Sirius stumbled into the dorm room looking like a completely disheveled mess. His shirt was unbuttoned, his tie was slack and his hair was down had clearly had someone's hands mussing it up.
"Sorry," He muttered breathlessly, throwing his school robe onto his bed. "I know I'm late."James was lying on his bed reading a page out of Masters of Morphing one last time.
"That's alright, Pete's still not back yet anyway and Remus just left for the shack so..." Hazel eyes glanced upwards and he smirked at Sirius. "Looks like you've been up to no good." He studied his best friend for a moment. Sirius was throwing his hair up into a messy bun, his eyeliner was smudged under eyes and he had a ridiculous grin on his face. "You and Marlene back at it again?"
Sirius paused. "Er...no, actually. We broke up."
James frowned at him "when? You never said?"
Sirius began to chew his bottom lip. "Um...few weeks ago. When we came to watch you and Dorcas at practice."
James nodded encouragingly for Sirius to continue. "So then who were you off messing around with, then?" He eyed him suspiciously. He chose his next words carefully. "Do I know them?"
Sirius took off his school shirt and grabbed the Queen t shirt that Remus had bought him for his birthday the week before. "You know James, you'd be a lot less interested in my love life if you would maybe consider involving yourself in your own." He pulled the shirt over his head.
James shrugged and went back to his reading. "You just look like you actually had a good time, that's all."
Sirius frowned, cocking his head. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that whenever you and Marlene would run off to snog or whatever, you'd come back looking sort of panicked and head right into the showers. Right now you look pretty pleased with yourself...or whoever's been pleasing you." James chuckled without looking up from his book.
Sirius stared at James for a long time then. He wondered when the next moment he would have alone with him would be. He put his jeans on one leg at a time, giving himself a second to consider his next move.
Maybe it was best to tell James what he had figured out. Maybe James had some better insight to why he seemed to be pining after -
No. He wasn't going to take it that far.
"Hmm? I'm trying to read through this one last time before we give it a go, Sirius..."
Sirius sat down next to his best friend on the bed. He took a deep breath. He might as well just get straight to the point. "James. I'm gay." That certainly felt strange to say out loud, Sirius realized. But it also felt right to say it. James glanced up, gave his friend a once over and shrugged before looking back at the book.
"I know." He said simply, with the hint of a smirk.
Sirius leaned away, shocked. "What d'you mean 'you know'?" He glared at the other boy.
James sighed, finally closing the book and sat up. "Sirius, you are my best mate." He said seriously. "There's not much I don't notice about you. You hated kissing Marlene, you obsess over your photos of Bowie, and you were more interested in my Quidditch posters than the dirty pictures we found in dad's study." He patted Sirius' leg. "I know you're gay. I've been trying to get you to come on out and say it since summer."
Sirius frowned. "And it doesn't bother you at all?"
James rolled his eyes. "Of course not, mate. I mean, you haven't got some sort of crush on me, right?"
Sirius snorted. "I'm gay, that doesn't mean my standards have dropped."
"Dodgy standards aside," James chuckled. "I love you Sirius. You're my brother. I just want you to be happy."
"Thanks, mate." Sirius said with an air of extreme relief. "Er...no one else...?"
"Nah," James shook his head. "I mean, not that I know of. Except whoever you've been off snogging."
Sirius felt his cheeks heat up just a little and he rubbed the back of his neck. "Gideon Prewitt."
"Really?" James looked surprised. Gideon and his twin brother Fabian were James' fellow chasers on the Quidditch team. They were both very friendly, good looking sixth year boys. "Well...that's not what I expected...He your boyfriend, then?"
"What? No!" Sirius said quickly, eyes going wide. "No way...He just...I bumped into him in the corridor one day and I knew he had dated that Ravenclaw bloke for a bit last year so I thought I'd ask him for some advice about...things..." He realized how awkward he probably sounded. "Anyway, he...er...he's been very helpful."
James snickered "I can see that."
At that moment, the door opened and Peter ran in "Sorry! The bloody staircase moved and I needed to take a detour. But I've got good news." He grinned.
"What's up, Pete?" Asked James, Putting away his book.
"I've got the leaves." Peter said proudly, holding out his hand and presenting the other boys with three snipped mandrake leaves. "And I've found us a place to practice where no one will find us."
James and Sirius both hopped off the bed and James quickly grabbed the invisibility cloak from his trunk.
One thing they had all learned over the years, was that Peter had a talent for finding hidden passages or secret rooms within the castle. It was like the boy had a sixth sense for these sorts of things. So if Peter told them he had found something, they were always quick to drop whatever they were doing and check it out. It was worth it every single time.
Although this time James and Sirius watched their friend in mild concern as he paced up and down the corridor looking as if he was concentrating extra hard on something.
"Er...Pete?" Sirius questioned carefully. "You look like you're about to pop a blood vessel. What are you-?"
"Shut up, Sirius. I'm trying to focus." Said Peter in an uncharacteristically forceful tone that actually made Sirius snap his mouth shut in shock. He and James exchanged looks and shrugged as Peter continued his strange back and forth.
The wall across from them slowly began to shift and the hall was filled with the sound on stone scratching against stone. A door appeared and Peter stopped his pacing and looked over his should with a satisfied smirk at his friends who both stared with a mixed expressions of shocked and impressed.
Peter opened the door and the others followed. The room itself was large and mostly empty and nothing special. Just a space with a few chairs.
"What is this place?" James asked, gazing around the room curiously.
