Last one for the usxuk Summer Camp, again for the theme Love.

Names:
Vlad Dracul: Romania
Lukas Bondevik: Norway
Simon Densen: Denmark
Erik: Iceland
Leon: Hong Kong
Angela: Seychelles


Love Potions

It was a fine day in early December. The grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as well as the castle itself were covered with a thick blanket of snow and the Black Lake was frozen over. Students had fun playing outside, having snow fights and some even ice skating on the lake, laughing with their cheeks and noses red from the cold. But while the other students had fun outside, a group of three were situated in the dungeons. It was the Super Secret Experimental Magic Club – short SSEMC – consisting of three members: Arthur Kirkland, Vlad Dracul and Lukas Bondevik. Currently, they were working on different kinds of love potions they wanted to finish in time for Valentine's Day.

"Remind me – why are we doing this again?," Lukas muttered while stirring the contents of his cauldron.

"Because then, all the little girls and boys will love us for making them," Vlad answered while adding ingredients to his own cauldron, "and besides, I thought you wanted to use them, too? At least you seemed to be excited at first."

"Not really. Besides, it was all his idea, wasn't it?" Lukas pointed to Arthur, who was studying a book in search for more ingredients.

"W-well... love is important, after all," Arthur replied weakly, "and remember, they aren't anything like the ones already known, like Amortenia or the Weasleys' potion. They're not there to force an attraction to someone, but to strengthen the feelings in a relationship, to give the courage to confess in the first place and to result in being more openly affectionate. We're aiming to strengthen love with our potions, not creating an illusion."

"Yeah, and that's what makes our potions much more safer and better than those others, and thus we'll be popular once they're released," concluded Vlad, repeating his earlier answer.

"Yeah, yeah, I get that," Lukas waved him off and grabbed a handful of herbs, "still, it'll be some work until they're finished and ready to be released. Plus, we'll have to find people willing to act as a guinea pig."

"I thought we're doing that ourselves, like always?"

"Of course," Arthur answered, "it would take too much time to search for willing people. Besides, that would spoil everything."

They went back to quietly working, the simmering of the potions, crackling of the flames and the occasional rustling of turned pages the only sounds. Arthur was determined to succeed with this project, not only to be of benefit to other people and eventually draw profit from it, but also for his own benefit. Because even though he vehemently denied it when asked by his friends, there was someone he liked. This person was none other than Alfred F. Jones, self-proclaimed hero, extremely good-looking, star seeker of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and Arthur's best friend. He wasn't exactly the best in openly showing his affections, and didn't have enough confidence to confess, so Arthur hoped that with the help of these new potions, he'd finally be able to do it. And maybe – maybe if Alfred returned his feelings, they'd end up as a couple later on. At least, that was what he hoped and dreamed.

In reality, it wouldn't be so easy, he knew that. Alfred had a crowd of admirers, and especially a group of girls could be dangerous for Arthur's plans; he had overheard them on several occasions, planing to use those fake love potions that only created an illusion, built on physical attraction. Not the real thing, but still dangerous, because it can result in a strong desire, depending on the dose and type of the potion. But it was all the more reason to try even harder, to do his best so it was him who would win Alfred over, not those silly girls.

When dinner time arrived, the three packed their things and left for the Great Hall. By now, everyone else had returned inside as well, the chattering and laughing loud enough to be heard all the way to the stairs leading to the dungeons. Inside the Great Hall, the trio parted, Vlad sitting down at the Slytherin table and Lukas with his friends at the Ravenclaw table, while Arthur had to walk past the Hufflepuff table so he could sit down next to Alfred with the other Gryffindors.

"Hey Artie!," Alfred greeted him with a grin, "why didn't you join us outside?"

"I've told you, I had club meeting today," Arthur answered, putting dinner on his plate.

Alfred was already half finished with his first serving. He pouted. "You always have club meetings lately," he complained.

Arthur sighed. "Well, you have your Quidditch practice," he pointed out, "anyways, we're working on a project right now, so of course we have meetings whenever possible."

"What kind of project?," Alfred wanted to know.

"It's a secret," Arthur replied, "can't tell you."

Alfred was still pouting at that answer, but knew when it was best to give up. They then talked about their plans for the holidays and recent happenings at school.

The weeks passed. Towards the end of the Christmas Holidays the SSEMC reached the stage where they could begin testing their potions. The trio had prepared little cups for easier control over the dose. Right now, they were deciding on who would try which potion.

