Peter knew he wasn't completely useless, but sometimes in Potions that was hard to remember.
No matter how carefully he stirred his Alertness Draught, it wouldn't turn the bright yellow shade described in the textbook, but retained a greenish tinge. At least a tinge is better than a whole different colour, he thought as he continued to stir his potion while watching Snape, who was working at the front of the classroom as usual. He seemed rather out of it today, which was not usual. In Potions, Snape was typically a picture of focus, looking only at his textbook or the instructions on the blackboard and his cauldron. But today, he was staring vacantly into the empty air in front of him, sniffling occasionally.
Just then, James poked him in the back and whispered, "Keep an eye on your cauldron, Wormtail." Peter looked down. So much for slightly greenish yellow- his draught was now bright blue. Typical. He got distracted for a second, just for a second, watching Snape, and his potion turned blue. Snape had been staring blankly at a wall for most of the hour, and his potion was probably perfect. Probably. It didn't look yellow from here, but knowing Snape it was perfect somehow anyway.
It just wasn't fair. Peter knew what he was supposed to be doing, but try as he might, he always managed to not quite do it. For instance, he could explain not only what each individual ingredient in the Alertness Draught contributed to its effects, but also why it was essential to only stir it in a clockwise direction. But had that stopped him from accidentally stirring it counter-clockwise while staring at Snivellus? Of course not. It was the same in Herbology; he could tell you the identifying colourations and markings of all the O.W.L. level plants they'd studied, but when he tried to draw them for the journal that made up a quarter of their grade, his hands wouldn't sketch them correctly, the way he saw them in his mind, and when he attempted the practical aspects of magical plant care, he frequently ended up in the hospital wing – clumsiness and magical plants don't mix well.
His Transfiguration grade was worst of all; McGonagall sometimes gave tests on theory, but most of the time the class was based on practical demonstration and that was always his weakness. Well, almost always. He had managed the Animagus transformation, after all. That was without McGonagall around, of course; her intimidating presence always made his tendency to get flustered even worse.
Peter looked down at his ruined blue potion once more and sighed. His sigh was echoed by what sounded suspiciously like a sneeze, coming from the front of the classroom. Snape. The greasy git was ill. And if Snivellus was ill and, judging from the glazed look on his face, distracted, it meant Peter had a perfect opportunity to pull off a prank Sirius and James had been talking about for years, but had never managed themselves. They were too busy joking around to have noticed Snape, so the opportunity was all Peter's. Perhaps this Potions class could be salvaged after all.
Peter continued idly stirring his Alertness Draught until Slughorn stood up, which was the signal that class was almost over. Since an Alertness Draught was a harmless and even beneficial potion, they'd be sampling their creations. Peter took once last glance at Snape, to make sure he was still distracted, and then quietly whispered a switching spell over his cauldron. Slughorn was approaching him rapidly, so he didn't even look down at his cauldron's new contents, simply ladled some into a vial. He hoped this had worked.
"All right, everyone! On the count of three, prepare to sample your potions – yes, you too, Mr. Snape. One, two, three!"
Peter downed his all in one gulp. Funny, the houseleek should have made it sweeter than this. Sure, I manage to switch potions with Snape the one day he messes up. Nothing too odd seemed to be happening to him, though.
Such was not the case for Snape. He had grown a bright red wattle, like a rooster, and James and Sirius were clutching each other, pointing and laughing hysterically. Something odd was happening with the light around them, but Peter didn't have time to wonder about that, as Slughorn was trying to quiet them all down and dismiss them.
"Too much cockscomb," was his verdict on Snape. "You're all excused for the day. Enjoy the effects of your Alertness Draughts in History of Magic!" There were groans as students realised they wouldn't be able to nap through Binns's droning as usual thanks to the potion. "Mr. Pettigrew, if you could remain behind?" Now it was Peter's turn to groan. He had been caught! How did Slughorn know? Maybe he should play dumb. It wouldn't be so out of character for him, after all.
"Run along, Severus, to the hospital wing. You were looking a bit peaked in any case, best to let Poppy have a look. There's no need to stand there glowering; I am perfectly capable of devising an adequate punishment," Slughorn was saying. With one last venomous glance at Peter, Snape stalked out of the dungeon.
"Bright young lad," Slughorn remarked to Peter, apropos of nothing, it seemed, "if a little resentful. Did you know he's already completed the O.W.L. Potions curriculum? Oh yes, he's quite the hard worker, Mr. Snape is. He's spent most of the year working ahead on N.E.W.T. Potions independently."
