PAIRING: SS/SB

RATING: NC-17, but only in some parts

FEEDBACK: jmann@pobox.mondenet.com

DISCLAIMER: Severus Snape, Sirius Black and the other Potter-characters belong to J. K. Rowling; the others are mine, but she could use them if she wanted to.

SUMMARY: Snape and Black come to an understanding about their differences.

NOTE 1: Part of the Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest: Second Wave {Pairing # 12: Sirius Black}

NOTE 2: Sigh. Sorry for the length. It just got away from me.

ARCHIVING: The Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest; others after Fest concludes but please ask first, I just want to know where this is going.

BETAS: with many thanks to Lady Mondegreen and her patience, and to Evil Child and her fine eye. And to Paddywinkle who was also so kind as to allow me the use of her name.

Resolutions: A Story in 13 Parts

by Josan



Part One

Prologue: The Beginning

There was no one waiting for him at Platform nine and three-quarters. Not that he had been expecting anyone to be there.

He watched quietly, his luggage on a cart, as parents and older siblings greeted those who were returning from their time at Hogwarts.

He waited until the platform was pretty much empty before finding his way out into the Muggles' terminus. There, he used the money he had left over from his original journey ten months earlier and boarded the train North. At the final station on the line, once more he made his solitary way to the pier and waited for the boat and the journeyman who would come at the signal of the raised flag. While he waited, he sat on his trunk and read the book he had created for himself over the past term. It listed ingredients for potions along with special instructions that the Potions Instructor, Professor Burqhuart, had taught him in those private sessions Burqhart had given the strange boy who was so bewitched by the subject matter.

At the sound of the small motorboat coming in to dock, he slipped the little book into a secure inside pocket and stood, ready to grab the rope the man tossed to him. Within minutes, they were on their way.

Back to Rousay and the dark manor that lay nestled in a desolate hillside, protected from the fiercest of the fierce Northern Sea storms.

Once safely docked at the only pier near the manor, the man helped the boy and his luggage up, unmoored and returned to his own house at the point of the island.

The boy silently watched him until he was out of sight and then, knowing that his arrival could no longer be delayed, he went up the pathway to the house. He knew that by the time he was allowed to go to his room, the House Elves would have transferred his luggage there, would have gone through all the contents to see that he was not sneaking in anything not permitted. He knew that he would be allowed the books he had brought with him for his summer homework, but even those would be strictly verified against the list that he knew had already been sent to the man who was waiting for him.

There was no one to open the front door for him, to greet him. His footsteps on the stone floor echoed loudly to his ears as he made his way down the hallway. At the door of the library, he took a deep breath and wondered if the pleasure of the past year would be enough to get him through this interview.

Knowing what was probably going to occur, and also knowing there was nothing he could do to prevent it, he knocked on the door and waited until the House Elf opened it.

This House Elf, no more than any of the others, was not pleased to see him. The boy knew that their loyalty was to the man waiting for him. That his presence nay, his mere existence! was like bane in a wound to the man. That while he had been away, everyone's lives would have run more smoothly, more easily.

"Master waits for you," intoned the House Elf.

The boy nodded and entered. The House Elf shut the door behind him and, for the merest of moments, the boy wanted to turn, to open that door and run away. Back to the dock, back to the train. Back to Hogwarts.

But he had learnt early on in life not to wish for things that could not be. So the desire lasted only long enough for him to be aware of it and ruthlessly push it away.

The room was dark. The heavy drapes were drawn, keeping out the faint twilight of the late hour. At this time of year, this far north, the sun set late and rose early. There would be maybe three hours of dark night. The salt air affected all buildings here. The stone kept that dampness in, and so there was a fire softly burning in the hearth, providing the only light as well as a stopper to the dampness in the air.

The boy watched that fire as he waited, placing himself into that state of non-feeling which would serve him until he was allowed to go to bed.

He was made to wait until he found himself nodding off on his feet. It had been a long day for him, what with their leaving the security of Hogwarts at dawn.

