Peter sleeps like the dead. He also snores like a Hippogriff with a head cold.
Growling, James rolls over and retreats under his pillow. He needs to sleep; it's Quidditch tomorrow -- against Slytherin, no less -- and he just knows Prewett bloody well intends to have them out of bed at arse o'clock in the morning. He's tempted to cast a Silencing Charm on Peter's bed, or Banish Peter's side of the room to some place distant and unpleasant like the bottom of the lake. But his wand is in his trunk, and he's not sure it's worth the effort.
Quidditch tomorrow. Slytherin. Prewett running drills while stars still blanket the sky.
"Fuck it all," James mumbles.
He sits up, tossing his pillow aside. He reaches for the curtains, but they rustle open of their own accord. Sirius appears, wild-haired and followed by a weak slice of moonlight, and the bed dips and creaks under his weight.
"Go away, Padfoot," James says, slumping back under the blankets. "I'm tired."
"Right," Sirius says, "like you're sleeping with this racket."
"It's Quidditch tomorrow."
"And?" Sirius asks. He settles in, leaning back against James' bent knees.
"And Prewett means to have us on the pitch before sunrise," James complains. He yawns, fumbles for his glasses.
"Prewett is full of shit," Sirius says easily. "He'll sleep 'til noon, at least."
"'Cause he's in the Owlery with McKinnon, that's why," Sirius explains. He produces the map from bloody nowhere and shoves it at James. "See for yourself."
James peers at where Sirius is pointing, and sure enough, Prewett and McKinnon are a singular sepia dot in the far corner of the Owlery. It quivers disturbingly, and James smiles. There's hope for sleep yet, if Peter ever shuts the Hell up. James starts to fold the map, but a flicker of movement catches his eye.
"Hallo, what's this?" he asks softly. "Snivellus is out of bed."
Sirius chews at his lower lip, then smiles. "Let's go."
Peter snores in tacit approval.
Near the Great Hall
The castle is darker than James thinks is strictly necessary. He can't see a bloody thing, his wand is lost somewhere in Sirius' armpit, and they don't fit under the cloak the way they once did. They pick a slow path down the corridor, each step followed by knocked knees, banged elbows, and strings of curses that would peel the polish from the floor if they were only muttered a bit louder.
"Lemme see the map," James says.
"Hang on, it's just here," Sirius replies. Just here happens to be Sirius' left rear pocket, and Sirius' left rear pocket happens to be wedged neatly against James' hip. James grits his teeth when Sirius' elbow catches him in the ribs. "Got it. I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
"Lumos," James says. Sirius' armpit lights up like a Grindylow.
"That tickles," Sirius complains, wiggling.
"It's just the fleas," James replies. "You're past due for a dip."
"You're hilarious, deer-face," Sirius says. "I can't breathe for laughing." He frowns at the map. "Where's Snape gone to?"
James wrestles the map away from Sirius, brings it two inches from his face. He's unable to find Snape's dot, and he's a bit irritated that Sirius pulled him out of bed for no good reason, until he realises that it's under Sirius' thumb.
"Wanker," James mumbles. "He's still in Potions." Snape's dot circuits the square of Slughorn's classroom like a thing possessed. It's hard to tell with parchment and ink, but it almost looks anxious.
"What's he doing?" Sirius asks.
"Hatching some hideously evil Slytherin plot, most like," Sirius continues. His voice slips into that tone, the one that suggests he's about to treat Hogwarts to a bout of Gryffindor patriotism. "Planning our demise."
"It's the middle of the night," James says. He starts to walk, but Sirius doesn't move.
"Evil never sleeps."
"He's probably meeting a bird."
"No bird in her right mind would snog Snivellus."
"Have you managed to forget we have Hufflepuffs? I'm sure you've seen them, they go about the place in yellow and black," James says, urging Sirius into motion with a sharp yank on his sleeve. "They've a couple of birds with no minds at all."
