A/N: This one-shot was ridiculous fun to write. It's quite silly, but really, you should expect that from me by now. Hope you enjoy it!
Don't Panic: In case of cataclysmic character confusion, feel free to scribble out a list of who is inhabiting whose body. (I did.)
Remus was the first to wake and the first to notice that something was wrong.
It started when he grappled for his wand and severely misjudged the distance between his hand and his bedside table. Something shattered on the ground – something expensive, knowing his luck – and, groaning, he opened his eyes. And shut them. And blinked them open, wiped them, blinked some more, and then quietly began to panic.
"What's up?" mumbled a voice that Remus couldn't immediately identify. It sounded like it was coming from Sirius' bed, but didn't sound like Sirius at all. If he hadn't been preoccupied with more pressing matters, Remus might well have made inquiries.
He tugged handfuls of curtain aside. "I think I've gone blind," he said wildly, wondering whether he might have contracted some sort of illness overnight, something that made his voice change, his vision blur, his arms go all long and his fingernails chewed down. Was that likely? He didn't know. He didn't think so. Oh, help…
"Is something wrong with James, too?" Remus demanded of the blurry figure to the left, which could have been Sirius or Peter, Remus couldn't tell.
"With James… are you feeling all right there, Prongs?"
"Fine," grunted a voice that didn't belong to James at all, but to Peter – and all at once, the room erupted into pandemonium. Or at least that's how it sounded to Remus, who would have given a great deal of chocolate for the use of his eyes. Next thing he knew, Peter's stocky body had launched itself onto his bed with an enormous creaking of the bedposts, and his face was being pinched and pulled at with all the enthusiasm of a mad old aunt.
"You've stolen my body, you body-stealer! Give it back!"
"Are you mental?" Remus spluttered, somehow managing to fling off his once-sane friend with muscles he hadn't known he possessed. Momentarily forgetting the fuss and kerfuffle, he grasped at his left bicep and brimmed with awe.
"That's assault, that is!" squeaked Peter's voice from ground level. "He's touching me up, look at that!"
"All right, enough!" came a terribly familiar voice, and Remus stopped breathing, hand still clasped around his arm. That was… that was his voice!
Before the shock had budged an inch, someone shoved a pair of spectacles into his free hand. Remus slid them on with shaking fingers, suddenly quite sure that he didn't really want to be able to see. Unfortunately, the lenses brought everything very clearly into view.
Remus Lupin, newly muscular, recently robbed of his perfect vision, stared wordlessly up into his own pale face.
"Sirius?" he tried.
He watched himself nod. It was, to say the least, disconcerting.
"Moony?" came the voice from the floor, and Remus peered over the side of the bed to find Peter – or someone encased in Peter's body – staring up at him.
Remus was rewarded with a jerky nod. He breathed out through his nose, looking from Sirius to James and trying not to panic. "Have we all taken Polyjuice Potion? It seems possible that we've all taken Polyjuice Potion. Except I don't remember taking any potions, and incidentally, James, your eyesight is rubbish."
This blather was universally ignored.
"I feel all squashy," James said slowly, rolling to his knees and patting himself down. "Squashy like a practice bludger. Oh!" He stared down at his stomach in shock and poked it again. "I think I just wobbled! Look!"
Sirius snorted but then seemed to realise that he too had a whole new body to explore. He clamped his hands to Remus' chest and began prodding at himself. "Check out these collarbones," he cried with excitement, ripping off his pyjama top and earning a mortified yelp from Remus. "I'm so bloody skinny!"
"You're gorgeous," said James before Remus could tackle his own body to the floor. "Don't know why you don't strip for us more often, Moony. And what's more, I'm a little offended that you haven't resumed admiring my biceps."
"Steady on, steady on," called Sirius, thankfully pausing before he could completely denude himself of pyjamas. "Where's me? I mean Wormtail? He's not still asleep, is he?"
