Summary: Someone screws up; someone
is screwed. In 1977, the Potters had more in common with the Malfoys
than Harry would want to think. James/Snape; angsty type stuff.
Rated: R for slash, sex, swearing,
Spoilers: all books, plus Fantastic Beasts.
Note: with gratitude to the Divine Ms Dru for her overnight beta.
Disclaimers: characters are the property and creation of JK Rowling. Lyrics by Tori Amos.
1. The Best Families
starfucker, just like my Daddy
Your father maintains that you are the best of the best. The best son from the best family.
You had a brother, once.
You don't talk about him anymore.
Your father has expectations, some of which you meet with relative ease. Academic success, check. Athleticism, check. Charm, check. Charisma, check.
These, though, are just the beginning.
You don't do so well here. That's your mother's influence, your lovely, quiet, dignified Belgian mother.
Your father is no Death Eater, of course. But he is a businessman, and he deals with everyone who comes to him, no questions asked.
You are a wealthy young man. Secretly, you hate your money, but you love the things it brings you: good food, the best broomsticks, the ability to buy things for your friends.
You are a scion of one of the best families.
You are never allowed to forget this.
2. The Other Families
everywhere a Judas as far as you can see
There is a hierarchy of families: the Best Families (yours, the Malfoys, the Zabinis), the Lesser Families (the Crabbes, perhaps, or the Weasleys, or the Bones, the ones with blood, but no money) and the Others.
The Others: those who mix their blood with the lower orders. Those who fail to play by the unwritten laws of your culture. Those who got caught.
The Blacks are one of the Other Families; so are the Lupins. The Pettigrews, half-bloods for five generations now, barely even qualify for that label.
The Muggle-born do not signify in
your father's world.
The Snapes are a Lesser Family, rapidly sliding towards the status of Other. A little matter of certain poisons being discovered in their house, rumours of Dark magic, embarrassing gambling debts, money owed to the Minister.
Your father could, perhaps, help
them. If he chooses.
Your father doesn't know that you saved Severus Snape's life a year ago. He would smile, and rumple your hair, and say, "I knew you'd be good for something, James."
He expects you to create alliances and networks at Hogwarts, and in creating this debt, you have exceeded expectations.
And he does have high expectations.
You have no plans to tell him.
Your family's parties are the stuff of legend in rarefied circles. This Christmas, your mother has outdone herself. She is an elegant hostess, a silent, smiling counterpoint to your father's powerful presence.
Naturally, your friends were not
You linger on the landing, your best robes itching and uncomfortable, as the guests arrive. Soon, your mother will summon you downstairs: the eldest son (the only son, remember, no one talks about your brother, who never even made it to Hogwarts) making his parents proud.
The Minister will laugh and bring his daughter forward, and you will dutifully flirt with her. Narcissa will smile, because you can make her laugh, and because she knows who and what your real girlfriend is.
You watch from above as Lucius Malfoy says something charming to your mother. You are about to descend voluntarily when the Snapes enter.
Julius is bluffing it out, shaking hands with the Minister and smiling at your parents. It is his wife and son who bear the tension: in her restless fingers, in his darting eyes.
He sees you on the landing, and looks away.
You saved his life, once.
He's never forgiven you.
3. Business Propositions
runs in the family
"And young James…"
Julius Snape reminds you of his son, and you instinctively hate him. He may be drowning, but he is still a shark and he'd tear your limbs off if he thought it would help his cause.
You shake his hand, and smile. Over Julius's shoulder, Lucius grins at you, amused at the little playlet.
Several hours later, he pauses by your side. "And young James…" he drawls, mimicking Julius's tone.
Malfoy's eyes are calculating, but he's relatively sober, and relatively amusing.
"What on earth have you done to poor Severus, James? All summer, he was spitting venom about James bloody Potter. More than usual, I mean."
Saved his life. Nearly died in the process: you still wake up with the sensation of Remus's fangs brushing your leg, in the instant before you escaped.
"As always, James, your 'nothing' is even more impressive than any effort you might expend."
"I'm just special."
"Of course you are."
Lucius drifts away, distracted by Narcissa's smile, and you watch him leave. Your father would be proud of a son like Lucius: beautiful, dangerous, Slytherin.
