Sirius slid into his seat at the breakfast table hastily and immediately began piling his plate high with food. James rounded on him instantly, and hissed, "did you?"
Sirius swallowed the bread he'd just stuffed in his mouth. "Ohhhhhhh yeah."
James snorted, almost spitting pumpkin juice in their breakfast. "And did he?"
Remus leaned over the table, better to hear what they were talking about, and muttered, "What now?"
Sirius glanced at James, then thumped him on the back as the other boy turned very, very red. "C'mon, James. You don't literally have to inhale your food..."
Remus eyed the two of them. "Dare I ask?"
The Slytherin table erupted in angry mutters and James slid down on his bench, coughing up bits of oatmeal and toast as he sputtered, trying not to laugh. Sirius grinned merrily. "Probably not. Deniability, all that."
Remus calmly watched the two of them, eyebrow raised. He finished off the last piece of toast and marmalade and shook his head. "You two are going to get your balls cut off by someone in Slytherin one of these days."
James actually slid under the table as his face went very purple, mouth contorted in the unholy effort not to start screeching with laughter. Even Sirius, who usually had a better bluffing face than the rest of them, clapped a hand over his mouth to stop from spitting food. Remus glanced over at the Slytherins, many of whom were glaring darkly their way. "Oh, good," he said dryly. "Now I'm an accomplice, and we'll all be castrated together."
Sirius gave up and started howling, tears running down his cheeks. From somewhere on the floor James was still trying to breathe, and odd little gasping noises were coming from where he was laying. Sirius finally choked out between fits, "that's exactly!" and couldn't continue.
Remus put his chin on his hand, waiting for Sirius to calm down enough to explain. He finally had to lean over their breakfast and clamp a hand over Sirius's mouth. He muttered, "What is so funny, anyway?"
Carefully removing his fingers, Remus waited for an answer. Sirius hissed, cheeks still wet with tears, "we put a Shrinking Potion in Snivellus's dinner last night. I just stuck the final drop in his porridge this morning."
Remus's eyes widened and his mouth opened - half grinning and half astonished, he just stared. One of James' hands appeared on the table top, as he tried to pull himself up. His muffled voice added, "it looks like it worked, from their reactions."
"But," Remus finally got out. "Wouldn't. I mean, he's sitting there the right size. You didn't shrink his whole bod--" and then he clapped a hand over his own mouth.
Sirius nodded, trying vainly to wipe the tears off his face as James valiantly sat himself back down on the bench. His cheeks were very, very red. "I can't stop laughing - yeah," Sirius replied. "We must have gotten the potion right."
Remus kept staring at them, and James couldn't help it. He dissolved into laughter again, almost falling into the breakfast plates in helpless giggles.
A piece of egg almost went flying across the room as his elbow landed painfully on the table, and Remus instinctively leaned back a bit. Sirius wrapped a hand around James's cloak, hauling him upright so he didn't fall off the bench. "Yeah," Sirius said, taking a few deep breaths to stop himself from laughing again. "We shrank it."
Remus looked over their heads to Snape's murderous gaze. It was obviously directed their way. "He's going to have your balls off for sure," Remus finally replied faintly. "No doubt about it."
Sirius let go of James, who fell over all in one go and bumped his chin on the table as he slid down again, whole body shaking with laughter. Sirius's giggles rang out through the hall, as he helplessly followed James onto the floor.
That afternoon was Care of Magical Creatures, and of course, it had to overlap with Slytherin the day that Snape was out to kill them.
"You'd better watch out," Peter said as they walked across the grounds. "Terry heard Avery and Mulciber talking about hexes this morning in the library. It sounded like they were trying to look up boils and growing hair and, for some reason, beets." At this, Peter looked a little puzzled, but then Professor Kettleburn came up, cradling his uninjured hand close to his chest, to dismiss them early because of an accident he'd had last night.
Many of the students looked concerned, but Sirius didn't hesitate - he flew back over the grounds and flung his bags down on the grass by the lake. "No class, no class, yippee!"
James and Peter followed, eventually catching up. They threw their stuff down too, plopping on the grass. Sirius had already taken off his tie, untucked his robes and flung his cloak out. "So," James said, yawning. "What are we doing tonight?"
Sirius was about to answer when Peter gestured urgently, fumbling for his wand. James turned around just in time to see Snape and a few of his friends dangling Sirius's dress robes in front of the Whomping Willow, tied to the end of a very long pole. Peter looked worried, but Sirius and James just lounged back and waved.
"You know," James said as he pulled out his wand, "he's so unoriginal."
"Hated those robes with a passion." Sirius stretched out lazily, also grabbing his wand. "I almost feel sorry for the arse. He tries so hard to get us back, sometimes," and they both raised their wands. "You want to do the honor, or should I?"