The two of them scrambled for Peter's bed and ripped aside the curtains without further delay. Remus followed at a more cautious pace, absently noting that his head was slightly nearer the ceiling than most mornings. He arrived at Peter's four-poster to find James and Sirius hanging over a gently snoring lump with identical wicked grins.
They didn't suit Remus and Peter's faces at all.
"He's still sleeping, can you believe it?" whispered James, extending one chubby finger towards the bedcovers and letting it hover there threateningly. With a wink at the others, he bent closer and peeled the blankets from Peter's – or rather, Sirius' – peacefully sleeping form.
"Like an angel," Sirius breathed down Remus' neck. Remus swatted him away; it was acutely unsettling to have one breathe down one's own neck. Still, Sirius wasn't entirely wrong. Remus couldn't help but smile at the sight of Sirius all curled up around a pillow like a toddler clinging to his teddy bear. Something in the picture brought a wave of affection crashing over him.
But he wasn't half as enchanted as Sirius, whose eyes were glazed over with a maternal sort of captivation. This was narcissism at its most deeply disconcerting.
"I don't make those noises, do I?" Sirius asked in hushed voice as they watched Peter snuffle and drool over the pillow.
"Of course not," Remus lied. He exchanged an amused glance with James behind Sirius' back.
"Time to wake up," James said decisively. He bent down to leave his face inches above Peter's before making a loud noise like a foghorn.
Peter's eyes snapped open with a start. Abandoning the pillow, he shuffled back to hang off the headboard with a terrified expression that Remus hadn't known Sirius' face to be capable of.
"Who – who – what…" he stammered in alarm until Remus took pity on him and shoved James off the bed. He smiled reassuringly at Peter, trying for some of James' characteristic flippancy. "Don't panic, Peter. It seems we've all swapped bodies during the night."
After several minutes of explaining and identifying and more feeling up of each other's bodies in an increasingly inappropriate manner, Remus managed to pry Sirius' hands off his backside – "so bony" – and make everyone listen to some sense.
"Someone must have cast an extremely complex switching spell on our dormitory during the night," he said loudly. "I already tried finite incantatem while you lot were comparing… anyway, it didn't work."
"Thanks, Professor Lupin," Sirius called, slouching back against Peter's bed and stretching his long legs along the floor. "I say, Prongs, I've never seen your face look so serious."
"I've never seen your face look less Sirius," James replied, and they both broke down into wheezes of laughter.
"This is hardly the time for insipid word play," barked Remus, thanking Merlin for Peter, whose attention hadn't wavered. The boy was trained to hang on the words of James-shaped beings.
"Oh, please don't tell us to consult a professor, Moony," James implored once he'd managed to calm himself. "I don't see how it matters who did this to us or why. Just think of all the fun we could have in our shiny new bodies!"
"Shiny? New?" Remus exploded.
Sirius gave a great bark of laughter which sounded extremely odd in Remus' voice. "I can see why he's upset, Prongs. If I was stuck in your body, I'd be itching to get out."
"If I were stuck in yours, I'd go and give Snivellus a big smooch – "
"If I were you," Remus interrupted neatly, his voice tight but controlled, "I wouldn't be so keen to stay in my body, Sirius. And I'd thank my lucky stars that it's not a full moon for another two weeks."
Sirius whitened and sat a little straighter.
"Right," said James, similarly shaken. "I think we should go and see Dumbledore."
"But – " Peter burst out, looking most upset.
"After," James continued, the wicked grin sliding back onto his face, "we've experienced a day in our present forms. How's it sound, chaps?"
Remus heaved a heavy sigh, well aware that this compromise was likely the best he could get under the circumstances. "Only if we lay down some rules concerning nudity on the school grounds," he said, noting Sirius' disappointed expression with horror.
"Done," James agreed readily. "And nobody's to do anything with lasting consequences, deal?"
"Deal," said Peter, looking extremely excited. He couldn't seem to stop examining his new muscles. Luckily, Sirius didn't mind; he was just as fascinated by Remus' complete lack of muscular definition.
"Deal," said Remus with a certain feeling of doom, and batted Sirius' hands away from his own body once more.