Your father is speaking to Julius Snape. Their voices are soft, but Snape no longer warrants the privilege of privacy as your father refuses to offer help.
He smiles at Snape's mother, and Julius shudders.
Unwillingly, you meet Severus Snape's eye. He sneers, and walks away.
You watch your father for a moment
more, and then you grab a couple of bottles of Butterbeer and follow.
4. Never Friends
don't blow those brains yet
You find Snape in the gallery of the library, under the watchful eyes of the family portraits. You watch as he salutes your Great-Uncle Henry with something stronger than Butterbeer.
"Arrogant pup," Uncle Henry mutters. Snape offers him an obscene gesture, and you can't help it: you laugh.
Snape turns to you, and you can see that he's pretty well potted on your father's brandy.
"Fuck off, Potter," he snarls.
"My house, Snape."
He shakes his head, and his hair hides his eyes. "Just leave me alone."
"Can't do it. It's easier to watch you now than to count the silver after you're gone."
Your mouth is always running away from you. The words hang in the air between you.
It shouldn't matter. It should just be added to a lifetime of sniping and fighting. You've known Severus Snape for nine years, and in that time, you've only ever done one good thing for him.
You saved his life.
That lies between you as well.
He glares at you for a second, then looks away. You abandon your Butterbeer for the brandy. He doesn't complain. It doesn't belong to him, after all.
"Is he – is my father—" He stops. "We didn't want him to come," he says. "We knew it would be humiliating."
There is nothing you can say.
"My mother wanted to come alone."
"Why?" you ask, before you can stop yourself. He looks at you contemptuously.
"Gryffindors," he mutters. "Are you going to make me spell it out?"
You mean it as a kindness, but he takes it as pity.
"You must feel so special," he says softly. "The cherished son of a great family. The Head Boy, the almighty fucking Quidditch hero, surrounded by your minions and miscreants … friends with fucking werewolves and murderers…" His voice slurs. "Bloody Potter," he mumbles.
"I don't do it to spite you, Snape," you say.
You drink, and the brandy burns your throat and chest. Your head spins and you say, "I had a brother, once. A little brother."
"That's nice." His voice is sardonic, but he looks curious anyway. "What happened to him?"
"What kind?" Now the curiousity is almost professional: Snape is the kind of voyeur who'd stop to look at splinchings and murders.
"I don't fucking know." Your teeth are clenched, and Uncle Henry sputters indignantly at your language.
"This is a family affair," his portrait says.
"Fuck off, you second rate Pre-Raphaelite fop." This strikes you as being remarkably witty, and you laugh. You'll have to tell that one to Sirius, when you get back to school.
Of course, that would probably involve telling Sirius that you spent Christmas drinking with Snape, so there's that idea out the window.
Snape watches you, and waits for the laughter to pass.
"What happened to your brother?" he asks.
"I told you. Poison."
Uncle Henry has disappeared, probably to tell your father that his precious son is blabbing.
"Come on," you say, "not here."
5. Symbols of
what is termed a landslide of principle
Not here. Not anywhere in the house; you lead him through the kitchens, and out to the stables. The wintry air sobers you up, a little. It's not an improvement.
Your family is famous for its winged horses. Snape betrays no sign of awe, but he lingers beside the only Thestral, his long fingers brushing the black coat and silvery feathers.
"They say these are unlucky," he says.
"They are. My aunt broke her neck when this one threw her off."
He runs his fingers through the mane, and smiles. "I like it."
You favour the swift, graceful Aethonans; you wonder whether he prefers the Thestral just to be contrary.
"Now," he says with a thin smile, "for the third time. What happened to your brother?"
"My father killed him when I was eight."
You drink, and hand the brandy to him. It must be one of the bottomless bottles. Perhaps your father won't notice that you've been at it.
"His name…" You haven't thought of him in years, haven't spoken his name since he died. "His name was Harry. He was four."
"Was he a Squib, then?"
"Worse." You laugh. "He was autistic. Not much, but … he wasn't what Dad wanted. He, uh … he disappeared."
Snape understands. After all, his family was like yours, once.
