After The Moon Is Full

You are rail thin. I notice this now. Not that you being thin is much of a shock to me, I've always known that, I've just never realised how thin you really are. Looking at you now, being able to make out every outline of rib, I realise.

It's no real shock to me, what gets me more is the muscles. Someone as thin as you shouldn't have the muscles that you do, anyone would think that you work out every day when I know truly that the most you lift is your books, and I have to attribute these muscles to your condition. I have to attribute you being so damn thin to that as well, after all I've seen you eat. I've made you eat, when you're feeling sick and it's just before or directly after the full moon and you feel like you can't stomach anything, but the rest of the time you can pack away more than me, more than Peter even, and that it a feat. Plus I've watched to pile away the chocolate. It is your metabolism that makes you this thin, your werewolf genes that make you this muscular, and I'm sure it's the chocolate that prevents you from being nothing more than skin and sinew.

Back when we were only just friends; in first year before we had worked out what you are, James got it into his head that you were secretly a girl. It was the chocolate that did it; that and the impressive mood swings that you go through around each full month. It's your feminine attributes that are responsible for James dubbing it your 'time of the month', and why he always buys you a giant slab of chocolate when we go over to Honeydukes. It's also the reason why he gave you flowers for your last birthday.

But right now it's just you and me, and I'm not entirely sure that you're here at all right now. I know how you work. You think that no one understands, but I get you more than you think. You also thought you'd never have friends, but you're a key member of the Marauders, so I know that despite your genius you really have some of the most stupid of thoughts.

At the moment you're on the other side of the room, drawn into the corner as tightly as possible, your arms wrapped around your jean covered legs and shivering because you're chest is unclothed, which is how I've noticed how damn thin you are. You've always managed to hide it from us before, you never get changed in the open, and we leave you to your privacy when you strip and redress for the change. I'm not sure on the whereabouts of your shirt. I know you had one when you arrived the night before, but it's absent from the room. I wonder if Moony ripped it to pieces in the night, though he seems to have left your jeans intact. And your trainers, which are set tidily by the room door. He never goes after those, I think he respects that you need to walk out of here in the mornings, and you only have the one pair of shoes. Padfoot is another matter. He has no respect for your shoes, they are falling apart because when the wolf calms down Padfoot's boredom lets him use them for a chew toy, and no amount of warning growls from Moony will stop him. I will have to buy you some new shoes again by way of apology.

Not that you care, you never seem to really care about the state of your shoes after a change, but you haven't even graced me with your usual eye roll this morning. You won't look at me, won't even let me close enough to touch you, my attempts so far have forced you deeper into the corner, keening under your breath in a way that makes me think Moony is lurking close to the surface, and I have retreated to the bed to watch you.

You are upset, I understand. And I can smell the grief, guilt and fear rolling from you in waves. But it was not your fault. Accidents happen and we are too cocky for our own good some times. It's just you and me now because last night Prongs got too close to your claws and now James and Peter are in the hospital wing, James no doubt reeling off an amazing excuse as to why he has four gouges in his shoulder, I hope he claims to be attacked by Filch's cat, just so I can imagine Madam Pomfrey's face at the unbelievable excuse.

He knows you didn't mean it, that you were in there with Moony; if it had just been the wolf it would have been another matter, but I spend enough time as Padfoot to understand how your mind works, the wolf lurks in your mind, and you lurk in its mind. It's for that reason that James only has a shoulder wound and isn't a decapitated corpse on the floor.

Not that you care. You were in presence enough that you remember what happened, which is why as soon as you had put your jeans on you had retreated into your dark corner and refused to come back out, it's why you won't let me close, it's why we're waiting for Madam Pomfrey to collect you, even though we know she'll be some time because she has to see to James first.

A deep shiver runs through your body, making your teeth chatter and I frown. I know you have to be cold. This is the last change before the Christmas break and there's two foot of snow on the ground and if Padfoot's nose is right then there's more falling even now, but you're only in jeans and you're not complaining, even though you must be frozen solid. Perhaps this is your way of punishing yourself; despite the fact that it was an accident I know that you hate yourself, and this is the only way you can punish yourself right now.

I know I'll have to watch you for the next few days, until we convince you that you're not guilty at least, because I know that you will try to hurt yourself in penance for what you did. Despite reassurances that it is not your fault.

You shiver again, harder this time, and you whimper. I know it's involuntary, that you don't want me to know that you're feeling the cold, but your emotions are running away from you and I can feel the cold even though I'm wearing a t-shirt and a jumper. You have to be close to turning blue.

I sigh, and watch your eyes slip marginally to me before snapping back to the floor. You are trying to ignore me, isolating yourself from your friends because of what you did, and this cuts me deep. Watching you shiver is killing me, and I pull myself from the bed, trying to ignore the way you cower further back into the wall as I approach, pulling my jumper off and trying to prevent my own shivers as the frozen air hits my skin immediately.,

You're watching me now, silent and still, curious towards my actions. Maybe you think I should hate you because of what you did last night, despite the fact that we both know I won't. And I swallow the smirk as I see the surprise on your face when I hold out the jumper.

