Oh, for fuck’s sake.
When Severus Snape looked up from the pint glass he was currently wiping down to see who had just walked through the door, he was startled and none too pleased to lay his eyes on four teenage boys he knew very well, and hated very much: Peter Pettigrew (whom they called Wormtail, which Severus felt suited him far better), Remus Lupin and those god-awful cretins Potter and Black. Severus felt his blood curdle. He clenched his teeth, preparing himself.
“Ha!” Potter had turned to his fellow buffoons and let out a hearty guffaw. “Look who it is!”
But, oddly, they didn’t seem to share his glee. Wormtail was looking awkwardly nervous as usual, shuffling about like a … well, like a twat. Lupin and Black were swapping exasperated looks. For a second, Severus was confused. Then, with a barely concealed grin, he remembered.
“Four shots of your best Firewhisky, Snivelly, and make it snappy.” Potter had sauntered over to the bar with the customary strut that Severus loathed.
“I.D.,” Severus said triumphantly.
“Come on, Snape, you know I’m eighteen.”
“They’re not,” retorted Severus, pointing at the others, who scowled. Black and Wormtail wordlessly passed over identification. Certain they were false, Severus gave them a thorough, suspicious inspection. They seemed genuine enough. Disappointed, he pushed them back reluctantly.
“Lupin?” he murmured suddenly, a slight amused smile playing on his lips as he casually continued to wipe the glass down. He didn’t hear it, but he sensed the inevitable dramatic intake of breath from all four of them in unison. “Can’t serve any of you if one of you doesn’t have I.D.”
“For god’s sake, Snape, this is the only pub still open!” Potter burst out in frustration.
“Pity, that.” Severus smirked. “Can I offer you all Butterbeers?” He almost laughed out loud at their expressions of disgust. Priceless. “I’ll take that as a no.”
Potter looked like he was having trouble thinking. Idly, Severus wondered if it hurt.
“Four Butterbeers,” he ground out eventually, his tone implying he wanted dearly to punch Severus in the face.
“My pleasure!” Severus chirped gleefully, barely managing to keep himself from merrily skipping to the casement under the bar. Taking four glasses and filling them all deliberately slowly, he watched Potter’s expression out of the corner of his eye. He had gone as red as his House emblem. Severus was only just able to contain a snort.
“Here you are,” he said sweetly, pushing their drinks forward with the very tips of his fingers. “That’ll be four Galleons, please.” Muttering darkly among themselves, they sipped their drinks begrudgingly. They remained, however, seated in a line along the bar opposite him.
Severus smiled. It wasn’t often he got to win.
Ah, the sweet smell of success … no, wait, that was something else. His eyes flitted back to the door. Emma Russon, his next-door neighbour but one, was just walking in behind her friends, wearing a tiny checked skirt and a fragrance Severus had smelled on her before. His heart skipped a beat as she waved at him, and he moved mutely away from the Marauders and over to the group that had just walked up to order their drinks.
“Pint, please, mate,” said one of Emma’s male friends. Severus groaned inwardly. He hated it when they said that.
“Of what?” he snapped, ignoring a snort of laughter from Black. The wizard in glasses looked at him as though he were stupid.
“Hobgoblin,” he told him, as if it were obvious. Severus moved his hand to the pump for Hobgoblin, the only wizards’ drink also available to Muggles, and took a pint glass from the shelf above with his free hand.
“What d’you want, Paul?” the taller man asked, turning to his friend, who was laughing at something another of their friends had said. He glanced over his shoulder at the other wizard.
“Uh … pint, please, mate.”
“Same again?” Severus asked through gritted teeth. Paul, the skinny one – not that Severus could really talk – threw him a funny look.
He poured each of their drinks in turn until he came to Emma and the girl with pink streaks in her hair, whose name he remembered as Sian. He paused, letting his eyes stray to Emma. She was watching him. Maybe she liked him too.
“What can I get you?” he asked, never taking his eyes off of hers until Sian snapped her fingers in front of his face. Blinking, he stared coldly back at her. Pink-haired pillock.
“Can I have an AlcoMagick, please?”
“Can I see your I.D.?” Not that he really needed to; AlcoMagicks were only just about alcoholic.
He served her the bottle as soon as he had seen her identification, then again, his dark eyes came to rest on Emma’s blue ones. She smiled warmly back.
“And a Butterbeer?” he asked with a knowing smile. She nodded.
“No ice, I know,” he called over his shoulder as he went to pour it, dimly registering the Marauders’ mischievous grins. It didn’t occur to him to be worried. When he returned to Emma, he said, too low for anyone but her and Sian to hear, “Sure you don’t want a proper drink?”
