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Marauders Marauding

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Remus Lupin sighed as he looked out at the gray morning sky. It was raining. Not the kind of delightful downpour that makes the summer air feel clean; no this was dripping, damp, warm rain that just made everything sticky. How perfect. Remus was rather pleased that the rain matched his mood.

He had decided that today would be one of his rare pity-party days. Remus’ eleventh birthday was coming up, and today was the day that he would have received his Hogwarts letter had he been a normal, happy half-blood wizard instead of a ‘monster’ as defined by the stupid Ministry of-

“Hey Kiddo. Made you something.” His mom interrupted his thoughts. She smiled at him, but Remus gave her his best scowl. He was determined to be grumpy, and his mom’s annoying smile, pancakes with chocolate chips, fried eggs, and steamy mug of hot chocolate weren’t going to cheer him up.

Nope.

He was too grumpy for this.

He scowled even more fiercely. His mom kept smiling. The hot chocolate steam drifted to his nose. It smelled so good…. No Remus! He scolded himself, Stay Strong! But he couldn’t help it. It was his favorite breakfast, after all. He sighed, and took the tray. No one ever stayed mad while Hope Lupin was around.

Remus’s father looked up from his copy of the Daily Prophet. Lyall Lupin had premature wrinkles and worry lines around his mouth and eyes, and Remus was probably responsible for more than his share of them, but his father still smiled every day. Mr. Lupin was cheerful as could be, and sometimes he helped Remus learn spells to help him and Remus’ mom play tricks on each other.

“Don’t I get any?” Remus’ dad cried in mock indignation.

“I suppose you must.” His mother gave an over-exaggerated sigh.

“The hot chocolate was cheating,” Remus said. “You knew I wanted to be grumpy today.” He examined his sandy brown hair and distorted, pale-faced reflection in the back of the hot chocolate spoon. His mother folded her arms, still gripping the spatula, but her eyes started to sparkle.

“I thought we’d established this. When Remus is grumpy, anything is fair game.”

“It was still a low blow. What can I do when you know my weakness?”

“You can do nothing! My evil plan has worked!” She laughed maniacally and set down her spatula.

“Never!” Remus cried dramatically as he jumped out of his chair at the breakfast table and bolted for the stairs, leaving his half-eaten breakfast behind.

For the next twenty minutes, shouts and shrieks could be heard coming from the old dilapidated Lupin house. If any passersby had happened to walk down the secluded path in the trees and come upon the little cottage with the gardening shed and the chipped white paint, they would have wondered what on earth was happening to make such a racket. If they had happened to peek in the window, they probably would have wondered how the elder Mr. Lupin could possibly sit and drink his coffee calmly, as if nothing was happening.

Panting, Remus ducked inside his parents’ bedroom and shut the door just as his mom got there. “You can only hide for so long, weakling!” she cried through the door triumphantly, “I am stronger than you, and you have trapped yourself in a corner! You have nowhere left to go!”

She was right. Remus looked frantically around the room as he struggled to hold the door closed. Under the bed? But his mom would find him in an instant, and the bed would end up trapping him. Same problem with the closet. The window was locked, but Remus’s dad had shown him how to magically unlock things a couple of weeks ago. Maybe he could escape through… but this was the second story of the house. He’d have to climb very carefully onto the edge of the roof that stretched out underneath him, if he could even manage to get the window open before getting caught...

But just as he was about to go for it, his mom broke his grip on the doorknob, whooshed into the room, and grabbed him. “Aha!” She cried gleefully, “Now, weakling, your punishment for running away!” She dropped Remus on the bed and, somehow keeping an evil grin on her face, began to tickle him.

“No. NO! PLEASE!” Remus cried, but soon he needed all his breath just to get enough air while laughing. Remus was beginning to think that the breakfast he had eaten was about to make a less-than-pleasant reappearance. His mom laughed and snorted and held him down, tickling and tickling until-

A knock.

On their door.

For the first time that Remus could remember, (at least in this house,) someone was knocking on the door.

Running down the stairs with his mother in tow, Remus tried to get a glimpse of the visitor. He had been kept away from outsiders for as long as he could remember, and was eager to see who it was. Remus’ father opened the door and then stood, shocked at whoever he saw. When he numbly moved aside to let in the visitor, Remus finally got a closer look.

The man had a waist-length beard that was almost completely white, though there were still signs that it had once been auburn. His hair was the same length as his beard, giving him an air of great age. He was very tall and thin, and wore sweeping midnight robes. Remus’s mother gasped behind him.

“-can’t let you raise any false hopes.” Remus’s father was saying, “Honestly there is no way possible. I have looked, we have tried, but-”

“Nonsense,” the stranger replied. Then he seemed to catch sight of Remus and his mom inside. “And this must be Hope! I have heard good things about you, my dear. And Remus too. Charming.” With that, he swept into the house and sat down on the living room couch.

“Are these your Gobstones, Remus?” he asked. When Remus shyly nodded, the man smiled. “Shall we play a game? I haven’t had a good game of Gobstones in a long time.”

Hesitantly, Remus sat across from the strange man and looked him over. “Who are you?” he blurted out accidentally. Oops. Remus hadn’t meant to be quite so blunt.

“Of course,” said the Stranger, “I’m afraid I haven’t properly introduced myself to you, Remus. My name is Professor Dumbledore, and I am the headmaster at Hogwarts School of-”

“Hogwarts? You’re the headmaster of Hogwarts?”

“Yes indeed, my boy,” said Professor Dumbledore. “I assume by your reaction that you have heard of the place. I came here to offer you a place at my school.“

Remus stared at Professor Dumbledore, a wild hope beginning to spark. Hogwarts! The school where his father had gone! Remus could go to classes, be a quidditch star, whatever he wanted! He could have friends! Friends… his face fell.

Remus wouldn’t be able to tell them about his secret. And what if he hurt someone? Surely, this man was mistaken. No one would ever want him at Hogwarts. “I’m sorry Sir,” he began, “but I think there might be a mistake. I can’t go to Hogwarts.”

“And why is that, my dear boy? You are Remus Lupin, are you not?”

“Yes, but-” Remus closed his mouth and shifted awkwardly, then looked at his parents for help. They had both drilled into him that he should never tell this particular secret to anyone. Fortunately (or maybe not) Dumbledore answered his own question.

“Are you referring to the particular condition that haunts you every full moon?” The little family stared at the Headmaster as if he were mad.

“How did you find out?” Remus’s father asked in a hushed tone.

“Oh, I just put two and two together after you had that unfortunate incident with Fenrir Greyback in the Ministry, and then immediately started moving around from place to place quite frequently. Don’t worry,” he hastily added, “I do not know of any others that are aware of his condition.” Both Remus and his parents let out a sigh of relief.

“But then, are you saying that I can go to school anyway?” Remus suddenly whispered, all his previous hopes flashing before his eyes.

He imagined faceless friends, doubtlessly kind and popular, who would know about his condition and not care, who would never tell anyone, and who would have no faults. Then Remus shook his head at himself. That would never happen. No one liked werewolves, and no one was perfect. He was getting his hopes up for nothing.

“That is why I am here Mr. Lupin,” Dumbledore replied. “Normally I do not make personal visits to students’ homes, but this is a special case, wouldn’t you say?” Remus noticed that the man’s eyes seemed to twinkle when he smiled down at him. Dumbledore appeared to be thoroughly enjoying this meeting.

Before Remus and his parents could start to protest and ask questions, as Dumbledore must know they would, the old Professor began to tell them his plan. “We have created a safe place for him to go every month. Please note that myself and my colleague, Professor McGonagall, have put the strongest possible repelling charms upon it, and that no creature will be able to break through the walls, or get in or out in any way.”

“We were not expecting this,” Remus’ mother said glancing at his dad. “I’m not sure if we have many financial options at the moment, and-”

“It’s no problem at all, my dear,” Dumbledore cut her off. “Hogwarts has a fund for cases such as this, and I insist that you let us help you.”

Remus’ dad did not look happy. “Now see here, Professor Dumbledore. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I’m a respectable Ministry worker, and I pride myself on not being in debt to anyone. And we do not accept charity. I couldn’t possibly-”

“Of course,” Dumbledore inclined his head, “you may merely take this as a loan to be paid back at your leisure. You’ll find that we are much more accommodating for your interests than the goblins of Gringotts in this case.”

“Well,” Remus’ mom decided, “I suppose… if there really aren’t any other problems…”

“You’re going to Hogwarts, Remus!” his dad cried, grinning widely.

Remus was still in shock. “I’m going… to Hogwarts? Really?!”

“You’re going to Hogwarts!” Remus’ dad grabbed him in a hug, then let go and twirled his mom around the kitchen table. “Our little boy is going to Hogwarts!”

The rest of Dumbledore’s visit passed Remus by in a hazy blur of happiness and excitement. He could go to school! He could make friends! He could play quidditch or be a prefect or read through the whole library! Remus had never had good friends before, and he had never had as good an opportunity as this to learn things! Remus’s parents had already begun to teach him magic at home, assuming that he would not be allowed into a school. But now he could go! Remus had hardly ever looked forward to something more than going to school in September. The sun poked out from the clouds as Professor Dumbledore left the old Lupin house.

Maybe, Remus thought, the day would turn out alright after all.

---M---

The sights of Diagon Alley were about 14 times more exciting when one was buying school supplies for the most prestigious magical school in England than when one was just on a boring trip for supplies with one’s dad.

Remus had been to the Alley before, of course, but this time just felt different. They were buying things for him for school! On scholarship from Professor Dumbledore himself! Remus turned his head this way and that, trying to take in everything about the bustling street at once as his mom and dad led him along.

“Get the best dragon liver here, only 13 sickles an ounce!”

“Spider’s legs and fish eyes, buy one get one half-off!”

Remus saw signs for Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream and Ollivander’s Wands. He saw witches with screaming children trying to get their shopping done, and other kids buying Hogwarts supplies with their parents as well.

“Why can’t first years ever have brooms?” one kid complained, his nose pressed against the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies as his mother tried to get him into Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions.

“Mum! Can I get this, PLEASE?” A little girl with curly hair yelled from across the street, brandishing a lollipop the size of a football.

Remus took it all in.

“All right, Remus,” his mother stopped and pulled out his list. “Where shall we start?”

“We need to visit Madam Malkin’s, and the apothecary,” his dad added, “but you can use my old cauldron. You’re also going to need your own wand and all your textbooks from Flourish and Blotts.”

“Can we start with wands?” Remus asked excitedly. He had been looking forward to getting a wand for his eleventh birthday for months.

“I knew you’d say that,” his mother laughed, ruffling his hair.

“Mom!” he groaned, trying to flatten it again as his dad laughed at him.

“Let’s go!” She started off, dragging his dad along for directions and not waiting for Remus to finish fixing his hair. He ran after them, bursting inside the wand shop just a little behind, and stopped.

The whole shop was still and silent, like a library. A little bell rang from deep inside the shop as the door opened, and Remus felt like the air was vibrating with the sound. Dusty boxes, long and thin, adorned the shelves, stretching to the ceiling for as far as he could see.

“Hello,” said a voice. Remus jumped, and so did his mother behind him, but his father seemed to have been expecting the man.

“Mr. Ollivander,” Remus’ dad said, “when I was a boy you gave me such a fright doing that that I fell and broke your chair. Do you remember?”

The old man fixed his unwavering blue eyes on Remus’ dad. “Yes yes, I do remember you, Lyall Lupin. Twelve inches, Rowan and unicorn hair, stiff and brittle, was it not? And who are these?”

“Got it in one,” his dad replied. “This is my wife, Hope, and my son, Remus.”

“Hello,” said Remus’ mom. Remus waved from beside her.

“You don’t look familiar, my dear,” Ollivander looked thoughtful. “Am I right in assuming that I have not sold you a wand?”

“Yes,” said she. “I’m a muggle, you see. But now we’re looking for a wand for my son, Remus.” Mr. Ollivander nodded. Remus’ mom nudged him forward, and Mr. Ollivander stared at Remus for a long moment. The man didn’t blink once.

“And which hand is your wand hand, Mr. Lupin?” Ollivander asked. Mutely, Remus held out his right hand and watched, a bit fascinated, as a tape measure began to take seemingly pointless and random measurements. Ollivander nodded once and began walking through the dusty shelves, white hair trailing behind him. Remus looked uncertainly at his dad, but the only reassurance he got was a slight nod. So much for fatherly support.

“Try this one, Mr. Lupin,” Ollivander was back. “Fourteen inches exactly, holly, dragon heartstring. Nice and whippy.” Not really sure what to do, Remus took the wand and gave it a little wave. Mr. Ollivander grabbed it back almost right away.

“No no no. How about this? Nine and a half inches, hawthorn, phoenix feather. Strong and flexible.” But this wand was taken away as well, almost before Remus waved it at all.

Remus tried several wands, none of which Ollivander seemed the slightest bit happy with. He seemed to be looking for a sign that Remus had the right wand, though what that might be, Remus had no idea. Soon, Ollivander brought back another armload of boxes for Remus to try.

“How about this one? Ten and one-quarter inches, cypress, and unicorn hair. Quite pliable.” Remus took the wand. It felt different from the others, as if the wand grew warm and content in his hand. Remus brought it swishing around in a little loop and a bunch of red and silver sparks came out of the tip. His parents clapped and Remus grinned.

“Oho! A match! That’s the one you’ll be wanting, Mr. Lupin.”

“How much?” his father asked a little hesitantly.

“Six galleons. Thank you for your service. Enjoy your wand, Mr. Lupin.”

After paying for his wand, Remus and his parents left the shop. Mr. Ollivander was a bit creepy, and Remus couldn’t help but feel like he was being x-rayed by those unblinking silvery eyes. He loved his new wand though, so Remus supposed that Mr. Ollivander couldn’t be all bad.

None of the other shops were as exciting as Ollivander’s. Remus was nearly jumping with anticipation to get his books in Flourish and Blotts, but he knew that he couldn’t buy anything else there. This was going to be hard for his parents as it was, with them already spending so much money on ways to help with his lycanthropy.

The apothecary smelled atrocious. Remus thought that his sensitive nose might nearly have collapsed in on itself from the stink alone, and the things they had to buy didn’t help. Frogs’ legs? Dead caterpillars? No thanks!

“So, how did you like your day of shopping?” Remus’ dad asked when they finally got home that evening.

“Perfect!” Remus grinned. “I’m going to Hogwarts, dad!”

“I know,” his dad smiled. “Just remember to send us some letters once in a while.”

“While we’re giving advice,” Remus’ mom added. “Make sure to get your head out of your books and make a few friends. You need to learn to interact with kids you own age.”

Remus looked down. “I’ll try.”

“That’s all I can ask for.” She folded him into a hug. “Try your best to get your good grades, make a friend or two, and write home sometimes. And Remus?”

“What mom?”

“You’re going to Hogwarts!”

Chapter Text

The Hogwarts Express was a scary thing. Remus had bid farewell to his tearful, worried mother and his proud father, only after insisting that yes, he could get his trunk by himself, and yes, he would be fine at school. No, he would not get into too much trouble, and yes, he would write home about all his classes. In other words: it took a while to get on the train. But now he was faced with another daunting task: successfully sit with a complete stranger or two.

Remus was rather shy, a trait that developed when he was secluded from other people because of his… condition. He had been bitten by a werewolf at age four. Ever since it had happened, he and his parents had known that his friends would probably start asking awkward questions that Remus would not be able to answer. So Remus’s parents kept him hidden in the house, afraid that he would accidentally tell someone his secret, or that they would discover the cause of the injuries that the Wolf-That-Was-Actually-Remus had inflicted on itself while chained up in the garden shed. Remus, who had always loved having friends, grew quiet, and turned to books in place of people. He found that he actually somewhat enjoyed it. Books didn’t judge you. (Unless they were dark and creepy magic books, but Remus stayed away from those.)

But now he would be meeting new people again, something Remus hadn’t had practice at for a very long time. He knew that if he tried to make it through Hogwarts without any friends he would probably get picked on a lot more. Plus, Remus really really wanted to make good friends. Maybe someday he could tell them… but probably not. Could he get by with only being casual friends with his dormmates and no one else? He doubted it. And what would he tell them when he had to leave every month? Maybe he shouldn’t be friends with anyone. But then…

His mind whirled around and around.

Remus wandered around the train for a while looking for a place to sit, noting where the prefect carriage was, and that he was not allowed inside lest he “disturbed their plans.” Eventually he came to a mostly empty compartment where some boys were already sitting. Another boy and girl were walking away from him down the corridor. Remus briefly entertained the thought of saying hello, but quickly decided that meeting a girl was much scarier than meeting all other boys combined, and did not follow. Instead, he walked over to the compartment.

There were two boys, both with black hair, though the styles were different. The one on the left had hair that was a bit longer, straighter, and shinier, (like a Barbie doll, Remus thought) while the one on the right had messy hair that stuck up in the back and glasses. He could tell they were first years as well because they were discussing which house they wanted to be in.

“What if you got sorted into Ravenclaw? That wouldn’t be too bad would it?” Glasses Boy asked Barbie.

“Well my mum wouldn’t be too pleased, but it’d be better than Hufflepuff or Gryffindor. I don’t know what she’d say if I was in one of them.”

Glasses Boy grinned wickedly, “So you want to be in one of them I take it?”

“Ding ding ding, we have a winner! Give the boy a prize!” Barbie grinned, “Although I can never be sure. If I’m in Gryffindor or Hufflepuff my family will probably hate me. What would I do over the summer, you know?” Then he seemed to notice Remus standing outside the compartment for the first time.

Remus bit his lip, feeling like the boy was going realize that he was a werewolf and kick him off the train, but Barbie just grinned and said, “Hey are you a first year too? Come in! I’m Sirius Black and this here is James Potter. We have been best mates for about…” He consulted his rather expensive-looking gold watch, “sixteen minutes now! What’s your name? What house do you want to be in when we get sorted? Please tell me you’re not a stuck-up pureblood! The last people in here wanted to be in Slytherin, for Godric’s sake! My family is all Slytherins and they’re idiots, don’t know why you’d want to be one.”

“Really?” Glasses Boy seemed surprised, “You’re one of those Blacks? I wouldn’t have thought so with you being so friendly. Oh well,” he shrugged, turning back to Remus, “I’m James, like he said.”

Remus was a bit thrown by this attention. He sat down, but he wasn’t quite sure how to respond to all those questions at once. He settled for, “Hello. My name is Remus Lupin, and I wasn’t stuck-up or a pureblood the last time I checked. My dad’s a wizard, but mum's a muggle through and through.” He smiled a little at them and they both grinned back.

As he studied the other two boys more, he noticed that they were both dressed rather richly, with expensive-looking robes and shoes (though Glasses boy had a stain near his left elbow). Remus suddenly felt self-conscious about his own second-hand books and robes, but he tried not to show it.

Glasses Boy, now named James, grinned at him, then looked despairingly at Sirius. “Don’t worry about this one here. He’s always like that. At least, he has been for the last eight sentences he’s said. And by the way…” He turned to look at Sirius, “I’m a pureblood! What do you have against purebloods?”

“Sorry.” Sirius said, “You seem alright. But my whole family is pureblood, and they all have something against muggleborns. All they talk about is stupid blood, it’s boring. Plus I think my mum will kill me if I’m not in Slytherin, which kind of makes me not want to be in Slytherin just out of spite.”

James grinned, looking between the the other two. “In that case, I suppose I’m a proud blood-traitor. Pleased to meet you again Messrs Sirius Black and Remus Lupin!”

Remus hesitantly smiled back. “I think I would make a good Ravenclaw.”

“What about your parents?” James asked him.

“They don’t really care.” Remus replied, suddenly thankful for this fact. Sirius and James stared at him, then at each other. Had he said something wrong? He hoped he hadn’t offended these guys. He’d thought maybe they’d at least be willing to sit at lunch or study with him, but now he had alienated them! He got more and more nervous, fidgeting with his cloak and assuming that the boys would throw him out, but the response turned out to be:

“Your parents don’t care? Even if you’re in Hufflepuff?” Sirius asked, “Wow I wish I were you! My mum will flay me alive if I get anything other than what she’s already planned! I swear she’s already picked out who I’m going to marry!”

James looked at Sirius pityingly as Remus tried to hide his relief. He hadn’t said anything wrong after all. “Sorry mate. Hope you’re in Gryffindor with me.” James replied. “Then you can at least have someone friendly to help you live through the Howler.”

Sirius shuddered, “I heard that once my mom sent my cousin Andromeda a howler for being friends with a muggleborn. Apparently, half of Slytherin couldn't hear for their whole next class, so the teacher had to write everything on the blackboard.”

“Ha! That’s nothing!” James cried, “My great-Aunt Leonara said last Christmas that once she sent my cousin a Howler with a spell attached! I think he got detention for punching someone, so the Howler punched him! He had to go to Madam Pomfrey with a broken nose!”

“Poor bloke!” Sirius laughed. “What about you, Remus Lupin? Got any good stories?”

“Um…” Remus thought about it. “Well, my parents have never said much about Howlers, but I know that my dad probably got one this one time when he pulled a big prank on the school. He made it so none of the Ravenclaws could get in the library, none of the Slytherins could go to the lake, none of the Hufflepuffs could get in the greenhouses, and none of the Gryffindors could go to the quidditch pitch. ‘Fighting stereotypes,’ he said.”

Sirius cracked up. He laughed loudly and heartily for so long that soon James, and then Remus, started laughing at Sirius’ laughter. Finally, the boys quieted down and looked at each other. No one said anything for a minute. Then James broke the three-way stare, sat up straighter in his chair, and grinned.

“Well now that that’s all out of our systems....” He said to his new friends, “Um… what do we do?” Remus looked down while Sirius and James started a new discussion. Now that he was faced with actual people, the idea of making friends seemed easier than he had thought, but it would be very bad if they got too close and figured out his secret. Better to keep his distance a little. Remus took out a book to read and tried to ignore them. Unfortunately, James and Sirius were very hard people to ignore.

“So why would you want to be in Ravenclaw, Remus Lupin?” James asked. Remus pointed at himself, then his book.

“Me. Book.” he said dryly. Sirius laughed.

“We’ll take it,” James grinned. “Whatcha’ reading?” He poked Remus, but got no response. James shrugged and kept talking. “Either of you ever been to Hogsmeade?”

“Yeah,” Sirius shrugged. “My family goes every once in awhile, but half the time I’m forced to miss it because I ‘defiled my bedroom’-” he made air quotes, “- or something and needed to be punished. My brother Regulus loves it, but I can never get my parents to go anywhere interesting.”

“Of course.” James rolled his eyes. “We need to find a way to sneak in before Third year. Honeydukes is heavenly. The best part is Zonko’s Joke Shop, though, You can get so much great stuff!”

Sirius grinned wickedly. “Oh that does sound cool.”

“So what’s your quidditch team?” James asked, his eyes lighting up. “I usually support Ireland, just for the fun of it.”

“Hollyhead Harpies of course.” James looked at Sirius confusedly, so he elaborated. “They were the only team I could find that none of my relatives were already supporting. Me and Reg make a huge joke about it, seeing how many family members we can confuse or weird out.”

Remus couldn’t help but grin behind his book. “Someone in your family was already going for the Cannons?” he asked a little incredulously.

Sirius nodded. “Yeah, my Great-Uncle Algie. He’s a weirdo, but better than most of my other relatives. And either way, I’d still rather support the Harpies than the Canons.”

“What’s your quidditch team Remus?” James asked.

“I don’t really care. See the book? I’ve actually been trying to read it.” Sirius snorted but James looked beside himself.

“How can you not care much about quidditch?!” James cried. “It’s the best sport ever! I would be a chaser already if first years were allowed their own broomsticks!”

“We never had good reception for the games at my house. But still the game is pointless. It’s like, ‘look a ball! Another ball! Fly right! Fly left! Isn’t this fun? We don’t care that basically the only players that matter are the seekers!” While he was talking, Remus accidentally hit James with his book. He always had been a hand-waver. “Oops. Sorry.”

“Ow.” James rubbed his head.

Sirius had been holding it back, but at that he began chucking. “You’re all right, Remus Lupin.”

James still didn’t seem capable of believing that someone didn’t love his beloved quidditch. “But-”

“Just saying,” Remus shrugged.

“But-”

Sirius took pity on Remus. “Well it might get a little tiring just to watch all the time. But-” he added hastily, seeing to look on James’ face, “it is the best thing ever when you play!”

“I think his problem must be that he has never seen a proper quidditch game Sirius,” James said, stroking his chin as if he were a doctor coming up with a terrible diagnosis. “We may have to take him to one when we finally get to Hogwarts.”

“Well of course.” Sirius agreed, straight-faced, “It may be the only cure.”

Remus sighed and rolled his eyes, going back to his book.

James and Sirius talked a lot while Remus read, but he eventually tuned them out. The book really was interesting, with all sorts of tales about Dark Lords rising and falling, Goblin rebellions, famous duels, and the like.

The three boys settled into contentment as they rode along in their compartment on the way to the school they were dreaming of. There was only one last thing worth mentioning, for Remus at least. When the witch came by pushing the snack trolley, she smiled at them all and gestured to her array of delicious treats.

“Anything from the trolley dears?” she asked from outside the compartment. Remus’ parents hadn’t thought to give him money for food, nor did they have that much extra money in the first place. So he sat rather uncomfortably as James and Sirius bought large amounts of the candy.

“What aren’t you getting anything?” James had asked, when Remus stayed in his seat.

Remus shook his head. “My parents forgot to give me money.” He said quietly, not wanting to sound like he was asking for anything, or that he was poor.

But Sirius and James didn’t seem like they cared that he didn’t have money. Sirius just gave a loud and dramatic sigh, which made James laugh, and declared, “Remus Lupin you must have really terrible begging skills.”

“Hear hear!” James agreed.

“Because of this severe lack of talent, we must compensate young Mr. Lupin.” Sirius continued, speaking like a judge, “I decree that Mister Remus be given some of his friends’ candy. They have bought too much anyway and will most certainly get sick if they eat it all. They must all get on a sugar rush together!”

“Hear Hear!” James laughed along, as each boy pushed some candy over to Remus.

“Thanks.” Remus said, astounded that they would be this nice to him.

“No problem,” James told him, watching in amusement as Remus started eating slowly, but soon began devouring anything with chocolate in it. “Got a bit of a liking for chocolate there?”

Remus nodded, chewing a large bite of chocolate frog. “My dad calls me a chocoholic.” Sirius howled with laughter again as James chuckled appreciatively.

Remus liked these new new boys. They can never be your friends, a little voice in his head whispered, as James and Sirius started talking about something else. They are normal, happy wizards. purebloods even! Do you know what purebloods think of werewolves? Remus was worried, but for now he decided to slam a metaphorical door in these doubts’ metaphorical faces. Because if his peers figured out his secret, then there was no way he could stay at school in the first place. He would just have to hope that they would mostly leave him alone, or that they were really stupid, because Remus was going to hate lying to them.

-------------M--------------

When the train finally got to Hogwarts, the clouds were overcast and gray, threatening to rain at any time, and the wind was swaying the trees, pushing at the student’s robes and pulling at their hair. It was dark as James, Sirius, and Remus hesitantly stepped outside. All Remus could see were the gray clouds and the blowing trees. He looked around, not sure where to go, when a voice and a lantern cut through the general wind and chatter.

“Firs’ years! Over here, firs’ years! This way! C’mon, firs’ years! Yer goin’ up in the boats! Firs’ years righ’ here!” Remus made way over to the voice with James and Sirius and stopped. James ran into him. Sirius ran into James.

“Really guys?” Remus grunted as they untangled themselves, “Watch where you’re going!” But James and Sirius weren’t listening. They were staring behind Remus with their mouths slightly open. Remus turned around and saw again what had made him stop in his tracks.

Calling out for the first years was the largest man Remus had ever seen! He was about twice the size of a normal man, and at least four times as wide. Despite this, he was smiling happily at all the first years, and his eyes looked friendly in the lantern light. He looked down at the ragged group of kids around him, which had been growing over the last few minutes, seemed to perform a quick head count, and then said, “All right all of you follow me. Me name’s Hagrid and I’m the Keeper of the Keys and the gamekeeper here at Hogwarts. Yer goin’ ter get ter Hogwarts for the first time from the boats.”

They walked down a long, tricky forest path to the edge of the lake. James and Sirius kept tripping on tree roots the whole way down, which was how Remus kept track of them. He could probably have heard their muttered cursing from anywhere in the little group.

Finally they reached the edge of the gray, choppy water, and Remus saw that there seemed to be a small fleet of boats waiting for them. “No more'n four to a boat!” Hagrid yelled to them, “Guess you’ll be seein’ Hogwarts from the boats. It’s too foggy ter see from here.”

The first years began to claim boats with new friends met on the train. James and Sirius grabbed one right away, and then looked at Remus like ‘are you coming or what?’ Remus happily got in. He knew that these were nice guys, and was very glad that they weren’t going to kick him out of their boat.

“Um… sorry... can I sit here?” A new boy pointed to the spot next to Remus. The boy was shorter than he was, Remus noticed, and looked as if he expected to be turned away. He had beady eyes that were a washed out blue color, was rather pudgy, and had dirty blond hair. Remus smiled a little at the boy. He seemed more shy than Remus himself.

“I guess, if you want.” James told him indifferently, “We don’t know anyone else here. My name’s James, and these are Sirius and Remus.”

“Thanks,” said the shy boy, sitting down as the boats began to silently glide through the water. “I was sitting with my cousin on the train, but he’s a third year and he just ignored me the whole time. My name is Peter Pettigrew.”

Just then Hagrid yelled something, but the boys missed it, and the boats sailed under a large outcropping with long strands of ivy hanging from it.

“Woah!” James and Sirius yelped, as Remus grabbed the side of the boat and ducked. Peter was not so lucky. He fell off the bench, over the side, and into the lake.

“Oof!” he grunted as the others hauled him, dripping, back into the boat. “I’m OK,” he assured them when asked, and the other boys nodded and went back to looking at the view.

Hogwarts was coming up through the fog and all the students gasped at the sight. The huge castle was reflected in the water, looking impressive on top of a hill with the crescent moon and stars behind it. Remus looked away from the moon. All it was was a reminder that he was different. Instead, he looked at the turrets and windows of the castle. I hope they give us a map, or we won’t be able to find anything! he thought. Sirius seemed to be thinking something else entirely. He wasn’t even looking at the castle; he was looking at the lake.

“Guys!” He exclaimed, “I think I see the giant squid!”

“There’s a giant squid?” Peter cried, accidentally rocking the boat back and forth as he slid away.

“Where?” James asked excitedly, rushing to the side of the boat while Remus leaned over to see it as well. Unfortunately, all that weight on one side was too much for the little boat and it flipped over, tipping them all into the water. Gasping and spluttering, Remus’ head popped up out of the water. He saw James and Sirius treading water nearby, laughing like this was great fun, but…

“Peter?” He choked out, gasping.

“Here!” A voice cried from the boat. Remus turned to see Peter hanging on to the side of the boat, which had thankfully gone back upright, although now it had quite a bit more water inside than before. “I can’t swim!” Peter called frantically, as he gripped the boat and kicked desperately, trying to stay afloat. Then a larger-than-average hand picked him up by the scruff of his neck and plopped him back in the boat.

“All righ’ there boys?” Hagrid asked, as he picked up each boy and set him back in their boat. It now had about six inches (15 cm) of water in the bottom, but they appreciated it just the same. “There’s one every year, but I’ve never had four at once. You all be careful the rest of the way, hear me?” They nodded and had a rather uneventful trip to the shore after that, as none of them wanted to fall in the lake again. It was cold!

As they walked up to the castle, Remus wondered how they were going to be sorted into their houses. They couldn’t really do any magic yet, though he had read through all the textbooks and his parents had taught him some. Surely a test would take too long... But these thoughts were driven from his head when they walked into the entrance hall. His whole house could’ve fit in here three times! The ceiling was high and arched, and suits of armor stood at the walls. Torches on the wall lit up a woman waiting for them. She couldn’t be anyone other than a teacher with that stern expression.

The teacher looked rather young and very intimidating. She had black hair pulled tightly into a bun and long green robes. “Thank you Hagrid. I will take them from here.” She told the gamekeeper. She let them past a door with many voices behind it. That must be where all the other students are, Remus thought as the Professor led them into a small room off of the Hall. The first years huddled together, not quite sure what was coming next.

“My name is Professor McGonagall. Welcome to Hogwarts,” said Professor McGonagall. “The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, you house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.

“The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule-breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.

“The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting.” She glanced pointedly at the four dripping boys, who looked at each other a bit sheepishly. James, Remus, and Sirius grinned slightly at each other, but Peter just looked nervous.

