The three strange animals who weren't truly animals crept toward him, proceeding slowly. He could smell the scent of them, half smells dimly familiar, but then again not. His human self knew them… but the human side was only half heard. Only the wolf was truly conscious and in control, tonight, when the call of the moon was at it's fullest.
These three though… they were just so familiar. There names were elusive, always darting back into the fog of his unfocused memory whenever his paws seemed close to grasping it…
One of them were afraid, the little one of the underground which hid in the protection offered by the larger two.
Rat? Was that what it was called?
The Wolf's mind only recognized three things: Prey, Pack, and Enemies. But the human side seemed to keep insisting that this creature was called a rat. Prey perhaps…if he was hungry enough.
Noticing he was staring at it, the rat hurried under the legs of the horned beast.
Again, words provided by his semi-dormant human self. Perhaps prey, but again only if he was desperate and had help. This animal looked as if it could do some damage with it's large rack, the tines noticeably sharp…
He should attack him anyway to show the material order of things. Prey didn't outrank him, for he the wolf was leader.
The last one, the great black dog… He didn't fit into any of the three categories that the wolf who. He wasn't prey, that's for sure. He also wasn't an enemy, for he gave no signs of hostility. No signs that he planned to try and overthrow him as the alpha male… He wasn't pack, but his scent was extremely familiar. It was close…
All of them were…
Scents half recognized, as if smelt in a dream… definitely not animal, but as close to true as he'd ever known. But it was under that that he smelt it, barely there even to his superior senses… there none the less…
The smell of… friends?
He let out a half bark of question, moving his ears and tail to ask.
The dog understood his inquiry and let out a bark of confirmation.
The stag pawed the ground with his front left hoof and tossed his head, voicing his impatience at waiting for the wolf to get who they were with his actions.
Without warning the wolf attacked the majestic animal, trying to sink his teeth into it's neck. Not to harm it of course, for the dog said they were pack. Just to get it to lower itself in submission, thus admitting who the true alpha was. Having any other animal as alpha would be against the law anyway! Whoever had heard of a lowly stag as being overlord of a wolf?
But the dog stopped him! Not that he needed it… the stag had shifted his head, and he'd nearly been gored by his horns!
But still, another challenge!
The wolf growled at the two in warning, receiving another growl and a head toss in answer.
The wolf, figuring he'd have an easier time at catching the stag, headed toward the larger animal… but he easily evaded him, even in such close quarters.
He kept chasing him though for he cannot let a challenge go unanswered, and soon it has turned into a game!
When he finally corners the deer, he swiftly lets it go and heads for the dog.
"Fun," he conveys to the shaggy looking animal, "Game Fun! You play?"
And so they went a round or two.
As time goes on, he realizes he has forgotten the urge to bite! To bite and claw and maul things, to destroy…and focus only on the game with his pack.
As the moon drifted across the sky, he goes back to chasing the deer, and even the rat. The rat is small and fast and able to dart under stuff…places the wolf cannot go.
Although he's forgotten the urge to destroy, he hasn't lost the urge for blood. Several places on his pelt carry blood now… as well as the bigger two of his packmates.
The dog a place on his left back leg and another in the soft flesh of his stomach.
The stag a place above his right eye, near the base of his horn. Three on his hindquarters, a bite mark…
The rat alone is free of blood…that shouldn't be right though, for blood was good! It joined them together as packmates to share blood wounds! Right?
Oh course that was right…the other two bore blood from his claws, and he felt very protective of them now, for they were his brothers.
So if the rat was indeed pack, he must have blood to…
Slowly, so as not to scare the elusive little creature away…he leaned down to nip him.
It would be so easy to just sink his teeth into it's flesh…
Take it in his powerful jaws, thus snapping it's spine…but he didn't.
It might upset his packmates.
As they went on playing, he felt the moon's power begin to ebb.
