(A/N: When I started writing in this fandom, for some reason I thought my stories were going to turn out dramatically different than the rest of my fanfiction and that I would need a separate account. Obviously things haven't turned out that way, so I am reposting this ficcy from the other account I had created lest it be all on its lonesome).

Hogwarts, Third Year

Sirius had actually left his Charms homework in the dorm. Really. But at breakfast, when he smacked his forehead and announced this "mistake" to the knot of admirers that (frankly) followed him wherever he went, he saw a frown and a look of understanding cross James' face.

It wasn't like Sirius was a worrywart or anything. But since he'd found out about Remus' furry problem last year, it had begun to really bother him if he woke up the morning after the full moon and found Remus still gone. He couldn't explain why it got to him more than it did James or Peter. He wanted to know, right away, what had kept Remus from getting back to the dorm. He wasn't an idiot, he knew that being a werewolf was unpleasant and difficult and not some grand adventure he was being excluded from, but a tiny part of him felt left out and curious.

Besides, what were friends for if not to check up on each other?

So Sirius "forgot" his homework, and headed back to the dorm while the rest of the Gryffindors went off to class. Maybe Remus had gotten back while they'd been eating breakfast. Maybe he'd be hurrying to get his own homework ready, or maybe be passed out on his bed. Sometimes he slept through a few classes the day after the full moon, even though (in what Sirius considered insanity) Remus tried to avoid this ready-made excuse and made it to class whenever possible, even if it meant falling asleep at his desk instead.

Sirius was disappointed to find the third years' dormitory silent and empty. He opened his trunk and started rummaging through it, even though he knew full well his homework was on the nightstand, just to occupy himself while he figured out what to do next. Should he just skive off class and wait here? It might not be worth the lecture Remus'd give him. But if he didn't, he wouldn't have time to check again between classes and he'd have to go through all of Charms and then Potions without knowing...

Sirius hadn't made a decision yet when someone cleared their throat behind him. He looked over his shoulder and then hastily stood up.

Professor McGonagall was standing in the doorway. She was carrying Remus, who was asleep or unconscious. Sirius' surprise at McGonagall's strength quickly turned into horror as he realized there wasn't an inch of skin on Remus that wasn't bruised or cut.

"And just what are you doing here?" McGonagall asked archly. "Class began five minutes ago."

"Trying to find my homework. Is he all right?"

Professor McGonagall's face took on a wary expression. "Certainly," she replied, her tone implying that it was out of line for Sirius to ask. "He will mend. I brought him here because there happen to be a large number of hexed students making a great deal of noise in the hospital wing, and I believed that the dorms would be quiet and empty."

Sirius could tell-from copious experience-that Professor McGonagall was warming up to take points from Gryffindor for his missing class. "Let me help you, Professor," he said quickly, before she could continue. "You must be tired of holding him. Whoa," Sirius added under his breath, stepping closer and getting a better look at Remus' face. His left eye was swollen shut, a gash in the eyebrow.

"Thank you, Black, that is unnecessary," McGonagall said crisply, not making any motion to hand Remus over to him.

"How'd it happen?"

"That is none of your concern. I shall dock Gryffindor points if you do not go to your lesson at once, Black."

Sirius didn't even consider leaving. Instead, he looked McGonagall in the eye and said, "Professor, I know about Remus." He almost added we all do, but stopped himself in case he was about to get in trouble-no need to drag James and Peter into it. "How it was he got hurt last night, I mean." And really, how thick did the adults think they all were? Did they think they'd never notice the pattern in Remus' disappearances? "You don't have to keep that a secret from me. I just wondered if he said anything when he got back from the Shrieking Shack."

Professor McGonagall looked torn between surprise and anger. She opened her mouth, but whatever she would have said was cut off as Remus made a feeble noise and a feebler movement.

Sirius grabbed Remus quickly, afraid that McGonagall would drop him if he started to squirm around. He discovered he needn't have worried; Remus had been enchanted somehow and hardly weighed anything. Sirius took him into his own arms anyway, carrying Remus over to his bed before McGonagall could stop him. "Rough full?" Sirius asked sympathetically, looking down at his friend.

"Sirius." Remus' voice was slurred; Sirius thought he was still mostly asleep. "You have no idea."

Sirius set Remus on his bed very carefully-he was afraid, as light as Remus currently was, that if Sirius just dropped him on the covers he might bounce. "I hate it when I wake up alone," Remus continued in the sleepy tone. "Hate it when there's people outside the Shack."

