p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Later, they will call him 'The Other Marauder.' People who knew him at the time will claim that this was always so, he was never emreally/em a part of the group. I mean, emseriously?/em How does a chubby little boy like Peter fit his way in with Sirius Black? With James Potter? With Remus Lupin?/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"The tag-a-long, the suck up, the loser./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Peter Pettigrew wormed his slimy way in, they will sigh. And no one knew how./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Of course none of this is true. Words twist over time. People hear a story and suddenly their memories distort; bending out of shape so quickly and quietly nobody even stops to conemsider/em that maybe all this crap they're spouting is untrue./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"emWhat? No, can't be!/em/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Marauders have to emearn/em these spots, you know. It's an extremely official policy. Even in writing. Oemkay/em, so perhaps a scrap of parchment scrawled by Sirius Black at breakfast one morning may not strictly count as emwriting/em, but all the same. Peter Pettigrew emearned/em that space, and anyone who says otherwise is entirely mistaken, thank you very much./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"James and Sirius were the first./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Of course emthey/em don't have to do anything; they're the leaders. Of course emthey're/em allowed to laze around and watch other people earning positions in their new (and very much exclusive) club. I already told you, they created this whole damned thing, so emreally/em that's earning it enough./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Remus was the second./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"They think he's the shy, introverted little bookworm. Goodie-two-shoes, the wet girl's blouse. Whatever. Not at all suitable material for their Extremely Awesome And For Humongously Amazing Badasses Only Club, whose name hasn't been quite confirmed yet. They're 11 years old, and they're working on it./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"They spot him sneaking out one night, and seeing as they're the two emOfficial/em Extremely Awesome And Humongously Amazing Badass people, they follow him. And they watch as the seemingly quiet boy known until now only as 'Swot' transforms into a beast. And they fall silent in terror as this gangly boy of 11 and a half becomes crippled by the horrors of his curse's empowerment. /p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"And they wait, hidden out of sight as the sun rolls in and the moon rolls out. They wait as the beast inverts back to human form, cracked and bleeding, unable to form coherent speech as he is carried to the Hospital Wing by two stunned first year boys. And Sirius, usually so upbeat, falls into a chair, face drawn and haggard. And James stands by him but they don't talk, they just watch; they watch and they wait and they worry as the boy thrashes in his bed. They smell the acrid fumes of medicine and they hear footsteps above indicating the awakening of the castle, but still they wait./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Remus doesn't look at them. He doesn't want to. emIs it shame? Fear of loathing? His own /emselfem loathing?/em/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Nevertheless, from then on Remus Lupin becomes an Official Marauder. They don't ask him about his 'furry little problem,' as James likes to call it, but each month on the night of the full moon they carry him back to the Hospital Wing. The only evidence it ever happens is the blood later found on their robes./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"And then there were three./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Pete is the last, as Pete often is./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"No one can really remember quite what happened. It's lost in the haze and quirk of the night; a bizarre memory blurred somewhat at the edges. It starts with a Rememberall and a midnight stroll. Three boys following a figure as it plods down a hallway. Then a flash of light. A wand in someone's Haze./em/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"All they properly know is that it ends with three jinxed Slytherins, a ripped Gryffindor tie and a new addition to the group./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Don't say Pete didn't deserve the position, because he did. He emearned/em it. He can't quite recall how exactly it was that he earned it, but he emdid./em He even has the Detention slip to prove it./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"So now there are four./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Four miscreants. Four troublemakers. Four emMarauders./em/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"The years pass and James' rejection via Lily count increases almost as rapidly as Pete's tummy. Sirius grows out his hair and watches in utter bemusement as girls begin to fall at his feet, not noticing through the appraisal that one of his best friend's is slowly falling love with him, and emmaybe,/em he might just be falling back. Remus' old scars fade as new ones appear. Pete smiles into his pillow, wondering when life became so inexplicably emgood;/em why life decided to grant him the gift of three such amazing friends./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"So James may look like an arrogant git. So Sirius may look like a vain, thick-skulled babe magnet. So Remus may look like a too-boring-for-his-own-good-teacher's pet. So Pete may look like a chubby little tag-a-long, never quite catching up with his friends./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Appearances