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We Were Infinite

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Perhaps this is a bad idea.

We can’t keep him here, he needs to be around others his own age. Other children Like Him, Hope.

Like him? Lyall, they Won’t be like him. No one will be like him…Oh my poor boy…Can’t we just home school him?

Dumbledore has assured me that he will be safe, Hope. They’ve got everything figured out to accommodate his condition.

 

 Eleven year old Remus Lupin could hear his parents bickering in the kitchen. They thought he was asleep. He ought to be asleep at such a late hour of the night. But he couldn’t. Not because of his parents, who he knew were only concerned for his safety, but because he was too excited. Glancing at his alarm clock, he could see that it was 2:30 in the morning, and that meant that in only 6 and a half hours, he’d be on the train to Hogwarts. Him! A werewolf! Imagine that…

 What if someone finds out? Or worse! What if he hurts-

Hope! Don’t say things like that.

Lyall, it’s a perfectly valid concern!

 Remus frowned and turned on his other side, pulling his pillow over his ears and shutting his eyes tight. He himself had the same concerns as his mother, but he refused to think about it. He was going to Hogwarts. He was going to school like a normal boy his age. He was going to be normal.

I just want to be normal…

 

--

“Remember Sirius, you are not normal. You are not average. You are above that. You are a Black and I expect you to be on your best behavior, is that understood?” Walburga spoke sternly as she stood, stone faced in front of her eldest son on the platform, awaiting the scarlet steam engine to arrive. Her son, Sirius, was a bored looking boy with shining black hair and stormy grey eyes who did not appear to be paying attention to his mother at all. Rather, he was making puffs of different colored smoke shoot out his brand new wand to amuse his younger brother, who was squealing with laughter.

“Mum! Mum I want to go to Hogwarts too! I want to get my wand, Mum! Siri, can’t I come with you?”

“Soon, Reg!” Sirius grinned. “Watch this-“

“Sirius Black, are you listening to me?” Walburga snapped, grabbing her eldest by the shoulder. “Stand upright and stop with your silly tomfoolery. I don’t want to hear about you causing any sort of havoc. You are representing The Noble-“

And Most Ancient House Of Black, I know Mother.” Sirius grumbled as he pulled away from her. He straightened up dramatically, like the muggle soldiers he had seen in London, the ones that wouldn’t move or smile. Once his mother turned her back, he winked at his brother and grinned. As the train pulled up, parents said their weepy goodbyes to their children. Sirius hugged his brother tight.

“I’ll see you during the Holiday Reggie. It will come quick, I promise.” And with a polite goodbye to his mother, Sirius grabbed his trunk and ran on board.

Rushing through the cars, he could feel all the pent up excitement he had kept buried inside of him since his letter had come in the mail. He had wanted to yell and jump and scream with joy, but that sort of behavior was frowned upon at The Ancient and Most Nobel House of Black.

“Sirius!” A familiar, drawling voice broke him out of his dizzy fit of glee and he stopped short, nearly stumbling on the trunk of the small pudgy boy in front of him that was making his way down the rows of compartments. Once again he straightened up slightly, bringing his shoulders back and lifting his chin slightly as he turned to face his cousins in the compartment to his right.

“Narcissa.” He nodded curtly to the older blonde sister. “Trixie.”

“Don’t call me Trixie!” whined the younger, dark haired girl. “I hate it when you call me that.”

“Well I hate it when you speak, but, here you are, screeching away.” Sirius smirked and leaned against the door. Bellatrix’s eyes narrowed and she opened her mouth to say something snarky in response but Narcissa interrupted.

“Sirius, I told Auntie Walburga I’d keep an eye on you,” she said, eyeing him with a look of slight disgust. As if it were a burden. “I’m a Prefect, after all.” She added, flipping her silvery blonde hair over her shoulder to show off the shining badge.

Sirius rolled his eyes. “Really, Cissy I hadn’t heard that even one time this summer. ‘Oh Narcissa the prefect! How lovely! Oh Sirius why can’t you be more like your cousin!’”

Narcissa’s eyes narrowed. “You’d better not make any trouble, Sirius. If Slytherin loses the House Cup for the first time in five years because your behavior costs us points, you’ll be the disappointment of the family.”

“Oh, how awful.” Said Sirius, flatly. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a seat.”

 “Aren’t you going to sit with us?” Bellatrix asked in her shrill little voice. “Auntie Walburga said you were supposed to sit with us.”

Sirius looked around. “Funnily enough, I don’t see her here. Ta, ladies.” And before either of his cousins could object, he quickly bolted to the next car.

The train had already begun moving, and the compartments were already mostly full to Sirius’ dismay. He had decided that he would rather stand for the whole ride than go back to sit with his cousins. He was about to accept this as his unfortunate fate, when he came to an open door. This compartment wasn’t full. The pudgy boy he had almost run over earlier was talking animatedly, though in a hushed voice, with a lanky, bespectacled boy with messy black hair. And then there was another boy. A small, pale boy with auburn colored hair who seemed to be sleeping, slumped against the window. The boy with the glasses looked up and saw Sirius and smiled broadly.

“We’ve got room, if you’re looking.” He stood up as Sirius entered and reached out to shake his hand. “I’m James Potter. This here is Peter Pettigrew.”

“Sirius Black.”

“Black, eh?” James’ smile faltered a little and Peter gave an audible gasp. The other boy continued to snooze. “Shouldn’t you be sitting with your family? I reckoned you lot stuck together.”

Sirius frowned, slightly offended “What’s that supposed to mean?”

James looked embarrassed. “Sorry, mate. I didn’t mean…Sorry. You can still sit with us, if you’d like.” He sat back down beside Peter. Sirius didn’t sit, instead he let his eyes wander over to the sleeping boy. He looked ill. Sirius briefly wondered if he was contagious…maybe he should find another place to sit.

“Who’s that?” He asked.

James shrugged. “Dunno. Poor bloke must’ve had a rough night though. He’s out cold. Heavy sleeper.” Sirius eyed him for another moment before deciding he would take his chances. If he was sick, maybe he could catch it and get out of a few classes and explore the castle.

“So anyway,” James continued to Peter. “My whole family has been in Gryffindor for generations. So I’m a shoe in. Don’t be too nervous. I’m sure you’ll get into a good house with a good lot. It’s not like you’ll be sorted into Sly-“ he trailed off and looked at Sirius. “I mean, not that Slytherin is, y’know, always a bad thing or-“

“I’m not going to be a Slytherin.” Sirius stated, folding his arms.

“Oh,” Said both James and Peter.

“Sorry.” Said James, sheepishly. “It’s just that your whole family-“

“Well not me.” Sirius gritted his teeth.

Peter gave him a quizzical sort of look. “No offense, but…How d’you know?”

“I’ll tell them I don’t want to be.” Sirius insisted. But he hadn’t thought of that. How would he assure that?

James bit his lip. “Er…Sure, mate…Anyway, Pete, d’you want to see the photograph I got signed by Carlos Clodoaldo at the last cup?”

Sirius’ eyes lit up “You’re a Brazil fan, eh?”

 "Nah, Bulgaria. But Clodoaldo is a hell of a beater!”

“Yeah!”

“Anything from the trolley, boys?” Interrupted a plump woman pushing a cart of treats. All three boys jumped up off their seats, plunging their hands into their pockets and ordering as much sweets as they could afford. Still, the sickly looking boy didn’t budge. And as James and Peter sat back down with their loot of candy and cakes, Sirius pocketed a chocolate frog just in case the boy woke up.

The train came to a slow stop and everyone hustled to grab their belongings and hurry off the train. As James and Peter joined the rest of them, Sirius turned and gently nudged the sleeping boy.

“Hey…We’ve arrived.” Startled, the boy's eyes, which Sirius could now see were a bright, nearly inhuman amber color, flung open.

“Oh…I…Er…th-thanks…” the boy seemed flustered as he stood and collected his things. “Blimey, I was really out for that long, eh?”

Sirius nodded. “Yeah…You’re a heavy sleeper. You alright, then?”

“Yeah. I’m fine. Thank you. I mean…for waking me up.” And with that the boy grabbed his things and darted out, disappearing into the crowd.

“Firs’ years!” Boomed a loud voice over the crowd of chattering students. “Firs’ years this way!” And they were lead, by what Sirius assumed must be a giant, out to the lake.

“Four to a boat! C’mon then.” Sirius climbed into into a boat and was joined almost instantly by his cousin Bellatrix, a boy with greasy hair and a long nose and a girl with red hair whom Sirius assumed had to be a Weasley. Everyone was mostly silent as the boats drifted across the dark lake. Until, finally, a loud gasp escaped from every single one of them as the castle came into sight.

“It’s beautiful!” gasped the red haired girl. “Severus, it’s the most incredible thing I have ever seen! Oh Tuney would love it!” her voice sounded sad.

“Don’t think about her, Lily.” Said the boy, Severus.

“I thought it’d be bigger,” Bellatrix quipped. “There’s no way there’s a basilisk hiding away in their like Lucius says.”

Sirius rolled his eyes. “You really believe everything that git says, Trix? You’re dumber than your sister.”

Stop. Calling. Me. That!”

“Oh shut up before I push you into the bloody lake and let the giant Squid get you…”

“There’s no giant Squid, Sirius. That’s ridicu—ooh!” As if on cue, a long tentacle emerged from the otherwise glassy water, waving lazily in the air before in disappeared once more.

If the view from the lake hadn’t been breathtaking enough, stepping into the castle was the most incredible thing any of them had ever seen. The excitement in the air was palpable as they chattered away, amazed at the moving staircases and suits of armor that surrounded them.

“So what house d’you reckon you’ll be sorted into?” James Potter was talking to the red head, Lily, that Sirius had shared a boat with.

“Oh, I’m not sure. “ She shrugged. “My family are all muggles, you see.”

“I know I’ll be sorted into Gryffindor,” said James proudly. “Where Dwell the Brave at Heart! Just like my dad! It’s the best house-“

The greasy haired boy beside Lily scoffed. “Only if you’d rather be brawny instead of brainy.”

“Where were you hoping to go, then?” Sirius smirked. “Seeing as you’re clearly neither.”

James howled with laughter and Lily grabbed the other boy.

“Come on, Severus.” And lead him away.

They all came to a hush as a stern looking witch with graying hair tied securely in a knot at the top of her head and small rectangular glasses that sat at the tip of her nose.

“Welcome first years,” She said, eyeing them all over the edge of her glasses. “I am Professor McGonagall. I am the Deputy Headmistress, Professor of Transfiguration and the head of Gryffindor House. The sorting is going to begin momentarily. Follow me.” She turned around, her long emerald robes sweeping behind her and the doors opened.

The first years gaped wildly at the enchanted night’s sky that the ceiling of the Great Hall portrayed and the floating candles. Some of them waved excitedly to siblings and family members in upper years as they slowly made their way to the front of the room where there stood a simple wooden stool with a lumpy, ancient looking wizard’s hat perched on top. Professor McGonagall once again addressed the first years;

“When I call your name, you will sit on the stool and try on the hat. When the hat announces your house, you will join your housemates at their tables.” She opened a long scroll of parchment.

“Avery, Killian” Whom Sirius recognized as one of his father’s friends’ son, was the first to be sorted, and the hat yelled “Slytherin!” after not even a moment atop the boys head.

“Beckwith, Davis” Became a Hufflepuff.

“Bellrose, Anastasia” was the first Ravenclaw.

“Black, Bellatrix!” Sirius cringed as his cousin, tiny in form but so very large in presence with her jittering energy, nearly shoved her way up front and clambered up onto the stool. The hat hardly touched her before shouting “Slytherin!” to which she squealed with joy and ran off to join her older sister. Which could only mean that next would be;

“Black, Sirius!”

There was a murmur throughout the Great Hall as some students craned their necks or even stood to get a look at the heir to the infamous Black fortune. Throwing his shoulders back and swallowing hard past the lump in his throat, Sirius walked up, sat on the stool and risked a look over at the Slytherin table where his cousins were scooting over to leave room for him. His stomach dropped as Professor McGonagall lowered the hat onto his head.

Unlike Bellatrix, the hat did not immediately call out a house assignment. Instead, Sirius heard a voice coming from deep inside his head;

Well now, another Black. I’d have thought you’d be as easily placed as your cousins.

I’m nothing like my cousins. Sirius thought fiercely.

Well I wouldn’t go that far.” Said the voice. “I see a lot of ambition, and you’re certainly vey cunning, Mister Black. You’d be a star pupil for Slytherin.”

NO! Sirius gritted his teeth so that he wouldn’t accidently say it out loud. Not Slytherin. I’ll leave. I’ll run off. You can’t make me stay. I refuse.

Rather hot headed, aren’t you? But I see loyalty in you, Sirius Black. And bravery. Yes…well then, I think I’ll put you in GRYFFINDOR!”

There was a loud gasp throughout the entire hall followed by a deathly silence and Sirius could feel the piercing cold glares of his cousins as he slid off the stool and headed to the table at the opposite end of the room. His footsteps seemed to echo in the shocked silence until;

“YEAH SIRIUS!” Shouted James Potter from the crowd. “YOU DID IT MATE!” And with that, the room erupted with cheers as they had for the other students. Grinning from ear to ear, Sirius slumped down with a great sigh of relief at the Gryffndor table and the sorting continued.

“Evans, Lily” Was called and the hat did not take long to announce that she too was a Gryffindor. She gracefully ran to the table, taking a seat across from Sirius and smiling broadly at her friend Severus, who did not look as pleased as she did.

“Flannigan, Declan” Became a Hufflepuff.

“Goyle, Robert.” Slytherin.

“McKinnon, Marleen” Gryffindor.

“Meadowes, Dorcas” Gryffindor.

“Norton, Joleen” Ravenclaw.

“Lupin, Remus!”

It was the sick looking boy from the train. Sirius couldn’t place what it was, but something about the boy intrigued him. The hat seemed to be taking it’s time with him as well, but after a few moments it shouted “GRYFFINDOR!” and Remus, looking quite stunned, made his way to the Gryffndor table and sat beside Sirius, looking down at his hands with wide, shocked eyes.

More students were sorted. Peter Pettigrew joined them at the Gryffindor table and the hat hardly touched the messy hair of James Potter before shouting that he too would be their housemate. James plopped himself on the other side of Sirius and clapped him firmly on the shoulder.

“Well done, mate. How’d you do it?”

“Dunno,” Sirius lied as Severus Snape was sorted into Slytherin. “Guess I’m just not cut out for Slytherin.”

James pulled a face as Snape joined the table at the other end of the hall.

“Better off.” He shook his head. “Hey Evans, that slimy git Snape is giving you a look. What’s his problem?”

Lily looked offended. “He happens to be my friend. And he’s only disappointed that we were sorted differently.”

“Might as well give up on that friendship,” James chided. “Now that he’s in with that lot.”

Lily’s bright green eyes flashed with anger. “I can be friends with whoever I see fit, Potter. No matter what house they are in.”

And with that, she stood and moved down the table to sit beside Marleen McKinnon and Dorcas Meadows.

James grinned broadly. “I reckon she fancies me.”

There was a soft chuckle from Sirius’ left side, and Remus Lupin, still staring intently down at his hands, quietly said “Imagine how she’d treat you if she hated you.”

Sirius barked with laughter and Peter snorted. James frowned, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

“You’re the boy that was asleep on the train.”

The boy blushed slightly, which actually gave his cheeks a healthier looking glow.

“Er, yeah…I’m Remus. Remus Lupin.”

“James Potter,” he extended a hand to Remus who hesitated before accepting it, as if he had never had much human contact before. James went on with the introductions. “That’s Peter Pettigrew. And this here, at the Gryffindor table, believe it or not, is Sirius Black.”

Sirius rolled his eyes, but grinned and shook Remus’ hand. Remus blinked at him with those large, eerily bright eyes. “Sorry, er...Is that supposed to be a big deal?”

“He’s a Black.” Peter repeated. “No Black has ever been sorted into any house but Slytherin. The whole family is loaded too. D’you live in a castle Sirius? Is it bigger than this?”

Sirius raised an eyebrow and shook his head “No, don’t be ridiculous…I mean…it’s a mansion, sure…but not…not a castle…” he ran a hand nervously through his hair.

“Oh.” Said Remus. “Sorry. I was raised mostly around muggles, so…”

James looked thoughtful. “Lupin…That’s a Wizard name, though.”

Remus nodded. “Yeah, My dad is a wizard, but my mum is a muggle.” He looked like he didn’t want to talk much about his family or his home. Luckily for him, an old looking wizard with a long white beard had stepped up to the podium in front of the Great Hall.

“Welcome To Hogwarts! I am Headmaster Dumbledore. I just have a few announcements before we begin with our feast. To start, Mr Filch kindly asks that you refrain from using any dungbombs in the corridors,” his eyes twinkled. “And also would like to remind you all that fanged Frisbees are for outside use only.” There was a fit of laughter from some older Gryffindor students. “Also, we have planted a very rare, very dangerous tree on the grounds. The Whomping Willow is to be avoided at all costs, for it can and will break every bone in your body.”

“Why on earth would they put something so dangerous in the middle of a school ground?” Lily Evans hissed.

“Now then,” Dumbledore continued. “I’m sure you’re all itching to begin with our feast. Enjoy!” He waved his hand and the tabled, which had been completely empty, filled with all sorts of food. Chicken, ham, pork, steaks, veggies, potatoes, anything you could have imagined. Sirius, James and Peter began to pile food onto their plates as Professor McGonagall came up behind them.

“Mr. Lupin, would you come with me, please? Professor Dumbledore would like a word.” And Remus stood and followed her.

James watched them leave and shook his head. “Couldn’t have waited til he got some food in him? Poor bloke looks like he hasn’t eaten in months.”He didn’t seem too concerned though, as he stuffed more mashed potatoes into his mouth.

“Yeah…” Sirius agreed. Something about Remus Lupin was definitely off. But he shook it from his mind and put his focus back on his own grumbling stomach.

--

“Ah, Mister Lupin.” Dumbledore smiled warmly as Remus entered the office, looking around the room with interest at all of the magical artifacts and books and portraits. “It’s nice to see you again.”

“It’s nice to see you too, Sir.” Remus replied politely. “And thank you, again…for letting me be here.”

Dumbledore frowned. “My dear boy, it’s your birthright to be here.”

“Well…I mean…perhaps if I wasn’t a…well, you know…” Remus looked down shamefully.

“Remus, listen to me.” Dumbledore said, leaning over his desk, blue eyes gleaming kindly. “You are not your condition. And you have every right to be here. You do not have to thank me. I have faith that you will be one of Hogwarts’ best students.” He winked, sitting back in his chair. “However, we do need to talk about your safety, of course. I promised your father I would do everything in my power to make sure you are protected and that no one figures out your secret.”

Something about the look in Dumbledore’s eyes made Remus feel safe, and he nodded smiling back at the old wizard.

“Now then, Professor McGonagall will introduce you to Madam Pomfrey, our healer and they will show you where you will be spending the nights of the full moon. I promise you, Remus, this will work. I think you’ll be very happy here.”

Remus nodded and stood. “Thank you, Professor.”

He turned to leave with Professor McGonagall.

“And Remus,” Dumbledore added. “Yes Professor?” Dumbledore smiled. “Make friends. They will be your greatest strength, I assure you.”

Remus’ smile faltered slightly. It seemed that Dumbledore knew that Remus had planned to get through school with his nose in a book, flying completely under the radar.

“I…I’ll try, Professor.”

By the time Remus finally made it up to his new home in Gryffindor tower, it was very late. Most of the other students had already gone to bed. Remus was careful to be extra quiet as he entered the first year boys’ dormitory and made his way to the vacant bed that clearly belonged to him. Exhausted, he pulled off his jumper, glad that his bunk mates were asleep and could not see the scars that littered his body. He changed into his pajamas and climbed into bed when he heard the crinkling sound of foil beneath his pillow. Lifting it, he found a solitary chocolate frog and a note scribbled messily on a scrap of parchment;

Thought you might be hungry. – Sirius 

Chapter Text

 

Sirius woke up earlier than he ever had before. Never much of a morning person, he chalked it up to pure excitement and swung his legs over the edge of his bed. He stood and stretched, walking across the dorm to the window and gazing out at the incredible view, he felt a surge of pure child-like glee. He had done it. He was free from his family, at least while at school, and there was nothing his parents or any one else could do about it. 

 Being up so early did have it's perks, he thought as he made his way to the bathroom. At least he wouldn't have to wait for a shower. However, as he entered the room, he could hear the water running and it was already filled with steam. Sirius frowned. All of the other beds still had had their curtains drawn and he assumed that everyone was still sleeping. 

"Er...Hello?" He called out. 

The water shut off almost instantly and there was a quiet mutter of "Shite." 

"Sorry. I figured everyone else was still asleep." Sirius apologized.

"Th-That's okay...Er, I'm nearly done anyway. Just...Hold on." The timid voice of Remus Lupin answered back. Sirius got the idea that Remus didn't want him to see him just out of the shower. He guessed Remus must be an only child and maybe wasn't use to other people seeing him without clothes, so he turned to face away from the stalls. 

"S'alright...I'm not looking or anything..." 

"Thanks." This time Remus' voice was closer. "You can turn around now." 

Sirius turned. Remus was fully dressed and using a towel to dry his hair. Sirius noticed once more how thin and pale he was. "You're up early." 

"So are you." Remus shrugged. 

"Touche." Sirius smirked. "I guess I was just excited. I'm not a morning person, normally."

Remus began setting up his toothbrush. "I love mornings." he said simply.

Sirius stood awkwardly and watched as his roommate brushed his teeth. When Remus finished, he gave Sirius a small smile. "See you at breakfast, then?"

Sirius smiled back. "Yeah see you."

Remus left and Sirius went about his morning ritual. By the time he was out of the shower, James, Peter and their fifth roommate Frank Longbottom were already up, talking excitedly about which classes they thought would be the best. But Lupin was nowhere to be found.

"Strange kid," James said when Sirius inquired to where there roommate may be. "He just grabbed his bags and left. He didn't say a word to anyone."

One by one they showered and dressed and together they made their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast. The smell of pancakes and bacon and pastries filled the air and Sirius' mouth watered. James and Peter were seeing who could finish a stack of 6 pancakes faster, and Remus , who was there by the time the rest of them finally made their way down, was nibbling on some toast with his nose deep in a book when suddenly the sound of fluttering wings filled the air. All around them packages and parcels and letters were dropped in front of students. Gifts and prizes from proud parents who had received word of their children's sorting. James' parents had written a long letter of praise to their son, Peter's mother had sent a card along with a few items of clothing he had forgotten to pack and even Remus' parents sent him a rather delicious smelling plate of freshly baked brownies. Sirius nearly choked on his bacon when a thick red envelope dropped unceremoniously into his eggs. "Bloody shite..." he swore under his breath.

James heard him and looked over his shoulder. "'Ad 'uck, dere 'ate." He said around mouthfulls of pancakes. He swallowed hard. "Better open it."

"What's wrong?" Asked Lily Evans. "What is it?"

"That's a Howler," Said Marlene McKinnon. "Wow Black, what'd you do?"

"I was born, basically..." Sirius muttered, biting his lip. To wait would only make things worse. He couldn't believe he had actually thought for a moment that this would go smoothly. With a heavy sigh, he accepted his fate and ripped the envelope open; "SIRIUS ORION BLACK!" The hall went dead silent as Walburga Black's voice boomed. "NEVER IN MY LIFE HAVE I BEEN SO ASHAMED! GENERATIONS OF BLACKS HAVE BEEN SORTED INTO SLYTHERIN AND MY SON, THE HEIR, IS PLACED IN GRYFFINDOR!  LIVING WITH MUDBLOODS AND BLOOD TRAITORS! MARK MY WORDS SIRIUS, YOU WILL NOT BE SPENDING ANOTHER NIGHT AS A GRYFFINDOR! YOUR FATHER WILL BE HAVING A WORD WITH DUMBLEDORE! YOU WILL BE A SLYTHERIN LIKE THE REST OF YOUR FAMILY OR WE WILL DRAG YOU BY YOUR EARS TO DURMSTRANG!" 

With a puff of smoke, the howler fizzled out into a pile of ash and Sirius felt hundreds of pairs of eyes on him. He wanted to run. He wanted to hide. But instead he took a deep breath and said "Hey Pete, could you pass the pumpkin juice?" 

 Slowly the students went back to their chatter and Sirius was grateful for when the Head Boy and Girl came around to pass out their schedules.

"Potions with the Slytherins, first class." James groaned. "What a way to start the school year." 

Sirius shrugged "The way I see it, it's just a way to mess with them. add a few extra spider legs when they arent looking and make the whole bloody cauldron overflow." he grinned.

"Brilliant, Sirius!" James laughed.

"Actually," Said Remus, clearly lost in a daze of thought and laughing quietly to himself "Hmmm..."

James and Sirius stared at him. "What?"

Remus looked back down at his plate. "Never mind."

James turned to Sirius, twisting index finger around his ear, insinuating that Lupin was crazy. Sirius couldn't really argue, and even if he wanted to suddenly there was a lanky, looming shadow over him. Slowly he turned around to face his cousin Narcissa who's eyes were piercing into him with a cold smile.

Beside her was Bellatrix, arms folded and wearing the most satisfied, smug grin Sirius had ever had the misfortune to see. "That was quite a show, Sirius." The blonde sister drawled. "I admit, I expected you to embarrass the family name, but I never thought it would happen so quickly!"she gave a sinister sort of laugh that her younger sister mimicked, making Sirius feel like he may actually throw up.

"Sod off, Narcissa." He stood up, fists clenched at his sides and holding his head high. He was aware that everyone was watching, but if anything that only fueled his fire. "I don't care if I embarrassed the family, I don't care if I get bloody disowned, even! The Sorting Hat put me in Gryffindor, and that's where I'm going to stay. I'd love to see mother try to change that. Besides, you should be happy! Now you won't have to keep an eye on me!"

Narcissa shook her head. "Oh Sirius, one day you'll see just how very damaging your rebellious behavior is. You want to keep pretending you aren't who you are? Go ahead. But you'll wind up all alone."

And then James was on his feet. "He isn't alone."

Narcissa scoffed. "Real nice. So he'll leave his family behind for a blood traitor like you, Potter?" Her eyes flashed with mirth. "Don't get too comfortable, Sirius. You forget just how powerful our family really is. If they don't want you in Gryffindor, you can bet you won't be there, or even at Hogwarts, for very long..." she turned on her heel. "Come, Bella." and the two sisters strode off.

"Don't let them get to you, Sirius." Said James, putting a hand on his shoulder. "You're better than them."

"But what if I'm not?" Sirius muttered miserable, sinking back into his seat. "What if she's right? I'm just pretending to not be who I really am..."

"Then the hat wouldn't have put you here." Said Remus, finally looking up from his book. And then the bell for class rang.

--

"Welcome to Potions!" Beamed Professor Slughorn. "Now, you've all been paired up... It's great to see some faces I recognize! I've had many of your older siblings and family members before! Ahh, Miss McKinnon! How is your sister, my dear? One of my best students!"

Marlene smiled brightly back. "She's studying to be a healer!"

"How wonderful! She was always very good with her healing draughts!" He gazed around the room. "Bellatrix, I know you of course and Sirius! I must say I was slightly disappointed to not have you in Slytherin!"

Sirius, who was sitting towards the back of the room and sharing a cauldron with a sullen looking girl named Drizzella Drum, scoffed and rolled his eyes. "I'm sure it's a real loss." he muttered.

After about ten minutes more of introduction, they were instructed to open their texts and attempt to brew a forgetfulness potion. James, who was paired with a Slytherin boy that had the forehead of a troll, and smelled like one too, leaned over his cauldron to whisper "Still want to make a mess of these potions?"

Sirius grinned. "Yeah."

They both caught Peter's eye, who was paired with Avery and was looking rather terrified. He probably wouldn't be much help. Sirius quickly read through the instructions of his potion."an extra pinch of Lethe River Water should be enough to make them boil over." he muttered to James, who quietly voiced his agreement.

In front of Sirius, and unfortunately paired with Bellatrix, Remus Lupin shook his head and scribbled something on a piece of paper, which he passed silently back to Sirius.

An extra half of a mistletoe berry. ONLY HALF. Trust me. 

Sirius frowned and passed the note to James who just shrugged. 

They brewed the potion as instructed. As Drizzella added the berries and turned back to her notes, Sirius casually flicked an extra half into the cauldron. 

"Step back." Remus hissed from the row ahead. And Sirius and James did. There was a quiet rumble at first. Drizzella frowned and looked into the cauldron. "Professor? I think something is wro-OH!" 

All at once, Sirius', James' and to their surprise, Remus' cauldrons erupted, shooting bright purple potion into the air.

"TAKE COVER!" Slughorn shouted, and most of the students ducked beneath their desks. 

When the fountains of Forgetfulness Potion seemed to finally subside, Professor Slughorn told them it was safe to emerge from their hideouts. "I think we'd better wrap this class up for the day...All students who were not directly in contact with the potion, you're dismissed...Miss Drum, Mr McMahon, Miss Black, you'd better stay here so I can fix you the antidote..."

"Who?" Inquired Bellatrix, staring at Slughorn with confusion making her already wild eyes look even crazier.

"You, Miss Black," Slughorn sighed. "You've been in contact with a Forgetfulness Potion."

The unaffected students filed slowly out of the classroom, careful not to catch any falling drops on potion. Remus had had the sense to put his text book over his head like a hat, and strutted carelessly out into the hall with James, Sirius and Peter following suit. 

--

Once they were a safe distance from the classroom or any Slytherins, the three boys surrounded Remus. 

"That was bloody brilliant, Lupin!" James grinned. "We just wanted to cause a minor inconvenience, but that...truly inspiring! 

"How'd you know adding the extra berry would do that?" Peter asked, his eyes aglow with amazement and curiosity. 

Remus blushed lightly and wiped off his potions book with his sleeve. "My dad likes to tinker around with different potions and spells sometimes...and I read a lot, I suppose." This was true. His dad did often mess around with potions and spells, trying to find a cure for Remus. Nothing ever worked, of course. He put his book back into his bag and began to walk off, only to have the other three boys follow closely behind.  

"Where are you going?" asked Sirius.

Remus turned and stared blankly at Sirius. "I...er...I dunno. I was going to maybe study out by the lake, I suppose..."

"Well, would you like some company, mate?" James grinned. "I'd love to know what other tricks you've got in your loopy little brain." he playfully ruffled Remus' hair. Remus looked unsure, however. He had never any friends his age. They had moved so many times when he was young so that no one would be suspicious of his strange behavior, and although his parents loved him very much, he had experienced very little human contact in his short life. 

Sirius seemed to pick up on his social anxiety though. "It's totally fine if you'd rather be alone." he assured him. "But we're going to play some exploding snap up in the dorm if you'd like to join us." 

Remus chewed his bottom lip nervously as he watched his housemates walk down the corridor, chatting excitedly and making fun of Bellatrix Black's confused expression...He heard Dumbledore's voice in his head; Remus, try to make some friends. They will be your greatest strength. 


"H-Hey! Wait!" The three boys turned around and Remus ran to catch up with them. As they made their way back to Gryffindor Tower, Remus timidly asked. "So how do you play exploding snap anyway?"



Chapter Text

Remus Lupin had never before felt like a normal child. But as the first few weeks of school flew by, he found himself nearly forgetting the voice in the back of his head that mockingly whispered You're a monster.

 And what was more, he had friends. 

James Potter, although slightly obnoxious and arrogant at times, was already proving to be an exceptionally talented and smart wizard, if not just a tad lazy. Growing up in a very wealthy and respected pureblood family, it was only natural that James easily excelled in nearly every class. He was also very funny, Remus found, once you got past his ego. James seemed to feel the need to make everyone around him laugh, and he often succeeded. In fact, the only person who didn't tend to find him funny was Lily Evans, but James only seemed to take this as a personal challenge. If Lily was around, you could guarantee that James was going to find a way to make himself the center of attention. He also had a habit of messing with his hair. A habit that they all found slightly ironic since his family's wealth came largely due to the invention of a potion meant for taming unruly hair. Remus wondered if it was some sort of rebellion on James' part, in some strange way.

The only person that seemed to match James' large personality was Sirius Black. Actually, the two of them seemed to thrive off each other and although they had only just met, Remus would have believed them to be brothers. Sirius, however, did not need to try  to capture anyone's attention. Easily the most popular among the female students in their year (and even some older girls), Sirius Black seemed to naturally shine as bright as the star he was named for. Even the teachers couldn't help but fall for his charming smile. The only flaw that Remus could find in Sirius was his temper. Especially when dealing with matters of blood and family, Sirius' anger seemed to get the best of him. In just the first three weeks of school, James, Peter and Remus had pulled Sirius away from what could have ended up being a nasty fist fight with a second year Slytherin.

 It was just after breakfast one Saturday morning and Sirius had received a letter from his younger brother, who was excited to hear about Hogwarts regardless of what house he had been sorted into. As they walked back to Gryffindor tower, Sirius spoke fondly of Regulus, telling the other three boys how relieved he was that his parents had yet to corrupt his sibling's innocent mind. A group of Slytherins happened to have overheard. 

"Just wait til next year Black," The older boy sneered. "Once Regulus sees what an embarrassment you really are, you can bet he won't want anything to do with you either."

Sirius' fists clenched at his side and Remus was surprised that his neck didn't snap when he turned to face the Slytherins. "Bugger off, Lestrange."

"You're pathetic. Got the world handed to you on a silver platter, and you're throwing it away to hang around blood traitors and mudbloods. You're a disgrace. Regulus deserves a better-"

With an angry cry, Sirius was on top of Lestrange, and James, Peter and Remus were instantly trying to drag him off without being hit by his flying fists.

"You should have let me fight him." Sirius argued once they were back in the common room. "I could've taken him."

"He's twice your size." Remus reasoned with him.

"Size doesn't matter, the oaf didn't see Sirius coming at him." Peter grinned. Peter already idolized both Sirius and James, Remus noticed. And Sirius and James knew it, and loved it. If no one else was there to feed their egos, Peter was. Remus' only concern was that the two raven haired boys underestimated the smaller, chubbier boy. Peter was also very funny, but not in the loud way that commanded everyone's attention like the dynamic duo that was James Potter and Sirius Black. Peter's humor was more subtle and consisted of sarcastic side comments muttered under his breath that sometimes only Remus heard.

"Maybe," Remus said. "But still, you wouldn't want to go getting yourself in trouble this early on, would you?"

Sirius sighed, flopping down on one of the overstuffed chairs. "I guess not."

"Don't let him get to you, Mate." James added, clapping Sirius on the shoulder. After that, Sirius seemed to bounce back. He was good at that. No matter what was bothering him or how angry he seemed one moment, the next moment he was laughing and goofing off. Remus admired him for that. Remus admired all of his new friends, and he was happy to have them.

Until they find out what you really are. 

With the full moon just one night away, Remus found himself tossing and turning in bed while the others slept. He struggled to fight off the voice that called him out for what he was. Perhaps if he had been able to ignore it, he would have been asleep by now and he wouldn't have heard the muffled sounds coming from the dark dormitory. 

Peeking his head out from behind the curtains of his four poster, Remus listened carefully. Had he imagined it? It sounded like someone was...Crying?

Tiptoeing across the room, Remus was careful not to wake Peter, James or Frank. "Sirius?" he whispered, and the noise stopped. Remus frowned and slowly pulled back the curtains on the other boy's bed. 

"Shite," Sirius swore quietly, wiping furiously at his face. 

Remus felt instantly guilty. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have...Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you...I just...I won't tell anyone." 

Sirius sniffled and sat back against his headboard. "Nah...s'alright. I shouldn't be blubbering like a bloody infant anyway." he looked up at Remus through puffy bloodshot eyes. "You probably think I'm completely pathetic." he forced a laugh. 

Remus shook his head. "I don't..." he shifted awkwardly, his bones beginning to ache with the familiar pain of the upcoming moon. 

Sirius gave him a concerned look "Why are you up? You look like you're going to fall over." 

"I'm alright." 

"Here, sit." Sirius insisted, moving over. Remus considered him for a moment before taking him up on the offer. They both sat in an awkward silence, the only noise was Peter's snoring and the occasional hiccup from Sirius, who tried to cover them with coughs. 

"It must be hard, with your family expecting so much from you." Remus offered. 

Sirius shook his head. "It's not how much they expect, it's what they expect. They say there's going to be changes coming to the Wizarding World...That there's someone out there that's going to rid the world of witches and wizards who aren't pure...They reckon I should think that way too..." he covered a sob with another cough. "I've never been what they wanted me to be...but they're my parents. Shouldn't I want to make them happy?" 

Remus shook his head. "Not if what makes them happy is wrong. Maybe you're just a better person." 

"But what if I'm not a better person?" 

"You wouldn't be upset over it if you weren't." 

"I just feel like no matter what I do, I'm still a Black. And I still have this darkness in me...no matter how hard I try to fight it, it'll end up coming out anyway. Like some sort of demon or something..." he sighed. "That probably sounds really stupid." 

"Actually, no." Remus said, smiling slightly. "We've all got our demons, Sirius." 

 

--

 

Neither of them spoke about what had happened the following day. In fact, they hardly spoke at all because Remus was nowhere to be found. 

"I heard his mum's sick." Said Peter, between bites of sausage. 

"Why didn't he say anything?" Sirius wondered out loud. 

"He left in a bit of a hurry. You were still asleep." said James. "You alright by the way? Your eyes are all red." 

"Yeah...allergies." 

James and Peter exchanged a disbelieving sort of look. 

"I'm allergic to, dust!" Sirius insisted. "Listen, it doesn't matter. I just wish Remus would've said something about having a sick mum, that's all." 

James shrugged. "It's his own business, Sirius. Leave it be. If he wants to talk about it when he comes back I'm sure he will." 

 Sirius muttered some sort of agreement and picked at his eggs.

 

Remus didn't return for two whole days, and when he did he looked more sickly then ever. He climbed slowly through the portrait hole that Monday evening after the rest of them had gotten out of Charms class. Lily got to him before anyone else. 

"Remus! I took notes in class for you. How's your mum?" 

"Thanks, Lily. She's feeling much better." 

"I heard she's very ill, I'm so sorry." 

"Oh...It's alright, really. Thanks for taking notes for me." Remus said hurriedly. 

Lily looked concerned. "You don't look so well yourself, Remus. Maybe you should go to the hospital wing?" 

"I'm just tired." 

"Are you sure-"

"He said he's just tired, Evans." James interjected from his seat by the fireplace where he and Peter were playing chess. Sirius was looking over Peter's shoulder trying to help him. "Merlin's socks, would you let the man get through the doorway before you pester him to death?"

"I was only asking because he doesn't look well! I don't see you acting concerned and he's your friend!"

"Of course we're concerned." said James. "Oy, Remus! Alright, mate?" 

Remus smiled. "Fine, James."

"See Evans? He's fine. Now leave him be." 

Lily huffed and marched off with Marlene and Dorcas and Remus visibly relaxed. Without a word to the other boys, he headed straight up to the dormitory. 

"He really doesn't look well." Peter commented. "I mean, he always looks a little off. But he looks like he's been through the mill." 

 "I've said it before and I'll say it again," James sighed. "He's an odd kid....Checkmate." 

 

Chapter Text

James Potter plopped himself down on the sofa between Remus and Peter one afternoon in mid October.

"Lads, I want to plan something big for Halloween." He announced.

Remus did not look up from Peter's Defense Against The Dark Arts paper he had been proof reading. "Like a party?" he asked.

"No, no...Bigger than that. I want something the whole school will remember." With a mischievous glint in his eye he ruffled up his hair. "I want to prank everyone."

Sirius threw his own paper down with a big grin. "I'm in. What did you have in mind, Potter?"

"Not sure," his hazel eyes adopted a look of innocence as he glanced at Remus. "But I seem to recall that someone here has quite a creative little mind." 

This time Remus did look up. "Me?" He blinked. 

"Of course you, you bloody little genius!" 

Remus sighed. "I don't know, James." 

"Aw, come on Rem." Sirius said, bringing his lips to a pout and giving his best impression of a begging puppy with his eyes. 

"The thing is," Remus bit his lip. "I don't know if I'll even be here on Halloween. I have to visit my mum-" 

"Again?" Whined Peter. "But you were only just there last month." 

"She's very ill, you see-" 

"What's she got?" Sirius asked. 

Remus blinked up at him. "What?" 

"Your mum. I know she's ill, but what does she have?" 

A flood of emotions seemed to wash over Remus' face from panicked to angry. He took a deep breath in and set Peter's paper down. "I'll help you plan something. But I can't promise I'll be here." 

 Sirius opened his mouth to argue, but James stomped on his foot. 

"Ow!"

 "That's fine, Remus. Thank you."

The next few weeks were spent carefully planning their elaborate Halloween prank and James, Sirius and Peter were increasingly impressed with the outrageous things that came out of their usually quiet and reserved roommate. The days flew and Halloween drew closer and closer. The boys would stay up until all hours of the night , huddled up on one of their beds. James wanted something big. He wanted this prank to be something everyone would remember. Peter wanted something scary.

"Halloween should be scary." 

 Sirius agreed with Peter. "It should send everyone screaming," He grinned. "Knock those Slytherins off their High Horse, you know?" 

Remus wanted it to be impressive. And Sirius unintentionally had just given him the perfect idea. 

Three days before Halloween, Remus was all set to leave.

 "You've all been practicing your transfiguration spells that I showed you. You'll be just fine without me." He assured them, exhaustion already present in his voice and face.

"You're better at them though." Sirius grumbled, moodily. "Can't you wait til after Halloween to go home?" 

 "I'm sorry," Remus said. Truly he was, he was actually quite sad to be missing it. "I really need to go." 

"I'm not so sure you even should go," James said. "You're looking a tad under the weather again. You can't be much help to your mum if you're sick too." 

 Remus shook his head. "I'm just stressed, that's all. Worried about her and up late planning this...It's just been a lot on top of school work. I promise, I'm alright." He gathered up his things. "I have every faith in you. It'll be great. We've already convinced Peeves to help, the rest is just getting the spells right." And he left.

The day of October thirty-first seemed to drag as James, Sirius and Peter awaited the feast that evening. James was practically bursting with excitement, sitting under a tree by the lake and finalizing their plans. 

"Tonight we begin our legacy as the greatest pranksters that Hogwarts has ever seen!" He announced proudly. 

 "How exactly are we supposed to create a legacy while simultaneously not getting caught and put in detention?" Peter asked, raising an eyebrow at James.

"Caught doing what?"

The three boys looked up at Lily Evans, who was walking by with Severus Snape.

James rolled his eyes. "Nothing, Evans."

The redhead's eyes narrowed on him. "What are you three up to?"

 "Enjoying this brisk autumn day, same as you and Snivellus, there." Sirius said in his most nonchalant voice. 

Severus glared. "I'd be careful, Black. Wouldn't want mummy and daddy hearing that you're causing trouble. They'll pull you straight out of school." 

Sirius reached for his wand but James stopped him. "Easy, mate." 

"Let's go, Severus." Lily said, taking Snape by the sleeve and leading him away. 

James ran a hand through his hair. "Dunno why she hangs out with that slimy git." 

"Dunno why you care," Sirius muttered. "She's bloody annoying." He leaned against the tree and smirked. "Anyway, I stopped Peeves this morning down by Filch's office to make sure he was still down to help us tonight."

"This is going to be so awesome." Peter grinned. 

 "Still wish Remus was going to be here though." Sirius sighed, and the others agreed. 

 

-- 

 

"Madam Pomfrey, I swear I'm feeling alright." Remus had been eagerly trying to convince the nurse all day, but she was not so easily swayed. 

 "Mister Lupin, you're still running a fever and you haven't eaten in a day and a half. You're not going anywhere." She said as she fussed over his bandages. 

"But isn't that even more of a reason I should go to the Halloween feast?" He tried to keep from sounding overly hopeful. 

 Pomfrey sighed. "Remus, dear, I know you'd like to be at the feast tonight but you really need to rest. Now finish up your potion and try to eat some soup, will you?" 

Remus quickly downed the goblet of icky green liquid and accepted the bowl of soup that Pomfrey had been trying to get him to eat all day. "See? All better. Please can I go? I'll go right to bed after, I promise." 

"No." Said the witch sternly, and Remus laid back down against the stark white pillows of the infirmary and stared at the ceiling in defeat. 

 

-- 

 

"James, honestly you look like you're going to explode. You need to calm down or everyone's going to know we're up to something." 

 "Shove it, Sirius. You're excited too." 

"But I don't look like I'm going to wet myself." 

 "...Wait, we're going to eat first and then pull this off, yeah?" 

Sirius rolled his eyes. "Of course we are, Peter. Wouldn't want you dropping of starvation now, would we?"

 "I have low blood sugar!" Peter defended. "And all this planning has just...it's made me hungry, alright? And I don't want to miss my first Halloween feast here, do you?" 

"He's got a point." James admitted. They were standing just outside the Great Hall where the rest of the students and teachers were already preparing to enjoy the festivities. "Yeah, we'll eat first, Pete, no worries." Peter sighed with relief. "Alright then, mates. Act casual. We're not planning a single thing!" 

Sirius snorted, "Then wipe that shit eating grin off your face, Potter. You might as well write 'Guilty' across your forehead." 

"Shut up, Black!"

 "Sorry, I get snippy when I'm nervous." Sirius admitted with a slightly uncharacteristic bashfulness. 

"Couldn't tell." Muttered Peter. 

 "Alright, enough. Let's go before someone comes by and sees us." Said James, and they entered the hall and took their seats among their fellow Gryffindors. The Great Hall was decorated festively with giant jack-O-lanterns replacing the candles that usually floated above their heads and enchanted skeletons that danced around the tables where they all sat. Black and purple curtains hung along the walls and every so often a giant pretend spider would scamper across them.

Peter was certainly right about not wanting to miss the big Halloween Feast. It truly would have been a shame to have not been able to enjoy the vast spread of deliciousness that appeared before them. 

"James, tell your bloody girlfriend to stop staring at us." Sirius hissed, helping himself to a third serving of potatoes. Sure enough, Lily Evans was giving them all a suspicious glare.

"She's not my girlfriend!" 

 "Oy Evans, You see something you like?" Sirius asked with snark dripping from his voice. 

"Not particularly, Black." Lily responded, feigning a sweet innocence as Marlene and Dorcas giggled beside her. 

 "Well then would you care to explain why your staring, if not just to see my pretty face?" Sirius said with a grin and a wink at the other girls, who continued to giggle.

"I know you lot are up to something." Lily said flatly, ignoring her friends.

 "You don't know a thing, Evans." James smirked as the plates from dinner cleared on their own and were replaced with cakes and cookies and sweets. Under the table, Sirius' wand was out. It was almost time, if only Lily Evans would stop pestering them. 

Just then, there was a loud crack of thunder as the enchanted ceiling's clear night sky clouded over and lightening flashed across it. All the chatter in the hall stopped immediately and the sound of cackling laughter echoed throughout the room. Above them, the Jack-O-Lanterns began to slowly change positions, coming together to form something massive. 

James, Sirius and Peter all exchanged looks of utter confusion. 

The skeletons that had been waltzing around them were also changing and the curtains ripped themselves from the walls and flew over the crowd of students. Together the decorations had formed a giant shadowed figure of The Headless Horseman. Students screamed as the horse reared back and galloped overhead and some even took cover underneath their tables, including, to Sirius' great pleasure, Bellatrix and some other Slytherins. 

And finally, with a piercing whinny, the horse and its rider exploded into hundreds red and gold sparks against the once again clear enchanted night sky of the ceiling. 

After a moment of stunned silence, the Great Hall erupted into laughter and applauds from everyone except James, Sirius and Peter, who were gaping at each other in shock.

"Alright, mates?" came a voice from behind them, making them jump.

"Remus!?" 

 Grinning, Remus sat down. "Quite a show," he said mildly. "Pass the pumpkin pie, will you James?" 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"What you boys pulled at the feast tonight was incredibly disrespectful, not to mention potentially dangerous. I have no choice but to give all four of you detention." Professor Mcgonagall's nostrils flared as she gazed down at the four students who sat before her in her office. "I am extremely disappointed."

"Yes Professor." The boys mumbled.

"Realistically I should deduct points from each of you as well," She went on. "However, I must admit that I am not keen on the idea of losing the house cup for a sixth year in a row. But I am letting all of you off with a warning!"

"Thank you, Professor." Remus said, as the only one not grinning like a fool.

Professor Mcgonagall pursed her lips, "Don't make me regret the decision. You may go. But I will see all four of you every night this week for detention."

They walked back to Gryffindor tower feeling prouder than they had the night before.

"So worth a week of detention!" James declared. "Remus, you really are a complete utter genius."

Remus smiled modestly. "Well it wasn't all me..."

"You pulled it off," Peter said. "It really was mostly you."

"Only because you lot were being watched. I'm just glad I got there in time."

"So how's your mum feeling?" Sirius asked.

"She's alright." Remus answered shortly

 "Is she getting any better?"

"I...It's not exactly that simple, Sirius...Cor Fortium." The portrait swung open and they all climbed through.

 "Why doesn't your dad just bring her to St. Mungos?" Sirius pried as he dropped down into one of the chairs by the fireplace. 

"She's a muggle." 

"Then to one of those muggle healers, then-" 

"Doctors, Sirius." 

 "Yes. That." 

"Sirius," Remus snapped angrily, in a way that none of them had ever heard from him before. Sirius stared at him, wide eyed. 

Taking a deep breath in, the smaller boy tried to relax himself before addressing his friends again. "I'm very tired, I'm sorry. I'm glad I was able to get back in time to help tonight. I'll see you in the morning." He turned and headed up to the dormitory. 

James rounded on Sirius, "Why are you so stuck on this?" 

Sirius shrugged. "Dunno. It's just weird, is all...He never mentions his mum until he suddenly needs to go home." 

"Maybe he doesn't want to talk about it." James said pointedly as he pushed his glasses up his nose. 

"Maybe it's really bad." Peter added. "He gets really upset when you ask him about it." 

Sirius looked frustrated. "Yeah, but-" 

"Drop it, Sirius." said James sternly. 

 

But Sirius couldn't drop it. Once a month Remus would leave and when he returned, Sirius would pester him about it until James or Peter hit him with a lip locking curse. Most months it didn't last long and eventually Sirius would give up. Until early spring when Remus had to leave twice in one month, returning the second time looking more sickly and weak then ever. 

 Sirius didn't know exactly why it bothered him so much, but something just didn't sit right with him. It was so persistently on his mind that he could not sleep that night. It was raining hard outside and Sirius lay awake listening to the sound and trying not to think about why Remus wouldn't open up about what happened when he went home every month. They were in their seventh month of school and everyone knew how horrible Sirius' family was. He could not imagine why Remus felt he had to be so secretive about his own. As Remus had told him himself, They all had their demons.

He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate instead on the low rumble of thunder outside, but a noise then caught his attention.

 It was very soft, but someone was mumbling in their sleep. It did not take long for Sirius to figure out who it was, and as quickly and quietly as he could he tiptoed across the dorm to Remus' bed and carefully pulled back the curtains.

Remus' eyes were screwed tightly shut and he was making quiet distressed noises. His legs were tangled up in his blanket and his shirt had ridden up leaving his chest and stomach exposed.

Sirius suddenly became very aware of the fact that he had never seen Remus Lupin without a shirt on. And now he could not look away. 

The pale boy was covered in scars and bruises in varies sizes and severity. The worst one was a silvery crescent shaped scar that seemed to wrap around his hip. Anger surged through Sirius and his fists clenched, but another soft noise from Remus broke him from his thoughts.

"Remus," Sirius whispered, gently shaking his friend. "Hey! Remus, wake up!" 

Remus' eyes snapped open, startling Sirius once again with how they seemed to nearly glow, and he looked around frantically. 

"Alright, mate?" Sirius asked.

Breathing heavily still, Remus nodded. He then noticed the way that Sirius' eyes seemed to linger on his chest and stomach and quickly covered up, blushing furiously. "Just a nightmare..." he muttered.

Sirius cocked his head to the side. "Budge over." 

 "What? Why?" 

"Move your scrawny arse over." Sirius repeated. Remus did and Sirius climbed into bed with him and closed the curtains. 

 "Regulus use to have nightmares when he was little," Sirius explained. "And he'd come into bed with me and it made him feel better. Do you get them a lot?" 

Remus didn't answer. He just stared off into the darkness silently. 

 "Rem, it's not a big deal." he nudged the boy playfully with his elbow. "I won't tell anyone." 

Reluctantly, Remus smiled back at him. "I've gotten them since I was little." 

"Wanna talk about it?" 

 "Not really." 

After a moment of silence, save the sound of the thunder and Peter's snoring, Remus sighed. "Would you open that drawer there?" 

Sirius opened the bedside drawer and his eyes widened. "Merlin, Remus you have enough chocolate stashed away to feed an army. Expecting a world shortage or something?" 

Remus laughed. "It makes me feel better. D'you want some?" 

"Sure." 

Remus passed him a chocolate frog and they ate silently. After a while Sirius looked at him nervously, biting his lip. 

"Can I show you something?" 

Remus stared at him, confused. "Er...Sure..." 

Sirius got up on his knees facing away from Remus and lifted his t-shirt. He heard Remus gasp softly as he revealed the long, thin scar that crossed over his back diagonally across his spine. Sirius lowered his shirt and turned back around. 

"It's from this past Christmas when I went home for the break. Apparently I wasn't sorry enough about not being sorted into Slytherin and betraying my family. Dad's belt." He laughed darkly before meeting Remus' eyes. "You don't need to tell me how you got yours, Remus. And I wont ask you about home anymore. But I just wanted you to know that you aren't alone." 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Dear Sirius,

Hey Mate, how's your summer? I've got big plans for pranking the pants off the slytherins next year. Literally, pants off! We're going to have quite a year. You'll never guess what I found in dad's study! AN INVISIBILITY CLOAK! Can you imagine what we can get away with if we're bloody invisible, mate!? 

Hope your parents aren't giving you a hard time. Cheers.

Sincerely, James Fleamont Potter

P.S. Ugh. Sorry. Mum got me personalized parchment for getting top marks on my exams. 

 

--

 

Dear James Fleamont Potter,

 

BAHAHAHAHAHA! FLEAMONT!?! Your ruddy middle name is Fleamont!? That is priceless. Sweet Merlin, you're never living this one down.

Ahh, anyway, an invisibility cloak? That's bloody brilliant! Think you can sneak it to school without your dad knowing its gone? My summer is alright. I've been keeping to myself mostly. 

Pantsless, you say? I'm intrigued. 

 

- Sirius Orion Black

P.S. At least my parents had the decency to give me a good name. 

 

--

Dear Remus,

DID YOU KNOW JAMES' MIDDLE NAME IS FLEAMONT!?! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

- Sirius

 

 

--

 

Dear Sirius,

Your initials are an acronym for Son Of a Bitch.

- Remus

 

--

Dear Remus,

 

Touche. Sirius "Ain't That the Truth" Black

 

--

 

James, An invisibility cloak? Your dad will definitely notice that missing, they're bloody rare! But how fantastic would that be to have?!

- Peter

P.S. Sirius isn't going to let you live that middle name down, mate.

 

--

 

Son Of a Bitch,

I've asked mum and dad and they said if you want you could come spend a week or two. Think your parents would be alright with it?

Sincerely, James Fleamont Potter

 

--

Remus,

Have you heard from Sirius at all? He hasn't answered me in nearly two weeks.

 

Sincerely, James Fleamont Potter

 

--

 

Sirius,

Are you alright? James says he hasn't heard from you. I hope you're okay.

- Remus

 

--

 

Sirius,

James and Remus said you haven't responded to them. Is everything alright?

Peter

 

--

 

James,

Mum's got the bloody house elf on my case. She heard me tell Reg that I asked the sorting hat not to put me in Slytherin. I'm fine. I probably won't be able to write much, though. Let Remus and Pete know, yeah?

 

Sirius "She Really Is a Bitch" Black

 

--

 

Sirius Orion Black could not be happier when September first finally arrived. Leaning up against the brick wall of Platform Nine and Three Quarters, he tried to ignore the sound of his mother fussing over and praising Regulus in a way she had never done for him.

"Regulus, dear, I know you'll make me proud."

"Yes Mother."

Folding his arms, Sirius scanned the crowded platform for his friends.

"Sirius. Sirius, I am speaking to you!" 

"What?" Sirius snapped back, a decision he immediately regretted as his mother grabbed his shoulder, digging her nails in. 

"You listen to me, Sirius. Slytherin or not, you are still a member of this family. Blood is everything. You watch out for your brother and you stay out of trouble. Do I make myself quite clear?" 

"Yes, Mother." He hissed through gritted teeth.

"SIRIUS!" 

Pulling away from his mother, Sirius ran forward to to meet up with James Potter. "James!" 

"How are you? Everything alright?" James asked, his hazel eyes risking a glance at Walberga and Regulus.

Sirius shrugged, "Yeah. Let's just get on the train. You seen Pete or Remus yet?" 

"Not yet." 

Sirius turned back to his family. "Reg, you coming?" 

"In a sec." Regulus waved him off. 

Together, James and Sirius pushed through the crowds of students saying their goodbyes to their parents and clambered onto the train in search for an open compartment. Not long after they had settled into their seats, Peter joined them and they all peered out the window in search of Remus.

"He's going to miss the train, where d'you reckon he is?" Peter asked.

"He's probably fallen asleep somewhere...Bloke can sleep anywhere..." James mumbled.

"Sirius," The three boys turned around to see Regulus Black standing at the door to their compartment.

He was shorter than Sirius, but just as handsome, with the same cloudy grey eyes and high cheekbones.

"Hey Reg," Sirius smiled. "You want to sit with us?" The boy nodded eagerly and took a seat beside his brother. "Regulus, this is James Potter and Peter Pettigrew. Mates, this is my brother Regulus." 

"Hello." Chimed James and Peter, and Regulus mumbled his hello back.

"You nervous?" Sirius asked.

"A little..." Regulus admitted. "I just don't want anyone to-"

But what Regulus didn't want anyone to do, they did not get to hear because in ran Remus Lupin just as the the train began to move.

"Nice of you to join us, Lupin. Thought maybe you were skipping out." James smirked as Remus nearly collapsed into the seat beside him. Panting, Remus rolled his eyes.

"I over-"

"Overslept." The other three Gryffindors chorused.

Remus got himself situated and caught his breath, regaining his composure before he turned to Regulus. "Oh hello...You must be Sirius' brother. I'm Remus." he offered his hand, which Regulus shook with a weak smile.

"Reg is a little nervous." Sirius grinned, draping an arm over his brother's shoulder. "You shouldn't worry so much."

"Yeah, mate. We'll watch out for you." James added.

"Oh there you are Regulus!" Squealed a shrill voice that made Sirius' arm hair stand on edge. "What on earth are you doing sitting with these Gryffindorks?"

"Bugger off Bella." Sirius growled, tightening his grip on Regulus' shoulder.

Bellatrix gave both brothers a smirk. "I'm only saying that Reggie here would be in far better company if he sat with his fellow Slytherins."

"That remains to be seen, Trixie." Sirius countered. "You don't know he'll be sorted into Slytherin."

"And you don't know he won't be." Bellatrix retorted. "Come on, Regulus! I want to introduce you to your new housemates!" 

Regulus bit his lip, "I dunno, Bella...Sirius is sort of right...I mean...I don't know what house I'll be in yet..." 

Sirius gave a satisfied grin and leaned back in his seat. "See Bella? He doen't want to sit with your slimy little snakes."

"I...I didn't say that either..." Regulus said quietly, but neither Sirius nor Bellatrix heard because the two of them were bickering. 

"I think," Said Remus in a slightly raised voice. "That Regulus should sit with his brother." 

Bellatrix shot Remus a nasty look. "No one asked you, Lupin!"

Remus shrugged. "What would it matter, Bellatrix? If you're so sure he'll be in Slytherin with you then you'll have him all to yourself until you graduate, really." Sirius snorted and mumbled something along the lines of 'in your dreams' and Remus kicked him. 

Bellatrix considered this for a moment. "Fine," her gaze landed back on Sirius. "Have your last hours of brotherly bonding time, Siri! See you at school." And she turned on her heel and left. 

Sirius stood and slammed the compartment door mumbling swears under his breath. 

"Who the bloody hell does she think she is?" He plopped himself back into his seat. "See, this is what I'm saying Regulus! You don't want to be part of that lot! They're all a bunch of evil little-" 

"Evil?" Regulus blinked at him. "Surely not all of them...Sirius, what if I do get sorted into Slytherin? What will you do then? I don't know what house I'll be sorted into, but this...this isn't what I want! I don't want anyone to be angry over where they put me!" 

"I just don't want them turning you into-" 

"Into what? You think I'm that easily persuaded?" 

"Anything from the trolley?" The witch with the food trolley came just in time, and James, Remus and Peter jumped up immediately to buy their sweets as the Black brothers stared at each other in an awkward silence.

"Sirius, Regulus, do you want anything?" James asked carefully. Both brothers shook their head.

It was going to be a long ride to school. 

 

Chapter Text

 No one had ever seen Sirius Black so nervous. The usually careless and laid back Gryffindor was seated between James and Remus, fidgeting with the sleeve of his robes and restlessly tapping his left foot as they awaited the sorting of the new First Years. 

 "You're going to wear a hole in the floor, mate." James warned. 

"Does it really matter what house he's sorted into? He's your brother." Peter reasoned. But Sirius did not respond, he merely chewed his lip and made a small whining noise in the back oh his throat while his knee continued to gyrate wildly.

The doors to the great hall swung open and the First Years filed in, gazing around in excitement and wonder. Sirius rose slightly in his seat, desperately scanning the sea of 11 year olds for his brother, but James pulled him down. Sirius seemed to radiate anxiety all throughout the Sorting Hat's song. 

 Finally, Professor McGonnagall stepped forward and lifted the Sorting Hat off of the stool. Sirius' leg shook harder and faster until suddenly he felt a hand come and rest on his kneecap.

Shocked from the contact, he froze and his grey eyes shot up to meet the amber ones of Remus Lupin.

"Sirius," He said calmly. "It's going to be okay." 

And for some reason, Sirius believed him. 

"Black, Regulus!" Was called and without a conscious thought, Sirius grabbed Remus' hand tightly.

Regulus walked slowly up to the stool in the front of the hall. It wasn't just Sirius that seemed to be on edge. At the Slytherin table, Bellatrix, Narcissa and their gang were staring intently at the younger Black brother. Regulus himself looked terrified as he took his seat on the stool. He kept his eyes, wide with fear, on the ground so that he could not see either the Gryffindor or Slytherin tables. 

Sirius swallowed hard as Professor McGonnagall lowered that hat onto Regulus' head and the next few moments were the longest of either brothers' lives. Sirius' grip on Remus' hand was so tight, Remus was sure he'd need the jaws of life to free himself.

Then, at long last, the Sorting Hat announced loud and clear;

"SLYTHERIN!" 

Sirius felt his stomach drop. 

The Slytherin table cheered louder than they ever had before.

 Regulus slowly stepped down, his grey eyes desperately seeking the identical ones of his brother as he made his way to the table at the other end of the Great Hall. But Sirius did not look up. He kept his gaze firmly on the table in front of him, wide and, to his embarrassment, full of tears. 

The Slytherins continued to hoot and holler a little longer than usual, and Bellatrix's shrill cries of "My Darling cousin!" were easily recognizable over the noise. 

Suddenly Sirius stood. 

"Excuse me," He murmured. 

"Sirius, the sorting isn't over," Peter said carefully.

"I need some air, that's all." 

"Just wait until the sorting is through," James said, placing a hand on Sirius' arm. "You'll draw too much attention if you go now." Reluctantly, Sirius sat.

"Honestly, Black," Said Lily Evans from across the table. "I don't see what you're making a fuss about. It's only a house assignment. If you weren't so prejudice against the Slytherins you'd see it's not such a big deal. Severus-"

 "Shove it, Evans!" Sirius snapped. "Snivellus is just as bad as the rest of 'em. You just don't see if because you're in love with him or something." 

Lily's face turned as red as her hair. "No I'm not! We're friends! Because we don't care what house a bloody hat put us in!" 

The sorting came to an end and abruptly Sirius stood up.

"What about the feast?" Peter asked, as though he was personally wounded.

 "I'm not hungry." Sirius grumbled, stuffing his hands in his pocket and walking quickly out of the hall.

At the furthest table down, Regulus watched his brother leave with the deepest feeling of regret. 

 Just outside the Great Hall, Sirius paced back and forth, gripping at his hair in frustration. He felt anger bubbling in his chest and tears burning his eyes. Under his breath he repeatedly muttered every swear word he knew, plus a few he was sure he had made up. 

In the back of his mind, he knew he was overreacting. It's only a house assignment. It doesn't mean anything...

Except, he thought, that it did mean something. It meant something that he had known for almost his entire life.

When it came to his family, Sirius was different. No one, not even his own brother, was like him. He would never fit in.

He was alone. 

Ducking behind a stature of a gargoyle, Sirius buried his face in his hands and let out an angry cry as the tears he had been trying to hold back began to fall freely. 

 

--

 

Regulus managed to pry himself away from his overbearing cousins once dinner appeared in front of them. Taking a deep breath, he cautiously approached the Gryffindor table where his brother's friends sat. 

 "Sorry," Regulus apologized as he interrupted the boys' chatter. "Have you seen Sirius?" 

James Potter bit his lip. "Er...Yeah, he stepped out for some air." 

 "He wasn't feeling well." Remus added, giving Regulus a pitied sort of look. 

Regulus tugged nervously on the sleeve of his robe and nodded. "Oh...er..." 

"It isn't your fault, Regulus." Remus offered kindly. "He's just-" 

Regulus shook his head. "Don't...don't lie to me...it is my fault. He'll hate me. This isn't what I wanted. I didn't want him to be angry! I didn't want anyone to be angry!"

 "Of course you didn't," said Lily, smiling sweetly at the boy. "It's not something you had any control over. I'm sure Sirius won't stay mad."

Regulus glanced at her uncertainly. "You don't know the Blacks." And without another word, he strode out of the great all to find his brother.

 

--

 

The sound of footsteps forced Sirius to pull himself together. He quickly wiped at his face and stood up just in time to hear his brother's voice call his name. Slowly he stepped out from behind the gargoyle, trying hard to mask any emotion from his face.

"Sirius, please don't be angry," Regulus pleaded. "This doesn't change anything. I'm still the same person!" 

Sirius shrugged. "Yeah. You're the same person. It's just now we're going to learn exactly who that person is." he said coolly. 

 Regulus frowned. "What's that supposed to mean? All of the sudden I'm a bad person? Just because I wasn't sorted into Gryffindor with you?"

"That's not what I-"

"It's what you meant, Sirius! You're angry because now it's really true! Sirius Black is officially the Black sheep of the family! You wanted me in Gryffindor so that you wouldn't be the only one on the outside!"

Sirius' fists clenched. "Shut up." 

"You know, you spent all summer trying to tell me that our parents were bigoted and prejudiced and mean. You hated them for how they treated you when you weren't sorted the way they wanted. Now here you are treating me the same way!" Regulus shouted. 

 "It's not the same!" 

"IT'S EXACTLY THE SAME!" 

Neither boy noticed that they had drawn a small crowd. James, Peter and Remus had come running around the corner, as well as Bellatrix, Narcissa and Rudolphus Lestrange. 

"You think you're so special Sirius, because you asked the sorting Hat not to put you with the rest of your family," Regulus' voice dripped with rage. Narcissa and Bellatrix gasped loudly. "That doesn't make you special, brother! It makes you a traitor!

Sirius looked as though he had been slapped across the face. The angry red had drained from his face, leaving him a pasty white color and his mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water.

Bellatrix and Narcissa had burst into giggles. "Ooooh!" They squealed.

"You may not be in the same robes as us, Sirius. But the blood in your veins is still the Black family's, and one day you'll realize that you're exactly like the rest of us." Regulus said coldly. "And by that time you'll have no family left to turn to." He turned to his cousins. "Let's go." And all of the Slytherins left without looking back. Sirius stared at the back of his brother's head until he disappeared around the corner to return to the feast. After a few moments, James stepped forward and put a hand on Sirius' shoulder.

"Hey," He muttered. "Let's go up to the common room. Everyone's still at the feast. It'll be empty. We, er...We could take a look at dad's old invisibility cloak, yeah?" 

Sirius nodded wordlessly and together, the four boys headed up to Gryffindor tower. 

Chapter Text

"Merlin's Knickers!" Said Peter, in absolute awe from his four poster bed as James wrapped the long cloak himself and disappeared from sight. 

 "Pretty cool, eh?" said James' voice. He popped his head out so that it appeared to be floating on air, grinning proudly.

"You'll certainly make Nearly Headless Nick envious." Remus said with a smirk. James was too excited to respond to Remus' teasing remarks, dancing around the room.

 "Think of all the possibilities! All the pranks we can pull without a chance of being caught! Right, Sirius?" He looked over at the other raven haired boy. But Sirius wasn't paying attention. He was lying on his own bed, on his stomach, picking absently at a loose thread on his comforter. 

James sighed. "Hello? Sirius! I'm a bloody floating head, here!" 

 "Yeah, brilliant." Sirius muttered without looking up. The other three boys exchanged looks and James tossed the cloak onto his bed before sitting on Sirius', followed by Remus and Peter.

"Look, mate," James started, seriously. "I know you're disappointed, but you said that you and Regulus were always close. Maybe this really won't change anything." 

 "It's already has." Said Sirius in a brooding tone. "He's right. I acted exactly the way my parents acted towards me." He sat up and folded his legs. "Maybe I really did just want him here so I wouldn't be alone." 

 "You aren't alone though." Said Peter. "You've got us!" 

Sirius forced a smile. "Yeah, I know." But the smile faded quickly. "It's just that it really does mean that on some level, I really am different. I don't fit in with my own family." he sighed. "And to be completely honest, I don't want to. I just wish that someone fit in with me...They're still my family. I can't help it if I wish I wasn't so different." 

"I understand." Remus said quietly. "I mean...What it's like to feel....to feel different. Especially from your family." 

Sirius suddenly remembered the night last spring when he had seen the scars that marked the smaller boy's body and he shuddered inwardly. 

"Well screw 'em." James spoke up after a moment. "We're a family, now. And you both fit in just fine." He slung his arms over both Sirius and Remus' shoulders. 

"Yeah!" Peter agreed, doing the same so that they now formed a small circled on Sirius' bed. 

 "From now on, we're brothers." James declared, eyes sparkling from behind his glasses. "No matter what. Agreed?" 

"Agreed." 

 "Excellent!" James said, jumping up. "Can we please go back to focusing on how bloody wicked this cloak is!" He practically leaped onto his own bed and picked up the flowing cloth. "So what's then let's take her for a spin, eh? We could explore the whole castle with this thing! Where do we even begin!" 