"I'll take the one for strengthening a relationship," Vlad said.

"I'll take the other two," Lukas decided, "just to test what happens if you take more than one."

"Then I'll take all three." At the raised eyebrows of his friends, Arthur shrugged. "What? We get even better results on that if one of us takes all of them. So that's what I'll do."

"Suit yourself!," Vlad replied with a shrug of his own.

They filled their cups, then looked at each other. "Right, so on the count of three, we'll drink them and see if anything strange happens. Be sure to note anything, be it the taste, or the texture, or what else, so we can further improve the product."

The others nodded.

"One – two – three!"

Well, Arthur thought to himself, the taste wasn't bad at all. Maybe a bit too sweet, but not overly so. However, after he had swallowed the last drop of the third potion, he felt... weird. Not in a sick way, but just... different, curious. He felt all warm and giddy, and suddenly, everything seemed bright and shining.

"Arthur? Hey, Arthur!," he heard someone calling, "You alright?"

That was strange, Arthur hadn't realized he'd fallen to the ground. "Yes, yes, I'm fine," he giggled. He let himself be helped up by Vlad, and looked closely at him. "Hey, Vlad, did I ever tell you that fang of yours is kind of cute?," he asked.

"Uh, thanks, I guess," Vlad replied, looking at him worriedly. "You sure you're alright? You seem... strange."

"Even more strange than usual," Lukas added.

"I already said, I'm fine," Arthur rolled his eyes, then smiled, "but thank you for worrying. It's nice to see someone cares. You two are great!"

The Norwegian and Romanian changed alarmed looks. That certainly didn't seem like a good reaction to the mixed potions.

But Arthur didn't notice. He was looking around the classroom, a thoughtful expression on his face and wand in hand. "This dungeon needs more decoration. It's much too glum," he murmured to himself. With a flourish of his wand, there were glittering lights everywhere. "Yes, much better!," Arthur exclaimed and turned to the door, "now for the rest of this castle..."

And before Vlad and Lukas could stop him, Arthur had already stormed – or rather pranced – away, so the only thing they could do was follow. It wasn't too difficult to find him, seeing as they only had to follow all the glitter and rainbows, but Arthur was quick, so he had already got far when they finally caught up.

"Hey, hey, we're not finished yet!," Vlad called, grabbing at the arm that didn't hold the wand.

"Yeah, so come back down!," Lukas said and grabbed him around the waist.

Arthur started pouting, but stopped. He let himself be dragged back, but struggled when they saw two figures walking at the end of the hallway. It were Alfred and Simon Densen, best friend of Lukas. Seeing the newcomers, Lukas stopped as well. Alfred and Simon noticed the group and sped up their pace to join them.

"Alfie!," Arthur cried out in a sing-song voice and latched on to him, "how wonderful to see you!"

"Um, hi Artie," Alfred said a bit awkwardly, surprised at the sudden attack, "why weren't you at breakfast?"

"I don't need breakfast," Arthur giggled, "not when I'm with you!"

Alfred blushed and sputtered, not really knowing how to react. Simon turned to Lukas. "Why didn't you tell me you were going to skip breakfast?," he asked, "not even Tino and Erik could really tell me what you were up to. I was worried, you know."

A slight blush showed on Lukas' face. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you," he said, fidgeting with his hands, "but I didn't want to wake you when you were sleeping so peacefully."

Simon blinked. "Oh... just – just write me a note or something next time, okay?," he said, a bit nervous at the intense gaze directed at him.

Vlad, quickly realizing the situation, grabbed his club partners at the back of their robes, than spoke to Alfred and Simon. "Sorry, mates, but those two still have some work to do. They'll be back later!" And without waiting for a reply, he walked off, dragging Arthur and Lukas behind him. Once back in their clubroom, he filled the prepared antidote in cups for the two to drink. When the effects of the mixed potions lessened, he said: "Well, well, that was certainly interesting."

Lukas didn't look too pleased with the situation, while Arthur was completely horrified. "Oh god, what have I done?," he moaned.

"You obviously threw yourself at your best friend," Vlad stated matter-of-factly, "and Lukas flirted with his own best friend."

"We already know that," Lukas grumbled, "no need to rub salt into the wound."

Vlad just shrugged. "At least we know they work. Though it's not advisable to combine them, or at least only in very little doses."

