What's a Secret Among Friends?

Fanfic by A. Giesbrecht

(A/N: I know it's been done, and it's not even very original. But I like it. Oh well.)
Disclaimer: I don't own this. Rowling does. Lucky woman.



"James, you have a minute?"

James Potter glanced up from his history book. "Actually I was planning on having something like a lifetime," he said. "Why?"

Sirius Black plopped down across from him in the otherwise-empty first-years' dormitory. Peter Pettigrew, who'd been sitting nearby, joined them. "Because I'd like to borrow one of those minutes to make up for the one I spent believing you were sane," shot Sirius. "Actually I think I just solved the mystery of the Amazing Disappearing Remus."

"Really?"

"Yeah, I was in the library--"

"Sirius, I'm shocked! What in the name of Merlin's Beard were you doing in the library! Shame on you!"

"Shut up and listen, you dolt," said Sirius without any real irritation. He knew he'd asked for it. Peter snickered.

"Shutting up, listening, and behaving like a dolt," said James automatically. He snapped shut his history book and looked at Sirius with interest. "What did you find out?"

"I was looking up books on Self-Inflicting Hexes when I heard a bunch of fourth-years talking about Astronomy. They were doing research on spells that are affected by the moon--Lunar Charms--and one of them said something about how the full moon was last Tuesday night. Where was Remus last Tuesday night?"

"Gone," said Peter. "So?"

"Now think: when was he gone before that?"

"Early February. Right before that Defense Against the Dark Arts test." said James, biting his lip.

"Right, and I looked it up: it was the full moon. In fact, he's gone off every full moon since last term started." Peter, catching on, stared at Sirius, alarmed. James' bespeckled grey eyes met Sirius' dark brown, reflecting concern. "What are you getting at, Sirs'?"

"What do you think I'm getting at, Jimmykins?" returned Sirius. "Remus is gone every full moon, he always comes back exhausted the next day, he has an aversion to silver, animals avoid him, and he can smell what we're having for dinner before we've even left the portrait hole. I looked it up. Our very own Remus J. Lupin is none other than a werewolf."

"He can't be!" squeaked Peter. "That's impossible!"

"Look it up yourself then," said Sirius. "He's got all the symptoms."

James said nothing for a very long time. He looked down at his hands, than back up to Sirius. "So what are you going to do about it?"

"Do? I don't know," Sirius leapt up and waved his arms, walking off. "How 'bout 'Hey Remus, d'you mind explaining why you didn't tell us you're a cursed dark creature? I'd kind of like knowing which of my friends have tendancies to rip me to shreds during full moons.'"

"He wouldn't do that," protested Peter. "He's not that way. He's too nice."

"Want to bet? He probably fantasizes about eating us for dinner all the time. 'Fillet of Sirius, anybody? With James a la mode on the side?' Sure makes me feel safe at night." Sirius crossed his arms stubbornly.

"Sirius, sit down and quit acting like an idiot!" said James. "You think he likes being a werewolf? I doubt he just went out during the full moon to the nearest werewolf, spread his arms and said 'Bite me.' Its not like that sort of thing can be helped."

"Yeah, and when he comes charging in here in wolf form some night and tears us all limb-from-limb you'll just say he couldn't help it then either, right?" snorted Sirius.

"Yes, I would," said James adamantly, "If I thought he'd do it. Don't you wonder where he goes when he dissappeares? I'll bet Dumbledore has a place for him where he can't hurt anything, a locked dungeon or something. Think about it, Sirius. He didn't tell us because he was afraid of what we'd say. And I'd say in your case he was right."

"Sure, what kind of kid makes friends with a werewolf?" said Sirius in a challanging sort of voice.

"My kind," said James, getting up and putting away his history book. "I'm going to find him, tell him that we know, and then tell him I don't care."

Peter followed suit. "He's right, Sirius," he said quietly.

Sirius gaped at his friends, trying to work out what he'd just said. "Are you two nuts?"

"Of course. And you're definitely off your rocker, but I wasn't going to say anything."

"James, he's--he's a--"

"Werewolf. You said that."

"Meaning he's a cursed Dark Creature with cannibalistic tendancies and an affinity for the Dark Arts!"

"Only once a month. He can't help what he is," said James, "and apparently you can't either."

Sirius glared at him. "What do you mean?"

"You're a prejudiced git, that's what." James glared right back. For being so much smaller and skinnier than Sirius, James certainly had a way of intimidating him with a look. "If you're just going to throw him out over that, fine, that's your problem. But there's a big difference between people who choose to be cursed, and people who just end up that way." He and Peter strode right past their flabbergasted friend and James opened the dormitory door. "Let me ask you this, Sirius," he said, turning around at Sirius and looking him up and down. "If you'd never found out he was a werewolf, would you still be his friend?"

Sirius gaped, then shut his mouth. He knew his friend well enough to know that it was impossible to lie to James Potter when he was in this mood, and also very foolish to avoid answering him. "Yes," he admitted. "But that doesn't change what he is."

"No, but think about it from his perspective: everybody who knows avoids him, the Ministry makes him check in every year, he's probably lucky Hogwarts even let him come, he won't risk telling anybody who doesn't know, 'cause they always reject him, and once a month he's forced to turn into a mindless monster, and he has to live with the knowledge that someday he might kill someone without meaning to. I read about werewolves once, and I read that they can remember everything they do as wolves, but have absolutely no control over it. Don't you think that's the least bit scary, not just for us, but for him, too?"

Sirius didn't meet his eyes, but shrugged, staring at his shoes. James and Peter left and were halfway down the dormitory stairs when Sirius caught up with him. "I'm going with," he announced.

