The Poly-pumpkin-juice Potion
James is willing to fight with everything he has for Slughorn's Felix Felicis, except that he has two obstacles standing before his way to Liquid Luck. Then everything snowballs into uncontrollable chaos...
This is a troll fic. You have been warned; read on if you dare.
To the sixth-year James Potter, Potions was both his favorite and most despised class at Hogwarts. Favorite mostly because of his longtime crush—Lily Evans—seated at the table before him, and partly because getting on Professor Horace Slughorn's good side was a piece of cake, so long he could slip something of decent rarity into the Head of Slytherin's greedy hands. The bad? It was obviously none other than the slimy oddball at the other side of the classroom, huddled with the cronies from his own house.
Severus Snivellus Snape.
Not that he, the most brilliant student of his cohort, was bad at the subject. James had no complaints of being beaten by Lily the Potions Mistress, but he didn't like being in third place after Snape—an insult to James' intelligence and skills!
His best friend and number one partner-in-crime, Sirius Black, didn't even need Legilimency to read James' mind. "So, Snivelly beat you again in last week's quiz," said Sirius in a low voice, leaning closer to peek at the grade on James' paper. "I already gave up keeping track of your losing record since the OWLs."
James rolled his eyes. "Oh, please. You're just jealous that I'm ranked above you."
"I just find it amusing how much you've changed all because of a girl," Sirius snorted, eyeing pointedly at Lily who was sitting in front of his friend.
"Mr. Black," Slughorn's pompous voice boomed at the two Gryffindor boys, trying to get their attention back to today's lesson. "Would you be kind to tell the class the total approximate time required to brew a Polyjuice Po—"
"One month," Sirius answered without giving Slughorn a glance, still staring at his friend. "Honestly James, it's weirder now that you aren't much of a toerag anymore."
Sirius' comment was, unfortunately, loud enough to cause raised eyebrows across the class. Any ordinary person would have wished to die from shame, but James was too extraordinary to feel any embarrassment at the blatantly obvious insult from his best pal.
"Well, isn't that great?" James replied, blinking once at Sirius in mock bewilderment. "I'm doing Hogwarts a favor by being an obedient boy for the remaining two years I'm here."
James' only response was complete silence in the dungeon, sans the bubbling cauldrons over the crackling fire. Nobody was amused at his terrible joke; not even the Marauders.
"Boys," Slughorn sighed at them to break the awkward stillness. "I'd appreciate if you can do me the same favor by paying attention to my class, and not exchanging sarcasm behind me like bickering housewives."
That did shut James and Sirius up, in the midst of scornful sniggers from the Slytherins and resigned facepalms from the students of other houses. Lily, however, threw a look of disdain at James before turning her back firmly at him, determined to ignore him for the rest of the lesson.
If James was oblivious to the whole world around him, at least there was one thing he couldn't turn a blind eye to. "Now you've done it," he hissed to Sirius from the corner of his mouth. "You made her angry at me."
"You're unbelievable," Sirius was at his wit's end. He raised his hand to get Slughorn's attention. "Professor, I think James is probably drunk on a powerful love potion. Do you have any antidote to put him to sleep this instant?"
Slughorn glanced between James and Sirius with a frown, not at all pleased to have such an important class being disrupted every few seconds. "…Well, did he?"
"Professor," Lily was even more annoyed at the escalating stupidity. "May I request that the class continues on without any further interruption? There are some of us who are here to study, unlike a certain insufferable bigot over there." She glowered at James to make her point.
James went rigid in his seat, his cheeks felt a little hot at the eye contact (even if the reason was something completely different). As much as he was aware of his own arrogance, he wasn't exactly as insensitive as he appeared to be. After six long years at Hogwarts, he was slowly—but surely—growing out of his spoiled self, becoming more mature.
Definitely more mature than the likes of Snivellus Snape, of course.
The rest of the lecture went without another hiccup from James' love-sickness, and soon the students were given their first project-based homework: to correctly brew a Polyjuice Potion by the end of the month, and the best sample would receive a phial of Felix Felicis from the professor.
Now that was what James would call a real motivation. Who doesn't want to have a bit of Liquid Luck for a good day? He couldn't help sneaking another glance at Lily's willowy back as the class was dismissed.
"I won't let you have that thing, Prongs," Sirius had to spoil his moment with a snide mutter. "The fight is on."
"Not me—I'm only third in class, remember?" James rolled his eyes at his friend. "In fact, we'll have to join forces if we ever want to beat the top two in Potions before us." His sight landed on the departing figure of Snape trotting behind his Death Eater buddies.
A month had passed in a blink of James' drooping eyes. Among all the students, only Lily, Snape, James and Sirius managed to successfully brew the Polyjuice Potion. Peter Pettigrew had screwed up the order of the preparation process, and the end result was a watery yellow-brown mess that smelled like piss. Remus Lupin had forgotten to add lacewing flies; James knew that he didn't brew it properly on purpose, to keep his werewolf identity a secret.
"Excellent!" Slughorn seemed to be in a great mood today. "I didn't expect to have more than one or two to actually made this far, but to think I'll see four! A new record! Wonderful!"
