on his ass yet again and slamming the door behind her.

"Oh, no thanks, I can get my own," Sirius called after her. "Really. It's no trouble at all." He looked at his spilled supplies again. For a moment, he was tempted to follow her example and just reversal-spell the mess, but students weren't allowed to do magic in the hallways. Not that he hadn't broken that rule a time or two himself--

But no. No. Given how many rules he was likely going to be breaking in the coming weeks, right now it would probably be best to keep as low a profile as possible.

He bent to his scattered books again, muttering as he threw them haphazardly into his bag. Bitch, hag, slag, bint...just about every pejorative term he could think of for "female I don't like very much" managed to pass his lips. His good mood was gone, at least for the time being. Bloody hell! Of all people who had to cross his path today, why did it have to be her?

He collected his last book - Secrets of Divination: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You - and there, crushed beneath it, was a roll of parchment. He picked it up. It was tied with a red velvet ribbon, and it reeked of Witch Diamonds perfume. Bella's perfume. On the outside, written in Bella's elegant, flowery hand, was the name Lucius.

Sirius frowned. He looked at the closed Owlery door. He looked at the parchment. He looked at the door again. The frown turned slowly into a smile.

Well, well, well. I think you dropped your mail, Bella. The mail you were so hot to send. Must be good stuff, too - why, you were so eager to get in there, you hardly took the time to be nasty.

Poor Bella. She'd be frantic if her message were to go missing, or fall into the wrong hands. Absolutely frantic. And furious. And--

Sirius looked around again. The hall was empty. He opened his bag and stuffed the parchment deep, then shouldered the sack and headed quickly for the stairs.

He was whistling again.

***

Less than five minutes later, he was on his bed in his empty room, a cold bottle of butterbeer in one hand and Bella's missive in the other. He untied the ribbon and unrolled the parchment, hoping for blockbuster stuff - Dear Lucius, I'm actually a man, just thought you should know - but willing to settle for even small details. Hopefully highly embarrassing, painfully personal details with which he could tweak her every now and again.

Like every single day for the rest of her school career.

Halfway through the letter, he began to regret his decision. It was, as he should have expected, nothing but a lot of mean and mindless gossip - who was wearing what, who was flunking what, who was fucking whom - about a lot of mean and mindless people Sirius barely knew. Slytherins, mostly. Agnes Bullstrode's mum and dad were getting divorced - more proof, if you asked Bella, that those half-Muggle/half-magic marriages simply did not work. Rita Skeeter had been caught snogging with Jeremiah Flint beneath the Quidditch stands, and could Lucius imagine anything more revolting than that pair of matching uglies tangling tongues? Juno Madigan and Serafina Nott had gotten into a right old catfight in the Slytherin common room over Rudolpho Lestrange, Bella's more-or-less steady boyfriend; Juno had hexed Serafina bald-headed, and it had taken Madam Pomfrey nearly twenty minutes to re-attach Juno's left ear. "As if either of those mousy wenches have a chance in hell with my Dolpho," Bella had written, and Sirius could almost hear her famous scornful laugh.

And so it went.

Sirius read these anecdotes with amusement, with disgust, even with a touch of jealous dismay - Slytherin did sound like quite the happening House, didn't it? Made rowdy Gryffindor Tower seem almost sedate by comparison - but with no real interest. There was nothing useful in these pages, certainly nothing he could hold at the ready for the next time Bella decided to stick her dainty nose where it didn't belong.

He was on page four, and fighting a series of jaw-cracking yawns, when he spied his own name on the page. Oh, Merlin, he thought sarcastically. I wonder what I've been up to that I didn't know anything about?

Amused, curious, he backed up a few sentences for context and read.