"Oh," was all Peter could say. He should have known that his golden opportunity was no such thing, and that he'd get caught.
"Which is, of course, how I know that wasn't his potion at all, Mr. Pettigrew." Slughorn chuckled. "No harm done, though, Madam Pomfrey can remove that wattle in a flash. So I won't be too hard on you, my boy. Detention, and a foot-long essay on the potion of Mr. Snape's that you mistakenly consumed."
"Yes, sir." Peter was already halfway to the door when a question occurred to him. "What was Snape brewing, Professor Slughorn?"
"Consider it part of your punishment to find out, Mr. Pettigrew."
Ugh. As Peter scurried through the now-empty corridors to History of Magic, he contemplated the task ahead of him with dread. How was he supposed to figure out what potion Snape had been brewing? As far as he could tell, it didn't even have any effects! Maybe Snape had messed it up; he had been distracted, after all. He would go see Remus in his free period after lunch, he decided. It was two days after the full moon, and he was still recuperating in the hospital wing. Remus was always helpful about research.
When Peter stepped into the classroom, looking forward to a nice nap (since he hadn't had any Alertness Draught), he gasped in surprise at the sight before him. (Luckily, Professor Binns didn't seem to have heard him.) He had thought he saw something strange around James and Sirius earlier in Potions, but now he could clearly see odd, multi-coloured strings of light connecting everyone in the classroom except Binns.
As he walked behind James and Sirius to get to his seat, Peter experimentally waved his hand through the thick, dark blue band of light connecting them. His hand went straight through, and neither Sirius nor James seemed aware of the connection or its disruption.
What odd sort of potion had Snape been working on that made you see strings of various colours connecting people? It seemed pretty useless, but at least the potion did have a visible effect, which would make finding out what it was easier, hopefully. With a smug grin at Sirius and James, who were clearly bored out of their minds but wide awake regardless, Peter put his head down on the desk and quickly fell asleep.
Lunch was after History of Magic, and as they walked through the halls, Peter, refreshed by his nap, looked around with wide eyes at the variety of those strange strings he could see. There were many of the blue ones, in varying thicknesses and shades; a few orange ones, which seemed to increase in number around (and amongst) the Slytherins; the Lambert sisters had a green connection; and there was a scattering of pink as well.
When they entered the Great Hall, Peter had to blink furiously, feeling overwhelmed. There were so many strings of light, he could hardly see the people they were connecting! Every table was dense with blue, and more orange strings emanated from the Slytherins, connecting mostly to the Gryffindors. Even the teachers at the head table had their own connections, a few in colours he hadn't seen amongst the students.
"So, did my eyes deceive me, or did Snivellus actually bollocks up a potion today?" James said as they sat down to lunch. "It's too bad he didn't start crowing, too."
"Actually, that was me," Peter volunteered. "You saw how badly my draught was turning out. He's caught a cold, or something, and wasn't paying attention. I used a switching spell on our cauldrons; you know, like we're always talking about."
"Excellent, Wormtail!" James gloated. "I always knew you had it in you. Is that why Slughorn kept you after class? How'd he know what you'd done?"
"Well, turns out Snivellus is done with the O.W.L. curriculum, so he wasn't even brewing an Alertness Draught."
"But how'd he know it was you that'd switched?"
"Well, I didn't mess up like I usually do, did I?"
" S'pose that's it. Bad luck, mate," responded Sirius. "What's your punishment?"
"Just detention. Oh, and I have to write a foot on the potion Snape was brewing, once I figure out what it was."
"What has it done to you? Nothing too vile, it appears," James noted.
"No, it's just…odd. I can see weird coloured strings of light connecting people. Actually, it's giving me quite the headache at the moment, there're so many of them here in the Great Hall."
"Maybe you ought to go see Pomfrey for a Pepper-Up. You can visit Moony while you're down there," Sirius suggested.
"I think I will. I was planning on talking to Remus after lunch anyway, for help on finding out what potion this is."
"Say hello for us, then. I'll come down myself after Arithmancy," said Sirius. He had been especially zealous about visiting Remus during all his free periods the past couple of months, Peter had noticed. Usually this would indicate that Sirius was trying to get back in Remus' good graces after some tactless remark, but he and Remus didn't seem to have fought, so Peter didn't really know why.
