Disclaimer: Everything belongs to J.K. Rowling.
It was all Sirius' fault, of course.
No, that wasn't fair.
It was all James and Sirius' faults. But mostly Sirius'.
For the past few weeks Sirius and James had been working on an attraction potion, a modified love potion of their own invention that, when worn as a cologne, would make them irresistible to those who were already attracted to them, but should have no effect on people who weren't attracted to them. That was, Sirius had explained, the true brilliance of the potion; it enhanced rather than created. James was confident Evans would be unable to deny her true feelings once the potion was finished.
Finally the potion was ready for testing, and, after dressing for class, James and Sirius had liberally sprinkled it over themselves. Peter had eagerly doused himself as well, but Remus had declined, having no desire to know how many people were not attracted to him. James then spent ten minutes preening in front of the mirror, which he insisted was so he would be ready for Evans, but Sirius claimed was proof of the potion's success.
Remus hadn't needed to see James gazing at his reflection to know the potion worked. As if it wasn't enough that Sirius was gorgeous, that he constantly invaded Remus' personal space, or that he had a habit of walking around their room without a shirt, he had to cover himself in a lust potion too. It took all of Remus' willpower not to tear Sirius' clothes off right then and there.
The morning only got worse. James and Sirius had miscalculated the strength of the potion. It was perfect for Peter; a few girls smiled at him, and one ruffled his hair, cooing over how soft it was. James and Sirius, however, were already the most sought after boys in the school. Now, instead of watching and sighing, or flirting casually, girls practically mobbed them. Girls surrounded the boys, touching and petting, and a few bold ones actually groped. They pushed at each other, trying to get closer to the boys, and several raised their hems or tugged at their collars, revealing legs and shoulders and cleavage in an attempt to get Sirius' and James' attentions. They hinted at or outright suggested a variety of activities that, under different circumstances, they would hex boys for even mentioning.
Remus was surprised to learn that he hated most of his female classmates.
Fortunately, the girls maintained enough self-control to behave themselves in front of the teachers, and so, after a few scuffles over the seats closest to James and Sirius and some comments that made Peter choke on his pumpkin juice, breakfast went smoothly. Once they reached first period the fights over seats were a bit more complicated, as they shared the class with Ravenclaw, most of whom were getting their first whiff of the potion, but everyone settled down before Professor Flitwick noticed anything amiss. James insisted that Lily sit next to him, and she looked confused but flattered as she sat down. Three girls calmly surrounded Peter, one on each side and one in front who twisted in her seat to talk to him. Peter beamed at the attention, and Remus could not tell if he was oblivious or indifferent to the fact that all three of his new girlfriends snuck frequent glances at James and Sirius.
Sirius brusquely ordered the girl to his left to move so Remus could sit down, leaning over to whisper to Remus that he needed the protection.
Clearly, what happened next was all Sirius' fault. He spent the class leaning close to Remus, whispering, his breath brushing over his cheek and ear, touching Remus' hand or arm to get his attention as he gloated over James' grin and Lily's flush, Peter's fans, the girls making fools of themselves, and how very brilliant he and James were.
Double Charms was a very long class. As it dragged on, the girls got bolder. The one next to Sirius started scooting closer, leaning over to tuck Sirius' hair behind his ear or stroke his hand. Sirius responded by scooting closer to Remus, eying the girl nervously. When the girl rested her hand on Sirius' thigh, Sirius shoved it off and whispered to Remus "Moony, help. She won't leave me alone."
"It's your own fault," Remus hissed. "You take care of it. Isn't this what you wanted, anyway?"
"I didn't think it would be this strong. I don't even like Paulson that much. Please, Moony, save me. I'll do anything." Sirius fluttered his eyelashes.
In retrospect, Remus realized that Sirius had to have been teasing, exaggerating his disinterest to draw attention to his success, and that by "do anything," he meant as repayment for help, not that he was desperate enough to go to extremes to get rid of the girls. "Anything" probably entailed gifts of chocolate and homework help. At the time, however, Remus took him at his word.
It was Sirius' fault for not being clearer.