The trio then proceeded to analyze the experiment. By the time they were finished for the day, Arthur had calmed down again. But that didn't stop him from being afraid to face Alfred again.

Towards the end of January, the set of potions was finally finished. They had tweaked a lot with the recipes, and thought of ways to better present it as well as names. Arthur had designed the fliers they would now spread throughout the school, especially in the common rooms. They decided that each of them would carry a bunch of each type with them so they could distribute them whenever a student asked for them.

When Alfred saw the flier in the Gryffindor common room, he looked at it thoughtfully. Love potions... that sounded just the like thing he needed at the moment. Ever since that incident at the end of the holidays, Arthur had somehow... avoided him. Not ignored, no, they still talked in class and at meals and all. But he seemed... distant, like he felt uncomfortable all of a sudden. Alfred didn't like that at all. He wondered that if he had just shown a bit more of a reaction that day, things would be different now. But he had just been so surprised! He figured anyone would feel like that if your best friend, whom you're secretly in love with, suddenly attacked you like that. He had talked about it with Simon, who had experienced a similar surprise. They didn't really get it, but neither liked the outcome. Determined to make things right again, he decided to get one of those potion and then ask Arthur out for Valentine's.

The day had been busy for Arthur. Next to classes, many students had approached him about the potions. He had distributed all he had in stock, and the same went for Vlad and Lukas. But as tiring as it had been, he was happy to know there would be many happy students and couples thanks to their hard work. Even with his own plan likely not succeeding in the end (because really, he didn't want to risk taking the potions again; not after knowing how he reacted to them, even if it was only because of the mix), that alone was something to be proud of.

Now, after dinner, he was walking back to Gryffindor tower next to Alfred. He was still feeling awkward about the incident induced by the potions, so he had tried to avoid Alfred whenever he could, though he hated it and knew that Alfred was hurt. This evening, though, he noticed that Alfred was fidgety as well.

"You know about the Hogsmeade weekend?," Alfred suddenly asked.

Arthur rolled his eyes, but nodded. "Of course I know. What about it?"

"W-well, I thought that maybe... we could go together, just the two of us..."

Arthur thought he hadn't heard right. "You want to go with me...?," he repeated incredulously, "why not with one of your fangirls?"

"I'm not into any of them," Alfred replied in a muttering tone, "but I really want to go with you, that's why I asked. So... what do you say?"

"Well, I... I'd like to go with you."

Alfred grinned at hearing that answer. "Really? That's great!"

Arthur couldn't help but smile as well.

XXXXXXX

As the Hogsmeade weekend approached, so did Valentine's Day. Alfred woke up with nervous butterflies dancing in his stomach. It was Valentine's Day and he was going on a date with Arthur. This thought was both incredibly wonderful and unnerving at the same time. He threw aside his blanket and reached on his bedside table for his glasses. He then took out the love potion. Vlad had told him not to drink it to early, but he didn't know if he would be able to do so later; now was the only chance. He uncorked the flask and the first thing he noticed was the sweet smell. Holding the flask up to his lips, he took a deep breath before drinking the potion in one go. The taste was unlike any he had had before – it was like all his favorite sweets all mixed together in a delicious mix. He felt warm inside, strong, invincible even. As if he would be able to do anything he wanted.

Arthur woke up to the sound of Alfred's voice. Blinking his eyes open, he saw the other's blue orbs only inches apart. Still half asleep, he wondered how they could possibly be so blue.

"Good morning!," Alfred greeted brightly, leaning away again so Arthur could get up as well, "it's time for breakfast. We have a wonderful date ahead!"

As he sat up and stretched, Arthur idly wondered if Alfred had really just said "wonderful date" or if it was just a product of his sleepy mind. He got up and dressed, and then they were ready to go.

After a quick breakfast, they left for the village. The sun was shining down on them, turning the last remnants of snow into glittering crystals. They walked in comfortable silence, only broken by the sound of the crunching snow and the whisper of the wind. Their first stop was at the Honey Dukes, where they bought sweets and tried new releases. After that, they just walked through the streets, looking at the shop windows and occasionally stopping to have a better look. Just when Arthur wondered if Alfred had something planned, the latter spoke. "How about we go over there?," he asked, pointing to a building a few meters away, "it's a bit cold – we could warm up and have a drink and something to eat."

"Madam Puddifoot's? Don't you think we'd be a bit... out of place there?," Arthur asked unsure, "it's probably crowded, too..."