Down in the hospital wing, he found Remus still in bed, but looking much better, with a greenish-blue strand connecting him to Madam Pomfrey, and an orange one connecting him to Snape, who was glowering at him from a few beds down, being fussed over by Pomfrey, and who pointedly snapped his curtains shut as soon as she left. Peter explained his predicament.
"I don't even know where to begin, Moony. Help me?"
Remus thought briefly. " I suppose it's no good just asking him." He eyed Snape's bed thoughtfully. "You say Slughorn told you Snape's on the N.E.W.T. curriculum?"
"Yeah, that's what he said."
"Then why not start with the set text for the N.E.W.T. course? I believe it's Borage's Advanced Potion-Making. It's likely the potion's in there."
Of course. Put that way, it seemed simple. Peter wished he'd thought of that himself, rather than asking Remus what now seemed like a terribly basic question.
There was a snort from Snape's direction, but Peter couldn't tell if that was good, bad, or maybe just due to his cold.
"Gee, thanks, Moony. I'd best head up to the library, then. Oh look, somebody's coming."
"How do you know?"
"New string. Odd; they usually only connect people who're quite close, like in the same room. I wonder what it could mean."
Another snort from Snape. It must just be his cold. Peter hoped he felt horrible.
"Until we know what the potion you drank does, I wouldn't want to speculate. Oh, hullo Sirius," Remus added, for that was indeed who was at the other end of the new strand.
"You're not surprised to see me so soon? I skived off Arithmancy for you," Sirius pouted.
"Peter knew someone was coming. He could see a new connection."
"Who's that with the curtains shut?" Sirius asked after a few moments.
"Snape. Whatever he's got must be pretty nasty."
"Doesn't surprise me," Sirius said. "Everything about him's pretty nasty."
No snort this time, but there was a growl.
The three friends stood around in silence for a bit.
"Peter, weren't you about to leave for the library?" Remus finally asked.
"Oh. Yeah." Peter turned to go, wondering why it seemed like Remus and Sirius wanted to be alone together, and why the strand connecting them was pink, of all colours.
Once in the library, Madam Pince glared at him when he asked for Advanced Potion-making, as if suspecting the damage he could wreak if he attempted to brew anything within its covers; he told her he was doing research for an essay, but she didn't seem reassured.
Hours later, all Peter had to show for his work was an even worse headache (and he realised he had forgotten to ask Pomfrey for a Pepper-Up Potion). He stared in frustration at the last page of the book in front of him. Not one of the potions described within had the effects he was experiencing. Now what? He wished he had thought to ask Remus for more advice on how to go about this.
Maybe he could ask Madam Pince what books Snape had checked out lately? It was a thought. If he were Remus, that would definitely work; Madam Pince adored Remus. But her attitude towards Peter was obviously far more suspicious. Perhaps he could turn into Wormtail and sneak a look at the records? Probably not a good idea. For one thing, he wasn't entirely sure he could read as a rat; but most importantly, he shouldn't use his Animagus form in the castle, James always said, to lessen the chances of getting caught. An easy rule to follow when your form was an enormous stag or a dog nearly as large, but Peter was often tempted to transform simply to get around the castle with less fuss. In any case, the chances of Pince catching him and getting suspicious of a literate rat were too high.
Perhaps he could tell her the research was for a project with Snape? It was just plausible; Slughorn was known to have a bit of a bloody-minded sadistic streak about things like that. It was worth a try, at least.
Nervously he approached the desk. "Umm, excuse me, Madam Pince?"
"Yes?" she asked, looking at him suspiciously.
"It's just- I couldn't find what I was looking for in Borage, and I just thought maybe- I'm working on this project with a partner, maybe he's checked out some books that might help?"
"Mr. Potter hasn't been in the library in a fortnight, Mr. Pettigrew, and certainly not to check out any Potions texts."
"It's not- it's not James. I'm working with- with Severus Snape."
"Mr. Snape?" She seemed distrustful.
"It's a punishment."
She harrumphed sceptically, but handed him a large stack of books from a table behind her. "Here are Mr. Snape's recent returns. Perhaps they'll help you."
"Thanks," he grunted from behind the extremely heavy stack. He just barely made it back to his table without the pile collapsing on him. He sorted through the books. Most of them looked ancient and were falling apart, but midway through the pile there was one newer book: Potions Obscure, Oblique and Obtuse: for the Discerning Brewer. He supposed it was as good a place to start as any. A potion with effects as useless as this deserved to be obscure, in any case.