His human side began to become stronger, growing more prominent in the mind they shared. The wolf grew weaker, fading…
He came to with a gasp. He sat up quickly, to quickly, and tired to fight through the pounding headache.
Something was different. The wolf was…happy? Because he had…pack?
Trying to decipher the wolf emotions were nearly impossible the morning after. But he could tell it was satisfied. It also didn't help that the only things he could usually remember where flashes of color, or a hint of some smell, or a stab of pain.
With a groan he sank back down, slowly bringing his hand up to hold his pounding head. It hurt…but not as much as usual.
When he could think clearly, he glanced down at his body for any immediate signs of injury that could be potentially life threatening caused by the wolf's unchecked antics. This had become second nature to him on the morning after a full moon. On a bad day, he could have as few as ten extremely bad cuts all over his upper torso as well as several still bleeding bite marks.
To his imminent surprise, the only wounds he had were a few minor superficial ones. They wouldn't even leave him with new scars…
That taken care of, he turned to other pressing matters. Like the state of the room and his possessions. Every month it seemed his meager pile of belongings grew even smaller or shabbier. It was due to the fact that if he didn't get out of his clothes soon enough and get them hidden in a special compartment the beast couldn't get into, they were destroyed when his body transformed into the wolf.
Another surprise for him, his belongings were all in a new neatly folded pile beside him.
Instead of being naked as was usual, he was covered with a black woolen blanket. Quite frankly, this was appreciated. In the middle of winter, it was freezing in the old shack…
Now for the last unexpected shock of the day…
Beside his prostrate form there slap a grim…or at least that would be what he said it was if the large dog hadn't had a trail of drool leading from his mouth. Or if it hadn't been snoring. A wonder he hadn't noticed it before with all the noise it was making…
"Remus dear, are you alright?" he heard Madame Pomfrey's voice yell down the hidden passage, interrupting his musings on how the dog had gotten there. "Are you decent?"
"Just a moment," he called in answer, reaching for his nearby pants. Inwardly he winced at how hoarse and dry his voice sounded after a night of near endless howling as he struggled to get the slightly threadbare garment on while still in a sitting position.
"Alright, I'd covered up!" he called out slightly louder, but still sounding horrible.
This brought the petite woman stumbling down the long low tunnel to emerge in the room where he usually had to bare the shifts.
But upon entering the room, she stopped short seeing the still snoring dog. He who was at this moment, asleep on his back with his legs in the air. The back left one paw was twitching in the air, accompanied with an occasional flick of the tail.
She glanced at the sandy haired teenager, her eyebrow raised in question. He quickly shrugged. He still wasn't sure how the dog had gotten past the murderous tree, through the tunnel, and out of the secret entrance into the old creaking house. Or how he had survived the wolf's moon rage.
But, who knew at this point?
Remus finished dressing so that the two could make their way down the old, dirt packed, tunnel and onto the grounds. From there they continued on to the Hospital Wing, where Madame Pomfrey made him remove his shirt so that she could examine him for any internal injuries that hadn't been visible from her preliminary inspection. After that was over, she made him lay down to rest. He was always exhausted after the torture he was forced to bear every complete phase of the lunar cycle.
He had felt good as he and the nurse had walked back to the school that morning, but now he was bone tired for the night had finally caught up with him. In no time at all after his head hit the pillow, he was asleep.
He hurt all over. It felt as though there was a huge weight in his chest.. He sometimes wondered what it was the wolf did to cause so much pain, but he always came to the conclusion he really didn't want to know. It was worse than the shrouding feeling that would press down upon him, brought upon by thoughts of his... problem. Besides the pressing feeling, his arms and legs ached and his tail-bone was sore - something that usually happened, due to his bones and muscles suddenly lengthening, only to shorten again hours later. The ground was hard and unyielding along his back - his hips were digging uncomfortably into it. He was so exhausted he could barely think about moving. He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping to fall back to sleep. He did…for a time.
