Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of its characters. However, since Rowling discarded my favourite characters I picked them up and took them into my care to give them the love and attention they deserve...and occasionally give them reason to need that love and attention no matter how much they deserve it without needing a reason.
Summary: The story of how James figured out Remus' secret; discussed it with Sirius and they decide to become Animagi to help out their friend.
Warnings: Strong bromance, can't stomach boys being extremely close without it being sexual, then this is not the story for you and you should hit the return button.
This story is part of a series called A Bond of Family. If you are interested in reading the entire series, then the chronological order can be found on my profile.
Special thanks to Kitty for beta-ing this story for me and giving me endless support and inspiration for this series. Thank you for your endless patience with my grammar and for all the lessons you've taught me and are still trying to stamp into my brain.
Rechecked for errors July 2019
I believe Remus is a werewolf," with those words, James kicked off his shoes so he could let himself dramatically fall backwards onto Sirius' bed.
Blinking at the lack of reaction, James looked up to see his best friend was still reading.
"That's it?" Staring at the other incredulous for a moment, he realised there was no other reaction forthcoming and impatiently sat up, pulling the book from his brothers hands and tossing it over his shoulder; immediately regretting his action when Sirius flinched but managed to swallow his apology when his friend covered his flinch underneath a wet cough.
"What is it?"
"I'm telling you earth shattering news here, and you have no better reply than to say 'okay'?"
"Well, what would you like me to say?" Sirius looked at him.
"I don't know, something, anything?"
Sighing, Sirius raised his wand to murmur something under his breath before turning to him fully. "All right, what makes you think he is?"
"Thank you," satisfied to know he had his full attention, James let himself fall backwards onto the bed once more. "At first, I didn't really think anything of it; but you know how Remus is so often sick and keeps telling us reasons why he's got to leave for a day or two?"
"It caught my attention that he is always only sick once a month."
"Please don't tell me you thought he was secretly a girl," rubbing a hand over his face tiredly, Sirius leaned back against the headboard.
"Of course not, I mean, the thought might've crossed my mind, but I realised McGonagall would never allow a girl to say in our dorm," clearing his throat at Sirius' raised eyebrow, James grinned sheepishly. "Oh come on, he never changes around us; always locking himself into the bathroom to change. It was a valid thought."
"I don't change in the dorm either, there's this thing called privacy that some people enjoy. Not everyone flashes their naked parts around."
"I don't do that," deciding not to point out that Sirius had his own secrets he was hiding, James pouted.
"Yet I've seen your bare buttocks more often that I've even seen Regulus shirtless in the eleven years we've been living in the same house. You, my friend, are what normal people call a flasher."
"I...I...don't change the subject!" Aware his cheeks were burning, James pointedly ignored the knowing smile.
"The point is, Remus always gets sick once a month. I know he is always giving excused about his mum being sick and he's going to visit her, but unless it's really catching; she's not the one who is sick."
"So, because he has a bad immune system, he's a werewolf?"
"I might have been keeping track of when he's sick, just to be sure it wasn't anything serious," he shrugged at the blank look he received. "If it was something serious, then there might be regularity in the stadiums he displayed."
"What did you find?"
"He's sick once a month, on different days. But there is usually a pause of around twenty-eight days between the times he gets sick. He becomes quiet and withdrawn, not unusual when one is sick, I know. But then I couldn't sleep when he was absent again and noticed it was a full moon."
"So you compared your noted to when the full moon occurred, realising the times he was sick overlapped?"
"Exactly," grateful his friend was so quick of mind, he nodded. "They always overlap and I know it could be a coincidence, but adding up that he's always looking ill a few days beforehand and sore when he returns, formed the conclusion that he is a werewolf."
"And what of it if he were to be one?"
"Then he should have told us, doesn't he trust us?" James wasn't sure why Sirius wasn't reacting half as strongly as he himself had when first realising the truth, after all, it wasn't every day you discovered one of your closest mates was a werewolf.