"Why shouldn't we go there? We have just as much right to do so as anyone else," Alfred replied with an air of confidence, "now come, I know how much you love your tea. The stuff there is supposed to be really good." He took Arthur's hand and guided him to the café.

Arthur followed along, blushing, but without further protest. They found a free table for two and sat down. "You can order anything you like," Alfred said, already looking through the menu, "my treat." Arthur nodded and decided on what he wanted. He looked around at the other guests. Half of Hogwarts seemed to be here; there were the couples you'd expect to be here, like Roderich and Elizaveta, Berwald and Tino as well as Ludwig and Feliciano and Antonio and Lovino; then there were others, slightly unexpected, like Gilbert and Kiku or Leon and Angela; though the most curious, Arthur noted, were probably Ivan and Raivis.

Madam Puddifoot came to take their orders and while they were waiting they began to talk. The conversation wasn't any different from the usual, just talking about what came to their mind, ranging from Homework to Quidditch. They also had a good laugh wondering about some of the present couples, developing theories about how they got together. The conversation continued when they had their drinks and cakes. If it wasn't for the overly romantic decor, it almost felt like any other day in school, Arthur thought, the previous nervousness nearly gone.

When they had finished eating and drinking, they went back outside. "What do you want to do now?," Alfred asked.

"How about just walking around?," Arthur suggested, "maybe a bit farther outside, towards the Shrieking Shack."

"Alright, if that's what you want!" Alfred took Arthur's hand again and they walked off. Reaching the way to the Shrieking Shack, they heard voices. "So, why did you bring me here?," asked Lukas' voice.

"Well, you like it here, don't you?," they heard Simon answer. Not wanting to be noticed, Alfred and Arthur ducked behind a tree, still able to see and hear the scene, but hidden from view.

"Yeah, I do, but there's something else, isn't there?," Lukas asked again. The two were leaning against a fence, half facing each other.

Simon chuckled. "Can't hide anything from you, can I?" He looked to the sky before he continued. "Alright. Yes, there's something else. Something I've wanted to tell you for a while now." Lukas gazed at him silently, expecting him to continue, and he took a deep breath. "I really like you. I mean, we're best friends and all, but I like you more than that. It's strange – I love how we can just hang out like bros, but at the same time, I want to be closer to you. You've always been the person I cared most about, you still are, and will probably always be." He took in another breath, then looked his companion directly in the eyes. "So... yes, I really like you a lot, and I want to go out with you."

Lukas sighed, his lips curling into a smile. "You know, you really talk too much," he said, then leaned forward to press a kiss to the Danes lips.

Behind the tree, Alfred decided they had witnesses enough. "Come, let's go somewhere else," he whispered, gently tugging Arthur back in the direction where they had come from. Arthur nodded and followed along. Before they were out of view, Alfred glanced back at the pair for a last time. They had now witnessed a confession – and suddenly, he was a ball of nerves again. With a sinking feeling, he realized that the potion's effect was lessening. They were still a good distance away from the main street, and no one was to be seen. It had to be now or never, Alfred thought. "Wait," he said, stopping Arthur.

Arthur looked at him quizzically. "Is something wrong?," he asked.

"Well... uh...," Alfred stammered, "there – there's something I need to tell you..." this wasn't going well at all.

Arthur's look turned to worry. "Does it have to be right here? Or can it wait until we're back in the castle? You don't look so well..." He reached out to feel Alfred's temperature.

Alfred flinched at the sudden touch. "What – no, I'm alright!," he said hastily, "yes, I'm alright." He breathed in deeply several times to steady himself, then took Arthur's hand again.

To Arthur, the pieces suddenly seemed to fit together. If he was right... if he suspected right, then Alfred had used the potion to gain courage. And that would mean... "Alfred...," he whispered.

"I love you, Arthur."

It was all that needed to be said. They drew closer together like magnets, until their lips were finally touching. The kiss didn't last for long, but they stayed in their embrace, gazing in the other's eyes. The moment was perfect.

Back in the reality of school, things didn't really change from before. They were talking as usual, occasionally bickering as usual, laughing as usual, and doing homework as usual. The only difference was that now, they were touching a lot more than before, deliberately, gently. And there was the kissing, too, a part both of them enjoyed.

Alfred learned to appreciate Potions a lot more than before. And Arthur knew that his plan had been a success, after all.