Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs

Remus sighed as he packed his bag for the night, double checking that he had remembered everything: a warm knitted jumper, a pair of jogging bottoms, trainers, a flask of hot chocolate, a few packets of Chocolate Frogs and a whole uncooked chicken.

It was almost dinner time in the castle so Remus had Gryffindor Tower to himself. It was the full moon tonight and as the evenings were getting darker earlier this time of year, it meant instead of steaming hot pumpkin soup for dinner, it was raw chicken after he transformed and hot chocolate and sweets come morning when he was back to sixteen year old Remus Lupin.

Checking his wristwatch, he frowned. Sirius, James and Peter should be here by now to see him off before dinner. Come to think about it, he hadn't seen his friends since Charms earlier that afternoon.

It didn't matter though; the sky was turning red and orange, which signalled the end of the day. The sun was setting over the lake and would soon disappear if he didn't get a move on.

Throwing his backpack over his shoulder, Remus took the stairs two at a time as he hurried out of the castle, nodding at the Caretaker at the front entrance as he did so, ignoring his usual disapproving glare.

It took no longer than fifteen minutes before Remus had settled in the Shrieking Shack, collapsing on the old sofa that contained more dog hairs than rip marks. Remus rubbed his eyes, the before feeling of the change brewing inside of him. The pain behind his eyes was numbing after all of these years, but it bothered him nevertheless.

Deciding to have one of his Chocolate Frogs early, Remus leant over to grab his bag. Before he could, there was a thud and out of thin air Sirius, James and Peter appeared.

"What are you guys doing here?" Remus asked, exasperated. He jumped up, white as a sheet as he tried to usher his friends back to the tunnel. The moon would be up in an hour. They couldn't be here. It wasn't safe.

"Remus, calm down!" James said, throwing his palms up. He smiled, but it did not reach his eyes. He looked tired and there was clearly something worrisome behind his eyes.

"You shouldn't be here," Remus said in a small voice. "I'm not safe."

"And we are?" Sirius asked jokingly. He was carrying a backpack, which he discarded next to Remus's before he approached him. "McFaddon's eye brows still haven't grown back after our Potions class last week," he remarked, flashing one of his famous grins. Remus blushed, avoiding his gaze.

"That might be so, but there's no danger of you eating Freddie McFaddon now, is there?" he asked. He stared hard at each of his three friends, whose expressions turned solemn, even Sirius lost his smile.

"Enough you two," James interjected. He picked up Sirius's backpack and pulled out a large vial of potion. The liquid was a foggy grey colour, but there was a twist of midnight blue that swirled around slowly. James walked over to Remus, considering him for a moment before he said, "We did it."

Eyes falling to the vial, it took Remus a few moments to realise what these three little words meant. His mouth fell open and he gasped for air suddenly, his hand clasping against his mouth.

"You… actually… I mean, this is…" Remus couldn't find the words. There were no words. This was… this was very advanced magic. Scratch that, this was very advanced friendship. His eyes stung with hot tears as he let his inhibitions down.

Sirius walked over to him, pulling him into a tight hug. His hand running down Remus's back in circular motions.

"Does it work?" Remus whispered to him.

Pulling away, Sirius shrugged. "That's what we're here to find out."

"According to the book, it looks as though we've done everything correctly," James said, his eyes scanning down the page of a book he must have gotten out of the backpack. He pushed his glasses up his nose slightly and added, "We've triple checked it and we're good to go."

Remus wiped his eyes on his sleeve, beaming at Sirius who winked at him. He looked across the room and saw Peter, who hadn't said a word since arriving. Peter, a small round boy of fifteen, was chewing on his fingernails and looking anxious.

"You ok, Peter?" Remus asked.

"He's just nervous," Sirius said, waving his hand towards the other boy. "Ain't that right, Pete?"

Peter Pettigrew nodded but this didn't convince Remus. The younger boy's eyes were puffy, as though he hadn't had much sleep. Remus recalled that Peter had barely touched his lunch and hadn't said much all day to any of them. Maybe he didn't want to do this, maybe he was being dragged into it by the others. Remus certainly didn't ask his friends to become Animagi. They had insisted and told Remus that there was nothing he could say that would change their minds.

He had been grateful, if not a little apprehensive when three years ago Sirius and James had approached him in the library with their intentions. A little part of him didn't think they'd be about to pull it off. It took almost two years to actually find the information on how to do it, and another year to get the ingredients together for the Animagus Potion.

Remus took hold of Peter's hands and said softly, "Peter. If you don't want to go through with this, you don't have to. No one is forcing you to." Peter looked up at him, his blue eyes blinking quickly. He sighed heavily.

"N-no," Peter said. "I do want to do this. But what if it goes wrong?" He turned to look at Sirius for encouragement, who simply bit his tongue and gave Peter a look that Remus knew only too well.

