“Whoops. That wasn’t pumpkin juice.”
Remus turned in horror as the meaning of Sirius’s announcement registered. He caught his friend’s face just in time to see it shift from a usual (albeit slightly surprised) expression into a gooey, soppy leer.
His eyes dropped down to the glass in Sirius’s hand that was, as he had already announced, most definitely not pumpkin juice. An almost identical tumbler filled with orange beverage sat untouched a few inches away.
“Oh no,” yelped Remus. “You didn’t.”
“Moony,” said Sirius meaningfully.
“Why would you bring something like pumpkin juice along when we were brewing potions?” asked Remus, trying not to panic. It was definitely easier to not panic if he focused on being irritated at Sirius for being stupid.
“Was thirsty,” drawled Sirius. He stared at Remus intently for several long moments before adding, “for looooove.” He broke into a fit of giggles.
“No,” said Remus. “No, no, no, you are not allowed to do this.”
“You’ll fix it,” giggled Sirius. “You always fix everything. Because you’re amazing. Amazing Moony. Oh Merlin, you’re beautiful.”
“And you’re a moron!” said Remus, flailing in panic. “Why did I agree to help you with this stupid, stupid prank?”
“Because you can’t resist my delectable charms?” asked Sirius hopefully, with a smoldering look.
Oh Merlin. Sirius was smoldering at him. Time for full on emergency measures.
“Help!” shrieked Remus as he fled the room.
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” James continued to roll on the floor with mirth for a full ten minutes after Remus explained his predicament.
“This is serious!” hissed Remus, pointing at Sirius, who they currently had tied to a chair.
“You guys pranked yourselves! You meant to prank the whole Slytherin table at breakfast and instead you went and pranked yourselves! Bloody classic. Ha ha ha ha ha!”
“Yes, it’s hilarious,” said Remus dryly. “See me laughing. Stop being such a tosser and help me sort it out.”
“Why don’t you just ask Slughorn to give you the antidote?” asked Peter helpfully.
Remus sighed. “Because if I did that he’d know it was me who broke into the storage cabinet to steal the supplies we used.”
“Oh,” said Peter with a nod. “Well then, why don’t you brew the antidote?”
“It takes two weeks to make,” said Remus miserably. “And it would probably be a waste of time, anyway. I’m rubbish at potions.”
James’s laugher finally died down and he sat up. “That’s true. You are rubbish at potions. Why did Padfoot ask you to help him with a potion prank? Seems a bit precarious, that.”
Remus started a bit. James had a very good point.
“Yeah,” he said, turning to Sirius. “Why did you ask for my help brewing the amortentia?”
“Because you’re amazing,” Sirius simpered. “Isn’t he amazing? Prongs, do you think that Moony knows how amazing I think he is? I don’t think he’s noticing me.”
“He’s definitely noticing you,” assured James with a smirk.
“This is a nightmare.”
“If by ‘nightmare’ you actually mean ‘the funniest damn thing I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness,’ then, yeah,” said James gleefully. “You’re spot on.”
Remus scowled. It was true that if the roles here were perhaps switched around a bit, Remus would be joining in James’s rapt enjoyment of the prank-gone-wrong. This however, was hitting a little too close to home for Remus’s comfort. James didn’t know of course, but Remus had been harboring a crush on Sirius for the past two years at least. Not just a little crush. It was more of the epic, all-consuming infatuation variety. Having his feelings insincerely shoved in his face was about the worst torture he could imagine.
“So what should I do?” he lamented.
“I dunno,” said James. “Play along and humor him until it wears off?”
“No!” Remus looked at James in horror, completely appalled.
“Oh come on,” James egged on. “It would be brilliantly entertaining for me and Wormtail.”
Peter nodded encouragingly.
“No way!” said Remus. “No effing way! You sure as hell wouldn’t do that!”
“Sure I would,” said James easily.
“No you wouldn’t!”
“Would too,” said James. He gave Remus a haughty look. “I’m always happy to take one for the team. Besides. Maybe it would make Lily jealous. Wish I’d thought of this, actually.”
“It’s easy to talk big when it’s not happening to you!” accused Remus.
“Alright,” said James. He marched over, grabbed Sirius’s face, and planted a big sloppy kiss right on his mouth.
“Told ya,” he said smugly.
“EUUGH” spluttered Sirius.
“I…cannot believe you just did that,” said Remus numbly.
“Yeah, actually,” agreed Peter. “I cannot believe he just did that either.”
“Eh, it’s not like it meant anything,” said James, completely unfazed. “Everyone knows that my heart is already held captive by my crimson haired fair lady.”
“EUUUUGGGH!” said Sirius again. He started frantically licking his sleeve, apparently trying to rub off the James cooties. “Moony! Help! I need you to kiss me! I’ve been contaminated! My lips might fall off! I need your sweet love to fix it!”
Remus dragged his hands over his face. “This is a nightmare,” he whimpered.
Unfortunately they couldn’t simply leave Sirius tied to a chair forever.
(Remus actually tried to campaign otherwise but both James and Peter overrode him.)
Within twenty minutes of Sirius’s release Remus found his bed completely covered in chocolate hearts.
“How…where did these even come from?” he wondered aloud. “You can’t get all the way to Hogsmeade and back in only twenty minutes.”
“He nicked them from me,” said James disapprovingly. “Those were supposed to be for Lily.” He began snatching the pink and red foil clad sweets back from Remus’s coverlet.
“Hey!” said Remus, thwarting James’s retrieval by scooping up a handful. “No take backsies.”
“But I didn’t give them to you!” complained James. “Besides, I thought you wanted nothing to do with the love potion situation.”
“I deserve compensation for my suffering,” rationalized Remus. He shoved three chocolate hearts in his mouth at once.
“So steal some chocolate that actually belongs to Sirius.”
“You laughed at my pain,” pointed out Remus. “It’ll taste better if I steal it from you.”
“Guys, can I have some?” asked Peter.
“No,” said both Remus and James at the exact same time.
Remus didn’t look up. He began to write fervently about the policy changes made in response to the Goblin Rebellion of 1612.
Remus doubled down on his concentration and began reciting aloud from the textbook in order to drown out Sirius’s voice.
“Moony! Hey, Moony!!”
“What?!” snapped Remus, throwing his book down and finally looking at Sirius. (Who as it turned out was unexpectedly hanging upside down from a broom.)
“Will you go out with me?”
“Why not?” complained Sirius.
“Because!!” said Remus.
“Because why?” whined Sirius.
“Because I don’t want to!” said Remus.
“Why the bloody hell not?” asked Sirius petulantly.
“Because…because!!” Remus cursed his stupid irrational crush. He couldn’t even come up with a good excuse for why he would turn Sirius down. His brain was way too quick to point out that what it actually wanted to do was say yes.
Because I don’t fancy blokes would be a good excuse. Except, that would be a lie. And he may not have been ready to come out to his friends just yet, but that didn’t mean he might not want to later. It would be infinitely more awkward to do that if it meant contradicting his own denial of the fact. Better to be vague and not admit anything one way or the other. That was his preferred modus operandi.
Because I’m not attracted to you, would be another excuse. Remus was pretty sure he couldn’t lie that badly while keeping a straight face.
How about: because you’re annoying. Accurate, and legit! The only problem was, Sirius wouldn’t take that as an acceptable excuse. Things like being annoying had certainly never gotten in the way of their friendship.
“Because, you’re not in your right mind right now and you don’t mean it.” In the midst of his panic over not being able to invent a good excuse, the truth accidentally slipped out.
“But I do mean it,” said Sirius earnestly. He was using the puppy dog eyes trick now. That was fighting dirty. No one in all of Hogwarts could pull off puppy dog eyes better than Sirius Black.
“No,” Remus insisted firmly. “You don’t.”
“I doooooo,” needled Sirius. “I do, I do. I really do!”
“I happen to know for a fact that you don’t.”
Sirius’s pitiful expression turned calculating. “So what you’re actually saying here,” he postured, “is that you would say yes if I could convince you of my sincerity.”
Remus gulped. He had really, really not intended to give that particular fact away.
