The Last Resort
Severus had always been a very studious child. He'd always delighted in gathering and collecting information through his books or through the people that surrounded him. He'd been told once that hunger was the closest thing to emotion that dementors had the capacity to feel. It had always seemed perfectly reasonable that Severus' hunger for knowledge surpassed any of his other feelings by way of outward expression.
Now Severus had something very different to hunger for. Revenge. He wanted to hurt James for his cruel actions and Peter for his derisive laughter. He wanted to hurt Remus for standing by with his mild frown of disapproval, all the while doing nothing at all to either join in with his friends or to stop them. Most of all, he wanted to hurt Sirius for hating him. Because he simply couldn't' bear it. Severus could still taste the boy's emotions shimmering in the air around him, more prominently than anyone else's. The ability had not lessened since that first encounter in Madam Malkin's, and if anything, it had strengthened. Severus could still *sense* Sirius floating on the edge of his consciousness as a formless, intangible ache.
Severus couldn't help feeling he was about to break. All he wanted was for Sirius to break first.
So it was back to watching. Gathering and collecting information. Only now, Severus was doing so for a very different purpose. He was waiting for a revelation. Waiting for some piece of knowledge with the power to change the way he was treated, change the way he was seen, change everything.
He waited a very long time.
It wasn't until seventh year before he found what he was looking for. He had very little to go on besides instinct. All he knew was that something about Remus seemed off. Not quite typical human. His dementor abilities had increased over the years, but had never really been put into practice. For reasons unknown to Severus, sensing Sirius had always been easy. Other people were another matter. Other people were a low hum at the back of Severus' brain. It was difficult to tell apart individuals.
But something about Remus stood out. There were times when his emotions seemed baser, more primitive than was the norm. Severus didn't know what this meant, but the more he watched Remus and the way his friends treated him, the more he began to suspect that it meant something important.
By the time Severus had figured this out, his following of the Marauders had devolved into stalking. It was only natural that Sirius would call him on it. Stalking was not what Sirius considered within acceptable parameters for their relationship. Enemies ought to give each other some space. Sirius made a decision – he went to find Severus, with every intention of putting the greasy git in his place before going on his swaggering way.
Severus was in the dungeons making a potion, as was his typical habit. He started when the door to the room banged open and dropped one too many unicorn hairs into his concoction. Cursing vociferously with the realization that he would need to start all over, he turned to the doorway with every intention of slicing his intruder to little pieces.
"Can I help you with something?"
"You've been bothering us lately, Snape. We want you to stop tailing us everywhere we go."
Severus felt a brief flash of panic, but managed not to let the emotion appear on his face. "I have no idea what you're referring to."
Sirius smirked. "You know exactly what I'm referring to. Just stop it."
Snape closed his eyes for a moment. *Time to change tactics.* He opened them again to capture Sirius in an unsettling stare. "Why don't you make me."
"Please, Black, refrain from idle threats."
"When have my threats ever been idle."
"Whenever you've had too much to lose."
Sirius paused for a moment. Layered conversations had never been his forte. "Tell me Snape -- what have I got to lose this time?"
It was Severus' turn to pause. He had suspicions about Remus, but they weren't even close to being confirmed. Even if there was something off about Remus, there was no guarantee that Sirius knew about it. Still, it was all Severus had to go on, and he wasn't about to let Sirius win this little argument.
Still – something was better than nothing.
"Oh, I don't know – a friend perhaps?"
"What are you implying Snape?"
"There's something a bit...off...about Lupin, isn't there?"
Severus watched in awe as Sirius' face blanched white. A whirl of emotion shot through Severus from Sirius' direction -- a indecipherable jumble of panic. Then panic shifted to rage, and Sirius's face turned red with anger. Sirius said something then. He wasn't quite sure why he said it, and later would chalk the word up to an uncontrolled outburst of irrational spite. "You're asking me, Snape? Why don't you find out for yourself. There's a knot at the foot of the Whomping Willow. Go by...oh...next Tuesday should be the right time. Tap the knot with your wand."
"Why are you telling me this."
"You said you thought there was something off about Remus. I'm merely suggesting you go find him and ask him yourself."
"Why should I trust you?"
Sirius grinned a shark-like smile, and for a moment Severus felt like he was back in first year meeting Malfoy at the breakfast table.
"You don't have to trust me, Snape. Just go. It's not like you've got anything to lose."
