It starts with an innocent remark from Lily.
“You smell like you’ve been humping a dog, Black.”
It was nothing out of the ordinary (the remark from Lily, not the dog humping). Sirius shrugged it off, and James was just grateful the barb wasn’t directed at him for once. Sure Remus laughed, but Remus laughed at all sorts of things. And so the occasion passed without further remark. And if Sirius did put on a bit more cologne after, well, it wasn’t because he was offended or anything. They just couldn’t risk people asking the wrong sorts of questions.
And really, that was it, until Sirius emerged from the shower one day and joined the boys around the common room fire. He took the seat next to Remus on the couch and propped his feet up on the coffee table, pushing aside the potions homework piled on the surface. He was just about to congratulate them on their success with the fireworks, when Remus spoke up instead.
“You smell like a wet dog.” Sirius froze. “I beg your pardon?”
“You smell like a wet dog,” Remus repeated patiently. James looked up from his transfigurations textbook to take a sniff at the air. “He’s got a point, mate,” he said with a grin, “It smells like a puppy that's fresh out of the bath.”
“Or was drowned in a lake,” Remus offered.
“For fuck’s sake,” Sirius growled. “I do not smell like a wet dog. Peter, tell them.”
Peter glanced between them uncomfortably. “Well, um, you kind of do?” Sirius glared at the shorter boy, who shrank into the cushions. “Oh, stop it,” James intervened, still grinning. “You’re scaring him.”
“I’m going to hex all of you in your sleep,” he grumbled.
And that could have been that, if Remus had just let it go. But, of course, he didn’t, and was Moony always this stubborn, or is this a new development?
And he couldn’t just cover it up, was the thing. It was those stupid werewolf senses of his - it didn’t matter what he put on, Remus could always smell the distinct canine-ness underneath. He’d even bought 7 bottles of some perfume-y potion from Hogsmeade and doused himself in it, but that had only gotten him death glares from his classmates and another wet dog comment from Remus. (He’d sounded a bit nauseated though, maybe he should count that as a win.)
He was sulking in potions class one day, after James confiscated all of his cologne - what are you talking about Prongs, 18 bottles is not too much, I don’t care if our room smells like the Apothecary had sex with the Magical Menagerie - when Slughorn actually started saying something interesting.
“Amortentia can be distinguished by a number of features, including its unique mother-of-pearl sheen, as well as the spiralling steam that rises from it.” Professor Slughorn lifted the bottle in his hands for the class to see. “It is the most powerful love potion in existence, and smells different to each person, depending on what they love.” If Sirius had been in his animagus form, he was certain his ears would have perked up. “Now, even though it is the most powerful love potion we know of, Amortentia still doesn’t create actual love, as it is impossible to manufacture…”
Sirius tuned the rest out, but he’d heard enough. When Professor Slughorn asked for questions at the end of class, Sirius’ hand shot up.
“Yes, Mr. Black?”
“How do you make Amortentia?”
“Ah, well, Amortentia is a very difficult potion to brew, and I’m afraid you will not get a chance to brew your own until later years-”
Sirius’ hand shot back up before Slughorn was even done speaking. “Can we buy Amortentia?” James arched an eyebrow at him as the professor stammered. “Um- well, yes, I’m sure you could find it somewhere, if you wanted to, but keep in mind it is a very powerful and dangerous potion- ” Sirius nodded thoughtfully without even pretending to hear the rest, and settled back in his chair. The professor went on about the dangers and “necessary precautions” that one must take when using Amortentia, and Sirius leaned back in his chair to catch James’ attention.
“Oi, Prongs. Hogsmeade this weekend?”
James grinned. “What have you got in mind this time Padfoot?”
Sirius echoed his grin. “You’ll see.”
When the weekend finally came around James and Sirius ended up making the trip alone, as Remus was studying for the upcoming transfigurations test - well that’s too bad Moony, but anyways, have fun, we’ll bring back some chocolate frogs from Honeydukes - and Peter elected to stay with him. Which was just perfect, as far as Sirius was concerned.
“So what do you need love potion for, Pads?” James asked in a low voice, as Filch checked their names off the list of students allowed to go to Hogsmeade, and shot them a dirty look while he was at it.
“It’s for Moony,” he whispered back. James’ eyebrows shot upward, then plummeted back down. “Remus?”