“I dunno. Maybe,” he said evasively, doing his best to sound nonchalant and not like he was actually having a complete internal meltdown (which he was.)
“I accept your challenge,” announced Sirius grandly.
“I didn’t issue a challenge!”
“I have a quest!” Sirius proclaimed. “I have been given a quest to prove my heart’s true intent to my beloved! I shall not fail!”
“Please fail,” wheezed Remus in utter mortification.
“Sirius Black never fails!”
With that Sirius zipped out of the common room, much to the fat lady’s objections about indoor broom use.
“So, did James and Sirius accidentally swap brains?” asked Lily Evans, casually walking by. “Because I could swear I’ve heard some of those lines before.”
Remus didn’t answer her. He was too busy banging his head repeatedly against the table.
Remus slunk into Divination class, thanking his luck that his day so far had been fairly uneventful.
(And more importantly Sirius-free.)
Alas, that was not to last.
“Psst,” he could hear Sirius whispering from a few seats behind him. “Prongs! What rhymes with ‘Moony’?”
“Bafoony?” offered James in a loud stage whisper.
“No, that doesn’t convey the right atmosphere,” Sirius objected. “I was thinking something more along the lines of ‘monsoony’. But you know. More romantic.”
“How about ‘spoony’?” offered Peter.
Remus turned around. “I can hear you, you know.”
“What was that Mr. Lupin?” said the teacher.
“Nothing!” Remus turned back around, mentally glaring at his friends for getting him in trouble.
A few seconds later he felt something hit his head, and turned around to find a folded up piece of parchment drop to the floor. He picked it up, dreading what he was about to find.
There once was a werewolf named Moony
Around whom I always feel swoony
I keep asking him out
But he resists my pout
I’ll be pining until I go loony
Remus laughed in spite of himself, but quickly turned his chuckle into a cough. He was not going to encourage Sirius!
He tore off a bit of parchment from his notes and scrawled back:
A limerick? Really, Padfoot? I’m disappointed in you. You’re going to have to do better than that to win me over.
He quickly charmed his note to float over to Sirius’s desk and turned back towards the lesson.
A few minutes later another folded up note dropped onto his desk (right over the sentence he’d been writing, causing his ink to smear.)
Not a fan of limericks, huh? I guess you’re more of a haiku bloke?
A lone wolf prowls through forest
Beware those sharp teeth
They ripped my bleeding heart out
Remus scowled. This time he wrote his reply directly in the margin of the note. He didn’t especially want to keep that poem.
Have some class. Nothing short of a sonnet in iambic pentameter will do for me.
P.S. What the hell was that? Was that supposed to be romantic??? Yikes.
Sirius’s reply came back very quickly.
Haikus are hard. It seemed better than my first attempt:
The enigmatic Moony
So clever and fun
What’s with so many jumpers
He’d barely finished reading the note before he overheard Sirius whining behind him. “Jaaaames! Write me a sonnet!”
“You’re on your own mate,” replied James, no longer even bothering to whisper. “There is only one person who could coax that kind of effort out of me. I’ll give you a hint. Her name does not rhyme with ‘spoony.’”
“Some people have no taste,” griped Sirius.
For a few minutes the room was quiet except for the droning of the teacher. Remus almost actually managed to start paying attention before he was interrupted by another note.
You charmed the heart right of me
To my whole life you hold the key
You cast your spell and suddenly
I cannot forget you!
Remus rolled his eyes and then quickly sent the following note back:
That isn’t a sonnet, you berk. That isn’t even original. You just copied some Celestina Warbeck lyrics.
The next reply came within seconds:
Just making sure you were paying attention. Here you go.
Alone in the most Ancient House of Black
A young man’s unappreciated cool
Unknowingly awaits a brand new pack
Of brilliant mates he acquires at school
And soon the teachers learn to fear their names
As the days pass by filled with first rate pranks
Really they should be impressed by their brains
(Hey at least we’re not out there robbing banks)
With this you’d think life was filled with solid joy
For what could darken such a blissful state
Yet great sadness troubled the handsome boy
Due to a growing fondness for his mate
And so Moony, I beg you to agree
Reconsider that you’ll go out with me
Remus stared at the note in complete disbelief. He counted all of the lines and syllables.
“Holy hippogriffs,” he muttered. “That idiot actually wrote me a sonnet.”
He turned around and caught a glance of Sirius leaning forward in his seat giving and him a thumbs up.
Remus could feel his cheeks burning as he turned back around and tried to pay attention to the lecture. He didn’t have any idea how to respond to that. No response would probably be best. He reminded himself yet again that he was not supposed to encourage Sirius! He didn’t mean anything he was saying!
Apparently Sirius was not about to let Remus’s lack of response slide. Another parchment projectile hit him in the head.
Well? Will you go out with me or what?
Remus’s hand shook as he penned his response.
Apparently it was much harder to commit his rejection to writing than it was a say aloud.
He couldn’t bring himself to turn around and look at Sirius again for the rest of class. But he carefully folded up the sonnet and slipped it inside his robes.
He was definitely keeping that.
“Fancy a walk?” Sirius’s voice was cheerfully undeterred.
“I was already walking,” replied Remus. He sped up his pace a little.
“Perfect!” said Sirius. “That’s something we have in common then. You know, they say that having things in common is the foundation of a good relationship. And look at us. Both people. With legs. Who like to walk. Currently walking. I think it’s meant to be.”
“I like walking in quiet,” retorted Remus. He made a point of staring out at the lake and not at his determined walking companion.
“I’m really good at being quiet.”
“Padfoot,” said Remus, turning around. “You are absolutely terrible at being quiet. You’re the least quiet person in all of Gryffindor.”
Sirius wasn’t there though. A large black dog now occupied the space where Remus had expected to find his friend. The dog silently wagged its tail.
“That’s cheating,” muttered Remus.
Padfoot just tilted his head in an ‘I’m an adorable dog who doesn’t understand you so you can’t be mad at me’ sort of way.
“Oh for Merlin’s sake.” Remus resigned himself to taking a walk with his friend and stooped down to scratch Padfoot behind the ears. He actually hadn’t meant to scratch Padfoot behind the ears, but it was just sort of a compulsive reaction that happened every time the dog gave him that lopsided I’m-too-cute-for-my-own-good-and-I-know-it look.
“C’mon then,” he sighed and began walking again.
Or trying to walk. Padfoot kept weaving back and forth around his legs in a way that made it very difficult to make much forward progress.
“I will not react,” Remus muttered under his breath. “I will not react. He’s doing it to get a reaction. I will not react.”
Remus managed to maintain a saint-like level of control until he reached his destination, which happened to be their favorite tree by the lake. He settled down under it and pulled out his books to study.
A stick dropped across his open textbook.
He looked up into an expectantly waiting doggy grin.
“Not right now,” he complained. Remus removed the stick from his book and set it on the ground.
He’d barely gotten another sentence read before a second stick was deposited on his book.
“No. Padfoot, I’m studying.”
Padfoot let out a (very quiet) whine and trotted off to retrieve another stick.
“No sticks! Why don’t you go and chase something! That isn’t me!” Remus held his book up in an attempt to keep it out of Padfoot’s reach. It seemed to work and this time when the dog ran off he didn’t immediately reappear.
Remus let out a very long and exasperated sigh as he resumed his reading. It was hard to stay annoyed for long though. The weather was just the perfect temperature to be outside without heavy robes. It was neither too warm nor too cold out, and he could enjoy the gentle breeze blowing off the lake. Every now and then the peaceful solitude was interrupted by the loud slap of tentacles hitting the water. Ideal studying conditions, really.
For a moment, Remus was confused as to why the stick Sirius dropped was so heavy and warm. And…squirmy. Remus’s eyes went wide as they connected with the little beady eye of a squirrel in his lap.
“Ack!” said Remus.
“Squeek!” went the squirrel.
In its panic the squirrel tried to climb Remus like a tree instead of jumping away. Remus tried to pull it off but his attempt to grab it only panicked the squirrel more. It jumped onto his face and dug its tiny little claws into his cheeks.