"Oh," Sirius says. "Shagged you, did they?"
"Shagged Peter," James says, pinching Sirius for his cheek.
"Balls," Sirius replies, slapping James' hand away. "Peter's going to die a virgin."
Somewhere on the Fourth Floor
"This is your fault," Sirius says.
James stares at the expanse of blank wall in front of him, the expanse of blank wall that by rights shouldn't even be there. The problem with a map of a place like Hogwarts is that Hogwarts can do exactly as it pleases, and it sometimes takes the map a minute or two to figure out what the castle is on about.
"Yes," James replies, "because I dragged you out of bed."
James hears footsteps, and the disgruntled yowl of a cat that's two corridors away from its prey. He shoves his cloak under his arm, peers at the map. Filch is on the main level -- where they were before a frighteningly amorous suit of armour sent them running back up the stairs -- but Mr Fibbles is just around the corner.
"We're done for," Sirius says. "We might as well give Slytherin the Cup, since our best Beater and our third-best Chaser are going to be in detention."
"I'll give you third-best," James grumbles, and Sirius flips him the two-fingered salute.
"Remus was right," Sirius says. He starts knocking on the wall, like it's going to help. "He always said you'd lead me to a bad end."
"Funny," James says. "He's always said as much to me about you."
Sirius doesn't reply to that, which James thinks is odd. He turns toward Sirius, only Sirius is gone.
"Padfoot?" James asks. According to the map, Mr Fibbles is practically on hand. "Padfoot? Where the Hell did he get to?"
James glances around wildly, but no Sirius. Instead he finds a ginormous vase, a portrait of what looks like a house-elf in a wig, and a ghastly tapestry of trolls in ballet costumes. He pauses at the tapestry. Barnabas the Barmy. Sirius must've got sucked into that funny room that appears whenever it feels like it.
Mr Fibbles yowls like the banshee James is sure it was in a past life. He paces in front of the wall a few times, muttering I need to see where Sirius buggered off to, but nothing happens. He hears the tell-tale click of claws on marble, and dives for the safety of his cloak.
"Nice shoes, Tall Sir," the portrait says. Cursing, James rearranges the heavy material so his feet are not peeking out. And none too soon; the cloak settles around him just as the cat takes the corner.
James tries not to breathe.
Mr Fibbles sniffs the space where James' feet should be and sneezes.
Apparently Outside the Room of Requirement
"Bugger all this for a lark," James mumbles. "I'm going back to bed."
There's still no sign of Sirius, but James figures if Sirius meant to come out of that funny room, he already would have done. Mr Fibbles faffed off almost twenty minutes ago, and James has been pacing in front of this bit of wall since.
He's tired. He's tired of the portrait's witless attempts at conversation, and he's tired of trolls in frothy pink skirts.
James walks back up the corridor, turns left at the first intersection, and heads down a flight of stairs. It's not the most direct way to Gryffindor, but it's one Filch and Mr Fibbles rarely use, and it takes him right past the kitchen. He could do with a sandwich. Roast beef, maybe. With pickles and extra mustard.
Voices flit down the corridor, and he freezes an inch from tickling the pear.
"Egypt! That sounds lovely, really."
"Oh, it was. Hotter than I would have liked, but very worth it.
James peers in the direction of their approaching footsteps, and a cloud of red hair rounds the corner, followed by the bright glint of a Prefect badge. Evans. The figure behind her is tall, dark, and hulking, and James rolls his eyes. Shacklebolt.
"How long did you stay?" Evans asks.
"Most of the summer," Shacklebolt replies. "We did the full tour. The Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Valley of the Kings."
Invisibly, James seethes. He went to Norway over the summer hols, not that Evans cared, and he saw all sorts of brilliant things -- Viking boats, and that -- again, not that Evans cared. He tried to tell her about it on the train, but she hexed his tongue to the roof of his mouth as soon as he said hello.
