Author's Warning: In an attempt to get this out before Christmas, this chapter has not been proffread and edited as well as other chapters before. Please make allowances for my (hopefully) occasional typos and glaring gramatical or plot errors


Remus stepped into the Great Hall and was greeted with usual clamor of students and silverware. It always surprised him how the hospital wing could be so quiet in comparison to this. He spotted Sirius and Peter in their usual spot at the Gryffindor table and hurried to meet them.

"Where's James?" he asked as he sat down across from Sirius and helped himself to a plate of scrambled eggs.

"Library," Sirius answered. "He's trying to finish that Transfiguration essay."

"The one due in twenty minutes?"

"The very same," he said, taking a bite of toast. "He woke up about ten minutes ago and realized he hadn't even started it– and McGonagall's been a bit testy about his lack of completed homework lately."

"Funny how she gets like that," Remus muttered sarcastically. He glanced down the table, trying to catch sight of Athena.

"She's not here," Peter said, watching him. "She hasn't been at meals all weekend."

"That's odd," he mused, still looking at the group of fifth year girls at the other end of the table. "I didn't see her in the hospital wing, so she's not sick."

Sirius shrugged. "Maybe she's having girl issues, or something."

"Girls issues?" Remus repeated, eyebrows raised.

"Yeah, girls are always taking days off because they're having mood swings and whatnot. That's probably all this is."

"Since when have girls done that?"

"Since always."

"And how exactly do you know?"

Sirius smirked. "Moony," he said, pressing one hand to his chest. "I am an expert on the opposite sex."

"So why can't you keep a girlfriend for more than three weeks?" Remus queried as Peter sniggered into his pumpkin juice.

"Vicious, Moony. Absolutely vicious," Sirius said. He glanced down the table and chuckled to himself. "Speaking of vicious," he muttered.

"What?" Remus asked earnestly.

"Well, if looks could kill, then Alice would be digging your grave right now," Sirius said, still smirking.

Remus and Peter both glanced down the table again. Sure enough, Alice Green was glaring at Remus with a fury that would make weaker men tremble. "Merlin, Moony, what'd you do?" Peter asked.

"I didn't do anything," Remus said, looking away.

"You obviously did something, mate," Sirius said. "Girls don't look at their friend's boyfriend like that for no reason."

"I was in the hospital all weekend. What could I have done?"

Sirius shook his head morosely. "Only time will tell," he said. "Chances are you missed your three and two-third months anniversary."

Remus rolled his eyes. "Maybe your girlfriends are that petty, Sirius, but Athena is not."

"Whatever you say mate," he said. His voice was drowned out by the sound of owls flooding into the Great Hall. "Post is here," he mused absently.

A tawny barn owl soared overhead, before gently descending and dropping a copy of the Prophet in Remus's bowl of oatmeal. Sirius looked at him skeptically. "Since when do you get the newspaper?" he asked.

Remus shrugged. "My dad sends it along whenever there's big news," he answered. He pulled the paper out of his breakfast and scraped off the oatmeal.

"You know," Sirius mused. "Sometimes, I wish my dad would send me things– but then I remember I hate my dad, and suddenly it ceases to matter."

Peter chortled, but Remus was immersed in the newspaper. He swore under his breath.

Sirius's eyes trained on him. "What?"

He handed the paper to Sirius. "That's what," he said darkly.

Massacre in Diagon Alley Claims Lives of Innocent Wizards

Sirius swore and quickly scanned the article for details. At least ten lives claimed . . . Believed to be the work of You-Know-Who and his followers . . .A tragedy reminiscent of the murders during Grindewald's rise . . .Maybe connected to the death of Auror Jared Potter and the disappearances of the Stalwarts and the Abbots. . . Ministry advises caution . . . Sirius couldn't believe it. A massacre? In Diagon Alley? It was unthinkable. He looked around the Great Hall. Quite a few of the older students were huddled close to each other and, undoubtedly, discussing the latest news. The younger students were completely oblivious. He snuck a glance at the Slytherin table. The older Slytherins, the ones– he was sure– who were in on the illicit activities, were all wearing smug and proud expressions, as though they had done something to be proud of.