Miracle of miracles: nothing terrible had happened so far.
Granted, breakfast had only finished five minutes ago, and yes, Remus expected to find himself summarily expelled from Hogwarts after Sirius had discovered the prefect badge pinned to his robes, but all in all, things were going better than expected.
They'd trooped into Divination as per usual, safe in the knowledge that Professor Webb was a proven old fraud, and things had been almost mundane. They were placed on a circuit of sorts, going from crystal balls to tea leaves to palmistry. Remus saw much the same as usual at every station: absolute bollocks. Sipping at a scalding cup of tea, he watched as Professor Webb drifted towards Sirius, assuming, of course, that she was coming to the aid of Remus.
She peered down into Sirius' crystal ball and frowned dreamily. "Dear me, dear me. You will be spending a long time in the Prefect's bathroom today, won't you? Mind you find time to complete your dream chart, my boy."
Remus choked on his tea.
Lunch was almost equally disturbing as Peter continued to make use of his newly chiselled features and slate grey eyes. He had been winking and flexing his muscles at indiscriminate girls all morning and they were flying to his side like he'd finally mastered the summoning charm. Luckily, this was all everyday Sirius Black behaviour and didn't attract suspicion.
Nonetheless, Remus expected that Sirius might have given Peter a few choice words if he'd come down to the Great Hall for lunch with the rest of them. Instead, he'd bolted the moment Divination had ended, prefect badge in hand, and hadn't been seen since. Remus felt quite riled on Sirius' behalf but had the good sense not to show this, lest it be misinterpreted somehow.
Sirius reappeared after lunch, sliding into his seat for Double Transfiguration at the last possible second. Remus was startled to see himself looking all flushed and blotchy, and found he didn't quite have the courage to ask why Sirius smelled so strongly of violets.
"You missed something spectacular during lunch," James hissed across his desk, an enormous grin reaching right to his beady eyes. "Wormtail here managed to pull not one, but four – "
"Mr Pettigrew," interrupted McGonagall coldly, causing Peter to jump and James to sit back in his seat. "I suppose you're too busy socialising to transfigure your frog into a toad?"
Before Remus could stop him, James shrugged, gave a lazy flick of his wand, and a gently oozing toad appeared in the place of his frog.
Professor McGonagall dropped her wand. The entire class stared open-mouthed at James, who raised an eyebrow, turned to Remus, and froze.
"Oops," he muttered. Peter had never so much as transfigured a frog to a tadpole.
Remus coughed and nodded at James. "We've been helping him with that one, Professor." He scooted forward to pick up her wand and offered it to her with a weak smile.
"It's a once-off event," Peter shrilled in Sirius' voice. "He'll never do it again, promise."
"Silence," croaked Professor McGonagall with a wave of her hand. "Twenty points to Gryffindor."
And that was that, and none of them dared to talk for the remainder of the class.
"I can't believe he did that," Remus muttered to himself as he stalked through the corridors after Transfiguration. "Honestly, of all the stupid things to do…"
"Talking to yourself again, Potter?"
"Lil – er, Evans," Remus said, stuttering over her name as he struggled to sort himself out. He may have been on easy first-name terms with Lily, but James certainly wasn't – and Remus was determined not to repeat James' stupid mistakes.
Lily gave him a curious half-smile, half-grimace. Remus grinned awkwardly back, feeling acutely aware of his abysmal lack of acting talent. He may have looked like James but he had no idea how one acted like James – though he thought it might have had something to do with hair ruffling. Panicking, he made to continue down the hallway, but Lily stepped forward and effectively blocked his path.
"Er, is something the matter, Evans? Only I'm just on my way to – "
Lily hissed impatiently and Remus' mouth snapped shut.
"Are you avoiding me now, Potter? Not that… not that it bothers me, but you've hardly even glanced at me all day. You spend more time staring at Remus, not that I've been watching you or anything."
She glared up at him, fierce green eyes daring him to suggest otherwise, and Remus suddenly felt a lot more sympathy for his lovelorn idiot of a friend. Lily looked ready to commit Unforgivables.
