OutsideLookingIn

You don't know how it feels
To be outside the crowd
You don't know what it's like
To be left out
And you don't know how it feels
To be your own best friend
On the outside looking in

-Jordan Pruitt

Remus had amazing friends. They were the most popular boys in school, they were hilarious (most of the time), and they cared deeply for each other and for him. Funnily enough, he didn't really care about the first two things.

He did, however care about the last point. The fact that they cared for him was as amazing as they were, and what was even more amazing was that he had friends at all.

And the most mind-blowing thing of all was that they knew what he was and still accepted him despite it.

Remus knew all this; he knew how amazing they were. In fact, amazing didn't even begin to cover it. Awesome, spectacular, superb, wonderful; all were words that, even combined together, would never fully capture the Marauders.

But sometimes he didn't feel like they were amazing. In those moments of paranoia, when he saw James and Sirius with their heads together, whispering and glancing at him, or when Peter looked at him with some unreadable emotion in his eyes, or when they all went off without him and refused to give him an explanation; that was when he didn't feel like everything was going great.

He felt like an outsider when that happened.

He was feeling like this when Sirius found him in the library one day. "Hey, Moony," the dark-haired boy said casually, leaning against the table Remus was working on with a cool elegance that only Sirius ever managed to pull off to that level of perfection. "Still studying the properties of the juice of grumgurgle roots, or whatever you were doing?"

"No," Remus said, a little stiffly despite the fact that he knew Sirius meant no harm. "I'm reading a muggle romance novel."

"Oh, forgive my mistake, Great One!" Sirius exclaimed immediately, bowing down Remus as though worshipping him. Perhaps he'd picked up on the unenthusiastic tone. "I did not mean to offend one such as yourself! Please spare my life; I shall offer you both my hands in payment of this slight."

Sirius' playful antics caused a smile to pull at Remus' mouth; the other boy never failed to amuse him.

"I'm afraid your hands aren't a good enough sacrifice. I'll have to lop off your feet in punishment," Remus said with a straight face, beginning to collect his books that were scattered around him and slip them into his bag. It soon became obvious that, every time Sirius joined him, he wouldn't get any work done.

"Oh, not my feet!" Sirius exclaimed in horror.

"Yes, your feet," Remus confirmed.

"But how will I run errands for you, my Lord?"

Remus got up from the table and began to exit the library, waving goodbye to Madam Pince as he did so. It had almost been closing time, anyway. "I'm sure I can recruit some washed-up gnome to replace you," he told Sirius. "He'll probably do a better job."

"You wound me, Moony," Sirius said while clutching at his chest as though Remus had literally stabbed him in the heart.

"You'll survive," Remus said shortly, but his voice was decidedly happier. "Now to what do I owe the pleasure of your company? Did you cast a regurgitating charm on the toilets?"

Sirius rolled his eyes. "That's so unimaginative," he said. "We did that back in third year."

"Then did you succeed in turning Mrs. Norris into a shrimp?"

"Still working on it," Sirius answered breezily.

"What then?"

Sirius just smiled at Remus coolly. "We have something to show you," was all he said. Remus raised his eyebrow; now he was intrigued. Usually Sirius was bursting with excitement when he had something to tell Remus; it was unusual for him to be this calm.

Remus was ashamed to admit that he spent the rest of the walk to Gryffindor pestering Sirius about what he wasn't telling the werewolf. Even more shameful was the fact that by the time they were traipsing through the common room, he still hadn't got Sirius to crack.

"Stop whining, Remus," Sirius said, and now he wore a wide grin that would not go away - finally, a sign of his excitement. "All will be revealed."

As soon as he walked through the door to the dorm, he noticed Peter and James standing side-by-side, their eyes fixed on him eagerly. Sirius strode over to them and stood beside Peter. At the odd sight, Remus' stride faltered.

"What's going on?" he asked, still curious but now a little worried. He'd never seen the Marauders this sombre. Sad, yes. But not serious and business-like for no apparent reason.

"Take a seat, Remus," James commanded. "You may want to be sitting for this."

Remus obeyed, perching awkwardly on the edge of one of the beds. He didn't relax though; he sat there as though ready to leap up and run.

"Now, before we show you...," James began.

"We want you to remain calm," Sirius continued, when the black-haired boy took too long in continuing. "No matter what."

"What have you done?" Remus demanded, his mind immediately going to the worst-case scenario. They hadn't been expelled, had they? Surely they wouldn't be standing in front of him if they had.

"Nothing!" Sirius exclaimed. Then he added, "Well, not nothing. But nothing bad; not really."

Remus didn't quite believe him. Sirius didn't quite have the same definition of "bad" as most people.

"Just let us show you," Peter chipped in.

"Alright." Remus took a deep calming breath - by the sounds of it, he'd need it.

"Ready?" Sirius asked.

"Ready," Remus replied.

He didn't believe his eyes at first, when Peter started to shrink towards the floor. He let out a startled noise - had someone spiked his morning pumpkin juice with a delayed shrinking potion? - but fell silent in amazement when he saw what was happening to the two boys on either side of Peter.

Unlike Peter, James and Sirius didn't shrink, but they did change. If anything, James grew a little, his clothes and skin going a deep brownish colour. Beside him, Sirius was undergoing much the same transformation - except he was turning soot-black, and seemed to be morphing rather than changing size.

Remus blinked and, moments later, two large animals were standing in front of him. Remus blinked again, and the hallucination didn't waver. The dog panted up at him, and the stag watched him with doleful eyes that begged him non-verbally to understand.

It wasn't until a scurrying sound caught his attention and he looked down at the floor to see a small, brown rat pawing in a very human-like fashion at his feet that Remus' brain began to work. The cogs whirred for a moment or two before...

"Animagi," he whispered, his eyes wide with disbelief. It seemed so impossible, so far-fetched, but... here was the proof, standing (or sitting in the dog's case) before him.

The stag began to change again and, before Remus knew it, James was in front of him once again. "Yes," he said simply.

"But... why?" The question made it sound like he was asking James why the three of them had randomly decided to become animagi, but in actuality he was asking a whole lot more. He was asking why they had done it without him.

His mind was already elaborating on his question, although not another sound passed his lips. Was it because they didn't like him as much as they liked each other, or didn't want him to be part of the group? Was it because they didn't believe a werewolf deserved to be an animagi? Was it because they didn't think a werewolf couldbe an animagi?

James was oblivious to the mental tirade. "To help you, Moony."

"Help me?" Remus was very confused by now.

"Yeah. Because you don't hurt animals as a werewolf, so we became animals."

"You... became... animals..." Remus was in shock; that was the only explanation as to why he hadn't yet started yelling at them. But that would come later.

Sure enough, a few minutes later, raised voices could be heard coming from the Gryffindor boys' dorms. It was a good thing that the walls were thick; it wouldn't do any good for the entire common room to hear Remus chastising, in a very raised voice, about not considering the dangers of what they did. But after a while he quietened down, and Remus found himself brooding on his bed.

How could they do something so dangerous? It was far too much to risk. He could easily rip them to shreds - and it was more likely that that would happen than for him to let the three of them live on the night of the full moon.

But at the same time, a part of him was doing an Irish jig at the news. All the secrets, the isolation, the adventures he'd thought he'd been left out of... they all made sense. They were all done for him. The thing that he thought had marked him as a freak in the one place he'd found acceptance had turned out to be just another display of the amazingness of his friends. And, as a large black dog rested his head in Remus' lap, the werewolf knew he wasn't alone. He'd thought he'd been isolated - been an outsider - but he'd been anything but.

Those deep eyes told Remus, in a way that words never could, that he'd never be alone.