“Ahhh!” screamed Remus.
“Squeeeeek!” shrieked the squirrel.
“Woof!” barked Padfoot, coming to the rescue.
At the sight of a charging dog, the squirrel leapt off Remus’s face and rocketed away.
How in the name of Merlin’s pants could my life be any more messed up, lamented Remus to himself, blinking dazedly.
Padfoot decided to answer that question by enthusiastically licking his squirrel induced battle injuries.
“Ugh! Bad dog!” yelled Remus, shoving him off and pointing an accusing finger at Padfoot.
Padfoot let out a heart-wrenching whine and did the head-tilt thing again.
“No,” said Remus sternly. “That’s not working on me.”
Padfoot put one paw on his knee and whined again.
“No,” Remus insisted again. “Stop hamming it up. I can see through you, you furry git.”
Padfoot rolled over and played dead.
“I’m ignoring you,” said Remus. He indignantly picked up his book again.
The weight of his book was soon joined by a large furry black head resting on his leg. Padfoot looked up at him with big soulful doggy eyes.
“Ignoring you,” Remus just repeated. He didn’t quite have it in him to shove Padfoot off though. He rationalized that refusing to push him off was an important aspect of the ‘ignoring you’ promise.
Remus wasn’t even surprised when a few minutes later Sirius spontaneously transformed back into his human form, and there was long wavy hair spilling across his thigh instead of short scruffy fur. Sirius grinned up at him from his position in Remus’s lap and shifted around to make it clear that he was getting comfortable and had no intention to move.
Remus made a point of not moving either.
It was the principal of the thing. That was all.
He should have stayed home from Hogsmeade.
Really, he was asking for this. He should have known better.
It’s just that they always went to Hogsmeade together. Remus had foolishly taken for granted that like usual, he’d have the full support of his entire group of friends, and so James and Peter could act as intermediaries when Sirius became too overbearing.
James and Peter were traitorous toerags.
How was it that after a dry spell that had lasted for years, suddenly both of them had miraculously managed to get a date? And the one time Remus absolutely needed their company they were both abandoning him to deal with Sirius alone? And had somehow both managed to forget to tell Remus this fact until after they had all arrived in the village?
It was a suspicious coincidence.
“I hate you both,” hissed Remus.
Peter just shrugged guiltily and scurried off towards a group of Hufflepuff girls who were all giggling wildly.
“Luckily Lily loves me enough to fill your void!” bragged James. He gave Remus a two-fingered salute and trotted off in the opposite direction.
“Looks like it’s just me and you,” said Sirius happily, slinging his arm around Remus’s shoulders.
Remus froze, caught in the conundrum of how to react.
His instinct screamed at him to throw Sirius’s arm off of him and gain some distance. Meanwhile, his heart leapt at the comfortable warmth. And his logic reminded him that it was actually not unusual at all for Sirius to do things like sling his arm around Remus’s shoulder. It was something he did all the time, stretching back long before the potion incident. Sirius did the same to both James and Peter; he was just an affectionately tactile person.
Of course, the usual platonic undertones of Sirius’s behavior had been overridden by the obsessive infatuation that now tinged his every movement….
Remus let the arm stay. He managed to convince himself that it was only because he was trying to act normal, and normal Remus would not shove off normal Sirius.
It definitely had absolutely nothing to do with the way the contact was making his heart go ba-bump ba-bump ba-bump.
Right. Normal. No ulterior motives whatsoever.
“So,” said Sirius perkily. “Where do you want to start out our date?”
“We’re not on a date,” Remus reminded him.
“A date simply means a social engagement,” replied Sirius with a smirk. “We are together engaging in a social activity. Ergo, a date.”
“We are friends hanging out,” said Remus stiffly. “We are not engaging in any other type of social activity. Stop calling it a date.”
Sirius just shrugged, and the movement caused his arm to settle in a little more securely around Remus’s shoulders. Remus pretended not to notice.
“I need a new quill,” said Remus, intentionally suggesting the least romantic errand he could think of.
They wandered over to Scrivenshaft’s and Remus deliberately took as long as he possibly could, making a point to inspect nearly every quill and piece of stationery in the entire shop. Sirius made many unsolicited suggestions, encouraging Remus to choose ones that played annoying jingles when you used them or only wrote in glitter ink. Remus ignored all of his recommendations and picked out a nice practical owl feather.
As they left the stationers Remus caught Sirius’s eye straying over to Madame Puddifoot’s Tea Shop and he braced himself for the inevitable insistence that they stop in and make their ‘date’ official.
Sirius kept walking.
Remus was so surprised by that that he found his own eyes trailing after the notorious tearoom in shock of not being dragged inside.
He did his best to ignore the completely irrational, but slightly disappointed sinking in his chest.
“This is your favorite shop, right?”
Remus bumped into Sirius when he abruptly stopped walking. Remus had been too distracted by his musings on why Sirius had not tried to make their outing more ‘romantic’ with the cliché date haunt to pay attention to where they were going. He looked up and was surprised to find the familiar sign to ‘Tomes and Scrolls’ above their heads.
“Yeah…” he admitted. “This is my favorite shop. We don’t usually stop here though.”
“Well, James and Peter aren’t here to complain about being bored, are they?” asked Sirius smugly.
“What about you being bored,” pointed out Remus.
“Contrary to popular misconception,” announced Sirius loftily, “I am both literate and appreciate fine culture.” He strode confidently into the bookshop and wasted no time in plonking down in the corner with a trashy romance novel.
Remus rolled his eyes but found himself smiling fondly in spite of himself. Then he immediately chastised himself for being sappy and buried his own nose in a heavy tome about Russian Existentialism.
If his stomach hadn’t started audibly growling Remus might have stayed there until nightfall. Eventually he reluctantly hauled his chosen books to the counter and noted with amusement that Sirius purchased a few as well.
“So…dinner?” he asked hopefully. He deliberately left the suggestion open-ended. Not because he was aspiring to go to any place that might be well known for amorous liaisons. He just wasn’t going to automatically shoot it down if that’s where Sirius wanted to go. He’d heard that Madame Puddifoot’s made really excellent watercress sandwiches, after all. If his best friend had a raging craving for watercress, well, who was he to deprive him?
“That would be excellent!” agreed Sirius enthusiastically. “Want to go to the Hog’s Head?”
Not really, thought Remus in disappointment. “Um, sure,” he said aloud. He followed Sirius into the dingy, smoky pub.
“We’re on a date!” declared Sirius loudly as the barkeep shuffled over and handed them menus.
“We’re not on a date,” corrected Remus, emphatically shaking his head.
The barkeep just grunted and wiped down the table with a rag that looked like it had been dipped in a drainage ditch.
(From the smell of it, it probably had.)
“A bottle of your finest Ogden’s,” said Sirius, winking at the barkeep.
“We only stock the economy line,” grumbled their attendant.
“Well then put a little umbrella in it or something,” directed Sirius. “We’re on a date.”
“Not a date,” sighed Remus.
The barkeep merely grunted again and shuffled away.
“I hear that the um…tripe…is…edible,” said Sirius, frowning at the menu.
Remus glanced at the offerings himself and made a face. “Why exactly did we come here?” he couldn’t help asking.
“The Three Broomsticks is too noisy and crowded,” replied Sirius. “I wanted to be able to actually talk to you.”
“Oh,” said Remus. He’d been prepared for some over-the-top or snarky excuse. The sincerity of Sirius’s answer caught him off-guard and left him speechless.
In an attempt to divert from his awkwardness, Remus reached for a small bowl in the center of the table that looked like it was filled with olives.
They were not olives.
“Bleech!” choked Remus, spitting out a mouthful of half chewed doxy eggs.
“Remus?” asked Sirius in a panicked voice. “Are you okay? Can you breathe? Maybe I should do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.”
“I can breathe just fine,” said Remus. “I am completely intact, except for my taste buds.”
“I don’t know,” said Sirius doubtfully. “You look pale. You should probably let me resuscitate you just in case.”
