Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing.

A/N: I read two really funny fanfics, Brother Werewolf and Helping Remus (I do not remember the authors' names, it's been awhile, and I apologize) that both had the same base: Remus is an orphan, and James's parents adopt him. However, even though they were fun and all, I thought that it went too easily in them. James would not be that ready to give up his status as an only child, and besides, I'm not that much into easy things... So I decided to write my own fic on it.
In the beginning of this, the boys are in the end of their second year at Hogwarts.

Qualms and Connections

Chapter 1:

The Letter

"I don't believe this!" bellowed James, fuming. "They cannot be fucking serious!"

"What's the matter?" asked Sirius, eyeing his best friend curiously. James had just received an owl from home, but as the owls he got from his family were usually pleasant, Sirius didn't understand why the other boy was angry. Well, anything would have been pleasant compared to the notes he got from home. He was almost becoming immune to it, though -- having been called a disgrace and the shame of his mother's flesh for about a hundred times, the insults were kind of growing old.

"Yeah, what's wrong?" asked Remus, popping his head out of his bed, where he'd been reading his Transfiguration text book. Not only was it unheard of James to be angry with his parents, but also the bespectacled boy almost never swore. Only Remus himself in their small group of friends used less bad language than James.

"My bloody parents have seemingly decided that I'm not enough," snapped James. "And they are going to adopt some fucking brat! Tell me that I'm going to have a brother! Well, if they think I'm going to just sit back and watch them fawn over some strange kid, they're sorely mistaken!"

"Don't take it so seriously, mate," said Peter, frowning slightly. "From what I know, adoptions usually take a rather long process. You'll have plenty of time to get used to the thought."

Remus had to bite his tongue so he wouldn't correct Peter. The case was that with Muggle adoptions, yes. But in Wizarding adoptions, the adoptive parents usually just walked to the orphanage, picked a fitting child, and casted the Adoption Charm. Irreversible, and worked well. However, he could not tell that to his friends, since they would have wondered how he knew that. And he could never tell them. They would hate him if they knew -- they would just abandon him, like his parents had so long, long time ago.

However, James told that to Peter for him. "It's not so with wizards," he said bitterly. "They're going to go and pick a suitable brother for me a week after I've come home for the summer holiday!"

"Take it easy, mate," Sirius said. "I personally would be happy if my parents were civil enough to want to take yet another brat to take care of. Hell, I'd be happy if they were civil enough to take care of those they already have!" The others shot him pitying glances. Everyone knew about Sirius's hard home life.

Nobody knew about Remus's. Well, home and home, he wouldn't go as far as to call his current orphanage his home. Or any of them, for that matter. All his life ever since he'd been three, he'd been tossed from one orphanage to another. Not once had he met somebody who would have really cared about him or whatever happened to him.

"Take it easy," echoed James. "Take it easy, you say! How am I supposed to take it easy? They're fucking just picking some kid from this bloody orphanage and I am just supposed to watch from the side and accept it! Well, I'm telling you, I sure as hell am not going to make it easy at them!"

"James, think about that kid," said Remus quietly. "Those kids have been abandoned, or their parents are dead. Each and every one of them deserves a real family. Be mad at your parents, if you want, but don't be nasty at the kid. If you do, you'll be just as bad as any Slytherin."

"Moony's right," Sirius agreed. "Your future brother has done nothing to deserve your anger. Try to treat him nicely, even if you are going to be mad at your parents."

"Fine," grumbled James. "I'll steer clear of the kid if he doesn't bother me. But I will not try to get all big-brotherly at him, don't even think that! I'd rather eat alive snakes or -- or -- or kiss Snape!"

Even though he laughed along with the others, Remus felt a painful stab in his heart. He shouldn't be laughing. He should tell them that Severus wasn't that bad, that the kid deserved a brother too, and that they shouldn't make fun of someone they didn't know. But he didn't, because he was afraid of losing his friends, afraid of losing yet more people who were important to him.

Remus couldn't help but feel envious as well. Whoever it was the Potters were going to adopt, that person was really lucky. He couldn't imagine better parents than James had -- then again, his experience of any parents was extremely limited, at least on the time he could remember properly. All he knew about fathers and mothers was what his friends had told him about theirs, and he thought that James had the best parents in the world. For a moment he hoped that they would adopt him, that he would be lucky enough to get that happiness.

But that would not happen, not ever. Remus was a werewolf, after all, bookish and quiet and too old. People who were willing to adopt children wanted young, lively, human children. Not anything like him.