James mock-bowed to Sirius. "By all means."
Peter ducked as Sirius chanted. The dress robes went from navy blue to a light pink, and then rapidly shifted themselves to the left. And onto Snape.
The three of them heard an unholy howl, and Peter mumbled, "maybe it's time we went back to the castle?"
A hex narrowly missed them, charring a bit of grass beside James's bookbag. "Yes," James replied, standing up hastily. "Definitely. I wonder what's for lunch."
As they pelted back to the entrance of the castle, Snape screeching behind them, Sirius puffed, "that was so worth it."
James huffed back, "Pink is his color."
"It's getting too easy to hex old Snivellus, you know," Sirius said, and sighed. His Transfiguration homework lay forgotten beside him.
James was slowly working through Runes. "I truly hate this. Why do we keep trading off? Remus would finish this in a half hour."
Sirius shrugged, sketching Snape in a dress in the margin of his text. "We should try and make things more interesting."
James smacked the book down and groaned. He continued on as if he hadn't even heard Sirius. "Now, Transfiguration or Charms? No sweat. And I have Quidditch practise tomorrow morning, too."
"Oh, boo hoo," and Sirius threw a wadded up piece of parchment at James. "Make Peter do it."
"He's not even in Runes, prat," James replied. "So what do you have in mind?"
"Ahh, you've said the magic words."
"Wanker!" Sirius threatened to toss his book at James next. "I'll bet you five Galleons at Honeydukes that I can prank Snape better'n you."
"Make it ten, and not Snape," James answered promptly. "You just said yourself, he's no challenge."
Sirius eyed him. "You're not talking about pranking us, right? Not Peter or Remus, you or I?"
James shook his head. "Or Lily," and when Sirius grinned James blushed bright red. "No, I mean it. She threatened to use a Shrinking Potion on both of us, and you know she will."
"You're never going to impress her, " Sirius sat, fiddling with a quill. "Okay, then. Two weeks, best prank wins, and we can get help, because otherwise Peter and Remus will feel left out, and Remus is the only one who'll get either of us through that Runes exam."
James buried his face in his hands. "Oh, make it a week, I don't have that much time. I have to revise for exams, and there's Quidditch."
"Revise? Study? What's that?"
James looked sour. "Some of us took Ancient Runes, and don't, in fact, sit behind Remus in exams anymore."
"Fine, all right. I told you not to take so many classes."
James threw the parchment back at Sirius, glowering. "And I told you not to take my seat in Runes, too. Didn't stop you, either."
The full scale devastation didn't actually start until the next afternoon, when all the benches at the Slytherin table collapsed during lunch. Snape ended up on the floor with his goblet of juice all over his new robes.
It was lucky that James and Peter were the only ones eating yet, and that Sirius and Remus had to stay behind in Charms, because they had a hard enough time keeping straight faces. Peter, his back to the Slytherin table, muttered, "are they looking over here? do they suspect you? What's going on?"
James, who was studying his corned beef with the intensity usually reserved for broomstick polish, said out of the corner of his mouth, "I don't know, I'm trying not to look."
Peter chanced a look behind him, and regretted it immediately. Professor Slughorn was inspecting the closest bench and scowling. He almost fell off his own chair in his haste to turn around again. Peter closed his eyes, and whispered, "Please don't let him be coming over here, please don't let him be--"
He yelped when a hand clamped down around his shoulder, and James laughed. "Sirius, how nice of you to join us." James got up, bowed. "And Remus too, I see. Just in time."
They sat either side of Peter. "It's not who laughs first, dear James, but who laughs last."
Remus dared to look over at the gathering of murderous Slytherins, half out of curiousity but mostly to avoid Lily Evan's gaze. "I think," he said in a low voice, "Slughorn's going to put it down to faulty workmanship. I don't believe it."
"And a point to me!" James crowed out. He immediately went back to studying his food when McGonnagall eyed the four of them sharply, much like Lily was still doing. "Better think quick, Sirius. You're going to have to work hard to catch up."
The Gryffidor Common Room was eerily quiet the next evening. Peter was moaning in the corner, trying to finish all the homework that he'd put off. James was reading for an essay. Remus and Sirius were nowhere to be found, and the rest of their House was getting in a late Quidditch game on the pitch, or in the library late working on essays or preparing for exams. The only two people about aside from James and Peter were two third year girls. They were curled up in front of the fire, whispering to themselves and giggling.
Peter scowled at them. "I wish they'd giggle a little more quietly."
James glanced up. "Tell them, then, go on. I've got to finish all of this." He chewed on his quill absently, then cursed as ink splattered everywhere. "Bugger! Where the hell is Remus, anyway? He promised I could copy this out!"
The girls were leaning over, staring at a picture of one of the most handsome Quidditch players from the looks of it. Peter shrugged. "I think he and Sirius went to the kitchens or something. Maybe his homework's in his bag?"