Ever so slowly, a smirk found it's way across Sirius' face. "I've got a plan."

 

--

 

They waited about an hour after their housemates had gone to bed. As quietly as the could, the four boys crept down the stairs to the common room where James threw the cloak over all of them.

"Remember, stay close and stay quiet." James instructed. 

They sneaked through the portrait hole and out of Gryffindor tower, and none of them could help but grin with pride. James was right, the possibilities were endless with this cloak. 

"Sirius, even if you do know how to get the the Slytherin's dorm, you realize you don't know how to get in, right?" Remus whispered.

 "So we wait until someone comes along and sneak in after 'em!" 

"We could be there all night..." 

 "So? D'you have a hot date or something, Lupin?" 

"Yeah. With my pillow-Ow! Don't pinch me, you prat!" 

 "You'll sleep when your dead, you lazy wuss. You're young. Live a little." 

"Would you two shut up before we're heard!" James hissed. Sirius opened his mouth to respond smartly, but instead they heard a soft "Meow!" 

"Shite. It's Mrs. Norris!" Peter practically squeaked. 

 "Dont. Move. Don't even breathe." Remus barely whispered. 

The four of them stood absolutely still, holding their breath as Mrs. Norris seemed to look right through them, sniffing the air and mewling softly. 

Slowly, Remus reached into his pocket and pulled his wand out. "Lumos Apex"  he breathed, and a small red dot of light appeared on the ground where his wand was pointing. Curiously, Mrs. Norris approached the dot and with slight uncertainty she swatted at it. Remus made the light move back and forth and the cat followed, determined to catch whatever creature she thought it must be. After a few moments of making sure the cat was fully invested in this mysterious dot, Remus flicked his wrist and sent it zooming down the opposite hall, with Mrs. Norris chasing close behind. 

Sirius, James and Peter all stared at their friend blankly. Remus just shrugged. "I had a cat when I was little." 

 They continued their mission, narrowly dodging a Hufflepuff Prefect or a suit of armor from time to time.

"Wish we had a map or something..." James muttered. "You sure you know where you're going, Sirius?" 

 "Yeah...The Slytherins are down in the dungeons." 

"Figures." Remus snorted. 

 They finally approached the dungeons and traveled down, down, down until they reached the entrance of the Slytherin Commons.

"We just have to wait for someone to come by. A prefect or something." Sirius whispered with confidence. The four boys, still covered by the cloak, slid behind a suit of armor to wait out their time. After a few moments of nothingness, Remus yawned hugely and leaned against the wall behind them.

Sirius rolled his eyes. "Really? You're going to fall asleep here? Now?" 

 "'m tired. It's been a long day."

"We'll sleep after we prank these slimy little-" 

But Remus was already snoring softly. 

 James shook his head "That's actually impressive." 

But Remus was awoken quite suddenly by a horrifyingly loud cackle followed by the sound of a raspberry being blown. 

 "ICKLE STUDENTS OUTS OF BEDSIES! BETTER RUN OR YOU'LL BE DEADSIES! AHAHAHAHA!" Cried Peeves the Poltergeist as he zoomed over their heads.

"Can he see us?" Peter whispered, panicked, the other three shrugged, too scared to speak. 

 "That is enough, Peeves! I am a prefect!" Boasted the haughty voice of Narcissa Black as she came around the corner, stopping right in front of their suit of armor.  "Now leave, before I get the Bloody Barron!" 

Peeves shrieked with laughter. "Ooooh miss perfect prefect! I must have forgot!" He hung upside down with his face so close to Narcissa's they were practically bumping noses. "Too bad good ol' peevesie thinks you're just a snot!" Sirius had to clap his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing as his cousin swatted angrily at the Poltergeist.

"Why you little- I WILL BE TELLING THE BARRON! AND DUMBLEDORE!" She cried out as Peeves vanished with a loud pop. Taking a deep, calming breath, Narcissa brushed off her robes and stepped up to the large stone wall. "Echis carinatus."  She recited clearly, and the wall moved, allowing her to pass. 

"Let's go!" Sirius whispered, and they quickly shuffled in just before the wall closed back up. The Slytherin common room was nothing like that of Gryffindor. Being so far underground, there was no light except from the torches that hung on the walls. The entire room seemed to be a dreary green, and when they looked to the windows they could see why. The common room was actually under the dark lake. It seemed that all of the Slytherins were in bed, aside from one. On the sofa by the fireplace sat a lanky boy with his face hidden in a book called Practical Black Magic: Hexing and Cursing Your Enemies. 

Narcissa strode over to the boy and plucked the book right from his hands. "Now, Severus. It's far past bed time. No students out of bed." 

 Snape didn't seem amused as he reached up and snatched his book back. "Piss off, Black. I couldn't sleep." he

"Well go on up to your dorm and read there. If Slughorn comes through to check the common room I don't want it to look like I haven't been doing my job!" She flipped her silvery hair over her shoulder with an air of importance. 

 "Oh yes, wouldn't that be just dreadful." Snape drawled. He did stand, however, and headed off to his dorm. Narcissa lingered a while longer, walking around the  common room and making sure things were in order. James, Sirius , Remus and Peter held their breath until at long last, Narcissa also left for her bed. 

The four boys let out a relieved sigh, releasing the air they felt they had been holding all night. 

 They walked around the common room slowly, searching for the right way to go about Sirius' devious plot. Once they found the Slytherins' boys restroom, they entered silently. Sirius pulled out his wand and pointed it at the basket of shampoos that had been left by the House Elves. "Pigmentum  Rubrum  e aurum." 

"What'll it do?" Peter asked. 

 Sirius just grinned. "C'mon. Let's get out of here." And without another word, they hurried out of the dungeons and back to Gryffindor Tower.

 

 

Chapter Text

Sirius awoke in the middle of the night to the familiar weight of someone sitting on his bed.

 "Nightmares?" He asked without opening his eyes. It had become somewhat of a ritual since last year that Remus would wake him when he was plagued by bad dreams. 

"No," Said Remus quietly. "I just...I wanted to make sure you were alright, I guess." 

 Sirius sat up with a heavy sigh. "Yeah, I suppose so." then he grinned. "I'll feel much better tomorrow when we see the look on their face-"

"Sirius, pranking the Slytherins isn't going to make the problem magically disappear." Remus' amber eyes glowed brightly in the waning moonlight. Sirius wasn't sure he'd ever get use to those strange eyes. 

 "Remus," Sirius started cautiously. "Where'd you get those scars you have all over?" 

The smaller boy seemed to panic for a moment and he quickly looked away. "You promised you'd never ask me that."  He mumbled.

 "I know, I'm sorry," Sirius apologized quickly and bit his lip. "I just need to know...I need to know that I'm not alone..." 

Remus was very quiet as he seemed to struggle with what to say, he could feel Sirius' eyes burning into him, pleading with him. "I'm sorry, Sirius..." he whispered. "I can't...But I promise you, you are not alone." 

 

--

 

The following morning at breakfast, all of the Slytherins were arrived late. 

 James, Sirius, Peter and Remus kept their heads down, busying themselvies with their toast and jam until the great hall suddenly erupted with laughter. When they did dare to lift their gaze from their plates they were met with the exact sight they had hoped for. The Slytherins walked in in a deadly silence, each one sporting bright scarlet and gold hair, and looking so angry that their faces were red to match. 

The four boys joined the rest of the students' laughter, which only grew stronger as Regulus, Bellatrix and Severus approached them. 

"Sirius." Regulus said through gritted teeth. 

"Good, hahaha- Good Morning, Reggie!" Sirius managed, gasping for breaths and actually starting to hiccup. "You're looking rather spirited this morning!" 

 "You did this!" Said Snape, his beady dark eyes glaring. 

"How?" Asked Remus, ever the calm one. "How on earth would we get into your common room without ever being seen? Let alone knowing the password." 

 "Don't try to act all innocent, Lupin. This has you lot written all over it!" Snape snapped.

"If it were us, and I'm not saying that it was," James said coyly, "I must say I'm surprised it even got to you, Snivellus. I was under the impression you didn't shower." 

 "Oh, Honestly!" Said Lily, loudly between bites of pancakes. "Would you boys grow up?" 

"There will be plenty of time for that when we're older, Evans." James grinned, messing his hair. 

 "Settle down, everyone!" Dumbledor's voice spoke calmly over the chaos. Once everyone had quieted, he continued. "Now then, it's quite lovely to see the Slytherins showing such support for the other houses," He smiled pleasently. "Fifty points-" 

"It's all their fault, Professor!" Bellatrix shrieked, pointing a shaking finger at the boys. 

 "Oh," The headmaster's tone changed. "Well that's quite different. I was going to award the Slytherin house with an extra fifty points for their school spirit. But alas, I seem to have been mistaken."

There were angry and disappointed outbursts from the Slytherin table. Sirius smirked cockily at his seething brother, with a look that clearly dared the younger boy to challenge him.

"You just wait, Sirius." Regulus whispered before he, Bellatrix and Severus returned to their table.

 Breakfast ended and the students hustled out of the hall to get to their classes. The boys grabbed their things, all set to head out to charms when they were stopped by Professor Mcgonnagall, who stared them all down from behind her rectangular glasses.

"You four, my office. Now."

 

--

 

"Would any of you care to tell me just how you managed to turn all of the Slytherins' hair Gryffindor colors without knowing how to enter their common room?" McGonnagall asked.

 "...If you don't know how we could have done it," Remus said carefully, "How could you be certain it was us?"

Mcgonnagall gave him a deadpanned sort of look. "Mr. Lupin, it is no secret that you four have a knack for trouble making."

 "But you still can't say for certain-" 

"No, Mister Black, I cannot. I can, however, deduce that given your talents for trickery and your obvious rivalry with the Slytherins that you're not exactly innocent either." 

None of the boys said a word. 

"Now, you boys may think that you can just go about marauding around the castle-" 

 "What's that mean?" Peter cocked an eyebrow.

"Plundering, thieving, all around delinquency." Remus supplied.

 "Cool. Sounds like a pirate." Peter grinned.

Professor McGonnagall did not seem as amused as they were. "Boys," she continued seriously. "It is the first day of classes. Must I really tell you to behave yourselves?"

 "Sorry Professor." They chorused. 

The deputy headmistress sighed heavily. "Go on, then. Off to Charms with you." And they were dismissed. 

 Sirius barked with laughed as they made their way to Professor Flitwick's class. "I can't believe we got away with it! James, that cloak is beyond brilliant!" 

"Told you it would be." James said proudly, and the two boys high-fived. 

 "We're lucky she couldn't pin it on us," said Remus. "But really, we need to be careful. Seems we've already given ourselves a reputation." 

Peter nodded in agreement. "Yeah...What was that that she called us? The pirate word?" 

 Remus laughed. "Marauders." 

"Yeah, that. I liked that." 

 "Has a nice ring to it." Said Sirius with a prideful smirk. 

"Definitely." James agreed. "But Remus is right, we need to be careful not to get caught. We were far too close with Filch and Peeves...and really, I thought we were taking a short cut to charms, where are we?" He said looking around the corridor. "Bloody moving staircases...We really do need a map of this blasted castle..." 

 

--

 

September passed and the weather grew colder. It was early October when a familiar argument broke out in the Gryffindor common room. 

 "Remus, I really don't see why you absolutely have to go home tomorrow! It's the middle of the week!" Sirius huffed. 

Remus, looking quite exasperated as he usually did when the subject of returning home arose, slowly lowered his potions text book and rubbed his tired eyes. "Sirius, please...We've gone over this." 

 "Yes, I know, and I said I wouldn't bother you about it anymore. But I-" 

"But nothing, Sirius! You said you'd stop!" 

 "Stop yelling..." Peter groaned. "I'm trying to write this stupid essay..."

"You know it's hopeless, Pete. Let them fight it out." James sighed.

 "Yes, you said you wouldn't bother me about it but here we are having the same bloody-"

"I just don't think it's fair that your parents put your education at risk-"

 "My education at risk? Sirius, that's ridicu-"

"Must the two of you argue all the time?" Marlene McKinnon yelled from across the common room. "We've all got studying to do, you know!" 

 "Oh shut your gob, McKnickers." Sirius teased. 

"Sirius, really-" 

 "No, Remus! I want to know why-" 

"James, why does the moon need to be full when you brew the temporary madness potion?" Peter asked mildly, trying to ignore the chaos around them. 

 "Er, I think it was something about the gravitational pull...I didn't take notes in class yesterday though. Remus, do you have the notes from potions?" 

"Yeah, Remus. Since you won't be there tomorrow to brew the potion, you might as well just give James your notes." Sirius grumbled. And then Remus slammed his book down, causing the entire common room to go completely silent. 

 "Sirius that is enough!"  The auburn haired boy practically growled. Every eye in Gryffindor common room was on them. "I do not have to explain myself to you! Now do me and yourself a bloody favor and stop prying."  He picked up his books, throwing his potions notes at James and Peter. "The gravitational pull of the full moon. Tidal effects on the liquids in the potion and in the drinker's body cause the mind to temporarily slip into madness or lunacy." he muttered grumpily before storming up the dorm. 

Sirius folded his arms and glared after him. "...sure seems to be effecting someone's mind." 

 James rolled his eyes. "The two of you are going to kill each other one of these days. Sit and write your bloody essay, Sirius." 

 

Chapter Text

 

Sirius was in a terrible mood the entire day.

 "You know, if you'd just leave him alone about it you wouldn't be this upset." James offered, slicing ginger root in potions class. "It's really none of your business."

"You're slicing that far too thin," Sirius grumbled, ignoring the advice. 

 "I don't see why it bothers you so much though...and no, I'm not. Look, it's right here in the text book." James pushed his glasses up on the bridge of his nose and pointed to the page. 

Sirius chewed at his bottom lip. "I've got my reasons."

"Well your reasons are putting your friendship with Remus at risk and, honestly, probably your health. He looked like he was going to bite your head off last night...You're supposed to stir that counter clockwise, mate, pay attention." 

 Sirius groaned in annoyance as the potion in their cauldron, meant to be a neon green color, turned a dull grey. "Bugger..." 

"Not to worry!" Slughorn said cheerfully as he came around to check on their progress. "Add a little more wolfsbane to it and it should be back on trac- Oh, no Mr. Pettigrew not you!" 

There was a puff of thick black smoke that had come from the cauldron Peter was unfortunately sharing with an angry looking Bellatrix and Slughorn hurried over to correct them.

"Seriously though, mate...you've either got to tell me why this gets to you or you've got to drop it." James insisted, dropping the freshly sliced ginger root into the potion. 

 Looking around to be sure no one was listening in, Sirius leaned over. "Alright, listen...Don't  say anything, I told Remus that I wouldn't mention it to anyone, ever-"

James looked wounded. "Even to me?" 

 "It's not like that...It was pretty serious..." Sirius sighed. "Have you ever noticed that Remus doesn't ever get dressed in front of us at all? He always wakes up extra early to get in the shower before we're awake?" 

James shrugged "So? Some blokes are just more private about their privates...We're not all exhibitionists like you, Black." 

 Sirius rolled his eyes. "I'm serious!" 

"And I'm James-"

 "This is not the time for jokes, Potter. Do you want me to tell you what's happening or not?" 

"Sorry, I couldn't help myself." James laughed. "Anyway, you were saying..." 

 Sirius gave him an annoyed glare before continuing. "Anyway, Last year I woke up and Remus was having some sort of fit in his sleep, a nightmare, so I went to wake him and when I did his shirt sort of rose up and I saw..." he trailed off. 

James frowned and shook his head "Saw what? He's got like a third nipple or something?" 

 "Will you stop being a bloody dunce!" 

"Well just get on with your story then!"

 "Scars! Remus has all these scars, everywhere, all over himself!" Sirius hissed. James' facial expression changed suddenly, no longer playful and teasing but nervous and concerned. 

"Wait...seriously?" 

 "Yes! When he woke up he got really embarrassed and covered himself up and I promised never to ask him about it, but....but I think his family might abuse him or something..." Fidgeting nervously with the sleeve of his robe, Sirius looked away.

"Sirius...that's...that's a really serious accusation." 

 "I know, but what else could it be?" 

James ran a hand frantically through his hair. "I dunno, mate, maybe he was in an accident when he was little or was attacked by some wild animal or something. You can't just go around thinking that everyone's parents beat th- Oh..." He caught himself as he noticed Sirius' eyes widen and his face flush slightly. "Oh...Er...sorry...Y-you know what, maybe...maybe we shouldn't be talking about this right now, yeah?" 

Sirius stared miserably down at their bubbling cauldron and James put a hand on his shoulder. "Hey...Sirius, mate...I'm sorry, okay?"

 Sirius nodded. "Yeah, it's fine."

"Professor Slughorn!" Cried Bellatrix suddenly. James and Sirius turned around to see Peter sitting on the ground laughing madly, soaked in neon green potion that had spilled over. 

"Well," Slughorn said weakly. "At least he brewed it correctly..." 

 

--

 

Remus returned several days later, looking exhausted as usual and sporting several new scars that were visible just above the collar of his shirt. When he climbed through the portrait into the common room, he didn't notice the glance exchanged between James and Sirius. In fact, he was so tired he barely noticed anything at all and was intent on retreating straight to his bed. But Sirius approached him, putting his hands up in surrender.

"Listen, Remus...I'm really sorry about the other day...and the way I spoke to you. I should've minded my own business, alright?"

 Remus nodded weakly. "Yeah...that's fine, Sirius. Thank you." he forced a smile and excused himself to bed, leaving Sirius standing awkwardly at the bottom on the stairs. James came up behind him and clapped him on the shoulder. "Very proud of you, mate. I know that Black family pride is a real pisser on apologies."

Sirius couldn't really argue there. "Still feel awful."

"You treated him pretty awful, so..."

 "Gee, thanks."

"Listen, I'm your best friend and I need to be honest with you." James shrugged as they both returned to sit by the fire with Peter, who still had a minor case of the giggles that Slughorn said would probably last throughout the week. James and Sirius had filled him in on what was happening as well once he had regained most of his sanity. 

 "I know because of what you've been through it's sort of rational to jump to conclusions, but I'm not so sure that's Remus' situation." James said thoughtfully. 

"James is right - hehe- ugh sorry," Peter groaned in frustration. "There's lots of ways Remus could have gotten those scars...My cousin Gertrude got attacked by a rabid dog when she was little and it roughed her up pretty bad -haha-"

Sirius shook his head, staring out the window at the waning moon. "Nah...No dog could've made tho-" his eyes went wide. 

 James and Peter blinked at each other. "What's up, mate?" 

"I...I just..." He stood and crossed over to the window. "James, Pete....get the cloak. We're going to the library." 

 "The library? Why would we need the cloak for that?" James asked, confusion etched over his faced.

"We need to go to the restricted section." 

--

"So let me get this straight," Peter whispered, sounding slightly more anxious than usual as they tip toed through the library late that night beneath the invisibility cloak. "You think Remus is a werewolf?"

"Yes." Sirius said with a definitive sort of air to him.

"Remus. Like, Remus Lupin. Our Remus." Peter raised an eyebrow.

 "Tiny little bloke that wears the giant jumpers all the bloody time and can't stay awake for the life of him. That Remus?" James added, sounding equally disbelieving.

Sirius rolled his eyes. "D'you know another Remus? Yes. It makes complete sense!"

 James and Peter were quiet for a moment, until James finally said, "Yeah, I suppose it does."

The three boys frantically skimmed the shelves for anything they could find on the subject. Dark Creatures, Monsters of the Night, Nocturnal Beasts...

 "Ahh! Found one!" James said, excitement taking over for a brief moment and causing him to forget to whisper. Peter and Sirius quickly shushed him. "Sorry...Here," he reached up, being the tallest, and pulled a book from the shelf. "Lessons in Lycanthropy. How to identify a Werewolf!"

 "Excellent." Sirius grinned, snatching the book from him.

"You're awfully enthusiastic to out Remus as a vicious beast, you know..."  Peter said flatly. James snorted.

 "Sorry, I just have trouble picturing little Remus as anything other than...well...tiny and awkward. Love the bloke, really, like a brother....But can you imagine it? He won't even step on a spider. Saw him pick one up and bring it outside just the other night. Now here we are trying to prove he's some dangerous animal..."

Sirius quickly grabbed the book on Nocturnal Beasts and Dark Creatures and stuffed them into his bag with Lessons in Lycanthropy. "He's not dangerous."

 "Right. I suppose lycanthropy is just some furry little problem he has." James laughed, quickly stopping when he saw the hurt look on Sirius' face. "Sorry, mate. You're right...Come on then, let's get back to the dorm before Mrs. Norris sniffs us out."

Chapter Text

"We have been studying these book for weeks," Groaned Peter one evening in mid December. James, Sirius and Peter were up in their dorm, huddled together on Sirius' bed with the curtains closed. It was the night of the full moon and, as usual, Remus was not present. 

 "We have to be one hundred percent sure," James muttered, flipping through Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for the fourth or fifth time. "Although, I must admit...I'm pretty sold." he sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Wha'chu think, Sirius?"

Sirius had been staring absently at the same page in Lessons in Lycanthropy for a solid fifteen minutes without saying a word. 

 "Sirius?" James repeated, but the other boy was still unresponsive. "Oy, Black!" the bespectacled boy tossed a pillow at him, hitting him square in the face. 

"Huh?" Sirius blinked up at him. "What?" 

 "You alright?" Peter asked.

Sirius shrugged. "Yeah....s'pose so..."

 James frowned, closing his book. "This was your idea, you know...and it seems like you were right. What's bothering you?" 

Sighing, Sirius closed his own book and leaned back against his headboard. "I dunno...A lot, I guess. First of all, if we're right, that's a huge deal. Think about it, all these books talk about how painful these transformations are. Can you imagine Remus going through that? I mean, we're only twelve for Godric's sake. How old was he when he was...you know..."

 "Bitten?" James supplied and Sirius flinched. 

"Yeah...and...I don't know, I always heard my parents talking about half breed-"

 "Fuck your parents." James said sternly, pulling a disgusted face. "Don't use that term about Remus. Fuck what your parents say, you said yourself they are bigoted, prejudice arses."

"Well, yeah I mean about most things-ow!" James had smacked the back of his head.

 "Sirius! You have been fussing about this since last year! You're the one who has made us sneak behind Remus' back to learn about werewolves and you are the one who refused to hear anything about him being dangerous or dark...Don't start being a prat about it now!" James' hazel eyes narrowed angrily. 

 Sirius picked at a loose thread in his sleeve and chewed his bottom lip. "You're right. I'm sorry." 

"I mean it Sirius, if you're going to treat him any differently we can put these books away and never bring it up to him and continue with the way we are. Or Pete and I will find a way to help him and you'll be left out." 

 Sirius glared. "What? No! It was my idea!" 

"Then stop being an arse." James threw Hairy Snout, Human Heart into Sirius' lap. "Keep reading." 

 

 

--

 

 Remus awoke in the hospital wing three full days after the full moon. According to Madam Pomfrey, he had lost a particularly large amount of blood and had broken several bones in his leg. The fretting nurse made him stay an extra night just to be sure he was really in good health.

 Finally convincing Pomfrey that he was indeed well enough to return to his dormitory, Remus made the painfully long trek back to Gryffindor Tower. Every muscle in his body screamed with each step he took, but he could not bear another night in the hospital wing with it's stark white sheets and the smell of healing potions. Taking a moment to breathe, he leaned against the banister and silently willed the staircase not to move and set him off track. The walk back to the common room was always so lonely. His body ached, his mind wanted sleep and it was just so far. He could not wait to get to his bed and just collapse and, secretly, he hoped his friends were already asleep so that he would not have to face the questioning grey eyes of Sirius Black once more. 

Taking a deep breath, Remus gathered his strength and pushed forward. Finally reaching the portrait of the Fat Lady, he felt a sudden panic wash over him as he frantically searched his sleep driven brain for the password. 

"Rough night, dear?" Yawned the Fat Lady.

 "I'm so sorry," Remus apologized, rubbing his temples and raking his brain. "I...I seem to have forgotten-"

"Remus!" 

 Startled, Remus spun around to see Lily, smiling brightly as she hurried towards him, red hair flowing gracefully behind her. 

"Hello Lily," He forced himself to smile back, but it did not seem to fool the girl, who's face faltered slightly.

 "Are you alright?" She asked, sounding honestly concerned as she reached out and touched his arm in a friendly, caring gesture. 

"Yes. I've just forgotten the password." Remus admitted sheepishly. 

 "Maius Bonum." Lily said, turning to face the portrait, which immediately swung open to allow them inside.

"Thank you, Lily." Remus said as they climbed through to the common room. 

 "Not at all," Lily's smile returned as she waved off his gratitude, but her bright green eyes still showed a deep concern. "Is your mum alright?" 

Remus nodded. "Yes, she'll be okay." 

 "It must be so difficult for you to have to go home all the time to care for her." 

He shrugged. "Sometimes, I suppose...but she'd do the same for me, so..." 

 Lily laughed softly and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "You're very sweet, Remus." her eyes were shining in the dying firelight, and before Remus could respond, Lily leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. He felt his face grow warm and he knew that he was blushing as Lily bid him goodnight and headed up the stairs to the girls' dormitory. Remus stood there, stunned for a moment, before taking the opposite staircase to his own dorm. 

 With his hand on the doorknob, Remus paused to pray once more that his friends were asleep, but as he pushed the door open he could clearly hear James' voice chatting excitedly about his most recent quidditch match against Ravenclaw. The conversation died quickly as they heard Remus enter and Remus was shocked to find that his three friends were seated on his own bed. 

"Hey Remus," Peter was the first to speak to him, sitting cross legged at the foot of Remus' bed.

 "H-Hi..." Remus blinked at them in confusion. "Er...What's going on?" 

James quickly ruffled his hair before patting the spot on the bed right beside him. "Come sit, Rem." He was smiling, but Remus could feel the tension in the room. He hesitated.

 "....Has someone died?" He asked nervously, glancing at Sirius who seemed to be avoiding eye contact. 

"What?" James quirked an eyebrow. "No. We just missed you. Come-" 

 "We know." Sirius said suddenly, still not looking up. 

Remus' breath hitched and he felt his stomach drop. "...er...y-you know what?" 

 "We know your secret." Sirius grumbled. 

Remus shook his head. "I don't have a secret. I...I've told you, Sirius, I've been seeing my mother-"

This time Sirius did look at him. "Stop lying, Remus. We know that you're-" 

 "Sirius! We talked about this!" James snapped, flicking Sirius on the nose like a misbehaving dog. 

Remus took a step backwards, hands trembling, wanting to be sick. "I don't...you don't...no...I'm not..." 

 "We don't care, you know." Peter said quietly. "We don't see you any differently just because you're a-" 

"Just because you have a furry little problem." James interrupted. Remus felt like his world was crumbling down. Tears were burning his eyes and threatening to fall. James' hazel eyes grew twice in size and he jumped off the bed to Remus' side, followed closely by Peter.

 "Y-you don't have to still be friends with me..." Remus whispered, fighting hard to keep the tears from falling. 

"Don't be silly." James said, sternly. "This doesn't change a thing. We want to help you. We're friends, no matter what, remember?" 

 Remus glanced over at the bed where Sirius still sat, looking conflicted with emotions between angry and dejected. He hates me...

"Sirius?" Remus pleaded, voice barely above a hush. He watched as Sirius worried his bottom lip, staring down at the floor. "Sirius, do you hate me?" 

 Without meeting Remus' eyes, Sirius stood and crossed the room to his own bed. "I'm tired. I just need to sleep." And with that, he closed the curtains around him. 

James sighed and clapped Remus on the shoulder. "He doesn't hate you, Remus. He's...you know....Sirius." 

 Remus nodded slowly, still feeling that horribly ill feeling in the pit of his stomach.

 

--

 

Remus could not sleep that night. A part of him was relieved, he no longer had to hide from his friends and they were, for the most part, supportive. But he couldn't get the look on Sirius' face out of his head.

He thinks I'm a monster...he hates me...and he's got every right to...

He was pulled from his thoughts when the curtains to his bed were suddenly flung open, and who would be standing there but Sirius, looking just as upset as Remus felt.

 "I'm sorry." Sirius said before Remus could ask him what he was doing. Sirius, without invitation, climbed into the bed and closed the curtains around them. "I'm sorry for the way I acted, Remus. I don't hate you. I was upset because...Because I thought that maybe you had problems at home the way I did...and when I started to see the other signs and I realized that I really was alone...and then I felt guilty because what you have to deal with for your entire life is much worse than just having bad parents." his words dripped with self hatred.

Remus stared at him in disbelief. "Sirius, you aren't alone...and you don't need to feel guilty..."

 "I do. I was selfish and I shouldn't treat you like that." He met Remus' eyes at long last. "I promise I'll never do that again. I'll do everything I can to try and help you and to keep your secret safe." 

"You don't have to do anyth-" 

 "I do." Sirius insisted and Remus was actually taken aback slightly by his persistence. "Because you shouldn't go through this alone. No one should be alone." 

 

Chapter Text

  Peter Pettigrew was happy to take the fall for any pranks the Marauders were caught doing, and he did not mind being the one that ended up in detention. The truth was, Peter was just glad to be a part of such a close group of friends and would do anything to keep himself in the loop. It was only fair, Peter thought, since James was busy with Quidditch and Remus had enough on his plate and Sirius had his family to deal with. If Peter ever got the chance to take the blame and spare them from detention, he was happy to do it. 

 It was on just such a night that Peter Pettigrew made an amazing discovery that would change everything for them.

It was late one evening in February and he had taken the fall for a rather brilliant prank that James and Sirius had been responsible for, which involved exploding valentines candy that stained the entire great hall pink for three whole days, and long story short Peter ended up in detention scrubbing cauldrons. On his way back to Gryffindor Tower, the Staircases decided to move sending him off in the complete opposite direction. He wandered the corridors in a mild panic wondering briefly if he should stop and ask a portrait for directions, when he tripped on his untied shoelace and stumbled right into the arms of a stone statue of a one eye'd witch.

A panicked scream - which he was glad his friends were not around to hear, escaped his lips before he noticed that it was indeed only stone that he had fallen into. He sighed in relief and brushed himself off, bending down to tie his shoe...And that's when he noticed it...

 Peter was good at noticing the little details -That's what made him so useful in pranks. While the others may have never paid attention to something so minuscule, Peter's eyes lingered for just a moment longer on everything. There was something strange about this statue...Curious, he gave the stone witch a little shove. 

 

_

 

Sirius flopped down onto Remus' bed. "Hey, I've got the notes from History of Magic for you." 

 "And you should be thankful," James added. "That's usually when Sirius gets his beauty rest, y'know." 

Remus laughed and accepted the parchment from the raven haired boy. "So sorry to impose upon your nap, Sirius." Then he added, more seriously. "You didn't have to do that for me..." 

Sirius shrugged him off. "It'll just give Potter some time to catch up." He winked at Remus. "He needs it far more than I do. Poor ugly brute, he is."

"We'd all be much better looking if you didn't hog the mirror every morning, Black." came James' reply, along with a pillow being thrown across the room at Sirius' head.

Before Sirius could retaliate the door burst open and in ran Peter, panting and gasping for air. "JAMES, SIRIUS, REMUS! You've got to see!" 

 "Peter! Are you alright?" Remus asked as he, James and Sirius leaped off their beds to their friends' side. 

"Get the cloak, I've found something!" Peter's eyes were wide with excitement. 

Under the invisibility cloak, the four boys crept out of the common room and Peter lead them to the third floor where he found the One Eye'd Witch.

 "It's just here," Peter said, unable to hide his excitement. Once they were sure Filch was nowhere nearby, they removed the cloak.

"Gunhilda of Gorsemoor." Said Remus, matter-of-factly. "She found the cure for Dragon Pox." 

 "You know weird things, Lupin." Sirius muttered, though he was mildly impressed.

 "Er..Real cool, Pete..." James said as Sirius rolled his eyes. "Don't really see why you were nearly wetting yourself, but-" 

"No, not the bloody statue! Look!" He stepped forward and ran his finger along the edge of the statue closest to the wall. "It's hollow behind it! Like a tunnel!"

 All at once, the other three boys pushed and shoved each other to get close to the statue. It was no secret that the castle had many secret passages, had Peter really just found one?

 "I think you're right, Pete-Ouch! Sirius! You're stepping on my foot!" James grumbled, shoving Sirius out of the way.

"You specky git, I want to see!" Sirius shoved back.

 "It hardly matters," Remus reasoned with them, though he too was trying to squeeze in to get a closer look. "It's not like we can get past the statue. We'd need a password."

They all stepped away from the statue, seemingly defeated.  Peter sighed, "Sorry. I got excited. I thought it was pretty cool." 

 "It'd be cooler if we knew how to get through." mumbled Sirius, who was promptly elbowed in the ribs by Remus. "What? It's true. What are we suppose to do? Guess?" 

They sat in silence for a long moment, each lost in determined thought. 

 "Open Sesame." James said suddenly. The other three slowly turned their gaze to him. 

"Brilliant, Potter. What's next, abra kadabra?" Sirius quirked an eyebrow.

 "Well I didn't hear you lot coming up with anything better." Said James in defense. 

Sensing that the two would no doubt begin to bicker and risk someone finding them, Remus interrupted, "No use arguing over it. I doubt it's anything we'd be able to just guess and who knows what's back there. It could be dangerous."

 "Ha!" Laughed James, sticking his chest out a little. "Danger is my middle name." 

"Shut your gob, Potter. Your middle name is Fleamont." Sirius snorted. 

Remus rolled his eyes, "Like I was saying, it's not like they'd just use a common spell for finding secret passages." 

 The other three stared at him blankly. 

"There's a spell to find secret passages?"

Remus blinked. "Er...yeah...Dissendium,"

 There was a distinct scraping sound of stone on stone and the four boys stared, opened mouthed as the statue of Gunhilda of Gorsemoor slid slowly to the side revealing a very narrow tunnel. 

James smirked at Remus, who stood frozen in shock. "You were saying, Lupin?" 

 "I...I...bloody fuck..." 

"Now, Remus. You're a werewolf, not a swearwolf." Sirius patted Remus' shoulder, wearing a huge grin as he stepped forward to inspect the passageway. "Well? What d'you think? Should we explore?" He didn't wait for a reply and was already two steps into the damp darkness when James and Peter replied with an enthusiastic "Hell Yeah!" and hurried to follow. 

 "You coming, Remus?" James called over his shoulder and begrudgingly, Remus sighed and stepped into the tunnel behind them.

 "It's bloody dark in here..." Peter muttered, trying hard to mask the twinge of fear in his voice echoing in the emptiness.

"Lumos maxima," Came Remus' voice from behind, and the narrow hall filled with a bluish silvery light. 

 "Heh...right...magic..." Squeaked Peter. 

The tunnel was musty and damp and seemed to be endless. It was clear that no one had been through it in many years and the only sound was that of their footsteps and a faint drip, drip, drip from above.  

"How long have we been walking?" groaned Peter after what must have been at least twenty minutes. "I'm tired. How to we know this tunnel even goes anywhere at all?"

 "Quit your whining, Pete. If you're not up for a little adventure we'll just have to leave you all alone here in the dark." 

"Sirius, be nice." Remus chastised mildly. "He's sort of right anyway. We've been walking forever, this really could be a dead end or even something dangerous."

 "You don't want to turn back, do you?" asked James wearily.

"No!" Peter said, unconvincingly while Remus sighed;

 "We've gone this far, turning back would be a waste." 

Sirius turned around so quickly that James and Peter nearly collided with him. "If you want to turn back we can, Rem. I mean...you just had your....y'know...If your tired or you're not feeling well-"

"I'm tired." Peter offered.

 "You didn't turn into a werewolf two nights ago." Even through the darkness, Peter could feel Sirius' grey eyes glaring. 

"It's fine, Sirius. I'm alright, really." said Remus, gently defusing the tension. 

 "Er...On we go, then?" James said, clearing his throat awkwardly. And on they did go...

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"I officially believe this is a path to nowhere." Grumbled Peter, shuffling a good five feet behind the others. James and Sirius exchanged identical looks of guilt, silently asking each other if it were maybe time to throw in the towel. Perhaps the tunnel was a trick to throw people off or a booby trap - Hogwarts was full of those.

 "Alright," Sirius sighed in defeat. "Fine, let's go-" 

 "Do you smell something?" asked Remus suddenly.

"Ugh, Peter!" groaned James.

 "Not that!" Remus rolled his eyes. "I smell chocolate..."

"Alright, it's time for an intervention," Said Sirius. "You're an addict!"

 "I don't smell anything." Peter muttered.

"I have a better sense of smell than you lot." Remus pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration with an exasperated sigh.

James snorted, "Like super wolfy senses?"

 "Yes." Remus deadpanned before shoving his way to the head of the group, which was no easy task in such tight quarters. Holding his wand up, the tunnel was filled with the silvery blue light and just a few feet away Remus spotted a trap door overhead. Once they were directly below, James - the tallest - was able to reach up and push the small wooden hatch open and one by one they climbed up. 

 There was a collective gasp from all four of them and a hushed "Bloody hell" from an amazed Remus as they stared at the piles of boxes and crates around them, all labeled Honeydukes Sweets

 "We must be in Hogsmeade!" Said James, grinning from ear to ear in the most devious way that was only matched by Sirius. "This is bloody brilliant! Sirius, there's the joke shop in the village! Think of all the dungbombs!"

 "The Slytherins won't know what's hit them." Sirius was practically bouncing before both of them headed to opposite ends of the cellar and plunged their hands into the barrels of candy.

 "Whoa, hold on a second!" Remus grabbed the back of Peter's shirt before the shorter boy could join the other two. "We're not here to steal."

"Aw, c'mon Remus!" whined Sirius, stuffing his pockets with ice mice. "No one will know. Besides, I finished your chocolate frogs two nights ago. You need to restock." 

 Remus huffed "You what?"

"I'm looking for a Morgan La Fay card...I'm related to her on my mother's side - Aw, Re, don't pout!" 

 "You don't just get to eat my chocolate when I'm not around, Black!" 

"Mum and Dad are fighting again." James muttered close to Peter's ear and they both snorted. 

 "What's that supposed to mean?" Sirius rounded on them. 

James shrugged. "Nothing. You two just argue like a married couple..." he smirked.

 "We don't!" 

"You do. But quit your whining, we're surrounded by enough chocolate to last til graduation...'cept Remus. It's only enough for the weekend in his case." Peter grinned. 

 When their pockets were full, they jumped back down through the trap door into the tunnel and took the long trek back to the castle and, under the cloak, back to the common room. 

 "I'm not kidding," James was saying as they dumped their stashes onto their beds. "We really should make some sort of map of the castle..think of all the other secret passages we could find! Think of how much it would help with pranks! We could charm it, too! It could tell us if the stairs were moving or if even if someone was coming! You think that's possible, Remus?" 

Remus nodded "I do, actually." he popped a few Bertie Botts beans into his mouth. "I'll look into a few spells. It really isn't a bad plan."

"YES!" Sirius nearly jumped out of his bed, holding a trading card in his hand.

 "If that's your bloody Morgan La Fay card, I will murder you in your sleep." Remus grumbled.

"Er...Nope, not at all." Sirius stuffed the card under his pillow. "Well, I'm knackered! Night, chaps!" And he shut his curtains. 

 

--

 

None of them were particularly hungry the following morning, having all stuffed themselves with sweets. Regardless, they were pleased that they decided to go to breakfast anyway because the scene that took place was not to be missed. It started, as most scenes do, with Bellatrix Black screaming from the Slytherin table. 

Everyone in the other three houses turned to stare at Sirius, wondering if he and the other boys, now commonly known as The Marauders, had done something to contribute to the girls' apparent anguish, but Sirius simply heaved a sigh and stood and made his way to his cousins and brother.

 Both Narcissa and Bellatrix were looking positively horrified and seemed to be consoling each other as Regulus stared down at a letter from their parents. None of them seemed to notice Sirius standing their.

"Er...Alright, I'll bite. What's wrong?" Sirius asked, feeling strangely vulnerable without his friends behind him.

 "Oh it's dreadful!" Bellatrix practically wailed. "Absolutely horrid!"

"Has-Has someone died?" Sirius actually felt a twinge of panic, looking to his younger brother for answers.

 Regulus snorted "Someone may. Auntie Druella may just drop..."

"REGULUS DON'T SAY THAT! OH CISSY, WHAT WILL WE DO!?"

 Regulus rolled his eyes. "She won't die, Bellatrix! Keep your knickers on straight." he sighed and passed the letter to Sirius. "Andy's getting married. To that Tonks bloke."

"Merlin is that all? For fuck sake, you'd think the bloody world was ending with Bella screeching like a bloody banshee!"  

 Bellatrix's beady little eyes glared up at him. "He's a muggle! And he's POOR!" 

"...He's not a muggle, he was a Hufflepuff. His parents are muggles-" 

 "SAME THING!" 

"And he isn't poor. He just doesn't own half the wizarding world...pretty much because between us and the Malfoys there's nothing left to own..." 

"Well congratulations Sirius," Narcissa sighed, sounding like someone murdered her best friend. "Looks like you aren't the biggest disappointment in the family anymore." 

 Sirius shrugged "Nah, it's only ten thirty in the morning. I'm sure I'll find my way back to the top of that list. I always do, eh Reg?" 

He may have imagined it, but he could have sworn he saw a hint of a smile on Regulus' lips. "Anyway, I'll let you back to your grieving. Send my condolences to mummy and daddy, then?" And he turned on his heel and hurried back to the Gryffindor table before they could stop him. 

 "Everything alright?" Remus asked, shifting so Sirius could sit between himself and James.

"Yeah. My cousin Andromeda is marrying a muggleborn. Looks like I'll have to up my game a little if I want to remain my family's biggest fuck up."

 "I'm sure you'll manage to meet their expectations. I give it a week." said James.

"I give it eleven minutes." Remus snorted. 

 

 

--

 

Sirius stood at the door to the Slytherin dungeons that night, silently going over in his head what he planned to say. It was not in the nature of the Black family to appologize, nor was it to be forgiving. But Sirius, he reminded himself, was trying hard not to be like the rest of his family and he hoped that Regulus would find it in him to follow his lead. 

 "I got your note," The voice of his younger brother actually startled him a little, and Sirius nearly jumped before turning to face him. 

"I didn't think you'd actually come." Sirius admitted. He reached into his pocket and held out a small bundle of licorice wands. "Your favorite." 

 Regulus stared at him, stone faced. "Is this a peace offering?" 

"I...yeah, pretty much." The older boy sighed. "Listen Reg, I'm sorry for how I treated you. I just...you were right, I didn't want to feel different from you. You're my brother. and I..."

 This time Regulus didn't hide the smile. "Me too, Sirius." They both felt relief wash over them as Regulus took the candy from his brother. "Where on earth did you get all this?"

Sirius shook his head with a grin "Can't tell you that. Just say thank you and leave it at that." 

 "Thanks." He bit into a wand. "So...Andy's getting married." 

"Good for her, I say. If she's happy, why does it matter who it's with? What do you think?" 

 "I don't think it matters," Regulus said, leaning against the wall and chewing thoughtfully. "I mean, it's not like she's-er...nevermind..."

Sirius raised an eyebrow "Not like she's what?" 

 "Not like she's....the heir..." Regulus muttered, looking away awkwardly. 

Sirius frowned "So it would matter if it were me marrying a muggleborn?" 

 "I mean...it would matter more, I suppose."

"Why?" 

 "I don't know Sirius, I'm eleven years old for Merlin's sake!" Regulus actually laughed. "I mean you're not getting married anytime soon, so what does it matter?"

"...You're right. Sorry." 

 "Maybe...Maybe we shouldn't talk about family stuff," Regulus said carefully. "I'm just glad we're...you know....talking." 

Sirius smiled and playfully ruffled his brothers hair. "Me too." 

 

Chapter Text

Thirteen year old Sirius Black stared at his reflection in the mirror that hung on his bedroom wall at Grimmuald Place. He had grown this summer. He was taller, broader and his jawline had become more defined. Although his dress robes were brand new, they felt tight and suffocating and he had to loosen the collar or he felt as though he would stop breathing. Taking one last glance at himself - looking a little too much like his father for his own liking - he left his bedroom and headed downstairs to the fireplace where his mother, father and brother were waiting to floo to his Aunt and Uncle's.

 "Sirius!" Walburga scoffed, eyeing him with utter disapproval. "I just cut your hair! It's practically past your chin!"

Flipping his fringe out of his eyes, Sirius shrugged. "I like it this way."

 "I won't have you looking like a street urchin in front of every respectable Pure Blood family in Britain!"

"A street urchin in designer dress robes?" Sirius asked, quirking an eyebrow. He saw Regulus stifle a laugh.

 "Don't talk back to your mother, Sirius." His father warned without bothering to even glance at him.

"What is this bloody party even for?"

 "It's for your cousin Andromeda. And watch your tongue, boy!"

"An engagement party?" Sirius asked, genuinely surprised.

 "Don't be ridiculous, Sirius! This is not the time for your nonsense!" Said Walburga with an exasperated sigh as she and Orion stepped into the fireplace and disappeared in a cloud of green smoke. Sirius and Regulus exchanged equally confused looks before following their parents.

Upon their arrival, Sirius could instantly tell that his mother had not been exaggerating. Every Pure Blood family that his parents considered respectable surely was present at his Aunt and Uncle's lavish estate, and the string of introductions and hello's to relatives (who's name Sirius could not remember) seemed to be never ending. He was in the middle of being scrutinized for his poor posture and hairstyle by his great aunt when a tall, graceful figure in emerald robes came swooping in, a long curtain of black hair falling around him as Andromeda kissed both of his cheeks.

 "So sorry to interrupt Auntie Irma, but I simply must steal Sirius away for a moment!" She flashed her perfect white teeth in a charming smile and ignored the disdainful look the old woman gave both of them as she dragged Sirius to her father's empty study.

 "Thank Merlin you're here, Sirius! I swear I'm about to rip my hair out." She ran a hand through her dark tresses, silvery blue eyes looking tired and full of more stress than Sirius felt was suitable for a girl of nineteen. 

 "Some party." Sirius said grimly, leaning against the heavy mahogany door.

"Have you noticed anything peculiar about the guest list?"

 Sirius shrugged. "Seems like the typical Black Family Affair. Every Pure Blood family in Britain."

"And their sons." Said Andy bitterly, sinking into the leather arm chair behind her father's desk.

 "Oh," Sirius' eyes widened with realization as he noticed the diamond ring hanging from a chain around her neck.

"I won't do it," Said Andy from behind her hands. "I won't conform to what they want me to be. I'm marrying Ted whether they want me to or not!" Her voice shook in a way Sirius had never heard from anyone in his family and he shifted awkwardly on his feet, not knowing what to say. She looked at him and her eyes softened. "I'm sorry, Sirius. I don't mean to unload all of this onto you. I just...I haven't had anyone to talk to. Cissa and Bella won't even speak to me," she sniffled a little and took a deep breath. "I know everyone's been very hard on you since you were sorted. I should have reached out to you. I'm sorry."

 "You've had a lot to deal with," Sirius shook his head. "Besides, I've always been a disgrace to the family...So it hardly matters..."

In a swift movement, Andromeda had stood and crossed the room to him, taking his hands in hers. "No! It does matter, Sirius!" Her eyes bore into his pleadingly. "It matters because you're different from them! And what's more, you're the heir! You have the power to change the way things are done in this family! Just don't ever let them change you! Promise me that?" 

 Sirius nodded silently, swallowing past an odd lump in his throat.

"I know you don't hear this very often Sirius, but I am very proud of you."

A wave of emotions that Sirius did not know quite how to place washed over him and he felt his chest tighten. He felt pity for his cousin. For his kind, beautiful cousin who had found love and was being outcast by her family for it. He also felt an odd sense of comradery with her. That feeling that he had been hoping to feel with Regulus before his brother was sorted into Slytherin. He didn't know how to respond, so he squeezed his cousin's hands and said "I'm really proud of you too, Andy." 

 Andromeda laughed and hugged him tight. "We should be getting back. I'm sure they've noticed we're missing."

"Maybe they'll think we've run off together." Sirius smirked. "They'd be ecstatic." 

 "It's a sad day when they would be more accepting of me marrying my baby cousin than a muggle born." Andy sighed.

"But that's just how this family is, isn't is? Sad." said Sirius. And together they left to rejoin the party. 

The rest of the evening was long and boring and Sirius was forced to mingle with classmates and family members with whom he shared an equal disliking. The only saving grace had been Regulus, who seemed just as unhappy as he was to be there, especially once Sirius explained that the entire event had been planned to auction Andromeda off.

 "It's not right," Grumbled their uncle Alphard who had overheard them. "An archaic tradition! Toujor Pur ," he spat. "We can't just keep marrying our cousins to keep the bloodline! The next generation will have extra limbs! We're lucky the two of you turned out as well as you did." he drained the rest of his glass.

 "Thanks Uncle Aphfard." Said Sirius, holding himself up a little straighter. Alphard patted him on the shoulder,

"You're a good lad, Sirius." He muttered before accepting yet another glass of mulled wine from one of the house elves.

 

--

 

Sirius had never been so happy to see platform nine and three quarters. Once through the barrier, he disappeared into the floods of students and parents without a single word of goodbye to his mother. It didn't take long to spot the tall lanky boy with a next of black hair.

"OY! POTTER!" Sirius shouted, waving his arms wildly over his head. James turned, grinning hugely as he ran over to meet him.

"Sirius!" He eyed his friend for a moment "nice hair."

"wish I could say the same to you." Sirius snorted, ruffling James' messy mop. "How was your summer?"

They heard Peter call to them before James could reply and the pudgy boy shoved past a few other students to catch up to them. No one had seen Remus yet.

 "He's so bloody small. He gets lost in crowds too easily." Sirius said, craning his head to search for the werewolf. "We should really just tie a bell around his neck or something."

"on who's neck?"

James, Sirius and Peter turned around and their jaws dropped. 

Remus, who had always been the shortest, had certainly grown this summer. Now over a head taller than Peter, he was just about head to head with Sirius and significantly less scrawny looking. 

"Merlin, Remus! Did you take some sort of growth potion over the summer?" Peter gaped at him.

 "Aww, ickle Remikins is growing up!" James cooed, pinching his cheeks. Remus swatted at his hand.

 "Very funny." But he was grinning.

"You know who else has grown?" Said James with a sly smirk. "Evans. If you know what I mean." he gestured crudely at his chest as they made their way onto the train in search of their compartment. 

 "Suddenly crushing on Evans?" Asked Remus. "I thought you said she was an annoying twat."

"She is. But now she's an annoying twat with huge knockers." James grinned, taking a seat by the window.

 "And that makes all the difference in the world!" Sirius added.

"How charming." Remus said flatly, rolling his eyes as the train began to move.

Chapter Text

Lily, Marlene and Dorcas were huddled together in the corner of the common room, chattering excitedly over what looked like some sort of fancy box.

 "It's a record player," Remus explained to his confused pureblood friends. "It's a muggle device that plays music. Lily must have figured out a way to make it work. Normally muggle technology won't work within the walls of the castle. The magic makes it go all wonky." 

There was a scratching noise and some static and the whole common room fell silent as they waited to see if the girls had been successful.

Help, I need somebody
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know I need someone, help

The common room cheered and the girls squealed with excitement at their accomplishment. Sirius, who was sprawled across the couch with his head on Remus' knee, sat up looking thoughtful. 

 "This is muggle music?" 

Remus laughed. "This is The Muggle Music. The Beatles." 

 "Is all Muggle music like this?" Asked James, equally intrigued.

"Of course not. There's different genres and groups. It's just like Wizard music. Though, personally I think muggle rock is way better than wizard rock."

James and Sirius instantly became obsessed. Most of their free time was spent flipping through the collection of albums that was now permanently being kept in a trunk in the common room. By mid October, they knew nearly every song by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Sirius' favorite, by far, was David Bowie.

People stared at the makeup on his face
Laughed at his long black hair, his animal grace

The boy in the bright blue jeans
Jumped up on the stage
And lady stardust sang his songs
Of darkness and disgrace

It was a full moon, so Remus was away and James and Peter had gotten detention for hexing Mrs. Norris. Sirius sat on the floor of the common room, cross legged and surrounded by records.

 "Well, isn't this a rare sight!"

Sirius glanced up and saw Marlene standing over him, grinning.

 "What are you on about?" He frowned. Marlene shrugged and sat down beside him.

"Sirius Black, alone and quiet." She laughed. "Just doesn't happen often. Where're your friends?" 

 "James and Pete have detention and Remus...he's visiting his mum. Where are yours?" 

"Lily is tutoring a first year in potions and Dorcas ran off with Dylan Abbot." 

 "Abbot!" Sirius' eyebrows shot up.

Marlene hummed. "She fancies him. And I suppose he fancies her back..."

They both fell silent and Sirius busied himself with the records once more. He knew they were teenages and that they were meant to start having interests in each other - James hadn't stopped talking about Lily's increasing breast size since they had gotten back to school, and Sirius himself would be lying if he said he didn't notice the way girls would giggle and blush when they saw him coming through the corridor. Thinking about it too much made his head spin a little and he tried to focus on David Bowie's voice instead. Marlene reached over and took the album cover of Aladdin Sane out of his hand.

 "You know, I kind of love that Bowie wears makeup. It's very....'devil may care', you know?" 

"So that's the sort of bloke you like, Mcknickers?" He said with a sly smirk. Marlene shoved him playfully.

 "Not quite as much as Bowie. But some blokes look nice! A lot of rock stars wear a kohl." Her hazel eyes lit up and she gasped. "Sirius!" 

"Huh?" He blinked at her and then jumped away. "Whoa! Hell no! I'm not wearing makeup!" 

 "It'll be fun! No one's around! No one will ever know-"

"I'll know! I'm not getting all dolled up like some bird!"

 "You won't be 'all dolled up like some bird'! I think you'll look really good!" She scooted a little closer and threw on a pout, fluttering her lashes at him. "Please?" 

Sirius' eyes narrowed for a moment, but he sighed in defeat. "Fine."

Marlene squealed with girlish excitement and jumped up. "I'll be right back!" And she hurried away. 

Sirius briefly considered running off, but he did genuinely like Marlene even if he found her and her friends to be insufferably annoying at times. But as far as girls went, Marlene was alright. Before he could come to his senses, she was back and clutching a small black bag.

 "That looks like a lot more than just kohl, Mckinnon." Sirius said wearily as she sat down once more, folding her legs beneath herself. She rummaged through her bag for a moment and plucked a long, thin, black pencil out.

 "Ready?"

"No." Grumbled Sirius.

 Marlene rolled her eyes. "Just open your eyes, Black...a little more...a littl-"

"That's as open as they get!" 

 "Alright, Alright!" She raised the pencil and moved even closer so he could feel her breath on his face. "Don't flinch." She warned.

"Get on with it!" He gritted his teeth.

 "Sorry!" She bit her lip, taking a deep breath in. Sirius held his breath as she brought the stick up to his eye. The seconds seemed like hours and he had to remind himself not to move when it finally touched his bottom lid. It was very strange, he decided. Not painful, but certainly not pleasant and he couldn't fight the annoyed whine that escaped his throat.

 "Oh stop it, Black! It's not that bad...Almost...done." She sat back on her heels and smiled proudly. 

Sirius bit his lip. "Er...How does it look?" 

 Marlene dove back into her bag, emerging with a small silver compact. Sirius jumped back slightly.

"What is that?" 

 She laughed. "Relax. It's only a mirror!" She popped it open and turned it to face him. "Very punk rock." 

Sirius carefully took the mirror from her and held it closer to his face. It was very subtle, but the dark black liner definitely made his eyes pop and he definitely resembled some of the artists on the covers of the albums he had grown so fond of. "Heh...That's pretty cool." 

She nodded. "It is..." 

New love - a boy and girl are talking
New words - that only they can share in
New words - a love so strong it tears their hearts

He wasn't sure exactly what came over him in the next few silent, awkward moments. But suddenly his voice seemed to be working without any instruction from his brain and he asked "So Marlene...Do you fancy anyone?" 

A pink tinge suddenly fell across the girl's face and Sirius had to admit, she was very pretty. Whether he had closed the distance between them or she had, he wasn't quite sure. Her lips were very soft and she smelled like vanilla and spices and...what on earth was he meant to do with his hands? Oh well.

As quickly as it started, it was over and the two thirteen year olds stared wide eyed at each other as the record scratched and came to an end. 

 Sirius opened his mouth to say something and was more relieved than he had ever been in his life when he heard the distinct sound of the portrait swinging open. He and Marlene jumped apart as if they had been electrocuted as Lily Evans climbed through.

 "Hey Marls," She smiled at her friend and eyed Sirius with only slight disdain. "Black." 

"Evans." Sirius matched her tone, but kept his eyes down, hoping she wouldn't notice that he was wearing eyeliner or the sign he felt he surely must have written across his face that read 'I just kissed your best friend'. He stood hastily, "Night Marlene. Er...Thanks." And he ran off to the dorm.

His face felt like it was on fire as he plopped down on the closest bed (Remus') and stared up at the ceiling. So he'd kissed Marlene. His first kiss had to happen at some point, he supposed, but he didn't expect to feel so strangely panicked by it. He turned on his side, opening Remus' bedside drawer and stealing a piece of honeyduke's best chocolate. Was Marlene his girlfriend now? Is that what was expected? He wasn't sure he liked the idea of being anyone's boyfriend...He looked out the window, it was very late and he was very tired from all of the night's weird happenings. He wondered for a moment why James and Peter weren't back, but figured they got caught up with something and that was the last conscious thought he had.

He was woken very suddenly by a pair of hands shaking him. 

 "Sirius, wake up!" 

"Fuck, Potter...M'sleep..." 

 "Well wake the bloody hell up! We figured out how to sneak into the kitchens!" James whispered excitedly. Sirius' eyes snapped open. 

"You what? How?" He sat up, slightly disoriented as he realized the bed he was in wasn't his. 

 "We were heading back from detention and we-" Peter stopped short, staring at Sirius in confusion. "Er...Are you wearing makeup?" 

James burst out laughing and had to cover his mouth so he wouldn't wake Frank. Sirius glared "Bowie wears eyeliner." 

 "Yeah, but Bowie is Bowie," Said Peter, grinning from ear to ear. "You're just you." 

"Well, McKinnon certainly seemed to like it." Said Sirius smugly. "Right before we snogged!" 

 The laughing stopped abruptly and the two of them gaped at Sirius through saucer sized eyes. 

"You snogged McKinnon!"  

 "Yes," Sirius sat up slightly straighter. "And she said, and I quote, 'It's very punk rock'. So unless either of you have been getting any action, I suggest you shut your gobs about my style choices. Now, you were saying something about kitchens?" 

Even though it was closing in on four in the morning, the boys threw the invisibility cloak over their heads and Sirius followed James and Peter down to the kitchens. 

 "Tickle the pear?" Sirius hissed, eyeing James. "What on earth made you even think to try that?" he asked once they were standing in front of a giant painting of a bowl of ordinary looking fruit. 

"Right place at the right time," James shrugged. "We happened to spot a house elf doing it and we followed him in." He reached up on his toes and tickled the pear and the painting swung open.

The house elves swarmed around them, eager to serve and happy to see them. Much happier than Sirius' own house elf had ever been. They served them cakes and cookies and hot chocolate and Sirius suggested to James and Peter that they bring some back to the dorm for when Remus got back.

 "I ate some of his stash anyway." 

"You've got to stop stealing chocolate from him. He nearly strangled you the last time." Peter reminded him. 

 "That's why I suggested replacing it." Sirius defended, wrapping a few pastries up in a napkin and stuffing them into his pocket. Their stay was short, it was nearly five in the morning, and they sleepily said their goodbyes and thanked the house elves once more before slipping the cloak on and started back towards Gryfindor tower. 

They were nearing the stairs when they heard the clicking of shoes walking fast paced down the corridor and a mix of hushed voices.

"Minerva, he's lost a lot of blood. There's got to be something else we can do to help him." 

 "Not much we can do, Poppy. Poor dear. All we can do is make him comfortable and heal him back up..." 

Sirius, James and Peter ducked into the shadows, holding their breath so they wouldn't be heard as Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall rushed down the corridor in the direction of the Hospital Wing followed by a figure that looked like a student floating on an invisible stretcher. The student, they realized immediately, was Remus. 

They stayed still and silent until their head of house and the medi witch were gone. 

 "We need to follow them." Sirius whispered urgently. 

"They'll never let us see him." Peter shook his head.

 "We need to try. He's our best friend. We need to see that he's alright." James said, nodding to Sirius in agreement. They ripped the cloak off and ran as fast as they could to the infirmary where all three of them began pounding on the door until a startled Madam Pomfrey came and opened it. 

"Boys! Keep it down! I have patients! Is something wrong? are any of you hurt or ill?" 

 "We have to see Remus!" James insisted. 

Madam Pomfrey's eyes widened and she looked flustered but she quickly composed herself. "I'm sorry, Mr. Potter. I can't allow you to see him right now. He's very ill and-" 

"But we know that he's a werewolf!" Said Sirius.

Pomfrey gasped and looked around to be sure there was no one else within earshot. "Mr.Black! Keep your voice down! Now I don't know how you boys know about Mr. Lupin's condition, but since you do know then I assume you are aware of exactly why I cannot allow you to see him at the moment. Now, unless one of you have fallen ill or have been injured, I must ask you to leave!" 

 "We aren't leaving." Peter said, bravely. But when Professor McGonagall appeared over Pomfrey's shoulder, that bravery faded slightly and he shrunk back behind James and Sirius. 

"Boys," Said McGonagall, calmly. "Now is not the time. I'm not going to ask you what on earth you're all doing out of bed at this hour, but I'd like all three of you to return to your dormitory immediately. It's barely sunrise. After breakfast, assuming that Madam Pomfrey approves, you may return and visit with Mr. Lupin. Is that clear?" 

The three boys deflated slightly. "Yes Professor." They murmured, and they turned and headed back to Gryffindor tower. 

"Did you see how pale he was?" Peter whispered once they were back in the dorm.

 "Pomfrey said it's only getting worse." James mumbled miserably, climbing into his bed and setting his glasses on his bedside table.

Sirius laid on his bed, staring at Remus' empty one and chewing nervously on his lip. "...We've got to do something." 

Chapter Text

It hurt to move. It hurt to breathe. It even hurt to think. Remus mentally sighed with the sad realization that he was indeed awake. Every inch of his body was screaming in agony and he was sure he had several more broken bones and, judging by the burning feeling in his side, some new permanent scars as well. There was a ringing in his ears that only made his headache more unbearable and someone was causing quite a racket on top of that...

"No, Mr. Potter, He is not awake yet! No Mr. Black, you can't just see him anywa- Mr. Pettigrew I can see you trying to sneak past!" 

 To his surprise, Remus felt a smile tug at his lips. Even though he felt anxious about the idea of his friends seeing him in this state, it felt nice that they cared so much and he knew that if they were determined enough to do so, there was nothing Madam Pomfrey could do to stop them. After a few more moments of arguing, he heard the nurse let out an exasperated "Fine!" and the sound of three pairs of foot steps came rushing in. 

At first, there wasn't a sound. Remus knew that silence very well. It was the stunned kind that everyone had the first time they saw him after a full moon.

 "Wow..." Peter breathed. 

"He looks awful." Said James painfully. 

 "You're no catch yourself, Potter." Remus croaked, managing a small smirk.

"Remus! You're awake!" Sirius' voice sounded thick and full of worry. "Are you alright? Do you need anything?" 

 Remus blinked a few times, letting his eyes adjust to the stark white light on the hospital. "Oh I'm great. Just peachy..." he shifted and flinched. "Fuck."

"Language, Mr. Lupin!" 

 "Sorry Poppy..." He struggled to roll onto his side and Sirius made a motion to reach out. "Calm down, Sirius. I'm alright. You're acting like someone's mum." he squinted, something looked different. "...Are you wearing eyeliner?" 

"MARLENE SAID-" 

 "It's very punk rock..." Remus smiled weakly and saw Sirius relax. "It looks good."

"Mckinnon did it." Said Sirius, blushing a little. 

 "Right before they snogged!" Peter announced excitedly.

Remus raised an eyebrow. "You snogged Marlene? Eyeliner, snogging... Merlin, I'm away for a night and Sirius goes wild." 

"You're a git." Sirius laughed shakily. Remus watched his friends as they stood awkwardly, avoiding his eyes. 

 "Hey...I'm alright, really." He assured them. "I'm pretty use to it. I just need to rest, that's all." but the three other boys didn't look convinced. 

"We want to help you." Said James quietly. 

 Remus shook his head. "That's really nice of you...but there's nothing you can do. I appreciate you all even being my friends. It's really all I could ever ask for." But secretly he wondered just how long their friendship could last. If they were ever to see just how much of a monster he really was, there was no way they would stay with him. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

"James," Sirius hissed for the third time in attempt to get his best friend to look up from his parchment. Still, James ignored him. 

"James!" A little more urgently, Sirius elbowed the bespectacled boy sharply in the ribs.

 "What, Sirius!" James finally set down his quill. "I'm trying to take these notes for Remus!" 

"But that's what I wanted to talk to you about-" 

Sirius was cut off when the subject of said notes, a grey tabby cat with rectangular markings around the eyes, strode across the classroom and transfigured mid-stride into their Professor. 

"Mr. Black, was there something so important you had to say to Mr. Potter that it couldn't wait until after the lesson?" 

Sirius blinked, faltering for only a beat before he grinned at her. "I was just telling Jim here how utterly impressive you are, as usual." 

Professor Mcgonagall did not seem amused. Sirius continued, "And just how exactly does one become an animagus, Professor?" 

The older witch smiled dryly at him, peering over the thin rim of her glasses. "Through hard work, Mr. Black. It takes a lot of time, skill and dedication to master the unique magic of becoming an animagus. And that means," she said pointedly, "Paying attention in class." She gave them both a meaningful look before continuing with her lecture. Beside him, James quirked an eyebrow.

"I have an idea." Sirius said with a determined smirk as he leaned his chair back on its hind legs and turned his focus back on the lesson at hand.

 

-

 

"You want to what?" Peter stared, mouth agape and unblinking.

The three of them (Remus was tutoring first years in charms for extra credit) were huddled on James' bed working on their latest project when Sirius finally announced his plan.

"I want to become animagi." Sirius repeated, seeming proud. Then he frowned for a moment and pointed to a spot on the parchment that lay between them. "This tunnel lets out further east, Pete. Here, by the portrait of Wendessa The Wild." 

 James waved him off. "Bugger the map for a moment! Are you crazy? What on earth possessed you to want-" 

"To help Remus of course!" said Sirius, as if that were obvious. "Werewolves only hunt humans. So if we aren't human, he can't hurt us and we can be with him during the full." 

Both James and Peter were silent, staring at him as if he had suddenly sprouted an extra head.

 "You're barking." Peter stated flatly.

James sighed. "Look, Sirius, your heart's in the right place. We all want to help make Remus' transformations easier on him, but you heard what McGonagall said. It takes years and a lot of advanced magic." 

 "Not to mention you'd have to be registered." Added Peter. 

Sirius clicked his tongue in annoyance. "Fuck the legalities! No one even has to know but us! We're the top students in every class-" 

"You haven't taken a single note in any class since first year." Muttered James.

 "Precisely! And I still get top marks!" Sirius was grinning from ear to ear, his excitement couldn't have been more obvious if he had had a tail to wag. "Just imagine if it was something I were actually interested in learning!" 

The other two boys exchanged an unreadable look and Sirius let out an exasperated sighed.

"I'm going to try whether you two join me or not," He said seriously, crossing his arms defiantly over his chest. Then, with a sly smirk he added "I guess you two aren't up for the challenge."

 There was another silence, but something in James' hazel eyes changed and he matched Sirius' smirks.

"Remus won't like it." He warned.

 "By the time Remus even knows what we're up to it'll be too late to stop us." Sirius countered, eyes glinting mischievously.  

"Besides," Peter reasoned. "It's technically for his own good." 

 

-

 

As it turned out, becoming an Animagi was even more complex than any of them could have imagined. And keeping the secret from Remus was even more difficult. In the following weeks they took advantage of the werewolf's tutoring schedules to go behind his back to pull books from the restricted section. 

"A month!" Said Peter in disbelief, pointing to a page in Masters Of Morphing - A Guide To The Most Advanced Transfiguration. "We're suppose to keep a madrake leaf in our mouths for a month straight! How are we suppose to eat?"

 "That would be your concern," James shook his head. "I'm more worried about how we go about that without Remus noticing. Or worse, McGonagall."

"We'll figure that out when we get to it." Sirius said hurriedly as he looked on in mild disappointment. "Look at these potions ingredients, though. Slughorn won't have this sort of stuff in his store..." 

The door to the dorm room opened and the boys quickly scrambled to hide the evidence of their restricted reading. Peter pulled out the half finished map and laid it out between them as they tried their best to appear as if they had been focused on that all along.

 "Hey Remus!" Peter squeaked, just a pitch too high for nonchalant when the other boy entered the room. Sirius elbowed him sharply in the ribs. 

The werewolf stared at them for a moment. This wasn't the first time he had walked in on his friends acting suspicious. In fact, in the last few weeks Remus had started to feel a strange distance between them, like they were hiding something from him. He had tried to put it out of his head and blame it on low self esteem, but something wasn't sitting right. 

"Er...Hey..." He slowly dropped his belongings onto his four poster and turned to face the others. He nodded towards the parchment they were huddled around. "You're working on the map without me?" he tried to keep the disappointment from his voice. 

 Sirius blinked at him. "Wha-? Oh! No, not really. Just, you know, throwing some ideas around..." he went to lean casually against the headboard, missing by about half a foot and nearly slipping off the bed. 

 Remus frowned. "Is everything alright?" He asked cautiously. "You're...you're acting a bit odd..." 

James forced a chuckle "Now, Remus. This is Sirius we're talking about. He's always a bit odd." Sirius flipped him two fingers. Remus didn't seem to buy it. An awkward silence had fallen between the four of them, broken only once Sirius faked a yawn and a dramatic stretch. 

"Well Mates, it's late. I'm knackered!" He announced, rolling off of James' bed and flopping down onto his own in almost one motion. 

"Me too!" Peter followed suit. 

 "Yeah," Said James, faking a yawn himself. "We've got divination first thing tomorrow. Need to rest up our inner eye, don't we?" He swung his curtains closed.

Remus stood frozen in the middle of the dorm, glancing back and forth from each scarlet-draped bed. "Oh...Okay." He said to no one in particular. And feeling lonelier than he had since he first got to Hogwarts, he went to his own bed. 

