Beastly Companions

A/N: Written for Round 2 of the Quidditch Fan League

Team: Montrose Magpies
Position: Beater 2. Team character/verb: Remus Lupin, reading
Prompts used: 2 (word) wonderful / 9 (word) creature / 10 (quote) "Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." ― commonly misattributed to Albert Camus

Beta'd by my fellow Magpies, any remaining errors are my own.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

1971, Hogwarts Express, en route to the school

Remus Lupin was what some people would call a nerd. He preferred reading over Quidditch, he wrote his homework essays usually on the day they were handed out and revised them over the week, and he always was prepared in class. And yet... not all of that was by choice. You see, as a young boy the most infamous werewolf of Britain had hunted him down and infected him, just to get back at his father. He was no longer a normal boy... or even human: no, he had been turned into a creature, one of the most feared ones in the Wizarding world.

The monthly werewolf transformation was always painful and took a lot out of him, and also usually left him scarred. It also meant his status as a werewolf was obvious to their neighbours, and he grew up without friends. Nobody wanted to risk their child getting infected by 'that creature', so Remus only had his parents for support him.

The Lupins feared Remus might never be able to get a proper education... but they hadn't counted on Albus Dumbledore. Remus' father John had been a gifted Transfiguration student, and Dumbledore remembered him fondly. He liked to keep track of his former favourite pupils, and as such was aware of Remus' status.

This lead to Remus receiving a Hogwarts letter when he was ten, much to everyone's surprise. Headmaster Dumbledore visited in person shortly after, and explained that a safe house would be created for Remus to transform in... he'd help Remus keep the secret, and help him get a proper education. Needless to say, the Lupins jumped on this.

Still, instead of a healthy eleven-year old bundle of energy, Remus was scarred, sickly, and not that used to human contact outside of his mother and father, so he felt very out of place on the Hogwarts Express. He was sitting in a mostly empty compartment, along with a somewhat mousy boy his own age, who seemed to be too shy to say anything. That suited Remus just fine, as he was reading a book.

Suddenly the train compartment door slammed open, and with a lot of noise two boys his own age barged inside. "Quick! Hide in here!" one of them said to the other, and they quickly sat down, one next to Remus and the other next to the quiet kid whose name Remus hadn't even asked yet.
"Look, if anyone asks, we've been here the whole time all right?" the one next to Remus blurted out.

Remus raised an eyebrow and looked them over. Both had dark hair and fine clothes, it was obvious they were from rich families. He was just about to say something, when the door slammed open again and an older boy (sixth or seventh year) stepped through flanked by two others. He was splattered in what looked like paint, his hair and clothes ruined, and he looked ready to kill.

"Was it one of you?" he yelled at the four boys.

"I... I... don't know what you mean," the quiet boy stammered, breaking under the gaze.

"Someone did this to me, Lucius Malfoy!" the older boy fumed, indicating his ruined clothes. "I saw two boys your age run away from me. Was it one of you? I suggest you speak up, before I get... creative in my punishments."

"We've all been here the entire time, it wasn't any of us," the newcomer who had sat down across from Remus declared. "Right fellows?"

"Yup," the one next to Remus said, and slightly nudged him with his elbow.

"I hope you catch the ones responsible Mr Malfoy," Remus said. "But it's not one of us, we've been talking about what House we'll be sorted in the whole time."

"Lot of help you lot are... damn firsties," Malfoy muttered. "Come boys, let's chase the rat that did this down!" He disappeared back into the hallway.

"That... was... awesome!" the boy across from Remus exclaimed.

"Wonderful job mates," the other newcomer agreed. "So, I'm James Potter, and he's Sirius Black. What's your names? We're going to be the best of friends, I can tell."

And so he met James, Sirius, and found out the quiet boy was called Peter. He never was able to get back to reading during that train ride.

Second Year (1972), Hallway, Hogwarts

It was almost another full moon, so Remus made the usual excuse that he didn't feel well and had to visit the infirmary and left the Gryffindor Common room. His friends had already retired for the night. He intentionally kept the details of his 'chronic illness' vague, and it seemed the other Gryffindors all believed it. But of course instead of going up the stairs, he instead went down to the Hogwarts entrance where he had to let the caretaker, Mr Filch, let him outside to go to the Whomping Willow. This was the routine they had decided on: every twenty-eight days Remus would go up to the tree, press the hidden button on its trunk, and go through the secret corridor into the sealed up Shrieking Shack near Hogsmeade. There, the creature could run wild and howl all it liked without the risk of hurting anyone other than himself. The next morning, Remus would either go to the infirmary on his own power, or, if he was hurt badly, the Groundskeeper Hagrid would catch up with him at the tree, and take him there.