Alaenaso Potion…caused the drinker to grow wings from his nose; the Marauders would be interested in that one…Ashes to Ashes Draught…caused the drinker's food to taste like ashes if and only if he was going to die within the week; now that lived up to the title…Bastardry Brew…caused the drinker's parents to deny he was their child; that sounded quite cruel, actually, but the directions were fiendishly complex, and no wonder- potions that affected a third party were well beyond N.E.W.T. level…Connection Concoction…caused the drinker to see colour-coded strands of light- aha!
Peter turned to the page indicated and began reading. 'In 1910, Wilhelm Wigworthy, intrigued by the work of contemporary Muggles calling themselves "sociologists", who studied societies and social interactions, founded the discipline of magiosociology, which has similar aims but uses magical methods. He personally invented many research spells and potions useful for this field. Foremost among the latter was the Connection Concoction, a relatively simple potion to brew, and one which allowed the drinker to perceive visually the connections between other people.'
So far, this sounded right, but why should Snape be brewing a research potion? Peter read on.
'Outside of the field of magiosociology, the Connection Concoction has limited applications; it has been used by spies with some success.'
Snape, a spy? On what, for who? It made no sense. But why else would he be brewing a Connection Concoction? Peter thought of the rare occasions when Sirius, in some sort of fit of good mood, would talk about his brother as if he was actually his brother, and not just an unpleasant friend of Snape's, and all the stories he told about how nasty the Slytherins were even to each other, all the complicated alliances they formed and dissolved mimicking those of their parents and older siblings. He supposed that would be reason enough. Peter was glad he knew exactly where he stood with his friends.
He read on. 'The Connection Concoction effects manifest as coloured beams of light connecting individuals. The colours are coded to represent different types of relationships; green is familial (that made sense; he hadn't seen much green, but when he had, it had been between brothers and sisters); blue stands for friendship (that explained the predomination of that colour); yellow for hostility (he found this rather uncharitable of Madam Pince); orange for enmity (that explained the Slytherins); pink indicates a romantic relationship.' He had seen plenty of pink: Frank and Alice, Astrabina and Florean, Remus and –
There had to be something wrong with this potion. Didn't there? Remus and Sirius weren't pink, they weren't romantic, they weren't shirtlifters, for Merlin's sake! Snape was ill and he'd made some small, but key, mistake. He couldn't really be best friends with two poofs and not have noticed?
With perfect timing, Peter's panicky musings were interrupted by the two possible shirtlifters in question entering the library. There was the pink strand of light, clear as day and nearly as thick as the blue connection between Sirius and James had been; according to the book, the thicker the link, the stronger the connection.
Sirius and Remus finally spotted him behind all the books, and waving, headed his way. Peter slammed the book he had found the Connection Concoction in shut. He couldn't say anything now. What if the potion had been misbrewed and it was wrong? He needed some time for observation, both to see if the potion was mistaken about anyone else, and to see if Remus and Sirius acted like they were in a 'romantic relationship', as the book put it. Maybe there were signs he had been missing.
Here they were. "Hey there, Peter," Remus said, sitting down at the table.
"Hello, Remus and Sirius. Sirius and Remus. Er. Did you have fun? In the hospital wing, I mean? Get up to anything interesting?" He hadn't meant for it to come out like that, but it was too late to take it back, in any case. Plus, Snape had been there, it was hardly like they were going to snog- he stopped the train of thought right there. Was that the faintest hint of a blush from Remus? Sirius didn't look bothered, but it would take a lot to faze Sirius. He supposed he should concentrate on Remus' reactions, if he was looking for subtle hints.
"Merlin no, Peter, you know the hospital wing; it's ruddy boring there," Sirius replied. "And with Pomfrey around we couldn't even torment Snape. She said Remus could leave, so we came to see how your research is going."
"Fine. It's fine. I think I know what it was, actually."
"And so I'm going to go write the essay right now, I think," Peter blurted. "Thanks for coming to check on me, sorry I have to be going, but I'm sure you'll find something to do alone together. Er. Together. Anyway, bye." He grabbed Potions Obscure, Oblique and Obtuse and scurried out of the library, feeling extremely wrong-footed. Remus and Sirius were his friends. He shouldn't be needling them, or whatever it was he was doing, but he wasn't really doing it on purpose. He just couldn't get the idea that they were bent out of his head, and it was like he couldn't control his own words. Not that that was anything new, really.
He needed to talk to someone about all the questions and revelations swirling in his head. It was time to do what he always did when he couldn't think something through on his own: find James. James would be able to help.