"Is that why you had such a bad night? The wolf could hear people?"

"But it couldn't reach them." Remus rolled from his back and onto his side. Sirius noticed a swollen, purple bruise on Remus' right wrist. There were deep teeth marks in it. "Hate waking up alone," Remus muttered into the covers. The hand with the bitten wrist moved, finding where Sirius' hand rested on the bed and halfway tangling their fingers.

At that moment, something changed in Sirius Black. The part of him which would have gone "ew" and shaken off another boy's hand was oddly absent. The small part of him which had wondered if being a werewolf might include just the tiniest bit of exciting adventures was permanently extinguished. In their place he felt an odd sort of helpless protectiveness, like a dad or a husband might feel if they couldn't protect their family from something. If they could only pick up the pieces after.

He suddenly remembered Professor McGonagall. Sirius looked up. "Can I..."

Professor McGonagall had an odd expression on her face. She looked like she might yell or cry. But she did neither of those things, and after a moment in which she apparently struggled to master her voice, she said, "Very well, Black. For this time only, I will inform Professor Flitwick you have my permission to be absent."

She flicked her wand at Remus, no doubt removing the enchantment that affected his weight, and then left the room.

Sirius almost couldn't believe it. McGonagall, let him out of class? James was never going to believe this one.

Looking around, Sirius spotted a chair not too far away and managed, without untangling his hand from Remus', to hook his ankle around it and drag it over. Then he spent an unconscionable amount of time getting himself into the chair without moving his fingers. Remus was asleep again, and he was going to need every second of sleep he could get. Sirius moving his hand might wake Remus up, and as long as no one was around to see Sirius acting like a fruitcake, he didn't mind sitting there with his hand stretched out on the bed for the rest of the morning. Just so that when Remus woke again, he would know instantly that he wasn't alone.

"... so you see, there was no avoiding him. I was ready to head him off if he started asking questions, but before I knew it Black had volunteered that he knew what had happened."

"Indeed?" Dumbledore and McGonagall were speaking quietly over their dinner. Dumbledore's eyes were on the Gryffindor table, where the children in question were both eating with an appetite only teenage boys could produce, more than on McGonagall. "Are you certain he wasn't bluffing?"

"Quite certain. He referred to 'the wolf' as well as the full moon and the Shrieking Shack. During the moments Lupin was conscious it appeared evident to me that he was in the habit of discussing his transformations with Black. I would never have believed that after all the precautions that have been made on his behalf, Lupin would tell his dorm mates of his condition."

"Neither would I," Dumbledore said serenely. "But we must allow for the curiosity-and the ability to know that which they are not supposed to-that is commonly found in young Gryffindors. Particularly in Sirius Black and James Potter."

"Which brings me to my next point," McGonagall said, lowering her voice even further, so that the other teachers would be unable to hear. "If Black knows, Potter must know as well. I'm less certain of Pettigrew, but I don't believe Black would keep any secret from Potter."

"And this concerns you?"

"Can we rely on Black and Potter to take this seriously? Or will they think it's a lark? They may be too intelligent to get close to a transformed werewolf themselves, but you have to admit some of their past pranks have had a nasty side."

"Mm." Dumbledore peered down the Gryffindor table. The knot of students Lupin was a part of were now laughing at an entertaining charm someone had placed upon a knife and fork. Lupin was sitting and Black was standing behind him with his arms on Lupin's shoulders, leaning over him to get a better view. Aside from the bruise over one eye, no one could have told that there was anything wrong with Remus Lupin. "I think perhaps we ought to rely on Mr. Lupin's judgment, Minerva," Dumbledore concluded. "After all, he will at some point in his life need to become accustomed to informing people of his condition. Perhaps now, with his chosen friends, is the place to start."

Professor McGonagall nodded her acceptance. "Let us hope they prove worthy of the confidence. Who can tell? It may be for the best for all of them, not just Lupin."

"What do you mean?"

"Black surprised me today. He may have been behaving carefully because of my presence, but I saw a spark of-of maturity that I haven't seen before in him. Like he was noticing something outside himself for the first time. Why, he was positively nurturing towards Lupin."

"Was he? How very encouraging." Dumbledore threw another glance at the Gryffindor table. "You know... perhaps we ought to consider having a werewolf room with some of our other incorrigibles. I could place an advertisement in the Prophet..."