“Keep your paws to yourself,” commanded Remus. He scooted his chair back a few inches to widen the gulf between them.
Sirius frowned and looked like he was about to say something but was interrupted by the return of their server. He unceremoniously clinked a bottle of amber liquid on the table and two lowball tumblers.
Remus shoved his glass away after eyeing a lipstick stain still on it, and took a large swig directly out of the bottle. “On second thought,” he said, “maybe we should skip dinner. We can always sneak into the kitchens after we get back.”
“Capital idea old chum,” agreed Sirius. “This is why you’re the brains of our operation.”
“Not enough brains to stop my co-conspirators from poisoning themselves,” he muttered under his breath.
“You know,” said Sirius, “amortentia is a lot more palatable than pumpkin juice. Maybe you should try some too. Then we’d both be on the same page.”
“Absolutely not,” said Remus with a shudder.
He pointedly ignored the obnoxious voice in the back of his mind piping up that we’re already on the same page. I’m just afraid that you’re going to turn yours.
“I have lots of pages though,” he added in a mumble that he hoped Sirius couldn’t hear.
Sirius did though, of course. “Well that’s certainly something I can drink to,” he replied with a grin. He grabbed the bottle of Ogden’s and took a hearty swig.
Note to self, thought Remus woozily, as they stumbled out of the bar. Do not consume alcohol around people who you’re trying to resist shagging.
Yeah. Perhaps going to the Hog’s Head had been a bad idea. He should have insisted on Madame Puddifoot’s after all. It had seemed counter-productive at the time, but in retrospect you can’t get drunk off of watercress, can you?
Sirius was giggling uncontrollably about something completely inane. Possibly about the existence of muggle mailboxes. Remus couldn’t quite remember what they’d been talking about; they’d been talking a lot. He always talked a lot with Sirius. Except when they weren’t talking, which was good too, because Sirius was one of those friends that he could just always be comfortable around no matter what they were doing. Which was why he….
Stop that thought right there, Remus. He tried to shut down his brain’s urgent insistence to think about his crush and how much exponentially worse it was getting under the bombardment of Sirius’s amorous attentions.
Don’t think about Sirius. Just focus on getting back to school.
An easier thing to think than do, apparently.
Remus tried to step into the street, caught his trainer on the curb and found himself propelling very rapidly towards the cobblestones.
He braced himself for a broken nose but the impact never came. A wiry arm shot out and halted his fall.
“Careful Moony,” slurred Sirius’s voice (with far too much proximity to his ear.) “Wouldn’t want you to mess up that pretty face.”
Remus meant to roll his eyes and mock Sirius for using such a cheesy line. Instead what accidentally came out of his mouth was, “Too late, ’s already messed up.”
“’s not,” insisted Sirius predictably.
Remus snorted self-depreciatively. “’M, yeah. And I suppose that all of these scars are just beauty marks, huh?”
“I like them,” said Sirius.
“You’re drunk,” Remus reminded him.
“Completely,” Sirius agreed with a floppy nod of his head (which Remus could feel far too intimately because Sirius had forgotten to let him go after catching him. Or probably not forgotten actually, it was Remus who’d forgotten to extricate himself.) “But I still have excellent taste. Even when drunk.”
“You’re full of it,” Remus tried again. He was attempting to muster up the willpower to push Sirius off of him. It was not forthcoming. Merlin, how many times had he fantasized about being in this exact situation? The universe was cruel.
“Noooope,” Sirius objected. “Your scars are cool. They make you look rugged and dangerous. I am—” he leaned even closer to Remus’s ear, “—very attracted to danger.”
“Merlin’s pants, Sirius, just knock it off,” whined Remus. The warm breathing on his neck was turning his insides into macramé and it was becoming increasingly hard to focus on anything except how ridiculously good it felt to have Sirius’s arm wrapped around him like that.
“Ew, don’t wanna think about Merlin’s pants,” said Sirius, pulling away a bit and making an exaggeratedly disgusted face. “I find yours much more compelling.”
Remus meant to complain about how tastelessly Sirius kept hitting on him. He meant to finally break away and get Sirius off of him. He meant to do a lot of things, actually.
What he ended up doing was losing himself in an uncontrollable fit of laughter.
…He just couldn’t help it. Sirius was being so ludicrous. The situation had started over something so stupid. He was being so stupid himself by letting things get so out of hand. How did he even end up like this? Caught in a passionate embrace with his best mate in front of the most skivvy establishment in Hogsmeade? What was he even doing right now?
Remus hadn’t been prepared for the devastatingly hurt look that fell across Sirius’s face.
“What?” asked Sirius, pulling away. “I’m that bad?”
“What?” parroted Remus back, completely gobsmacked by Sirius’s abrupt change in demeanor.
“I’m sorry I’m pathetic,” mumbled Sirius, turning to walk back towards the school.
“You’re not pathetic!” Remus insisted. He hurried to catch up, but it was a bit difficult because his feet were definitely still unsteady. He grabbed at Sirius’s arm and tugged for him to turn around.
“I’m trying to stop,” insisted Sirius. “I am. It’s just— I feel— I mean, you’re just so—” he made vague waving motions with his hands in Remus’s direction. “—you.”
Remus made eye contact and gulped.
It’s just the amortentia, he reminded himself. It’s just the amortentia.
Sirius’s eyes did not look muddled by alcohol and amortentia, however. They were clear and apologetic and a bit pleading.
They were also the most stunning shade of grey that Remus had ever seen. (Not that that had anything to do with anything.)
“Look,” he mumbled. “It’s not you. It’s not—it’s not that I don’t want to.”
Oh shite, did he really just admit that out loud?
What was he doing?
Abort! Abort! Emergency lockdown! Make my mouth stop talking!
“I do want to,” his mouth kept traitorously confessing, in spite of the desperate screams of his brain to stop. “It’s just, we can’t. You know?”
Sirius gave a minute nod. “I know,” he sighed. “I guess we should get back to school.”
Remus nodded but his feet wouldn’t move. His fingers refused to release Sirius’s arm. His eyes couldn’t pull away from Sirius’s face.
Dammit all, why did Sirius have to be so unfairly good looking? And hilarious and fun? And understanding? Merlin’s balls, since when were people ever understanding when doped up on amortentia, anyway? It was almost like he….
Remus cut off that thought, before his intoxicated mind could run away with too much unrealistic hope.
“Look, this is just because I’m drunk, okay?” said Remus, leaning forward. “I’m really really drunk right now. Just…remember that.”
“Then maybe we shouldn’t—” began Sirius.
Remus didn’t let Sirius finish his suggestion. He would probably never get another good excuse to kiss him again, after all.
“I hate myself and I want to die.”
Remus stared up at the closed drapes around his bed and promised himself that he would never, ever open them.
The house elves would just have to wait for him to die of starvation before they’d be able to pry his corpse out of this bed. He wasn’t leaving any sooner. Maybe even that was too soon. Maybe he should put a permanent sticking charm on himself just to be safe.
Of course, refusing to leave his bed left his mind idle which made it really, really hard not to remember what had happened the night before.
Had he really snogged Sirius?
He had. Him. Remus. Not Sirius. He could not even a little bit blame it on Sirius. He’d started that.
…Not that Sirius hadn’t enthusiastically reciprocated.
Oh Merlin, had he ever.
Remus scrunched his eyes shut and tried to block out the very, very vivid memory of Sirius’s tongue shoved down his throat and hands roaming…pretty much everywhere.
(It didn’t work.)
He’d only meant it to be a simple kiss. He was just going to swoop in and duck out. There was definitely not meant to be grabbing involved. Or tongues. Or a lack of letting go that carried on for thirty minutes straight….
He’d failed however to take into consideration 1) that Sirius would be very, very into it, and 2) that he’d been imagining snogging Sirius for pretty much every night for two years running. He had seriously overestimated his self-restraint while under the influence.
It’s a good thing that they’d been standing in the middle of a public street. Remus shuddered to think of where things might have ended up if they’d had some privacy.
Oh Merlin. He was never, ever, ever going to forget that. And probably neither would Sirius. Which meant that Sirius was totally going to hate him when the potion finally wore off.