aren't what they seem./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"The Marauders know things about each other that nobody does, nobody ever will./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"They know that James wears his cocky fa├žade to cover up the fact that his sister, the sister that no one bothers to learn about, has fallen ill to cancer. A Muggle illness even wizards can't find a cure for. They know that he's slowly dying inside, but that he plasters on the same old grin and blinks through the tears that would ever threaten to fall. They know he doesn't mess up his hair to look cool, it's nothing but a nervous habit. Doesn't want to let people spot the shaking hands so keeps them in constant motion. James is a little boy hidden in a teenager's shell. A shell filled with terror and longing and never-being-quite-sure./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"They know that Sirius' mother calls him a embastard,/em a emgood for nothing half breed/em, a emstain of dishonour upon the noble family of Black/em. They know that he pretends to hate his brother but really he wants nothing more than to hug him, and to kiss his forehead, and to tell him that emit's okay, it's all going to be okay, Reggie. /emThey know that he wants to save his brother from falling deeper and deeper into this gloom filled pit of darkness, that he wants to save him from the fate that surely awaits him. They know that he watches his little brother from across the Great Hall and tries to find the courage to speak to him, but fails, and hates himself for failing. They know he gets so distracted by thoughts of the small boy that his grades spiral downwards, but he has to laugh and flirt and waggle his eyebrows in the hopes that if he acts like it's all okay, it will be./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"They know that Remus hates himself. They know that Remus thinks himself a monster, unfit for human contact, unfit for anything other than this emfucking enslavement/em and emevil/em and the curse of each full moon. They know he tries to hide his scars behind books and shy smiles and shaggy hair, but that people still notice and gossip, and that whenever he sees them something inside him caves. He drowns, gasping for air on the blood stained shore, remnants of his brilliance washing away with each ebb and flow of the tide. They know that Remus needs to do well in school because maybe if he does, people will overlook the fact that he is a werewolf. They know that this tiny hope is so utterly pathetic and stupid it's laughable, but they know that they need to humour it so that the boy won't fully collapse under its weight. They know that he needs them, and they know that they will be there for him whenever he does./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"They know that Pete is overlooked by his parents. The middle child, plump and unloved, not as clever as his older sibling, not as emsimply darling/em as his younger. They know that he stays at school for the holidays to avoid confrontation about his awful grades and his weight and his lack of girlfriend. They know that he binge eats to the point of sickness, but he can't stop because there's this expanse inside of him that just needs to be emfilled/em. They know that he loves them more even than his own family, and in return they feel a sense of familial love for the boy so overlooked by his own. They know that they'll tease him about his astounding awkwardness around girls, but that he will know it's just that, it's just emteasing,/em and he'll laugh along with them. They know that he's insecure and shy and scared, and they know that they want to help./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"They know secrets about each other that they'll take to the grave. They love each other. James and Sirius love each other like brothers would, both needing someone of that position to fill the hole left by their own siblings. Remus and Sirius love each other in a way that threatens to envelop them, their love growing stronger and more painful day by day, though neither will admit it even to themselves. They all love Peter like fond parents. Help him with his work and ruffle his hair and chuckle at his ever present denseness./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"There is more to the Marauders than meets the eye./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"More years pass. James' sister is transferred to a Muggle hospital, and soon afterwards is declared free of cancer. They hold a dorm party and get drunk off of firewhisky and become inappropriately emotional, hugging and laughing and crying into their empty bottles. Lily finds them intoxicated the next morning and demands an immediate explanation, and once James has told her she is crying too. They turn up to breakfast holding hands./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Sirius and Remus fall deeper into the abyss that is lust, and it's only during a heated argument in Potions that they stop to look at each other through their rage. They kiss and the class claps and they breathe so heavily it's like they've come out of a six year long state of drowning. But they're still angry and they kiss more and more and get put in detention, but it's emtotally/em worth it because finally they're emfree/em of this emgoddamned hiding./em/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Pete stands up to his dad and there is a period of angry letters back and forth, before he finally accepts that his son is cross and he's been an awful father, and he needs to sort something out. They all clap him on the back and chuckle as he politely declines an extra chicken wing./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"They get to seventh year./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"The year everything changes./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"The