James turned out to be alone at a table by the fire in the common room, practicing his Transfiguration on a spare quill. Peter sat down across from him, back to the portrait hole.
"Wormtail," James greeted him. "Just the bloke I was wanting to see. Listen, have you noticed anything strange about Remus and Sirius lately?"
Peter almost laughed from nerves and relief. "I was just about to ask you the same thing."
"So you have noticed, then? The long looks, the sighs, the nervousness whenever I'm around?"
Peter hadn't actually noticed any of those things, but he had his own suspicions and his evidence from the Connection Concoction, after all, so he played along. "Oh yes. What do you think they're up to?"
James leaned in conspiratorially. "I think they're in love."
"No!" Oh Merlin, James thought so, too. If James thought so and the potion confirmed it, it had to be true.
"I'm afraid so, Wormtail."
Peter hesitated to respond. He couldn't tell how James felt about this news. Remus and Sirius were their friends, after all. Peter wasn't entirely sure if he approved of poofs, in general, but he didn't approve of werewolves in general either, so… It was best to follow James' lead. That way he'd be safe.
"At first I couldn't figure out why they hadn't told us. I mean, I told you guys right away about Lily, right? They should return the favour. But then I realised: that's it!"
"What's it?" Peter had lost James completely. It seemed pretty clear to him why Remus and Sirius hadn't told them; two blokes in love didn't gush to their mates about it.
"Lily. They're both in love with Lily, and that's why they haven't said anything. They fear, quite reasonably, provoking me into a jealous rage."
Oh. It seemed that when James had said, 'they're in love,' he hadn't meant with each other. "You really think they both fancy Lily? I mean, wouldn't that be a pretty big coincidence?"
"If it were another girl, yes, but Lily Evans is so naturally irresistible, so much the pinnacle of all things feminine, that I doubt any bloke alive could resist her wiles. I'm surprised you haven't succumbed, Pete."
"Er. Well. She's your girl, after all. Kind of." Peter wondered how to go about suggesting Remus and Sirius might actually be immune to feminine wiles.
James continued on seriously. "I've thought about it, though, and I'm not jealous. I reckon they just couldn't help themselves, like I said, so no hard feelings! We won't speak of it, and hopefully they won't be too heartbroken when Lily's true love for me and me alone is revealed."
Well, clearly James had suspicions, all right, but they weren't the same ones Peter himself had. He tentatively offered "Um. Not to question the Lily thing. But, that is, they've been spending a lot more time together lately, haven't they?"
"Commiserating. Probably crying like girls over their failure to win fair Lily's heart."
"You don't do that."
"That's because I have won her heart, Wormtail. I just need to find a way to make her aware of that."
"Ah." Peter supposed he didn't really have any more concrete evidence for his suspicions about Remus and Sirius, other than what the Connection Concoction had shown him, and Peter felt wrong about sharing that with James. It was one thing to let him draw his own conclusions and then agree; it was another entirely to divulge something his friends were keeping a secret.
"So," James began, shifting the subject, "did you figure out what potion Snape was brewing? Moony any help with that?"
"Yeah, yeah I did, actually. Figured it out myself, in fact. Moony got me started, but I found the book it was in myself."
"Good for you. So, what is it?"
"It's a Connection Concoction."
"Connection Con- where'd he dig that up?"
Peter showed James Potions Obscure, Oblique and Obtuse. "It lets you see connections between people - their relationships, you know."
"So you could tell if someone fancied you?"
"Well, not you personally. Only works on other people."
"Well, then, you can check for yourself and see that Remus and Sirius are pining after Lily. But more importantly than that," James was clearly growing excited about the implications of the potion, "you can confirm Lily's feelings for me! I'll finally have proof, objective proof, for her!"
"Um, Prongs, I'm not sure she's just going to take my word for it…"
"Nonsense. Now how exactly does this thing work?"
"Well. I can see these coloured bands connecting people. The colours mean different things. Like, friends are blue, and family is green."
"What colour is the love connection?"
"Pink! Then I am sure that the colour connecting Lily and I will be the pinkest pink that ever pinked!"
"Um, yeah." Peter started contemplating how wrong it would be to lie to James about his connection with Lily. He hadn't paid any attention at lunch, so he wasn't sure, but he had his doubts about its pinkness.
"In fact, I think pink may be my new favourite colour!"
"What's this?" chortled Sirius from behind Peter, causing him to jump. When had he come in? "Does Prongs have something to share with us? Pink, eh? All the obsessive stalking of Evans only a cover for your flaming poofiness?"