"Do you see his bag anywhere?"
"I can go look," Peter replied, standing up. "I have to get my History of Magic notes from the dorm anyway." He groaned, just thinking about it. "I'm never going to pass any of these exams. You three will go up to fifth year, and I'll be stuck back in fourth."
"Don't worry, Peter," James said cheerfully. "We'll probably be held back too, and Remus will be the only fifth year of us all."
Peter was just mounting the steps when most of the other Gryffindors trouped in as a group, laughing. Peter turned around to hear, "can you believe it? Hot pink, the lot of'em!"
Someone else giggled. "Sluggy is angry to toss a fit, but of course no one can prove who did it..."
James and Peter exchanged a glance across the room - they'd been wondering what Sirius was up to. James coughed, trying to look nonchalant. "So, what happened?
One of the third years had to cover his mouth to keep from laughing. "You know how the Slytherin Quidditch uniforms were brand new this year, to go with their new line of brooms?" Peter and James nodded. "Well--" but he dissolved into laughter, quickly followed by everyone around him, before he answered.
"You have to see it to believe it. They're out on the pitch," said another boy, and James and Peter made their way through the laughing bunch and out the portrait hole.
It was almost dusk by the time they got out to the field, but the uniforms were still clearly visible. They were tied to the Quidditch goal posts, fluttering a little in the evening breezes.
James stared. "Are. Do you think. He didn't."
Peter scratched his head. "How d'you think he got them up there without anyone seeing him?"
James suddenly put his hands on his hips and turned around to march back into the school. "I'll kill him. If it's not back in my trunk, if it's not folded exactly the way it - I'll kill him. Then I'll hang his body from the Quidditch goals and use his head for extra practise."
Peter jogged to keep up. "They wouldn't both have fit under your cloak, would they?"
James scowled. "Apparently, they did."
"Huh." Peter paused, to take a last look at the Slytherin Quidditch robes. The sky was pink and purple, and darkening with each step they took. Against the backdrop of the sunset, the bright pink robes matched perfectly, down to the exact shading of the clouds.
"Ahhh, James, just the man I wanted to see. Do you have the Arithmancy homework from last week? I seem to have misplaced mine when I wasn't doing it, and now--"
"We've been over this. Are you--"
"Is it back in my trunk?" James asked pleasantly, but had his hand on Sirius's shoulder and was crushing his collarbone.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Sirius replied innocently.
James's hand squeezed, and he got a yelp in return. "It better be in my trunk. Folded. Hidden. Like before."
"James," and he got another innocent blink, "are you suggesting that I, ah, borrowed one of your personal items without asking?"
Peter and Remus, fiddling with another stack of homework on Remus's bed, snorted as one. James replied, "You wanker. You could have asked--"
Sirius shrugged, ducking out of James's grip suddenly. He turned business-like. "Would have ruined the surprise. Besides, you said we could get help. Didn't say we had to ask for it."
"And you!" James rounded on Remus. "You helped him steal my Invisibility Cloak! I should take the Charms papers away for the next month, bastard."
Remus shrugged mildly. "Are you done with my Runes yet?"
"Oh, fine, fair enough." James then opened his trunk and started rifling through his things. He eyed Sirius suspiciously. "Well, it's here, and it's all fine, from the looks of it."
"Of course, dear James. I took very good care of it."
Finally giving up on trying to tell Sirius off, James asked, "So how did you turn the Slytherin robes that particularly fetching color of pink?"
Sirius didn't look up. "It's fuschia."
"How do you know what color 'fuschia' is?"
A wadded up piece of parchment hit James squarely on the head. Sirius grinned at him. "I think that's two points to me, dear James - not only did I fuck with their Quidditch robes, I also did it in front of half the third years, and wasn't seen. What are you going to do that could possibly match up to that?"
James scowled darkly. "I'll think of something. As soon as I'm finished this bloody translation. I hate this class."
Breakfast and lunch were both quiet affairs, for once. James and Sirius were both silent, lost in thought and occasionally ducking at the food thrown at them from various irate Slytherins.
At lunch, Peter vainly tried to start a conversation once or twice, but lapsed into silence when no one answered him. James was looking particularly stressed, and it was obvious he was trying to think up something to top the Slytherin uniforms last night.
Both Peter and James skipped Potions that day, and Sirius and Remus spent a very unpleasant two hours stirring a cauldron full of disgusting potion and ducking when bits of chopped up salamander hearts were flung at them. Apparently, none of the students believed their protestations of innocence even though there was no evidence.
All of it was worth it, even Slughorn mooning over Lily Evans' brilliance, when they went down for dinner.