But as he remembered the guarded look in his brother's eyes and the way Sirius was always after Remus to take care of himself, he realised Sirius had already known. Looking up with the intention to ask if that was true, the question died in his throat when he found him staring incredulous at him.
"If you were Muggle-born or a Half-Blood, I might've been able to understand that question, but surely, you, as a Pure-Blood, know how werewolves are treated in society?"
"We're his friends!"
"So? Our entire society shuns werewolves for something they rarely, if ever, willingly choose. They are persecuted and denied even the most basic of rights; even by their own relatives. There are some who shun their own after they are bitten and more than once I've heard stories of parents who kill their own offspring rather than having to deal with the same of having a werewolf in the family."
"Remus' parents aren't like that," James couldn't help but point out annoyed.
"No, they are not, Merlin bless their souls. But can you blame him for keeping it a secret? It is not something one would easily share, even with the closest of friends."
James' annoyance immediately deflated and he let himself fall backwards once more; grinning apologetically when his movement nearly unbalanced his friend. Reaching out, he tucked at the plaid surrounding his friend to cover him a bit more securely.
"But he would know we'd never shun him, right?"
"How would he know that? I mean, let's take a look at us. First, there's Peter, who, let's be fair, is afraid of his own shadow. He follows us around and, quite frankly, if you asked him to jump off the Astronomy Tower, I think he might just do it to get your approval," the words were harsh, but James couldn't deny the truth in them. "And we know both of his parents are rather narrow-minded when it comes to magical creatures, who knows what their stance on werewolves is."
Swallowing thickly as he remembered the man sneering at the beggars they'd come across at Diagon Alley, he sullenly plucked at a corner of the plaid as he understood his friend's point.
"Then, there's you. Everyone knows you are open-minded and rather vocal about it; as are your parents."
His proud grin faltered slightly as Sirius held up a hand to keep him quiet as he paused to cough. "But we've also seen your parents steer you away from the beggar near Knockturn Alley."
"What does a smelly homeless bloke have to do with anything?" Sitting up again so that he could look at his friend properly, James frowned.
"That man was a werewolf, his registration code was showing through his ripped clothes."
"Werewolves are required to register at the Ministry and are branded with a code on the collarbone for easy identification," Sirius explained.
"That's barbaric! Why would anyone do that?"
"Who knows how the minds of narrow-minded people work?" Sirius waved his protest off. "Point is, Remus was present to see how everyone responded to that man; your parents included. No matter how open-minded people might say they are, it are the instinctive reactions that leave the biggest impressions."
"So you think Remus believes we would shun him if we were to know the truth?"
"Would he have any reason to think otherwise?"
He wanted to badly disagree to Sirius' words; tell him that he and his parents were completely accepting and he was wrong, but he couldn't get the words over his lips. Not when everything his brother had said was true. His parents had pulled him away without even giving the man a second glance and if Sirius had identified the man for what he was; then there was no doubt that his own parents had done the same. But even as he questioned his parent's actions, something else occurred to him.
"But he also saw you drop a few coins into the man's hand before your uncle could see, so surely he would know that he can trust you?"
"You're kidding, right? I'm the heir to one of the darkest Houses in Wizarding history. If there is anyone out there who thrives in narrow-mindedness, Pure-Blood mania and bigotry; it would be the Blacks. I might have turned my back on their teachings, but how could he possibly know I wouldn't shun him if I knew what he was? For all he know, I thought the man was just homeless. One act of kindness doesn't defy one's personality."
"But you know, you've known for a while, haven't you? Surely he can see he can trust you?"
"Does he know he can trust us? Have we given him any reason to do so?"
James' wasn't sure why Sirius avoided answering him directly, but bristled at the idea that Remus didn't know he could trust them.
"We would keep his secret."
"Are you absolutely sure you would?" James wasn't entirely sure any more if he was speaking about Remus' secret any more as he stared into Sirius' unreadable eyes.
