Chapter 1: Not Sirius Enough
"Appearance altering potions!" announced Professor Slughorn excitedly. "This is standard Auror training for those of you who are interested. The effects last far longer than your average disguising spell and the potion is much easier to control."
Slughorn paced the front of the dungeon classroom in which the Gryffindor and Slytherin sixth years were seated. He watched as his favorite student, Lily Evans, dutifully jotted down notes on what he was saying.
"Now this potion is not as precise as its more complicated and more potent cousin, the Polyjuice Potion," Slughorn continued. "You can pick your basic features and end up bearing an uncanny resemblance to someone, but you can't expect the potion to be able to capture perfectly any one person's set of features.
"Instructions for basic physical alterations like change in hair colour, eye colour, nose size" (James snickered furtively at this, poked Sirius in the ribs, and pointed at Snape) "are on the blackboard. I want you all to brew the potions today in class. You should be finished by the end, and for homework," Slughorn rubbed his hands together excitedly, "drink the potion five minutes before the next class we have. We'll have a fun time guessing who's who, eh?"
He flipped the blackboard carrying the instructions for the potions over, and the class immediately set to work. Sirius, after gathering his ingredients from the store cupboard and taking a seat next to James, started to read the list of instructions and think of how he would alter his appearance.
His hair, he decided would be the first thing to change. He set aside the three newt's eyes necessary to lighten the shade from black to a warm shade of brown. Then, he set to work on the facial features. A little lengthening of the nose here, a little shrinking of the ears there…
"Wishful thinking?" James smirked, glancing over at Sirius's work.
"What're you on about?" Sirius asked defensively. A little too defensively; he too had just realised whose appearance he had been modelling his potion after.
"Nothing," James replied coolly. "Just looks like you're trying to make yourself look like a good friend of ours."
"A good friend of yours maybe," Sirius muttered darkly. "He hasn't spoken to me since the Snape incident."
James paused for a second. The memory of Snape almost being mauled by a transformed Remus still brought a cold feeling of dread to his body. He shuddered very slightly and said, "He just needs some time to forgive, Padfoot. You two are perfect for each other. I'm sure you'll be able to work things out eventually."
"It's been almost a month!"
James rolled his eyes. "Just because you have the emotional capacity of a teaspoon and immediately bounce back from every trauma in your life doesn't mean that the rest of us do."
"Don't be thick, Prongs. Anyone should be able to get over something after a month. He needs to lighten up."
A few tables to their left, Remus was carefully setting aside his ingredients for the potion. He placed them neatly into organized piles onto his desk. He glanced to his right and noticed that Peter, who was sitting at the table with him, had pulled out enough lacewing flies to grow his hair down to the ground. After kindly pointing out Peter's mistake, he set to work readying his cauldron to brew the poison.
Although he could not overhear James and Sirius's conversation a few tables over, another conversation floated by that he couldn't help but notice.
"Look at him," said the girl in front of him, eyeing Sirius rather like a hunting wolf would eye an unsuspecting deer. "That sleek black hair, the intriguing grey eyes, the cute little pointed nose. It makes you want to tie him up, shove him in a broom cupboard, and have your way with him."
Her friend giggled. Remus glared savagely at their backs, and hoped fiercely that their appearance-altering potions would go wrong and give them both nasty warts on some prominently visible part of their faces. Turning back to his work he looked at his ingredients again.
Ground dragon scales, for transforming his hair into silky black locks; essence of quicksilver, for changing his normal brown eyes to a more intriguing shade of grey; hellebore root, for shrinking the nose slightly…
Oh wonderful, he thought to himself. Not only was he jealous over Sirius's petty girlish admirers, but also he was so attached to Sirius that he had subconsciously chosen Sirius's looks as his ideal appearance. Perhaps he just didn't have the ability to stay angry at Sirius. It had been a month, perhaps Sirius deserved to be forgiven.
