A/N: Gaaah! I never thought it would take me this long to update this story. Long story short, I've had multiple crappy, crash-happy computers over the last couple years that I just stopped trying to write things on. Anyway, this chapter is dedicated to Sabishii Kage Tenshi who figured out the snowman name! This chapter is short, but another will shortly follow :-)
Harry sat gazing interestedly at the moving photos in the album Remus had given him for Christmas. It was odd for the young boy to finally see his parents—especially moving. Aunt Petunia had never even shown him any normal—muggle, Harry reminded himself— pictures of anyone or anything connected to her sister. Harry had wondered before what exactly had happen to make Aunt Petunia the way she was—clearly his own mother couldn't possibly be the only decent one in their family? Was it possible that Aunt Petunia became the odd one out?
Well, Harry mentally snorted, she did marry Uncle Vernon.
There was one other thought that kept weighing heavily on the emerald-eyed boy's mind as he flipped through these photos: what ever happened to his father's other friends Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew? Remus had been very careful to avoid explaining their fates during the war with Voldemort. Harry assumed they had met some kind of gruesome end that Remus had never really gotten over—and rightfully so, as Harry himself couldn't imagine how he would feel if the only people who ever accepted him all died tragically.
The small boy shook his head, trying to ward off the gloom. He always wanted to have close friends—the kind of friendship Remus explained The Marauders had. And what if he never got it? What if his fame prevented him from having a meaningful relationship with any of his peers at Hogwarts? Harry was sure he could be content if he only ever had Remus to confide in, but he wanted his experience at Hogwarts to be as grand as his parent's had been—he wanted to be accepted for himself, not just as The-Boy-Who-Lived.
Sadly, Harry knew all too well how cruel children could be. No one had ever been brave enough to befriend him in fear of his massive, bully of a cousin. But he was a wizard—and he would be at a school for magic! Surely the other students, besides the Voldemort's sympathizers of course, were willing to be a bit more open-minded…
"Harry, are you in here?"
A messy head of dark hair popped up from its place inside the album. "Mmm-hmm!"
Remus opened the door to Harry's bedroom, but only stuck his head in, a grin on his face. "Are you hungry? I was going to make us some sandwiches."
Harry giggled at the sight of the older man's disembodied head. "Yes, thank you. I'll help!"
Trailing Remus to the kitchen, Harry pondered whether it would ever be a good time to bring up his previous train of thoughts. Being completely comfortable around Remus had taken very little time and while he understood that he could never say anything to make his newly found family hate him, the boy didn't want to see the sadness in his guardian's eyes, nor feeling the pain in his heart.
But he had the right to know, didn't he? He knew both Remus and Dumbledore were keeping secrets from him—not to hurt the small boy, but because they cared. They couldn't know that he could feel their uneasiness, that he saw right through them…that he knew things about people without them saying a word…
Heaving a small sigh, he decided to ask just this once.
"Remus," Harry began, unsure of how to phrase his thoughts, "may I ask you a question?"
The sandy-haired man smiled congenially, "Of course, Harry."
Fidgeting with his overlarge shirt sleeves, Harry dropped his eyes to the floor. "Could you tell me whatever happened to yours and my dad's other friends?"
The flinch and small burst of panic was just about what the young boy expected to happen. The answer, however, was not.
"Not today, Harry," said Remus, eyes slightly haunted. "But I will someday soon, I promise you." Remus's back stiffened slightly, before he turned to give Harry a very searching look. "Would you keep a secret for me?"
Bobbing his head, Harry rocked back and forth on his tiptoes, now completely fine with meeting Remus's determined-looking gaze.
"You know how I have no control over turning into a wolf, Harry?" A small nod. "Well, there are many witches and wizards who can learn to turn into an animal at will. It's that witches or wizard's animagus."
Of course, the small boy had already sensed this about people, as he was entirely sure that Professor McGonagall could turn into a cat. However, he had no idea how someone went about achieving such a thing.
"Can anyone…?" Harry trailed off, excited at the prospect of turning into something large enough to terrify his cousin and perhaps chase him down the street.
Remus's grin had turned mischievous. "It takes a lot of work and concentration, and many never achieve an actual animagus, but it's technically a skill anyone can acquire." Here, the older man took a small pause, as if working up to a finish. "Your father, Sirius, and Peter all became animagi for me."
Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs… "Oh, "said the small boy, suddenly feeling silly for never asking, "they were your nicknames!" Scrunching his nose, Harry pondered the implications…wolf, rat, dog, steer…
"That's so…cool," Harry finished lamely, but still smiling brightly. "You never told anyone…?"
"No," Remus stated happily, "it was our secret, along with the map, of course. Though there were a few who I suspect had an idea. Witches and wizards are required to register their animagus form…James, Sirius, and Peter never did. Whenever I would turn into the wolf, they could stay with me. They…didn't want me to suffer alone."
Harry's imagination was set ablaze. Imagine, being able to turn into an animal at will! And his dad had done this so his friend wouldn't have to be alone—had accepted him for this thing he couldn't control and most other's shunned. Despite his father's famed arrogance Remus alluded to so often, Harry could tell he would do anything for those he cared for. This made him immensely happy after years of the Dursleys claiming his father to be an unemployed alcoholic—who obviously drug his mother to the grave with him.
"Do you think I could learn someday?" Harry eagerly questioned.
Remus's eyes, tired as they may be, sparkled with an immense pleasure Harry could not quite identify. "Yes, Harry. I do believe someday you could."