“Mm-hmm. You know how he keeps saying I smell like a wet dog?” James nodded slowly. “Well, since it’s become clear that no amount of cologne or perfume-y potions can cover up the scent, I’m going to drench myself in Amortentia instead, so I’ll smell like whatever Remus loves. Chocolate, probably.”
James had a strange look on his face - presumably due to apprehensions about his plan. “Come on, it’s a foolproof plan. We’ll find a shop that sells Amortentia, buy a bottle of the stuff, I’ll cover myself in it tonight, then go up to Remus smelling like chocolate and whatever else he loves!” He couldn’t help grinning like a pixie. “I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he realizes I’ve outsmarted him once again!”
“Again? When was the first time?”
Sirius whacked him on the head.
They stopped at Honeydukes first to buy the promised chocolate frogs, and a few boxes of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans - it would be suspicious if we only bought the frogs, Prongs. Remus will know something’s up! - then headed to a lesser known potions store at the end of the street.
A bell chimed as they entered the store and they were greeted by an empty room, save for a young witch standing behind the counter, levitating a copy of the Daily Prophet while sipping on a tea. She looked them up and down as they walked to the counter.
“Can I help you?” she asked around a mouthful of gum.
“Yes,” Sirius said, biting the inside of his cheek to keep from grinning like a lunatic. “Do you, by any chance, have any Amortentia?” She arched a dark eyebrow at him. “Love potion, huh?” Her eyes did the up-and-down thing again. “Never would have guessed you’d need it, from the looks of you.”
“Actually, it’s for my mate over here,” he said, putting an arm around James. Prongs shot him a glare, but he ignored it and forged on. “He’s been mad in love with this girl for ages, but she just won’t love him back.” He grinned. “I’ve got a galleon that says even a love potion can’t change that.” James elbowed him in the ribs. Hard.
The girl looked between the two of them with bemusement, before shrugging and pulling a bottle off the shelf behind her. She slid the bottle across the counter. Sirius gaped at the vial.
The witch quirked an eyebrow. “It’s a powerful and dangerous potion that inspires infatuation. Trust me, just pour that into the girl’s drink or something, it’ll work perfectly.” Sirius continued to stare at the tiny bottle dubiously, and she rolled her eyes. “Come on, what were you planning to do anyways, bathe in it?”
“Well, I…” Her eyebrows disappeared underneath her bangs. “Look, can I just have a few more bottles?” She hesitated a bit longer this time, but eventually shrugged and turned back around.
“How many do you want?”
Sirius looked down at the vial. “Um… eight?” She picked up seven more bottles and plopped them down onto the counter. “That’ll be 6 galleons and 11 sickles.” Sirius dumped the appropriate amount of coins onto the counter and shoved the 8 bottles into the pockets of his robe.
Thank Merlin for deep pockets.
That evening, Sirius opted for a bath instead of a shower, and dumped the contents of all 8 bottles into the water. He watched, enthralled, as the water turned mother-of-pearl and the bathroom was quickly filled with the smell of firewhiskey, old wood, and chocolate.
He stepped tentatively into the tub, and lowered himself in. The water felt warm against his skin, and the smells that filled the room reminded him of a night at The Three Broomsticks with the boys after a quidditch match. Why have I never tried this before?
He emerged from the bath smelling magnificent, and headed to the common room with a soft spring in his step. He took his usual seat next to Remus, who smelled like chocolate and wool, as he always did, with a barely concealed grin. “Hey Moony.”
“Hey Sears,” Remus answered, without even looking up from his work.
“What do I smell like now?”
Remus rolled his eyes, still scribbling on his parchment. “You smell like chocolate and wet dog, nice try covering it up.”
Sirius blinked in confusion. Was the potion broken? Had the bathwater counteracted the effects? But then why would he have smelled all those things in the bathroom? And why would Remus smell chocolate? Because he loved chocolate, of course. And apparently he also loved…
Across from them, James and Peter were watching the exchange intently, Peter with wide eyes and James with a knowing grin. “You owe me 5 galleons Wormy,” James crooned.
“What are you talking about?” Remus sounded as confused as Sirius was a few moments ago.
James was still wearing an ear-splitting grin, and Sirius felt an overwhelming urge to wipe it off his face. “He’s bathed himself in Amortentia.”
