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choices show who we truly are

Chapter Text

No one can know what their actions might mean to other people. It is simply impossible to judge such things.

Just one offhand comment might destroy someone's life. A single choice can bring wars and suffering for entire generations.

Five seconds of consideration could change a person for the better.

This is one of those moments.

Newly second-year James Potter was wandering through the dungeons of Hogwarts, trying to remember as much as possible of the layout and taking notes whenever necessary.

He and his friends were trying to make a map of the castle for all of the first years that got lost on their way around. They had split up to get as much of the school covered in record time.

James had been assigned the dungeons.

He turned around the corner and spotted Sirius's little brother, Regulus.

The eleven year old was standing in front of a blank bit of wall—presumably the entrance to the Slytherin common room, going by the doorknob in the form of a snake—and biting his lip, seemingly struggling to make a choice.

James almost continued his way, but something in Regulus' eyes made him stop.

"Hey. Are you okay?"

The Slytherin looked up and seemed to notice him for the first time.

"I...I guess…," he muttered.

The Gryffindor shook his head. "If you answer like this you're not. What's the issue."

Regulus glanced around the corridor, before he whispered, "I don't want to say the password. Sirius told me it's wrong to say that word. The m-word." The eleven-year-old grew progressively quieter and could not have continued if he wanted to, but he got the point across.

The wheels were turning in James' head. They had to spend weeks to get Sirius to stop saying several offensive words. It seemed like he had passed these lessons along.

"I'll tell you what," James said as he slung his arm around the other boy's shoulders. "You, my friend, will come back upstairs with me and you will sleep with up in our dorm."

Regulus looked at him. "You think that's okay?"

James shrugged and smiled at the younger boy. "Anyone who disagrees will have to fight me."

The Slytherin returned his smile and they climbed up the stairs until they stood in front of the Fat Lady.

"Password?" she questioned, her eyes fixated on Regulus' green tie.

James stood his full height.

"Rugitus Leonis," he answered.

The door opened and James almost dragged Regulus into the room.

As loud as the common room usually was, they quieted down in seconds as they noticed the Slytherin.

"What do you think you're doing, Potter!?" some seventh year whose name James had never bothered to remember shouted in protest.

Regulus lowered his shoulders and began to shake slightly.

James noticed that and glared at the boy who had asked.

"Their password is offensive and Regulus here refuses to say it. He's gonna be sleeping with me and my friends. Anyone who has a problem with that can fight me."

"And me," Sirius declared as he rose from his spot by the fire—he had taken the area around the tower and was likely already done. "I'm so proud of you, Reggie. Now, if you'll excuse me for a moment, I have a house elf to bribe."
James nodded in acknowledgement and motioned for Regulus to follow him into his dorm.

"What did Sirius mean by that?" the Slytherin questioned.

The older boy grinned mischievously. "Well, we can't have our honorary Gryffindor's things in the Slytherin dorm while he sleeps here, right? Also, you kind of need a bed."

Chapter Text

A couple of days later, everyone had gotten somewhat used to the lone Slytherin in Gryffindor Tower. Regulus still had to listen to some ridicule and quite a few of the Lions still openly glared at him, but their number seemed to decrease every day.

While he still sat with the Slytherins—in particularly Stewart Johnson and Ana Fawley—during mealtimes and in class, he also made friends with some of the Gryffindors in his year, like Sebastian Morris and Tiana Goldstein.

He had not spoken with many others in his year so far, but Regulus still had plenty of time left to do that.
He was also helping Sirius, James, and the other Marauders with the Map to the best of his ability—which admittedly mainly consisted out of listing the most confusing spots of the castle, but it was something.

His classes, too, were looking very interesting. Personally, Regulus liked Charms best It simply seemed like the most useful—at least so far. And of course that was followed closely Astronomy, because it gave him an excuse to stay up late.

So what. He was eleven. Staying up late was very exciting and it wasn’t like he could do it at home.

All in all life at Hogwarts was looking better every day.

Until someone told Professor Slughorn that he had stopped sleeping in the dungeons.

The man hadn’t even given Regulus a chance to defend himself and his—or rather James’s—actions during the tirade. It felt like it last for hours upon hours.

When he told James and Sirius that he would have to return to the Slytherin dorms—and say the word —they were beyond furious.

“Not if I can do anything against it!” Sirius yelled in protest as he stormed off to—presumably—Slughorn’s office.

If Regulus was honest, the expression on his brother’s face made him worry. For Professor Slughorn, because Sirius looked just about ready to commit murder.

“Who does the man think he is, that he can order you—and by extension us—around like that?” James ranted.

Was that a trick question?

“Err, my Head of House? Maybe?” he replied, but James simply laughed and clapped a hand  on Regulus’s his back.

