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Disclaimer: Not mine. Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling.
"James... James... James..."
"Just a few more minutes, mum." twelve-year old James Potter mumbled, snuggling under the covers farther.
"James!" A voice snapped.
The boy jumped, suddenly on alert at the sharp tone, sitting up in bed.
"Shh!" his best friend Sirius Black, shushed. "James, it's me, Sirius." he whispered.
James scowled, "Nice to meet you," he drolled sarcastically, "now can I go back to sleep?"
He threw his head back down onto the pillow, trying desperately to ignore his friend.
"James, something weird is going on with Remus, and I'm not going to rest until I find out what." Sirius whispered urgently.
"Which means I'm apparently not going to either." he whispered back, trying to bury his face in his pillow.
Sirius rolled his eyes. How was he going to get James up? He knew once James woke up he'd be ready to help, but how to get him up?
He was determined to find out what Remus was up to. Every month, once a month, Remus would disappear, saying his mom was sick, his father was in the hospital, or his aunt had been ill. He had disappeared again tonight, saying his aunt had passed away and he would had to go to her funeral. They had known it was lie. The same aunt had died three months ago.
"Come on, James." Sirius said, trying to physically drag his friend out of the bed.
"I'll give you ten galleons for ten more minutes." James persuaded.
"Nope." Sirius said, continuing to jerk him from the four-poster bed.
"How about one galleon to smother me with my pillow?" James asked, holding his pillow out to Sirius, his eyes still half-closed.
Sirius sighed, rolling his eyes again. He snatched the pillow and threw it back on the bed. Giving James' arm another tug, he succeeded in pulling his friend to his feet.
"Come on, James.I think I found out how we can find out what Remus is up to."
"How?" James asked groggily.
"We'll look through his trunk." Sirius said, indicating the object.
James rose an eyebrow, still not fully awake. "Sirius, isn't that an 'invasion of privacy' or something like that?"
"Do you want to find out what he's up to or not? This is probably the only way to find out where he's going and what he's hiding. Whatever he's hiding, he's doing a good job of it."
"Alright, fine." James sighed. Curiosity overriding exhaustion.
Sirius grinned, "Finally! Oi! Peter, wake up!"
Peter Petigrew mumbled something in his sleep, turning over on his side.
Sirius rolled his eyes, grabbed James' pillow, and chucked it at him.
The projectile succeeded in hitting him in the face, causing him to pop up in bed, eyes wide.
"Come on, Peter." Sirius whispered.
"Where are we going?" he asked, stumbling as he tripped over his duvet and stumbled to the floor.
"We're going to find out what Remus is up to."
"Huh?" he was standing up now, but his eyes were beginning to droop again.
Sirius looked over at him, "Peter, wake up!"
His eyes snapped back open quickly. He shook his head, dispelling the cobwebs. "Can't this wait until morning?"
"No, because by morning Remus will be back." James answered.
"Well, at least I got one awake." Sirius grumbled.
James scowled at his friend. "Come on you two." he directed, making his way over to where Remus' trunk was hidden under the bed.
Sirius and Peter, the latter still fighting his heavy eyelids, followed, kneeling down next to him.
Sirius reached under the bed, slid the trunk out and gave the lid a pull. It wouldn't budge.
"It's locked." he announced.
"Nice deduction, Merlin." his best friend remarked causing Sirius to scowl.
Here, let me see it." James grabbed the trunk, sliding it over to himself.
"Oh, and what are you going to do?" Sirius asked sarcastically.
James just threw him a look before standing and going over to his nightstand to grab his wand. Kneeling by the trunk again, James tapped the lock once and whispered, "Alohamora."
The lock clicked, coming undone.
"How did you do that?" Sirius asked, staring.
"It's called magic, Sirius, look it up." he replied, sliding the lock from the chain.
"Ha, ha." his friend muttered.
James just gave him a cheeky grin before pushing the top up.
"Let's see what we have in here..." Sirius mumbled contemplatively, reaching his hand inside and pulling out a small, worn, brown book.
"Look at this!" Peter exclaimed.
James and Sirius' heads snapped up.
Peter held up a small potions vial containing a bright, lime green liquid.
"What is it?" James asked, taking the vial from Peter and holding it up to the moonlight to inspect.