Peter, who had been studying the article over Sirius's shoulder, looked up. "So, do we tell James about this?" he asked timidly.

Sirius rounded on him. "Why wouldn't we tell him?"

"Peter's got a valid point," Remus said. "It might be wise to keep this from him–for the meantime, at least. His temper's been so unstable . . ."

"You're talking like he's gone mental," Sirius snapped.

"I'm just saying that he seems to get upset by things that remind him of Jared," Remus defended. "These attacks are going to be a very real, very painful reminder of what happened to his family."

"Well, if you're so worried about upsetting him," Sirius said derisively. "Then he should hear this from us! This will be all over the school by nightfall. If he doesn't hear it from us, then he'll hear it from someone that he won't mind hexing into next year."

Remus sighed. "I think it would be best," he started, studying Sirius's grim expression. "If we wait until we can get James by himself to clue him in. We can do it tonight, or even this afternoon. But I think that if he's just with us, then he won't–"

"Go loony?" Sirius asked. His voice was hard and cold. "Is that what you were implying, Remus?"

"I was doing no such thing, Sirius," he said. "James is my friend, too. In case you've forgotten. I don't want to see him get in anymore trouble."

"Fine," Sirius said with an air of frustration, but he didn't further push the subject.

They caught up with James later in the afternoon, and in the privacy of the dormitory they casually talked about current events. As predicted, when James heard about the Diagon Alley Massacre, his temper flared. He ranted at his friends for nearly a quarter of the hour, complaining about the lack of government action and the barbaric notions of Death Eaters who saw fit to destroy families. Sirius, Remus, and Peter sat and watched as James raved. None of them knew what else to do but sit and wait for the fit of temper to pass. Eventually, though, it did, and James retreated back into the reserved and irritable shell he had adopted over the past two months.

The next few days passed uneventfully. The news of the massacre had spread with alarming speed in the school, and Sirius noticed that several students were pulled out of school for funerals. James's temper had subsided some after his outburst in the dormitory and only caused minimal trouble and only when it was unavoidable. Meanwhile, Remus, much to his frustration, continued to be ignored by Athena and her friends. Even Lily had given him little more than a passing greeting in the halls when he tried to question her about what was going on. He couldn't think for the life of him what he could have done to upset her so much, and it was beginning to wear his patience down. It wasn't until Thursday during Ancient Runes that he managed to talk some information out of her.

They were working on another translation–which was increasingly difficult as Lily was unwilling to say more than five words to him. Finally, he sighed heavily, set his quill down, closed his book, and looked at Lily. "Look," he said. "I know you're upset with me on Athena's behalf, but this is really frustrating. Would you talk to me, please?"

Lily sighed and looked up at him. "I can't pretend that you didn't bring this upon yourself, Remus," she said. Her tone was weary.

He stared at her, not understanding what she was talking about.

"I mean, really, I was shocked about what you did," she continued. "I thought you were more considerate than that. If you couldn't show, then you should have told her."

Couldn't show? "Lily, I don't know what you're talking about. Would you at least tell me what I did wrong?"

Lily's eyes widened. "You mean you don't remember?" He shook his head. "I told Alice that you must've forgotten, but she seemed pretty keen on believing that you did it on purpose."

"Did what?"

"Hogsmeade," Lily answered, as though that one word explained everything.

Remus stared, still not comprehending. "I know there's a Hogsmeade trip this weekend, but what has that got to do with anything?" he said. "Surely she can't be upset with me for something that hasn't even happened yet."

Lily blinked. "Oh," she whispered.

"Oh, what?"

"Remus, the Hogsmeade trip was this past weekend, not this coming weekend," she said gently.

"Oh, bugger."

"You got the dates confused?"