Suddenly, an image came unbidden to Remus's mind, an image of a terrified boy, standing alone before a ferocious wolf. He felt dirty inside, tainted because of what he almost did to Snape and terrified that it might happen again. He remembered Sirius's casual laugh, his casual avoidance of Remus's guilt and horror. Fierce, hot anger bubbled up inside Remus.
No, he thought viciously, Sirius would learn to grow up and face real issues or he, Remus, would never speak to him again. He glanced at the clock on the wall. There wasn't enough time to get new ingredients. He would just have to brew the potion as it was.
A few tables away, Sirius was entirely oblivious to both the girls' giggles and Remus's renewed anger.
"I'm going to talk to him," Sirius said resolutely.
"I don't think it's a good idea," James replied, clearly unimpressed by his friend's determination.
"In fact, I'm going to confront him right now," continued Sirius, completely ignoring James's protests.
"How in blazes are you going to manage that?" James inquired. "We're in class."
But Sirius had already begun to rip a corner off a piece of parchment and was scribbling furiously with his quill. A few seconds later, he tossed the note a few tables over, where it hit Remus squarely on the head.
Remus picked up the crumpled parchment and without opening it, tossed it into the flames under his cauldron.
For some reason, Sirius seemed to find this very amusing and smirked.
"What's so funny?" James asked him.
"I wrote 'I know you're going to throw this one away without reading it,'" Sirius replied.
He then set to work ripping more pieces from his parchment, pausing every once in a while to add an ingredient to his potion and stir it half-heartedly. His first message was followed by notes that read, "The second note probably won't do much better than the first", "Third time was never the charm for you" and "Right about now, you'll be realising that I can keep throwing these at you until the end of class." Remus promptly threw all of these notes into his fire.
On the fifth piece of parchment, Sirius wrote his first serious message:
Moony, we need to talk. I know you're still upset but I really am sorry.
When Sirius tossed this note, Remus gave an exaggerated sigh and opened the parchment. He glanced at it for only a minute before scribbling down a response and carelessly lobbing it back.
It landed in Sirius's cauldron. Fishing it out nonchalantly, Sirius opened the soaked parchment.
What do you WANT, Sirius?
He quickly tore a fresh sheet of parchment and wrote his reply.
I want to apologise. I was stupid and didn't think about what would happen. Can't we just forget about it? There's a full moon in two nights.
That's a shoddy apology and you know it, Sirius. You can't just gloss something like this over. We haven't got anything more to discuss until you grow up.
Who said I'm not grown up? I told you I was sorry and that I regret it. Isn't love about forgiving and forgetting? Now how bout that full moon, want to have a go at the base of the east tower again? James reckons there's a passageway down to the dungeons from there.
Sirius, you can't just apologise and expect everything to fix itself. You haven't changed at all. You're still acting like an immature prat.
But a loveable immature prat.
No, I think the word that I'm looking for is 'insufferable'
Fair enough, but if we don't kiss and make up before the next full moon, I'll be a heartbroken insufferable prat. Think on that. Do you want that weighing on your conscience?
Sirius, I'm going to say this one time and then I'm going to ignore you no matter how many wads of parchment you throw at me. You are not sorry. You're doing the same thing you always do, trying to gloss things over by making a joke and changing the subject. But it won't work this time. You almost made me kill someone, or worse, turn them into a monster like me, and you think you can just laugh it off and I'll get over it. Well I won't. What I have is a serious condition and you act like it's a big laugh. To you, it's an excuse to run around the grounds once a month and a convenient tool to threaten Snape with. This rivalry you have with Snape is immature. Your attitude towards me is immature. And until you grow the bloody hell up and learn that some things in life are serious, I can't be with you. I can't even be friends with you.
Sirius read over Remus's reply quite a few times. For a few moments he fought a dreadful sinking sensation and the fear of uncertainty. What would he do if Remus wouldn't forgive him? How was he going to go on knowing that Remus hated him? Quickly, he recovered from those dangerous questions. Remus would forgive him. They had always worked things out before. He just had to be distracting, lighten the mood. He scribbled a message back: Hey, I'm always 'Sirius'.
