Summary: Those who can't have the one they love should settle for the next best thing: the one they hate.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Snape/Black (background James/Sirius and Snape/Lily)
Notes: Many thanks to magnetic_pole for the brainstorming help, and to islandsmoke and themostepotente for the final beta.
Original story: Charred Lacquer, Arctic Chords by bloodrebel333
(the Firework of Madness Remix)
i. striking with-rebellion-tainted Black chords | inside of you | pull you underneath the firework of madness | dancing at the brink of us (Potter)
James's mouth is hot.
There is breath like steam and curved lips that scorch and an inevitable burning desire in each kiss.
"Here." His voice is low and he shifts, bending a knee and sliding an arm until he's comfortable – the one thing James always needs to be and Sirius needs not to be is comfortable – and when he reaches it, that hot mouth lowers again until Sirius can taste teeth and tongue, until warm, soft (vacant) lips push against his.
They do this all the time; they don't do this enough. Sirius doesn't want kisses anyway. He wants crushing fingers on his arm and hard muscle over his face and rough stubble against his cock.
"Yeah," James breathes against his mouth, "oh God, yeah, just–"
If he pulls back now, if he pushes himself up on his elbows and gives James that look, his lips parted and his eyes moving down James's body, then James might relent, might give up on kissing and move against him, harder and faster. If he can just get James to move, to touch and taste and get as rough as he wants, maybe he'll remember why Lily's too soft, too fragile, too –
"Take them off," grunts Sirius, shoving at James's pants and wriggling against him. These bloody beds weren't made for two, and Silencing charms don't stop the rustling of curtains when Peter and Remus glance over. He stills, one hand on the plane of James's stomach and the other pushing against the sheets, bracing him.
Sirius makes sure his mouth is full of cock before James can register it or object, pushing away and muttering, Nah, Padfoot, not on, man. Sirius closes his eyes and pictures what he wants to see: black hair rumpled from their trysts, not Quidditch; a hard gaze watching him swallow, not staring at the ceiling and thinking of her; a day when James will take the initiative for once, pin him down, and grind against Sirius until he can't remember what she looks like.
Lily hasn't been with him seven years, after all, not like Sirius has; she's never seen James so homesick he vomited, or struck by such a brilliant idea he couldn't sleep, or so drunk he passed out in his own piss. Lily is new and frilly and doesn't get it.
Angry, Sirius doubles his efforts, pushing his lips wide and doing his best to please James, to make him stay, and when James comes Sirius actually believes, just like he always does, that this time, this time, James will change his mind.
"Fuck, yeah," James groans, his grin lazy. He runs a hand through Sirius's hair as a means of pushing him away. "Thanks, man."
He's snoring before Sirius can even crawl off the bed, and Sirius doesn't know what makes him more furious: the fact that he just did that, or the fact that he'll do it again.
ii. the sphere is wrecked | sentimental fools with golden I-Love-Yous in their eyes | but i know better than to trust (GryffindorLoverMudbloodLily)
Lily is cold as ice.
Pale, dead hands move slowly over his back and unfeeling lips press against his throat, and Snape knows it is over before she says a word.
"Go on, then," he says, pushing her away with a rough shove and wiping the back of his hand across his mouth, the taste of her stubborn and lingering.
Her eyes widen and she tilts her head to the side, and that's not fair because it makes her hair fall over her shoulder that way, and it's thick and smells like hair should smell – Lily's hair… Lily – and she knows more about his weaknesses than anyone else, and it's not fair.
"Go off with him," he insists, throat working steadily to keep the words flowing and the air constant. "I get it."
Her lips part as she watches him. "What do you think you get?" she answers at last. "You know me so well, is that it? You know what I want?"
And he can't answer that, not really, because he doesn't know what she wants, and he never has. He knows she wants a hero, not a villain; someone from the winning side; a Gryffindor, then. He knows she has more mud in her blood than he does, and that only a pureblood will be able to wash it out. But he doesn't know what she's ever wanted with him. He knows whose cock she's after, and how stained she'll be when she gets it. He almost smiles.
"Yes," he says quietly, staring at her. "I know what you want."
He pins her quickly and appreciates the token struggle she puts up. There will be bruises later for her Gryffindor to find; leaves in her hair; mud on her face. Her legs fall open and she arches back against the ground, heels in the dirt and one hand flung over her head while the other pushes her knickers aside for him. He stabs into her and she gasps, arches, writhes, breathing his name and scraping the heel of her shoe up the back of his left leg.
