A/N: I want to thank Ada Kensington for the great beta.
What's in a Name?
Remus's day had started as normal. Well, as normal two days after the full moon could be. It had been a bad transformation this time, so he'd had to stay an extra day in the hospital wing, but now everything was back to relative normality. He had been woken up in the hospital wing; had eaten his breakfast and had had his last check up, before going to the Gryffindor common room. The first problem had arisen there; somebody had changed the password and he couldn't get in. At that moment he should have realised that his day would only get worse. He had gone to the library and had waited for the students to return from their morning classes - two hours later! He finally grabbed his bag and his books - ready for the afternoon classes. He made his way down to the Great Hall for lunch; most of his classmates welcomed him back and asked how his aunt was. His best friends, however, still hadn't shown themselves, and it would take until his first class before he would see them. It was Transfiguration and McGonagall had long ago split them apart, to stop them disrupting the class, so Remus didn't have a chance to talk to any of them. After the class McGonagall called him to her to tell him what he had missed the last few days. When he reached History of Magic, his friends had been talking but stopped rather abruptly when he reached them.
That had clued Remus in that something was going on. Peter had been avoiding his eyes and both James and Sirius had seated themselves several tables away from him. Remus left after the class, fear in his heart; fear that was confirmed when they cornered him in the dormitory, telling him that they knew the truth. That was the last thing he remembered. After that he fled.
He came to a halt at the edge of the lake, completely out of breath. He looked around and saw three distant, but all-too-familiar, figures running out of the castle. He took cover behind a tree, out of sight of the view from the castle grounds, and brushed away the snow from a small patch of ground.
He started contemplating his situation. He knew he should not have come, no matter what Professor Dumbledore had said. It had been too hard to keep it a secret. Now he would have to go back to his parents and never become a fully-fledged wizard. He put his head in his hands and felt tears fall down his face. He had not cried since he was eight; he had always retained tight control over his emotions and now he was losing that control. He heard his name being called, but he didn't react; instead he made himself as small as possible and hid even farther behind the tree.
"He isn't here," said Peter, sounding worried. Remus couldn't blame him. He would be worried too, if a dark creature was running loose in the school grounds. He didn't hear a reply, but he suspected James and Sirius to be close by. He tried to make himself even smaller, as he wished he could just disappear into the ground. He heard Peter again.
"Let's go back to the castle; perhaps it wasn't him we saw running." Remus relaxed, they didn't expect him here. After a few minutes he started to move, stood up and slowly walked around the tree when two wands were aimed at him.
"Look what we've got here. We've got ourselves a werewolf," Sirius sounded rather fierce. Remus recoiled and moved to retreat, only to find the tree at his back.
"Sirius, you're scaring him." James smiled at Remus, much to Remus's surprise. James didn't mean to be so friendly, that could not be.
"I'll be leaving, if you just let me get a few things," said Remus softly.
"Leaving?" Peter joined them, "What are you talking about?
"You know and you don't want to be sharing your room with somebody like me," said Remus surprised.
"Why wouldn't we want to?" asked Sirius, sounding equally surprised, "We've been sharing it for months." Remus tried to understand what was going on.
"Yes, but you didn't know. Your parents aren't going to be happy about it and…" he trailed off because Sirius had put up his hand to silence him.
"What our parents don't know, they can't stop. I, for one, am not going to tell my parents," said Sirius, "although it might be the one thing that could impress them. Yes, he is one of those terrible Gryffindors," he said, screeching, "but at least he has a dark creature as a friend." Remus couldn't laugh at the perfect imitation of Sirius's mother
"You James, what would your parents say?"
"I think my mother already knows," said James softly, "she works at the Werewolf Registry, remember." Remus shuddered. Ever since he found out that bit of information he had been scared that she would demand his removal from Hogwarts.
"She kept asking questions about you during the Christmas holiday." James continued, looking at him.
"Are you really comfortable with a werewolf in your dormitory? You won't sleep too well knowing a Dark creature is in the bed next to you," said Remus desperately.
"Do you want to leave?" asked James. "You're trying awfully hard to estrange us."