Is everything in place for the 18th? I know you had some concerns last time we spoke (and I must say, darling, I didn't much care for your tone!), but I don't think you have anything at all to worry about. I've been watching Severus very closely, just as I promised, and I'm certain he can get Sirius to follow him to the Manor. That "poor, friendless waif" bit of his has my idiot cousin mooning about after him like a lovestruck first-year. You know, I do fear I've underestimated Severus all these years. What a marvelous little actor he is! If he were just a bit prettier, he could be on the stage. Not that fooling Sirius requires any extraordinary talent, you understand. He's never been the sharpest wand in the shop. Just reporting the stupid things Sirius says in bed has made Severus the life of the Common Room! But I'm sure you've heard them all before. From what I can gather, even the sex isn't all that spectacular. Of course, Severus doesn't really talk to me, I think he's still angry over that silly "Snivellus" business - after all these years, can you imagine? Some people have no sense of humor. But he does talk to Dolpho sometimes, and Dolpho said Severus told him that fucking Sirius is like fucking a dog. "All panting and licking and not much else," is how Severus put it. I laughed so hard I thought I'd choke! Severus does have a way with a phrase, doesn't he? It's utterly beyond me why you're so jealous of them. I think Severus will be happier than anyone when all this is over and he can be rid of that Gryffie oaf once and for all. Myself, I can't wait. I'm going to have some fun with my dear cousin. There's a sexual variation on the Cruciatus I've been dying to try. And I know Severus has about five years' worth of revenge to get out of his system. I wonder if there'll be anything left of poor Ri-Ri when we're done with him? Oh, I'm getting wet just thinking about it!

And then it was on to that sneaky little Ravenclaw who told Evan Rosier she was on the Potion but really wasn't and now wanted him to marry her and what did she think this was, anyway, the Middle Ages?

Not that Sirius actually registered any of that. He was too busy trying to digest what he had just read. And it's so hard for me, he thought with distant, bitter humor, seeing as how I'm not the sharpest wand in the shop.

Snape had used him. Snape had tricked him. Snape had played him so neatly, for so long, it was almost funny. Almost. Hell, he was almost funny. Here he was, making all these grand plans, checking flat ads, sending owls to London; here he was actually worrying about Snape, making sure he had some decent clothes on his back, even entertaining notions of stepping in between Snape and his mean old daddy like some half-assed knight in a fairy tale, and what was Snape doing? Turning the name Sirius Black into a running Common Room joke.

He read it again. Certain bits seemed to leap off the page - That poor, friendless waif bit of his. What a marvelous little actor he is! All panting and licking and not much else - but he forced himself to ignore these distractions and read it thoroughly. It was coming together for him now. So Severus was supposed to lure Sirius to Malfoy Manor. He thought of the past six weeks, of Snape and all his stubborn whining about responsibility and promises, and he felt almost physically ill. Oh, Snape was all about promises, wasn't he? He had apparently promised Malfoy some unusual entertainment for his next party - some Sirius entertainment, one might say - and by Salazar, he was going to deliver.

The lying, scheming, whoring little fuck.

Trembling, he read it a third time, and a fourth. By the sixth time, his numb disbelief was thawing, scorched away by his rage. He couldn't remember ever feeling this angry, ever, in his entire life. For once, he was grateful that none of the other Marauders were in the dorm with him; he felt like jumping on and throttling purple the first person he saw.

That poor, friendless waif bit of his has my idiot cousin mooning about after him like a lovestruck first-year.

Yes, that was the one that really got to him. He could handle Bella's insults; he was used to those. He could handle Snape's stupid lies about his sexual performance, because he knew they were lies...unless Snape's cock was a "marvelous little actor" as well. He could even accept that Bella and her Slythie clique wanted to kidnap, rape, and possibly torture him and call it entertainment - they were only Slytherins, after all.

But it was the truth in Bella's hateful words that was so hard to take. He had been mooning about, wearing his heart on his sleeve, all these weeks. He had begun to care for Snape, and he hadn't bothered overmuch to hide it, all the time thinking that Snape was worthy of it, that Snape could learn to feel the same way, that Snape could grow and blossom and change. To find out now that Snape felt only contempt for him in return--

Gods! Had he really thought he'd seen Regulus in Snape, Regulus the way he was before, untouched by darkness and hate? Yes, yes he had...and in the end, Snape had proved to be like Reg in every way. He had betrayed Sirius as well. And as much as he hated Snape at this moment - and it was a black and murderous thing, this hatred - Sirius hated himself even more for choosing Snape, for picking someone so utterly unworthy for reasons buried in his own sad past.

It hurt. Oh, Christ, it hurt, it was like a knife twisting in his guts - but above the hurt, above the humiliation and disappointment, overriding it all in a pulsing red wave, was the rage.