Remus didn't bother to open it. He promptly stuffed the note under the fire of his cauldron. Sirius's spirits sank, and his shoulders slumped in disappointment.
"Bad luck, mate," said James, observing his friend's expression.
"He'll come around," Sirius said dejectedly, although he looked less sure of himself now.
He glanced at the cauldron where his potion had been brewing. Although the instructions had not said precisely how it would turn out because the potion varied depending on the appearance chosen, he had a feeling that the chunky tar-like substance in his cauldron was not going to change his appearance so much as poison him.
Everyone around him was packing up. As he ladled the potion into a vial, he made a mental note to keep a bezoar on hand before he took the potion. No doubt it was going to have some seriously unwanted side effects.
Over the next few days, Sirius stubbornly tried to reconcile with Remus, but nothing was going according to plan. Remus had shredded the singing card left on his bed, stunned the dancing suit of armor that accosted him with an apology on his way to class and coolly used the aguamenti charm to extinguish the flying filibuster fireworks that had spelled out what Sirius considered to be a heartfelt apology ("I'm Siriusly Sorry")
Sirius was growing increasingly frustrated. He had begun his quest for forgiveness with the appropriate amount of optimism, but his patience was quickly dwindling. He stood alone in a boy's bathroom on the fifth floor. He had just come from Divination and was about to take his appearance-altering potion before the afternoon's potions lesson.
He gripped the sides of the sink tightly and stared at his own appearance in the mirror. Distractedly, he pulled from his bag a small, corked phial containing his potion. He surveyed it carefully, wrinkling his nose in disgust at it.
The black sludgy substance did not look promising, and the prospect of drinking it was doing nothing to improve Sirius's sour mood.
If all went well, his appearance would shift so that he vaguely resembled the object of his frustration. If all did not go well, as he had no doubt would happen, he was going to need the shriveled little stone at the bottom of his potions kit.
Distractedly, he dug into his bag, found his potions kit, and removed the bezoar. What was it going to take for Remus to forgive him this time? None of his old tactics were working, and he was quickly losing the battle against the creeping feeling of despair.
Never, in Sirius Black's life, through the parents who could never understand him and the family who had disowned him, had he ever allowed despair to overtake him. But this time was different; this time it was catching up to him.
"Snap out of it, Black," he muttered angrily to himself. "It's nothing that won't be fixed soon."
But even as he said the words, he didn't really believe them.
Two floors beneath Sirius, in another boy's bathroom just outside the Arithmancy classroom, Remus was surveying his own reflection in the mirror and glaring suspiciously at his own phial of potion.
It was the exact sludgy consistency and pitch black color as Sirius's potion.
He shouldn't have let Sirius distract him that way. Passing notes hadn't allowed him to concentrate properly on brewing his potion, and Sirius had always known exactly what amused Remus and redirected his attention. But this time his anger and frustration at Sirius's immaturity was too great to let him forgive and forget after a few insincere, but admittedly very creative, attempts at apology.
Remus dug his hand inside his bag, found his potions kit and pulled out a bezoar. He uncorked the phial and cautiously raised the hand holding it. So, two floors above him, did Sirius.
As one, the two boys upended their phials and drained the contents into their mouths.
Both waited for the briefest moment, staring at their reflections, ready to shove the curative stone in their mouths at the first sign of pain. It never came. Instead, both boys felt something cool and calming washing over them, like a splash of water on a hot summer day.
A flash as though someone had shined a spotlight not on a body, but inside… a sudden, not so pleasant jerk that felt like the very essence of a person was being pulled in every direction…
Then the sensations stopped.
Sirius looked in the mirror at someone who looked remarkably like Remus.
Remus looked in the mirror at someone who looked remarkably like Sirius.
Each boy took the bezoar held in his left hand and shoved it back in his bag carelessly. "Excellent," both boys said to their reflections, and each turned to stroll out of the bathroom, entirely satisfied with himself.
Both Remus and Sirius were late to potions class. Sirius was the first to walk in.