 

-

Remus could not sleep that night. This was it, he felt. The beginning of the end. They'd finally gotten bored with him, no longer wishing to wait for him when he spent half the time sick from transformations, and the other half of the time trying to get extra credits in class by tutoring younger students. He wasn't around much anyway, so the loss wouldn't be felt for them if they just moved along without him. He always thought they would eventually tire of him. He had chalked it up to poor self esteem over the years of growing closer to his friends, but deep down he knew it was only a matter of time. 

After all, it wasn't as if they particularly needed him. James and Sirius were the smartest students in their year, maybe even the whole school. They could do anything they put their minds too, especially together. And with Peter there to encourage them and drive their already skyrocketing egos, they really were an unstoppable force. What was Remus to them anyway? Their pet werewolf...A voice of reason, he would argue, if the two raven haired boys ever bothered to listen to what he said. 

He huffed, turning onto his other side and curling further into a ball. He shouldn't feel so disappointed. "It's not like I didn't see it coming." He muttered into the darkness.

"Saw what coming?" The voice startled Remus for only a moment before he relaxed with a sigh. "Sirius?"

Without skipping a beat, the curtains of Remus' bed slid open just enough to allow the other boy to slip through and kneel on Remus' bed. 

"What are you doing up, Sirius?" Remus asked softly, not looking up from his hands in his lap. But he knew that Sirius shrugged. 

 "Same as you. Couldn't sleep. Scoot." He waved one hand to motion for the werewolf to move over. Remus did without hesitation and Sirius climbed under the covers with him.

Remus stared at him, unblinking with his wildly inhuman gold eyes. 

"So why couldn't you sleep?" Sirius asked finally, staring back with his own intensity.

Remus shivered slightly. At first he thought it was those icy grey eyes that Sirius had. The ones that made it so easy for Remus to want to spill out every last thought in his head. That stare that told him that Sirius probably already knew what he was thinking, so why not tell him the truth? Then he realized- 

 "Sirius, get your bloody freezing feet off my thigh!" He kicked the boy, who laughed maniacally and tucked the blocks of ice he called feet behind himself. 

"Sorry, mate." He smirked. 

 Remus rolled his eyes "What are you doing here? You usually only come to my bed if you've had it rough with your family or you've heard me having a nightmare." 

Sirius considered this, searching Remus' eyes for something unknown to the werewolf before he propped himself up on his elbow to face him completely. "Are you cross with us?" 

Remus gaped at him "I...Cross with you?" 

Sirius nodded "And James and Pete. Are you mad?" 

The auburn haired boy shook his head, incredulously. "Why would I be mad at you?"

"You seemed upset before. And now you're not sleeping-" 

"You're sort of preventing that, Sirius-"

"-You weren't sleeping anyway, Remus." Sirius' eyes narrowed. Remus groaned in frustration. Why was Sirius so infuriating sometimes? 

"I'm not mad at any of you." Remus said honestly. "I just...I feel like you lot have been keeping something from me. And then I come in to you working on the map...you promised you'd wait, that's all. I hate missing out on things because of....because of what I am."  He finished, looking back down at his lap. Beside him Sirius was chuckling. The bastard. 

"What is so funny?" Remus asked a little defensively. 

"Remus, we aren't purposely leaving you out of anything ,alright?" Sirius grinned.

"Then why are you always sneaking off while you think I'm not around? You're keeping secrets. I know, I am the Master of Secret Keeping." 

Sirius sighed and laid back onto the pillow. "Alright, we have been hiding something." 

Remus watched him closely. The way his tongue darted out to lick his dry lips, the look in his eye that looked like he was debating something. Finally he met Remus' gaze. "I can't tell you what it is." He said sternly. "I just need you to trust us."

Remus folded his arms "I've heard that before. Usually ends with us scrubbing cauldrons." 

Sirius sat up and, much to Remus' surprise, grabbed his hand. "I need you to trust me, Remus." 

 

 Remus' breath hitched slightly. He had never seen Sirius look so....serious. He cleared his throat past the lump that had formed there. "Can't you at least tell me what it's going to do with?" 

Again, Sirius tongue swiped across his bottom lip. "I'm just going to promise you that what we are working on is for your own good. It's going to help you-" Remus tried to pulls his hand away;

 "Sirius, there is nothing you  can-" 

But Sirius had a tighter grip. "-I promise you, Remus." He gazed at him, eyes pleading. "You just need to trust me..." He swallowed. "You do, don't you?" 

Yes, He thought. He did trust his friends. But more than anything, he trusted Sirius. Sirius, with his piercing gaze and his warm, large hand still squeezing his own for dear life. 
Remus nodded. "I trust you, Sirius." 

With one last grin, Sirius sat up "Excellent. Don't worry, Moony my good man! You'll be back in the loop, all in good time!" He disappeared behind the curtains.

Remus was slightly taken aback. "What did you call me?" 

Sirius poked his head back in and smiling like a fool. "Moony." He repeated. "I've decided it's your new nickname. It's catchy." 

 "It's stupid." Remus muttered. "It'll never stick, you know." 

Sirius shrugged. "Whatever you say. Night, Moony." he winked and crossed back to his own bed.

Chapter Text

"Boys! We go through this every month," Madame Pomfrey explained through painful exasperation to the three young Gryffindors that had been pounding on the Hospital wing door since dawn. "You may come back after breakfast to see Mr. Lupin. It is too early to be letting visitors into the infirmary. You shouldn't even be out of bed at this hour!" 

 "We'll be really quiet," Peter promised hopefully. "We just want to see him-" 

"He isn't even awake yet, Mr. Pettigrew." 

 "We aren't going to bother the other patients. We just-" 

"Mr. Potter, my answer, as always is no. And Mr. Black, before you even bother, my answer is still no!" 

Sirius looked mildly affronted. "I didn't even say anyth-" 

"But you were going to." Said Pomfrey sternly. "Now, unless any of you are feeling ill or have injured yourselves, go back to your dormitory immediately."

 For a split moment Sirius seemed to want to argue, and James and Peter were prepared, as they always were, to back him up. But instead, much to their surprise, Sirius turned around, appearing to have given up.

James frowned. "Sirius, what-" 

 And then without so much as a second thought, Sirius let out a frustrated cry, balled up his fist and punched the stone wall of the corridor as hard as he could. 

"Mr. Black!" Pomfrey gasped, clutched at her heart in shock at the same time as James and Peter just stared, jaws and eyes wide open. 

 Sirius took a deep breath and turned back, cradling his bloodied hand with his good one. He looked the medi-witch straight in the eye and said, through gritted teeth. "I'm injured." 

 

-

"You did what?" Remus' face was a mix of horror and bewilderment as his friend explained just what he was doing in the next bed over. "What on earth possessed you to-" 

 Sirius shrugged. "She wouldn't let us in to see you." His right hand was bandaged up. He had broken three fingers, but you'd never guess from the satisfied grin on his face. 

"So you broke your hand?" Remus laughed. 

 "Technically just his fingers." Peter corrected, trying to hold back his amusement.

 "And got himself a weeks worth detention," James grumbled, perched on the edge of Remus' cot. "You're missing the Quidditch finals, Mate. You're going to miss me clobbering Slytherin." He shook his head in annoyance. 

"Small sacrifices, Jamie." Sirius smirked, leaning back against the pillows. "I'm sure you'll play just fine without me there to cheer you on in the crowd. I'll make it up to you, eh?" 

 Remus was still in shock. "I still don't understand why-"

"I did it for you, Moony." Said Sirius, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. As if anyone would go about breaking their bones just to so they'd be allowed into the infirmary to see their friend. 

 Remus rolled his eyes at the nickname, but he had given up on fighting it months ago. He sighed. "Sirius, you can't just go beating yourself up every month so she let's you in to see me." For some reason he couldn't fight the smile tugging at his lips. Foolish as it may have been, he couldn't believe someone would do anything like that for him. 

"Ah, but I won't have to!" Sirius informed him, proudly. "Because she's agreed to allow us special visiting privileges with you after the full moon." He gave James nod as he emphasized once more. "Small sacrifices." 

"Fine." James conceded, still seeming mildly put out. "But you owe me."

 Sirius waved him off with his good hand. "Of course, yes. Don't worry, James. Just because I did something nice for our little Moony doesn't mean I love you any less." 

James shook his head and Remus groaned. 

 "Seriously, why am I the only one with a stupid nickname?" 

Sirius laughed. "Remus, I promise. The day the rest of us suddenly start turning into animals once a month, you can call us whatever you want." 

 "Very funny, prat." 

 

-

 "DORCAS MEADOWS HAS CAUGHT THE SNITCH! GRYFFINDOR WINS THE QUIDDITCH CUP!" 

The crowd cheered wildly around them as the Gyffindor Team landed their brooms and dog piled on top of Dorcas. 

Remus and Peter squeezed their way past the hoards of students and teachers in the direction of the locker room.

"Sirius is going to be pissed he missed this one," Peter said, face still flushed from the wind at the top of the stands. "Think he's back from detention yet?" 

 Remus nodded. "I'm sure he will be once we get to the dorm. James has been making him feel pretty guilty about not being there, and this was nearly a shut out. He'll be reeling." He chuckled at the thought of James badgering the other boy about how unfair it was of him to miss out on his win of the Cup. But there was something in the back of Remus' mind, some strange, proud little whisper, that couldn't help but be a little smug he was the reason. That Sirius had risked  being there for something that was important to his best friend in the entire world, James Potter, just so Remus wouldn't wake up alone in the hospital wing after the full moon. 

After James emerged, grinning like a mad man from ear to ear, they headed back up to Gryffindor tower. "And did you see that interference from Malfoy? Total bullocks! I'm sure he feels like a right git trying to pull that one off and still losing!" He was practically bouncing as they climbed through the portrait hole. "Oi, Black! You missed- Sirius?" 

Sirius wasn't there. And he wasn't in the dorm either. 

 "That git. There's no way he's still in detention." James said grouchily, throwing his Quidditch robes which went flying and landed on Remus' bed. 

"Gross." Muttered the werewolf in mild annoyance. He flicked his wand and sent the robes into James' hamper.

"He's probably in the kitchens or something." Peter suggested with a longing sigh. "I hope he's in the kitchens. I'm starving. I hope he brings back something good." 

 "Well he'd better not miss the victory party." James huffed before grabbing his towel and heading to the shower.

 It wasn't until hours later, when the party was in full swing, that Sirius finally entered the common room with a grin and his book bag, which seemed much more full than any of them had ever seen it. 

 "And where the bloody hell have you been all day?" James asked, grabbing Sirius in a headlock. "You miss my big game for detention and then disappear? I should mess your bloody perfect hair up for that one, Black." 

Sirius laughed and shoved him off. "You'll be thanking me in a minute, mate. Take a look." He opened the bag for James to see.

 "Shit, Sirius!" Gasped James. "Where in Merlin's-"

Sirius smirked and shook his head. "Not telling. The point is I got it. Ready to make this a real victory party?"

 Remus and Peter exchanged confused looks, until James reached into the bag and pulled out what seemed to be one of many bottles of liquor.

The two dark haired boys turned to the rest of the common room and James whistled loudly for everyone's attention.

 "Gryffindors! In celebration of our, dare I say, legendary defeat of Slytherin this evening, breaking their 3 year winning streak and probably their poor slimy little hearts," a few people whooped and hollered in response to that. "My incredibly generous and resourceful best mate has provided us with provisions!" He held up the bottle. "Firewhiskey!" The common room filled with loud, excitable cheers. "Ladies, feel free to thank Sirius properly, eh?" James threw in a wink and Sirius snorted and punched his arm. 

 James and Sirius set the bottles out on the refreshment table. Remus was surprised at just how many bottles Sirius had managed to get and he had to wonder exactly where he had managed to get it from. No one would be selling a fourteen year old boy alcohol. But he put the thought out of his mind when Sirius came and slung one arm casually around his shoulder. 

 "What d'you say, Rem? Want to get trashed?" 

Remus laughed. "Not trashed, no. But I'll take a little bit I suppose." He took the open bottle from Sirius' hand and took a swig. It burned and made his eyes water and he choked a little. "That's disgusting." 

 Sirius nodded, still grinning like the Cheshire cat and grabbed the bottle back from him. He tilted his head back and took a long drink. Remus grimaced. "Have you done this before?" 

"Nope." Sirius practically giggled when he finally lowered the bottle. "Hey!" He shouted in surprise as said bottle was promptly stolen from his hand by Marlene McKinnon. 

 "Impressive, Black." She shook the bottle teasingly before bringing it to her own lips. 

"Marlene!" Said Lily, in what Remus supposed was suppose to be a scolding tone, but the red head seemed slightly intrigued as well. 

 Marlene laughed. "Oh come on, Lily...you know you want to as well!" She took nearly as long a drink as Sirius before holding it out to her friend. Lily still looked unsure.

"Yeah, Evans. Live a little!" Shouted James from across the room. He was passing his own bottle to Dorcas. 

 Lily eyed Sirius suspiciously. "Where'd you get it?" 

A sly smile spread across Sirius' face. "If I tell you, will you take that stick out of your arse and have some bloody well deserved fun with us, Evans?" 

 Emerald green eyes narrowed on the dark haired boy for a moment. "I'll pretend you didn't just insult me, Black." She smiled a little. "But yes." 

"I nicked it from my cousin's stash. Well known fact, dear Auntie is an alcoholic and doesn't notice when Cissa packs some bottles away for the school year."  Sirius shrugged. 

 Lily pursed her lips. "And...how did you get into the Slytherin dorm to steal said liquor?" 

Sirius wagged a finger at her. "Uh uh, Evans. You asked where it came from and I told you." He held the bottle out to her. "A deal is a deal. Remove the stick." 

 

-

 They weren't sure what time it was. Most of their housemates at already retired to their dorms. 

Sirius, James, Remus and Peter sat on the floor in front of the fire, leaning heavily against each other. 

 "I'm so glad we're all friends though," Sirius was saying, his words slightly slurred and resting his head on James' shoulder.

"You're drunk, mate." James snorted. 

 "So'r you." Sirius argued with a slight pout before switching to Remus' shoulder instead. "Remus...Remus, you're glad we're all friends, right?" 

Remus nodded solemnly, he could feel how wide his own eyes were. What a question... "Yes. Yes of course I am. Jamie, why're you being so mean to Sirius? Tell him you're glad we're friends." 

Peter giggled "You're....you're all-hic-"

 "Peter I will give you five galleons if you can even finish that sentence." Said James, only slurring at just the very end of his words. All four of them laughed. 

"Well, look at what a fine mess we've got here..." A sing-songy voice interrupted. Marlene plopped herself down to sit cross legged across from them, followed by Dorcas, Lily and Mary McDonnald. "The Marauders are utterly zonked, aren't they?" Her cheeks were pink and her eyes were glassy. 

 "And you're not, McKnickers?" Sirius challenged. 

The girl laughed, nearly toppling over. "Oh I am." 

 Lily put a hand on her friend's shoulder to steady her. "Fancy a game, boys?" 

James sat up a little straighter and ran a hand through his hair. "What kind of game?" 

"It's a muggle game." Said Lily, holding up one of the empty bottles. "Truth or dare." 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Someone spins the bottle, and whoever it lands on picks Truth or Dare. If they say truth, they have to answer any question truthfully. If they say dare, they have to do whatever the other person dares them to do." Lily explained once they were all seated in a circle around the bottle.

 Sirius scoffed. "What do you mean have to? It's just a silly muggle game. It's not like the bottle's been charmed to make us-"

"Do you want to play or not, Black?" Lily fixed him with an impatient glare.

He huffed and sat back. "Fine." 

 Lily spun first. It landed on Marlene. 

"Truth or Dare, Marls?" 

 Marlene took a brief moment of consideration before she decided. "Truth." 

Lily gave her a sly smile. "Have you kissed anyone?" 

 Quickly, and probably unnoticed by the girls, Marlene and Sirius' eyes met from across the circle. The girl turned slightly pink and nodded. "Yeah. I have." 

It started out rather silly. Peter was dared by Mary to write a love sonnet for Professor McGonagall to be recited at breakfast in the morning. 

 "If you had to pick another house to be in, which would it be?" Peter asked Remus when the bottle landed on him. 

"Hufflepuff." Said Remus, chuckling to himself. "It's closest to the kitchens."

 "I dare Potter to give Black a lap dance!" 

"Just how big are your knockers these days, Evans? Ow! What? You said we could ask anything!" 

 "Mary, I dare you to do your best impression of Professor Slughorn." It was actually quite impressive. 

The game continued for quite a while, well past the point where they had began to sober up. Mary spun and James picked truth. 

 "Alright...I really need to know," Mary giggled. "What are you talking about when you ask Remus about his 'Furry Little Problem'?" 

Remus felt every nerve in his body tense, but James didn't miss a beat before he replied;

 "Remus has a horribly behaved rabbit back at home. Destroyed his mum's garden. Isn't that right, Rem?" 

Remus laughed as relief washed over him. "Yeah. Cottonball is a real nightmare..." 

 James' spin landed on Marlene. 

"Dare." 

 "I dare you to kiss one of the girls." Said James with a satisfied grin. 

Lily rolled her eyes. "Real mature, Potter."

 "I had to give Sirius a lap dance!" James argued. Sirius winked and blew a kiss at him, earning a rough punch to the arm. 

Marlene just shrugged. "Fair is fair, I suppose. Any of them?" 

James nodded, looking far too excited. "Yeah." 

  Everyone was silent for a moment as Marlene seemed to weigh her options, being sure to make quite a show over her 'thoughtful' expression. James and Peter were both practically leaning forward in suspense and Sirius was resting against the leg of the couch, arms folded with an air of amusement. Remus just watched, feeling a little awkward about the entire thing. 

"Alright, Meadows. Pucker up." Marlene teased, shifting onto her knees to face her friend. 

 "Oh I'm flattered!" Twittered the smaller girl, fanning herself dramatically. They both giggled before leaning in and pressing their lips together in a very quick and simple kiss. More giggling followed as they parted and sat back down. 

 "Happy, Potter?" Said Marlene.

James was still wide eyed, but he nodded. "Yeah that was great. Brilliant. Encore."

 Marlene rolled her eyes. "Not on your life. You can pick your eyeballs up off the floor." She leaned forward and spun the bottle. It landed on Sirius and she laughed devilishly. 

"Oh Excellent. Truth or dare, Sirius?"

 "Oh Marls, why even bother asking?" Sirius' voice was practically a dare in itself. 

"Alright. Fair is fair. Two of us kissed. I want to see you kiss one of the boys then." 

 The other girls all nodded and hummed in agreement and Sirius barked with laughter. 

"Is that all? Can't even come up with anything creative?" He shook his head and clicked his tongue. "Honestly, I'm disappointed."

Sirius heaved himself up with a dramatic sigh and turned to face the other three Marauders. Remus laughed to himself and turned his head to look at at James, wanting to see the look of dread on the bespectacled boys face when being kissed by his best male friend. But then there were fingers cupping his chin, directing his face upwards, and with only a split second to register the wink Sirius gave him, he was being kissed. 

Remus froze. His eyes went wide and his entire body went ridged and time seemed to stand completely still as he felt Sirius' warm lips, parted just slightly and tasting so strongly still of firewhiskey, covering his own. 

 And then it was over, just as quickly as it had started. Sirius pulled away and Remus could have sworn the room got at least ten degrees cooler, even though his face felt like it was on fire. He blinked a few times, staring at Sirius who's face looked momentarily as confused as he felt before his usual grin broke out.

Sirius turned back to the others. "See? No big deal." 

-

 

Remus couldn't sleep. He kept touching his lips. 

His first kiss had not only been part of a silly game, but it had been with one of his friends. 

His male friend. 

And he...was relatively sure he didn't hate it. 

It was just a silly muggle game. He thought desperately. You were tired, you were still probably drunk. 

He couldn't understand what would have made Sirius kiss him instead of James. James was Sirius' best friend, and surely that was what Marlene had originally planned, to get back at James. 

You're thinking into it too much. He told himself. It was a game. a dare. Sirius wouldn't have done what everyone expected. You're fine. You're not...you're not gay or anything...

He groaned and turned onto his other side. Great...Bad enough being a werewolf. Now you're very possibly a gay werewolf. Can't you just be a little normal? 

There was a soft click, the sound of the dorm room door being closed, foot steps and a creak as someone stepped over the loose floorboard by Sirius' bed. The foot steps paused and Remus held his breath. The curtains of his own bed rustled and he felt the bed dip as the weight of another person was added. 

 "Remus, are you awake?"

Just pretend you're asleep.

"I can tell your faking it." Sirius said quietly. 

Remus slowly exhaled. "Then why did you ask?"

"Dunno. Seemed like the polite thing to do." He squeezed himself in to lie next to Remus. 

Remus snorted. "Wouldn't the polite thing to be to go to your own bed? It must be nearly dawn..." He turned to face the other boy. "Are you just getting to bed now? Everyone else came up ages ago." 

"Yeah," Sirius propped himself up on his side. "Sorry. I just...I was talking to Mckin- Marlene..." Even in the dark, Remus could see that Sirius' face seemed a little troubled. "I've asked her to be my girlfriend." 

An uncomfortable silence fell between them. Remus felt something in his gut that was almost like being punched. He cleared his throat. "Oh...Er...Congratulations, I suppose?" 

"Yeah..." Sirius started pulling at a thread in the blanket. "I mean it makes sense, right? Me and Marlene?" 

 Remus sighed. "I don't know Sirius, do you feel like it makes sense? You like her, don't you?" He smacked Sirius' hand. "Stop that, you'll unravel the whole bloody thing." 

Sirius groaned and flopped onto his back. "Yeah, I like her. Better than any other bird, I suppose. And I kissed her that one time and that was alright."

 Remus watched him. He wasn't sure what Sirius wanted him to say. Was he looking for approval? Was he looking for someone to tell him it was a stupid idea and that girls still had cooties or something? "Why are you here, Sirius?" 

"What do you mean?" 

 "I mean, why are you in my bed at four in the morning asking me whether or not you should date Marlene McKinnon?" There was the slightest bite to Remus' voice. He didn't know where it came from or why he couldn't stop it. 

Sirius made a strange noise in his throat. "I...I don't know...we've always come to each other at night to talk..." he frowned. "Are you mad at me, Moony?" 

 Yes. Remus wanted to say, even though he didn't fully understand why he would have any reason to be. But he sighed and shook his head. "No, Sirius. Of course not..." He paused. "I just...I think we're getting a little old to be crawling into each other's beds at night. Don't you think?" 

Sirius didn't say anything, but he also didn't move. 

Remus bit his lip. "I'm just saying...we're fourteen. We're ending our third year...you've got a girlfriend." The word seemed weird to say. "Shouldn't we be sleeping in our own beds?" 

 After a long, agonizing moment, Sirius sat up. "Yeah." He said quietly. "You're probably right." He stood. "Goodnight, Remus." 

Chapter Text

If Sirius was completely honest with himself, he had never really given the idea of dating much thought. He could appreciate when James would point out a good looking girl in a magazine, or when Peter would talk about the cute Hufflepuff, Emmeline something or other, but he really didn't have any urge to go ahead and do anything about it.

Marlene was his friend. Or at least more so than any of the other girls in school. They had the same taste in music and style and she didn't look at him like he ought to grow up whenever he and James made an inappropriate joke or played an innocent prank on Snape. And besides, they had kissed already and it had been...decent, hadn't it?
He wondered if perhaps kissing was like drinking firewhiskey. Strange at first and sort of gross, but maybe it would start to feel good if he just kept doing it. An acquired taste.

It wasn't that he didn't find it fun, mind. Sneaking around the back of the greenhouses for a snog gave him a similar thrill to being out past curfew, under the cloak with his mates as they placed dungbombs under the Slytherin's table in the Great Hall or searched for secret passages to add to the map. And he supposed it was pretty cool, as far as bragging rights went, when Marlene let him put his hand up her skirt in the broom closet.
He just wished her lips gloss wasn't so sticky.

Also, being someone's boyfriend seemed to take up a lot of his free time. Time he usually spent helping the others with the map or, more importantly, researching and practicing the spells he, James and Peter needed to master to become animagi.

And then there was was that night with Remus. Sirius couldn't help but feel that his friend was angry with him about something. The following morning Remus had apologized, blaming exhaustion and alcohol for his poor reaction to the news and congratulating Sirius once again on asking Marlene out. Sirius accepted it, but it still didn't feel right and Remus seemed distant for the next few days.

Sirius couldn't put too much thought into whatever was wrong with Remus, though. Finals were next week and Sirius, James and Peter were trying to get as much studying for animagi as possible while Remus was distracted with exams.

Sirius was heading back to the Gryffindor tower after a rather heavy make out session with Marlene when he overheard two familiar and cringeworthy voices.

"He's so weird. There's something up with that kid. He fell asleep in the library again..."

"I've heard he's ill. Potter and Black probably just hang around him out of pity. We should hex him while he's not being protected by those two-"

Sirius cleared his throat loudly as he rounded the corner, eyes narrowing on Snape and Avery who quickly drew their wands.

"You were saying, gentlemen?" Sirius asked briskly, hand secured on the wand in his back pocket.

"None of your business, Black." Spat Snape, eyeing the other boy with complete disdain.

Sirius chuckled darkly and took another step forward. "That's where you're wrong, Snivellus. You were talking about my friend. That makes it very much my business."

Avery looked Sirius up and down and smirked. "What are you going to do about it, Black? You're alone out here. You don't have Potter to back you up."

"I don't need back up to do what I will do to you if you don't leave Remus alone." Threatened Sirius, his hands clenching tightly into fists. He was about to pull his wand when he heard footsteps coming down the hall and the distinct meow of Filch's cat. Avery gave Sirius one last dirty look before turning around.

"Let's go Sev. He's not worth it." He muttered. Snape nodded and went to follow but Sirius grabbed him by the back of the robes.

"I mean it." He said, keeping his voice low. "You leave him alone, and you mind your own business, or you'll regret it."

Severus glared "Is that a threat Black?"

Sirius smirked. "It's a promise." And he released the other boy, turned on his heel and headed in the direction of the library.

Madame Pince gave him her usual warning look as he entered and he flashed his most charming smile. "Not to worry, I'm not here to cause any trouble today." He leaned on his elbows on the librarian's desk. "By any chance, have you seen-"

Pince's face softened slightly and she pointed towards the back. "He's that way. Last table on the left. The usual spot."

"Cheers, Irma."

She raised an eyebrow at him and he coughed. "Sorry. Madame Pince." And he headed down the long row of dusty old books until...Ah, there he was.

Practically drooling all over his arithmancy notes, Remus was indeed fast asleep. Sirius smirked and perched himself on the corner on the table. He watched his friend for a moment. It seemed almost a shame to wake him, he looked ridiculously peaceful considering what an uncomfortable position he must be in. His hair, always lighter in the warmer months, was falling into his face and his lips were parted slightly. His lips looked really soft, Sirius noticed, immediately feeling odd about that thought. Perhaps it was because he wasn't use to looking at lips that weren't slathered with sweet, sticky goop anymore. Girls, he decided, were very strange.

Smiling to himself he started humming that ridiculous song from one of Evans' records.

"In the forest, the forbidden forest the werewolf sleeps tonight..."

Amber eyes, still slightly yellow around the edges from the previous night's full moon, snapped open. "Bugger off, Sirius..." Remus grumbled, shoving the other boy off the table. "Those aren't the words."

Sirius laughed. "I like mine better. Though I suppose you're asleep in the library, not the forest. But that wouldn't fit..." He watched as Remus yawned and stretched. "Come on, Moony. Study time is over for you, mate."

Remus sighed and rubbed at his bleary eyes. "I can't. I'm so not ready for-"

"You're exhausted, mate." Said Sirius, his tone soft and concerned. "You know all of this. You're smart, you've done all your work for the year plus some of mine," he chuckled. "What you need is rest."

"Easy for you to say." Remus muttered, packing up his books and drying the drool off his notes with his wand. "You and James never have to study."

Sirius shrugged "pureblood gift I suppose. Growing up surrounded by it all...I guess it comes rather natural." He helped straighten up Remus' papers. "Seriously though, if you didn't have...everything else going on...you'd probably best both of us."

The werewolf smiled tiredly. "Thanks, Sirius." Then his head tilted and he laughed a little "Er..you've got..."

Sirius frowned. "What?"

Remus laughed harder and pointed to his neck. "Guess you and McKinnon are getting on well, eh?"

"What are you-?"

"You've got a massive hickey, Sirius!"

He felt his face heat up a little and his hand want to the spot on his neck that Remus had pointed to. He huffed. "You're just jealous."

Remus' laughter died and he went a little pink. "What?"

Sirius gave him a smug look. "You're jealous that I'm getting action and you're not." He shrugged. "It's alright. You'll get your turn, mate. Probably long before James at least. Poor bugger..."

Remus just shook his head and picked his bag up with some difficulty. Sirius frowned.

"Hey, let me..." He reached forward, hand landing on Remus' shoulder. The lighter haired boy hesitated for a second before slipping the bag off his shoulder and handing it over.

"Thanks, Sirius." He rubbed at his shoulder a little as they headed out of the library.

"You hurt it last night?" Asked Sirius, full of worry.

"Dislocated." Remus nodded, then when he saw Sirius' eyes go wide, quickly added. "It happens all the time. Usually when I'm changing back and all of my bones are shifting and-"

Sirius stared at him. Remus had never gone into detail about his transformations before. He knew it was painful, he had read about it enough when they were looking for information. But hearing his friend talk about it made his stomach churn.

Remus' voice trailed off and he blushed and looked away. "Sorry...you probably don't want to hear about all that."

Sirius shook his head. "No, it's just...it sounds awful. I'm just really sorry you have to go through it. You don't deserve that, Remus."

"Well," Remus forced a smile. "It is better these days, at least knowing that when I wake up, you lot will be there."

-


"There's no way she'll go for it." Sirius said for the tenth time as his best friend shoved a quill and parchment at him.

"How do you know unless you ask? We've got work to do, mate. We can't go the whole summer without doing anything or we'll never nail this." James insisted.

Sirius sighed. He knew James was right, but he also knew that writing to his mother for permission to spend a few weeks of the summer at the Potters' probably wasn't going to get him anywhere.

"You won't know unless you give it a shot," said Peter. "If she says no, we'll figure something out. But at least ask."

Sirius bit his lip. "It's really not as easy as all of that with my family..." But he started writing anyway. At least if he wrote to her beforehand and put the idea into her head, he wouldn't have to spring it on her in person and wait for the blow out that would follow.

"I'll break you out myself if I have to." Said James, leaning against Sirius' bedpost. Sirius snorted. He could only imagine that. James Potter flying his prized Cometstrike7 to Grimmuald Place and rescuing Sirius like he was a damsel in distress.

"Yeah. Sure you will, Potter." He shook his head, folding up his letter and stuffing it into the envelope. "My knight in shining armor, you are." He hopped off his bed, stepping over the pile of books and laundry he had yet to pack away in his trunk for tomorrow's ride home, and headed out of the dorm.

Remus was coming through the portrait just as he hit the bottom of the stairs. He smiled.

"Hey. Where you off to?"

Sirius held up the letter. "Owlrey." He stuffed it back into his pocket. "Want to come for a walk?"

Remus shrugged in a 'why not' sort of matter and followed Sirius out.

"Mind if I ask who you're writing to on the last night of school?" Asked Remus in a conversational type way.

Sirius groaned. "James wants me to ask my mum if I can spend a few weeks at his over the holiday. I figured I have more of a shot giving her a heads up and time to think on it rather than just coming right out and asking..."

Remus hummed thoughtfully. "James is a pureblood though. Still not acceptable company for the precious heir, eh?"

"The Potters, in my family's opinion, are just as bad as The Weasleys." He shook his head. "'Muggle Lovers', 'Blood Traitors'...you know. All that."

Remus nodded along. "I see...so-"

"Sirius!" Marlene came running towards them and Sirius couldn't help feeling just slightly disappointed. "Hey Remus."

"Hello Marlene." Said Remus politely.

Marlene smiled prettily, lips shining. "Where're you headed, love?"

Sirius gritted his teeth for a moment before smiling back. "Er...going to send some mail, that's all. I'll be back up in a bit."

"Oh." She looked slightly disappointed for a split second, then smiled coyly. "I was actually going to see if you wanted to find a place to..." Her blue eyes landed on Remus for a moment.

Remus cleared his throat. "Er, you know what...I actually have to finish packing. So...Sirius, why don't you bring Marlene down to the Owlrey, yeah?"

Sirius blinked, slightly confused before it all added up in his head. "O-oh! Er...yeah. Great. Thanks Re...I'll just..."

"I'll see you later." Remus finished for him. "Good night, Marls."

"Night Remus!" She called after him. "Thanks!"

 

Chapter Text

Sirius,

Are you alright, mate? I haven't heard from you in weeks. I'm starting to get a little worried. I guess your mum didn't take it will when you asked to stay with me for the summer. Mum and dad said they would come and get you if they needed to...try to get back to me, eh?

Best,

James 

-

Sirius,

Is everything alright? James is sort of freaking out that you haven't answered him. I think he might actually show up on your doorstep of you don't write to him soon. To tell the truth, I may even beat him to it. I hope you're alright. I hope these letters don't get you in trouble or anything...

Hope to hear from you.

Remus

-

 

J,

Think your parents can bring you to Diagon Ally next Saturday?

S.

-

Sirius,

Yeah mate. Definitely.

James

 

-

 

Remus,

I've got a response from him. He asked me to meet him at Diagon Ally on Saturday but that's all he said. But hey, at least we know he's alive, right? I'll keep in touch. Don't stress yourself out so close to the moon. You've got enough on your plate without worrying about Sirius.

Cheers,

James

 

 

-

Sirius always hated going into Borgin and Burkes with his father.

The shop gave him the creeps and Mr Borgin's beady black eyes made his skin crawl. He felt like the man could see straight into his mind or something. He and Regulus always stood unusually close to each other and tried not to move around much when their parents dragged them into the store for whatever unknown reason they had to be there.

"Fuck," Regulus breathed as he looked into one of the glass cases towards the front of the floor. "Sirius, look at this."

 Sirius grimaced. "I'd rather not. Stay away from there, you never know what's cursed in this place, Reg."

The younger brother rolled his eyes. "It's behind glass, Sirius. Honestly, I thought Gryffindors were meant to be brave."

 "Yeah. Brave, not gullible." Sirius muttered, letting his eyes wander. He hadn't been there since he was a little kid, but the place was just as spine tingling as it had been back then. He was about to excuse himself to wait outside, regardless of the lecture his parents would undoubtedly give him later about being rude, when a sign suddenly caught his eye that read 'Apothecary'. He glanced over at the backs of his parents who were talking in hushed tones to Mr. Borgin and casually strolled over to the small section of the store that held rare and potentially dangerous potions ingredients. His eyes went wide.

 Jackpot.

 A tight hand on his shoulder broke him from his excitement. 

 "Come along, Sirius." Said his mother. She was giving him a suspicious look, as if she knew he was plotting to assist a half blood werewolf with the products he had suddenly become so interested in, and lead him out of the store. 

 Once they were out in the narrow street of Knockturn Ally, Sirius cleared his throat.

 "Er, Mother? I actually need some things from Diagon Ally for my homework...since we're here." He held his breath, silently begging whatever deity may be that his excuse was believable enough.

 Regulus frowned and eyed him questioningly as his parents took a moment of consideration.

 "Alright, Sirius." Orion conceded, though slightly skeptical and Sirius had focused all of his energy on holding back the sigh of relief that desperately wanted to escape him. 

 As they crossed to Diagon Ally and the streets opened up, Sirius walked a little faster and scanned the crowd. 

 Where are you, Potter...

 What is it you need, Sirius?" Asked Walburga impatiently as her son seemed to jet past every shop in the ally.

 "Er...the lens on my telescope's cracked. I just need to-" 

 "Sirius!" 

 This time he couldn't control it and he felt his entire body slump for a second, the stress alleviating from him, as his best friend came bounding toward him, enveloping him in a bear hug so tight he heard his joints crack.

 "Alright, mate?" James muttered quietly before letting him go, eyes scanning him briefly to check for any signs of something being terribly wrong.

 "Yeah, fine." He could see James' parents heading towards them and he knew his own were watching the whole scene with absolute disapproval and disdain. 

 "Hello Sirius, dear." Mrs. Potter smiled warmly at him. Her brightly colored robes were such a contrast to the dreary practical ones his own family wore. He had met James' parents a few times at Kings Cross and when they had come to a few of their son's Quidditch games. They were always very kind and welcoming to him, never once giving him the initially weary once over that most other wizards gave him when they heard the name Black.  "Orion, Walburga," she said, meeting the stare of the other woman. "How nice to see you. We were so disappointed when we didn't get a response from Sirius about spending the holiday with us." There was something in her tone that Sirius couldn't quite place, but it was fiercely challenging. He risked a look over his shoulder at his parents, both of whom seemed offended at the mere sight of the Potters, even though they were one of the most highly respected pureblood families in Great Britain. Sirius felt an abrupt rush of embarrassment. 

 "Euphemia. Fleamont." Said Walburga curtly. "Funny, I don't recall receiving the invitation." 

 Sirius wished he was old enough to apparate so he could disappear from the very spot. He averted his eyes from James'.

 "Oh," James' mother kept a bubbly air of polite conversation, though Sirius could tell she was doing it to purposely irritate Walburga. "Well, it must have been lost then. You know how flighty Owl Post can be." 

 "Yes." Said Walburga, barely moving her lips. "Flighty." 

Sirius was frozen in absolute terror, but his eyes locked on Regulus' for just a second before the younger boy intentionally dropped his gaze. 

 "So then," Mr. Potter said briskly, placing a hand on both James and Sirius' shoulder. "Since we happened to bump into you, what do you say? Think we could steal Sirius away for a few weeks?" 

 Bravely, Sirius risked a glance at his parents, both of whom stood rigid as statues with near expressionless face. At long last, Orion gave a short nod. "Yes. Of course." He said at last, though when his piercing grey eyes landed on his son, Sirius felt as though his insides had turned to ice. 

 "Excellent." Euphemia chirped with a flash of an overly cheerful smile. "We'll just send for his things then."

 "Right then," Fleamont Potter's hand on Sirius' shoulder squeezed gently. "Sirius, say goodbye to your parents and we'll be going." 

 Sirius bit back a groan of absolute dread and stepped forward. He kissed his mother's cheek, gave his father a brief nod and muttered a thank you to both of them. He turned to Regulus. 

 "Reg, I-"

 "See you at school." Regulus muttered, eyes firmly planted on the ground, and he and their parents left. 

 Sirius felt his heart lurch in his chest as the weight of Regulus' words sank in. Then James' arm was over his shoulder.

 "Hey," He urged. "You okay?" 

 Sirius nodded and looked back to The Potters. 

 "I'm sorry." He said quietly. His voice sounded small and foreign to him. "I did write them and ask. They knew about it, they just-"

 Mrs. Potter shook her head. "No need to explain, love. Now, why don't you boys run and get some ice cream. You can meet us by The Leaky Cauldron in an hour, alright?" 

 James took Sirius by the arm and lead him away. Neither of them said anything as the walked through the crowd, but once they were far enough away from James' parents, Sirius stopped and pulled his friend aside. 

 "I'm sorry I didn't write. They've been watching my every bloody move." He ran a hand through his shoulder length hair and pulled slightly. "I don't know what the hell they thought I'd be up to but the idea of me spending the hols with your family just drove them to think I was going to start a revolt against them or something. I don't-" 

 James grabbed him by the shoulders. "Mate, it's fine. I figured it was something like that, you just had me worried. You are alright, aren't you? They didn't-"

 "No!" Sirius insisted, almost too quickly. He sighed. "No. Just some mild house arrest type of treatment. May as well have shipped me off to Azkaban, though honestly I think I'd have had a better chance of escaping there on my own." 

 James smirked, looking relieved that Sirius had found his sense of humor again. 

 "Anyway when they started talking about needing to go to Knockturn, I figured that was my best chance to meet up with you." Sirius explained. 

 James' smirk faded and he quirked an eyebrow. "What would they need in Knockturn?"

 Sirius shrugged dismissively. "Bugger if I know. They're always in and out of Borgin-" His eyes went wide as he suddenly remembered. "Borgin and Burkes! James! I've found the ingredients we need!"

 James looked confused and his head fell slightly to the side. "Wha-"

  "What we need for the potion part of becoming Animagi, you prat!" Sirius' excitement had completely replaced the awful feelings of anxiety that had been plaguing him since he first returned home for the summer.  "Remember, it was a bunch of that stupid rare stuff we couldn't find in Slughorn's stores? I bloody found it at Borgin and Burke's!" 

 "Great," James forced out, giving him a strained look.

 Sirius slumped. "Look, I don't want to go back in there either. But I don't know when or where we'll find-" 

 "Whoa," James put his hands up defensively. "I never disagreed. Obviously we have no choice, we need those ingredients. But fuck if I'm going to go skipping down Knockturn ally in a fit of girlish joy over it."

 Sirius threw on a pout. "You won't skip with me, Jamie? I'm wounded, really."

  James snickered and smacked him lightly in the head. "Git. Let's get this over with. Remus better appreciate what we're going through for him."

 "Once he's done lecturing us on how irresponsible and insane we all are, I'm sure he'll be positively smitten. Let's go."

 -

  "Blimey this place is spooky," James all but whispered as they entered the shop. 

 "I know," Sirius said, once again suppressing the involuntary shudder that seemed to come over him every time he came in. They walked like they were glued together at the arm, carefully avoiding the ghastly objects that seemed to radiate pure darkness. It reminded Sirius of when he and Regulus were kids and both afraid, instead of this new Regulus that seemed more intrigued. He lead James to the Apothecary.

 "What was it we needed?" He asked quietly, gazing at the different jars and vials.

 "Er," James thought for a moment, also looking over everything in front of them. He pointed. "There. Fermented Acromantula Eyes."

 Sirius grabbed an empty vial and measured the correct amount. Both boys made a disgusted face at the long stream of slime that didn't seem to want to break off. 

 "That's gross." James shuddered. "Bleh." 

 "We need to ingest this shite, mate." Sirius grimaced. 

 "...Ugh, Remus is doing my Ancient Runes homework for a bloody year after this."

 "Same." Sirius agreed solemnly. "What's next?" 

 "Powdered dragon scales." 

 A dark shadow loomed over them and an oily voice interrupted. 

 "Can I help you, gentlemen?" 

 They both slowly turned to face Mr. Borgin, who's face went from a suspicious scowl to a dark grin as his beady eyes landed on Sirius. 

 "Ah, young Master Black." The old man drawled. "How very unexpected to see you back..." 

 It took a second for Sirius to compose himself, but he swallowed and straightened his posture to that more suitable of someone being called 'young master'. 

 "Yes," He cleared his throat. "I...I needed some ingredients." He explained lamely. 

 The man's grin widened. "I see. And what is it you're brewing, Master Black?"

 Sirius' face fell, but he kept his stance. "I hardly think that's anyone's business but my own, Mr. Borgin." 

 Borgin actually seemed impressed for a moment as he considered the young men in front of him. "Of course, Sir." His eyes went to James, who did his best not to shrink down under the haunting gaze. "Right then, gentlemen. If you have any questions, just ask." The old man left them and they both let out a long breath, sharing a relived look between them before gathering the rest of what they needed. They paid for their stash with as little conversation with Borgin as possible and hightailed it out of the shop.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The tap tap tap on the window made Lily look up from her homework. Lying flat on her stomach across her bed, she did her best to give her older sister a smile.

"Petunia, could you open the window for Titania, please?"

Petunia peered over the top of her magazine with what Lily had started to believe was a now permanent scowl. "No." She spat venomously. "That ruddy thing is probably full of diseases, you know."

Lily took a deep breath and set down her quill. She slid off her bed and crossed to the window to allow the copper colored barn owl inside. The bird hooted happily, landing on the redhead's arm and nuzzling it's soft, feathered head against hers. "She is not," she sighed, kissing Titania on the beak and taking the letter that was tied to her leg. "Are you, Tani? No of course not." She cooed.

"Bleh," Petunia pulled a face at the display. "Can't you have a normal pet, Lily?"

"Tani is perfectly normal, thank you very much." Lily defended, being careful to keep her voice level and not show her sister just how much it hurt to have every aspect of her life criticized. She carefully set Titania in her cage to eat and sat back on her bed to read the letter. She smiled to herself.

"It's from that boy again, isn't it?" Petunia asked with a sneer. "That freaky boy you're always with. The one from the park..."

Another deep calming breath and Lily nodded shortly. "It's from Severus, yes."

Petunia shook her head in disapproval. "He's the absolute worst part about your whole...creepy life." She shuddered. "He gives me chills. There's something not on about him, Lily. Even for your lot-"

"Petunia," Lily snapped at last, spinning to face her sister. "Enough. Severus is a good friend of mine. The first friend I had at school! The only person who understood me when yo-" she held her tongue. "Forget it."

Petunia had finally put down her magazine, having finally gotten a rise out of her sister. "What? When I what, Lily? Go ahead, what on earth did I do to you? I'm not the one who gave you freaky powers and made you different than the rest of your friends and family at home! I'm not the one who sent you off to some boarding school in another country so you could just learn to be even more strange-"

"I AM NOT STRANGE!" Shouted Lily as the anger finally surged through her. There was a loud crash as the vase on the windowsill that held a handful of wildflowers suddenly smashed without having being touched. Lily gasped, color draining from her face and Titania screeched in her cage from the scare.

Petunia looked smug. "Freak."

-

"It's bloody hot out here," Sirius groaned, lying out in the grass in the Potter's large property. He was shirtless and they had already gone for a dip in the lake an he still felt like he wanted to rip his skin off. He sat up and tied his damp hair up with the elastic around his wrist.

"Can't we do this inside?" Asked Peter. The pudgy boy was sweating and feeling highly uncomfortable.

James sighed. "You know we can't. My parents might find it and then we'd be screwed." He was hotter than either of the other boys since he was the one currently leaning over the boiling cauldron.

"Could have at least found a place in the shade." Grumbled Sirius. The Potter's estate was so large that there were acres of heavily wooded areas. But they needed a place to hide the potion as well so that no one found it and no animals got to it. The abandoned shed in the yard was perfect, but the boys were relatively sure the sun permanently hung directly over that area to taunt them.

"Look, we're almost done with it for the day and then we can swim again or go inside or something." James wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. "Pete, could you stir for a bit? Sirius and I both had a go already."

The smaller boy groaned and lifted himself into a sitting position. "I can hardly move, mate. It must be clear over a hundred degrees out here."

Sirius snorted. "You can't move because of all those extra crepes you ate for breakfast, lardass."

"Don't call me names!"

"Or what?" Sirius laughed. "You'll sit on me?" He stood and walked to his friend, offering his hand and pulling him up with just a little difficulty.

"You're a prick, Black." Peter said breathlessly. Sirius clapped him on the back, then wiped the sweat from his hand on his shorts.

"That I am, Pete. Family trait, I'm afraid. Now go on and get stirring. Give James a break. Counter clockwise for ten, clockwise for twenty." He reminded him.

"I know, I know." Peter sighed, taking the handle from James.

James sucked his teeth for a second. "Yeah, you say you know but then the bloody cauldron overflows and we need to start all over. We haven't got enough ingredients or time for another screw up, mate. Just...be careful." He smiled reassuringly at him.

Peter began to stir, quietly counting under his breath. James sat cross legged beside Sirius and they both kept an eye on Peter.

"So have you written back to McKinnon at all?"

Sirius sighed and picked at the grass.

"Sirius, you've got to at least answer the girl's letters." James laughed. "She's your girlfriend."

"I know she's my girlfriend." Said Sirius, mildly annoyed. He just didn't really know what to say to her and he didn't find what she had to say very interesting. She was on holiday with her parents in Australia, which was cool he supposed, but he couldn't exactly tell her what he was up to.

James hummed thoughtfully. "Truth or dare, Sirius."

The other boy snorted. "You serious?"

"No, you're Sirius." The pun was already old and dead, but they all still used it. "Truth or dare?"

Sirius blew his fringe from his eyes. "I'm too bloody hot to move for a dare." He said honestly. "Truth I suppose."

James smirked, he had been counting on that. "Do you actually like Marlene like that, or are you just going along with it because you feel like you ought to?"

"What? Of course I like her. I snogged her all the time last year, didn't I?"

"Alright, alright, you don't need to be so defensive about it." James said lightly. "You just don't seem to be holding interest, that's all."

Sirius shrugged, still carefully watching Peter stir and count. "Out of sight, out of mind?"

James nodded. "If you say so."

"Er...is it meant to change colors like this?" Peter asked nervously. James swore under his breath and jumped up to assist him.

-

"I don't see why you're still letting her get to you, Lily." Said Severus, watching the girl slump over miserably on the swing set.

"She's my sister, Sev." Lily sighed, drawing her bottom lip between her teeth and blinking tears away from her bright green eyes. "You wouldn't understand. You haven't got siblings."

Severus shrugged and leaned against the metal pole of the structure. "Who cares? Blood is meaningless. You make your own family in this life. Especially when you're clearly superior to-"

"Don't say things like that." Lily said sternly.

"But it's true." Severus argued. "You are superior. You've got magic and she's just a muggle. Ordinary. Boring."

Lily frowned at him. "My parents are muggles, same as her. My whole family. I wish you wouldn't speak so ill of people without magic, Severus." She folded her arms. She had to wonder sometimes what he would think of her had they met under different circumstances. Had she not been born a witch instead of a muggle like the rest of her family. Would he still have wanted to be her friend? Even if everything else about her stayed exactly the same...was magic the only reason he thought she was worth anything?

Severus looked down, honestly feeling just a little ashamed for upsetting Lily further. "I'm sorry. You're right, Lily. I just...I was trying to make you feel better."

Lily nodded. "I know, Severus. It's alright." She smiled at him. "Thank you. And thanks for coming to meet me here."

He smiled back. "Always."

-

"This literally looks like someone barfed, then ate it and barfed again." Sirius said flatly, staring at the slimy greenish brown substance in his glass.

Peter actually gagged a little. "Why did you have to put that idea in my head, Sirius? I'll never be able to get this down now that you've said it."

"Well you haven't got a choice, mate." James sighed, swirling his glass and notching how little the thick concoction moved. "No backing out now. We've been busting out arses over this for weeks. We've wasted the whole summer."

The three of them looked up at each other, all wearing similar expressions of disgust. They were hesitating.

"...I mean...it's worth it, right?" Peter said shakily. "For Remus?"

The other two nodded solemnly. "For Remus."

None of them moved to drink, all waiting for each other to make the first move.

"Some brave Gryffindors we are." Peter grumbled. The others silently agreed. This was silly. They should just suck it up and knock it back and it would be over in minutes.

Sirius cleared his throat. "Er...perhaps we should get some juice or something to wash it down?"

James shook his head. "We can't. We can't have anything after for two hours."

They all fell silent again.

"Hey," Peter said finally, smiling just a little. "Bet I can drink mine faster than you two gits, eh?"

All three of them laughed. James and Sirius exchanged a clear look of accepting the challenge.

"One..."

"Two..."

"Three!"

It turned out, Peter really could drink it faster than either of them. And yes, it did taste like vomit.

 

Chapter Text

He felt hot all over...

Almost like that feeling he had when he was eight and he caught dragon pox, but more pleasant. There were soft, warm lips on his neck making his skin tingle and the hair on his arms stand on end. He moaned as those lips found his own and let his hands wander over narrow hips. Teeth caught his bottom lip and he gasped, allowing a sweet tasting, slick tongue enter his mouth. He could taste tea and honey and chocolate. Then lips were gone and he felt more empty than he had in his entire life. Until he saw them...those bright, inhuman amber eyes...

Sirius Black woke up with a start, panting heavily and covered in sweat. 

"Fuck." 

-

 

He had been having these strange dreams for weeks now, and he had been trying to deny what they were. He decidedly chalked it up to the potion doing strange things to his mind. That must be it. The typical hormones of a fourteen year old boy, mixed with an intense potion that was meant to cause extreme changes to the human body and mind, plus all the focus on Remus to motivate himself for said potion...

That was normal, right? 

"Have either of you been having weird dreams since we took that potion?" Sirius asked quietly as they followed Mr. and Mrs. Potter through Kings Cross to the platform. 

 James and Peter glanced at each other and then back at Sirius. "No." 

"Why? What kind of weird dreams are you having?" James asked, adjusting his glasses. Sirius was never so happy to see the barrier between platforms 9 and 10 before, and he took the opportunity to run ahead of his friends and cross through to 9 3/4.

It didn't give him much time to think of an answer, as James and Peter appeared behind him within seconds. They said their goodbyes to James' parents and walked towards the train.

 "So," James grinned and nudged Sirius with his elbow. "Are they good dreams? Cause I've got to tell you, Sirius. That's not the potion. That's puberty, mate." He wagged his eyebrows and Peter laughed.

Sirius scowled at them. "Would you stop? Forget I mentioned anything." 

 "Oh so they are that kind of dream then!" 

"I mean it, Potter." Sirius growled. 

 "Were they about McKinnon?" Peter asked eagerly. "You've got to tell us, Sirius. That's what friends are for."

Sirius huffed. "You two are literally the worst, you know that? Honestly, don't you have your own bloody fantasies to think about without having to mooch off of mine? And what d'you-" He frowned. Both other boys' eyes had gone wide and their jaws had dropped. "What are you gawking at?"

"Remus!"

 Sirius felt his heart stop. Did they know? Had he somehow given it away? "W-what about Remus?"

There was a low chuckle behind him and a familiar, yet different voice said. "I'm behind you, you prat."

 Sirius spun around and came face to....chest with Remus Lupin.

His own mouth fell open and he had to actually tilt his head to meet Remus' eyes. He took a step back. The other boy was just over a head taller than him now, his jawline had gotten stronger and he looked like he had spent a decent amount of time in the sun this summer, giving him a much healthier glow than Sirius was use to seeing on him. It wasn't helping Sirius' current predicament at all.

Remus was snickering to him self, undoubtedly amused by his shocked friends. "Er...Hey lads."

 "Aw, ickle moonykins had a growth spurt!" James teased with a grin. "See, Sirius? You're not the only one that's getting beat with the puberty stick."

Remus rolled his eyes at James and gave Sirius a quizzical look. "You alright, Sirius? You're staring."

 Finally shaking himself out of his stunned stupor, Sirius glared at the...very tall and suddenly quite broad werewolf. "What on earth did you do this summer? Were you injected with...with giant's blood or something? What are you...? How did you...?" 

Remus raised an eyebrow "Does my height personally offend you, Sirius?" he smirked. 

"Sirius is just jealous because you got tall and all he's got is wet dreams." Peter grinned, causing James to nearly double over with laughter. 

Sirius' face heated up and embarrassment curled in his stomach. His eyes narrowed the other two boys. "James still sleeps with his stuffed lion at home!"

 James' laughter died immediately, but Peter and Remus roared.

Sirius smirked, crossing him arms in satisfaction. "His name is Gordy and sometimes when James is asleep he sucks on the ear -oof!" The wind was knocked out of him as James sucker punched him in the gut.

 Remus wiped tears from his eyes. "Alright, alright...we're going to miss the train. Let's go." He walked ahead of them and boarded the car. The four of them found their usual compartment and took their seats just in time for the train to start.

"So other than James' bedtime buddy and Sirius'...special dreams..." Remus said coyly. "How was your summer?" 

James and Sirius both scoffed and sunk down in their seats. 

Peter gave Remus a quick runaround of their summer at the Potters', skirting around the details of brewing a dangerous and illegal potion in the back shed of course. Remus told them about his own summer. He had gone for a short trip to the shore with his parents, but he spent most of the holiday helping his elderly neighbor work in her vegetable garden. That would explain the tan, Sirius thought, and the...well...let's just say Remus wasn't quite so scrawny anymore. He watched Remus' lips as he talked and his tongue darted out to wet his own as the dreams from the last few weeks flooded his mind. 

 "Sirius?"

He jumped. "Huh? What?" 

 "I asked if you had heard from Marlene at all over the summer?" Remus asked, frowning slightly. "Are you alright? You look flushed..." 

He nodded. "Oh yeah, I'm brilliant. Just-" 

 "Anything from the trolley, dears?" Smiled the plump witch, pushing the cart of treats.

"Yes!" Sirius said, practically jumping from his seat and plunging his hands into his pocket for some money. Safe.

-

As the train pulled into the station, Sirius felt dread wash over him. Arriving at school meant attending the feast, and attending the feast meant sitting at the Gryffindor table. And Marlene would obviously see him and want to know why he hadn't answered any of her letters over the summer.

"Are you sure you're alright?" Remus asked him for the third time as they climbed into a carriage. "You've seemed out of sorts." 

 Sirius chewed anxiously on his lip. "...I didn't answer Marlene's letters all summer." He admit. 

Remus knitted his brows together. "Why not?" 

 "I've been trying to get him to talk about it all summer, Remus." James said, shaking his head. "I kept telling him this was going to happen. It's not like you can avoid her now that we're back, Sirius." 

"I know, alright!" Snapped Sirius. "I fucked up. I get it." he looked miserably out the window of the carriage. "Maybe I'm just not cut out to be someone's boyfriend."

 "Don't be silly," Said Remus, giving him a reassuring smile. "It was only your first shot. It doesn't mean anything."

He supposed that Remus was right. But it didn't make him feel any better about the whole thing. They hopped out of the carriage at the front of the castle and as luck would have it, there stood Lily, Mary, Dorcas and of course, Marlene. He held his breath, preparing himself for the worst, but the girl just smiled brightly at him. 

 "Hi Sirius." 

Sirius blinked. "Er...Hi Marls. Um...Nice summer?" 

She tucked  a long strand of dirty blonde hair behind her ear and Sirius noticed a flash of silvery metal through the pale flesh there. That was new. "Yeah, it was great. You got my letters?" 

He swallowed and nodded, shifting awkwardly on his feet and rubbing his neck. "Yeah, listen, Marlene...I'm sorry I didn't write back. I just-"

She laughed lightly and shook her head. "It's fine, Sirius. Really. I understand. No hard feelings, I promise." She leaned in and kissed his cheek and felt felt himself relax. "See you at the feast then?" 

Sirius' lip twitched up in a half smile. "Yeah, see you." And he watched and she and the other girls entered the castle. 

Chapter Text

James Potter liked to think of himself as a relatively good judge of character. 

 There was rarely a time that he met someone, and couldn't immediately tell whether or not he would get on well with that person. For example, regardless of the things one hears about the Black family, it had taken him less time than a train ride to school for him to put all of that aside and become friends with Sirius. He and Sirius became so close so quickly, people would have sooner believed they were brothers rather than Sirius and Regulus.   

Similarly, the discovery that Remus Lupin was a werewolf never waved James' opinion of his friend. Remus was still Remus. He was one of the kindest, fairest and hilariously sarcastic people James had ever met. Not to mention he was a bloody genius when it came to pranks and figuring out loopholes in the rules to get away with said pranks. The fact that Remus, by no fault of his own, turned into a bloodthirsty beast once a month did not change any of that, so why should it affect James' friendship with him? 

A lot of people were quick to judge Peter as well. Just because he wasn't as charismatic as Sirius and James or as quick witted and personable as Remus, other students seemed to write the smaller, pudgier boy off. James had taken to Peter nearly as quickly as he took to Sirius, though perhaps not as strongly. Peter was always the first to throw in an idea for a prank, no matter how small or simple it may be, but it often got the ball rolling for the other boys to make something bigger and better out of it. Peter also never minded taking the blame and serving detention, especially if James had a big game, Remus needed rest or Sirius was having a particularly rough time with his family and couldn't afford another letter home. Peter was a good friend, and James never once gave that a second thought. 

 Yes, James Potter could always tell when he was going to really enjoy the presence of another person in his life. 

He could also tell when he was going to really, sincerely and deeply detest someone.

James Potter hated Severus Snape from the moment they had laid eyes on each other, and the feeling was most definitely mutual. 

Of course, James and Sirius (and by extension, Peter and Remus) really tried to be equal opportunists when it came to who was being targeted with their usually harmless, if not a tad humiliating, jokes. Perhaps they did favor the Slytherins just a bit, but who could blame them? It was usually some form of retaliation for something one of Sirius' relatives had said or done or if they had seen or heard about a Slytherin bullying someone else. They liked to think of it as playing the part of karma. 

 But James couldn't deny that he got an extra thrill out of the pranks that singled out Snape, and he couldn't quite pinpoint exactly why. The greasy haired boy just radiated something dark. Sirius had told James about the run in he had had at the end of third year with Severus and Avery, and that hadn't been the first time that Severus' name had been attached to a story of shifty behavior. Plus, he was just simply a bother.

What really confused James though, was why Lily Evans was so determined to defend the slime ball. 

 

-

"James Potter, you are a complete and utter toad's wart!" Lily Evans had barely made it through the portrait hole before she had spotted the boy and his friends. In seconds she had crossed the common room, wand raised and pointed at James who put both hands up in surrender. 

 "Merlin, Evans!" James took a step back, nearly knocking into the table where Remus and Peter had been playing gobstones, though the game had taken a temporary pause as they sat, gaping in shock at the outburst. "The bloody hell did I do to you?" 

"Don't play stupid, Potter." Lily gritted her teeth. "I've just come back from the Hospital wing. You hexed Severus, again! He's covered from head to toe in boils. What is your problem?" 

 Behind her she heard Sirius snort with laughter on the couch where he and Marlene had been discussing weather or not David Bowie's new album was better than his last. Lily turned her wand on Black. "Don't think I don't know you had a part in this as well."

Sirius inched slightly closer to his girlfriend, eyeing Lily with slight apprehension. Lily turned back to James.

"Have you ever considered that maybe we had a reason to hex that git?" James defended angrily. "He and his friends are all part of that weird little Slytherin cult that have been picking on the muggle borns! Which, if you remember correctly, you are! He'd have a go at you as well if he didn't have some creepy little crush on you. So what, Evans? Are you just going to keep defending him until he finally turns on you as well?  

 Lily's glare faltered for a moment, but returned twice as fierce. She did, however, lower her wand. "Severus hasn't done anything to you or anyone else. He's my friend."

James shook his head, regarding the girl with complete disbelief. "You just keep thinking that, Evans. You know his friends are a rotten sort."

 Lily let out a frustrated sigh and stormed off towards the girl's dormitory. 

"Hey Evans!" James called after her. She stopped and looked over her shoulder. James smirked. "You're pretty hot when you're angry." 

 He just narrowly dodged the hex Lily threw at him before she stomped up the stairs and slammed the dormitory door. 

Slowly the rest of the common room went back to their business. 

 "I should probably go and help cool her off." Marlene stood up, looking almost apologetically at James as she excused herself and followed her friend. James took her place on the couch beside Sirius. 

"Completely mental, that one." He said, running a hand through his hair. Sirius didn't look up from the muggle rock magazine he and Marlene had been flipping through, but he nodded, eyes widening slightly in agreement. 

 "You did hex her best friend." Remus commented lightly while playing his turn at his and Peter's game. "What exactly did Severus do to bring this one about?" 

James shrugged, folding his arms and resting against the back of the couch. "I'm sure I'll find a reason." 

 Remus sighed and shook his head, but he didn't deny James' claim either. 

Sirius snickered as he turned the page of his magazine. "So when she said boils all over his body...does she mean like....all over? Like bullocks and all?" 

 James grinned. "Go big or go home. Isn't that you're rule, Sirius?" 

"You're my hero, mate. Really." 

James turned his gaze onto Sirius and watched him for a moment. Sirius didn't seem to notice, too enthralled with whatever he was staring at on the pages of his muggle book. "Hey Sirius, I've been meaning to ask...You and Mckinnon still...y'know...a thing?" 

Remus and Peter glanced up from their game, also curious. It had been weeks since the start of semester, and Marlene had never once expressed concern with the fact that her boyfriend hadn't contacted her once during the summer. It seemed that the pair had simply decided to overlook it, but they also didn't seem as eager to run off to find a place to snog each other as they had been last year. 

 "Hmm?" Sirius muttered distractedly. "Er...yeah. Of course." He finally looked up and met James' eyes. "Why d'you asked?" 

James shook his head. "No reason." 

-

Sirius was trying to look on the bright side. 

Marlene had been all too forgiving about his lack of correspondence. In fact, they never even discussed it.

He had stopped having strange dreams as well, which he supposed was good. But he still didn't feel the way he thought he ought to about his girlfriend.

 Neither of them had initiated much physical contact since their return to school either. They just hung out and talked about music while Marlene tested out different styles of eyeliner on Sirius and tried to convince him that boys could wear nail varnish, which eventually Sirius caved into on the strict rule that he would only allow her to paint them black. 

On occasion this would lead to some kissing and fooling around, but it got more and more sparse as the weeks went on. 

 It was on a brisk afternoon in early October that the two of them were in the stands, watching the Gryffindor Quidditch team practice that Marlene turned to him, heaving a great sigh. 

"I have to talk to you about something." She looked nervous.

 "Marls, I told you already that I don't think any less of you for thinking Jimmy Page is a better guitarist than Brian May. You're entitled to your wrong opinion." He smirked at her. 

 "No, it's not about that." Smiled a little and shook her head. "Although I really think you're completely bonkers for thinking so but- Never mind. That's...that's not what this is about." 

Sirius watched, feeling his stomach tighten anxiously. "Is this about the summer? I know we didn't talk about it, but I-" 

"Sirius, I'm gay." 

Sirius choked. "You're what now?" 

Marlene took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "I met this girl while I was on hols in Australia with my family." She sighed and sat down on the bench behind her. "And one thing lead to another and I just sort of...realized." Her blue eyes looked up at him guiltily. "I should have said something sooner, but I wanted to be sure and...well, do you hate me?" 

Sirius' mouth opened and shut several times, unable to make his voice form any sort of actual words for a moment. Finally he sank down onto the bench beside her. "That's stupid, Marlene." 

"Excuse me?"

 Sirius rolled his eyes at her. "That I would hate you, idiot." He saw her relax. They were both quiet for a while, watching players zoom by on their brooms. "So...Did you like...love her or anything?" He asked. 

She shook her head. "No, it was nothing like that." her hand slid over his as Dorcas flew by, waving shortly at them as she passed. Sirius heard Marlene's breath hitch.

 "Oh." He said quietly.

"Yeah." Marlene breathed out. She rested her head on his shoulder. "I'm not...ready for anyone to know. But I wanted to tell you." 

 He pressed his lips to the top of her head and they watched the rest of the practice in silence, feeling more comfortable around each other than they ever had.

Once it was over, Marlene headed back to the castle and Sirius went down to wait for James by the boy's lockers. He was thinking about what Marlene had said, about just realizing suddenly.

He thought back to the day over the summer that he, James and Peter had sneaked into Mr. Potter's study and stolen a dirty magazine. James and Peter had both been in complete awe. Sirius had commented the way he figured he should; That witch's breasts, the other one's arse, and silly innuendos about his 'wand'...but he honestly could not have cared less.

 He thought of all the times he had kissed Marlene.

And how different it had felt when he had kissed Remus during Truth or Dare.

He thought about those dreams.

He thought he should probably stop thinking. 

Admitting he may be gay was one thing, but he wasn't quite sure he could handle the idea that he may be crushing on one of his closest friends. 

After all, Remus was the only boy he had ever kissed, even if it was only a dare.

So it was probably just an automatic default to think of him...

Right? 

Chapter Text

 

Sirius stumbled into the dorm room looking like a completely disheveled mess. His shirt was unbuttoned, his tie was slack and his hair was down had clearly had someone's hands mussing it up.

 "Sorry," He muttered breathlessly, throwing his school robe onto his bed. "I know I'm late."James was lying on his bed reading a page out of Masters of Morphing one last time.

"That's alright, Pete's still not back yet anyway and Remus just left for the shack so..." Hazel eyes glanced upwards and he smirked at Sirius. "Looks like you've been up to no good." He studied his best friend for a moment. Sirius was throwing his hair up into a messy bun, his eyeliner was smudged under eyes and he had a ridiculous grin on his face. "You and Marlene back at it again?" 

 Sirius paused. "Er...no, actually. We broke up." 

James frowned at him "when? You never said?"

 Sirius began to chew his bottom lip. "Um...few weeks ago. When we came to watch you and Dorcas at practice."

 James nodded encouragingly for Sirius to continue. "So then who were you off messing around with, then?" He eyed him suspiciously. He chose his next words carefully. "Do I know them?" 

 Sirius took off his school shirt and grabbed the Queen t shirt that Remus had bought him for his birthday the week before. "You know James, you'd be a lot less interested in my love life if you would maybe consider involving yourself in your own." He pulled the shirt over his head.

 James shrugged and went back to his reading. "You just look like you actually had a good time, that's all." 

 Sirius frowned, cocking his head. "What do you mean?" 

 "I mean that whenever you and Marlene would run off to snog or whatever, you'd come back looking sort of panicked and head right into the showers. Right now you look pretty pleased with yourself...or whoever's been pleasing you." James chuckled without looking up from his book. 

 Sirius stared at James for a long time then. He wondered when the next moment he would have alone with him would be. He put his jeans on one leg at a time, giving himself a second to consider his next move. 

Maybe it was best to tell James what he had figured out. Maybe James had some better insight to why he seemed to be pining after - 

No. He wasn't going to take it that far.

 "Hey James..."

 "Hmm? I'm trying to read through this one last time before we give it a go, Sirius..." 

 Sirius sat down next to his best friend on the bed. He took a deep breath. He might as well just get straight to the point. "James. I'm gay." That certainly felt strange to say out loud, Sirius realized. But it also felt right to say it. James glanced up, gave his friend a once over and shrugged before looking back at the book.

 "I know." He said simply, with the hint of a smirk. 

 Sirius leaned away, shocked. "What d'you mean 'you know'?" He glared at the other boy.

 James sighed, finally closing the book and sat up. "Sirius, you are my best mate." He said seriously. "There's not much I don't notice about you. You hated kissing Marlene, you obsess over your photos of Bowie, and you were more interested in my Quidditch posters than the dirty pictures we found in dad's study." He patted Sirius' leg. "I know you're gay. I've been trying to get you to come on out and say it since summer."

 Sirius frowned. "And it doesn't bother you at all?"

 James rolled his eyes. "Of course not, mate. I mean, you haven't got some sort of crush on me, right?"

 Sirius snorted. "I'm gay, that doesn't mean my standards have dropped."

 "Dodgy standards aside," James chuckled.  "I love you Sirius. You're my brother. I just want you to be happy." 

  "Thanks, mate." Sirius said with an air of extreme relief. "Er...no one else...?"

 "Nah," James shook his head. "I mean, not that I know of. Except whoever you've been off snogging."  

 Sirius felt his cheeks heat up just a little and he rubbed the back of his neck. "Gideon Prewitt." 

 "Really?" James looked surprised. Gideon and his twin brother Fabian were James' fellow chasers on the Quidditch team. They were both very friendly, good looking sixth year boys. "Well...that's not what I expected...He your boyfriend, then?" 