"We've known you're a werewolf for two months already. Do you really think we wouldn't have said anything if we weren't comfortable with you? Yes you, idiot," Sirius added, incredulously and with a hint of encouragement, "are our friend. I was taught to distrust everybody, but people still want to be my friend. Why would I stop being yours, for such a furry, little problem? I don't stop being friends with James, just because he's got evil hair and I don't stop being friends with Peter because he snores."
Both Peter and James reacted indignantly, but things barely registered in Remus's mind. Everything that was being said after the words two months was a blur. They already knew it for two months. Why hadn't they said something before? Remus felt his legs give way and the next thing he knew he was looking up at them, stunned.
"Two months," he whispered, as the wet snow slowly seeped into his robes.
"Yes, we didn't stop being your friends before. Why would we now?" James looked at Remus, slightly concerned. He waved his wand and Remus felt himself warm up again. He hadn't noticed the cold.
"How did you find out?" Remus asked, still vaguely stunned.
"Well, you're terrible at finding excuses, although you're a brilliant liar. We realised quickly that you disappeared around the full moon, and the scars helped too." Remus felt a blush creep up. They had seen his scars. He had been really, really careful, but somehow they had still seen them.
"We suspected it around the Yule break, but we decided it couldn't be. Dumbledore would never let a werewolf attend Hogwarts, but apparently the old man is braver than we thought. Besides, your name, I mean what are the odds of having a werewolf called Remus Lupin? That's like if Snape had been called Snivellus Greasy." The others laughed but Remus just looked at them.
"The odds are one out of ten," he said softly. This statement was met with a sudden silence. James and Sirius exchanged puzzled looks and Peter could only say 'what?'
"Like I said, one in every ten Remus Lupins is a werewolf."
"You've got to be kidding me," said Sirius loudly, "Why did your parents call you Remus if there is such a big chance." Just as Remus wanted to reply James spoke again
"Your family is cursed, isn't it?" he said slowly.
Remus couldn't help smiling; leave it to James to come to a conclusion that was this close to the mark.
"Actually the family is blessed, but it wasn't by choice."
"You call this blessed?" Peter looked incredulous. "I don't want to know what it is to be cursed in your family."
"No, I have a curse, but my name has something to do with a blessing and they are both completely different things." Remus replied, patiently. "There is a bigger chance, if you belong to my family, that you might become a werewolf." It doesn't mean my family is used to it - or that we haven't done everything to find a cure."
"Sorry, mate, but you've completely lost me," Sirius said, scratching his head. All three were looking completely bewildered. Remus sighed. If they knew this much, then perhaps it was time to explain to them the strange relationship between the Lupin family and wolves.
"Sit down and I'll explain. What do you know of the Lupin family?" All eyes turned to Sirius.
"The Lupins are an old family, but their bloodline is polluted by Muggles. No purebloods in the last generations, Italian origin," he spoke like he had swallowed a genealogy book. He looked up when he saw all the faces looking at him; he turned bright red. It was his biggest secret. The thing he was ashamed of the most. Sirius Black, prankster extraordinaire, nightmare of most teachers, defender of the rights of Muggles, muggle-borns and half-bloods could name the last three generations of every one of the old Wizarding families. He knew probably more about genealogy than all seventh year students and most teachers combined.
"Oops, I did it again, didn't I?" he said while shaking his head ruefully. "You led me right into it."
"Well, it is rather funny," said Remus with a small smile. At least he hadn't lost his sense of humour. "But I was talking about my name. The Lupin family can trace its origins back to the time of the founding of Rome."
"Remus and Romulus," Sirius added thoughtfully.
"Yes, the myth about the founding of Rome is true, or at least, partly true."
"And you're a descendent." James looked at Remus, his hazel eyes glittering with interest.
"What do you know of the myth?"
"Remus and Romulus were twins; sons of the god Mars and some queen. They were raised by wolves, before they're rescued. They founded Rome and then Romulus killed his brother and that why it is called Rome and not Reme," James answered.
"You're close; I'll tell you the real story. Romulus and Remus were indeed sons of a queen. She gave birth, but the boys couldn't have been from her husband. So, to hide her adultery, it was said she became pregnant by a god, Mars. She was punished anyway; she and her sons were thrown into the Tiber. Luckily Remus and Romulus were saved. They were found by werewolves."
