Disclaimer: All rights to characters, places, objects and concepts you recognise belong to J.K. Rowling.

A/N: I never intended to write this. I actually started writing a Jily fic some time ago, which began in the Marauders' seventh year. I struggled with characterisation, particularly the relationship between Lily and James because I didn't know what had happened between the events of Snape's Worst Memory and the start of their seventh year. I decided, then, that I would start the story straight after those events. That still didn't work, because I simply could not make head nor tail of the fact the infamous 'prank' involving Snape and the Whomping Willow came before a scene in which James and Sirius start an apparently unprovoked attack on Snape.

I know many people are divided on the issue and that many have chosen to see James and Sirius as callous bullies. This doesn't really hold as an explanation for me. They might have been immature, arrogant and occasionally cruel, but they weren't stupid. They would have had to be spectacularly thick – and completely indifferent to how Remus would feel – in order to do what they did to Snape post-the DADA OWL when they knew Snape could blab Remus's secret at any moment. It is, nonetheless,a difficult thing to fathom, and so this story gives one explanation for how it could have happened. It also tries to go some way to giving a more rounded view of why Lily was so affected by Snape's one-time use of the word 'mudblood' and where that terrific outburst Lily had against James came from.

I've tried very hard to face certain truths head-on. James and Sirius were arrogant, and they hexed people who annoyed them. Sirius showed no remorse, even eighteen years later, for sending Snape to meet a werewolf. That for me means that Sirius was not careless; his actions were entirely wilful. And Snape was not a powerless victim; he "hexed James at every opportunity he got" and was always attempting to get the Marauders into trouble.

This fic will, therefore, not be for everyone. It is not for you if you want a one-sided portrayal of Snape as the victim; nor is it for anyone who wants to excuse Sirius's actions on the grounds he just 'didn't think'. I do, however, have an innate pro-Marauder tendency, and perhaps you might like to think about the sort of story I'll write in light of that. You have been warned!

For any readers of Ask No Questions; it IS going to be finished. This just took over for a bit.


Prologue: The beginning

The day that Albus Dumbledore had turned up on the Lupins' doorstep – 28th February 1971, to be precise – was singularly the most exhilarating of Remus's young life to date. And, really, it was where all this had started.

The Lupins had not been expecting the Hogwarts Headmaster to visit. On the contrary: Lyall and Hope Lupin had already explained in gentle terms to their ten year-old that, because of his condition, he would not be allowed to attend Hogwarts – instead, Lyall would teach him at home. It had been a distressing conversation for both Lyall and Hope, who had entertained high hopes for their son up until six years before, but Remus had said very little during their talk. It was true that he was generally a quiet and well-mannered boy, and outbursts were not in his nature. But Lyall and Hope had come to the conclusion that Remus's apparent indifference was because he simply didn't know what he was missing out on. This was not an unreasonable assumption. Over the years, they had been careful not to show Remus too many photographs of Hogwarts; Lyall had not even mentioned the House system. It had seemed pointless – in fact, even cruel – to rub in Remus's face what he could never have.

Ten days after the conversation about Hogwarts, however, Hope Lupin was starting to worry. Remus had gone from quiet to silent. He was spending far too much time in his bedroom. He emerged only for mealtimes. He had no friends she could send him to see; and it was freezing cold, so she could not persuade him even to take his book outside. She had tried to talk to him about it, and she had been met with Remus's wan smile and an assurance that he was fine. Even Lyall, with his vocal assurances that their son just needed time, could not hide the worry and uncertainty in his eyes.

As Hope Lupin drummed her fingers on the checked kitchen tablecloth, watching the rain slash against the window, she wished, not for the first time, that her son had just been left alone on that full moon six years before.

Not for her sake – as frightened as she had been the first time her little boy had transformed into a howling creature that scratched and threw itself at the door, her son was the clever and loving boy he always had been, and she could never feel differently about him. No, what she hated about the lycanthropic curse that Remus was inflicted with was the way it was systematically and thoroughly destroying every aspect of Remus's young life.

"Hope, love, have you seen my book on the creation of Boggarts?"

Lyall Lupin asked the question as he entered the kitchen, and Hope turned her head to look at her husband. He had lost a lot of weight in the last few years – the constant stress of moving every few months and finding ever more inventive ways to contain an animal that did not want to be contained took its toll on him even more than it did on Hope. He alone understood the real implications of Remus's condition: Hope, as a Muggle, only knew second-hand what the wizarding community's attitude towards werewolves was.