“I shall return when we are ready for you,” said Professor McGonagall. “Please wait quietly.”

She swept out of the room, Remus staring in her wake.

Excited whispering broke out among the first years, but before Remus could even think about starting to speculate what would happen there came another surprise. Students shrieked and gasped as a huge group of ghosts flooded into the room through one of the walls! As the new students quieted down, they began to hear what the ghosts were saying.

“I really hope that someone sets Nick down a few pegs soon.” a young woman ghost was telling a cheerful-looking fat ghost, “Gryffindor has won the past few years and his head has become quite inflated.”

“Now now, my dear lady,” said the fat ghost, “at least it’s better than- and what do we have here?” he asked, seeming to notice the first years for the first time. “Little first years! How splendid! Hope to see you in my own house of Hufflepuff!”

“Oh, come now.” said the lady ghost disapprovingly, “If they really wanted the best house they would all be little Ravenclaws.” A frightening ghost covered in blood just shook his head grimly and floated into the Great hall, followed by the still bickering hufflepuff and lady, and all the other ghosts as well. One of them waved at Remus and he hesitantly waved back.

“Well that was… interesting.” James said. He still looked slightly shocked.

“I’ll say.” Sirius agreed, “I wonder how that one ghost got covered in blood.”

“I don’t even want to know.” Peter cried, still looking pale. Remus just nodded. He was still worried about the sorting. The ghosts weren’t much to go by, but he thought Ravenclaw still sounded good. Personally, he felt like he wasn’t cheerful enough to be in Hufflepuff or crafty enough to be in Slytherin. Maybe Gryffindor, but it was hard to say. It was hard to tell if that was just the ghosts influencing him, or the fact that right now he felt nervous enough to throw up, or the fact that he was pretty sure James and Sirius wouldn’t be in Hufflepuff or Slytherin either.

“Remus? What do you think?” James was looking at him expectantly.

“Um… what-” but just then, Professor McGonagall came back.

“Come along. Form a line and follow me.” She told them crisply, and then walked into the hall.

Chapter Text

All the first years gasped when they caught sight of the enchanted ceiling and floating candles lighting the Great hall. Suddenly, Remus became very aware of the fact that there were hundreds of students, and all of them were staring at the first years. Remus nervously shuffled his feet and tried to surreptitiously hide behind James, who was the closest. He felt like there was a giant neon sign above his head with an arrow pointing at him that read ‘WEREWOLF’. Thankfully, Professor McGonagall came back out with a hat and stool, and all the students stared at that instead. Remus wasn’t quite sure what they were all waiting for, but he stared at the hat too. He was just noticing how patched, frayed, and dirty the hat really was when suddenly a rip near the top opened like a mouth, and the hat started to sing!

 

“Once upon a long ago time
there were Hogwarts founders four.
They wanted to teach wizards
of creatures, spells, and more.

They found many many children
with ability to learn,
so they passed on their knowledge
to all magic children born.

Each had a house for students
where they chose which ones to teach,
so each student in the house
had some things the founder preached.

Gryffindor loved bravery
and took chivalry to heart,
Clever Ravenclaw decided
that she valued being smart.

Slytherin was cunning
and ambition was his friend,
only those deemed ‘pure’
were led under his command.

Hufflepuff, the fairest,
really loved them all the same,
so she took all of the students
that that the others didn’t claim.

Those are the four houses
that the founders made back then.
try me on and I will say
which house you should be in!

All the students burst into wild applause. “When I call your name, come forward and try on the hat.” Professor told the first years. Remus felt a huge surge of relief that the test was so simple, followed almost immediately by dread. What if the hat found out he was a werewolf and told everyone? What if he had to leave just when he had gotten there? Remus glanced at James and Sirius, who were standing on either side of him. James looked a little nervous, but ready, like he was pretty sure of what he would get. Sirius on the other had, looked like he was going to faint. Or possibly throw up. Somehow, the fact that Sirius was nervous too made Remus feel a little better.

“You OK?” Remus muttered quietly to him, but Sirius wasn’t paying any attention.

He seemed to be praying, “Not Slytherin, not Slytherin, not Slytherin,” under his breath over and over again.

“Attenson, Maria,” called Professor McGonagall.

A tall girl with long brown hair and freckles stepped forward and put the hat on her head. The hat was so big that it went right over her eyes. After a moment, the hat shouted out, “RAVENCLAW!” One of the tables, Remus assumed it was Ravenclaw, cheered loudly. Maria went over to it and sat down, her face beet red.

“Black, Sirius” was the next name. His face now slightly green (which, as the Slytherin color, didn’t seem like it would help him much), Sirius walked over to the hat and put it on. He sat there with the hat over his eyes for hardly ten seconds before it shouted out, “GRYFFINDOR!” There was silence in the Hall. No one had expected that, except maybe James and Remus.

Sirius took the hat off and stood up. He wasn’t sure which table was Gryffindor because no one had gone there yet, so he just pumped his fist in the air and yelled, “GRYFFINDOR! HA! TAKE THAT MOTHER!!”

This seemed to unfreeze everyone and chuckling ran through the hall. Then the Gryffindor table cheered hesitantly as Sirius, looking immensely relieved, went and sat down. Many of the professors looked at him curiously. Remus guessed that the Blacks were probably famous for always being in Slytherin, thus the reaction of the students and staff, but he didn’t have much room for curiosity as he was so nervous.

Professor McGonagall seemed to be taking forever to get to Remus’ name on purpose. Seriously, how many people could have last names that started with a letter before ‘L’? Finally, after ‘Kane, Samantha’ became a Slytherin, the professor called out, “Lupin, Remus.” Remus took a big breath, and then walked forward on shaking legs to the sorting hat. He slowly lowered it over his eyes so that all he saw was the dirty black fabric.

“Well now!” said a voice in his ear, “This is a certainly a new one. A werewolf I see…”

You can’t tell anyone! Remus thought desperately.

“Oh of course not, child. I wouldn’t do that to a student! Obviously the Headmaster is aware and approves, so now all that is left is to sort you.”

Remus sighed in relief. Of course Dumbledore approved, so there was no reason for the sorting hat not to accept him. “Now you definitely have some talent tucked away in here,” The sorting hat decided, “also quite a thirst to do well. That makes sense, I suppose. You want to prove that you are as good as everyone else. You would make quite a good Ravenclaw, except that I also see a quite a spark of bravery and much need for good friends and fun, which you would not find much of in Ravenclaw.”

What? Remus thought, Where are you finding this exactly?

“Without good friends to encourage you, you would retreat into your shell and never come out. You would disappear far too easily into the crowd, just a lonely face.”

Maybe that’s what I want. Why do I need friends? They might figure out that I’m a werewolf!

“They may not reject you so easily.”

Remus made a face. Unlikely.

“I see that you don’t believe me. Some don’t. However, I can see that it is definitely what you need.”

While we’re on this subject, how can you even see into my head and know that it’s ‘what I need’?

“Well boy, Godric Gryffindor himself enchanted me for this purpose. Quite nice that I still work, don’t you think?”

Doesn’t it get boring just sitting around all the time waiting for the beginning of the school year?

“I see you also have a bit of empathy in you, but you do not trust easily enough to go in Hufflepuff. You are a dark creature-Remus inwardly winced-But you don’t have the ambition or darkness of Slytherin. You are rather cunning, however.”

Please don’t put me there! They would tear me apart!

“Relax child, I already told you that you weren’t ambitious enough. Nor do you seek to stand out as powerful and intimidating.”

Remus sighed in relief. He didn’t want to be biased, but he kind of was.

“You also show bravery through coming to school at all, considering your lycanthropy. You are willing to lock yourself away to avoid hurting others, despite the pain to yourself-”

Duh. It would kind of blow my cover and Dumbledore’s trust to go and bite a bunch of people. Plus, why would I want anyone to be like me? I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

“-and you hide your pain for other's sake. I suppose that, taking all this into account, you will have to be a GRYFFINDOR!”

The hat had shouted the last word to the whole hall. Remus took it off and walked over on shaking legs to find an empty spot next to Sirius at the cheering Gryffindor table. “We both made it!” Sirius crowed happily, “Now we just need James!”

Remus nodded absently and looked around at his new table, still feeling immensely relieved that he had made it this far at all. He saw another first year nearby and remembered that her name was ‘Evans, Lily’, but he decided he had met enough people that day with just James, Sirius, and sort-of Peter. That was more people that he had met in one day for about as long as he could remember, after all.

Now that Remus himself had been sorted, the process seemed to go much faster. In no time, Professor McGonagall was reading “Pettigrew, Peter” off the list. Remus and Sirius got more and more interested to see where he would end up as Peter sat on the stool for a full minute. Then two. Three.

Finally, the hat called out, “GRYFFINDOR!” and Sirius cheered as loud as he could while Remus clapped along. Remus couldn’t believe that all four of them might actually all make it into the same house. These could be his dormmates! Maybe he could hide his condition long enough for them to actually sort-of make friends!

Suddenly, Remus’ head snapped back to the hat when he heard the name ‘Potter, James.’ Just as they had all hoped, almost as soon as the hat touched James’ head it yelled: “GRYFFINDOR!” As Remus and Sirius cheered and clapped, James proudly strutted over to the Gryffindor table.

“I knew I would make it.” He told them confidently.

“Well yeah, you say that now.” said Sirius, “What about before you were called when we were all shaking in our shoes in the line?” He gestured to the now very small line of unsorted first-years as ‘Snape, Severus’ was made a Slytherin.

He certainly looks the part, thought Remus, when the boy gave a little glance to someone at the Gryffindor table and showed Remus a good view of his sallow skin and greasy black hair. Then again, who am I to judge on appearances?

After the first years had all been sorted, Dumbledore stood up to address the school. His arms were open and welcoming as he beamed down at them all, his white beard gleaming in the candlelight.

“Welcome to Hogwarts!” Dumbledore smiled, “Before our feast I would just like to say a few words. Lemon Drops! Bewilderment! Vexed! Brouhaha! Thank you.” The students all clapped and cheered while Remus looked over at the others in confusion.

“Do you know, I think he’s a bit… loony.” He told them. James laughed while Sirius looked at Remus strangely.

“Duh,” he said. “But at least he’s smart-loony. Don’t you want any food, Lupin? Ha! Loony Lupin! It’s like a… what do you call those things that are like rhymes, but not?” Remus ignored the last bit and looked down at the table, a bit shocked. Sure enough, the feast had appeared in front of him. He began taking helpings as James and Sirius talked in the growing noise and organized chaos.

“I think it’s called… no I can’t remember either. Oh Godric, it’s right on the tip of my tongue!” James looked like he was concentrating hard, except that the image was ruined by his mouthful of food. Remus had been looking forward to the good, warm food since his cold dump in the lake. (Which had been totally Sirius’ fault.) Judging by how much the others ate in about a minute, they all agreed.

“It’s called alliteration.” Remus told the others after he had swallowed.

James let out a loud, “Of course!” while Sirius sighed dramatically.

“Good thing Loony here remembers some stuff from his lessons or we’d be doomed to never remember what that thing that’s like a rhyme, but isn’t, is,” Sirius exclaimed, giving Remus a friendly punch on the shoulder and grinning. Remus tentatively smiled back at him and then returned to his plate.

While he was eating, Remus looked around at all the new things that he would have to get used to in the coming months. Near the redheaded Lily Evans sat the Gryffindor ghost, whom Remus remembered the other ghosts calling bigheaded. The ghost appeared to be having a great time talking about something that rather disgusted Lily. Remus snorted at the look on her face and let his eyes wander over to the staff table where Dumbledore was sitting.

“I already know Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall,” Remus found himself saying, “but who are the other professors?” To his surprise, it was Sirius who answered. Remus had taken him for a slacker, but maybe there was hope.

“The one on the far right is Sinistra, who teaches Astronomy, then Flitwick, Charms. After him I’m pretty sure is Hooch the flying instructor and to her left is Babbling who does Ancient Ruins, but we don’t have to worry about some of those until third year.
“I think the only ones we have to worry about are: McGonagall, who teaches Transfiguration, Flitwick, who does Charms; Slughorn, that little round fellow with the mustache, teaches Potions, and Binns, the ghost, is History of Magic. One of those two women on the left is Herbology and the other is Defense. I’m not sure which is which since they’re both new this year.

Remus was a little stunned.

“How d’you know all that?” James demanded, “And I thought I already knew about Hogwarts!”

Sirius might have turned a little red, but he answered the question. “My cousins. Bellatrix, Andromeda, and Narcissa are over at the Slytherin table. No doubt Bella, at least, will blab to my mother that I’m in Gryffindor the first chance she gets.”

Sirius looked so disappointed and annoyed by this that Remus couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for him. “Surely it won’t be that bad, Sirius.”

“Oh it will be.” Sirius glared at the table. “You don’t know my mother; my family. The Blacks are famous for being pureblooded Slytherins. There’s a reason that everyone was so stunned when the hat put me in Gryffindor. Gryffindor traditionally houses the blood-traitors and mud- muggleborns. Do you think that Blacks get into Gryffindor a lot? I’m the first one in over 4 hundred years!”

“Sorry.” Remus said. Apparently Sirius being in Gryffindor might be worse for his friend than he had thought.

“Can I ask a question?” James asked Sirius a little hesitantly. Sirius shrugged.

“If your whole family is like that, and you were raised by them, why aren’t you like that?”

Sirius sighed and looked at the table, then at the ceiling. He didn’t seem very hungry anymore, but then, neither was Remus. “When I was a little kid, maybe five or six, I used to play outside with my brother Regulus a lot. It was pretty normal for us to run around, chase each other, make up games. You know, kid stuff.”

Remus nodded and saw James do the same. He didn’t know where this was going, but it seemed important for Sirius to share, so he kept quiet.

“There was a set of triplets around our age in the house next to ours. Two boys and a girl; their names were Mark, Luke, and Jennifer Brown. We always thought it was funny that the Browns lived next to the Blacks. Me and Reg used to make up games with them. I couldn’t see any difference between us except that they didn’t know anything about magic and me and Reg had to tell them. They must have thought we were making it up.

“We’d all play tag in the street, or we’d play make-believe or pull tricks on each other until my mother caught us. I still remember the lecture that she gave us, but I think Reg was too young. ‘You do not play with dirty muggle children! They are beneath you! You. Are. A. Black!’ That’s what she’d tell us. I remember asking her why. She yelled to high heaven that she had raised me better.”

James was shaking his head and Remus didn’t feel much better. Who yells at a six-year-old about their friends? Who cares if they were muggles? Remus wouldn’t have been picky, that’s for sure. But he stayed quiet, waiting for Sirius to finish.

“I snuck out to visit them a few more times, told them that my mother didn’t want me to play with them. About a month after my mother’s explosion, Mark, Luke, and Jennifer moved away with no warning and for no reason. I always thought that my mother found out I was still playing with them and got rid of them. Ever since then I decided to make my own choices. I never told my mother, but I didn’t listen to what she said anymore. I will form my own opinions.”

There was silence in their area at the table. Remus could hear other conversations being carried out, other people meeting up with friends after the long summer or chatting happily about nothing; Peter’s voice could be heard several seats away, probably talking to his cousin. But the three new friends said nothing because there was nothing to say.

Finally, Sirius broke the silence. “If you don’t want to be friends with someone who comes from a family like that, I’ll-”

“You stop right there!” James cut him off, “If you can make your own opinions then so can I. And I think that you’re a good guy no matter what family you came from! You are welcome at the Potters’ any time, no matter what my family thinks about yours!”

“I agree.” Remus said, “You’re my friend now. My family doesn’t have much money, but if you still want to be friends with me then I still want to be friends with you.” His heart was beating fast as he said it, but Remus knew in that moment that is was the right thing, and the true thing.

“Thanks guys.” Sirius whispered. A moment later, dessert appeared.

“That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” James cried, all seriousness gone. “Remus, pass me that treacle tart.”

After that the conversation turned much lighter. Remus found himself talking and laughing with the others as if nothing was wrong; as if he was a normal person with normal friends. Or at least, as normal as a werewolf who was friends with one of the Pure Potters and a wayward member of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black could be.

Once they had all finished the meal and sung the school song (which was as loony as Lupin, according to James and Sirius), Dumbledore gave a few more announcements.

“Everyone should note that the Forbidden Forest is, obviously one would think, forbidden. The caretaker, Mr. Filch, wishes for me to inform you that magic and magical items that cause trouble are strictly forbidden in the corridors. Quidditch captains will announce the dates for tryouts in the common rooms, though first years are not allowed their own broomsticks. Also, a new tree called a Whomping Willow has been planted on the grounds. We ask that you stay away from it, as it is highly dangerous. It tends to ‘whomp’ quite effectively. That is all! Farewell! Off you trot!”

So tired that he didn’t know if he was going to make it the whole way, Remus followed the Prefects up to their dormitory. There were so many twists, turns, staircases, and even hidden portrait-doors on the way there that Remus was sure he would be getting lost for months! After the Prefects gave them the password, Avalon, they stumbled into the common room and up the stairs to bed.

That night in his new bed, his suitcase not yet unpacked and his classes not yet attended, Remus looked around the room. He had gotten on the train, met three new people, almost finished his new book, and eaten a delicious feast. Things could have been worse.

Chapter Text

For a moment when Remus woke up the next morning, he wasn’t sure where he was. He was laying in a strange but comfortable four-poster with curtains hanging around. The clock on the nightstand next to him was beeping and flashing the time. It read 7:00 AM. Ugh. Why was he getting up so early…? Then, suddenly, everything from the day before came back to him. He grinned, sat up, and stretched. Today all the first years would be getting their schedules at breakfast, and then heading up to their very first classes! Remus could hardly wait to get started.

 

He had just gotten dressed and was about to pull his curtains back, when he heard a loud groan from the bed next to him. It must have been Sirius. Remus had wanted the bed next to the window and the others had been too tired to put up much of a fight after the feast. Sirius had gone next to Remus, with James on the other side of Sirius, and Peter at the other end of the room.

“Come on Sirius, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal!” James’ voice cried, about three notches louder and more cheerful that anyone should be at 7:00 in the morning. All that could be heard from Sirius’ bed was another groan.

“Hurry up or we won’t get any breakfast!” James called.

At that, Remus could hear Sirius dragging himself out of bed and lumbering off to the bathroom. “You up Remus? Peter?” Remus was sure he could hear James smiling. He pulled back his curtains and yawned.

“I’m up,” he told James (who looked quite disappointed that he couldn’t wake up someone else) “and I think you about woke all of Scotland as well.” Sirius laughed. It looked like Peter was already in the bathroom, so James was out of luck. After brushing his teeth, Remus was about to walk down to the common room when James grabbed him.

“Huh?” Remus warily looked back at James.

“And where do you think you’re going?” he asked.

Remus stared at him, a little confused, and replied, “I was going to try to find my way back to the Great hall…” James stared at him like he was an idiot.

Remus tried to think back. Had he done anything in the last few minutes to make James mad at him? Had James found out he was a werewolf? What if James had seen his scars and knew what they meant? What if James hated him?

“If we’re going to get lost on the way to the Great hall, then we should all get lost together, Loony Lupin!” James declared.

“Oh… ‘course.” Remus assured him, feeling very relieved himself. He tried to calm his heart down a little. No one is going to discover your secret yet. He told himself firmly. At least until you get through a few full moons. After reassuring himself for a minute, Remus sat down to read his book until the others were ready.

“Now faithful comrades,” James said, with the air of someone about to embark on a grand adventure, “we proceed into the unknown. whatever awaits us there, I pledge-”

“-That maybe we can get ourselves some food!” Sirius exclaimed impatiently. “C’mon let’s go already!”

“Yeah James.” Remus put in, “I want to get there in time to actually eat. That kind of means leaving the dormitory.” So they did.

Remus sort of remembered some of the pictures they had passed on the way to the common room, so the four adventurers got off to a decent start. They made it all the way to the second staircase before getting lost.

“I thought this staircase went down one floor, not two.” Remus said, alarmed. “Maybe we went the wrong way?”

“Nah,” James said, “It’s probably just moved since last night. My dad told me that the staircases move. Some of them even have trick steps!”

“That doesn’t really help us here, mate,” Sirius put in. “Did your dad happen to give you, like, a map or something?”

“Sorry,” James shrugged. So they walked on, looking for a staircase that went down the right amount.

They had to walk a long way before the four first-years found a staircase going the way that they wanted. Remus had been worried that they wouldn’t find one at all. The boys continued their search for landmarks, mostly unsuccessfully. Remus spotted some paintings that they had passed before and James had a pretty good memory as well. Sirius kept them going with comments like: “We’ll get there eventually, as long as we don’t starve first!” while Peter trailed behind uncertainly.

Suddenly, Remus caught sight of a flicker of white at the end of the hallway they were walking down. “What was that?” he asked, pointing.

“Dunno,” James replied. “Hello? Anyone there?”

Sirius and Peter looked at them a little weirdly. They must not have seen whatever it was at the end of the hallway. But just as Remus was wondering if he had actually seen anything, a ghost came out of the wall right next to them. They all jumped a little and Peter let out a small “Eep!” The ghost looked them over before his face split into a smile.

“New Gryffindors I see!” he exclaimed. “Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington at your service, resident Gryffindor ghost! Almost ready for your first day of classes I suppose?”

“Yes,” Remus told him, “please, we were looking for-”

“The Great hall I assume?” Sir Nicholas interrupted. “I had to help the new Gryffindor girls find their way not fifteen minutes ago. Please follow me.”

The four hungry adventurers followed the ghost down corridors, staircases, and through a portrait or two. Sir Nicholas was very helpful, although he did forget to tell them to jump a trick step. Remus had to wait for Sirius to stop laughing before they could help get James out of it.

“Thanks guys,” James muttered, obviously embarrassed.

“Stop laughing Sirius,” Remus elbowed him. “Honestly.”

Finally, just as he thought they would never make it, Remus spotted the entrance to the Great hall.

“There!” called Sirius, who was in the lead. (James had given up on the position for obvious reasons.) The others gave a ragged cheer and ran down the last staircase to the Great hall, smelling victory and bacon.

Now that he wasn’t trembling with nerves over his sorting, Remus could take in just how beautiful the Great hall really was. The ceiling was high and arched, and showed the clear morning sky so realistically that it was hard to believe it wasn’t the actual sky. He remembered reading all about the enchantments and charms involved in making it in Hogwarts: A History.

“I wonder how they made it look like that,” Peter said, as they walked toward the table.

“Haven’t you read Hogwarts: A History?” Remus asked, surprised, “It’s got practically a whole chapter devoted to the ceiling.” The James and Sirius looked at Remus as if he were insane.

Just as Remus was wondering if he had done something wrong- Maybe they weren’t supposed to read the books until they learned about them in class!- Peter, who was still staring at the ceiling intently, didn’t notice a small puddle of orange juice on the floor and promptly slipped and fell on his butt.

James and Sirius started laughing loudly, and Remus had to very forcefully hold back his own mirth when he offered his hand to Peter. The chubby boy turned bright red and hastily stood up, glancing around to make sure no one else had noticed his embarrassment. Luckily for him, the four first years did not attract much attention, and Peter’s slip had been lost in the bustle of the school eating breakfast.

“Let’s go get some food!” Sirius cried after Remus had helped Peter to his feet. Still chuckling, the four of them began to look for a place to sit. They had to walk along at least half the length of the table before they found seats next to each other. Peter slipped away so that he could eat right away, even if it meant sitting alone. Remus turned around to try to find where Peter had gone, but James saw him looking and shrugged.

“You’re coming with us, mate. None of us have any other friends anyway!” Remus wasn’t sure what he thought of being friends with these boys. He knew there was no way that they would get out of this friendship without any scars. Remus knew about scars.

On the other hand, he really did want friends, and being liked was rather a novel experience. So he convinced himself that he would figure something else out later, and there really was no point in trying not to be friends. They were friendly after all, and they made him smile. Plus, he didn’t think James and Sirius would let him back out now if he wanted to.

---M---

Hogwarts breakfasts were amazing. Sirius could hardly talk the whole meal because his mouth was full of food. James snarfed it down almost as quickly as Sirius, and could hold a surprising number of waffles considering his size. Remus himself tried to eat more slowly, afraid of laughing with his mouth full and looking disgusting. After roughly seven minutes, Remus’ resolve crumbled in the face of delicious food and he ate with as much gusto as the rest, though he still couldn’t understand how ‘refined purebloods’ could be so sloppy.

“So Remus,” James started, “You said you read Hogwarts: A History? Why?”

Remus looked up, surprised. “It was on the list. I looked through all the course books. Didn’t you?” the boys looked at him as if he were crazy again.

“You must be truly a nerd, Mr. Remus Loony.” Sirius told him. “I bet you are the only one in our year to actually have read all those books.”

“Oh.” said Remus, not really sure how to respond to that. Obviously these boys wouldn’t want to be friends with a nerd, so maybe his dilemma about having friends would be solved right here. Remus was a bit surprised to find that he was truly disappointed.

James seemed to notice Remus’ sudden change of mood. “Hey mate, there’s nothing wrong with being a nerd. I am going to need someone with enough brains to help me with pranks, after all.”

Sirius suddenly grinned like the Cheshire Cat. “James, you like pranking too? This is awesome! I thought I was going to have to force you to help me!”

“No way!” James cried, grinning wider than Sirius. “We three can be some sort of troublemaking team! I think we need a name.”

“Wait, wait, wait. Slow down.” Remus interrupted the evil grin fest, “I don’t want to get in trouble. My mom would kill me. Also, who says I even like pranks?”

James and Sirius looked at each other, and then James declared, “All in favor of pranking, say ‘Aye.’”

“Aye!” Sirius cried triumphantly, “And James agrees with me!”

“HA! Remus is outvoted! We are officially a pranking team!” James crowed. Before Remus could protest, he was interrupted by the morning owl post. Several muggleborns made strange squeaking noises.

Remus wasn’t expecting anything, at least until he wrote home about what house he was in. He was, however, surprised that Sirius already had a letter. A sleek, regal-looking owl pompously delivered an ominously smoking red envelope to his new friend. Sirius paled.

James noticed it too. “You’d better cover your ears, mate.” he told Sirius, “Geez! When I said I’d say with you for the Howler, I didn’t expect you to actually get one!”

Remus could only plug his ears before Sirius shook his head and opened the Howler.

“SIRIUS ORION BLACK! YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO THE HOUSE OF BLACK!! IF REGULUS HAD ALREADY BEEN SORTED I WOULD DISOWN YOU RIGHT NOW!”

Sirius was making a valiant effort to look as if he couldn’t hear the Howler, but he winced every time the voice reached a higher pitch. Horrified silence filled the Great hall louder than any noise could have as the Howler continued.

“SHAME! SHAME ON YOU FOR EVER STEPPING FOOT IN THAT CURSED HOUSE OF MUDBLOODS AND BLOOD-TRAITORS! THE BLACK FAMILY NAME WILL BE FOREVER TARNISHED BECAUSE OF YOU!!”

It was Horrible with a capital horrible. Everyone stared at Sirius as his mother’s voice rained insults and dishonor upon him at one hundred times its normal volume. She shrieked about her son, her betrayer, that abomination of her flesh. She screamed of impurity, of wretchedness, of filth. She shouted of disloyalty and failure.

And when it was all over and the Howler had finished, Sirius put his head down on the table beside his breakfast as whispering filled the hall. It became louder and returned to normal talking after a while, but neither James nor Remus knew what to say to Sirius after that. His mother really was that bad.

Sirius lifted his head off of the table and continued eating his bacon. “Well? Are you guys just going to sit there or what?” There was no sign of sadness on his face; no hint that he was bothered at all. Remus was impressed, but skeptical. Sirius was going to need some support after all that.

“Are you going to be… okay?” James asked a little hesitantly.

“I’ll be fine.” Sirius said, “this was bound to happen sooner or later, right? I’d rather have it be over and done with so that I don’t have to worry about it later.” And he really did seem alright.

So breakfast went on, with Sirius cheering up the other two as much as they cheered up Sirius. The conversation started again, this time about waffles. Apparently, James and Sirius had some very strong opinions on them. Remus thought he might just stay out of that one, and continued to eat his breakfast.

“All my Gryffindor first years, please come this way,” Professor McGonagall shouted from the head of the Gryffindor table. “I have your schedules. Classes begin at 8:00 sharp!”

Eagerly, Remus ran over to get his schedule, but when he got there the professor didn’t have it. The others finally caught up, and Remus spotted Peter standing at the edge of their little group. He wondered where Peter had eaten breakfast, but soon the others all got their own schedules and he was sufficiently distracted.

They all started looking through their classes until Peter looked over at Remus’s note and exclaimed, “that’s not a schedule!” Remus looked up and, knowing that if he hid it James and Sirius would probably become curious and steal it, he reluctantly passed the note around so they could all see what it said:

 

Remus Lupin:
This note has been given to inform you that there has been a slight problem with your schedule. Please come up to Professor McGonagall’s office at 8:00 this morning during her free period in order to sort it out. This is your pass to get in, so do not lose it. Only people with a note and signature can get into the office. Thank you.
Signed:
Professor M. McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress

“But I thought all the first year Gryffindor schedules were the same!” Peter cried, “Are you going to be going to other classes for some reason?”

“I dunno. I thought they were the same too. I guess that’s why I’m going to the meeting.” Remus mumbled quickly. He had a feeling that he knew what this meeting was going to be about.

Suddenly, James grinned wickedly. “Hey Sirius! Do you know what this means?” Sirius and Peter looked at James confusedly.

“No…” Sirius trailed off.

“We’re going to start our classes!” James said this as if he were introducing a five-year-old to birthday cake, and he grinned and waved his hands sarcastically. Sirius groaned.

Suddenly, Remus realized something else.

“Do any of you happen to know where Professor McGonagall’s office is?”

---M---

Remus ended up following the other boys to the charms classroom and then asking Professor Flitwick if he could tell him where Professor McGonagall’s office was. Flitwick cheerfully informed him that it was one floor up and on the right, next to the bust of some old wizard named Sir Halt. He couldn’t miss it.

Remus missed it.

He made it up the staircase all right, but then he accidentally walked into an empty classroom where a couple of older students were snogging. He left that room quickly, just as he heard a “Hey!” from behind him.

Naturally, Remus ran away as fast as he could in no particular direction. Unfortunately, that was the wrong direction. He wandered past countless paintings, which all just stared at him, suits of armor, which he was sure could walk on their own, and stone busts of other wizards.

Finally, he stopped near a painting of a little girl holding a toad that was wearing a pink tiara. As the toad struggled to get the tiara off of its head, the girl smiled at him. She was missing a tooth and there was dirt on her face and in her scraggly hair. She looked as if she had just jumped into a mud puddle.

“I like your dress.” It was weak, but Remus could think of nothing else polite to say. The girl’s dress was, in fact, rather muddy and patched. It was also a strange green-brown mixture, with a jarringly pink ribbon going around her waist. Remus had never seen an uglier dress, but his comment seemed to amuse the girl in the picture. She said nothing, but her painting swung forward to reveal… a blank wall.

Confused, Remus walked over to it and looked for anything unusual. There was nothing. All he saw was an old smudge. He squinted at it and looked closer. I looked vaguely like an arrow pointing at the corner of an old brick. Remus slowly took out his wand and tapped the corner of the brick where the arrow was pointing.

A loud click sounded from the wall just where he had tapped, but nothing else. He walked around the frame and looked back at the little girl. “Do you know how to get through?” he asked her.
She beckoned him forward until he was inches away from the canvas. “Tap. Backwards. Solve.” Then she retreated, giggling. “That’s all I can say!” she sang.

Remus went back around the portrait to the wall. Tap obviously meant the part that he had already done. But ‘Backwards’ and ‘Solve’? What did she mean? He scoured the wall again, looking for anything backwards or needing to be solved. Finally, he saw it.

It hadn’t been there before. Tapping the brick must have revealed it. Scratched along the bottom of where the picture frame normally went were the letters:
ems it ah w. lliko teva ls ruo ym it ub, lliwr uoy rett am ons sap i. emni atbo ote lggur tsuoy, tsol min ehw. emni age rot e lggur tsuoy.

This must be the ‘Backwards’ that the girl had talked about! Remus hurriedly grabbed a spare bit of parchment and wrote down the riddle forwards:
You struggle to regain me. When I’m lost, you struggle to obtain me. I pass no matter your will, but I’m your slave to kill. What is me?

What was it? Slave to kill… that made it sound like a House-Elf, but somehow Remus didn’t think that was it. Pass no matter your will… no that didn’t sound very house-elfish. What passed no matter his will that he would struggle to have? His first thought was friendship, but that didn’t pass if it was real. I’m your slave to kill… like… killing time. People struggled to regain time, and to obtain lost time. It always passed, no matter what anyone wanted, and lots of people wasted, or killed, their time.