 "What? No!" Sirius said quickly, eyes going wide. "No way...He just...I bumped into him in the corridor one day and I knew he had dated that Ravenclaw bloke for a bit last year so I thought I'd ask him for some advice about...things..." He realized how awkward he probably sounded. "Anyway, he...er...he's been very helpful." 

 James snickered "I can see that." 

 At that moment, the door opened and Peter ran in "Sorry! The bloody staircase moved and I needed to take a detour. But I've got good news." He grinned.

 "What's up, Pete?" Asked James, Putting away his book. 

 "I've got the leaves." Peter said proudly, holding out his hand and presenting the other boys with three snipped mandrake leaves. "And I've found us a place to practice where no one will find us."

 James and Sirius both hopped off the bed and James quickly grabbed the invisibility cloak from his trunk.

 One thing they had all learned over the years, was that Peter had a talent for finding hidden passages or secret rooms within the castle. It was like the boy had a sixth sense for these sorts of things. So if Peter told them he had found something, they were always quick to drop whatever they were doing and check it out. It was worth it every single time.

 Although this time James and Sirius watched their friend in mild concern as he paced up and down the corridor looking as if he was concentrating extra hard on something.

 "Er...Pete?" Sirius questioned carefully. "You look like you're about to pop a blood vessel. What are you-?"

 "Shut up, Sirius. I'm trying to focus." Said Peter in an uncharacteristically forceful tone that actually made Sirius snap his mouth shut in shock. He and James exchanged looks and shrugged as Peter continued his strange back and forth.

 The wall across from them slowly began to shift and the hall was filled with the sound on stone scratching against stone. A door appeared and Peter stopped his pacing and looked over his should with a satisfied smirk at his friends who both stared with a mixed expressions of shocked and impressed. 

 Peter opened the door and the others followed. The room itself was large and mostly empty and nothing special. Just a space with a few chairs.

 "What is this place?" James asked, gazing around the room curiously. 

 "It changes every time," said Peter. "The first time I found it I had to pee so bad I thought I would explode and the door appeared and there was a bathroom suddenly. Basically it becomes what you need."

 "So what did you tell it we needed now?" Sirius asked as he straddled one of the wooden chairs, backwards and rested his chin on top of the back piece. 

 Peter shrugged. "Just that we needed a space to practice. Some place big enough to accommodate...whatever may happen..."

 They all knew what he meant. So many things could happen with what they were trying to accomplish. If it went well, they didn't know what sort of animal they may be turning into. Would the need space for something large like a lion or a horse? What if one of them were a bird or something and needed to be able to learn to fly properly?

 And then of course there was the chance that something could go horribly wrong. This was dangerous advanced magic they were tampering with, especially at this stage. They were more than half way through and so far, they had hit no bumps in the road. Still, any mistakes now could have dire consequences and they all felt the pressure.

 "Alright lads," James sighed, taking out his wand. "Ready?" 

  "Ready." Both Sirius and Peter replied. They each placed the mandrake leaf in their mouths.

 

-

 

"Open your mouth, Peter." Sirius demanded for the third time. His patience was wearing thin with the other boy, who was eyeing him warily and covering his mouth. "For fuck sake, Pettigrew! Open your damn mouth!" 

 "No way," came Peter's muffled voice from behind his hand. "I'm not letting you put your wand in my mouth, Sirius." 

 James was trying so hard not to laugh at the both of them it actually hurt. 

 Sirius growled. "Well maybe if you hadn't swallowed, chewed and sneezed out the last three leaves, we wouldn't have to use sticking charms! Open. Your. Mouth!" He had the smaller boy pinned against the wall of the room, his wand pointed at his covered mouth.

 "No!" 

 "Come on Pete, we are wasting time. It has to stay in for a month and you haven't been able to keep it for a two weeks." James said reasonably, laying a hand on Sirius' shoulder to remove him from their terrified looking friend. "We're lucky no one saw you sneeze it out." 

 "James chewed his first leaf up as well!" Peter said defensively. "And I couldn't help the sneeze! My nose was all twitchy for some reason!" 

 "And that's why we're all using a sticking charm." Sirius sighed in frustration. Peter flinched at his tone. 

 James shook his head. "Would you feel more comfortable if I did the charm on you, Pete?" 

 Sirius looked offended. "What's that suppose to mean?" 

 "Just that you're bloody scaring him, Sirius. Calm the fuck down."

 "I'm calm!" Barked Sirius.

 "Go sit down!" James yelled back, and to his surprise Sirius actually sat right there on the floor.

 

-

 "Don't panic." James managed to keep his voice level, though he himself was somewhere between panicking and laughing. Sirius was just laughing. 

  Peter let out a nervous squeak of a noise, looking between the other two. "W-why?" 

 "It's...it's probably nothing....I just..." James let out an accidental snort of laughter. "Sorry, sorry!" 

  "What is it! What's wrong?" Peter's watery blue eyes widened. He looked like he was going to cry. 

 "It's..." Sirius bit his lip to stop from laughing. "You've got whiskers, mate." 

 "What!" 

 There was a loud POP and a mirror appeared on the wall behind them. Peter turned around and screamed at his reflection. "What happened! What did I do wrong!" 

  James and Sirius were doubled over, their sides painfully cramped from laughing. 

 "I don't know, Pete!" Sirius managed, wiping away tears. "You were doing the spell just fine and then all of the sudden they just sprouted out of your face!" 

 "What should I do!" 

James was already consulting one of the many books the room had supplied them with, trying to find a way to remove the long, wiry whiskers from his friend's nose. 

 "Guess this means your a fucking bunny or something, Pete." Sirius teased. He stepped closer and bopped Peter on the nose with a finger. "A cute ickle bunny with a twitchy nose and whiskers!" 

 "Sirius, cut it out." James said, trying to sound chastising but also unable to stop giggling. After a few moments of frantically searching through pages, his face fell. 

 Lucky for them, Madam Pomfrey was never one to ask many questions when a student showed up with whiskers coming out their face. Even when that student was accompanied by two mischievous boys who could hardly breathe from laughing.

 

-

 

 

Remus was exhausted. 

 The past month's full moon had left him bedridden for a while longer than usual, so he had spent the remainder of the month tutoring as many of the younger students as he could in as many different subjects as possible to gain some extra credit from his generous professors. 

 He was very grateful, of course, that they would offer use the tutoring to help keep his grades up from all of his missed work, but it was a lot of stress and strain and he really felt like he was about to drop dead on the ground.

 On top of that, he felt like he hadn't spent time with his friends at all. 

 Trudging up the stairs to the dormitory, he couldn't think of anything other than curling up in his bed and sleeping the entire weekend away. He opened the door. Bed was so close...sleep was so very near...

 Except his three best friends were all sitting on his bed, grinning widely and looking as if they may just explode.

  Remus groaned. "Whatever plan you've got, it's going to have to wait or you can do it without me." He felt bad ditching his friends for the millionth time this month, but he just couldn't keep his eyes open a moment longer. 

 "I'm afraid it can't wait, my dear Moony." Said Sirius, who was apparently so excited he couldn't stop wiggling his bottom half.

 Remus rubbed his eyes and shook his head, deciding not to question Sirius' odd little dance. "Sirius, I really-" 

 But James interjected, standing up and putting his arm around Remus' shoulders. "Trust me, mate...this needs to be seen now." 

 Remus looked between all three of his friends and sighed. "...And where are we going?" 

 "We're going for a little walk outside, Moony." Sirius announced, also standing and draping his own arm over Remus' other shoulder so that the werewolf was sandwiched between the two raven haired boys.

 Peter stood as well, although he did give Remus a slightly apologetic look before smiling at him. "Believe me, Remus...It's worth seeing." 

Chapter Text

Remus hugged his winter cloak tighter to his body. It was early December, the middle of the night and it was bloody cold even though he and his friends were all huddled beneath James' invisibility cloak. Whatever was exciting his friends must have been distracting them from the icy chill in the late autumn night's air, because none of them seemed nearly as concerned as he was. All he had wanted was his bed, damn it.

"Where are we going?" He asked irritably for the fourth time. They were already far past the lake and headed towards the edge of the forest and the other three boys still refused to tell him what was going on. He stopped walking, causing the others to stop as well. "Guys, come on. I'm tired and I'm cold and I just-"

"Just a little further, Remus." Sirius looked up at him, grey eyes pleading even through the giddy anticipation they seemed to be holding. "Please?"

Remus' heart skipped. Damn Sirius. Damn Sirius and those eyes and damn himself for falling for it. "I..." He sighed. "You really can't tell me where we're going?"

"Just past the edge of the forest. We just need to be somewhere that no one can see us." James explained as they continued moving.

Remus sniffled. "It's just so bloody cold."

"Want my cloak?" Sirius offered without skipping a beat.

"What? No. Then you'll be cold."

"Nah, I'm all hyped up on adrenaline." He smirked. "Besides, it's getting close to the full moon. Your immune system is utter shite." He shrugged out of his own heavy cloak and held it out. "Take it."

Remus hesitated for a second, a small smile tugging as his lips, and he took the offer, draping Sirius' cloak over his shoulders. "Thanks, Sirius."

Sirius eyed him up and down, his smile widening as they crossed over into the woods. "No problem." He winked. "I won't be needing it."

Remus was about to question what he meant by that when James ripped the invisibility cloak off of them and he and Peter removed their own winter layers, piling them on the ground and taking a few steps ahead of him.

With his three friends facing him, all wearing matching expressions of excitement and pride, Remus had never felt more confused in his life.

"What's going-"

Sirius spoke up first. "Remember when you thought we were hiding something from you? And I told you we were working on something that was going to help you?"

Remus' heart felt like it was going to beat right out of his chest. "Y-yes?"

"We did it." James said proudly.

Remus shook his head, his whole body was trembling and he was pretty sure it wasn't from the cold. "...did what?"

The other three boys have each other an affirmative nod and Remus held his breath, until slowly the shapes of his friends bodies all began to shift. He felt as though his eyes might pop out of his head as the boys in front of him were replaced with a rat, a stag and a large black dog.

He was dreaming. He must be dreaming, because this couldn't be real.

"Fuck..." He whispered, voice cracking as he felt tears stinging his eyes. "What did you...how...why would you...?"

The stag and the rat changed back into James and Peter and they both stumbled for a moment, clearly not use to the sensations of changing back and forth just yet.

"We did it for you, Moony." James said, once he had regained his balance.

"So we could come with you during the full moon and you wouldn't be alone." Added Peter, actually taking a seat on the ground to stop his head from spinning.

The dog barked happily and bounded over to Remus, jumping up to put his paws on his shoulders and effectively knocking them both to the ground where he began to lick Remus' face sloppily. Remus couldn't help the half laugh, half sob that escaped him. The dog's form began to shift on top of him and instead he found himself pinned under a happily grinning Sirius Black.

"I promised you." Sirius said quietly. "I said I'd find a way so you wouldn't be alone."

He saw the tip of Sirius' tongue dart out to wet his lips. They were so close. He'd barely need to elevate his head at all to kiss those lips himself.

"Alright Sirius, you mutt. Let him breathe, will you?" James laughed, breaking the daze that Remus had slipped into and with that, Sirius rolled off him and stood, offering a hand to assist him as well, which Remus took.

He wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand. "You're all completely insane you know." He said tearfully. "This is mad! And illegal and...bloody brilliant." He shook his head. "I can't believe you lot did this for me..."

"Well, don't go getting ahead of yourself, Remus. This isn't totally about you. We all know Sirius was just itching for a way he could lick his own privates." James said teasingly, and the two of them began to wrestle each other to the ground.

Remus smiled at the two and took a seat beside Peter. "I don't deserve friends like you." He mumbled.

Peter laughed and shook his head, watching James and Sirius who were now chasing each other in animal form. "That's just silly, Remus. Of course you do."

"Who on earth would go to lengths like this to help a werewolf?" Said Remus, still in awe.

Peter shrugged. "The Marauders."

Remus couldn't argue.


-

For once in his life, Remus couldn't sleep because he couldn't stop smiling.

The events of the night kept playing over in his head and he couldn't believe they had been real. His friends had worked tirelessly, learning highly advanced and dangerous magic and making the extra effort to keep it a surprise, all to help him.

Never in his life did he imagine something like this.

He had his concerns of course, he wasn't one hundred percent sure just how it would work out on the night of the full moon. But he would worry about that later. The point was, James, Peter and Sirius cared enough of about him to do the nearly impossible.

He was so lost in his ridiculously joyful thoughts, he didn't notice the curtains of his bed shuffling until suddenly there was a large black dog leaping up to join him.

"Sirius!" He laughed and scratched at the dog's head. "You'll get dog hair all over my sheets, mate."

The weight on the bed changed and the form of Sirius took the place of the dog. "Sorry." He grinned. "I just...I was too excited to sleep."

"Me too." Remus admit. After a moment of silence between them, Remus cleared his throat. "Sirius...really...I don't know how I could ever thank-"

"Don't be stupid." Sirius said sternly. "You don't have to do anything to thank us. We're you're friends."

"Well yeah," Remus chuckled. "But come on, that's some extreme friendship."

"Of course it is." Sirius shrugged. "Because I love you...we do, I mean. All of us."

"Yeah..." Remus swallowed thickly. "I love you lot too."

Again there was silence. Remus wanted to say something, but he wasn't sure what.

"Moony?"

"Yeah?"

"Still think we're too old to be climbing into bed with each other if I'm a dog?"

Remus snorted and rolled his eyes. "You don't have to be a dog to come to my bed, Sirius. I'm sorry I said that last year..."

Sirius smiled. "Good." He gave Remus a playful shove. "Move. You're all long and lanky now. There's no room."

Remus shifted over to allow his friend to lie down. "Sirius..."

"Yeah Moony?"

"I'm going to give you the lamest fucking nickname."

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

"You said, and I quote, 'when we start turning into animals you can call us whatever you want'." Remus mocked, throwing on an exaggerated version of Sirius' slightly aristocratic accent and pretending to flip imaginary hair over his shoulder.

 "You did say that." Peter agreed as he reached into the middle of their small circle on the floor of the dorm to take a chocolate frog.

 "You're not calling me Snuffles." Sirius' eyes narrowed. 

  "Honestly, I think I'm going to call you Snuffles no matter what." James chuckled, earning a sharp punch to the arm from Sirius. "Ow! What? It's cute!" 

 Sirius scowled. "I'm not cute. I'm a big, manly dog. Not some bloody toy poodle." He huffed.

 All three of the others snorted and bit back giggles. James reached over and scratched under Sirius' chin. "Aw, Snuffles is angry..." 

 Sirius went to lunge at the other boy but Remus caught him by the collar of his shirt. "Down, boy." He teased lightly. Sirius gave him a hurt pout.

 They had decided that whatever nicknames they chose would be the ones they would eventually sign the map with once it was finished. If their names were to be part of their legacy, they had to be unique. They would also come in handy when talking about their animal forms so that no one else ever caught on.

 "Well what about me?" Peter said in an attempt to get the focus off of Sirius and defuse his temper momentarily.

 "I thought we agreed on whiskers?" James suggested jokingly. Peter rolled his eyes.

 "Mrs. Norris' Supper." Muttered Sirius with a smirk.

 Peter looked momentarily horrified and Remus laughed and shook his head.

 "Maybe this would be easier if we could have a look at you." Remus suggested once Sirius and James had stopped cackling over their own humor. "See if you've got any defining features or something." 

 James and Sirius murmured their agreement and Peter sighed and stood up. His face screwed up in deep concentration and he was mouthing something to himself and finally his body began to shrink and morph until a plump grey rat sat in his place. Remus put out his hand and the rat ran forward. 

 Remus smiled to himself as he picked the rodent up and studied him. "I've never understood why people didn't like rats," he wondered aloud, using his forefinger to gently scratch the tiny, soft head. "I always thought they were rather cute. Smart as hell, too. You can train them to do nearly anything." Peter-The-Rat squeaked happily in his hand. "I wanted one when I was little but my mum always said no. She said it was their tails that freaked her out." 

  "What about them?" Asked James curiously.

 Remus shrugged. "She said they had worm tails." 

 Sirius barked with laughter. "They do sort of, don't they?" He scooted closer to Remus so he could get a better look at Peter. "I sort of like that."

 Remus set the rat back on the ground with a chuckle. "Wormtail?" 

 "It's got a ring to it." James said, giving a half shrug. 

 The rat transformed back into Peter, who didn't look nearly as convinced. "Really? Wormtail? That's all you've got?" He asked flatly. 

 Remus snorted. "Oh please. Because 'Moony' is such a creative name. Might as well write 'werewolf' across my forehead." 

 "No offense," Sirius remarked with a drop of sarcasm. "But your actual name is Remus Lupin...Isn't that a little-" 

 "The irony isn't lost on me, thanks." Remus cut him off irritably. "And if we're going there, Mr. Dog Star Black the Black Dog-"

 James cleared his throat and the bickering stopped abruptly. "Now children, we're all friends here." He smirked. "Besides, we have more important matters to attend to...me." 

 "Venison." 

  "Why, Sirius? Do you want to eat me?" He looked pointedly over the rim of his glasses at his best friend.

 "Nah, too gamy for my taste, mate." Sirius winked. 

 Peter and Remus ignored them, both studying James and trying to think. "Probably best not to have you change right here in the dorm...I don't think there's room." Remus sighed. "Probably something with your antlers though."

 James stuck out his chest a little and sighed dramatically. "I'm quite regal, I know. Might as well just call me Prince of the Forest."

 "This is why you can't get a girlfriend, you know."

 "You're very mouthy today, Sirius. Why don't you go find a bone to occupy yourself with?"

  "Bone jokes. Clever." 

 "Really though, are you alright?" James asked, suddenly very serious. "I mean, you're pretty much always a snarky bastard, but you're starting it with everyone today."

 Sirius looked like he was going to come back at James with another insult, but instead he took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm fine." He ran a hand through his hair, tugging just slightly before he released. "Really." He said as he caught the look of disbelief shared between his friends. "It's nothing. Sorry, I didn't mean to be an arse..."

 "You sure?" Remus asked gently. 

 Sirius nodded hurriedly. "Yeah, Moons. I've just...it's family stuff on my mind. It can wait. We can go back to discussing Prince Prongs over here." He forced a laugh. 

 "Hey that's not bad." James said quickly.

 "James, for the last time we are not calling you Prince anything." 

 James rolled his eyes. "No, you prat. Prongs." 

 "I think it fits well." Said Remus, unwrapping a bar of Honeyduke's Best. "So, Moony, Wormtail, Prongs and-" 

 "CALL ME SNUFFLES AGAIN, LUPIN! I WILL EAT ALL OF YOUR CHOCOLATE AND YOUR HOMEWORK!" 

  "Does anyone have a muzzle?" Peter groaned, rubbing his temples. 

 Sirius growled in frustration and, quicker than he ever had before, transformed and ran under his own bed leaving the others speechless. They all knew Sirius well enough to know that while he was always quick to run his mouth, he also wasn't quite as good at receiving what he so often dished out. And if there was something already bothering him, he was likely to become twice as snarky as well as twice as sensitive. 

 Remus crawled over to Sirius' bunk and peeked underneath. "Hey...Look, we're all sorry for teasing you, Sirius." The dog huffed in response, then looked guiltily at Remus and whimpered. "Come on out, boy..." Remus coaxed gently. The dog didn't budge and he looked back to James and Peter for help. 

 James shrugged. "Let him stay under there if he wants to. Maybe he needs to cool off." 

  Remus sighed and got down on his stomach, meeting the dog's sad puppy-eyed gaze. "You don't have to come out and talk about it if you don't want to..." he slowly reached one hand, palm up under the bed. The dog's head tilted in consideration before lifting one of his over sized paws and placing it in his friend's hand. Remus smiled, rubbing the soft pads comfortingly. "Come on out, Padfoot..." 

 The dog lifted his head just a tad too quickly and he yelped as it collided with the hard wood of the bed frame. Remus, James and Peter all flinched, but the dog finally emerged and shook himself off before turning back into a teenage boy. Sirius sat and rubbed his head with a slight scowl. 

  "Alright Sirius?" James asked cautiously. 

 Sirius sighed. "Yeah. Sorry...I've just been stressed about going home for the holidays at the end of the month." He admit quietly. "I'm sorry for being bloody difficult." No one said anything. Sirius hadn't talked much about his family since he left them at Diagon Ally over the summer. He and Regulus had barely interacted at all since the start of term, and though he tried to play it off like he didn't notice and it didn't bother him, it did. The more time he spent away from Grimmuald Place, the more he dreaded the inevitable return, and with the Holidays fast approaching he knew he was going to have to face what he had been avoiding for nearly six months. 

 Finally, Sirius turned to look at Remus with a forced half smile. "Padfoot?" 

 Remus laughed softly and shook his head. "I don't know, it just sort of came out."

 Sirius nodded silently for a second, considering. "I can live with it." 

 "Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs." James announced with a grin. "The Marauders." 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

"Maybe this isn't such a good idea..." Remus said quietly as his friends all dressed for class. 

It was the morning of the full moon. He would be spending most of his day in the hospital wing getting rest as he normally did before Pomfrey assisted him in getting past the Whomping Willow in the early evening.

  The plan was that once the other Marauders were done with their usual school schedule, they would sneak out under the cloak and meet Remus in the shack before the moon rose. Once they were there, they would transform and maybe, if everything they had calculated was true, Remus' own transformation wouldn't be as horrible while he had them for company.

Remus was suddenly having doubts. 

  "No way, we're not backing out now." Said Sirius, who had stopped tying his tie mid-knot and was looking at Remus as though he had sprouted another head. "Why would you-?"

 "What if something goes wrong?" Remus muttered, staring down at his hands in his lap. 

 "What do you think could go wrong?" Asked James. They had been over the plan hundreds of times, they were well prepared and comfortable with changing into their animagus forms.

 Remus worried his bottom lip between his teeth, refusing to meet his friends' eyes. "...what if I hurt one of you?" 

  "But that was the point," Said Peter. "You can't hurt us if we're in animal form."

 "We don't know that for sure!" Remus argued, finally looking up. "Don't you understand? Nothing like this has been done before, there's no proof that I won't hurt you just because you're not human and I could never forgive myself if I did! I'm a monster, I could kil-"

"Stop right there." Sirius interjected. His eyes were hard and his lips pressed into a thin line as he stared Remus down. "Don't think things like that. And for the last time, don't bloody call yourself that!"

 Remus stared back at him, startled slightly by his tone. "I...I just..."

 James shook his head. "Sirius is right." His voice was much softer than Sirius', but just as stern. "You've got to trust us, Moony."

 "I do trust you-" 

 "You've got to trust yourself, then."

 That was easier said than done.

 -

 Classes seemed to drag on forever, and if anyone were to ask James, Sirius or Peter what they had learned that day, none of them would have been able to answer.

 James kept glancing at the clock all through divination, not that that was much different than any other day in that particular class, which he still wasn't sure exactly why he continued to take. It must be broken, that clock, because he was relatively certain that it had been over an hour when the the hand had barely ticked over the five minute mark. It didn't help that Professor Astra's misty, breath of a voice just made him want to close his eyes and sleep. Especially as she droned on about the different meanings behind dreams that featured harmonized singing dung beetles...how many people dreamed of that sort of thing to have so many meanings anyway?

  In Arithmancy, Peter, who had trouble keeping up in that class as it was but agreed upon keeping it to be of better assistance with map making, kept his eyes glued firmly to the desk in front of him. His mind kept going over the process of transforming, trying to assure himself that he was well practiced and prepared for the upcoming night. Occasionally he would mumble something to himself, be it a word of self motivation or a reminder of how to switch his thought process to that of his animal counterpart. 

 Sirius wasn't sure what class he was in all day, but he was sure to have a seat by the window if there was one. He spent nearly every class gazing at the sky, pondering the exact placement of the sun and moon and calculating exactly how much longer until nightfall they had left. He could see the Whomping Willow from...whichever class he was in...was is History of Magic, maybe? Ancient Runes? Wait...did he take Ancient Runes? When did he sign up for...?

  "Mr. Black?" 

 Sirius nearly jumped when Professor McGonagall called his name. Transfiguration! That's where he was...shit.

 "Sorry, Professor. What was that?" 

 Mcgonagall's nostrils flared and she pursed her lips, raising an eyebrow at him. "Was there something outside that was more important than my lesson on Switching spells?"

 Sirius smiled charmingly. "More important than you, Minnie? Never." He leaned his chair back on its hind legs.

 "Then perhaps you'd like to join us back here in the classroom?" She had chosen to ignore the boy's flirty tone, but the other students giggled. 

 "My darling, I will join you anywhere you need." 

 "How good of you." 

  "I certainly thought so." 

 She sighed and looked at him over the rim of her glasses. "Pay attention, please." 

Sirius let his chair fall forward and looked up at her apologetically. "Sorry Professor." 

 At the end of class the three of them were up and out of the room so quickly they nearly knocked Lily over as the ran past her in the hall.

 "What is with you three today?" She asked, almost sounding concerned.

 James spun around, feigning confusion and innocence. "Who us? Whatever do you mean by that?" 

 Her eyebrow quirked and she shrugged. "You've been pleasantly silent in nearly every class, that's all. No snide remarks or your usual 'I know more than you' attitude." Her eyes narrowed slightly. "I know when you lot are up to no good. You're plotting something." 

 James' hand shot up to his hair and he grinned. "Aw, Evans...I didn't know you paid that close attention to me. I'm flattered. Absolutely spiffed, really." 

 Lily didn't look amused at all. James dropped the act and rolled his eyes. "For once, Evans, no. We're actually not planning or plotting anything. You may tell Dear Snivellus he can rest easy tonight, knowing that the big mean Marauders won't be bothering him, if that's what you're so worried about." 

 "Not specifically, but is that a confession that he's your usual target?" Lily folded her arms.

 James cringed, taking his glasses off his face and pinching the bridge of his nose. "Honestly, Lily...I haven't the time nor the care at this particular moment to argue with you, again, over what a shit that slime ball is. Any other day, I would sit and tell you exactly why your pal Snivelly is the bane of my existence - perhaps over dinner sometime, my treat - but now is just...really not that moment." He turned his back on her before she could respond and walked away.

 "Smooth invitation you slipped in there, Potter." Sirius laughed as they headed in the direction of Gryffindor tower. 

 James chuckled. "Impressive, I know." 

 "Staggering, one might even say." Sirius said, smirking at his own witty puns.

  "Yeah," Peter grinned. "Too bad she keeps telling you to 'buck' off." 

 Sirius snorted and held his hand out for a high five from the shorter boy. "'Buck off'. That's a good one, Pete." 

 It was still early. Too early to head to the Whomping Willow, so they changed out of their school uniforms and decided to hit the kitchens for an early dinner since they would be long gone before the other students were served in the Great Hall. They were about to round the corner, just down the corridor from the portrait of the bowl of fruit that hid the kitchens when they heard voices that made them stop in their tracks.

 "Honestly Regulus it's something you'd be smart to consider. I know you're not particularly a fan of how Mulciber runs things, but it would be in your favor to be on his good side. He's got connections that could-" 

 "You really think Mulciber's got better connections than I have, Severus?" Regulus' haughty voice made Sirius forget to breathe for a moment. "My cousin and her fiance have already to meet with-" 

 James felt Sirius tense up beside him and he grabbed his arm, forcing him to meet his eye. He shook his head. "Sirius, don't." He warned quietly. 

 "It's merely a suggestion." Snape continued. "Obviously you've got plenty of time to decide what you'll be doing after you've finished school-"

 "So have you. You're only a year ahead of me." Regulus retorted. "Have you made that decision already?" 

 Severus was quiet for a second as he argued internally with his answer. "I've decided that it would be in my best interest to have friends in high places, that's all." 

 "That, Severus, is something I already have in abundance. You may need to kiss up to Mulciber in order to keep yourself on the right side of a hex, but if you ask me I think that oaf should be begging for my alliance." 

 Sirius' fists clenched and he made a move forward, only to have James tighten his grip on his arm. "Sirius!" He hissed. "You can't get into it with them now. You can't afford detention tonight." 

  Sirius was practically shaking. His breath hard and uneven and his jaw was tightly set. "Don't you know what they're talking about, Prongs?" 

 "Yes." James held his gaze. He knew exactly what they were talking about, and he knew exactly why Sirius wanted nothing more than to turn the corner and beat Snape unconscious. Truth be told, he wanted to as well. But not tonight. 

 "Sirius," Peter muttered, looking pleadingly at him. "Think of Remus. He needs you." 

 The look in Sirius' eyes softened and his body relaxed. He swallowed hard and turned away. "I'm not that hungry anymore. Let's go. It's getting late anyway..." 

 -

The sound of the rickety old door to the shack slamming shut nearly made Remus' heart jump out of his chest. He had been completely unable to calm his nerves all day and got hardly any sleep in the Hospital Wing. He wasn't sure he could do this. Perhaps he could still convince them to turn back? 

  He heard three pairs of feet climbing the stairs and seconds later there they were, standing in the doorway. Remus stared at them from where he sat on the dusty old bed. He couldn't do this. 

 "Don't look so excited to see us, Moony." James attempted to joke through the awkward, terrified silence. Remus forced himself to give them a weak smile.

 "I'm...It's not that I'm not..." He couldn't even pretend he was happy to see them. This could be the start of his absolute worst nightmare. What was he thinking, letting them come here like this...

He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to meet Sirius' eyes. "Hey," the hand squeezed gently. "It's going to be alright. This is going to work, Remus. I promise you. You trust me, Moony?" The corner of Sirius' lips tugged up. Remus nodded.

 "I trust you, Padfoot." He said shakily.

  "It's going to be fine. We're here for you." The hand on his shoulder slid down his arm and covered his own hand. His breath hitched and he swallowed, nodding again. Then he stood and walked to the middle of the room. 

 "Um...I just..." He cleared his throat, trying to stop his voice from shaking. "When it...happens...maybe you lot shouldn't be in the room..." 

 James, Peter and Sirius exchanged looks and they shook their heads. "We talked about that-" 

 Remus couldn't tell if it was the restlessness from the rising moon that was making him feel so frantic, or the fact that he was terrified. He ran a hand through his hair, which was already damp with sweat despite the cold December air that blew through the shack. "You don't understand. It's really awful." 

 "We know." Insisted James, in a way that Remus knew he couldn't argue. "Remus, we know everything. We've been over this a million times. No one is backing out, no one is changing their minds. We're doing this and nothing you say is going to make us leave you now." 

 After a while Remus stopped arguing. They all sat down in a circle on the dirty floor and no one said much for a long while. Every few minutes Remus would get up and pace around as he started to feel his mind slowly losing control. He felt hot all over and he had already shucked off his shirt. He sat back down again and suddenly there were icy cold hands on the back of his neck. Oh that felt good. He closed his eyes and his head fell forward.

 "It's alright, Moony." Sirius whispered from behind him. 

 After too short a time of feeling more relaxed than he ever had before transforming, he felt his body shudder. 

  "I...Y-you have to change..." He managed. "Go. Do it now." The hands on the back of his neck were gone and Sirius, James and Peter scrambled to the feet, stepping away from him. James and Peter were averting their eyes, unable to see their friend who was already in such pain but Sirius couldn't look away. 

 Remus was pacing again, his arms hugging himself tightly as his skin prickled and started to feel like it wasn't his own. His nails dug hard into his flesh. 

  Peter had already changed and was perched up on a grimy, ancient looking piano, feeling safer at a distance. James was backing away, but Sirius was frozen, his eyes wide. 

 "Sirius, come on..." James urged, sounding panicked. "Sirius! Now!" He grabbed the other boy by the shoulder, effectively bringing him back to his senses and they both changed as well. 

 Remus screamed in pain as his body began to change, bones breaking and shifting.

 A piercing howl filled the shack.

In quite possibly the most horrifying moment of any of their lives, the wolf growled and turned, locking its eyes on the three other animals that were in his territory. 

 For the first time ever, and just barely there at all, Remus had a conscious thought in the back of the wolf's mind:

 Friends. Pack. Family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Remus woke up to the feeling of fur tickling his nose, which was not something he was particularly accustomed to. For a second he wondered if he hand managed to kill some sort of animal that found its way into the shack the night before, but then he remembered...

Opening his eyes slowly, he realized that he was resting his head on a giant, bear-like black dog who was panting heavily. He smiled and reached up with one hand to scratch the dog's belly.

 "Hi Padfoot." He croaked. The dog yipped as quietly as he could and licked his face. His body ached, but significantly less than usual, and in his still half asleep state he was pretty sure he hasn't managed to rip himself apart as he normally did. He yawned and felt the dog's wet nose nuzzle his shoulder comfortingly. "Thank you..." He muttered, and he slipped back into sleep.

  "Sirius," The dog whined softly in protest as James knelt beside him. "Padfoot, we have to go."

 Again the dog whimpered, looking up at James and then back to the sleeping boy he was curled protectively around. Stay. My Moony. Keep safe. 

 "I know you don't want to leave him Pads, but we have to go. The sun's up, Pomfrey will be here soon." 

 With one last look at Remus, and trying as best he could not to wake him, Padfoot slipped out from under him and transformed back into Sirius. In human form, he wore the same painfully sad expression as he stared at the frail boy on the floor. 

 Peter cleared his throat. "Why don't we move him to the bed, yeah?" 

 James and Sirius looked at each other and back down at Remus. James looked uneasy. "Think we should? I Don't want to hurt him..." 

 "We can't leave him here like this." Sirius' eyes were filled with something desperate and James knew he wouldn't be able to get him out of the shack without doing something more for their friend.

 With a sigh, James nodded. "Alright, fine." He saw relief wash over Sirius' face. They both got down next to Remus and Sirius gently shook his shoulder. 

  "Hmm...S'rius?" He mumbled, not quite awake.

 "Yeah, Moons...Listen, James and I are going to help you to the bed, alright?" Again, James gave him an uncertain look, but Sirius was insistent. "D'you think you can stand if we help you?" 

  "Mmhmm..." Remus nodded, eyes still closed. The two of them carefully got his arms over their shoulders and helped him up. Sirius never realized how light Remus was, considering how tall and lanky the boy had gotten he was very easily carried. 

 Peter had already pulled the thread bare blanket back on the bed. It wouldn't keep Remus warm enough for Sirius' liking, but it was still better than leaving him on the floor. Once they got him situated James grabbed the invisibility cloak. He looked back to see Sirius still standing by the bed, staring. 

 "He's okay now, Padfoot." Said Peter. "We really have to go." 

 Sirius nodded, finally looking away and crossed the room to his other two friends. James threw the cloak on over them and they left the shack.

 None of them spoke  on the way back to the castle, nor on their way up to Gryffindor tower, but every once in a while James glanced over to Sirius who still looked lost in his own head. When they were safely standing in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady, James took off the cloak and gave the password.

 The Fat lady yawned and looked down at them. "It's a bit early for you lads, isn't it?" 

  "Late, actually." Peter corrected. "We're just getting in." 

 She clicked her tongue in disapproval, but swung open and allowed them through. As they entered the common room, their adrenaline finally died and exhaustion hit them like a ton of bricks. The stairs to the dorm room felt like climbing a mountain and they all groaned as they reached the top.

  "We did it." Said Peter in awe as he stared at the canopy of his bed. "We actually did it."

 James took his glasses off and set them on the table by his bunk, rubbing his eyes. "We did. And it was fucking brilliant." 

  It didn't take long before the sound of Peter's snores filled the room. James turned onto his side facing Sirius' bed. He had to squint, but he could see his best friend lying wide awake.

 "You're in love with him, aren't you?" 

  Sirius' head snapped to the side. "What?" 

 "With Moony." James said quietly. He propped himself up on his elbow. "You've always been." 

 He could see the slightly blurred image of his best friend shaking his head. "What are you on about, James?" Sirius forced a laugh. "I'm not in love with Remus, you dolt. I just-"

 "Sirius-"

 "No." The other boy snapped. "It's not like that, alright? I love him just like I love you and Pete and if either of you had to go through what we saw what last night, I'd be the same way. Fuck, Potter. Just because I like blokes and I care about Remus doesn't mean...It...It doesn't mean anything." 

 James stared unblinking at him for a moment. "Alright. If you say so." 

 "Well, I do say so." Sirius grumbled, and he turned onto his other side.

 "But for arguments sake," James carefully pressed on. "If you were in love with him, and I'm not saying that you are, you really ought to tell him because this whole...suffering in silence thing that you've got going on here...it's going to do both of you more harm than good." 

 "I'm not-" 

 "If you were."

"Shut up, Potter. You don't know what you're talking about." 

 James sighed. "Sorry I mentioned it then." 

 Sirius reached behind him and shut the curtains of his bed without another word. 

 

-

 

"I don't know what you did differently this month dear, but you should keep to it." Madam Pomfrey shook her head in disbelief as she checked Remus' body for any signs of serious injuries. Some bruises and scratches here and there, but for the most part the boy was in perfectly good health for someone who normally back to the hospital wing inches from death.

 Remus shrugged. "Maybe I've just got better control than I thought." 

"Hmm...It would appear so." The medi-witch handed him a potion to drink for the aching in his bones and he downed it quickly. 

 "So does that mean I can go back to my dorm soon, then?" He asked, trying not to seem too eager. He just really preferred his own bed and he was dying to speak to his friends.

Pomfrey sighed. "Perhaps. Not just yet though, I'd like to just keep an eye on you for a while. Rest up, now." She insisted. He didn't argue, he just laid back against the pillows and tried to piece together some flashes of memory from the night before. 

 That was different. Normally he had no recollection at all of his nights as a wolf, but now he had these little snippets of clear thought.

 Stag. Rat. Dog. My Pack. Run. Play. 

 He remembered fresh air and being able to run. He was never able to run. 

 Chase. Play. Run. Stag.

 Had he been outside?

 Forest. Chase. Rat. 

 The idea of it. That he had been allowed out, not trapped, alone and with nothing to do but rip himself apart...

 Play. Wrestle. Dog. Pin Down. Moony is Alpha. Mine. Mine. Dog. 

 He choked slightly. Alright, that was interesting. Maybe that didn't mean what his human mind thought it meant. They were both canines, after all. Moony was just asserting himself over Padfoot. Padfoot was his pack mate...Because Sirius most certainly was not his, and the sooner he accepted that he never would be, the better. 

 "Are you alright, dear?" Called Pomfrey from her office.

 "Yes, I'm fine." Remus replied, feeling that tightness in his chest again. That feeling he got whenever Sirius touched him or looked at him in that way that he never seemed to look at anyone else...So intense and deep like he was looking into his damn soul. "I'm so fucked..." he mumbled. 

 -

 "How the fuck did you get me outside?" Remus asked, grinning despite the fact that the idea was so insanely dangerous. He was sitting against the headboard of his own four poster with James, Sirius and Peter sitting across at the foot of the bed. 

  "Getting you out wasn't difficult," Peter explained. "You weren't exactly hard to convince once we got the door open. You just sort of bolted out the door-" Remus' eyes widened, slightly horrified by the thought that he had been let loose, and Peter quickly added. "We were right behind you. And You seemed mostly interested in keeping track of where we all were so...I don't think you wanted to run off and terrorize a village or anything." 

 "Definitely not." James agreed, reassuringly. He passed Remus a chocolate frog. "You seemed happy...Getting you to come back in was a whole different story." 

Remus was completely fascinated by everything they told him. It was much easier to put his vague memories together with them filling in the blanks. He licked his lips. "I didn't...I mean...Sirius, I didn't hurt you, right? When we were playing?" 

 Sirius shrugged and shook his head. "Not at all, why?" 

 "I remember getting a little rough with you, that's all..." He felt his cheeks flush a little. He definitely didn't want Sirius to know what he was thinking, but Sirius didn't seem bothered at all. 

  "Nah. Moony was just letting Padfoot know he was in charge, that's all. You didn't do anything bad...I mean...that's a pretty basic canine behavior, right?" 

 Remus nodded. "Yeah...Sorry, I just...I'm really not use to remembering anything at all. Let alone anything good or...or fun, even..." He smiled a little. "This is...I really can't tell you how incredible it is, guys. Thank you, again..." 

 "Stop thanking us, prat." Sirius smirked, biting the head off a chocolate frog. "We enjoyed ourselves...we're just happy to have saved you from ripping yourself to shreds for once..." 

 The others nodded in agreement. They spent the rest of the day lazing about the dorm room, planning ahead for the next month's adventure. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Number Twelve Grimmulad Place had never been a very warm or comforting, home-sweet-home sort of environment. In contrast to Gryffindor Common Room, the place was was an absolute mausoleum. Although Sirius had always felt slightly uncomfortable there, as a child he was outright terrified of the disembodied House Elf Heads that his mother insisted on displaying, as he entered his family home upon his arrival for winter holidays, he was filled with an instant sense of dread that nearly made him want to vomit. 

He didn't belong here anymore.

He probably never had.

 Regulus hadn't so much as made eye contact with him since they got off the train, and his parents...well, they had said what felt like a mandatory and forced hello to him, but the overall feeling of the reunion was quite cold. He didn't want to be here, and he was pretty sure they didn't want him either. 

 James had practically begged Sirius to come back home with him for Christmas, but he had forced himself to decline. Continuing to avoid The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black would only make matters worse because, eventually, he would have to return anyway, right? So why put it off. Why fill himself with the false hope that he could walk out that door and never look back? 

 Of course, being the Marauder he was, he certainly didn't plan to sit just sit around quietly and let his presence there go completely unnoticed by his family. The first thing he did once he got up to his bedroom was place a large Gryffindor banner and suit of arms across the wall, being sure to use a permanent sticking charm so his mother couldn't remove it once he returned to school. He'd love to see her face when she tried to rip it down. 

 Marlene had gotten him a muggle record player for his fifteenth birthday back in November, and it had been the first thing he packed when he knew he would be returning home for the week with plans to keep The Beatles, Queen and Bowie playing as loudly as he could all day and night for the sole purpose of pissing off the rest of his family. That didn't take long. Only three songs into Sheer Heart Attack, Kreacher was banging on his door on his mother's orders to 'turn that muggle filth off'. He simply turned up Killer Queen and let Freddie Mercury's voice drown out everything else. In his opinion, if his parents had such an issue with his behavior, they could get off their uppity, pompous arses, and deal with him themselves. He refused to be ignored by them any longer. They were going to see him whether they wanted to or not. He wasn't going to take secondhand orders from a grumpy old house elf that had never given him anything but feigned respect followed by mumbled insults that were clearly meant to be heard.

 It wasn't until his third day back home that things at Number Twelve really got exciting. When Kreacher rang for dinner, Sirius had sauntered down the stairs not in his fine dress robes, as was expected of a member of The House of Black, but in his Ziggy Stardust t shirt and tight muggle jeans. He sat down in his usual seat, not bothering with the proper uptight posture that had been drilled into him since he could sit up on his own, and instead tilted his chair back on its hind legs, crossing his arms defiantly over his chest.

 Walburga's eyes nearly popped out of her head. Her mouth kept opening and closing like a fish as she fought to find the words for just how horrible and shameful a son he was.  Finally his father slammed his fist on the table and stood, glaring daggers at his eldest child. 

 "Sirius Orion Black! Are you trying to send your mother to an early grave!" 

Sirius actually smirked. "Oh, good! You do see me, father. I was starting to worry that maybe I had gone invisible or something." He stood as well, letting his chair fall backwards onto the floor with a loud thud, but no one seemed to notice. "What is it now that's not good enough for you? It was easy to ignore the fact that I wasn't placed in Slytherin. Don't mention it and it's like it's not true, right? But when you have to look at me and I don't fit into your Royal Pureblood mold, that's when I finally get some sort of acknowledgement?" Anger was boiling inside his stomach, rising up to the surface. 

"This is not how we raised you to be, Sirius." Orion's voice was dangerously low and Sirius could see the large vein in his neck starting to throb, but he wouldn't back down.

 "I know it's not." He retorted, keeping his tone almost eerily similar to that of his father's. "But that's what makes it so bloody great." 

Orion's eyes widened at the blatant disrespect, and almost without moving his mouth he uttered "Get out of my sight, Sirius." and slowly sat back down. 

 "With pleasure." Sirius spat back before kicking his fallen chair out of the way and leaving the dining room. He stomped as loudly as he could up the stairs to his bedroom and grabbed the first relatively warm article of clothing he could find, which happened to be one of Remus' sweaters that must have gotten mixed in with his things while they were packing, and pulled it on over his head. He searched through his trunk for his pack of cigarettes, a habit he had picked up after a few late night snogging sessions in various broom closets with Ravenclaw 7th year Patrick Davies a few months back, marched right back down the stairs and out the front door. He kept walking until he hit the side walk, sat on the curb and placed a cigarette between his lips.

 "Why do you do that?" 

Sirius flicked his muggle lighter and lit the end of his cigarette, inhaling. "Do what?" He asked, without looking back at his brother. "Smoke? Because I fucking want to." 

Regulus slowly sat down beside him. "Not that." He rolled his eyes. "Although it is a disgusting muggle habit...I mean why do you have to make things so bloody difficult for yourself all the time?" 

 Sirius shook his head and looked at Regulus with mild annoyance. "I'm not making anything difficult, Reg. I'm just being myself, it's them that makes it difficult when they can't accept that I'm just not made out like the rest of this family." He tapped off some ashes. "You're not either, Regulus. But you're too scared to rock the boat and make some waves. You'd rather just sit there with your head up their arses making them proud of things that you don't even believe in." 

Regulus was quiet, watching his brother closely. A few times he looked like he was going to say something, but instead he would just sigh or make some unidentifiable noise in the back of his throat. "...You don't know what I do or don't believe in." He finally said, staring down at the ground. 

Sirius shrugged and put his cigarette out on the pavement. "You're right. I don't. Because you won't even look at me in the halls anymore, let alone talk to me." He stood up. "So just say it, Regulus...we're practically not even brothers anymore." 

The younger brother froze, an audible gasp tumbling from his lips. After a few seconds he stood as well and turned to face the other boy. "Fine. Maybe you're right. You don't need me anyway, right? You've got a brother. You've got Potter, don't you?" His voice was cold and his eyes were piercing.

Sirius licked his lips and ran a hand through his hair. He nodded. "Yeah. I do. Who've you got, Regulus?" He turned and walked back inside, slamming the door behind him. 

When he was back in his room he threw on one of his records and laid on his bed staring at the ceiling. His mind felt surprisingly blank. He would have thought that he would feel bad for saying those sorts of things to Regulus, but he didn't. He didn't feel anything. He lifted his hips and wiggled out of his jeans, kicking them off his bed. He meant to take off Remus' sweater as well, but as he went to pull it off, he was hit with the scent of parchment, forest, tea and chocolate...

He slept in Remus' sweater for the remainder of the week. 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Sirius, would you stop that? You're making me nervous." Peter pleaded with the other boy for what must have been the tenth time that evening. Sirius was pacing back and forth in the common room, which had started to become a bit of a habit ever since they returned from Christmas break over a month ago. For whatever reason, Sirius had become rather restless. He wouldn't talk about what had happened at home, but his friends gathered that his reunion with his family had not gone over well, and he seemed to be more desperate than ever to get his brother's attention.

 "I'm bored." Sirius claimed, still moving. "Can't we sneak into the Slytherin dorms and-" 

"Sirius, no." Remus, who was sitting on one of the over stuffed chairs by the fireplace, didn't even look up from the paper he was editing for Peter. "We've got homework. You've got homework." 

 "Bugger the homework. I'll do it right before class and still ace it. I already know everything." Back and forth. It was amazing he hadn't worn a hole in the rug. Remus glanced up at him and shook his head before meeting James' eyes. James shrugged. 

Remus heaved a sigh and patted his leg. "Sit down, Padfoot." 

 Sirius stopped his pacing, much to Peter's relief, and took a second to consider his next move. He relented and sat on the floor in font of Remus, who's hand instinctively started stroking the long dark hair as soon as the other boy's head rested on his knee. "Just give me an hour and then we'll find some way to deal with your boredom, alright?"

James snorted. "Will you, Moony?" 

 Sirius' eyes snapped open and he glared, but Remus didn't seem phased at all as he continued to read over Peter's DADA essay. James gave Sirius a knowing look and went back to his own work, but the smirk on his face remained. 

Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. 

 Sirius stood up abruptly. "I'm going for a walk."  

"I'm coming with you." James said briskly, putting down his quill and standing as well. 

 Remus frowned. "Can't it wait?" He carefully set down the paper and looked up at them. "We're almost done anyway..." 

"Besides, if you want to prank the Slytherins so badly, you should probably plan it out first." Peter supplied with a hint to his voice. "We can't exactly get detention this week if you know-" 

 "We know what you mean." Snapped Sirius, and Peter sunk back a little in his seat.

"Alright then, time to take the dog out. Let's go Padfoot." James grabbed Sirius by the elbow and dragged him out of the common room.

"What's wrong?" He asked once the portrait swung closed behind them. Both of Sirius' hands went up and he dragged his fingers through his hair, leaning against the cold stone wall with his eyes shut tight and exhaling slowly. 

 "You're right, okay?" 

"About what? I tend to be right about a lot of things." 

 "You know about what!"  

James sighed. "Yeah, mate...I do. So what are you going to do about it?" 

 Sirius laughed and shook his head. "What am I going to do about it? I'm not going to do anything about it! What? I'm suppose to just walk on up to him all casual like 'Hey Moony, lovely weather we're having. D'you have the notes from Arithmancy today? By the way, I'm in love with you!' Brilliant, Potter. Really." 

"Sure, why not?" 

 "Why not? WHY NOT! It will ruin everything!" Sirius was aware he was shouting but he couldn't stop. He had tears threatening to spill out of his eyes but he refused to let that happen. "James, if I tell him and he doesn't feel the same way, which he definitely doesn't, it'll make things...weird...and then there goes The Marauders, mate!" He turned and kicked the wall.

James took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. "But what if he does feel the same way as you? And he's just as bloody stubborn and oblivious as you are because you're both ridiculously thick and, I don't know, masochistic or something and-" 

 "He doesn't, Prongs." Sirius' voice was bitter and quiet.

"But how do you know-"

 "Because he shouldn't! No one should! I'm not good enough for him! For anyone, really, but especially not for someone as good and kind and...And he just..." He wiped furiously at his eyes. "He deserves someone better than me. I'll fuck it up. I fuck everything up." 

James was quiet, watching Sirius have his melt down. After a few minutes he sighed heavily. "Are you finished feeling sorry for yourself?" 

 Sirius blinked at him. "Uh...I...I think so..." He sniffed, averting his eyes even though he knew James could see that he was crying.

 "Good. Because honestly Sirius, that's all complete bullshit." James shook his head and stood next to him, leaning against the wall as well. "I know you feel sort of lost right now with whatever happened between you and Regulus over break, but that doesn't mean you're some awful person that doesn't deserve to be cared about. I care about you, you bloody prick." He elbowed the other boy lightly, earning a small laugh from him. "And so does Peter...And Remus does too. A lot. And if you'd just-"

"Look. I'm really not ready, alright? I sort of want this to all just go away. I don't want to ruin anything-" 

 "And how do you plan on making this go away, Sirius?" James asked, exasperated. "Hooking up with random blokes in the broom closet when you think no one's watching?" 

Sirius bit his lip, taking in a shaky breath. "How do you know about that?" 

 Slowly, a grin spread across James' face. "While you've been off snogging Davies in the cupboard, I may have been tinkering around with the map." 

 

-

 

"It works," Sirius gasped. "It actually bloody works!" 

 The four of them were huddled up on James' bed with the map laid out in front of them. Little dots labeled with students' and teachers' and staff's names moved all along the carefully plotted out sketches of the castle. 

"I can't believe it..." Remus muttered, eyes wide as he stared down at their masterpiece. All of the hard work they had put into it, spells and equations and time...and here it was. "This is incredible." 

 "It's not done yet," James warned. "Let's not get excited. We still need to work on the security. We don't want this falling into the wrong hands, obviously."

"Yeah, but still..." Breathed Peter. "Look! Dumbledore's in the loo..."

 Sirius grimaced. "Not really something we needed announced, Wormtail. Thanks."

"So," James looked around at them, unable to keep the grin from his face. "Shall we take it for a test run then?" He nodded to Sirius. "Still want to pull something over on the Slytherins, Padfoot?" 

 Sirius laughed. "Like you even have to ask." 

 

 

Chapter Text

Hands were tangled up in his hair, tugging gently enough that it wasn't quite painful, but still urgent as he dragged his lips teasingly down the thin, scarred chest. He smiled against the warm skin, hearing a moan and feeling the muscles of the other boy's abdomen fluttering beneath him with anticipation. 

"Sirius..."

 Hearing Remus say his name like that sent shivers down his own spine. He moaned in reply and continued pressing hot open mouthed kisses down his belly.

"...Sirius..."

 "Sirius?"

Sirius jerked awake, panting and staring right into Remus' concerned eyes. 

"Are you alright, Padfoot? You sounded like you were having a nightmare..."

Sirius blinked a few times and swallowed. His mouth felt incredibly dry. "I..." He cleared his throat and nodded. "Yes, I'm fine, Moony. A nightmare...yeah." He forced himself to meet Remus' eyes, painfully aware of the current problem below the covers that would prove his dream was anything but a nightmare, depending on your point of view of course. "You should be asleep, Remus. You need it." 

A smile tugged at the corner of Remus' lips and he shrugged. "I'll be fine. This month wasn't so bad...it hasn't been bad at all since you lot have been with me."  He slid under the covers beside Sirius who moved as far over to the other side of the mattress as he could without tumbling off. He stared up at the canopy of his bed, reciting arithmancy equations in his head, trying to block out the fact that Remus' thigh was pressed against his own...had these beds always been so small?

 "Do you want to talk about it?" Remus asked quietly after a moment.

"W-what?"

 Remus turned on his side to face him. The curtains weren't closed all the way around the bed and the waning moonlight made his eyes glow, still more wolf than boy at this point. "The nightmare?"

"Oh...right...it was nothing." He forced a smile. Remus didn't seem convinced. He shifted under the covers and Sirius thought he was going to die. "Sorry." Murmured the werewolf, sounding a little embarrassed. "Not as much room as there use to be, eh?"

Stupid bloody lanky git....

"Worried about going home for the summer?" 

That wasn't technically false, Sirius reasoned with himself and he nodded. "Yeah...but I'm suppose to go to James' after about a week anyway so it won't be too horrible." He swallowed again. He wished he had some water, his tongue felt like sandpaper. "You're coming to James', right?" 

Remus nodded. "I am. For three weeks in July and then again at the end of August before school...I'd stay the whole way through but...well...you know." 

 "I'm sorry." Sirius breathed. 

"For what? You've nothing to be sorry for, Pads. It's not your fault I'm a mon-"

 "Will you cut that out, you prat?" Sirius gritted his teeth. Remus most certainly was not a monster, and how dare anyone suggest it? Even Remus himself. Especially himself! "You know I can't stand it when you call yourself-" 

"What am I suppose to think, Padfoot?" Remus muttered sadly. "When there's a whole four chapters in our Defense Against The Dark Arts texts that tell me that's what I am?"

 "Well, whoever wrote it never properly met a werewolf." Grumbled Sirius, huffing in annoyance. 

Remus laughed softly and shook his head. "You're...something else, Pads." He sighed. "You alright to go back to sleep?" 

 "Yeah. You don't have to stay if you don't-"

"Don't be silly, Sirius. You've always stayed with me after a nightmare." 

You probably weren't sporting a hard-on from a stupid dream about me. Sirius thought bitterly. He turned onto his side, facing away from the other boy. "Night Moony."

"Goodnight Padfoot." 

 

-

 

The rest of the year flew by. Between planning every full moon, plotting their end of the year mischief and studying for their exams, it was as if they blinked and suddenly they were back on the Hogwarts Express back home. 

Remus could feel the jittery, nervous energy that radiated off of Sirius as the train hurried along. He was far too quiet and his eyes were glued to the window, watching everything speed past him and counting down the minutes until he would be stuck back at home. Even if it were just for a few days until he could escape to The Potters', they all knew those few days would be an eternity to him. 

 "Sirius?" Remus inquired softly, under the excited chattering of James and Peter who were going on about Puddlemere United. 

"Hmm?" Was Sirius' distracted reply, still staring off into the darkness outside the window. His eyes, which Remus could see in the reflection of the glass, looked woeful and dull and did not hold the mischievous, defiant glint they normally did. He was also tugging on a strand of hair that had fallen loose from the messy knot on top of his head, as he commonly did when he was anxious or upset. Remus chewed his lip for a moment, trying to decide on his next action. Everything in him wanted to pull the other boy to him, kiss his pouting lips and make him smile that ridiculously goofy smile that was so uniquely Padfoot. That, of course, was simply out of he question...But there was another way to calm the storm that raged inside Sirius' mind. One that had only started to make itself known once Sirius became an animagus and bits of his animal form started to mesh with his human personality. With a quick glance at James and Peter, still too involved in their conversation to notice anything else, Remus sighed and tentatively reached forward, pulling Sirius' hair free of it's tie and letting it fall like spilled ink down his back. He began to run his fingers through the soft waves. "Stop pulling at it," He scolded gently. "You'll wind up going bald and then I'll be the one who has to tell you you still look dashing. Your ego is far too delicate for baldness, Padfoot." 

He saw the tenseness in Sirius' shoulders subside almost instantly as he scooted closer, still finger combing through the thick black locks, gathering it all at the nape of Sirius' neck where he started twisting the strands into an intricate braid. Sirius exhaled and leaned back, practically in Remus' lap and their eyes met briefly in the reflection of the window before Sirius' fluttered closed, finally relaxed. 

"Hey Pete," James said quietly, watching the other two from the corner of his eye. "What d'you think?" 

 Peter snorted and shook his head. "I think that every dog has his owner, and Padfoot has always belonged to Remus...even if they don't know it yet." 

James nodded. "You're a smart man, Wormy." 

The train pulled up to Kings Cross and students rushed off the train to hug and kiss their families. The Marauders took their time, not quite ready to leave each other just yet. Sirius could see his parents greeting his brother in the distance, feeling a knot forming in the pit of his stomach. Remus didn't want to say anything to upset Sirius further, but his own anxiety wasn't exactly staying quiet either, and he was truly dreading his return home to spend the next three full moons without his friends there to keep him company. James came up behind them, clapping them both on the shoulder. 

 "Sirius, I'll see you next week, right? Remus, next month?" 

"Yeah..." Both boys muttered in response. They both got a bone crushing hug from the bespectacled boy, who then took off to join his parents leaving them on their own.

 "It'll be alright, Sirius." Remus assured him as they stood shoulder to shoulder, staring off into the crowd of students and their parents. "Won't it?"

Sirius nodded. "Of course it will." between them, their fingers brushed and with a surge of courage, or perhaps stupidity, Sirius grabbed Remus' hand and squeezed it. "We're Marauders. We'll be fine."  

 

Chapter Text

 

The hot July sun was beating down hard on the acres of property behind the Potters' Estate. James and Sirius had long forgotten their game of one on one Quidditch, ditching their brooms somewhere in the field along with their shirts and shorts and choosing instead to roughhouse in the cool lake at the edge of the grounds. They had spent the better part of the afternoon shoving and wrestling each other in the water, seeing who could hold who under longer. It must have been around three o'clock that they both trudged, waterlogged and breathless, back to the grass and collapsed there on the ground. Sirius sat up and shook out his hair in a dog-like fashion before tying it up in a knot and falling heavily to rest on his best friend's stomach.

"Oof!" The air left James' lungs with impressive force and he shoved the other boy's head away. "Must you? You've got a fat head." 

 "Do not." Sirius chuckled, making himself comfortable and stretching out his limbs. 

 

"Do too. It's from that bloody thick skull and all that ego." James knocked lightly on the top of Sirius' head for emphasis.

 "I think you've mistaken me for yourself there, mate. Ask anyone. Ask Evans!"

James rolled his eyes and gave Sirius another shove to get him off. "It's too bloody hot to have you all over me." He plucked his glasses up out of the grass beside him and put them back on. "You don't get to talk to me about Evans until you've told Remus you're bloody pathetically in love with him."

 Sirius was still sniggering madly, lying flat on his back. "Oh come on, that's hardly fair. And anyway, at least Remus doesn't hate my very existence. Evans can hardly stand to be in the same room as you without hexing you." 

 James smirked and shrugged his shoulders "There's a fine line between love and hate, Padfoot." 

 "Yeah. That and a restraining order." Sirius snorted, flipping onto his stomach and narrowly missing the lazy swing of James' fist. They say in a comfortable silence for a while, enjoying the feeling of the hot summer sun on their already tanned skin. They had both nearly drifted off when the sound of Mrs. Potter calling for them made Sirius' head perk up from the grass.

"James, Sirius! Remus and Peter are here!" 

Both boys leapt to their feet and ran back to the house, only mildly aware that they were naked except for their still damp boxers. They both skidded wetly across the marble floors and nearly crashed into the other two who were standing in the doorway with their things. The four of them fell into fits of laughter, exchanging excited hellos as Mrs. Potter shook her head, smiling fondly and waving her wand at the muddy puddles on her floor that had been tracked in. 

 The boys made their way up to James' bedroom to put their things away, chatting about how their summers had been so far and making their plans for the remainder. 

"How've you been, Moony?" James asked once they were safely behind closed doors. 

Remus shrugged. "Honestly I'm alright. I mean, don't get me wrong, being locked in the cellar on my own doesn't compare to running through the woods with my mates but- Padfoot, really, don't give me that look. I'm fine. It's a necessary precaution..."

 Sirius' eyes narrowed and he huffed, turning to look out the window.

"Besides," Remus continued, the beginnings of a rare smirk tugging at his lips. "My dad's been taking pity on me. He's given me something to help after with the pain. Made me swear not to tell mum or let any of the staff at school find out." 

 

-

"You've got to be bloody kidding me." James' eyes were so wide they were nearly bigger than the frames of his glasses, staring with his mouth agape at the plastic bag Remus held out in front of them.

The four of them were seated around a roaring fire out by the old shed in the field behind the house. Mr. and Mrs Potter had suggested that the rowdy boys take advantage of the weather and spend the night outdoors with their sleeping bags. This was fine by them, especially with the surprise Remus had sprung on them. 

 "And your dad just gives it to you?" Sirius half laughed, grinning from ear to ear. "That's bloody fantastic, Moony." 

Peter seemed slightly more uneasy about it than the others. "It actually helps?" 

Remus looked thoughtful for a second. "Er...well, mostly it just makes me not care so much. And it makes me hungry as fuck...so he usually comes down in the morning and smokes it with me and brings me some sort of sweets my mum baked." He rubbed the back of his neck. "Like I said, it's nothing compared to what you lot do for me, but-" 

"Oh no, Moons. This is brilliant." Sirius cut him off excitedly. "So you're not going to hold out on us then, right?"

Remus snorted and rolled his eyes. "No, I brought it with me so I could shove it in your faces and keep it to myself."

"You're a saint, Moony." James said solemnly, clapping him on the shoulder. 

"So..." Peter started slowly, still eyeing the bag of pot warily. "Er...how exactly do you...you know...do it?" 

 Sirius groaned and shook his head. "Oh come on, Wormy. You smoke it!"

"I know that, you mutt!" Peter snapped back irritably. "I meant how d'you-"

 "Relax. Both of you." Remus sighed as he opened the bag and reached into his pocket to pull out a tiny packet of thin papers. "Honestly, I should have thought of this sooner, maybe it will shut the two of you up." 

They all watched in an amazed silence as Remus' long, nimble fingers rolled an impressively large amount of the plant up in a sheet of paper. "At home dad's got a pipe, and I like that better to be honest. It tastes cleaner. But he wouldn't let me have it, so...paper it is." He felt around in his pockets and frowned. "Fuck..."

"Light?" Asked Sirius, reaching into his own jeans. Remus nodded and Sirius tossed him his lighter. Remus raised a suspicious eyebrow for a second before bringing the joint to his lips and lighting it. Three sets of eyes watched him intently as he inhaled, held it in for a few seconds and let it out.

"Me next." Sirius practically jumped up when Remus had finished, making the lighter haired boy laugh and start to cough. 

 "Fuck, Padfoot...calm down. Here." He held the joint out to him. 

Sirius, with a little too much enthusiasm, inhaled quite a bit and ended up hacking with Remus thumping hard on his back. The werewolf sighed and shook his head. "I told you. No matter, you'll be high as a hippogriff in no time..." 

 James snatched the spliff from Sirius, who was still doubled over and coughing, and was able to maintain himself as he took his first hit, though his face did scrunch up a bit and his eyes watered. "That's a tad harsh on the throat, isn't it?" 

"I never noticed," Remus said nonchalantly. "My throats normally already raw from howling so...I wouldn't know the difference." 

When it was Peter's turn, the boy hesitated. 

 "Come on, Wormtail." Sirius urged, finally catching his breath although his voice had gone slightly raspy. "We've all done it. Don't be a wuss."

"Don't pressure him, Pads." Scolded Remus. "Peter, you only have to if you want to."

 Peter's watery blue eyes darted from one friend to the other as he mentally debated. "What's it feel like?" 

"My heads a bit spinny," James said, looking like he was trying to find the right words to describe it. "And my mouth is dry. But it feels good. You'll like it." 

 "I'm hungry." Sirius muttered. He had plopped himself down to sit cross legged in the grass and was staring at the fire with glassy, red eyes. "Just...I'm really bloody hungry." He giggled a bit. Remus bit back a laugh and fished a chocolate frog from his pocket, handing it to the now fitfully giggling boy. "I've never been this hungry. Jim, did we eat today?" 

 Now James was laughing too. "Yeah, mate. You had like...an entire stack of pancakes for breakfast and three servings of mum's chicken at dinner and I- wait...was that today? What day is it?" 

Peter's brows knitted together in concern and he looked at Remus. "Is that normal?" 

"Yes." Remus said simply, taking another hit for himself. "Don't worry about them. They're more than fine. But really, it's not a big deal. You don't have to do it if you don't want to, Peter." 

 Peter gave the two laughing boys another look and smiled, relenting. "Alright, fine." 

Remus passed the joint to him. "Just don't inhale it like your sucking a bloody milkshake down or you'll end up like this pair of hyenas." 

 

-

 

"No, no wait...seriously?" Laughed Sirius, holding his sides. "You never told me you snogged Alice! Mate that's pretty fucked up. Frank's been holding a torch for that bird." 

 James rolled his eyes. "That's why I didn't tell you, you twat. You've got a big bloody mouth." He threw a handful of grass at the other boy. "It was one time in third year and I hadn't kissed anyone and neither had she so we did." 

 "Have you done anything else?" Peter asked curiously, lying on his stomach and poking at the burning embers of the fire.

James' hand darted to his hair nervously and he coughed a little. "Er...I mean, I've hand my hand up a few skirts here and there."

Sirius snorted. "Impressive." 

 James glared. "Oh please. And just how far have you gotten in all of your late night trips to the broom cupboard?"

Sirius chuckled and shook his head. "You lads don't want to hear about where I've put which parts."

"So you're telling me you've done it, then?" Said James, raising a skeptical eyebrow and leaning back on his elbows. "With whatever random bloke that crossed your path that week..."

 Sirius shot him a dirty look and sighed. "I've gotten...and given...my fair amount of blow jobs in those broom closets if you really must know. Among other things, and you know what, what about Peter? How far's our little whiskers gotten, eh?" he nudged the smaller boy, desperately wanting to get the attention off himself.

 Peter squeaked in surprise at being called out so suddenly and let out a anxious laugh. "I...I mean...I kissed Emmeline a few times last year." 

 Sirius barked with laughter. "Good on you, Pete. She's a nice looking girl." His eyes drifted to Remus, who had remained quiet for the entire discussion. "What about you, Moony?" 

 "Hmm?" Remus seemed to break out of a daze. "Me?"

James grinned. "Yeah Rem. I'm sure plenty of birds are looking your way. Girls like that dorky, innocent thing." He shot a quick look at Sirius who had conveniently taken interest in what must have been a very fascinating chocolate frog card. 

 Remus made an odd face and struggled with his thoughts for a moment. The stall made Sirius break his feigned concentration on his card, looking at the other boy out of the corner of his eye and biting the inside of his cheek. "No one..." He sighed. "No one's going to want to be with me once they know the truth. So I don't...I don't bother with it..." He mumbled. 

None of them spoke. A few times James looked like he might have had something to say, but he covered it with an awkward, forced cough. Then Sirius stood. "I need to...I just need to...smoke in my eyes. From the fire." He muttered, kicking the dirt under his foot before he turned and walked away in the direction of the lake.

 

Sirius sat down heavily at the edge of the water, cradling his head in his hands. He shouldn't be so angry, he knew. It wasn't his business whether Remus wanted to be with anyone or not. He just couldn't stand the way the other boy always belittled himself like that. He hated it, because to him Remus was everything good in the world and the fact that he was so quick to doubt that just because some creep decided to attack him as a child made Sirius want to scream. Growling in frustration, he dug into his back pocket for his pack of cigarettes. He ran both hands through his hair and pulled.

 "Those are awful for you, you know..." Remus' voice chided softly from behind him. Sirius' heart skipped and he swallowed hard. "I'll live." He said quietly. 

Remus slowly took a seat beside him and he could feel the boys eyes baring into him. "Sirius?" 

 "What, Remus?" He snapped in response, immediately regretting it when he saw Remus flinch slightly. He exhaled slowly and watched the grey smoke swirl in front of his eyes. "Sorry...I didn't mean to snap at you..."

Remus shrugged. "I think we're all use to it by now." 

"That doesn't make me feel better." Sirius grumbled in annoyance. He sighed. "Sorry...again..." He finally looked at the other boy. "What did you want to say?" 

Remus chewed on his bottom lip for a moment, looking down at his lap. "Are you mad at me?" 

Sirius exhaled sharply in an almost-laugh. "Mad at you? Why would I be mad at you?"

 "You stormed off like that." Remus absently picked at the grass around him. "I know you don't like hearing it, Padfoot. But that's how it is. The world isn't a very welcoming place to people like me. I don't even know what's going to happen to me after school. No one will hire me..." He turned and watched Sirius snub out his cigarette. "I've known this my whole life and I've accepted it. I'm never going to have a relationship or anything...Not everyone's going to be as willing to accept a monst-"

"Shut up, Remus!" Sirius all but shouted, getting to his feet. "Merlin, just shut the fuck up and stop talking about yourself like...like you don't even matter!"

 Remus stared up at him, unblinking. "Sirius, I-"

"No! Fuck you, Remus! Gods! You have no idea how much I want to strangle you every time you say this stupid shit about yourself or how no one will ever want you! I hate it! I hate hearing you call yourself a monster because you're not! You're...you're kind and funny and smart and...Merlin, fucking beautiful...and you deserve someone who is going to love every fucking part of you, including the wolf! So just stop telling yourself that no ones ever going to love you because for fuck sake, I fucking love you! I've loved you for as long as I can remember but you're too fucking full of self pity to notice-"

"Sirius..." Remus breathed, his eyes wide in shock, but Sirius continued to rant.