"Mrs Whippet was asking questions about Remus this morning at church," she said, instead of answering her husband's question. "Said it was odd for a boy not to have any friends. And she'd noticed him looking unwell twice in the last two months."

"We'll have to move again," said Lyall, his green eyes – so much like Remus's – taking on that haunted look they often did these days.

"Do we have to? She's not a witch…she couldn't possibly guess the truth, could she?" Hope didn't even know why she was arguing. It was not as though she liked it in Trebanog, where it seemed to rain constantly and the only shop in the Welsh village was primarily a meeting-place of the local gossips.

Lyall sighed. "Hope, we've been through this before. If we're really serious about protecting Remus – about ensuring no one in the wizarding world ever found out – no one can be allowed to even suspect. It just takes one – "

"-Muggle relative to let slip to a wizard, I know." Hope sounded more bitter than she intended to. They had taken it to extreme lengths – they'd been dodging their own families for years – but she loved her husband and her son and she wouldn't have traded it for anything. "Sorry," she apologised. "I just…I'm worried about Remus," she blurted out. "I don't want him to live like this forever – having to move from place to place; how is he ever going to have a life if he doesn't even know how to interact with people?"

"Er…Mum?"

Hope jumped, her gaze snapping to the door. There was no way of telling how long Remus had been standing there – he somehow possessed the ability to sneak up on people without them ever hearing him.

(It would be one of the things that would delight and be put to good use by his future Gryffindor dorm mates.)

He looked at her now, his green eyes wide and anxious, worrying his lip between his teeth.

"What is it, sweetheart?" Hope asked. She should have been relieved he'd left his room, but now she had a whole new concern: whether he had overheard her fears for the rest of his life. It was not, she thought, something one really wanted their ten year-old to be contemplating.

"I'm…I'm just hungry. Could I have a crumpet, maybe?"

"Sounds like a good idea to me," said Lyall, as Hope stood up and went to get the crumpets from the bread bin. "We could play Gobstones if you like, son?"

Remus worried his lip some more. Then, with a little nod, he'd disappeared up the stairs to fetch the Gobstones set. Relieved at this willingness to spend time with the family, Hope could not even bring herself to complain that she would have to wash the foul-smelling liquid from their clothes later. She shared a small smile with her husband before she opened the packet of crumpets and began to arrange them on a grill pan.

"Why don't you get the fire started?" she suggested. "The living room's so cold at the moment."

"Good idea."

But as Lyall was about to leave the kitchen, a loud and determined knock sounded at the door.

Hope and Lyall shared a look. Since moving to Trebanog, they had made no real effort to make friends, keeping themselves to themselves, and they did not live in one of the terraced houses, but a little way out of the village. It was not likely, therefore, to be someone asking to borrow butter.

Another knock.

"You stay here," said Lyall, and Hope saw his hand move to his pocket, where he kept his wand. He darted out of the room. Hope clicked her tongue, removed her apron and followed him. But when she got into the hall, she found her husband with his back flat against the front door, his eyes wide and his face pale. Hope stopped dead.

"What, Lyall? What is it?"

"Shhh," he hissed. "He'll hear you!"

"Who?"

"Albus Dumbledore!" It came out almost as a moan.

"Who?"

"The Headmaster of Hogwarts." It wasn't Lyall who had spoken, but Remus, who was standing midway down the stairs, holding the set of Gobstones, his eyes fixed on the door. Lyall blinked.

"How do you – "

Another knock – louder this time. And an amused voice, full of warmth, as Hope fought to keep up with what was going on.

"I must say, Lyall, I've had better welcomes."

It seemed to spur Lyall back into action. "He must have found out! He's here to confirm it….Hope, get the chair from the kitchen; we'll block the door."

"I think it will take more than a kitchen chair to keep Albus Dumbledore out," said Remus quietly as Hope returned with the chair.

"Remus, in the living room!" Lyall ordered, his usually calm demeanour obviously rattled. He took the chair from Hope as Remus jumped down the last few stairs and ran past Hope, back towards the kitchen and into the living room. Jamming the chair under the door handle, Lyall stepped back, obviously satisfied. "That ought to do it."

"I thought you said that wizards can – "

"You're right!" Lyall was beside himself. "I'll have to put reinforcements on the door. Stand back." Hope watched apprehensively as he waved his wand, a little thrill going down her spine, still fascinated and impressed by Lyall's abilities with what was, by all appearances, a wooden stick.

She just hoped whatever he was about to do with the door would work. They'd tried so hard to keep Remus hidden.

