We Should Be There Deborah Peters

A/N: If the idea of one boy kissing another makes you uncomfortable, I'm afraid this story will as well. Special thanks go to my beta, Doctor Aicha, for encouraging this, when I know the real reason was that she was sick of reading fiction about Percy.

Chapter One: Strength

Sirius's voice broke the midnight silence in the almost-empty Common Room. "He's quite strong, you know."
James, the only other student still awake, looked up from the thick stack of parchment he had been revising. "Who is?"
Sirius was leaning against the wall, his notes abandoned, staring out the window at the full moon. "Remus. He's stronger than he looks."
James snorted, stretching and absent-mindedly mussing his hair. "Yeah, well, he's a werewolf, chum."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "I mean it. He always looks so sick all of the time, but—remember that time he and I had that row?"
"You mean when you almost had him kill Snape?" James asked dryly.
Sirius waved his hand impatiently. "Yes, that, but I was talking about the morning after, when we went to see Remus in hospital."
James grinned. "Oh, yeah. I've never seen him so angry, ever."
Sirius nodded. "He knocked me down, James. Knocked me to the floor."
"So?" James asked, shrugging.
"That's no small feat, is it?"
James almost succeeded in suppressing his laughter. "And I'm the one with the ego problem, eh?" he managed to say, covering his face with his hands to keep from waking any of their housemates.
Sirius crossed his arms. "Have you ever managed to do it?" he asked pointedly.
James didn't sober in the slightest. "That's just because we've never had a proper row."
"Well," Sirius said, "unless you want one now, I suggest you shut it."
James pressed his lips together and nodded, a few additional giggles escaping.
"As I was saying," Sirius said, leaning his head against the window, "I'm quite a bit taller, not to mention heavier, than Moony is, right?" James nodded. "Well, he knocked me right flat, didn't he?" James nodded again. "All I'm saying is, he's a lot stronger than he looks." Sirius turned away to look out the window again.
James stared after him. "Sirius," he said after a moment's pause, "Is something bothering you?"
"What?" Sirius started, then relaxed. "Oh...well... we should be there with him tonight."
James shook his head. "You heard him. Not after that close call we had last month."
Sirius straightened. "And what's about that, anyway?"
"What do you mean?"
"Why's he suddenly so concerned? He laughed about it the day after, same as always, then suddenly this morning he tells the two of us—"
"Three of us, Sirius. Peter didn't leave for his great-aunt's funeral until after Charms."
"Three of us, then," amended Sirius. "Why's he suddenly all Mr. Prefect on us?"
"Well, you do have to admit, that was the closest we've come to something really bad happening," James said, adjusting his wire-rimmed glasses.
Sirius threw his hands in the air, exasperated. "Now you? Listen, just because you've been made Head Boy—"
"Now look," James said, "You're being... well, you're being you, and you're being exasperating."
Sirius ran his hand through his hair, thinking. "Look," he said finally, "All I'm saying is, I stopped him before he got anywhere near that little Muggle boy, didn't I? Why was he so upset about it?"
"Sirius," James said slowly, "How old was Remus when he was bitten?"
"I don't know—four? Five? He never said exactly, but it was something like that, right?"
James nodded. "And how old would you say that boy was?"
Sirius leaned back against the wall. "Oh."
"Oh, now you understand. I guess you're not third in our class for nothing."
Sirius snorted. "What do you mean, third? If I recall correctly, you're the one who choked on that last Transfiguration exam. I believe that puts me ahead of you, mate."
"Yeah," James smirked. "But you're still behind Lily."
"Proud, are you? Proud of your red-haired girl friend? Sirius said, grabbing an inkwell off a shelf and lobbing it good-naturedly at his best friend.
"Yeah," James said, catching it deftly and throwing it back. "I am, actually." The two boys grinned at each other. "Now, come on," James said, "Are we studying for N.E.W.T.s, or are you just going to stare at the bleeding moon all night?"
Sirius had turned to look out the window again. "In a minute. I'm thinking."
James heaved an audible sigh. "Last time you said that, I wound up an Animagus."
"Shut it, will you?"
James snickered, but kept his silence, bent over his notes, until Sirius's voice broke the silence again. "How did you know?"
James looked up. "Know what?"
"Lily," Sirius said unblushingly. "How'd you know how you felt about her?"