Still, it was rather unfair of Flitwick to send James and Peter to the Headmaster's office as well. Not unreasonable, perhaps, considering how inattentive the girls had been all class period, gazing adoringly at James and Sirius when they should have been taking notes; James' smug, self-congratulatory expression; Peter's giggly, nervous excitement; and the fact that, while James and Sirius might act alone or as a pair, it was a safe bet that if Remus was involved, all four boys were; but it was unfair. Some might say it was unfair to send Sirius, since, to a casual observer, he appeared to be the victim, but Remus found it hard to take that view of the matter.
Remus was glad of their company, though, relieved to have two other people to keep between him and Sirius. At least, he was glad until he noticed how very handsome James was, and how Peter's nervous fidgeting made Remus want to put a comforting arm around his shoulders. It was a very slight attraction, easy to ignore, but it poked a rather large hole in Remus' "it's just Sirius, and he had girly hair and lips anyway" theory.
"Were you planning on explaining, Moony?" James asked as they waited in the hallway in front of Dumbledore's office, waiting for the gargoyle to let them pass.
"There's nothing to explain," Remus insisted, not looking at his friends.
"Nothing to explain?" James repeated. "You pounced on Sirius!"
"Pounced?" Peter asked, snickering at James' word choice.
"Yes, pounced! Knocked him out of his chair, sat on him, pinned him to the floor, and kissed him! I think that kind of behavior deserves an explanation!"
"It's his fault," Remus said sullenly.
"My fault?" Sirius demanded. "How is it my fault? You shoved your tongue down my throat! And by the way, Moony, your technique needs work."
Remus flushed, both at the criticism and the memory of Sirius' body under his, feeling Sirius' chest rise and fall, his mouth open under Remus'. With an effort, Remus focused on the present, where his friends were still discussing his odd behavior.
"Maybe it was the potion?" Peter suggested.
"No other boy was affected," James pointed out. "And none of the girls attacked us."
"But Remus was the only boy near any of us. None of the other guys had a chance to be affected."
"Yeah, but that's because none of the boys wanted to sit near us. Because the potion didn't affect them. That was the whole point."
"The Headmaster will see you now," the gargoyle announced, moving aside.
"It's a werewolf thing," Remus blurted. His friends, about to head up the stairs, turned and gaped at him, so he elaborated. "The smell. It did something weird to me. To the wolf-side of me."
"Are you saying this potion makes me smell like a bitch in heat?" Sirius demanded.
"That's not how I would have worded it, but yes."
"And you were overcome by your werewolf-y instincts?" James asked. Remus nodded.
Peter snickered. "Oh come on Moony, we haven't fallen for that since third year, when you claimed hexing James' hair purple was a werewolf thing."
"He stole my last clean robe," Remus muttered. "I was defending my territory."
It wasn't fair. They'd believed everything else he'd told them, from "my werewolf metabolism means I need the last scoop of ice cream" to "werewolves can smell lies," to "veela react to werewolves the same way men react to veela." If he hadn't overdone it with the hex, they would probably still believe him.
"Come on, Remus," Peter wheedled, "tell us why you did it."
"Lycanthropy is no excuse!" James shouted.
Sirius stepped closer to Remus, tilting the shorter boy's chin up to look into his face. "Remus?"
Totally Sirius' fault. How could anyone expect him not to react when Sirius was right there, smelling so good and pouting just a little, looking at Remus with his hurt puppy dog eyes? It was shameless, blatant manipulation and Remus was in way responsible for his actions.
"Um," James said, as, for the second time ever, Remus grabbed Sirius and kissed him hungrily. "Remus? Maybe Sirius doesn't want you to do that?"
Sirius pulled back, but Remus had a firm grip on the front of his robe, and he wasn't about to let go, not now. When Sirius tried to step away, Remus held on, turning and pushing so Sirius's back was against the wall and Remus was pressing closer, kissing sloppily and open-mouthed.
"Padfoot?" Peter squeaked, "Maybe you should, I don't know, not kiss him back? I think it only encourages him."
Sirius ignored him, or perhaps hadn't heard at all, because he moved his hands to Remus' hips and tilted his head slightly, leaning into the kiss. James and Peter looked at each other, and Peter stepped back, holding his arms up defensively. "The potion isn't doing funny things to you too, is it?"
"Of course not," James snapped.
"Maybe it's because Remus didn't put it on. Maybe wearing it makes us immune."