"I'm sorry?" he said meekly, taking a step backwards and deeply regretting his current appearance. When Lily crossed her arms forebodingly, Remus scrambled for a strategy. It shouldn't be too hard, should it? After all, he'd been lecturing James on the proper way to speak to girls since the fourth year. Time to put his Galleons where his gob was.
He cleared his throat. Apologies didn't seem to work, so Remus would see where assertive honesty got him.
"Listen, Lily – may I call you Lily? It seems faintly ridiculous that we don't call each other by our first names when we spend so much time together as Head Boy and Girl," Remus said all in a rush and didn't bother to wait for a response. "I've very recently decided to act my age, hence the lack of staring today. It was getting rude and frankly pathetic."
Lily made an odd choking sort of noise but Remus kept talking. He was gaining confidence, now; this play-acting thing wasn't all that bad, really. He was just saying all the stuff that James would say if his good sense wasn't perpetually shoved beneath the misguided desire to show off in front of Lily.
"Really, Lily," Remus continued, now adopting the calm authoritative air that James reserved for the privacy of their dormitory. "I think you ought to give me a chance to prove that I've grown up a bit in the last few years. Because I have, even if I don't manage to show it very well in public. You just make me nervous, I suppose. All evidence suggests that I am enormously infatuated with you."
And with that pièce de résistance, Remus laid his hand on Lily's arm, smiled gravely, and made his escape – or would have, if Lily hadn't grabbed onto his tie with a surprisingly strong grip. She pushed him back against the corridor wall, a steely glint of determination in her eyes.
Remus choked slightly, heart attempting to escape from his chest. It appeared that he was about to be torn limb from limb, at the hands of a former friend and confidant no less. At least she'd probably regret it when Remus returned to his normal appearance at some point post-death. And he had thought his little speech had been going so well…
"All evidence," Lily murmured threateningly, face inches from his, "suggests that I can't get you out of my mind, James Potter."
Remus opened and closed his mouth like a goldfish, somehow unable to produce any words, and watched in shock as Lily closed her eyes and leaned in closer, and –
With a most unladylike curse, Lily released Remus' tie and scurried back, leaving him to reel against the wall and scrabble wildly at folds of tapestry. Dazed, he turned his head to see his rescuer.
A Remus-shaped Sirius was standing at the end of the corridor, a look of utmost shock slapped across his face. It was only when Lily cleared her throat with a sound like a Muggle gunshot that Sirius' brain apparently regained its ability to function.
"Er, Moony! Is here. Being me. That is."
Remus suddenly regretted that Sirius' brain had regained its ability to function.
Luckily, Lily seemed deaf to the drivel spouting from Sirius' lips. She was too busy glancing from Remus to Sirius and back again, her face flushing a deep crimson.
"This – this never happened," she said very quickly, seemingly unable to meet Remus' eye. Before anyone could say a word, she beat a hasty exit down the corridor, fingers pressed to her lips.
Remus and Sirius gaped at each other. Sirius was beginning to turn the unattractive reddish colour of a brick dipped in sacrificial blood. Remus himself felt rather like panicking.
Words of explanation bubbled to his lips and spilled over without ceremony. "She jumped me. I have no idea how that happened. Please, for the love of Merlin, don't tell James, please don't. He'd kill me. With his hands."
Sirius made his way forward, giving Remus a very suspicious, almost hurt look. "Since when has Evans jumped Prongs, eh, Moony? Last I heard, she'd sooner snog the Giant Squid."
Remus shook his head helplessly. "I don't pretend to understand girls, Padfoot. Far as I could tell, she – she didn't like that I haven't paid her any attention today."
Remus was starting to feel eternally grateful that James himself hadn't discovered them. Although really, how he was supposed to ward off a furious, amorous Lily, Remus had no idea. He felt rather sorry for James, who finally seemed to have made a second-hand breakthrough.
Some of the blotchiness was thankfully leaving Sirius' face. He now merely resembled a brick. "So – so you didn't snog her, then?"