"Sorry Professor," he said casually. "I must've been turned around or something. I could've sworn I was on the fifth floor but turns out I was actually on the third."
"No matter," Slughorn assured good-naturedly. "But why haven't you taken your potion, Remus?"
Sirius gave a little smirk. "I'm not Remus, I'm Sirius," he explained easily.
"Ah… yes," said Slughorn, still looking slightly unconvinced. "You know, Sirius. If I might say so, you will recall that I said you could not imitate a person's appearance too precisely with this potion. But you appear to be a spitting image of your friend."
Sirius shrugged. "Well Professor, I probably just got lucky and happened to come very close to the way he looks. If I was going to have to give up my good looks, I'd at least want look like the second most attractive guy in our year." He flashed a toothy grin and ran his fingers easily through his hair.
"That's Black all right," a petite girl with white-blonde interjected exasperatedly. Sirius could only assume that this was Lily Evans, the only girl in their year who seemed to take Sirius's overconfidence as a personal insult.
"All right," Slughorn said, although he didn't look entirely satisfied with the explanation. However, his face immediately brightened when he explained what they were to do next. "We'll have a few minutes of fun before we get started with today's lesson. Everyone write one true thing about yourself on a piece of parchment and hold it up. Then, one at a time, each of you will come to the front of the classroom and try to correctly identify one of your classmates."
Sirius slid into his customary seat next to James. Or at least, he assumed it was James. The boy was extremely tall and lanky, even sitting down, but his reddish-brown hair stuck up stubbornly in the back, exactly the way James's did.
The real giveaway was the message that James was scrawling about himself on a piece of parchment: "I am ruddy good at Quidditch"
Sirius gave a small snort of laughter when he spotted it, and James turned around to look at him.
"That's just creepy," James muttered, looking extremely unnerved.
"What is?" Sirius asked.
"You act like Sirius, you talk like Sirius, but you look exactly like Remus," James shook his head as though flustered by the entire situation. "Must've been some job you did on that potion, Padfoot."
"Well, what can I say? My potions prowess must surpass even that of little miss goody two shoes over there."
James scowled as Sirius jerked his thumb at Lily.
Just then, Remus entered the classroom, out of breath and looking totally disheveled. His shoulder-length black hair sagged forlornly into his eyes as he pushed them back with a totally frustrated expression on his face.
"Sorry I'm late, Professor," he breathed. "I must've gotten confused and lost track of where I was, taken a wrong turn or something."
"Nothing to worry about," Slughorn assured him. "I assume you're not Sirius then?"
"No sir," Remus replied shortly, and he quickly took a seat next to Peter. He assumed it was Peter because the boy he sat next to was the only person in the class to have managed to turn his hair a brilliant shade of green and yet change none of his facial features.
Ten minutes and many entertaining mistaken identities later, the class had successfully guessed which student had adopted which appearance. Slughorn set them to work brewing a potion to change the pitch of their voice for the remainder of the class period. Sirius however, kept getting distracted from the potion by his own appearance. He spent most of his time pretending to think himself irresistibly attractive, and this time he honestly believed it.
It was a very strange feeling, he decided, to be mesmerized by the way your own fingers daintily handled the potions ingredients and sprinkled them into the cauldron and the way your own hair fell into your eyes when you were trying to concentrate. How many times had he stared at Remus in class when he was bored by the teacher's discussions? This must be how it felt to be Remus, working diligently in class and looking very attractive while doing it.
Sirius was rudely interrupted from his daydreams when Professor Slughorn announced five minutes before the end of class that they were to bring their vial of voice-altering potion to his desk when they were done and then receive a Restoring Drought to return to their normal appearances. Wanting to savor looking like Remus for a bit longer, he purposely left his cauldron brewing for too long, so that when he finally collected a phial and was walking to Slughorn's desk, class was over and everyone was packing up to go.
Remus was just behind him, clutching a phial of potion that also looked rather overcooked.
"All right then, Black," Slughorn said, taking the potion from Sirius and handing him a small bottle with a clear liquid in it. "Drink this and restore your normal appearance."