“Ah, you’re so naive. No one can order the Marauders around. No one.” Then James paused as a thought occurred to him. “Okay, no one except for my Mom, but she bribes us with her cooking and baking and that’s technically blackmail, so it doesn’t really count.”

“What about Professor Dumbledore? Surely you follow his orders?” Regulus questioned incredulously. Dumbledore was the headmaster after all. They couldn’t risk expulsion for something this stupid, could they?

James frowned. “And why should we if they don’t make any sense? If the proposals of him—or anyone, really—sound logical, then your brother, Peter, Remus, and I have no issue with following them.”

That, Regulus supposed, actually made more sense than blindly following what they were told.

The Gryffindor quickly interrupted his thoughts. “Come on, let’s play a game of Snitch Snatcher! while we wait for Sirius to return. Pete got one from his Mom for his birthday over the summer. It’s awesome!”

“If you say so. I haven’t had the chance to play it yet.”

James gasped and put a hand over his heart. “That, my friend, is something that we have to correct immediately. Everyone should have played the boardgame version of Quidditch at least once!”

And with that, James dragged Regulus into their dorm—at least currently—and they

Twenty five minutes later, Sirius returned, kicking the door against the wall and grinning like the madman Regulus was starting to suspect he was. “Slughorn would like to formally apologize. He had no knowledge of the specific password and thus could not judge the situation accurately. He will speak with the Slytherin Prefects and you will only have to return once the password is changed.”

James grinned at him. “See? We’re not letting you go that easily. We’re just clingy like that.”

Chapter Text

The morning after the debacle with Slughorn, Regulus finally got his first real chance to talk with Remus Lupin.

Somehow, the older boy had been too busy with the map he had been planning with the other boys whenever Regulus had tried to talk to him before. The same was sure with Peter, now that he thought about that.

Of course Regulus himself was also partly to blame. He was often busy with his friends, Stewart, Ana, Tiana, and Sebastian or studying somewhere.

If he wanted to be the best wizard possible, he needed to do something for it.

This was also the reason why he needed to talk with Remus. His Professor in Defense Against the Dark Arts—most students seemed to shorten it to either Defense or DADA, which did make sense, Regulus supposed. The name of the subject was quite long.

Anyways, their Professor, Stefan Denk, had assigned each student a magical beast and they were supposed to research it in the span of a week.

Regulus had gotten the Thunderbird. The name alone just sounded so exciting, but there was no information to be found in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them .

He had read that book three times to make sure. That had taken two days and a third day had already passed on which he had tried to find something in the library, but to no avail.

So he had asked around his friends and then—when they, too, had no real idea—to his brother and James. Of course James was also his friend, but he was slightly different, somehow.

Maybe it was because he was older.

Both of them had directed Regulus in the direction of the most silent member of their group—which of course did not mean much, but it was something.

So Regulus hesitantly approached the older boy. He didn’t know why he was so shy around new people, because he really shouldn’t be!

But he was and not he had to work around it, somehow.

He took a deep breath before he said, “Hello Remus.” Maybe the Gryffindor bravery transferred through direct contact; Regulus’s voice didn't sound half as nervous as he actually was.

Remus looked up from the homework he was reading over. “Oh, hey. Regulus. Can I help you with anything?”

“Yes, actually,” Regulus replied, forcing himself not to tremble. He had nothing to fear from Remus, so why was he afraid?

The Gryffindor raised his eyebrow expectantly. “Well...are you going to tell me what that is? Because that might help.”

“Oh, yes, of course. You’re right it would.”

Regulus briefly summarised his problem.

Once he was done, Remus began to chuckle.

What had the Slytherin done now? Why did he keep doing the wrong things? Right in the middle of the Gryffindor common room, too.

The older boy seemed to guess the younger one’s thoughts as he explained. “A Thunderbird wouldn’t be in Fantastic Beasts or any other common book for one specific reason: they produce a serum that can erase bad memories.”

Regulus’s mind boggled and he was pretty sure his eyes were about to pop out of his skull. “Permanently?”

“Yes. Newt Scarmander and the MACUSA—I assume you know what that is?” Remus paused and waited for the first year to confirm it before he continued. “They were afraid that-”

“Wait a second, let me get out my quill and some parchment!” Regulus interrupted, already sprinting to his backpack,

Once he returned, Remus swiftly continued right where he had left off. He explained that people had been afraid that they would be hunted to extinction for their usefulness. Regulus also learned that the creature had six wings, was closely related to phoenixes, could produce storms by flying, and could sense danger.

They were his new favourite creature by far! Honestly, how cool was it that they created storms ?

“Thank you so much for this!”

Remus dismissed it. “Anytime.”

And in that moment Regulus decided that Remus was now his friend, too.