"We never discussed him," you say, examining the pattern on the Thestral's wings. "It was like he'd never existed, except that my mother … she never looked at my father the same way. And the night before I went to Hogwarts, she … she came into my room. It must have been midnight … she came into my room and set up wards, the most powerful wards I'd ever seen. And she told me about him." You pluck a feather from the horse's wing and hold it up to the light. "I think I need more of that brandy," you say.
"Do you hate him?"
You would hate him if you could, but he is your father: he made you, he formed you, he loved you.
Even if you wanted to hate him, you're not certain that you're capable.
"I take it, then," says Snape, "that he doesn't know about your Mudblood girlfriend?"
You hiss. "You can fucking well leave Lily out of this, Snape."
He smirks, and you know that he counts your anger as a victory for him.
Slytherins. You'll never understand them.
"No. He doesn’t know about Lily."
"Impressive. Keeping it from him." He snatches the feather from your hands. "I presume that he doesn’t know about other things, then."
"Such as the fact that you owe me your life?" Now you've scored a hit. "No. He doesn't know about that."
"I don't know. He'd probably approve."
"I have no desire to make him happy."
"Neither do I."
Snape snorts and walks away. For a second, you think of letting him go, but then you remember that he's drunk, and so are you, but at least you know the grounds, even in darkness. You follow.
"Still think I'm planning to make off with the family fortune, Potter?"
"Just don't want you to get lost in the snow. We have enough ghosts on the property already."
The house wards would probably prevent anyone from dying, but it would be small compensation for the embarrassment caused by the misplacement of a guest.
You pass through the greenhouses, where Lucius and Narcissa are oblivious to your presence. You and Snape pause, side by side, listening to their grunting, heavy breath.
You suppress a drunken urge to hoot and throw things, and leave in silence, telling yourself that you're not aroused.
"Her father will be so disappointed," you sigh.
"No, he won't. A Malfoy's as
good as a Potter. And Lucius is a Slytherin, like her."
6. Private Alliances
selling his baby
In the end, you return to the house. The party is still going on; no one has noticed your absence, and your father has obviously discounted Uncle Henry's accusations, for he is smiling and talking to Snape's mother.
His hand brushes her lower back, and you sense Snape's silent fury.
"Come on," you say. "There's no point hanging around down here."
You make your unsteady way up to your room. Snape sneers at the photos on your desk, most of which sneer back at him, but he sinks into your couch. When you remove your glasses, he becomes a morose, black and white blur.
The sounds of the party are muted; you lie back on your bed and close your eyes in relief.
"I hate these affairs," you mutter. "Wanted to go to Peter's house, but Dad made me stay…"
Snape says nothing.
"Bloody Proper Families… can't stand any of them. Don't want to be like them."
"What would you be like, then?"
"I dunno. Like Sirius's family, I think. They have fun together. Or Lily's family. Her sister's a real bitch, but no one's killed her, yet." You open one eye and squint at him. "What about you?"
"What about me, Potter?"
"What would you be like?"
Snape doesn't answer.
"Sirius reckons you're already a Death Eater," you persist.
You find the brandy, take a swig. Your father would be appalled if you knew how you were treating his best alcohol. You don't really care. "Are you?" you ask.
"Would you be?"
Snape doesn't answer. Instead, he says, "What will it take, to get your father to help my family?"
You say nothing.
He wanders over to examine the bookshelves beside your bed; you notice with irritation that he doesn't seem nearly as intoxicated as you. You squint up at him, and notice odd things: the way the enchanted lights emphasise his cheekbones and cast his eyes into shadow, and the way his dress robes make him look older, more elegant than the messy schoolboy you are accustomed to seeing.
"Well?" he asks.
"Dunno. Twelve dancing bears and a small elephant." A nasty thought occurs to you. "Don't try blackmail, though. He has a really bad attitude towards blackmail."
It's hard to tell without your glasses, but you think he might be disappointed at this.
"The truth is," you say, rising to pace, "your family's no help to him at the moment. They're too far into the Dark, and everyone knows it. The Minister doesn't care, but Crouch is a power-crazed fuck, and he's on the wrong side for your family. You're liabilities, all of you."
This amuses you, and you laugh until the alcohol finally gets to be too much, and you slide to the floor.