"Why do you doubt I can keep a secret?" His stomach turned unpleasantly as Sirius shot him a sceptical look. Did he truly think he wouldn't be able to keep a secret of that magnitude?
Sirius' gaze softened as he seemed to read his disbelief. "You just told me that you think Remus is a werewolf."
"Of course, you're you."
"That doesn't matter."
"Of course it does, there is no one I trust more than you and I know you wouldn't care about...you...you…." he trailed off, horror filling him as it registered what Sirius meant.
For all that he was always trying to show his brother that he could be trusted; that his secrets would be safe with him, he had just essentially proven that they weren't. Because even if he knew that Sirius was trustworthy and wouldn't care, he shouldn't have spoken about such huge secrets not his own.
"I'm sorry, is that why you've never told me that you know?" He gratefully tightened his hold on Sirius' hand when the other reached out to squeeze his in silent comfort.
"I can't talk about it."
"Not even now, when you know I know the truth?" His stomach clenched when Sirius looked away. "Am I really that untrustworthy?"
"I took a Vow of Silence," Sirius informed him quietly and James' breathing stocked as he recognised the words from something Remus had once asked. "You….when Remus asked….back then already?"
"Right, you can't talk about it without permission, forget I asked," clearing his throat, James ran a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry I spoke of secrets I had no business speaking about."
"You shouldn't have, though I am honoured that you such faith in me and the secret is safe with me," Sirius gave him a small smile. "But now we've got two options."
"And what would those be?"
"We keep the secret, even from Remus..."
"No, I can't stand the lies. I want him to be able to trust us, want him to feel comfortable and know he can trust us," James cut him off, squeezing the clammy hand in his own as he tried to convey his desire to help in any way he could.
"Or we tell him that we know and help him keep it a secret from everyone else," Sirius continued as if he hadn't interrupted. "It would make his life easier and we could help him cover more efficiently than he's doing now."
"Make better excuses than his mother being sick?" A slow smile crossed his lips as Sirius coughed out a laugh.
"It truly is a rather pathetic excuse in the long run, isn't it?"
"You've done your best to back him up," James acknowledged. "But he could use some better excuses, yeah."
"So we tell him?"
"Yes," of that James was sure.
"All right, though I think you might just be in danger regardless of anything we tell him."
"He's liable to tear you to pieces when he realises you've thrown a book across the room," Sirius teasingly indicated to the book James had tossed over his shoulder before.
"We can't have that happening, Accio book," catching the book blindly as it soared towards them, he quickly inspected it for damage before handing it over.
"Flitwick would be proud of you," Sirius smiled as he accepted the book back.
"Yes, well, he's forever bestowing extra work on us, so he better be," grinning James shot a look at the book in Sirius' hands. "Though I do wonder what you are doing with a fifth years Transfiguration book."
"I borrowed it from Frank to do some light reading."
"Robins willingly lent you his book? How many warnings did you receive?"
"No, Longbottom loaned it to me, isn't Robins a fourth year?"
Shrugging James stretched out onto the bed again. "He's so tall that he could easily be a fifth year."
Humming in agreement, Sirius caressed the back of the book. "True, but even if he was, I wouldn't borrow a book from him; he'd have tried to kill me for turning the page too quickly."
"Which means Remus and I would then have to kill him in retaliation for daring to lift a wand at you, so it might be best to refrain from borrowing anything from him."
Shifting to rest his head in Sirius' lap, he relished in the soft feel of Sirius' hand brushing through his hair before laughing when part of the plaid was dropped over his head.
Nuzzling the soft material for a moment, he pushed it away in favour of grabbing his brother's hand; frowning at the clamminess of it while entangling their fingers together.
"You're cold and clammy."
"Aren't I always?"
"Cold, yes, clammy not so much. How are you feeling?"
"Better. I don't think I'll be running around any time soon, but I don't feel like I've been hit by a Bludger any more."