Remus was startled to hear such a note of vulnerability in his own voice, albeit in words that he hadn't spoken. He stared into Sirius' face and tried to see behind the confusion of his physical features. He thought he might have seen hope – and was that jealousy? – and maybe a flash of something warmer, though that may have been his own reflection.
"'Course not," he said softly, heart gaining speed like the Hogwarts Express. "I wouldn't do that to James, and… I wouldn't want to, anyhow."
Sirius looked sharply away, mouth curving with the shadow of a smile. "Good."
Before Remus could take more than a step forward, a greeting pierced through the silence. Their heads shot around. It was Peter, shirt half-buttoned and a dazed smile on his lipstick-smeared face.
"What in the name of…" Sirius started in horror, transfixed by the sight before them. "What have you done to my body?"
Peter froze. "Er. Nothing with lasting consequences, Padfoot."
"I'll be the judge of that!" Sirius bellowed, rolling the sleeves up past knobbly elbows that had never before appeared threatening. Peter, possibly forgetting his undeniable weight, height and fitness advantages, took one look at Sirius' murderous face and scarpered. Sirius took off in hot pursuit, leaving Remus standing completely alone in the corridor.
"Well, that was…"
He found he couldn't complete the sentence.
"Talking to yourself, Moony?" It was James, arms filled with packets of gingernut biscuits. "McGonagall made me stay fifteen minutes after class, can you believe it? Gave me this endless speech about how proud she is of my progress in Transfiguration, and how thrilled she'll be to recommend Peter Pettigrew to the N.E.W.T.s examiners. Never says anything like that to me when I'm me."
"That's because your enormous talent is overshadowed by your enormous ego," Remus said wisely, dropping to the floor without a word of explanation.
James followed suit, ripping open a packet of biscuits with his sharp teeth. "Be that as it may," he began with great pomposity, but broke the tone with a wry grin. "Poor Peter. He'll never be able to attend another class."
"You know, I'd still like to know why we all ended up in each other's bodies this morning," Remus said pensively, stuffing a biscuit in his mouth and spraying crumbs across the corridor floor. "I thought it might have been Lily to get back at you for something, but that theory has been well and truly disproven."
"What? How?" James asked with mild curiosity and looked concerned when Remus choked on his mouthful of biscuit. "Well, never mind that," he said loudly, thumping Remus on the back in time to his coughs. "I solved that little riddle at lunch time, right when Wormtail had his tongue down Rita Skeeter's throat."
This didn't do much to ease Remus' coughing fit.
"Yeah," James continued, smiling proudly. "It was Wormtail, wasn't it? Fed each of us that leftover transfiguration potion from our Animagus trials as we slept. What a rat. What an actor. What a Marauder."
"But why?" Remus wheezed, expelling the last few biscuit crumbs from his trachea. "Why would he want us to switch bodies?"
James shrugged. "To pick up chicks, why else? He has more chance in Sirius' body than in almost anyone's. Stupid sexy git."
Remus laughed. It was true.
"He must have done the rest of us to throw us off course, the sly prat. By my calculations, we should be back to normal by midnight tonight," said James, tapping the side of his nose. "Just enough time to cause a little more mischief." He gave Remus a bit of a nudge and a shrewd look. "Done anything exciting in my body, eh? Put those muscles to good use?"
Remus nearly started choking again.
"That's the spirit," said James, clambering to his feet and sweeping the biscuit packets into his arms. "And put in a good word with Evans, won't you? While you're me, and all. She might like me better if I talk sense for once."
Nodding wordlessly, Remus watched James stride off down the corridor.
It had been an interesting day.
He sat on the floor, looked at the crumbs around him, and straightened his glasses. Maybe he'd go and have a word to Moaning Myrtle about what exactly had been going on in the Prefect's bathroom all day. Make sure there were no lasting consequences. And then perhaps he'd hunt down Sirius.
He had always wondered what he looked like from behind.
Thanks for reading! Please review - I'd love to hear what you thought of the story.