He'd seen it more than once. Every time when he'd been younger and somebody had come to look at the children, most had just given him a passing glance -- the quiet, shy boy in the corner, a dark-looking friend always by his side or at least somewhere nearby. Those who ever paid more attention to him were whispered something to by the nearest nurse -- even Remus with his superior hearing could never catch their words, but he knew very well what they said.

'Werewolf.' That word, that stigma would follow him for the rest of his life, even more than the stigma of an orphan. And that word always made the parent candidates turn away, shivering in fear and disgust when they realized that they had actually been considering, even if for a brief moment, adopting a werewolf.

And nowadays, nobody even looked at him. They went to the younger kids, and one of them would be pleasant and lively and polite enough, and he or she would get parents and a proper home. And Remus was always happy for them, but he was also envious, really envious because they could have a proper, normal life with parents and a home. A loving home where they could always go to, and loving parents who would never give them up. Never, since proper parents would never give up their child, would they?

He could just suppress a sob that threatened to escape from his lips. Even Sirius's parents hadn't abandoned him, and they outright hated him, had hated him even before he went to Hogwarts and got sorted in Gryffindor. Just how horrible had Remus been for his parents to abandon him, to leave him on an orphanage's steps with only the clothes he had on himself and a thin necklace that had once been his grandmother's and that he had refused to part from? How bad he could have been to be left alone like that? And just how much had his parents hated him?

Remus knew he wasn't the only one, of course. Oh, he knew it better than well. Only three days after he'd been brought to the orphanage -- he'd been only three then -- another boy had been brought there. He'd only had a small bag full of worthless chattels with him, that and his name and the clothes on him. His mother, too, had brought him to the orphanage, but while Remus's parents had just put him on the steps of the house and casted a spell to make sure he would stay there, Severus had been brought inside. To keep him safe, his mother had said, safe from his father who always beat him and her. Severus hadn't said anything, just scowled, and then walked over to stand next to Remus and remained there, in one way or another, for the next ten years. And there he still was, in spirit if not in flesh, and if Remus's other friends had known, they'd been mad.

Secrets. Big, dirty secrets were all that Remus had in life. The secret of his Lycanthropy for starters -- only his friends knew about it, and the teachers and the nurses in the orphanage. To everyone else, it was a secret. As well he kept in secret from his friends in Hogwarts that he was an orphan, that he'd been so horrible that his parents had abandoned him. And the secret of being friends with Severus, the one secret he wasn't going to give up in one way or another; he would never tell any of his other friends, and he would never stop being Severus's friend, either. Oh, and of course, the secret that he was a wizard, which was very well kept from every Muggle child in the semi-magical orphanage he and Severus nowadays lived in.

He had much to thank Severus for. For his life, for example. It'd been only Severus because of whom Remus had come out alive from his encounter with a werewolf, which had been when he'd been only six. As he had been "bad" -- in fact, he hadn't done anything, but one of the older boys had blamed him for something he hadn't done -- he had been locked out for the night. Yes, it had been harsh, but so had been all the nurses in their first orphanage. Unfortunately, nobody had noticed the fact that it was a full moon.

Severus had noticed. He had lain awake in his bed, the window open, waiting for Remus to give the mark they'd decided on so he would help his friend inside to warm up. However, what he had heard had been a scream of fear. A quick glance outside had shown him a big wolf advancing on his friend. Severus maybe had been only six years old, but he had known very well what to do, and without a moment's hesitating, he had run to wake up the head nurse.

The werewolf had been driven away, and Remus had stayed alive. However, he'd also been cursed with the Lycanthropy -- the worst curse there was in the whole wide Wizarding World. The orphanage had been shut after that, and all kids had been sent to different orphanages around the country. Severus and Remus had of course stuck up together, as they'd always been the best friends ever since they'd first met in the very same orphanage. It had been Severus who'd sat by Remus and held his hand while the newly-turned werewolf had cringed in pain as the Ministry officials had carved his werewolf ID number on his arm, it had been Severus with whom Remus had spoken many late nights, it had been Severus with whom Remus had together cried about being alone and abandoned.

They were different, true. Their similar pasts and upbringing had led them into two different directions. While Remus defended, Severus attacked. While Remus tried to please everyone, Severus was nasty to everyone and anyone. But despite these differences, they'd still stayed best friends all these years, and were still, not that many people knew about that.

So, he valued Severus's friendship over anything else. Even over his friendship with the other Marauders, even though he did hold that to a great value, too. If he'd had to pick between Sirius, Peter, and James and Severus, he'd immediately settled on his Slytherin friend. They were more than friends, they were brothers -- in soul and spirit, if not in blood. They had promised to stay together, no matter what.

And he would stick up to his brother, even if it meant losing his friends.

The next chapter:

James's parents visit the very same orphanage where Remus and Severus currently live.