"Peter thinks you've got a secret."
"So you have got a secret, then?"
"What, Sirius?" Remus blinked a bit dazedly as he looked up from his book and across the library table to where Sirius sat pretending to study while Remus actually did. Remus had done well his first year at Hogwarts, and now that he was a second year and had fallen into the esteemed ranks of being a Marauder, he wanted to make sure he kept his grades up. After all, he had to make up for his friends pranks somehow, didn't he? Good grades seemed like the best answer, and so Remus studied as often as he could.
Sirius never really made it that easy, though. In fact he made it plainly difficult, depending on what sort of mood he was in. It was clear within a moment that Sirius was in one of his I Am Not Leaving You Alone So You Might As Well Pay Attention To Me sort of moods. Wonderful.
"Well, you know," Sirius leant inwards, grey eyes alight with curiosity, "You do... disappear a lot. Every month, in fact."
"That's not true," Remus said flatly, didn't let his face or voice betray the worry in his heart as he went back to his book. He tried to distract himself with Herbology, though it was rather difficult to focus on mandrakes at a time like this. All that ran through his head was "they can't know, they can't know, oh god, what if they know?" like some horrible chant of indecisiveness.
But what if they really did know?
Then his entire life was about to be over.
"It is, Remus," Sirius frowned, clearly unhappy that he was again being ignored in favor of studying and plants and stupid things that weren't exciting or secretive. And so he tried to gain Remus' attention once more, not knowing he'd never lost it, "Peter started making tallies of it this year, and you've been gone at least one day every month for four months. That's not even counting last year." When there was no reply, Sirius reached out and took up the Herbology book, forcing Remus out of hiding. Sirius' brows quirked up in questioning, and Remus could only sigh dramatically at him.
"Sirius," It was now Remus' turn to frown, "I've told you all where I go. My mum gets ill a lot. And a few times it was..." What other excuses had he come up with? Remus couldn't remember them all, and this hardly seemed like the right time to start making up new lies. In four days it would be the full moon again, and he would have to disappear again, and it was fairly obvious that Sirius knew this. Luckily Remus didn't have time to remember what other lies he'd told, as Sirius pressed on.
"Who gets ill every month on the full moon, huh?" Sirius leant inwards a bit more, voice hushed and excited, "Werewolves do, Remus. Is your mum a werewolf? Because I'd think if she was, you'd be much safer here than with her."
Remus began to fluster now, unable to help but glance about and avoid Sirius' gaze. He wished he had another book to bury himself in, or that something suddenly interrupted them. Like a sudden mandrake appearance that left them both Petrified. Wait, no, mandrakes don't Petrify. What the bloody hell did they do? Something about Petrification. Oh! They cure it. Right? Yes.
This was the importance of studying, and it would be a miracle if Remus ever got back to it.
But apparently he had run out of miracles, and the sudden quizzical and confused look on his face made Sirius groan in annoyance and wave his hand in front of Remus' face to bring him back to the present moment. Which Remus severely disliked, as going through the qualities of the mandrake was easier than lying to Sirius about where he went every full moon (though not by very much).
"Remus, is your mum a werewolf or not?" There was that excitement to Sirius' eyes, the kind that meant he was expecting something great to happen. If he had been a puppy his tail would have been wagging furiously as if he were awaiting a treat, or the chance to go outside, or... whatever else puppies get very excited about.
Again, Remus never was very good at analogies.
"Well--" Remus swallowed, though his mouth remained rather dry as he finally looked into Sirius' eyes, "She's not a werewolf... I mean, of course not, that would have been impossible, right? That's ridiculous. You're being ridiculous, Sirius." Composure came back as Remus found his nerve again, "If she were a werewolf, then how could she have had me, huh?"
Logic! Oh, the saving grace of logic. Remus didn't actually know whether or not females could be werewolves and pregnant, but he figured that Sirius didn't know, either. It would have been a rather strange sight though, a pregnant werewolf. Just the idea of it seemed preposterous enough to be impossible, and Remus was hoping that Sirius agreed.