Except that it didn't look like there was going to be any dinner unless they learned how to fly - since all the tables and benches were on the ceiling, and scuttling away merrily whenever someone tried to zap them down again.
"Well," Remus said cheerfully, "he always did have top marks in Charms."
They ended up eating sandwiches in the Common Room as Flitwick and the rest of the Professors tried to coax the furniture down. When they all filed out, none of it seemed to be co-operating much - rather, was trying to rumba across the ceiling.
When McGonagall rounded on Sirius and James just outside the portrait hole, they both protested loudly.
"I was in Potions, ma'am!"
"I was in the hospital wing! Tripped between classes and sprained my ankle." James looked down. "Just wanted to make sure I healed up properly - Quidditch match in two weeks, you know how it is."
McGonagall's face softened a little. "I'll be sure to check up on you boys," she answered, and ushered them into the Common Room.
As they stood there, Sirius frowned. "She's going to find out you weren't with Pomfrey, you know, and you'll get caught."
James smirked. "I was with Pomfrey."
"Then." Sirius paused. "You're helping me with the Charms final, and I don't want any complaints."
James bowed slightly. "Thank you. I was quite impressed - didn't know if Peter could keep everyone distracted enough while I lay there to do it."
"Peter?" Sirius sounded impressed too. "Good for him. You two rigged everything before-hand?"
"Took me two hours last night to find the right spell," James answered. "When I tripped down the stairs, Peter started wailing about how he thought I was dead. He got everyone running including Professor Vector and Snape himself."
"You tripped yourself down the stairs?"
"Had to make it look believable," James said, and shrugged. "Besides, it got us both out of Potions. So what's next for you?"
"Canis major," Sirius said at the portrait hole, "and might I add, you're looking especially lovely today."
The Fat Lady blushed before opening up. James rolled his eyes at Sirius and they went inside for dinner.
It was a very good question, however, and one that Sirius pondered for the rest of the evening and most of next day. During lunch, instead of eating, Sirius waved at them absently and headed off to do a bit of research on his own.
"Got any idea what he's up to?" Remus asked, curiously.
James shrugged. "You have as much of a clue as I do."
Unfortunately, that night Remus found out exactly what Sirius was planning. And got roped into it.
"Bastard." Sirius scowled at James's trunk. "He's locked it."
Remus shook his head. "Come on then, open it."
Sirius was examining the lock. "Can't," and he absently chewed his lip. "He's done, something, hang on--" When he pulled his wand out, Remus stepped back instinctively, but after muttering a few words, the lock still hadn't opened. "Bastard! This is going to take all night."
"What do you want to do?"
Sirius got up, angrily, and glanced around the empty dorm-room. "Right, we'll just have to chance it."
Remus stared at him. "You think I'm going to wander around the castle all night without an Invisibility Cloak? You're mad."
"Look," Sirius replied impatiently, "it'll be done faster if we split up. I'll take North and West Tower, the halls between the Charms and Transfiguration classrooms, and the west dungeons. You take the Astronomy Tower and South Tower, the east dungeons, and the other classrooms."
Looking none-too-happy about this, Remus asked, "What about the Great Hall and entryway?"
"We'll double up and meet back there," Sirius replied promptly, already bent over his own things and pulling out a dark cloak. "I'm sorry to drag you into this, mate, but I've got no choice."
Sirius didn't sound apologetic at all because, of course, he wasn't. Remus narrowed his eyes at Sirius's bent frame, but then started gathering up his own things. Dark cloaks, to hopefully melt into the shadows with, and a few Filibuster Fireworks, in case they ran across Filch and needed a distraction to get away.
As they went down to the Common Room, Remus sighed. "You're going to get us detention for a month. Down in the dungeons, licking boots or something."
Peter looked up, from where he was laboriously copying something out, huge frown on his face and a half-eaten bowl of ice cream beside him. "Oh," he said, surprised. "Are you making a kitchen run? But where's James?"
"Ssssshhh!" Sirius answered wildly, looking around the room for James. "Don't tell James we've left, right?"
"Okay," and Peter looked confused. "He went to irritate Lily in the library, I think." Peter sighed. "I don't think I'm ever going to find a girl to like me. It's so--"
"That's too bad," Sirius interrupted, "but we really have to get going before James gets back. Bye Peter!"
At the portrait hole, Remus looked annoyed. "That was mean, cutting Peter off like that, you know."
"We would have been there all night, otherwise. Besides, he was just whinging."
Remus watched as Sirius murmured to the Fat Lady, and then they both stepped outside. He muttered, "He's just lonely. You ought to try it."
Sirius looked over. "What?"
Remus rolled his eyes. "Nothing."
"All right, beautiful lady. Now, where were we tonight?"
The Fat Lady went quite pink, and covered her mouth with her hands. "Well, young man. I haven't seen either of them tonight. Are you sure they aren't in bed?"