But just as he opened his mouth, Lyall stopped up short and whipped around to look at her. "Did you hear that?"

"Hear what?" Hope asked, but even as she said it, she heard what he meant: the sound of voices from the living room.

Hearts hammering, Lyall and Hope Lupin took one another by the hand and edged down the hallway and into their sitting room.

The fire was burning brightly – despite the fact Lyall had never got around to lighting it – and it spread warmth into the room, making Hope shiver as her cold fingers adjusted to this new heat. But that was not what caught her attention.

Sitting before the fire, opposite Remus with the Gobstones board between them, sat the most eccentric person Hope had ever laid eyes on. He appeared old – very old, with a long white beard that reached past his knees as he leaned over to consider his move. Half-moon spectacles sat on the edge of his long, crooked nose. And he was dressed entirely in purple – from the tall, pointed hat on his head, down to the shoes that peeked out of the edge of his robes. Remus looked completely mesmerised.

Lyall made a strangled noise in his throat. This appeared to capture the man's attention and he looked round.

"Mr and Mrs Lupin!" he said cheerfully. "I hope you don't mind: I saw the crumpets in the kitchen, and I simply couldn't resist." He raised a plate, on which were two buttered crumpets, perfectly grilled. Remus was grinning behind him, chewing through his own plate of crumpets. Hope blinked. She might have pointed out that she hadn't even put the grill on – but she had never seen anyone who looked more like a wizard, and she could guess perfectly well how he'd grilled the crumpets so quickly.

"Dumbledore!" Lyall had finally found his voice, though his tone trod a fine line between fright and anger. "I must ask you to leave!"

"Now, really, Lyall, I would have expected more from a former Prefect." Albus Dumbledore's eyes twinkled and, scared as she might have been, Hope could not help trusting this man.

"How did you get in?" Lyall demanded.

"I generally think if you want to keep intruders out, it's sensible to lock all the doors," said Dumbledore, directing a wink at Remus, who giggled.

"What are you doing here, Dumbledore?" Lyall was clearly not in the mood to be polite. "Barging in here…eating our food and playing with our son…"

"Ah yes, Remus." Dumbledore smiled. "It was Remus I was here to discuss, actually."

Lyall let out another strangled noise, as he and Hope shared a fearful look.

"What-what about Remus?" Hope was the first to find her voice.

"Mrs Lupin, I know perfectly well of Remus's condition," said Dumbledore calmly. As Hope let out a squeak, Remus's eyes widened dramatically. "No need to look so frightened, dear boy," said Dumbledore. "Lycanthropy's nothing to be ashamed of." Remus, who had looked ready to bolt from the room, blinked and his whole body relaxed: Hope could not help warming to this wizard who, whilst just announcing he knew all about her son's lycanthropy, had managed to put Remus totally at ease.

"How dare you," Lyall snarled, and Hope put a warning hand on his arm. Something told her that the Hogwarts Headmaster meant no harm. But Lyall shook her off. "How? How do you know?"

"I have my sources," said Dumbledore calmly. "Fenrir Greyback has not been shy about boasting of his actions amongst his pack."

Lyall shot a quick look at Remus, who had sat up very straight. "You…you know who bit me?" he demanded, his young voice indignant.

Dumbledore seemed to realise his mistake immediately. "Perhaps your parents did not know, Remus," he said. "But Fenrir Greyback claims the credit for biting you, yes."

Hope Lupin knew perfectly well the name of her son's attacker. Lyall still muttered it in his dreams. She knew, later, she and her husband would have to agree on what they were going to tell their son about it.

"Who else knows?" Lyall demanded. Dumbledore sighed.

"Won't you sit down, both of you?" He waved his wand and the sofa drew closer to the fire. Hesitantly, Hope took a seat. Lyall looked like he was going to remain standing. She pulled him down next to her with a jerk of her hand: it wasn't wise to insult someone who knew about Remus. "Tea?" Before Hope could answer, there was a steaming teacup in her hand.

"Now," said Dumbledore. "I have no reason to think that anyone outside of Greyback's pack knows of Remus's condition. But the state of general knowledge is not what I am here to discuss."

"It…it isn't?" Hope asked.

"Indeed," Dumbledore said. "I am here to discuss Remus's education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

Silence. Then Hope broke in.

"It's all right," she said quickly, "Mr Dumbledore. We've already explained to Remus that he won't be going to Hogwarts. This really isn't necessary."