He honestly couldn't tell what had woken him the second time sometime later. Perhaps it was the blinding headache, or perhaps it was the weird clattering of what sounded suspiciously like hooves pounding on stone that thundered through his unremembered dreams…
The only thing he could say for sure was that he awoke with the familiar wariness always felt when someone has slept a long time. He had the distinct feeling that he most likely would have slept longer had it not been for onslaught of random sights he couldn't make head or tail of, that had decided now was a good time to pop into his brain. The familiar faces grinning down at him didn't help either.
"Morning Lupin!" his friend James Potter said happily, flashing his 'We-know-something-you-don't-know!' smirk.
"Potter," he replied, using the same tone he always used when lecturing the morons he called friends.
"How was your trip?" Sirius asked curiously, also smiling condescendingly, "Your mum alright now?"
"She's better now, thanks. Why do you ask?"
"Just wondering is all…"
They were acting normally, but Remus had known them to long to be fooled by the innocent persona. He'd seen and used it himself to many times to get out of trouble with teachers. They were hiding something.
With the new suspicion in mind, he turned to Peter. The weakest link of the chain, and therefore the only one who hadn't said anything so far in this little visit of their's. The easiest to break. If he could just make, and maintain, eye contact with the small pudgy little teenager, then he could soon make him crack.
"Petey," he called to the out of place member of their group, his voice betraying nothing of his suspicions.
The small watery eyed boy gulped nervously and continued to avoid his gaze.
"Y-Yes?" he asked, his voice a bit fearful and high pitched.
"How come you haven't asked about my mother?" his tone was questioning, still revealing nothing of his plans.
"Um…well, y…yo…you see…" his voice beginning to crack and knowing there was no getting over it, the small boy decided to come right out and say it.
"We know…" he whispered, "What you are."
That spotted the evil thoughts he'd been nursing and put him on fearful alert. Know? Know what? He felt himself pale, and could only dare hope and pray to Merlin they weren't aware of his deepest and darkest secret.
But that was not to be, for they did.
"We know you're a werewolf," Sirius said, flashing that well known smirk that drove the girls wild. Before he could say anything more, in union the three began to change before his eyes. Bodies lengthened and shrank. Hands became paws and hooves, tails sprouted. Horns erupted from atop James's head.
Slowly, his friends became less human, instead taking the shapes of animals.
A huge, fierce and grim like dog, with matted brownish black fur and silvery colored eyes. In fact, the very one he had seen asleep that morning…
A large brown rat, with a longer than normal tail stared up at him from a pile of clothes that lay were Peter had been standing moments previous.
A large majestic stag, with reddish-brown fur and a large rack of antlers. It looked at him with intelligent brownish gold orbs, the same hue as a certain hazel eyed boy he knew…
The enormous fear that had erupted into his soul at Peter's words, that now that they knew the truth of his curse they would soon abandon him, leaving him alone and most likely forced from the school, faded somewhat to be replaced with confusion. Why were they showing him this? Why weren't they shunning him like they were suppose to, instead of looking at him like they were waiting for a reaction?
"What…?" he asked finally, so shocked he couldn't even think of something to say.
"You're probably thinking, 'What in the name of Merlin's brown leather boot strap have those three nutters gone and done now,' am I right?" Sirius asked with a smile, changing back to his normal self with a slight pop. James and Peter quickly followed his example.
"Er…something like that, yes," he admitted, although that was certainly not what had been going through his mind. It was more like a wordless mantra of astonishment.
"If you three know, why are you even talking to me? Why aren't you afraid of me?"
Now it was their turn to look confused.
"Remus," Pete asked, for once missing the usual nervousness in his voice, "Why would we be scared of you? You're still you, even if you change into a rabid wolf once a month."
He stared at them in disbelief, his mouth falling open when James and Sirius began nodding in agreement.
"You've just got a small problem," James pointed out, "Why should we treat you any different? Why would we care?"
"Because! You know what other people say about werewolves! We're a menace to society! We're dangerous! We're dark, and abominations that can ruin your life with a single bite!"
