Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of its characters. If I did none of the true Marauders would have ever died and they'd have lived long and happily ever after.
Warnings: Strong bromance, boys hugging, cuddling and holding hands while having emotions. Can't handle it, press the return button now, flames on that will be handled with a fire extinguisher and completely ignored after being put out.
The story includes Peter, though he is mostly only mentioned and doesn't really speak.
This plays in the Marauder era.
Reason Enough Chapter 1:
"I think Remus is a werewolf."
With those words James kicked off his shoes and dropped down onto Sirius' bed in their deserted dorm on a late afternoon.
James blinked at the lack of reaction as his best friend continued reading.
"That's it?" he waited for a long moment but there came nothing else so he pulled the book from Sirius' hands, tossing it over his shoulder. "Sirius!"
Sirius flinched, making James immediately feel bad for raising his voice, but he swallowed his apology as Sirius covered his flinch underneath a wet cough.
"I'm telling you very important news and you have nothing more to say than okay?"
"Well, what do you want me to say?" Sirius leaned back against the headboard.
"I don't know, something, anything!"
Sirius sighed, raising his wand to murmur something before he turned his head to him.
"All right, what makes you think he's a werewolf?"
"Thank you. At first I didn't really think anything of it, but you know how Remus is sick so often? And keeps telling us reasons why he's got to leave?"
"It caught my attention that he's always only sick once a month."
"Please tell me you didn't think he was secretly a girl," Sirius rubbed a hand over his face tiredly.
"No! Well, it might have crossed my mind, but I realised McGonagall would never allow a girl to stay in the dorm with boys. Oh come on, he never changes in the dorm, always locking himself into the bathroom to change. It was a valid thought," James defended his thoughts at Sirius' raised eyebrow.
"James, I don't change in the dorm either. It's something people call privacy, not everyone enjoys flashing their naked parts around."
"I don't flash my naked parts around," James protested, not pointing out that Sirius had his own secrets he was hiding from them.
"James, I've seen your bare buttocks more often than I've even seen Regulus shirtless. And I've been living in the same house as him for eleven years now. You, my friend, are what normal people call a flasher."
"I...I...don't change the subject!" James was aware his cheeks were burning, but he pointedly ignored the knowing and teasing smile on his best friend's lips.
"The point is, Remus always gets sick once a month. And I know he always giving excuses that his mum is sick and he's got to visit, but unless it's really catching, she's not the one who's sick."
"So, because he's sickly and doesn't want to admit it, 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 paused as Sirius gave him a blank look. "Well, if it was something serious then there might be regularity in the stadiums."
"What did you find?" James knew Sirius was finally taking him serious as he shifted, withdrawing slightly as though to prepare himself for what might come.
"He's sick once a month, on different days. But usually with pauses of around 28 days between them. He becomes quiet and withdrawn, not unusual when one is feeling unwell, I know. But then I couldn't sleep a few days after he'd been absent again and noticed it had been a full moon."
"So you compared your notes to when the full moon occurred?"
"Yes!" This was one of the times he was truly grateful his friend was so quick of mind. "His absences always overlaps with the full moon. It could be a coincidence, but adding up that he's always looking ill a few days before hand and sore when he gets back forms the conclusion that Remus is a werewolf."
"And what if he is?"
"Well, he should have told us, doesn't he trust us?" James wasn't sure why Sirius wasn't reacting half as strongly as he had when he had first realised it, it wasn't every day you discovered one of your friends was a werewolf. But as he stared at his friend, he had a feeling Sirius had been having his own suspicions already and it was only then that he realised Sirius was staring at him incredulously.
"If you were a Muggle-born or possibly even a half-blood, I would be able to understand that question. But surely you, as a pure-blood, know how werewolves are treated in our 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 families. 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 admit they have a werewolf in the family."
"Remus' parents aren't like that," James couldn't help but point out.
"No, they are not, Merlin bless their souls. But can you really blame him for keeping it a secret? It is not something you easily share, even with your closest of friends."
James' annoyance deflated immediately and he let himself fall backwards onto the bed, grinning apologetic as his action almost unbalanced Sirius. He made up for it by tucking the plaid surrounding his friend around him a bit more securely.
"But we would never shun him."
"And how would he know that? I mean, let's take a look at his friends. First, there's Peter, who, let's be fair, is scared of his own shadow. He follows us around and, quite frankly, if you told him to jump off the Astronomy Tower I think he might just do it just to get your approval. And we know his father is rather narrow-minded when it comes to magical creatures, who knows what his stance is on werewolves."