“But how do I tell it? Do I just say the word ‘time?’” Remus muttered to himself. “Nope.”

Then he noticed the last line. What is me? That wasn’t normal. Most of the time a riddle asked ‘What am I?’ What was the difference? The letters! Remus realized. The letters that spell time are in the question. If it had said ‘What am I?’ you wouldn’t be able to make the word ‘Time!’ It’s another clue!

Not entirely sure that his idea would work, Remus took out his wand again and tapped the letters t-i-m-e in the final sentence.

Instantly, the riddle and the wall around it fell back and silently moved aside, revealing a passageway. Well that was interesting, Remus thought.

“Um… Thank you,” he told the little girl in the portrait awkwardly. She giggled. Remus ducked through the entrance and went inside the passage, tripping over his robes as he entered.

A dusty room was on the other side. It had a green stained-glass window that looked out over the lake and grounds, and one lone little couch that might once have been maroon. Several mice scampered away as he drew closer. The couch looked like it had been their home for about 60 generations. A short, slightly-chewed wooden table sat next to the couch. To the right of the window lay an open tunnel, which emitted cool, damp air into the room. It looked dark and old.

That tunnel could lead anywhere. It could be a dead end, it could house a dangerous beast, Remus could get lost and starve or he could get some of that mold in his lungs and die. But no matter how much Remus tried to talk himself out of it, he knew he was going to go in. Stupid Gryffindor tendencies. Stupid curiosity.

The passage was dark and damp and full of cobwebs. The walls and floor were rough gray stone, with a low ceiling that felt oppressive. Just your stereotypical secret tunnel through a magical school that has been around for centuries.

There was enough light to see by, though Remus couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, and it was a strange, green light. Maybe the cobwebs were enchanted? Or the walls? Could it somehow still be coming from that dusty room with the mice?

There were occasionally doors leading off to either side of the passage, but Remus didn’t take them because he didn’t know where they let out. Sometimes he could hear echoes of voices; other times, an eerie silence. The passage air had a slow, musty smell that pressed on him like a physical force. Somewhere far away, water dripped.

As he walked, Remus carefully looked around every corner before going around. Who knew what could be hiding in this strange passage? He also dropped a tiny crumpled piece of parchment at every place where he turned off the path. It twisted and turned constantly, sometimes forking off into other smaller passageways. There were stairs and slants to the floor, but Remus tried his best to stay on the same level he had started on.

Near one of the doors, in a small, cramped passage that Remus had gotten to through a cleverly hidden trap door camouflaged to look just like the stone, he found a footprint. It was big enough that it must have belonged to an upperclassman or a teacher. Who else knew about these passageways? Did they realise that they were all connected?

All the doors off the main passage were well-hidden from this side. Remus wouldn’t have ever found the one he had come through if he had started on this side. He hoped that no one would find him, because he would probably get in huge trouble.

Suddenly another thought occurred to Remus: how long had he been gone? This passage could be leading him anywhere, and he hadn’t exactly been sure of where he was to start with. What if he came out in a strange corner of the school and couldn’t find his way back to anything? What if the others noticed that he was missing and sent someone after him? What if he was expelled for being in a forbidden passageway?!

Getting steadily more nervous and trying to keep himself from hyperventilating (just think how much dust and mold he would breathe in!), Remus kept walking. What else could he do? He’d just have to leave through the next door that he found.

After wandering around for a quite a while, Remus was sure he had missed his appointment with Professor McGonagall. She was probably thinking that he didn’t care or was a slacker! What if the school kicked him out? Of course they probably wouldn’t. He’d probably just get a detention and be done with it, but Remus kept worrying.

Soon, Remus noticed something new: a hole with light shining through it. Now that he thought about it, he thought he had seen one of these holes near almost every door into the school that he had passed. How could he have missed it? He berated himself. Obviously they’re for spying, or for seeing what room you’re about to enter! This is perfect!

While it must have looked like an ordinary mouse hole from the outside, from his position it was a great peephole. He peeked through it, getting grime on his hands and knees as he sat on the dirty passage floor.

It looked like he was watching an office somewhere. He could see what looked like the bottom of a desk, a pair of feet, and the bottom of Professor McGonagall's dressing gown. A few feet away from Remus the passage opened into a door.

He carefully opened the strange catch on it and found himself in a cobwebby corner hidden carefully behind the bust of Sir Halt that Professor Flitwick had said was right outside of Professor McGonagall's office. On the back of the statue, written so that he could only read it from where he was standing, were the words mittamper intimam. Remus made a mental note to not tell James and Sirius about this: they would cause mass chaos, probably.

Hesitantly, and none too sure that this was a good idea, Remus carefully crawled out from behind his corner and into the hall. He brushed the cobwebs from his hair and most of the dirt from his robes. Then, summoning his Gryffindor courage, he walked over to the Professor’s office and knocked.

Chapter Text

“Mr. Lupin, I thought this opportunity meant more to you than to be half an hour late to things.” Professor McGonagall stared down at the young boy in disappointment. Her gaze made the young werewolf shift guiltily in his chair.

“I’m sorry professor. I got lost and all the other students were in class,” Remus apologized quickly. What if the teachers decided that they didn’t want a troublesome werewolf at this school after all? He hoped she would let him say goodbye to James and Sirius before sending him away. Would she find out about the strange secret passage he had found? He could spy on her if he ever found it again, so she must not know about it. He thought she might guess that he was holding back, but after his explanation, the professor seemed to soften.

“Remus, next time please ask for directions when you don’t know how to get somewhere. The teachers and prefects should be more than capable,” she told him, somehow gently and sternly at the same time.

“Well,” Remus smiled a little, “I actually did ask Professor Flitwick, but I still somehow didn’t make it here very well.”

Professor McGonagall didn’t smile, (but Remus was sure that her lips twitched) and then got down to business. “Now as I’m sure you’ve probably guessed, this little meeting is not about your schedule.”

“I thought as much,” Remus sighed. He thought he might have seen her flinch.

The professor nodded her head grimly. “It’s about what you should do every month, Remus.”

Said boy looked down at the floor.

“We have a safe place that the Headmaster and myself have enchanted to be sure that no one can or will go in or out, other than a heavily-guarded secret passage. The knowledge of your condition is only given on a need-to-know basis. Myself, Professor Dumbledore, and Madam Pomfrey, the school nurse, are the only ones who know about it. The other teachers have simply been informed that you have a very sick muggle relative that you are allowed to visit once a month. They will excuse you from class the days before and after the full moon, depending on how bad you feel. Try not to take advantage of this fact.

“On the day of the full moon you must arrive at the Hospital Wing no later than an hour before sunset. If you do not know the way, please ask.”

At this, Remus smirked a little bit. At least this professor had a bit of a sense of humor. Maybe.

Professor McGonagall continued, “The passage is under the new Whomping Willow. If you use a stick or other material to press the knot on the trunk of the tree, it will stop ‘whomping’ long enough for you to go down the passage at its roots. Once inside the safe house, you will be locked in and unable to leave until Madam Pomphrey comes to get you in the morning. Any questions?”

“Um, yes actually.” Remus said nervously. Professor McGonagall raised an eyebrow. “Where is the safe house exactly?”

“It is the shrieking shack in Hogsmeade,” she told him.

Remus remembered reading in the paper about how there had been a ‘shrieking shack’ erected in Hogsmeade to house some rather rambunctious ghosts. That was really for him? He wasn’t sure if he wanted people being able to hear him when he transformed, but if they thought it was ghosts it might be alright. Only another werewolf would recognise the sounds, and other werewolves would be otherwise occupied with their own transformations. Plus, it would seem suspicious if a house meant for rowdy ghosts was silent all the time.

“Anything else?” The professor jerked him back to the situation at hand.

“Just one. What do I tell my dormmates about my schedule? Actually, what do I tell them every month?”

“Those are two different questions, Mr. Lupin. But you can tell them that your parents had questions about the schedule. They are now all cleared up and you will have the same schedule as all the first year Gryffindors.”

Remus sighed in relief as Professor McGonagall continued, “As for every month, I suggest inventing a sick muggle relative that no one would know of, possibly your mother, or someone on her side of the family? That would match with what your professors were told.” He nodded, and she suggested that maybe his mother was sickly often with an incurable muggle illness, and whenever she caught something worse than a cold he needed to go see her.

“Be sure to mix this up with other excuses or your friends will get suspicious quickly,” she advised him. “And by all means, Lupin, never forget to come to the hospital wing.”

Remus nodded, like there was any way ever that he’d be able to forget about the full moon.

The meeting didn’t end until the end of everyone’s first class, so Remus decided he would go to Professor Flitwick at lunch to see what he had missed.

Behind already, he thought, cursing inwardly. When he joined the rest of the first years heading to the second class, which was apparently transfiguration with Professor McGonagall, he looked for James and Sirius in the small crowd. After a minute of searching, he saw them.

The two boys were bumping into each other on purpose as they walked, laughing and falling over each other. They would be fine if Remus left. Maybe instead of lying to them he could just drift away a little, and then they wouldn’t ask any questions? Please?

“Hey Remus,” James called to him as he and Sirius made their way over, “is your schedule OK? You’re still taking the same stuff as us right?”

“Oh yeah.” Remus reassured him quietly, though he felt sort of bad for lying about the whole thing, “My parents just had a couple questions. It’s all fixed now though.”

“Nice.” said Sirius, “You missed charms though, lucky duck.”

“I’d rather go to class, actually,” Remus said quietly.

Sirius rolled his eyes. “I know Loony, I know.”

“Did you just call me ‘Loony’?”

“Yes, why?”

“It’s weird. Please don’t call me that. Ever.”

“Well since you’re so nice about it, Loony is now your name.”

Remus sighed. “I suppose it could be worse.” Sirius started to nod enthusiastically before- “You could be calling me Sirius, after all.”

James cracked up at the stunned look on Sirius’ face. “Brilliant, Loony Lupin, Brilliant. Wow that does have a good ring to it, don’t you think Pete?”

“What?” Peter asked, as Remus noticed him standing nearby for the first time, “Oh. Sure, definitely!” Then he went back to watching the portraits, who were yelling advice to the first years as they passed. It was going to be a long day.

-------------M-------------

The classes were very interesting, despite the fact that it was mostly theory and they hadn’t learned anything yet. In Transfiguration, Professor McGonagall lectured them about how they would begin to turn objects into something else.

“Transfiguration is one of the most complex and difficult brands of magic,” she told them. “You would all do well to remember that. Anyone caught horsing around in my classroom will face harsh punishment faster than they can say ‘unfair.’ This is your warning.” With that she impressed them all quite thoroughly by transfiguring her desk into a pig and back.

All were excited to get started until they realized that it would take a very long time for them to be able to turn desks into pigs. Remus took detailed notes and managed to turn his match silver by the end of the lesson. Sirius did about the same as Remus, but James beat both of them by being the only one to fully complete the transfiguration. This earned him a rare smile and 20 points for Gryffindor from Professor McGonagall. Peter couldn’t get his match to change at all, and despite Professor McGonagall’s assurances that it was perfectly normal, he became more and more frustrated until he just jabbed his wand at the match angrily and it burst into flames.

After Transfiguration the first years went to Defense Against the Dark Arts.

“I’ll be the best at this too, you watch!” James claimed, “My dad is Head Auror.”

“Sure, James. Good thing you’re so humble about it too,” Remus said.

“I might as well just call it Defense Against My Dark Family,” Sirius said, “as that’s pretty much what I’ll use it for.” No one argued very hard against him. “Maybe I can learn how to curse my mother every time she talks…” Sirius mused, grinning wickedly.

By the time they had finished the class, all three were feeling a bit discouraged. Professor Vincent, the new Defense teacher, was very loud and very strict. She waved and shouted and walked to get her points across, and Remus took good notes, but wasn’t sure what the point of it all was.

Professor Vincent seemed completely focused on telling adventurous (but a bit horrifying) stories of aurors instead of actually teaching them anything. Peter, who was sitting on his right, looked a little intimidated and dumbfounded by the teacher, but James and Sirius seemed to be about as bored as Remus was after ten minutes. Remus didn’t know how either of them was planning to pass a test because neither one took any notes at all.

“C’mon, Remus. You didn’t even miss anything, whaddya want to do more work for?” Sirius whined at lunch time. “You were at a meeting. Flitwick won’t mind.”

“I mind, Sirius!” Remus tried again. The argument had been going in circles as he ate his lunch, but now he was almost finished. “I hate falling behind when it’d be easy to catch up. Besides, you said you didn’t even get any homework in Charms, so I’ll just practice whatever spell you did a few times in the common room. Then I won’t have to worry about it.”

“We could teach you the spell, Remus,” James suggested. “That way you don’t have to miss half of lunchtime and we can all practice a bit. It’s a win-win.”

“Well,” Remus hesitated, “alright. But you have to promise me you won’t leave out any instructions for the spell.”

“Deal,” said James and Sirius at the same time, simultaneously sticking out their hands to shake.

“And that was just creepy.” Remus told them, crossing his arms and shaking both offered hands at once.

“Cool. We should practice so we can do it more often,” said James.

“Agreed,” said Sirius.

“Hey, wait!” Remus interrupted, sensing a possible disturbance in his universe, “I’ll help you practice if you promise to try not to annoy me all the time with it!”

“I knew you had a sense of humor from the moment we met,” James declared. Sirius just laughed.

Crisis averted.

--------------M----------------

After dinner, (which had the best of a little bit of everything, like the kind of good buffet that muggles can’t find anywhere) the first years were finally finished with all their classes. Remus was in the common room looking over James’ charms notes so he would be prepared for class the next day when James himself came over.

“Did you forget that me and Sirius already taught you that spell, and that you already managed to cast it (which most of the class hasn’t yet), despite the fact that you haven’t even been to a Charms class yet?”

“Well excuse me for wanting to do well. I seem to remember more twin-speaking practice than actual tutoring,” Remus muttered good-naturedly.

“Hey, you can’t yell at us for that!” James cried, dramatically looking offended. “It takes three to practice twin-ing you know.”

Remus rolled his eyes, but gave up for the moment. Neither James nor Sirius seemed to do ‘valid points’ very often or very well. “Why did you come back down? I thought you were ‘retiring after all that hard tutoring.’”

James glanced around as if looking for eavesdroppers. “Prankster meeting. Our dormitory. Right now.” He hissed, despite the fact that no one was listening and he could have said it normally.

‘What if I say… no,” Remus told him. He did not phrase it like a question.

“C’mon Remus! We’ll let you be the secret mastermind of the group! We voted on it.” Remus sighed as he realized that arguing with James was pointless.

“What about Peter?” He asked, glancing towards the fireplace where Peter was sitting. “Why don’t you go invite him? Or he might come in while we’re in there.”

“We don’t dare invite him,” James replied, “he might turn us in to the teachers. If he comes in just look like you’re doing homework or something.”

Remus nodded. Not very creative, but effective. “How do you know that I won’t turn you in?” he asked curiously.

James didn’t hesitate. “You have a better sense of humor. Peter doesn’t look like he has an ounce of creativity in his body. Now come on!” Remus heaved a big sigh and followed him up the stairs. Maybe he could convince them to give up on this idea, or at least keep him out of it.

When he and James arrived in their dorm, Remus immediately noticed that James and Sirius had piled all of their pillows on the floor to sit on.

“Oh good, you’re here. Now we can begin the meeting.” Sirius said in a very business-like manner. After James felt the need to pull Remus down onto one of the pillows, Sirius continued, “We are gathered here today to decide upon the motives and goals of our pranking group. We also need to set some basic rules.”

“Um…” Remus interrupted, “I thought pranksters didn’t follow the rules. And why do you even want me to be in this group anyway?

“Oh come on, Remus.” Sirius implored him, “You’re smart. A nerd, I can already tell. Without you our pranks will all be stupid and we won’t be able to pull them off anyway. Please?”

Remus sighed. Of course they wouldn’t want him to really be in their club. They just needed someone who would plan the pranks so that they would work. Maybe it was better this way. He could plan their pranks and they could get along reasonably well, but they would also stay out of his business. He didn’t want anyone’s pity for a fake sick relative, and he definitely didn’t want anyone’s prejudice for being a werewolf.

“As long as we try as hard as possible to not get caught. My mom would kill me. Also, I won’t do anything dangerous.”

“Duh.” James told him, “It’s not like we want to hurt anyone. We’ll be the pranksters of good cheer, bringing happiness and joy to the school!”

“Good idea James!” Sirius exclaimed, grinning.

Remus thought about asking if Peter could join again, but then he thought about what James had said and what he know of Peter so far: Peter was nervous and a little clumsy. He was afraid to break any rules for fear of losing points. True, Remus was nervous and afraid of losing points too, but he was the opposite of clumsy (he had walked along the top ridge of his roof once) and he figured that James and Sirius really wanted to just be a duo, with him as some sort of planner-for-hire or something. Maybe Remus would bring it up later if both he and Peter got a little more confident.

“So anyway, rules for pranking.” James said. “Remus is in the group whether he likes it or not, and we will follow his conditions as some of our rules.”

“Good enough for you Remus?” Sirius asked, then continued without waiting for an answer, “Of course it is. Also Remus, pranksters will break rules, but what we’re going to make is more along the lines of a prankster code, if you will. I propose that each rule should be supported by at least two of the group.”

“Seconded,” said James.

“I agree. Motion passed,” sighed Remus. Resistance was futile, after all.

“Very good,” Sirius continued, “I also propose that no one can turn each other in for pulling pranks. That is (ahem) rude and uncalled for.” He said the last bit in a dead impression of Professor McGonagall. James and Remus laughed.

“Seconded,” said Remus.

“Thirded.” said James.

“Motion passed!” Sirius exclaimed, “Off to a good start!”

Soon a spare bit of parchment was fetched from Remus’ bag to write down their list of rules, which became more and more outrageous as the evening wore on. “Pranksters can’t prank each other?” Sirius suggested.

“Too broad,” James decided, “what if we have a really good reason? What if we declare a prank war?!”

“True…” Sirius said, contemplating the issue.

“Sounds like we need a disclaimer,” Remus put in. “Other than in an official war… something like that.”

“Sounds good.” James agreed.

“Got it! That’s rule number five now, guys. What else should we include?” Sirius asked the room at large. The rule-making commenced. Soon they were all just throwing out ideas that would somehow fit together:

“Pranksters will share,” Sirius began.

“Candy,” Remus jumped in.

“Money!” Sirius grinned at James.

“Our deepest secrets,” James put in, waggling his eyebrows and making Remus squirm and look away uncomfortably.

He could never share his deepest secrets. Despite the connections he was forming, Remus had really only known these two strange purebloods for a couple of days. They’d never accept him if they found out his secret, but could he really lie to them for so long? He’d make a mistake eventually.

Could Remus even tell them about the secret passage he’d found behind the portrait of the strange girl? He knew that they would use it to cause havoc, and honestly Remus had no idea where he’d been anyway. Maybe he’d tell them later if he could find it again. After all, this was the type of thing someone would share with maybe-possible-friends, not his… bigger secret.

“And living space.” James finished, jerking Remus back to the conversation.

Though he suddenly felt slightly sick, Remus made a valiant and speedy recovery. He didn’t want them to suspect, after all. “Girls however…” he began.

“Are guarded jealously,” Sirius smirked.

“And individually.” James finished hastily, He seemed quite determined to get that established, and Remus wondered if one of the girls had caught his eye. Teasing opportunities would be golden if one had. Now that he thought about it, it might have been that red-haired girl. He had seen James glance at her quite a few times during History before he had fallen asleep to Professor Binn’s droning on about goblin wars...

By the end of the meeting, Sirius had a completed list of prankster rules written on the parchment (to be followed on their honor). It said:

 

The Code of Pranksters (or at least of Gryffindor first years)

Goal: Be pranksters of good cheer, bringing happiness, joy, and excitement to the castle!

1. Each motion is passed by having support of at least two members
2. Don’t get caught
3. Nothing really dangerous
4. No one turns the others in
5. No ganging up on each other except for in an official Prank War --> I can’t wait! ~J
6. No causing lasting damage to anything unless the thing is deemed unimportant
7. Forcing Remus to have fun is required for all other members
8. Candy, Secrets, and possibly money and living space are all shared between members. Girls, however, are guarded jealously and individually --> *cough* James *cough.* R.

Pranks must be enjoyed!!!

This list is signed and approved of by: Sirius Black, James Potter, Remus Lupin,

“Now we can start planning our first prank!” James excitedly declared.

“Can’t it wait ‘till morning?” Remus begged, “It’s nearly 11:00 already, and I don’t want to be late to classes tomorrow morning because of a stupid prank. You’re lucky Peter didn’t come in in the middle of our meeting. He must have fallen asleep in the common room.”

“Come on Remus! Remember rules seven and ten now!” Sirius grinned, elbowing him lightly. Remus just sighed, and went to bed, ignoring the protests and plans of the other boys as they followed.

Chapter Text

Remus gradually woke up the next morning as the sunlight from the window fell on his face. He blinked a few times, then rolled over and groaned as the bright sun assaulted his eyes.

“Happy Thursday everybody!” James yelled, just as the alarm clock went off. Obviously, James was one of those annoying morning people. “It’s a great big school out there and somewhere downstairs is a breakfast for us!”

“Honestly James,” Sirius groaned, “Do you enjoy being a morning person and waking up other non-morning-people?”

“Yes.” James shot back, smugness evident in his voice. Great.

Remus rolled out of bed and got dressed behind the curtains that hung around his bed. It wouldn’t do for the others to see the scars and bite marks that littered his body. They’d guess his secret faster than he could say expelled. As he stretched on the way to the bathroom, he looked over the rest of the room and saw that Peter was still asleep.

“Look over there guys.” Remus told the others, “Peter must’ve found his way up here late last night. How is he still asleep after James yelled so loudly?”

“Well we can change that fast enough.” James grinned wickedly. Sirius gave a cry of delight at being able to wake up another person now that he was awake himself. He ran over, climbed on the bed next to Peter, and whacked him with a pillow. Peter didn’t stir.

“Wow.” James said, coming over in a slightly calmer manner, “He really is out isn’t he? How are we gonna wake him up? Anyone have any good evil plans?” Remus rolled his eyes and went to brush his teeth.

When he stuck his head out again, James and Sirius looked like they were still arguing. “Classic is the best way to go. I think we dump water on his face.”

“But I really want to give him a makeover!” Sirius cried, not even trying to keep his voice down anymore, “And this is the perfect opportunity!”

“How about you just do something to his hair and then dump water on him?” Remus suggested from the bathroom doorway, “Duh.”

James and Sirius looked at each other, then at Remus. Remus was almost starting to wonder if they were finally going to decide that they had had enough of him when James stood up straight and saluted. “Yes, Mr. Mastermind, sir!” Then he and Sirius both got some supplies and went to work.

Needless to say, the four Gryffindor first years were even later to breakfast the second morning of school than the first. The other difference was that Peter was dripping wet, except for his hair. Peter’s hair had enough toothpaste in it to make it stay in many elaborate twists and curls sticking up all over his head, courtesy of Sirius. He and James had done the deed, but Remus had provided the toothpaste and the hair styling tips (not that anyone knew that last part).

Lucky for us, Remus thought, Peter’s been a good sport about it. The boy had even agreed when Sirius spontaneously dared him to leave his hair that way so that the four of them could have any sort of time for breakfast. (Which Peter hurriedly scarfed down in order to have time to wash out his hair in the nearest bathroom anyway.)

While Peter was away de-toothpasting, the others spent some time planning their first big prank.

“What should we do?” Sirius asked quietly. “Our first prank needs to be cool, but simple. We haven’t learned a whole lot yet.”

“Stealing the House Tables so everyone has to sit on the floor?” James suggested.

“Nah. We don’t have anywhere to put them. Plus they’d be really hard to move or shrink,” Sirius decided, after some contemplation, “What if we graffitied the walls?”

“Too uncreative.” James told him, “We need something funny, but not stupid, that no one would ever think of doing.”

“What if we stole some of the furniture from the common room?” Remus suggested. “We could put it in our dorm and replace everything with illusions, which happen to be impossible to sit on.” James and Sirius stared at him for a moment, and then slowly began to grin.

“How did we forget that you’re a genius, Loony?” Sirius chuckled, “That’s brilliant!” Remus decided to ignore the use of his unwanted ‘nickname’. For now.

James was smiling too. “They shouldn’t be too hard to get. We can steal the best chairs and couches without a shrinking charm if we’re quiet, since shrinking charms aren’t until fourth year. What say you, Sirius?”

“I think it’s perfect,” said Sirius. “No one would suspect Gryffindor first years of doing something like that. We don’t know shrinking charms yet, and no one in their right mind would do this without them.”

“That only proves that we’re all mental,” Remus put in, rolling his eyes. “How are we going to hide the evidence if someone decides to check our dorm?”

They all chewed on that one for a minute. Finally, James’ eyes lit up.

“We’ll cover it up with another prank! A really stupid one! We can get something to trap our door with so that no one can get in!”

“Good,” Sirius nodded. “But what about when we want to get in or out?”

“My dad showed me a spell once that can detect who goes through a door,” Remus thought out loud. “I’d have to look up how to do it, but we could make it so only we can get in without getting pranked. He already taught me how to make simple illusions; they’re especially easy if they don’t have to have any weight on them.”

“How about we make paint fall on whoever opens the door, save us?” Sirius suggested happily. “That way no one will dare come in and look for the furniture!”

“Not the most creative, but effective!” James agreed. “It’s a plan! Paint shouldn’t be too hard to get. I bet that gamekeeper, Hagrid, has some nice red paint we could borrow. What say you guys?”

“Yeah.” Remus added. “Plus I know how to lock the door too. My dad played this great trick on my mom where he locked the door with a really obscure charm so that I couldn’t unlock it when she asked me to.”

“And you said you didn’t like pranks.” James glanced at him slyly.

“I did not.” Remus said. “I simply asked what would happen if I didn’t want to be in a pranking group.”

“While aren’t you sly.” Sirius said.

“Speaking of,” Remus realized, “won’t it be kind of suspicious that we were the ones to randomly borrow red paint from Hagrid?”

“Maybe…” James said thoughtfully, “But the point is to do a really obvious and stupid prank, so that no one suspects us of a big hard one. People will probably think that those twins in seventh year, Gideon and Fabian, are the ones that stole the furniture. I’ve heard they love pranks too. I bet we can ask for Hagrid’s paint safely enough, especially if we ask him not to mention it until the prank is set up.”

“Sounds good.” Sirius confirmed, “When shall we do the deed?”

“We should probably wait a while.” Remus told them, “After all, we need a chance to get the paint, and I need to look up that spell and learn it. I’m sure it’s in the library. Today is Thursday, so we can reveal the stupid prank on Wednesday and then steal some furniture next Friday night? We don’t want them to be too close together, and that way we won’t be late for classes the next day if we sleep in.”

“Perfect! It’s a date!” James declared. Remus just rolled his eyes at Sirius, who smirked.

“Now,” said Sirius, “who wants to recruit Peter to help us?”

“I nominate James!” Remus cried, and ran from the table before they could do anything about it.

------------M--------------

Finding the spell in the Library was easy. It was doing it that would be a problem. Remus had asked the others if they wanted to help him find it, but James and Sirius refused to go into the library unless absolutely necessary, and no one had told Peter about the prank yet. So Remus ventured into the library alone on a breezy Friday, not sure where to start looking.

The first thing that hit him was the smell. The Hogwarts library had a dusty, murky smell of ancient paper and carpet, along with the hazy smell of the lanterns that lit it. Several Ravenclaw students probably getting an early start on their weekend homework whispered quietly at a table a few meters away. The wrinkled, white-haired librarian sat at a desk across from the door. She looked as if a steady breeze would blow her off her feet. Remus remembered an older student saying that her name was Madam Whiverian.

Remus nervously walked up next to Madam Whiverian’s desk and stood awkwardly waiting for her to acknowledge him. She seemed to be writing in a record book about books currently checked out or in need of repair, but her writing was so messy that it really could have been anything. For all Remus knew, she was drawing a picture of a bookshelf. That’s how messy Madam Whiverian’s writing was.

“Done looking?” The old witch rasped. Remus jumped. He had been so busy trying to see what she had written that he hadn’t noticed her look up at him.

“Yes,” he told her, blushing, “Um… My name is Remus. I was wondering if you could help me find a spell.”

“You’ll have to be more specific, boy. What sort of spell are you looking for? What are the effects?”

“Well, I saw my dad use it once. It lets certain people through a door. If other people try to get through it does something to them. I think it’s a charm.” Remus waited expectantly. He hoped that this old woman still knew her way around the library. She seemed to be deep in thought, but then a smile appeared on her face.

“Yes I know the charm you are speaking of. What do you want to find it for, if I may ask?”

“I need it for when I get home,” Remus told her quickly. He felt bad for lying, but there was no way could he tell her what he really wanted the spell for. “My little cousin always sneaks into my room and steals my stuff. My dad said that if I could learn a not-dangerous spell at school to keep him out, then I could cast it on my door. Do you think I could make it drop paint on him?”

The old woman smiled a little mischievously. Apparently he had chosen a good excuse. “Yes, I know where I can help you.” She got up and scuttled around the library looking around. Finally, she pulled a rather moldy-looking maroon book off of one of the bottom shelves. She chuckled when she saw his face.

“The oldest books are usually the most helpful young man,” she told him wisely. “You’d best remember that.”

Remus nodded, and Madam Whiverian opened the book to a page somewhere near the middle. “Page 167 I believe,” she muttered. “Ah yes. Here it is. Door intruder detection charm. This might be rather difficult for a first year.” She glanced up at him looking a little worried.

“Don’t worry,” Remus told her. “My dad taught me how to do some stuff before I came, so I’m a little ahead.”

“Alright then,” she still looked unsure, but let it go. “You need to wave your want in a precise swish, loop, jab, flick, and say intromit-solum and the name of the person you want allowed through. You have to do that every time for whoever you want to be able to come in.”

“Thanks,” Remus said. He checked out the book.

Despite what Remus had told Madam Whiverian, he wasn’t at all sure that he would be able to learn this spell in time. They had decided to show off their door-trap on Wednesday so that no one would want to come in their dorm to check for furniture on Friday. It was already Tuesday afternoon. Remus had finished all of his homework and Hagrid had happily provided the red paint.

After they had explained the basic idea of the stupid prank, Hagrid had given them a perfect bucket of bright red paint. “Just make sure ter tell me all about it,” he had chuckled, a mischievous look in his eye. “I promise I won’t mention it ter anybody.”

All that was left was for Remus to learn this spell. And he just. Couldn’t. Get it. Finally, he conceded defeat on doing it alone and left the library to ask James and Sirius if they had any ideas.

Peter was sitting in the corner of the common room writing a letter to his mother, Remus saw, an ordeal which they had all learned took a lot of care. Apparently, Peter’s mother would become so worried about her little baby boy so easily that he had to be very careful what he put in his letters. His third-year cousin was helping Peter write, as the only other person in the school with first-hand experience with Peter’s mother. Remus waved at him, but didn’t think Peter even noticed as he walked past him and up to their dormitories.

James and Sirius eagerly took up the challenge when Remus explained the problem. None of the three boys liked to be told that they couldn’t accomplish something, so they all began practicing together, determined to get it right. Each of them tried to cast the spell on the door over and over with slightly different pronunciations and wand movements each time.

Finally, Remus accomplished the spell. It took a few tries, but he charmed the door to only let himself, Sirius, James, and Peter through the door unpainted. They were sure to get detention for this, Remus thought. How would he explain to his mother that he had accidentally befriended the biggest pranksters in first year?

“I’ve just thought of something,” said Sirius.

“Good for you mate. A new one for the record books.” Remus surprised both himself and the others when he said it out loud. James and Sirius stared at him for a moment before James burst out laughing.

“He got you good!” James cried, falling on someone’s bed as he did so. Remus blushed. He hadn’t meant to say that, it just sort of slipped out.

“Um… what were you saying, Sirius?”

“Oh yeah! The idea,” Sirius began again, looking pointedly at Remus. “Our prank won’t work unless someone who isn’t us tries to walk through the door. When they try to open it, it will stay locked thanks to Remus’ charm, and the doorway will drop paint on them.”

“Yeah, we already have that Sirius.” James told him, looking at Sirius strangely.

“But we need a way to convince someone to actually walk through our door!” Sirius steadfastly explained, “I mean, we’ve been here for over a week now, and how many people have come in here since the start of term? Only us. Why would someone else come in?”

