“I just feel like it’s odd that they’re teaching us how to brew amortentia,” James says as they drop into their seats in the corner of the common room. “It’s a bit creepy, isn’t it? Setting a horde of sixteen year olds loose with love potion?”
“Yeah,” Sirius says. He props one of his legs up over the arm of his chair in a graceful sprawl. “I always thought Slughorn was a bit creepy himself, though, right? He’s obsessed with Evans.”
“I don’t know if we should start throwing stones about who’s obsessed with Evans,” Remus says, his voice muffled from where he’s bent under the table pulling his arithmancy textbook out of his bag.
“Oi,” James says.
“I meant Snape, of course,” Remus says wryly, straightening up.
Sirius laughs. “Yeah, the defensiveness is a bit revealing, hmm, Prongs?”
James throws a chocolate frog wrapper at him. Sirius waves it away with a flick of his wand, still laughing.
“I think it’s a bit weird how it knows what smells you like,” Peter says. “And that we’re all just sitting there in a dungeon smelling it together.”
“I don’t know,” Sirius says. He runs a hand through his hair. “I think it’s kind of nice, getting a whiff of it. Better than the usual smells down there.”
“Yeah, me too,” James says. He tries throwing another wrapper at Sirius, but it falls short, landing on the table. “What did it smell like to you, then, Pads?”
“Like burnt sugar, sort of.” Sirius swings his foot, tipping his head back against the back of the chair. “I guess that would be the marshmallows we roast when we go round your parents’ in the summer, Prongs. Smells like Moony’s jumpers, too. And like that cream Madame Pomfrey gives you to put on your cuts and bruises and things after the moon, Moony.” He nudges Remus with his foot. “What’s in that?”
“Lavender,” Remus says, not looking up from his textbook.
“Yeah, it also smells like lavender,” Sirius says. “It’s nice.”
“Sorry.” James puts a hand over his eyes. “Are you saying that amortentia smells like wool and, what, flowers to you?”
Sirius gives him a look. “I mean, you’ve met Moony,” he says. “I assume you haven’t missed the fact we’ve been dating these last couple years. What did you think it would smell like?”
“It’s just,” James says, looking over to Peter for support. “It’s supposed to be about attraction, right?”
“I can’t help but feel like I’m being insulted,” Remus says, still not looking up from his book. “Are you saying you don’t find my jumpers sexy, Prongs?”
“I mean, isn’t it better for all of us that I don’t?” James asks.
“Yes, much better,” Peter says, pointing at him for emphasis. “It’s bad enough having to walk in on two of you snogging all the bloody time.”
“So what’s it smell like to you, then, Moony?” James asks. “Sirius’s toothpaste and the dirty socks he leaves around the dorm?”
Remus puts a finger on the page of the textbook and pauses his reading. He doesn’t look at any of them. “I don’t know, it’s a bit like wood smoke,” he says. “So that would also be the fires at yours, I suppose. And like summer thunderstorms. Kind of,” he gestures vaguely, “electric. And then like, well, like Sirius’s skin.” He looks up at the ceiling. “A bit sweaty.”
There’s a moment of silence as they all look at him.
“Moony, you little freak,” Sirius says, delighted. Remus flushes.
“I can’t believe we have to room with you lot for another two years,” Peter says, scrunching up his nose.
“I,” James has his hand over his eyes again. “Have you just been shagging like bunnies this whole time, when we have fires at my house? Where my parents are?”
“Well,” Sirius says, glancing at Remus, who’s still determinedly looking at the ceiling. “Not when we’re with your parents, no.”
James makes a strangled noise.
“I feel like it’s a bit hypocritical of you, Prongs,” Sirius continues. “What, mine isn’t sexy enough for you and Moony’s is too sexy?”
“This is why I think the smell thing is creepy,” Peter says. “Also, I feel like maybe it would be less weird if that was reversed, you know.” He gestures between Remus and Sirius. “But then, I guess you do fancy each other, so maybe it makes sense that you would, you know.” He gestures again.
Remus goes back to looking at his textbook. “I don’t know that we need to get into the, erm, literary analysis of it all,” he says.
“No, I think it’s beautiful, Moony,” Sirius says, nudging him with his foot again. “I like you because you’re all cozy and, you know, wounded and stoic. And you like me because I’m posh and sexy.”
“Posh and sexy?” Remus raises an eyebrow at him.
“You’re the one who’s sitting in potions smelling my sweat,” Sirius tells him. “I don’t need that tone.”
“You know,” James breaks in. “It’s interesting, aside from whatever this thing is you two have for my summer bonfires, and, I don’t know if Moony’s thunderstorm attraction has some sweaty story behind it—”
“I just like them,” Remus says.
“Right,” James says. “So, that’s interesting. It seems like Moony’s got two of your three smells.” He points at Sirius. “And you’ve only got one of his.” He points at Remus.
“And that one is kind of, er, physical,” Peter adds, scrunching up his nose a bit as if he wishes he hadn’t said it.
“Right,” James says.
“I’m—” Remus looks up at the ceiling again. “Are you insinuating, what, that I’m using Sirius for his body?”
“I think your amortentia is insinuating it, actually,” James says. “What are your intentions with my best friend, young man?”
Remus sighs. “This conversation has taken such an odd turn. I wanted to read for arithmancy.”
“No no,” Sirius says. “You’re right, Prongs, that is interesting.” He nudges Remus with his foot again, harder than before. “What’s up with that, Moony?”
Remus shoots him an amused look. “Are you really asking me if I’ve been dating you for two years just for the sex?”
“Answer the man’s question,” James says. He’s got a shit-eating grin on. Remus glares at him.
“I wish I’d gone to the library,” he says. He glances back at Sirius. “It’s not … bugger, I can’t believe we’re talking about this.”