Marauders grow closer than ever, then suddenly fall apart./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"The closeness comes with the Animagi. The three boys show Remus what they have done and he falls silent, amber eyes burning hard into a spot on the wall, legs crossed and hands shaking. Sirius tries to hold his trembling fingers but the boy shakes him off, and minutes tick by without a word. When the midnight bells chime he suddenly looks up, almost as though having forgotten they were they. But then he smiles, and there are tears in his eyes, and to stop their own tears from falling they all jump on top of each other and hug until it hurts. Remus has a grin so wide it threatens to split his face in two./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Then, it falls apart./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"It's towards the end of the year./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"James and Lily start to spend every waking minute together, and though the other boys just groan and throw food and mock-wretch towards their kissing figures, deep down they're hurt. They don't want a emgirl/em to break them up, even if it is Lily./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Remus and Sirius are the same. They're not as publicly loving as their friend, but their love is emdeeper/em and it is more emwhole,/em and they can look at one another with a gaze so meaningful it's like their own secret language./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Pete gets a girlfriend, and maybe it's because he feels left out; maybe it's not. Her name is Sarah and she has mousy hair and sparkly green eyes, but Pete doesn't like her the way she likes him. He gets fireworks when they kiss but he doesn't miss her when she's not around, not like he misses the Marauders./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Sometimes he thinks he loves them, but he's not gay. Not 'Sirius and Remus' gay, anyhow. This love he holds for them isn't one that needs kissing or touching or emsex/em, it's one that demands attention. Nourishment. Together-ness. Life without them isn't worth living, and if that isn't love then nothing is./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"He doesn't get the attention. The nourishment. They are never together and he is the only one that seems to care./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"His newly-slimmed body puts back on all its old weight. Sarah dumps him and nobody even notices his red raw eyes the next morning. He becomes bitter with neglect, and no one even bothers to look./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Would they have made that mistake if they knew what would become of it? emSurely not./em/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"They're so wrapped up in their own little worlds they fail to spot the new friendship sparking between the boy they thought they knew so well and the boy they know they hate. Severus Snape smirks as the rat is introduced to Mulciber, to Yaxely, to Lestrange. They emall/em smirk as, one by one, they wheedle gossip out of him about the thought-to-be perfect Marauders./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Peter slips and he spirals and he tries to climb back up, only to find that he's in far too deep. The damage has already been done. He's one of emThem/em now./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"A Marauder- A emDeath Eater?/em Who would have thought?/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"The last day comes and the group sits together in a compartment, like they always do. But Lily is there and the two couples fall back into their lovestruck world, failing yet again to notice as their friend slips away./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"They say their goodbyes. He's still not there, and finally they notice./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"But they wait for another half an hour and he's still nowhere to be found. Eventually they all go off their separate ways, and, tears falling, they promise to write and to visit and to keep in touch, because, as Lily so aptly puts it: em"or else."/em/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"The years move more quickly than they'd like. James and Lily's wedding is beautiful, but it holds a scary sense of knowing. Because what everyone knows is that after it's done her husband and one of her best friends will be back to fighting the Death Eaters, back to danger at every corner. Being an Auror is scary enough, but being the wife of an Auror is a different thing altogether./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Nobody talks about the rise of He Who Must Not Be Named. Instead they smile through the fear and their embraces last a good few seconds longer than normal. Sometimes it's hard to let go./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Then Lily gets pregnant and after 9 agonising months a tiny boy is born. A bonny little baby with his Daddy's hair and his Mummy's eyes. Harry James Potter cries when his Daddy goes away, and it's all his Mummy can do not to join in. Instead she strokes his hair and rocks his cradle and swallows hard through the lump in her throat./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"I think we all know what happens next. Let's not go over it again. Better to save the tears than let them fall./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"It began with a club. Four extremely different friends. A whole lot of people in love./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"It ended with a painfully innocent man locked away in a prison over the sea. A half-boy half-monster, crippled by the loss and betrayal of a lifetime. Two dead lovers. A rat missing a toe. An orphaned little boy./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"An orphaned little boy with a scar on his forehead./p