He nodded dismally. "And I was ill all weekend, so I didn't know otherwise."

"Well," Lily suggested, "I think the best course of action now would be to go explain to her. Granted, you might want to be sure Alice isn't around, because she's been planning on hexing you for hurting Athena. And you might want to explain soon, because she's really upset."

After dinner, Remus, Sirius, and Peter had gathered in the common room and Remus explained why Athena was angry at him. Sirius chortled when the situation was explained, saying that it wasn't like Remus to forget things so easily and that he must be losing touch with reality. When Remus said that he wanted to tell Athena the truth behind his absence, though, he was less than amiable. His protective streak kicked in and he rattled off reasons after reasons that Athena should not be told, but Remus wouldn't hear of them.

"My mind is made up," he explained. "I'm sick of lying to her. So, I'm going to tell her whether you like it or not."

Sirius refused to say another word on the matter, which was just as well, because Remus would have refused to hear it. Remus stood as soon as he saw Athena come in through the portrait hole. He was pleased to see that she was alone. Mustering some amount of courage, he called her name across the common rom.

She turned to look at him. "What do you want, Remus?" she asked. Her voice was cold and bitter.

"A chance to explain and apologize," he said, ignoring the many eyes of students that were focused on him and Athena.

"Well, I don't want to hear it," she snapped. "I've had enough of your bloody excuses."

"Athena, please," he said. "Ten minutes, that's all I ask."

"Fine," she said.

He strode to her, grabbed her hand, and led her up to his dormitory. He knew he was going to have to tell her the truth and the idea scared him. He closed the door behind them and leaned on it for support as Athena sat down.

"The clock is ticking, Remus," she said.

He took a deep breath. "Before I say anything," he started, "I need you to swear that you won't breathe a word of this to anyone else–not even Lily."

"Remus, what are you–"

"Please," he added. "You probably won't want to talk to me after I tell you this, but I have to be sure you won't tell anyone. If this gets in the wrong hands, I could get thrown out of school."

"Fine, I swear," she said.

He nodded and looked away. "I really don't know how to say this," he began nervously. "I've never told anyone before. I mean, James, Sirius, and Peter know, but they guessed and told me they knew."

"Remus, get on with it," Athena interrupted.

"Right," he said. He took a deep breath. "There's really no way to say this easily– I'm a werewolf. I have been since I was a kid. that's why I'm always missing classes– I have to leave school so I don't hurt anyone during full moons." He paused just long enough to breathe.

"I'll– I understand if you don't want to talk to me anymore. I don't blame you. It's perfectly acceptable and, you know, understandable. I've been completely horrid to you. I've lied to you and tricked you into dating a monster, really."

"Remus–" Athena tried.

"I should have never led you on like this. I'm so sorry if I've hurt you in any way. I'm such a coward– I've thought about telling you a hundred times, but I could never do it. It's just being with you has made me feel normal, and that almost never happens. Because I'm not normal, not in the least. It was completely ridiculous for me to think that I could do this. I've been such a cad. If you want to break up, its fine. I understand. You don't have to worry about hurting me– I hurt you first."

"Remus!"

"I probably deserve it, even! What am I talking about– of course I deserve it. I really am sorry, Athena. I never meant to hurt you, honestly. I just– I really like you, and I didn't want you to hate me because of this. And I–"

His tirade was suddenly cut short when Athena's lips pressed against his own. His eyes widened as she deepened the kiss– their first kiss. He was stunned. He never imagined this would happen when he told her the truth. She placed her hands on either side of his face and slowly pulled away. She looked him straight in the eye.

"Remus John Lupin. I do not hate you. I don't think I could ever hate you. You had every right to keep that secret from me, and I apologize that I forced you to tell me."

He blinked. "I don't understand."

"Remus, I know some people might scream and run away, but I'm not one of them," she said. "So, you're a werewolf. From what I can gather, you've been one for at least as long as I've known you, and that hasn't effected the person that you are. You are one of the most gentle and caring and generous people I have ever met– werewolf or not! You're obviously not a crazy, mass-murdering, baby-eating, wild-man, so why should your–werewolf-ish-ness come between us?"