"It's for silver burns." Peter had a particular gift for potions. Maybe not top of the class, but he was better than the average wizard.
"It's for what?" Sirius asked, brow creasing in confusion.
"Silver burns. It's mainly for werewolves, when they get burned by silver." Peter explained.
"But why would Remus have that?" James asked, looking between the two of his friends.
They both shrugged in response.
"Lets see what else is in here." Sirius suggested, momentarily forgetting the potion and moving back to digging in the drunk.
The search produced Remus' school books, robes, and sever more vials of the bright green potion.
"That's weird..." Sirius muttered under his breath.
"What's weird?" James asked, not bothering to look up from his search.
"This book," Sirius answered, "Listen to this. 'Taming the wild beast: How to tame the beast within'. It's all about werewolves.
Peter bit his lip, looking curiously at the book in Sirius' hand.
"Check this out." James said, passing the object in his hand over to the other two while he proceeded with his search.
"It's a lunar chart." Sirius brow creased in thought.
"I think this goes with it."
Sirius head shot up to see James produce another chart from the trunk.
They held up their charts, side to side, comparing.
"All the nights of full moon are circled." Peter spoke, pointing to one of the marks.
"And tonights a full moon." Sirius whispsered, the idea forming in his head, but not daring to even consider. It was impossible... Wasn't it?
"It's not." James spoke with conviction. "Remus is not a..." he paused. Shaking his head once, he tossed the solar chart aside.
Sirius stared for a few moments before going back to his search of the trunk.
Peter picked up the two discarded charts and started pouring over them, James looking over his shoulder.
"It is true." Sirius' whispered voice broke the silence.
"What?" James asked, looking up.
"Listen to this," Sirius pulled back from the trunk to balance on the heels of his feet, book in hand, "There's a note in here. 'Taming the Werewolf'." Sirius cleared his throat, " 'Dear Remus, hope this helps with your 'problem' every month. Merry Christmas. Love, Uncle Henry.' "
"Unbelievable. Remus is a werewolf." James whispered in shock, looking between his friends.
The sat in silence. No-one saying a word. Not sure what to say.
"Come on, lets put this stuff back." Sirius' voice cut through finally, "We'll talk to Remus in the morning." He decided, starting to stow the books back in the trunk.
After several minutes the things were stored away and the group of three were curled back under the covers.
But with the bright, full, luminous moon peaking through the window, they didn't get much sleep that night.
Opening his eyes, he blinked a few times, trying to clear his head.
He glanced around at his surroundings and, after catching sight of the white beds and potion cabinets, he realized he was in the Hospital Wing.
He adjusted in the bed, feeling the smooth sheets beneath his slightly scratched hands, as he tried t sit up.
The shooting pain that traveled up his arm was unexpected, but not exactly unfamiliar.
He let out a hiss, drawing his arm up quickly, and dropping back against the pillows.
"Ah, Remus. Its good to see you awake." Madam Pomfrey's voice cut through the pain-filled haze.
"Hi, Madam Pomfrey." He greeted, his voice slightly raspy.
She smiled, patting his shoulder gently.
"Drink this," she instructed, handing him a large, frothing goblet, "And I'll just check your arm."
He nodded in understanding, accepting the potion with slight trepidation. He swallowed quickly, downing the nasty taste in one before reaching quickly for the glass of water on his night stand.
"I'll be right back," Pomfrey said, taking back the now empty goblet, "I just have to go see Professor Slughorn about something to fix those torn muscles in that arm of yours."
He nodded again in understand.
As the nurse walked away, he adjusted his pillows, careful of his arm this time, and fell back into them.
His eyelids drooped heavily, threatening to close.
He had nearly fallen asleep when he heard a sharp hiss.
"Ouch, Sirius! You stepped on my foot!"
"It's not my fault you have big feet!" A voice snapped back.
Remus' eyes snapped open, glancing around quickly. Not spotting anything, he knew they were under James' cloak.
He hurriedly pulled the covers up, covering his head and slid down the bed farther, hoping against hope that they hadn't, and wouldn't, spot him.
His hopes, however, were dashed when he felt the covers being jerked out of his hands and off of his head in a quick motion, leaving him to stare face to face with Sirius.
Remus gave a quick start and jumped slightly, banging his forehead against Sirius' who had been mere inches from him.
They both pulled away quickly, clutching their heads and wincing at their new headaches.