“Ooh, Emma! You’ve definitely got an admirer there!” Paul shouted over from the table the rest of the group had sat down at, having noticed the attention being showered on his friend. Severus ignored the inane grin and focused instead on the faint blush that had risen to Emma’s cheeks. Cute.
“No, I’m all right, thanks, Sev,” she replied good-naturedly, taking the drink and handing over a Galleon. “How are you doing, anyway?”
Knowingly, Sian left the two of them to chat and moved over instead to join their friends. Severus silently thanked her when she glanced back to throw him a wink. He liked her now.
During the conversation that then ensued, Severus noticed lazily that the foursome he had refused to serve earlier had left their seats and come around to stand behind Emma and smirk at him. It suddenly dawned on him that he should be suspicious. But they weren’t saying anything – why weren’t they saying anything?
“What are you planning?” he finally growled when the frustration had grown too much to bear. Emma turned to see who he was talking to and jumped at the sight of the four Gryffindors.
“You all right there, Russon?”
Emma nodded at them all.
“All right?” she said, somewhat coldly. Or perhaps that was what Severus liked to think.
“So, Snape,” Potter announced cheerfully, “can’t serve any of them if one doesn’t have I.D., can we?”
Severus glared. The group around the table by the window had looked sharply up at Potter’s words. They were staring at Severus as though it were his fault – which it was, he supposed. Not that he could be blamed for wanting to piss off his nemeses.
“He’s seen my I.D. before,” Emma lied quickly, coming to his rescue – and her own, he supposed.
“Padfoot,” Potter said loudly, “do you remember that time we took off Snivellus Snape’s pants for all to see?”
Severus sent them a panicked look as Paul and one of the skinheads – Tom? – sniggered. Emma was biting her lip. He hoped it was because she felt uncomfortable, not because she was doing her best not to laugh.
“Didn’t you wash out his mouth for all those naughty swear-words?” Black asked innocently, though his wide grin displayed proudly the fact that he was anything but.
“Oh, yes, that’s right! What about the time we nicked his robes from the showers, and he had to run all through the corridors down to the dungeons?”
Black was having trouble holding back his laughter.
“Naked, was he?”
“As the day he was born.”
“Oh, yes, I do remember! Old Snape-y scampering down the corridors trying to hide Little Snivellus with his hands – and he managed to, didn’t he?”
“Yes, quite easily, in fact,” Potter agreed, sending Severus an evil smirk. “Didn’t take a lot, did it, to hide that little todger from view?”
“Not at all, Prongs, not at all. In fact, what was it that fit girl in the year above at the time said?” Black squeezed his eyes shut and tapped the bar, feigning forgetfulness. “‘He’d be better off using his big toe than that thing if he ever gets close enough to a girl to use it’?”
By this point, Emma had hidden her face completely from view. Severus could feel himself sliding lower and lower behind the bar.
“It’s all right, Em,” called Sian, a mischievous glint in her eye, “he might have grown a bit since then … has he, James?”
“Couldn’t tell you, Palmer,” Potter called back with a grin that matched hers. “Doubt it somehow. We’ll have to pull some pranks soon and find out.”
The other Marauders were in peals of laughter by now.
“Big toe …” Wormtail was gasping.
“Yeah … mind you, dunno if you ever put that advice to good use, Snivelly.” Black had now joined in with the ridicule. Severus felt numbly for a bottle of Hecate’s Best Gin behind him, found it and downed it in one. He spluttered as Black continued, “Your last shag was … when was it, Snivellus? Was it with a girl or a boy? Or have you just not bothered losing it yet?”
“Been too busy with his studies, probably. Perving over McGonagall instead.”
Aside from the cruel jibes from the loathsome quartet, the whole pub was silent. One of the waiters, Theo, was shaking his head sympathetically at Severus from over by the kitchen door. (Severus couldn’t help wishing he would go away; since Theo was gay, it didn’t help having him around after what Black had just been speculating on.) Emma’s friends were chuckling amongst themselves. Emma herself looked mortified. Severus couldn’t move. While his head was screaming, “RUN!”, his feet were fixed to the floor, and he found he couldn’t find it in himself to respond to their taunts.
“So, Snivellus,” Potter said, propping his elbow up on the bar opposite Severus as the other three leaned forward eagerly, “shall I carry on, or do you want to buy me and my friends drinks for the rest of the night?”
Severus unclenched his jaw.
“What do you want?” he spat out at last.
Without saying a word, Potter took what was left of his and Black’s Butterbeers and slowly tipped the contents of both glasses over Severus’ already greasy black hair. Their victim closed his eyes and took a deep breath, but didn’t move.
“Pint, please, mate!” they chorused.