"An intriguing theory, Mr. Pettigrew, but, I fear, flawed."
James and Peter turned to see Dumbledore standing at the foot of the stairs leading up to his office. "I have time to see you now. I did send word down, but was informed you were too involved in your own discussion to pay attention to anything else." He glanced at Remus and Sirius, who had yet to notice him. "Am I correct in assuming that your discussion, and your reason for being sent here, are connected to Mr. Black's and Mr. Lupin's current activities? And that this is all related to the potion Mr. Pettigrew mentioned?"
James glared at Peter, who flushed. "Yes sir," James muttered.
"Ah. A love potion, I believe? Though I am at a loss to understand why you chose to test it on Mr. Lupin."
"It's an attraction potion, based on smell," James confessed. "Sirius is wearing it."
"I see. Very clever. Perhaps a bit too powerful, though."
"It's only Remus who's," Peter waved a hand, "you know. All the girls just flirted a lot."
"Did you take into account that, instead of a carefully measured amount, your new potion would result in those nearest to you inhaling several doses?"
James slapped his forehead. "No! And Remus has been next to Sirius since Sirius first put it on."
"There's one mystery solved, and so wonderfully quickly too. Is Mr. Black the only one wearing this potion?"
Peter looked down at his shoes and James sighed. "No sir. Peter and I are wearing it too. Remus isn't though."
"I'm delighted to know that at least one of you has some integrity, sorely tried as it must be. Mr. Lupin!"
Remus turned his head to look over at Dumbledore, but did not release Sirius or move away from the other boy. "What?"
"This is neither the time nor the place. Let go of Mr. Black."
Dumbledore looked surprised. "I beg your pardon?"
"Don't want to," Remus pouted, petting Sirius' hair. Sirius' eyes drooped as he leaned into the touch. "He's pretty."
"You think I'm pretty?" Sirius smiled.
"Mmm." Remus kissed him again
Dumbledore waved his wand, and Remus was jerked away from Sirius. "That is quite enough of that. I think it would be best if you took some time to compose yourself before your next class. You are dismissed."
Sulking, Remus nodded and walked away, frequently glancing back at Sirius. Once he had rounded the corner and was out of sight, Dumbledore frowned at the other three boys. "Twenty points from Gryffindor, apiece. Ten from Mr. Lupin, for not stopping you. I should take more, but since the damage seems minimal and confined to yourselves, I will be lenient. You know that love potions are against school rules."
"Technically it was an attraction potion, sir," James pointed out. "And it wasn't meant to create attraction, just, you know, make what was already there stronger."
"Ingenious," Dumbledore said. "I should like to see your work on this potion. Say, tomorrow night, in the Hospital Wing, while you file accident reports? I fear Madame Pomfrey has fallen sadly behind on her paperwork. She informs me that keeping the students healthy and whole takes up all her time."
"Yes sir," James sighed, and Peter and Sirius nodded.
"Excellent. Since Mr. Lupin did not wear the potion himself, he is excused from the detention. You are dismissed. I recommend rinsing off the potion before your next class."
The three hurried down the hall, relieved to have escaped relatively lightly. "Hey Prongs," Sirius said, "do you think we did something wrong with the potion?"
James sighed. "No, Padfoot, we just didn't consider what might happen if someone was exposed to it for an extended period of time. Dumbledore already explained it."
"You were busy at the time," Peter snickered.
"And that brings up an interesting point," James said. "You didn't seem to mind having Moony kiss you."
Sirius shrugged. "Yeah, well." He scuffed his foot along the floor.
"Padfoot likes Moony, Padfoot likes Moony," Peter sang.
"Shut up." Sirius shoved Peter.
"I'm sure you'll have adorable puppies," James said.
"I know where you sleep."
"Better be careful, Prongs. Your bed's between his and Moony's. He might get lost in the night."
"I hate you both," Sirius growled
"I'm relieved to hear that, Padfoot ol' pal. It means you'll keep your amorous attentions to Moony, and our virtues are safe."
"You have virtue?" Peter asked, wide eyed with feigned surprise.
"I thought you were on my side."