"You're freezing Remus," I say quickly, before you can argue. My arm is stretched right out, there's still some distance between us because I don't want to terrify you any more than you already are, and I can see you notice this, appreciate it even. But for a different reason. You're worried that Moony, lurking beneath the surface, will rise up if I come too close and you'll hurt me. But we're too much of the pack for that to happen. You need to realise this.

"You're getting cold," you mutter hoarsely. I wince at the pain that must cause you. You aren't supposed to be speaking the day after the change. The screams and howls Moony makes during the night- the screams you make as the change rips through you - practically rip your vocal cords to shreds.

"I don't want it," you continue in that pained whisper, if you keep at this you're going to wreck your throat, and I growl, dropping the jumper to the floor and change. Padfoot instead of the man, with Sirius lurking just beneath the surface, I know what it's like to be in two separate minds. I pick the jumper up in my teeth, move forwards cautiously. You're still watching me with surprise, I can see the two beings warring behind your eyes, Moony recognises me as pack even if you think our friendship is ruined, and you flinch when my nose touches against your hand.

I whine softly when you don't move, pat one paw against your knee, and drop the jumper into your lap. Watching. You do nothing for a minute, and then you move. Slowly and stiffly, I understand you but I can't grasp the pain you must be in; the change of a werewolf is so different to the change of an animagus, and Padfoot can smell blood on you. After Moony hurt James, and I made sure the other two got out alright the wolf had turned on himself, he is sorry for what he did.

You put the jumper on, and I bark happily, forcing a tired smile from your lips, and I edge closer, nuzzle your cheek; you really are frozen, before I settle beside you, head resting on your feet, trying to save your toes from frostbite.

We stay that way for a while, and when we hear voices, Professor Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey, you look at me with panic, knowing I can't escape.

I chuff a response, telling you not to worry, even though I'm not sure you understand, and reassuringly lick you on the cheek before I slink off, making for the dark cover of the fireplace, glad that Padfoot is so dark that he'll melt easily into the shadows. I chuff again as I disappear, the sound echoing up the chimney; a promise that I'll see you in the infirmary soon.

I have just enough time to lie down and lay my head on my paws when the door opens, Madam Pomfrey almost instantly beside you as your eyes turn away from my hiding place, summoning your shoes to you and preparing to take you back to the Castle. I know you are safe now, James is probably still in the ward, he can watch over you until I get there, and then I won't let you out of my sight until I know the guilt is gone. My eyes turn from you to Dumbledore, and I freeze.

He must have looked at you and taken everything in, the line of drool on your cheek and the fact that the jumper you're wearing is too big on you and clearly not yours. I watch his eyes slide over to my hiding spot, and stay there. My heart is cold now, Madam Pomfrey has no doubt told him about James' injury, he knows we are all friends, he can probably put two and two together and work out easily what has happened. This is it. We have been caught. We will be expelled for being illegal animagus, you will be removed from Hogwarts, and without us there you will let your guilt eat you away. You won't kill yourself, I don't think, but you will no doubt do yourself a fair amount of damage. It's you I worry for the most, I don't care about being expelled, I care that you will see it as your fault when I clearly should have left earlier.

I look briefly at you as Madam Pomfrey helps you to stand, you are shivering still, but not as much as before, and you're clearly exhausted from the pain and the guilt, but you're eyes go to Dumbledore, and see that he's looking at me, and you go so pale I think you're going to faint.

Madam Pomfrey seems to believe that as well, for she summons up a stretched and forces you to lie on it. I make a mental reminder as she guides you from the room to tell James not to tease you about your aided entrance into the infirmary. He probably won't anyway, he's probably just as worried as I am, probably feeling as guilty as you for being so cocky that he got hurt. I watch until you and Madam Pomfrey disappear through the door, and then my eyes slide back to Dumbledore, staying silent even though Padfoot wants to whimper at the disappearance of his pack mate. I force him to stay still and quiet, hoping Dumbledore hasn't seen me when he quite clearly has.

The silence is killing me, I can hear my heart and my breathing so loudly I begin to wonder if dogs can hyperventilate. And then Dumbledore smiles, beams really, and nods his head, turning for the door.

"Good boy," he says, and Padfoot's ears prick up, his tail beats on the floor even though I try to prevent it. I hate how the dog responds to such demeaning praise , and then, just before he leaves the room "Please close the front doors when you get into the castle, it is very cold today."

I wait ten minutes to be sure, and then run from the Shack. I need to get a new jumper before I come to see you, and there's a huge bar of Honeydukes chocolate hidden under my bed that I don't doubt you will need. Twenty minutes at the most, I hope James can convince you against your guilt for that long at least.