Ah, chapter two...how devious. It's over 2000 words, so I'll keep the author's notes short. Enjoy the read, if this is the sort of thing you're into.
"You sure you want to stay at the school over holiday, Sirius?" James asked, flicking his wand. The enchanted trunk rose into the air and began making its way out of the dormitory.
The other teen sighed and stretched out on his bed, running a hand through his hair. "Yeah. I've no intention of going back to my mum any more than necessary. It's worth it just to stay here."
James shrugged. "You know you could come to my house. My parents love you. Sometimes I think they'd prefer it if you were their son," he muttered, rolling his eyes.
"Nah. Your folks are great and all, but I figure they'll get sick of me if they see me too often." Sirius chuckled.
Peter, who was busy hastily shoving his wrinkled clothes into his trunk, looked up and said dryly, "You're just afraid they'll realize you're actually not the good, sweet boy you purport to be."
Grinning wickedly, Sirius sat up and winked. "Well, anyway, one of us needs to stay here with our furry little friend and makes sure he doesn't become to bogged down in angst. Right, Remmy?"
Remus, who had been sitting quietly on his bed and reading, shot Sirius a dirty look.
James looked at the other boy in surprise. "Oh yeah, I'd forgotten you're staying, too. Why?"
The exhausted teen grimaced. "My parents went on a two-month holiday to Spain, that's why. I wasn't invited to join them for Christmas."
The other three cringed. It seemed like Lupin's parents were always doing that. Last summer they'd gone on an Asian excursion, leaving their only son to fend for himself at home for two and a half months. (The food ran short rather quickly, and it wasn't until his parents returned the day before school started that they showed him the note with money for groceries in it pinned to the inside of his mother's bureau "for safe keeping." Remus had told the others he thought they'd wanted him to starve. "Maybe they thought it'd be better if I was weak from hunger come the full moon," he had said reproachfully. "Why on earth would they think I'd look in Mum's underwear drawer any way?"At any rate, he'd turned up at James's house at the beginning of August, thin as a wraith and hungrier than his werewolf self. Mrs. Potter of course overfed him back into a normal weight bracket, and that was that.) Rumor was that they were going to America this summer, again without their dear boy.
"Your parents suck," James stated bluntly. "You should both come to my house for holidays. There'll be puddings and eggnog," he cajoled.
"Too late now, Potter," Sirius said dismissively. "You should've invited us two weeks ago before they sent around the sign-up sheet for staying here." Remus sighed and agreed.
And so the two waved from the train station as the Hogwarts Express pulled away in a puff of steam, carrying with it half of their band of four. The rest of the day passed rather quietly, except for the infamous Christmas Dungbomb Fiasco of '73 (but that's another story for another day) and the boys' constant stalking by one Lily Evans.
Lily and her room mate had spent the better part of the night discussing theories and observations about Remus, and somehow, after discussing it at length, the possibility that he could be a girl in disguise seemed far more legitimate. Funny how sharing an idea with someone else has that effect... So Lily, upon learning that Lupin was spending the holidays at Hogwarts, decided that she would use this golden opportunity to covertly watch him--er, her.
Now, while our female protagonist with the flawed reasoning thought she was being sneaky, in actuality Sirius had noticed that she was constantly staring their way. Finding this extremely odd for the normally cold (towards "Potter and his little firends," at least) girl, the black-haired teen took the opportunity to call her on it when he caught her staring after Remus as he went out to the Owlery to send a letter off to his parents.
"Oy, Evans! Does he owe you money or something?" he called cheekily, pleased with the way she jumped in surprise.
The common room was nearly deserted because of the holiday, but Sirius moved close to Lily anyway. He had found that his charm (or intimidation tactics) worked far better at close range. Grinning easily, he said, "I've noticed you watching us since James and Peter left this morning. Why? Thinking about cheating on Potter while he's away?"
Lily stiffened irritably. "It's not possible for me to cheat on him, Black, because we're not in a relationship."
A look of feigned confusion flitted across the boy's face. "Really? To hear him talk, you'd think you two had been having a torrid love affair since first year." He smirked as he noticed the way Evans's face reddened and her lips puckered. "But really now, why do you keep mooning after our dear Moony?"
Though a virtual genius at Charms and a favorite intellectual of the teachers, for those first crucial seconds Lily's mind went blank. She obviously couldn't tell him about her theory; he'd make her the laughing stock of the school. But what other alternative was there? "I like him"? Ha! That would never fly... Suddenly an idea hit her.
"I have one of his books that I need to return. That book for Charms," she said with as much confidence as she could muster.
Lily's composition crumbled. "Prove it!" she snapped.
Sirius grinned. "Firstly, you took too long to respond. You need to learn to lie quickly. You're obviously as much a goodygood as they say you are, Evans," he snickered. "Secondly, I know you already gave that book back. You went up to our dorm two nights ago to return it."
Crestfallen, Lily muttered, "How did you know when I returned it?"
"Remus told me," Sirius responded coolly. He didn't mention that he and James had been hiding under an Invisibility Cloak the entire time.
Lily grumbled under her breath. She wasn't exactly used to being trumped so completely.
"Now, the real question is, why would you lie?" Sirius asked, giving her an appraising eye. "Do you perhaps like our dear Lupin? Or is there something more sinister going on in that little red head of yours?" he grinned, leading her to one of the couches for further interrogation. Sitting her down, he moved directly in front of her, smiling down from his far superior heigth. "So?"
At this point, Lily was so unnerved (never before had the full of Sirius's legendary charms been turned upon her) that she decided to bite the bullet and start asking her interrogator some questions of her own. "Have you ever noticed anything strange about Lupin? You know, something...different? You might know, you're one of the closest to him."