“Because…” Remus trailed off. He didn’t know. How could they have missed this crucial detail in their first ever prank-that-was-covering-up-for-their-real-prank?

“I know!” James exclaimed, “I’ll ask that Evans girl to come up because I’m having trouble with…”

“Charms.” Remus told him, “she likes charms. Tell her you’re having trouble levitating something big, like the table, and want her advice because you saw that she was good at it.”

“Perfect!” Sirius grinned wickedly. “You actually did have trouble in Charms! And when she tries to get in the room after you, splat!”

“Do you think she’ll be mad at us?” Remus asked, “After all, we are targeting her specifically for no reason. Maybe we should apologize after?”

“Yeah whatever.” James was no longer paying attention. Sirius didn’t even answer; he was too busy levitating one of the beds in preparation for the real prank.

On Wednesday morning, James, Remus, and Sirius’ excitement had reached a fever pitch. They were all shaking with nerves and excitement for their first ever Cover-Up-For-A-Big-Prank Prank. Peter, having never actually been told about the coming prank on Lily Evans, couldn’t figure out what was wrong with them all and finally just left the breakfast table early to get to Charms. His befuddled and annoyed expression was hilarious.

“I had another idea for The Big One.” James whispered conspiratorially after they had finished stifling laughs, “People are going to figure out which things to avoid pretty quickly, so what if on Sunday night we switched things around again? We could do it on random nights throughout the whole year, or however long we wanted to, and nobody would ever know what was real and what wasn’t!”

Remus and Sirius nodded eagerly. “We’ll also have to switch around the day that we do it,” said Sirius, “Otherwise everyone will just avoid sitting in the common room on Saturdays.”

“Yeah,” added Remus, “and we can put up a message on the wall too. ‘Just to keep you on your toes!’ or something like that.”

“Sounds good. But we really should have something to sign it with. You know, a name for-” but he was cut off by Remus shushing loudly. Remus was sitting across from James and Sirius, so that he saw when someone was coming up from behind them. And Remus saw that two seventh years that looked like twins were coming toward them. One of them was carrying a basket. James and Sirius turned around to see who it was as well.

“Well, well, well,” said one. “What have we here?”

“Why Gideon I believe we have some ickle firsties here don’t you?” said the other with a grin and a wink to let them know he was kidding.

“Yes Fabian I do believe you’re right,” exclaimed Gideon, running a hand through his violently red hair. “Shall we introduce ourselves?”

Suddenly both of them bowed at the same time and exclaimed together, “We are Fabian and Gideon Prewett and we welcome you to our humble school!” Then Fabian handed them each a chocolate frog out of his basket, bid them good day, and the twins skipped off together.

“That was weird,” said James blankly staring at the others.

“What exactly just happened?” asked Sirius, with a look almost identical James’.

“I have no clue.” Remus answered, looking weirdly at the red-haired twins, who had sat back down a little ways away. Gideon and Fabian were laughing and talking with their friends, occasionally sending glances back at the four first years. He was suspicious.

“I love these things.” Sirius happily declared, munching on his chocolate frog. He seemed to have forgotten any suspicions he would have had in the face of chocolate.

“Me too. Do you have any Merlin? I can never seem to get him,” James said. But Sirius and Remus were both chewing contentedly, not paying attention in the least, though Remus was still looking suspiciously at the twins. So James just shrugged philosophically and shoved the whole frog in his mouth at once.

Remus looked back at his friends and raised an eyebrow. Sirius somehow had chocolate all over his face already, and James was laughing at him, already finished, having shoved the entire frog in his mouth. “You guys are gross, strange, and uncivilized. You know that right?” he told them.

“You know you love us Loony!” Sirius grinned, chocolate dribbling down his chin disgustingly. Is disgustingly even a word? I have been spending too much time with these idiots, Remus thought. Though it must be admitted that he did smile and take another bite of his chocolate. Remus loved chocolate. The smell wafted up to his nose and he sniffed dreamily. Then stopped.

“Guys this chocolate smells weird. I think those twins might have done something to it!”

Sirius sniffed his chocolate-covered fingers and looked at Remus like he was crazy. “What are you talking about? It smells normal to me.”

Remus shrugged and looked down. Being a werewolf gave him slightly stronger senses than the average person. Usually his senses of hearing and smell were impressive, especially right before a full moon. He didn’t think they would find him out from that though; little was known about werewolves except that they transformed on the full moon. This was mostly because almost all werewolves (including Remus) refused to register at the Ministry. Why would they? All that would happen was them facing official prejudice from the Ministry instead of unofficial prejudice from anyone that found out.

BANG! Remus was shocked from his thoughts by a loud noise, a strange tingling feeling, and sudden laughter from where Gideon and Fabian were sitting. It wasn’t long before he saw why.

James and Sirius (and presumably himself) were now the proud bearers of wrinkly gray skin, trunks that were about two feet long, and giant elephant ears. The all stared at one another for several loud ringing seconds. Remus was the first to start laughing quietly. Then he accidentally snorted and his new trunk made a weird little honking noise that set James and Sirius off. Soon both of them were cracking up too.

“That is one of the most strange-but-hilarious things I’ve ever seen. How did they do it?” Remus managed through his laughs.

“You’re one to talk!” James cried. “You look like Loony Lupin the Wonder Elephant!”

“Thanks.” Remus said, still laughing.

“Just what is going on here?” Professor McGonagall had come. She stood sternly looking around for the cause of the trouble. Remus found it rather ironic that they had been pranked before they could pull their own prank, but quickly dismissed the irrelavant thought.

“Gideon and Fabian,” Remus managed between gasps of laughter, “They got us good.”

Professor McGonagall's mouth had become a thin line. Remus could hear her muttering “Evil Twins… punishment… their sister… always the first years!” as she stalked off to find said ‘Evil Twins’.

Those twins had better run. Remus thought, as he showed his friends the way to the hospital wing, which Professor McGonagall had shown him for his transformations, Or I think McGonagall might just hex them into oblivion.

Chapter Text

Professor McGonagall had not killed the Prewett twins. She hadn’t even hexed them. She had, however, given them detention for a month and forced them to give Madam Pomphrey the antidote, as Remus, Sirius, and James found out pretty quickly. There were no lasting effects other than the terrible aftertaste left over from the potion they all had to drink. They weren’t even late for Charms.

Peter, however, was nowhere to be found.

He had said that he was leaving for Charms early at breakfast, that’s why he hadn’t been elephanted. But when the three soon-to-be pranksters showed up ten minutes late for Charms (with permission, mind you) Peter wasn’t there. Apparently, no one had seen him since he left breakfast.

Remus, James, and Sirius were worried of course. Just because Peter hadn’t made many friends didn’t mean that they didn’t care that he was missing. Not at all.

As Remus took notes for Peter in class (they were learning the theory being the Lumos charm), the three Gryffindors passed notes about where the missing boy might be.

Back to the common room? -S
He had his bag at breakfast... Swimming in the lake? ~J
He can’t swim. R.
Well he already left the Great Hall… -S
And he isn’t asleep in the Common Room… ~J
Is he lost? R.
Come on! It’s been a whole week. He should at least be able to get to class! ~J
If anyone was going to get lost it would be P. -S
Then why’d he go all alone? ~J
Because you were being annoying. R.
ME? Annoying?? I’m hurt! How could you say that? ~J
Because it’s true? -S
Hey! You’re just as annoying as me! ~J
Am not! -S

“Mr. Potter! Mr. Black! Do you have something you wish to share with the class?” a squeaky voice demanded. Remus gulped. Professor Flitwick was striding closer to their table. He must have seen them passing notes. How much trouble would there be? Would Remus get detention? The paddle? Expulsion through note passing?

“Sorry Professor!” James gave his most charming smile (which, Remus knew, was crooked on purpose). “We were just wondering if anyone had seen Peter recently. We saw him leave for class at breakfast, but now he’s not here.”

“Mr. Pettigrew will be notified that he is not to be absent again without excuse. His absence, however, does not give you the right to pass notes in my class. Now give that note to me, Mr. Black, and both of you show me the correct want movement for the Lumos charm.”

James and Sirius glanced at each other, and then at the floor. “We don’t know, Sir,” James muttered. His face was turning the color of a plumb underneath his glasses, but Sirius somehow looked supremely unconcerned.

“I see,” said Professor Flitwick. “Perhaps Mr. Lupin can show us instead.”

Remus bit his lip and glanced down at his notes. Then, a bit too nervous to look at the faces staring at him from around the room, he flicked his wand, making sure to use his wrist in the motion and go up diagonally.

“Correct Mr. Lupin,” Professor Flitwick squeaked. “Let’s hope your table mates pay more attention in the future.” He smiled kindly at Remus, and then walked back to the front of the room. “Now the Lumos charm has dozens of interesting…”

Peter still hadn’t shown up by the end of Charms, and Remus was getting really worried now. By unspoken agreement, he, James, and Sirius went out together and asked Professor McGonagall if they could search for him.

“I sincerely doubt that Mr. Pettigrew is in any danger, boys,” said Professor McGonagall. “Most likely he is wandering the halls and will be found shortly by a prefect or teacher, who patrol the halls the first week for just such occasions as this. I would wait and check your common room after this class.” With those words she strode to the front of the classroom and began the lesson.

“Peter couldn’t have been lost for this long,” James whispered.

“Yeah, there’s no way,” Sirius agreed.

“Even if he was lost for all of Charms, someone should have found him and brought him to this class, right?” Remus added, “Unless he got sick. But he didn’t come in to the Hospital Wing when we were there after the elephanting.”

“Maybe we should check Gryffindor tower after class,” James suggested.

“And the Hospital Wing.” Remus said, “You never know.”

“If he doesn’t show up by lunchtime, I’m going to search the whole castle for him.” Sirius declared. Just a little too loudly.

“James Potter and Sirius Black! Keep your mouths shut or I will have to put you in detention! 5 points from Gryffindor.” Both James and Sirius muttered darkly and glanced at Remus, but no one could protest what McGonagall decided, and they didn’t tell on him. Now they would just have to wait for the end of the lesson so they could look for Peter.

As he thought about different places that he knew in the castle, Remus’ gut suddenly lurched. He had almost forgotten about the passage that he had found when he was lost on the first day. What if Peter had gotten trapped in a passageway and couldn’t find his way out?

“As you can see, turning a popsicle stick into a pencil is much more complicated than turning a toothpick into a needle because…

Never had a Transfiguration class gone so slowly for Remus before.

----------------M--------------

Peter, as it turned out, was peacefully doing homework in the common room.

“There you are!” James shouted happily, making Peter jump and drop his quill, “We were worried! What are you doing here for? You missed Transfiguration and Charms!”

“Um… sorry,” Peter stammered. “I just… got lost. I came back up here to get my schedule before Charms but then I-” he started wringing his hands, “-I didn’t know how to get to Charms or Transfiguration from here so I just… um... stayed.” Remus didn’t buy it. Neither did James or Sirius. Peter was not a very good liar.

Sirius folded his arms. “Nice try. Now where were you really?”

Peter quavered for a moment, seeming to battle with himself before replying, “Th-The Slytherins don’t like me very much. They n-noticed that I was all alone and then caught me and-” He didn’t finish, but Remus saw the bruise on his arm before he pulled down his sleeve.

“WHAT?” James cried, “They can’t do that! Tell McGonagall, tell Dumbledore, do something!”

“I can’t!” Peter cried miserably. “The professors will need proof and I don’t have any. If they found out that I told, I don’t know what-”

“We’ll get them,” Sirius growled. “I hate bullies. Those idiots are gonna get it so bad when I-”

“No,” Remus interrupted. “We have to be smarter than that. These are Slytherins, remember? Peter,” turning back to the chubby boy, “do you even know who attacked you?”

Peter tearfully shook his head. “They were all older, I think.” This seemed to take the wind out of James and Sirius’ sails, as they couldn’t get revenge when they didn’t know who to get revenge on.

“We’ll just have to stick together whenever we’re going anywhere,” Remus concluded. “I bet they won’t try to bully you if everyone sticks together.”

“Yeah,” James agreed, “they won’t dare go after you while we’re here!”

“If I see any of them trying I’ll hex them where they stand,” Sirius agreed. Oh well, at least Sirius probably wouldn’t be randomly getting revenge on any Slytherins. Hopefully.

Remus, Sirius, and James stuck by Peter on the way to all of the rest of their classes that day. He sat with them at dinner that evening, so they couldn’t discuss the prank planned for that night, but if it kept Peter from being bullied the others were happy to help in any way they could. Peter wasn’t very loud or outgoing, or particularly funny or charming, and Remus found himself sometimes almost forgetting that Peter was there. As the chubby boy started to get more confident, however, Remus found that Peter made pretty good conversation and was eager to make friends with James, Sirius, and himself. Peter even joined them studying in the common room, though apparently he wasn’t the best at lessons. He also seemed to hate studying, much to Remus’ dismay.

“I’m pretty sure that there’s going to be a Herbology quiz on Friday. Do you know all the information, Peter?” Remus asked.

“Oh,” Peter’s face fell, “do we have a quiz? I suppose I’ll be fine. I can just read through my notes later…” and then he went back to sleepily staring at the fire. Remus sighed, resigning himself to the fact that he would be the only one to do well in Herbology on Friday.

Suddenly, his ears pricked up as he heard James’ cue for him and Sirius to go to the dorm.

“Hey… Evans, right?” Glancing over, Remus saw James approaching the red-headed girl like they’d planned. Locking eyes with Sirius, who was sitting near him and had previously been scribbling furiously at his Transfiguration homework, Remus nodded toward James and Evans.

“Phase One.” He mouthed. Then out loud, “I’m going to go up to the dorm, Peter.” Remus picked up his bag, “See you.” Peter nodded and began packing up his potions things.

“I’ll be up in a minute. I just need to finish this…” Peter took out a blank parchment and looked over at Sirius. “What was the Transfiguration homework again?”

“Why transfiguring things made with multiple substances is more complicated than things made with only one substance,” Sirius rattled off, finishing his essay with a flourish and putting away his quill. “Done. Plus my mother would have a fit if she could see this handwriting. Wait up Remus!”

Chuckling, the two boys made it to the dorm only seconds before James and his new ‘study buddy,’ otherwise known as Lily Evans, prank victim number one. Remus held his breath as James completed phase two: Get Evans to the Dorm.

“So you see,” the girl was explaining, “it’s really all about intent. You have to really”- she stepped over the threshold-“focus-” The paint fell.

SPLAT

For one frozen moment, everyone stared at Evans. Gloppy red paint covered her auburn hair and thin shoulders. There were almost as many flecks of red paint on her face as there were freckles. Her once-black robes were now closer to maroon. A very wet and drippy maroon.

Shakily, she touched her robes and looked at her fingers. Then she looked up at them, murder in her eyes. “JAMES POTTER!! YOU PLANNED THAT, DIDN’T YOU?!? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO ME??”

Remus winced at the sheer volume an enraged redhead could achieve, and started inching toward the bathroom, discretely grabbing something from his drawer as he went.

“AND THAT IDIOT SIRIUS HELPED YOU, DIDN’T HE? HONESTLY, YOU TWO!! STRUTTING AROUND THE HALL AND PRANKING INNOCENT BYSTANDERS!! YOU MUST THINK YOU’RE SO GREAT! UGH! Boys…” She stormed off muttering, her face red and flushed (even without the help of the bright red paint), before any of the boys could do more than stare after her, frozen in ringing silence.

A puddle of paint was left on the floor, surrounded by small flecks that had flown out of Evans’s hair during her furious tirade. Red footprints led away toward the common room, where they could hear echoes of her voice still yelling. In all the chaos, no one had noticed Remus, and in the sudden silence, he placed his camera back in his trunk behind his back.

But he did feel a twinge of guilt about it now that the prank had happened. Had the tear he had noticed in Evans’ eye been from yelling, or from paint fumes? Or had they really hurt the girl with their prank?

“Hey wait a minute! She didn’t say anything about Remus!” Sirius exclaimed suddenly. “She must not think he helped with the prank!”

“Secret mastermind, remember?” Remus grinned. “I’m too nice and studious to help you two troublemakers.”

“Aw come on, Loony,” Sirius whined, “you planned the whole thing and we get in trouble?”

“Not the whole thing! And pranking was you and James’ idea in the first place!”

“You know…” James interrupted the argument. Remus and James turned to see him still frozen near the doorway, his cheeks tinged with pink, “she is really pretty isn’t she?”

Remus saw Sirius open his mouth, but before anything could be said to that astonishing statement, Peter appeared at the door. “Um… can I come in, or will I get painted too?” he asked a little hesitantly.

“You’re good,” Sirius told him, “we made it so that us four could go in and out unharmed.”

Peter did not look reassured.

“It really is okay,” Remus added quietly. Peter nodded jerkily, and closing his eyes, stepped through the door. When nothing happened, he slumped in relief, muttered, “I’m getting ready for bed,” and scurried off.

----------------M--------------

On Thursday, the day after what would go down in history as The First Evans Prank, Sirius and James were awarded their first ever detention. It had only taken them until the second week of school.

Professor McGonagall had been furious when Evans told her about the prank. Unfortunately for James and Sirius, she had indeed thought it was only them behind the prank, and they were honor-bound to not tattle on Remus. Neither Professor McGonagall nor Lily Evans ever considered that quiet, uncertain Remus Lupin might have had anything to do with it. Even Peter didn’t know about that.

“I’m quiet. I’m shy. I always get the answers right in class when I raise my hand. No one would ever think that I helped you plan pranks.” Remus told a slightly sullen James that morning during Charms. Plus I get less detention time this way, he thought. And my parents don’t get notified about it either.

“I suppose,” James said, “but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

“Yeah,” Sirius jumped in from the other side of the table, “it’s completely unfair. The pranking mastermind doesn’t get in trouble for his own pranks!”

Remus was about to point out that Sirius had suggested the paint prank and James had suggested the victim, but at that moment Professor Flitwick walked by. He had been helping Peter in the back of the room because the poor boy still hadn’t mastered the levitation charm. Apparently Flitwick had decided to let Peter practice on his own so that the professor could monitor his other students.

“Working hard, are we boys?” he asked in a tone that suggested that they better start working now if they weren’t already doing so.

“Yes professor. I- We were just discussing how this charm seems to be a different type altogether than the wingardium leviosa one we learned before.”

“Is that so, Mr.Lupin?” At Remus’ earnest nod, the short professor looked at Sirius. “And would Mr. Black care to explain what you were telling him? I’m sure he was paying attention to your explanation, yes?”

“Um… well… because,” Sirius started, looking unsure and a little guilty, “this charm makes light come from the wand, but the other one affected an object, right?”

“That is correct, Mr. Black,” said Professor Flitwick, raising his eyebrows. He didn’t seem to have expected the right answer. “Now would you and Mr. Potter here please show me the charm?”

“Ok,” Sirius mumbled, as both he and James tried the spell. “Lumos!” Sirius’ wand lit decently, but James’ flickered before going out.

Frustrated, the first-year tried again. “Lumos! Lumos! Why doesn’t it stay lit? Lumos!”

“Lumos.” Remus tried, flicking his wand in the motion that Professor Flitwick had made them practice for the whole day yesterday. To his slight surprise, his wand lit with a steady yellow light, just like his mom’s flashlight at home. Perfect.

Remus loved how it felt when he did something right, like maybe he was just as good as everyone else after all. Of course, no one had ever specifically told him that werewolves weren’t as good as normal people, but he knew it was something everyone thought. It was nice to prove them wrong.

“See if you can listen to Mr. Lupin this time around, Mr. Potter. I’m sure he will be able to lend a hand.” With that, Professor Flitwick smiled kindly at shy little Remus Lupin and walked off. He seemed to think that the quiet boy had been trying to explain the spell to James and Sirius, but that they were not listening, and therefore didn’t know what they were doing. Remus grinned.

“Well it works for you!” James cried, “why isn’t it working for me?”

“Do it again James. What are you doing differently than me?” Remus watched as James tried the spell. He said the incantation correctly, and his flicked his wand the right way, but something was off.

“I think you might need to flick your want earlier. Right now you’re saying ‘lu’ flick ‘mos.’ You need to flick at the same time that you say ‘lu.’ Like this:” Remus did the spell again. His wand lit up correctly again.

“I don’t see any difference between yours and his, Remus,” Sirius said, “except that James’ doesn’t work. I think yours might even be brighter than mine was. Who knew?”

“Well, he is the mastermind,” James said doubtfully. “Here goes nothing: Lumos!” James’ wand flared with light. It was a bit dimmer than Remus’ had been, but just as good as Sirius’.

“Ha! It worked!” James crowed. He seemed genuinely excited that the spell was successful, so it was a good thing that they weren’t going to be reprimanded for making noise. Charms class was always such a flurry of noise and movement; that was why they had been having a pranking conversation in it in the first place.

Grinning at his… friends, (he supposed that they really were friends now,) Remus happened to catch a glimpse of red hair in the front of the room and felt another pang of guilt. Evans had been the first one to get both charms right in class so far, and he felt bad for upsetting her with their prank. Maybe he would apologize to her, for James and Sirius of course, after class.

Turning back to his friends, Remus saw Peter just sitting down nearby. “How’d it go, Peter?” he asked his dormmate.

“I finally got it!” Peter grinned happily. “Now I just have to learn today’s charm and I’ll be all caught up!”

“I can teach you all about it, of course,” James declared in an overly pompous voice. “I’m practically the expert.” Remus and Sirius stifled laughs at Peter looked at James the way that fans of that new singer, Celestina Warbeck, probably looked at her.

Class ended just as Peter had gotten the tip of his wand to flicker. Promising to catch up with his friends for Herbology, Remus hung back and looked for red hair. Evans wasn’t hard to find. After packing up her quills and parchment and bidding goodbye to Professor Flitwick, she headed for the door. Remus caught her eye.

As she made her way over and they began to walk toward the greenhouses, Remus was struck with a small panic attack. He was talking to a girl. Girls were weird and sensitive about strange things! Girls smelled like flowers and traveled in packs and had their ears pierced!

Plus, Evans was smart. She would probably guess his condition a zillion times faster than James or Sirius. (Not that they weren’t smart- just oblivious.)

Remus’ mind went blank.

“Hey… you’re Evans?” he mumbled.

“Yes. And you’re Remus, right?” her tone was neutral, but he saw her eyes dart over to James’ and Sirius’ retreating backs. She had green eyes.

“Yeah,” Remus said awkwardly. “I um… just wanted to say sorry about that prank that got pulled on you yesterday.”

Evans brightened a little. “You did?”

“Well yeah,” he muttered. “You seemed pretty upset about it. James and Sirius just thought that it would be a good laugh.”

Evans huffed. “Those two are idiots. I swear, if they did that just because I’m a muggleborn…” Then suddenly she glanced fearfully at Remus, plainly afraid she had offended him by talking about his friends that way.

“It was a stupid prank,” Remus told her, “but it wasn’t because you’re a muggleborn. My mom’s a muggle, and we’re not very well off, but they haven’t treated me any differently.”

Evans sighed. “Well… I suppose.” But he could tell that she was just refraining from insulting them again after he had defended them. Suddenly, her eyes lit up. “I just had a brilliant idea!”

“Should I be worried,” joked Remus. She laughed and slapped him lightly on the arm. Him. Like they were friends.

“Remus! I was just thinking that you could warn me when I’m about to be pranked!”

Remus bit his lip. James and Sirius might get pretty mad at him if they figured out he was giving Evans information. He didn’t want to break his fragile new friendships with them. On the other hand, Evans was really friendly. Their list pranking rules didn’t forbid him from warning the victim… Could he be friends with Evans? Or was she sharp enough to figure out his condition quickly, after which she would surely drop him.

Seeing the conflicted look on his face, Evans guessed correctly what he was worried about. Or part of it, anyway. “I get that you don’t want to tattle on your friends,” she assured him, “but what if we made some sort of signal so that I know something’s coming?”

“Brilliant,” Remus cracked a grin. “I won’t be telling on them, but you’ll know when something’s up. I won’t be able to warn you about everything, mind.”

“Of course not,” Evans agreed. “One, that would be quite suspicious. And two, I get it if they keep some of their plans top secret, you know?”

“Perfect,” Remus agreed, just as they reached the greenhouses. “So… truce, Evans?” he stuck out his hand in a show of courage.

“Truce,” said she, grabbing his hand and giving it a firm shake. “And you can call me Lily.” Then she walked ahead of him into Greenhouse 1, where they would be wrestling plants with the newly appointed, and aptly named, Professor Sprout for the next hour.

Truce.

Remus followed her.

Chapter Text

While waiting in anticipation for a large-scale prank that will be pulled the coming night, here is a list of things to do and not to do. By Remus Lupin.

1. DO: act normally in class. (note: saying “act normally” usually has the opposite effect)
2. DO: let James do all the talking to teachers. They love him.
3. DO NOT: let Sirius talk to anyone. Ever.
4. DO: attempt to control both James and Sirius (they tend to start giggling madly at any given time)
5. DO NOT: try to talk them completely out of a prank. It just gets bigger. (note: talking them down to smaller pranks works much better)

--M--

“That Herbology quiz was a killer!” Sirius groaned as he, James, and Remus walked to Transfiguration from the greenhouses on Friday. “When did we even learn that stuff?”

“Well, we learned about the Devil’s Snare on-”

“That was a rhetorical question, Loony!”

“I didn’t think it was that hard, Sirius,” James grinned, putting his arm around his friend’s shoulders. “All you had to do was listen when Sprout was blathering on about her plants.”

“Yeah, but I don’t care about plants!” Sirius smacked his forehead, “I want to be a curse-breaker when I grow up. Curse breakers don’t care about Herbology, it’s boring!”

James looked a little offended. “I don’t think Herbology is very cool either, but it’s still not hard to listen to. Though some things are much more exciting...” he raised his eyebrows and grinned suggestively.

“Speaking of exciting,” Sirius grinned broadly and lowered his voice, “we still haven’t come up with a name. I need to take some credit for the fabulous prank we’re pulling tonight!”

“Oh yeah!” James whispered. “I thought maybe… The Troublesome Trio? Or maybe The Agitators. Loony?”

“Troublesome Trio is a little uncreative,” Remus mused, “and I don’t know if agitation is quite what we’re looking for. What about… The Rabble-Rousers?

“No, I don’t like that either,” Sirius muttered. Suddenly his face lit up. “I’ve got it! The Marauding Miscreants of Mischief!”

Remus raised an eyebrow. James tried to do the same, but he just ended up raising both eyebrows and looking either very shocked or very awake. “Isn’t that a little long?” Remus asked after a beat.

“Yeah,” James looked thoughtful, “but we could shorten it. How does ‘The Marauders’ sound to you?”

Remus considered. “Sure,” he finally said. “We’ll sign the prank ‘From The Marauders.’”

“And now there’s only one thing left to do,” Sirius proclaimed airily.

“What’s that?” asked James.

“Tell Peter. Not it!”

“Not it!” James cried quickly.

“Really guys?” Remus moaned, “can’t we just tell him together?”

“Nope!” Sirius sang. “Go tell him, Loony!”

Grumbling, Remus walked ahead of his friends to Peter, who was looking back a little confusedly, but staying in sight. Presumably, he was still worried about the Slytherin bullies.

“Hey Peter, I need to tell you something,” Remus whispered. He could feel James and Sirius smirking at his back from behind them as he walked next to Peter.

“What is it, Remus?” Peter’s innocent eyes looked at him a little suspiciously. After walking with them for a few days it was pretty obvious, even to dull Peter, that Remus had helped with the First Evans Prank.

“Listen,” Remus muttered, “there’s going to be another prank tomorrow. I wanted to warn you: don’t sit on the furniture in the common room on Saturday morning.”

“Why would- you know what? I don’t even want to know. But why are you telling me?”

Remus hesitated. “Well, you would have found out that something was up anyway. I know you saw those two giggling during Herbology. And you seem like a decent guy, so I wanted to give you a heads-up. Just please don’t tell anyone.”

“No problem,” Peter smiled a little, “thanks, Remus.”

“And another thing: don’t be surprised if some of the common room furniture ends up in our dorm.”

Peter stopped and stared at Remus, opening his mouth to reply when-

“Transfiguration next!” James practically shouted, “I’m so brilliant in this class!”

The two rowdy boys came up and joined them, surrounding Peter to protect him from any ill-meaning Slytherins.

“Listen, mate, just because you got ‘O’s on our first two practical lessons does not mean-”

“Come on, Sirius! I got ‘O’ for ‘Outstanding,’ meaning I’m at least much better than you, Mr. I-resent-getting-an-E.”

“I do not resent getting an ‘E!’ I’m just annoyed that I did just as well as you, but you got a better grade.”

“I did way better than you, Black! My toothpick turned into a needle with an eyehole-thingy and everything! Yours looked like a toothpick with silver paint!”

“Guys!” Remus said. “We’re here.”

“Loony!” Sirius cried, “why didn’t you say so?” and he put his arm around Remus and led him into the classroom.

Remus stood frozen for a moment. And then he smiled.

He was still smiling as James got back and ‘E’ on his Transfiguration essay and Sirius only got an ‘A’, earning many grumbles and complaints from Sirius, but none loud enough for the strict professor to actually hear.

----M----

That night, the prank was pulled. Remus felt a rush of excitement and nerves in his stomach as they silently and carefully levitated the furniture up the stairs to their dorm. Sirius took the couch in front of the fire that the seventh years always claimed… James: the gushy armchair that Evans liked… Remus: the fourth year girls’ favorite sofa…

In one heart-stopping moment, Sirius’ control slipped. In the darkness, he tripped over the last step and caught himself against the wall. He lost his focus and the couch he was levitating began to fall.

“Sirius!” James whisper-shouted. Remus was frozen in fear.

The couch was millimeters from crashing down the stairs when Sirius caught it again. All three boys breathed a sigh of relief. When all of the furniture they had moved was safely in the dorm with a still-sleeping Peter Pettigrew, they fell on it in a fit of relieved, but silent, laughter.

It was perfect.

“All right, Loony,” James whispered in the dark, “you’re the one who knows that funny illusion charm. Have at it.” Remus gulped and nodded. It was up to him now.

He tiptoed down the stairs extra carefully for the last time, James and Sirius on his tail. HIs heart pounded at every footfall. Remus was sure that someone would hear the sound of their breathing, or of his beating heart. There! He had made it to the bottom.

Keeping a strong picture of the sofa in his head and pointing his wand where it had been, Remus whispered “Dicturum puto” and held his breath.

After a shivering second of silence, a perfect copy of the sofa appeared. “Brilliant,” Sirius whispered, waving his hand through the illusion.

“It’s perfect,” James agreed.

After successfully replacing all the furniture, Remus, James, and Sirius searched for places to put their message. Finally settling on the back of the Fat Lady’s portrait where everyone would see it (James’ idea), Sirius wrote: “Love: The Marauders” in surprisingly good cursive handwriting. When asked, he stated that his mother made him learn to write ‘properly,’ and he’d rather stick quills in his eyes than make her proud. Remus and James assured him that using totally different handwriting while signing a prank would definitely do the opposite of making his mother proud.

The next morning, the newly named Marauders went down breakfast early, and then to the common room to view the results of their work.

Remus sat at a desk and chair that they hadn’t stolen and worked on his Defense essay. James, Sirius, and Peter had been horrified when he told them that he would be working on it this early, but this way he had a non-suspicious reason to be sitting in the common room. Peter sat near him, writing his weekly letter to his mother. James and Sirius refused to do homework on a Saturday, so they just lurked in the corners of the room and waited for people to come and sit down. Remus informed them that it might seem suspicious, but they didn’t seem to care.

“What does ‘Love: The Marauders’ mean?” Gideon Prewett asked. Peter jumped and Remus turned around. He had heard the seventh year coming just before he spoke.

“Dunno. But I’m gonna wait for Marie so I can escort her down to breakfast,” Fabian said from behind his twin.

“You’re such a gentleman, Fab.” Gideon jumped back to land on what he thought was the couch. Instead, he fell to the floor with a crash. The four boys and Fabian couldn’t help but crack up at the frozen expression on Gideon’s face. “Very funny, Fab. What did you do?”

“Me?” Fabian stopped laughing, “It wasn’t me, Gid.”

“Well it sure wasn’t me!” Gideon cried, getting up from the floor. “This must be the thing that those Marauders are claiming!”

“Who would sign something ‘Love: The Marauders’?” Fabian said contemplatively. “D’you reckon it could have been the girls getting us back for that time at the end of last year?”

“Nah,” Gideon replied, “they did the thing with the ketchup, the chickens, and the squid for that, remember?”

“Oh yeah. Maybe... err...” As Fabian tried to think of another option, Remus noticed a contingent of older girls coming down the stairs.

