Disclaimer: If you recognize it it belongs to JKR
Written for the Best Friends challenge on HPFC
Prompts: family, watch, sunflower
"If you would stop banging your head on the desk and help me get rid of these fumes, then we can get back to passing your Potions OWL."
Remus glared at Peter for a second, eyes red from his cauldron's pungent purple smoke, before he shook his head muttering to himself. Peter was about to give his friend another nudge when Remus finally seemed to realise how thick the fumes were getting and vanished the liquid in the cauldron.
"You'll have to help me with that one later," Peter told him with forced cheerfulness as he flicked through his Potions text trying to find something relatively simple.
"I'll let you vanish the next one," Remus replied. "Let's face it Pete, I'm never going to pass this OWL no matter how many hours you and Lily practice with me."
Peter looked up as his friend started morosely charming his phials clean and replied "And I'm never going to pass the Defense practical, though that doesn't stop you and James drilling me every afternoon, not to mention your three hours of helping me with those stupid Colour-change Charms last Tuesday. Here, let's try a Sunshine Solution ."
Remus grimaced as he took the book and ran his finger down the list of ingredients. "I'm running low on salamander oil, and I'm fresh out of sunflower seeds."
Peter shoved his own Potions kit under his nose. "There you go, no excuses. It's pretty straightforward, and it shouldn't have any bad side-effects if you mess something up."
"When I mess it up," Remus muttered as he started slicing Honking Daffodil petals.
Peter watched carefully as he stirred in the ingredients, only stopping him once from adding the sunflower seeds before it was properly simmering.
"I don't know why you have so much trouble with it," he commented as Remus stared anxiously at the occasionally bubbling liquid, giving it a quick swirl whenever it started to clump. "I mean, it's just following instructions. You don't need to have some inner power or great magical intuition. Oh, sure people like Evans are brilliant and they have something extra, but for our level you just need to memorise the recipe and the properties of the ingredients and just do it."
He paused to direct Remus's attention to the clump forming at the near side of the cauldron.
"And you don't get impatient like Sirius, or try and show off like James. Seriously, your only problem seems to be that you're not concentrating. Are you sure you're stirring all the way to the bottom?"
Frowning, Remus dug the stirring rod to the bottom of the cauldron where Peter could see clumps forming through the slightly opaque liquid.
As they settled back down, Peter was pleased to see it was going nicely yellow. "Ok, what do you need to add next?"
"Err…" he watched as Remus closed his eyes, trying to visualise the recipe. "Salamander oil. Ten drops once the potion is milky yellow. Then let it boil for ten minutes, untouched."
They both laughed at that, remembering a disastrous lesson last month where Sirius, unable to sit still doing nothing for more than five minutes had added his mooncalf dung too early, and ended up stinking of Fertilizing Potion for the next week.
He was too slow to stop Remus uncorking his bottle of salamander oil over the cauldron. "Oops, I should have mentioned it was a bit leaky," he said as his friend glared.
"Ok," Remus said, "I've got no idea how much went in, what do I do now?"
Peter, replaying the image in his head, said "I think you got about six drops in there. Throw in another five to be safe. Too much is better than too little in this case."
Hand shaking, Remus added another five drops, then prodded the magical fire to boost the heat.
As they waited, he heard Remus sigh about three times, before asking, "How come you're so good at potions anyway? I mean, I'm not saying you shouldn't be but-"
Peter laughed away any implied insult. "It's in the family, I guess. Mother was always good at it; brews her own beauty potions and everything. My father runs a greenhouse and I used to help him when I was little-still do actually-and he would always talk about the properties of his plants. If you hear something ten or twenty times it tends to stick, even with my memory. Plus grandfather started an apothecary in Belfast, which my cousin Josephine runs now. What about you?"
Remus smiled wryly as he said, "Oh yes, my mother was always good at potions too. I think it's a muggle-born thing, just look at Mary and Lily. Dad wasn't, though he still passed his OWL. Just."
Peter slapped his fingers away from the stirring rod as he continued, "Dad's best subject was Defense, not that it helped much when-"
Trying to distract him from this line of thought, Peter quickly said, "Pop quiz: What do the daffodil petals do, and why can't they be normal daffodils? And don't forget to keep an eye on the time."
As he listened to Remus listing the additional effects of magical ingredients in this potion, he peered into the bubbling cauldron, where the golden liquid was beginning to shine. Remus broke off his recitation to ask, "All right, what have I done wrong."
"Nothing," Peter was able to honestly say as the cauldron began emitting rays of light, throwing the cracks in the dungeon's stonework into sharp relief.
As he extinguished the fire, Remus said, "Great, so as long as you're standing over my shoulder stopping me from doing anything stupid, I'll be fine."
Grabbing a bottle-full to show the others, Peter replied "Just imagine I'm there talking you through it. It's what I do when I get stuck with Charms. Just think, what would Remus be telling me to do."
Remus looked oddly touched by that, and stared at the sealed bottle that was glowing cheerfully in his hand. "Thanks Pete," he said softly, then shifted abruptly into his cheerful teaching mode. "All right, let's see you vanish the rest of this."