"What?" Sirius looked incredulous at Remus, "That's not possible; they would have been bitten."
"They're not. The boys were put somewhere safe during the full moon. They were quickly removed from the werewolf family, though, and raised in the Wizarding World. When they were old enough they adopted the name Lupin; to honour those who saved them. After Romulus killed Remus, he felt such remorse he did several things, one thing was to bless his own sons; a blessing to remember his brother by; a blessing still affecting Lupins today. As long as there is a Remus Lupin the family will exist and the name will never die out. That is why my name is Remus Lupin - just like my uncle and my grandfather."
"Fair enough, but that still doesn't explain why you've a bigger chance to become a werewolf," said James, while he busied himself making a small pile of snowballs.
"There's a legend about werewolves. It's not widely known, but there are a few wizards that do."
"What was the legend?" James asked, curiously.
"It's said that the Heir of Rome will bring the werewolves to their rightful place in the world. Wizards assume it means into their control, like the house-elves. The werewolves on the other hand, they assume that they will be running the show. So every now and then a werewolf will get the idea that biting a Remus Lupin is a good idea. Of course, nobody in their right mind believes it. Unfortunately, werewolves are generally not in their right mind," he added wryly, before continuing.
"Fenrir Greyback, the werewolf who bit me, knew the legend. Greyback heard tell of it somewhere and decided he'd make sure he was there when it happened. He tried to make a deal with my father. My father, of course, refused. As revenge, Greyback bit me." He tried to make the last words sound trivial but his voiced trembled.
"Why didn't your father agree?" James asked, his eyes wide with shock. Remus looked at the others; Peter looked on with pity and Sirius looked thoughtful. Remus turned to James again.
"It would not have made any difference. He would have bitten me no matter what," Remus said, trying to sound casual but unable to disguise the underlying bitterness and the sense of cruel injustice.
He remembered the first time he had heard that it had not been an accident. It had been just before he started Hogwarts. His father had explained that not every werewolf was as careful as he was. Remus had been shocked and disgusted. How anybody could be that careless, he thought, what if you got out and bit somebody? The pain and loss of control was terrible and he wouldn't have wished it on his worst enemy. Then his father had told him that some werewolves would bite others on purpose. This had made even less sense to Remus; why would you want to hurt somebody out of your own free will?
None of the others had the heart to ask Remus any more questions, and they all sank into a contemplative mood.
"We've got to get back," said Peter after a while, breaking the silence. Remus looked at his watch and realised that they had been outside for more than an hour.
"You really want to go back with me?" Remus asked, worry creeping back into his voice.
"Of course, I thought we made that clear," said James, smiling, extending his hand to help Remus off the ground. Remus accepted it gratefully.
"Don't worry Remus, your secret is safe with us," said Sirius throwing his arm around Remus's shoulders. "I'd swear it on my mother's grave, but that wouldn't be much of a promise." He looked thoughtful for a moment, before appearing to have decided. "I swear it on my magic," he announced vigorously, giving Remus an encouraging shake with the one arm slung around his shoulders.
"Well, I promise it too Remus," said Peter, nodding determinedly, as he stood beside him.
"And I, of course, can't stay behind," said James with a smile. Remus felt a deep gratitude towards them. No matter what, they were his friends. Slowly they walked back to school.
Then, somewhere between the Quidditch pitch and castle, Sirius spoke, "We can't let you leave, you know. Who else would help me drive Snivellus crazy?" He glanced sidelong and James and Peter, his eyes glinting with mischief. "I mean Peter and James are just no use at all."
At these words Sirius took off, haring back to the front doors as fast as his legs could carry him, laughing maniacally. James and Peter looked at each other and then nodded. They caught him after a few yards and ended up rolling around in the snow together. Remus looked at the three of them appraisingly for a moment, but then shrugged his shoulder, bent down and picked up a handful of snow. Slowly, he stalked up to James and dumped the snow in his neck. James was quick to take revenge and it soon turned into a full blown snowball fight.
For the first time in a long time, Remus felt happy. He had friends and they knew about him. There would be no more lying, no more dealing with the full moon alone.
But the one thing that made him happier than anything else was the knowledge that there were people that did not hate or fear werewolves. People who could accept him as a friend.