"Brilliant!" Sirius cried, "you're a peach, a real rock." He kissed the Fat Lady's painting, and grabbed Remus's arm. "Let's go."
The first thing James and Peter noticed, going down to breakfast, was that all the suits of armor were somehow doing handstands.
The second thing they noticed was that each of them said, "Slytherin Sucks!" whenever anyone wandered past them.
James stormed down the last staircase, Peter laughing madly after him. "You'll think of something!" he called out, to the bewilderment of a group of Ravenclaw second years at the bottom of the stairs.
"I can't believe we did that without anyone--" Sirius cut off abruptly as James sat down, looking absolutely murderous. "Hello, James."
"You rats. You dirty, filthy, stinking rats."
Peter said mildly, "Hey."
"How." James stared right at Sirius. "How?"
"Ahhh." Sirius shuffled around, glancing from side to side and looking quite guilty. "Well, actually, it, ah. That was a prank I'd been researching for quite a while, m'boy. Only got a chance to use it last night."
James folded his arms, added grudgingly, "The 'Slytherin Sucks!' was a stroke of genius."
"It was, wasn't it." Sirius gulped the last of his juice down and stood up. "Well, I'm off. Have to charm the pants of a little Ravenclaw beauty."
As he left, James muttered, "Ten Galleons he means Professor Flitwick about having an extra day to prepare for the test."
Remus and Peter said in unison, "No bet."
During History of Magic, James and Peter were sitting in the very back of the classroom and whispering quietly to each other.
"Maybe some Filibusters in the prefects' bathroom?" James said hopefully, and then sighed gustily when Peter looked at him, pity clear in his eyes. "I'm never going to come up with anything."
Professor Binns didn't look up from his notes - James would have been surprised if he even knew there were children in the classroom. Peter, in a low voice, replied, "you'll think of something, I'm sure."
"I hope so," James whispered back, and bent his head to try and concentrate on Goblin Rebellions.
James disappeared for the rest of the day, and no matter who they asked or where they looked, Sirius and Remus couldn't find hide nor hair of him. This immediately set them on guard, and took to saying in loud voices they were meeting James just around each corner. The professors, unusually distracted by trying to set more and more homework on the students in preparation for midterms and O.W.L.s., were strangely unaware of the growing number of pranks being played. Slughorn had mentioned something, but seemed less interested than perhaps he should.
Dinner, however, alerted even the most dense of teachers to the fact that Something was Going On.
"This pumpkin juice," Peter said, frowning slightly. He looked around, and leaned over the table to hiss at Sirius. "This tastes. Is it, odd, to you?"
Sirius dropped his fork, suddenly, and sniffed his juice. "Hmmm." Taking a very small sip, he blinked suddenly. "Kind of like. Like."
Remus put his gobblet down, too, and whispered, "Do you think this is what James--"
"Shut up," Sirius whispered back, and very nonchalantly, spilled his glass. "Oh, dear! Pass me that water jug, would you?"
After sniffing it carefully, Sirius drank some water. Remus was examining his juice very carefully. "You know what this tastes like?" He took another small sip. "Fizzing Whizzbees."
"Fizzing Whizzbees?" Sirius asked. "If you start to feel yourself floating at all? Grab the table."
Peter immediately looked alarmed, and took a firm grasp of the table's edge. "What's James done this time?"
The answer came as one of the Hufflepuff first years, face in a huge grin, started rising off his bench. They all heard him exclaim "Whoa!" as a commotion erupted at the teacher's table.
"I do believe," Remus muttered, "that we're going to find out."
"Better keep a straight face," Sirius added, as Snape shouted, floating several feet above his supper. "Looks like Lily's fanclub is out for blood."
"I don't believe it," Sirius said, as James ran up to him, puffing. They'd been ordered to wait outside, while the teachers took care of the floating students.
James shrugged. "I have a very good alibi, what can I tell you?"
"And what was it?"
James muttered, "you," as McGonnagall swept up to them.
Her lips were thinner than either of them had ever seen them before. "I want you two to tell me what's going on in the Great Hall, and I want you to tell me right now."
Sirius concentrated on looking and sounding as casual as possible, and out of the corner of his eye, saw James doing the same thing. "No idea, ma'am."
"Why," and her voice could have cut glass, "then, are you two some of the only students unaffected?"
Nearby, a scattering of Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs, and Remus and Peter were standing around. Remus and Peter were looking very, very nervous. James said carefully, "we must just be lucky..."
"Nonsense!" she barked sharply. "Now you two listen to me. I'm sure I'll find no evidence, no witnesses, but I assure you that you're fooling no one, least of all me." She straightened up, and clicked her teeth together a few times. "Five points from Gryffindor each."