“Fabian! You waited for me!” grinned the girl in the lead. Her hair was dark brown and straight, with one random blue streak. She had several piercings in her ears and eyebrows, and Remus wondered what on earth anyone would want to put holes in their faces for. Maybe it was a muggle thing.

“Of course I waited for you, Marie. I’m a very gentlemanly person you know.” The girl walked over to the twins and tried to lean against the couch. Remus stifled a laugh, and felt Peter shaking next to him.

“So what were you two- AAA! What the-!” Marie fell forward and only just saved herself from falling over altogether. “Fabian Prewett! Did you do that?!”

“I swear it wasn’t us!” Fabian held up his hands in surrender.

“Whipped,” James whispered from his corner.

“Yeah,” Gideon added, almost like he was agreeing with James. Remus heard Sirius giggling in a very undignified way that would probably have given Mrs. Black a heart attack. “I fell for that thing not two minutes ago! It was whoever these ‘Marauder’ people are!” Gideon pointed at the message on the portrait.

One of the other girls, this one blonde, crossed her arms. “Very funny, guys. We know it was you.”

A dark girl with black hair and a ton of purple eye… stuff put her hands on her hips. “I swear, I don’t know how Marie puts up with you two. Personally, I would just-”

But the rest of the conversation was lost to Remus as two more people came down to the common room. One was Lily, and she looked like she was with one of her friends. Lily’s friend had a round face, straight blond hair, and bright blue eyes. She was laughing merrily. Lily’s eyes landed on Remus, and, ignoring the arguing seventh years, she made her way over to him.

“Hey Remus. This is my friend Alice Selwyn; Alice, this is Remus Lupin.”

Remus waved a little awkwardly. “Hi Alice. This is Peter Pettigrew.”

“So,” Lily’s eyes darkened dramatically, “can you believe how much Defense homework we have? It’s like Professor Vincent wants to kill us all!”

“I know,” Remus groaned, “I was working on it this morning and-”

“Hey! Alice!” called a voice.

“Yeah?”

“Oh. There you are.” A tall, brown-haired boy that Remus recognized from around the Great Hall came into view. “It was easier to yell than to find you through all those seventh years,” the boy grinned sheepishly. “What are you doing with the firsties?”

“Being friendly,” Alice snipped. “You might try it sometime.” She turned back to Remus. “Sorry about him. That’s Frank. We’re both second years, and he’s been wanting to call someone a firstie since we got here.”

“No problem. Er… I’m Remus and this is Peter.” Remus smiled awkwardly.

Peter waved. “Hi,” he squeaked.

Remus hesitated. He wasn’t used to meeting so many people. As a rule, he hadn’t really left the company of the three other boys in his year except for talking to Lily that one time.

“Nice to meet you,” Frank grinned easily, and tried to lean back against an armchair. Unfortunately for Frank it was one of the missing chairs, and he fell back on his butt. It felt mean for Remus to laugh at him as Frank’s face turned bright red, but Alice laughed so loudly that she fell on the floor next to him, so Remus figured it couldn’t hurt.

“What was that?” Frank cried. “That was my favorite chair! And it’s betrayed me!” His expression was so genuinely bewildered and betrayed that Alice started laughing again. Sirius caught Remus’ eye and gave a thumbs up. Remus looked around for James, and jumped when he realized that his friend was right next to him, laughing at Frank’s face.

“That was hilarious, man!” he exclaimed. “Hey, didn’t our parents go to a ministry thing together or something?”

“Potter? Oh yeah, I think they did. Nice to meet you, I’m Frank Longbottom.” Frank got up and stuck out his hand. James cracked a grin. “Not a word about the name.” Frank intoned.

“I didn’t say anything.” James turned to Lily. “Hey, I know we kind of got off on the wrong foot, but-”

“The wrong foot?!” Lily glared at him, “You and your little friend dumped a bucket of paint on my head!”

“And it was funny,” James pointed out in a matter-of-fact voice. Remus restrained himself from slapping his forehead. Instead, he rolled his eyes at Peter, who smiled nervously.

“So that makes it okay? You arrogant toerag! At least Remus there had the decency to feel bad for your prank!” Remus backed away a little. Please don’t drag me into this.

“What? C’mon, you were fine!”

“Ugh. So not the point.” James opened his mouth to retort, but Lily did a quick about-face and began marching toward the portrait hole. “I’m done with this. I’m meeting Severus after breakfast; he’s much better company than you.” She started to storm off.

“Severus?” Lily stopped at the tone of James’ voice. Suddenly, Remus noticed that he was the only one left standing near the two fighting first years. Everyone else was backing away or leaving for breakfast. Peter, Alice, and Frank had abandoned him. Carefully, Remus began to edge away. Ignore me. Ignore me. Ignore me.

James was still going strong. “You mean that greasy Slytherin git from the train? Why him for Godric’s sake? He’s a Slytherin! Slytherins are all-” This time, Remus did slap his forehead.

“Don’t you dare,” Lily’s green eyes flashed, and her red hair swung as she whipped around to face James again. “don’t you dare ever insult my friends in front of me. Severus is a better friend than you will ever be! Goodbye!” And before James had a chance to reply she had stormed off to breakfast, slamming the portrait of the Fat Lady behind her.

There was a sudden silence in their part of the common room. After a pause, Frank and Alice walked closer to Remus again. Frank opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, Sirius ran over. “Guys, you’ll never believe it! One of those fourth year girls tried to dive head first onto that couch, and then fell through!” Then he put his hands on his knees, panting and laughing.

“Was she alright?” Alice gasped, turning. Across the room was a group of girls huddled around a very embarrassed member of their group.

“Who knows?” Sirius hooted. “Whoever pulled this prank is awesome!”

“Awesomely dangerous!” Alice said indignantly, “who are you, anyway?”

“Sirius! Who are you?”

“I’m Alice Selwyn and this is Frank-” but Frank cut her off.

“You’re Sirius? As in Sirius Black, heir to the House of Black?” Frank’s eyes widened, then narrowed. “What are you planning, getting into Gryffindor? Blacks are always planning something. My mother’s always complaining about what your parents get up to in the Ministry.”

“Frank!” Alice slapped her friend lightly, “he can’t be that bad.” Then she turned back to a very stiff-looking Sirius, who was scowling menacingly. Remus was actually amazed by how menacing Sirius could look, despite being younger and shorter than the one he was glaring at.

“I’ll thank you to not compare me to them,” he muttered, glaring at Frank. “There’s a reason I’m the first Black to ever be sorted into Gryffindor, and it’s not because I’m particularly cunning.”

Frank looked a bit chastised. “Sorry. Just got a bit… sorry.”

Slowly, Sirius nodded. “Just don’t do it again.”

Behind the group there was a loud thump. James, having returned from his furious contemplation of the portrait hole, had forgotten which furniture had been moved and tried to plop down on the very chair that had already faked-out Frank. He let out a groan. Sirius laughed.

“Sirius! Loony! I need help.”

“Shall we go exploring, Jamie-boy?” Sirius called out cheerfully.

“I don’t care, but I’m tired of the common room. Ugh…”

Remus grabbed James’ outstretched hand and pulled him to his feet. Then Sirius grabbed both of them by their shirts and pulled them out of the room, Peter calling that he was going to finish his letter from behind them. The poor kid was still a little afraid of leaving the common room because of those Slytherins.

---M---

“Target located. In position,” James whispered. The three boys were hidden behind the greenhouses watching Snape walking back toward the castle after his meeting with Lily. The poor Slytherin didn’t know what was coming.

“I really don’t think we should do this!” Remus whispered, “what happened to exploring?”

“This is more fun,” Sirius whispered back, “and James needs it. Begin phase two.”

James nodded once from the opposite side of the greenhouse and began walking toward Snape. “Hey,” he called, “Snape, right? I heard you were friends with Evans.”

The Slytherin nodded, his face cold and mask-like.

“I just wanted to tell you that if you are planning anything funny with our Gryffindors-”

“Your Gryffindors?” Snape sneered, “I don’t see Lily here. Do you? Who put you in charge of who she’s friends with?”

“I’m just making sure that you aren’t planning anything with her,” James glared. “Everyone knows that Slytherins can’t be trusted!”

“Oh really? I seem to remember that your mate Black’s whole family was in-”

“Leave my friends out of this!” James cried angrily. Remus groaned quietly. James was going to lose it.

“Why should I? You’re attacking my friends, are you not? Not so much fun from the other end, is it?” Snape said smoothly.

“Shut it!” James said dangerously. Remus held his breath. Sirius was muttering angrily next to him.

“And that Lupin you hang out with? A half-blood teacher’s pet? I’ll bet you just keep him around so that he can do your homework for you, don’t you?”

“That’s enough!” James yelled. “Rictusempra!” A jet of light hit Snape in the stomach, causing him to immediately break down laughing on the ground. Somehow, he managed to keep glaring even through his laughs.

“You’ll-- pay--” He choked out.

“No, I don’t think so,” James said coldly. Then he walked back into the school, leaving Remus and Sirius staring at the doors even as the spell was lifted and Snape got up off the ground. Muttering angrily to himself, the Slytherin made his way inside as well.

Sirius started to laugh. “Did you see his face?” he gasped. “That was great! You’ll pay… HA!”

Remus chuckled awkwardly. His laugh was painfully fake, and he felt like a big black worm was twisting around in his gut. James hadn’t done anything wrong, right? Snape had started it when he had attacked Sirius and Remus like that. After all, it wasn’t like the spell had hurt Snape. He had just had a laugh-attack so to speak. The guilty black worm was getting smaller, but Remus still felt a little uncomfortable. James did accuse him of trying to hurt Lily first… a little voice in his head said. Shut up. He told it. If you want to be friends with James and Sirius, you’re going to have to suck it up. It wasn’t James’ fault anyway, Snape provoked him. So get over it already!

“C’mon,” Remus said. “Let’s go find James.”

---M---

The rest of the Saturday was spent happily wandering the corridors of their magical school and looking for shortcuts to things. Remus considered showing James and Sirius the secret passage that he had found a couple of weeks ago, but they never passed by it during their wanderings, and Remus had no idea how to actually get there anyway. Besides, they had found three new ways to Charms, one new way to Defence, and two new ways to Transfiguration in just one afternoon, so it wasn't like they were lacking in discoveries. The Marauders even ended up at the top of one of the towers at one point. It looked like there was a trap door on the ceiling that led to the Divination room, but they didn't know for sure. It wasn’t until after they had picked up Peter from the common room to go down to lunch that the headache hit.

“-And then James hits Snivellus with a tickling hex!” Sirius was dramatically telling Peter the story of their morning as they ate lunch. “He was laughing his head off and still trying to glare at James the whole time! It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen!”

Peter laughed conspiratorially and took another bite of his grilled cheese. “Bet he wasn’t expecting that!” he said, “I wish I had been there to see it!”

“You’ll have to come along next time, right Remus? You said that before,” James looked over at him. “Remus?”

“Are you okay, mate?” Sirius asked. “You look kinda pale.”

“I’m fine,” Remus muttered. “It’s just a headache. I’ll live.” But he knew it wasn’t just a headache. How could he have forgotten that the full moon was tomorrow night? He had been having so much fun learning interesting things in class and playing jokes with James and Sirius that it had completely slipped his mind!

“Well, alright,” James looked at him suspiciously, “but if it doesn’t go away you’ll have to go to the Hospital Wing for a headache potion.”

“Deal,” Remus mumbled. “But I’ll be fine.”

Remus wasn’t fine.

The next morning he woke up with an even bigger headache, and all of his muscles were sore. Remus was tired and grumpy and worried all at once. Anyone could connect the dots if they noticed that he was sick on the day of a full moon! James and Sirius didn’t pay much attention in class, but they were pretty sharp. What if they figured him out? Remus stuffed his head even farther underneath his pillow. Maybe then the others would just ignore him. At least they hadn’t had very many Astronomy lessons yet.

“You know,” said James, after having had Remus’ clock, comb, and sock thrown at him, “I think that our dear Loony just might be sick.”

“Never would have guessed,” said Sirius. “Shall we bring him down to the Hospital Wing and see if Madam Pomfrey can’t fix him up?”

“Sounds like a plan,” James agreed.

Together, the two friends hoisted Remus out of his bed and, ignoring his complaints, frog-marched him down to the Hospital Wing, still in his pajamas.

“Oh dear,” Madam Pomfrey exclaimed when she saw Remus and his friends in her office. “I’m afraid Mr. Lupin has one of those contagious flus that always go around. We’ll see if we can keep it contained, but he’ll be here for the next two days at least. You boys mustn’t stay long, and you can’t visit until he’s no longer contagious. Now go back to your dorm and wash your hands please.”

Bustling around and showing Remus to a bed, Madam Pomfrey managed to chase out James and Sirius, ignoring their protests and closing the door. Then she turned back to Remus.

“I’m afraid I am at a bit of a loss, Mr. Lupin,” she admitted. “I’ve never worked with a- with a patient like you before. Does this happen often before the full moon?”

“Pretty much every time,” Remus admitted. “Headache potion helps a bit, but I really just have to wait it out until tonight. Thanks for chasing them out.”

“No problem, dear,” she told him. “I’ll give you a bit of headache potion and some dreamless sleep, alright? You’ll wake up an hour before sunset and I’ll show you to the Shrieking Shack.”

“Okay,” Remus whispered. He hadn’t thought of dreamless sleep potion, since they didn’t always have it at home. He carefully took the vials that Madam Pomfrey handed to him and downed first the headache potion. “Bleagh,” he couldn’t help saying, “I never do get used to the taste of that one.”

“Yes yes, and now the dreamless sleep, dear,” Madam Pomfrey twittered. Remus obliged. He had barely finished drinking the potion when he felt his eyes start to droop.

“I’ll be here when you wake up to take you down,” were the last words he heard before falling into a deep sleep.

---M---

“Remus! Remus!” Someone was shaking him, but he didn’t want to wake up. He was warm and comfortable, and his headache was returning full force. Plus, his muscles felt like jelly, and Remus wasn’t sure if he was capable of standing and walking at this point. To summarize: Remus felt like crap. He groaned.

“Come on, Mr. Lupin! You’ve already slept for too long, and I nearly forgot to wake you. Sunset is in twenty minutes!”

Remus opened his bleary eyes to see Madam Pomfrey’s distressed face. “Come on, dear! Lean on me.” The nurse half-led half-carried Remus down the staircases and around the corridors. He was walking in a bit of a daze, and everything seemed fuzzy and far away. She encouraged him as they walked through the halls.

“Don’t worry, Remus. Nearly the entire castle is still eating dinner. We’re just going to walk out the doors here, and… there we go. Now, see that tree over there? The Willow? That’s right, just a little farther.

“Now, see this stick?” Remus nodded. He was beginning to feel a bit more awake. “We poke that knothole with it, and…” The Whomping Willow froze.

“Woah,” Remus said.

“Yes. Now I’m going to walk you down there this first time. Come with me.”

Remus followed Madam Pomfrey, feeling more awake every minute as they crawled through a secret passage underneath the Whomping Willow. It was very dirty and dark, but soon they came through a trapdoor into to a room where they could stand again. The room had wooden furniture and a small bed in one corner. It was still dark, but clean. The windows had been roughly boarded up, and there were stairs leading up to another room. There was also a small wooden box on the ground. Remus wondered what it was for, and said as much to Madam Pomfrey.

“It’s for your things,” she told him. “Put your robes, wand, and anything else you have on you in there. It’s enchanted to stay shut until the sun rises. You won’t be able to break it.”

“Brilliant,” Remus whispered, bending down to look at it.

“Remus,” Madam Pomfrey interrupted his examination, “I’m going to go back to the castle. The sunset is in ten minutes, so don’t wait to put your things in that box. Good luck.”

“Bye, Madam Pomfrey,” Remus told her, “thank you.”

The woman’s face softened. “You’re welcome Remus.” Then she bent down and crawled out through the trapdoor.

After she was gone, Remus took off his cloak and robes, folding them and placing them carefully in the box. He stripped down to his boxers, but there was no way that Remus was going to go starkers in the little shack no matter how private and secluded it was! He carefully put his wand into the box and closed it with a thump. Then Remus was left alone with his thoughts.

The moon was going to rise soon. Needing something to do with himself, Remus began to explore the shack. There wasn’t much left to see on the ground floor, so he walked upstairs, still feeling self-conscious walking around an empty shack in his underwear. On the second floor there were more chairs and a table, also made of wood. These windows were boarded up too, but Remus found that, if he looked carefully through one of the windows, he could see the sky.

As the light faded, Remus began to feel twinges and cramps. His fingers and toes curled against his will and he fell to the floor, shaking. His muscles seized up, as if to make up for the rest of the day that they had been acting like noodles, and he nearly screamed in pain. Gasping, Remus looked up through the window at that one little piece of sky. Strangely, it made him feel a little better.

Then his head began pounding viciously, and Remus’ eyes were forced closed as he pressed his hands hard against the sides of his head. His limbs were cramping and shaking, his head splitting open as the full moon rose. He clenched his teeth against the pain, and then finally let it out.

And Remus Lupin screamed.

Everything went black.

Chapter Text

When Remus woke up, everything was dark and everything hurt. Eventually, he realized that the reason for the darkness was because his eyes were closed. He groaned, instinctively curling up on the hard floor of the shack and squeezing his eyes shut more tightly, gritting his teeth as pain shot through his thin body. If he didn’t wake up, Remus wouldn’t have to face James, Sirius, and Peter. He wouldn’t have to lie about some fake wizard’s flu that he had gotten, and he wouldn’t have to get any closer to his friends, knowing that all of them would eventually reject him anyway. They would reject him for the very reason that he was lying here, bare, miserable, and in pain, on the hard wooden floor of the Shrieking Shack instead of being happily asleep up in the Gryffindor tower. No matter how much he tried to forget and deny it, Remus Lupin was still, and would always be, a werewolf.

The boy groaned and tried to sit up, only to be met with a searing and overwhelming pain in his back and shoulder. Giving a whimper, he laid down on his side again, cringing and aching, and inspected his injuries.

First, the easiest to look at: Remus’ arms and legs. There were several marks on his arms that looked like graze marks from sharp teeth. His fingers were bleeding and his fingernails were ragged and worn. Presumably, the Wolf had tried to claw its way out of the shack, but with no success due to Dumbledore and McGonagall’s warding abilities. Even with that, Remus’ arms were less harmed than he could remember them being for ages. Plus, his legs had received no damage at all. Usually they had a little damage, but it was a pain for the Wolf to bite its hind legs, and it didn’t need to use its back legs to claw at the walls either. Feeling optimistic, Remus moved on.

His right shoulder (the one he wasn’t laying on), was very sore. It might have been a little bit dislocated, but Remus wasn’t sure he dared to look at it. His chest, only slightly worse than his arms, was better than he could remember it being for a long time. There were a couple of small flesh wounds on his belly, and one particularly long scratch running from his left collarbone to the fleshy part of his right side, but other than that there was nothing more than splinters and bruises. Then, his hand went to his back, and Remus flinched.

His back was the worst, with four long claw marks running from the bottom of his right shoulder blade to low on his left side. There were two more large gashes running almost completely horizontally across his lower back. The deep marks were surrounded by many smaller cuts and bruises. Remus couldn’t see them, but he could sure feel them. His back had never been this injured before! What had happened?

Before he could think on it further, Remus heard a scraping sound. Looking around without moving his head, Remus found himself in a small room on the top floor of the Shrieking Shack surrounded by the sad remains of a chair. That might be where some of his splinters had come from. It might also be the reason for his mouth tasting slightly like woodchips.

“Remus? Can you hear me?” Madam Pomfrey’s voice called from the first floor. Remus took a breath, then immediately wished he hadn’t as his back and shoulder both screamed at him.

“Up here,” he managed weakly. He hoped it was loud enough because it felt like that would be all that he would be able to manage in the way of a response.

Suddenly, Remus realized something else: his boxers were gone! Of course, he knew that they would have ripped as soon as he began to transform, but now Madam Pomfrey was going to come in, and he wasn’t wearing a thing! Even though Remus knew that it should be the least of his worries with all of his injuries, he felt himself turning completely red. Even though he knew that it would hurt, Remus tried to yell to Madam Pomfrey again.

“I’m not… wearing anything.” With these words, he turned even redder. Footsteps were making their way toward him. Remus tensed. His back twinged again, and his shoulder gave a deep throb, the wounds pulsing like living animals eating him alive. Surely the nurse wouldn’t want to walk in on a boy who was-

Madam Pomfrey entered the little room from the door at Remus’ back and gasped. Remus blushed again. She must not have heard his warning. “Oh stop it, child. You’re not the first student of Hogwarts to have me see them like this, and you certainly won’t be the last.” Apparently, she had heard him after all.

“And besides, embarrassment is the least of your worries right now,” the nurse continued, conjuring a blanket for him as she talked, “I hadn’t expected your injuries to be this severe. The condition of your back is appalling, and your shoulder looks like it’s dislocated at the very least; is it always this way?”

“Usually it’s more my arms and chest, Madam,” Remus forced out. Yup. Talking definitely still hurt.

“Hush now,” she said immediately, noticing his wince. “We’ll do questions in the Hospital Wing after I’ve examined you properly. I’m going to levitate you in this blanket down to the castle with the Disillusionment Charm on you. I will carry the box of your belongings with me. It’s only about 6:30 on Monday morning, so I doubt many students will be asking questions. Ready?”

Remus gave a wheezy “um hmm” of ascent. Madam Pomfrey raised her wand, and suddenly Remus was floating in the air, the conjured blanket wrapped tightly around him. As they descended onto the lower floor, Remus caught sight of more ravaged furniture and the shredded remains of his boxers. Remus blushed all over again at the sight of them. Even without his warning, Madam Pomfrey would have known that he was naked.

Wait…

The boxers! Remus couldn’t ever remember not taking off all of his clothes before the transformation. The boxers must not have come off when he transformed, making the Wolf annoyed enough to claw at its own back to get them off. After finally completely shredding the underwear, the Wolf had decided to go on a rampage, clawing at the walls and destroying all the furniture in the Shack. Remus made a mental note to never leave on clothing during a transformation again. His back felt like it was on fire!

It was very nerve-wracking for Remus when Madam Pomfrey levitated him across the grounds and through the castle. Before leaving the secret tunnel, she had cast some sort of spell on him (apparently the ‘disillusionment’ charm) that made him blend in perfectly with his surroundings, but that didn’t stop him from being solid, or from making noise.

In one heart-stopping moment, Alice Selwyn ran right past Madam Pomfrey, coming within inches of crashing into Remus and figuring out his secret. Luckily, the nurse had directed him toward the wall just in time.

“Sorry Madam Pomfrey!” Alice’s voice echoed down the hall.

“Close shave,” Remus muttered quietly. Madam Pomfrey nodded crisply and kept walking.

When they reached the Hospital Wing, Madam Pomfrey carefully lowered him onto a bed, pulled the curtains tightly shut around him, and magiced a soft hospital gown onto him. Next, she gave Remus what he immediately knew were pain-relieving and numbing potions.

He made a face. If the smell of James’ shoes was a taste, that, mixed with the taste of the weirdly fake fruity smell of Sirius’ shampoo, would be the taste of these potions. However, within minutes of taking the dreadful potions, Remus began to feel weak and drowsy. His eyes were a little glazed, his head was fuzzy and his arms wouldn’t move.

“Alright, dear,” Madam Pomfrey said in a no-nonsense kind of way. “I’m going to put your shoulder back in the right position. This may hurt a bit, but then you’ll feel so much better that it will be worth it. Ready?”

...What? Remus was still feeling a little dizzy and fuzzy from the potions.

“One… Two…” before getting to three, Madam Pomfrey poked his shoulder with her wand and muttered a quick syllable. Dang it. I hate it when they start before three. For a moment, Remus thought that his shoulder was on fire. It seared his whole arm and left it feeling limp and sore, but at the same time tingly, like he had hit his funny bone.

“Better?” Remus nodded, sinking back onto the pillows. He was on his side, and preferred to keep it that way considering the injuries to his back.

“Now this is where you have to help me, Remus. I wasn’t able to get a lot of information on treating patients with your condition. How well will healing salves and potions work on your cuts and bites? I’m assuming that bruises can be treated the normal way.”

“Yeah,” Remus breathed hoarsely, “bruises are easy. ‘s a good thing, ‘cause I always get a lot.” He yawned. Obviously, the numbing potion was still in effect because pain potions never made him this tired. “Cuts and bites take longer than normal ones, but the potions and stuff help. The disease is incurable, bu’cha can heal the injuries almost as fast as anything else. They scar sometimes, though. I dunno why.”

“Alright, Mr. Lupin. That was very helpful. Why don’t you go to sleep now while I treat your other wounds? I’m sure those numbing potions have made you very sleepy, especially when combined with those particular pain potions.”

“‘K,” Remus muttered sleepily already beginning to feel himself drifting off. As his heavy eyes closed, Remus began to feel gentle hands putting a cool cream on his face. It felt a bit like sunscreen, he thought randomly, or Elmer’s glue.

“This should help with the bruising and scrapes on your face. You came away with two black eyes, did you know that?” Black eyes too? Oh well, he’d be better soon. He always was. Remus drifted off to sleep, the ointment still being applied to his face and back.

---M---

The next time Remus woke up, James and Sirius were sitting by the bed looking concerned.

“Hey, mate,” James said quietly. “Madam Pomfrey said that you would be out of here by tonight or tomorrow, but we wanted to make sure you were alright.”

“Yeah. What’s up with getting sick on us, Loony?” Sirius asked jokingly. “That was awfully rude of you. Especially after James made me take notes for you in Defense and Potions! No one even takes notes in Potions!”

“You took notes for me?” Remus was strangely touched by the gesture. James and Sirius hated taking notes; they never took them for themselves. James looked especially proud of himself.

“Yep. Sirius took Potions and Defense, and I took Transfiguration and Charms. You haven’t missed Astronomy yet, it’s only Tuesday, and all we’ve done in Herbology is water ‘tubular snuffelinks.’ I still haven’t figured out what they do exactly.”

“Thanks,” Remus mumbled quietly. He was a bit in shock. He was a werewolf: a dark creature with no intent other than to infect and kill other people. These popular, funny, handsome purebloods shouldn’t be friends with him, a pariah of wizarding society.

Sirius seemed to notice the look on his face. “We’re gonna leave the notes here on this table, but you must still feel pretty gross. If you-”

“Boys are you still here?” Madam Pomfrey suddenly strode into the room carrying an armful of potions. “I told you to be out of here ten minutes ago! Land sakes, when I told you I was getting supplies from Professor Slughorn and escorted you out I was expecting you to stay out! Go on, Mr. Lupin needs his rest. Shoo!”

Somehow seeming more like a human hurricane than a nurse, Madam Pomfrey forced James and Sirius out of the room, put away half of her potions, and moved Remus’ new notes to the stand right next to his bed in less than a minute. Remus made a mental note to not get on the nurse’s bad side.

 

“All right, Remus. I’ve healed your bruises, scrapes, and black eyes, and your fingernails have almost finished regrowing. It’s a wonder that your friends didn’t notice the bandages on them. The marks on your back have been healed, though it was a bit trickier than the usual cuts and scrapes. There are two scars on your back. They make an ‘L’ shape from your right shoulder blade to your left side.”

The nurse hesitated, but Remus was far too used to such marks for it to bother him too much anymore. Remus had to accept that he would always have scars, and would never be handsome enough to cover for them.

Seeing his face, Madam Pomfrey put a comforting hand on his good shoulder. “I’m sorry, but nothing could be done to prevent them. Your shoulder will still be sore for several days. I understand that the first-year flying lessons are coming up, and, unfortunately, I don’t think that you will be able to participate in the first one.”

She paused again, as if waiting for Remus to vehemently protest, but honestly, he wasn’t too fussed. Flying was one thing that Remus had never cared about before, despite James’ mock horror at the thought. As Madam Pomfrey seemed to think that she required some form of response, Remus nodded for her to continue.

“I’m going to have to give you another dose of potions for your shoulder and back to prevent any infection or extra swelling. Unfortunately, this combination of potions can’t be taken along with my usual mild sleeping drought, so you’ll either have to stay awake until you can fall asleep naturally, or I can give you a heavy dose of dreamless sleep, which will put you through until tomorrow morning. Your choice.”

Remus considered. It was no contest. He really wanted to read the notes that Sirius and James had taken so that he would be caught up on his classes when he returned on Wednesday. Plus, he had never been very fond of strong sleeping potions because they always left him feeling weak and sleepy when he woke up.

“I’ll stay awake,” he told the nurse. She gave a curt nod, and stepped over to her office door.

“You need anything, yell for me alright? I won’t have my patients getting sicker than they need to be because of Gryffindor idiocy or manliness or something of the sort.” At Remus earnest nod, Madam Pomfrey entered her office and closed the door softly behind her.

Remus grabbed the notes from the bedside table and began to look through them. He couldn’t help but chuckle at what he found, and was pleased to notice that it didn’t hurt when he did.

--M--
Transfiguration for Loony from James

(Because SOMEONE had to get sick)

(And also because I’m better than Sirius at this)

Transfiguring stuff can be hard.
We’re working on changing hairbrushes into combs. (Is she taking a jab at my hair?!)
The wand movement is like: swish right, swish left, then point at the brush
The incantation is weird. Ask McGonagall when you get back.

 

PS: James is better at this than Sirius, and I hope you’re grateful for this!

--M--

I hope you’re grateful for this… slowly, Remus’ grin faded. He was grateful to James and Sirius. They were the first real friends he’d ever had, and they didn’t look down on him for anything. But what was Remus doing for them? They didn’t need any help in class, they could do their own pranks if they wanted… Remus felt a pang of sadness and remorse for the trouble he was causing them. James and Sirius deserved each other: happy, slightly rebellious and spoiled purebloods. Born best friends. No one deserved having Remus thrust upon them, a ticking time bomb that would cause guilt and rejection as soon as his secret was discovered. Just because his friends weren’t suspicious now didn’t mean that it would continue that way.

Remus wanted his Hogwarts education more than anything. Now that he had a taste of what the castle and the teachers were like, Remus would fight tooth and nail to keep his place at the school. If James and Sirius figured out that he was a werewolf, it would all be over. Professor Dumbledore would have no choice but to expel them once James and Sirius told everyone else. The parents would be worried, and rightfully so. Their children were going to school with a monster, and they wouldn’t think it was safe.

Remus had to stop James and Sirius from figuring him out then, at all costs. The problem was that if they kept calling him out on his sickness, the two boys would figure out his secret in a matter of months. His best bet was to get them to stop paying attention to him and dump him as a friend. It made Remus’ gut ache to even think of it, but he knew that this would be the least painful option for all of them. So far, Hogwarts had been like a vacation from all the bad things in his life. There were kids his age, classes to go to, jokes and fun…. The full moon had really put things into perspective. Before, Remus had felt like he was in some sort of happy dream-world of Hogwarts. He had friends, great teachers and classes, and was generally accepted. It had felt as if nothing could ruin his happiness.

Then the moon had come, as it always did, and crushed his hopes in one night. Remus would never truly belong here: he was living a lie. Everyone else was normal; he was a Wolf. No one wanted to be friends with his kind.

These thoughts strengthened Remus’ resolve. He would stop being friends with James, Sirius, Peter, and even Lily. He felt a pang in his stomach as he thought about it, but this was the least painful option for everyone. Better to part in a fight as first years than to be utterly rejected and denied sometime later when they had a stronger bond.

The notes for the other classes were still on the bedside table. Unable to help himself, Remus looked them over.

--M--

DADA Notes for Loony from Sirius

(I’ll get you for this James!)

~Professor Vincent telling a horror story about Dark Arts
~PV lecturing us to not use the Dark Arts
~PV reading to us about not using the Dark Arts
~PV wants an essay on why the Dark Arts are punished by the Ministry

(Honestly, I could have told you that would happen without the notes)

PS: Don’t listen to a thing JP says about being better than me in McGonagall’s class. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

--M--

Potions Notes for Loony from Sirius

boring... boring... boring... boring... boring... boring...

~Made a Forgetfulness potion…
~NOTE: NEVER use too many beetles’ eyes!
~NOTE: Don’t forget the shrivelfig either.

And.... the end! You’re welcome Loony! You owe me now, you know I hate taking notes.

--M--

Charms Notes for Loony from James

(Because one Remus Lupin decided to take a sick day)

Fire charms can get out of hand quickly --> That means we’re going to make FIRE!!
The wand movement is just a little jabby thing
the incantation is caeruleum ignis
Makes a little blue fire that can live without oxygen for up to an hour
DON’T SAY: caeruleum ignos because that might just accidentally turn the person next to you blue for ten minutes until Professor Flitwick finds the counter-charm (SIRIUS!!)