Nodding in acceptance, James shifted to rest against the headboard beside him; taking the book from him so he could cover his brother more securely with the plaid, he smiled when Sirius immediately curled up against him and wrapped an arm around him.
"Should we test Peter's waters before we tell Remus? It wouldn't be smart to let Remus take his guard down when Pete might not share our tolerance," Sirius softly murmured as he rested his head against James' shoulder.
"That would be wise, though I don't know how as I don't want to make the same mistake as I did with you."
"You could ask about his opinion in general, say you've read about the subject in a third year's Defence book and want to know your friend's opinions" Sirius suggested. "You've already asked me and to make it seem more real, you could even ask Remus what he thinks. Might be a smart move anyway as it would let him know you're thinking about the subject before ambushing him."
"When did you become so wise?"
"One of us has to have the brains," grinning as James stuck out his tongue, Sirius yawned. "Are we done with the subject now?"
"Yeah, you can take the Muffliato Charm¹ down again. Have I mentioned before how handy that spell is?"
"A few times, spells are one of the only things my relatives are good for."
Pulling his legs up, James rested the book onto his knees so that Sirius didn't have to lean forward to be able to read with him before they read together in silence.
"Hey, you look cosy."
Snapping his head up as he hadn't heard the door to their dorm open, James blinked to see Remus standing in a dark room.
"What time is it?" Rubbing a hand over his face, James glanced down to find the book had slid off his lap and Sirius was fast asleep on his shoulder.
"A little after five, I came to give him a doze of Pepper-Up Potion that I nicked from the hospital wing and to see if he wanted me to bring him something back from dinner," Remus explained, placing the potion onto the night stand before taking a seat on the edge of the bed and reaching out to place a hand on Sirius' forehead.
"His fever's gone down a bit, but it's not gone yet."
Smiling when Sirius leaned into Remus' touch unconsciously, James nodded in agreement before pressing a kiss into his brother's hair before pulling back. "What do you think about Remus taking my place so that I can hunt Peter down and retrieve dinner?"
Immediately fingers tightened in James' shirt as Sirius tensed and he made a soft noise of protest; causing James to quickly slide his arm back around him.
"I'm not going anywhere, I'll stay right here," he comforted the other; pulling him closer while sending an apologetic smile at Remus. "Sorry."
"Don't be," there was a surprisingly soft smile on Remus' lips as he reached out to brush the fringe out of Sirius' eyes. "I haven't earned that level of trust yet and I'm just happy that he trusts me enough to be honest in where his boundaries are, even if he's not quite awake while doing it."
The smile on Remus' lips grew as he pulled the plaid up to cover Sirius more thoroughly; the other not stirring now that James wasn't moving any more. "I'll ask Tiffy if she will bring up some light soup for him and dinner for you so that you won't have to leave him."
"Thanks," magically retrieving the plaid resting at the edge of his own bed, James carefully covered Sirius with that one as well so he'd be nicely warm. "I don't really want to leave him alone more than I have to, even though I know he's been on his own for most of the day."
"We could hold a slumber party and spend the evening up here," Remus suggested. "It's a Saturday so no one will bat an eye if we spend the entire evening here."
"Might keep people from noticing his absence as well now that he's been up here all day."
"I'll hunt down Peter, pick up some snacks and if he's up for it later, we could play a game when we return."
"Try to avoid McGonagall, though. He managed to avoid her noticing he was unwell all week and it wouldn't do for her to catch him at the tail end of this illness just to be forced to go to the hospital after all."
"I will," gaze lingering on Sirius for a moment longer, Remus rose to his feet. "I'll request a new bucket of ice cubes from Tiffy as well, just in case his fever spikes again."
At his nod, Remus made his way to the door, only pausing to take care in opening it carefully and slipping through it as soon as it was far enough open.
Smiling at the gentle care the other took to ensure the sound wouldn't disturb their slumbering friend, James brushed his fingers through Sirius' short hair; hoping he'd be able to catch Peter soon so that they could take at least one of of the secrets out of their little group.