"Mister Black," she said crisply, "would you like detention too?" He shook his head mutely. "Good. Now, should either of you have any suggestions as to how we might expedite the removal of our students from the ceiling, you might just avoid it."
James cleared his throat. Hesitantly began, "If you please, ma'am, I read somewhere that Billywigs have a reaction kind of like what's--"
"Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Potter," she interrupted. "Should I find out who took Billywig Stings from the Potions stores, they will serve detention."
As McGonagall strode back into the Great Hall, James let out a huge sigh of relief. Sirius shook his head, disbelieving. "Oh my heavens, James," he said, lightly. "That was close."
"Thank god she cut me off," James added, starting to feel a bit light-headed himself. "I might have given it all away by laughing."
A couple of Ravenclaws, grinning widely, hurried up to them. In an excited whisper, one said, "I don't know how you two managed it, but that was brilliant! Smashing good joke!"
James turned to Sirius. "I think, mate, that's at least two more point to me," and he smirked. "You'd better come up with something good."
"Oh, bugger," Sirius replied, disgusted. "What could possibly top that?"
A whole day went past with no retaliation from Sirius. The teachers seemed relieved at the relative quietness of Gryffindor, seeing as how Sirius was currently wrapped up in detention - literally - for an unrelated incident, and James was on the Quidditch pitch. Things were quiet.
Of course, the quiet was making Remus nervous, and rightly so.
"Well, that went quite well, I think."
Sirius sauntered into the Common Room and plopped down beside Remus, who was in a corner by himself and trying to catch up on his readings. "You on another date? Sirius, when in god's name do you find time to study?"
Sirius was gazing vacantly around himself at the various people lounging about. "What I have you for," he said absently.
A quill hit him in the face. "Bastard!"
"You know," Sirius added, "We should try and get old Peter a date. He's always going on about how he's never going to find a girl - we should find him one." He snorted. "Might be a bit of a laugh, if it doesn't work out."
"Don't make fun of Peter," Remus said sharply. "Just because lots of girls like you, and James has his unhealthy obsession with Lily Evans, not all of us mere commoners are so lucky."
Sirius blinked, looking surprised. "You're touchy."
Remus muttered back, "Forget it."
"Well, come on, you're an attractive bloke. Go and ask someone." Sirius sounded puzzled. "It's not difficult."
He knew he sounded peeved, but Remus couldn't help but answer quietly, "I don't have any time. What with preparing for O.W.L.s next year, and turning into a useless hulking beast once a month, and all our classes--" Remus sighed again. "Peter and I are going to be the only fifth years who haven't hooked up."
Sirius couldn't help it, he started giggling quietly. "Bet Peter hasn't ever even kissed a girl."
"You wanker, I told you, stop making fun of him. You should be thinking about what you're going to do to top James by--" he checked his watch, "midnight tonight, instead of teasing Peter about girls."
"Eh," Sirius shrugged, closing his eyes. He looked like he was ready to take a nap right in his armchair. "Haven't either, so it's not really making fun."
Remus laughed. "Come off it. You're not serious."
Sirius shrugged, trying to get more comfortable. "Don't tell anyone."
"But," and Remus almost goggled. "You and Susie stayed out all night just last month! You can't be telling me--"
Sirius sat up, finger up to his lips. He hissed, "You want the whole House to know! Shut up!"
Remus glanced around. Peter was bent over some Potions homework, muttering darkly to himself; a bunch of the other lads were playing a complicated card game by the fire. "No one's paying any attention to us," Remus replied.
He shrugged, answered, "Still and all, I don't want anyone to know, that, that--"
"--you haven't kissed anyone," Remus finished, when Sirius couldn't.
Sirius went bright red and clamped a hand over Remus's mouth. "Shut it," he hissed, even more vehemently than before. "Seriously, you want the whole Common Room to hear? I'll be the laughing stock."
Remus rolled his eyes, and Sirius finally took his hand away. Remus answered, "Oh, come off it. You're not serious."
Sirius sat down in the chair closest to the window, and Remus perched in the one next to him. Remus waited for him to speak. "Well, okay. Susie and I were mostly just laying all those time-delayed fireworks for Herbology, that night."
Remus eyed him. "You took a girl on a prank and didn't even tell the rest of us?"
Sirius shrugged again, the flaming blush fading from his cheeks. "She could get into the greenhouse, and it was supposed to be a surprise for you, after that make-up Arithmancy test." He shuffled around. "James knew."
"How sweet," Remus said dryly. "So you didn't even bother to snog Susie? She didn't try?"
"Uh," and Sirius shuffled around even more. The blush was back full. "She did, kind of, and we did. Kind of."
"And?" Remus made tell-me-more signs with his hands, quirking an eyebrow. "And?"
"And, so, it was." Sirius fidgeted, looking more and more uncomfortable, not to mention more and more red. "Short."