“Ooh, language,” James says. Peter laughs.
Remus pinches the bridge of his nose. “It’s … it’s like, I guess, how loving you makes me feel,” he says.
“Sweaty?” Peter asks.
“No.” Remus sighs again. “It’s like I’m, you know, like I can let go. Like I’m free.”
There’s another moment of silence.
“In a sexy way?” James asks.
Remus picks up the chocolate frog wrapper from where it had fallen on the table earlier and throws it in James’s face. James laughs.
“That’s beautiful, Moony,” Sirius says. He blows him a kiss. Remus shoots him a little half smile.
“Right, but then,” James points at Sirius. “If you’re just smelling his jumpers like an old grandma, does that mean Moony’s not good in bed?”
Remus puts his head down on his book. “I thought you were disturbed by the thought of us shagging a minute ago,” he says.
“That was before I realized this was hilarious,” James says.
“It really is,” Peter says.
Sirius just smiles lazily, swinging his foot some more. “No, I suppose it’s like I said, right? Moony likes me because I’m a rebel and he gets to indulge his inner animal—” Remus kicks at him, but he pulls his leg away, laughing. “Not even a moon thing, baby. All you. And I like him because he’s nice and warm and he’s not going to bite my head off after mating like my family’s sort.”
“Mating,” Remus repeats tonelessly, propping his head up on his palm.
Sirius leans forward. “It’s like you said, right,” he says. “It’s how loving you makes me feel. Like I’m safe.” He touches Remus’s face, lining his thumb up with a scar. “And like I want to keep you safe, too.”
James gags. “This has stopped being funny and has become insufferably sappy,” he says.
“Yeah, we get it,” Peter says. “Congratulations, you’re disgusting.”
Remus laughs and tilts his head back down to read his textbook. Sirius withdraws his hand. “Alright, so what’s it smell like to you then, Prongs? Evans’s—”
“I don’t even want you to finish that thought,” James interrupts.
“It’s nice,” James says. “Smells like the woods and, and like a nice bit of shepherd’s pie. And like vanilla, a bit.”
“Vanilla like Lily’s shampoo?” Remus asks.
Sirius slaps him on the arm, grinning.
“I don’t know why you know what Evans’s shampoo smells like,” James says.
“She and I are friends,” Remus says. “I think she would definitely think it was weirder that you know.”
“You should tell her,” Peter tells James. “She hasn’t hexed you in ages.”
“Bugger off,” James says.
“I’m once again amazed by the hypocrisy,” Sirius says. “Oh, it smells like wool and flowers, does it? What, and it’s so bloody sexy to smell trees and shepherd’s pie?”
James flushes. “Alright, alright,” he says.
But Sirius has entered a rant. “So because I’m gay I’m supposed to what, thirst for the smell of cum and sweaty knackers?”
Remus coughs into his fist.
“Right, we can’t all be like Moony, you know,” Sirius says.
Remus kicks at him again.
“You’re right,” James says. “I withdraw my criticism.”
“It’s just nice that you’re such a sodding romantic,” Peter tells Sirius. “Under all the hexes and the big boots and the,” he gestures around his head, “hair. You know.”
Remus coughs into his fist again.
“Less judgment from the peanut gallery please,” Sirius says, nudging Remus with his foot again.
“I already knew you were a sodding romantic,” Remus says mildly.
“I guess one of us has to be, you sex-crazed maniac,” Sirius says. James snorts. “So what’s it smell like to you then, Wormy?” Sirius asks. “A nice ripe bit of cheese?”
“I still think this is creepy,” Peter says, sliding down a bit in his chair.
“Oho,” Sirius says. “Do you also smell Evans’s shampoo?”
James shoots him a look. “Or Sirius’s sweat?” he asks.
“You don’t have to tell us, Pete,” Remus says down to his textbook.
“We all shared,” James says.
“Yeah, can’t be much worse than shepherd’s pie,” Sirius says.
“Least I’m not smelling up the hospital wing,” James counters.
“It’s, whatever,” Peter says. “It’s like Honeydukes, and soap, and, and, I suppose a bit like leather.”
They all look at him.
“Leather?” Sirius asks.
“Whatever,” Peter says, sliding further down in his chair. “I just like the smell, it’s like Moony’s thunderstorms.”
“Or you’ve been snogging the absolute wrong girls,” Sirius says. “I don’t think Emmeline Vance has ever touched leather in her life.”
“Oho,” James says.
“I think the whole thing is creepy,” Peter says.
“I’m going to get Slughorn a present,” Sirius says, delighted. “I had no idea you were all such freaks. Well, ’cept for Moony, but that’s nice to have confirmed.”
Remus closes his textbook. “I’m going to go for dinner, I think,” he says.
“It only makes me love you more, honest,” Sirius says, wrapping a leg around him when he tries to get up.
“I know,” Remus says drily. “All about the jumpers and playing nursemaid and indulging the kinks, you are.”
James covers his ears. “I’m back to wishing you hadn’t shared quite this much,” he says.
“I’m hungry,” Remus says. He pokes Sirius’s leg. “Come and eat with me, I’m not getting any reading done any time soon anyway.”
Sirius grins at him and swings his leg down to the floor so he can stand. “Of course, light of my life, apple of my amortentia.”
Remus huffs at him. James makes to stand, too. “I suppose you can come with us,” Remus tells him, starting toward the portrait hole. “Though if there’s shepherd’s pie we’ll have to give you some privacy.”
Peter bounds after them, laughing brightly. Sirius slings an arm over Remus’s shoulders. James pauses to pick up the chocolate frog wrappers, looking around surreptitiously for Lily, before he follows. She isn’t there. But then, he thinks, maybe that means she’s already in the Great Hall. Peter’s right, it has been a while since she’s hexed him. Maybe it's time to give it another go.