He doesn't know if she comes, and he doesn't care. It's impossible to tell with girls, anyway. He uses her for his own pleasure, feeling his cock thicken and jerk inside her and his heart rate match hers where their chests barely touch.
If only he could believe that she means nothing to him.
He takes a deep, shuddering breath and lets her wrap her arms around him, lets her guide his head to her shoulder, lets her stroke his hair and whisper in his ear that everything will be all right. That's what Gryffindors always say, isn't it, whether they are celebrating a nuptial or nailing down a coffin. Everything will be all right.
The thought of her, the feel and taste of her, all sweaty skin and damp perfume and Potter suddenly makes him nauseous. He pushes her away and rolls over in the grass, yanking his trousers back up over his hips and fixing his face into a schooled expression of loathing.
"Severus, listen, it's just that–"
He wishes he had the guts to hit her. Instead, he scrambles to his feet and tucks his shirt back in, flinging his robes over his shoulders and stalking back to the castle before she can say another word. It doesn't matter, after all; she doesn't matter. He'll find some other girl to take his cock, someone with dull eyes and knotted hair and pure, red blood in her veins.
And someday, when he gets his chance, he will have his revenge on James Potter.
iii. you choose your side and i choose mine
Snape is so fucking pale, he might as well be blue.
"The fuck are you doing here?" Sirius spits, rolling up his sleeves and grabbing the soapy sponge. He scrubs the cauldron as if trying to take a layer off. "So I got a fucking detention – fuck you. I'd do it again."
"You missed a spot." Snape's voice is thin and ugly and no, not today, Sirius does not have the patience for this today. Today is Hogsmeade; today is Madam Puddifoot's and tea and scones and stolen kisses and lace and hand-holding.
"Fuck you, Snivellus."
"You said that already. Worn out your impressive vocabulary already, Black?"
Oh, it is fucking on now. Sirius drops the cauldron in the washbasin and charges across the classroom, grabbing a handful of Snape and throwing him into the wall. "You got something to say to me?" he growls.
Snape's lips curve into a sneer and beetle-black eyes blink back at him. "Such a nice day for a date in Hogsmeade, isn't it?" he murmurs, his breath hot in Sirius's face, and Sirius tightens his grip, making sure Snape's back scrapes the rough stone. "I hear your boyfriend's up there today, ready to get himself some nice, wet–"
"Shut the fuck up," Sirius snaps, one arm across Snape's throat as he lunges forward, bodies tangled and pushing, tempers flaring and sweat beading. Shut up shut up shut up. "What do you care what he's doing," he bites out, "or what she's doing?"
Snape's face changes then: it twists and hardens and simultaneously tries to look unconcerned, and Sirius's jaw drops because that's it, that's fucking it, it's Lily, and Sirius can't stop the maniacal laughter that bubbles up from his churning stomach.
"You want something nice and wet," he breathes, "is that it, Snivellus? You want Gryffindor pussy?" He presses against Snape and grinds, hips rolling and chest heaving, making sure his breath stains the side of Snape's face. "You come here looking for a new Gryffindor to fuck?"
Snape shoves him off for a second and wipes his face, panting and paler than ever, but Sirius won't let him go – not now, not knowing this.
He pushes again, walking him back to the wall and cupping Snape's crotch. He hovers over Snape's ear and whispers, "You fuck her with this? You get this floppy dick up for her? Why don't I tell James that, yeah?" He squeezes. "See if you can still walk straight next week once he's done with you."
That seems to ignite Snape, and before Sirius realises he's lost control of the situation, Snape has his own hand down there, twisted in the fabric of Sirius's trousers. "Shut up, Black," he mutters, his voice low and raspy. "You go ahead and tell Potter anything you like. I'm sure Lily would love to hear all about what Gryffindor boys get up to in their dorm at night."
That's it: it's on the table. All the cards.
Sirius narrows his eyes and stills his hand, fighting back vomit at the very thought of the soft cock he's holding. Snape holds his gaze and the room frosts over, an arctic lacquer climbing up the walls.
His chest heaves and he stares at Snape, trying to block the images assaulting his brain of Snape fucking Lily, hiking her lacy, pink skirt up and bending her over, and it's almost funny, he almost laughs, because now he knows something about her that James doesn't, and despite what he just said to Snape, he has no desire to tell James any of this. The thought of James fucking Snape's sloppy seconds somehow gives him a new lease on life, and a new vantage on the whole sordid situation.