Hushed voices in the background. *I almost...I almost...* Dumbledore, having been made headmaster in Severus' sixth year, was now speaking with...
*killed Lupin. I almost...*
Sirius. Sirius. Always the center of attention since the beginning of fifth year. This time the attention wasn't exactly positive.
*I could have if I hadn't realized in time...*
Dumbledore's soft brand of chastisement melded with the rest of the white noise at the back of Severus' mind. He didn't want to hear what the old man had to say to Sirius. He knew the words would never be harsh enough. He knew that Sirius just couldn't understand the enormity of what he'd done.
*because nothing happened*
*we're all okay*
Severus was sure Dumbledore would be harsher if something had happened. But Dumbledore simply wasn't used to being harsh to Sirius. Dumbledore loved Sirius, like the rest of the staff and faculty loved Sirius, like the majority of the graduating class loved Sirius, like the entire female population of Hogwarts loved Sirius, *like I lov...*
Hushed voices in the background. *Did they know how easily I would have kil...* McGonnagall entered into the office to speak to Dumbledore.
*...if I hadn't realized that the werewolf was Lupin, I'd have killed it...*
And it would have been self defense.
Everything seemed very surreal there in the too-quiet office. The thought drifted idly through Severus' head that *I could have died just as easily.*
It really *would* have been self defense.
*And they would have put him down, like an animal.*
If not for James. James. *Should I be grateful?*
*Should I be sorry that I'm not?*
Dumbledore led Sirius out of his office, then turned to Severus, beckoning him in with a wave of his hand.
Severus cornered Sirius in the hallway next to the kitchens, a thin, bitter smile curling his lips. His eyes were turned cold and dead. Sirius suppressed a shiver. "What do you want, Snape?"
"Oh, I want a lot of things. Mostly - mostly I want to watch you suffer for what you did."
"Look Snape, I'm sorry, but it's done."
"So I should forgive and forget?"
"It doesn't look like you have much of a choice."
"I could get you expelled, you know."
"You could do nothing of the sort."
"I could do anything I want. Dumbledore is not self-employed. I need only appeal to one of his superiors."
"So have you come here to threaten me? Is that it? I won't play your little game."
Severus' lips curled into a thin pout. "No, you won't, will you. Merlin forbid you do anything to hurt your pride." He sighed. "Ever the arrogant Gryffindor. Did you even apologize to your dear friend Lupin? Or would such an expression have discomfited your ego? "
"Don't patronize me."
"Big word, Black. I'm impressed."
Sirius raised a fist toward Severus.
"Going to hit me, then? As if you weren't in enough trouble for what you did already."
"Well go on then. I'm not stopping you. Beat me to a bloody pulp."
"You don't think I will?"
"I think you'll try."
"Try? Why would I do anything but succeed? We've played this game before, Snape. I always win. You think this time would be any different?"
"This time, I'm not afraid to kill you."
"Don't tell me you were just ‘holding back' before. Really? Oh, good show, Snape!"
Severus greeted Sirius' sarcasm with a cold, narrow smile. Unsettled by this response, the cocky Gryffindor felt his confidence begin to falter. He found himself blurting, "But Dumbledore confiscated both our wands."
"Indeed he did."
“Well it's not like you've got a vial of potion stuffed away in your back pocket.”
“No. Certainly not that.”
"You can't possibly expect to hurt me without some sort of weapon."
"I can't?" Severus took a step closer. Sirius resisted the urge to back away.
"You've been holding that fist up in the air for a while now. Aren't you going to do something about it? Hit me already."
Sirius paused, debating what to do. He knew that he had a habit of acting before thinking. Instinct was telling him that now was a time to think. The smart thing to do would of course be to leave. Sirius dropped his fist and turned to go.
But before he could finish his first step, Severus kicked out with his foot, shoving Sirius to the ground, rage gleaming in his black eyes. "Don't you dare walk away," Severus hissed. "You think you can take the moral high-ground now? After three years of torture?"
Sirius pushed himself up from his prostrate position and turned towards Severus. "Fine, Snape," he growled, clambering to his feet. "If that's how you want it."
He drove foreward, punching Severus hard in the stomach. He followed quickly with a kick to the groin. Severus curled in on himself, grimacing in pain. He took two harsh breaths and then straightened, facing Sirius with some approximation of a fighting stance. Sirius laughed at this effort before wrapping both hands around Severus' neck and slamming him up against the nearest wall. "Not afraid to kill me, Snape? Tell me this - are you afraid of pain?"