She hated the way Remus's face closed up immediately – loathed herself for it. But she knew Dumbledore's presence would only make it worse: Remus did not need it spelt out in excruciating detail why he could never attend school like a normal wizard.

"Mrs Lupin, I think you've misunderstood me," said Dumbledore. "I am here to offer Remus a place at Hogwarts."

Another beat of silence. It was Lyall's turn to break it.

"Dumbledore," he hissed. "You know what he is…you know he can't…it's just cruel getting his hopes up – "

"Perhaps I should explain," Dumbledore interrupted.

And so he did. He told the Lupins how he had arranged to have a tunnel constructed, leading to a comfortable house on the edge of Hogsmeade village, near to the school, where Remus could be taken once a month to complete his transformation. A Whomping Willow – a particularly violent tree, Hope was informed – would be planted over the entrance of the tunnel to dissuade the more curious students from finding it. Remus and the other students would be perfectly safe.

"Naturally, not everyone in the wizarding world is as well-disposed towards werewolves as perhaps they should be," said Dumbledore. "For that reason, I think it best for Remus's own welfare that his condition – nor the existence of the tunnel – not be broadcasted."

"He'll…he'll have to miss school, though," said Hope faintly. All three Lupins had been quiet throughout Dumbledore's explanation. "He's always ill for a few days."

"I'll manage!" said Remus. His face had shone with hope from the moment Dumbledore had started speaking. "I'll work extra hard to catch up!" Dumbledore smiled.

"Indeed. I've no doubt excuses can be made – perhaps an ill relative that requires visiting." He looked over his half-moon glasses. "Mr and Mrs Lupin, I hope you agree with me that Remus appears a talented and likeable child: he should be encouraged to lead as normal a life as possible."

"H-have you ever done this before, Dumbledore?" Lyall asked. It was the first time he had spoken in some time.

"No," Dumbledore admitted. "Consider it an experiment, if you will. But I have no doubt that if you impress the utmost importance of discretion on Remus, there is no reason why this should not work and Remus should not attend school like every other young wizard."

"Of course I'll be quiet – I won't tell anyone – please can I go, Mum and Dad?"

Remus Lupin was not in the habit of asking for very much; he had never been a demanding child. Lyall and Hope would have had to be very hard-hearted individuals to deny him on this occasion, and neither of them were.

"I suppose you can go," said Lyall uncertainly, sharing a quick look with his wife. "But you'll have to be very careful. You might have to lie to people. It's very important that no one finds out."

And that, indeed, was what all parties intended to happen.


It was perhaps unfortunate, in that case, that Remus happened to befriend two of the cleverest and most curious boys Hogwarts had ever seen. When he looked back on it later, he wondered how on earth he had managed to keep his secret from them for fifteen months.

But when Remus Lupin entered the second-year boys' dorm in Gryffindor Tower on 21st January 1973, precisely three days after the full moon that month, he could not have known that the secret the Headmaster and his parents had impressed upon him must be kept secret had already been discovered.

He did realise straight away, however, just how terrible his friends were at behaving casually.

When he arrived in the dormitory, he found James Potter lying sideways on his bed, holding Potions Today (as if James would be caught dead reading an academic journal). Sirius Black almost looked like he wasn't even trying to pretend: he had adopted the same pose as James, but he didn't have anything to do; he just looked like he was waiting for something. Peter Pettigrew had done the best job, as he did appear to be genuinely attempting some homework, but unfortunately his gaze kept darting at James and Sirius in a way that raised Remus's suspicions instantly.

"All right, what did you do?" Remus asked with a small smile. All three heads snapped round to look at him; James threw down Potions Today and almost leaped off his bed.

"Remus, you're back!" He beamed, and Remus resisted the urge to take a step backwards at this unexplained enthusiasm. Then again, James was a very enthusiastic individual. It still stunned Remus that James Potter – popular, fun and relentlessly cheerful – actually wanted to be friends with him.

"Er…yeah," he said carefully. "Aunt's a bit better. Any particular reason you're so pleased to see me?"

"No reason." James sounded far too innocent for Remus's liking. And, somewhat to Remus's disconcertion, James leaned around him and pushed the door closed with one hand. Remus raised his eyebrows.

"Got a prank planned, have you?"

"Actually," said James, "there was something we wanted to talk to you about."

"Yeah?" Remus kept his face deliberately blank, but his heart gave an uncomfortable jump. He didn't know why he felt so nervous. They weren't going to talk to him about that. He'd been careful. Hadn't he? Dear God, it was his aunt he'd said was ill, wasn't it? "What's that, then?"