And to make matters even worse, he would certainly be bragging about his conquest all over the place, so his mortification would be two-fold once he was in his right mind again.
Come to think of it, maybe Remus ought to get out of bed after all. Maybe he could do some damage control and stop Sirius from telling everyone.
He reluctantly pulled the curtain aside, squinting as the light assaulted his aching, hung-over senses.
Sirius’s bed was made and empty.
James was perched on his own bed, polishing his broom.
“Hey…Prongs,” Remus croaked.
James looked up and smiled. “Hey, look, you’re alive!” he joked. “I was starting to wonder if I should send in a rescue mission.”
“Hangover,” explained Remus.
“I can see,” smirked James. He tossed a small vial over to Remus. Remus was grateful to see it was filled with a potion for curing hangovers.
“Thanks, mate,” he said, chugging the potion.
“So, looks like you had fun on your date yesterday.” James made air quotes as he said the word ‘date’ and snickered a bit.
Remus felt like he’d just swallowed a bludger. “What…what did Sirius tell you?” he asked in dread.
James raised an eyebrow. “Nothing, mate. Is there something he should have?”
“He didn’t tell you anything?” Remus asked incredulously.
“All he said this morning was that I could expect a swift and painful death if I was noisy and woke you up,” said James. “He seemed in an okay mood. But I gotta say, now my interest is piqued. He didn’t take advantage of you did he? Do I need to kick his arse?”
“No!” said Remus far too quickly. “No, he definitely didn’t! Nothing happened!”
James’s eyebrow crept higher. “Okaaaaay,” he said. “If you say so.”
Remus was pretty sure his guilt was flashing on his face like a marquee of fairy lights.
“I’ll um, see you around, I have to go now, okay, sorry, bye!” He threw on his robes at lightning speed and all but dove out of the dormitory.
He girded himself against the expected staring and possible heckling as he walked across the school, but no one took notice of him.
Maybe the gossip just hasn’t had time to spread yet, he thought darkly.
When he spotted Peter in the Great Hall he was almost afraid to approach.
“Hey, Wormtail,” he said, trying to sound calm and normal.
Peter looked at him suspiciously. Apparently he had failed at sounding ‘calm and normal.’
“Hullo Moony,” replied Peter. “Hey, are you feeling well?”
“Yes,” replied Remus (probably a little too quickly.) “Yes. I feel great. In fact, I feel better than great. Why?”
Peter shrugged. “You look a little off-color.”
“Ah,” said Remus, wondering if he maybe should have actually looked in a mirror before venturing out in public. “Ah!” he added accidentally, as he remembered that the previous night had involved quite a lot of Sirius mussing his fingers through his hair while they snogged and the whole not-looking-in-a-mirror-thing had gone in hand with a not-remembering-to-comb-his-hair-thing, and oh Merlin’s pants, it was probably really, really obvious to anyone looking at him what he’d recently been getting up to. He frantically tried to finger-comb his hair back into place.
“Well, you’re wrong!” he said hastily. “My colors are excellent. In fact I am feeling extra-colorful. What are you eating? Have you seen Sirius around?”
Peter’s eyebrows crept up as he watched Remus’s spastic scrabbling.
“Cheese toastie,” he said blandly. He slowly slid his plate closer to Remus. “Want it? You sort of seem like you could use it more than me.”
“Ha ha!” Remus laughed nervously. “That’s very thoughtful of you, Pete. But I’m, ah, not hungry. So, Sirius?”
“Sirius isn’t really into plain cheese toasties,” said Peter. “He likes the bacon ones better.”
“No! Not the food! I mean have you seen him today?”
“Oh. Sure,” said Peter. “Not since before breakfast though. He said he was going out for a run but he never came back.”
“Did he...um, say anything else?
Peter looked thoughtful. “I think he might have asked to copy my herbology notes from Thursday?”
“And…nothing else?” pressed Remus.
“Don’t think so. Why?”
“No reason,” evaded Remus. “Just wondering what he’s up to. Hey, I’ve gotta dash. Catch you later.” He jumped up and quickly walked away from the table.
He could feel Peter’s curious gaze on his back as he walked away, and determinedly refused to look back. Once he was a safe distance from the table though he slowed his pace, thoroughly scanning the other tables as he walked by, just in case Sirius was at one of them. (Of course he wasn’t though. Remus knew that if Sirius had been there, he would have been sitting with Peter.)
Remus began to wander around the school grounds searching for Sirius. He couldn’t find him in any of their favorite hangout places. He even tried highly unlikely places, like the Prefect’s bathroom (where Sirius wasn’t allowed, but sometimes snuck in anyway since Remus had given him the password.) Sirius could not be found anywhere.
The nervousness squirming inside Remus’s stomach began to expand into leaden dread.
Sirius was avoiding him.
He’d messed up.
He’d messed up big time.
He’d snogged Sirius while Sirius was not only drunk but out of his mind from love potion. He’d taken advantage of one of his very best friends. And now Sirius probably hated him. And he deserved it. He was scum.
Remus was seriously considering just tossing himself into the lake and letting the squid finish him off as he dragged himself to the library. He hoped that maybe submerging himself in some homework might take his mind off the fact that he had apparently ruined his life.
As he dumped out his books a folded piece of parchment dropped onto the table.
That’s not mine, he thought as he picked it up.
Remus was expecting to find it was someone else’s homework assignment mistakenly mixed in with his things. Or if not that, maybe a note.
He unfolded it to find a map.
Just a map. Not the map. It was much simpler than the Marauders Map, and didn’t seem to have any enchantments on it. It was only the most basic outline of the school with a few key landmarks scattered about. There was a large ‘X’ marked over a drawing of the one-eyed-witch statue.
Remus stared at it for several seconds and tried to understand what was going on. When he turned the parchment over he found a paw-print stamped on the back.
His heart nearly jumped into his throat.
Sirius wanted him to go to the secret passageway behind the witch statue? Did this mean he wasn’t mad at him? Or did he just want to get him somewhere private before he blew up at him? Was he waiting there to talk to Remus? Or duel him? How long must he have kept him waiting?!
Remus gathered all his books back up again and stuffed the map in his robes. His homework could definitely wait.
“Dissendium,” he whispered at the statue. Remus held his breath as the witch swung away to revel it’s hidden passage.
It was empty.
“Padfoot?” asked Remus quietly, as he stepped inside the passage.
He got no reply.
As quickly as it had risen, Remus’s heart sank. This was probably some sort of prank to get back at him for what he’d done to Sirius. He couldn’t even bring himself to be irritated at that. As far as pranks went, this one was tame. He deserved a lot worse.
He tripped over something as he turned to leave.
Remus stooped over, looking to see what was on the ground. There was a chocolate bar on the floor of the passage with an arrow drawn on the wrapper, pointing towards the tunnel to Honeydukes.
Remus picked it up and turned it over. There was no note or other markings besides the arrow. He sniffed it, feeling slightly suspicious that it might have been tampered with. Was the chocolate filled with some type of revenge potion? Had Sirius left it for him to be nice? Or maybe it was meant as preemptive medicine, to counteract whatever terrible curse Sirius had in store for him.
He couldn’t detect any signs of contamination, so Remus gingerly peeled the foil back and took a bite.
It tasted normal. Actually it tasted better than normal, because his anxiety had been rapidly spiking and the chocolate almost immediately helped to calm his nerves a little. He gnawed on the bar as he slowly walked down the passageway, trying not to eat the chocolate too fast.
At the end of the passage, right before he emerged into Honeydukes, Remus found another piece of parchment. This one was folded up into an origami dog. A sketch of the Shrieking Shack was drawn on one side.
Remus frowned at that. He had no desire whatsoever to spend time outside the full moon at the Shack. Reluctantly he made his way out of the shop (although not without stopping to buy some more chocolate…just in case. He might need it for his nerves, after all…) and across town to the Shack.
It was strange to enter the Shrieking Shack from the Hogsmeade side, and not from the hidden passage. Remus was very careful to look about and be sure that no one saw him sneak inside. Once in, he didn’t have to look very hard for a clue. Sitting on the old battered bed was a candle with a piece of parchment wrapped around it.