James flattens himself against the wall as they pass. He catches a alabaster bust with the back of his hand, and it rocks precariously on its pedestal. The scrape of stone against stone echoes through the hallway, and Evans whirls around, wand at the ready.
"What was that?" she asks, peering at the bust. James steadies it, but it's sudden stop only makes Evans more suspicious. "Peeves, is that you?"
"Careful," Shacklebolt says. Pulling his wand, he moves between Evans and the bust, and James wants to kick him, the big, fit bastard.
So he does.
Non-Descript Corridor on the Third Floor, and Also Evans' Bad Side
James' cloak is pooled messily around his feet, and Evans is not best pleased. The love-crazed suit of armour did for Shacklebolt, and James can tell by the look on Evans' face that she's not about to believe James' had nothing to do with it.
"James Potter," she snaps. "I hate taking points from my own house."
"I hate to see you do it," James replies solemnly. "How about you don't? Just this once. That way, everyone wins."
Shacklebolt runs past them, with the suit of armour hard on his heels.
"I'll make it up to you," James offers. "How about Hogsmeade, this Saturday?" he adds, flashing her a wide smile. She purses her lips. "The library, next Monday?" She taps her wand against the palm of her hand. "Our common room, the Wednesday after this one?"
"Why are you out of bed at this hour?" she demands.
Shacklebolt runs by them again, in the opposite direction. The armour's visor flaps loudly with each of its creaky steps.
"That!" James says, pointing at the armour. "That... thing! It attacked us!"
"Attacked you?" Evans asks skeptically. "Where?"
"In our beds! Vile and insatiable, it is!" James continues. "It burst through our door, and tried to subject us to its lustful urges. It was horrible, Evans. Horrible. It violated poor Remus. There was nothing we could do."
"This doesn't explain why you are out of bed."
"I chased it away, of course," James says. "At great risk to myself, I might add, but my friends come first, and that thing--"
"Where's Remus now?" Evans asks.
"Who? Remus? Oh. He's upstairs. Peter and Sirius are doing their best to console him."
"Honestly, Potter," Evans says. "We found Black not ten minutes ago. In the Owlery, with his trousers down."
"Good Lord," James gasps. "The curse on that armour must be catching!"
"I've heard enough. Ten points from--
The armour, which has one lobstered hand on Shacklebolt's shoulder and the other on its own codpiece, collapses in a heap. Shacklebolt, hunched over with his hands on his knees, tries to catch his breath.
"Just this once, Potter," Evans says. "Just this once. Get out of my sight right now, and I'll forget I saw you."
"I'm on my way," James says. "Going to bed." He pauses, smiling. "Care to join me?"
Near the Stairs to Gryffindor Tower
It's awfully warm under the cloak.
Two corridors ago, James decided the first thing he's going to do when he gets upstairs is not go to bed. The first thing he's going to do is beat Sirius bloody. He may also knock Peter around a bit, on general principle. But the first thing he's going to do is beat Sirius bloody. Then, he'll go to bed.
The stairs to Gryffindor are almost within reach -- a right at the end of the hall, and then up he goes -- and James sighs with relief. Almost immediately, he sighs again -- a stiff, resigned sound -- because once again, he hears footsteps. It's been that kind of night.
James wedges himself between two goblin statues flanking a portrait of Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin duelling in a field that looks rather boggy and wet, even for Scotland. The footsteps grow louder, though James is pleased to note they lack Filch's crispness and single-minded sense of purpose.
The corridor smells strongly of owl. Prewett.
His hair's a total loss, and he missed a button when he did up his shirt. His belt's undone; the buckle clinks softly with each of his steps. He walks with a lazy and irritatingly sated gait. In the morning -- which is sooner than James wants to think about -- Prewett won't be fit to live with.
Prewett pauses almost directly across from him, and James tries not to breathe.
James wonders if the castle finally cottoned on to his cloak. Then he looks down at himself. The hem of his cloak is caught on the shorter goblin's spear, and he's visible to the knee on his right side.