Remus, who had accompanied Sirius, hissed "Pads!" quite vehemently, while Peter hid his disbelieving reaction – Pot, kettle?– under a coughing fit. James didn't seem to notice either of them.
"As if, Pads, you big prat. Peter here was just telling me all about Snape's potion, and it turns out that when two people fancy each other he can see what amounts to a big pink ribbon connecting them. Isn't that right, Wormtail?"
"Um. That about sums it up, yeah." Peter avoided looking Sirius or Remus in the eyes.
"So tonight at dinner he can check the connection between Lily and me, and it'll be blindingly pink, and we'll tell her that, and she'll have to acknowledge her true feelings for yours truly! It's brilliant! Lucky break for me when Peter ended up with Snape's potion, wasn't it?"
"Yeah, Prongs," Remus swiftly agreed. "Listen, can Sirius and I borrow Pete for a minute? There are some things we need to discuss."
"Yeah, sure," James replied, not at all bothered. "But you'll have to get up pretty early in the morning to pull a prank over on yours truly, especially if you're going to give me warnings like that."
"Trust me, Prongs, when we reveal this one, you won't know what hit you," Sirius responded brashly as he followed Remus, who was practically dragging Peter up the stairs to their dorm.
Despite the apparent urgency, once the three boys were there and the door had been shut (and locked, by Remus) behind them, silence reigned. Each sat rather awkwardly on his own bed.
"We were going to tell you," Remus began.
"We were? I thought we were going to tell James first," Sirius interrupted.
"Well, yes, Pads, but we were going to tell Peter next, right?"
"Oh. Yes, we were." Sirius gave Peter a nervous smile.
"It's not a big deal," Peter found himself saying. Remus and Sirius looked sceptical about that. Heck, Peter himself even looked sceptical about that, when he thought about it. "I mean, I don't really care. I'm not angry at you, or anything."
"That's good," Remus said tentatively.
"You're still my friends, right? And Prongs's friends, too? We're still the Marauders."
"Yes, yes of course," Remus assured him.
"I'd never stop being mates with James, or you," Sirius added. "What would life be, without the Marauders? Bloody dull, that's what."
Life without the Marauders, indeed. Peter didn't want to think of it. He was finally part of a gang, here at Hogwarts, and they needed him, maybe not as much as he needed them, but it was something, and he didn't want that to change.
"Not that I'm saying snogging you's dull, Moony-" Sirius was saying.
"I don't think I want to hear this," Peter groaned.
Sirius and Remus had apparently been, well, whatever, for a while now, and he supposed that they'd been shirtlifters even before that, though they'd both dated girls, so who knew, and he didn't want to think about it. But in any case, they'd been hiding it, and nothing had been different, so nothing had to change now, did it?
"When are you going to tell Prongs?" he asked.
"Oh. Um. We've been trying to think of a good way to break it to him," Sirius replied. "Hadn't really set a timeframe yet. Don't suppose you have any ideas, Wormtail?"
"You'd better do it sooner rather than later. He's getting suspicious."
"He is?" Remus squeaked. He must be really nervous about this, Peter thought. Peter was usually the only one who squeaked.
"Well, he's noticed you acting oddly, but the thing is, he thinks you both fancy Lily and are afraid to tell him."
Sirius burst out laughing. "You really shouldn't have told him that," Remus said. "He'll only use the information to torment James."
"The torment is good for James," Sirius answered. "It puts hair on his chest. And birds like a bloke with plenty of chest hair."
"How would you know what birds like?" Peter asked, then felt himself blushing. Probably not the most tactful question.
Luckily, Sirius seemed to take it in good part, merely laughing and punching him lightly on the arm. "Good one, Wormtail!"
"I'm glad you feel comfortable enough to joke about this," Remus put in.
"Sure," Peter said, not feeling very comfortable with anything, yet. He needed more time, and James's opinion, before that could happen. "I should probably go back down to the common room and get a start on that essay for Slughorn before dinner. You guys coming down?"
"Nah, I think we'll stay up here," Sirius cheerily replied.
"Suit yourselves," said Peter. As he headed back down the stairs, he very diligently didn't think about why Sirius and Remus were staying alone in the dorm room. He got the feeling he'd be doing a lot of that in the months to come.
"Everything all right?" James asked when he rejoined him at the table. "Sirius and Remus staying up there?"
"Poor blokes. Commiserating, what did I tell you?"
Peter nodded. At least that would explain any stray moans that made their way down to the common room.