Ten Prompts: Heat, determined(determination), box(es), charm(s), first impression, see, 21st, wall, uneasy silence, fight(er)

No Slytherins, No Hufflepuffs, one to two characters.

Challenge: Dueling, Color Pink. House: Slytherin. Wand: Holly and Ashwinder Ash, 12in. Category scores please.

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Your first impression is a scruffy little boy holed up in the corner of a train car, trying to take up as little space as possible. Dressed in clothes that have been mended more than once, he is a stark contrast to the opulence you are used to.

As a result, you like him immediately.

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You find out soon that he is more than meets the eye; he looks fragile, but he is a fighter in the heat of the moment. He allows himself to be run over, but he will not stand for the torment of anyone else, and he knows more charms than are in the first year's textbook. Even backed up against a wall, he doesn't give up.

You like him even more.

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You see him, when he's so busy blending in that few do. He works through his classes and his assignments with quiet determination, managing to get some of the best marks in the class and still slip through under the radar.

He is impressive, but he won't talk to you. Every time you try to approach, he shies away. He is carrying the weight of something on his shoulders, and he won't tell anyone what it is.

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The twenty-first (yes, you've counted, and no, you aren't obsessed, no matter what James says) time you try to approach him he finally meets your eyes. They are a brilliant amber you've never seen before. He asks you what you want, why you won't stop bothering him. You don't know how to answer that.

"You're different," you say, but he doesn't seem to take that as the compliment you mean it to be.

He walks away, leaving you cursing yourself.

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The fifty-second time you talk to him, he smiles at you for the first time. You wonder if he's finally getting used to this almost-friendship that the two of you have going on here.

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Near the end of your first year, after spending nearly nine months observing him, puzzle pieces begin to slot into place.. You do some research and it all makes sense.

You know, but you don't know what to do with that information.

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"Remus is a werewolf."

Peter and James exchange a look in the uneasy silence.

"Sirius…" James starts by silent agreement but you don't let him continue.

"No, listen to me, James. Every time he goes home to visit his mum, it's a full moon. The Shrieking Shack, you heard what Frank said about it being haunted but only this year. He always looks so pale just before and after he gets home; he's thin and scrawny but tough. James, think about it. You know I'm right."

And James doesn't know what to say.

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It should make you afraid of him, but it doesn't.

It should make you want to stay away from him, but it doesn't.

Maybe you are fearless. Maybe you are the adrenaline junkie you've always been accused of being. Maybe you're just too obsessed to care.

It doesn't matter why. What matters is that the cat's out of the bag and you're still fascinated by him.

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"I know," you say at last as Remus is packing his belongings into boxes to put in his trunk.

He looks up at you. "Know what?"

"I know about you. What you are."

He pulls his eyes away from yours, looks back at his books.

"And, ah, what am I, exactly?" His voice is mild but you can see the trembling in his hands.

"You're a werewolf."

He goes absolutely still at your proclamation. Horror seems to wash through him.

"I don't know what you mean." This time, his voice shakes. He is an awful liar.

"I know, Remus. You don't have to lie. And you don't have to run from me anymore. I understand. You run from people because you don't want to give them the power to hurt you, don't want it to hurt you when they find out and maybe walk away. I understand. I didn't tell James my last name at first because I didn't want him to walk away. But, look, Rem, thing is… I like you. As a person. And I don't care what you look like on full moons or whatever. So if you could say something, that'd be great, because if you don't, I'm just going to keep babbling on to fill this awkward silence and I really don't want to do that so you should definitely—"

"Do you understand what it means? No one stays. No one ever stays. I could kill people, Sirius. I could kill people and I have no control over it."

Sirius shrugs. "But you won't, because you care and you take precautions and all that."

"Why do you care so much about having me as a friend?"

Sirius shrugs. "Dunno, mate. Does it matter why? I just do. You're clever and people underestimate you. I like it." He shrugs again.

Remus looks at him in some sort of awe. "How do you exist, Sirius Black?"

"You see, when a mother and father hate each other very much…"

And, for the first time, Sirius sees Remus laugh.

"Maybe next year we can do better, eh?" Sirius asks, hesitantly hopeful.

Remus nods slowly. "Maybe we can."

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It is your three hundred and fifth attempt, and you've finally gotten it right.