The professor paced back to the front of the classroom and clapped his hands together. "However, only one winner will walk away with the lucky potion, so here comes the real test." The smile on his face widened. "You will add a bit of your partner's hair into your potion, and transform into your partner. Whoever can stay in their disguised form the longest will earn themselves this little bottle." He gestured to a phial filled with molten gold-like substance in the middle of the teacher's desk.
James had to set his jaw to stop his face from breaking out into a grin. For the sake of winning this personal contest with his arch-nemesis (and even his unrequited lover), he had spared no effort in getting the best ingredients with the equally sleepy Sirius in tow. He even had to thank Remus for discovering a wild bush of quality knotgrass just a little way outside of the Shrieking Shack.
He snipped a lock of dark hair off Sirius' bangs, and the latter did the same to James. James dropped the hair into his own Polyjuice Potion, where it immediately turned into an orange-red liquid. It reminded him of pumpkin juice… and the thought made him shudder a little. He probably wouldn't see his house's trademark drink the same way again. Out of the corner of his eye, he was relieved to know that Lily had chosen to take the hair of another Gryffindor girl, while Snape was bullied into using Mulciber's hair.
"Here goes nothing," James muttered to himself as he took a swig of his potion—Sirius' essence tasted like roasted turkey—and he started to feel like his entire body was on fire. He slammed the emptied glass on the table, gripping the edge with his other hand as he swallowed down the urge to scream at the agony.
As sudden as it had come, the pain stopped, and James straightened up from the table. He felt woozy when he looked through his glasses, forcing him to take it off to see better. Was his eyesight that bad? He also felt a little taller, and became aware of the strange stares some of the girls were giving him.
Was this how it felt like to be Sirius? To see things from his perspective?
As the lesson went on, the disguises of the four weren't showing any signs of wearing off. Slughorn was amused.
"I see that the four of you sure have put in a lot of effort in your Polyjuice Potion." The professor gave a sideways glance at the Felix Felicis on his table. "Seems like I'll have to wait for another day to make the final verdict."
"Professor," Lily asked, a slight anxiety in her voice. "Shouldn't the effect be wearing off after an hour or two?"
"Usually, yes," Slughorn replied, looking between the four with a hand under his chin. "But an unusually well-brewed Polyjuice Potion can allow the drinker to stay in disguise up to twelve hours."
"Twelve?" Lily exclaimed. Regret began to show on her face.
"Don't worry," Slughorn tried to reassure the Gryffindor girl. "Polyjuice is only used for human transformations—which all of you did splendidly—so there shouldn't be any complications to revert you all back to normal."
James glanced at Sirius, who had already fallen asleep on the table with the former's appearance. It still felt weird to James to see his own face on someone else's. Guess he'd be stuck as Sirius Black for the rest of the day.
Which James would soon realize that being Sirius Black was much more than he could've bargained for.
No one else beyond Potions class knew about the identity switch. The moment he had sat down at the Great Hall table (as Sirius), he was immediately swamped by a parliament of owls, filling his area of the table with parcels of various sizes.
"Still as popular with girls as ever, eh?" one of the boys around him teased. "Better throw those spiked with love potions away. Girls in love can be really scary sometimes."
James didn't know how he should react. He only had eyes on Lily ever since Day One at Hogwarts. "Yeah, right. Sure."
The boy stared at him. "You seem… different today."
"Really?" James could only manage a weak smile and left the Great Hall in a hurry. How was Sirius able to keep up with such madness for six years?
He almost bumped into Sirius—still disguised as James—as he rushed back to the Gryffindor Tower. Sirius was in as much shock as James was. "Whoa, that scared me."
The silence between the pair continued on as they sat across each other in the armchairs. "This feels… really weird," Sirius began, adjusting the glasses on his face. "And you have a terrible eyesight."
"There's something I've to tell you." Sirius looked to the side. Taking in a deep breath, he blurted out, "I'm sorry."
James was confused. "About what?"
"Well…" Sirius scratched the back of his head—or the head that looked like James, or whatever—and continued slowly, "Peter wanted to help you and tried to jinx Lily and Snivellus' cauldrons, but the spell backfired and blasted their potions, including mine."
James bolted upright in his seat. "Wait… WHAT?"
"As a last resort, we had to use your Polyjuice Potion as a stand-in to refill all the destroyed cauldrons, or else it'd be suspicious." Sirius shrugged. "But I wasn't expecting your potion to be this effective."
"You didn't!" James roared, pulling out his wand and fired a curse at the guy he thought was his best friend. "Tell me you didn't!"
"I said I'm sorry!" Sirius yelped, jumping out of his armchair to dodge the spell before pulling out his wand to defend himself against James' wrath. "It was all an accident!"
The chaotic wand duel in the Gryffindor's common room became a shameful topic that not even Minerva McGonagall, the Head of House for the Lions, would ever want to talk about, but it became one of the many incidents that led to Lily's acceptance for James. Even she came to believe that Sirius was the one who had finally snapped at James, not the other way round, thanks to the power of rumours and gossips.
A white lie that only James and Sirius knew the truth. A secret bond that further deepened the boys' friendship.
It all began with a mess, and everything ended in a mess.
All was well.
Forum: Harry Potter Fanfiction Challenges
Prompt: Blood Traitor Challenge
Characters: #6 - Sirius Black, #11 - James Potter
Forum: The Houses Competition
Year/Round: Year 1, Round 9
Category: Short Story
Prompt: James/Sirius (pairing)
Word Count: 2052