"Prewett," James says flatly.
"Bit late, innit?" Prewett asks, and James decides if he has to suffer a Head Boy speech from someone who just got off and reeks of owl, he's going to beat another person bloody before he goes to bed.
"A bit," James replies.
"I'm not sure what you're on about," Prewett continues, "but I trust you'll be ready for practise, yeah?"
"Bright and early," James mumbles.
"Right," Prewett says. "I'll just leave you and the goblins alone, then."
James makes himself count to one hundred before heading down the corridor, because he knows if he follows Prewett up he's like to murder Prewett on the stairs. A mercy killing, James rationalises. Done only for the greater good. He'd get away with it, if there wasn't Quidditch in the morning. Sirius isn't going to walk for a week.
Wrestling his cloak free, he steps out into the corridor. Almost there. Almost there. Two more statues, a ghastly tapestry, and a portrait of Gryffindor's third wife, who'd apparently been young enough to be his daughter. Almost there. He turns the corner, and walks right into the one thing he'd completely forgotten about.
He looks more a fright than usual -- greasy hair dishevelled, yellow teeth bared. His black eyes widen, darting wildly around the shadows, and James realises that Snape can't see him. It's tempting, but James is not really in the mood any more. The only thing he's interested in is beating Sirius bloody and going to bed, and possibly -- just possibly, if he manages the first two before sunrise -- a wank.
There's just enough space. If he moves slowly, and presses himself flat against the wall...
"Oi, Potter! You down there, Potter? Take that ruddy thing off, if you are."
It's Prewett, leaning over the banister about two flights up. Snape's face transforms into what James supposes passes for startled in the realm of the ugly and unwashed, and James wonders when the fuck the stairs to Gryffindor became Kings Cross Station.
"I was thinking you ought to nip over to the kitchens and pick me up a bite," Prewett says. "Nothing fancy, mind. Corned beef on rye, maybe. But no onions. I do hate onions."
James pulls off the cloak and favours Prewett with a rude gesture.
"I'll just be in my room," Prewett continues. "There's a lad." Pausing, he blinks, apparently noticing Snape for the first time. "Oi, you there. Snape, is it? I think you're in the wrong neighbourhood. Twenty points from Slytherin."
"I was just--"
"This is bad form, Potter," Prewett says. "Fraternising with the enemy just hours before the match? If we lose tomorrow, I'll know who to look to."
Snape makes an impatient, irritated noise, and Prewett laughs.
"He doesn't look a bit like Evans," Prewett says. "Of course, it's been worse for you, lately. She's been giving out something awful since she got that bloody badge. Desperate times, I suppose. You can't all be as lucky as me." He laughs again. "Carry on, then. But I'll still want that sandwich."
With that, Prewett is gone, and James decides someone needs beaten bloody now.
"This is all your fault, you know," James says.
Snape's jaw is sharp and hard under James' fist, and James loves the way it feels.
On the Floor at the Foot of the Stairs to Gryffindor Tower
"I'm a lover, not a fighter," James always tells the girls, when Sirius and his berk brother start rolling about on the floor like a pair of Nifflers in heat, and the girls are shrieking for James to put a stop to it.
He can't remember the last time he's done this, really done this. He tussles with Sirius occasionally, but Sirius is fun and games. Sirius is also ticklish to a fault; he'll surrender like a Hufflepuff under a stern glare if James can get his fingers under Sirius' arms.
Snape is surprisingly strong, despite the fact that he looks to weigh about five stone while fully dressed and possibly wet. And his elbows are sharp. Bloody sharper that Sirius', at any rate, and somehow, Snape manages to twist and thrash in such a manner that one of his bloody sharp elbows catches James right in the nose.
He's bleeding. He can feel it, warm and wet just above his lip, then he can taste it, sour and coppery in the corner of his mouth. His fist flies blindly, but Snape slithers away just in time, and James' knuckles connect with the polished, marble floor.