"Still conscious, Potter?"
"Fuck off, Snape. Just having trouble standing."
"Pity. I was looking forward to a bit of silence."
He stands over you and sneers, and you look up at him, wondering what it means to be attracted to Snape.
Most Slytherins are bisexual. Your father refuses to be embarrassed by this.
You carefully get to your feet, take
a cautious step, and kiss him. He stiffens, and you wait for the
inevitable curse or punch, but all he has to do is push you away, and you
7. And the Lovers
gimme peace, love and a hard cock
It occurs to you that you are very, very drunk, and that, gosh, all those rumours about your father inventing charms to negate alcohol's affects on – performance – must be true.
These thoughts flit through your head in a matter of milliseconds: just enough time for Snape to drop down and straddle you. He leans down, close enough that you can taste his brandy-breath. His hair trails into your face and he whispers, "What will you do for me, Potter? What would you do?"
"Anything," you whisper. "Anything."
"My family," he says. "Make your father help us."
He kisses you, and you laugh into his mouth, because you know that this is absurd, this is ridiculous, and when it's over, you won't want to think of it, you'll hide the evidence, you'll pretend it never happened. You certainly won't tell anyone else. This is absurd.
But God, you want it.
Snape is practiced, skilled and very much in control. He fucks you up the arse, hard, and laughs bitterly as you moan into your pillows. He kisses the back of your neck, lightly, and then more passionately. You shiver, and he nibbles you skin. This makes you laugh, and he suddenly turns nasty, drawing blood.
"Vampire," you mutter, and gasp as his teeth latch onto an earlobe.
"You – are – already."
Long fingers clutch your arm, the nails breaking the skin.
"I don't – want – to talk about – Black."
You lick his nipples, and run your tongue down his stomach. His torso is sparsely covered in black hairs, which get caught in your mouth.
Snape is nothing at all like Lily.
He pulls your hair while you suck his cock, and you wonder why you let him do this, except that there are debts, and deals, and you want it so much…
Afterwards, you lie back, sore and satiated. Your sheets are messy and damp, and you hope that the house elves won't mention the extra work to your mother. Snape – Severus – Snape lingers, trailing a hand down your now-flaccid prick, pinching your inner thigh.
"It wasn't because you saved my life," he mutters.
"Nah," you agree.
You pass out, drunk and exhausted.
8. Recovery, Or
gonna strike a deal
A house elf wakes you, nervously saying, "Master Potter, Master Potter! Your father is wanting you. Your guests is almost ready for breakfast!"
Snape is already dressed; he meets your eyes with an unspoken challenge. You find your clothes quickly; the high neck and long sleeves disguise the scratches and bites, but you fancy that there is something about your movements that gives you away.
In the hall, you pass Snape's mother, moving towards the guest quarters. Her eyes are red. Snape gives you a furious look and follows her before you can tell him that you are not your father.
You're not completely certain that it's true, anyway.
Your father sits at his desk, showered and dressed in fresh robes.
"James," he says. "Your mother wasn't at all happy with your little disappearing act last night."
You shrug. "There weren't exactly many people who wanted my company."
"Someone obviously did."
You say nothing, and he smiles slightly.
"Obviously a family trait, borne of desperation. I wonder what the Muggle psychologists would make of it … I hope you made no promises."
"I promised to ask."
"I've already refused. The Snapes would be a liability." He frowns. "Crouch had a word with me last night … as if he had the right to dictate who I may and may not associate with." He sighs. "If the Ministry has its way, soon he will have the right. I cannot take the risk of dangerous associations, James."
"Can take care of himself. Malfoy is self-sufficient. Snape is not."
"That's not fair."
He gives you, his Gryffindor son, a pitying look. "Life's not fair. Better that you – and the Snape boy – learn that now."
You glare at him, though you were never capable of hating your father before today. You sit there, hating him desperately, and hating yourself, because he killed your brother, and you could almost forgive him, but now he has betrayed Snape.
And for that, you despise him.
You hate Snape.
You hate him with a passion, surely that's still true. Saving his life and fucking him – or being fucked by him – they don't change anything.
"I hope you weren't excessively attached to the boy," your father says with a smile. "I'm afraid he won't be suitable company before long."