"It changes every time," said Peter. "The first time I found it I had to pee so bad I thought I would explode and the door appeared and there was a bathroom suddenly. Basically it becomes what you need."
"So what did you tell it we needed now?" Sirius asked as he straddled one of the wooden chairs, backwards and rested his chin on top of the back piece.
Peter shrugged. "Just that we needed a space to practice. Some place big enough to accommodate...whatever may happen..."
They all knew what he meant. So many things could happen with what they were trying to accomplish. If it went well, they didn't know what sort of animal they may be turning into. Would the need space for something large like a lion or a horse? What if one of them were a bird or something and needed to be able to learn to fly properly?
And then of course there was the chance that something could go horribly wrong. This was dangerous advanced magic they were tampering with, especially at this stage. They were more than half way through and so far, they had hit no bumps in the road. Still, any mistakes now could have dire consequences and they all felt the pressure.
"Alright lads," James sighed, taking out his wand. "Ready?"
"Ready." Both Sirius and Peter replied. They each placed the mandrake leaf in their mouths.
"Open your mouth, Peter." Sirius demanded for the third time. His patience was wearing thin with the other boy, who was eyeing him warily and covering his mouth. "For fuck sake, Pettigrew! Open your damn mouth!"
"No way," came Peter's muffled voice from behind his hand. "I'm not letting you put your wand in my mouth, Sirius."
James was trying so hard not to laugh at the both of them it actually hurt.
Sirius growled. "Well maybe if you hadn't swallowed, chewed and sneezed out the last three leaves, we wouldn't have to use sticking charms! Open. Your. Mouth!" He had the smaller boy pinned against the wall of the room, his wand pointed at his covered mouth.
"Come on Pete, we are wasting time. It has to stay in for a month and you haven't been able to keep it for a two weeks." James said reasonably, laying a hand on Sirius' shoulder to remove him from their terrified looking friend. "We're lucky no one saw you sneeze it out."
"James chewed his first leaf up as well!" Peter said defensively. "And I couldn't help the sneeze! My nose was all twitchy for some reason!"
"And that's why we're all using a sticking charm." Sirius sighed in frustration. Peter flinched at his tone.
James shook his head. "Would you feel more comfortable if I did the charm on you, Pete?"
Sirius looked offended. "What's that suppose to mean?"
"Just that you're bloody scaring him, Sirius. Calm the fuck down."
"I'm calm!" Barked Sirius.
"Go sit down!" James yelled back, and to his surprise Sirius actually sat right there on the floor.
"Don't panic." James managed to keep his voice level, though he himself was somewhere between panicking and laughing. Sirius was just laughing.
Peter let out a nervous squeak of a noise, looking between the other two. "W-why?"
"It's...it's probably nothing....I just..." James let out an accidental snort of laughter. "Sorry, sorry!"
"What is it! What's wrong?" Peter's watery blue eyes widened. He looked like he was going to cry.
"It's..." Sirius bit his lip to stop from laughing. "You've got whiskers, mate."
There was a loud POP and a mirror appeared on the wall behind them. Peter turned around and screamed at his reflection. "What happened! What did I do wrong!"
James and Sirius were doubled over, their sides painfully cramped from laughing.
"I don't know, Pete!" Sirius managed, wiping away tears. "You were doing the spell just fine and then all of the sudden they just sprouted out of your face!"
"What should I do!"
James was already consulting one of the many books the room had supplied them with, trying to find a way to remove the long, wiry whiskers from his friend's nose.
"Guess this means your a fucking bunny or something, Pete." Sirius teased. He stepped closer and bopped Peter on the nose with a finger. "A cute ickle bunny with a twitchy nose and whiskers!"
"Sirius, cut it out." James said, trying to sound chastising but also unable to stop giggling. After a few moments of frantically searching through pages, his face fell.
Lucky for them, Madam Pomfrey was never one to ask many questions when a student showed up with whiskers coming out their face. Even when that student was accompanied by two mischievous boys who could hardly breathe from laughing.
Remus was exhausted.
The past month's full moon had left him bedridden for a while longer than usual, so he had spent the remainder of the month tutoring as many of the younger students as he could in as many different subjects as possible to gain some extra credit from his generous professors.
He was very grateful, of course, that they would offer use the tutoring to help keep his grades up from all of his missed work, but it was a lot of stress and strain and he really felt like he was about to drop dead on the ground.
On top of that, he felt like he hadn't spent time with his friends at all.
Trudging up the stairs to the dormitory, he couldn't think of anything other than curling up in his bed and sleeping the entire weekend away. He opened the door. Bed was so close...sleep was so very near...
Except his three best friends were all sitting on his bed, grinning widely and looking as if they may just explode.
Remus groaned. "Whatever plan you've got, it's going to have to wait or you can do it without me." He felt bad ditching his friends for the millionth time this month, but he just couldn't keep his eyes open a moment longer.
"I'm afraid it can't wait, my dear Moony." Said Sirius, who was apparently so excited he couldn't stop wiggling his bottom half.
Remus rubbed his eyes and shook his head, deciding not to question Sirius' odd little dance. "Sirius, I really-"
But James interjected, standing up and putting his arm around Remus' shoulders. "Trust me, mate...this needs to be seen now."
Remus looked between all three of his friends and sighed. "...And where are we going?"
"We're going for a little walk outside, Moony." Sirius announced, also standing and draping his own arm over Remus' other shoulder so that the werewolf was sandwiched between the two raven haired boys.
Peter stood as well, although he did give Remus a slightly apologetic look before smiling at him. "Believe me, Remus...It's worth seeing."