He would have gone on, but he was interrupted by a growl from Sirius's direction.
"Remus John Lupin," he snarled angrily, "If we ever hear words like that come out of your mouth again, I'm going to hex you! We've known since second year what you are, and did our own research instead of listening to those prejudice bigots! You're our friend, no matter what you are our change into on a full moon, do you hear me?"
He didn't answer.
"Moony," James said in what he assumed was suppose to be an attempt at a calming voice, "We know you're only dangerous on a full moon, and then only to humans. We're all okay with that…"
He gaped at them.
" 'Only to humans?' 'Okay with it?' James, do you hear yourself!" he demanded angrily, being mindful to be quiet enough that Madame Pomfrey didn't hear him. "What in the world is wrong with you three! You shouldn't even be hanging around me, let alone assuring me you're okay with me being a lycanthrope!"
Why didn't they understand? Didn't they realize how much of a threat he was? A threat that should be dead…
But now it was Sirius and James's turn to get angry again.
"You're not dangerous Remus!" they shouted together, glaring at him.
"Besides which, why do you think we became Animagi?" Peter asked, sounding a bit cross. "Like we already said, we did our research. You're not a danger to animals, as we proved last night!"
Suddenly the weird flashes of memory from his night as the wolf came flooding into his mind. The flashes of color, the forgetfulness of his natural urges, the feelings of happiness…
That one word that wouldn't quiet racing through his mind, pack…
"You three…you were there last night when I transformed…in the Shrieking Shack," he muttered, his voice bursting with amazement and astonishment.
"Yeah…" James admitted, a small smile spreading across his face that his friend finally got it.
"That's why you all became Animagi. To keep me company when I change…"
"Moony?" seeing their confused looks, he supplied, "James called me that earlier…"
"Oh!" Sirius answered suddenly, his confusion replaced with understanding and a large smile. The three quickly lined up and bowed.
"Now presenting the biggest troublemakers in Hogwarts History!" Peter announced excitedly.
"Those handsome devils of Gryffindor! Men that no woman can live without, but can also never tie down!" James added.
"Presenting Messrs Moony," they all pointed at him, "Wormtail," Peter inclined his head, "Padfoot," Sirius stooped low at the waist, the ends of his long hair brushing the covers of the Remus's hospital bed, "And Prongs!" they finished with the sweep of an imaginary hat, James bowing as well.
"The one and only, Marauders!" Sirius finished, the three once more taking a low bow.
They ducked up again, large grins decorating their faces as they waited for his reaction.
They did not have to wait long, as the bedridden werewolf couldn't stop the tears brimming in his eyes, nor the smile that quickly consumed his face.
"You morons," he found himself saying, shaking his head while his smile grew larger. Over the last couple of years, he had tried his hardest not to get attached to these three. He had convinced himself long ago that no one would ever accept him for what he was and so reasoned if he didn't get attached then it wouldn't hurt as much when they abandoned him.
James, Sirius and Peter…or Prongs, Padfoot, and Wormtail had just prove him wrong. That he could have true friends, who would go to such great lengths for him.
It had been several moon rises since his pack mates had come, since he had become a true alpha male.
For make no mistake, he was alpha… he just didn't ever really have to prove it. His pack knew the truth and acted like proper pack should. None of them ever challenged his dominance, except for in play…
They weren't wolf, and two of them were prey…
But they were still pack.
He would still sacrifice everything for them.
They were family.
A/N: Um…yeah, so this didn't exactly turn out how I planned, but in the same way it did. I wanted to write a story about Remus and the Marauders, and this is what ended up coming into existence…
I'd appreciate any feedback, even if it's just telling me you didn't like it.
Also, if you read my stories Lily's Choice and Godfamily, I'm going to try and have chapters out as soon as I can. Sorry for the wait on those, I just got a new job and it's taken a lot of my time up…
All reviews are welcome!
Thank you for reading!