"Slytherin," said the voice which immediately snapped him to full awareness. "I must admit to being stunned. I was under the impression that it was impossible for the famous Sorting Hat to make an error. Still, this must be a first. Slytherin, when I would have thought..." Here the sneer was magnified, "Hufflepuff? Isn't that where they put the failures?"

The voice moved and the man speaking came to stare into the fire, hands clasped behind his robed back

The boy said nothing. He had learnt the hard way that it was better not to respond unless to a direct question when the man was in this mood. Which was whenever he was around.

"I am curious, did the Hat give a reason for such a mis-sorting?" The man turned to look at the boy. "Well, DID IT?"

"No, sir," lied the boy.

Ah, had whispered the Hat, so that's the way it is. Well, I think Slytherin for you. Yes, Slytherin will teach you the skills you will need to survive, to become what you should be.

"Slytherin. That's where young Malfoy was placed, wasn't it? Seem to remember his father blabbing on about that at the Club. The Malfoys are an important family. Would it be too much to hope that you and the boy...what's his name?"

"Lucius, sir."

"Yes, Lucius. Is there any chance that you and this Lucius are friends?"

The boy remained silent.

"No, of course not. That would be sensible and you don't have the intelligence to do anything sensible. Mind you, that could also be because the Malfoy boy doesn't see anything in you worth wasting his time on. Sad for you that the rest of the universe doesn't see in you what your grandfather thought he did. That they see you for the miscreation that you are."

The boy flinched. He thought he had been prepared for this, but it had been too long and the months at Hogwarts had made him forget the bitterness and anger of the man before him.

"Or maybe just the sight of your ugliness is enough to send him screaming away."

The man took a step closer to the boy. Once, the child would have been crying silent tears at his words. Now the boy watched him with wide-open eyes that were black in the darkness of the room.

The man pulled a parchment out of his robe pocket and tilted it to the light so that he could read it aloud.

"Charms, B minus. Transfiguration, B. Spells, another B. Herbology? Why, what do we have here?" The man looked at the boy as though astonished, then sneered coldly, "Yet another B. You are monotonous in your grades, if nothing else. History of Magic. Are we surprised? Another of those B's. No, I correct myself. Seems this B has ambitions. It comes with a plus next to it. And for the last, Potions. An A, with its own little plus. Potions. An excellent subject matter for one who is destined to become what?" the voice slashed out "A chef? A kitchen helper?

"Is this what your grandfather left good money for, for your training as a putter-together of ingredients! Spending all that money on the best wizard school in the Isles, a school I did not have the advantage of attending, while all you have the ability for could be taught at some Muggle's Cordon Bleu Institute of Food!"

And that, of course, was the gist of it. That instead of leaving his money to his son-in-law, a cousin from the poorest branch of the family, a man he had bought to marry his unlovely daughter who had fallen in love with this cousin on seeing him, whose beauty and body the cousin had been more than willing to sell for the pleasure of rising high in one of the oldest of wizardry's families, old wizard Snape had left his properties and their contents, his moneys to his only grandchild, the boy Severus.

Oh, he had provided for the cousin. This manor had been given over to him for the duration of his life. He had set up what he had thought was a reasonable annual allowance that would continue only as long as the cousin remained unmarried. But all else belonged to the boy who had the misfortune of resembling his mother and his grandfather, and not his oh-so-beautiful father.

The father might have been more accepting of the situation had he been given a role in the management of all this inheritance, but old Snape had not lived to the age he had without recognizing a wastrel when he bought one. He had set up Gringotts Bank as the boy's trustees. And there was no way that a Gringotts trustee would allow Phineas Snape's hands to touch his son's inheritance.

"Look at me when I condescend to talk to you." His hand flashed out and the first blow caught the boy across the side of the face. He staggered, then righted himself. In time to receive the second blow.

