A/N: Another day, another chapter. This one's quite introspective. Obvious canon hints in here. Not much to say here, slightly funny, James/Lily hints in this one. I'll shut up now. Yay! Read, and review, dammit!

Chapter 7

...how to...

It's been three days since the prank and I can't get my nerves up to tell the others what I am, despite Lily's best efforts.

"They've accepted that Sirius is an unintelligible idiot," she says. "At least you're not a vampire or a hag."

"A hag?"

"Well, you get my point." She tweaks a finger at me. "There's no use of you hiding away. I'll have none of that. That's exactly what Snape's done and look at him."

That surprises me. "What do you mean?"

She gestures out. "He thought everyone would hate him, so he acted like a target. In swooped the Dynamic Duo and allowed him to be the target." She grins. "Not that I mind the pranks or anything. He does call me that word." She leans into me. "Anyway, you should tell them."

I sigh. "I'm worried about James."

"Oh, I expect his idiotic tendencies will wane come exams."

"I mean, he's holding something back. More than I did, I think, or he's pushing it away more than I did." Her hand finds mine and she squeezes it. I look at her now serious face. "You think it's his dad?"

"Maybe. I don't know." She laughs. "We have this sort of hate-hate relationship. He doesn't talk to me much when he's not insulting me."

She surprises me again. "He doesn't hate you, Lil, just thinks you're a know-it-all. If he hated you, you'd get pranked."

Lily looks indignant. "I've been pranked! What about the time when I went to the Halloween feast with green hair and red eyes?"

"Snape would pray for a prank that simple." I shrug. "Besides, you still looked great."

"Flattery will get you everywhere, Remus."

I try a vague smile, but the thoughts in my head don't allow it. "I wish I was normal," I find myself saying. I didn't think it clearly, nonetheless plan to say it.

"I'm glad you're not normal," Lily says. "You'd be an average, intelligent young man and probably quite dull and stuck up. I like you better this way." She ruffles my hair. "You're interesting."

I paw my hair back into some sort of shape. "I'm a werewolf. That's it. That's interesting, I guess, but how--"

"If it weren't for your being so interesting," Lily interrupts with a solemn look on her face, "if I were to be dating anyone, I would be dating Peter."

"Peter?" I say incredulously. "But Peter's, well... Peter."

"Would you rather I say Sirius?" I snicker at the very thought. "Or James?" I laugh, she laughs, and we both pause. I realize that our conversation has circled all the way back to James and his current oddness.

"James is a lot deeper than he looks," I say, and kill the conversation.

If I had never been turned into a werewolf, I might not have Lily now, but I was way back when. This... lycanthropy afflicts my entire life with lies, and diseased relationships based on them. Not even considering the monthly transformation, I will eventually have to trust my friends with this possibly fatal knowledge.

Is this affliction a blessing, or a curse?

--------

It's eleven in the Gryffindor dorms, and Peter is passed out on his bed. Sirius is curled into the fetal position and looks like he swallowed a pint of the Draught of Living Death. It's only James and I now awake.

"James," I say.

He looks over. "What?"

"What's wrong? You're acting weirder lately. Yes, weirder than usual." I'm becoming far too good at predicting that joke. "Is it..."

"My dad?" I pause and look down. "I guess, a little. I don't know." He sighs. "How are you and Evans?"

To think, James has been weird ever since Lily and I... "I'd have to ask you the same question."

"What do you mean?" I glance up at him and he's giving me the fish-eye.

"What do you have against her? You've never called her by her first name, to start."

He looks at the fire and his face is shadowed by the light, emotion impossible to see on his face. "She never calls me by my first name, either."

"You don't hate her. That's obvious."

"It's called rivalry." He laughs, but there's no heart in it. "It's healthy." There's a snippy tone growing in his voice.

I back off a bit on the subject. "I was just curious, James." I put my hands up in surrender stance.

"She's perfect for you," James says. He looks over at me and he has a wan smile on. Whatever's bothering him is bothering him enough that he can't even pull off that huge James Potter grin. "She even got you to talk."

I laugh despite that look on his face. "Yeah, she did, and I didn't even notice."

"She's too nice and smart to think I'm anything but a stupid inconsistent git. She's too good for me." I stare at him. What could he mean?

"Lily's not the kind of person who intentionally ranks anyone according to anything. I know. She's accepted me."

James laughs again, but it's not a happy laugh. "Accepted what? Your..." He whisks his hand in the air while trying to find a word. "Your Remus-ness?"

I realize what I said. "Um," I say. "Never mind."

I could tell him now, but I've never been more afraid to say four words in my life. "I'm a werewolf, James." It shouldn't be that difficult, but my throat has stopped entirely with just the thought.

I dimly realize James just said something. "What?" I say thickly.

"Never mind," he says, and rolls into his covers.

--------

The next morning at breakfast, I'm half-awake and barely hearing the conversation. I didn't sleep at all last night. I wake up from a slight doze by Lily poking me in the shoulder. "Remus," she whispers in my ear, and I jump. The others laugh and I laugh it off too, rubbing my eyes.

"How long was I asleep?"

"It's lunch," Sirius says. "You slept through Potions." He grins and I roll my eyes.

"Oh-h. I see." I continue to pick at my food. "So about the Invi--" I pause. "The thing," I amend. "Are we going to use it any time soon?"

"Who says we haven't?" James's huge grin is back. "It has been four days."

"You wouldn't leave me out, would you, Potter?" Lily gives him a condescending almost-smirk.

James gives her a similar look back. "You make a good distraction, Evans," he says. "If you want to help, you're in."

Lily gasps. "Wow," she says, and I can tell immediately that she's making fun of Molly Weatherby, another Gryffindor in the class below us. She's notorious for being late to class because of having to choose an outfit. "James Potter just invited me to one of his famous pranks. What should I wear? My black robes, or my black robes?" She strikes a model-like pose and the pure ridiculousness of it makes all of us laugh rather hard, even her.

"You want in, Remus?" James says, once the laughing has waned.

"Depends on what it is." I'm far too afraid that my violent side will emerge if Snape or some other person pushes me too far, and I'm walking on eggshells to avoid something like that happening.

James leans toward me. "Nothing on Snape," he says. "He's ready to have Avery have us expelled, although that's the usual." He leans back again. "I'm thinking..." He pauses to consider, probably for effect.

"Don't sprain anything," Lily says dryly. We all laugh again, and it's a bit harder to catch air again. If anyone tells you it's easy to laugh all the time, they're wrong.

He beckons us all in, and we all lean in towards him, even Lily. "I'm thinking we explore the school."

We all lean back and pause for a moment. "Sounds good to me," Sirius says, yawning and pushing away an empty plate.

"As long as we use the... the thing," Peter says, "I'll do it."

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Lily says. She smirks at James. "If his Majesty King of Fools will let me join you menfolk, mind you."

James pretends to be wounded, then shrugs. "Remus?" he says.

"Do we have a good reason?" I shake my head. "Never mind, it doesn't matter. I'll come."

Sirius gives me a sly look. "Why, didn't you know? We're going to map the school."

As if five teenage kids are going to map the massive grounds of Hogwarts. It's sometimes impossible to find the bathrooms, the place shifts so much. A map would be nearly impossible to do.

When I point this out right now, James says, "It isn't impossible until we say it's impossible" and grins. Maybe he's right.

It isn't impossible for me to tell them that I'm a werewolf until I say it's impossible. Is that how you do it? Is that how it's done?

James Potter, whatever Lily might say, is definitely not an idiot.

A/N: Did anyone get the "Molly Weatherby" reference, or was that futile?