There was nothing James could say to that, having seen the man sneer at the certain people when they'd ran into each other in Diagon Alley that summer. So he settled for sullenly plucking at a corner of the plaid still pooling around Sirius' slender form.
"Then, there is you. Everyone knows you are open-minded and rather vocal about it, and so are your parents."
James grin faltered slightly as Sirius held up a hand to keep him quiet, pausing to cough.
"But we've also seen your parents steer you away from the homeless man that was trying to leave Knockturn Alley."
"What does a smelly homeless bloke have to do with anything?" James sat up again, so that he could look at Sirius without having to crane his neck.
"The man was a werewolf, James. His registration code was showing through his ripped clothes. Point is, Remus was present to see how everyone reacted to the man, your parents included. No matter how open-minded people might say they are, it is the instinctive reactions that leave the biggest impressions."
"So you think Remus believes I would shun him if I were to know the truth?"
James knew he should feel hurt by that and he wanted to disagree with the other's words about his parents not being completely accepting, but he knew it would be a lie and he understood what Sirius meant.
"Well, what about you then? I saw you shoplift your uncle's wallet and drop a few coins into the man's lap before he pulled you away, too. So surely he knows he can trust you."
"Are you kidding me? I'm the heir of one of the darkest families in Wizarding history. If there is anyone out there who thrives in narrow-mindedness, pure-blood mania and bigotry, it's my family. And I might have turned my back on their teachings, but how could he possible know I wouldn't shun him if I knew what he was? For all he knows I thought the man was just homeless, one act of kindness doesn't define a person's personality."
"I know, but we know he can trust us, right?"
"Of course! We would keep his secret."
James wasn't entirely sure if he was truly speaking about Remus anymore as he stared in Sirius' unreadable eyes.
"Are you absolutely sure of that?"
"Why do you doubt I can keep it a secret?" James' stomach turned unpleasantly as Sirius shot him a sceptical look. Did he truly think he wouldn't be able to keep a secret and was that why he didn't trust him with the truth?
"You just told me and you couldn't have known how I'd react."
James gaped at him, making undignified noises as Sirius stared at him with that same unreadable expression.
"You...you're you...I mean...I already messed up, didn't I?" deflating again, James let himself fall back once more; suddenly painfully aware he had indeed messed up.
He was always trying to show Sirius he could trust him with anything, regardless of what it was. But here he was, showing his best friend he clearly couldn't be trusted to keep a huge secret.
"Yes, you did. Luckily for you, I couldn't care less if he's a werewolf or not. That leaves us with two options," Sirius smiled as he patted his shoulder, misunderstanding the true reason for his distress.
Taking a deep breath to shake his wandering thoughts, James focused on him again.
"And what would that be?"
"We keep that we know it a secret, even from Remus."
"We can't keep it a secret! I can't stand the lies and I want him to be able to trust us!"James grabbed his clammy hand, squeezing tightly as he tried to convey that once more.
"Or we tell him that we know and help him keep it a secret from everyone else," Sirius continued as if James hadn't interrupted him. "Because, quite frankly, if you found a pattern in his absence, who's to say no one else will, either. If we tell him we know, we can cover for him more efficiently."
"Make better excuses than his mother being sick?" James grinned as Sirius chuckled.
"Better than that, yes."
"So that means you believe me?"
"Would I be having this conversation with you if I didn't?"
Accepting that logic, despite having already realised his best friend had already suspected, James yawned with a nod.
"However, if he is indeed a werewolf, then I know you might just be in danger."
Frowning James looked up to his best friend questioningly.
"Because he might just growl at you if he realises you've thrown a book across the room," Sirius teased, indicating the book James had taken from him and that was now laying abandoned halfway across the room.
"Can't have that, Accio book," James murmured, catching it blindly as it soared towards them.
"Flitwick would be proud," Sirius chuckled as he accepted the book back.
"He'd have a coronary if he realised just how advanced we are in Charms. And he'd not be the only one either, what are you doing with a fifth year Transfiguration book?"
"I borrowed it from Frank, wanted to learn something new," Sirius shrugged as he fixed the damage James had done to the spine.
"Robins lent you his book? He lent you his book, willingly? How many warnings did you receive?"
"No, Longbottom loaned it to me. Isn't Robins in fourth year?"
James shrugged. "He's so tall it could easily be he's a fifth year."
"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 would mean Remus and I would then have to kill him in retaliation for attacking our best mate, so it might be best if you didn't borrow anything from him."
"Duly noted," Sirius smiled.
"What are you reading about?" James ignored the slight tensing as he rested his head on Sirius' lap, playing with the plaid once more as he waited for his friend to relax under his touch.