The parchment contained another map, this one leading to the Forbidden Forest.
“Is he trying to get me killed?” wondered Remus.
It didn’t look like he was intended to go very far in though. Remus sighed and began walking back towards Hogwarts.
He very nearly didn’t bother with the candle, because all he needed for light was his wand—but on closer inspection he noticed that the candle had protection runes carved into the wax. So he lit it as he entered the forest, and kept his wand drawn just in case. The map led him to an ancient oak tree growing close to the perimeter. Remus slowly circled the tree until he noticed a hollow opening in the trunk. Inside he found a book.
Remus immediately recognized it as one of the books he’d been looking at the night before at Tomes and Scrolls, but had put back on the shelf because he hadn’t wanted to spend too much money. When he opened it a note fell out.
There’s something very important I need to tell you. Meet me behind the mirror on the fourth floor after dinner.
Remus’s heart thudded as he stared at the note.
Sirius had something very important to tell him? Was that—good? Or maybe something bad? Sirius wouldn’t have gone through all the trouble of making a game out of the notes though if it were something bad, would he? Or given him chocolate and a book? Or maybe those things were just a peace offering to soften the blow when Sirius told him they couldn’t be friends anymore? Remus couldn’t tell. Whatever it was that Sirius needed to say to him, it really could go either way.
He looked at his watch and found to his dismay that although the treasure hunt had burned up a lot of his day, he still had two hours to wait until dinner.
It had only been five minutes since he found Sirius’s note and he already felt like he wanted to throw up. How was he going to survive waiting?
Remus went to dinner but he didn’t manage to eat anything. His throat was tight and his stomach felt like it had twisted itself inside out. He kept glancing around for Sirius but didn’t see him anywhere. He spent the entire meal meticulously shredding his food into unrecognizable mush with his fork. When the tables finally cleared he all but ran to the fourth floor.
Waiting for the hallway to clear, he ducked behind the mirror. The secret passage was empty.
I must be a little bit early, thought Remus. Sirius wasn’t at dinner so he can’t have known exactly when it ended.
That was all right though. He had the new book that Sirius had thoughtfully left him. Remus settled down against the wall to read while he waited for Sirius.
Two hours later he was still waiting.
Something wasn’t quite right when Remus entered the dormitory. He’d been crackling with anger, ready to tell Sirius off for standing him up. But Sirius was draped across his bed, white as a sheet, and looked utterly tormented. Remus’s anger almost instantly evaporated.
“What’s wrong with him?” he asked in alarm.
James smirked. “What’s wrong with him is the end of your troubles, mate.” He cheerily clapped Remus on the back.
“Go talk to him,” said James. “You’ll see.”
“Padfoot?” asked Remus tentatively, approaching the bed.
“Artemisia,” whispered Sirius.
“What?” asked Remus in confusion.
“Oh, my dear, sweet, unreachable Artemisia,” whimpered Sirius.
“The most beautiful creature in all the world,” sighed Sirius.
“He’s pining for Artemisia Bogg,” clarified Peter.
“Who?” asked Remus in bewilderment. “Who the bloody hell is Artemisia Bogg?”
“One of Ingrid’s friends,” explained Peter.
“Who the bloody hell is Ingrid?” Remus’s agitation was growing exponentially by the second. Had all of his friends gone completely mad?
“Wormtail’s girlfriend,” said James.
“Since when does Wormtail have a girlfriend?” asked Remus, slightly hysterically. He felt like he was possibly caught in a sudden conspiracy where nothing in the world made any sense.
“Since last week, man,” said James. “Really, Moony. It’s good this whole Padfoot-potion-thing will be over for you. You haven’t been paying any attention since it started.”
“Over?” squeaked Remus.
“Well obviously.” James nodded his head towards Sirius. “If you haven’t noticed, he’s clearly been dosed again. You’re welcome, by the way.”
Remus looked at James and then panned over to Sirius, horror spreading across his face as James’s words sunk in. “What—you did this?”
“Well, not me personally. We might have just made a friendly suggestion to Ingrid’s friends though. About how it would be doing us a huge favor if someone were to step up and volunteer as his new obsession. Artemisia is ace at potions.”
“You—you got some random girl to poison Sirius?”
“I think calling it poison is a bit of a stretch now….”
“I would drink poison for Artemisia,” announced Sirius. “I’d drink anything for her. Do you think she’d like that? If I drank something for her? Do you know where I could find some lava? I bet that would impress her.”
James sniggered. “Come on, you have to admit this is hilarious.”
“This is not hilarious!” yelled Remus, pointing at Sirius’s pathetic form. “You violated him!”
“Woah,” said James. “What’s your problem? We were doing you a favor!”
“How in the name of Merlin’s decrepit old saggy everything is this supposed to be doing me a favor?!”
“You didn’t want him to be in love with you!” said James defensively. “And you looked completely distraught this morning! We were just trying to take the heat off of you!”
“You don’t know anything,” hissed Remus, his voice dropping dangerously low. “And your idea of helping is terrible.” He flexed his fist, struggling with the overwhelming temptation to connect it with James’s glasses. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, finally unclenching his hand.
The near escalation to physical violence was not missed by James. “Woah, Moony. Overprotective much?”
“Screw you,” snarled Remus.
He could just make out Sirius’s faint remark of, “I’d like to screw Artemisisa,” as he stormed out of the room and slammed the door.
Remus paused as he reached the common room. He’d bolted in his rage but hadn’t had any destination in mind. It was too late for him to go anywhere in particular. He couldn’t go out without Filch catching him unless he had James’s invisibility cloak. And James was the very last person he was about to ask a favor from right now. He was effectively trapped.
He leaned against the wall and tried to calm down. He felt like he was going to explode.
Right now he was the maddest he’d been since the whole horrible Sirius-Severus-Werewolf incident. It was probably a miracle James had escaped without a broken face. If Remus had been a normal, average student James probably would have gotten punched. But Remus wasn’t a normal student. He’d spent his entire time at Hogwarts worrying about how fragile the balance was that allowed him to stay there. He could never ever allow himself to get in trouble for violence, because that would just prove everyone right who’d said that dark beasts were too dangerous to allow at school. He was pretty sure that the very first infraction he made that might make people wonder how safe he was would send him home if he were lucky (or something much worse if he wasn’t.) He just couldn’t risk it.
No matter how much of a soul crushing prick his friend decided to be to him.
Part of his anger was at himself too. It’s not like James and Peter had known how he felt. It was his own fault he’d never told anyone. It was his own fault for letting Sirius get to him. He knew that the attention and affection wasn’t going to last. He knew better than to enjoy it. He knew better than to get his hopes up.
He hadn’t thought he was letting his hopes go up, but apparently they had.
He hadn’t been able to help it. Sirius had just seemed so authentic and thoughtful the past few days, it was easy to forget that there had been a potion involved. It hadn’t felt at all like a manic infatuation. It had felt personal.
The sudden realization that all of that personalized attention was unequivocally over felt like something vital inside had been ripped out of him. Remus had never before felt so hollowed out.
At least Sirius hadn’t intentionally stood him up. He tried to make himself feel better by acknowledging that. Artemisia must have intercepted Sirius some time between him leaving the notes and their planned meeting. He couldn’t really blame Sirius for losing his mind after getting a fresh dose of the amortentia.
Knowing that Sirius hadn’t intended to hurt him didn’t help a lot at fixing how much he hurt though.
Was he even going to be able to be around Sirius any more after this? Was everything now going to stay broken and awkward? Would he ever find out what Sirius had wanted to tell him? Did he even want to? Maybe it was for the best. Maybe Sirius was going to tell him how angry he was that Remus had taken advantage of him. Maybe James really had done him a huge favor by distracting Sirius before he could end their friendship. Maybe now everything could just go back to normal once the second round of potion wore off.
Somehow, Remus doubted it would.
He felt a bit like someone had died. An oppressive sense of finality weighed down on his shoulders.