Severus broke out of the bruising hold in a burst of adrenalin. He twisted his fingers into the Gryffindor's hair and pushed foreward until Sirius was backed up against the opposite wall. "I'm not afraid of anything," Severus whispered. His words were like a promise. He rose, lifting up onto the toes of his feet, moving until his face was level with his opponent's. "I'm not afraid of anything," he said again.
And then, he was pressing his lips to Sirius', his eyes gone dark and strange as he breathed in, and in...
*This is what killing is to a dementor...*
Sirius felt as though he were floating, as though he were fading. Memories flickered and popped within his mind, dimming at the seam between their lips. A weak moan escaped from the back of his throat. His hands began to tremble. *Maybe I'm dying,* he mused.
Thoughts faded. Sirius opened his mouth. And slid his tongue forward. The wet, agile muscle caressed the roof of Severus' mouth, trailed the hollows of the moist cavern, smoothed over lips still frozen with murderous intent. Severus had not been expecting...this.
The Slytherin began to pull away. Sirius followed his movement, sinking further into the kiss, pressing forward against layers of clothing, raising his hands to clutch at Severus' shirtfront. And Severus.
*What am I doing?*
Sirius never managed to formulate an answer, for suddenly Severus decided to reciprocate. Small, sharp bites ravaged the line of Sirius' mouth. Warm suction enveloped his tongue, drew on it, laid claim to it. He moaned quietly and slid his hands up Severus' arms to grip his shoulders. The tips of the Slytherin's hair feathered against Sirius' knuckles, and he absently noted that the soft strands felt much cleaner than they looked.
He was distracted from further thought as Severus began sifting through his robes, pushing at the folds of his garments to brush against the bare skin of his stomach. The touch was dry, slightly rough. Sirius was surprised, for he had somehow expected Severus' hands to be softer, gentler. He supposed he should have known better. No doubt those hands had been subject to considerable abuse. It was too easy to imagine those palms red and abraded from handling dry, stinging powders without the cumbersome protection of dragon hide gloves. Too easy to picture those slender wrists sore and stiff from lifting heavy cauldrons from one burner to another.
Sirius could feel the thin quill calluses that lined the pads of Severus' fingertips. They scraped gently along his waist, circled his hips, and smoothed down beneath the lip of his trousers to curl around the curve of his buttocks. They dipped teasingly into the cleft before returning to that flat stretch of abdomen to find that trail of darkened hair and...follow it.
Eyes fluttered closed.
Sirius' belt slithered from its loops in a soft hiss. His pants dropped unceremoniously, tangling around his ankles and bunching over his shoes. Thumbs hooked over the waistband of his underclothes and shoved downward. Hands shifted. The heel of a palm pressed insistently against the heated skin at the base of Sirius' shaft. He moaned softly, his tongue still held prisoner in Severus' mouth.
Severus shivered at the sound and bent his wrist towards the exposed length, wrapping his fingers around the warm flesh. And those fingers...
*twitching over a sprawl of parchment scraps as they scribbled a mess of notes into*
...found the beaded moisture at the head of Sirius' prick and...
*crooking over the warped edge of an old wand. “If you don't practice, you'll never -*
...painted a streak of moisture along the bluish vein that...
*worrying at the edges of a bandage. It doesn't hurt. And even if it did*
...ran along the underside. The member hardened in his hands, jerking in a sharp upwards flex.
*Dementors don't know how to scream.*
Severus closed his lips to press chastely against the wet edge of his lover's mouth.
If he dared use such an endearment.
Sirius' slid his hands from Severus' shoulders to tug and part the Slytherin's robes. Once the garment lay gaping and open he swept his hips forward, surging upward towards Severus' impressive erection. He tensed as their thighs brushed, reveling in the sensation of skin on skin. He arched back until his muscles and ligaments burned with the strain, until he felt the bulge of Severus' arousal jerk against his own, until –
The kiss broke.
Sirius inhaled on a shriek, head thrown back, lungs gasping in air with a drowned desperation. He came, spraying his release over a ridiculous tangle of limbs. His climax tore through Severus' mind, and the Slytherin had no choice but to follow in it's aftermath, thrusting forward through the fog of spent emotion and losing himself in the liquid flow of orgasm.
Severus closed his eyes, and his mouth fell open in release of one hot, short breath - one he had not realized he'd been holding in.
Until Sirius closed his lips over that last escape of air.
And swallowed it down.
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