"And I've tried! I've tried so bloody hard to make those feelings go away but-"

"Sirius!" Remus stood.

"They won't! So you can go ahead and hate me for this, but I-" Sirius gasped as Remus grabbed his face with both hands and crushed their mouths together. Time stopped. They both froze in shock and after a moment, Remus pulled away looking completely horrified at what he had just done.

 "I..." He licked his lips. "I'm sorry...I shouldn't have-"

 Sirius swallowed thickly, grey eyes searching gold before he reached up, grabbing fistfuls of Remus' hair and closing the distance between their mouths again. This time they were ready, and when Remus' lips parted Sirius took the opportunity to flick his tongue into the other boy's mouth. Remus' hands fell from Sirius' face and slowly traveled down to rest on his hips, pulling him closer as their tongues slid against each other and their teeth clicked. 

They sunk to the ground without breaking apart, and Sirius moaned in surprise as Remus, in an uncharacteristically bold manner, straddled his legs and gently pushed him onto his back, deepening the kiss. Sirius could feel his heart beating against his chest as his senses were completely overwhelmed with Remus. The scent of parchment and fire and forest and the taste of chocolate and peppermint tea and what Sirius supposed was the pot they had smoked...

 They finally broke apart, both panting heavily and staring into each other's eyes.

"You..." Remus licked his lips. "You love me?" 

Sirius nodded. "I think I always have, Moony..." He reached up to brush the fringe of Remus' hair out of his eyes. 

 Remus half laughed, half choked. "I love you too, Sirius."

They kissed softly again, just a touch of their lips together. 

"...If we do this...us, for real..." Remus barely whispered, eyes baring into Sirius' with apprehension. "We could be risking everything, you know..."

 Sirius smiled, resting his hand against Remus' cheek and running his thumb gently across the boy's lips. He shrugged. "What's life without a little risk?" 

 

 

Chapter Text

James was pacing. 

He was pacing back and forth across his bedroom, and every couple of steps he would stop, look at Sirius and Remus who were seated next to each other on the bed, and open his mouth to speak. Then he would sigh, and the pacing would continue. Peter was sitting in the corner, watching the scene and trying not to laugh. 

"Er...what are you doing, exactly?" Sirius asked finally, starting to become concerned with his friend's behavior. After all, James was the one who had been pushing him to come out and tell Remus about his feelings.

 James stopped his odd little march and faced the two boys on the bed once again. They were seated close enough that their thighs were touching, and between them their hands were interlocked, fingers laced and knuckles white as their amusement at James' reaction slowly turned to mild panic. "I'm trying to decide which of you I'm meant to give the 'hurt my best friend and I'll slaughter you' speech." 

 "I'm your best friend." Sirius reminded him, nearly pouting.

 "Yes, but you're also an idiot." James had resumed the dreadful back and forth. Sirius' mouth fell open, affronted. He made a movement as if to stand but Remus pulled him back with a sigh. 

 "The speech isn't necessary, Prongs." Remus said calmly. "We know the risks we're taking. We talked about it, all night." 

Sirius snorted. "Well, not all night-" 

"Padfoot, that's enough." Remus rolled his eyes at his boyfriend...his boyfriendThey were boyfriends now. James groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Alright, that's...that's the other thing we need to talk about." He waved his hand haphazardly at them. "Er...you know...I speak for both Peter and myself," he gestured to Peter, who was still sitting in the corner with his hand over his mouth as he held back what was probably a painful fit of laughter. He managed a small nod and James continued. "When I say that we're both in total support of this. In fact, Wormy owes me five galleons. He thought it would take til the end of the summer-"

 Sirius raised an eyebrow "You bet on us?"

"Not the point," James went on, waving him off. "We support you, we're happy for you...we just beg you to please...for the love of Merlin, please...use silencing charms."

Peter lost it at that, laughing so hard that he fell over. Remus was blushing profusely and Sirius did not look amused, but he nodded, wearing an agitated frown. 

"Yes, yes. We'll be considerate of your poor virgin ears when conducting our displays of physical affection. Anything else?"

James thought for a moment before adding "Don't have sex on my bed."

 "Seconded." Peter managed between giggles.

"We...we're not...y'know..." Remus stuttered, bringing a hand up to rub the back of his neck anxiously. "I mean...not...not yet...can we please end this conversation?" He hid his red face behind his hands. 

James scratched his head, pondering, making sure he had hit every point he wanted to make. He gave a little shrug. "Yeah, that's all I suppose." 

Remus breathed a sigh of relief. That was humiliating. But he understood it had to be said. The dynamic of the group was going to change and boundaries needed to be discussed. At least it was over-

 "Wait," Said Sirius suddenly. Remus groaned. "What about kissing?" 

James froze and raised an eyebrow. "What about it?" 

Sirius chewed his lip for a second before meeting James' eyes with a stern glare that meant he wouldn't be swayed from what he was going to say. "I mean, Remus and I are a couple," saying that out loud did make Sirius' stomach flutter a bit, but this was no time for butterflies. He meant business. "So we're going to kiss each other. In the dorm room, the common room...maybe the corridors, I don't know...but I just want to be clear that it won't...you know...be an issue." His voice faltered slightly with nerves but he kept his gaze strong and unarguable. Beside him he heard Remus' breath hitch and his hand involuntarily squeezed. Sirius squeezed back, not breaking eye contact with James, challenging him to say something against him. There was a heavy silence and Sirius and Remus were both actually holding their breath. Then James laughed.

 "Are you kidding? Of course I know you two will be kissing. Fuck, I've watched the two of you pine after each other for nearly two years, I was nearly ready to tie you up and leave you in a closet with a permanent sticking charm on your damn lips. Kiss all you damn well please, Merlin knows every other couple in school does." He shook his head, still laughing and looking at the couple in disbelief that they would even be concerned about that. 

 Sirius sighed and nodded. "Every other couple in school are-"

"Straight?" James snorted. "So? You two are the same as them. You're all...disgustingly in love and googoo eyes for each other...if they can throw it in everyone's faces so can you. And if anyone else tries to give you lads a problem, I'll hex them myself. Right Pete?" He nodded to Peter, who had finally stopped laughing and was sitting and listening, nodding along.

 "Honestly I'd rather see you two snog than Bellatrix and that Lestrange bloke." The boy shuddered at the thought. 

"Fair point." Sirius muttered. 

"Point is," James said, suddenly very serious and looking between the two of them again. "We love you both, and if you're happy together then we're happy for you. Just..." He sighed, face screwed up slightly as he tried to come up with the right way to convey his thoughts. "Don't....hurt each other..." 

Sirius and Remus exchanged looks. Their eyes met and for a split second, they were both lost as their hearts sped up just a bit and those damn butterflies went wild in the stomachs. Both of their mouths twitched up just a little. Sirius licked his lips and shook his head. "Never..."

 James watched them, arms crossed and feeling little bit apprehensive. They loved each other, that much had been obvious since they were eleven years old and climbing into each other's beds when they thought no one knew. He knew, logically, that neither of them would ever intentionally hurt the other. But he also knew both boys well enough to know that there were certain aspects of their personalities, and in the history of their friendship, that were bound to be problematic once things like romance and sex inevitably came into the equation. That, James decided, was something to be concerned about at a later time. For now, his two best friends were happy and in love.

And snogging on his bed.

"Alright! We get it! You're in love!" He picked a pillow up off the floor and threw it full force at the couple, who broke apart and laughed. 

"And just remember what I said about silencing charms!" 

 -

 "Your sister bloody hates me, Lils." Marlene laughed as she closed the bedroom door behind her. "You should have seen her face when she saw me waiting outside the loo to brush my teeth."

Lily sighed and shook her head, flipping idly through her potions text book on her bed. "Don't flatter yourself, Marly." She chided gently without lifting her eyes from her book. "She hates everything to do with magic. There's no use trying to be nice to her."

Marlene snorted, turning to face the mirror on the wall and fussing with her long blonde hair. "Oh don't worry, I wasn't nice." 

 "I didn't think you would be." Lily smiled wryly, closing her textbook and putting it back in her trunk. "That's why when my parents told me to invite a friend home, I picked you and not Dorcas or Mary."

Marlene faked a hurt expression with a hand on her heart, red glossed lips forming a perfect O in mock offense. "It's not because I'm your best friend?" She shook her head and smirked. "Hurtful, Evans. Really." She put her focus back on her reflection. 

Lily rolled her eyes. "No. It's just that Mary is far too sensitive, and I wouldn't want Petunia's obvious...disdain....to make her feel bad. And Dorcas is so overly friendly, she would take it up as a challenge to make Tuney like her." She tried to keep her tone light, like it didn't bother her that these were concerns about bringing her closest friends home with her. Marlene frowned, watching the redhead in the mirror's reflection. She crossed the room and took a seat next to her on the bed.

 "Hey," She said softly, reaching up and tucking a strand of dark red hair behind her friend's ear. "Don't let it get to you, Lils. Maybe...maybe she'll get over it some day. You never know, eh?" 

Green eyes blinked back tears and she let out a shaky sigh. "I just..." She sniffled a bit. "She's my sister, Marly. And she hates me...for something I can't even control..." Lily allowed herself to be pulled in by her best friend, leaning against the other girl's chest and letting the tears fall. Marlene ran her perfectly polished nails comfortingly up and down Lily's back. "It's alright, Lily. Don't cry, love...Merlin, if you cry I'll have to go and put toads eyes in her shampoo for upsetting you." 

Lily laughed and wiped at her eyes. "You hung around Black too much last year, I think." 

 Marlene sighed and shook her head. "You know, They aren't that bad. The Marauders..." She grabbed a hair brush, settling behind her friend and began to pull it through Lily's long locks. She heard the other girl groan. 

"Right. They're only conceited, obnoxious, disruptive, rude-" 

 "Oh please," Marlene pulled sharply on Lily's hair to cut her off. "They are not...well...at least...Remus and Peter aren't." 

Lily laughed. "I never said I had a problem with Remus or Peter. They're nice enough. In fact, I can't see what it is that makes them friends with Black and Potter." 

"They take good care of each other." Marlene commented lightly. "I mean everyone knows Remus is...not well...Potter and Black and Pettigrew really do everything they can for him. I mean, Sirius even takes notes in class when Remus is ill! And you know that boy isn't taking notes for himself." Both girls giggled at that. 

 "Anyway," Lily continued, soberly. "They may take care of each other, but you can't deny they can be bullies to everyone else. Come one, Marly. You've seen the things they have done to people-" 

"Yeah, and it's all been pretty harmless." 

Lily bit her lip. Not everything... She thought bitterly. True, most of the pranks the boys pulled were aimed at large groups of students, if not everyone all at once, and were irritating and inconvenient at best. No one was ever seriously injured from anything The Marauders had pulled. No one except...

 "Look, if this is about their little...rivalry with Severus," Marlene waved her hand dismissively. "Have you thought about the fact that maybe he might be giving them proper reason to-" 

"Marlene," Huffed Lily, trying her best to keep herself from becoming overly defensive of the boy. "Look, I know that Severus isn't everyone's cup of tea," Marlene snorted, but Lily ignored her and continued. "And I know he's mixed in with a bad lot lately. But I think he's just...a little lost, that's all." she sighed and stared at her hands in her lap as Marlene secured her hair it a ponytail. "He's been a very good friend to me since before Hogwarts even. I don't think he's a bad person, and I don't think he shares the views his...friends...have. But Potter and Black torment him, and that doesn't make it any easier." 

 Marlene nodded, though in her mind she couldn't disagree more. She knew that Lily's mind wouldn't be persuaded against the Slytherin, who Marlene always found a bit creepy. But Lily wouldn't hear a bad word about him. Marlene had to wonder what exactly it would take to show Lily that this boy wasn't what she thought he was. And perhaps James and Sirius were a little harsh with what they said and did to Snape, but she had never seen them pick on anyone that hadn't done something to provoke them.

A high pitched scream from the hall disrupted them and Lily slowly turned around, raising an eyebrow. "...Marlene...?" 

The blond giggled and shrugged, the exact opposite of a vision of innocence. "What?" 

Lily frowned and Marlene groaned. "Alright fine. I replaced her her toothpaste with slug mucus, but it won't hurt her!" 

-

Maybe it had been some sort of mistake.

It must have been a mistake. Remus actually felt himself gag as he stared down at the envelope that laid open on James' bed. He didn't even want to touch the pin that had fallen out of it.

"This is some sort of joke." Said Sirius, voicing his exact thoughts. "Who on earth would make you a prefect, Moony?" 

Remus groaned and shook his head. "Don't say it out loud, Padfoot...It might be a prank, and if you say it out loud it'll solidify in some strange parallel universe and be true." He rubbed at his eyes, hoping to make the stupid thing disappear. "All I wanted was to get through school completely under the radar like any other normal student." He mumbled. "What are they thinking? My bloody boyfriend is the biggest delinquent in school..." 

"To be fair," Piped Peter. "No one knows Padfoot is your boyfriend yet."

James sighed, shaking his head. "It's got to be some sort of conspiracy, mate." He watched as Remus gingerly picked the shiny pin up between two fingers, as if it might burn him. "Probably so you'll tighten the reigns on the rest of us."

Remus snorted and rolled his eyes. "Like I ever had the reigns to begin with." He dropped the little piece of metal and wiped his hand on his jeans, shaking his head furiously. "Nope. Nope, don't want it. I just want to pass my bloody OWLs and move on with my life." He shuddered. He would go to Dumbledore's office as soon as they got back to the school and respectfully decline. He didn't need any more responsibility, and he really didn't need to be expected to control the dynamic duo of James and Sirius. "Fuuuuuck." 

Sirius wound his arms around Remus' waist, resting his head on the werewolf's shoulder. "Alright, well...This may not be the worst thing, you know? There's a bright side to this." 

 "Is there?" 

"Prefect's bathroom is probably a great place to sha-Ow! Why'd you hit me?" 

 "Because someone had to and Remus wasn't doing it." Said Peter with a smirk. "Actually though, I think you may be on to something with there being a bright side to this." He picked up the prefect badge, inspecting it closely. "Think about it, Moony's going to know all the school rules-" 

James laughed. "Doesn't he already?" 

Peter ignored him and continued. "So he'll know how to get around them as well, won't you Moony?"

Remus bit his lip, feeling a little uneasy. "I don't know..."

 "That's a good point, Wormtail." Sirius said with a sly grin. He turned his face to nuzzle Remus' cheek. "Having a prefect on our side could work in our favor."

Remus shook his head. "No. It's not happening. I'm going straight to Dumbledore and telling him I don't want it." He stepped out of Sirius' embrace and took the pin from Peter, stuffing it back into the envelope. "I've got enough trouble with time management without having to go to prefect meetings, or doing rounds at night. And besides, what if I have to give one of you detention?" 

James and Sirius exchanged looks and broke into fits of laughter. "Yeah, like you'd give us detention. Good one, Moony." James snickered.

Remus frowned, offended. "If I'm a prefect and I see you lot doing something wrong, which...let's face it, other than breathing everything you do is bloody wrong-"

 "But that's what's so brilliant, Moons!" Sirius grinned. "We can do all of that in front of you and not get in trouble!" 

"That's...really disrespectful, Sirius." Said Remus flatly, taking a seat on the bed and reading over the letter that had come with the stupid silver pin. It wasn't that he was ungrateful to Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall for feeling that he was a worthy enough student for such a title, but he wasn't as sure of himself as they seemed to be. Still, it was an honor and his friends weren't being very supportive. He bit the inside of his cheek, trying not to let himself get angry with them. He didn't want it anyway, so what did it matter if they were acting like idiots about it? There was a very obvious tension in the air as James, Sirius and Peter began to notice that Remus wasn't amused by their behavior.

James cleared his throat. "Listen, Moony. You don't need to make a decision about this right now, right? We've still got three weeks til the start of term. Take some time to think on it."

 "Yeah," Remus sighed, folding up the letter and putting it away. "I suppose so." 

James clapped him on the shoulder. "Great then," He said briskly. "Let's enjoy the rest of the summer and worry about school when the time comes. I for one could use some fresh air. Anyone fancy a walk?" 

Sirius, instinctively, looked up. "Where are we going?"

James shrugged. "Muggle town a few blocks away? There's some decent shops around." He had barely finished suggesting it when Sirius almost had both shoes on and was practically out the bedroom door. James snorted and shook his head. "You should really consider leashing him, Moony." 

"It's crossed my mind." 

Chapter Text

There was nothing too exciting about the muggle town that was walking distance from The Potters' estate, other than the fact that it was a change of scenery for the boys who had spent the last few weeks pestering Euphemia and Fleamont, running around the manor and the grounds and causing the usual ruckus that comes with being 15 year olds. It was mostly a few family run shops, an ice cream parlor and a pub. But to Sirius, who had never been allowed around areas heavily populated by Muggles, it was an entirely different world. Remus had watched in amusement as Sirius, James and Peter tore through the stationary store, eyes wide and minds blown by the idea of writing utensils that didn't need to be dipped in an ink well every few lines. 

"But how does it work?" 

 "The ink is stored inside." Explained Remus, holding back his laughter while James inspected an average ball point pen.

 "Muggles," The pureblood sighed, utterly impressed. "They really do think of some of the greatest things."

 "I suppose they have no choice." Sirius agreed, picking up a stapler which Remus immediately took from him, muttering under his breath about sharp things and not wanting to have a trip to the hospital if Sirius put an eye out. "Since they haven't got magic, they've got to figure out how to get by..."

It had taken far too long to drag them all out of the shop and Remus, being the only one of the four with any muggle money on him, had gone as far as to buy a pack of cheap pens for the other three so they could experiment with them all they wanted, without bothering the elderly shop keeper that had been watching them suspiciously for the last half an hour. It was closing in on dinner time and they were going to call it a day when something caught Sirius' eye, and without a word he sped across the street to press his nose against the glass window of the storefront. 

 "Told you to leash him." James smirked, nudging Remus with his elbow as they crossed to meet Sirius outside what turned out to be a boutique that sold clothing and records. The store had Sirius written all over it. 

 "I'm going in," Sirius announced, not waiting for a reply as he swung the door open and hurried inside. James, Peter and Remus all exchanged a look and shrugged before they followed him in.

 Sirius had made a b line directly to the front corner of the shop where he was stood in awe, admiring a mannequin that was sporting a simple, sleek, black leather jacket.   At first he just stood completely still, staring at it as if it were the most beautiful work of art known to man. Then, tentatively, he reached out and touched the surprisingly soft material. 

 "Alright Pads?" Peter asked, raising an eyebrow. They were all a little confused at just what about the jacket had Sirius so bewildered. Sirius didn't respond, he appeared to be contemplating something as his eyes narrowed and he chewed his bottom lip. Finally, and with surprising care for the usually rambunctious teenager, he slid the article off the plastic model. He inspected it again at a closer glance before turning to face the mirrored wall behind him and slipping the jacket on over his black t shirt. His grey eyes widened a little as he watched his reflection, running his hands over his sides and observing himself at different angles. 

 "So how does it look? Pretty badass, eh?" Sirius flashed a grin over his leather clad shoulder, addressing his friends as though he had just remembered they were with him. He looked for all the world like he stepped right off the cover of a biker's catalog

 "Hot." Said Remus, eyeing his boyfriend up and down with the shadow of a smirk pulling at his lips. Sirius' grin turned devilish and he winked at the other boy. 

"Oh yeah? You like it that much, Moony?" 

Remus snorted and rolled his eyes. "No, you prat. I meant you look bloody boiling. It's August and that thing looks like it weighs a ton. Take it off, you'll die of heat stroke."

James and Peter both held back laughter as Sirius' face fell slightly. 

 "I think I look fit as hell." He said, jutting his chin up slightly in confidence. "Don't lie, Moony. You know you agree." 

Remus' expression softened and he chuckled. "Yeah Pads. I mean...it does look really nice on you. But it hardly matters, you've not got any muggle money and besides," he reached forward and grasped the tag that hung from the sleeve. "It's really expensive." He winced at the price. 

 Sirius deflated, looking again at his own reflection and wearing a face of wishfulness that Remus actually found very endearing. He looked like a puppy who had been told he couldn't have the left over table scraps. 

 "Come on, Padfoot." James said, sobering up slightly as he caught the look of disappointment on his friend's face. "I'm sure you'll be able to get one like it eventually. And like Remus said, it's bloody August. You don't need it now."

 Sirius sighed and shrugged out of the jacket, putting it carefully back in its place and giving it one last hopeful once over before he followed his friends out of the store. 

As they walked back to the Potters', Sirius didn't say much. After a while of allowing the boy to sulk, Remus gently grabbed him by the elbow and smiled softly when the sad grey eyes met his. "You did look really good in that jacket, Sirius. Really. Like it was made for you." 

 The corner of Sirius' mouth twitched up in a cocky smirk. "Yeah?"

Remus nodded, a pink tinge flushing over his cheeks as he added. "But then...I think you look bloody fit in nearly anything..." He admitted shyly as their hands found each other and their fingers laced together. Sirius' face lit up and the two of them slowed their walk just a bit so that they fell behind James and Peter by a few strides. Remus bit his lower lip as his eyes lingered for a moment on Sirius' mouth and he ducked his head down to kiss him. He had meant it to be just a quick brush, but when Sirius sighed contently, he couldn't help himself and he let his tongue slide slowly between his boyfriend's parted lips. They had stopped walking altogether, forgetting their friends momentarily as Remus' arms wrapped around Sirius' waist and Sirius slid his hands up to rest at the back of the taller boy's neck where his fingers began to toy with the soft curls there. There was nothing but the two of them in that second, their lips and tongues moving against each other, not mattering that they were standing on the side of a relatively public road. 

 The sound of James clearly his throat brought them both back to earth and they reluctantly ended the kiss, though they stood for a second longer, foreheads resting against each other and smiling somewhat sheepishly. 

 "Are you two done eating each other's faces? You won't be hungry for supper, you know." James teased as he and Peter both snickered at the flustered couple. The two of them pulled away from each other, regaining their composure and Sirius shot James a dirty look and flipped a finger up at him. Remus blushed, but he was smiling as he reclaimed Sirius' hand in his own and they continued the walk back to the Potters'.

-

 Lily worried her bottom lip between her teeth as she gazed down at the pin that lay in the palm of her hand. A Prefect. They had made her actually made her a Prefect. Her stomach felt queasy. 

 "You're not happy about it?" Asked Marlene, brows knitted together in confusion. "It's a huge deal, Lil. And think of how it will look on your transcript." 

Lily sighed, turning the pin over between her fingers, fidgeting nervously. "I am happy about it. Really." She tried to sound confident, but she knew she was failing at that. She blew out a gust of air that sent her fringe flying up and sat heavily on her bed. "Alright, I'm a little...nervous." 

"Why? What's to be nervous about?" Marlene sat beside her, folding her long legs underneath herself and picking up the letter from the school that announced Lily's new title. 

 "It's..." Lily trailed off and laughed lightly. "It's silly probably, but...I'm a muggleborn." She mumbled the last part. Marlene frowned.

 "So?"

"So," She sighed again, averting her eyes. "With the way some of the other students have been picking on muggleborns, I'm just...I suppose I'm a little uneasy about being given a position of authority. There are...certain people...that I'm sure won't respect anything I say." It bothered her to admit it out loud, but it was the truth.

 "Bullshit." Swore Marlene sharply, the angry tone in her voice making Lily look up in surprise. "That is not the Lily Evans that I know." She said firmly. 

 "Marl-"

"No." Marlene held up a hand to silence her. "You're the brightest girl in our year, Lily. And you've got wicked talent with a wand and more than a few good hexes up your sleeve. You deserve this. Don't let some pureblood supremacist gits take that from you." 

Lily smiled weakly and met the fierce blue eyes of her friend. "You're right. I told you it was silly." 

 Marlene shook her head, smirking. "I should say so. You should be bloody well proud of yourself, Lils. I'm proud of you. Your parents are proud of you. That wench of a sister is probably reeling with jealousy, but in my opinion that makes it even more of a victory." 

At that Lily actually did laugh. "That's not funny, Marley."

"Didn't mean it to be. I'm serious." The blonde grinned and playfully nudged at her friend. "There's the other bright side, you get to give Sirius and James detention, eh?" 

Lily rolled her eyes and laughed. "I thought you said they weren't so bad?" 

Marlene gave a half hearted, dismissive shrug. "I don't mind them. But that's got to give you a little bit of a thrill, eh?"

A grin made its way across Lily's face and she shook her head. "Alright it may be just a little satisfying." She admit. Then something clicked in her mind. "You never told me why you and Sirius broke up. I mean, personally I can't imagine why you started dating him in the first place, but you two always seemed to hit it off rather well." 

Marlene made an odd face that Lily couldn't read. "We just weren't...you know...right together." She hopped off the bed. "Besides, it's not like it was anything more than just sneaking off to snog. It was just silliness, really."

 "Mmm," Lily hummed thoughtfully. "Dorcas and Mary think he's not attracted to girls at all you know." She looked pointedly up at her friend through her lashes as the other girl seemed to tense up for a moment.

 "Er...Dorcas says that, eh?" 

Lily nodded, watching Marlene carefully. "They reckon he's got it pretty bad for Lupin. The way he fusses over him and all...d'you think-?"

"I think that's Sirius' business." Marlene said a little too quickly. She cleared her throat and began twisting a strand of blonde hair around her finger. "So what if he does, anyway? Did...did Dorcas...or....did they have a problem with it? If Sirius happened to be that way?"

Lily's eyes widened a little and filled with concern and she shook her head. "No. Of course not. It was just an observation, that's all..."

Marlene licked her lips, looking down at her feet. "And you? You haven't got a problem with that right?" 

Again Lily shook her head. "No, Marly." She said softly. Then she smiled. "I can name about twenty problems off the top of my head that I've got with Black. But that's certainly not one of them..." She continued to study her friend's nervous behavior. "Marlene," she waited for the other girl to look at her. "I would never hold that against somebody. You love whoever you love. You know that, right?" 

 Finally Marlene nodded, smiling weakly. "I know." 

-

"Is it me," Said Peter, peering out the window of their compartment at the crowd of people hustling along the platform at Kings Cross. "Or do the first years just keep getting smaller?" 

 Sirius laughed and stretched out across the seat, resting his head on Remus' lap where the werewolf's fingers instinctively began to run through his hair. "No they're definitely getting smaller. They look like infants." 

"It's relative," Remus commented mildly, not taking his eyes off the book he was holding with the hand that wasn't petting Sirius. "We've gotten bigger and older so they seem smaller, that's all."

 James frowned, watching a few tiny first years run past the compartment doors. "I don't know. I don't think we were ever that little...I've seen bigger cornish pixies than some of this lot." 

Remus snorted and shook his head. "Nonsense. You were too that small. Hell, Sirius still is." 

 "Oy! I'm right here, you know." Sirius grumbled. "Besides, I'm taller than Peter. Why don't you pick on his size, you lanky prat?"

Remus tugged gently on Sirius' hair to quiet him. "Because you tease Peter enough and someone needs to put you in your place."

"Speaking of putting me in my place," Sirius reached up and pulled at his boyfriend's school robe. "Shouldn't you be wearing your shiny new badge, Mr. Prefect?" Remus swatted his hand away, eyes still glued to the pages of his book.

 "I've told you, I'm not doing it." The muscle in his jaw twitched in aggravation. Sirius sat up so fast he knocked the book right out of the other boy's hand.

"Wait, you were serious about that?"

 Remus bent to pick up his book, letting out a growl of frustration. "Of course I was."

"But why?" Asked Peter, his tone just as surprised as Sirius'. James too was looking at him in confusion now that the train had begun to move and he had taken his seat beside Peter. Remus looked between his friends and frowned.

 "You lot spent the last three weeks teasing me for it, first of all." All three of them began to protest, but he cut them off. "And like I said, I just don't need the extra stress of it. It's too time consuming and it isn't worth it. It was stupid of them to give it to me anyway. It's not like I've done anything to deserve it. I don't have top marks and I may not hold a school record for most detentions like the two of you, but I don't have the best behavioral history either."

"Well yeah, but only because we-" 

 "James, I participate willingly in ninety percent of the pranks we pull and you know it. This is completely ridiculous. I'm not doing it." He skimmed through the pages of his book, trying to find where he was before it had been knocked away, but then it was plucked from his hands. "Give it back, Sirius..." 

Sirius, who was standing on the seat and holding the book above his head and out of Remus' reach, glared down at him. "No. That's stupid. You need to do this, Moony." 

 Remus huffed, his annoyance growing steadily stronger. "Why? So you three can reap all the benefits?" 

Sirius whacked him not-too-lightly on the head with his book, thankfully a paperback, and rolled his eyes. "No, although I still think we could really get some good use out of the prefects lav," He narrowly dodged his boyfriend's hand that had shot out to retrieve the novel he still held hostage. "Because you do deserve it, Remus." He said seriously. "You work harder than anyone else in the school and, yeah, you may not have top marks but they're damn near close for someone who's got as much going on as you do. You're responsible, and you're always helping out the younger students that need help and...well...I'm proud of you, Remus. You should be recognized for what you manage to accomplish." His face flushed a little and he dropped the book into Remus' lap. "Besides...if you don't do it, it will probably go to someone that gets on all our nerves or something and we won't manage to have any fun whatsoever...so...you really should just...you know...do it." He finished lamely, feeling a little embarrassed and sat back down in his seat. Remus stared at him, completely lost for words although he felt his aggravation ease up.

"Sirius is right, Moony." Said James, as Peter nodded along side him. "If anyone in the whole school deserves to have their effort rewarded, it's definitely you."

Remus felt his face heat up and he smiled, looking down at his lap. "Thank you. Really...I...I appreciate that you all feel that way." 

 The door to the compartment slid open and all four of them looked up to see a slightly flustered looking Lily Evans standing over them. James grinned, standing up and running his hand through his hair. "Hey, Evans. Miss me this summer?" He had forcibly dropped his voice an octave, making Sirius, Remus and Peter have to stifle their laughter. Lily did him no such justice and it took her a good fifteen seconds to compose herself. 

 "Oh I'm sorry," She sighed with mirth and shook her head. "Sorry, that was just a new level even for you, Potter."

James scowled and he sat back down. "What do you want, Evans?" He asked irritably.

"Actually, I was looking for Remus." Said Lily, turning her attention to him. "Er...there's a meeting for all the new prefects in another car. They were looking for you so...I said I'd fetch you." 

Remus blinked up at her for a moment, his nerves creeping back up. "Oh...um....right..." He stood up and turned to face his friends. "I guess I'll see you later then? It can't last too long..."

The others nodded encouragingly and after one last second of hesitation he followed Lily out of the compartment. 

Once the door closed again, Sirius shook his head. "See? Like I said, if it's not him we'll be stuck with someone who gets on all of our nerves and we won't have any fun. Evans the Prefect...Just what we need."

"She's a prefect whether he is or not." Peter pointed out.

 "Yeah," Sirius shrugged. "But she's much less of a threat when we've got Moony on the inside than if it were someone else."

-

Remus followed closely as Lily hurried through the cars to find the Prefects' compartment. He and Lily had never been particularly close, mostly because of her disliking of James and Sirius, but they certainly had always been on friendly terms with each other and he could tell that something was definitely off.

 "Hey, Lily..." 

"Hmm?" She responded distractedly, eyes searching the compartments as they passed them. 

 Remus grabbed her arm gently and they both stopped. "Why do I get the feeling you're just as unhappy about this whole prefect thing as I am?" 

Lily's whole body slumped with relief. "You too?" 

 He nodded, offering a sympathetic smile. "Not that I'm not, you know, grateful to Professor Dumbledore for thinking I can handle it or anything-"

"Me too!" Agreed Lily, clearly pleased to see that she wasn't the only one that felt a little pressured. "I'm thrilled, really...I mean, on a personal level, sure. I'm proud of myself but..." She shook her head. "I can't help but think it may be..."

 "More stress than it's worth?" Remus smiled wryly and the girl laughed, nodding.

"Exactly." She sighed. "Can I be honest though?" 

 "Of course." 

"I'm really glad that if I've got to do this, at least it's you that's with me." She held her hand out to him. "We'll work together, then?" 

Remus took her hand and they shook on it. "Deal." 

 

 

Chapter Text

As it turned out, the Prefect's meeting lasted for the remainder of the ride, where they were told it would continue in Professor Dumbledore's office, and dinner would be provided for them. By the time the meeting was over, both Lily and Remus were bored to tears and wanted nothing more than to return to the dorm room and collapse.
They walked slowly together, laughing about some of the ridiculous rules they would have to uphold as 'Official Officers of the School' As Lily mimicked in her best rendition of Head Girl, Molly Prewett's stern voice, sending both herself and Remus into fits of laughter.

Remus sighed and shook his head. "This is a disaster waiting to happen." He flipped through the handbook they had all been given. "Merlin, James and Sirius break half these rules before breakfast."

Lily bit her lip, wanting so badly to ask the question that had been bothering her for years. Finally she relented. "Seriously though, how can you stand them? I mean...they're so full of themselves and obnoxious and...for Godric's sake they've given each other bloody codenames." She laughed to herself.

Remus shrugged. "You wouldn't understand, really. I know they can be a handful, but I swear when those two care about you, it's like no one else matters in the whole world. All of their focus goes on you and your needs. They've done a lot for me and ask nothing in return...It's....It's a Marauder thing. All for one and one for all, you know?"

"That's a Musketeer thing." Lily chided and Remus grinned, nodding.

 "It is. But...it's not so much different, really. Can I ask you what you see in Severus?"

Lily nodded slowly with a knowing smile. "I should have seen that coming..." She sighed, running a hand through her hair slowly as she thought of how to explain what no one else seemed to want to understand. "Severus was the first person I met that was like me. Until I met him, I didn't understand why I could do things that other people couldn't...I didn't understand why I was born so differently than my own sister."

They had stopped walking. Remus could hear a different emotion in Lily's voice. It wasn't sad, or aggravated...it was more desperate. "He showed me that I wasn't strange or...or a freak." She swallowed, tears filling her bright emerald eyes. "He was - is - a good person. He's just been hanging around the wrong sort lately and everyone is judging him because of it and...Black and Potter," She shook her head. "Sorry, I know they're your friends, Remus,"

Remus shrugged dismissively, urging her to continue.

"But they are constantly after him, and it's not making things any easier. What's he ever done to them anyway?" She looked at Remus expectantly, as if he could supply some sort of an answer. He could, truthfully. But she wasn't going to like what he had to say and he wasn't sure she'd ever see it the way James and Sirius did...not until she was ready to. He sighed.

"I think that James and Sirius and Severus are the same, Lily." He said carefully, trying to remain unbiased. It was true that Sirius and James were ruthless with Snape, and it was true that Remus sometimes thought they took it too far. But Remus also knew that something about Severus Snape made his skin crawl, and they had reason to believe that he wasn't as different from his Slytherin cohorts as Lily wanted to believe. "I think they either love you or hate you and there is no in between. They have very different opinions, but very similar ways of showing them. So they do things to each other and retaliate...I don't believe either side is innocent."

Lily dabbed the corner of her eyes with her sleeve and smiled sadly, shaking her head. "Very diplomatic answer, Remus." She laughed softly. "But I suppose I understand what you mean. It just hurts me to see him taking the wrong path out of necessity, you know?"

Now Remus winced slightly. "I wouldn't quite say that. Everyone has a choice in these matters. He can choose his own path, you know." He caught the hurt look she gave him and sighed. "Look, I'll try to talk to James and Sirius about easing up. I can't promise you anything, I don't really have as much influence over them as people seem to think...but I'll at least try. For your sake."

In an instant he found himself wrapped in the girl's arms and he froze up for a second.
"Thank you Remus."
Remus sighed, gently patting her back. "Don't thank me just yet."

It was getting late, much past curfew and when they climbed through the portrait hole to the common room it was deserted. Everyone else was sure to be in their beds and asleep at this hour. Lily hugged Remus once again, kissing him sweetly on the cheek before she took the staircase on the right to the fifth year girls' dorm.

Remus took the stairs to the left, briefly wondering if the marauders were asleep, or if they decided to waste no time in taking the cloak and the map on an adventure. The dorm room was quiet when he entered, but he could hear Peter's light snoring from across the room. He silently made his way to his own bed, careful to avoid the creaky floorboard between his own bunk and Sirius'.

Sirius. The thought of the other boy made his heart swell, all those things he had said on the train...that he was proud of him, and that Remus deserved to be recognized for his hard work. He smiled to himself. He wondered if Sirius was still awake...

"Moony?" That answered that question. But Remus frowned as he realized that the hushed voice of his boyfriend had come from his own bed. The curtains of the bed moved and Sirius poked his head out, all lopsided grin and sparkling grey eyes that made Remus' stomach feel fluttery.

He smiled back at him. "It's late, Pads. You didn't have to wait up for me." He kicked off his shoes and grabbed his pajamas and his tooth brush.

Sirius shrugged. "Wanted to. I wasn't tired anyway." His eyes did a once over of Remus and the goofy smile on his face widened a bit. "How was the meeting?"

"Boring." Remus said, trying to bite his lip to contain his own face splitting grin. "I'll be right back, I'm just going to brush my teeth and change."

Sirius looked as if he wanted to say something else, but he cleared his throat and nodded. "Yeah, sure. Go ahead." And his head disappeared back behind the curtain.

Remus took his time in the bathroom. Sirius was in his bed. Alright, that wasn't unusual of course. They had slept in the same bed countless times in the last five years. But this was different. They were a couple now, and they were allowed to touch and hold and kiss each other and...

Remus swallowed hard and splashed some water on his face. They hadn't had much time to themselves since they had officially gotten together, being stuck at the Potters' with James and Peter and sleeping cramped on separate cots in James' room...They had managed a few times to steal kisses and even climbed out of bed a few nights, sneaking out to the yard to snog behind the shed, but that was it...

He felt slightly panicked. Sirius had made it clear that he wasn't inexperienced when it came to sex. But Remus himself wasn't quite sure he was ready for any of that. What if Sirius didn't want to wait?

He looked at himself in the mirror, he looked pale. "This is silly," he said out loud to his reflection. "Sirius is your best friend. He wouldn't want you to do anything you're not comfortable with." It was very possible that Sirius had just planned to wait for him to return from the meeting and nothing more. He took a deep breath and changed into his t shirt and pajama bottoms. "You can do this." He said again to his mirror-self. "It's just Sirius."

"If you say so." The mirror responded, and he groaned before picking up his clothes and heading back into the dorm.

As quietly as he could he padded to his four poster and pulled back the curtains. His heart felt like it was stuck in his throat when he saw Sirius, shirtless (the bastard), laying across the mattress casually. His bottom half was hidden under the covers and Remus silently prayed that he was at least wearing bottoms. Sirius pulled back the blankets (good, he was wearing pajamas) and Remus hesitated for just a second before he slid in beside the other boy, reached behind him and closed the curtains.

They both laid on their sides, facing each other and propped up on their elbows. They didn't say anything, but Sirius' hand inched forward until it was resting over Remus, his thumb gently stroking over Remus' knuckles. Remus licked his lips, noticing the way Sirius' eyes lingered there.

"Sirius..."

"Yeah?"

He met Sirius' eyes. "Thanks for what you said today on the train."

Sirius frowned, brows coming together and Remus looked down at their joined hands. "Just...about me deserving recognition and...being proud of me and all that."

Sirius' hand moved from its place over Remus' and rested instead under his chin, lifting his gaze back up to meet the intense silvery stare of his boyfriend. "I meant it, Moony. I'm sorry if me and James and Pete made your accomplishment feel invalidated or anything. We were only teasing you."

"I know-"

"No, really..." Sirius continued. "We shouldn't have acted that way. This is important to you. I know it is, even if you act like you didn't want it in the first place. Secretly you're really proud of yourself, you're just too modest to admit it."

Remus laughed softly and nodded. "Maybe, a little bit." He scooted a little closer and felt one of Sirius' thighs wedge itself between his own. "It also..." He sighed. "I mean...it's going to be very difficult for me to find work after school, Sirius. And anything extra I can have to my name is really helpful..."

Sirius nodded along, understanding what he meant. "I know, Moony."

A silence fell over them, the only sound was their own breathing, which was slightly heavier than usual, and Peter's snores in the distance. Remus felt like his heart was going to beat right out of his chest. Sirius' thigh between his legs was dangerously close to what Remus only just realized was his own arousal. He was absolutely terrified, but he also didn't want to put a stop to it either.

"Remus," Sirius' voice was barely a whisper, and he noticed that the look on his face was just as anxious as he felt himself.

"Y-yeah?"

"We," Sirius cleared his throat. "We don't have to do anything you don't want to do, you know..."

Remus nodded. "I know..." Their faces were centimeters apart, though neither of them could recall actually moving closer, and Remus could feel the hot puffs of Sirius' breath on face. It smelled like mint from the boy's toothpaste, but under that was the distinct scent of cigarettes and some sort of spice he could never place that was just uniquely Sirius. A strange noise escaped Remus' throat and he couldn't hold back another second, barely having to move at all to press his lips against the other boy's.

Sirius' hand moved to cup the side of Remus' face and he flicked his tongue across his bottom lip. He shifted his body slightly and they both gasped when his knee brushed against something hard. Remus felt Sirius hesitate, so he moaned encouragingly and grabbed the boy's hips, pulling him so he was now positioned on top of him.

"Remus?" Sirius questioned, not breaking the kiss but clearly wanting to be sure this was still okay.

"Keep going." Remus breathed, nipping softly at Sirius' bottom lip and making him moan.

At first Sirius didn't move. He held himself up over Remus, concentrating on their lips and tongues sliding together as they kissed deeply. Then Remus' hips raised up and their groins rubbed against each other for the first time.
Both of them moaned in surprise.

"Fuck," Sirius swore, reluctantly breaking the kiss and sitting up.

"W-what?" Remus blinked up at him, confused and dazed and a little lightheaded.

Sirius groped around the bed for a moment and emerged seconds later with his wand. "Remember what Prongs said about silencing charms." He laughed before casting the charm and stuffing the wand back under the pillow. He re-positioned himself, straddling Remus' hips and looking down at the other boy, long dark hair falling around his face like a curtain. "This is still okay?"

Remus nodded hurriedly, one hand moving up to brush Sirius' hair from his face and using that same hand to pull his boyfriend's head back down to resume kissing.
Their nerves had subsided into pure lust, and now they didn't hold back as their hips ground against each other, pulling moans and sighs and gasps from their joined mouths. Remus' hands began to stroke up and down Sirius' bare sides, over his chest and abdomen and Sirius' lips had strayed from Remus' mouth and was kissing down his jaw, gently nibbling the soft skin behind Remus' ear and making the werewolf whine.

One of Sirius' hands was lingering on the waistband on Remus' pajamas, the tips of his fingers slipping just underneath.

"Can I touch you?" Sirius' voice was deep and husky against his ear and Remus felt like he might actually melt. He swallowed hard and nodded, holding his breath as the warm hand slid completely past the elastic of his flannels and splayed against his hip, pausing to give Remus a chance to change his mind and stop him. When Remus did no such thing, the hand on his hip shifted, and he was suddenly surrounded by the warmth of Sirius' hand wrapped around him.

"Oh..." Remus gasped, hips arching involuntarily off the bed, pushing further into Sirius' hand.

He heard Sirius chuckle, low and deep by his ear. Then Sirius swallowed. "You'll stop me if you don't want to keep going, right?" His voice shook a little.

"Y-yes," Remus nodded quickly, the hand around him had started to stoke up and down in long, slow movements. He couldn't imagine letting Sirius stop.
Sirius himself was grinding his hips against Remus' leg in rhythm to the pumping of his fist, seeking friction for his own neglected arousal. For a moment Remus considered asking if he could do anything to help, but he wasn't so sure he could form actual words at this point. Sirius' other hand found the hem of Remus' shirt and that broke Remus from his list driven daze.

"Wait," He heard his own voice say. Sirius stopped everything immediately, pulling away just slightly to examine Remus' face.

"Are you okay?" Sirius asked, concern now replacing the huskiness that had just been present. Remus groaned in frustration, hating himself for making it all stop. Embarrassed, he didn't say anything. His own hands pulled self consciously at the bottom of his t shirt and Sirius' eyes widened with realization.
Sirius lovingly pressed their lips together. "Moony, I've seen them before..."

Remus shook his head, eyes squeezed shut and feeling completely ashamed. "Not like this...not when you were actually...you know...looking."

Sirius was quiet for a moment, thinking. He kissed Remus' lips again. "Moony, I won't ever do anything that makes you uncomfortable...and if you don't want me to see your scars when we're...together...that's fine. But..." He sighed and Remus opened his eyes to see Sirius gazing down at him with a look of pure adoration, it made Remus' breath hitch. "I think you're absolutely beautiful, Remus. I've seen you at your worst, and even then...but I won't make you do something you don't want to do."

Remus stared up at him, awestruck at Sirius' declaration. How could someone like Sirius, who was basically everyone at Hogwarts' idea of sex personified, say those things about someone as ordinary and defective as him? He shook his head. "Sirius, I'm not-"

"Don't." Said Sirius sharply. "Don't argue with me." The hand that was still wrapped around Remus' hardness began to move again, making Remus forget whatever it was he had just been so scared about. A sly smirk crossed Sirius' face. "Just...let me make you feel good, Remus." Before Remus could argue, Sirius' lips were kissing down the column of his throat and the protest Remus had wanted to make was gone. He took a deep breath and reached to grab Sirius' hand and stilled him. Sirius gave him a questioning look, but Remus gave no explanation. He sat up and gave the other boy a small smile before pulling his t shirt up over his head.

He heard Sirius gasp and he looked away shyly, taking every ounce of self control not to hide under the covers and never come back out.

Again, Sirius' hand was under his chin, tilting his face up so he could capture Remus' lips between his own. "Beautiful." He murmured, and Remus could feel him smiling. He smiled back, feeling his face heat up. He let Sirius coax him back into lying down, and then Sirius continued to kiss down his neck once more, this time moving lower down his body. He kissed over his shoulders, dragging his tongue across a few inches of skin here and there...

Remus froze up as he realized just want Sirius was doing. He was kissing each one of his scars, muttering under his breath words like "beautiful".,"Strong", "My Moony", "Love" and making his way down his chest and abdomen. Sirius paused when he got to the waistband of Remus' pajamas and his grey eyes flickered up, silently questioning. Remus stared down at him, breathing heavily and not knowing what to say or do. A mischievous glimmer flashed through Sirius eyes and the pink tip of his tongue darted out to trace the skin just above Remus' pajamas.

With a frustrated whine, Remus nodded frantically and lifted his hips, allowing Sirius to pull down the flannel pajama bottoms and his boxers, freeing his strained erection.
The next moment happened in slow motion, or at least that how Remus would remember it for the rest of his life. Gray eyes remained locked on gold, and that sinful pink tongue came out to wet Sirius' smirking lips. Remus could feel Sirius' breath against his arousal before finally, Sirius lowered his mouth onto him.

Remus' head fell back against the pillows and he let out a strangled cry as he was completely engulfed in tight wet heat. One of his hands tangled in the sheets below him and the other twisted in the long black locks of the head that was currently working up and down his length. He felt a familiar heat pooling in his stomach and he swore sharply. Risking another glance down, he saw Sirius' eyes were still watching him even as his mouth worked.
"Fuck," Remus moaned, the hand in Sirius' hair tightening, though Sirius didn't seem to notice, and if he did it appeared only to egg him on, taking him deeper. "S-Sirius...I think I'm going to-"

Then Sirius moaned loudly around him and vibrations sent shock waves through his entire body. That was it.

"Sirius!" His hips bucked and Sirius placed his hands on them firmly to keep them in place as Remus felt his release rush through him.
Sirius didn't budge until Remus had collapsed, panting heavily onto the bed. Once he was sure the other boy was finished, he sat up and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand.

He looked down at his boyfriend and grinned. "Alright, Rem?"

Remus opened his eyes, his head still spinning and his body feeling like jello. "Fuck..." He muttered. "That...that was...God..."

Sirius chuckled and climbed back up the length of Remus' body, kissing the tip of his nose. "You can call me Sirius." He winked and Remus didn't even have the energy to roll his eyes. Sirius settled beside him, draping his arm across his still spent body.

Once Remus caught his breath, and his brain remembered how to function, he turned onto his side, lazily tracing his fingers over Sirius' chest. "So..." He licked his lips. "Can I do that to you?"

Sirius laughed. "You think you've got the energy right now?"

Remus huffed, resting his head on Sirius' shoulder. "Well...you didn't get to..." He gestured down to Sirius lower half.

Sirius shrugged, nuzzling against Remus' soft curls and kissing his temple. "Like I said...I wanted you to feel good." He kissed his lips.

"Alright," Remus relented, only because he felt a yawn coming. "But I owe you."

Sirius grinned and nodded. "I'll hold you to that." He sighed happily, shifting them both into a more comfortable position. "Good night Remus."

Remus was already asleep.

Chapter Text

Severus Snape waited patiently one evening in early October outside the classroom that was used for the Prefects' monthly meetings. He knew that Lily wasn't thrilled with him, but perhaps catching her alone once the meeting let out would mean he had the chance to speak to her about what she had seen. After all, he personally hadn't done a thing to that Hufflepuff boy, Avery and Mulciber had. He had just been inconveniently with them. Lily believed him, of course. However she was getting less and less patient with his choice of companionship other than herself. 

 "What are you doing here?" A familiar voice sneered and Severus' hand immediately went to grip his wand in his back pocket. He turned to face Sirius Black.

 "None of your business, Black." Severus glared back at him. He was prepared to fight if that's what Black wanted, but the Gryffindor made no move for his own wand. "Wouldn't exactly think to see you hanging around a bunch of authority figures. I'm sure they've all got twenty reasons each to give you detention." 

Black smirked, leaning against the wall opposite from Severus. "I'm on my best behavior these days it seems." The boy's grey eyes scanned him up and down. "You on the other hand..." He clicked his tongue, shaking his head. "Heard you've been going 'round bullying the muggleborns. What's your girlfriend Evans think of that?"

Severus' hand tightened on his wand and his eyes narrowed further. "She's not my girlfriend. And I haven't done anything."

Sirius chuckled darkly. "Guilty by association, Snivellus."

The door to the classroom clicked and opened slowly and the prefects filed out. Lily and Remus were chatting quietly to each other and laughing. Black's posture changed instantly, like a dog who had just spotted his master walking through the door after a long trip. 

"Moony!" 

Lupin smiled and excused himself from his conversation with Lily to greet the other boy. Severus thought he may have imagined it, but he was sure he saw the sickly looking boy brush his lips across Black's discreetly before the two of them headed off down the corridor. He shook his head.

 "Hello Severus," Said Lily, but her voice didn't sound as cheerful as it normally did when she would speak to him. It sounded slightly strained, like she would rather he not be there. He tried to act like he hadn't noticed. 

 "Hi Lily. I thought I'd walk you back to your common room." He offered, keeping his tone casual. 

Lily raised one perfectly shaped red brow. "Don't you have someplace to be with Mulciber?" He could sense her sarcasm and he bit his tongue. "Besides," Lily continued. "I know my way back to my own common room." She threw her long hair over her shoulder.

 "Well, obviously I know that." Severus sighed. "Just...you know...wanted to be sure you'd get there safely."

Both of Lily's eyebrows shot up and she let out a short, sharp laugh. "Yes, well. I'm very capable to handling myself, Severus. I am a prefect for a reason. And I was suppose to walk back with Remus anyhow."

Severus scowled. "I can't believe they made one of them a prefect."

 Lily shook her head. "Remus happens to be a friend of mine, Severus. Same as you are. And you know he isn't like his friends." 

"How's he suppose to perform his prefect duties when he's disappearing once a month and nearly falling over for days after?" Severus muttered bitterly. There was definitely something off about Lupin and everyone knew it. Severus had his own theories about the boy...

"You know he's ill," The redhead groaned, clearly growing tired of the argument. 

 Severus scoffed. "Yeah, alright. That's why those arrogant little friends of his go missing as well? And they treat him like he's going break. Especially Black, you can't even breathe in Lupin's direction without Black practically turning into some sort of guard dog and ripping your throat out." 

Lily stopped walking and turned to face him completely. "Why do you care so much?" She snapped, taking Severus by surprise. Even though Lily wasn't necessarily pleased with him recently, she had never spoken to him like that before. He blinked at her, mouth falling open as he tried to think of how to respond. 

 "I...I don't..."

"You do." Lily insisted, resting her hand on her hip. "Every time Remus comes up in conversation or you see him in the halls, you start on this rant about how strange you think he is." She bit her lip. "You know Sev, I'm getting a little tired of defending you to my other friends when all you do is make wild accusations about other people and hang around with a bunch of bullies that target muggleborns." She started to walk away at a faster pace and Severus hurried to follow.

 "I didn't do anything to that Hufflepuff kid." He argued, trying to keep up with her. 

"But you didn't stop it from happening either." Said Lily, sounding exasperated. 

"I didn't have much of a choice, Lily!" 

Lily took in a deep breath as they finally made it to the portrait of the Fat Lady that his the entrance to Gryffindor Common Room. She let it out slowly and looked at him with hurt, emerald eyes. "Everyone has a choice, Severus...so what is yours going to be?" Before he could respond, she faced the portrait. "Godwottery." The painting swung open. "Goodnight Severus." Said Lily quietly, without looking back at him, and she stepped past the barrier, leaving Severus alone in the corridor. 

 -

 In the weeks to follow, Lily's mood did ease up quite a bit and Severus avoided hanging around Mulciber and Avery in an effort to fix what he was afraid may be their deflating friendship. It had made life in the Slytherin dungeon a little more difficult, as his housemates had become rather suspicious of his sudden disinterest, especially when he seemed to be ditching them merely to please some Gryffindor mudblood girl. Lily Evans, Severus decided, was worth it. 

It had gotten to be a little lonely, especially when Lily was tending to her job as a prefect or spending time with her friends who didn't quite get along with him, but he tried to spend the extra alone time in the library. At least he could get his work done.

The sun had yet to start set one evening, and it was far too early to head to the Great Hall for dinner, so he had decided to wander the corridors in hopes that maybe he would bump into Lily during her early rounds. He was turning the corner when out of nowhere, his feet were swept completely from under him and he fell flat on his back, books and parchment flying from his arms and a bottle of ink spilling over his hands and down his school uniform.

He didn't need to look to recognize the voices snickering behind him. 

With a growl he lifted himself up and spun around, whipping out his wand in a swift movement and pointing it at Black and Potter. Neither boy seemed all too threatened. 

 "So much for being on your best behavior, Black." He spat at the smaller of the two. "Or is that just for when your Prefect boyfriend is there to see?" 

Sirius shrugged nonchalantly, twirling his wand in his hand. "Well Snivelly, the problem we have here is that your nasty little friends were heard talking about a friend of ours...Mary MacDonald, ring a bell? So the way I see it, fair is fair....What Remus doesn't see won't hurt, I suppose. I did promise him I'd behave but...well, what's that they say about old dogs and new tricks, Prongs?" He smirked to his friend who laughed along with him.

 "Too right, Padfoot." Potter agreed, eyeing Severus with a look of pure hatred. 

Severus glowered at the two of them, positively seething. "And where exactly is Lupin now? Feeling ill again? How very curious...What is it they say is wrong with him?"

 Black's wand was raised so quickly it nearly flew out of his hand and he stepped forward but Potter grabbed him by the back of his robes and whispered something in his ear. Whatever it was, it worked because Black's wand lowered immediately. Severus sneered.

 "What? Not going to hex me for talking about your poor little charity case friend? Does hanging around with a freak like him make you feel better about yourselves when you treat everyone else in the school like target practice?" 

Black's eyes went wide with fury, hands balling into tight fists at his sides and Severus could see even from where he stood that the boy was shaking. Potter stepped in front of him, his own wand raised as he got dangerously close to Severus' face.

 "You listen here, Snivellus." He said through gritted teeth. "You keep Remus' name out of your bloody mouth, keep your nose out of where it doesn't belong, and tell your friends we're on to them. We know how to make you hurt, Snape. And we know how to do it without ever getting caught. Watch your back." He lowered his own wand and turned back to Black who still looked livid.

 Both of their backs were turned and Severus' hand was still gripping his wand so tightly his knuckles were white. He could hex both of them- 

"What's going on here?"

 All three of the boys froze and spun around to see Lily Evans standing there, eyes suspicious and arms crossed. She looked Severus up and down, noting the ink on his robes and the books scattered on the ground. She rounded on Black and Potter.

 "Haven't you got some place better to be than causing trouble all the time?" She glared at the two boys. 

"At this moment right now?" Potter asked, grinning cockily and doing that ridiculous thing with his hair that he always did in front of Lily. "Yeah, actually we do. For the record though, no trouble was being caused here. Sniv- sorry, Severus- here, tripped." He gave Severus a meaningful look, eyes flashing threateningly. "Isn't that right, Severus?"

Severus bit back an angry growl and nodded, eyes still narrowed on Black and Potter. "Right." He said shortly. "Everything here's fine, Lily." 

 James threw on a charming smile and shrugged. "See, Evans? All good."

Lily looked between all three of them, one eyebrow raised skeptically. "Right..." She muttered. "Go on then. Get going." She waved her housemates off and turned to assist Severus with picking up his things.

"You know, Evans..." Potter called to her. She sighed and looked back at him. He smirked. "My time would be much better occupied if it were spent taking you out. Think of how much less trouble I could cause if you were able to keep those pretty greens on me all the time, making sure I behave?" 

 Lily glared. "Not even in your wildest dreams, Potter. No go before I give the both of you detention." 

 James and Sirius both laughed. "Worth a shot!" Potter shouted back to her as the two of them ran off down the hall. 

Lily sighed, shaking her head as she knelt down to pick up some of the books Severus had dropped. "Are you alright, Severus?"

He gave a short nod. "I'm fine. I can handle myself against those two pricks." 

The redhead hummed softly as she handed him his things. "Did you really trip?" She asked. 

 "I told you I'm fine, Lily." Severus repeated sharply. "Nothing happened. I fell and those two assholes just happened to be there." 

 "Alright," she said lightly. "If you say so." 

 -

 Peter was waiting for them in the dorm room, invisibility cloak in one hand and the map in the other. He sighed in relief when Sirius and James came rushing in.

 "Blimey, I was about to come and look for you two myself!" The shorter boy said anxiously. "I saw you run into Snivellus on the map and then Evans and I was scared you'd both wind up in detention." 

James grinned, shaking his head. "Nah, Evans wouldn't give me detention. She puts on a good act but she can't resist my charms." 

Sirius rolled his eyes, grabbing his book bag and dumping it out on his bed so he could pack it with a random assortment of things that only made sense to him: water bottle, handful of chocolate frogs, one of Remus' sweaters...

 "Come on, Pads. It's getting late." James urged, glancing at the window. 

"I'm coming, keep your knickers on." Sirius grumbled, dropping to his knees and peering  under his bed. 

James sighed, growing slightly impatient. "Sirius, what are you looking for?" 

After another second of rummaging, Sirius emerged holding a small potion vial. He jumped to his feet and stuffed it in the bag with everything else. Both James and Peter knew better than to question Sirius' antic on the night of the full moon, knowing full well that everything he did, he did for Remus. 

Sirius slung his bag over his shoulder and looked at the other two boys expectantly. "Ready, then?" 

When they arrived in the shrieking shack Remus was already pacing nervously, though he visibly relaxed a little when he saw his friends. 

 "For a second I thought you weren't coming." He said shakily, tugging on the collar of his shirt which was already soaked with sweat. 

 "Sorry, Moony." James said as he folded the invisibility cloak neatly and put it out of reach of everyone's animal forms in one of the dusty dresser drawers. "Pads and I had a run in with Snivellus on the way back from the kitchens." 

 Remus nodded his head, eyes slightly wide and not quite all there. Sirius sat on the edge of the bed and patted the spot next to him. "Come sit, Moony." 

Remus made a whining noise in the back of his throat that was clearly left over panic from his friends being so late, but he didn't move. "Remus," Sirius tried again, a little more insisting. "Come here, love." He shifted so he was sitting in the middle of the bed, waiting for the other boy to join him. Remus swallowed hard, eyes darting to the window for a split second before he slowly made his way onto the creaky, lumpy mattress. Sirius sat up against the headboard, spreading his legs so that Remus could sit between them, leaning against Sirius' chest. 

 "What happened with Snape?" Remus asked after he managed to relax a little with Sirius' fingers running through his hair and his lips on the back of his neck.

James shrugged as he too sat on the bed with them. "We bumped into him in the corridor. He made some stupid comments and-"

 Remus groaned. "You didn't hex him, did you?" 

"Just threatened him a bit." James chuckled. "No worries. We weren't going to risk not being able to be with you, right Padfoot?" 

Sirius nodded solemnly. "Of course." He pressed another kiss to the back of Remus' damp neck and his hands found the hem of his shirt. "Arms up, Moony. You're soaked." 

Remus obeyed and let his boyfriend remove his shirt, thankful for the cool October air.

For a while they all made small talk as they usually did to keep Remus distracted. When he started to rake his nails down his arms, leaving angry red streaks in his pale skin, Sirius nodded to Peter who quickly tossed him his book bag. "Stop that." Sirius muttered softly, taking both of the werewolf's hands and placing them at his sides.

"Too hot." Remus mumbled, shifting uncomfortably.

"Mmm," Sirius hummed. "Well, scratching your skin off isn't going to help." He had opened his bag and pulled out the water bottle which he tapped with his wand, covering it with frost with what must have been a cooling charm. He put the bottle to the spot just between his boyfriend's shoulder blades. "Better?" 

Remus sighed and relaxed. He nodded. "Yeah." His breathing steadied and his fists unclenched. "Thanks Sirius." 

Sirius grinned and James met his eye with an impressed smile. 

And it really was impressive, James thought, that Sirius had become so in tune with Remus' needs during the night of the full moon. It came almost naturally to Sirius, who seemed to know exactly how to ease the werewolf's pre-transformation ailments when Remus himself had never been able to.

 "How do you do that?" Peter asked in awe, voicing James' own curiosity. 

Sirius shook his head, smiling a little. "Dunno. I just...do what I think will help, I suppose." Remus made a content sound of agreement and Sirius kissed his shoulder. 

Of course, it never lasted long enough. And soon no matter what tricks Sirius could think of, the moon would rise higher into the sky and it's pull on Remus would begin to get stronger. Remus would become restless and couldn't sit still any longer, walking laps around the room. One of the others, usually James or Peter but mostly James, would keep an out the window making sure to know exactly when they would all have to change. 

 "Get ready." James instructed, voice slightly tense as he watched the giant orb rising. 

Peter was always the first to transform, wanting to be a safe distance from Remus and leaving nothing to chance. James would put their wands and other belongings somewhere safe in the meantime, giving Sirius and Remus an extra moment. 

 Remus' body started to shake and Sirius grabbed him by the arm with one hand, placing the other under his chin and forcing him to meet his eyes. 

"It's going to be okay, Moony." He said in a tone that made it impossible for Remus not to believe him. Remus nodded and Sirius pressed their lips together firmly. Remus kissed him back desperately, needing to feel grounded...needing to feel human...

 "Sirius," James warned and Sirius broke the kiss, holding Remus' gaze once again.

"I love you, Remus." 

 "I love you too Sirius." Remus responded shakily as Sirius let go of him and stepped away. 

"I'll see you in the morning, okay?" 

 Remus bit his lip and nodded, watching as both Sirius and James transformed mere seconds before white hot pain took over his own body. 

-

When the sun came up early the next morning, James always found the same scene once he transformed and fetched his glasses from their safe place;

 Wormtail, curled up on top of the piano, a furry gray snoozing ball, snoring louder than James thought any rat could.

Remus, looking frail and sometimes covered in fresh wounds, but somehow still seeming peaceful as he slept on the hard wooden floor.

And Padfoot, draped over the sleeping werewolf, keeping him warm with his heavy black fur and protecting him from whatever the dog thought might try to hurt him at this point in the morning. 

Yawning hugely, James made his way to the piano and poked the rat. "C'mon Wormy." He mumbled tiredly. The rat's head perked up and he gave a big yawn and stretched before hopping down and transforming back into Peter. 

"Grab the cloak and the map, I'll wake Sirius." It was always a better plan, as Sirius was less likely to snap at James than Peter upon being woken. Peter nodded sleepily and went to the dresser.

 "Oy, mutt." James said quietly, nudging the dozing dog with his foot. "We've got to go before Pomfrey get's here." 

The dog opened its eyes and huffed stubbornly, but after only a little nagging from James he slid carefully off of Remus and transformed. "You two go ahead, I'll catch up." Sirius insisted. 

 "Are you crazy?" Peter stared at him. "You'll get caught." 

Sirius rolled his eyes. "I will not. I'll leave before she gets here. Leave me the map or the cloak. I can handle myself." 

 James sighed, knowing there was no use it arguing with him. He handed the cloak over. "Be careful, prat." 

Sirius nodded, waving the other two off. "Yeah, yeah...Relax. I'll be up soon." 

Once James and Peter left, Sirius sat back on the floor beside Remus. He did look peaceful, even though the floor of the shack was dreadfully uncomfortable. For a moment he considered turning back into a dog and curling back up with him, but he thought the better of it. Very carefully, he shook Remus' shoulder.

"Moony," 

"Hmm?" Remus mumbled as he began to wake. "Y'should go, S'rius..." 

 Sirius chuckled softly. "Yeah, not yet..." his eyes scanned over Remus, checking to see if he had any noteworthy injuries. A few scratches, one on his collarbone that was a little on the bloody side, but nothing horrible. "You can't be comfortable. Can I help you to the bed?" 

Remus mumbled something unintelligible and stretched, wincing a little as his joints popped. He yawned and sat up a little too quickly, causing Sirius to wince.

"You twat, let me help you." He reprimanded lightly, placing his arm around his boyfriend and getting him to his feet.

 "I'm alright, Sirius." Remus insisted, though he did lean heavily on the other boy for support. 

"Stubborn arse." Teased Sirius, helping him to the bed.

 "You should talk." The werewolf managed a weak, tired smile before he yawned again. Sirius grabbed his book bag from the dresser and slid into bed beside Remus. He dug through his bag and fished out two chocolate frogs and the tiny potion bottle. 

"Hungry?" 

 "Starving." Remus admitted, graciously accepting the chocolate and unwrapping it, watching Sirius uncork the vial. "What's that?" 

"Nicked it from Pomfrey's store," Sirius grinned, ignoring the look of disapproval he got from the other boy. "Here, let me see that gash you've got there..." Remus didn't argue or question as Sirius used a cleaning and sanitizing charm on the wound, though he hissed softly when he poured a gracious amount of the potion onto it. It burned for a second as the gash began to close itself up.

 "I'm impressed." Said Remus, looking up at Sirius who actually appeared to be blushing a little.

"Yeah, well...I've been reading up on some simple healing spells and such..." The dark haired boy said sheepishly.

 Remus' heart swelled in his chest. Sirius really went to extraordinary lengths to take care of him, and never asked for anything in return. He shook his head. "I don't deserve you, Padfoot." 

Sirius laughed. "Nonsense. Don't...Don't say that." He pulled Remus' sweater out and handed it to him. "Put this on before you bloody freeze." 

 Remus sat up, a little slower this time, and tugged the sweater on over his head. "I mean it, Sirius." He said, taking his hand. "You...you're incredible, you know that?" 

Sirius shrugged. "I just...I care about you a lot." He mumbled, looking down. "And I just want to make sure you know it, that's all..." 

Remus smiled and leaned in, kissing the corner of Sirius' mouth. "I love you, Sirius." 

Sirius turned his head to kiss Remus properly. "I love you, too." He sighed, glancing out the window. "I should go before Pomfrey comes, I guess." 

With one last kiss goodbye, Sirius stood and threw the cloak on over his head. He watched for another moment as Remus settled himself among the lumpy pillows before he left the shack and headed back to the castle.

Chapter Text

"I don't see what you're so stressed out for." James leaned against one of Remus' bed posts, watching the werewolf with an amused smile. "You know Padfoot doesn't give a shit about his birthday. Not since his mum sent him a howler in second year telling him what a disappointing day it is for her."

Remus made a face at that last part, remembering the way Sirius had gone pasty white and tried to play it off like it hadn't bothered him afterwards.  He sighed and continued to rummage through his belongings for any extra galleons and sickles he could find. "I know, Prongs. But this is different. He's my boyfriend, I should do something nice for his sixteenth birthday."

 "So give him a morning blowy and move on with your day." James snickered as Remus rolled his eyes. James stopped laughing and perched himself on the edge of the mattress. "Seriously though, don't make yourself crazy. Sirius loves you, you don't need to do anything huge for him. I've already nicked some firewhiskey. He'll probably just want to get drunk and stoned and cause trouble 'round the castle all night."

 Peter nodded fairly, sitting across from them on his own bed. "That sounds like a Padfoot Party to me." 

 Remus snorted, shaking his head. They were probably right. Sirius would be thrilled with the idea of spending his birthday completely inebriated and sneaking about. Remus knew that Sirius wouldn't care about getting some silly gift for his birthday, but to Remus it was much more complicated than that. Sirius had done so much for him, and he continued to every day. Remus wanted to do something to show Sirius that he loved him just as much, even if he wasn't nearly as good at making it known on a daily basis. "It's different." He said again, digging into the pockets of a pair of jeans he had pulled from under his bed and fishing out two bronze knuts and a droobles best blowing gum wrapper. He tossed the knuts into the pathetic pile of coins on his bed. "You two aren't in relationships. You don't get it."

 James shrugged. "I guess that's a fair point...but it's Sirius we're talking about. You two have been friends forever."

 Remus paused and raised an eyebrow. "Right...and now we're...y'know...more than friends..." Much more, he mentally added.

 James scoffed and waved him off. "That doesn't mean you suddenly need to spoil the man, Moony. He's got you, hasn't he? I'm pretty sure that's all he really wants, honestly. Believe me, I had to deal with his silly pining and moping about for two years. There's nothing you could give him to make him happier than he is now."

 Remus smiled and rubbed the back of his neck as he felt his cheeks heat up. "I guess you're right..."

 "I am right." James insisted. "So stop playing niffler for knuts and sickles in your sock drawer, take Pads to a broom closet and snog his brains out. Then get him high, blow him and he'll probably pass out. Viola! you won't have to worry again until next year." 

 Remus reluctantly complied, scooping the coins off his bed and storing them in an empty Bertie Botts box. James was right and he knew it. But that didn't quite change Remus' mind about what he wanted to do. Nothing would, his mind was made. He just needed the money. 

 Lily had been more helpful than James and Peter, surprisingly. He had vented his frustrations out to her late one night while they were making their Prefect rounds. 