"Well maybe it happened after you were born."
Composure was lost again, which suited to make Sirius all the more intrigued. Remus didn't lose his composure often, in fact very rarely, which mean that he was hiding something pretty big. If there was one thing that Sirius loved, it was a big, fat, juicy secret. Because after all, Boys Clubs had to have secrets, otherwise what was the point in being a club at all?
"We-well maybe it didn't."
"Remussss," Sirius sounded exasperated, and was quickly becoming over-dramatic and whiny (which often happened after being in the library for too long), "Just tell meeeeee."
"I have to go!" Remus' voice became somewhat shrill and loud as he suddenly stood up, and though several people stared Remus hardly seemed to notice for he fled so quickly from the library that he'd forgotten his book, and his notes, and all about mandrakes. He heard Sirius call after him, but pretended to suddenly be completely deaf.
And possibly blind, considering he ran into a couple of students, and then a statue.
"So it's your mom then?" James whispered, leaning across to Remus from the gap between their chairs in the common room, "That's what Sirius said."
"Bloody hell," Remus groaned and for the third time had to put his Herbology book down and look at James rather pointedly, "What is my mom, then?" He had finally gotten rid of Sirius after days of being dogged after, and now that Remus finally had quiet with which to study, apparently James had picked up the game of Remus Is Keeping A Secret And That Isn't Allowed.
"You know," James glanced about the rather empty common room before leaning a bit closer, nearly half-way over the arm of his chair, "A werewolf."
"Oh for god sakes," Remus placed his hands prayer style over his nose, index fingers digging into the start of his eyebrows. This was often his go-to I'm Annoyed position, though it was also handy for I Can't Believe You've Done This and Crying With Laughter During Class Though Desperately Trying To Hide It. James clearly understood that Remus used the position now as a sign of being very bothered.
Not that it stopped James, of course.
"Well!" James exclaimed, though was quick to look about the common room again to ensure no one was listening in as he dropped to a whisper again, "It's true, isn't it? You can tell me, Remus, that's what The Marauders are for."
"Oh, is it? Because I thought The Marauders were for continuously interrupting me while I try to study. We've got an essay due in three days and none of you seem keen on letting me actually do it." Remus rolled his eyes and finally stood up, closing his Herbology book. The full moon was in two days, and his temper was wearing thin with the lot of them. He was mad at Peter for being so nosy as to keep track of his absences, at Sirius for putting together that they occurred on the full moon, and at James for being so annoyingly curious. In fact they were all being annoyingly curious.
"Remus," James frowned, though sank back into his chair, "That's not very fair, mate. We just want to know."
"You want to know?" Remus had had enough of this. He heard them whispering at night about him, he saw their excited looks when he passed them in the hall, he knew they passed notes in classes about him. And while they were his friends, while they were indeed just curious and interested in Remus' Big Secret, the young werewolf had had quite enough of it. "Then why don't you all just owl my mum and ask her yourself so that I can study in peace!" Remus practically stomped away, glaring as he passed Sirius entering the common room, though not missing his comment to James.
"Looks like it's that time of month again."
"Sirius I wouldn't--"
But James' warning was cut off by a very off-course Herbology book being thrown at the two of them and landing with a dull thud on the floor. The two boys turned to stare at Remus, who again fled so quickly he ran into two students coming through the portrait hole.
"Thought I'd find you up here, mate," Peter was grinning as he crawled up the trap-door to the astronomy tower, carrying a sack filled with two glasses, four pumpkin cakes, and two chocolate bars, as well as a jug of pumpkin juice in the other hand. He very nearly dropped all of it trying to get up the steps, but saved himself by dropping to one knee. "That was close!" Peter was hard to upset, really; he knew he was clumsy, there was no point in getting bent out of shape about it.
"Yeah, well," Remus' mouth curled a little, but he couldn't bring himself to be angry at Peter for finding him. After all, the boy had brought food, as Remus was currently missing lunch. "Here," He arose from the window ledge and took the Herbology book off his lap, and set down his quill and scroll to aid Peter in setting up their little feast.