Realization dawned on Remus slowly, and his face turned as red as a crimson sunrise.
“Oh! Um-”. He looked wildly between Sirius and James, face turning even redder, if that was possible. “I- I don’t- I should go-”
Sirius watched helplessly as Remus dropped his essay uncharacteristically haphazardly onto the coffee table and took off for the bedrooms. James stared at him.
“Well what are you waiting for mate?” When Sirius just stared back at him, James sighed exasperatedly. “Go after him! You know, for someone who fancies himself a womanizer you’re rather hopeless when it comes to this stuff.”
That snapped Sirius out of his trance. “As if you’re one to give romantic advice Potter-”
The divinations textbook thrown at his head effectively shut him up, and he hurried away with his (figurative) tail tucked between his legs.
Remus was pacing the length of the room when Sirius walked in, and his head jerked up at the sound of his footsteps. Sirius raised his hands in a placating gesture before Remus could say anything - like get out, for instance - and stepped into the room, pausing at the entrance.
“I’m sorry,” he said into the silence. “I really am. I- I didn’t know- this isn’t how I imagined tonight going.”
Remus tensed, then nodded stiffly. “Of course. Can we just- let’s just forget about this, alright?”
“I can’t.” He was, in fact, reasonably certain that this was not a day he was going to forget, maybe ever. He would remember this, for the rest of his days. He would remember the smell of firewhiskey clinging to his skin, the exact colour of Remus’ jumper, the way the angles of Remus’ face looked in the moonlight, the smell of chocolate coming from them both.
“It’s the same for me,” he said, softly enough that he would have thought Remus didn’t hear, if not for the way his eyes widened. There was a moment of silence before Remus laughed, shaking his head as if to rid himself of a dream. “You- Merlin Pads, did you drink some of that potion by accident?”
“What? No! Besides, Slughorn said that Amortentia can’t actually create love… right?”
Remus fell silent at that, and Sirius silently congratulated himself on paying attention enough during potions to remember that. There was no better way to win an argument with Remus than to bring up something a professor said.
“Then why didn’t you say something?” Remus asked, and wow, wasn’t that a good question?
“I don’t know!” Because I’m a bloody idiot! “Why didn’t you?!”
“Because I didn’t know you felt the same way!”
“Well neither did I!”
They both quieted at that, harsh intakes and exhales of breath filling the silent room.
“I just don’t get-” Remus shook his head again, before focusing amber eyes on Sirius. “I mean, why would anyone like you want someone like me?”
The air rushed out of Sirius as if he’d been hit, and he knew that he needed to say something, but he just couldn’t find the words, not when Remus was looking at him like that, so-
“What could you possibly see in me?”
“Everything.” Sirius met Remus’ eyes with his own, tried to convey everything he felt through his gaze alone. “Moony, I see everything. Everything I could possibly want. Since I was eleven, you’ve been everything I want.”
He stepped forward, crossed the space between them, and at some point his hand had come up of its own accord, and he traced Remus’ jaw with his thumb. “Can I kiss you,” he asked quietly, afraid to break whatever spell had fallen upon this moment. Remus nodded and he leaned forward to brush his lips with his own, and Remus’ opened underneath him and-
And it was soft and warm and everything Remus was, everything he wasn’t, everything he wanted.
“What do you want,” he whispered. Anything he wanted, if he wanted the world, Sirius would give it to him right now, anything-
“Anything. Anything, just… you. I want you.”
“Okay. Hey Moony?”
“My parents aren’t home, we don’t have to whisper.”
And Remus laughed then, shoulders shaking as he rested his forehead against his, and Sirius didn’t even bother trying to contain his smile.
The early morning light slanted through the windows, bathing the room in a golden light. The sun on Remus’ face was warm, and the body next to his was warmer.
“Hey Pads,” he murmured against the head of dark hair next to him.
“What does the potion smell like to you?”
“Firewhiskey.” Was the sleep-hoarse reply. “And chocolate.”
Remus smiled up at the ceiling, knowing Sirius couldn’t see him. “You sure you’re not actually in love with chocolate cauldrons?”
Sirius burrowed deeper into his pillow with a grunt. “I’m not lying in bed with a box of chocolate cauldrons, am I?”