 "Well of course you'd want to do something nice for him!" She said incredulously. "My sympathies to whoever Potter ends up marrying if he doesn't understand that things change when you're a couple." She shook her head. "You know Black better than I do obviously...did you have an idea of what-"

 "Oh I know exactly what I want to do. It's a matter of scraping the money together." He suddenly held up a finger to pause the conversation as he pulled his wand from his robes and tapped it on the door of a closet. "Alohamora." There was a soft click as the door unlocked and the muffled sound of panicked whispering. He opened the door and sighed. "Five points from Hufflepuff, O'Donnell. And from Ravenclaw as well, Beckles." The two third years, Sean O'Donnell and Brittany Beckles, shuffled out, disheveled and embarrassed. They both offered mumbled apologies to the Prefects and started to run off when Remus caught a familiar scent and he made a face. "Wait." 

  Both younger students paused and turned around looking incredibly guilty. Remus smirked and held out his palm. "Hand it over, O'Donnell."

 Sean bit his lip and shrugged. "Er...I don't-" 

 Remus laughed and raised an eyebrow "I can smell it from here and the closets all cloudy. Honestly, you'd at least think to do this sort of thing by the greenhouses like everyone else...just give it here, you're lucky I don't take more points or tell your head of house." 

 The younger boy groaned and reached into his back pocket, placing the tiny plastic bag in Remus' hand.

 "Right then," Remus smiled pleasantly. "Off to bed, both of you. And remember, greenhouses next time." 

 Lily watched, bemused, as the other students ran off and Remus pocketed whatever it was he had confiscated. 

"Is that-!" She gasped. 

 Remus nodded, hardly paying her any attention. "Yeah. Seriously what kind of idiot smokes in a closet? They deserve to have it taken away for sheer stupidity..." He rolled his eyes.

 Lily was completely bewildered, her green eyes going wide with shock and just a little bit of curiosity. "I wonder where they would have gotten it from!" 

 Remus gave her a dead panned look. "We're in a school, Lily. We're a bunch of teenagers. There's bound to be someone selling marijuana." 

 As soon as the words left his own mouth, it clicked...

 -

 The following morning at dinner Remus excused himself from between James and Sirius who were arguing, both practically leaning over him, about the previous year's Quidditch World Cup. He stood, brushing some droppings of scrambled eggs that had flown from his boyfriend's mouth as he shouted at his best friend about Bulgaria's beaters' superior flying (charming, as usual Padfoot)and strode casually over to the Hufflepuff table. 

 When he caught O'Donnell's eye, the younger boy flushed a deep red and looked down at his plate. 

 Remus snorted, amused by the reaction. "Relax. I just had a question for you." He nodded to the doors to the Hall. "Step out with me for a sec?" 

 Sean looked at him questioningly, but he stood and followed the older boy out into the corridor.

  "What do you want, Lupin?" The Hufflepuff asked, stuffing his hands into his pockets and not meeting Remus' eyes. 

 Remus held out the bag he had taken from Sean the night before. "Where'd you get this?"

 Sean's eyes widened and he shook his head. "Whoa, no way. I'm not a snitch, mate."

 Remus pinched the bridge of his nose and groaned. "That's not what I meant. Look, just tell me and I'll give it back to you."

 Sean frowned and furrowed his brow. "Wait...really?"

 Remus nodded and Sean looked around for a moment. "Er...Slytherin bloke. Parkinson." He opened his hand expectantly. Remus grinned and tossed him the bag. 

 "It's shit, by the way." He told the younger boy as he spun around to leave. "I can get you better and probably charge you less." 

 Slowly, O'Donnell turned back to him, staring in disbelief. "You? But you're a prefect..."

 Remus smiled and shrugged with an air of apathy. "Hey if you don't want to take me up on the offer, that's fine. Keep getting robbed by that snot Parkinson. I'm sure he's just a pleasure to deal with besides." 

 Sean grimaced and nodded, mulling over the facts. "Fair point. Yeah, alright Lupin. Deal." 

 -

Sirius was sure he was still dreaming as he felt warm, soft lips moving down his neck and chest. He smiled sleepily and squirmed, keeping his eyes closed as Remus kissed a particularly ticklish spot under his ribs.

 "Mmm...Moony..." He bit back a giggle when the werewolf did it again.

 He heard Remus chuckle softly and felt his weight shift back up his body so he could nip at his ear. "Happy Birthday Padfoot." 

 Sirius grinned, peeking one eye open to see his boyfriend hovering over him with a sly smile. "Certainly better than the birthday wake up call I usually get from Prongs."

 Remus nodded sympathetically. "I know," he purred, nuzzling Sirius' neck. "but, well...you know how Marauders are about tradition."

 Sirius blinked. "Wha-"

In a fluid movement, Remus rolled off of him and the curtains of his bed were flung open, revealing a devilishly grinning James Potter and before Sirius could even register what was happening, he was shot with a stream of freezing cold water from James' wand.

 Sirius yelped and flailed, tumbling out of bed and falling flat on the floor in a sopping wet, cold heap. 

 James, Peter and Remus were all howling with laughter as Sirius hauled himself up, growling and pushing his thick curtain of now soaked hair out of his face. 

 "This is getting old, you know." He shivered angrily, wrapping his arms around his bare chest. 

 James sighed in self admiration and nodded. "Ah, so it is, Padfoot. And so are you." 

  "Very funny." Grumbled Sirius. He shot Remus a dirty look. "And you! That was low, Lupin!"

 Remus shrugged innocently, still snickering to himself. "Sorry, Pads. I couldn't help it. It was actually Peter's idea."

 "And what a brilliant addition to the plan it was." James said tearfully, still grinning as he patted a proud looking Peter on the back.

 "Sorry Padfoot." Said Peter once he managed to stop laughing. "Happy Birthday." 

 "Yeah, yeah..." Sirius huffed before shaking his hair out and spraying the other three boys with little droplets of freezing water. "I'm taking a hot shower." He grabbed his towel and trudged into the bathroom grumpily.

 He was far less cranky when he emerged quite some time later with only a towel around his waist and steam still wafting off his now toasty warm skin. Remus and James had used a drying spell on his sheets and offered their sincere apologies.

 "Tradition's tradition," Sirius said dismissively. "But I'll get you both back. Especially you." He pointed to his boyfriend, shaking his head. "That was just dirty. I'm almost hurt, Moons."

 Remus mock pouted. "Aw, I'm sorry love."

 "You should be." Sirius sulked, though he quickly dropped the act when Remus grabbed him by his towel-clad hips and pulled him in for a kiss. "You'll make it up to me, won't you?" He said, quirking his eyebrow suggestively. Remus laughed and nodded.

 "I'm sure something can be arranged. It is your birthday after all."

 Peter returned from the kitchens with the Traditional Marauder Birthday Breakfast that they had all come to expect every year. An arrangement of sweets, cakes, tarts and puddings which they would spread out on the bed of whoever's birthday they were celebrating and eat together. That tradition had begun in third year, when Sirius claimed he didn't want to risk getting another nasty howler from his parents about what a horrible day in the history of the Black family his birthday was. From then on, they would have their own private breakfast on all of their birthdays. 

 They spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon lazing about the dorm and plotting out the pranks they wanted to get done before Christmas break. At dinner, Sirius' birthday cheer dwindled. He barely picked at his food, pushing it around his plate and anxiously glancing alternatively up at where the Owls usually came through, and over towards the Slytherin table where neither Regulus nor his cousin Bellatrix had made any sign of acknowledgement to him. His knee bounced restlessly under the table and he ran his hand through his hair and pulled at the end. 

 Remus, Peter and James all exchanged looks. Peter cleared his throat. 

 "So, Pads...Er...after dinner, we were thinking of sneaking you out for a bit, eh?" 

 Sirius nodded silently, leg still jittering rapidly and fist still in his hair. Remus sighed and pulled a black hair tie off his own wrist where he had recently started to store them for the other boy. "What did I tell you about pulling, Sirius?"  He shook his head. "You're shedding, you know." He stood up and gathered Sirius' hair together at the nape of his neck and secured it with the elastic band, then he sat back down and placed his hand on his leg. "You're okay, Padfoot."  

 James shoved his plate away. "Know what? I'm stuffed. Anyone else?"

 "Yeah. Besides, we've got other plans." Peter nodded as he and James both stood. Sirius' eyes were glued to the Slytherin table and the back of Regulus' head. Remus bit his lip, gently squeezing Sirius' leg. "C'mon Pads."

 After a few seconds of staring hard at Regulus, as if he thought by some brotherly form of mind reading he may turn around and notice him, Sirius sighed and stood up.

"Where are we going?" He asked, sounding miserable.

 James slung an arm over his shoulder and grinned. "Can't tell you. But we've got firewhiskey." 

 -

 Less than an hour later, the four of them were sitting on the floor of the shrieking shack passing around a bottle of liquor.

 "Look, it's really not a big deal," Sirius said, forcing a smile and swirling the liquid around in his hand. "The Blacks don't really make much of a fuss for birthdays anyway." He took another swig from the bottle and passed it to James who looked appalled. 

  "So they never threw you a party or anything? That's a bloody bummer, mate." 

 Sirius snorted. "Oh I never said that. They just weren't what one usually would expect for a child, you know? They were more like big extravagant dinners with food I couldn't pronounce and Aunts and Uncles I was terrified of telling me over and over to sit up straight and present myself the way 'The Heir' should..." He rolled his eyes. "You know, pureblood shit." Then he laughed. "You know what, I don't think I was even at my eleventh birthday. I was grounded for sticking a wad of droobles in Bellatrix's hair."

 Remus shook his head, his eyes focused on the joint he was rolling in his lap and trying not to let his anger at Sirius' family distract him. "Well that's just ridiculous, Padfoot." He licked the paper and handed it off to his boyfriend to spark it. "Birthday boy gets first hit." 

 Sirius mumbled a thank you and grabbed his lighter from his pocket, placing the joint between his lips. 

 "Well what about presents?" Peter asked, making a face from the taste of the alcohol which he had yet to become accustomed to. "With all that money your family's got you must of at least gotten a decent load?"

 Smoke blew out from Sirius' nose as he shook his head and coughed a little. "Nah. Nothing a kid would want anyway. Family heirlooms I cant touch til I turn seventeen, probably bloody cursed anyway, and donations made in my name to pureblood elitist groups." He took a second, particularly long drag before passing it to James. 

 Remus stood up and crossed the room silently while Peter handed Sirius the bottle of firewhiskey. "Honestly though," Sirius held the bottle up. "This is all I'd want for my birthday. Cheers." He smirked and finished off what was left just in time for Remus to rejoin the circle holding a large box wrapped in red and gold paper. Sirius nearly choked.

 "What the bloody hell is that?" He asked, eyes wide and wiping some spilled liquor off his chin. 

 Remus laughed softly and nudged the box closer to him. "It's your birthday present, idiot."

 Sirius looked to James and Peter who both remained completely expressionless. 

 "Are you going to open it or what?" Asked James, exhaling a puff of smoke and grinning at him. He could feel Remus' slightly  anxious eyes on him as he pulled off the wrapping off, unsure exactly of why his heart was pounding so hard in his chest. It wasn't like his friends had never given him anything for his birthday before. When he opened the white box his breath caught and he stared, wide eyed and open mouthed in shock.

 "I..." He swallowed past the lump in his throat and shook his head. "Moony...you really didn't have to...how did you even afford...?" He looked up to meet the soft, loving gaze of the other boy. 

 Remus smiled. "You wanted it, didn't you?" 

  "Well, yeah." Said Sirius, still in disbelief. "But-"

 "But nothing," Remus insisted firmly, a smirk now playing at his lips. "Put it on." 

 Letting the excitement take over him, Sirius grinned and let his hands run over the the leather jacket that lay in the box. He was unable to stop the overjoyed noise that slipped from his mouth as he pulled it out and slid it on.

 "Don't think he likes it much, Moony." James laughed.

  "Yeah, seems disappointed to me." Said Peter, but Sirius paid neither of them any mind, smiling so much it nearly hurt even as he pulled Remus to him for a kiss and muttered "Thank you" against his lips several times. 

  "You can give him a proper thank you later, Padfoot." James finally said as the couple's affection began to become more enthusiastic. Sirius held up his middle finger to James, continuing his assault on Remus' mouth despite the werewolf's laughing and the hand on his chest trying to gently push him off. 

 "Alright, Sirius." Remus chuckled as he managed to dislodge his boyfriend from his lap. "You're welcome, alright? It's...it's no big deal." 

 "It is a huge deal, Moony." Sirius insisted, hugging the soft leather tightly around himself. "But you're right, there's time to thank you later. Right now it's time to celebrate. Who's got that spliff, eh?" 

 "It's kicked." Peter sighed, flicking the burnt out butt of the joint across the circle lazily. "Got anymore, Moony?" 

 Remus bit his lip, cheeks turning pink as he accepted the bottle of liquor that James was passing to him. "Er..." he laughed nervously. "That's actually all I had left."

 "I thought you said your dad had given you enough til Christmas for your transformations..." Said James, half disappointed and half concerned.

 Remus nodded. "Yeah...he did...er..." the corner of his mouth twitched up. "That's...how I paid for the jacket." 

 There was a long silence that rang through the group as the other three boys gaped at him, speechless. 

 Sirius cleared his throat. "You...Moony, you sold drugs for me?" 

 Remus flinched. That made it sound bad, he thought. He preferred not to think of it quite like that. "Well, when you put it that way-" 

 But Sirius had grabbed him by the front of his shirt and kissed him hard on the mouth, grinning from ear to ear when he finally released him. "Remus Lupin I have never been more attracted to you, my little delinquent." 

 "Ah, our corrupt prefect," Sighed James, holding his heart. "Such a proud moment, isn't it Padfoot?" 

 "The proudest." Sirius agreed, gazing at Remus in utter adoration. "I feel almost inadequate in comparison, Prongs. We'll need to up our game to keep up with our little Moony, eh? What do you think, flood the dungeons tomorrow?"

 James nodded. "Oh definitely. Moaning Myrtle owes me a favor anyway."

 -

 It was late when the Marauders finally returned to the dorm room. James and Peter had said their final birthday wishes to Sirius and bid both him and Remus goodnight, reminding them once again to silence their curtains if they intended to continue the birthday festivities on their own. 

 "You can't wear it to sleep, you know." Remus teased as Sirius laid out across his bed wearing just his boxers, t shirt and the jacket.

 Sirius grinned and stretched happily. "I don't want to take it off." But he sighed and got up, slipping the jacket off and hanging it up carefully. He climbed back into bed and closed the curtains, joining Remus under the covers. "Seriously, Remus...You really didn't have to do something like that for me." 

 Remus shrugged. "It made you happy, didn't it?" 

 Sirius rolled his eyes. "You make me happy, idiot." His hand found Remus' hip and pulled him closer so they were laying flush against each other. "But thank you...again." 

 "You're welcome, again." Remus smiled at him. He reached up and brushed Sirius' fringe from his eyes before tilting his head slightly and catching his lips in a soft kiss. 

 It didn't take long at all for the kiss to deepen, and when Sirius' tongue met his own, Remus moaned. Sirius' hands began to roam over his body, stroking his sides and sliding over his arse to squeeze it. Remus shifted onto his back, pulling the other boy on top of him and their hips started rolling slowly against each other. 

 Their breathing got heavier and Sirius broke from the kiss to sit up and pull his shirt off over his head, tossing it aside and sighing as he felt Remus' hands move over his chest and abdomen. He bent down again, nuzzling the spot under Remus' ear and kissing down the side of his neck. "I love you, Moony." 

 "I love you too, Padfoot." He gasped as Sirius' teeth grazed the spot where his neck met his shoulder. 

 Once they were both shirtless, Sirius started kissing his way down Remus' front, his fingers dancing teasingly over the elastic of his boxers and making Remus arch up, desperate for more contact. "Sirius..." He moaned softly as the boy's hand moved lower to cup him through the thin fabric. "Hey...Sirius, wait..." 

 Sirius looked up, grinning at him. "I'm trying to thank you properly, Moons."

 Remus laughed softly. "I see that...but..." He licked his lips. "I think I want to try something else..."

The grin on Sirius' face faded and he looked confused for half a second before realization dawned and his eyes widened. "Wait, really?"  

 "Unless you don't-"

"I do!" Sirius said quickly, sitting up. "Fuck, Remus, you know I want to, I just want to make sure you...you really want this?"  

Remus nodded slowly. "Yeah, I do." He smiled. "I love you, Sirius. I want to do this with you." He pulled the dark haired boy back down to kiss him. 

 As they kissed, Remus' hands traveled down slide Sirius' boxers off his hips and he lifted himself up to get rid of his own. Sirius moaned, grinding down against him and feeling hard flesh against his own. "How do you want to-?" 

"I...I don't know, I didn't really think that far ahead." Remus suddenly felt nervous. "Er...how many times exactly have you-?"

 "Twice." Sirius answered honestly. "Once each way..." 

Remus frowned. "James sometimes makes it sound like you were off fucking every bloke in school."

"James is a twat, Remus. You know that." Sirius rolled his eyes. "I did it twice with the same bloke...at least, I did that twice. Other things...James isn't so wrong about..." He bit his lip. "Do you want to be the one...er-?" He made a move as if to change their positions but Remus stopped him quickly. 

 "No!" The urgent tone he used made Sirius stop dead. Remus swallowed. Honestly, he was too afraid to be the one in control. He didn't trust himself. Or rather, he didn't trust the wolf part of him...the part of his mind that went absolutely wild every time he touched Sirius, that he fought so hard to keep suppressed. That wanted to pin Sirius down and take him, roughly, every time they were alone in bed together. He didn't know what he would do given the chance to have Sirius beneath him, submitting to him. He shuddered and shook the thought from his head. "You should do it. You know what you're doing more than I do."

"Okay..." Sirius nodded. "Just...it sort of hurts a little...I don't want to-"

 "I've got quite a tolerance to pain, Padfoot."

"Right," Sirius let out a nervous laugh. "Of course...okay." He kissed him briefly, one hand sliding between their bodies to touch the other boy's arousal. "You trust me?" 

 "More than anything." Remus sighed, eyes falling closed as his boyfriend's fingers closed around him. "I love you." 

"I love you too." Sirius gently nudged Remus' legs apart with one of his knees, his eyes staying glued to the other boy's face as he continued to stroke and tease him. He loved how Remus looked when he touched him; eyes closed, brow furrowed and lips just slightly parted, taking breaths in short gasps and sighs. Without stopping what he was doing, Sirius reached under his mattress for the small tube of oil he kept there. He took the cap off with his teeth.

 Remus' eyes opened and one eyebrow shot up. "Planning this, were you?" 

Sirius shrugged. "Just in case. Wanted to be prepared..." he poured some of the oil into his hand and recapped the tube, putting it to the side. "You're sure?" 

 "I'm sure." Remus said, without hesitation. Sirius' hand moved down between them again, but this time it continued lower. 

"Relax," Sirius said quietly, feeling the other boy tense when he carefully pressed one finger against him. "And breathe." He added, laughing softly. Remus slowly let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding and smiled shakily. 

 "Sorry...oh!" He gasped as Sirius' finger began to move. It felt very strange. Not necessarily good or bad, just different. Sirius kept reminding him to relax, occasionally bending to kiss him as he continued to carefully work him open, adding a second finger. Then something Sirius did sent a jolt through his whole body. "Fuck!" 

He heard Sirius chuckle. "Getting there." The fingers were gone, and Remus found himself feeling a little disappointed at the loss until he realized that Sirius was shifting between his legs. He felt something else pressing against him and he held his breath. 

 Sirius was right. It definitely did hurt, even though he moved as slowly as he could, stopping every few seconds to let Remus adjust and make sure he was alright. After what seemed like an eternity, Sirius stopped completely. "Ready?" 

"Yes." Remus said breathlessly, eyes squeezed shut and hands fisting the sheets beneath him tightly. Sirius moaned as he slid in completely and Remus bit his lip trying, and failing, to hold back a whimper. 

 "A-are you okay?" Sirius' voice shook.

Remus nodded. "Yes. Just...move." 

 And he did. Sirius started with slow, shallow thrusts and eventually the pain started to subside. Remus moaned and let his body relax. His hands let go of the sheets and moved to run up Sirius' arms and shoulders and into his hair, pulling him down to kiss him hungrily as he started to move his hips to meet his lover's. Sirius gasped against his lips and his hand made its way back between them to stroke the other boy. "Remus...Oh, fuck...Remus..." 

"Sirius..."

 Sirius' body shuddered and his hips snapped forward at the same time as Remus felt his own climax hitting him. They both collapsed, sweaty and still tangled together, desperately trying to catch their breath. 

Sirius rolled off of him and grabbed his wand from under his pillow, casting a cleaning charm on them both. He brushed his lips against Remus'. "You alright?" 

 "Mmm..." Remus smiled and nodded tiredly. "Yes. I'm a little sore but...I'm great. That was..." 

"Incredible?" Sirius offered, laying his head on Remus' chest and draping his arm over him. "Absolutely perfect?" 

 "Something like that." Remus agreed happily, kissing the top of Sirius' head. "Happy birthday." 

 

Chapter Text

There was the distinct high pitched shriek of a curse followed by a loud bang. These were the telltale signs of Walburga throwing a fit, and Sirius didn’t need to guess why. Andromeda had committed the ultimate crime against the family, according to Black Family Standards. She had married a Muggleborn, and to top it all off she was pregnant with him as well. 

There was more screaming and crashing noises and Sirius slammed his potions essay down on his desk, standing up and throwing his door open.

 “Oi! Some people have homework to do!” He shouted as Regulus slowly cracked his bedroom door open. “This is fucking ridiculous.” Sirius hissed to his brother, who’s face remained expressionless. Sirius gaped at him “I can’t believe you. You don’t think this ridic-?”

 “Sirius!” His fathers voice boomed through the halls from the study. 

“Fuck.” Sirius swore under his breath. What could they possibly want with him? Just when he thought winter holidays at Grimmuald Place would go by without a hitch. With a sigh of mild annoyance, he strode down the long hall to his father’s study and opened the heavy oak door. 

 The room smelled oddly of sulfur and there was a thin layer of smoke in the air. It only took Sirius a second to realize why as his eyes landed on the family tapestry. Right where the picture of his cousin Andromeda use to be was a large, black, still smoldering burn. 

 “Sirius.” His father’s voice broke him from his slightly stunned thoughts. “Come in. Your mother and I have something important to discuss with you.” 

Sirius swallowed past the lump in his throat. His mother was standing by the tapestry, still breathing heavily and angrily. As he stepped into the room, his father stood from behind his desk. 

 “Have a seat, Sirius.” 

Sirius shook his head. “No thank you, father.” Maybe it was Padfoot’s animal instinct from somewhere inside him, but something didn’t feel right. His eyes quickly darted around the room to note every possible exit.

“Alright.” Said Orion, eyeing his son with only mild disapproval. Walburga had finally turned away from the tapestry to stand beside her husband. Sirius suddenly felt very small. 

 “As you know, your cousin Andromeda has dishonored this family by marrying that muggle-” 

 “He’s not a muggle.” Sirius interrupted. “He’s muggle born. Ted went to Hogwarts.” 

 “Do not interrupt your father, Sirius!” Snapped Walburga.

“Be that as it may,” Orion continued. “We want to be sure that you don’t make the same mistakes.”  Sirius held back the urge to laugh. "And to be frank, Sirius, we don’t trust your judgement.”

Sirius frowned. Were they suggesting…

“An arranged marriage?” He asked, unable to hold back the obvious disgust in his voice. “To who?”

To Bellatrix-”

Bellatrix! But she’s my cousin!” Sirius took a step backward, bile rising in his stomach.

“All the more reason to do it, Sirius! You are the heir! We will not have you sullying the bloodline with mudblood filth!” Walburga spat. 

Sirius shook his head. “No…No, you can’t force me! No-” 

 “You will do as we tell you to, Sirius Black!” Orion raised his voice. Sirius couldn’t believe it. This couldn’t be real.  

 “Are you insane!?” He looked from one parent to the other. “This is fucking crazy, even for you!” 

 “Do not take that tone with us!” Shouted Orion, taking a step closer to Sirius. “You will finish school, you will marry Bellatrix, and you will take your place as the head of this family. You will keep the Black bloodline pure-” 

Suddenly he couldn’t hold it back any longer, Sirius began to laugh. “Oh don’t you worry father! I have no intention on dirtying the precious bloodline! No matter who I marry, that is one thing you certainly don’t have to worry about. It’d be pretty hard to procreate while I’m sucking my boyfriend’s dick after all!” 

Sirius could taste the blood in his mouth before he even had time to register that the back of Orion’s hand, as well as his many large silver rings, collided with his face.

Sirius slowly lifted his hand and touched his bloodied lip in shock.

What did you just say to me, boy?” 

All self control gone, a defiant smirk spread across Sirius’ face and he spat blood onto the floor. "I think you heard me pretty clear, father," He growled, eyes narrowing on the older man in front of him. "I said that I suck my very hot, poor, halfblood boyfriend’s dick. And he fucks me too. And I love every fucking minute of it-”

CRUCIO!”

Searing, white hot pain suddenly spread throughout Sirius’ body and he fell to the floor. After a moment that felt like a year, the pain began to subside and he could see through the agony induced haze that his mother still had her wand pointed at him. 

 Sirius’ eyes flashed to the door, it was barely open, but he could see Regulus’ eyes wide in shock.

Help me. He thought desperately. Don’t just stand there.

 He could hardly think straight. Everything inside of him felt like it was on fire. He had to leave. He had to run. The fireplace was only a few feet away. He could floo out of Grimmulad Place and never look back. It was fight or flight, and he couldn’t use the wand in his pocket outside of school.

He slowly picked himself up, legs wobbling slightly as he tried to catch his balance. Both of his parents were speaking but their voices sounded muffled, all he could hear was his own mind saying run run run, and before he knew it, he was standing in the fireplace with a handful of powder saying “Potter Estate!” And with a flash of warm green light, Grimmuald Place and his parents were gone. 

Sirius stumbled out of the fireplace and into the living room of The Potter Estate. Panic had started to set in and he could feel his heart pounding in his chest. What had he done? Why had he said those things? He could have kept his mouth shut, he could have formulated a plan of escape and he wouldn’t be standing, frozen in shock, in the Potter’s living room in the middle of the night.


Fuck! He was standing in the Potter’s living room in the middle of the night! 

“James!” He called out, finding his voice. He took a few deep, shaking breaths. “James!” 

After a moment he heard footsteps and a light flickered on. 

“Sirius? Fuck, Sirius!” In an instant James was standing by his side. “What the hell- What are you…what happened!” 

Sirius opened and closed his mouth several times, but no sound came out. He felt James’ hands on his shoulders, hazel eyes full of panic. 

“Hey, Sirius, talk to me…Shit. Mum! Dad!” James eyed him nervously, checking for any signs of harm besides the cut and bruise on his face. “Did your parents do this, Padfoot?”

Sirius nodded.

“Right…" James swallowed, panic turning to anger and concern. "They...They hit you?” 

“Yeah.” Sirius managed, his mind felt blank and full at the same time. Like white noise, loud and overbearing but completely meaningless. Something flickered in James’ eyes, a mix of worry and anxiousness. He lead Sirius to the couch and sat him down.

“Did….did they do anything else?” 

Before Sirius could answer, James’ parents appeared, both wearing their bed clothes and looking flustered.

“James? What’s the matter?” Asked Mrs. Potter before her eyes landed on the other boy sitting on her sofa. “Sirius, dear! What’s happened?” 

“His bloody parents is what’s happened!” James blurted angrily.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Potter.” Sirius said quietly.

“Nonsense, dear. James, why don’t you go fix us some tea. Fleamont, would you mind fetching the first aid potions?”

As her son and husband left the room, Mrs. Potter sat down beside Sirius and took out her wand. Sirius flinched.

“Oh my…” Her eyes widened slightly and she sighed. Carefully she placed a warm hand on Sirius’ shoulder. “I just want to scan you for what’s been done, Sirius…is that alright?” 

Biting his lip, Sirius nodded and allowed her to perform the scan, dreading her reaction. But it never came. At least she didn’t show it. Mr. Potter returned with the first aid kit.

“Thank you. We should write to Dumbledore, Fleamont. And send for Sirius’ things.” She turned back to Sirius as Mr. Potter hurried off. “You don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to, Sirius.” She offered, opening a small vial of sweet smelling potion and applying it to the gash on Sirius’ cheek.

Slowly, and without going into too much detail, Sirius explained what had happened in his father’s study. James had returned with the tea.

“An arranged marriage!” He repeated in outrage. “To that nutter cousin of yours! Well of course you refused!” 

“James, could you go and set the guest room for Sirius?”

James looked like he was about to argue, but instead he sighed and grumbled “Yes, mum.” before disappearing down the hall.

Sirius kept his eyes firmly on his lap as Mrs. Potter fussed over his bruises.

“I’m really sorry, Mrs. Potter.” He mumbled again. “I just…I didn’t know where else to-” 

“Don’t be silly, Sirius.” She said sternly. “You know you are always welcome here, do you understand? And You’ll stay as long as you need. You have no need to apologize.” 

Sirius nodded and tried to fight the tightness in his chest and the tingling sensation in his eyes. But as Euphemia Potter pulled him into her arms and held him close to her chest, he couldn’t stop it from happening. He buried his face in her shoulder and cried. 

“It’s alright, love.” Euphemia whispered, hand slowly rubbing circles on Sirius’ back. “You’re alright. You're safe..."

Sirius managed to pull himself together before James returned and with one final hug from Mrs. Potter, he followed him down the hall to the guest room.

“Listen, mate…d’you want me to stay with you?” James asked as they both sat on the bed. “I mean…if you don’t want to be alone, y’know?”

Sirius shrugged. “I’ll be alright I think. Thanks.”

James ran a hand through his messy hair. “Yeah…so…what really happened?”

Sirius pulled his knees up to his chest. “What d’you mean?” 

James rolled his eyes. “I mean, I know you and I know the way you run your mouth off. There’s no way you just politely declined marrying that banshee.”

A smirk tugged at the corner of Sirius' split lip. “I may have told them how much I love my halfblood boyfriend’s dick…” the smirk disappeared. “And then my mother used the cruciatus curse on me…” 

James’ eyes widened behind his glasses. “Sirius! You have to tell my mum and dad!” 

“I think they know. Look, it’s fine. I’m fine. It's over-"

“It’s not fine! It’s-”

“James, please…” Sirius looked up at him, pleadingly. “Can we not talk about it?”

James let out a frustrated sigh. “Fine…so….are you going to tell him?” 

“Who?” 

“Moony.” 

Sirius shook his head. “I don’t want him to worry.” 

“Sirius, he’ll be right ticked off if he finds out later on. And he will find out. you know that.”

Sirius nodded “Yeah, I know….Look, I’m tired. I’m going to get some sleep, yeah?” 

“Alright…You sure you’re alright by yourself? Bed's big enough, I can stay with you."

“I'm alright, James." Sirius forced a smile. "I promise. I just need sleep." 

James sighed, clearly not believing him. But he didn't argue. "Well if you need me-"

"I know. Thanks mate. For everything."  

James nodded and left the room with a little hesitation, closing the door as quietly as he could. 

Sirius lay there in bed for a long time, staring into the darkness. Every time he closed his eyes he could see the light from his mother's wand and feel that searing pain coursing through him. He shuddered and pulled the heavy quilt tighter around him, rolling onto his side and curling up. Regulus had stood there...he had stood there and watched his parents do this to him...he had done nothing. 

He buried his face in his pillow and let out a sob. He wanted to die. He wanted to just disappear completely...he wanted Remus. 

He took a deep breath and tried to think of nothing but Remus. The way it felt to kiss him. How warm he always felt. The way he said Sirius' name right before he...

 I'll probably fuck that right up too. He thought miserably as the tears continued to soak the pillow case. 

He heard a click and, as if by reflex, he sat bolt straight up, grabbing his wand from under his pillow.

 "Relax," James' voice came from the darkness. "It's me." 

Sirius let out a shaky breath and lowered his wand. "W-what's up?" He quickly wiped at his eyes. The mattress dipped as James sat down on the edge. 

 "Didn't feel right leaving you." He muttered. 

"I told you I'm fi-"

 "Cut the shit and move over, Padfoot." James sighed, and even though it was dark Sirius knew he was shaking his head at him. Reluctantly he obeyed, making room for James to slide in next to him. They lay in silence for a while, the only sound was Sirius trying to cover his embarrassing case of post-crying sniffles.

 After a few minutes he felt James shift and one of his arms came around Sirius' middle to pull him close. "Come here, idiot." 

Sirius let out a half laugh, half sob as he allowed himself to press his face into his best friend's chest. 

James hugged him tightly, letting him cry all over his Puddlemere United jersey and rubbing his back. "I love you, you bastard. You know that, right?" 

 Sirius nodded, desperately clinging to James now as his shoulders shook violently. James didn't say much else, he just let the other boy cry until eventually his breathing settled and they both fell asleep.

Chapter Text

James woke up early, his mind slightly fuzzy as he noticed he was in the guest room rather than his own. The sound of Sirius mumbling in his sleep brought the harsh realization of what had happened the night before. Anger surged through him when he remembered how scared and confused his friend had been, standing in his living room bruised and bloodied by his own parents. 

 He grabbed his glasses from the nightstand and slid them on before cautiously touching Sirius' shoulder. 

 "Padfoot?" 

Sirius flinched, but he didn't wake up, exhaustion keeping him asleep. He should really let him rest, he decided. He slipped out of bed, careful not to disturb the other boy and quietly left the room. 

 He could smell his mother making breakfast down in the kitchen, usually done by their house elf, Trinket, unless Euphemia was under stress and needed a distraction. He padded across the tiled floor and took a seat on one of the tall stools. "Morning Mum." 

 His mother flashed him a tired smile, glancing up from the bacon she was frying. "Good morning, dear. How's Sirius?" 

James shrugged. "Still asleep."

 "Probably for the better," sighed Euphemia, shaking her head. "You know I was in school with Walburga and-" She stopped herself and James could sense her frustration. "Well, let's just say not much seems to have changed." She looked at her son over the rim of her tiny rectangular glasses. "When you first told your father and I that you had become friends with a Black, I have to admit we were a little thrown."

 James laughed lightly and nodded, staring at the counter in front of him. "Sirius made it pretty clear from the first second that he didn't want to be lumped in with his family. He wanted everyone to know he was different." 

"I know." She smiled fondly. "And he is, anyone could see that." 

 "I don't think he always can, to be honest." James admit, thinking of Sirius' constant battles with himself and fits of anger and anxiety. 

 "He'll get there. With enough separation and friends like you and Remus and Peter helping him." She switched from the bacon and started cracking eggs. After a few seconds of careful consideration, she looked back at her son. "So," she continued, keeping her tone light. "I suppose I should be expecting Remus to show up sometime soon?" She gave him a knowing look and he nearly choked on the piece of bacon he had snatched of the plate. She chuckled. "A mother always knows." 

 James managed to swallow, pounding his fist on his chest. "Er...well, Sirius says he doesn't want him to worry."

Euphemia let out a laugh and shook her head. "Right. So he'll just hide it?"

James snorted. "I don't pretend to understand his logic." He hopped off the stool. "I'm going to check on him." His mother hummed and nodded, eyes still focused on cooking. James suddenly felt a great deal of appreciation for the woman. He was very lucky, he realized, to have a mother who loved him so much, loved everyone so much, and did all she could to keep him happy and safe. He came up behind her and hugged her tightly around the middle. "I love you, mum." 

 Euphemia turned her head just enough to kiss his cheek. "I love you too, James." She patted his hand before he released her and left the kitchen. 

When he returned to the guest room Sirius was still deeply asleep, though he didn't seem very peaceful. His face was scrunched up and he was still mumbling softly to himself. James bit his lip and shut the door. This wasn't going to be something Sirius bounced back from the way he normally did, and it would take more than just some distracting mischief to help him. He crossed the hall to his bedroom and grabbed one of those silly muggle quills they had gotten over the summer and some parchment. 

 Moony,

  We've got a Sirius problem.

  - Prongs

 -

 It took less than an hour after receiving James' owl for Remus to come stumbling out of the fireplace in the Potters' living room. He brushed the soot off of his jumper, eyes filled with worry as he took in James' tired and equally anxious expression. 

 "Where is he?" He asked.

"He's been asleep all morning." James sighed, slumping against the back of the couch. "Sort of glad for that, actually. I don't think I'd be able to sleep if it were me." 

 Remus nodded, wrapping his arms around himself and chewing his bottom lip. "Right now he's probably too tired and shocked from the whole thing. It's what happens from here that worries me." 

"Me too." James agreed quietly. He ran a hand through his hair. "He didn't want me to tell you. He'll probably be pissed...but I thought this may not be a one Marauder job."

Remus rolled his eyes. "Typical." He swallowed hard, trying to get the mental image of Sirius' parents doing such horrible things to him out of his mind. "I'm glad you told me. Thank you." 

James nodded. "Of course, Moony..." He gestured the spot next to him and Remus sat down, rubbing his temples to ease the tension he felt forming. 

"So what's the plan of action?" He asked after a moment.  

 James shrugged. "No idea...first we need to get him up and fed I think. But I was having no luck with that. I've tried to wake him but he won't get up. Said your name twice though, that's when I figured I should screw what he said about leaving you out of it." 

 Remus let out a slow, long breath, his stomach churned, mind going over a million different things at once, but the most important being the future of Sirius' safety. "James...what about when he has to go back-?"

 The bespectacled boy let out a sharp laugh. "There's no going back, Remus. That I can tell you for damn sure. He's not going back to that house ever again." 

 Remus relaxed a little, unsure of how James planned to take care of that, but knowing him well enough to come up with a way. "Right. Good." He stood up. "Guest room?" 

"Yeah." James nodded, jerking his head towards the hall. "Go on up. Maybe you'll have better luck than me." 

 -

The feeling of another person wrapping themselves around him brought Sirius out of his fitful sleep. 

 "Moony?" He asked, voice hoarse and painfully raw.

 "Mhm." 

Sirius felt his body relax against the one behind him, losing himself for a moment in the warmth of the arms that tightened slightly around his waist, pulling him closer. He could close his eyes and sleep a little longer like this. "What are you doing here?" 

 "James owled me. I took the floo over just a little while ago." 

Sirius sighed and carefully turned over to face the other boy, ignoring the way Remus' eyes widened at the sight of what must have been an impressive bruise on his left cheek from the feel of it. "I told him not to bother you with this." He muttered.

 "Bother me?" Remus' eyebrows shot up nearly into his hairline. "Sirius, you ran away from home after your parents...hurt you." He struggled with the right words, clearly upset and angry about the situation himself. "And you think it's a bother to me?" One of his hands came up to tuck Sirius' hair behind his ear and his breath hitched when Sirius flinched away from his touch. 

 "I'm a bother to everyone, Remus." Sirius said quietly, pulling away. "You've got enough stress in your life without adding my crap to it. I've gone and ruined James' holiday and yours-"

 "Sirius-"

"No." He sat up despite the werewolf's attempt to pull him back to him. "I mean it. Look at me, Moony! Look at what I come from! What they do-!"

 "They're bad people, Sirius." Remus went to take his hand but Sirius quickly jerked it away, pulling his legs to his chest and wrapping his arms around himself. Remus watched him a pained expression. "You aren't like them, Padfoot. I promise you that." 

"How do you know?" Sirius asked bitterly. "If they could treat their own son this way, what makes you so sure I won't turn around and do something horrible to you as well? I can't control myself, Remus! I can't control the things I say, fuck! This is my own goddamn fault, me and my stupid fucking mouth!" His hands fisted his hair tightly as tears stung his eyes once again. Remus scrambled onto his knees in front of him, taking him gently by both wrists.

 "That's not true, Sirius." He said firmly, bringing his hands down to his sides. "You aren't like that. You're good, Padfoot. So good. Don't you see?" He gently wiped under Sirius' eyes with his thumbs. "Look at what you've done..."

Sirius shrugged miserably. "Flooded the dungeons? Filled McGonagall's office with kitty litter? Been an inconvenience to nearly everyone I've ever met?" 

Remus snorted and rolled his eyes. "No you prat. What you've done for me...You stayed friends with me after finding out I was a werewolf. You and James and Peter broke a dozen laws and probably fifty school rules to become animagi so I wouldn't hurt myself anymore. You...everything you've ever done for me," He smiled. "Do you think someone as horrible and evil as your parents would do that? For a 'halfbreed' like me? Even some of the nicest wizards out there would have turned away from me once they learned what I was. You are not a bad person just because you were born into a bad family." 

The door creaked open and James' messy head poked in. "Everything alright?" 

 Remus shook his head and James stepped into the room, closing the door behind him and joining the other two on the bed. Remus sighed and turned his attention back to the boy in front of him. "I love you, Sirius Black. And James loves you, and Peter does too. You'll never be like your family." 

"Fuck your family." James growled angrily. "We're your family, Sirius. Not them. That's not what family does. This," He put one arm over Sirius' shoulders and the other over Remus'. "This is what a family does. We look out for each other. We love each other. They aren't capable of that. You are. Fuck, Padfoot...I don't know anyone more capable of that than you. Your animal form is a dog, for Merlin's sake! Loyal! Man's best friend and all that!" 

 Sirius laughed, bringing his hand up to wipe his eyes. "Alright, I get it." He shook his head. "You two should make motivational posters or something. You're both pathetic saps." He watched relief wash over both of their faces, glad to see even the slightest hint of humor in him. His stomach growled, making them all laugh and James patted his back. 

"Good. Mum's been making breakfast since bloody dawn and she's not above force feeding you." He slid off the bed and headed out to tell his mother they were finally coming down. 

 Sirius gave Remus a quick kiss. "I'll be down in a minute. I'm just going to wash my face. I feel like hell." He watched Remus leave the room and he stepped into the guest bathroom. He let the cold water run and splashed some on his face. He stared at himself in the mirror. There was a nasty yellowing bruise on his cheek surrounding a deep gash where his father's rings had hit. Fucking bastard. 

He shuddered. His friends' words ringing in his head. 

You're not like them.

You're so good, Sirius.

No one's more capable of love.

Dogs are loyal.

But even dogs have a risk of turning on those they love.

Chapter Text

Dearest Cousin,

Of course as saddened as I was to hear about the unfortunate circumstances behind your inevitable estrangement from The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, I was equally relieved to know you had finally taken a stand for who you truly are. I, for one, am very proud of you.

am so glad to know you have found such a wonderful support system within your school house, and that your friends have been able to make this break as clean and thorough as it could possibly be. I could only imagine how much worse it would have been had you not had someone like James Potter to turn to.

Sirius, understand that this is not going to be easy. Regardless of how right you know your actions were, it's no simple task to cut oneself from their own blood ties. People will talk. They will say things to you or about you, but please don't let anyone make you doubt what you know is right. You made the right choice. You are a true Gryffindor, Sirius Black. You are very brave.

I hope you know that if you ever need anything, I am always here to help in any way that I can. Please stay in touch.
Yours,
Andromeda Tonks

Sirius folded the letter back up and stuffed it into his pocket.

"She's really pregnant." Peter commented in awe, eyeing the photograph of Andromeda and Ted that had come in the envelope. "When's she due?"

"Six weeks." Said Sirius, taking the picture back and watching as the man kissed his cousin's smiling face. He had never seen anyone in his family look quite as genuinely happy as Andy looked in that picture with her husband and her swollen belly. He tucked the photo into his pocket as well. He was sitting with his back to the Slytherin table, but he could feel the eyes on him from across the hall.

It had been a week since they returned to school after the holidays, and although none of the Slytherins had come right out and said anything to him, they all made sure to whisper and laugh as he passed in the corridor or stare at him in the Great Hall until he finally spared them a glance and they quickly looked away.

They were on their way out of the dungeons after potions, Sirius keeping his eyes firmly on the floor as they walked, when he was hit with a jinx that made him trip over his feet and fall heavily to the ground. He refused the help that James, Remus and Peter offered and picked himself up, turning to face the small group of Slytherins that were cackling to amongst themselves.

"What are you going to do, Black?" Rudolphus Lestrange sneered. "Tell your mummy? Oh, that's right...she doesn't want you, does she?"

"Blasted him right off the family tree!" Bellatrix squealed with glee. "Poor little baby Siri!"

"Fuck you, Lestrange!" Spat Sirius, fists clenching at his sides. "You want to pick a fight with me? Put your fucking wand down and fight me, then!"

Lestrange smirked, stepping forward from the group and eyeing Sirius up and down. "Think I'm scared of some pathetic little queer that turns his back on his family?"

"What did you call me?" Sirius growled. James grabbed him by the arm. "Let's go mate..."

"Did you think Regulus didn't tell everyone why you ran off?" Laughed Rudolphus. "Not that anyone was surprised to learn you were a shirt lifter. No wonder Regulus is so ashamed of y-"

Before anyone could do anything, Sirius had swung and punched Lestrange square in the face. A small crowd had formed around the two boys as the fight turned into an all out brawl.

"Shouldn't you stop them?" Peter asked Remus as they watched Sirius pin the older boy down and punch him again. "You're a prefect!" Remus bit his lip. If he broke the fight up he would have to give both Lestrange and Sirius detention. Favoring his boyfriend would make matters worse in this particular case. He was about to say something when Slughorn came out from his classroom.

"What's this? Break it up, now. Let's go. Black, Lestrange, that's quite enough! Everyone off to classes, you two can come with me!"
-

"I can't believe he gave me detention." Sirius grumbled, throwing his bag onto his bed and climbing into Remus' where he laid with his head in the other boy's lap.

"You did throw the first punch." Remus sighed, carding his fingers through Sirius' hair. "No matter how much that git deserved it."

"How much detention?" James asked warily.

"A week." Sighed Sirius. "Scrubbing cauldrons with fucking Lestrange."

"We've got to find another outlet for your anger, mate." James said, flipping through the latest issue Quidditch Today. "Punching Slytherins is all well and good, and trust me, I'm just tickled by it myself, but it's eventually going to get you worse than a weeks worth of detention."

"Well I know one thing that helps," Sirius gave Remus a suggestive look, earning a sharp tug on his hair.

"Enough." The lighter haired boy scolded gently, but there was a smile tugging at his lips.

"Too much information, lads." Peter groaned. "Still not over what I walked into in the showers the other day..."

"Tie on the door, mate! It's a universal sign!" Sirius argued defensively.

"Don't you two have the prefect bathroom for that sort of shenanigans?" James chuckled without looking away from the article he was reading.

Remus sighed and shook his head. "I don't feel comfortable exploiting my privileges for that sort of thing. It feels wrong."

James snorted. "You sold pot during your rounds for a month to pay for your boyfriend's leather jacket, but you won't give him head in the prefects bath? You've got some fucked priorities, my friend."

Sirius laughed, looking up at Remus smugly. "See? James understands me."

"Mmm, you can date James then."

"No way, Moony." James shook his head. "I love Sirius, but that's all you. Besides, Evans is going to cave any day now."

"Ah yes," Said Peter. "Just how every love story starts 'she finally broke down and couldn't say no anymore'!" He laughed until James threw a pillow at him.

Still running his fingers through Sirius' hair, Remus looked down at him. "Really though, you've got to control your temper, Sirius. I know it's difficult and they're clearly trying to provoke you, but you can't give them that satisfaction. You're better than that."

Sirius groaned, folding his arms over his chest. "Remus, I-"

"You're going to pick a fight with the wrong person or run your mouth off about the wrong thing and you could get hurt or...I don't know, into more trouble than just having to scrub cauldrons." Remus sighed. "I just want you to be careful. Stay away from them, keep yourself busy."

Sirius nodded, not meeting Remus' eyes. "Right...you're right. I'll try."

-

Patrolling the dungeons this late at night made Lily more uneasy than she would have liked to admit. It seemed that the group of students bullying muggleborns was growing larger, and their tactics were getting more ruthless. Just days earlier Mary Macdonald ended up in the hospital wing after she was cornered by Mulciber and a few of his friends.

She shuddered.

Severus had been there, that much she knew, but she didn't know just how involved he had been. She had decidedly not asked Mary when she went to see her in the infirmary.
She had never felt quite this conflicted before. On the one hand, Severus had never been anything but nice to her. He had been her closest friend for a large part of childhood.

She always knew that he had a mild fascination with the Dark Arts, but she didn't believe that he would ever take that interest and put it to actual use. These days she wasn't so sure.

The more he hung around with people like Mulciber and Avery and Nott, the less she approved of his behavior. And even though he had never treated her poorly due to her blood status, he saw the way he looked at other students who came from Muggle families, and she didn't like it.

Still, she had no proof that Severus was physically doing anything other than hanging around the wrong sort, which he had told her was a necessity to ensure his own well standing in the Slytherin house. She supposed she would have to consider him innocent until proven guilty.

Or maybe that was just wishful thinking.

-

Every night of Slughorn's detention made Sirius more angry. Lestrange was apparently dating Bellatrix now, and she had shared with him exactly how to press Sirius' buttons. Twice in one evening he had purposely spilled the dirty water from his own clean cauldron right into Sirius'

Sirius just kept his eyes on what he was doing, remembering the way Remus told him to breathe through the pounding in his chest and reciting the lyrics to every Bowie song he knew over and over in his head until Slughorn released them.

Being in the dungeons, alone, this late at night made Sirius more uneasy than he was willing to admit. He walked with his eyes firmly on the ground, feet moving as quickly as they could to get back to Gryffindor tower. He could promise Remus and James that he would behave until he turned blue, but they seemed to have a lot more faith in him than he had in himself. There were certain things he knew he wouldn't be able to walk away from.

"Sirius."

He stopped short and cringed. He took a deep breath. He could just keep walking. He should just keep walking.

"Can I talk to you?" Regulus' voice was strained, holding back some sort of emotion as he had been trained to do since birth. Emotions weren't for Blacks.

Sirius slowly turned around to face his brother. "Now you want to talk?" His eyes narrowed. "What could you possibly have to say to me?"

A flicker went through Regulus' eyes. Guilt, maybe? Sirius wasn't sure, and he didn't care. He watched as Regulus threw his shoulders back and consciously made an effort stand up straighter. Good little heir....

"I wanted to tell you that what Rudolphus said wasn't true." The younger boy explained slowly. "I never said I was ashamed of you."

Sirius shrugged, still glaring at his brother coldly. "You think that means anything to me?" He took a step closer and Regulus' perfect pureblood posture faltered for a split second as he sunk under the shadow of his brother. "You stood there, Regulus." His fists clenched so hard his knuckles cracked. "You stood there and watched our father hit me." He took another step and Regulus was backed up against the stone wall. "You watched our bat shit, crazy mother use an illegal unforgivable curse on me. You saw me, on the ground in pain," Sirius' hand shot up and held his brother against the wall by his throat. "And you did nothing." The haughty, emotionless look in Regulus' eyes was gone and instead the silvery grey orbs were filled with distinct fear. Sirius felt the muscles in the younger boys throat work against his hand as he swallowed nervously.

"S-Sirius..."

"Do you know what the cruciatus curse feels like, Reggie?" Sirius asked, his voice low and growling and almost unrecognizable to his own ears. But he couldn't stop.

"Sirius...please..."

"Fuck you, Regulus." Sirius spat, tightening his hand. "You have no fucking idea what I've been through. You've never known even an ounce of pain. No one's ever hit your pretty little face. The Precious Prince of the House of Black..."

Finally Regulus pushed him away with a force that actually would have impressed Sirius if his angry adrenaline rush wasn't controlling every part of his conscious mind.

"What was I suppose to do, Sirius!" Regulus yelled, still up against the wall even without Sirius holding him there.

Sirius barked with laughter. "What were you suppose to do! Anything! You could have said something! Done something! It may not have made a difference but at least you would have tried!"

"They're our parents! I couldn't just disrespect-"

"YOU'RE A FUCKING COWARD!" Shouted Sirius, getting back in his brother's face. "Give me one good reason not to fucking hurt you right now."

"I'm your brother!"

Sirius shook his head. "Not anymore." He raised his fist.

"Hey! You're both out of bounds, it's well past curfew and- oh!" Sirius froze at the sound of Lily Evans' voice. With one last venomous look at his brother he stepped away. Lily cleared her throat. "Um...Regulus, back to your dorm please, or I'll take points from Slytherin." Her voice shook slightly as she addressed them. Regulus hesitated, his eyes darting to his brother almost longingly. He sighed and nodded wordlessly before turning on his heel and heading back to the Slytherin dorm.

"Sirius..." Evans called to him softly. He didn't look at her, he just ran a hand through his hair and leaned his forehead against the cold stone wall.

"What, Evans? Let's go, just go on and give me that detention you've been itching to give me since you got that pretty little badge, eh?"

Lily stayed quiet for a moment. She let out a shaky breath. "I...I'm not going to do that, Sirius."

Sirius frowned and turned to face her finally. "Why? You've caught me, haven't you? Out of bounds and fighting? Don't tell me your first thought when you found out you were named a prefect wasn't that you could finally dish out what James and I deserve..."

The shadow of a smile drifted across Lily's face and she bowed her head. "True as that may be...I'm not going to do that to you for this."

Sirius sneered at her. "I don't need your bloody pity either, Evans."

She shook her head, coming to lean against the wall beside him. "...I've got a sister you know." She said quietly, eyes on the strand of deep red hair she was twirling around her finger.

Sirius didn't respond. He had known that. He remembered Lily mentioning a sister once or twice in passing. Her name was Posey? Polly?

"Petunia is her name," Lily continued, her voice thick. "She hasn't said a single word to me the last two times I went home."

His brow furrowed, interest mixed with confusion prompting him to ask "Why? What'd you do to her?" Sure, he personally thought Lily was an annoying buzzkill, but she was a nice enough bird to her friends and nearly everyone that wasn't James and himself.

Lily smiled sadly and shrugged. "Same as you. We were born different." She sighed. "When we were little we were really close. We did everything together, I looked up to her...you know, typical sibling things...until we realized I could do things she couldn't do. I could make flowers grow by touching them...I could make things move by thinking hard enough..."

"Early signs of magic." Sirius muttered.

"Exactly." Lily said softly. "No matter what she did she couldn't do the things I could do and it made her angry. She told me it was bad, what I could do...she called me a freak, said I was weird...Then I got my Hogwarts letter and she didn't..." She wrapped her arms around herself. "Things were just never the same after that. And now we just sort of coexist in the same house whenever I'm home. She barely looks at me." She closed her eyes and Sirius saw two tears fall from her lashes. "It's horrible, isn't it?" She asked tearfully. "Knowing that no matter what we do, or how badly we want to love them, they'll never accept you for who you are?"

Without a second thought, Sirius grabbed the girl and pulled her into a tight hug. "I'm so sorry Lily."

"I'm sorry too, Sirius."

They stayed like that, clinging to each other in the dark dungeon corridor for a long time. So long that Lily's rounds ended, and Sirius escorted her back to Gryffindor tower.

Chapter Text

The Marauders had one major plan: Keep Padfoot Distracted. 

A bored Sirius was a reckless Sirius; picking fights with any Slytherin who looked at him the wrong way or mouthing off to anyone who said anything he may not agree with. If Sirius' anger had been a ticking time bomb before, it was damn near explosive now. To make matters worse, the Slytherins, specifically Rudolphus Lestrange and Bellatrix, knew this and showed no sign in backing down on their constant attempts to provoke him. In a matter of weeks, Sirius' already record breaking detention attendance seemed to double, not due to pranks and mischief as usual, but from getting into physical altercations and duels with anyone and everyone he didn't like, even without a valid reason. 

 It was time, James, Remus and Peter decided, to intervene. Keep Sirius busy, make sure he's never alone, distract him at all costs. 

 It was difficult at times, because Sirius had stopped waiting for trouble to come to him. He sat in the Great Hall at dinner, facing the Slytherin table, eyes narrowed and unblinking, silently begging for Lestrange or Mulciber to even glance his way. 

 "Hey Padfoot," Peter said, almost too loudly, but successfully dragging Sirius' attention back to their group. 

 "Hmm?" Grey eyes blinked in slight confusion, as if he hadn't been aware of how far off his mind had been. "What's up, Pete?"

Peter chewed his chicken thoughtfully for a moment and swallowed. "I was just saying that I sort of want to tell Emmeline I fancy her."

 Sirius frowned, one eyebrow quirking up. "She didn't get that from all the snogging last year?"

 "Er," The pudgy boy faltered slightly and scratched his head. "Well we weren't quite exclusive...and I was sort of thinking I'd like to be."

 "Alright...?" Sirius eyed him questioningly, unsure of what he wanted him to say.

Peter sighed. "So I wanted some advice." 

Sirius snorted, taking another bite of his potatoes. "You wanted advice on girls from your gay mate?" 

Peter rolled his eyes. "I wanted advice from my mate who's better at talking to everyone than I am, and who's been with girls, and is you know, in a relationship." He nodded to Remus, who was sitting beside Sirius and watching the whole conversation with an amused look, trying to keep a straight face. However, Peter's explanation seemed to work on Sirius, who shrugged a little.

"Fair enough," He smirked. "You've got to woo the girl, Wormy. Show her you care about her. Bring her some place nice and tell her you'd like to make things official. You're a good catch, she should know." 

Remus lost it at that, nearly choking on his food. He shook his head. 

 "What is so funny?" Sirius asked, looking offended. 

"Sorry," He grinned. "Peter, Sirius' idea of 'wooing' me was to yell in my face that he loved me until I had no choice but to snog him to shut him up." 

 James bit back a laugh, hiding his face as his shoulders shook. 

"Ignore them, Wormy." Sirius said, sitting up a little straighter despite James and Remus' hysterics. "Really, you just need to be honest with her."

 Peter's way of swaying Sirius' attention was to just keep talking to him. Ask him questions, specifically ones that would boost his ego and make him feel like he was the only person that could help in a situation, particularly social. And it did work, most of the time. Even if it sometimes made James and Remus lose it as Peter fed into Sirius' cocky, sometimes narcissistic mindset. 

James had a different tactic. And in Remus' opinion it wasn't all that helpful. 

 "We're suppose to be keeping him out of detention, you twat." He muttered in annoyance once Professor Mcgonagall finished scolding them for hexing Bertram Aubrey's head twice its natural size. They had earned three days of banging erasers.

"We were suppose to keep him away from Slytherins and out of fights." James corrected defensively. "Nott and Mulciber were walking down the hall, I did the first thing that came into my head to draw his attention away from them." 

 "Hexing random students isn't exactly what I would consider-"

"Hey, Pads was laughing wasn't he? Hasn't done that in almost a week. I consider that a success." James shrugged, plopping down on the big sofa in the common room. "Besides, Aubrey's a little shit. He knocked Garrett of his broom in last week's match against Ravenclaw. He's got a concussion and I'm short a beater." Then James' eyes went wide. "Oh! Shit, Moony I've got an idea!" 

Remus groaned, rubbing his temples. "I'm afraid to ask..."

 "No, really. It's perfect. It'll keep Sirius out of trouble, distracted and he'll be able to take out all that anger he's got. It's brilliant, I promise." 

-

Professor Mcgonagall stared over the rim of her glasses at the two boys that sat in front of her in her office. 

 "Mr. Potter, you can see why I'm a little hesitant to see how handing Mr. Black a bat with which he can send heavy, flying objects hurtling towards people, specifically Slytherins, is the way to keep him out of fighting those same Slytherins?" 

James and Sirius both deflated slightly. Neither of them had really thought about it like that. Sirius huffed, folding his arms and slouching in his seat. 

 "Just fuck it-"

"Language, Black." 

 "Sorry Minnie- Professor, sorry- I just feel like this is all stupid anyway. You don't want me getting into trouble, we found another outlet, and that's not good enough either!" He ran both hands through his hair. "Clearly I'm just a hopeless bloody case then, aren't I? 'What should we do about Sirius Black?' 'How do we keep Sirius out of trouble?' 'Clearly he can't be trusted with a bat!'" He turned to face James. "I told you! There's nothing you can do, James. It's in my blood, isn't it? I will always be more trouble than I'm wor-"

 "Have a biscuit, Black." Mcgonagall interrupted his tirade, shoving a silver tray of biscuits towards him. 

Sirius stared blankly at her, his rant forgotten. "What?" 

She shuffled through some papers on her desk, waving dismissively at the tray. "Have a biscuit. You too, Potter, if you'd like." 

Sirius and James exchanged confused glances before hesitantly reaching forward and taking the offered treats. 

 "Now then," McGonagall sat back down behind her desk as the boys chewed. "Mr. Black- Sirius," she sighed. "While it may be true that both you and Mr. Potter equally can be quite the handful, as well as Mr. Lupin and Mr. Pettigrew at times, that does not mean that you are more trouble that you are worth. I want that to be very clear, understood?"

Sirius didn't answer, he just slowly chewed the biscuit, staring ahead of him at the witch. She continued.

"I think that it was an honorable attempt to find a solution to your current predicament. You should know that the mere fact that you are willing to admit there's a problem with your recent behavior proves that you are not, as you put it, 'a hopeless case.'" She looked back down at the paperwork she was going through. "You're an extremely bright young man, Sirius. One of my top students. And although you tend to drive me to my last nerve, I admit I am very, very fond of all four of you boys." She smiled a little as James and Sirius swallowed, both unsure of how to respond. She turned her attention to James.

"Potter, I think you were on the right track with thinking Sirius' energy would be best suited for the Quidditch field, and if we had any other spot open that didn't involve the possibility of broken bones, I would be all for it. Unfortunately I just don't feel like dealing with the paperwork of that many student injuries. However," she pulled out a file and read through it. "We do need a new game commentator. Someone who knows the game well and can keep the crowd entertained." She gave Sirius a pointed look and the boy sat up a little straighter, grey eyes widening hopefully. Mcgonagall's smile faded and she looked at him more seriously. "Now, I'm warning you up front, Sirius. I know the mouth you've got on you, keep it appropriate. Try to filter yourself, or we'll nix the entire idea. Are we clear?" 

 Again James and Sirius looked at each other, wearing near identical faces of shock, and then back at their head of house. They both nodded. 

 "Yeah, you got it. Definitely." Sirius said, disbelief evident in his voice. "Thank you." 

"As for your replacement beater Mr. Potter," she addressed James. "Miss McKinnon recently expressed an interest. Why don't you give her a proper try out?"

James nodded, grinning from ear to ear as he and Sirius stood up. "Sure thing, Professor. Thank you." He and Sirius bumped their fists together in celebration as the turned to leave the office.

 "Don't make me regret this, boys!" She called after them.

"We won't!" They chorused as innocently as they could before slamming the door behind them and running off towards Gryffindor tower. 

 "I can't believe how well that went!" Sirius laughed, feeling lighter than he had in over a month since his return to school. He could practically feel himself buzzing. 

James slung an arm over his shoulder, still grinning. "See mate? People have faith in you. You just need a little more in yourself." 

 Sirius bit his lip, though the smile on his face remained. "Hey, Prongs...thanks. Y'know...for everything." 

James scoffed at him. "What? Stop. I haven't done anything." 

"You have," Sirius insisted, rubbing the back of his neck. "A lot, actually. I mean...you were the first person to believe in me...back in first year, the sorting ceremony...you cheered me on...you made me feel like I really didn't have to be a Slytherin...like my choice mattered..." He laughed nervously. "You've always been the first one to support my crazy ideas or shut me up when I'm being stupid...and push me to do things you know are good for me when I'm a stubborn arse. And what happened over break, I..." He sighed heavily. "I don't think I'd have survived it without you. So just...thanks...and...y'know....I love you and stuff..." He looked up and met James' eyes and saw the other boy smiling goofily back at him. 

 "Aw Pads...you keep talking like that and I may just have to steal you away from Moony." He gave him a flirty wink before breaking into laughter. Sirius' face fell and he glared, smacking his friend upside the head. 

 "You idiot. I'm trying to be serious here!" 

"Well yeah, who else would you be trying to be?"

 "Merlin, you're impossible. I take it back, you suck, Potter."  

"I'm just joking, prat." James chuckled, running to catch up with Sirius and grabbing his arm. "I love you too, you git. You're my brother, you know that." He stopped walking just as they were passing the painting of the bowl of fruit that hid the kitchens. "Hey, come here..." He pulled the other boy over and tickled the pear, making the painting swing open.

Sirius frowned. "Dinner is in an hour, mate..."

James rolled his eyes. "We aren't here for food." He said vaguely, hazel eyes searching the kitchen over the heads of a dozen house elves who were busy preparing that night's feast. He spotted what he was looking for and, still tugging Sirius along like a rag doll, darted over to one of the counters, picking up a sharp looking knife. 

 Sirius eyed him warily. "Er...what are you-?"

"Will you just shut your gob for once, Padfoot? Merlin you talk too much. No wonder Moony's always got to shove his tongue down your throat..." Then, to Sirius' great surprise, James took the pointed tip of the knife and pressed it to his own palm, hissing just a bit at the sting. Before Sirius could question him again, James took him by the wrist and set his hand palm up and did the same to him.

 "Ow." Sirius winced. 

"Wuss." Muttered James, dropping the knife on the counter. He sighed and locked eyes with Sirius, raising the hand that still held the boys' wrist. "Your blood," he held up his own slit hand. "My blood." He pressed their palms together firmly. "Our blood. You're my brother, Sirius. Forever. No matter what happens, it's me and you. Got it? So I don't want to hear anymore about your stupid family or evil being in your veins, because as far as I'm concerned, whatever runs through yours is in mine as well. We have the same blood. Understand?" 

 Sirius nodded, feeling his heart beating hard in his chest as James pulled him into a tight hug. After a moment he smirked. "Y'know with all the inbreeding in pureblood families, we probably already had the same blood...that was just unnecessary." 

 James rolled his eyes. "Moron." He released Sirius and cleaned off the knife. 

"No, really...and they say I'm the dramatic one." Sirius snickered, pulling out his wand and using one of the few healing spells he had learned for Remus to stop the bleeding on both his and James' hands. James shook his head and together they left the the kitchens.

-

It was a rare night that the dorm room was empty. Peter had finally worked up all the Gryffindor courage he possessed and had asked Emmeline on a date in Hogsmeade. Unfortunately, that took literally all of his courage, and he had none left for the actual date. 

 "Please James! You have to come with me!" The blonde begged as Sirius tore through his wardrobe for something appropriate to wear. 

"What do you want me to do, follow you around under the cloak and whisper what to say next in your ear?" James asked with clear sarcasm. Peter's eyes went wide. 

 "Could you?" 

"What? No! Peter, come on!" James groaned.

 "Pete, do you own anything that isn't a t-shirt?" Sirius grumbled, tossing three identical white shirts out of the boy's trunk.

Peter collapsed onto his bed and whined pitifully. "I'm hopeless. She'll never want to be my girlfriend." 

 "Hold on," Sirius muttered, digging deep in the bottom of the trunk and pulling out a deep blue button down. "Ah! Here we are, Big Boy clothes!" He snickered, throwing it onto Peter's bed. "Relax, Wormy. You've already snogged the girl. The rest is cake. Just don't say anything too dorky or stupid until she gets to know you better." He sighed and looked at James. "Maybe you'd better go with him on second thought." 

James looked uncertain and Sirius had the distinct feeling it was because he didn't want to leave him by himself. He rolled his eyes.

 "I don't need a bloody babysitter, you know." He tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice. "Remus will be back from rounds soon enough. I'll just wait for him in the common room...maybe McKinnon's around to amuse me, I don't know..." He ran a hand through his hair and smirked. "Besides, it'll be nice to have the dorm empty once he's back."

Peter and James both made a face. 

"Alright, alright." James sighed. "Fine, I'll shadow your bloody date." 

 "Thank fucking Merlin, Prongs, thank you!" Peter nearly leaped off the bed, grabbing the shirt Sirius had found for him and running off to the bathroom. Sirius climbed into Remus' bed with his back to James, well aware of his friend's eyes baring into him. 

"Sirius..." 

 "Relax." Sirius mumbled, breathing slowly through the anger that was starting to make his muscles tense. "I'll be a good boy and stay right here." 

James sat on the edge of the bed. "Look, Padfoot. We're only trying help you. It's not that we don't trust you. You've gone through a lot, you haven't been yourself...No one wants to see you get hurt or do something you might really regret."

Sirius snorted. "So it's not that you don't trust me, it's just that...you don't trust me?" He shook his head and sat up. "That makes sense." 

 "No," James frowned. "It's not that we don't trust you. We don't trust people like Lestrange and Bellatrix and Mulciber not to take advantage of the fact that you can't control your impulses right now. That's not your fault."

"Right." Sirius sighed bitterly, lying back down just as Peter emerged from the bathroom. 

 "How do I look?" He asked, nerves causing his voice to go up a notch. 

"You look great, Wormtail." Sirius said, forcing a smile. "Knock 'em dead, mate." 

James gave Sirius one last look over the top of his glasses. "Behave." 

 Sirius groaned and pulled one of Remus' pillows over his face. Once he heard the door click closed, he pressed the pillow down harder to muffle the sound of a frustrated scream. Then he stayed there, panting slightly and wondering just how long he'd have to lay there like that before he suffocated. 

Sure, add Moony finding me dead to my problems. He thought bitterly. Ugh. Not worth it. They would bring me back to life just to murder me themselves. And there's probably no Bowie records in hell. He tossed the pillow aside. After a minute or two he hoisted himself up off the bed, grabbing his leather jacket and his cigarettes, and he headed down into the common room. 

Surprisingly empty for a Friday night, save some second years playing gobstones by the fire. No Marlene or Frank or even Evans around to keep him occupied. He left through the portrait hole, in pursuit of the astronomy tower for some peace and quiet and a smoke. He wished James had at least left him the map, though he supposed that had been done purposely as to not give him any ideas about wondering off. He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jacket, so lost in his self pitying thoughts that he didn't notice he was being followed until he found himself being roughly shoved into a closet. 

 "What the fu-" 

"Damn it, Sirius, what are you doing?" Remus' irritated voice rang through the dark space. 

 "Wha- Remus?" Sirius lit his wand to see his boyfriend's clearly unhappy face. "Why the fuck did you just ambush me? How'd you even know where I was?" 

Remus raised an eyebrow and held up the map. "I take it on rounds sometimes when I need to get my detention numbers up." He smirked, a hint of pride in his voice before he scowled again and whacked Sirius over the head with the parchment. "What are you doing out? Where's James?" 

 Sirius huffed, glaring at the werewolf. "For fuck sake, I'm sixteen years old! I don't need a bloody chaperone! It's barely even after hours, Moony! I went out for a damn smoke, is that alright?"  He slammed his fist against the wall and the shelved behind him shook. Remus' expression softened. 

 "I'm sorry, Padfoot. You're right." He bit his lip, watching Sirius lean against the wall and fold his arms looking a mix of angry and hurt. Remus sighed and pulled Sirius to him by his hips. He smiled a little and ducked his head to kiss the other boy's pouting lips. "Come on, love...don't be angry with me."