He curled up in one of the big squashy chairs by the fire. Remus had no desire at all to be in the same room with James and Sirius and Peter right now. He’d just sleep out here.
…Maybe he’d just sleep out here forever.
Artemisia wasted no time at all in making the most of Sirius’s predicament. By lunchtime the next day it was widely known that the most highly sought after and eligible Sirius Black had finally declared himself unavailable. Several girls were definitely crying. Artemisia Bogg was not one of them.
No, Artimisia Bogg had no time for things like crying. She was far too busy snogging Sirius in all of the most publically visible places she possibly could manage.
Remus was trying to avoid Sirius but it suddenly became nearly impossible.
If he tried to eat dinner he’d end up with an unobstructed view of them snogging at the Hufflepuff table.
If he went out by the lake he’d inevitably trip over them snogging in the grass.
If he went to the library they’d be splayed across the tables in the middle of the reference section.
If he went to the greenhouses he’d stumble across Sirius with his face glued to Artemisia behind the mandrake nursery.
He tried to tell himself that they weren’t doing it on purpose…but it was starting to feel a bit like they were.
Sirius is not doing it on purpose. Sirius is not in his right mind. Remus had to remind himself of that fact over and over again, the words becoming is own personal mantra.
He could not say the same for Artemisia though.
Now Remus Lupin was not a hateful person. He’d spent the vast majority of his life being far too intimately familiar with what it felt like to be on the receiving end of hate. His experience with bigotry made him thoughtful, and he always considered things very carefully before he allowed himself to embrace an emotion as damaging as that. His friends were a bit more flippant about it and wouldn’t hesitate to use such labels on their classmates. James and Sirius would be quick to declare their hatred for Severus Snape for example. Remus could never really get on board with that. He didn’t especially get along with Severus. He’d go so far as to agree he disliked him. But hate? Why would he hate anyone at school? The only person Remus hated was Fenrir Greyback.
Or so he thought.
Apparently it had been easier than he would have expected to add another name to that short blacklist.
Remus hated Artemisia.
How could she do this to Sirius? Remus had been wracked with oppressive guilt after kissing him. And he certainly hadn’t planned to do that; a lot of bad judgment had been involved. He’d meant to keep his distance until the potion wore off. He’d meant to respect Sirius’s boundaries. Every move that Artemisia made however was loaded with strategic intent. She was using him. Completely and utterly.
It took a while for him to manage to find her alone. Remus finally succeeded in cornering her in the owlery.
“Stop it,” he gritted out. (He’d meant to make a much more eloquent speech, but his anger spiked so intensely at the sight of her that those two words were all that he could manage to choke out.)
“Stop what?” she asked with feigned innocence.
“Stop using Sirius!”
“Using him?” she said indignantly. “I am not using him! I’m giving him exactly what he wants.”
“No you’re not! He only wants the things you’re giving him because you tricked him with potion!”
“He’ll still want them when it wears off,” she announced confidently. “We’re perfect for each other. He’ll be glad I gave him a reason to notice me.”
“He’s going to be mad as a rabid graphorn when the potion wears off and he realizes what you’ve done to him.” Remus wished he could believe his own words with complete conviction. He wasn’t sure how much he was only projecting though.
“He’ll be grateful,” she retorted.
“He will not,” insisted Remus,
“He will,” she said coldly. “I’m saving his reputation. Do you think that he wanted the entire school to think he was in love with you? I’m saving yours as well. You should be grateful too.”
Her words were like a physical blow.
Remus opened his mouth with the intent to deny that Sirius cared about his reputation…but he couldn’t seem to make the words form. He opened his mouth to say that Sirius wouldn’t be bothered if people thought he was in love with a boy. He couldn’t muster the confidence to assure that either. He opened his mouth to say that he didn’t care if people thought those things about himself, because they were true. He wasn’t brave enough to admit it.
“What you’re doing is wrong,” he finally stuttered.
“I think that will be for Sirius to decide,” she said tartly. “Stay out of our business.”
“You’re violating my friend!” he exclaimed desperately.
“I’m giving him something that lots of boys in this school would kill for,” she said. “I think you’re just jealous.”
A dark part of Remus’s soul roared in agreement. He was jealous. But not in the way that Artemisia assumed.
“Stay away from him,” was all he trusted himself to say.
“You stay away from him,” she snapped. “He’s my boyfriend!”
She roughly shoved Remus aside and stomped out of the owlery without sending her letter.
Remus stood there for a long time after she left. He took long, deep breaths, trying to get his fists to unclench.
“It’s all in good fun,” said James, with a yawn. “I’m not sure why you’re getting so worked up over this. Sirius won’t care. All they’ve done is snogged a bit. Artemisia is a looker, he’ll get a kick out of it.”
“I don’t think he will,” Remus insisted.
“Why wouldn’t he?” asked James. “I sure wouldn’t mind snogging her. She’s at least an eight or a nine.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” asked Remus. “Sirius didn’t get a say in this!”
“Hey, look, it’s not like he was normal before she gave him the potion, was he?” rebuked James. “We didn’t potion him up out of nowhere. He was already affected. All we did was transfer his obsession to someone a bit more convenient.”
What was so inconvenient about me? Remus’s mind wanted to ask. He didn’t dare though.
“I wasn’t taking advantage of him while he was affected though,” said Remus. “It’s not okay just because she’s pretty. How would you like it if someone like Narcissia gave you some love potion?”
“It wouldn’t matter how I liked it,” mused James. “Sirius would probably kill me before the potion wore off.”
“That’s not the point!” Remus threw his arms up in exasperation.
“It’s not going to last long,” said James dismissively. “I don’t understand why you’re getting so mad. You were upset that the potion had him fixated on you. And now you’re acting like you actually wanted him to be in love with you or something. It’s kind of weird, mate.”
Remus clenched his jaw and glared at James. He tried to contradict the unfortunately astute observation, but he couldn’t.
“I have to go do something,” he muttered.
If the surprised look on James’s face was because he’d read the admission in Remus’s lack of a contradiction, Remus didn’t hang around to find out.
Three days later Remus was torturing himself (as had become a compulsive habit) by watching Sirius and Artemisia make out in the middle of the Great Hall. With no warning whatsoever Sirius abruptly shoved her away.
“WHAT THE HELL!” He yelled.
The fight that ensued went down in Hogwarts legend. Several items got thrown and broken. An entire pitcher of pumpkin juice ended up over Ingrid’s head. James got a plate full of buttered peas thrown in his face. The screaming was too hysterical for Remus to understand most of what they were saying, but it was pretty easy to get the gist of it. Artemisia broke out in gasping, wracking sobs.
When things had calmed down a bit Sirius grabbed her roughly by the wrist.
“EXCUSE US,” he announced loudly. “I HAVE TO GO HAVE A PRIVATE CONVERSATION WITH MY EX-GIRLFRIEND.”
The eyes of every student at Hogwarts followed them as he dragged her from the room.
Remus numbly stared at the door for several minutes afterwards. He felt like he ought to be relieved that he’d been right about Sirius. But his triumph wasn’t very reassuring. If Sirius was that mad about what Artemisia had done, then the chances didn’t seem very high that he’d be in a forgiving mood towards Remus either. It was probably only a matter of time until he could expect to get some dishes thrown at his own head.
He poked around at his food, all traces of his appetite lost.
Fifteen minutes later Artemisia slunk back in. There was no trace of Sirius with her.
Instead of going back to her own table she stalked over and leaned close to Remus’s ear.
“This is all your fault,” she said acidly. “I wouldn’t have gotten involved if I’d known you were a nancy-boy.”
Remus jerked away as if her words had burned him.
“Wh—what did he tell you?!” asked Remus in horror.
Artemisia did not deign a reply. She shoved him as she stormed back to the Hufflepuff table. Several girls immediately swooped in and began sympathetically fussing over her.
Remus stopped looking. He didn’t want to have to make eye contact with anyone. His blood was slowly turning to ice in his veins. Sirius had told her about what had happened between them.