"Well, the thing is," Sirius started from his position on his bed. "We sort of noticed that you're away a lot."

Oh. Oh dear. They were going to talk to him about that. Remus had to force himself to hold his ground and not yank the door open and sprint all the way to the lake. He'd been careful. "Yeah. When I saw my aunt," he fervently hoped it was his aunt that was supposed to be ill, "the Healers were actually saying that they think there's something in our family's – "

"Oh, Lupin. We really are going to have to teach you to lie more convincingly."

James's smile was easy, but Remus's blood ran cold.

"What-what do you mean?" he asked, trying not to let his voice rise in panic. "My aunt – "

"Died last month," Peter cut in. "Remember?"

"I have more than one aunt," Remus defended. He was greeted with three disbelieving expressions, though he could have sworn Peter muttered, "Told you so." His heartbeat was now fluttering in his throat; he thought he might throw up. "It's true – "

"Look, Remus," James interrupted, his arm around Remus's shoulders conspiratorially. "We know."

"Know what?" Remus's voice came out slightly strangled.

"That you're a werewolf," said James briskly.

A werewolf.

Werewolf.

The word hung in the air – a reminder of what he was; a reminder that this had all been too good to be true. It occurred to Remus that if James hadn't had his arm around him, his legs might have collapsed from underneath him. The room spun. He took a steadying breath.

"How dare you?" he asked. He'd intended to sound angry, but his voice came out sounding rather more frightened instead and he hated himself for not being a better actor. Dumbledore, for all his carefully laid plans, had never banked on his inability to lie to his friends properly.

James and Peter blinked back at him, clearly bemused at this ineffectual attempt at a denial, but Sirius suddenly sat up, his eyes narrowing.

"How dare we?" he said. "You're the one who's been lying to us, Lupin!"

His voice sounded so cold that all Remus could think was: it's starting. He opened his mouth to make another stab at a denial, but his throat was suddenly so tight he found he couldn't speak. He'd known all along this might happen – he'd even spoken to his parents about it, and they had been clear: if anyone found out, it would mean the end of his time at Hogwarts. No one would willingly sit in class with a werewolf.

"Mother's ill; aunt's ill; aunt's died; grandmother's died…Merlin, how thick do you think we are?"

It was too much. Letting out a low moan, Remus suddenly bolted towards the door, but James – always so ruddy nimble – had thrown himself flat against it before he'd taken two steps.

"Oh, no you don't," he said. "We're not that annoyed about the lying. Though we will have to help you come up with some better stories; yours are crap."

Remus could only blink, his heart hammering so painfully he could make no sense of James's words. There was a rushing sound in his ears.

"You look like you need to sit down, mate," said James.

Merlin, did Remus need to sit down. He allowed James to guide him to his bed – mostly because he didn't think he could walk by himself. All he could think was: they know. They know. A year and a half of more happiness than Remus thought he'd ever be privileged to, and it was about to come to an abrupt end.

He was going to have to pack his bag – probably that very night – but just then, his body felt too heavy to stand, the weight of this revelation bearing down on him.

"H-how did you find out?" he asked faintly.

"Your grandmother's died four times," said Peter. He'd shifted his position so he was sitting on the end of his bed too, holding one of the banisters of his four-poster with one hand.

"That and you always looked sick just before your visits home – coincidentally always around the full moon." James was grinning like they were discussing a particularly brilliant prank. Remus stared at him.

"Don't you mind?" he burst out.

It was James's turn to stare. "Why would we mind? It's the coolest thing I've ever heard! Sharing my dormitory with a werewolf!"

The word made Remus's stomach clench painfully, but he was breathing very fast as he looked wildly between his three dorm mates. "Cool?" he spluttered. "I'm going to have to leave! You won't…your parents won't want you sharing with a….with a…."

"Werewolf?" Sirius supplied. "We weren't going to tell our parents, mate – what a daft idea. Have you met my mother?"

Remus couldn't even manage a smile. He'd only met Sirius's mother once, at the end of the previous year on Platform 9 ¾. The first thing she had asked for was his surname and, upon hearing it, had looked at him like he was something nasty she'd found on the bottom of her shoe. Sirius had been quick to explain, red-faced and embarrassed, that his mother only talked to people from certain families.

"But don't you mind?" he asked again.

"Of course not!" James said. "We told you: we think it's brilliant. I don't know anyone who has a werewolf for a best friend!"