"You really have no concept of personal space, do you?" James simply grinned, nuzzling his face lazily into the soft fabric Sirius dropped over his head as he detected no real annoyance or lingering unease in the other's voice.
"You're cold and clammy," he commented as he caught Sirius' hand again, keeping his touch loose but was happy when Sirius didn't pull back, instead entangling their fingers.
"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'm doing better," James smiled at the reassurance in his companion's voice and sat up to tuck the plaid around him a bit tighter again before leaning against the headboard beside him.
Taking the book from him he held it up so they could read it together, smiling when Sirius curled up beside him and let his head rest against his shoulder.
"Should we test Peter's waters before we tell Remus? It wouldn't be smart to let Remus take his guard down and accidentally get himself into trouble if Peter's not as tolerant."
"That would be wise. I wonder how I should approach it though, I don't want to make the same mistake I made with you," James murmured.
"Just be sure to keep the subject general and don't show your own opinions too clearly. Not if you want his opinion to be uninfluenced by your own," Sirius fell silent for a moment.
"You can say you've borrowed a third year's Defence book and read about the subject. I doubt he'll ask, but if he does then you can just say you are curious to your friend's opinions. Can always say you've already asked me and to make it seem more real, you could even ask Remus. Might be a smart move anyway; test the waters before you ambush him with your knowledge."
Sirius grinned. "Do it casually though, don't want to give him a coronary by approaching him cautiously."
"When did you become so wise?" James asked.
"One of us has to be the wise one," Sirius teased, laughing as James swatted at his arm half-heartedly.
"Are you done about the subject now?"
"Yeah, you can take the Muffliato Charm¹ down again. Have I mentioned before how handy that spell is?"
"About the only thing my relatives are good for," Sirius smiled faintly, leaning back against him.
Pulling his legs up a little, James rested the book onto his knees so that Sirius didn't have to lean forward to be able to read.
They had only read in silence for about half an hour before their dorm opened to reveal Remus.
"Hey, you look cosy," he commented softly, crossing the room to place some items onto Sirius' night stand.
"Hey, he's dozing off," James greeted him.
"I can see that. I've nicked some more Pepper-up Potion from the hospital wing so he can take some this evening."
"Thanks," James watched as Remus took a seat on the edge beside Sirius, placing a hand on his forehead.
"His fever's gone down a bit, but it's not completely gone yet."
James smiled as Sirius leaned into Remus' touch with closed eyes.
"How about he takes my place and you sleep a little, huh? I need to hunt down Peter to discuss what we spoke about earlier anyway," he softly suggested to Sirius, despite knowing he'd not get a reaction.
"He was still in the kitchen when I left, so I assume he'll still be there," Remus advised as he switched places with James.
Sirius made a soft sound of protest as Remus carefully slid him down, but quieted down again when Remus shifted him to rest his head in his lap comfortably.
James tucked him in with the plaid, pulling the one from his own bed to add it to that one so that he'd be nicely warm.
"I asked the House Elves if they could bring some light soup up for him to have for dinner, but it might be easier if you brought back dinner for all of us," Remus suggested.
"Sounds like a good plan. Although I know he's been on his own for most of the midday, I rather be here so he won't be alone in the evening," James admitted.
"Then let's hold a slumber party then and spend the evening up here. It is a Saturday so it's not really unusual for us to be up here."
"True, and since we don't want to call attention to the fact that he's sick it will keep his absence unnoticed too. I'll pick up some snacks for us; if he's up to it we could play a game when I return."
"Sure. Try to avoid McGonagall though, if she knew he was sick she'd force him to the hospital wing."
"That wouldn't do, you keep an eye on him and I'll be back as soon as I can," James brushed Sirius' fringe out of his eyes, grimacing at the slightly damp hair.
"I'll bring along a new bucket of ice cubes too, just in case."
At Remus' nod he quickly put on his shoes again, pausing at the door to glance back one more time; to find Remus brushing a hand through Sirius' hair absent-mindedly while he flipped through the book they'd been reading.
Smiling at the sight, James slipped out to make his way to the kitchen and hopefully Peter so that he could get his opinion on werewolves, hopefully taking out at least one of the secrets in their small group.
¹ I am aware that according to canon, Snape invented the Muffliato charm. But for the life of me I cannot see him having enough imagination to actually make up a spell like that, or that it didn't already exist in the magical world. Like seriously, has no one ever had to hold a conversation no one could over hear? So, sorry for all the Snape fans out there, but I gave credit to the invention of that spell to the Blacks.