Just reporting the stupid things Sirius says in bed has made Severus the life of the Common Room.

I think Severus will be happier than anyone when all this is over, and he can be rid of that Gryffie oaf once and for all.


And Snape had played it so beautifully, too. Stubborn but reluctant, determined but not totally intractable - oh, yes, Snape had played his part to perfection. Well, why not? He was, after all, a marvelous little actor.

A voice spoke up inside Sirius's head. It was timid, unsure, not at all like his usual mental voice. Maybe he wasn't acting. Maybe that's why he seemed so upset about going to Malfoy's. Maybe he was afraid you would follow. Maybe he knows what they're planning for you, and he doesn't want to be a part of it.

For a moment - no, not even a moment; a scant few seconds at best - Sirius grasped hopefully at these thoughts. Then his eyes went to the parchment again, and he saw fucking Sirius is like fucking a dog. He saw the stupid things Sirius says in bed. He saw has my idiot cousin mooning about after him. And something slammed shut inside him. Maybe Snape wanted him raped and ritually tortured over the holiday and maybe Snape didn't, but either way, it didn't change the fact that Snape had been using him, lying to him, and - oh, and this was the worst, Sirius didn't know why it was the worst, but it was - laughing at him for all these months. Playing him for the ultimate fool, and making fun of something Sirius had begun to believe in so earnestly.

"Maybe, shit," Sirius said aloud. Maybe if pigs had brooms, bacon would fly. He'd already wasted too much time defending Snape, protecting Snape, making excuses for Snape - but no more. Let him go to his precious fucking Malfoy if he needed protection. Sirius was done with him.

Well - almost done with him. Snape had some explaining to do before he got officially dropped. Maybe I'll just beat the truth out of you. Would you like that, you lying little fuck? I'll bring a dragon whip in one hand and a box of salt in the other, and you can scream your confession to the bare walls. And then go cry on Malfoy's shoulder.

Or maybe he'd just Crucio the little prick and have done with it.

A wave of despair assaulted Sirius, and he dropped his head in his hands. What difference did it make what he did to Snape? No punishment, no matter how brutal, could hurt Snape the way this was hurting Sirius. He wished it could. He wished he could think of something, anything, that would make Snape feel this same horrid stew of emotions, this outrage and anger, this shock, and this terrible, empty kind of sorrow.

His eyes went to the letter again. Fucking Sirius is like fucking a dog was the first thing he saw. Furiously, he grabbed his wand and muttered, "Incendio!" and the wretched thing burst into flames. He pushed it off the bed onto the cold stone floor, watching it char and curl and shrivel. Yet the words remained in his brain.

Fucking Sirius is like fucking a dog.

"Well, you'd know better than anyone, wouldn't you, Snivellus," Sirius muttered. He threw himself back on his bed, drawing the curtains with a flick of his wrist. How clever Snape probably thought he was, making a comment like that - and all the time not knowing how close he was to the truth. In other circumstances, Sirius would have enjoyed the irony. Another joke on the greaseball. This round goes to the Marauders.

He wondered what Snape would say if he knew he really had been fucking a dog - well, sort of - all these months. Most likely, he'd be horrified. Snape was a pureblood, and most purebloods hated magical beasts almost as much as they hated non-magical humans. As much as they hated, and feared, pretty much anything that wasn't a pureblood wizard or witch.

Maybe I'll tell him, Sirius thought with giddy, spiteful pleasure. After I whip the shit out of him, maybe I'll tell him. Let him know the tongue he's had on his tits and the cock he's had up his arse belong to a bloke who spends whole days scratching fleas and licking himself. A grim smile curved his mouth as he imagined the look on Snape's face. He imagined it would be a lot like the look he'd had on his own face when he was reading Bella's letter, and wouldn't that be poetic justice. Oh, yes. That would be completely bri--

He stopped. He stared up at the canopy overhead, barely visible in the murky light, and his smile became a grin. It was his old grin. The cruel, cocky, snappy grin that made his admirers swoon and his enemies blanch. It was his pre-Snape grin.

On second thought, maybe he wouldn't tell Snape about Padfoot after all.

Why tell him, when showing him would be so much better?

Chapter 6