"But– but I lied to you, Athena," he said. "You deserve someone who isn't willing to base your entire relationship on lies!"

"I hardly think the entire relationship has been based on lies."

He was at a loss for words, and had to settle for a mere shake of his head.

She grabbed his wrist and pulled him over to sit on the bed next to her. "I understand why you lied to me," she said. "And I will admit that I'm a little hurt that you didn't trust me enough to tell me, but I understand. Just because you kept this from me doesn't mean our relationship is just a pile of lies." She paused a moment and studied his face. "Look, do you like me?"

"Y-yes, of course I do," he stammered.

"And I like you. Thus the basis of our relationship. Now, was any of that a lie?"

He smirked. "Assuming that you weren't lying to me, than no, it wasn't a lie."

She grinned. "See? Problem solved!"

"I'm glad," he said. He looked down, then looked back into her eyes. "Thank you for understanding."

"I hope you know that I want to understand more," she said.

He raised one eyebrow in question.

"I feel like there's a whole part of you that I never knew before, and I want to know all of you, Remus."

"Like what? You're making me sound a lot more interesting than I really am."

"Like . . . things! You said you've been a werewolf since you were a kid?" she prompted. "What's that been like for you? How old were you when you were bitten anyway?"

"I was bit a few months after my fourth birthday," he answered. "I don't really remember what it's like to not be a werewolf."

"When you were four?" she asked, astonished. "Do you know who it was, who bit you? Did you ever catch him?"

He hesitated for a moment. He had only found out that Greyback had bit him just before his fourth year, and even then, he always thought his parents had accidently let it slip. He hadn't even told his friends about the circumstance of his bite.

"You don't have to answer anything you don't want to, Remus," she said quickly, sensing his apprehension. "I don't want to put you on the spot."

He shook his head. "No, I just prefer not to think about that night when I don't have to," he said. "We never caught who it was. My parents were more concerned with getting me to St. Mungo's than catching whoever it was who bit me," he supplied evasively. It wasn't quite a lie, but it wasn't the truth, either.

She nodded. "Well, what do your parents think about all this?"

"I couldn't ask for better parents, to be honest," he said with a slight smile. "They've been there for me through everything– through every full moon, and every trip to the Ministry or St. Mungo's. I've heard of parents abandoning their children or having them . . . put down like dogs when they were bit."

"That's horrible!"

"Trust me, I know." He shrugged. "When you think about how our world views werewolves, though, it's not that surprising. I mean, if Dumbledore hadn't become headmaster when he did, I wouldn't be here at school at all. We were all a little shocked when he offered me a place in school. As far as I know, I'm the only werewolf to ever attend Hogwarts. Most people don't think I deserve the chance to be here."

"For what it's worth, I think you deserve to be here– far more than some, I can tell you that," Athena said. She took his hand in hers. "And I'm glad you're here. You make my life far more interesting."

Remus ducked his head and tried to fight the blush that was threatening to overcome him.

"So, what's the worst part, if you don't mind me asking," she asked, smiling at him.

"The worst," he started, carefully avoiding her eyes, "would have to be the feeling that I can't tell anyone, that I have to bear this alone, that I can't be normal. I'm always afraid that I'll hurt someone, and I couldn't live with myself after that. It's just. . . hard all around, I guess."

Athena leaned against him and rested her head on his shoulder, trying to show him her silent support. "And the best part?"

Remus laughed and turned to look at her. "There's a best part?" he said, smiling. "Please, tell me what it is." Athena laughed hesitantly, not expecting such a sudden change in behavior. "I guess the best part would be the things I've learned from this all. Patience, perseverance, how to trust in my friends. Who I am has been dictated by what I am, and I'd be a different person if I hadn't had to learn to cope with this."