Sirius took the bottle reluctantly and drained the contents.
He waited for a moment. He didn't feel any different.
Judging by the annoyed look on Slughorn's face, he didn't look any different either.
"I suspected as much," said Slughorn, a scowl sitting firmly upon his face. "You boys didn't take your potions at all did you? Thought you'd play a little joke, eh?"
He shoved another bottle of Restoring Drought at Remus, who looked thoroughly confused. Without a word, Remus drank the potion. Again, nothing happened.
"Well, I'm very disappointed with you boys," Slughorn said in a rather miffed tone. "I would have expected better, I mean, you're both very bright. Detention tonight, both of you."
"But Professor—" Remus began.
"No buts Mr. Black," Slughorn insisted.
"But I'm not Sirius, I'm Remus," Remus protested.
"Yeah, I'm Sirius," Sirius chimed in.
By this time, the classroom was completely empty of most of their classmates, but James and Peter had been waiting for Sirius and Remus to turn in their potions. Anxious to see what was causing the delay, Peter and James joined them at Slughorn's desk.
"That's quite enough boys," Slughorn said sternly. "Joke's over, and it wasn't a very funny joke either."
"What's the matter, Professor?" James asked.
"Your friends here are trying to play a rather unentertaining trick on me," Slughorn replied.
"We're not trying to play a trick!" Sirius yelled, starting to feel extremely frustrated.
James did a double take at this violent outburst. "Professor," he said slowly. "That's not Remus. You know Remus is quiet and logical. He doesn't get mad often or raise his voice, especially not to teachers."
Slughorn raised an eyebrow. "Then what exactly are you suggesting, Potter? That I brewed my restoring draught wrong?"
"Wait a minute," said Remus. "When I left the bathroom to come to class, I was absolutely certain that I went into the third floor bathroom, but when I came out I found myself on the fifth floor."
Sirius's eyes widened. "I went into the fifth floor bathroom before class, but I came out onto the third floor."
Remus opened the bag hanging from his shoulder. He pulled out The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 6 and opened to the inside cover. On the upper left-hand corner were scribbled the words "This book is property of Sirius Black."
"No way," James said incredulously. "You don't mean to say that you think you two didn't just switch appearances, you actually—"
"Switched bodies, yeah," Remus finished.
Peter gave a terrified squeak from behind them, which they all ignored.
Slughorn stared at them, disbelieving. "Ask Black something only he would know," Slughorn instructed James.
"How's Kreacher?" James asked.
"Still wishing that we'll chop his head off and hang it on the wall like his mother's," Sirius replied sourly, wrinkling up Remus's face sourly.
Remus stared at them, utterly confused. Sirius had never spoken to Remus about life at the Black house. To Sirius, it was a dark part of him that he liked to keep sheltered from the happier aspects of his life.
"It's definitely him," James assured Slughorn.
Slughorn seemed at least marginally convinced. "Well boys, how did this happen?"
"I reckon I didn't brew the potion correctly," Sirius answered. "I was distracted."
"That's one hell of a strange mistake to make," Slughorn said, but he seemed convinced at last. The boy who looked like Sirius was acting worried and fretful, exactly the way Remus would act, and the boy who looked like Remus was smirking, pulling a prefect badge out of his pocket and grinning at it.
"Excellent," Sirius said enthusiastically.
"That's MINE," said Remus, snatching it from his grip.
"Oh come on, no one will believe that Sirius Black is a prefect. Give it back."
Remus ignored him.
"Now boys," said Slughorn, his suspicious glare gone and his pleasant temperament returning. "Don't cause too much trouble. You haven't got any more classes today have you?"
All four of them shook their heads no.
"All right then, I will see what I can do to whip up an antidote and restore you to your proper bodies. You will meet me in my office in one hour. That seven o'clock, sharp," Slughorn told them.
"But Professor," Remus said anxiously. "Are you sure you can brew an antidote that works?"