James clutched his stomach, tears streaming down his face in was at least trying not to laugh at them. He was, however, failing miserably.
"Sorry, Sirius." Remus apologized, still rubbing his forehead.
"It's all right." he waved it off, taking a seat on the edge of the bed's mattress; James and Peter following suit.
"What're you guys doing here?" Remus asked, hoping to stall their questions.
"What? Can't we visit our friend in the hospital?" James asked, running a hand through his hair out of habit.
"How did you know I was in the hospital?" the young werewolf asked, reaching for the glass of water on the bedside table that Pomfrey had been kind enough to refill before she left.
"Well, we figured this is where you'd be." Peter answered.
"What do you mean?" Remus asked, taking a drink of water.
"After your transformations." Sirius supplied in answer, "We figured you'd be-" Sirius cut off abruptly as a very surprised Remus spit out his drink, hitting in the face with a cold spray of water.
James burst out laughing at his friend's misfortune, finding the whole episode rather hilarious; Peter stood beside him, chuckling.
"Sheesh, Remus! What'd I ever do to you?" The young Gryffindor asked, shaking his head rapidly, trying to rid himself of the water.
"Hey!" James cried, backing up as a few of the droplets managed to hit him in the face and speckle his glasses.
Sirius just smirked at him.
Remus, who seemed to have not heard a word of this, was still spluttering. "What-what do you mean transformation?"
Peter answered him this time, "We know you're a werewolf, Remus." He said, not unkindly.
The young werewolf gaped, opening his mouth to say something, only to snap it shut again.
He couldn't believe this was happening. It was his worst nightmare, short of biting someone.
He hadn't been able to believe his incredible luck when he had made friends, not only with James and then Peter, and also Sirius later on.. It seemed to good to be true.
Apparently, it was.
It all had just come crashing down around him.
He supposed he should feel gratful. Gratful that he was ever allowed friends. Gratful they had been friends this long.
But right now, he certainly didn't feel very gratful or lucky at all.
How did they even know he was... what he was.
And better yet, what were they going to do? Shun him? Most likely. Take the mickey out of him for the rest of their school years? Probably. Tell everyone else? Maybe.
He didn't even want to ask the question of what they must think of him now.
He swallowed thickly, acutely aware of the three sets of eyes watching him carefully.
He needed to say something. But what? He was pretty sure he didn't want an answer to most of the questions rolling around in his mind now.
Better stick with something safe. Something where the answer couldn't be too hurtful.
"How long have you know?" He intended for his voice to come out strong, but it was merely a whisper when he spoke.
"Ages," was Sirius' answer, as he waved off the question with a dismissive hand.
James rolled his eyes and shook his head before reaching across the bed to smack Sirius across the back of his head.
"Ow! Alright, alright!" Sirius held up his hands in surrender, fending off further attack, "We found out last night." He conceded as he rubbed the sore spot on the back of his head, sending his best friend a glare.
Remus bit his lip. He was going to be all alone. Alone. The word made him feel empty and yet it wasn't unfamiliar. He was more than used to that word.
His mother, father, and his Uncle Henry and Aunt Linda were the few precious people who had not shunned him since he was transformed.
He had other relatives he knew, but none that he remembered meeting. Since he was bitten, they've never come around. Not that his father would allow it. Anyone who knew of Remus' condition, and who had anything to say, were immediately shown the door.
He looked up at his friends; they were watching him curiously, obviously waiting for something.
So much for that.
Right now he'd be lucky just to stay in the school.
If they told anyone... he'd be doomed. Word spread fast in Hogwarts. He'd be getting shoved out the doors by tomorrow morning. At best.
He wanted so badly to stay. Even if he could have no friends, if he could just stay...
"I'll move out!" He said, his abruptness taking the three friends by surprise, "I promise you. I'll move out of the dorm. The common room even. You'll never have to speak to me again, I swear it. Just please, please don't tell anyone." He pleaded.
"What?" James asked, apparently confused by the turn of events.
"Please!" Remus continued to beg, "You have to understand! If you tell anyone, I'll have to leave. And I-I don't want to leave. Hogwarts is my home." His voice grew quieter as he spoke, "I-I just-just... Please, don't tell anyone." He couldn't find another argument to make his point.