You return his smile. "No, sir. I'm not attached to him." Just bound by the threads of hatred and love and life and death and debt and responsibility…
You plunge on, blindly. "I have a girlfriend, you see."
"Oh? It seemed that Narcissa—"
"Not Narcissa. Not a pureblood." His face darkens, and you truly cherish this moment. "A Muggle-born."
You stand, bow slightly, and leave for breakfast.
Severus joins you on the staircase. He doesn't need to ask; one look at you and he knows.
"We had a deal," he breathes.
"I kept my end. I asked."
"We. Had. A deal."
"And you call yourself a Slytherin. Don't you understand betrayal?"
You are your father's son, and today, you are beneath contempt.
"Ah, the prodigal sons!" smiles the Minister as you enter the dining room. The last guests to leave are usually the important ones: the Minister, Crouch, Malfoy. Snapes.
Narcissa, whose robes aren't nearly as concealing as yours, touches the clear fingermarks on her neck and smiles gingerly.
"Severus," says Julius. "How was your night?"
Snape would never blush, but you do. Your father smirks, your mother raises her eyebrows in disapproval, and his mother looks despairing.
"Educational," he spits.
Narcissa titters, and even Lucius can't quite hide his amusement. Crouch looks shocked; his delicate wife and sleepy son are oblivious.
You serve yourself from the buffet and take your seat beside Lucius. "How did you find the greenhouses?" you ask softly.
"I hear the narcissi are blooming."
"Very amusing, James."
The Snapes leave shortly after breakfast, silent and defeated. Lucius pauses by your side.
"You made a mistake there, James."
"Don't worry." He pats you on the shoulder, like an indulgent older brother. "I'll fix it for you."
You know better than to thank him for this. The Malfoys will extract every possible ounce of gratitude from the Snapes, drop by bitter, bloody drop.
You saved Severus's life once; you don't think you can do it again.
You don’t think he'd let you.
You loved your brother, but he never allowed you to hold him, or kiss him. He'd endure your affection, but would pull away as soon as you relaxed your grip.
You loved him, but you couldn’t save
9. And They All
You are the only son of a leading family. You are attractive and popular, and everyone agrees that you will go on to great things.
You lie awake at night and attempt to justify yourself and your family. Your existence, your fortune, your actions.
You are usually unsuccessful.
You come to a decision: when you return to school, you will ask Lily to marry you. Quickly, before she can meet someone better, someone untainted by pure magical blood.
Before you can lose your nerve.
You have an idea, that marrying a woman of no wizarding family will somehow cleanse your bloodline. A clean start.
You'd take her name, if you thought you could.
Your father is silent for the rest of the holidays. The night before you return to school, he summons you into your office. On his desk, he has Lily's school records, and other documents, his investigations into her family.
He attempts to forbid you from associating with her. Words are exchanged.
You leave the next morning, swearing never to speak to him again. Your mother hugs you, and quietly reassures you that this time, you are doing the right thing.
At school, you do not speak to Snape, and he does not look at you. He treats you as if you are worthless; privately, you agree.
Occasionally, you wake shivering with the memory of his mouth, and his teeth on your skin.
Once, you kiss Lily, and strain to capture an echo of brandy and bitterness in her mouth. When, in a moment of passion, her teeth find your shoulders, you almost lose control, and the bruises on her skin are a stark reminder that she is smaller and more delicate than Snape.
Shortly before you finish at Hogwarts, Snape's parents are killed by Aurors.
Few people are sympathetic.
Six months after you leave school, your family are killed. The Dark Mark sails over the house, but curses more painful than the Killing Curse were used to kill your parents.
You survey the damage, and leave without speaking.
You cannot approve of this, you cannot allow this, but you cannot blame him.
You saved his life, once, and that made you responsible for him. And you failed. You will take more risks, move on to greater acts of heroism, and you will half-unwillingly survive them all. You will make restitution, if not to Snape, then to the world.
You will try to be a better person.
Sometimes you will succeed.
final note: it occurred to me that
it's probably relevant that my younger sister is autistic. so I kind
of know where James is coming from, although no one's tried to kill my
sister (yet) and I've yet to attempt to cope by sleeping with someone I
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