Remus slid out of his chair. "All right, if a certain wizard doesn't feel like telling a certain other wizard about his virgin voyage into kissing, I'll be up in the dorm room." He picked up his Arithmancy books in disgust. "It's too noisy in here to study anyway."
Sirius followed Remus, hauling his own book bag behind him mournfully. "If one of you two don't finish that chart soon, I'm never going to be able to copy it."
"Do your own," Remus said as he flopped down on his bed.
Sirius sat down heavily, moaning. "I did the homework last week! It's your turn. Or James's. I can't remember."
Opening his heavy textbook, Remus almost cried. They had three parchments worth of equations to finish by Wednesday, and no one had started. Even with their system of one person doing the homework for each class and trading around every few days, they were swamped. Remus dropped his forehead onto the book. "I hate this."
Sirius kicked him. "You love it, don't give me that."
"So why didn't you and Susie, again?"
Sirius kicked him harder, burying his face in a stack of parchment and smudging ink on his cheek. "Leave off! I'm not talking about this any more - you've already humiliated me enough."
Remus pulled his quill out, twirled it around. "It's not that embarrassing - I haven't either."
Sirius answered promptly, "You don't have everyone thinking you're a master."
"Now who's poking fun?" and Remus shoved Sirius back. "Pass me that Runes dictionary?" He sighed. "At least you've kissed a girl once. I haven't."
"Not," Sirius gulped. "Not properly, I haven't."
Remus made a pained noise as he tried to translate their daily page of Runes into something resembling ordinary English. "You still have. It counts."
Sirius sighed again, flipping through parchment as he looked for the Transfiguration notes that Peter had lent him earlier that day. "I wouldn't know, it was over so quickly I didn't even have time to enjoy it."
Remus kept writing for a few minutes, as Sirius just sat there staring off into space with a dark look on his face. Remus finally shoved the dictionary away with joy. "There, that's our Translations finished, now just the Arithmancy equations and we're done. Want to go down to the kitchens?" He sat up, and eyed Sirius, who had a very strange look on his face. "Well? You look mad, right now, like you've lost it. What's gotten into you?"
"You know what we need?" Sirius said. Remus shook his head. "We just need to know how to get this whole thing right."
"I intend to copy James, myself. Wonder where he is, anyway?"
"No." Sirius still had an odd gleam in his eyes. "I mean about kissing."
Remus pulled a face. "Unless you intend to find Susie at--" he glanced at his watch, "--eleven thirty and light off some more fireworks in Herbology tomorrow--"
"Kiss me," Sirius blurted.
Remus stared at him.
Sirius moved a little closer on the bed, half-kneeling. "I'm not mad," he added. "This way, it's not going to be some shock if, y'know." He swallowed. "We're in a situation and it... comes up."
Remus kept staring at him. The quill fell out of his hand and made a little ink stain on the bedspread.
Sirius put a hand on Remus's shoulder. "Oh, come off it, I can't ask James, Peter would just die, and who else do you know well enough to not be embarrassed to kiss? We don't know anyone else."
Remus finally found his tongue. "You're not. I mean, most boys wouldn't want to kiss another boy."
"I don't care about that," Sirius said impatiently, "but if you don't hurry up someone's going to see us and that I do care about. Can you imagine the Slytherins if we get caught? So hurry up!"
Remus continued to stare, so Sirius rolled his eyes. "Fine, I'll--"
"No, wait," and Remus held a hand up.
He reached over to pull the bed curtains. Sirius grinned wide. "Right." He tilted his head, looking at Remus thoughtfully. "So are we going to do this?"
Remus shoved some books out of the way. "Okay," he said, and they both leaned in.
It was a nice kiss, Remus thought. He moved his lips, licked the inside of Sirius's mouth, and started feeling rather warm. He was just getting into it, enjoying the hands on his shoulders, stroking, the lips and tongue and pressure, when Sirius sat bolt upright.
"That's exactly it. That's what I have to do."
Remus blinked, pulling away a little bit, and began to feel his face heat up in embarrassment, instead of anything else. "What are you on about now?"
"That's what I have to do to top James," Sirius said, babbling. He jumped up, grabbing Remus and pulling him bodily up. "Come with me."
Remus, rather mystified as well as apprehensive, followed Sirius out of the dorm. Sirius dragged him back into the common room, nonchalantly, and they sat down together. "Just don't say a thing and look like you're happy."
Remus replied, "Fine, whatever."
Remus realized about that moment that Sirirus's hand was on his knee. He looked at it, and Sirius muttered with a little happy smile on his face, "If you say one fucking word, no more Arithmancy notes for you for a month."
"All right, happy, enjoying myself." Remus tried not to roll his eyes.