Coughing, Remus raised his eyebrows at Sirius, his own brown eyes piercing into Sirius's deep blue ones as thought to say be nice.

Rolling his eyes, Sirius said, "Peter, we've been over this. The only way to be sure this will not blow up in our faces would be to apply to the Ministry when we turn seventeen, which would be no use as if by some miracle they actually agreed us to do this, we probably wouldn't be able to go through with the process until we'd left Hogwarts."

"There's also no guarantee they'd accept all three of us," James piped in.

Sirius nodded. "That too!" He walked over to Peter, placing a hand on his shoulder. "What use would that be to our dear Remus? He needs us now." His lips curled into a smile. "We're not going to force you to take part in this, but if you do choose to, just think of all the fun we'd have! I can't promise anything wouldn't go wrong, I mean, we're fifth years not Ministry Officials, but James and I are sure that we've done everything right. We can feel it."

Peter stared at Sirius, his expression blank. His pale face started to regain the colour as he smiled, nodding, agreeing silently that he wanted to go through with this.

Sirius clapped his hands together. "Great! Now we have that sorted, we can begin!" He walked behind James, reading over his shoulder the steps they needed to take. "We need to have a marking that we would usually need to register with the Ministry so they knew it was us. To do this, we just have to point our wands to the place on our bodies we want the mark and say signum."

James, Sirius and Peter pulled out their wands. Peter chose to have a marking on his nose, while James and Sirius created markings on their hips. Satisfied that the spell had worked (they should each have felt a burning sensation for a few seconds before a warm glow cooled their skin down), James withdrew three tumblers from the backpack, handing one to Sirius and Peter. James poured equal amounts of the potion into each of the glasses, before standing beside the other two boys in a row.

"What happens now?" Remus asked, looking between them. "Do you need to choose your animal or…" he trailed off. He had never given the process of becoming an Animagus much thought. How did you choose your animal counterpart?

"Nope, we just drink and let the potion work its magic," Sirius said, eyeing the potion with distaste. "I bet it tastes like piss."

James wrinkled his nose. "Much like the Patronus charm, we don't have a say in what animal we become."

After a long pause, Sirius sighed loudly. "Ok, this is ridiculous. Down in three. One… two… three!"

Remus grimaced as each boy took a long drink of the potion, pulling faces as the creamy liquid hit the back of their throats.

"Arrgh, it's worse than piss!" Sirius exclaimed, wiping his mouth in disgust.

Remus took a step back, unsure what was about to happen. It was James who felt it first. He placed his hands on his stomach and groaned. His legs started to shake. And as quick as it was to drink the potion, he fell onto all fours and transformed into an elegant stag. James bowed his head, giving it a short shake and Remus wondered if he could feel his antlers.

Remus's eyes widened, astounded by what just happened. Sirius then too fell onto all fours and transformed. He turned into a large black shaggy dog, wagging his tail happily. Peter, looking nervously at the other two merely squeaked and became a rat, running around in circles in surprise.

He didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It had worked. It had actually worked. The three animals proceeded to a nearby window to view their reflections in the glass.

Tentatively, Remus approached his friends, giving Sirius a friendly pat on the head.

"Good dog," he teased, grinning ear to ear. Sirius barked in reply and then transformed back into his sixteen year old self, giving Remus a playful shove.

"You're one to talk," he said, turning to admire his friend's animals.

James and Peter both transformed back. James began to laugh, whether it was because it had worked or because of what they became, Remus didn't know. The laughter was infectious, and soon enough all four Marauders were clutching their sides and wiping tears from their eyes.

"We have to keep this a secret," James said seriously once they had all calmed down.

"Agreed," Sirius said. "We don't tell anyone. And I mean anyone, James" he added, raising his eyebrows as he emphasised the word 'anyone'.

"I won't tell Lily," James confirmed, blushing scarlet. "Like she'd believe me if I did," he muttered to himself quietly.

"So Moony, old pal, what do you think?" Sirius asked, transforming into a dog and then back again.

"I think it's brilliant," Remus breathed, still hardly believing it.

"I think we need nicknames too," Peter mused.

"I think that's the smartest thing you've said all day," Sirius declared. "And I think as leader of the Marauder animals, you Remus, should have the honours of naming us."

Blushing, Remus thought hard. "Right ok… well," he turned to Peter. "You are a rat… rats have long wormy tails… so how about Wormtail?" Peter gave him two thumbs up, clearly pleased with his nickname. He turned to James, remembering how magnificent his antlers were "Prongs," he said simply. James grinned, nodding enthusiastically.

Lastly, he turned to Sirius who was looking at him with puppy dog eyes. How ironic, Remus thought to himself. "I dub thee… Padfoot."

Sirius simply winked at Remus before turning to James and high fiving him.

"So it's settled!" Sirius announced. "From here on out, we shall be known as – Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs!"