The three friends glanced at each other warily. Whatever they had been expecting, it sure hadn't been this.
"Remus..." James started, keeping a careful eye on his friend, "We're not going to tell anyone."
Remus rose a skeptic brow.
"Really." James stressed the word, "We won't tell anyone."
The young werewolf pursed his lips, letting out a long, world-weary sigh.
He wanted so badly to believe his fellow Gryffindor. But why on earth would James and the others not tell anyone? What was in it for them? James and Sirius always loved a good joke. Perhaps it was a set-up. Make him believe them, trust them even, only to turn the tables at the last minute and unveil his secret.
But... That wasn't like James and Sirius. Sure, they loved their jokes, but they weren't cruel. Well, maybe to Snape. And Slytherins in general. But most usually, they were kinder to everyone else. Their jokes never going be on an embarrasing moment or a good scare.
He bit his lip. He didn't dare believe it; it was too good to be true.
"Remus." Peter's voice caught his attention.
He looked up to meet the youngest boys eyes.
"We're not... upset with you, you know." He cocked his head to the side, "S'not like you can help being a werewolf."
Remus' brows shot up in surprise.
"Yeah," Sirius agreed, before tacking on, "But we seriously gotta talk about this lying to your friends thing."
He turned his head to look at the black-haired boy.
"I mean, really? A dead aunt? The same aunt, may I remind you, who had died before? Tsk, tsk, Remus." He shook his head in mock disappointment. "Just what are we going to do with you, Moony?"
"I-" Remus froze, blinking several times, Sirius' words having sunk in, "Excuse me?"
"Moony." Sirius repeated, "Its your new nick-name!"
Remus raised an eyebrow at the dark-haired teen, incredulous. A nickname? Seriously?
"Of course!" James exclaimed, "We are the marauders after-all." He smirked, "Shouldn't there be nicknames involved?"
"What about your names then?" Remus asked.
"Details." Sirius waved it off.
Remus stared at him, bemused; amusement tugged at the corners of his mouth.
"So," Sirius slung his arm around Remus' shoulder, "What now, my good werewolf?"
Remus spared a look to his other two friends to see James shaking his head at Sirius in an exasperated manner while Peter chuckled quietly next to him.
Looking back to Sirius, he was met with a slightly cocky smirk.
Of course his friends would find someway to make this amusing.
He really liked the sound of that.
He couldn't stop the smile that started to spread across his face.
His real friends.
Finally. People who accpeted him for who he was.
Remus opened his to reply only to freeze mid-way.
"What is it?" Sirius asked, feeling his friend tense.
"Footsteps." He whispered. His sensitive ears having picked up on the sound long before his friends. "Madam Pompfrey."
Sure enough, footsteps were soon befalling the ears of the fellow Gryffindors as they echoed off the stairway walls.
James grumbled under his breath as he snatched up his cloak and tossed it over his head; he held up the edge just high enough for Peter and Sirius to scamper under before allowing the silvery fabric to drop over them.
"We'll drop by later." James' voice promised.
"Feel better soon!" Peter's voice followed soon after.
The door opened and Madam Pomfrey walked in, letting the door swing shut behind her.
Remus was able to glimpse the corner of someone's black robe swish out the door before it snapped shut.
"Well," Poppy commented, raising an eyebrow at her patient, "You certainly look in a much better mood than when I left you."
Remus shrugged, still not quite able to hide his grin however.
He accepted the goblet she offered without protest, choking down its contents quickly.
Even the tar-ish tasting concoction couldn't damper his happiness now.
He handed the goblet back to Poppy.
He slid down his pillows, pulling his duvet back up to cover himself, sighing contentedly as he snuggled into the sheets.
His friends would be back later, he knew that.
His friends that didn't care that he was a werewolf. Friends that didn't care he turned into a beast once a month. His friends who still accepted him and wanted him despite how dangerous he may be.
He no longer had to hide. No more trying to think up flimsy stories to cover for himself. No more lying.
He had friends.
'I could do without the nickname' Remus thought sleepily, his eyelids drooping. He decided against trying to argue his way against it. He knew his friends, and when they set their minds on something, there was no shaking it loose.
Oh well. They were the marauders after all. And if one of them had a nickname, then it was only fitting that the others had some to match. Ones that matched his preferably.
After all, Remus Lupin wasn't a marauder for nothing.