"James and Sirius--"
"No," Remus groaned and shook his head, "I don't want to talk about James and Sirius. For the last three days they've been fluttering about, not letting me study for a moment, and I've got to go soon anyway."
"Mum sick again?" Peter asked with concern, having no qualms about not talking about James and Sirius, though he had been conspiring with them about Remus' scheduled leaving.
"Yeah, sure," Remus didn't have the energy to make up some elaborate lie. He'd been cramming for Herbology all day in the tower, making up for all the studying sessions that had been interrupted by James and Sirius. The last one had been a complete failure, seeing as he'd thrown his book at them and hadn't had enough nerve to go and get it again until he was positive they were out of the common room.
The two boys sat quietly, though Remus seemed to calm down a bit as they ate. He'd been rather famished actually, and once the cakes and treacle tarts were gone, he began to nibble at the chocolate bar. Chocolate was always soothing, and it had become quickly evident that Remus was addicted to it. He ate it when he was sad, he ate it when he was angry, he ate it when he was studying (several of his books had chocolate fingerprints on them), when he was homesick, and of course when it was close to the full moon. Because of this penchant for chocolate, James and Sirius often commented that Remus was on his period whenever he indulged in it to cure a foul mood.
"Thanks, Peter," Remus finally brought himself to say as Peter looked about the astronomy tower, clearly trying to be as polite as possible and not be expectant of answers to the questions that Peter was kind enough to not ask.
"No problem, mate," Peter grinned brightly, and poured the two of them another glass of pumpkin juice each, "Figured you wouldn't have packed yourself a lunch."
Remus couldn't help but smirk a little and shook his head with amusement. Peter was truly the most caring of them, always looking out for them all. He was practically their mother. So Remus took up his now filled glass and straightened himself up a bit, "To Peter Pettigrew, my best friend and most adoring fill-in mother."
The two of them laughed and clinked glasses, though once silence fell for a few more moments, Peter finally got up the courage to ask Remus where he was really going. Though Remus frowned a little, he couldn't deny Peter the knowledge he so desperately wanted. It was clear that he was asking out of a good natured concern, whereas James and Sirius just wanted to know because they had to know everything.
"The Shrieking Shack," Remus finally answered, though got up from the floor and moved back to the window. He stared out a moment at the Forbidden Forest, before his eyes were drawn around to the Whomping Willow. When Peter had joined him at the window, Remus pointed out to it, "That tree's for me, you know. Every full moon Madam Pomfrey escorts me there, it's a secret tunnel under the roots, and I go up to the Shrieking Shack."
"Then..." Peter fell silent, bit at his lip before bringing his eyes up to the haggard looking Remus, "Then it's not your mum that's a werewolf?"
"No, Peter," Remus shook his head, though the corner of his mouth twitched upwards, "It's not my mum."
"That's bloody brilliant, mate."
The next morning Remus awoke in the infirmary to find Peter, James, and Sirius realizing how brilliant being a werewolf wasn't. Remus felt fevered and sick, he had new wounds bandaged up on his limbs, but the largest grin he could possibly muster.
It was the first time he had woken up in the infirmary and not been alone.
"We got that Herbology essay done for you," James informed, brandishing the scroll a bit hesitantly.
"Yeah, sorry, Remus," Sirius added quickly, awkwardly patting Remus lightly on the head, for it seemed that was the safest place to touch him.
Peter dug in his robes a moment before pulling out a chocolate frog and brandishing it to Remus with a bright grin, "This ought to make you feel better, mate."
Remus sat himself up a bit, looking dazedly at the three of them for a moment before smirking as he started into the chocolate frog, "I'm sorry, too. My menses always make me a bit touchy." A wink was thrown at Sirius, whom broke into a grin and again, though with much more assurance, patted Remus on the head.
Remus decided then that his curse wasn't to be lonely. If anything, his curse had brought him the closest set of friends anyone would ever have wanted.
And for the first time, and only time, Remus was glad he was a werewolf.