"Different?" Now it was the time for a look of real confusion to take its place on the handsome teen's face.
Lily swallowed at this reaction. Had she been wrong? That definitely seemed most likely now... Chiding herself mentally for being so foolish, she said, "Never mind, it's nothing."
Sirius meanwhile was starting to panic. What if she had somehow found out about Remus's lycanthropy? His condition was the best-kept secret the Marauders had; if it got out, and enough parents complained about the danger of having a werewolf attending school with their children, Remus could even be forced to leave Hogwarts. Thus, it was understandable urgency and aggression that he asked, "What kind of different?"
A bit shocked, the girl stammered, "Um, he's a bit...well, he seems a little...er, feminine?" Noting the confused look again becoming prominent on Sirius's face, she continued, "He acts kinda funny once or so a month, and I started noticing, and I just wondered maybe...um...you know how girls get monthly problems, Aunt Flow and all that..." She was rambling now, but at least he was getting the gist of what she was saying.
"Wait, wait," Sirius said, holding upone hand and pinching the bridge of his nose with the other. "Am I right in assuming you think Remus might be a...girl?"
"Umm..." Lily's eyes darted around, looking for a way to escape this uncomfortable situation.
Sirius chuckled quietly and plopped down next to her on the couch, relief flowing through him. He covered his face with his hands and began to laugh at the absurdity of the whole thing. Then, an absolutely wicked struck him.
The redhead, meanwhile, was feeling slightly insulted. "Why are you laughing like that?"
"You're just the first one to ever figure it out," Sirius said, fighting off the smile that would ruin this fun new lie.
"Well, you shouldn't laugh at oth--what? I'm right?" Lily gasped.
Sirius leaned back on the couch and looked up at the many streamer tacked along the ceiling. "Yeah. His parents always wanted a boy, you see. But what they got was a precious baby girl instead. They couldn't have any more children, so they did the next best thing: they started dressing their daughter up in boy's clothes, gave her a boy's name, always refered to her as their son." Wow, he was liking where this was going. "Eventually she got used to it. Then they enrolled their "son" Remus here at Hogwarts. Nobody realized that the Lupin kid wasn't what "he" seemed."
Lily listened, mouth agape. "That's terrible, doing that to their daughter!"
Sirius was still battling that rising smile. "Yeah. But now Remus is really sensitive about it; wants to please the parents and all that. Demands we only refer to him using masculine terms, and he never admits that he's really a girl."
Brows knitting, Lily queried, "But how do you know if he's so careful to hide it?"
He threw her a quick sidelong look. "You find out stuff like that when you're dorm mates with someone. We soon started noticing how he always went to bathe when no one else was around, how he wouldn't go swimming with us, how his clothes were always so loose-fitting, his reluctance to wrestle, fight, or play any games that would bring someone in contact with his own body." (This part too was a total fabrication, since Sirius remembered all too well how Remus had very nearly killed him last summer in James's pondwhile they were playing the "Let's See How Long We Can Hold Each Other Underwater BeforeOur VictimHas To Cry Mercy Game." Remus's defense was that he hadn't known Sirius flailing his arms like mad while his head was being held underwater had meant "mercy," since no actual words had left the black-haired boy's mouth. Sirius of course pinned the entire incident on Remus's oft-denied passive-agressive tendencies.)
"I see..." Lily mused.
"But James and I followed him one time when he went to go bathe. I guess he didn't know we were there, because...well...he took his clothes off, and we knew exactly why he wouldn't go swimming with us."
Lily blushed for moment but quickly regained her composure. "So when did you find out?"
Sirius sighed audibly."Around the end of first year. Ever since then, we've been keeping his secret sacred until someone else realizes what's going on."
"Which I did." Lily murmured. "But poor Lupin! Imagine having to pretend to be a different gender your entire life...and living in a boys' dormitory! It must be very hard..."
Sirius sat up and turned to her, his eyes sparkling in earnestness. "It is hard, and not just for him. James, Peter, and I all know, and sometimes it gets really difficult knowing that this girl is sleeping one bed over from you." Sirius supressed a chuckle; he wondered how she would take this part. It could have several connontations... "At first we thought of him kinda like a sister...but things happen."
To his pleasure, she blushed hotly. That would help fuel the rumors, he thought wickedly. After all, he could deny this whole thing later; due to his popularity, of course, the masses would believe him. But for now, he liked how this little scheme was going. It would certainly liven up the holidays a bit. And to think it had just been handed to him, juicy and ripe for the embellishing. He allowed himself a quick self-satisfied smirk.
He could hear the Fat Lady accepting the password, so he turned to Lily and whispered urgently, "But remember, he's really sensitive about it! Don't let him know that you know!" She nodded.
Remus was just entering through the door when Sirius held a finger to his lips and Lily was standing and walking away from the couch. The redhead shot Remus a very significant look before retreating to the girls' dormitory wing.
Blinking in confusion, the newcomer walked over to the sitting Sirius. "What was that all about?" he asked, half-suspiciously.
The handsome teen stood and stretched before nonchalantly dismissing Remus's question with a wave of his hand. "I owe her some money."
All done for the chapter. Bum-bum-bum! The stage is set for some very interesting things, I do believe. (grins evilly) This is so much fun to write. Although I do feel bad for making Remus's parents a little mean...I do like the Lupins, it's just that this persona worked better for this fic.
Next time: The telegraph was fast, the telephone was accurate, but nothing trumps tell-a-woman if you want word to get out. Our poor little werewolf buddy...
Random factoid! My favorite punctuation marks are the semicolon (;) and the ellipsis (...). You'll see them used a lot.