You’re welcome! I expect you to force Sirius to take notes for me if I ever wind up in that dreadful Hospital Wing!

--M--

Reading through the notes made Remus laugh, (the mental image of James turning blue busted his resolve), but it did nothing to deter him from his new plan. Operation Stop-Being-Friends-With-People-So-They-Don’t-Figure-Out-the-Secret was now in effect. For short, he’d call it SBFW...PS...T… never mind. He’d just call it Operation Stop for short. Eventually, Remus was given dinner and told to try to sleep, but he found it nearly impossible while thinking about his new plan.

Glancing outside at the moon above, Remus made a face at it and turned over. Tossing and turning, his body still giving pangs at random intervals, Remus planned out how he was going to dump the first best friends he’d ever had. It was enough to make his stomach twist around in guilt all over again.

--M--

After Remus got out of the Hospital Wing on Wednesday morning, he threw himself into his classes with a passion. He had thanked Sirius and James for the notes again before systematically ignoring and avoiding them. In class, Remus began to sit all alone unless he absolutely needed a partner. When he was totally and utterly required to sit with someone else, he sat with Peter.

While walking through the Great Hall to grab some food, Remus heard James and Sirius murmuring to each other over their chicken sandwiches. Curiosity, a Marauder quality that he was certain he had always had and would never get rid of, kicked in. Remus walked quickly and unobtrusively toward the place where James and Sirius were sitting next to each other with Peter across from them. Carefully standing out of sight behind a pillar near the wall, Remus focused on hearing only the conversation that the three were having. He had never tried to use his slightly-unnaturally good senses for something like this before, and was surprised by how well it worked.

“He must be up to something,” Sirius said. “Why else would he be avoiding us? Ever since he got sick-”

“Exactly!” James interrupted. “Since he got sick. Maybe he’s still feeling bad? Or what if he just doesn’t want us to catch whatever he had?”

Sirius shook his head. “That would make sense, but Remus has been working with Peter sometimes. If he felt that way, then Remus would probably be avoiding everyone. Plus Madam Pomfrey let him out of the Hospital Wing days ago! She doesn’t seem like the type to let someone out early.”

“I’m going to find out what he’s doing. There’s no way he’d just dump us!” James said determinedly.

Sirius rolled his eyes. “Yeah no way he’d ever find you annoying. You’re James freaking Potter, after all.”

“Exactly,” James responded, either missing or ignoring the sarcasm.

Deciding that he’d heard enough, Remus tiptoed away to the very end of the table, grabbing a sandwich and heading out to the lake. When James had said that bit about Remus dumping them it had felt like a punch to his gut. He was dumping them, and they were trying to find out why. I’ll just have to try to avoid them even more, Remus thought. After all, it was the best thing for all of them.

Right?

When Professor McGonagall told them to pair up in Transfiguration later that day, Remus automatically looked toward James and Sirius before making eye-contact with Peter, who was sitting beside them. Peter nodded, and James gave Peter a little shove on the back when he thought Remus wasn’t looking. Both other boys stared at Remus’ back as Peter came over to his table.

“Hey Remus,” Peter mumbled.

“Hey Peter,” Remus said.

There was an awkward silence as Professor McGonagall passed out the spoons that they were supposed to be turning into forks.

“Remus?”

“Yes Peter?” As he answered, Remus tried out the spell that Professor McGonagall had taught them the day before. Nothing happened.

“Why are you avoiding James and Sirius? They think that you’re up to something.”

Remus froze. James and Sirius must have asked Peter to ask him this the next time that they paired up! That would be the reason for the unrelenting stares practically burning holes in the back of his head. Knowing that Peter would be reporting back to the other two, Remus chose his words carefully.

“I’m not up to anything, Peter. I was just… I just wanted to get back to studying. I promised my parents top marks, and I want to do well for myself in all my classes, that’s all.”

“Oh. Okay,” Peter nodded and glanced quickly back at James and Sirius. Apparently getting the hint, the two began quickly trying to make it look like they had been working the whole time. Gently correcting Peter about the way he was holding his wand (which they had learned last week), Remus heard Professor McGonagall telling James and Sirius off for not using their work time well.

He had to hide a grin at the end of the class when he heard that James was the only one who had managed the transfiguration perfectly, while Sirius had somehow successfully changed his spoon into a spork. Sirius was loudly claiming that he should get extra points for creativity. Yeah right….

Remus was about to tell him to stop before he remembered that he was avoiding them. Sighing a little wistfully, he turned away.

Chapter Text

Over the next three weeks, Remus’ days fell into a pattern. He would get up before the others, get ready for the day, and go down to breakfast in the Great Hall all alone. He was always sure to leave before the others got there so that they wouldn’t be able to sneak up and sit beside him. After breakfast, Remus would make his way to whatever their first class happened to be using the second-fastest route that they had found. He knew that James and Sirius (and probably Peter too) would be taking the fastest ways to class, so he avoided those hallways like the plague.

Sometimes, Remus even found his own new paths to class, though those times were few and far between. A lot of the pathways were hidden behind portraits or tapestries, just like the one that Remus had found on the first day of class. Despite being at school for nearly two months, Remus still hadn’t found that one back again.

After doing his best to sit alone in class, Remus would grab some of the lunch food and take it with him out to the lake. He had found a large rock near the part of the lake farthest from the castle where he liked to eat. He wasn’t sure if he was strictly allowed to eat food outside, but no one had reprimanded him for it yet, so Remus assumed that it was alright.

Remus’ afternoon classes were very similar to his morning ones with regard to avoiding people. Though his feelings about friends were tangled and confused, Remus knew that he loved his classes. His favorites so far were Transfiguration and Charms, where they used their wands the most.
When they finally got out of class for the day, Remus would usually come back to the large rock to do his homework. It wasn’t smooth enough to write on, but Remus made due with the hard covers of his textbooks, and found it much better than awkwardly avoiding Lily in the library.

Remus always stumbled into the common room about 15 minutes before curfew, going straight to the bathroom and then to bed, pulling the curtains firmly shut behind him. And though his grades were better than they had ever been before, Remus was starting to get worn down by the dullness of it all. Hogwarts wasn’t nearly as much fun without someone to share it with.

It was the first-year flying lesson when everything changed for Remus. Again.

He had been planning on sitting out from the lesson because of his shoulder injury; Madam Pomfrey had written him an excuse and everything. Unfortunately for Remus, Madam Hooch, the flying instructor, was sick on the day of the lesson. Thus, the date was pushed back by nearly two weeks to the next time that the flying instructor could teach, and Remus was required to attend.

Gryffindors and Slytherins were all together for the flying lessons, and even though he was thoroughly distracted by his nerves, Remus was seeing some definite animosity. Especially between James and Snape. He wondered, fleetingly, if James and Sirius had had any more fights with the Slytherin since their first one near the greenhouses.

“Alright everyone! Get in front of a broom and say ‘up!’” Madam Hooch yelled out to the first years.

“Up!” Remus shouted over his broom. It rolled over, but nothing else happened. Remus couldn’t help but feel relieved; he had not been looking forward to this at all. Remus didn’t feel too bad about being up high, but unlike the others, he had never flown a broom before. Listening to James’ bragging and arguments with a Slytherin called Avery, a friend of Snape’s, about who was better at quidditch was not helping Remus’ nerves at all.

Looking around, Remus saw that the only ones whose brooms had jumped into their hands as they were supposed to were James (no surprise there), Sirius, Avery, and two other Slytherins called Mulciber and Rosier. Peter’s broom hadn’t even moved.

“If it didn’t jump for you, pick your broom up off the ground. Yelling ‘up’ over and over will not help you, Miss Macdonald.” Remus caught the dark-haired Gryffindor blushing out of the corner of his eye as Lily gave the girl a sideways smirk.

“Everyone take hold of the broom and swing your leg over so that it is between your legs. Get used to the feel of the cushioning charm as I come around and help you with your grips.” Madam Hooch strode up and down the ragged line of first years, looking like a yellow-eyed hawk with a clear focus and a sharp gaze.

“Lupin! Move your right hand up to here, and don’t keep your back so straight for heaven’s sake! Good, now take your left finger and-” Remus let the flying instructor move his hands until he was gripping the broom properly, then looked around as she corrected the last few who had it wrong.

“No, Miss Evans, like this! Sake’s alive girl, can’t you see how this is supposed to work? Macdonald! Help Evans get her grip right while I go correct Rosier. If you can’t explain well enough, get Miss McKinnon’s help as well.”

One Madam Hooch was satisfied with everyone’s positions and grips on their brooms, she instructed them to carefully fly a few feet in the air, and then come down again on her whistle. The first years gradually flew higher and for longer amounts of time as the afternoon went on until the teacher had them all carefully flying around the quidditch pitch high enough to score a goal. After several more competence checks, she left around half of them to fly on their own while she worked with the least-skilled group of students.

Remus was put in the latter group. He was not surprised. With him were Peter, Lily, another Gryffindor named Lucy Wright, and a Slytherin girl called Zabini. Lily glanced at Remus, but said nothing. He had drifted away from her more gently than the others, as they were more acquaintances than friends, and somehow they had parted on awkward, but relatively good terms.

Peter gave him a strange little look and a quiet, “hi.” Remus assumed that it was because he had occasionally walked Peter places when James and Sirius were gone. It wasn’t worth letting Peter get bullied over Remus’ desire, or lack thereof, to walk with anyone. He nodded back to Peter and focused again on the flying instructor, who was explaining again, in more detail, how to control the broom.

Madam Hooch drilled the “slower-pace” group for another half-hour while the others flew around having fun. Eventually they flew high in the air, relatively close to the other group, and Remus heard someone say his name.

“You think you’re so high and mighty on your broom, Potter! Why do you lower yourself so as to talk to us mere mortals? How did Black here and that Lupin idiot ever become so lucky as to be graced with your mighty presence?” Snape was taunting James from far lower in the air. He appeared to be a bit unsteady on his broom, but not enough to fit into the “slower” group.

Sirius flew up to show his support for James. “You’re just jealous because you got stuck in slimy Slytherin! Who wants to go there? Why should I care what you say about me and my friends, Snivellus?” he retorted.

“Yeah,” James backed him up, “Slytherin’s for manipulative, dark idiots. Everyone knows that!”

“Why you- you just think you’re too good for the rest of us, Potter! I don’t think that Lupin idiot even wants to be your friend; I’ve seen you avoiding each other. Did he finally figure out what thoughtless imbeciles you two are? I’ll bet he decided to dump you and laugh behind your back with someone else, didn’t he?”

“Shut up! You don’t know anything! He wouldn’t do that….” James glared at Snape. He turned his broom around looking as if he intended to fly away, but stopped when he saw Remus. Their eyes met. And James gave Remus a look of such hurt and confusion that it pierced Remus to his core. Remus was the first to look away. He saw Sirius fly back over to James out of the corner of his eye.

“Alright, kids! Get down here and off those brooms, or you’ll all be late for your next class! Come on, chop chop!” Madam Hooch blew her whistle loudly, and all the first years carefully pointed their brooms down in pursuit. James called him over after the lesson.

“Is not true, is it Remus?” James whispered, “You wouldn’t just leave us like that, right mate?” Remus looked away.

“Why would you do that?” Remus had never seen Sirius look so genuinely hurt before, but then the hurt look disappeared into cold disappointment. “Never mind. I just thought you wanted friends at this school, just like we did.” Sirius looked away and slung his arm around James’ shoulders. “See you in Potions, Lupin,” he spat.

For some reason, it was the use of his last name that broke Remus’ resolve completely. It was as if being addressed as a mere acquaintance, even as a disliked acquaintance, by one of his only friends finally made him realize just how much he had needed them there, how lonely the weeks without them had been.

“Wait,” he said.

They stopped. Tensed, as if waiting for him to insult them as Snape had done.

“I thought- I just figured that you two were my friends out of pity.” James looked back at Remus. “You make a great twosome. You’re funny, the teachers love you… what do you want me for?”

His former friends turned around. There was a hush around them. All of the other students had left.

“You thought we didn’t want you? Why would we not want to be friends with you?” James whispered into the silence. Remus looked away, but Sirius strode over and gripped his shoulder. Remus’ blue eyes snapped back to Sirius’ gray ones.

“Why?” Sirius said, James at his shoulder.

“I’ve never had any friends before,” Remus stated. He might as well tell them the truth. Minus the werewolf bit. “You two were the first. I see how well you do in class, how you get good grades without even trying. Why would you want to be friends with me? I can’t do anything special, I’m just Remus. I get sick all the time, and I read books! No one wants to be friends with a person like that! You’ll just dump me eventually, so I figured I’d save you the trouble.” Remus looked away again, turning his back on the other two. They were smart and popular and rich. They didn’t have anything in common with him at all.

“You’re wrong, Remus.” James said. Remus turned and opened his mouth to protest, but James cut him off. “No! You. Are. Wrong. You get better grades on written assignments than both me and Sirius. You were the one to plan our only successful prank. We didn’t move the furniture around without you because it wasn’t the same with you gone. We want to be friends with you, Remus Lupin, and we have no reason at all to stop! So quit avoiding us already!”

“He’s right,” Sirius chimed in. Remus stared at him, a bit in shock. “We want to be friends with you because you are smart and funny and nice.” The other boy gave a grimace. “I don’t think you realize how rare of a thing genuine niceness actually is. The only one in my family that’s nice is my cousin Andromeda, and she’s a fifth-year Slytherin.”

“Really?” Remus asked, a little overwhelmed at the entire situation. They couldn’t mean it, could they?

“You are so Loony, Remus!” James rolled his eyes. “Of course really! Why would we lie? Now, I think it’s time you re-join your fellow Marauders just in time to start planning a Halloween prank. We’ve no clue what to do; we tried following Snape to the Slytherin common room and all we found was the kitchens.”

“You found the kitchens? Where are they?”

“Down in the dungeons behind a bowl of fruit,” Sirius told him. “We got a bit lost and James leaned up against it while we tried to figure out where we were. Imagine our surprise when the pear started laughing!”

“You have to tickle the pear to get in,” James clarified at Remus’ confused expression. “We’ll show you sometime.”

“Deal,” Remus agreed, still feeling a little in shock. James and Sirius wanted to be his friends! He would never betray their trust again. Except for the whole werewolf thing. Remus sobered at the thought. Of course, all their talk about friendship and loyalty would go out the window if they realized that they were talking to a werewolf. Pushing those thoughts to the back of his mind and glancing down at his watch, Remus saw another problem.

“Merlin’s beard! We’re late for potions! Run!”

The boys took off for the dungeons, shoes squeaking and robes flying as they ran around corners and through dark, echoey hallways.

“This way,” Remus panted, ripping aside a wall-hanging to reveal a hidden entrance. “Hang a right halfway through, and then a quick left and we’ll be there. C’mon!” They didn’t stop for more explanations, though James and Sirius did shoot him a couple of surprised looks and fell back a bit to let him lead the way.

Suddenly, Remus heard a noise coming from ahead. Sprinting past the exit, he ran toward the end of the passage, which let out near a blank dungeon wall with a window nearby that showed the bottom of the lake. Skidding to a halt near a turn of the passage, Remus listened closer. James and Sirius came up panting beside him.

“I thought… we were supposed to turn… over there,” Sirius gasped for breath. “Why are we stopping?”

“Listen,” Remus whispered. All three boys fell silent as a boy’s voice, harsh and mocking, washed over them from around the corner.

“Too bad poor, shy little Pettigrew forgot his bodyguards today, isn’t it? They don’t seem to care to come for you, do they Pet?” Some indistinct muttering. “Oh, you think they’re your friends, do you? I don’t think they return the sentiment, little Pet.” Laughter. “Thought you were too good for the slimy Snakes, didn’t you? Thought you’d flaunt it by walking around in our dungeons? You’d better stay away from here, Pet, or else!”

Remus was frozen in horror, hardly blinking as the Slytherins tore into the shy boy that had been nothing but nervous and friendly to Remus. James and Sirius, however, both started forward. “Leave him alone!” James said loudly, turning the corner with Sirius. Remus was only a step behind.

The sight that greeted his eyes was unpleasant to say the least. Three large Slytherin boys that were definitely older than them had Peter backed into a corner. The nearby torch was snuffed out so that Remus couldn’t see their faces, but he tried to memorize as many details as possible for later. The one in front was average height, dark hair and a strong build. Of his two companions, one was very large and the other very small. It seemed as if the large one was the muscle and the small one the lookout, though he didn’t appear to be doing much looking out.

“Look at that,” the Lead Slytherin hissed sarcastically. “The bodyguards decided to show up after all. You should be in class, little Gryffindors. You’ll find it’s much safer there.”

“Like we’ll leave Peter with you for another second!” James said defiantly, “get away from him!”

“My my,” sneered Big Slytherin, “this bodyguard has a temper.” Remus decided to call that Slytherin BS for short, and found a savage pleasure in it, no matter how childish it seemed.

“Are there any other little Gryffindors who want to come and play? But you wouldn’t want to be late for potions would you?” crooned the Slytherin-who-was-failing-lookout-duty.

Remus heard James take a breath to shout out something else, but Sirius interrupted. “Nott, Yaxley, good to see you again.” His voice was cold as stone, nothing like the Sirius that Remus had known since the train ride. “Is that you too, Goyle? And here I was thinking that your family actually had some dignity left. Obviously not, if all you can do for fun is pick on little Gryffindor first years.”

“S- Black! What are you doing with this weak little thing? Haven’t you brought your mother enough dishonor already?” The oldest Slytherin, apparently Yaxley, faltered in front of Sirius for some reason.

“He’s just defending his house-mates,” Remus spoke up. He was shaking in his shoes, but a reckless courage had momentarily gripped him. These were the Slytherins who had hurt Peter for no reason at all! He couldn’t just stand by. “Do you really think that his family will be dishonored because Sirius stood up for his friends? If they are, then the Blacks are already far too dishonored by the other members of the family.”

“Yeah!” James agreed quickly. “So back off! I’m the heir of the Potter family, and we don’t make good enemies!”

“But-” started BS.

Sirius cut him off. “You never did know when to keep your mouth shut, did you Goyle? You’d better watch your step, or I’ll tell your father about that time at my house when-”

“No! You win! Stop!” the Slytherin cried. “I’m going. You’re on your own, Yaxley.” The smaller Slytherin, Nott, looked back and forth between Goyle and Yaxley for a moment before visibly gulping and following Goyle. The footsteps of Yaxley’s cronies retreated down the dark passage, but Yaxley himself stayed standing in front of Peter, facing the enraged first-years.

“Back off already!” Sirius growled. When Yaxley simply sneered and pushed Peter against the wall, Sirius lost it. He charged toward the much bigger boy attempting to knock him out of the way. After quickly getting over his shock, James ran to Peter and grabbed him by the elbow.

“Run!”

But Sirius was still trying to fight Yaxley, and he definitely wasn’t winning. Eleven-year-olds, no matter how angry, couldn’t win in a fist fight against a large upperclassman for very long. Turning around and taking careful aim, Remus cast the first spell that popped into his head. “Scourgify!” The cleaning spell that his mom had made him learn for washing the dishes. Why had he thought of that?

The cleaning spell hit Yaxley in the face and he fell back, spluttering. Sirius wormed his way out of the bigger boy’s hold and ran with the others all the way back down the corridor toward the potions room. They could faintly hear Yaxley’s cursing behind them over the sound of echoing footsteps.

They were 20 minutes late to Potions. Only 20 minutes. It had felt to Remus like hours.

“Boys, boys, boys!” cried Professor Slughorn. Round, sensuous, and dressed in green, he looked a bit like a walrus. “Whatever happened? I was beginning to worry that some of my promising potion makers were lost!” Slughorn’s large mustache waved and jerked strangely as he spoke, like a dancing puppet with tangled strings.

“Sorry Professor,” James gave him his most charming grin (Sirius made a face at Remus, who tried to choke back his laughs), “we just got a little turned around. All these dungeon corridors look the same you know!”

“Yes, yes, I suppose they do,” chuckled the Potions Professor. “Well, set up your cauldrons quickly boys, and maybe you can still make today’s potion. We’ve been doing the light sleeping draught on page 42.”

The foursome quickly split into groups: James went with Peter, and Sirius went with Remus. Remus remembered with embarrassment the first time that they had tried to make a potion. He had been paired with Peter. Potions wasn’t Remus’ strong suit, and Peter wasn’t much better. Needless to say, it hadn’t turned out well, but Peter had gotten a new cauldron in the end. James and Sirius, who were good at the subject, had vowed to never let Peter and Remus work together again. It had been horrendously awkward for the last several weeks when Remus decided to work alone. His potions grade hadn’t improved much either.

Carefully reading instructions and preparing ingredients for Sirius, Remus settled himself in for a long Potions class in which to think about his stubborn friends, cruel Slytherins, and why the heck Slughorn liked James and Sirius enough not to take off points for their lateness.

---M---

Potions was the last class of the day, and once it was over Remus found himself being forcibly dragged toward the Gryffindor Tower by the other three boys. Apparently he couldn’t be trusted to return there on his own, and James insisted upon getting “caught up” with each other after making up. Remus couldn’t find any reason to argue with him, as he had missed his friends as well. He may as well enjoy having loyal friends while they lasted, since apparently James and Sirius wouldn’t allow him to leave if he wanted to.

Suddenly, Remus heard two familiar voices coming toward them from the opposite direction. “Hide!” he hissed, “I think I hear those Prewett twins coming!” Still scarred from their previous experience with the elephant prank, James, Sirius, and Remus dashed through the nearest door, pulling Peter with them. Unfortunately, they wound up not in an empty classroom, but in one of Filch’s supply closets. Remus wrinkled his nose in disgust as the others made faces at the moldy mops and feather dusters hanging on the walls. There was no light except for what came in under the door, and as the twins came closer all four boys leaned in to listen.

“I just don’t understand it!” one twin said exasperatedly, “who was it? All the upper-year dorms were searched by prefects, and any non-Gryffindor students wouldn’t be able to get into the common room in the first place!” The footsteps paused.

“Well it wasn’t us,” the other twin began, “it wasn’t the girls getting back at us. It wasn’t even directed at us personally, so it might not be revenge. Who else likes pranking and would be able to steal the furniture? I mean, it is possible to sneak into other common rooms….”

“True,” the first twin conceded, “but who else even pulls pranks in this school?”

“Those first-years did drop paint on that girl a while back. Remember how loud she yelled? Maybe they did it.”

Remus stifled a gasp at the mention of himself and his friends. He, James, Sirius, and Peter exchanged wide-eyed looks in the dark closet. Even though Peter hadn’t been part of the original prank, there was no way that he wouldn’t get in trouble if the twins thought that it was them. Would the twins guess it? They couldn’t prove anything to the teachers, but what would the twins do themselves for revenge?

“I guess, maybe, but they’re first years. They couldn’t have done a shrinking charm or a disillusionment charm for a least a couple more years. Plus, dropping paint from the door isn’t in nearly the same league as stealing half the furniture in the common room and keeping it.”

“You never know. I mean, look at us!”

“Yeah, but we’re us. Plus, those first-years had a fight a couple days after the prank. If they really did it, there shouldn’t be any more pranks while they’re fighting.”

“There haven’t been….”

“It’s still early.” The voices faded as the twins continued walking down the corridor. Remus released his breath slowly.

“Now what?” James whispered.

“Let's go back to the dorm, boys,” Sirius looked around at them all. “I think I have a plan.”

---M---

“Alright listen,” Sirius had gathered them all in the dormitory and was presenting his plan with relish. “Those Prewett twins think that we might have done the furniture prank. The only solid reason that they really had against us was that we were all fighting right after the prank took place. So now they’ll be watching for Marauder pranks while we’re fighting to prove that it isn’t us. Follow me?”

Peter raised his hand. He looked a bit lost. “Why exactly are you including me in this? I mean, not that I don’t want to--In fact I’d love to--but-”

“The twins think that it was all of us,” Sirius interrupted. “That includes you. Plus, you can help us with this plan. You’re going to be the gossip.”

“What?” Peter squeaked, looking even more confused.

“Start at the beginning,” Remus said, “We’re not telepathic, you know.”

Sirius sighed, like starting at the beginning was the single toughest thing he had ever been asked to do. “We’ve got to pull a big prank as the Marauders. But, we also have to convince everyone that we’re still fighting when it happens. That way the twins, and anyone else who thinks it might be us, will be completely thrown off the scent!”

Remus was impressed. “I thought you got into Gryffindor because you weren’t cunning. That’s a really great sneaky idea.”

“Um…” Sirius played with his fingers.

“C’mon, mate, you can tell us.” James told him reassuringly, “You’re a fellow Gryffindor. We look after each other.”

“Yeah. You already stood up for me. I’m not going to get mad,” Peter promised, crossing his heart. “Swear.”

Sirius sighed. “It told me that I could be in Slytherin if I wanted to. It said I had enough determination and ambition to fit right in, but that I would have to stay with my family there. I told it no.”

“Aw, that doesn’t matter, mate!” James said confidently, slapping Sirius on the back. “Who cares what an old hat thinks anyway? Your Slytherin sneakiness will simply help us prank even more.”

“Yeah, what he said,” Remus smiled reassuringly at Sirius. “But personally, I don’t think you would’ve done well in Slytherin. You seem about as subtle as an elephant. No offense.”

Finally Sirius grinned. “You got me.”

“So back to the plan.” James clapped his hands, making Remus jump. “Outside of this room, Remus is avoiding both of us. He was doing that before--” Remus huddled down on the bed “--so it shouldn’t cause any suspicion. For me and Sirius, I was thinking of a bit more dramatic confrontation….”

“You mean, we’re going to have a shouting match in the Great Hall,” Sirius said. It wasn’t a question.

“Pretty much. Then Pete here is going to spread it around that the three of us have had a huge row. The only reason we go anywhere near each other is to walk him to classes and such because we don’t want him to be bullied.” At Peter’s nervous gulp, James elaborated. “You don’t actually have to say that. Just sort of imply that none of us wants you to suffer because of our fight.”

Peter swallowed again, and then pulled a confident face. “I can do that.”

“Remus--” James started.

“I’m going to basically continue what I’ve been doing,” Remus sighed. “Sit alone, do spells alone or with Peter….”

“Yeah,” Sirius put in, “but now we’re also going to start trading insults. You know: prat, git, know-it-all.”

“Maybe we could have a code,” James’ eyes lit up. “No, listen to this! Each insult really means something else, like, ‘Remus you know-it-all’ actually means ‘I don’t get this, will you help me?’”

“Brilliant!” Sirius grabbed a parchment and quill from the desk and handed them to Remus. “Start writing, Loony, we’ve got a lot of insults to make.”

“Why am I always the one who has to write things? Ugh.”

“Because you have the best handwriting,” Sirius said decisively. “Mine is saved for Marauder pranks.”

“It’s really a compliment if you think about it, Remus,” Peter mumbled. “They trust you to write all of their ideas in actual readable handwriting without missing anything.”

“Thanks then, I guess.” Remus rolled his eyes and got writing.

Chapter Text

“You’re such a know-it-all, Lupin! Ugh, I don’t know how we thought we could stand you at the beginning of the year!”

“Well, Potter, it’s not like you need to stand me anymore! You and Black are idiots!”

“Hey! Who are you calling an idiot? James and I got the highest marks of the Gryffindors in practical potions class last Monday!” So James and Sirius wanted help with a potions essay then...

“Yes, because marks for potion-brewing in the class where the teacher favors you above everyone else are worth so much.”

“Not true! Just because he floo-calls my dad after dinner sometimes does not mean--”

“You just proved my point, Potter. Goodbye.” With that, Remus turned around and made to stomp off in a huff, for all the world as if James and Sirius were the worst and most annoying people on the planet. He was interrupted by a different voice.

“The dream team has called it quits then? You idiots didn’t even last until Halloween. Pathetic.” Remus whirled around to see none other than Snape sneering at them, flanked by those others, Avery and Mulciber, who he seemed to have made friends with.

“Shut it, Snivellus,” Sirius said, grabbing James and turning to walk away. “Come on, Peter, we’re leaving.”

“Oooh, aren’t you brave,” Mulciber laughed. “Taking your pet and running away. So much for Gryffindor courage!”

“Yeah,” Avery grinned menacingly, “turn around and run all the way to your wonderful teachers. After all, they all love brilliant, talented Potter and Black! They don’t care that you’re a bunch of cowards.”

“Do you know the worst thing about them?” Snape continued loudly, “They alienated Lupin in a month. That kid needs all the help he can get, so they must be complete imbeciles to have scared him off. Even poor Pettigrew only stays with them for cowardly reasons. Personally, I think that they just decided that they were better than Lupin and threw him out like the garbage he is.”

“Shut UP!” James yelled, whirling around to show a flushed face and an aggravated glare. “You do NOT talk about Remus that way!”

And that was where the almost-fatal mistake was made. If the Slytherins saw that James had defended Remus after several days of veiled insults and fake fights, news would spread quickly that they had made up. The big prank was planned for the Halloween feast in only six days, and if they made up just before it everyone would be even more suspicious. Remus could do nothing as James realized what he had done, a look along the lines of ‘Crap! What do I do now?’ on his face. They all stood frozen for a minute before Sirius suddenly came up with the most stupid, brilliant, idiotic plan ever: he started insulting his own friends.

“Why can’t they talk about Lupin that way? He’s an idiot and no friend of mine. I don’t know what you see in him, James. For that matter, why do we even bother to look after Pettigrew? Look at him! He’s no help to us.”

Luckily, Sirius had turned to James when he said this, putting his back to the Slytherins as he did so. Play along he mouthed to the others. James spoke up. “What are you talking about you git? Are you going to start insulting them too? What did they ever do to you?”

“What did they do for me? Lupin’s a know-it-all and Peter’s a dunderhead. Why are you standing up for them, Potter?”

“Oh it’s Potter now, is it? I always knew you were a jerk, Black, just like the rest of your stupid family! Why don’t you just leave me alone?!”

They had attracted a crowd. Students from different years had come down the hall for various reasons, but all stopped when confronted with the scene in front of them. No one seemed to want to stop the fight. The Slytherins who had started it all watched with a kind of delighted satisfaction as their enemies tore each other apart. Finally fading back into the throng, Snape, Avery, and Mulciber headed down to the library. If anyone asked, they had been there the whole time.

Remus decided that it was time to point out the fact that he was still ‘fighting’ with both James and Sirius. “Black! Potter!” he yelled. As everyone turned to look at him, Remus wanted nothing more than to fade back into the shadows. This suddenly seemed like a very bad idea, but he couldn’t stop now: his friends were waiting for him.

“You are both complete gits! Why can’t you go find a better place to fight so that the rest of us can get on with our business?”

“Oh yeah?” James challenged furiously, “Well why don’t you--”

“Boys! What is the meaning of this?” It was Professor McGonagall. Lips pinched and eyes flashing, Remus thought that she looked incredibly like an angry mountain lion. He gulped.

“Move along all of you! Black, Potter, Lupin, what is going on here?” Not hearing his name being called, Peter tried to escape into the crowd. “You too, Mr. Pettigrew. Now, would anyone like to tell me what the problem is, gentlemen?” The professor looked sharply at all of them. “Mr. Lupin.” Why was it always him?

“Yes Professor?”

“Please explain to me what was happening between the four of you that caused such a ruckus. No need to leave out the details.”

“Well you see, Professor,” Remus shuffled his feet and, for the sake of the charade, glared at James and Sirius. “Black and Potter there were being gits, as usual, when some Slytherins came over. They had a few words with each other, and somehow Black and Potter started having a shouting match.”

“Is that correct, boys?” McGonagall asked the others sharply. They all nodded. “Very well. Five points will be taken from each of you for openly fighting in the hallways. Now get back to your common room and settle your differences elsewhere.” She gave them a little nudge in the direction of Gryffindor tower and hurried off.

Safely back in their room, the four friends burst out laughing. “Sorry about that, Loony,” Sirius grinned, “I hope you weren’t offended by my insults!”

“Nope! I hope you didn’t mind mine in return! You too, James.”

“We’re good,” James laughed. “Peter? Still alive and unoffended?”

“Of course!” Peter giggled. “Are you guys going to switch the furniture around tonight too? It’s Friday.”

“Nah,” James decided. “We’re doing enough with the Halloween prank. What do we have for that so far?”

“Not much.” Remus took out their carefully guarded plans from under Sirius’ bed. “We want to sneak something into the food in the kitchens--which you still haven’t shown Peter and I--that makes something happen to the people who eat a specific food.”