"That was deep," Athena said with a dramatic sniff, trying to suppress a grin.

"I bear my soul to you, and you mock me?" he teased, leaning in close. "What sort of lesson does that teach me?"

She leaned in and kissed him chastely on the lips. "That bearing your soul to me will get you a kiss."

"Hmm," he mused. "Maybe I should do that more often, then."

"I wouldn't complain," she giggled. She pulled back. "Now, as much as I adore your company, I'm supposed to be helping Alice with her Potions essay, so I need to be leaving now, but I'll see you later tonight?"

"Without a doubt."

With one last kiss, she left. She hurried down to the common room, trying to sort through her thoughts. She felt horrible about forcing Remus to tell her such a daunting secret, but at the same time, she was immensely relieved to know what was behind all his disappearances and excuses. Her thoughts were interrupted by Sirius, who was standing at the bottom of the boys staircase, and looking quite intimidating.

"He told you?" he asked coldly.

She nodded.

"Everything?"

"Everything," she confirmed

He stared at her, judging her. "I just want you to be aware, that if you use this information to hurt him, or if you so much as breathe a word of this to anyone, I will not hesitate to retaliate. Remus has enough on his plate without you going and telling the entire school. He wouldn't blame you if you did, but I would, and you don't want that. Don't abuse his trust, you hear me?"

"I don't have any intentions of telling anyone, Sirius," Athena said calmly. "He told me in the strictest confidence, and I'm not going to betray that. You don't have to worry about me."

"Good."

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

Lily strolled into the library, chewing her lip and trying to organize her thoughts for three different essays. She scanned the room for an empty table, but the place was packed. She should have expected it– they were moving into March, and teachers were starting to crack down on the fifth and seventh to prepare them for their OWLs and NEWTs. Lily, however, really thought they were trying to induce nervous breakdowns. Lily was about to resign herself to sitting on the floor between bookshelves when she saw a familiar head of black hair hunched over several books and a roll of parchment on the far side of the library. Smiling to herself, she hurried to his table.

"Hey, Sev. Mind if I sit?"she asked. He looked up, almost in surprise that someone would address him.

"'Course not," he said, as if the answer should have been obvious.

Lily dumped her books on the table and took a seat. "I was about to sit on the floor before I saw you here," she said. "The place is packed!"

"Who knew the library was such a popular place?"

"I certainly didn't. What are you working on?"

"Three rolls of parchment for Arithmancy."

Lily grimaced in sympathy. "Not pleasant," she said. "And here I was worrying about finishing Slughorn's essay for tomorrow."

"Oh, yes, because Potions is just so challenging."

She gave him a mock-glare, and they lapsed into a comfortable silence. Lily was aware of the strange looks other students in the library were giving them, but she didn't mind. In fact, she had grown used to them. After all, their friendship was undoubtedly the most controversial in the school. Even her friends didn't understand why she still spoke with him, and she knew his friends were probably more confused than hers were. But at times like this, when they were alone, and their other friends were not hovering over their shoulders, watching their every move, and they could just relax and just be friends, reminded Lily why they never severed the relationship.

She looked up when she heard Severus groan and she found a frown tug at her lips. James Potter, looking as forlorn as ever, had just stepped into the library. Lily looked at her friend across from her. "Be civil," she warned. She knew more than to tell him to 'be nice' but she really didn't want Sev to start a fight in the library and get them both kicked out.

He raised an eyebrow at her.

"Oh, come on. Civility isn't too much to ask," she said. "Just ignore him. I mean, I'm not expecting you to invite him to tea. Just don't goad him."

"I goad him?" Severus hissed, leaning in across the table to be heard clearer.

"From what I've heard lately, yes, you do," she asserted. "Look, I know you two can't stand each other, but he's obviously going through some hard times right now. He doesn't need you making things worse on him."

He simply stared at Lily with and odd expression on his face. "Do mine ears deceive me, or are you actually sticking up for Potter?"

