Author's Note:A really old fic; my very first, I believe, though I don't think I ever posted it anywhere. Let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: I'm not JK Rowling, I don't own any of this.

Paw Prints

"We all need each other." -- Leo Buscaglia

February.

Eighteen years ago, his friends had stayed with him for the first time.

His friends. Himself, and his friends. A foursome.

Sirius, James, Remus, Peter.

Padfoot, Prongs, Moony, Wormtail.

He had been first, bitten by a werewolf at age three. He hadn't even known his friends then.

He never told them. He'd been afraid of what they'd do.

Sirius guessed. Sirius could read everyone, even someone as closed as Remus. The only person who could read Sirius, though, was James. Sirius didn't trust. He respected. And it was hard to earn his respect. So you never knew when Sirius was afraid or upset. He showed cheerfulness and mischief to the world. Those very few he truly trusted (pretty much only James) saw his fears and his dreams. Those he respected received jokes and discussions. Those he scorned saw only disdain, the elegance and arrogance that were the trademark of the wizarding aristocracy.

Sirius guessed, and told him to tell James. Telling James his darkest secret earned him Sirius's respect.

James convinced him to tell Peter.

Sirius despised Peter. Peter was spineless, Peter was weak, a coward, a tag-along. Peter cringed under Sirius's scornful silver eyes.

James felt sorry for Peter. James was the reason Peter was a Marauder. Over time, James convinced Sirius to be civil to Peter, but the scorn was still there. It would always be there.

A week later Sirius informed him that his name was now Moony. Sirius and James were quite taken with the nickname and used it all the time. Peter hardly ever did, not wanting to anger Sirius by using his name for Remus. Peter was already too often the object of Sirius's wrath.

That was in first year.

Around Christmas in second year, Sirius started acting strangely, disappearing for hours at a time, coming back with his pockets full of parchment. Sirius and James often sat pouring over these, tucking them hastily away whenever Remus came around.

A year later, they started going off and coming back exhausted and bone-weary. Remus and Peter were often alone.

Then Peter started to sneak off, too.

All three ignored him when he asked where they went.

On January twenty-sixth, Sirius's sixteenth birthday, Remus was alone again when Peter burst in, nearly falling over with excitement. Remus, thinking someone must have died, followed him to the Room of Requirement.

A sight very different from a dead body met his eyes.

James was kneeling on the floor, running his hands over a big black dog in wonder and awe.

It was a very handsome dog. The long, silky ebony fur flowed through James's fingers like water, and the large, silver-gray eyes showed an excitement to match the ferociously wagging tail. There was also a trace of smugness, cockiness and pride in the dog's easy stance.

It looked up at Remus, expecting praise.

He felt like he knew this dog, but he had never seen him before.

Had he?

He hadn't seen the dog, but he had seen the eyes.

Silver eyes.

Sirius's eyes.

He whispered the name in a state of shock.

The dog looked delighted, but James shook his head.

Padfoot. This was Padfoot.

The dog jumped around to face James, transforming as he did so into Sirius Black.

As Sirius ranted about telling the straight truth to shocked people and informed James to watch where he put his hands while petting his dog form unless he wished to die in the very near future, reminding Remus strongly of the time Sirius had threatened to kill them if they didn't know which star he shared names with, Peter told him about the search for the Animagus transformation information and the struggle to master the task.

Sirius, finishing up with a thoughtful remark about liking the name Padfoot, told Remus that they did it for him. So he would never be alone. They would always be there for him. Always.

There was a group hug as Remus broke down in tears.

Well, eighteen years later, he was alone.

He cried.

James was successful two days later.

Remus and Peter walked in to find Padfoot seemingly deep in conversation with a tan-coloured stag. The hazel eyes and the tuft of fur that refused to lie flat on the stag's neck marked him instantly.

Sirius turned back to tell them brightly that they could speak mind to mind and that it was extremely fun.

The stag stayed still to let Remus examine him as he had the dog.

Sirius introduced him to Prongs.

It was two weeks after that until Peter got it.

Sirius came to get him, looking disgusted.

Remus soon understood.

A rat. Peter was a rat.

First, Remus associated rats with the dirty, the vile, the selfish, the disloyal.

Second, after two magnificent transformations, a rat was so plain. Remus had expected, well, he didn't know what he had expected, but a rat wasn't it.

James didn't have a name for him. He had been too stunned.

Remus decided on Wormtail.

The full moon was six days away.

The spent it together.

Padfoot, Prongs, Moony, Wormtail.

But not anymore.

Now two were dead, the other their killer. And free.

Remus feared for his life. Would the murderer want him, the last true Marauder, dead too?

Oh, Padfoot, what have you done?

The pain started.

Sirius and James never meant to include Peter. He had accidentally walked in on them on his way back from detention.

Sirius had copied everything down so Remus wouldn't guess what they were up to by looking through the books they brought back. For some you just needed to look at the cover to know.

Pain. Even with Wolfsbane, it hurt.

It would always hurt.

And not just physically. Ever since that fateful All Hallow's Eve, it was emotional, too.

There. The transformation was complete.

The night was his.

The wolf missed his pack.

His pack.

Padfoot and Prongs, who fought him off when he tried to attack.

Wormtail, who helped them come.

But Padfoot had been his special friend. Padfoot, who knew the love, importance and safety of a pack. Padfoot, the alpha. Padfoot,who howled and cursed at the moon with him.

Oh, Padfoot, why did you do it?

He was restless. He moved around, looking for something to chase.

His nose picked up a familiar smell.

One he had almost forgotten.

But Moony didn't want to forget, even if Remus did.

He ran.

He soon stopped. And looked down.

Paw prints.

Ones he knew, and would never forget.

But not his own.

Later, Remus would realize the danger. The knowledge would trouble him, haunt him. He would take precautions against a confrontation. His entire soul would go into stopping the cataclysm that this presence would bring.

But Moony knew only one thing.

Padfoot was here.

End