James shrugged. "Dunno. I always have, you know that. You tormented me enough about it second year when you caught me tracing her initials in the margins of my History of Magic notes."
Sirius smiled softly. "Was it hard, though? Making the transition from hating each other, to friendship, to—well, to coming back to the dorm with lipstick on your face?"
James, a dopey grin on his face, involuntarily moved his hand towards his cheek before scowling, dropping his hand to his lap, and saying, "Look, what's wrong with you tonight?"
Sirius shrugged. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you're being awfully serious."
Sirius groaned. "I swear to Merlin, if you ever make that stupid pun again—"
"No!" James said, waving him off, "That was unintentional. What I mean is, you're being weird. Weirder than normal."
"Oh, shove it, Potter," Sirius said, turning back towards the window. In a few moments, however, he said, quietly, "I guess I'm just worried about Moony."
James looked surprised. "Why? You said yourself, he's stronger than he looks."
"It's just—well, he hasn't made a transformation without us in almost two years, has he? I mean, even over the summers, he's had either you or me, and both of us sometimes."
"Well, yeah."
Sirius turned away from the window, frowning. "So, he's had us to keep him from—from hurting himself. You remember what it was like without us. How he'd be in hospital for whole days afterwards. You've seen the scars on his hands, and on his back, and that really deep one that runs right across the back of his neck—" Sirius slammed his hand against the wall. "That's it," he said, with a sense of finality. "We have to go out there."
James put his notes aside and stood up. "No, Sirius."
"Look, James," Sirius said, crossing the room to stand in front of him, "I know he told us to stay here, but I absolutely cannot stand the idea of him having to go through this alone. Do you know what he's doing to himself right now? Do you know how bad he's going to be in the morning? Can't you just imagine when Madam Pomfrey goes in to get him and he's lying there in a pool of his own blood, unconscious because of the horror he's just been through—"
"Sirius!" James exclaimed, reaching up to grab his best friend by the shoulders. "Calm down! He's going to be fine!"
"Haven't you been listening to me?" Sirius said desperately. "He's cutting himself out there—biting himself—"
"There's nothing we can do!" James said forcefully. "Even if I thought we should go down there, we'd have no way of getting past the Willow without Peter being here."
"So we use a stick!" Sirius was almost frantic. "If Snivellus can do it—"
"Listen to yourself!" James tightened his grip of Sirius's shoulders and shook him. "You are practically hysterical. What in hell is wrong with you?" Sirius started to make a reply, but James cut him off. "No. It's your turn to shut it. Listen to me. Remus made that transformation without us for ten years. That's more than half of our lives. Are you listening? He doesn't need us. Sure, we help him, and sure, he likes having us there, and I know that we like being there for him. But he doesn't need us, Sirius," James repeated. "He doesn't need us."
"Well, maybe I need him to!" Sirius blurted.
James's hazel eyes blinked behind his glasses. "What did you say?"
"Nothing," Sirius spat, trying to pull away.
James held him in place. "No, you said you need him to. Need him to need us? Is that what you said? You need him to need us? Why? You don't think we have enough responsibility, enough people idolising us?"
"I don't give a damn about us, Prongs! I could care less if he needs you or Peter!"
James's voice was quiet, but strong. "So, you're saying you need him to need you?"
Sirius didn't answer.
James didn't raise his voice. "What do you mean, Padfoot?"
"I—"Sirius was far more hesitant than he had ever been. "I—I don't know. I don't know what I mean. I don't know." The words came out in a rush as he pulled himself from James's grip. "I don't—I have to go. I'm taking your cloak."
"No," James said, grabbing Sirius's arm, "You're not going down there."
"I'm not!" Sirius said angrily, pushing James away from him. "I just need to go think. I'll go to the lake or something. I swear, I won't go anywhere near him tonight."
"Give me your word. As a Gryffindor."
Sirius's expression was solemn. "I give you my word."
James nodded, and Sirius practically ran up the stairs to their dormitory. He returned in a few moments, the shimmering material draped over his arm, and swept past James without another word, swinging the cloak over his shoulders as he exited through the portrait hole.