"Why?"

"To tell him how rotten I think it must be to be a werewolf, and that I don't care if he is," said Sirius simply, with as much determination as he'd had in arguing the opposite opinion a moment ago. "You think it hurts to--to change?"

"I don't know," said James, deciding not to question Sirius' sudden change of heart, as he could be quite touchy about that sort of thing. "You'll have to ask him, I guess."

"Yeah."

===============================================

Some time later in the library, Remus Lupin looked up from his Charms homework to see three grinning Gryffindors standing above him, looking immensely smug about something. Unable to register exactly what was going on, he could only stare as James bowed to him.

"Allow us to congradulate our esteemed friend Remus Lupin for being the most mysterious person in the first year, with the most admirable reason for being so. And upon being so mysterious, and so good at it, allow us also to congradulate him on becoming one of an elite group, the Marauders of Hogwarts, consisting of... well, us!" said James grandly, indicating Peter, Sirius, and himself.

"Allow us to promise to help our excellent friend Remus in any way possible, searching all day and all night for cures for his unfortunate situation," said Peter, sounding very rehearsed, but cheerfully sincere.

"And allow us both to make a most solemn vow," added Sirius, straightfaced, putting his right hand over his heart, "that we will never, ever even think of committing a prank when our dearest friend Remus is indisposed."

Remus didn't dare to hope that they were talking about what he thought they were talking about. All year, he had dreaded that somehow, some way, his newfound friends would discover what he was. That they should know, that they should be so comfortable with it -- no, that was impossible. No one would stay friends with a werewolf, not even these three. Would they? He realised he was holding his breath, waiting for the axe to fall.

Sensing the source of Remus' apprehension, James now leaned in close, folding his arms over Remus' homework, and said, "Last but definitely not least, allow us to assure our good friend that the mere fact that he has a cursed relationship with the full moon does not mean that we in any way will reject his friendship, and, indeed, will never hold said relationship against him. Especially since we like him so much."

Relieved more than words could express, Remus' mouth dropped open. "You really, truly, honestly don't care?"
"'Course not. What were we supposed to do?" said Sirius, sitting on top of Remus' homework and swinging his legs. "Demand you transfer to Ravenclaw?"

James and Peter exchanged amused glances while Remus tried to extricate his books from under Sirius. "Well, I--"

"We decided that we really can't be the Marauders without you," James explained. "I mean, neither Sirius, Peter, nor me has got the innocent look down as well as you do."

"Maybe not," admitted Remus, as if he were trying to come up with an objection.

"We like you too much," added Sirius, still firmly on top of Remus' books. "We even came up with a nickname for you." This ended Remus' attempts to recover his homework.

"What?" He looked 'round at them all. "A nickname?"

"*Sirius* came up with a nickname," clarified James. "I had nothing to do with it."

"That doesn't mean it's bad," put in Peter helpfully.

"And just what are you insinuating?" demanded Sirius.

"Only that you are, indeed, Sirius Daemon Black, and therefore prone to bad jokes," said James calmly.
Sirius glared at him. "I'll give you bad jokes!"

"*I'll* show *you* bad jokes!" returned James.

"You think *you* know bad jokes!"

"You ARE a bad joke!"

Remus and Peter gave each other longsuffering looks as the familiar exchange played itself out between their two friends. Before it got any worse, Remus cut in.

"So, what is this nickname?" he asked innocently.

Sirius grinned. "'Moon-boy'!" he announced, throwing out his arms.

Remus was horrified. "WHAT?"

James gave Sirius an "I-told-you-so" look. "Like I said, it was his idea, not mine."

"'Moon-boy,'" repeated Remus with disbelief. "I can't believe you, Sirius. It won't take long for everyone to figure me out if you call me that."

"So we'll shorten it," said Sirius, not skipping a beat. "How 'bout 'Moony'?"

Remus put his head down, covering it with his hands. "I think at this rate I would prefer 'Reemykins'," he mumbled.

"'Reemykins'. 'Moony'. 'Reemykins'. 'Moony'." Sirius pretended to be deep in thought, miming weighing his options. "Nope, I still like 'Moony'."

Peter giggled.

"Sirius, did I ever tell you that you are incurably obnoxious?" said James.

"Not lately," said Sirius. "I was beginning to wonder."

"I don't see what's wrong with 'Moony', Remus," said Peter. "Its not really obvious unless you already know where it comes from."

"That, Peter," said Sirius with satisfied approval, "is a great point. Don't you think so, Moony?"

Remus gave Sirius something between a contemptuous glare and an incredulous squint. James laughed. "There's only one way out of this, Remus," he warned.

"All right, all right, you can call me 'Moony'." said Remus wearily.

"Actually, I was going to suggest turning him into a moth, but that works too," said James. "All right, then, 'Moony' it is. Now if only I can get Sirius to call me something other than 'Jimmykins,' we'll be set." He started walking off, Peter trailing. "And since that's settled, if you don't mind, I have history homework to do."

Sirius followed. "How about 'Stick-boy'?" he suggested. "You're skinny enough."

"No."

"'Sticky'?"

"Absolutely not."

"'The Meatless Wonder'?"

Remus could only laugh as he listened to their retreating voices out in the hall. Shaking his head, he returned to his work, examining a now creased and unnaturally warm bit of parchment. "I can't hand this in to Professor McGonagall. It's had Sirius' bum all over it." He grinned to himself, happier than he had been in, well, ever. "Must be one of the occupational hazards of having three of the best friends on earth."