He had expected Sirius to be mad, but he honestly hadn’t foreseen that he would tell anyone (except probably James) about what had happened. Not once the potion wore off and he had control of himself. He certainly hadn’t thought he’d tell Artemisia.
In a daze he excused himself from the table. He was losing his appetite an awful lot lately.
He knew that he really needed to find Sirius and talk to him about what had happened. Unfortunately, talking to Sirius was the very last thing he wanted to do. He’d rather roll around naked on a pile of silver bullion than face the infinitely more painful prospect of Sirius telling him off.
He managed to avoid Sirius for the rest of the afternoon. Eventually he had no choice but to return to their dorm room. Sirius was sitting on his bed, waiting for him.
“I need to talk to you!” said Sirius frantically.
“I’m really tired,” said Remus, trying to avoid looking at Sirius’s eyes. “I’m not really up to talking right now.”
“It’s really important!” insisted Sirius.
“You should talk to James then,” said Remus.
Remus didn’t miss the frown that pulled at Sirius’s mouth. “I’ve already had some words with James,” he muttered. “I need to talk to you.”
“Can it please wait then?” pleaded Remus. “I’m really not up to it. The full moon’s coming soon, and I’m just really feeling it this time. I’m drained. Please?”
Sirius sighed. “Okay, fine. Tomorrow then. I need to talk to you tomorrow.”
Remus nodded without looking at Sirius. He kept his eyes fixed on the edge of his bed, which Sirius reluctantly vacated.
“Tomorrow,” Sirius reiterated as he walked back to his own quarters. “Tomorrow.”
As he climbed into bed, Remus couldn’t help but think that this must be what prisoners felt like when their execution date gets pushed back a day.
The following day Remus made himself scarce.
Sirius can’t talk to me if he can’t find me, he thought childishly. He knew this tactic couldn’t last indefinitely, but he was desperate. Every time he tried to imagine how the conversation between him and Sirius might go he felt sicker and sicker. The thought of their friendship being compromised was too devastating for him to deal with.
Remus had so few friends that he could truly be himself around. His secrets were too dangerous to offer to others easily, and it was too difficult to form deep and meaningful bonds with people when he had to hold such a big part of himself back. Sirius, James, and Peter were the only people he trusted enough to be open around. His attachment to Sirius went far deeper than his crush. He needed Sirius’s friendship.
There was also the fact that between the two of them, Sirius was clearly the more charismatic and compelling person to be around. What if their falling out became so bad that James and Peter had to choose between staying friends with Remus and staying friends with Sirius? Remus couldn’t for a moment believe that they wouldn’t stick with Sirius. It was pretty much a given. If he mucked things up with Sirius too badly it wasn’t simply one friend he was in risk of losing. He could lose everything.
He knew he couldn’t prevent these things from happening simply through avoidance. But that wouldn’t stop him from trying.
“You’re avoiding me!” Sirius finally managed to catch up with him on his way to Transfiguration class. He grabbed Remus’s arm as he jumped out from a hallway.
“No I’m not!” lied Remus.
“You’re definitely avoiding me!” insisted Sirius. “We need to talk now.”
“I have to go to class!”
“We’re skipping class.”
“I can’t skip class!” objected Remus. “It’s really important for someone like me to keep their grades up! I can’t do that!”
Sirius scowled at the ‘someone like me’ comment. “Remus,” he said slowly. “This cannot wait. I’ll make sure to get copies of the notes from someone for you. I’ll invent an excuse for McGonagall. You won’t get in trouble.”
Remus’s heart sank. Sirius only called him ‘Remus’ when things were very serious. He almost never used anything but ‘Moony’ to address him.
“Okay,” he said weakly. He let Sirius drag him into one of the secret passages.
“I’m sorry,” Sirius immediately announced once the entrance had shut. “I am so sorry about the Artemisia thing.”
Remus blinked, completely taken aback.
“Why are you apologizing about that to me?” he asked in surprise. “You’re the one that was taken advantage of.”
“Because you’re upset about it!” said Sirius. “That’s why you were avoiding me, wasn’t it?”
Remus stared at the floor. “I was avoiding you because you told her about what happened with us,” he confessed. “That’s—that’s kind of mortifying, okay? I know that you didn’t want any of that to happen either, but I didn’t think you’d tell her.”
“I didn’t tell her about what happened with us,” said Sirius in surprise. “I didn’t tell anyone about that. Not even James.”
“Oh come off it.” Remus was annoyed at being lied to when Sirius was the one that had insisted they talk in the first place. “Within minutes of your conversation she stomped back and called me a nancy-boy. Seems like a bit too much of convenient timing to be a coincidence.”
“That’s not what I told her at all!” exclaimed Sirius.
“Well why else would she say that right after talking to you?”
“Because—” Sirius paused and took a deep breath. “Because I yelled at her for messing up my chances with you. I told her I was going to ask you out for real! Her timing really mucked everything up, didn’t it?”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t at our meeting place the other day. I couldn’t think straight after she potioned me. I really was planning on meeting you.”
Remus took a step back. His heart was jackhammering against his ribcage. “You must still be under the influence though.”
“I’m not,” Sirius insisted.
“The amortentia is just making you say that,” Remus said thickly.
Sirius rolled his eyes. “That’s impossible. The first dose of the stuff wore off the first day. And you don’t still see me fawning over Artemisia either, do you?”
“It can’t have worn off the first day!” said Remus. “You were still—you were all—it’s supposed to last longer than that!”
“It lasted about three hours,” said Sirius with a smirk. “You’re rubbish at potions. I was kind of counting on that when I drank it.”
“You drank it on purpose?” Remus felt a bit light headed.
“Obviously!” exclaimed Sirius.
“That’s not obvious at all!” yelled Remus. “Why would that be obvious? What kind of idiot would do that! What were you thinking?”
“I wanted to find out how you’d react if I told you how I felt about you!” said Sirius. “I figured this way if you took it badly I could pretend the whole thing was an accident and you wouldn’t have to feel weird around me! And it worked, didn’t it? Or it would have if a couple of berks hadn’t involved themselves!”
“You—you—” Remus couldn’t get his mind to form complete sentences. His head was reeling at the unexpected information. “You actually meant all that?”
“Yeah,” said Sirius quietly.
“But um, what about what happened in Hogsmeade…?” Remus ventured nervously.
“Meant that too,” said Sirius, crossing his arms.
“But you were drunk,” Remus pointed out.
“Not that drunk.”
Suddenly it was very hard for either of them to make eye contact.
“Does that mean…” Remus finally forced himself to be brave enough to ask. “That you might want to do that again some time?”
“I was hoping,” said Sirius. “If you’re not too mad at me.”
“I am kind of mad at you,” Remus admitted. “But I’ve spent the past two days expecting you to be mad at me, so I guess it evens out.”
“Maybe a bit of snogging would make you less mad,” Sirius offered.
“Yeah, it—it just might,” Remus agreed.
“Well then we should get on that,” said Sirius with a grave nod. “It’s not good for your health to stay mad.”
Remus smiled. “No, I reckon it’s not.”
They were both very late to their next class. They didn’t even care about the points that got detracted though.
“OKAY, OKAY, WE GET IT ALRIGHT?” yelled James. “YOU’RE BOTH MADLY IN LOVE. I SEE. I GRAPHICALLY SEE. IT HAS BEEN SEARED INTO MY RETINAS. I HAVE SEEN THE ERROR OF MY ASSUMPTIONS. YOU CAN STOP NOW.”
Sirius and Remus paused from their snogging session on James’s bed.
“I dunno,” drawled Sirius. “I’m still not sure he gets it. Do you think he gets it Moony?”
Remus gave James a disapproving look. “Nope, Padfoot. I don’t think he sees at all.”
“Better rectify that,” said Sirius.
“Yep, we’d better.”
They went back to snogging.
“I hate you both,” muttered James.
“Don’t care.” Remus briefly broke away again to retort with a grin. “Padfoot loves me enough to fill your void.”
“I guess I deserved that,” sighed James. “Just wait until I finally win Lily over though. Just you wait.”
Neither Sirius nor Remus heard his empty threat though. They were completely deaf to the world, except each other.