Sirius continued to sulk. "I'm tired of being treated like I'm some child that can't be left unsupervised." He turned his head to the side. He would absolutely not be persuaded by kisses to stop being angry. No Sir. "You think I don't know that you and James and Pete have just been finding ways to distract me and keep me busy? I'm not stupid." 

Remus nodded, one of his hands sliding up under Sirius' jacket and t-shirt to stroke the soft skin just above his jeans. "I know you're not stupid, Sirius. I'm sorry. We've just been worried about you." He pressed his lips to the side of Sirius' neck, to the place he knew would make him squirm. And squirm he did. 

 "Stop that." Sirius whined, but he tilted his head further to give Remus more room. He felt Remus chuckle softly against the skin of his neck.

"You don't want me to stop..." His voice was almost a growl with the full moon less than a week away. Sirius had to admit, pre-moon Remus was definitely a turn on. He was much more assertive and bold and didn't mind taking charge, to a certain extent. Sirius felt his knees go weak as the taller boy pressed against him so he was pinned between him and the wall. 

 "Moony..." Sirius sighed, his bad mood forgotten as Remus kissed lower down his neck. 

"I'm sorry for being overly protective, Sirius..." Remus muttered, the hand that had been stroking his hip sliding lower to cup the growing bulge in his jeans. "Let me make it up to you..."

 Sirius suddenly forgot how to form words as he watched his boyfriend slide down onto his knees, glowing amber eyes staying locked onto his. Sirius cleared his throat. "W-well...I mean I can't r-really argue with tha-aah! Remus!" 

He knew, of course, that this was Remus' own way of keeping him distracted. But it was definitely his favorite. 

Ten minutes later they both stumbled out of the closet, laughing and still stealing kisses from each other. 

 "Fuck." They both froze when they heard someone swear under their breath. Remus raised his lit wand, shedding light on the face of Severus Snape. 

"You're out of bounds, Severus." Remus said, trying to sound authoritative through his mild embarrassment. "Back to your dorm." 

Snape raised as eyebrow and cocked his head toward Sirius. "So's he." 

 "Yes, and I was just telling Sirius to return to his as well." 

The Slytherin rolled his eyes. "I'm sure that's exactly what you were telling him." He sneered, watching as Sirius adjusted the fly of his jeans. His eyes flickered to the window, the waxing moon high over the school grounds, then back to Remus. "You're not looking well, Lupin. Maybe you should take a few days off from rounds. Looks like you could use some rest."  Sirius' hand wrapped around his wand in his back pocket.

Remus gave a wry smile and shrugged. "I feel fine. Thanks for the concern, Severus. Now return to the dungeons or I'll give you detention." 

 "What about Black?" 

"Sirius is none of your concern, Snape." Remus stepped closer to the other boy so he was now between Sirius and Severus. "And he's on his way back to his dorm as well, aren't you Sirius?" 

Sirius gave a slight nod, eyes narrowed on Severus. "Yeah." 

Snape gave Remus one last once over, his eyes filled with a look unadulterated disgust, and turned to head back down to Slytherin dorm. Once he was out of earshot, Sirius shuddered. 

"Bloody hate the way he looks at you." He muttered. "And the way he's always sneaking around."

 "Mmm." Remus hummed in agreement. "Don't dwell on it, Sirius. I don't." He gently grabbed his boyfriend's chin and tilted his face up for another kiss. "Back to the dorm with you as well, or I'll have to give you detention." He smirked.

Sirius grinned. "Oh really? That sounds tempting."

Remus laughed and rolled his eyes. "I mean it, Pads. I'll be up in about an hour, alright?"

 With one last kiss, Sirius conceded and headed back up to Gryffindor Tower.  

 

Chapter Text

"Rise and shine, Padfoot!" The much too cheery voice of James Potter tore Sirius from his peaceful sleep. He grumbled unintelligibly, snuggling further back against the naked form of his boyfriend who was spooning him from behind. Remus' arm around his waist tightened, but he remained asleep.

"S'too early, mate." Sirius whined, keeping his eyes screwed shut and praying that James would go away.

"Big game today. I'm bringing the team down to get one last practice in." Sirius could hear the grin on James' face and it only annoyed him further.

"I'm not technically on the team." He groaned, pulling the blanket over his head. Remus stirred in his sleep and nuzzled Sirius' neck. "G'way or you'll wake my big scary werewolf boyfriend and he'll eat you."

"Shut up Padfoot." Remus mumbled groggily.

"It's part of the deal with McGonagall, Sirius. You've got to come to practices. Come on." James sighed.

Sirius grumbled some more and turned to face Remus whose eyes were open and not very happy looking, but the corner of his lip twitched up. "You'd better go or he'll drag you out there completely starkers."

Sirius laughed and kissed him quickly. Then he pouted. "You're going to miss my first game."

One of Remus' hands came up to stroke his cheek. "I know, love. I'm sorry. Fucking moon..." He looked sad for a moment. "You, James and Peter are going to come to the shack right after, right?"

Sirius nodded, taking his hand and squeezing it gently. "Of course. Straight there, I promise." He kissed him again. "I love you."

"I love you too." He smiled sleepily as he watched Sirius get up and dressed. "Pads..."

"Yeah?"

"I'm proud of you, you know. You've been working really hard to keep focused."

Sirius grinned, feeling his face heat up which he tried to hide by pulling his shirt on over his head. "I'll see you later, Moons. Rest up." He pulled the curtains closed around Remus' bed and followed James down to the common room where Dorcas, Marlene, The Prewitt twins, Frank Longbottom and a fit looking seventh year, Eric Feldman. They all looked about as happy to be awake at such an early hour as Sirius felt.

It was a windy March morning and although it wasn't raining, there was a heavy mist in the air that James kept insisting would clear before the game started.
Sirius sat up in the stands, pulling his leather jacket tightly around him to keep out the chill and wishing he were still in his warm bed, under the warm blankets, with his warm, naked boyfriend.

"Fucking Potter..." He muttered, tying his wet hair up in a knot.

"Hmm, you can say that again."

Sirius looked up and saw Lily Evans, layered in a thick cloak and holding two steaming mugs. "Cocoa?" She held one out to him and smiled.

Sirius smiled back. "Sure." He took the mug from her as she took a seat next him him. "What are you doing out here?"

Lily sighed and nodded out to the field. "Making sure Marlene doesn't make a complete fool of herself to get Dorcas' attention."

Sirius snorted, rolling his eyes. "She still hasn't told her, eh?"

"Afraid not. Although it's painfully obvious. I'm sure Dorcas is already well aware."

Sirius chuckled, taking a long drink and feeling the warmth spread through his body. "It's not easy telling one of your best mates you're in love with them." He smiled, looking down at his lap. "Even if it's obvious to everyone else that the feeling is mutual. It goes deeper than just a fear of rejection, you know? If you tell them and they don't feel the same way, you can get over that with some time...but if they do feel the same way and it doesn't work for whatever reason..." He shivered and pretended it was from the wind. "Then you could lose them forever..."

Lily watched him, taking in the emotions of his voice and face. She smiled softly. "I didn't think about that."

"I think about it every time I look at him." Sirius admit, worrying his bottom lip. "I'm sure you're well aware that I don't always think before I do things or say things," he looked up at her and smirked a little, catching her agreeing look. "But...I am trying so hard every fucking day just to be good enough to be what he deserves...I don't want to fuck this up. I can't."

"Wow," Lily breathed, seeming a little surprised. "You really do love him, don't you?"

He nodded, no hesitation. "Yes."

Lily sighed and looked back out at the Quidditch pitch and the players who were flying back and forth. "I've underestimated you, Sirius."

Sirius snorted and took another sip of his drink. "Many people do."

Lily hummed. "But you see, I didn't underestimate you because of your name. I'm a muggleborn. I don't know much about the politics of all the pureblood families." She shook her head and Sirius rolled his eyes at the mention of it. "It's just...I suppose I've only ever seen you and Potter as immature, conceded prats-"

"Gee, thanks."

"And part of me still sort of does see that...but I never really thought much about your own lives and feelings and the things you all do for each other. It's quite admirable, you know. How much you and James and Peter care for Remus with his..." She trailed off and Sirius held his breath for a moment. He let it out when she didn't seem to wish to continue the thought. He shrugged.

"We're a family. That's what we do."
-
"AVREY SHOOTS FOR THE GOAL - ANOTHER BRILLIANT SAVE BY GRYFFINDOR KEEPER LONGBOTTOM! No surprise, of course. Everyone knows Avery can't score."

Mcgonagall gave Sirius a warning look but let the comment slide. Sirius shrugged innocently and put his focus back on the game. "GRYFFINDOR CAPTAIN JAMES POTTER HAS THE QUAFFLE - OY! SLYTHERIN BEATER FLINT JUST SENT THE BLUDGER TOWARDS POTTER ON PURPOSE! NICE SAVE BY MARLENE MCKINNON! That's right Marls! Show that slimy piece of-"

"Sirius!"

"Sorry Professor, but that was out of order and you know it! GOOD BEATING, MCKINNON! HEY MEADOWS, YOU IMPRESSED? IM IMPRESSED!"

Marlene flew past the commentator stand and flipped him off, but she was grinning ear to ear. Sirius snickered to himself.

"GREAT INTERFERENCE FROM GIDEON PREWITT AS HE STEALS THE QUAFFLE FROM SLYTHERIN CHASER JASPER PARKINSON! PREWITT PASSES TO POTTER, POTTER SCORES! TEN POINTS TO GRYFFINDOR! EXCELLENT PLAY BY BOTH POTTER AND PREWITT RIGHT THERE, then again I know he handles balls well-"

"SIRIUS BLACK WE TALKED ABOUT THIS!"

"What?" Sirius laughed. "He's a good chaser!"

The students, or at least most of them, perhaps not the Slytherins, seemed entertained by Sirius' comments. Some of them even shouting back to him and hooting and whistling. He liked the feeling. It was sort of the same as when he and James would pull off a massive prank that got even the teachers to laugh. A natural high. He was surprised with the things Mcgonagall did let him get away with, but he couldn't help but push his limits now and then. He did think maybe she had been just slightly too trusting, allowing his first game to be against Slytherin. At least Gryffindor was in the lead, 30 to 10.

He was glad that Regulus was the team's seeker and that he didn't have much to do for most of the game that would be worth commenting on, and he tried his best not to pay him any mind, but he did find himself occasionally allowing his eyes to wander to the younger Black.

"ANOTHER TEN POINTS TO GRYFFINDOR SCORED BY FABIAN PREWITT! Slytherin Keeper Goyle may want to lay off the pudding at dinner tonight, maybe you'd be a little faster, eh?"

There was loud booing from the Slytherin stands, but the rest of the crowd roared with laughter.

Out of the corner of his eye, Sirius saw Regulus start to fly faster. "OY MEADOWS, GET YOUR EYES OFF MCKINNON'S ARSE! SLYTHERIN SEEKER REGULUS BLACK HAS SEEN THE SNITCH! DONT GIVE THAT BRAT THE SATISFACTION!"

"Sirius..." Mcgonagall sighed, shaking her head. But Sirius was too busy, as was the rest of the crowd, watching as Dorcas sped off, coming nearly shoulder to shoulder with Regulus as they both chased after the snitch. Suddenly they both dove straight down, almost completely in sync with each other, both reaching, straining.

Once they were close enough to the ground, Dorcas jerked her broom to the left.

"MEADOWS HIPCHECKS REGULUS! GO DORCAS! GET IT!"

Regulus did the same back to her and both seekers tumbled off their brooms into the sandpit where they seemed to be wrestling each other.

"WHO HAS THE SNITCH!? Kick him in the bloody shin, Dorcas-"

"Sirius, no!"

"All in good sportsmanship, of course Professor!"

After a moment more of struggling, Dorcas stood and shot her fist into the air, holding the tiny golden ball.

"DORCAS MEADOWS HAS THE SNITCH! GRYFFINDOR WINS!" Sirius shouted and the crowd cheered excitedly. The rest of the team flew down, throwing their brooms aside and running to congratulate their seeker. Marlene was the first to get there, throwing her arms around Dorcas and, lost in the excitement of winning perhaps, crushed her lips against the other girl's. Sirius grinned, watching from the commentator stand as Dorcas pulled Marlene closer and kissed back.

"Looks like Quidditch isn't the only thing Meadows and McKinnon have won today, eh?" Sirius snickered into the microphone. Both girls smiled and waved up at him before they were tackled by the rest of their team.

-

Eventually Sirius made his way down the field where the members of the Gryffindor team were still busy congratulating each other and the happy new couple. 

 "Good game, you lot." He grinned and clapped James on the shoulder. "That was some nice flying, Dorcas. Hope you got a punch in for me at the end." 

Dorcas laughed and winked at him. "Kicked him in the shin, like you said." 

 "You are an absolute goddess. I owe you a drink." He hugged her and then turned to Marlene. "And you," He smirked knowingly. "How do you feel?" 

Marlene nearly flung herself at Sirius, knocking the wind out of him momentarily and popping several place in his spine. "Thank you, Sirius." 

 "Me?" He laughed when she finally released him, pushing some of his hair out of his eyes. "I didn't do anything." 

Marlene just smiled at him and shook her head. "You've done more than you know. Just accept my gratitude, Black." She kissed him on the cheek. "Love you." 

He smiled and hugged her again, much gentler this time. "Love you too, McKnickers. Best to you two." 

The team headed towards the lockers and James held Sirius back. "I'm going to jump in the shower," He glanced up at the sky, judging the placement of the sun. "It's what? 4:30? Hour til moon rise?" 

Sirius nodded. "Yeah. Pete ran to the kitchens to grab us something to eat. I just have to stop in the dorm quick and grab my bag. Meet in front of the willow in an hour?"

"Sounds good." James agreed and followed the rest of the team, still cheering each other on, into the lockers as Sirius headed off to the castle on his own. 

 He was in a relatively good mood, much better than he had been in in quite some time, and although he didn't enjoy the pain the full moon caused Remus, he couldn't deny that the monthly adventures running around the forest with the wolf were some of his favorite nights. In fact, he couldn't think of a better way to add to his already existing adrenaline rush. 

In the dorm room he quickly grabbed the usual items he always brought along; Water bottle, Remus' sweater, a handful of chocolate and the tiny potion bottle that contained a healing drought for mild injuries. He tossed them all into his bag and hurried out, glancing quickly out the window at the setting sun.  

He bounded down the stairs as fast as he could, skipping steps and avoiding the trick ones and he was nearly out of the castle when he collided, hard, with another student, causing them both to fall to the ground. 

"Shit." Sirius muttered, picking himself up and brushing himself off. He turned to give the other boy a hand. "Sorry, I- Oh...It's you." He frowned when came face to face with Severus Snape.

 Snape glared at him as he stood and fixed his robes. "And where are you off to in such a hurry?" 

"None of your bloody business." Sirius snapped. "Out of my way, Snivellus. I've got somewhere to be." He went to step around him but Snape just shifted, not letting him through. 

 "Awfully curious how you and your friends are always sneaking around late at night." Severus had his wand out, but not raised. Sirius' hand went to his back pocket for his own. 

Don't do it. Don't fight him. Not tonight. You can't risk detention on a full moon. Remus needs you. 

Sirius smirked. "You should talk. You're always lurking about in the shadows, following everyone around, sticking that giant beak of yours where it doesn't belong. We've warned you before, Snivellus. Stay away, or we'll stop playing nice." He shoved past the other boy roughly. 

"What's the matter, Black? You can't fight me without your friends to back you up?" Snape called to him. Sirius slowly exhaled a deep breath and spun around. 

 "I'm not going to fight you because I've got better shit to do than waste my time with some greasy, low life git." He took a threatening step closer. "And at least I've got friends. I don't see anyone ever hanging around you," He made a face. "Probably the smell." 

Snape gave him a sick sort of smile. "Enjoy them while you've got them, Black...Only a matter of time before they get sick of you, just like your family." 

Sirius inhaled sharply and his fingers curled into tight fists at his side. He turned his back on the other boy again. He took another deep breath and counted in his head. 

"Lupin's going to get sick of you too, Black." Severus sneered. "He's only with you because he knows no one else is ever going to want a freak like him."

 Sirius' eyes went wide and before he could stop himself, he turned and shoved Severus against a wall. "I warned you, Snape." He growled. "I warned you if you didn't keep Remus' name out of your damn mouth, you'd fucking regret it." He was breathing hard, his entire body felt like it was on fire as rage surged through him. He wanted to hurt Severus Snape more than he had ever wanted to hurt anyone. "You just can't mind your own business can you? You really want to know what it is we're up to? You want to know what's wrong with poor little Remus Lupin? Where's he always disappearing to? Fine!" His eyes flashed to the window, it was nearly dark. He smirked. "Go on out to the Whomping Willow. Grab a long stick, press the knot in the middle...The tree will stop moving and you can take a hidden tunnel. So go, unless you're a scared little shit like I think you are." He released Severus with one last hard shove and started to walk away. 

 "You...You're fucking with me, Black." 

Sirius kept walking, not bothering to look back. "Oh I assure you, I'm completely Serious." 

Chapter Text

That white noise was back in his head and his whole body felt numb. 

It was better than the anger though. He leaned against the wall and ran his hands through his hair.

 Fucking Snivellus...he deserves what he gets...see if he goes snooping around anymore...

 "Sirius?"

Sirius shook himself out of wherever his mind had put him as James came running to him. 

 "Sirius, what are you doing? You were suppose to meet us twenty minutes ago. I sent Wormtail in without us..." He frowned. "What's wrong?" 

 "Fucking Snivellus." Sirius muttered irritably.

James watched him carefully. "What about him? What'd he do?"

 "He was just running his mouth and lurking about...asking too many fucking questions." 

James nodded slowly, sensing something amiss by the tone of his friend's voice and the look on his face. He licked his lips nervously. "Alright...well...we'll hex him for it tomorrow, mate..." He took Sirius' arm. "Come on, Pads-"

 Sirius smirked and shook his his head. "I took care of it already. He won't be sneaking around us anymore." 

Something flickered in James' eyes. He swallowed. "Sirius...what did you do?" 

Sirius shrugged. "I didn't do anything. I just wanted to give him a little scare, that's all." He chuckled to himself. "So I told him how to get past the willow."

The color drained from James' face and his eyes grew twice their size. "Y-you did what?" He grabbed him by the shoulders. "Sirius, you're joking, right?" Sirius said nothing. James shook him. "SIRIUS! Fuck! Sirius what did you do!"

Slowly, realization seemed to dawn on Sirius' features and the cold look in his eyes faded, replaced with fear. He paled. "J-James...Fuck, James...I...I didn't mean-"

 James shoved him roughly aside. "Go upstairs to the dorm, Sirius."

"No! I have to-"

 "You've done enough, just go! Go and stay there!" 

 Sirius watched, frozen in shock as James tore off into the dark towards the whomping willow. 

What did I do?

-

James had never run so fast in his life. He could hear his heart pounding and his breathing and nothing else. His mind was racing. What had Sirius done? What could Snape have possibly said to make Sirius betray Remus that way?

He couldn't think about it now. All he could think was to run faster. 

He skidded to a stop in front of the Willow when he nearly tripped over a large branch on the ground. Shit. Was it too late? How far had Severus gotten?

Picking up the branch, he prodded the knot in the tree. Everything stilled. Including his heart. 

Keep moving.

The tunnel leading to the shrieking shack had never seemed so long and dark as he pushed himself to move as quickly as possible, the sound of his footsteps echoing off the walls. In the distance he could see the light of someone's wand. 

 "Severus!" He called desperately. There was no answer, but the light flickered with movement. "Stop! Don't go any further!" Finally reaching the other boy, James reached out and grabbed him by the back of his robes. Severus shoved him off roughly, his hand already on the door that would lead him right to the shrieking shack. Right to Remus.

 "Potter? What are you doing-" 

"Severus, please, listen to me." James tried breathlessly to rationalize with him. "You need to get out of here. You can't be here." 

 Snape sneered at him. "And you can be? Why?" 

"I can't tell you!" James said desperately, willing the other boy to just trust him and leave. Make this nightmare go away. He'd deal with Sirius on his own, Remus would never have to know and everything would go on the way it should be. "You just have to trust me and go now, or both of us could get killed."

 There was a loud, inhuman scream from behind the door and both James and Severus froze. "What was that?" Snape asked. 

James swallowed. "Please...just leave."

"Tell me and I'll leave." Severus challenged, his hand still on the doorknob. 

 "Leave and I'll tell you." James lied. He couldn't think of a good enough lie. His hand was on his wand. "Don't make me hurt you to save you, Snape. I can't let you-"

"Typical fucking Gryffindor always thinking they've got to be the hero." Snape spat, once again shoving James away, this time hard enough that the Gryffindor stumbled back and fell to the ground. James heard the click of the door opening as he scrambled to his feet.

 "SEVERUS NO!" He lunged forward, knocking Snape out of the way of the now open door. There was was a moment of sheer terror for both of them as giant, yellow eyes locked on them and the wolf growled.

 "Holy shit-" Severus breathed, his eyes wide with shock and fear. The wolf charged forward and James slammed the the door shut, wincing as he felt it shutter behind him as the wolf collided heavily with it. Sorry Moony...

"SEVERUS RUN! GO!" 

But Snape was frozen on the ground, unable to move. Moony kept throwing himself at the door trying to get to them. "Fuck." James swore under his breath. He pulled Severus to his feet. "RUN YOU IDIOT!" 

-

 It was dawn when James walked into the dorm room, bruised from the Whomping Willow and absolutely seething with anger. Sirius jumped up from where he had been anxiously waiting on his bed. He obviously hadn't slept. He was pale, and shaking and he had gotten sick several times during the night, disgusted with himself and terrified. 

 "James, I-" 

He heard a crack as James' fist collided with his face. Even though he knew he deserved that, deserved worse than that, he threw a punch back and the two of them ended up in wrestling on the floor of the dorm. Sirius was the first to forfeit, getting to his feet and wiping blood off his face with his sleeve. 

"Look! I fucking deserve it okay, but I’m sorry! I didn’t mean for it to go that far! I didn’t think that-”

“But that’s just it Sirius! You DIDN'T THINK! And that could have gotten Snape and Moony killed!”

Sirius flinched at Remus' name, shame washing over him and feeling sick again. He swallowed hard. "...Is...Is he okay?" He asked quietly, not meeting James' angry stare. 

 James sighed, biting his lip and looking away as well. “He beat himself up pretty bad. Pete’s down in the hospital wing with him.”

“I need to see him,” Sirius made a move towards the door.

“You’re not going anywhere near him.” James said coldly, blocking his way.

“I didn’t mean for this to happen! I need to talk to him! I need to apologize-”

“You think apologizing is going to fix this? Sirius, he trusted you! ESPECIALLY you! You’re his bloody boyfriend for fuck sake. You’re suppose to protect him!”

 "I was trying to protect him!" Argued Sirius, desperation evident in his voice. 

"Well you did a right shit job of it!" James ran a hand through his hair. "Fuck, Sirius, what the bloody hell did you think would happen sending Snape in after a full grown bloody werewolf? I know you only see Remus as himself, but you forget that as much as you love him, he is still dangerous!"

“You don’t understand! Snape was saying horrible things about him! He was saying that he knew we had a secret and that he would find out! He was calling him a freak and I couldn’t…I didn’t…I lost it. I love him James! I really…” He made a strangled angry noise and punched the wall behind him, adding broken knuckles to his probably broken nose. “I need to tell him I love him…I need to apologize…”

James bit his lip. “I know you do Sirius…but I can’t let you see him right now. You need to stay away. For both your sakes..“

Angrily wiping away tears, Sirius turned to him. "D'you forgive me?”

“No.” James answered honestly. “Not now...I will…and Pete will…”

 Sirius' eyes narrowed on him. "But Remus won't, is that what you're trying to say?" He ran his hands through his hair and James gave him an uncertain sort of look. “You’re wrong. You’re wrong, James. Remus and I…we…I love him and-”

 "And you fucked up, Sirius." James shook his head. "Look, I can't tell you what Remus is going to do or think...I don't know if he'll forgive you but...I can't let you near him right now, alright? It's probably best if you just...just give everyone space, okay?" 

Tears were falling freely down Sirius' face, but he nodded slowly. James turned to leave.

 "James-" Sirius called quietly. "...w-what...what happened? Snape...Did he...?" 

James sighed and shook his head. "He's fine. Cracked a rib getting away from the willow...and pretty shaken up from what he saw, as you'd imagine...Dumbledore made him swear not to tell anyone."

 Sirius swallowed, biting his bottom lip hard. "Dumbledore knows that I-" 

"I made him swear not to tell Dumbledore it was you." James muttered.

 "Why would you-?" 

"Because I think that the guilt you're feeling right now...and what you're about to go through...that's way worse than any punishment Dumbledore can dish out." And with that, James left Sirius standing alone in the dorm. 

"No." He sat up despite the werewolf's attempt to pull him back to him. "I mean it. Look at me, Moony! Look at what I come from! What they do-!"

 "They're bad people, Sirius." Remus went to take his hand but Sirius quickly jerked it away, pulling his legs to his chest and wrapping his arms around himself. Remus watched him a pained expression. "You aren't like them, Padfoot. I promise you that." 

"How do you know?" Sirius asked bitterly. "If they could treat their own son this way, what makes you so sure I won't turn around and do something horrible to you as well? I can't control myself, Remus! I can't control the things I say, fuck! This is my own goddamn fault, me and my stupid fucking mouth!" His hands fisted his hair tightly as tears stung his eyes once again. Remus scrambled onto his knees in front of him, taking him gently by both wrists.

 "That's not true, Sirius." He said firmly, bringing his hands down to his sides. "You aren't like that. You're good, Padfoot. So good. Don't you see?" He gently wiped under Sirius' eyes with his thumbs. "Look at what you've done..."

Look at what you've done...

Look at what I've done...

"Wuss." Muttered James, dropping the knife on the counter. He sighed and locked eyes with Sirius, raising the hand that still held the boys' wrist. "Your blood," he held up his own slit hand. "My blood." He pressed their palms together firmly. "Our blood. You're my brother, Sirius. Forever. No matter what happens, it's me and you. Got it? So I don't want to hear anymore about your stupid family or evil being in your veins, because as far as I'm concerned, whatever runs through yours is in mine as well. We have the same blood. Understand?" 

Wrong. James is wrong...I'm exactly like my family...I don't deserve you...

Remus shook his head. "Not if what makes them happy is wrong. Maybe you're just a better person." 

"But what if I'm not a better person?" 

"You wouldn't be upset over it if you weren't." 

"I just feel like no matter what I do, I'm still a Black. And I still have this darkness in me...no matter how hard I try to fight it, it'll end up coming out anyway. Like some sort of demon or something..."

 "We've all got our demons, Sirius..." 

And I don't deserve Remus...

"You..." Remus licked his lips. "You love me?" 

Sirius nodded. "I think I always have, Moony..." He reached up to brush the fringe of Remus' hair out of his eyes. 

 Remus half laughed, half choked. "I love you too, Sirius."

They kissed softly again, just a touch of their lips together. 

"...If we do this...us, for real..." Remus barely whispered, eyes baring into Sirius' with apprehension. "We could be risking everything, you know..."

 Sirius smiled, resting his hand against Remus' cheek and running his thumb gently across the boy's lips. He shrugged. "What's life without a little risk?" 

And Remus doesn't deserve a monster like me...

Chapter Text

For the first time in over a year, Remus woke up with nearly no recollection of the night before and horrible pain in every inch of his body. He hadn't opened his eyes, but instead of the dusty, old scent of the shack he smelled healing potions and sterile sheets, but he couldn't remember Madam Pomfrey waking him to bring him to the hospital wing. 

 The harsh lighting of the infirmary burned his eyes when he finally forced them open and he groaned. "Fuck..." He muttered.

"Remus? Shit, James, he's awake." Peter's exhausted voice rang in his ears. His vision cleared and he saw the two boys staring, tired and anxious at him.

 "What happened?" His throat stung when he spoke. Panic hit him and he sat up so quickly it made his head spin and his body scream in protest. "Where's Sirius? What happened? Did I hurt-?"

 A horrible feeling of dread washed over him as James and Peter exchanged a look of regret. "J-James, is Sirius-?"

 "Sirius is fine." James' voice shook. 

Then where was he? Something wasn't right.

"What happened?" He asked again. He watched as James swallowed thickly, hazel eyes downcast.

"Remus...um..." He licked his lips. "Last night on the way to the shack...Sirius had a run in with Snape...and they got into an argument..."

 Remus felt his chest tighten. He took a deep breath. "S-so...Sirius hexed him? He's in detention? Suspended? Expelled? What?"

James shook his head. "No...whatever Snape said to him, it really got him mad...and...well, you know how Sirius is when he's mad-"

What was he trying to say? Clearly it was bad, because James didn't want to say it.  "Tell me what happened James!" Remus snapped, causing both James and Peter recoil slightly.

James took a breath, finally meeting Remus' hard gaze. "He told Snape how to get past the willow." 

Everything went cold. He couldn't breathe and there was a sudden ringing in his ears drowning out the rest of what James was saying, although he did pick up on some key things like "not hurt" and "sworn to secrecy".  

Remus shook his head. "No..." He whispered. "No no no no..." 

"I'm sorry, Moony..." James whispered, his voice thick with emotion. 

Remus choked down a sob, his whole body shaking with anger and grief and a mix of emotions he didn't know how to place and had no desire to. This had to be a nightmare. This couldn't be true. Sirius wouldn't do this. Not to him...not Sirius...

-

Remus was in the hospital wing for three days straight. When they weren't in class or at meals, James and Peter were visiting with him but he mostly slept, aided by a powerful sleeping potion. 

 This left Sirius completely alone. 

Not that it made a difference, because no one was speaking to him anyway. 

 It was late in the evening when Remus finally returned to the common room. Sirius looked up from the History of Magic essay he was trying, and failing, to distract himself with. His heart sank.

Remus was thinner and paler than Sirius could ever remember seeing him, with dark circles under his eyes and a fresh, deep gash across his face that would surely leave a permanent scar. 

I did this.  

Remus didn't look at him. He kept his eyes firmly on the ground and went straight up to the dorm. Sirius risked a glance at James and Peter, who were on the other side of common room working on their own homework. They both stood after a moment, also avoiding eye contact with him, and followed Remus up the stairs. 

 Sirius waited until everyone else was in bed before he quietly made his way up to the dorm. His bed felt too big, or perhaps he felt too small, and he couldn't find a comfortable position no matter what he tried. He hadn't slept in days, not since it had happened...

It wasn't meant to happen like that.

It was a joke. 

A prank.

Snape wasn't suppose to actually listen to him. He thought at the most he'd get to the willow and chicken out or be smacked around a bit by the branches like all the other idiots who liked to bet on who could get closer.

What was he thinking...

He wasn't thinking. He never did. He just let his anger control him and now he had finally taken it too far. 

"I don't care if I embarrassed the family, I don't care if I get bloody disowned, even! The Sorting Hat put me in Gryffindor, and that's where I'm going to stay. I'd love to see mother try to change that. Besides, you should be happy! Now you won't have to keep an eye on me!"

Narcissa shook her head. "Oh Sirius, one day you'll see just how very damaging your rebellious behavior is. You want to keep pretending you aren't who you are? Go ahead. But you'll wind up all alone."

It was true. He couldn't pretend he wasn't who he was. He was, and always would be, A Black. Selfish, arrogant and thoughtless.

"You may not be in the same robes as us, Sirius. But the blood in your veins is still the Black family's, and one day you'll realize that you're exactly like the rest of us." Regulus said coldly. "And by that time you'll have no family left to turn to.

He had no one. A disappointment and unwanted by his family, and now his friends and worse, to Remus...

He whimpered and turned into his side, screwing his eyes shut tight and concentrating on his breathing, which had gotten shallow and rapid as his thoughts raced through his mind. Breathe in for four and out for eight...he counted slowly...slowly...and he faded into sleep.

-

His eyes  snap open when he hears the sound of a door being shut, followed by footsteps. The room is dark, but he can tell right away that it isn't the fifth year Gryffindor dorm that he's in. He swallows past the lump in his throat.

"James?" 

The footsteps draw closer and with a flash of light he sees his mother standing over him. He can't move.

"You're a Black, Sirius. And you will behave like one." Another flash of light and pain rips through his body. He opens his mouth to scream but no sound escapes him. His body is on fire, ears ringing...

The pain subsides and he lays there, breathless on the ground, wishing for someone to come and take him away from it. Regulus, James, Peter, Remus...death, even.

He has no one. 

"You can't run from who you are, Sirius." Regulus' voice comes from somewhere in the shadows before he steps into the light above Sirius' idle body as well. 

Regulus, please help me. He wants to beg his brother for mercy, forgiveness, anything...

Regulus reaches his hand out and for a quick fleeting moment, Sirius thinks he's going to help him. But the hand closes around his throat. He can't breathe. He can't move. He can't scream. Everything around him is fading, darkness closing in around his brother's face as the hand on his throat tightens...

And suddenly it's not Regulus' face above him.

It's Remus'.

 

Sirius woke up with a loud gasp as his lungs fill with air, tears rolling down his face and his entire body shaking violently. A nightmare...it was a nightmare. He took several deep breaths, composing himself enough before slipping out of bed and padding across the dorm to the bathroom. He avoided looking at himself in the mirror as he turned the cold water on in the sink, gathering it in his hands and splashing it onto his tear and sweat stained face. 

He took a few extra minutes to let his mind ease up before he returned to his four poster, closed the curtain and transformed.

At least as a dog he could sleep without being haunted by his own thoughts.

-

It had been two weeks of agonizing silence from his friends when Sirius finally couldn't stand it anymore. With OWLs just over a month away, he couldn't eat, sleep or think let alone study for them. He entered the common room late one night to see Remus curled up in the overstuffed armchair by the fire, finishing up one of his missed assignments, and James and Peter in the middle of a game of chess. The rest of the common room was, quite coincidentally, empty.

Taking a deep breath and reminding himself that he was, in fact, a Gryffindor, Sirius walked up to them. "Remus, I need to talk to-"

 James stood up, ready to stop the scene that was about to take place in front of him. "Sirius, don't-"   

"It's fine, James." Remus interrupted, setting down his quill and parchment. James didn't back down right away, but with a meaningful look from Remus, he relented. 

 "Are you sure?" Asked Peter, earning a dirty look from Sirius that made him shrink back down into his seat.

Remus nodded. "Quite." For the first time in two weeks his eyes rested on Sirius. "And don't look at Peter that way, Sirius. He hasn't done anything wrong." 

Even though he was being scolded, hearing Remus say his name made his heart jump into his throat. He hardly noticed Remus asking the other two for a moment of privacy until they were both standing. James gave Sirius one last warning look before disappearing up to the dorm with Peter. 

Sirius licked his lips. He wanted to drop to his knees and beg Remus for forgiveness. He wondered briefly if that would work, but he shook the idea from his head. He couldn't do that, he had to maintain some of his pride...but if Remus asked him to....

 "Remus, I-" 

"Sirius before you say anything, I want you to know that James explained to me why you did what you did. And although I understand that you can’t always control yourself when you’re angry or upset, it doesn’t excuse the fact that you betrayed me in quite possibly the worst way you could.”

“I know, Remus, and I-”

“I’m not finished.” Remus said sternly, and Sirius cowered like a dog that’s been hit on the snout with a newspaper under his hardened glare. “I trusted you. More than I’ve ever trusted anyone, and not just with my secret…” His words made Sirius feel worse than he has ever felt in his life. He felt sick and humiliated. “You are the one person who could ever really, truly hurt me. And you did it. All because you couldn’t control your temper…” Remus shook his head. “You were selfish and careless and you could have gotten Snape, James and me killed..."

 "I...I didn't..." 

Remus stood up and Sirius never felt so small in his life as the taller boy towered over him. "Do you know what the ministry would have done to me if something happened to Snape? They would have me put down, like a fucking animal. But you didn't think about that, did you?"  

Sirius looked down, completely and utterly ashamed of himself. He didn't know what to say. 

 "Give me one good reason I should ever forgive you for this, Sirius..." 

There was no reason to forgive him, Sirius knew. He said nothing. 

 Remus sighed. "That's what I thought." He shoved past the other boy angrily, heading to the stairs to the dorm. 

“Remus, wait,” Sirius finally found his voice, which had run off somewhere with his pride and confidence.

Remus paused but didn't turn around. Sirius bit his lip. “You’re right. There’s no excuse for what I did. And I…I don’t think there is a good reason for you to forgive me, really…there's not...and if you never speak to me again I would understand. But I need you to know that I would never intentionally hurt you…I always knew I was going to ruin this, Remus, because I've always known you were far too good for me…I've never deserved you.” He swallowed hard and took a breath. “I'm so sorry. I know that there's nothing I can say or...or do that will fix what I did, but I would spend every fucking minute of the rest of my life trying if you would let me." 

Realistically, the silence that followed was only about ten seconds, but to Sirius it was a lifetime. And when Remus started heading up the stairs without a word, Sirius wanted to die. But then-

“Are you coming to bed, Sirius?” Remus asked without looking back. “If you’re going to be spending the rest of your life trying to fix this, you probably shouldn't waste any time." 

Sirius let out a shaky sigh, a mix of relief and surprise, before quickly hurrying up the stairs after him. 

Up in the dorm, James and Peter sat on James’ bed having what seemed like a very in depth conversation about quidditch, but they both fell immediately silent when the other two boys entered Each of them silently head to their individual beds, and when James and Peter closed their curtains Remus patted the spot on the mattress beside him. “Sirius…come.” 

Shocked, but not about to argue, Sirius obeyed.

“I’m thrilled you lads are working things out, but I swear if I hear any make-up sex, I’ll beat the both of you with my broom!”

 Remus rolled his eyes. "Goodnight, James." He closed the curtain around them. 

"I mean it, Moony! Think of Wormy's virginal ears!" 

 "Oy! Excuse me but I've got a girlfriend. What've you got, Potter?" 

Remus shook his head and cast a silencing charm around his bed to muffle out the sound of the other two boys bickering. He slid under the covers, lifting them in a silent invitation to allow Sirius in beside him. Sirius hesitated. 

"Before I come to my senses, Sirius." Remus sighed and Sirius scrambled forward. They settled down and Sirius rested his head on the werewolf's chest, content to simply be permitted to be this close to him. 

 "Thank you, Remus..." He said quietly. 

"For what?" Asked Remus, stifling a yawn. 

"For forgiving me…“

Remus was silent for a second. "I haven’t quite forgiven you, Sirius…” He began to idly stroke Sirius’ hair. “But I know that I will eventually...Why prolong the inevitable..." He sighed. "Besides, the guilt you feel is bad enough, I'm sure." 

 Sirius sat up slightly. “Am I allowed to kiss you?” It felt strange to ask permission, and he knew that he was probably pushing his luck. He should be happy that Remus is even speaking to him...

Remus considered him for a moment, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth before he finally nodded.

Sirius kissed him, but it wasn't at all like any kiss they have ever shared. It was very soft, barely there, and so timid that Remus wasn't even sure he was kissing the same boy he’d been kissing for most of the year. And for the first time in weeks, Remus felt sorry for Sirius. Winding his hand through Sirius’ long dark hair, he pulled him close and kissed him harder. He felt Sirius relax and could sense the relief coming off the other boy.

When they broke away Remus took a moment to study Sirius’ face. He frowned “you’ve got a black eye…”

"James punched me.“

Remus raised an eyebrow, but also smiled a little "you deserved it.”

“He broke my nose.”

Remus rolled his eyes. “You should have gone to the hospital wing. You tried to mend it yourself, that’s why you’re still bruised.”

“James said if I went to the hospital wing while you were there he’d kill me.” Sirius muttered.

Remus nodded “I see…” He pulled his wand out from under his pillow and quietly mumbled some healing spell under his breath. Sirius felt the tension around his eye slowly relieve itself.

"...Thanks."

Remus kissed him first on the forehead and then on the lips. “You’re welcome,” he brushed Sirius’ hair away from his face. “I should have just let you go ‘round like that a bit longer. Made you look kind of tough…”

 "So punk rock." 

"Very. Now go to sleep." 

 

Chapter Text

It was hard not to notice that something had happened between The Marauders. More specifically, that Sirius Black had done something to Remus Lupin that had thrown off the entire dynamic of the group.

Rumors, of course, were flying.

"I heard he cheated on him. Everyone knows he's a huge slut anyway."

"I heard they got into a fight and Black cursed him. Can't say I'm surprised, considering his upbringing."

"It was only a matter of time before Black turned on all of them. I knew he'd never make it in Gryffindor."

"Don't listen to them, Sirius." James warned, noticing how uncomfortable Sirius had become as they walked through the hall to Defense Against The Dark Arts. "They don't know shit, and you and Moony are working things out. Just stay focused on that and your OWLs and this will pass."

Sirius nodded silently.

He and Remus were working things out, slowly. He could tell that Remus was slightly apprehensive every time Sirius would get too close or try to show some sort of affection, so he had started to back off. Instead he let Remus come to him. And Remus did occasionally, but not as much as Sirius would hope.

"It's going to take some time, Padfoot." James sighed one night after Sirius sat down beside Remus in the common room just to have the other boy stand and move a few seats over. "But you'll get there...come on, want to set off some dungbombs in the girls' lav in the dungeons?"

The corner of his mouth twitched up slightly, imagining Bellatrix going to use the loo and having dungbombs explode around her. "Yeah, sure..." He stood and looked back at Remus. "Want to come?"

"No thanks." The boy shook his head. "I've got some studying to do and a prefects meeting in a bit." He looked up from his book and smiled. "Be safe."

"Yeah, we will." Sirius forced a smile back. As he walked past Remus' chair, the werewolf grabbed his wrist and pulled him back.

Sirius bit his lip. "We'll be careful, Rem. I'm not going to get into trouble, I-"

Remus chuckled and shook his head. "Idiot. Just wanted to kiss you." He pulled him down and pressed their lips together. "Go on then. Don't get caught. Prefects meeting is in an hour on the third floor so, avoid it if you can."

This time Sirius genuinely smiled back before he headed to the dorm with James for their dungbomb stash, the map and the cloak.

Sirius was trying, and that much was very clear to the rest of them. He seemed to take a moment to think before he did or said anything to anyone. He tried not to push his luck as far as his relationship with Remus went, even if it did hurt whenever the taller boy would decide he didn't want to be too close to him. James and Peter did their best to keep Sirius distracted during those times and to let Remus have his space. Though these days Peter was often MIA, running about with his girlfriend Emmeline. This gave Sirius and James time to themselves, causing mild mischief around the castle and discussing different ways James could approach Lily Evans, since his tactics didn't seem to be getting him far.

"Have you tried just talking to her like a normal person, Prongs?" Sirius rolled his eyes as he carefully placed dungbombs under the seat of a toilet.

"Of course I've tried." Grumbled James, leaning against the stall. "In my brain, I walk up to her and tell her she looks lovely and I ask if she'd like to come out for a butterbeer. But then I open my mouth and 'OY EVANS! YOU'RE LOOKING FIT! BET YOU FIT IN MY BED!' Comes out.." He ruffled his hair and sighed. "I don't know why. Doesn't help that she looks at me like I'm toad scum."

Sirius snorted. "She thinks you're an arrogant prat."

"Yeah, but why?"

"Because you're an arrogant prat." Sirius grinned up at him as he stood and looked over his handiwork. "Think we should put a sticking charm?"

James shrugged, taking his wand out. "Couldn't hurt. Don't want Myrtle coming through and wrecking it all." He added the sticking charm and they moved to the next stall. "Aren't you pals with her all of the sudden?"

Sirius frowned. "With Moaning Myrtle?"

"No, git. Evans!"

Sirius laughed and shook his head. "I mean, I wouldn't say we were about to go get manicures together or anything. She just doesn't have the desire to hex me on sight like she does with you." He sighed. "We just...we understand each other. She walked up on me and Regulus having a row and she broke it up and let me go without detention...she told me about her problems with her muggle sister. Now we're civil to each other out of respect." He looked thoughtful. "She and Moony are sort of close though."

"Yeah but Moony won't tell her I have great abs, I've asked him...you're a better wingman."

Sirius chuckled. "Yeah mate, I really don't think she cares to hear about your rippling Quidditch bod. Why don't you just leave the poor lass alone for a week? What's the saying? Absence makes the heart forget how much of a spaz you are?"

"I will set this dungbomb off in your pants, Padfoot." James said flatly, holding one up to show he meant it.

"Well that would be the only action my pants would be getting." Sirius mumbled.

James tilted his head and frowned. "You and Moony haven't been-?"

Sirius sighed and shook his head, performing a sticking charm on this toilet seat as well and standing up. "And I get it. He's not ready to be with me like that again...I'm lucky with what we've even got at this point and I am beyond grateful, believe me...I just...I miss him in that way..."

James nodded. "It'll get better, Sirius. Moony loves you."

"He doesn't say it anymore." Sirius muttered, feeling his chest tighten.

"He isn't ready." James said, putting his arm around Sirius' shoulders comfortingly. "But he does. He told us nearly every day when you lads weren't speaking. He wouldn't have taken you back if he didn't. It's just going to take some time to rebuild that trust. Just let him go at his pace."

"I'm trying."

"I know. And so does Moony." He tightened his arm around Sirius. "Everyone can see how hard you're trying to make this right, Padfoot. Just keep doing it. Stay focused. I believe in you, mate."

-

The prefects meeting was long and boring as usual and Remus and Lily dreaded their rounds for the night, simply wanting to return to Gryffindor tower and fall asleep.

"You're looking better at least." Lily commented as they slowly walked through the corridors. "For a while I was starting to get worried. Is everything alright?"

Remus nodded dismissively. "Everything's fine...just...well, I'm sure it's no secret Sirius and I were having an issue."

Lily worried her lip for a moment, clearly wanting to say something but unsure if she should. "Was it...I mean..." She sighed. "Was it about your lycanthropy?"

Remus' eyes widened and he choked on air. "I-what-? N-no...I...who told-?" His mind immediately went to Snape.

Lily gave him an apologetic look and shook her head. "No one told me anything, I promise." She smiled softly. "I sort of figured it out on my own a while back...I haven't said anything to anyone and I'm not going to, of course."

Remus stared at her, still panicked, but he did trust her. "Th-thanks...um..." He cleared his throat. "I guess the thing with Sirius had something to do with it." He rubbed the back of his neck anxiously.

"You don't need to tell me about it." Lily assured him gently. "But...I just wanted to make sure you're alright, that's all. You both seemed to take it pretty hard."

Remus sighed and nodded. "Yeah. We're alright...we will be, anyway. We're working on it."

They turned the corner and Remus lit his wand to light the dark corridor. It had become common for the group of Anti Muggle Slytherins to lurk in the deserted halls. Everything seemed quiet enough tonight, though. "I probably shouldn't forgive him, to tell the truth. But...I can't help it. I'm in love with the bastard." He gave a wry smirk.

Lily raised an eyebrow. "Was it that horrible? What he did...? Sorry, I don't mean to pry, but-"

Remus shrugged her off. "No, it's alright...it's actually nice to talk to someone un-involved." As he said it he realized how true it actually was. He slowly exhaled. "He just...what he did was bad, yes. But I know him. I know how much he struggles with his emotions and controlling himself...I know he wasn't thinking of the consequences and how it would affect me or anyone else." He smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes, which still looked sad and tired. "He really is a good person, Lily. And he's done more for me than I could have ever asked for. He made a mistake...a big one...but when I look at it from his point of view, I can't stay mad at him."

Lily smiled and took his hand, squeezing it lightly. "I'm glad you've worked it out. He makes you happy, that much has always been clear."

Remus chuckled and nodded. "Yeah...we'll get back to where we were...I'm not quite ready to let him back in completely yet. But I know I've been very lucky to have him and Peter and James...I'm not ready to let something come between all of us, either. I never will be."

They strolled down the hall together, still hand in hand, silently enjoying each other's company.

"Speaking of James, have I mentioned he's got great abs?"

"Again, Remus?"

"Sorry. I promised him I'd say it."
-
Remus returned to the dorm, surprised to find the curtains on all of his friends' beds closed and the sound of Peter snoring. He had expected them to be out much later. He changed into his pajamas and went to the bathroom to brush his teeth. He hesitated by Sirius' bed on the way back to his own and smiled at the thought of surprising the other boy by sliding in beside him. He pulled the curtain back slightly.

Panic overtook him for a second as he didn't see Sirius asleep in his bed, a million thoughts of what he could be up to on his own popping into his head. The blankets started to move and the panic was replaced with guilt as a wet, black nose poked out, followed by the rest of Padfoot's shaggy head. Remus sighed, smiling down at him. He should really start to try to have more faith in Sirius. He sat on the edge of the bed and scratched the dog behind his ear. "What're you doing, Pads?"

The dog licked his hand and emerged from the blankets, shaking off his fur before morphing back into a teenage boy. Sirius yawned. "Hey Moony."

"Hey...umm...what were-?"

A pink flush tinted Sirius' cheeks and he smiled sheepishly, running a hand through his hair. "I've been sleeping in dog form for last few weeks when I'm alone...it's just...easier." He muttered. Remus watched him sadly. He hated seeing Sirius this way, so tormented by his own guilt. But at the same time, it was necessary. Sirius had to learn to control himself of suffer the consequences. And suffering he was. Remus patted the other boy's hand softly. "Come on, let's go to my bed. Yours is covered in dog hair."

Once they were both settled and the curtains were drawn around Remus' bed, he pulled Sirius to him and kissed him firmly on the mouth. Sirius made a content sound in the back of his throat as Remus' tongue traced his bottom lip before slipping into his mouth to tangle with his own. Their lips slid slowly against each other and their bodies started to move in the same rhythm. Sirius' hand slowly traveled down Remus' chest and stomach, fingers hooking in the waistband on his pajama pants.

And Remus grabbed his wrist, breaking the kiss. "Sirius...no." He was slightly breathless, cheeks pink and lips wet and bruised. His eyes were apologetic as he moved Sirius' hand away. "I'm sorry, Sirius." He bit his lip. "I'm not ready to go back to that just yet."

 Sadness flashed through Sirius' eyes and he swallowed as he shifted to lie on his back, not looking at Remus. "Right...of course...that's...sorry, I shouldn't have..." He shook his head. "Sorry, Remus. I know it's going to take more time. I know you don't...you don't trust me-"

Remus sat up abruptly and took Sirius' hand in his. "That's not it, Sirius." He sighed. "I know how hard you're trying to give me space and let me come to terms with everything that happened in my own time. And I see you making an effort to be more conscious of the things you do and say...you're doing everything you can, just like you promised me. I can't ask you for more than that, Padfoot..." He brushed Sirius' hair behind his ear and bit his lip. "It's not you that I don't trust. It's me."

Sirius frowned and sat up. "What?"

Remus' eyes fell, slightly embarrassed, and he focused on their joined hands as he spoke his honest fears. "I...I'm not angry anymore about what happened. But there's a part of me," he emphasized. "That wants to..." He struggled, trying to find the right way to describe the constant battle he fought in his head whenever he got too close to Sirius. It had always been there; wanting to pin him down, bite him, mark him, dominate him. He shuddered. But since Sirius' betrayal, it seemed to have gotten stronger. The wolf wanted Sirius to know he had crossed a line and to know his place. "I don't want to hurt you, Sirius. And I don't trust myself not to right now. There is still too much pain from what happened...I'm really sorry."

Sirius' expression changed as he seemed to understand what Remus meant. He brought Remus' hand to his lips and kissed it. "That's okay, Moony. Whenever you're ready." He smiled and laid back down, bringing Remus down with him. They were quiet for a few minutes, holding each other and thinking over everything they had just said. Sirius shifted up onto his elbow.

"I love you, Remus."

Remus winced and opened his mouth to say something but Sirius cut him off. "You don't have to say it back if you're still not ready. But...I hate not saying it to you, because it's true and I want you to know it."

Remus smiled and pulled him back down for another kiss. "I do know it, Sirius. I promise. I know."

-

Things slowly began to feel normal again. Sirius continued to let Remus decide when to be close to him and when he needed space, but the time between was finally becoming shorter and shorter. It had been nearly a month, and The Marauders finally felt like The Marauders again. Sirius had become his loud and energetic self once more, though he was noticeably more cautious about exactly what came out of his mouth, and he was quick to stop what he was doing if Remus made it clear didn't approve of it.

Mostly, anyway.

There was simply no stopping Sirius sometimes, especially when paired with James and the two of them seemed to have fallen back on track as well and had returned to spending nearly all of their free time planning their next big project.

 "I can't believe Minnie gave us separate detentions!" Sirius huffed as they barged loudly into the dorm. "How the bloody hell are we suppose to make it through detention alone? I'll be bored!" 

Remus groaned, bringing his pillow over his ears. "That's the ruddy point of detention, you fuckwits. And must you be so loud? I'm trying to sleep." 

 James and Sirius both flinched. 

"Sorry, Moony..." James apologized, dropping his voice. "Forgot you were up here." 

It was early afternoon and Remus was trying to get some rest before the upcoming full moon that night. So far it wasn't happening. He tossed and turned all day. unable to shut off his brain and sleep. He already felt restless and trapped inside his own body. He whined and curled up further. 

Sirius cautiously approached the werewolf's bed, pulling back the corner of the curtain. "Hey, is there anything we can get you? Tea? Chocolate?" 

 At the sound of Sirius' voice, Remus growled and turned away from him. "No. Just be fucking quiet and leave me alone, Sirius." 

Sirius let the curtain fall back closed and he and James looked at each other with mild confusion and concern. They slipped out of the dorm room as quietly as they could and took a seat in the common room instead. 

"It's too bad we don't have something to bring around with us so we can contact each other from different places...they'd noticed us sending owls back and forth through the castle." James said, stretching out across the sofa. Sirius took the same position on the other end, their legs tangling together in the middle. 

 "You mean like those muggle hellophones Remus was telling us about?" Sirius asked thoughtfully. "Don't those need to be hooked up through the wall? They use...er..."

"Electricity." James supplied.

 "Right that." Sirius hummed. "So hellophones won't work." 

There was a girlish laugh and both Marlene and Dorcas's heads appeared from behind the sofa, resting on the top of the back cushion. From their disheveled hair and lip gloss, James and Sirius didn't have to guess what they had been doing behind the couch and both of the boys snorted. 

"Hello ladies," James smirked. "Have we interrupted something important? You've got your own dorm you know."

 Dorcas shrugged. "Oh we don't mind the company. We had been doing homework but, well..."

"Got a bit distracted?" Sirius winked at Marlene.

 "A bit." The blonde girl grinned at him. "Anyway, it's pronounced 'telephone', you dolt." She rolled her eyes at him. "Merlin, don't you take Muggle Studies?" 

Both James and Sirius pouted. "Oh sure, pick on the stupid, sheltered purebloods who don't know rubbish about muggles." Sirius said in a mock-hurt voice. 

Both of the girls laughed some more and Marlene perched herself on the back on the couch. "A phone wouldn't do you lads any good for what you're thinking of. You need something more like...Oh! Walkie-talkies!" 

James frowned. "Walking What nows?" 

 "Two way radios." Dorcas tried, but the two pureblood boys still didn't grasp the concept. "They're used for short range communication and such. You could be in the dungeon, lets say, and Sirius could be in the astronomy tower and you'd talk into them and the other would hear you and be able to respond." 

Sirius clapped his hands together. "Yes. That. Exactly! Think of everything we could get done with something like that, James." 

 James nodded and flashed the girls a grin. "Absolutely. We'll have to brainstorm that. Thank you, girls...er...you could go back to your...well...whatever you were doing. We don't mind." He leaned forward slightly with a devilish smirk and both Marlene and Dorcas rolled their eyes.

 "Smooth Potter." Dorcas chuckled, taking her girlfriend's hand as Marlene slid off the couch gracefully. 

"But just not smooth enough." Giggled Marlene. They wound their arms around each other's waists and headed up to the girls' dorm. Once he heard the door to their room click closed, Sirius turned back to James.

 "I'm worried about Moony." 

James sighed. "It's just PMS, he's always like that." 

 Sirius snorted and rolled his eyes. PMS meant 'Pre Moon Syndrome' in Marauder code. He shook his head. "He seems a little grouchier than usual, that's all." 

James shrugged, not meeting Sirius' eyes. "Can you blame him? I mean...last month didn't exactly go well..." He glanced up at him. Sirius huffed, crossing his arms and looking out the window at the still bright, sunny April day.

 "I guess so..." He groaned and ran his hands through his hair. "I just want things to go back to normal, James." 

"They will, Sirius." The other boy said reassuringly. "They are already! Look, I'm sure that after we have a normal full moon run out in the forest tonight, Remus will feel better and everything will go back to the way it was. We talked about this, Pads. You need to give it time." 

 "Right..." Sirius muttered.

-

By the time James, Peter and Sirius got to the shack that night, Remus was already pacing back and forth across the room. He had already shed his t-shirt and there were harsh red scratches running down his forearms. Sirius quickly crossed the room to him and took his hands, bringing them down to stop him from clawing at himself.

 "Rem, stop. We're here, it's alright." 

Remus didn't look at him. He roughly shoved Sirius off and moved away from him. "G'way, Sirius..." He mumbled, keeping his eyes downcast. 

 Sirius looked back at James who looked just as confused as he was. 

"Peter," Remus called quietly from where he now stood in the corner of the room, away from Sirius. "Could you get me some water?" 

 Peter blinked a few times, not quite knowing what to do or why Remus would ask him instead of Sirius. He was never very comfortable getting too close to Remus during the short time before the moon rose. "I...um..." He looked at Sirius, slightly panicked. Something felt wrong. Sirius took a tentative step closer again, reaching into his bag for the bottle of water he kept there. "Moony-?" 

"I asked Peter, Sirius." Remus snapped, his eyes flashing dangerously. Sirius inhaled sharply, frozen in shock from Remus' tone. He shook himself out of it and passed the water bottle to Peter who brought it to Remus and quickly went back to stand by James. 

There was a heavy silence where all they could hear was the creaking of the shack or the wind blowing outside. Occasionally Remus would make a noise of discomfort and Sirius would instinctively step forward to go to him only to have the other boy shove him away again. After about the third time, James intervened. 

 "Remus...um...is something wrong?" 

Remus didn't respond right away and from the look on his face, he was struggling to find the right words to do so. He whimpered, biting his lip. "Sirius..." 

 This time Sirius didn't move closer. He stood his ground at a distance, but he met Remus' bright yellow eyes. "Yeah, Re? What...what's wrong?" 

Remus swallowed hard, tears filling his eyes. He looked away, wrapping his arms around himself. "I want you to leave." 

 Sirius' heart dropped into his stomach and James and Peter both gasped audibly. 

"W-what?" Sirius stared at him in disbelief, hands shaking and feeling like he was going to be sick. "Y-you...why? No!" 

 "You need to leave, Sirius. Please." Remus begged him, he voice hardly above a whisper. 

Sirius didn't move. "No! I'm not leaving you, Remus-" 

"GET OUT SIRIUS! I DON'T WANT YOU HERE!" Remus would have lunged at the boy had James not immediately grabbed him and held him back. James pulled Remus aside, whispering something that Sirius couldn't hear. After a few moments of hushed conversation, James sighed heavily. "Alright..." He looked over at Sirius anxiously before stepping away from Remus.

 Sirius looked at his friend pleadingly. "J-James, what-?" 

James bit his lip. "I'm sorry, Sirius..."

 "No!" Sirius protested desperately. "Remus, please-!" 

"Sirius," James placed both hands on Sirius' shoulders. "He told me to force you out if I have to...and you know I don't want to do that to you-"

Sirius shook his head. "What-? You can't be...Are you fucking kidding me?" He tried to push past James but he couldn't. This couldn't be happening. "Remus!" 

"Don't make this harder on yourself, Sirius!" James said, grabbing him roughly by the arm. "Don't make it harder on any of us! Just do as you're told and not as you fucking want, for once!" 

 Sirius stopped struggling at that. He took a step back, staring at James who looked back at him with a pained expression. James didn't want it like this either. He took a shaky breath and nodded. "Okay..." He said quietly. "Alright, Remus...I'll go..." 

He heard Remus let out a sob from across the room where he was sitting on the floor with his knees to his chest and his arms tightly around himself. He did everything he could not to break down himself as he walked to the door that lead to the tunnel back to the Whomping Willow with James close behind him. 

Once he was on the other side of the door he turned around. James averted his eyes. "I'm really sorry, mate." 

Sirius nodded, his eyes burning. "Take care of him, Prongs." 

"I will." James promised with a sad smile before closing and locking the door. Sirius stood there. He couldn't move. He just stood there and stared at the door as if he could see right through it to Remus if he tried hard enough. He put a hand flat against the door...Things were never going to be the same...

A piercing scream broke him from his thoughts. He could hear the sounds of Remus' transformation starting. "Remus!" He called out to him, knowing he couldn't hear him over the sounds of his own horrific cries. Sirius' whole body shuddered as he could no longer hold back his own anguished sobbing and he fell to the muddy ground of the tunnel, slumped against the door. The screaming turned to howling and then silence. Sirius listened through the door, biting his lip to stop his own crying. He could hear Moony whimpering, whining, calling for Padfoot. Sirius shifted into dog form and laid on his belly with his nose to the tiny space between the door and the ground. He whimpered. 

The whole door shook as Moony's paws scratched at it. He barked once. Then again. Then he howled and Padfoot howled back. Then Moony's scent was gone. Padfoot sat up and scratched at the door, whining, but there was no reply. He tried again, barking, whining, howling until he eventually wore himself out and curled up on the ground. 

-

Padfoot's ears perked up to the click of the door being opened and sun light poured into the tunnel. James sighed, staring down at him blearily through exhausted eyes. "Go on,"

The dog scrambled to his feet, darting past James and nearly tripping over Peter as Sirius transformed mid run and stumbled into the room. James and Peter had already gotten Remus to the bed and Sirius practically leaped onto it. "Remus?" His voice shook. Remus didn't look well. He was almost ghostly white and there was a wound somewhere on his chest that was bleeding through the thin sheets on the bed. "Hey, Moony...wake up..." 

Peter and James were watching from across the room. They were both bruised and more tired looking than usual.

 "He tried to get to you nearly all night." Peter whispered hoarsely. "But he made us swear not to let him before we changed..." 

"He was really hard on himself. We couldn't make him stop." James was trembling, looking horrified. "It was really bad, Sirius..." 

"Fucking idiot..." Sirius breathed, staring down at the sleeping boy. He peeled back the sheet gently and winced at the claw marks and fresh bites that covered Remus' body. He grabbed his wand from his back pocket and started healing the ones he could, pausing only when he saw Remus start to stir. 

 "S'rius?" He slurred, still not fully conscious. 

Sirius forced a smile at him. "Yeah, Rem?" 

 "I'm so sorry, Sirius..." Remus mumbled weakly, barely opening his eyes. 

Sirius nodded. "I am too, Remus." His free hand went under the blanket to find Remus', winding their fingers together and squeezing gently. 

 Remus closed his eyes and sighed. "Don't leave me, okay? Stay..." 

Sirius looked back to James and Peter and nodded toward the door. James threw the cloak onto the piano. "Be safe." He said quietly, and he and Peter left. Sirius set his wand aside and slid under the blanket beside the other boy. "I'm not going anywhere." He promised. He kissed Remus' cheek and felt him smile a little. 

"Pads..."

"Yeah?" 

 "I love you too." 

Chapter Text

"Alright," Marlene groaned as she and Dorcas climbed the fourth flight of stairs from the dungeon to Gryffindor Tower. "There has got to be a short cut. I'm so tired of these bloody stairs all the time. We're wizards for Merlin's sake! Why don't we have...I don't know, flying carpets or something to bring us to classes?" She slumped against the railing and sighed dramatically. "I can't go on any further. You'll have to carry me."

The darker girl laughed, shaking her head. "I'm not carrying you, you lazy twit. Besides, you're nearly a foot taller than I am! Why should I carry you?"

Marlene giggled and prodded her girlfriend's leg with the tip of her sneaker. "Because it was your bloody idea to take Slughorn's OWL study course all the way in the dungeon. So it's your fault my legs have turned to jelly and I'll be forced to kip out all night here on the stairs." She smirked.

Rolling her brown eyes, Dorcas smiled and stepped close, standing on top toe to kiss Marlene's lips. "I suppose I'd just have to stay with you then. Can't have you sleeping alone on the stairs all night." Her hands rested on the taller girl's thighs. "Sorry about your jelly legs, love."

The blonde pouted prettily and hummed. "Whatever will you do to make it up to- oh bloody....ugh! I hate this castle!" She whined as the staircase began to shift and move, bringing them completely off course to the abandoned third floor. Marlene scoffed. "Lovely."

Dorcas sighed and shrugged, never one to complain and always a half-glass-full sort of person. "It is what it is. If you hadn't stopped to throw your theatrics about we'd be half way to the dorm by now you know." She took her girlfriend's hand. "Come on then."

Marlene made more frustrated noises as she allowed herself to be pulled along "Where are we going?"

Dorcas lead her down a darkened corridor. "We're going somewhere to make you stop your bitching, Marley." She teased lightly, finding an empty closet and pulling the other girl in with her. Marlene raised one perfectly shaped blonde eyebrow and smirked. "This is a closet, Dorcas."

"Very clever. Shall I give you a gold star?" Said Dorcas flatly, lighting her wand and setting it down on an empty shelf.

Marlene leaned against the wall with a smug smirk and shook her head. "Had myself a star once. Turned out we were both flaming queers." She let her eyes give the shorter girl a once over. Dorcas snorted, stepping closer and wrapped her arms around Marlene's neck. Marlene's tongue darted out to wet her lips and she smiled. "Trying to seduce me, Meadows?"

Dorcas giggled and kissed the corner of her mouth. "Perhaps a little, yeah."

Marlene sighed. "You know it took us long enough to get out of the closet, I can't imagine why you'd want to be back in-"

"Shut up and kiss me, Marley." Dorcas laughed, cupping the other girl's face and bringing her down so their lips met.

After a few minutes of what had turned into heavy snogging, Marlene pulled away abruptly, looking concerned.

Dorcas frowned. "Wha-"

"Shh...I hear someone out there." Whispered Marlene. Their eyes met and they both stifled a giggle at the idea of being caught by a prefect or a professor, snogging in a closet. "Shh!" Marlene hissed again as Dorcas let out a tiny squeal.

"But what if it's just Lily or Remus?" She grinned, thinking of the looks on their Prefect friends' faces, finding them like this. Marlene shook her head. The muffled sounds of someone talking outside the door were more than just two people. Something in her gut felt wrong. She held her breath.

The door flew open with a loud bang and there stood four Slytherin boys, all wearing equally sickening grins.

Mulciber chuckled darkly. "Well look what we've got here! A couple of Gryffinwhores getting busy in a closet..."

The other boys laughed and Marlene quickly grabbed her wand from her belt.

"Expelliarmus!" Another boy, Avery, shouted and Marlene's wand flew from her hand. Avery caught it in mid air with a smirk.

Nott came around and grabbed Marlene, holding her arms behind her back while Avery did the same to Dorcas. "And where's your wand, Meadows?" He hissed in her ear.

"Here it is," said the fourth boy, he had his hood up as he stepped past them into the closet and took Dorcas' wand from the shelf, stuffing it into his back pocket.

"Well," said Mulciber briskly, his grinning face giving both girls the chills. "Not quite the Gryffindor queers we were out looking for...lucky for me, I'm not particular..." He looked to the hooded boy. "Sorry to disappoint you, Severus. I know you were hoping to give Black and Lupin the lesson they deserve. Will these do for now?" He gestured to Marlene and Dorcas who were both struggling to get away from Avery and Nott who had stopped both girls' cries for help with silencing charms.

Severus lowered his hood and gave a dismissive shrug. "Makes no difference to me. Let it be a warning to them. Or practice for us..."

Mulciber let out a sinister laugh, shaking his head. "I've got to admit Severus, you're really starting to impress me." He turned his gaze back to the struggling Gryffindor girls before him. He tutted and shook his head. "Oh this won't do. They are far too feisty. Typical Gryffindors, we'll have to put a stop to all that squirming about. Severus, a little assistance? Since this is your magic after all."

Both Severus and Mulciber raised their wands to Marlene and Dorcas, who both watched in horror, letting out silent screams.

"Levicorpus!" With a flash of light from both of their wands, Marlene and Dorcas were lifted into the air upside down.

The four Slytherins surrounded them, watching with amused and taunting sneers. Mulciber looked to Snape. "So? What would you do to them next, Severus?" 

 Severus smirked, gazing up thoughtfully as he twirled his wand in his hand. 

-

James leaned against the wall just outside the Transfiguration classroom. He wondered what time it was. How much longer could Minnie possibly keep Sirius in detention when he himself had been let go from filing Filch's records a solid fifteen minutes ago. All they had done was blown up a few suits of armor...and the first years had enjoyed the fireworks once the initial scare wore off...

 Finally the door to the office opened and Sirius sauntered out. "A pleasure as always, my sweet!" He called over his shoulder and James could picture the disapproving look on the Professor's face. Sirius was still snickering as the door closed behind him.

James grinned. "Nice date with the Missus, Padfoot?" 

 "Oh lovely," Sirius sighed blissfully. "Nothing quite as romantic as sorting sewing needles from porcupine needles for an hour and a half." He held up his hands to show several bandaged fingers. "What about you?"

"Filing Filch's school records. You win." He chuckled, reaching into his pocket and passing Sirius a small plastic bag of pot. "Nicked this for us. Found it in one of Filch's drawers."

 Sirius clapped him on the shoulder. "Excellent. Moony'll be thrilled that we're finally contributing instead of smoking all of his." He opened the bag and took a whiff. He shrugged. "Moony's is better. But it'll do. Nice work, Prongs."

"As always, of course." James replied cockily. They were headed in the direction of Gryfindor tower when Sirius made an odd turn towards a different staircase. James frowned. "Where are you going?" 

Sirius took the map out of his pocket and unfolded it. "Lets find Moony and have a smoke, yeah? His rounds are nearly over." He pointed his wand at the blank parchment. "I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good." And the dark inky lines began to appear. Both James and Sirius grinned down at their masterpiece. "Such a brilliant idea to use that security on it." James muttered, still bewildered at their own genius. 

Sirius smirked. "I'm not just in love with Moony for his arse, mate. That boy's brain is sexy as fuck." He bit his lip. 

 James rolled his eyes and went back to scanning the map. He snorted. "Oy! Look, Wormy's in the bloody astronomy tower with Emmeline!" 

"Go Pete!" Sirius laughed, watching the dot labeled Peter Pettigrew inch closer to the one labeled Emmeline Vance. "Reckon he's got up her skirt yet?" 

 "Not on his life." James chuckled. "Where's Moony suppose to be stationed tonight?" 