“Let’s do it to the desserts,” Sirius suggested. “Everybody eats those, and they won’t be able to tell what food it was that did it since it could have been anything that they ate.”

“Brilliant!” James slapped Sirius on the back. “Write that down, Loony.”

“Yes Sir,” Remus muttered good-naturedly, scribbling the idea down. “By the way, what are we even going to put in the food?”

“That’s for me to know, and the rest of you to wish you knew.”

Remus rolled his eyes. “Not how the saying goes, James.”

“Whatever.”

“How are we going to sneak the whatever-it-is passed the House Elves?” Peter asked suddenly. “They’ll have to notice us in there, won’t they?”

“Good point,” Sirius’ face darkened, “we have a House Elf at my house. Nasty little bugger. He hates me with a passion and the feeling is returned. Elves have their own kind of magic; how are we supposed to get passed that?”

“What are you talking about?” James asked. “We met them before and they loved us! I bet we could just ask them to put it in the desserts and they wouldn’t even mind as long as it isn’t dangerous. Which it isn’t.” Seeing the others’ disbelieving looks, James held up his hands in defense. “Oh come on! I used to do it with Catty, my family’s elf, all the time!”

Sirius threw up his hands. “Fine! But if they hate us for it I’m totally saying ‘I told you so,’ just so you know.”

“We have a deal, good sir.” They shook on it.

Remus just shook his head at Peter in a resigned kind of way and took out his Astronomy essay. Thank goodness they hadn’t started on the moon yet.

---M---

Five days until the big Halloween prank. That meant two days until the next full moon. Remus was ready this time. He figured that he should use the ‘sick mother’ excuse early so that he could use it as an excuse more often. After all, it would seem suspicious if he didn’t visit her for the first half of the school year and then suddenly began visiting her every month.

So Remus found himself telling his friends through coded insults (I ought to lock you in the dormitory and leave you there!) that he wanted to meet them in their room after classes.

“What’s up, Loony?” bursting through the door, for some reason piggybacking on Sirius, James was an interesting sight. “Woo hoo!”

“I need to talk to you,” Remus looked at the ceiling, then the floor. This lie was already making him feel terribly guilty, and he hadn’t even told it yet! Squirming a bit, Remus looked back at the three boys that he had somehow ended up befriending, despite his efforts not to.

Peter seemed to pick up on the look on Remus’ face faster than the other two. “Is something wrong, Remus?” James slid off of Sirius’ back, their faces turning more serious when they realized that he wasn’t smiling.

“I-- I wasn’t sure how to tell you but…” Merlin he didn’t know how to do this! “But I wanted to tell you that my mom is… sick. Real sick. Bad sick.” Remus mentally slapped himself. Really? ‘Bad sick?’ Where did that come from?

“Blimey mate, sorry,” Sirius muttered. Then in a lower voice, “wish it was my dear old Mum instead.”

“Prat!” James slapped Sirius on the back of the head before turning to Remus. “Sorry, mate. Um… thanks for telling us about it.” He seemed quite unsure of himself, as if unable to really process talking about something in a non-joking way. At least he tried, Remus thought.

“Yeah,” he decided that it was better to study the floor. Remus did not want to see the pitying looks for something that wasn’t actually a problem. He cleared his throat. “So… the professors agreed to let me go and visit her every couple of months, or if she gets suddenly worse. I’m going home tomorrow for a couple of days.”

To Remus’ surprise, it was Peter that reacted first. The chubby blonde slowly walked over and put his arm around Remus’ shoulders. Remus stiffened, but Peter didn’t move. “Remus, if you ever want to talk about it… I mean, we’re here for you. It’ll be alright, you’ll see.”

Not sure how to react, Remus gave Peter a shaky smile. “Thanks, Peter.” James and Sirius walked over next to the pair on the bed.

“We’ll take notes for you while you’re gone, Remus,” James said softly.

Sirius nodded. “Even if it kills us.” James smacked him again.

“Taking notes won’t kill you, you prat! You don’t even have to take notes in Astronomy! Peter can help us, he’s good at Astronomy. Right?”

“Yeah, of course!” Peter smiled happily, moving over to sit next to James. “It’s my favorite subject! It’s so cool how the stars are always moving, but always consistent, you know?”

“All I know is that I’m named after the dog star,” Sirius put in, “and that the North Star points North, because that’s what we learned in our last lesson. North Star… North… go figure.”

Remus couldn’t help the smile that came back to his face as his friends bantered good-naturedly. He couldn’t imagine how the rest of the school hadn’t guessed that they weren’t really fighting at this point. It was pretty obvious from here.

“Sirius you practically are a dog! I think your name fits, personally!”

“What are you talking about, Potter? I’m not some kind of mutt!”

“I think it might have something to do with how you shake out your hair all over him every time it’s wet from the shower.”

“Not helping, Peter!”

“Shhhhh!” Remus cautioned suddenly. Footsteps pounded passed the door on the other end of the room. “Carry on.” James and Sirius gave him such similar weird looks that Remus couldn’t help but laugh. Underneath his chuckles, a guilty little worm started crawling around in his gut. He was lying to his friends about something important. And they bought it. That almost made it worse.

The next day, Remus bid goodbye to his friends at the entrance to Dumbledore’s office. The story was that he was going to floo home from there and return in two days, just in time to sneak out and set up the prank for the Halloween feast on Monday. In reality, Remus was going to walk up to Dumbledore’s office and wait there for Madam Pomfrey to escort him to the Shrieking Shack. On Saturday, Remus would stay hidden in the Hospital Wing recovering from his injuries in a bed charmed to keep visitors and prying students away.

Hoping that his friends didn’t suspect anything from his jumpy behavior, Remus knocked on the door to Dumbledore’s office. “Enter,” called a voice from inside. Remus pushed open the door and looked around curiously. He had never been to Dumbledore’s office before, and it was a very interesting place. Strange silver trinkets shivered, puffed, or squeaked quietly around the room. Several small and delicate-looking instruments spun or hummed quietly, and a magnificent red bird sat imperiously on a perch on Dumbledore’s desk as if it ruled over the office along with the Headmaster.

“This is Fawkes, a phoenix whom I have been honored to befriend,” Dumbledore broke the silence, seeming to notice Remus’ noticing of the bird, who was noticing Remus noticing him, Remus noticed…

Remus shook his head. “Hello Fawkes.” The phoenix chirruped softly, the noise reverberating around the room and making Remus feel a bit as if he’d just had a drink of hot chocolate on a winter day.

“Remus,” Dumbledore drew his attention again, “there is something that I must discuss with you. Please sit down.” Nervously, Remus sat on the edge of the offered chair. Had Dumbledore decided that he couldn’t stay at Hogwarts? Had someone found out that he was a monster? Was his family in trouble? Did Dumbledore know about the prank?

“I understand that you wish for all possible methods of keeping your condition a secret to be employed, but it is not always possible to keep such a big secret at Hogwarts.” Remus’ heart sank. Someone knew that he was a werewolf and undoubtedly wanted him gone. He would never return from this ‘trip home.’

“Unfortunately, my boy, I believe that it would be beneficial if we chose to inform several more professors of your condition. I believe that Professor Flitwick has a good idea of what has been going on since Professor McGonagall and myself did work on the Shrieking Shack. Would you consider letting me inform the Professors of your condition?”

Remus’ mind wheeled. Tell people about his secret? On purpose? Did Flitwick know that he knew, or only suspect Remus? Would all of his teachers hate him? McGonagall didn’t seem to mind, but she hadn’t exactly seen what could happen if he was loose. Madam Pomfrey took care of him, but that was her job. What if other teachers started dropping hints and bullying him? What if the students found out?

“You do not have to give me an answer right away, of course, but please consider the option. Alright?” Dumbledore searched Remus’ face, but Remus was too mixed-up to even know what Dumbledore saw. If the teachers knew about the condition, then he could get out of classes and things on the full moon much more easily. No more hiding things from them. Did the pros outweigh the cons? Remus didn’t know.

“I’ll think about it,” he mumbled.

“That is, of course, all that I can ask for,” Dumbledore said jovially. “Now Remus,” the Headmaster pierced him with another stare, “is there anything else you want to talk about? Anything at all?”

That blue-eyed gaze made Remus a little uncomfortable. He shook his head and looked away, feeling as if Dumbledore could read his very thoughts with just a look. It was an uncomfortable feeling.

Luckily, Madam Pomfrey chose that moment to knock on the office door. Bidding good evening to Dumbledore, the kind nurse placed the disillusionment charm on Remus once again and walked him down to the Whomping Willow. It was only 4:00, and Remus wasn’t feeling nearly as sick as the last time. He hoped that that was a good sign.

“I know you took along some homework to do while you wait,” Madam Pomfrey said as they crawled through the tunnel. “Be sure to have everything put away by the time the sun sets. The box is ready for you. When I come in the morning don’t try to talk unless I really can’t find you or you know that it won’t hurt you.”

“Yes Madam Pomfrey, you already told me this on the way down.”

“I just want to be sure, dear,” the nurse smiled at him. “Alright, there’s the trap door. Can you manage from there?”

“Yes Madam Pomfrey.”

“Good luck!” echoed behind him as Remus closed the trapdoor. He sighed. Madam Pomfrey was a bit overprotective of all of her charges, but he seemed like her favorite victim for some reason. Oh well. It was better than the opposite.

Remus sat down to work on his latest transfiguration homework, but soon found himself unable to concentrate. Being in the Shack was too… creepy. Sure he’d better get used to being here every month, but Remus didn’t think that howling wind and boarded-up windows made the most welcoming environment. Plus, he was beginning to feel really ill now.

Giving up his schoolwork as a lost cause after struggling to focus for half an hour or so, Remus stood apprehensively. He immediately regretted it. Retching, thankful that he hadn’t eaten dinner, Remus stumbled away and looked at the sky out of the cracks of one of the boarded-up windows, leaning against the wall as he did so. The light was fading and the horizon seemed to be spinning. Remus sat down on the floor. It was very nerve-wracking to just sit around waiting for the moon to rise. He still had to wait nearly 20 minutes!

Since he probably wouldn’t be able to do it later, Remus drunkenly pulled off his clothes, locking them with his wand and schoolwork in the safe box. After that, Remus was left naked and sick in an empty shack with no clue what to do with himself.

Attempting to think of a distraction, Remus’ headache-addled thoughts landed on the prank. It was happening on Sunday night before the Halloween feast on Monday. This was Friday night. Remus hoped dearly that his injuries weren’t severe enough to keep him in the Hospital Wing for so long that he missed the prank. They had been planning for ages, and Remus hadn’t considered the moon’s interference until it was too late to change plans without seeming suspicious.

If the teachers caught them mid-prank, they were done for. Remus shivered a bit, his thoughts turning to Dumbledore’s request to tell the teachers everything.

Flitwick already knew, or thought he did anyway. McGonagall knew for sure, as she had helped charm and ward the Shack for him and was his Head of House. Sprout and Slughorn knew nothing, as far as Remus could tell, and Vincent could go either way. It wasn’t like she treated anyone particularly nicely when all she did was tell long, didactic horror stories about dangerous creatures and the war with Grindelwald. Sinistra would be one of the most likely to figure it out, and Remus was sure that if the sharp Astronomy teacher hadn’t figured it out yet, she soon would.

So was it better for the teachers to whisper amongst themselves with esoteric speculations, or was it better to tell them right out and hope that they didn’t mind being deceived?

Remus’ head spun and he shivered again. He was curled on his side on the hard floor with no memory of lying down. His head pounded too much to think, his stomach rolled threateningly, and his muscles were all tensed, unable to relax. Remus’ fingernails drew blood from his palms, but he could not unclench his fists.

Then pain.

Remus screamed.

His bones were on fire.

A sliver of moonlight came through the window.

Blackness.

--M--

Remus’ recovery took two days. Well… Remus was in the Hospital Wing for two days. Remus’ recovery was going to take longer than two days, but Remus needed to help with the prank on Sunday night, so as far as Madam Pomfrey was concerned, Remus was completely fine after two days. No one hid pain like Remus “Loony” Lupin.

Really the only thing that still hurt Remus sometimes was his sprained left wrist; all of his cuts, scrapes, bruises, and other had been expertly healed. Well, some of the larger cuts had taken a long time to heal, and he may or may not still have a bandage around his right thigh… but Remus was fine! Really!

Confession time: Remus had been way more excited than he should have been to pull off this prank. Maybe the fact that he and his friends were pranking the whole school at once had finally sunk in. Whatever the case, Remus found himself standing in the Great Hall at midnight, trying to charm huge words to be invisible until he said the counter-charm.

He had found the strange little charm in the same book from the library that had helped him out before. When he had checked it out again, Madam Whiverian had raised an eyebrow, but she gave it to him. “You know, the last time that book was checked out one poor Gryffindor was pranked using the charms inside,” she had said ironically. Remus had blushed, but given the librarian a charming (he hoped) grin. “How terrible. I’ll be sure to be careful with this book then, Madam.” She had let him go, seeming amused. Remus thought that they might have somehow gained an ally, but that remained to be seen.

Just as he finished the charm, the words flickering and disappearing, a muffled crash and an “oof!” sounded from the other side of the room. Remus whipped around, heart pounding, to see Peter and James lying in a heap on the floor surrounded by a pile of cloth.

“Shhhhh!” he whispered furiously, running over lightly. “What happened?”

“We were trying to hang the banner above the head table,” James whispered, “but Peter’s levitation charm gave out and I couldn’t fasten the pull rope alone, so this happened.”

Peter hung his head. “Sorry I came along. I’m just being a nuisance. I can go and--”

“It’s alright, Peter,” said Remus kindly. “It wasn’t your fault.”

“Yeah,” James agreed. “You just need a little bit more practice.” At that moment, Sirius ran over, panting. “Well look who decided to finally show up. What, Sirius, didn’t care if your best friend died or something from being buried in this pile of cloth?”

Sirius rolled his eyes. “Sorry, mate. I was finishing Remus’ spell and I couldn’t come over until it was done. You know what a pain it is to cast. Besides, Remus came right away, so I knew you were fine. It’s just a banner.”

“Sure,” James muttered. “Come on, help us out of here.” Sirius and Remus pulled James and Peter out of the banner that they were currently tangled up in. Since it was the last thing to do before heading to the kitchens, Sirius took over for Peter and he and James worked together to rig the thing properly.

After James quickly cast the invisibility spell (“see Sirius? I’m totally faster than you!”), they all headed down to the kitchens, James and Sirius in the lead. Remus stayed in the back of the procession, glancing behind and listening carefully should anyone but themselves be patrolling this particular corridor. Peter’s eyes were darting around for hiding places, just in case.

It turned out to be a good thing that they were keeping watch. Just as they rounded a corner, Remus heard footsteps coming toward them from behind. “Someone’s coming!” he hissed, starting to panic. “Run!”

James and Sirius took off ahead, footsteps echoing down the corridor. Whoever was behind them seemed to hear, as their footsteps grew louder and faster as well. The pursuer was gaining on them.

Remus caught up with Peter and they hurled down a corridor together after James and Sirius. There was a crash behind them; it sounded as if the person that was after them had tripped over a suit of armor. Not stopping for longer than a second, the four boys continued sprinting through turns and doors. Remus thought he heard a meow. Trying to listen while he ran, he nearly crashed into James, who had stopped abruptly and was frantically rubbing his fingers over a portrait. “What’re you do--” a doorknob appeared out of the frame.

The footsteps were about to turn the corner. An ugly gray cat with yellow eyes was coming toward them. James wrenched the portrait open and dove inside, followed closely by the others. Remus didn’t even stop to think as he followed Sirius through and then pulled Peter behind him, slamming the door.

It was suddenly quiet. Ragged breathing was the only thing that broke the silence as Remus turned around to see the room that had saved them.

It was a large, domed room with four large tables. It reminded him of the Great Hall, except that there were other tables full of kitchen equipment and different kinds of food. The other difference was that, while the Great Hall was dark and deserted at this time of night, this room was full of strange little creatures staring at him.

One brave little creature stepped forward. It came up a little ways past Remus’ waist.

“What can we do for young Sirs? Would yous like nighttime snacks?”

“That’d be great,” James grinned. “Can we get a few hot chocolates? And maybe some biscuits?”

There were grins and curtsies all around as the strange little kitchen creatures swarmed the students, nearly forcing them over to a table and setting down an enormous tray of biscuits, tarts, and other pastries along with mugs of hot chocolate for all of them. Remus smiled and laughed, but deflated a little when he realized that not one of what could only be House Elves had actually touched him. They surrounded James, Sirius, and Peter indiscriminately, but carefully avoided getting in range of actually touching Remus at all times. Luckily, the other boys didn’t notice.

James gave the little elves three handfuls of strange tablets that came in all colors of the rainbow. “Can you randomly spread these through the desserts, please? They won’t hurt anyone, they’re just for a bit of a joke.”

It took some convincing and definitely some rule-bending, but eventually the elves agreed to help with their plan. They even relaxed enough around Remus to grab his mug of hot chocolate from his hand and refill it. Remus called that progress.

---M---

“Greetings, students, and welcome to our annual Halloween feast! Before our senses are all dulled by this delicious food, I have been asked to inform you that the first quidditch match, Gryffindor vs. Slytherin, has been scheduled for this coming Saturday. Anyone who wishes to view the match is welcome to do so! Carry on!”

Dumbledore clapped his hands and the tables filled with food. Remus was nearly too jumpy to eat as he waited on tenterhooks for the dessert to arrive. Peter pushed his plate away and kept looking over his shoulder. James and Sirius, however, seemed louder and more hyper than ever. Go figure.

Finally, finally dessert appeared.

“What do you reckon?” James asked suddenly.

“Well if I were a house-elf, I’d put those things in… this stuff!” Sirius declared. Then he promptly took a large scoop of said ‘stuff’ and put it in his mouth. “Delicious!”

“Sirius, you just said that you thought that that food was trapped. Why would you want to try it?” Remus pointed out.

Sirius just grinned. “You’re too logical, Loony. I’m always wrong about stuff like this, so if I think that the house elves put food in this dish, that probably means that they put food in every dish except this one. Plus, it looked really good.”

“Works for me,” James shrugged, taking a bite. “Wow it really is good! What is this stuff?”

“Cheesecake.” Remus rolled his eyes. “Do purebloods not have cheesecake?” When two dark-haired heads shook simultaneously, Remus just sighed. “The world is in worse shape than I thought.”

BAM!

Screams echoed through the Great Hall as nearly a third of the students at every table began to either turn purple, grow voluminous hair out of both nostrils, grow feathers instead of hair, or some other strange phenomenon, presumably caused by James’ innocent looking pills.

Peter began laughing hysterically with James and Sirius while Remus was still looking around. He turned back just in time to see James and Sirius both sprout long furry tails and cat ears with a small ‘pop.’

“Sirius! You were right!” James cried. “I thought you said you were never right, you prat!”

For his part, Sirius just seemed stunned. “But… I’m never right about these things. What happened? Is there something wrong with me?” he joked.

“Obviously,” Remus began, “You were wrong about being wrong about this. Thus, when you were right, you were actually wrong. You thought that what you thought was wrong, when it was actually right, so you were still wrong. Right?”

“...What?” Peter asked.

“I’m with Peter on this one, Loony. No idea what you just said,” James put in.

“No no, I got it!” Sirius cried. “He said that I was wrong because I was right, but I was wrong about being right. So really I was wrong the whole time because of my rightness about the food.”

“Right!” Remus grinned. Peter and James looked so confused that it was hilarious. James’ cat ears and tail did not help.
Suddenly Remus remembered something else. “The spell!” he whispered, “On three.”

“One,” James began.

“Two,” Sirius added.

“Three!” said Remus. In unison, all three boys shot the counter spell to their rolled up banners. Immediately they unfurled, showing the school various messages flashing in purple such as:

YOU KNOW YOU LOVE US!
MARAUDERS FOR THE WIN!

Right behind the teachers’ table was the biggest banner of all:

A HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO ALL!
LOVE: THE MARAUDERS

---M---

They were still talking about it sneaking around the halls that night. That is, after Madam Pomfrey had declawed James and Sirius, so to speak.

“Did you see their faces? Everyone was so shocked! What were those things, James? Where did you get them?” Sirius seemed completely impressed by the pills; apparently, he had never played such a big prank before. Not that the others had either, but Sirius had particularly enjoyed it.

James snickered. “I got them for my birthday last March. I think they’re from Zonko’s, because I’ve never seen them before at Gamble and Japes. They’re called Traitorously Unsuspicious Rainbow Drops. TURDs for short.” Remus rolled his eyes. Again.

“These are my kind of people,” Sirius laughed.

“It was so cool!” Peter said. “It was like, BAM! And everyone went ‘woah!’ James, that was the best prank I’ve ever seen! How did you--”

“Well well, what have we here?” said a scratchy voice from behind them. The boys whirled around.

“My, little first-years out of bed after curfew.” A man stepped menacingly out of the shadows. “What will we do with you?”

Chapter Text

Hogwarts had a vast and alluring room within its halls. The room was on the third floor, passed several unused classrooms, a strange statue of a humpbacked witch, and one bathroom. Though dusty and grimy, the room gave off a grand air to all who entered it, for this was the Hogwarts trophy room, and all of the awards and prizes that the students of the school earned were kept there.

Yes, the room was grand, elegant, disgusting, cobwebby, cluttered, and an absolute pain in the behind to clean. Without magic. For two hours.

Remus, James, Sirius, and Peter had earned their first ever detention as a foursome, and somehow Remus knew that it wouldn’t be the last. He could tell that the various coughs, sneezes, and exclamations of disgust that rang through the room would not be enough to deter James and Sirius (and probably Peter) from pulling him into another prank.

Remus was pulled out of his thoughts as Sirius’ voice rang from the other end of the room. “Why does one even get an award for being the ‘Hufflepuff Gobstones Tournament Runner-Up?’ Is it just so that future students have to clean the trophy in detention or what?”

“Maybe it was a really vicious game of Gobstones, so they thought the bloke deserved an award for just playing,” James suggested from somewhere to Remus’ right. A snort could be heard from Sirius.

“Maybe the real winner didn’t want an award because they knew that poor detention-ridden students who got pulled into this mess by their friends would have to clean it.” Remus yelled out pointedly.

“You know you love us, Loony!” Came two voices at once from opposite ends of the room. Remus rolled his eyes.

“Gobstones is hard!” Peter said from the other corner. “That goop stings if you get it in your eyes, too.”

“Gobstones goop?” said James incredulously, “That’s nothing! I’m going to be a professional Quidditch player when I grow up, and they get injuries all the time! Professional Quidditch players have to be tough, like me. Or maybe I’ll be an Auror. I haven’t decided yet. It’s supposed to be really hard to get into the Auror Academy, but I’m sure I could get in. I did just get an O on our last Transfigur--”

“Lose the bragging, mate. You sound like my cousins,” came Sirius’ voice.

“You have cousins?” Peter asked.

“Yeah. Trust me, you wouldn’t like them, Pete. I was actually nearly surprised that none of them were involved with that bullying fiasco you had.”

“Oh.”

“You think that I sounded like your evil Slytherin cousins?!” James gasped dramatically, “I’m highly offended. Take it back this instant, you dog!” and he threw his sopping wet cleaning rag, splattering water and suds all over Sirius’ back.

Slowly Sirius turned. “Oh, so that’s how you want to play? You’d better run for your life, Potter.”

And so began the infamous incident later known as the Marauder Rag War. Rules were quickly made: no hitting eyes with the muggle cleaner-soaked rags, tackling and pretty much any sort of manhandling were allowed as long as there were no below-the-belt actions. In any sense.

Chaos reigned. The floor was covered in slippery water and suds, trophies were hit by flying rags, and the boys ran after each other yelling and slipping and laughing like maniacs. Remus screamed in terror as Sirius veered away from James and came after him. Whooping and relishing his sudden freedom, James began racing after Peter, who slipped and landed painfully on his backside. James sat on him and wrung out his rag over his face.

Remus bolted, ducking around corners and behind suits of armor as Sirius chased him with a cleaning rag. He thought he might have heard a door slam, but it was quickly driven from his mind when Sirius charged, rag in hand. Letting loose another terrified yell, Remus rounded a suit of armor and tripped over James and Peter, who were sprawled on the floor, causing him to barely miss the rag that Sirius had thrown.

“WHAT IS GOING--”

SLAP!

Slowly, Remus raised his head. Standing before them was Professor McGonagall. Her hair was dripping and her glasses askew, but that did nothing to deter the glare that she was leveling at the four of them. Remus was forcibly reminded of the pictures he had seen of hippogriffs, fearsome creatures that basically demanded respect or death. Remus gulped.

Sirius was standing several feet (a meter) away with a horrified expression on his face and no rag in his hand.

“What,” said Professor McGonagall in a terrifyingly low voice, “is the meaning of this?"

Slowly, Remus, James and Peter pulled themselves up to stand beside Sirius, forming a ragged line. Glancing nervously at the others, Remus saw how bad it really was. An old shield awarded for ‘special services to the school’ had fallen over onto the floor, covered in suds. A Quidditch Cup was filled to the brim with water. And how, exactly, had they managed to get splashes on the ceiling?

James was so wet that even his hair was lying flat against his head, something, he had told them, that was thought to be impossible among Potter men. Sirius had lost his shoes and socks somewhere along the line, and his bare footprints were scattered throughout the chamber. His robes were soaked all down the back. Peter was sopping wet and dripping all over the place, fruitlessly trying to flick the water off of his hands and sleeves. Remus himself was sporting a bruised elbow, and the hems of his robes made little wet trails along the floor. Remus steeled himself and turned back to the furious Professor. Having been hit by the rag meant for him, she didn’t look much drier than her students. He didn’t know how they would survive this, but they were all in this together. Remus couldn’t betray his friends when they had all been at fault.

“I ought to expel all of you on the spot. Shameful! Four of my Gryffindors trashing the trophy room, making it filthier than before, shouting and stampeding enough to alert half the castle, while in detention! I thought you knew better than this,” she addressed Remus directly. He looked down. This did not seem like a good time to point out that the room was probably actually much cleaner than before because they had gotten soapy water everywhere. “This is completely unacceptable! You boys will be--”

“Professor?” James stepped forward.

“What is it, Mr. Potter,” Professor McGonagall said in a do-not-mess-with-me-or-you-will-be-very-sorry sort of voice.

“It was my fault. I started the fight. If you’re going to punish anyone, punish me. Let my friends go, it wasn’t their fault.”

“No way, you--no way!” Sirius amended, glancing at the professor. “It was just as much my fault as his, Professor. You can’t punish him without punishing me too. We’ll share whatever it is.” He mouthed ‘I got your back’ to James with a thumbs up and a nervous smile.

Remus stepped forward with his friends. “I participated just as much as these guys. It doesn’t matter who started it; we all deserve to be punished, not just James. It was my fault too, professor, since I didn’t stop it.”

“Well I can’t let you punish all of them without me,” Peter added. “All of us or none of us, I suppose.”

“We really are sorry Professor. Do you want us to clean up the room from our… detention? Or we could do a different one,” Remus suggested.

Professor McGonagall pursed her lips, but they seemed to be twitching. Remus hoped that that didn’t mean she was even more angry than before. Finally, the Professor seemed to make up her mind. “Clean up this mess and go back to your dormitories. Fifteen points will be taken from each of you for this offence. Consider it another detention and a loss of a total of sixty points. Yes, from my own house. And this time your detention will be supervised.”

Professor McGonagall turned on her heel and stalked out of the room, her hair and robes still dripping wet, leaving a ringing silence behind her.

Sirius started laughing first.

James soon followed, howling with laughter as Peter began to chuckle along. Remus lost it when Sirius and James leaned heavily on each other, knocking themselves backwards against an empty trophy stand.

“We really shouldn’t be laughing,” Remus choked out.

“Think of it as--” gasp “--laughing in relief,” James grinned broadly.

“Of not getting expelled,” Sirius finished for him. “The old McG looked pretty furious.”

“McG?” Peter mumbled.

“Yup! That’s now her name. You all have to call our dear professor that at every opportunity.”

Remus just sighed and rolled his eyes.

---M---

When the rest of the first years found out that their friendship was back on track, Remus and his friends were subjected to equal amounts of awkward congratulations and malicious teasing. Unsurprisingly, it was Snape that first started the latter.

“So, the dream Gryffindor team is back together,” he sneered. Remus couldn’t see any other Slytherins around, but he was sure that even Snape wouldn’t dare mock four other students without backup. “What happened, Potter? You realized that all your friends were going to leave, so you apologized on bended knee?”

James gritted his teeth as Sirius stepped forward to defend him. “Shut up, Snivellus. You don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”

“Oh that’s right!” Snape drawled, “great, almighty James Potter isn’t capable of apologizing on bended knee. How forgetful of me.” He turned back to James, “how much did you pay these loons to stay friends with you, Potter? I’ll bet Lupin there doesn’t even know what you were doing for those weeks that you fought.”

“I know more than you’d think!” Remus retorted, taken aback by this new direction. What did Snape mean by ‘what the others had done?’

“Sure you do,” Snape rolled his eyes as though Remus was the most stupid, idiotic four-year-old on the planet, and turned on his heel to walk away. The young boy had a knack for sweeping through the corridors like a bat on a mission, and his semi-greasy black hair didn’t help that impression.

“Don’t you turn your back on me, Snivellus!” James said, drawing his wand and taking a step forward. “I’m not afraid of a fight!”

“Afraid?” Snape snarled, whipping around. His hand inched toward his pocket, but Snape seemed very aware of both James’ and Sirius’ wands suddenly pointing at him. “Afraid of you? You must be joking, Potter. I’ll take you on anytime anywhere. After all, you’ll be an easy target when your head’s the size of a hippo!”

“Why you little--” Sirius was cut off as a sickly yellow light shot from the end of James’ wand and grazed Snape, who was unable to dodge quick enough, in the left elbow.
Immediately, Snape’s arm started to jerk and he began scratching it relentlessly. Snarling at James, who was smirking and high-fiving Sirius and Peter, Snape pulled out his wand completely and shot out a blue light.

Remus yelled out a warning, pulling his friends down just before the light hit James right in the face. The smell of singed hair floated around them as James and Sirius both sent spells back in retaliation. Both went wide to the left, so Snape neatly sidestepped the hexes, but ran straight into Remus’ carefully aimed scourgify. When he had seen the spells going left, Remus, acting on instinct, had fired his spell to the right, where Snape would end up after dodging the first two spells.

Snape’s mouth foamed, filled with bubbles from the spell, and his eyes flashed menacingly. He drew breath to cast again and a tickling charm barely grazed Remus in the side, hitting Peter behind him full on. Peter collapsed in a heap laughing as Remus chuckled a bit.

“Peter!” James gasped and performed the counter-charm for his friend, Sirius and Remus watching his back. Snape spat bubbles on the ground and scratched his at his arm again. It seemed to be increasingly bothering him.

“You’ll pay for that,” Sirius growled, advancing on Snape with his wand in hand.

“Who’ll make me? You, Black? Or Lupin? Don’t hold your breath.”

Remus couldn’t take it anymore. Personal insults he could handle (he was a werewolf. He had to have a thick skin) but hexing and insulting his friends was too much! Snape swept around again just as three spells soared around him. A portrait of a maid in a barn yelled loudly as her frame was dinged. One spell tore a hole through the bottom of Snape’s robes, a strange orange goo coating the rip.

The last spell, James’, soared toward the end of the hallway. Time seemed to slow down as footsteps approached and a voice called down to their corridor, “Sev? Is that you?”

Lily Evans turned the corner, straight into the path of the spell meant for Snape. It struck her right in the chest and exploded outward with the force of a paintball. Lily screamed.

For one frozen moment, nothing happened. Then one tiny purple dot materialized on the very tip of Lily’s nose. What followed was comparable to an avalanche of purple pox across Lily’s skin. Bewildered, she looked at the five boys staring at her, and then down at her afflicted arms. “Ohh,” she gulped, “Ow…” and then she began to scratch.
Snape turned on James, murder in his eyes and written across his face. “POTTER! What did you DO to her?!”

James’ expression, which had been concerned for his unconfirmed crush, hardened immediately. “The same hex that I tried to hit you with in the first place, Snivellus, except that she didn’t dodge quick enough! Come on guys, let’s get her to the Hospital Wing. I don’t know the counter for it.”

He started toward Lily only to find her staring at him as murderously as Snape. “Get away from me Potter!” she spat, “I won’t go anywhere with you! What did you think you were doing, throwing hexes at Sev? No thank you!” Snape walked over to her and began leading her away. Remus was surprised at how genuinely concerned he seemed for her, considering that she was a Gryffindor and he a Slytherin, but then he remembered that they had been friends before Hogwarts.