By the time his father's belt joined the fray, Severus lay curled on the floor, hands covering his face, knees tucked in to protect delicate abdominal organs. The blows continued until, finally, the need for a drink outweighed Phineas Snape's need to punish the child who had, in his mind, stolen his rightful treasure and place in society from him.

As he staggered to his chair, poured the last of the whiskey into his glass, the House Elf appeared, another bottle in his hands.

Snape yanked the bottle to himself, opened it. "Get him out of here,' he snarled. "I may be stuck with him until next term, but I don't want to see hide nor hair of him."

In the library, Phineas Snape drank himself into a self-pitying stupor. Upstairs, in his room, Severus lay on his bed, body aching from the beating inflicted upon it. Upon his father's orders, the House Elf taking care of him was not to give him anything to mitigate the pain.

The father wanted the son to suffer the same pains of life that he himself did.

In his bed, Severus rubbed his face dry against his pillow. He closed his eyes and, to ignore the pain, he brought to mind the first year Gryffindor who, on accidentally bumping into him, had sent him to the floor, books strewn around him.

"Sorry about that," Sirius Black had apologized. "Didn't see you coming. I really should learn to pay attention to where I'm going."

And as he had helped Severus pick up his books, the boy had smiled at him. A wondrous, open smile.

A smile that kept Severus sane through that and other summers.


Part Two: A Brief Encounter

"Funis colligo!"

Before Sirius Black had time to turn around at the sound of the voice, he found himself almost cocooned in white, shiny strands.

"Inarticulato!"

And with a white handkerchief stuffed in his mouth.

Unable to keep his balance, he fell to the ground, at the feet of the last man he cared to see.

Severus Snape.

"I was wondering if you would show up." Severus Snape smiled as though he were a cat who had just swallowed the proverbial canary.

"Quidditch and your godson playing. What an irresistible pairing." Snape's voice oozed insincerity. "Somehow I knew that if you were still anywhere in the area, you would be stupid enough to put your life on the line to watch." Snape stooped to glare with satisfaction at the man who lay at his feet. "I hope it was worth it, Black," he snarled, "because it has cost you your life. The Ministry will be so happy to have you back in its hands and in those of its Dementors."

Sirius Black wriggled ineffectually in his bounds, garbled sounds barely making it past the gag.

Snape ignored him, looking around to see if anyone had noticed the small drama being acted out in the shadows of Hagrid's hut. But all the spectators were fully focused on the action taking place in the Quidditch pitch. He would have time to....

The shouts and yelling coming from the field had Snape cursing under his breath. Only one thing could have gotten that kind of reaction: the snitch had been caught. Already the stands were beginning to empty. And while the students and staff milled around, rehashing the game, play by play, the chance that he and his prisoner would be seen was too great.

With a peeved huff, he bent and grabbed hold of the ropes that encircled Black, hauling him to his feet. Holding his prisoner steady, Snape pulled out his wand. An irritated "Trasporto!" later, both of them were safety transported to his private quarters, in the dark dungeons of Hogwarts.

Snape let go of Black, who toppled backwards onto the armchair by the cold fireplace. It was not done out of concern for his health should he have dropped to the stone floor. No, it simply occurred because the chair just happened to be there.

"Damn it!" muttered Snape as he wanded a privacy spell on the doors. "Now we'll have to wait until dark. There's no way that Dumbledore will allow any Dementor anywhere near Hogwarts, not after what happened the last time. Certainly not in the daylight." He glared at Black, who was watching him with angry bleak eyes. "I'll wait until everyone has gone to bed and then I'll contact Azkaban to come get you."

The fear that flashed in the dark eyes of the bound man was very pleasing to him. Maybe, over the next hours, he could be somewhat compensated for the mockery he had endured this last week when, in mere minutes, he had gone from being the Minister's golden boy to being nothing more than an irritation.

Snape made himself comfortable in the corner of the short couch that also served as a place to stack some of the books and papers he was working on this term. He stretched his long legs, crossed one booted foot over an ankle and, slouching, shoved his hands into his robe's pockets.