He twists his hand. "I don't like you," he snarls, but Snape only licks his lips, his face unreadable.
"What does he tell you," asks Snape in a low voice, "about her?" He pushes his hand in harder and Sirius bites back a groan, swallowing thickly.
So that's how it's going to be. Sirius wants to push him away, tell him this is bollocks and storm out of the room, but instead, he finds himself leaning in further and whispering in Snape's ear. "Her eyes," he murmurs, because sure, he can play this game. "Loves those fucking eyes. And her hips, the way they move when she walks."
Snape sucks in a breath and pulls Sirius closer, grinding against him.
"The way she tilts her head back when he kisses her neck – oh, God. Fuck." His trousers are open now and Snape's fingers are grasping his cock, pulling in long, hard strokes, Snape's face buried in Sirius's shoulder. "No, fuck this, what does she say about him?"
Snape's voice is unlike any he's ever heard before, dry and scratched and angry. "He's funny," Snape spits. "Makes her laugh. Turns quills into roses in the middle of class for her. Shit like that."
Sirius moves under Snape's shirt and scratches his nails down Snape's bare stomach, picturing James's grin after a prank, and the way he sat on his bed in nothing but his shorts for hours one night, hair damp and wand hand steady, practicing that fucking quill charm.
"What do you want?" whispers Sirius, tearing Snape's trousers open and shoving up against him.
Snape grinds back without answering, and the room falls silent save for heated groans and sharp gasps as sweaty hands grip and dry mouths bite back endearments meant for others. Sirius feels the pain and arousal down to his toes, his stomach clenching and his cock hot and angry, and he doesn't want this but can't have what he does want, so he lets his mind fall blank and thinks only of how good desperation feels, and with his eyes closed he can almost imagine it's James's glasses that are scratching his cheek and James's calloused hands that are pulling him under.
iv. cold (arctic) lacquer | keep my heart cool | bite on your tongue | taste of blood | distant
Black is the perfect name for him: dark and dirty and hot like coal. Charred.
Snape will never understand why he went to that classroom the first time, nor why he ever went back, over and over again, spelling the door shut and tearing at Black's clothes like an animal desperate for a fuck or a kill. Or both.
He smells like Potter, like Gryffindor success, like toothy grins and arms slung over shoulders and laughter in the midst of detention. He practically bleeds privilege: the school favourite, every girl's dream and every boy's envy. He struts instead of walking, drawls instead of talking, and doesn't think of anyone but himself for longer than five minutes at a time.
No, that's incorrect. He thinks of one other person. Constantly.
But they know better than to seek comfort in each other; Snape does not go to him for comfort, anyway. He goes because he wants to feel fingers tight in his hair and watch his knees scrape the rough floor; he wants that burn up his thighs and a cock down his throat. He wants it to hurt enough that he blanks out and finally – finally! – stops thinking about her, at least for twenty minutes.
He wants to know that he's had everything Potter can have, and more. He wants to know that he's won.
And so he returns, night after night, for months, years, and Black is always there, Black doesn't question it because Black has the very same reasons. Every time it ends, when the shoving and grabbing and the rough push of fingers slows to a crawl, when he comes with a grimace and feels hot wet oh God inside him, he presses his cheek to the cool, hard surface of the table and pauses for breath.
In that pause, he slows his heart so that it doesn't get too hot, doesn't trick him into believing this is more than just fucking; doesn't flutter or race the way she used to inspire. He cools down to a chill and thinks of Black behind him, fumbling to right his trousers and doing the same thing. For Black it's the taste of blood, the way he bites down on his lip or tongue when he comes, Snape has seen it: twisting his face in pain and fury and savouring the copper taste that keeps him from thinking of this as anything other than a thing that hurts.
A thing that's hot and cold and pale and singed dead black.
One night during the war, Black says something strange. They usually don't speak at all, but this night, Black pushes Snape towards the door afterwards and murmurs low in his ear. "You'll keep him safe, right? This… that's something you can do." He pauses. "For me, okay? I mean… not for me, but, just." He frowns, searching Snape's face.
"And her?" says Snape softly, feeling his cold heart harden again. "I promise you nothing unless you look after her."
They stare at each other for a long minute before Black nods, and in another instant Snape is out in the snow, eager to get as far away from Black as he can. At least until the next time.
They deserve each other, destroy each other, and Snape is not surprised when both of them break their promise.