“And Remus?” he looked at Lily, who was nearly gone around the corner after Snape. “I thought you were better than that. Goodbye.” With another itch to her nose, Lily was gone.

It was silent for a moment before Peter carefully took a step forward, as if still expecting Snape to rise out of the floor and attack him. “...Now what?”

Sirius shrugged. Remus was too guilty to do anything. Better than that. But he hadn’t just gone randomly attacking students! Snape had insulted all of them and hexed Peter first! Was it really his fault for defending his friend? No, Remus decided. That one wasn’t my fault, and I won’t let Lily Evans make me feel guilty for it.

Thinking was one thing, however, and actually believing himself was quite another.

“I say we follow them,” James declared. “I don’t trust Snape farther than a mermaid can fly. Let’s go make sure he gets her straight to the Hospital Wing and doesn’t try anything.”

Sirius shrugged. “Good by me.”

“Me too,” Remus added. “I want to make sure she’s alright.” His friends all looked at him oddly, and Remus realized how odd that must have sounded. “James is a menace,” he added for clarification. Sirius looked mollified, James a little good-naturedly miffed, and Peter a little obstinate.

“Should I be offended?” James joked as they turned a corner. Sirius scouted ahead, full-out acting the ninja-spy lookout for them from the shadows.

“I don’t think you’re a menace, James,” Peter said proudly. “Snivellus deserved it. Where did you learn all those awesome dueling spells? We haven’t learned anything like that in class yet.”

James visibly puffed up, and Remus rolled his eyes. He hated to agree with Snape on anything, but James’ ego really was a bit large.

“I learned them over the summer from this book my dad got me for my birthday along with the TURDs. Actually,” he rubbed his neck, “please don’t mention either of those presents to my mum. But anyway, it’s called Jumbled Jinxes: Non-Permanent Spells with Style, and that’s where I got a few of those spells from. I heard they don’t teach you anything good until your supposed to be ‘mature’ enough to use them ‘properly,’ so I came prepared. Good thing too.”

At that, Peter nodded enthusiastically and tailed after James, who was practically swaggering down the hall from all the praise.

James’ bubble was quickly burst, however, when Sirius came sprinting down the corridor toward them. “Run!” he hissed. Remus, James and Peter took off after him, no more explanation needed. Sirius wouldn’t run that fast unless it was… well… serious.

Remus panted heavily, catching up with Sirius as they tore through tapestries and tunnels, ran down a staircase and through random twists and turns. It wasn’t until Remus saw something very familiar that he realized where they were.

“Wait, stop!” he gasped, leaning against the wall next to a large portrait of a girl wearing an ugly dress and holding a toad. His friends slowed as well, looking back for pursuit from the way they came and laying on the ground to catch their breath.

“What happened, Sirius?” James asked once they had all gotten their breath back.

“Sorry,” Sirius explained, “but Evans and Snivellus ran into The McG and it didn’t seem like the best idea to stick around after she started asking questions.”
“Good call,” Remus muttered, staring distractedly at the picture. “Will you please open for me?”

“What’re you--” Peter cut himself off when the portrait swung forward. “Oh. Does that go somewhere?”

“It must, Pete, otherwise it wouldn’t have opened,” James said, clapping Peter on the back. “Obviously, dear Loony has been keeping secrets. What else are you hiding, man, cat ears? Vampire fangs?”

Sirius and Peter laughed, but Remus blushed and turned back to the wall. James didn’t realize how close to home he had struck with the offhand comment. Carefully tapping the correct brick and then tapping out the answer to the riddle (it hadn’t changed since last time) Remus let the door swing forward.

“Woah,” Sirius whispered as they stepped into the dusty room. “Has this always been here?”

“When’d you find it, Loony?” James asked interestedly. “And how? This was pretty well-hidden if I do say so myself. I do forget sometimes that you’re the genius of the group, I suppose.”

Remus felt himself go even pinker. A genius? Him? Yeah right. “It was sort of an accident actually. I got lost on the first day on my way to McGonagall’s--” Sirius coughed, “--fine. The McG’s office and couldn’t ever find my way back to here. I was going to tell you, but I guess…” he trailed off. Remus didn’t really have much of a reason for keeping the secret if he thought about it.

“Who cares? We’re here now,” Sirius exclaimed. He was running around the room and inspecting everything. “Did you go through that creepy-looking tunnel over there?”

“Remus wouldn’t go there,” Peter called from the couch, “he’s too logical to do something like that without planning it first. What if he got lost or something?”

“Oh yeah,” Sirius deflated a little.

“Um… actually…” Remus stuttered. Next to him, James openly guffawed.

“You didn’t!” Remus blushed. Again. He would have to work on that in the future. “You, Remus Lupin, went into a creepy dark tunnel alone without telling anyone where you were? I guess we’ll have a reason to call you ‘Loony’ now.”

“I was curious!” Remus protested. “I couldn’t just leave it alone once I’d found it! What would you have done?”

“Gotten James and Sirius?” Peter said, at the same time that James said “probably go in,” and Sirius said “definitely explore.”

Remus rolled his eyes. “So you’re yelling at me for something two of the three of you would also have done.”

“Yep!’ James grinned. “Glad you figured that out. Now are we going to explore this thing or what?”

“Doesn’t Remus already know what’s in there?” Sirius asked.

Remus shrugged. “All I found out for sure is that it leads to a couple of other passages and there’s a peep-hole into McGona--McG’s office, plus a door that leads to right outside her office door.”

“Well, what are we waiting for then?” Sirius grinned roguishly and bowed deeply to Remus. “Lead on, Loony!”

---M---

The Passage behind the ‘Toad Girl’ Portrait

A list by Remus Lupin

- A large room (good for meetings) Or Parties! ~J

- A peep-hole into McG’s office

- Exits into two other passageways, one to the charms corridor and one to an unused room on the fourth floor (both include peep-holes as well)

- One door that goes directly behind a tapestry in the dungeons ←Snake pit. -S

- A whole lot of mold and mice.

Are we really sure this is safe? -P-

Chapter Text

“Loony, Loony! Wake up! Did you hear that howling last night?” James jumped up and down on Remus’ bed the next morning. “Huh? Guys have you seen Loony anywhere? He’s never awake this early.”

“Maybe he got tired of your insistent yelling in the morning and went to get breakfast first,” Sirius yawned from his four-poster. “Or maybe he’s down in the common waiting or something.”

“He’d better be,” James said indignantly. “I need to inform him that the first quidditch match of the season is in four days!”

“He might already know about it, James. You’ve only told the rest of us about five hundred times since you found out about it last night.”

“Well, either way, we have a Marauder missing in action! We must find him at once!” James announced.

“In your pajama pants?” Sirius pointed out. “Without eating breakfast or brushing our teeth?” James blushed.

“He’ll turn up, James,” Peter said from the bathroom. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

Reluctantly James got up off of Remus’ empty bed and began to get ready. “It would have been better if we could have run off to find him right away,” he muttered resignedly, “but I suppose it’d be better if the whole common room didn’t get a look at my pajamas.”

“That’s the spirit! Now why don’t you go take a shower or something? You smell like socks and drool!” Sirius grinned. James groaned.

---M---
“Overall you’ve got two broken bones, one sprain, a small concussion, and a scar across your cheek,” Madam Pomfrey huffed as Remus examined his reflection in the mirror she had conjured. There were two angry red claw-marks starting a few centimeters from his right ear and slashing down into his chin. A swollen bump adorned his left temple, but it was cleaner and smaller than it would have been without Madam Pomfrey’s expert care.

“You’ll have to stay in here today and overnight, Remus.” He groaned and fell back on the bed. “I’m serious! I know you hate to miss your classes, but that concussion has to be treated carefully. You’ll drink three potions every four and a quarter hours, and no visitors until this afternoon.”

Remus grumbled darkly. Staying in the Hospital Wing with its sterile white walls and cabinets with nothing to do was the last thing he wanted.

“I’ll have none of that groaning, Mr. Lupin!” Madam Pomfrey called from the corner. “Now you’re going to have to take these potions to get you started. A dose of skele-grow, this is a pain killer, the green one’s for your concussion, and here’s a mild sleeping draught.”

She gave Remus small sips of water between the potions; the first potions burned, the second made him want to retch. The green potion was strangely syrupy, but somehow made his mouth even drier than before. By the time he got to the end, Remus was actually glad for a detested sleeping potion, if only to take his mind off of its disgusting companions.

Remus wasn’t sure how much later it was when he was suddenly jerked awake by the sound of a glass falling to the floor. Sunlight was streaming through the window and hitting the outside of the curtains around his bed, lighting up his little space with a deceptively warm glow, for the weather outside was one of the clearest and coldest days yet. Remus guessed it must be early afternoon.

“Peter!” a voice hissed. “Be careful! Who knows what that nurse would do to us if she catches us! You remember what she said!” With a thrill of both happiness and dread, Remus recognized James’ voice.

“Sorry,” came a whispered squeak.

“C’mon,” came Sirius’ voice, cultured and aristocratic, no matter how much he tried to disguise it. A door softly closed, and Remus listened to the sound of footsteps with both elation and terror as they made their way closer to the bed that he could not muster the strength to get out of. He pictured Sirius in front, moving cat-like around bottles and cupboards that might make noises or trip him up, aware of everything and finding the best path forward. James would be right behind him, looking around for any threats to him or Sirius and making sure that everyone was together. If anyone came, James would be first to respond. Peter would be last, a little behind the others, checking for anything coming from behind.

The curtains rippled, then pulled back. “Remus?” James gasped, “What happened? Madam Pomfrey said something about a concussion! She didn’t mention your face being mauled.”

“Madam Pomfrey let you come and visit?” Remus asked hoarsely. His voice didn’t want to cooperate after being subjected to so many different potions.

“Nah,” Sirius shrugged. “That’s not important right now though. What happened?”

“Did you have an accident?” Peter gasped, “was it the Slytherins?”

Remus shook his head and tried to smile. His face didn’t agree with his mind, though, and he was afraid it came out more like a grimace. His mind raced. What could have given him a scratch across his face like this? “I was… er… in the common room. It was pretty early and that Longbottom fellow asked if I wanted to go to breakfast. On the way I ran into a… er… cat. That’s how I got the scratches.”

“What cat? What about Frank?” James asked worriedly. Remus mentally slapped himself. Frank wouldn’t confirm any of this story if asked, but Remus couldn’t change it now.

“He… I… lost him on the way down and ran into Filch’s cat. Remember when he gave us detention?”

“Yeah,” Sirius shuddered. “That cat’d be friends with my mother. But how did you end up with a concussion too?”

“Oh, I...er… fell down the stairs after she clawed me.” James and Sirius grimaced, and Peter actually gave a squeak of fright. “That’s why Madam Pomfrey made me--”

The door opened again. “Remus,” Madam Pomfrey called. James, Sirius, and Peter froze. “It’s time for your next round of potions. I know you’re awake, so just sit tight a second while I get them, alright?”

“Alright Madam Pomfrey.” Remus called. “Quick! Hide!” he hissed to his friends.

“Where?” Sirius mouthed, starting in one direction, and then the other within the small area behind Remus’ curtains. Peter dove under the bed. James rushed toward the back side of the area, farthest from the door, where light was still pouring in.

“Window!” he mouthed. “Hurry!” Sirius shuffled over in James’ direction as Madam Pomfrey’s footsteps came over to Remus’ bed.

“Now, you’re going to have to take another shot of this skele-grow as well, Remus,” she said briskly, pulling back the curtains and looking around. Peter shifted under the bed. When he heard the noise, Remus tried to sit up to mask Peter’s shifting with his own.

“That’s the spirit, Mr. Lupin,” Madam Pomfrey encouraged. “I’ll give you sips of water in between potions like before, alright? And I think I may have some cream that’ll be good for that battle scar of yours too,” she added as Remus plugged his nose and downed the skele-grow first. She absently handed him the water glass before turning toward her supply cupboards across the room.

Remus quickly glanced around for the others. There was a shoelace sticking out from under the bed accounting for Peter. He couldn’t do anything about that right now. But where had James and Sirius gone? They had headed for the back by the window, but surely even those two couldn’t possibly be that--

“Here we are!” Madam Pomfrey exclaimed. “Take that concussion potion, Remus, and then we’ll see about your face.”

Remus obligingly downed the gluey green potion, hoping with all his heart that Madam Pomfrey wouldn’t mention anything about werewolves…

“There, that wasn’t so bad,” the matron smiled. “Now this may sting a bit, but if we’re lucky we’ll avoid a large scar.” She began dabbing the lotion across Remus’ cheek. It did, in fact, sting quite a lot, but Remus refused to make any sounds in case his friends were listening. It wouldn’t do to have them hear him griping about just a lotion stinging.

Finally, finally, Madam Pomfrey finished her fussing. “I’ll be over in the other room if you need anything Remus, alright?” Remus nodded, holding back a sigh of relief. She hadn’t seen his friends, and she hadn’t mentioned his condition. Maybe he could still get out of this.

Madam Pomfrey smoothed his sheets one last time. “I just wish you didn’t have to go through all this so much,” she muttered on her way out, just loud enough for Remus to hear. He froze. Had Peter heard anything, hidden under the bed?

If he had, the chubby boy didn’t say anything in lieu of struggling back out again. “You’d better look for James and Sirius,” Remus suggested seriously. “James was saying something about the window, and if anyone’s stupid enough to hang out a window in order to not get caught… well, you’d better go make sure they’re not dead.

Peter shuffled behind the far curtain and gave a yelp, which was immediately followed by uproarious laughter. “Guys!” Peter cried. Remus strained to get up and see what was going on, but he hadn’t gotten past the point of sitting up when the other three came tromping into the room. James and Sirius were still laughing, and Peter scurried away from them before stared at them in awe from a safe distance.

“T-They jumped out the window!” the blonde boy stammered. “It was incredible!” he seemed awed and terrified in equal measure.

“What does he mean you jumped out the window?” Remus asked sharply. If his friends went and got themselves killed he was going to… kill them. Yeah. That.

“Relax, Loony,” Sirius grinned charmingly. Remus huffed. “We were looking for a place to hide, and James stuck his head out the window. Just as a joke of course, but there’s a ledge down there that’s big enough for people to sit on.”

“What would you have done?” James chimed in. “It’s only about five feet down. We hopped down and waited for Madam Pomfrey to leave. It’ll be perfect if we ever have to hide there in the future!”

Remus shot James a disbelieving look and opened his mouth to reply. Before he could say anything, however, Sirius seemed to sense the danger and cut him off. “Hey James, didn’t you want to tell Loony here about a special something happening in four days?”

“Oh yeah!” James’ eyes lit up. “The first Gryffindor quidditch match is coming up! It’s against Slytherin. You have to come, Loony, it’ll finally get you hooked on quidditch! I’ve heard that the teams are fairly even this year, so it should be a good match. I can’t wait until I’m old enough to play…”

I’ll get you back for that, Remus mouthed to Sirius, who was stifling laughs. Peter just listened to James brag about his quidditch skills. Apparently, if James was to be believed, there would be national quidditch scouts coming to see him play within two years.

--M--

Poppy Pomfrey smiled to herself as three boys tried to sneak back out of the Hospital Wing. She couldn’t imagine how they thought she was so unobservant as to have missed the hushed whispers and footsteps behind the curtains when she’d come into the room. She wasn’t sure where they’d hidden when she pulled the curtains open, but Remus looked so much happier than he had before that she just couldn’t bring herself to call them out on it. She had told Remus he could have visitors in the afternoon, after all.

Poppy had had many a strange case in her Hospital Wing the past few years, and several more in her Healer training. However, she’d never had a patient quite like Remus Lupin before; shy and polite with every adult, seemingly nervous, and with no social skills to speak of, the boy somehow made friends with the two popular and rich, yet good-hearted, pranksters of Gryffindor.

Sometimes, the world never ceased to amaze her, Poppy thought, as chubby little Peter Pettigrew, slowest in his class, dashed after his brilliant friends, the spoiled, fun-loving, and charismatic heir to the Potter fortune and the enigmatic, handsome, and troublemaking heir to Ancient and Most Noble House of Black.

Poppy shook her head and closed the crack in her office door. This group would go far, of that she was certain.

--M--

Snow was falling in thick soft flakes the day of the first quidditch match. It was an early snowstorm, and both the players and the spectators in the stands bundled up warmly before heading out into the biting breeze. James had practically dragged Remus all the way down to the pitch with Sirius and Peter eagerly following behind. A bright Gryffindor scarf had been draped around Remus’ shoulders at some point, and Sirius had performed a tricky little charm that made all their hats flash red and gold.

Runny red noses and crowded bleachers filled Remus’ eyes. There was a sneeze behind him, and Remus glanced back to see the girls of Gryffindor right behind them.

“Hey James.” A thickset girl with long, wavy brown hair and pouty lips addressed his friend, and Remus wondered how they knew each other.

“How’ve you been Marlene?” James replied, “I haven’t seen you in ages!”

“Doing well. These are Mary MacDonald and Lily Evans, a couple of my house mates.” The girl smiled, revealing very white teeth.

“Evans and I have met,” James grinned at her, but Lily folded her arms and glared at him in return. “Pleased to meet you, MacDonald. These are Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew and... Sirius. Guys, this is Marlene McKinnon, my second cousin.”

‘Marlene’ shook her head. “Your second cousin once removed, and I can’t believe that you made friends with Sirius Black!” she spat the Black name as if it were a particularly nasty contagious disease. “You know what his family’s like!”

“He can hear you, as he is right here,” Sirius cut in. He glared at Marlene, and Remus backed his friend up with his own glare. No matter who this girl was related to, she had no right to insult Sirius that way. “I suppose it’s impossible for me to disagree with my family, even if I am in Gryffindor. From what I’ve heard, half of the McKinnon family have drinking problems. Does that mean that you can’t be trusted anywhere near the firewhiskey?”

Marlene gasped and her chocolate brown eyes swirled dangerously. Remus didn’t know whether the pink in her cheeks was from anger or the cold. “How dare you! You see James, the whole lot of them are--”

“How are you any different from my family? You’re judging me by what you think of them, so I can judge you by what I’ve heard of yours!”

“It-- that--” Marlene spluttered. “You know what? I’m done with this. C’mon Lily, Mary, let’s get out of here!” Mary nodded, glaring at Sirius.

Lily scoffed. “I can’t even understand why you’re friends with Potter. I with you, Mar, Potter and Black get on my last nerve.” Noses in the air, the three girls filed out. Remus saw them grab a seat further back near two other first year girls.

“The game’s starting!” James jumped up excitedly. All thoughts of the argument seemed to have fled from his mind, and Remus almost envied him for it. Personally, he couldn’t help still being a bit annoyed with Marlene and distressed that they couldn’t all just get along at least a little bit.

“First the quaffle goes to Gryffindor’s Johnson. She passes to Vance, who passes to Wright. Ooh! Bludger to the ribs, that’s got to hurt! Slytherin in possession. Yaxley with the quaffle, dodges around a nice bludger by Brown. He shoots and… Score! 10 to 0, Slytherin to start the match, folks! Better luck next time, Harper.”

Despite his lack of enthusiasm for the sport, Remus couldn’t help but get caught up in the jubilation of the crowd, cheering when Gryffindor scored and groaning when Slytherin did. James hooted and hollered next to him at all times, and Sirius seemed to enjoy it most when the Slytherins suffered any sort of problem. Peter cheered on James’ other side, at the same time straining to see over the heads of the taller people in front of him. Soon Remus’ fingers were numb inside his gloves and his nose was running, but the game went on.

“Wright comes in from the far end, sneaks in and passes to Johnson, who passes to Vance. Vance comes up to Slytherin Keeper Goyle and… Goal! Score now 120 to 140 Gryffindor.” The commentator, whom Remus recognized as a Gryffindor prefect, was getting more and more excited as the game went on. Soon enough he was yelling right along with the crowd:

“Seekers now in a dive-off for the Snitch! And it’s Malfoy, Ebels, Malfoy, Ebels and… Oh! Malfoy catches the snitch! Slytherin wins the first match of the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup,” he groaned.

“If I was on the team we would’ve won for sure!” James bragged later by the common room fire. “If only Ebels had been a bit faster…!”

“Maybe you can join next year,” Peter suggested. “You said you’ve got a Nimbus 1001, right? That’s one of the best brooms out there. I’ll bet you’d make it in no problem.”

“You think so?” James grinned, “thanks, Peter. What about you, Sirius, Remus? Going to join the team next year? What positions will you guys be the stars of?”

“Beater all the way,” Sirius swung an imaginary bat at James. “It’s so satisfying to just… whack something. Isn’t it, Loony?”

Remus scooted backwards and held up his hands. “Don’t go dragging me into this, I’ll stay on the ground. Maybe I’ll be the commentator while you guys go chase balls and whack bludgers.”

“Brilliant! A chaser, a beater, the commentator, and a loyal fan,” James clapped Peter on the back. “We’re so going to kick butt next year!”

“Speaking of kicking butt,” Sirius said, “did you see Snivellus after the game? He was talking to Evans as if they were actually real friends!” James scoffed behind him, “I think he needs to be taught a lesson.”

“Again?” Remus groaned. Really, couldn’t they just agree to hate each other and be done with it?

“We’re in,” James leaned into the huddle with Peter by his side. “What’s the plan?”

--M--

Classes got out several days later, and all of the students were doing nothing but looking forward to Christmas. Remus, James, and Peter all planned on returning home for the holidays, but Sirius was stubbornly avoiding his family and, thus, was remaining at school.

“See you later guys,” he told them sadly from the doors before they were swept away by the parting crowd. Remus silently resolved to write to Sirius as much as possible so that his poor friend wouldn’t be quite so bored.

The train ride was uneventful. Remus caught a glimpse of Lily entering not far from he and his friends, but he carefully steered them in the other direction. No need for an uncomfortable confrontation with James’ crush and/or nemesis if he could help it, especially after his recent fall-out with Lily.

Instead, the three spent the time playing Exploding Snap and gobstones (Remus had brought along his set from home) and thinking of elaborate ways to prank people, most of which would never work, but which were hilarious to imagine. Remus’ personal favorite was when James suggested that they fill the Great Hall with live chickens for no reason whatsoever. But as the train continued to chug along, the boys’ moods became more subdued.

Peter fell asleep to the rhythm of the rocking train. James stared blankly out the window, his forehead pressed against the glass. Remus sat back and thought about the troubling conversation he’d had with Professor Dumbledore after his most recent transformation...

“Remus,” the Headmaster said sadly from beside his bed in the Hospital Wing, “there’s something you must know.”

“What is it Professor?” Remus asked. His heart had dropped into his shoes at the tone of voice Dumbledore used. Had someone discovered his secret already? Was he going to disappear over Christmas and not come back? Was something wrong at home?

“On the grounds last night the Hogwarts Gamekeeper, Rubeus Hagrid, heard what he knew to be the howls of a werewolf.” Remus’ head dropped back against the pillow with a thump. The only question now would be when and how he would be leaving. “Understandably worried, he immediately dismissed the detention he was hosting with your three friends and came to my office.” Oh this just got worse and worse! Now the three of them would know about him as well, and they would hate him forever for lying to them on top of being a werewolf!

“I assured him that the werewolf in question was dangerous to no one outside of the full moon and that I was fully aware of his presence. I also informed him that, of course, proper measures had been taken to keep the wolf contained. I believe that he may have guessed that it was you; Hagrid is far more intelligent than most give him credit for, but he accepted my word and will not give you any trouble in the future.”

“Wait. I’m not being expelled?” Remus asked, shocked. What reason would Hagrid have for not wanting to get rid of a suspected werewolf?

“No, Mr. Lupin, you are not leaving this school without larger fight than that. Hagrid himself loves all creatures, and may even tell you some interesting tidbits about himself if you go down to visit.”

Remus, though completely confuzzled, felt a huge surge of relief that surprised him in its intensity. He was more attached to Hogwarts than he had thought. “Thank you, Sir.”
“You’re welcome. If I may, I would also like to bring up the matter of telling the teachers once more. I feel that both you and the Professors would benefit from informing them of your condition.”

Remus hesitated. He had never voluntarily told anyone about it before, and every instinct he had was screaming at him not to tell them now. On the other hand, Dumbledore, McGonagall, and probably Flitwick and Hagrid already knew, and they hadn’t done anything at all to hurt him after. Not that Remus had seen Hagrid since his transformation the night before, but somehow Remus trusted that the giant man’s heart was in the right place, maybe even for werewolves.

He took a deep breath. “Do it,” he said. “But not until after I’ve left for Christmas holidays.”

Dumbledore agreed.

Had Remus done the right thing? Even now Professor Dumbledore was probably calling the Professors to his office, explaining what was really wrong with little Remus Lupin, star student. They now held his fate in their hands. Remus shuddered as the countryside rolled passed outside the window and the train pulled them onwards, toward the parents that he knew cared for him despite his condition, toward the small home that he would spend a small Christmas in, toward the uncertain future. He sighed.

When the train stopped and the whistle blew, Remus, James, and Peter were already ready with their luggage. “Come meet my parents!” James insisted, grabbing Remus and dragging him along as they both searched for their elusive parents in the crowd of adults. “Oh! Over there, see them?”

James was suddenly swept forward into the arms of an auburn-haired woman that looked nearly old enough to be Remus’ grandmother. “There you are, Jamie! Your dad and I were looking all over for you! Oh look at you, I think you’ve gotten taller since September.” She held him about an arm's length away and inspect him, apparently for any signs of sadness or harm. Finding none, she continued with her tirade, “We have a big Christmas party planned at home. The whole family’s coming over and you can see all of your cousins! I heard that Marlene was in your year and in Gryffindor as well! Isn’t that lovely? And-- oh, who is this?”

“Mum,” James pulled out of her grip and gestured to Remus, who was contemplating getting lost in the crowd, and Peter, who looked as if he very much wanted to use James as a shield, “these are my friends Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew.”

Something flickered in Mrs. Potter’s face when she heard Remus’ name. It was a flicker that Remus remembered from one or two visits that he had taken to Saint Mungo’s, the wizarding hospital. It was that sudden look of shock and surprise that adorned all the nurses’ expressions when they figured out that he was a werewolf. With a thrill of fear, Remus realized that Mrs. Potter must know about him being a werewolf.

Remus felt himself go pale. He looked up at her pleadingly, mentally begging her to let him explain and leave in peace before she cursed him to bits for associating with her precious son and heir. In that moment, Mr. Potter, whom James had bragged was the Head Auror on multiple occasions, came up behind his wife and pulled his son into a sideways hug.

“How are you, son? Getting into trouble already?”

“You know it, dad.” Ignoring his mother’s amused huff, James continued. “These are Remus and Peter, some of my mates from school. Guys, these are my parents.”

“Pleased to meet you.” Remus gathered his courage and stuck out his hand. To his surprise, both Potters shook it willingly and smiled at him warmly. Maybe they didn’t know after all?

Remus glanced around again for his own parents and saw them this time, standing against the wall several meters away and turning their heads back and forth, still searching for him. “Bye guys, I see my parents right over there!”

“Oh really? Let’s go and meet them, Charlus. Jamie you come too; you have to make a good impression on Remus’ parents. Then we can all go find Peter’s parents too, alright?”
Remus blushed, Peter bit his lip, and James groaned, but there was nothing that they could do against the rushing tide that was James’ determined mother. Remus led them over to where his parents had finally spotted them and self-consciously hugged and greeted his mother and father.

“Who are your friends, Remus,” his mum asked, smiling kindly at James and Peter.

“These are James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, and James’ parents,” Remus introduced them. “I told you a bit in my letters, remember?”

“Oh yes. Very good to meet you Mr. and Mrs. Potter. My name is Hope Lupin.”

“Pleasure. Please call us Charlus and Dorea,” James’ father said.

“Do you see your parents yet, Peter?” James hissed from beside his parents. Peter shook his head, standing on tiptoes to try and make them out.

“They might be a bit late. Mother said that Father-- oh there she is!”

“Where?” Remus looked around before his eyes came to rest on a rather large woman with Peter’s dirty blonde hair. Next to her was a short man in very smart-looking robes who was checking his watch as if he had somewhere much more important to be.

“Oh Peter, there you are!” the woman, presumably Peter’s mother, cried loudly. She rushed over and gave her son a very large hug and a very wet kiss on the forehead. Peter glanced back, blushing, but Remus knew how he felt and didn’t tease. Embarrassing parents weren’t to be made fun of unless yours were equally embarrassing.

“I missed you so much Sweetie! Let’s get you right home and get you something to eat alright? You must be terribly hungry and tired after that long train journey. Aren’t you wearing a coat? You must be freezing! Here put it on right now.” I must be said that Peter’s mother never did anything halfway.

“All ready then? Let’s go, I’ve a meeting in twenty minutes that I’d better not be late for.” Remus was taken aback by the abruptness of Peter’s father, and hardly had time to yell a goodbye to Peter before he was hustled off the platform.

“What… charming folks,” Remus’ mum said from behind him.

“Agreed,” Mrs. Potter muttered back. “But we’d really best be going as well. Charlus is probably supposed to be at whatever meeting that was and has simply forgotten about it.”

“I do not,” Mr. Potter rolled his eyes playfully, “the only meeting I have today is with some of the people from the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes in…” he checked his watch, “Merlin! Nineteen minutes! We’ve got to leave! Pleasure to meet you, Lyall and Hope.”

“You as well. Now get to your meeting, man!” Remus’ dad laughed as James and his parents rushed off the platform. Mr. Potter could move very quickly for a man who was probably well into his fifties.

“Whew,” Remus’ mum sighed, “that was stressful just to watch. Whaddya say, Remus, ready to get home and sleep in for a couple of weeks?”

“Definitely,” Remus grinned.

---M---

Christmas break was very relaxing for Remus that year. There wasn’t a full moon over the break, so he didn’t even have to worry about that. Remus ate chocolate chip pancakes, helped pick out a Christmas tree, and made cards for his parents. He also made a point to write to Sirius as much as he could, and usually got a response within a day. Sirius was pretty bored without the rest of them, though he did say he’d gotten in a few good hexes at ‘Snivellus’, who had stayed at school as well. Remus wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or worried.

On Christmas morning, Remus woke up at 6:03. He yawned and stretched, wondering why he had awoken so early before he remembered that it was Christmas morning. Eagerly he jumped out of bed and raced down to the sitting room.

“Happy Christmas!” he yelled to his parents, pounding on their door as he passed. Remus had always loved Christmas, no matter how old he was. His parents came down for their own presents after he had already finished with his. Wrapping paper scattered around the floor, Remus observed his haul. Two packages of chocolate frogs, a few other chocolate candies, a new book he had admired in Flourish and Blotts, and a nice new cloak for Hogwarts. Not too bad, although he knew that it wasn’t much by others’ standards. Remus thanked his parents and got started on his chocolate for a Christmas morning breakfast.

Remus and his parents had settled down for a huge Christmas dinner when two owls arrived for him. Surprised, Remus grabbed the letters and packages from the birds and opened the notes first.

Dear Remus,
Happy Christmas! My Mum said I should get you something, so here it is. Hope you’re having a good holiday
~James

To Loony:
Merry Christmas mate! Thanks for all the entertaining letters, I’ve been really bored without you guys here. Still better than being at home though, so at least there’s that…
Do you know any spells that make people spurt feathers or something? Just curious. I got your gift by owl order, so I hope you like it. Write soon
-Sirius Black

Remus couldn’t help but laugh at the notes as he tore open the small packages. His mother came and read the notes over his shoulder. She smiled brightly when Remus showed her the extra-large honeydukes chocolate bar from James (“sounds like they know you well enough”) and the joke TURDs (Traitorously Unsuspicious Rainbow Drops) from Sirius. “What have you been doing at that school?” she shook her head with a hint of disapproval.

“Don’t worry, that’s just Sirius,” Remus grinned, conveniently temporarily forgetting his part in all of the pranks so far. After all, it had been Sirius and James that hexed Snape every other day while they weren’t speaking, so he was relatively good!

“Why am I still suspicious?” his dad muttered, rolling his eyes. Remus stuck out his tongue. He hoped that his friends hadn’t expected gifts from him, but Peter hadn’t sent anything so he hoped that it was fine.

“Because you helped raise our son. I firmly believe it’s your side of the family that is responsible for this,” Remus’ mum exclaimed mock indignantly.

“Why thank you my lady.” His parents kissed over their dinner plates.

“Gross!” Remus groaned, burying his nose in potatoes to avoid the sight of his parents.

Despite enjoying seeing his them again and having enough free time to read his new book whenever he wanted, Remus found himself sort of excited to return to Hogwarts again in a few days. Home seemed somehow boring after house elves, pranks, and detention water fights.