"Not to worry, Mr. Lupin. Of course I can manage it. Anyway, if not, I suspect that you will be restored to your regular states when the potion would have worn off naturally had it been brewed properly, which is in somewhere between twelve and fifteen hours. They usually last for about half a day. You would wake up tomorrow, right as rain. All right boys, off you go. I'll see you two at seven."
As the boys turned to go, Remus suddenly remembered something. "Professor," he whispered anxiously. "It's a full moon tonight."
"Oh dear," said Slughorn. "Well drinking the antidote shouldn't take long. Surely you'll be out of here by sunset at 7:20."
Slightly mollified, though anxious about cutting his transformation so close, Remus turned and followed his friends out of the classroom.
"I've got some bad news, Padfoot," James announced at dinner.
"Peter and I have detention tonight."
"But it's the full moon tonight," he said.
"I know," James said exasperatedly, shoving a forkful of food into his mouth. "That's why it's bad news. Right after we took the potions and we didn't look like ourselves, Peter and I figured we'd have some fun with Snivelly and turn his hair rainbow coloured, make it look like he hadn't brewed his potion properly. You know how he's always banging on about how easy potions is to him. McGonagall caught is at it though, and she wasn't fooled at all, gave us both detention."
"Remus still isn't talking to me," Sirius stated matter-of-factly.
"Yeah, I'm aware," said James. "But you've got to do something when Slughorn puts you two back again. You know his transformations are awful if none of us are there. Who knows, maybe you two will even make up."
Sirius gave a doubtful scoff. But the look of disappointment on James's face at not being able to accompany Remus made Sirius add consolingly, "Yeah, I reckon your right. I'll definitely go down there. After he's turned, mind you, he'd send me right back out if he were human."
He chewed his food slowly, pondering his mixed emotions about spending a night roaming the school with Remus, and inevitably being chastised in the morning. It would be bittersweet at best. The night could be wonderful but the morning would be painful.
Then, quite suddenly, Sirius stopped mid-bite. An idea had just occurred to him, a wonderful, brilliant idea. It was so perfect, so simple, and he was sure that it would convince Remus to forgive him.
A slow smile spread across his face. Sometimes he was amazed by his own brilliance.
Just before seven, Remus was already outside Slughorn's office, knocking on the door.
"Ah, Mr. Lupin," Slughorn greeted when he answered the door. "Come on in, the potion is almost done."
Remus entered the office and took a seat in a nearby armchair. Slughorn stirred the cauldron slowly, then adjusted the heat of the flame underneath it with his wand.
Five minutes passed, the clock on Slughorn's desk struck seven, and there was no sign of Sirius.
"Potion's ready," Slughorn announced. "But you'll have to take it together for it to work."
Another five minutes passed. Remus's palms were sweating profusely. Where was Sirius?
Slughorn was evidently beginning to feel a little nervous too. He kept twirling the stirring rod in his hand and eyeing the two gobletfuls of potion waiting on his desk.
Ten past seven came, and Remus was beginning to feel frantic. Why had he not talked to Sirius before now? Made sure that he would come on time?
Because you're not speaking to him, said an annoying little voice from a corner of his mind. You're being stupid you know, holding this grudge and now you're paying for it.
Remus silenced the voice and asked aloud, "What do you reckon is keeping him?"
"I haven't got a clue, Mr. Lupin," Slughorn answered.
At quarter after, a sudden, horrible thought occurred to Remus. It couldn't be… but deep down he knew it must be true.
Sirius was not late because he had been accidentally held up. Sirius was late on purpose. In fact, Sirius was not going to show up at all.
After the argument and Remus's refusal to forgive him, after Remus insisting again and again that Sirius was too immature to understand what being a werewolf was like and how serious it was, Sirius had finally taken Remus's words to heart.
He had gone down the willow tonight, on the night of the full moon.
Author's note: Well that was a rather lengthy chapter, but I hope you all enjoyed it. It's my first Sirius/Remus fic and I'm rather excited about it. This will most likely be a three-chapter fic, and I'll be posting the next installment soon, hopefully within the next week. Please review and let me know what you think!