Then Sirius took Remus's hand again, conspicuously placing both their hands on the arm of the chair. Remus raised an eyebrow. He was about to speak when Sirius leaned over and said, "Punch me and I'll kill you," and he kissed Remus again.
Everybody in the common room, including James, Peter and Lily, went silent, utterly silent. The chatter died away literally to nothing. Remus had Sirius's hand in a death-grip down between their bodies, so no one else could see.
When they stopped for a moment, Remus could tell that Sirius probably had blood in his mouth from biting his lip so hard to keep from laughing. They daren't look around for more than a second at everyone, and Remus saw Sirius almost lose it at James' expression.
Remus started fidgeting. Everyone stared at for a long, uncomfortable moment, and then James got up, without one word, and grabbed the back of Sirius's cloak physically hauling him to their dorm-room. After a minute, Peter got up and followed them.
Remus looked around, at Lily who had a hand clamped over her mouth, the Prewett brothers who were speechless, and at everyone else, whose eyes were wide as saucers. He got up very quietly, and shuffled out of the room.
James said immediately, "All right, Sirius, that's it. I can't believe you just did that. I can't believe you just did that." He was practically foaming at the mouth.
Sirius, who couldn't help it anymore, just started howling and fell back onto his bed. Peter looked from Remus to Sirius, to Remus to Sirius, to Remus to Sirius, and back. He said finally, "Ohhh."
"You should have seen," Sirius tried to choke out through his laughter, "your, your face James!"
The only reply was, "I can't believe you did that."
When he'd finally gotten himself under control and wiped away the tears in his eyes, Sirius said triumphantly, "Point to me - game, set, match, my friend. That's how you do it."
"No, no, I don't think so. I can't believe you did that." James had started pacing in the interim, pacing and waving his arms about. "That is not. No. I don't think so, Sirius. That was the most low-down, gross, disgusting--"
Remus glanced up, startled, but didn't interrupt. He pondered for a minute about saying something to point out how insulting that was, but James's eyes were still wide as Quaffles, so he kept his mouth shut.
"--thing you've done, Sirius Black." James almost spat, on the last word.
Sirius looked over at Remus, who gave him a small shrug. He then turned his attention to James, and narrowed his eyes. "You wouldn't be getting so mad if I was kissing a girl to try and get a rise out of you, like Susie or some Slytherin. It would have been funny then."
James replied angrily, "Yes I would, I don't give a rat's arse about who you were kissing - no, you know what?" James paused. "That's a lie. I do care who you're kissing. What if someone decides that you two deserved to get thumped because of that little spectacle?" James wasn't yelling, but it looked like he wanted to. "It isn't fair, but you know it'll be Remus who gets it, because no matter how stupid you are, no matter what dumb things you do, you're still popular, people still back you. What happens when Remus wakes up with a broken arm tomorrow because someone other than me thought that was a bad idea?"
Sirius looked a little guilty at that, but he replied calmly, "You're just mad because you didn't think of it first."
James opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again. Peter kept looking between James and Sirius, and chewing on his lip nervously. James shook his head a couple of times, mouth open, and finally croaked, "It doesn't even count anyway, because you tricked us, too."
Sirius jumped up and cried, "Fuck you, it counts!"
James looked over at Remus. "He tricked both Peter and I - and you, too. That's fundamentally against the rules."
Peter ducked his head, murmuring, "It kind of is."
"Oh, bugger it," and Sirius flopped back onto his bed, lips pursed. "I haven't got ten Galleons."
At breakfast the next morning, their kiss was the only thing anyone was talking about. A bunch of people were pointing and whispering, but most were grinning wide and congratulating them on the best prank of the decade. Someone - Remus suspected it was actually Sirius himself - had told someone about the bet, and so most people were assuming that the kiss was just a part of it.
James was reacting somewhat badly to all the attention Sirius was getting, since he hadn't thought of it first, but was trying to be a good loser. He and Remus were first down to breakfast, and while everyone was laughing and muttering around them, he said, "You know, it just figures. Sirius kisses a boy in full view of people, outs himself, and people think it's hilarious."
Remus shrugged. "They'd be laughing with you, too, mate. But me?" He sighed. "I was the one kissed and people don't seem to notice." Remus grinned, suddenly. "Such a fickle audience."
James started eating his bacon. He said with his mouth full, "I still can't believe he did that to you. And I can't believe you didn't punch him. I mean if Sirius Black had kissed me I would have punched him, or something at least."
Remus spread marmalade on his toast. "Well, I knew what was going on. I mean, he didn't tell me as such, but it was pretty obvious."
James swallowed. "I still can't believe how calm you are about this. If I'd kissed Sirius for the first time in front of all of Gryffindor Tower, I'd be freaking out a little more."
James dropped his fork in shock, eyes wider than yesterday, as Remus said slyly, "Well, it wasn't the first time."