"You have no idea," he began in that lazy tone he knew made his students cringe, waiting for the blast of sarcasm that usually followed, "what a pleasure it is to have you here in my rooms. It will make for a nice memory in the years to come, to remember you here, at my mercy."

Black shook his head angrily, garbled sounds indicating his opinion of that occurring.

Snape cocked his head and raised an eyebrow. "You know, dear boy," laden heavily with cold sarcasm, "I can't understand a thing you're saying. And since we have several hours before I can safely send a special delivery message to the Ministry, I fear that I may become excessively bored with the sound of my own voice. So to that end..."

Snape removed one hand from his pocket, waved it in the direction of Black, and the handkerchief gag untied itself and floated down to Black's lap.

"You fucking..."

At the growled obscenity, Snape once again waved his hand and the gag was back where it had been.

"No, no. A civil tongue in your mouth, Black, or you don't get a chance to beg me to let you go free." Snape scoffed slightly to himself. "Not that there's any chance of that happening, but I'm sure you'd like to try." He raised his hand once more. "Now then, you will address me civilly or," his voice hardened, "you can choke to death on the thing for all I care. Which will it be?"

Black closed his eyes and, after a moment, nodded.

"Yes, I thought so." Snape condescended to wave yet again and the gag slipped off. "You may thank me for my generosity."

"Th...Thank you?" Black inhaled as though ready to let loose his thoughts on that when Snape merely raised his hand. Black gritted his teeth, holding back what he truly wanted to say.

"I'm waiting, and I'm not a patient man, Black."

Black glared at the man who was clearly enjoying himself at his expense. It took all his strength and the thought of the Dementors for him to say, in an even tone, "I thank you for your generosity." Snape shoved his hand back into his pocket. "There, now, that wasn't so difficult, was it? No harder, I'm sure, than when I was forced to thank James Potter for saving my life."

Black caught the growl before it made it out of his throat. He had no doubt that if he said anything to displease his captor, he would be gagged once more. And gagged, he would have no chance to plead for his life.

"Is that what this is all about, Snape? A stupid prank that went wrong twenty years ago?"

"Prank?" Snape glared coldly at Black, who met the look straight on. He jerked upright and leaned over to place his face as close as possible to Black's. "Prank? Is that what you call your plan to kill me? A prank!" His spittle hit Black on the face, which turned to avoid being sprayed by more of the same. Snape grabbed Black's face and forcibly turned it back to him. "Oh, let me think. One of those so very laugh-producing Gryffindor-type pranks. Which are such fun for Gryffindors but hell on everyone else!"

"It wasn't like that!" Black protested.

"You may not remember it that way, Black, but I wonder how the brunt of your jokes, your many victims, remember it. I can assure you that I, for one, didn't laugh that night. Didn't see anything remotely funny about your setting me up for a werewolf, most especially did not find being rescued by James Potter, of all people, a chuckle."

Eyes blazing, fighting off his own feelings of guilt at the near death of a fellow student, Black tried to defend himself again.

"We were sixteen years old. We were stupid. We behaved like typical sixteen year olds! You were one too, Snape. You also did things that, looking back, must make you cringe at your own foolishness, your own stupidity!"

Snape released Black's face and settled back in the corner of the couch, his seemingly uncaring pose belying the tension in his face. Still, he felt a sense of joy at seeing the marks on Black's face beginning to bruise from the pressure of his grip.

"I am sorry to disappoint you, but I never did anything that one could classify as stupid or foolish in my days as a Hogwarts student."

This time Black allowed the scoff out.

It was met by a raised eyebrow and an inquiring look.

"Get off your high horse, Snape. You were sixteen and, like the rest of us, you were a prat. You may have avoided foolishness and stupidity in Slytherin House, but you certainly proved yourself more than foolish, following us around. Pretending that you were keeping a eye out for our breaking of the rules when all the time we knew how much you wanted to join us."

"Join you?" sneered Snape.