"You know I think he's an arrogant berk," she reminded Severus. "But he's an arrogant berk that lost his older brother and is naturally upset. I can't condone actions that just make this harder for him."

"Oh, but it's okay for him to make my life miserable?"

Lily sighed and brushed a strand of her hair out of her face. "In case you've forgotten, I have never condoned his actions either. But I've heard the things your friends have said to him lately, telling him that his brother deserved to die. That's really just cruel, and even you can't deny that."

Severus opened his mouth to retort but a resounding crash from the other side of the library stopped him. Caught in the midst of their discussion, neither Lily nor Severus had noticed James and the three seventh year Slytherins who had been conversing with him. Each of the Slytherins wore a similar sneer on their face as they stared after James, who looked livid, as he stormed out of the library, leaving an overturned table in his wake. By the time James had slammed the door to the library with a deafening thud behind him, the library erupted in whispers. Lily looked at Severus with leveled eyes.

"This is exactly what I was talking about," she hissed.

"That fight could have been about anything," Snape retorted.

"But you know it was about his brother."

"You can't prove that. Lucius, Dolohov, and Amycus could have been going on about anything. He's so bloody temperamental that everything sets him off."

Lily pursed her lips in an entirely Petunia-ish way, but didn't push the argument further. Following her lead, Severus turned back to his essay, annoyed that James Potter, of all people, had caused an argument between them.

"Oy, Evans!"

Lily grimaced at the familiar voice and a smirk tugged at Severus's lips. She turned to look over her shoulder and was not surprised to see Sirius coming towards her, making enough noise on his way to disturb the entire library.

"What d'you want, Black?" she asked, eye brows raised.

"What happened to the table?" he asked, nodding Madam Pince who was now setting the table upright with her wand.

Severus cut in before Lily could open her mouth. "Potter did," he sneered. "Knocked it over and stormed out of here."

Sirius's eyes grew cold. "How long ago?"

"No longer than a minute, I suppose," Lily shrugged.

He swore under his breath and sprinted out of the library

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

The icy rain pelted his skin through his robes and numbed his body. James hovered over fifty feet above the pitch, shaking slightly from a mixture of anger and cold. Not for the first time he found the cruel taunts about his brother to be too much and retreated to the one place he was sure no one would follow him. After all, who else was crazy to go flying in this torrential winter storm? He desperately wished that the rain would numb his mind as well as the rest of him. Thinking, remembering was far too painful. He closed his eyes, trying to keep back pain that lanced at his heart. When he opened his eyes, he was surprised to see another shape flying towards him at high speeds. He rubbed at his glasses, trying to clear the rain from them, and looked closer.

Padfoot.

He should have known.

Sirius pulled up alongside him, riding a broom that James recognized as Athena's. He didn't say anything, but merely floated beside him. James could feel Sirius's eyes on him, and slowly he felt the defenses he had built up since Christmas crack under this invisible pressure.

After at least ten minutes, he spoke.

"I can't do this anymore, Padfoot," he whispered, not daring to look at Sirius.

"You can't do what anymore?"

"This," James said gesturing vaguely before him. "I can't keep pretending that I'm okay."

"Prongs, I hate to break it you," Sirius said gently, "but none of us ever thought that you were okay to begin with."

A strangle laugh caught in James's throat. "Have I been that obvious?"

"Well, yeah. You hardly eat anymore, and I don't think you've slept for more than a few hours a night in weeks. I mean, you were always an insomniac, but this has been pushing it. Remus, Peter, and I have been worried about you."

"I didn't want you to worry," James said. "I didn't want anyone to worry. That's what started all this. I had to be strong for my parents. They were both devastated, especially Mum. I mean, losing a brother isn't nearly as bad as losing a son, right? But it just hurt so much that I could hardly function. So, I tried just ignoring it, avoiding it, in hopes that it would get easier. Only it didn't."