"You're a disgrace," Snape spits, scratching at James' arms with bitten-rough fingernails. He arches up and away as James leans in for a punch, and for a moment, James has a mouthful of lank, greasy hair. "Duelling like a Muggle."
"Shut up, Snivellus," James replies. He grunts, shifting away as Snape tries to jab a knee between his legs. "You'd not manage to beat me, either way. Even with your wand, you'd still be flat on your back."
Snape hisses like the snake he is, a thick, foul noise, and anger colours his sallow cheeks. He attempts to free himself, bucking upward as he twists away, but James holds on, snatching at Snape's arms, robes, hair, skin. Snape's knee sails for James' crotch again, a quick, jerky movement, and James tries to still him by bearing down and tightening the hold he has on Snape with his legs.
James's dead-weight pins Snape to the floor. He arches feebly, hips rolling rather than snapping, and James sucks in a sharp breath.
This can't be happening. Not here, and not now. It's happened twice in the last few months, which is why James has stopped wrestling with Sirius if he can avoid it. Pressure and friction and the firm slide of a body underneath him will make him hard without warning. Snape grunts as James sags forward, low and warm and half in James' ear, and that only makes it worse.
Snape arches under him again, sharp and quick, his fingers tearing at James' shirt, and James can't stop himself from pressing down, seeking more, can't stop the funny, strangled noise that tears itself from the back of his throat. James' hips surge forward, chasing Snape's body, and Snape stills suddenly, his eyes widening.
"You sick bastard," Snape says quietly. "Get off me."
James doesn't move, doesn't even breathe.
Snape struggles then, tries once more to get away, twisting underneath James, rearing up to throw James off him. The only thing he manages to do is grind his hip against James' cock, and James swallows a moan, because the sudden jolt of heat under his skin makes him want, makes him need.
He doesn't so much kiss Snape, he crashes his mouth against Snape's, and it's messy and ugly, with as much teeth as lips and tongue. Likely more teeth, from the way Snape's sourness is faintly laced with the taste of blood. When Snape's fingers find James' face they scratch and push and pull, and his muffled protests hiss over James' skin, but James shifts slightly to one side and knows that Snape is as hard as he is.
"Who's the sick bastard, now?" James asks.
"Shut up, Potter."
It's a different sort of fight then, legs tangling and hips rolling and hands grasping and clothes and hair and skin. He fights Snape, fights to keep Snape underneath him, to keep Snape's cock hard against his, and he fights himself, fights his body's urge to explode, the urge to come in his pants like a third year on his first trip behind the greenhouses.
James is beating Snape; Snape's hard and sweaty and hoarse, and Snape wants this as much as James does, his hips following each of James' movements, his cock seeking the friction James needs. But James is losing against himself, losing the fight against his own body; the heat under his skin is sharp and dangerous, coiling tightly in his belly until it's ready to snap.
Snape moans. It's quiet and grudging, like it slipped past his lips without his permission, and half-hidden against James' neck. The noise is punctuated by a sudden scrape of teeth, and the battle is lost. James comes, warm and thick inside his pants, and angry, he forces Snape to follow, rubbing against Snape until his body snaps taut.
"One word about this," James warns. He moves off Snape, and his legs are as shaky as his voice. "One word, and I swear--"
"Yes," Snape spits. Standing, he pushes James away from him. "As if I want all of Hogwarts to know how you violated me in a hallway."
"Violated?" James shouts, advancing. He reaches for his wand, hand twitching uselessly when he remembers it fell out of his pocket when he first tackled Snape to the floor.
"What else would you call it?"
James hears a strange noise then -- clanking followed by the pained shriek of metal joints in desperate need of an oiling. He catches a glimpse of plated steel at the end of the corridor, and smiles.
"You haven't seen violated."
James reaches for his cloak. It shimmers around him just as the suit of armour breaks into a run.