But Black had seen him lose colour and knew that he had found a weakness he might be able to exploit in his attempt for freedom. Being returned to the Dementors meant death this time, and both he and Snape knew it. Dear Merlin, did Snape really hate him enough to send him to that kind of death? To have his soul sucked out of him by means of a Dementor's kiss?

"Yes. Us. James, Remus, Peter and I. You followed us wherever we went whenever you could."

"I suppose this gave all of you more than a few opportunities to laugh at my expense."

Again calmly stated, but Black, eyes intent on his enemy's face, caught the pain that had been quickly hidden under the coldness of his comment.

"Snape. We were sixteen. You of all people know that sixteen year old males are thoughtless and cruel with it. You deal with them every day."

"Are you saying that you didn't laugh yourselves silly at me?"

Again that cold voice, and again the flash of pain.

Black thought this time before opening his mouth. He had to tread carefully. The wounds of those days went far deeper than any of them would have guessed.

"Look, we all knew that you wanted James."

"That I what?"

Snape was truly stunned. Black grimaced. This was not going to be easy.

"We figured it out fairly quickly. I mean, if James was there, so were you. You came to watch him at Quidditch practice." At the raised eyebrows, Black added, "We could see you, watching us from the side of Hagrid's house."

"So that's how you knew it would be a good spot from which to watch your godson." Snape's voice was less cold, as though that had answered a question of his.

"And we could always find you at a near-by table whenever we went to work in the Library. Once, we even moved, just to see if you would too."

"And did I?" The coldness was back.

Black shrugged as best he could, considering his situation.

"And all this...this...following. This is what led you to believe that I...wanted... Potter?"

"Look, Snape. It was perfectly normal. I mean, what sixteen year old boy doesn't eventually get a crush..."

"A crush?" There were icicles dripping off the words.

Black glared at Snape, who was slowly sitting up. "What, the great Potions Master never felt need or want for another? Call it what you will, but what other conclusion could we have come to? I mean, you were always looking at him. Your eyes followed him about. All he had to do was move and your eyes tracked him."

"And this led you to conclude that I had a crush on him?"

"Well, why would you be any different than all the others?"

"All the others?" Snape leaned back against the couch and Black felt a lessening of tension.

"Yes. Well, he was Head Boy. He'd won that award as best Quidditch Seeker. He had his following, let me tell you. You weren't the only one who wanted to get into his pants."

Black found himself captured by the frigidity of Snape's raising eyebrow.

"Really? Into his pants. And were you also one of those who...wanted to get into his pants? Or had you already been?"

Black grew wary at the unemotional tone of that last question. "Come on, Snape. We shared the same room for seven years. What do you think?"

"I don't know what I think. Why don't you tell me?"

"Why don't you loosen these ropes? They're cutting off the circulation in my body."

"Really?" There was that eyebrow again. "And why should I care?"

Black returned the gesture, though he knew he would never be able to duplicate the disdain in Snape's action. "Because you want to deliver me conscious and fully aware to the Ministry's Dementors. If I were unconscious when they arrived, what fun would that give you?"

Snape stared at Black and finally, after a few tense moments, he raised his hand and waved it several times in Black's direction. Immediately Black felt the bonds loosening. Enough for him to be able to take a deep breath. Enough for him to be able to wriggle his hand. With a little luck...

"You were telling me about getting into Potter's pants."

"You know, Snape, that holier-than-thou attitude is one of the reasons you had so few friends at Hogwarts."

"No," said Snape, almost contemplatively, "not really. The main reason I was not surrounded by friends was that I was an ugly child. I have noticed, in my years since, that ugliness often precludes popularity. One can be an idiot, a liar, a thief, but if one has anything that remotely passes for looks, one is popular."

Frowning slightly, Black stared at Snape. "You weren't ugly."

Snape's face hardened. "Yes, I was. I was an ugly infant. An ugly child. I am an ugly man."