Sirius's stomach tightened. The pain in James's voice was almost tangible. "You never had to pretend for us– or your parents, for that matter. Honestly, this . . . charade you've been trying to pull off has made us worry even more. I'm surprised you haven't had a complete breakdown by now."

A twisted smile that resembled a grimace crept across James face. "But I have– several times actually. I just always have made sure that no one was around." Suddenly he turned to face Sirius. "You know, there have been days when I want nothing more than just to sleep for months, but I'm too afraid to."

"Afraid?"

"Every time I close my eyes, Sirius," James said earnestly, suddenly eager to get everything off his mind, "I can see him. And it hurts so much to see him and know that he's not really there. I can't bear the sight of him knowing that he's really gone, that I can never talk to him. It used to e that I just saw him in my dreams, but now I see him everywhere. Flashes of memories I wish I didn't ave, reminding me constantly of what I don't have anymore. And every time I look in the mirror, its his face I see. You have no idea how maddening it is, Sirius. I feel like I'm losing touch with reality. I can't take it anymore! I can't do this on my own."

Sirius paused and chose his words carefully.

"You know, I feel like I've been a fairly lousy friend these last two months. I've wanted to help you more than you can even know, Prongs, I just haven't known how. And it kills me inside to know that you've been in all this pain. But I want you to know, I've always considered you to be my brother. You are, really, in every way except blood. And I would give anything to make this easier for you, but I can't really think of anything to do but be here for you. And I'm sorry you thought you had to do this on your own. I guess I just didn't make myself clear enough."

"You didn't do anything wrong, Sirius. I always knew you were there . . . but you have your own issues. I just didn't feel that it was right for me to put more pressure on you."

"Stop talking."

"What?"

"Stop talking. Honestly, James, when did you develop Moony's martyr complex? I haven't heard such nonsense since he told us that he thought we'd betray his secret to everyone when we found out about him. I thought you would have been sensible enough to realize that this is what friends, what brothers, do for each other. I want you to be completely honest with me for a minute. If mine and Jared's places had been switched – if I had died in some freak potions accident– would you have even hesitated to turn to Jared for comfort or companionship or anything?"

"No."

"Well, I want it to be the same way between us. You can count on me for anything, James. Just like I've always been able to depend on you."

"You promise?" James said meekly.

Sirius's lips twitched. "I solemnly swear."

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Juliana Potter absently flipped through the morning's post. The numbness that had set in over the holidays had yet to fade. In fact, if anything, the numbness had grown worse. Her eyes set upon a letter addressed from Minerva McGonagall and she sighed. She had requested that Minerva keep her updated on James's behavior, and Minerva had done a stunning job. Juliana received weekly updates documenting James's strange behavior and his numerous fights and detentions. Her worry over her youngest was wearing on her. She was unable to comfort her baby when he was obviously in distress, and it was tearing at her heart. She secretly feared that the loss of her oldest would bring about a loss in her youngest.

Her mind registered vaguely that the letter was early. Normally she received her letters from Minerva on Sundays, but it was only Saturday. She wondered if something had happened to James, and tore the letter open.

Dear Juliana,

I feel obligated to inform you that last night, four hours after curfew, your son was caught in the company of Sirius Black trying to force their way into the Slytherin common room with a bag of dungbombs and two bags of Filibuster's Fireworks. Both James and Sirius are being dealt with accordingly by the rules of the school, but I thought it was important that you be informed of his actions as well, that you may deal with him as you see fit as well.

Sincerely, as always,

Minerva McGonagall

Head of Gryffindor

P.S. I think we have him back, Juliana. When Mr. Filch brought him to my office, he was happier than I had seen him in months. Rest at ease, he's out of the shadows.

Juliana clutched the letter to her heart and cried.


Author's Note: So, I really thought that I would have that done a lot sooner than I did. Sorry. Marching Band season is over now, so hopefully I should have more time to write. I won't make any promises, though, because whenever I do, I just end up breaking them. I will try and have the next chapter up in a speedy manner, though.

Much Love,

Delano