Warnings: Teenagers doing wildly inappropriate things in inappropriate places
The Best Christmas Ever
A/N: Gift fic for karasu_hime, written for the Secret Santa Exchange on lupin_snape. Story and characterizations of Snape and Lupin inspired by Karasu's artwork in general, with scenes based on specific pieces.
Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine, but I'll take the liberty of giving them away anyway ;)
(A/N: Based on Swirly, artwork by karasu_hime)</i>
"Remus! Slow down! You know I can't walk that fast."
It was ironic that Peter would choose those words—Remus did know that Peter's scurrying little feet couldn't keep pace with his own long-legged lope. That was the idea, in fact. Remus had heard enough inane chatter during lunch, and he didn't relish the thought of being subjected to more of it. Peter was one of his friends, though, so he slowed his stride and allowed the smaller boy to fall into step beside him.
"What class do you have next?" Peter asked, his feet skittering against the paving stones twice for every step Remus took. After five years of tilting his head up to look Sirius and James in the eye, Remus had finally had a growth spurt of his own over the summer, and when he'd boarded the Hogwarts Express three days ago, he'd felt a certain thrill at the look of frank disbelief when Sirius realized he could look him in the eye now. Remus was a good three inches taller than James, and all three of them stood head and shoulders above Peter.
"Potions," Remus replied. He wasn't a natural at it, and he would never be a skilled brewer, but he'd done well enough to earn his OWL in it. "What about you?"
Peter's face fell. "I've got private lessons with McGonagall." Peter had not come out quite so well on his OWLs as James, Sirius and Remus had on theirs. The only two NEWT classes Peter was taking were Charms and Defense, and he was even repeating some of his Transfiguration work in an attempt to pass it a second time around.
Remus grinned and thumped the smaller boy on the back. "Not half as bad as it could be, mate. You could be doing private lessons with Filch."
Peter giggled. "Wonder what kind of lessons he'd give? Twenty uses for a mop that don't involve floors?" Peter suggested.
Remus chuckled. "Advanced techniques for stalking students?"
"Proper use of shampoo and the dangers of washing too often? Hey! I bet Snape's taking private lessons with him. Probably his top student!" Peter was all but falling over himself laughing. Remus just smiled.
As they reached the top of the staircase down to the Potions classroom, Remus started to make his goodbyes, but the sound of laughter bouncing off the stone below them turned his attention to the dungeons.
The shrieks and screeches coming from the Potions classroom were out of place in the somber atmosphere, and as he descended the stairs, following the chortles into the Potions classroom, he found what looked to be half the Gryffindors in his year gathered around one of the tables.
It was no surprise to find Sirius and James in the middle of the circle.
"This," Sirius was announcing, holding something up in his hand, "is a bar of soap! For today's experiment, we will be testing the reaction of a greasy git to the introduction of a foreign substance." The gathered audience roared with a cheer worthy of the Quidditch pitch. "Observe," Sirius said, gesturing towards James.
James was holding a struggling Severus Snape's hands behind his neck. Snape's eyes were wide tunnels of black in his face as he made another effort to get away. James was holding him by his tie, though, and every jerk only tightened the noose around Snape's neck.
"Cauldron!" Sirius announced, lifting a cauldron into the air and dropping it on the table so it clamored and clanged. "Water!" A steady stream of water came out of the end of his wand, swirling into the cauldron. "Slimeball!"
James let go of Snape's tie, but before Snape had the chance to escape, James had both hands on the back of his neck, forcing his head into the cauldron. Water splashed onto the floor as Snape struggled to get up.
"So, Mr. Potter," Sirius began in a deep, formal voice. "Why don't you tell the crowd how it feels to touch the fabled disgusting hair of Severus Snape?"
"Well, Mr. Black, I'm glad you asked..." James began his reply.
Remus tuned them out as he pushed his way into the classroom, unloading his book bag. When were James and Sirius going to grow out of this crap? Paying careful attention to his books and parchment, as though they were a reasonable distraction from what was going on at the front of the room, Remus stole a glance at the crowd.
Snape was sputtering, drawing gasping breaths as James shoved his head into the cauldron again. Peter had found his way to the front of the throng and was watching the scene with glee as James shoved Snape's head into the gaping mouth of the cauldron again and again. Snape was soaked, his shirt plastered to his thin shoulders as he drew gasping, shuddering breaths between having his head dunked into the soapy water.
"LET HIM GO!" Lily Evans burst through the door, dropping her bag of books to the floor with a crash as she shoved her way to the center of the action.
"Ah, Evans. I was wondering when you'd show up," Sirius said with a rakish smile.
"Let him up, you Neanderthal!" Lily shouted, reaching for James' arm and tugging ineffectually at his hand. "Stop that!"
"Oh, come off it, Evans. James here's just helping out a chum, aren't you Potter?"
"'Course," James replied. "I'm introducing him to the joys of washing his hair. He'll thank me for it some day."
"YOU'RE DROWNING HIM!" Lily screamed.
James glanced at the cauldron and let Snape up for air again. Snape stood panting and just managed another gasp before James plunged his head back into the cauldron. "See?" James said. "He's still alive."
"Stop it right now!" Lily shouted, pulling at James' arm again. "If you don't stop it now, I'm going to—"
"What? What are you going to do?" Sirius challenged.
"I'm going to assign the lot of you to detention!"
Sirius snorted. "There's a new one, mate. Detention with Lily Evans."
"Couldn't be that bad," James said. "At least she's prettier than McGonagall."
Lily whipped out her wand and poked it into James' chest. "Let him go or I will hex your balls down your throat," she said in a low, deadly hiss.
James and Sirius traded amused looks, but James let Snape go, squaring around to face Lily. "You need to learn when things are and aren't your business, Evans."
"I'm a Prefect. That means it is my business."
"Lupin's a Prefect," Sirius said, jerking his head towards the back of the classroom to where Remus was sitting. "He didn't have a problem with it."
Leave me out of this, Remus thought desperately, but Lily had already turned her emerald gaze to him.
"Just because half the Gryffindor Prefects in our year don’t have the balls to stand up to you doesn't make it right," she said. Her eyes held the recrimination that pricked at Remus' conscience, but he ignored her and returned his attention to his text.
As Snape shoved his way to the door, dripping and still gasping for breath, Remus tried to avoid his eyes. After all, it wasn't as though Snape was an innocent party to this rivalry. He gave as good as he got.