"There's a reason for that," said Remus weakly, but James was still grinning from ear to ear. Remus could only continue staring at him. For all his cleverness, didn't James understand? "I'm…I'm a monster," he said, and hated how his voice cracked. Suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to vomit, he lurched from the bed, but James pushed him back down.

"Last time I checked, monsters didn't let me copy their Charms homework."

"You don't understand," Remus moaned, covering his face with his hands. "I…you've never seen a werewolf transformed. I am a monster. Last summer my dad had to build a… a reinforced steel shed in the garden because I could break down the door of the cellar whatever spells he used. And do you know how we found that out?" Now that he'd started, it was as though he couldn't stop. "Because during the July full moon, I broke through the door and nearly killed my mother."

This was enough to wipe the smile abruptly from James's face, and Remus thought, then, that he'd blown it – that tomorrow morning he'd be on the Hogwarts Express back home. He couldn't look at any of his friends. He buried his face back into his hands, breathing hard.

It was Sirius who spoke. "Er…we won't be joining you at the full moon, then?"

"What?" Remus's head jerked up to stare at his friend. "Are you mad?"

Sirius shrugged in that indifferent way only Sirius Black could manage. "Dunno. Seemed like a cool idea. Never seen a werewolf before."

As Remus gaped, James seemed to take up this idea with his classic enthusiasm. "There must be some way we can be with you!"

"No. No!" Remus jumped up, staring in bewilderment at his friends. James and Sirius were grinning again; Peter alone looked taken aback at his reaction. At least one person in this dormitory's sane, Remus thought. He took another steadying breath. "Don't you understand? I'm…I'm not myself during the full moon. I'd kill you in a heartbeat. I…I…" Lost for words, he ripped open his shirt and displayed the long, red, still-healing gouges in his chest. Madam Pomfrey couldn't do much about them: they were cursed wounds, after all, though they would fade somewhat over time. Sirius's and James's faces fell faster than a bezoar in a potion.

"What…what the hell is that?" James demanded, as Sirius grimaced and Peter covered his eyes.

"I don't have human prey. Dumbledore set up a house on the edge of Hogsmeade to keep me shut away," said Remus, breathing hard. "So I…I bite and scratch myself instead. I can't…I can't control it; it just happens."

"That…that looks like it hurt," said Peter faintly.

"It did," Remus snapped. "And I'd do it to all of you, given half the chance. I wouldn't be able to help myself." He pulled his shirt back across his chest again protectively. "Now maybe you understand why the entire wizarding world hates werewolves! Why I lied!"

James was still staring at the wounds, his face pale. Finally his gaze flickered up to meet Remus's, and Remus was sure that he was going to say that he couldn't be friends with him after all, that this wasn't something he wanted to deal with. He should have known better.

"We won't tell anyone," said James, and Remus had never seen him so serious. "No one. And we'll find a way to help you. There's gotto be something."

Remus's throat had gone very tight, so that he didn't have the strength to tell James, again, that there was no way to help him. But he managed to say: "Really. This isn't a joke. No one can know. I'll be expelled."

"The teachers know, though, right?" asked Peter. Remus nodded. James didn't appear to care too much about that.

"You're our friend, Remus," he said. "We're not going to tell anyone. Right, lads?" He looked over his shoulder to Sirius and Peter for confirmation, who both nodded.

"A pact!" Sirius suggested. "An Unbreakable Vow!"

"Brilliant!" said James, pulling out his wand. There was a brief pause, before: "Er…I don't actually know how to do one. Do you?"

Remus might have laughed if he hadn't felt so shaky.

"An ordinary vow, then," said Sirius. "I vow I will keep Remus's secret for as long as I live."

"Seconded," said James.

"I promise too," said Peter.

Remus was silent, his erratic heartbeat gradually slowing as he looked from Peter's wide eyes, to Sirius's unusually solemn expression, to the determination in James's gaze. He couldn't quite believe how easily they'd accepted the truth: how the three of them were still in the dormitory, looking at him no differently than they had when he'd left to go to the Hospital Wing four days ago.

The secret was safe, for now, and Remus would never stop being thankful for the way they'd accepted him.

He'd think later that he should have realised that it was too good to last. Though they were his friends, they were still teenage boys and everyone knew that teenagers had a tendency to act rather than think; go to war first, ask questions later. Particularly these boys, for whom recklessness was practically their middle name.

It should not have been surprising, really, that it spiralled so drastically out of control.

At least it took another three years to do so.


A/N: I love reading people's reviews and I can't tell you what a difference it makes in motivating me to update. So please take a few seconds to tell me what you think.