Remus rounded the corner leading to the main stairwell... and found James, Sirius, and Peter sitting on a windowsill.

"I am beginning to see what the attraction is in old books like this," Sirius commented. He had Remus' copy of 'The Stranger' by Albert Camus open in his hands. "I mean, listen to this: 'What really counted was the possibility of escape, a leap of freedom, out of the implacable ritual, a wild run for it that would give whatever chance for hope there was.'" Sirius read from the page, then looked at Remus. "Powerful stuff mate, but man is it dry to read through otherwise."

"What... what are you three doing here? It's past curfew," Remus nearly whispered.

"W– We c– came for you," Peter stuttered.
"Yeah mate, you really thought we wouldn't figure it out by now?" James dropped down from the sill, and walked over to Remus. He put an arm around his shoulder, and brought him closer to the others. "You're ill every twenty-eight days mate. That means it's one of two things," he continued.

"One, you're secretly a girl and have already entered puberty," Sirius quipped.

"Or two," James took back the conversation, "You have a natural fur coat and a taste for raw meat."

"You... you guys know?!" Remus cried in despair. "So now what? Do you want to beat me up?"

"What?" James' eyes widened. "Don't be stupid mate!"

"You're our best friend, idiot," Sirius added. "Even if you are bookworm and a stickler for rules, we're the Marauders, and we're friends forever."

"Fr– Friends forever," Peter said, nodding in reply.

"You go do your thing Remus, and we'll talk about it tomorrow when you feel better okay?" James patted his shoulder. Sirius jumped down as well, and helped Peter get back on the floor too.
"From now on, we'll help you keep this a secret from the others. Someone has to watch out for you, make sure none of those Slytherins catch you when you're alone," James looked a serious as twelve-year old boy could.

"And we'll figure out something for the long run to make this stuff better for you mate," Sirius called back. He and Peter had nearly reached the end of the hallway. "Oi Jim, you coming or do you want to give your girlfriend a kiss goodbye first?"

Remus couldn't help but chuckle as James ran after Sirius, intent on giving the Black heir a good hit or two. It was wonderful having friends... and just maybe it wouldn't be so bad sharing the secret after all.

Fifth Year (1976), Gryffindor Common Room, Hogwarts

"See James, I told you he'd be here, reading as always," Sirius' loud voice broke Remus' concentration.

"Reading doesn't hurt, you should try it some time," Remus commented, not looking up. James reached over, grabbed Remus' book, and tossed it on the couch, a grin on his face.

Remus let out a sigh. Whenever James, Sirius, and Peter were together, it was a sure sign that they were either planning trouble, or already deep in it. "What's going on now?" he asked them, rolling his eyes.

"We've got big news Remus, remember our secret project?" James sounded excited.

"The one you wouldn't tell me about?" Remus asked.

"That one," Sirius nodded. "Come on, let's go up to our dorm room. Trust me, you'll want to see this."

"Go on, Remus," Peter offered.

Remus stood up with a slight laugh. "'Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend,'" he declared.

"Very poetic mate," James clapped him on the shoulder. "That from that book you're reading?"

Remus nodded. "I thought it fit our group. Despite what some privileged pure-bloods may think –" "Hey!" Sirius interrupted him but Remus just continued – "We are brothers, right? No leader, no follower... just four best friends."

"Great sentiment mate," James beamed as he stepped into the dorm. "Pete, lock the door will you?"

"Okay, so what is this all about? You found a new pranking spell or what?" Remus asked his three best friends as they stood in the middle of the room, looking like they couldn't wait.

"It's about your 'furry little problem'," Sirius offered.

Remus' features clouded. "I... see. So you are telling me you want to break up our friendship now, after five years? I can't help being a... dark creature..." his voice slightly trembled.

"Remus, you idiot, of course not!" James shouted. "Come on boys, all together now."

"I... I'll try," Peter said. Sirius just nodded.

Remus looked on amazed as his three best friends changed in front of his eyes... suddenly he no longer saw his friends, but a large stag, a jet black dog, and a brown rat.

"Animagi? You... you became animagi?" He staggered back, and sat down on the nearest bed, grasping for support.

The three animals – no animagi – morphed back. All were grinning widely.

"Is this awesome or what?" Sirius shouted. "It took us three years to get the research right, but we pulled it off mate. For you."

"For... for me? What do you mean?" Remus was still trying to recover from the surprise.

"You know your... other form doesn't hurt animals, right?" James started. "Well, we three got thinking... if we were animals ourselves..."

"We... we could tra– trave– We could run with you," Peter declared, pride in his voice.

"Your Beastly Companions, mate," Sirius beamed.

"This is wonderful. You three are... you're the best friends anyone could ever have," Remus finally said. "Friends forever."

"Friends forever," the other three agreed.