Bickering, the three friends headed to their dorm to change clothes and wash off the potion. They didn't see Remus until lunch; he had NEWT level History of Magic, a class the other three had dropped eagerly. Remus claimed he took it just so he could enjoy a quiet class period. At lunch, he ate quickly, not looking up from his plate and barely responding to his friends. James told him that his prolonged exposure to the potion had affected him, building up to work like a regular love potion instead of just an attraction potion. Remus smiled in thanks, but did not leap at the explanation the way James had expected. Neither, James noticed, did Sirius, who scowled at the excuse and kept glancing at Remus.
Remus was quiet and distant the rest of the day. Sirius tried to talk to him, but when Remus insisted there was nothing to talk about, and wouldn't meet anyone's eyes, Sirius became sullen, ignoring Remus, snidely insulting everyone outside his group of friends, and snapping at James and Peter. The hostilities made Peter nervous, and he twitched and babbled incessantly to fill the silences. All four were happy when dinner ended and they could either split up and avoid each other, or hide together and work things out without worrying about who might be watching them.
Back in Gryffindor Tower, Remus muttered something about needing to study in the library, and headed to their room to get his books. Sirius followed, looking determined, and James and Peter followed him, ready to intercede as needed.
Remus picked up a few books and turned to leave. Sirius blocked the door. "I have homework," Remus said.
"It can wait," Sirius insisted. "Wormtail, guard the door. Prongs, where's the leftover potion?"
"Here." James pulled the bottle from his trunk and shook it. "Not much left. Shall we dump it down the sink?"
"No." Sirius took the bottle, opened it, and flung the contents over Remus.
"What is the matter with you?" Remus demanded, dropping his books on his bed and wiping his face. Sirius crowded close, sniffing Remus. Remus froze, eyes wide as he stared at the taller boy. "Padfoot?"
"Mmm, you do smell good." Sirius cupped Remus' face in his hands and kissed him. Remus responded instantly, leaning in and wrapping his arms around Sirius' neck.
"I think," James said, after a moment of stunned silence, "that I have somewhere else to be. Coming, Wormtail?"
Peter nodded and bolted out the door, James following and pulling the door shut behind him. Outside the room, the two boys stopped and looked at each other. "Does it bother you?" James asked.
Peter shook his head. "Not in theory. I mean, we've dealt with worse, right? But watching is a bit much. And I'd rather not hear anything, and maybe we should make some rules, you know, for nights and not doing things I don't want to know about. Because it's Sirius, and he would if we didn't stop him."
James nodded. "Good idea. We'll establish some guidelines later. After the two of them have finished whatever it is they are doing." He made a face.
James and Peter headed downstairs, intending to leave Remus and Sirius alone for a few hours. Lily Evans met them at the foot of the stairs, several other girls standing behind her. They all looked annoyed.
"You used a love potion on us!"
James backed up a step, Peter cowering behind him. "Not exactly. It didn't make you feel anything you didn't--"
"You pathetic, miserable little toe-rag! How dare you?"
"Dumbledore already took points and gave us a detention!" Peter announced. "We've been punished!" He very wisely neglected to mention how light a punishment it was.
"You lost us points?" one of the other girls demanded.
"You used a love potion on my girlfriend?" The Gryffindor boys were starting to crowd around behind the girls, glaring at James and Peter, who retreated up a few stairs. James pulled out his wand, eyeing his suddenly hostile housemates.
"It wasn't like that," James said. "Just an experiment. No harm done."
"So you're why we're in third place now," another boy said, "but we're only behind Hufflepuff by fifteen points, so you couldn't have lost us too many. Maybe you haven't been punished enough."
"Detention!" Peter squeaked.
"Potter and Black spend so much time in detention it's lost all meaning for them," one of the girls sneered. "I think they should be flogged."
"Remus snogged Sirius!" James blurted. "And then Sirius snogged Remus! The potion backfired! What more punishment do we need?"
"Did you get snogged?" Lily demanded.
James mournfully shook his head and looked at her. "But the evening's still young. What do you say, Evans? You, me, and an empty classroom?"
James was very sorry that he couldn't let Remus and Siruis have more time alone, but up the stairs and back to their room was the only escape route open to them.
For some reason, Remus insisted that this, too, was all Sirius' fault. As Sirius had a lapful of Remus at the time, he didn't seem to mind taking the blame.