Black began shaking his head but Snape ignored him. "To add to the ugliness, I was also intelligent, but not in the popular subjects. To be popular, you need to be good in Transfiguration. Like you and Potter were. Or Charms. Like Lupin and Potter were. Potions are only useful. For Love Potions, or Wart Removing Potions. Even Potions for Werewolves. Useful, but not popular. The fact that I received the highest marks in the subject in the history of this school was nothing to brag about. Anywhere."

Black opened his mouth to say something when the bitterness in that those last words hit him. He shut his mouth. Snape was right. Potions was not a popular subject. Hadn't been in their day. Probably still wasn't now that Snape was teaching it.

"So," Snape crossed one long leg over his knee, "what was Potter like in bed?"

Black shrugged, hoping the gesture would cover the inching of his hand towards the pocket of his robe. "You know..."

"No, I don't. Do tell."

Black paused, not knowing whether to titillate or be honest. He decided to chance honesty.

"There were just the usual gropes. The usual experimentation."

"Among all of you?"

Black thought that Snape probably looked at his students that way when he was listening to the repetition of a lesson. Bored and not all that interested.

Black shrugged again and managed to insert his fingertips into the pocket of his robe. "Peter liked to look. James...well, truthfully, Snape, you wouldn't have gotten very far with him. He liked mutual masturbation sessions, but he really preferred women. Well, Lily. Once he began hanging around her, he usually avoided our little sessions."

"Our? Whose?" Again that barely interested tone.

Black shrugged and managed to slip more of his hand into his pocket. Damn the things for being so deep!

"Remus and I."

"Lupin and you were lovers?"

"For a while. Until..."

Snape was just a bit more interested. "Until?"

"Until that night in the Shrieking Shack. After that, he refused to let me touch him. Snape..."

Snape was projecting cold again. Black wondered if he would have another chance. "Snape, please, listen to me. Hear me. I was a sixteen year old arsehole. A stupid git. I did something foolish and yes, it might have cost you your life. And for that I apologize."

"Apologize!" Snape rose up like a striking cobra. "Apologize? Is that supposed to make things right?"

"I...Snape...Severus..."

"DON'T CALL ME THAT!"

Snape and Black stared at each other. Black was taken aback by the hatred he saw on Snape's face.

"You do not have the right to call me by my name!" Said through clenched teeth, each word bitten out. Fists white from the strain of keeping them away from the man's throat, Snape took a step away from the couch and turned his back to Black.

Who took the opportunity to finally shove his hand completely into his pocket and feel around for the sliver of wood that was his wand in disguise. With an effort that cost him some skin, Black pulled his hand back out and worked the sliver of wood away from his bonds.

"Funis colligo!"

And suddenly Severus Snape found himself cocooned in white, shiny strands. He tried to turn around, only to waver on his feet, and fall to the carpeted stone floor.

Black managed to point the tiny wand at himself. "Libertato!"

And Sirius Black wriggled free of his bonds, all the while holding the eyes of the man coldly, silently, glaring up at him from the floor. He went over to the door, unspelled it. He had his hand on the latch when he stopped and turned around. "Yes, I apologize. What I did was wrong. I admit I was a thoughtless idiot. I nearly cost you your life. I know that one doesn't like to appear weak to one loved, even if that love is one-sided. I understand why you then hated James for saving you."

He shook his head sadly. "It took a long time for him to forgive me for putting your life in jeopardy. Remus still hasn't, even though he now knows that I am innocent of betraying Lily and James. I had his affection then and I lost that, too. You may not have had James's to lose, so you have no idea how much that hurt. And I may never get it back. My stupidity had repercussions on all of us that night. But I am sorry. I know that doesn't mean anything to you, but I was and am." He smiled weakly. "Blame it on my having been an arsehole if you will." "You still are, you idiot." Snape spoke through clenched teeth. "James was not the one I was following. Not the one I wanted!"

But Sirius Black didn't hear him. He had slunk into the hallway, eyes and ears peeled as he made his way out of the building. In the dark, no one even noticed the large dog running into the Forbidden Forest where Buckbeak was waiting patiently for him.


Part Two

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