"Err...fourth floor, I think. Right around-" Sirius paused, eyes going slightly wide. "Hey, Prongs take a look over here." He took his forefinger and dragged it along by the deserted third floor classrooms and rested it on two dots labeled Marlene McKinnon and Dorcas Meadows. 

 James whistled and made a crude hand gesture with two fingers and his tongue but Sirius smacked his arm. "No...Look." his finger moved from Marlene and Dorcas to a tight huddle of dots heading down the corridor in their direction labeled Rowan Mulciber, Killian Avery, Jason Nott and Severus Snape. The group of slytherins continued closer to the two girls.

 "Let's go," James insisted hurriedly, pulling Sirius by the arm. Sirius hesitated.

"We're not suppose to get involved with Snape's shit, Prongs..." 

 James groaned. "Now you suddenly want to play by the rules? Let's go, Padfoot! Marlene and Dorcas could be in danger! Moony won't fault you for that!" He pulled on Sirius' arm again and this time the boy followed, folding the map and stuffing it into his pocket. 

 They quickly made their way up the stairs to the abandoned third floor corridor. Sirius paused for a moment and James skidded to a stop. "Wha-?" 

"Shh!" Sirius hushed him, listening carefully and grateful once again for his animagus form's heightened sense of hearing. He moved up against the stone wall and peeked around the corner. 

There they were. 

Two boys were holding the struggling girls while the other two spoke among themselves. Sirius strained to hear but couldn't. He motioned for James to follow and they carefully moved closer, both silently cursing the fact that they hadn't brought the cloak to detention. They ducked behind a suit of armor. 

Mulciber was speaking to a boy who still had his hood up. "Not quite the Gryffindor queers we were out looking for...lucky for me, I'm not particular..." He looked to the hooded boy. "Sorry to disappoint you, Severus. I know you were hoping to give Black and Lupin the lesson they deserve. Will these do for now?"

Sirius' jaw dropped and the color drained from his face. James stared on in disbelief. 

 "Makes no difference to me. Let it be a warning to them. Or practice for us..." Came Snape's drawling voice as he lowered his hood. Both James and Sirius' hands clenched their wands tightly, ready to attack.

 "I've got to admit Severus, you're really starting to impress me." 

"Levicorpus!"

The Slytherins laughed as the girls were lifted into the air with a flash of light. 

"So? What would you do to them next, Severus?"

 Snape took a step closer, twirling his wand between his finger. James and Sirius exchanged a definitive look and nodded. They jumped out from behind the armor. 

"Expelliarmus!" Both Snape's and Mulciber's wands flew from their hands and landed somewhere down the corridor. Avery and Nott looked to James and Sirius, then each other and ran off down the hall. 

Sirius and James stood firmly with their wands raised and pointed at Snape and Mulciber. 

 "I suggest you take a hint from your mates and get out of our site." James snarled, eyes narrowed on Severus specifically. Mulciber smirked and raised both hands in surrender. 

"Alright, Potter." He took a step back, still grinning eerily. "We're done here. For now." He nodded to Severus. "Come along, Severus." 

 Snape was glaring daggers at Sirius who was doing his best to avoid eye contact, focusing instead on the look of relief on Marlene's face. 

"Go." James growled dangerously to Snape. "Or fuck what I said to Dumbledore about laying off you. Try me, Severus. I have no qualms getting expelled for your sake." 

 Mulciber took Severus by the sleeve of his robe. "We're leaving, Potter." He said curtly, and he dragged Snape away. 

James watched them until they disappeared from view before turning to help Sirius let the girls down. He set a cushioning charm on the ground while Sirius muttered a quick "Finite Incantartum" and Marlene and Dorcas fell with a soft bounce. James and Sirius held out a hand to the girls and helped them up. 

 Marlene immediately wrapped her arms tightly around Sirius and he reciprocated, squeezing the girl perhaps a little harder than necessary but it was helping to calm his nerves. "You alright, Marls?" He muttered against her hair.

She nodded. "Fine." She shuddered and buried her face in his neck. "Fuck. How did you even find us?"  

 "Dumb luck," Sirius lied. "We were just coming out here to smoke in one of the old classrooms, right Jamie?" 

James nodded, releasing Dorcas from their own embrace. "Lucky we were. You two aren't hurt at all?" 

The girls shook their heads. 

 

"However," Marlene added, just above a mumble as they walked together back to Gryffindor tower. "If anyone wanted to give that little shit a taste of his own slime...I can't say I could argue with that." 

James quickly scratched out the ornate L.E. he had doodled on his exam paper as Professor Flitwick called for the end of the allotted testing time. He stood and slung his bag over his shoulder and waited for Sirius, Remus and Peter to join him before leaving the classroom and heading straight outside. 

Sirius grinned, sliding his arm around Remus' shoulders as they walked. "Did you like question ten, Moony?" 

 "Loved it," Remus said briskly. "'Give five signs that identify a werewolf', excellent question." 

 "D'you think you managed to get all the signs?" Asked James with mock concern. 

"Think I did," Remus played along seriously. "One: He's sitting in my chair, Two: He's wearing my clothes, Three: His name is Remus Lupin-" He was cut off as Sirius leaned in and kissed him, laughing along with James. 

Peter shuffled his feet anxiously. "Er...I got the snout shape, the pupils of the eyes and the tuft tail...but I couldn't think of anything else." 

 James stared at him. "How thick are you, Wormtail? You run around with a werewolf once a month-" 

"Keep your voice down, will you?" Remus muttered, eyeing a group of nearby Slytherins as he and the others took a seat under a large beech tree. Remus pulled out a book, extending his legs out in front of him which Sirius immediately saw as an invitation. He stretched on on the grass, using his boyfriend's legs as a pillow. 

 "Well I thought that paper was a piece of cake." Sirius said proudly. "I'll be surprised if I don't get an outstanding on it." 

James grinned. "Me too." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a golden snitch, tossing it up in the air and catching it. 

 Remus frowned. "Where'd you get that?" 

"Nicked it." James shrugged, letting the snitch fly off a little before snatching it back again much to Peter's amusement. This went on for several minutes before Sirius groaned.

 "Put that away, will you? Before Wormtail wets himself." 

Remus discreetly flicked Sirius on the nose. "Bad dog." He muttered. Peter blushed and James shrugged.

"If if bothers you." He stuffed the snitch back in his pocket. 

Sirius huffed and sat up, looking over the grounds and watching the other students pass by. "I'm bored. I wish it were a full moon." 

 Remus rolled his eyes. "You might," He said darkly from behind his book. He sighed, watching Sirius as if he could see the the restlessness starting to grow in the other boys head. "We still have Transfiguration. If you're so bored, you can test me...Here." He held his book out. 

Sirius scoffed. "Oh please, Moony. I don't need that rubbish. I know it all!" 

 James laughed and shook his head at both of them before scanning over the crowds of students congregating around the yard. Then he spotted him. "I know something that'll liven you up, Padfoot...Look." He nodded his head in the direction of Severus Snape.

Sirius went still, like a dog who had spotted a rabbit, and grinned. "Excellent. Snivellus."

Remus gave Sirius a warning look which Sirius shot down with a significant look of his own as James slowly headed toward the Slytherin. "We won't hurt him, Moons." Sirius promised. "Just threaten him a little. C'mon, love. After what he did to Marlene and Dorcas?" 

Remus shook his head disapprovingly and picked his book back up. Sirius leaped to his feet and hurried after James. 

 "All right, Snivellus?" James called loudly. The look of panic that overtook the greasy haired boy was almost satisfying enough. None of his big scary friends were around now. Snape reached for his wand but James was much quicker. "Expelliarmus!" Snape's wand flew several feet and Sirius barked with laughter. 

Snape went to make a grab for his wand. James smirked and shook his head. "Impedimenta!" Severus' feet were swept from under him and he landed in a face plant on the ground. Other people were watching now, forming a small crowd around them. James glanced over by the lake where Marlene, Dorcas, Mary and Lily had been relaxing by the water's edge. Dorcas and Marlene had turned their attention to the scene, but kept their distance. Snape struggled, panting on the ground and struggling against invisible ties. 

"You...wait!" He growled. "You just wait!" 

"Wait for what?" Sirius asked coolly, wand still raised. "What are you going to do, Snivelly? Wipe your nose on us?" 

Severus let out a string of curses and James frowned. "Wash your mouth out." He said coldly. "Scourgify!" 

The other students, along with Sirius and James, laughed as pink bubbles foamed and poured out from Snape's mouth. 

"LEAVE HIM ALONE!" 

James and Sirius both jumped and turned around. James' hand shot up to his hair as Lily angrily approached them. "All right, Evans?" 

"Leave him alone." Lily repeated, glaring at James with disgust. "What's he done to you?" 

James' eyes darted to the circle of students that surrounded them, landing on Dorcas and Marlene. "Well," He said. "It's more the fact that he exists, if you know what I mean." 

Lily shook her head. "You think you're so funny, but you're nothing but an arrogant, bullying toerag! Leave him alone!"

"I will if you'll go out with me!" James said quickly, without thinking. He'd curse himself for it later, he knew. Too late now. "Come on, Evans. Go out with me and I'll never lay wand on old Snivelly again." 

Lily fumed. "I wouldn't go out with you if it were a choice between you and the giant squid." 

Sirius grimaced. "Bad luck, Prongs..." He turned back to Snape who was finally coming free of the jinx and making his way towards his wand. "OY!" He made to grab for his own wand but he was too late and with a flash of light, a gash appeared across James' face, splattering his robe with blood.

James hissed with pain, his hand coming up to his face and wiping off some of the blood there. He smiled darkly as the memory of the what Severus and the other Slytherins had done to Marlene and Dorcas flooded his mind. What was that spell....

 "Levicorpus!" James shouted, spinning around and aiming his wand at Severus who was immediately hoisted into the air, dangling upside down with his robes flailing and exposing his greying underpants.

Sirius snickered. "Not so funny now, is it?" He whispered so only Severus and James could hear. 

 For a moment, Lily's eyes flickered to Marlene, Dorcas and Mary and she looked almost as if she were going to smile. She shook herself from it. "Let him down." She requested calmly.

"Certainly." Said James, flicking his wand and letting Snape fall to the ground. "You're lucky Evans was here to protect you." 

 "I don't need help from some filthy little mudblood like her!" As soon as the words left Snape's mouth, regret washed over his face. The crowd went silent and James and Sirius' jaws both dropped.

Lily blinked. "Fine." She said coolly. "I won't bother in the future. But you may want to change your underpants, Snivellus." 

James rounded on Severus again. "Apologize to Evans!" He demanded. 

 "I don't want YOU to make him apologize!" Lily shouted. "You're just as bad as he is! Messing up your hair so it looks like you've just flown a broomstick, hexing everyone that annoys you just because you can! You make me sick, Potter!" She turned and hurried away.

"Fuck." James muttered. "Evans! Hey, Evans come on!" 

She didn't look back. James shook his head. "What is it with her?" 

"Reading between the lines, I'd say she thinks you're a little conceited, mate." Said Sirius.

"Lily, wait!" Severus called, walking faster down the corridor to catch up with the redhead. He hadn't meant to say what he said to her. It was all bloody Potter and Black's fault anyway. If she had just stayed out of it and let him fight his own battles, this wouldn't be happening. "Lily!"

  With a frustrated yell, Lily spun around to face him. Her emerald eyes piercing and her face nearly the same shade as her hair. "What do you want, Severus?" She snapped, fists clenched at her sides.

 

 

 

 Severus stalled momentarily, stunned by just how angry his best friend was. "I..." He licked his lips. "Listen, I didn't mean what I said-"

 Lily laughed coldly. "You didn't mean what you said? You called me a racial slur, Severus! In front of everyone!"

 "But I didn't mean-!"

 "But that's what I am, isn't it, Severus?" Lily stepped closer to him. The anger in her eyes had disappeared and now she looked hurt. "Go ahead! Tell the truth! You've said it about Mary, and about countless other people who are from the same sorts of families that I am! Didn't mean it." She spat, shaking her head at him. "I can't believe I've defended you for five years, Severus! When everyone else told me you were just a vile, dark arts obsessed snake!"

  "It's Black and Potter's fault!" Severus argued, and Lily's eyes went wide.

 "Don't try to blame those two idiots for your behavior, Severus! Just because they act like immature little prats doesn't mean you have an excuse to do the same! This school yard bullying between all of you has to stop! Not to mention, they did the exact thing to you that you and Mulciber did to Mary! And To Marlene and Dorcas-!" 

 "YOU DON'T KNOW THE HALF OF WHAT BLACK AND POTTER HAVE DONE TO ME!" Severus shouted, anger now overflowing inside of him as he thought of just how much the other two boys had gotten away with against him. The fact that Dumbledore didn't even know that Black had tried to kill him with his little pet werewolf...

 Lily's body shook with anger and she glared at him. "Maybe because you deserve it, Severus." She said quietly. "Potter and Black are bullies, I can't deny that. But deep down under that, they may just be decent people. I've seen them be decent people. They'll grow out of their constant need to show off and be the center of attention. But you?" She sighed. "You'll always be a liar and a coward, following more powerful people for your own bloody protection instead of standing for what you actually believe in."

 She turned and left him standing speechless and alone.

 Lily was fuming. Never in her life had she felt so angry. And the sad part was, it wasn't Severus she was angry with. Nor was it James Potter. She was angry with herself.

Five years, she had let herself believe that Severus was a good person, her best friend, who maybe just needed some guidance. 

Five years, she ignored the warnings from her friends and brushed off the signs that she herself had seen of Severus' dark obsession and the effect it had on his behavior. 

 How could she have been so stupid as to believe that she could change that? 

 "Evans...!"

 She stopped walking and quickly wiped her eyes with her sleeve. She took a deep breath and spun around. "What do you want Potter?"

 James Potter was standing a few feet away, leaning casually against a suit of armor, but he didn't have the same cocky, arrogant expression he had only half an hour ago as he tormented Severus Snape in the court yard. He looked apprehensive. His hand shot up to his hair, no doubt by habit at this point, but he stopped in midair and lowered it. He cleared his throat. "Ev- er...Lily, sorry..." He rubbed the back of his neck. "Look, I wanted to apologize." 

 Lily didn't respond, she just stared blankly at him. 

 "Er..." He continued awkwardly. "I just...I'm sorry for what just happened out there. For what I did to Sniv- ah...Severus...what he said was out of order, but-"

 "It's alright, Potter." Lily interrupted quietly, looking down at the floor. "I...I've been ignoring the truth behind all those things you  lot have done to him. He's not who I thought he-" she sighed and shook her head. "He's not who I wanted him to be." 

 James took a step away from the suit of armor, this time he did ruffle his hair but he kept his eyes downcast as well. "Sorry you had to find out that way."

 Lily shrugged. "It's my own fault. I knew it, really...I should have listened to everyone else."

 James chuckled lightly. "I dunno, Evans. You seem more the type to follow her own heart no matter what people tell you. Stubborn bird, you are."

 She tried to hide it, but the corner of her lips twitch up. "Oh I am indeed the most stubborn." 

 The boy snorted. "Sirius could give you a run for your money I'm sure." He rolled his eyes. "Prat would probably teach himself to fly without a broomstick just because someone told him he couldn't." 

 Lily actually laughed. "He's going to get himself killed some day."

 Potter shook his head with a lopsided grin. "Nah. Sirius will live forever out of spite. Stubborn git." He sighed and looked up at her. "Anyway, I...I had another apology as well."

 Lily gave him a look as if to give him the go ahead and he let out a deep breath.

 "Lily, I'm sorry for acting like a conceited git. And for pestering you and...Er...just...acting like, as you so eloquently put it, an 'arrogant toerag'." He smirked as she tried and failed not to giggle at that. "I will try my best not to do that to you anymore." He held out his hand. "Truce?" 

 Lily cocked her head to the side, one eyebrow raised as she stared at his hand for a moment and considered him. She took it and they shook on it. Potter went to pull his hand away but Lily held on. "Wait," she smirked. "What about all of the obnoxious date invitations? That stops as well?" 

 James chuckled, a mischievous glint in his eye. "That, Miss Evans, I cannot promise you." She groaned but he squeezed her hand. "I can promise you something different though?" 

 "Oh really?" She said smugly. "What's that?"

 He smirked. "You're eventually going to say yes." He winked and let go of her hand, walking right past her in the direction of Gryffindor tower. "Night Evans!" 

 She stood frozen, watching him leave. "Good night...James..."

-

Remus returned from his potions study group with every intention of taking a much needed, and deserved, nap. Everyone knew that OWLs were going to be stressful, and he was thankful that they had by some miracle not landed within the week of the full moon, but he felt utterly drained. Not to mention the whole scene in the court yard that afternoon. He groaned to himself. He had hoped that after what had happened between them all and Severus in March, maybe this whole rivalry would finally come to and end and there would be peace. 

 Alas, there was no peace when it came to Sirius Black and James Potter. 

 Even if Snape had deserved some sort of repercussion for what he and his friends had done to Marlene and Dorcas, and what they were rumored to be planning to do to others, Remus didn't see why James and Sirius repeatedly took it upon themselves to dole out the punishment.

 When he entered the dorm room he was surprised to find Sirius sitting on his own bed, crossed legged between Marlene and Dorcas. All three of them looked up when he closed the door.

 "Hi Remus." The girls both gave a small wave and a smile.

 Remus smiled tiredly back at them. "Hey Dorcas, Marley...er...am I interrupting?" 

 Dorcas shook her head. "No, not at all. We all just finished up studying and came up to have a chat while Sirius waited for you." 

 Remus' eyes landed on Sirius who was chewing his bottom lip anxiously. Remus smirked. "And decided to try out new eyeliner styles as well, I see?" He noted the perfectly sharpened wing tips in the corner of his boyfriends eyes. The girls both laughed. 

 "Guilty." Marlene shrugged. Remus raised an eyebrow at her and she giggled. "What? It's easier to test out on someone else first and he was a willing participant." 

 Sirius smirked. "I'm always available to be your test dummy, Marls." 

 Remus snorted. "Dummy, for sure." His eyes roamed over Sirius for a moment. Something seemed off. 

 Dorcas cleared her throat and hopped off the bed. "Well, we best be off, right Marley?" 

 Marlene blinked. "Hmm? Oh! Yes." She smiled and kissed Sirius' cheek, giving him a quick hug. "Thanks again, Sirius." She said quietly. Dorcas did the same.

  "Yeah. Really, Sirius..." 

 Sirius gave what Remus knew was a forced smile and bid both girls goodnight as they slipped out the door, closing it behind them. Once their footsteps were out of hearing range Sirius swallowed and looked up at Remus. 

 "Moony, I'm sorry." 

 Frowning, Remus placed his books down on his bedside table and looked back at the other boy. "For what?" 

 "For what happened today with Snape. I know you didn't approve-"

 "If I really didn't approve, I would have stopped you." Remus said matter-of-factly, sitting on the edge of his own bed and watching him."I'm a prefect, Sirius. If I had wanted to stop you, I would have." 

 Sirius looked unsure. "But you still haven't forgiven me for what I did and I promised I wouldn't-" 

 "Sirius, come here." Remus patted the spot next to him on his own mattress and Sirius came without hesitation, but kept his eyes downcast. Remus cupped his chin and tilted his face up. He couldn't help but smile. Sirius' eyes looked so bloody gorgeous like this...Damn it, McKinnon...He sighed. "I'm not angry with you for what happened today. I mean...sure, I'd have preferred if you and James would have just let it alone, but...What Snape and those other blokes did to Marley and Dorcas, and what they've done to other students was really...evil." He shuddered a little. "You didn't go out looking for revenge out of anger or do something terribly dangerous. You and James just...acted like you and James, that's all." He snorted. "Not that that's great either...But you've been trying so hard, love. I see that, and I'm proud of you." 

 Sirius' lip twitched up. "Thanks Moony." 

 Remus kissed him and felt Sirius' whole body melt as he wrapped his arms around him. Smiling against his lips, Remus gently coaxed the smaller boy into his lap and laid back against the pillows, bringing Sirius down on top of him. Sirius shifted his body so that he was straddling Remus' hips.

 Remus teasingly ground up against him and Sirius moaned with a need that hadn't been met in nearly two full months. Breaking from his lips, Remus kissed down the line of Sirius' jaw to his ear. "I forgive you, Sirius." 

 Sirius groaned. "Why is that the sexiest thing I have ever heard?" His hips snapped down to meet Remus' and suddenly they were both very aware of how much clothing was between them. Remus quickly pulled the curtain shut around them and they both began to fumble with buttons and zippers, desperate to feel each other's skin again and tossing everything carelessly aside. 

 Once those pesky clothes were out of the way, they sat for a moment, allowing their eyes to hungrily eat up every inch of each other. Sirius’ hands traveled from Remus’ hips, up his sides and back down his chest. He took note of every new scar, painfully thinking to himself: these are my fault. I did this to him.

 Noticing that the lust in Sirius' eyes had begun to fade into guilt, Remus grabbed him firmly by the chin once more and pulled him into another kiss. Then, in a swift movement that pulled a gasp of shock from the dark haired boy, Remus flipped them. His hands found Sirius' and he pinned the boys arms up over his head. He felt Sirius grin against his lips. 

  "Love it when you get all dominant, Moony..." Sirius sighed, arching beneath him. He knew Sirius enjoyed it on the rare occasions that it had ever happened, usually around the full moon. But it had always made him a little nervous to give into the the primal instinct that the wolf part of his brain always fought for. However...He has had an idea playing around in his head for quite a few weeks...

 “Do you?” he ground his hips down again and heard Sirius inhale sharply. “Well that’s very good Sirius, because although I may have forgiven you, I think I may have thought of a solution to your little self control problem…and I think you’re going to like it.”

Sirius quirked an eyebrow and smirked. “Oh? And what might that be?” his voice was playful as he wiggled his hips teasingly under Remus’. However, Remus didn't laugh and tease him back like he usually did. He tightened his grip on Sirius' wrists.

“You know Sirius,” he said, keeping his tone a little too casual as he removed one hand from Sirius’ wrists and trailed it down his body so tortuously slow, stopping right above where Sirius craved contact the most and making the boy shiver. "You really have been behaving so well lately...you've been very...obedient." He wrapped his long fingers around Sirius’ length, causing him to whimper softly and arch up. “It’s actually been kind of nice…” 

Sirius swallowed hard. “O-oh?” the playfulness was gone from his voice. Now there was only desperation, mild curiosity and just a touch of nervousness.

“I’m curious,” The silkiness of Remus’ voice shocked both of them. “Just how obedient can you be?” His fingers slipped teasingly lower, lower...

Fuck, Moons that’s hot…” Sirius panted, squirming slightly

“Hush. Stay.” Remus was suddenly gone from on top of him and Sirius let out a frustrated groan.

 “Mooooonyyyyyyy…”

“Just wait, Padfoot. Have patience.” Remus’ voice had returned to normal as he rummaged through his trunk.

Sirius propped himself up on his elbows with a pout. “What are you doing, Re?”

Remus shrugged. “...Improvising.” He came back holding a Gryffindor tie and his wand. His head tilted to the side and he frowned “I believe I told you to stay.” Sirius scrambled back into position and Remus resumed his place on top. 

He took the tie and used it to secure Sirius’ wrists above his head, smirking at his own handiwork. “Now then…” his voice had gone husky and deep again, but he still somehow managed to sound as if he were casually teaching a lecture instead of driving his boyfriend mad with sex games. Sirius shivered. “It’s quite clear that you need to learn some self-control, Sirius.” He took his wand and cast a lubricating spell, making Sirius whimper from the cold, slick feeling and the horribly wonderful anticipation. 

“Don’t you agree?” He slipped one finger easily into him and reveled at the sight of Sirius arching up and moaning. He frowned and sat up slightly. “I asked you a question Sirius.”

“I…Ahhh….fuck…Y-yes…I agree…”

Remus hummed thoughtfully. “Y’know what…Since I think you need to learn a little bit about respect, I think I’d like you to respond with ‘Yes, Sir’…” his eyes flicker up to meet Sirius’ for a moment, his voice still tortuously casual.  “And let’s be honest, what you did to me was a massive disrespect, yes?”

Sirius only whined in response. His cheeks flushed, his eyes glassy and his lips dark and bruised from kissing and biting.

Remus wanted to just forget all of this and ravish him…But the idea in his head was just too good and the wolf part of his brain wouldn't relent until Sirius was put in his place...and if Remus was completely honest, Sirius did need to learn, and this may have been the only way to teach him. 

“Answer me, love. Did you disrespect me?”

 “Y-yes…”

“Yes?”

Yes Sir.”

“Good boy.” Both of them felt a flutter in the pits of their stomachs. This was hotter than either of them had imagined. It took a moment for Remus to be able to speak again, distracted and turned on by Sirius writhing beneath him, helpless and submissive. “A-and you agree," His voice fails him for a second and he clears his throat, trying to sound authoritative again. "You agree that you need to learn to control yourself?”

 “Yes Sir.” Remus twists his wrist and hits that spot inside Sirius that makes him sob with need. 

 “Do you want to submit to me, Sirius? Do you want me to teach you to control yourself? To respect me and everyone else?”

“Yes Sir….oh fuck, please Remus…please just…fucking-" 

"Shh." Remus snapped, only because the sound of the other boy begging was becoming so very distracting. He nudged Sirius' knees apart, positioning his hips for what they have both been dying for. He wanted to drag this out longer. He wanted to drive Sirius crazy first. He wanted to deprive him of touching and kissing and show him what it meant to not get what he wants when he wants it...But he's also a teenage boy himself. And He has needs. And right now he needed nothing more than to feel his boyfriend around him, to feel complete with Sirius again. 

The teaching can wait. The punishment can wait. He just wanted Sirius to be his once more. Pressing up against Sirius he tried to maintain the Dominant air he had adapted. “I’m going to give you what you want, but I mean it…not just in bed.” His eyes flashed dangerously and his grabbed a fistful of his boyfriend's thick black hair, making him gasp. “You will do as I say. You will behave the way I tell you to…do you agree, Sirius?”

“Yes Sir...Remus, please...I love you." Sirius gazed up at him, desperate for him 

 Remus broke for a moment and smiled. "I love you, Sirius." He plunged into him and they both moaned loudly. Keeping Sirius’ bound hands above his head, Remus thrust into him fast and hard and they both know they won’t last long. After a very short while, they both finished with each other's names on their lips, which Sirius followed with a string of impressive swear words, and they collapsed in a tangled, sticky pile of limbs, panting heavily. 

Remus reached up to untie Sirius’ wrists. Once freed, Sirius pulled Remus to him and kissed him lovingly. When they broke away Remus blushed nervously. “Was that weird?”

Sirius shook his head, nuzzling Remus' neck. “No.”

“And you’re okay with it?”

Sirius was silent for a moment, taking it all in now that his mind had settled. “Yes,” he kisses Remus’ sweaty forehead. "You're so bloody hot like that, Remus. I know you don't like to let that part of you out when we do things but-" 

Remus shook his head, smiling a little. "No...I liked it, actually...I...I like that you trusted me so easily." He bit his lip. 

Sirius pulled him close and kissed his lips briefly. "I trust you with everything, Remus. I promise. I know you won't hurt me, even if you don't know it. And maybe you're right about this whole control thing..." He snickered teasingly. "You're a pretty good teacher, Professor Lupin." 

Remus laughed and rolled his eyes as he snuggled up against the other boy, draping an arm over him. "Get some sleep, Sirius." 

Sirius smirked. "Yes Sir." 

“FOR THE LOVE OF MERLIN’S SAGGING BALLS! FOR THE LAST SODDING TIME! SILENCING CHARMS! IT’S NOT A FUCKING DIFFICULT REQUEST, MATES!”

Remus’ eyes snapped open and he blushed furiously.

Sirius erupted into laughter. “Sorry, Mate…Thought you were still off studying!" 

“Gahhhhhhhhh I’ll never unhear the things I just heard! You’ve gone and sent poor Pete ‘round the bend. He’s unresponsive. Pete! Peter can you hear me?! Are you still with us, mate? He’s bloody lost it because of you two and your kinky sexploitations! IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY PETE!”

 

 

Chapter Text

James was lying on his stomach on the floor of the dormitory, the top half of his body submerged under his four poster, rummaging through crumpled papers and candy wrappers and making sure he wasn't missing anything that should be packed away to return home. Missing socks, broken quills-

  "Oy, has anyone seen my broom polish?" He called to the other three boys. 

 

"If you weren't such a bloody disaster you'd know where it was." Sighed Remus, closing his own fully packed trunk and crossing the room to James' bed. He opened the drawer on the other boy's bedside table and rolled his eyes, picking up the jar. He gave James a swift kick to the hip. "It was in your drawer, prat. Y'know, where it should be." He smirked as James wiggled his way out from the abyss that was under his bedframe. 

"I checked there!" Insisted James, sitting up and taking off his glasses to clean off the thin layer of dust. 

 Peter chuckled, throwing balled up t shirts into his trunk hat he didn't feel like folding. "You need a better prescription on those specs, mate." 

James grumbled some swears and flipped a finger at Peter as he tossed the the jar of broom polish into his own luggage. Peter had moved on to trying to force his overflowing trunk closed to no avail. James snorted. "Need help, Worm?" He walked over and inspected the boys belongings. "Haven't you heard of folding? You wouldn't have this issue..."

 Remus shook his head at both of them and then looked to Sirius' bed. He frowned. The dark haired boy was sitting up against the headboard of his bed, hugging his knees to his chest and eyes looking vacant. With a quick glance back and James and Peter, who were both sitting on top of Peter's trunk it an attempt to keep it shut, he sat down beside his boy friend. At a closer inspection, he could see that Sirius' body was ridged and his nails, currently donning chipped black varnish, were digging into the skin on his arms. His breathing was shallow and quick. He was having a panic attack. 

Remus quickly shut the curtains around them. "Padfoot?" Sirius didn't answer and Remus licked his lips nervously. "Sirius, it's okay." He tentatively reached out and touched Sirius' arm. "Hey, love...talk to me..."

"I can't go back." Sirius whispered.

Remus frowned. "Back where, Pads?"

"Home. I...I can't go home...." Sirius muttered shakily. 

 Not wanting to startle him when he was already panicking, Remus scooted a little closer. "Sirius, is it alright if I touch you? I just want to hold you...let me take care of you, love..."

 Sirius nodded slowly and Remus gently pulled him into his arms and started stroking his hair. "Breathe, Padfoot...it's okay."

"I can't go back there, Moony-"

 "Who says you're going back?" James had pulled back the curtain a bit. He sat on the edge on the bed. "You're coming home with me, you git." 

Sirius closed his eyes, concentrating on his breathing. He shook his head. "Can't just stay with you forever, James-"

"Bullocks." James said firmly. "Come on, Padfoot. You think we would ever let you go back to that house? Don't be stupid." He smiled and put his hand on Sirius' knee. "Mum's already got your room all set up for you, mate. Stop thinking about it. You've got a home, Sirius. With me." 

 "Oh bloody fucker!" Peter yelled, making James, Remus and Sirius all jump. 

"Peter is everything-" James made a face which both Sirius and Remus copied almost instantly as a rancid smell filled the air. "Damn it Wormy! I told you not to pack all that shit into your trunk that way! The dungbombs have gone off!" He groaned and got up to help Peter.

 Remus gagged at the smell and picked up his wand to clear the air around Sirius' bed before he leaned back against the headboard, bringing a slightly more relaxed Sirius against his chest. 

 "See? Nothing to stress about, Pads." He kissed the top of his head. "We've got you."

-

Sirius couldn't be more thankful to The Potters, who continuously reassured him that it was no trouble at all and they were more than happy to have him. When he arrived at the house and dragged his trunk up the stairs to the guest room, he nearly fell over in shock. 

 The guest room had been completely transformed. What once had resembled a royal suite in a fancy hotel was now a bedroom much more suited towards a 16 year old boy. And more specifically, towards Sirius. Red and black curtains over the large bay window matched the sheets and bedspread on the plush, queen size bed and the walls were almost completely covered in posters featuring Queen, The Beatles, Iggy Pop and Bowie, with some room left to do as he pleased. And to top it all off, a large Gryffindor banner hung just over the headboard of the bed. 

 A hand on his shoulder broke him from his daze and he heard James chuckle. "Mum and dad wrote me last month to ask what you'd like. What d'you think?" 

Speechless, Sirius stood there with his mouth agape gazing at sight before him and unable to process that this was all for him.

Finally composing himself, he spun around and flung his arms tightly around his best friend. "Thank you." 

James laughed and hugged him back. "Welcome home, mate." 

James and Sirius spent the first three days home rearranging the room, setting up Sirius' record player and covering every bit of spare wall in photographs of the Marauders, until finally Mrs. Potter had had enough of them blasting The Beatles (and singing off key) and sent them outside to enjoy the summer weather. 

It took three full weeks before Sirius finally stopped uttering 'thank you's for every tiny thing James or his parents did. He couldn't help it. He felt like a stray dog that they had let in from the rain, but would tire of him once the novelty wore off and he tracked mud all over the carpets or something. 

Once he finally stopped the urge to vocalize his gratitude, he decided simply to show it in other ways. He flat out refused to take advantage of the Potters' hospitality and kindness towards him, and had taken responsibility of half of James' chores, as well as asking Fleamont and Euphemia if he could help with anything whenever they were busy around the house.

 "You're starting to make me look bad, mate." James joked with him one afternoon, sun tanning in the grass while Sirius organized the old shed for Mr. Potter while he was at work.

 Sirius rolled his eyes as he pulled a large crate out from under a pile of lumber. "Look, I don't want to seem like some ungrateful brat who ran away from home just to mooch of your family, alright?" He took off his t shirt, using it to wipe the sweat and dirt from his face. 

 James brought himself up on his elbows. "Pads, we all know you're grateful. I'm just saying you don't have to go overboard. You're family, Sirius. Same blood, remember?" He lifted his hand, showing the faded white scar across his palm that matched the one on Sirius'. 

 Sirius smiled a little. "Yeah, mate. I know." He let out a puff of breath and stared down at the crate he had been struggling to open. "I think it's magicked shut. Merlin, I can't wait to turn seventeen. Reckon your mum's got something to pry it open with?" 

 James shrugged. "Maybe. Oy, if you're going inside, d'you think you could nick something cold to drink out of the kitchen? It's bloody hot."

 "Lazy arse. You're just sitting there baking-"

James chuckled. "Oh man I wish we were baking...I miss Moony and his bloody weed. How many days til he comes out?" 

Sirius smirked and rubbed the back of his neck. "Five." He licked his lips. "Five days, three hours and," he glanced up, calculating the position of the sun. "47 minutes." 

James shook his head. "Ah, young love..." He laid back down. "Pathetic twats." He flung his arm over eyes to shield the harsh sunlight. "So yeah, something cold to drink. Oh! And see if you can weasel some treacle tarts out of Trinket! I'm starving."

 Sirius rolled his eyes once again and headed back into the house towards the kitchen. He was startled to see that it wasn't only Trinket working at the stainless steel counter tops, but Mrs. Potter was also there, a flour covered apron tied around her waist and holding a large mixing bowl. She turned and smiled at him. "Hello Sirius. You boys enjoying yourselves?"

He smiled back. "Of course." His curiosity peaked, having never seen his own mother step foot in the kitchen, let alone bake something, and he stepped closer, craning to see what she was doing. She noticed and laughed softly. 

 "There's an annual ministry banquet tomorrow evening. Horribly boring, big to-do sort of event. Every year someone different hosts and, wouldn't you know it, this is our year." She sighed and shook her head as she continued to mix. "It's a large crowd and a lot of food and I'm not fond of making Trinket do it all on her own. I'd have rented a few extra elves, I may tomorrow to help serve, but I do enjoy doing the baking myself so..." She shrugged.

 Sirius took another tentative step closer. "What are you making?" 

 "Nothing too fancy. Chocolate cake" She poured the batter into the pan and held out the spoon to him. "Here."

He frowned, confusion etched across his face. Euphemia laughed lightly. "You've never licked the spoon after baking?"

Sirius bit his lip, feeling rather sheepish. "Er...well...there wasn't much of that going on when I was a kid I suppose." 

The smile faded just a little from Mrs. Potter's pretty face and she sighed, nodding to the wooden spoon that she still held out. Sirius took it from her and, feeling a little silly, licked the sweet tasting batter from it. He laughed and handed it back to her, feeling his cheeks heat up slightly as she smiled fondly at him. 

 "Sorry, dear. Did you need something?" She asked, sliding the cake pan into the oven.

Sirius blinked for a second, then remembered. "Oh! Er, yeah...well, James is being a lazy git and sent me to fetch drinks." He and Mrs. Potter both shared an exasperated look and she went to the fridge, pulling out two chilled bottles of butterbeer and handing them to him. "Also," He went on, "We found this big crate in the shed that won't open and I wanted to know if you had something to open it with?"

Euphemia looked thoughtful. "Hmm, must be a box of James' grandfathers things. I don't think there's anything too interesting in there but..." She rummaged around in a drawer for a second and handed him a key. "That will open anything as long as it hasn't got any extra security charms on it." 

Sirius grinned. "Great, thanks mum-!" As soon as the words left his mouth, the color drained from his face and his eyes bulged. He blushed furiously and swallowed. He opened his mouth to stutter out some sort of humiliated apology, but before he could he found himself being pulled into tight, warm embrace by the woman. He relaxed and leaned against her, returning the hug and feeling, for the first time, like he was really home. 

After a minute, Euphemia pulled back and kissed his cheek. "Go on, then. You mustn't leave James to die of dehydration out there." She laughed. Sirius smiled and nodded. "Right. Of course." She gave him a plate of freshly baked tarts and sent him back outside. 

James had apparently grown tired of waiting and was floating in the lake by the time Sirius returned.

 "Took you long enough." He grinned as he dragged himself out of the water in nothing but his boxers.

 "I was talking to your mum," Sirius explained, uncapping a bottle of butterbeer and handing it off to him. "She was helping Trinket bake for some banquet tomorrow." 

James groaned, plopping back down in the grass and taking a sip. "They're having it here? Fuck."

Sirius could understand the frustration. He was very familiar with High Class Wizarding events and just how stuffy and boring they could be. Of course he was sure a Ministry banquet at The Potters' wouldn't be nearly as dreary as any Pureblood Elitist gathering that The Blacks had ever forced him to attend. There was certainly a significantly smaller chance of anyone being hexed over the dinner table or that he'd be locked in his room for three days without supper for not wanting to kiss his Great Great Great Uncle's creepy ring, that he was absolutely positive was cursed (an ancient family heirloom that he was suppose to receive once the old man finally croaked...which each year seemed more and more likely. What was he? 208?)

He shuddered. 

He'd take a boring stuffy ministry dinner over a family reunion any day. 

"So did mum say anything about that crate?" James asked, tearing him from his thoughts 

"She said it's a bunch of your grandfather's things and it's probably nothing. But she gave me this," he held up the key. "Want to take a look?" 

James shrugged. "May as well." He took a long swig from his bottle and got up, striding lazily over to the wooden crate with Sirius. They both inspected it curiously. There didn't seem to be a lock. "How is a key suppose to open something without a lock?" James frowned. 

 Sirius sighed and scratched his head. "Dunno...I mean, it is a magic key, isn't it? And it's been locked by magic. Maybe it works like a wand?" He sunk to his knees in front of the box and simply tapped the top of it with the iron key. 

 A warm yellow glow surrounded the crate and with a high pitched creaking sound the lid fell open. 

 "Of course it's that simple." James muttered, shaking his head. 

Mrs. Potter had been right. It was mostly just old junk. There were several sets ancient looking dress robes that must have been fashionable at some point in history, but had clearly seen better days and were half moth eaten. Sirius found an entire set of fine china that seemed to have never even been touched.

 "That's the whole point of fine china, isn't it?" James remarked. "You get it as a wedding gift from some old relative and you put it away and tell yourself you'll use it when you've got company, but then when company comes over, you're like 'oh no! Not the fine china!'...that's how you know you're finally a real adult, you've got this expensive fucking china you never use."

Sirius snorted and placed the delicate set aside carefully before plunging back into the crate. There were a bunch of old Prophet articles, including one, dated 10/31/1918 that featured Henry (Also known as Harry to friends and family) Potter's controversial views on the then- Minister of Magic, Archer Evermonde's decision to forbid the Wizarding Community from aiding Muggles during World War I. 

Sirius was about to toss it away, but James grabbed it. "That's why my family didn't make it to the Sacred Twenty Eight."  He said dramatically. "People reckoned we must have tainted blood somewhere if grandad was so intent on helping them." 

 Sirius rolled his eyes. "You're not missing out, trust me." He smirked. "You should frame that. Be glad you're not on that ruddy list." 

James carefully folded the article and put it with his clothes to bring inside later. He pulled what looked like an old, round hatbox out of the crate and opened it. "Hey mate, take a look." Sirius scooted closer. There were some old photographs (James looked strikingly like his grandad. Right down to the wonky mess of hair), a decorative cigarette case, and old tobacco pipe. Sirius quickly snatched up the case and pipe and James raised an eyebrow. 

"What? It's bloody cool." Sirius shrugged, pulling his cigarettes out of his back pocket and shaking them out of their carton. 

 James smirked. "I can't see you smoking a pipe, mate." 

"It's for Moony." Sirius muttered defensively. James shook his head and Sirius threw his empty carton at him. "Moony'll like it! Stop being such a twat, Potter. Wait until you get yourself a relationship. I'm going to bloody torture you." 

James laughed and held up his hands in surrender. "I'm only teasing you, sheesh. And yeah, Moons will definitely be into that. I always say he's an old man in a teenager's body." 

 Sirius gave him a sly grin. "You wouldn't be calling him an old man if you knew how brilliant he was at sucking c-"

"Alright, Alright! Too much!" The other boy shuddered and put his focus back on the crate. "Hmm...These are kind of cool." His top half disappeared almost completely as he dove back in, emerging with two identical, beautifully silver hand mirrors. He held one out for Sirius to see for himself and out of habit, Sirius recoiled. James frowned and Sirius shook himself.

 "Sorry." He laughed nervously and cautiously reached out to take the mirror. "Just...In my family if something looks that old and that expensive it'll probably hex, curse or maim you on contact." He let out a breath as the mirror did none of the above.

 James' eyes lit up and he made a funny little noise in his throat. Sirius knew that routine like he knew the back of his hand. James had an idea. "Out with it, Potter."

James grinned. "Alright, remember how we were talking about ways to contact each other when we're in different parts of the castle and the like?" 

 Sirius nodded slowly, not quite catching on, but James was practically bouncing.

"What about these? I'm sure we could charm them somehow! They're small enough that they'll fit in our pockets and-" 

 "Yeah, that'll show Evans how not conceited you are, carrying a mirror in your pocket." Sirius snickered. James leaned over and smacked him in the head. 

"Fine, fuck you Black. I didn't hear any clever ideas from you on the matter. Though I hardly imagine giving you another way to gaze lovingly at yourself is the best idea either, you peacock."

 "Oy!" Sirius punched him in the arm and the two spent the rest of the afternoon wrestling in the grass until Euphemia called them in for supper.

-

Sirius was standing in front of the full length mirror in his bedroom.

He grimaced at his reflection. "I hate dress robes." He muttered, tugging at his tie. He felt confined, trapped, he may as well be wearing a straight jacket. 

 There was a click and a flash and he spun around to see James cackling madly, holding his father's camera. "Aw you look so handsome though, Padfoot!" 

Sirius growled and lunged at him. "You arse! Give me that!" He tackled the other boy onto the bed, hands reaching desperately for the photograph the messy haired boy had snapped. 

 "No way!" James laughed, fighting him off. "I'm sending it to Moony!" 

"James!" Sirius whined as James wiggled out from under him and stood up on the mattress, holding the picture high above his head and well out of the much shorter boy's reach. Sirius huffed and folded his arms. "Shouldn't you be getting ready? Where are your dress robes?" 

"Mine didn't fit right so mum's having Trinket alter a pair of dad's for me." He tapped Sirius on the head with the newly developed photo. "Some of us actually grow, you know." 

 "Haha, very funny. I'm short." Sirius deadpanned. Then he smirked and swiftly kicked his leg just behind James' knees, successfully knocking the boy off his feet. "I'll take that." He said smugly, snatching the picture from him and hopping off the bed. There was a knock at the door and Mrs. Potter entered with James' dress robe on a hanger. She sighed upon seeing both boys, breathless and mussed. She hung James' robes on the door.

 "James, please. I've told you six times to comb your hair and Sirius," She shook her head and approached him, tutting in disapproval. Sirius felt himself blush as she fussed over fixing his robes and he heard James snickering. Euphemia used an anti-wrinkling charm on Sirius' robes. "Honestly, you're both nearly of age. Must I tell you not roll around in your good clothes?" 

"He started it." Both James and Sirius muttered accusingly. 

"Boys." She breathed in exasperation, fixing Sirius' tie. When she was satisfied, she gave him a warm smile and kissed his cheek before moving on to pester James about using Sleekeazy's to fix that mop on his head for the night at least, which James loudly continued to refuse.

Two hours and a bottle and a half of Sleekeazy's later, the boys were standing in the Potter's Grand Hall among the most influential and high standing members of the wizarding community.

"See?" James whispered as he plucked an hors d'oeuvre from the tray of a passing house elf. "Company's here...no one's using the bloody fine china. I'm telling you, Padfoot. We could hoc the entire set and buy ourselves brand new racing brooms and no one would ever notice they were missing..." 

Most definitely a stuffy and exceedingly dull event, James and Sirius could think of about a thousand other things they'd rather be doing than being chatted up by pompous ministry folk who only seemed interested in their grades and if they were looking at jobs in office once they graduated. 

 "James and Sirius both have top marks, I assure you." Came the familiar voice of Albus Dumbledore from behind them, interrupting a toadlike woman who seemed to be quite partial to the color pink, judging by her robes. The headmaster laid a hand on each of their shoulders. "But I don't think politics are for either of these fine boys, Dolores." 

The woman, Dolores, gave Dumbledore an unfavorable look and cleared her throat. "Well, Albus, I was merely suggesting. Times being the way they are these days, we need the best minds Hogwarts can offer, don't you think?" She had an eerily fake smile that made both James and Sirius want to force feed her a handful of dungbombs. 

Dumbledore returned the smile, although his was quite a bit more pleasant. "Times being the way they are, Ms. Umbridge, I'd say the best minds Hogwarts has to offer would be best suited elsewhere." He squeezed both boys' shoulders. "Sirius, James, a word...?" 

They both nodded wordlessly, thankful for a reason to step away from Dolores Umbridge, and allowed the older wizard to steer them away.

 "Hem hem!" The obviously forced falsetto of a voice rang and Dumbledore turned only his head to address the woman. "Albus, while I have you here...I've been meaning to ask...I didn't see your name on the petition for the enforcement of halfbreed regulation laws?" She giggled girlishly.

James and Sirius' jaws both dropped, Sirius' fists clenched and he made a move to turn and face the squat little woman, a slew of clever swear words prepared to tumble out of his mouth, but the Professor's tightened grip on his shoulder warned him not to. 

 "That's correct, Dolores." Said Dumbledore casually. "You did not. Have a lovely evening. Boys? If you'll come with me..." 

Dumbledore lead them into the next room and Sirius couldn't hold back his disgust any longer. "Who does that cow think she is?" He asked angrily, pushing a hand through his hair. "What petition? What laws are they trying to set against-" 

 Dumbledore calmly put a hand up to silence him. "Dolores Umbridge is a social climber who's been trying to work her way up to the top of the Ministry of Magic. She's part of a large percentage of officials who have very...conservative views-" 

 "Bullshit views is what they are." Sirius spat, visibly shaking now. 

"Sirius, relax-" 

 "How could you tell me to relax, James? That toad wants to set laws against Remus-!" 

Dumbledore shook his head, fixing Sirius with a firmly reassuring stare. "Sirius, there are plenty of people fighting against the petition as well...In fact, there are plenty of people fighting against a lot of things the ministry is trying to do. I promise you, Remus will be just fine." 

 Not fully comforted by the headmaster's words, Sirius huffed in annoyance, but agreed to drop the subject just as Mr. Potter entered the room. 

"Ah, Albus! How are you, Sir?" He smiled broadly and shook the older man's hand.

 "Very well, Fleamont. Just having a word with James and Sirius." His blue eyes twinkled, flickering again to his students. 

Fleamont grinned back. "Excellent, well, I'm sorry to steal them away from you Albus but there are some people I'd like to introduce them to." 

Dumbledore nodded, humming pleasantly as he did. "Of course, Fleamont. I was actually just going to find that house elf with the sherry. Excuse me." He bid James and Sirius farewell and moved on into the hall. 

 Sirius's mind was still reeling from what that vile little woman had said even as he followed James' parents into the grand hall. What laws did she want to pass? What sort of regulations did they want to put on halfbreeds? Remus always talked about how difficult it would be to find a job after school. Sirius couldn't imagine what more they could possibly do.

 "Sirius," James hissed, elbowing him in the ribs. "Oy. Pads!" 

"What?" Sirius asked, dragging himself out of his thoughts.

 James jerked his head to the left, in the direction of a grizzly looking man who was drinking from a flask. He had a fake leg and as they drew closer, Sirius could see he had one beady, dark eye and one large, round, electric blue one. "D'you know who that is, mate?" James whispered excitedly. He did know.

"Ah, Alastor!" Said Fleamont briskly. The scary looking man grunted in response, his blue eye spinning wildly before it landed on Mr. Potter.

 "Fleamont. Pleasure of course." He nodded curtly to James' dad and then to Mrs. Potter. "Evening Euphemia. You've outdone yourself, dear."

"Thank you, Alastor." Said Euphemia as she ushered both James and Sirius ahead of her and her husband.

 "Boys," Fleamont said with a smile. "This is Alastor Moody, head of the Auror department. Alastor, our sons;  James and Sirius."

Sirius felt pride surge throughout his body like never before. He barely heard what anyone was saying around him even as he reached forward to accept Mad-Eye Moody's firm handshake. He could only hear Fleamont's words over and over in his head.

Our sons; James and Sirius. 

This was his family. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Do you give up?" Remus asked smugly, wearing a satisfied smirk as he pinned his friend to the floor.

 "Nngg...Never!" Refused James, struggling to flip them over. Sirius and Peter were perched on Sirius' bed watching the wrestling match with the utmost amusement. The rain was pounding hard on the bay window and they had run out of indoor activities hours ago when James had bet he could beat any of them in a scuffle. 

 Sirius shook his head, grinning widely. "I told you not to challenge Moony, mate." 

 "This...ugh! This is ridiculous!" James squirmed, clearly getting frustrated as Remus seemed to not even be trying.

 "Aw, you can do better than that, Prongs." Remus chuckled, who hadn't so much as broken a sweat. "C'mon, where are all those amazing Quidditch muscles you keep bragging about?"

 "How much do you bloody weigh?" James huffed breathlessly, still stubbornly trying to maneuver himself out. 

"165. Doesn't matter. Werewolf strength, mate. You might as well just give up before you pass out." 

With a groan of defeat, James went limp under him. "Fine! I give." 

 Remus got up and brushed himself off. James sat cross legged on the floor and Sirius tossed him his glasses, snickering under his breath and shaking his head. 

Remus held out his palm. "Five galleons?"

James grumbled, reaching into his pocket and shoving the gold into his friend's hand. "Prat." 

Remus laughed. "You're the arrogant prick that bet he could beat any of us."

"I figured Sirius would be the one to volunteer first." James admit sulkily. Sirius looked mildly offended, but he didn't say anything.

 "Yes, well, I figured your ego could use a little deflating." Remus shrugged. 

Peter nodded, grinning to himself and reaching into the pile of snacks on Sirius' bed for a cauldron cake. "That's your official title, Moony. Ego Deflater, for these two twats." 

 "He takes his job quite seriously." James muttered, straightening himself out.

"Someone's got to do it." Remus sighed dramatically, flopping down on the bed and resting his head on Sirius' knee. Sirius broke off a piece of the honeydukes finest he was munching on and fed it to the other boy without taking his eyes off the letter he was reading.

 "Who's that from?" James asked, joining the others on the bed. 

"Marlene." Sirius muttered. "The girls have been staying at her's for the summer and they're bored as well. She wants to get together." 

 James' hand flew to his hair and his eyes lit up. "The girls? As in all of 'em?" 

Sirius quirked an eyebrow at him. "Well not every bloody bird at Hogwarts." He smirked. "But yes, Evans is with them if that's what you were asking, prat."

Peter snorted, a smirk forming on his lips as he elbowed James in the rib. "Prongs, what d'you reckon goes down at one of those sleepovers? Think it's all pillow fights in their nighties?"

 Both he and James snickered madly to themselves as visions clouded their minds, similar to the scenarios they had seen in the dirty magazines hidden beneath James' mattress. 

"Ever think about Meadows and McKinnon together?" Asked James with a devious grin that Peter matched in an affirmative reply.

Remus made a face. "You don't think the girls talk about us that way, do you?" 

"Well personally I think the entire school should think about us that way." Sirius smirked at him, earning a swat to his stomach.

 James rolled his eyes. "Some of us have no bloody choice," he said pointedly, glaring at the couple. "When certain people forget their bloody silencing charms before shagging like rabbits. Honestly, I know way more about what both of you like in bed than I care to-"

 "We don't forget that often." Said Sirius defensively as Remus' face went slightly pink. 

Peter let out a sharp laugh. "Oh sure you don't. This sound familiar?" He adopted a breathy tone and tried to imitate Sirius' posh accent. "'Oh Moony do that again!'"

James wailed with laughter, thumping hard on the bed. "Yes! Wait! And 'Sirius! Do that with your tongue- oh fuck yes!'"

Remus had buried his bright red face in Sirius' stomach and he groaned loudly in embarrassment. Sirius looked completely unaffected and fixed both of them with a stare. 

 "For a pair of straight lads you sure are listening an awful lot. You could say something, you know. Or are you living vicariously through our sex life because neither of you are getting laid?" 

The laughter died almost immediately and Sirius bit the head off a chocolate frog with a victorious chuckle. "That's what I thought."

-

"Oh, buggering banshees!" Marlene swore loudly as her hand slipped and bright red polish trailed off Dorcas' nail and onto the skin on her toe. "That's the third time. Can't you sit still?"

"Sorry," Dorcas apologized, though she sounded just as irritated. "What on earth are you doing to my head, MacDonald? It isn't a pin cushion, you know!" 

Mary rolled her eyes and purposely prodded the darker girl's skull with a bobby pin. "You asked for pin-curls. This is how it's done!"

Lily, who was sitting cross legged on the floor of Marlene's bedroom sorting through records, glanced up and shook her head. "I don't see why you're all getting dolled up. Who're you trying to impress?"

She didn't see the point of this whole endeavor at all, but her friends seemed adamant about getting out of the house and beyond the yard of the McKinnon's decently large property. She could understand that, she supposed. They were sixteen, nearly seventeen and it wasn't that a night out didn't appeal to her, it was the company they had invited that made her skin crawl.

 "We aren't trying to impress anyone." Marlene explained as she started yet again on her girlfriend's nails. "What's the problem, Lils? You and Remus are friends. And you've been on decent terms with Sirius-"

Lily snorted. "It's not Sirius I'm worried about. It's who comes with Sirius..."

"Remus." Snickered Mary, and Marlene and Dorcas lost it. 

Lily did her best to appear unamused, but the shadow of a smile ghosted across her face and she had to bite the inside of her mouth to stop herself from giggling.

 "Don't tell me you haven't thought about that," Marlene smirked, still focused on keeping her hand steady. "Black and Lupin?" 

"Who hasn't?" Mary giggled dreamily as she twirled a long strand of Dorcas' thick black hair around her index finger and pinned it against her head. 

Lily laughed sharply, green eyes examining a Simon and Garfunkel album cover. "I don't have to think about it. Remus and I are on the same rounds. Do you know how many times I've caught the two of them stumbling out of an empty classroom?" She arched one eyebrow suggestively as the other girls continued to twitter with intrigued laughter. 

 "During rounds, eh?" Dorcas grinned. "And here I thought he was a good little prefect."

 "He is." Said Lily with a slight shrug of her shoulder. "He's just also a Marauder." She sighed and put the records back. "So what exactly is the plan anyway? We're just meeting them in Diagon Alley? And then what? Walk around aimlessly?"

Finally finished with Dorcas' now glittering red toenails, Marlene spun around on her backside to face the redhead, wearing an apprehensive look that made Lily feel like she wasn't going to like the answer. 

 "Well we were thinking of heading into muggle London." The blonde said simply, clearly skirting around the details she knew her best friend would not be thrilled with. Lily's eyes narrowed suspiciously. 

"Alright..." Already this sounded like more trouble than it was worth...Sirius Black and James Potter loose in a large muggle city. "And then? It's not like we can get into any pubs or discos. We're not of age."

"And then we'll just see where the evening takes us, Lily!" Dorcas proclaimed, an edge of frustration on her voice. "Where's your sense of adventure? Your Gryffindor Courage? Your- blehhh!" She started to choke as a thick cloud of hair spray descended around her. "Fucking..." Cough  "hell, Mary! Are you trying to kill me?"

 Mary grimaced, waving her hands haphazardly to clear the air. "Sorry, Dory!" 

Marlene rolled her eyes at the now bickering girls on her bed and crossed the room to where Lily sat. She took the other girl by the arm and hauled her up. "That's enough, Evans. You've been a miserable little spoil sport all summer-" 

 "I have not!"

"You have." Said Marlene firmly, pressing her lips together in a thin line. She sighed. "Look, I know you're still sore over your falling out with Severus-"

 Lily shook her head. "Marlene, I'm over it-" 

"You're not." Blue eyes bore fiercely into green until Lily exhaled heavily in surrender. Marlene offered a sad smile. "He was your friend, Lily. You trusted him, cared about him," 

 "I was a fool." Lily whispered harshly. "It was there the whole time in him, I was just blind-" 

"You thought you could change him," Marlene's voice was sympathetic and soft as she reached up to tuck a lock of deep red hair behind Lily's ear. "You wanted to change him. You, Lily Evans, are not a fool. You saw the good in him. It just...wasn't strong enough to outweigh the bad." 

 When Lily at last showed the hints of a smile, Marlene hugged her close, lifting her slightly off her feet. "That's better. Now, let's get all tarted up for a night on the town and live a little, eh?" She gave a wicked little wink and dragged the shorter girl to her closet. She threw several dresses at her, most of which Lily didn't think the girl's mother knew she was in possession of judging by the length and cut. "Pick one of those and then we'll get your hair and makeup done-"

 "I don't suggest the MacDonald Salon!" Dorcas interjected loudly from the bed, scowling at Mary who stuck her tongue out in reply. 

Laughing, Marlene and Lily turned to the mirror holding up the dresses from the closet. 

 "This one, I suppose." Lily decided. It was deep teal and it wasn't as short or tight as the others. It also seemed to be the only dress Marlene owned that wasn't a pencil skirt, but flared out at the waist. 

 "Yeah I figured." Marlene chuckled, shaking her head. 

"Can you blame me?" Lily smiled wryly. "The rest of them would fit like a second skin. Potter drools enough as it is." 

 "Relax, Lily." Said Mary, now beginning to pull the pins out of Dorcas' hair which fell to her shoulders in tight curls. "I mean...sure, the boys are a handful. But they're not animals!"

-

“Padfoot, would you cut that out?” Remus scolded impatiently, watching the shaggy black dog roll around in grassy patch just outside Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. “You’ll get fleas that way, you know.” 

Padfoot flipped onto his back, exposing his belly and panting happily as two young witches passed, giggling and pointing.

“How sweet!” Said one of them. She was quite leggy with long tawny curls.

“Is he yours?” Asked the other, smiling flirtatiously at James. She was shorter than her friend and curvy, with a silvery blonde pixie cut.

Remus groaned as he saw the shit-eating-grin on the bespectacled boy’s face widen. “Yeah, he is.”

“His name is Snuffles.” Peter added, smirking as the dog’s eyes narrowed on him momentarily. The girls both continued to fawn over Padfoot, scratching his belly and gushing over how cute he was while James and Peter chatted them up. Remus caught the dog’s clever wink in his direction and he shook his head. You’re just eating this up, you mutt…

The girls bid their giggly goodbyes and walked off, leaving Peter and James with goofy looking grins.

Remus snorted. “You know they must be at least twenty. You’re not even out of school yet.”

James ruffled his hair with a lopsided smile.. “They didn’t know that.”

“Charming.” Remus said dryly. “The girls should be meeting us soon. Padfoot, go change before someone sees you.”

The dog barked once and trotted off down a dark alley, returning moments later as Sirius Black wearing tight faded jeans and a black v neck shirt. Whatever annoyance Remus had felt before quickly dissipated, especially as his boyfriend bent over to tie the laces of his boot.

“So,” Remus said softly, leaning close to Sirius’ ear as the four of them started to walk to The Three Broomsticks to meet the girls. “James’ dog now, are you?” He slipped one hand possessively into the back pocket of the other boy’s sinfully tight jeans.

Sirius flashed him a grin. “Jealous, Moony?”

A few steps ahead of them, James had spotted red hair in the crowds of the busy sidewalk and had stopped short to check his reflection in a shop window. “Of Prongs?” Remus chuckled, pulling Sirius closer and kissing the side of his head. "Somehow I don’t feel very threatened, no.“

As they approached The Three Broomsticks, the blonde head of Marlene McKinnon, the tallest of the girls, turned and her blue eyes widened when she spotted them. She gave an excited little wave and as soon as they got close enough she threw her arms around Sirius with a delighted squeal. When they separated Sirius have her a once over and whistled.

"Well Mcknickers, don't you look like something out of a centerfold?" He smirked. Marlene did a little twirl to show off. She did look nice, and quite mature, in her black pencil skirt and kitten heels. "Watch out Meadows, I may decide I want her back."

Dorcas quirked an eyebrow at him and laughed. "Oh? I'm sure Remus and I would gladly switch off and let the two of you run wild. But I'm afraid it's our responsibility as decent human beings to keep you both under control."

"Agreed." Said Remus, leaning in to hug Mary and Lily hello. "You girls do look lovely though, all of you."

"Thank you, Remus." Lily smiled, accepting a kiss on the cheek from him. "Hi Peter." Her smiled faltered for only a moment as her eyes landed on James. "Potter."

James nodded curtly, and Remus could tell he was resisting the urge to run his hand through his messy hair. "Evans."

"So we were thinking of going into muggle London," said Marlene, still buzzing with excitement which was instantly matched by James and Sirius, as they agreed with an enthusiasm that left both Lily and Remus feeling slightly apprehensive. 

They were clearly out numbered in their concern though, and with a shared look of defeat, they followed the rest of the group through Diagon Alley to the brick wall that separated the Wizarding World from the rest of the city.

Chapter Text

The most difficult part of the entire outing, they all agreed, was that none of them could agree.

 It was really no surprise, putting eight very different teenagers from very different backgrounds in a very overwhelming city and expecting them all to want the same experience was just not possible, nor was it something they had really put much thought into. 

 "'We'll just see where the night takes us, Lily!', 'Where's your sense of adventure, Lily!', your Gryffindor courage!'" The redhead mocked, grinning triumphantly at her friends. "We should have had a plan at the very least." She leaned against the big red phone booth that James and Sirius had stuffed themselves inside, completely baffled by the idea of being able to speak into it on this end, and have someone else somewhere completely different answer back. 

 "Well why won't it work?" Sirius asked, frowning at the receiver in his hand while James was busy twisting the springy wire around his hand. 

 "It's a pay phone, Sirius." Sighed Remus, shaking his head at both of them. "Besides, who would you even call? You don't know anyone with a phone." 

 "David Bowie's probably got a phone! We could call-"

"Yeah?" Marlene chuckled, watching the two pureblood boys with the utmost amusement. "You've somehow managed to obtain David Bowie's phone number, Sirius?"

 "What's a phone number?" Asked James, now tangled in the wire up to his elbow.

"Alright. Out of the phone booth, both of you." Remus groaned as both other boys whined in protest. "James, you're going to cut off your circulation like that. Come here."

Peter and Mary were sitting on the curb with a map of the city opened across both of their laps. "There's a bunch of museums a few blocks over," said Mary, dragging her finger along the line that represented the street they were on. "I haven't gone to the natural history museum since I was little. That could be fun."

Peter made an uncertain sound and made a face. "I'm not to sure Sirius and James are museum appropriate," He looked up into the window of the phone booth where Remus seemed to be struggling to unravel James from the phone cord as Sirius continued to pout over not being allowed to make a call. 

Mary hummed in agreement. "Maybe not." 

 "Well," Huffed Dorcas, plopping down on Mary's other side. "I for one did not get poked and prodded by pins and nearly gassed to death by hair spray just to sit around." She leaned in to get a better look at the map. "Where are the discos? I want to dance!" 

"No one's going to let us in anywhere." Lily pointed out, sounding rather disappointed herself. "We're all underage and none of us have identification." 

 There was a loud bark like laugh from Sirius, who had finally given up on the phone booth. "Oh my dear, innocent Evans. You've forgotten who you're dealing with."

"Yeah," James came stumbling out, rubbing his arm which had taken on a sort of purple tinge. He didn't seem to care though, and he grinned cockily at Lily. "You're with The Marauders now, Evans. And if that's the sort of night you want, just say the word." 

Lily eyed him nervously, her lips pursing together. "What exactly are you suggesting?" 

 "He's suggesting that you simply trust us, Lily." Said Sirius, clearly catching on to whatever his best friend had in mind. "But there's a catch." 

Lily's arms folded over her chest and she sighed. "What's the catch?" 

James and Sirius exchanged a quick look, readable only between the two of them. "You can't question anything." Said James seriously. "No matter how illegal or dangerous our  actions may seem-" somewhere off to the side Remus was slamming his head against the phone booth and muttering about not wanting to bail anyone out of muggle prison. "Just go with what we tell you to do and we'll make sure everyone has a grand old time. Agreed?" 

The girls looked at each other, silently asking if anyone wanted to back out. Finally they all turned back and nodded. "Agreed." 

 -

 "I really don't know about this, Sirius." Peter muttered uncertainly as the two of them headed down the dark alley behind the club they had all finally decided on. 

 Sirius clapped him on the shoulder encouragingly. "What's not to know about, Wormy? It's just like at school! Just transform and find another entrance. It's what you do best, Pete."

 Peter nervously rubbed the back of his neck. "Well...I mean, that's at school. This is...y'know...The World. The Muggle world, at that. What if someone sees-?"

 "You're a rat, mate. We're in the city. There's vermin-"

 "OY!"

"- bloody everywhere." Sirius brought a cigarette to his lips and lit it, leaning against the brick wall of the alley. "No one but me and you back here. Just turn and scamper off like you've done a million times before. I'm standing watch. Don't worry so much." He smirked, smoke slowly spilling from his nostrils. "If you get the girls to have a nice night out, Mary'll probably snog you."

 Peter frowned at him. "Emmeline's my girlfriend, mate. I'm not a cheater."

Sirius chuckled and shrugged. "You're not married to the girl, Pete."

"You're not married to Moony. Are you saying it would be alright for you to go off snogging some bloke?" Peter asked pointedly, raising an eyebrow. 

 Sirius shook his head. "That's different."

"How?" 

 "Moony could actually kill me." 

Peter didn't seem amused or convinced and Sirius sighed, taking another hit from his cigarette and shaking his head. "Look, that's not the point. The point is this whole night is riding on you and you're going to do it or I'm going to beat the piss out of you and leave you here in the dumpster. Your choice, mate. But you'll have a disappointed gaggle of girls on your hands if you don't."

Peter let out an exasperated sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I hate you sometimes, Pads." 

 "I hate me sometimes too. Go before someone else comes 'round." Sirius waved impatiently, glancing around the side of the dumpster they were behind to make sure there were in fact no unexpected guests. He gave Peter the okay and the shorter boy gave one last grumble of annoyance before shifting into rat form and disappearing into the darkness of the street. 

 Sirius dropped the butt of his cigarette and stopped it out with the toe of his boot, leaning casually against the wall to wait for Peter's return. James and Remus had both told him over and over to try to be a little nicer to the smaller boy, both disapproving on Sirius' constant teasing. Sirius always shrugged it off. He didn't mean anything by it, it was harmless. He loved Peter just as he loved all of his friends and if anyone else were to tease the boy the way he did himself, Sirius would be the first one to punch their teeth out. 

 He was about to light up another cigarette, figuring it may take a few minutes before Wormtail returned with the layout of the club, when a loud roaring noise from the other side of the alley caught his attention. He looked up in time to see a flash of bright lights and black and silver metal zooming by, faster than any racing broom he and James could ever afford put together. 

 His interest now peaked, he placed the cigarette behind his ear and quickly checked to be sure there was no sign of Wormtail yet before cautiously making his way down the street. The roaring noise had stopped, but there was still a dull, steady rumble filling the air from just around the-

 "Padfoot!"

Sirius swore under his breath and spun around to see Peter standing by the dumpster once more. He jogged back to meet the other boy who frowned at him.

 "Everything alright?" Asked Peter.

Sirius nodded. "Yeah, just thought I saw something strange...but it's the Muggle world so I suppose it's all rather strange to me." He forced a laugh. "Any luck?" 

A proud grin spread across Peter's face and he nodded enthusiastically. "There's hardly any security around and there's an outside area with a back door. Should be easy. Especially if we can cause some sort of distraction for the one guard out back." He shook his head. "But honestly he seems more interested in chatting up the girls than anything else."

 Sirius laughed and draped an arm over the pudgier boy's shoulders. "See, mate? Piece of cake, like I told you. Just like at school. Have more faith in yourself and I won't have to push you so hard, eh?" 

Peter's shoulders slumped slightly and his cheeks went pink. "Yeah, I know. Thanks, Padfoot."

 "Good man, Worm. Let's go get the rest of them, then." 

-

The inside of the club was mostly dark, lit by many colorful spotlights and a big glittery ball above the dance floor that reflected bright silvery orbs around the whole venue. The music that pumped through the large black rectangles ("speakers," Remus explained, having to shout over the noise.) was upbeat and so loud they could all feel it vibrating in their chests. 

Sirius, who's experience with muggle music was basically limited to whatever Remus or Marlene showed him, made a face. "What is this music anyway?" 

 "Disco," sighed Marlene, shaking her head. "It's not the greatest genre, but it's fun to dance to." To prove her point, she did a little wiggle of her hips, gently tapping them against Sirius' in rhythm to the music. "C'mon, Black. Too punk to dance to a little disco music?" 

 "Oh I would pay to see Sirius Black dance to The BeeGees." Lily laughed, her eyes alight with amusement and Remus hid a snort by pretending to cough into his hand. 

 Sirius lifted his chin confidently, throwing back his shoulders. "I'll have you all know I can dance to anything, thank you very much." His grey eyes drifted to the dance floor, watching the young men and woman move along to the music. "Er...perhaps a drink first, eh?" 

 James and Peter seemed to share his sentiments, and they headed towards the bar. 

 Mary giggled quietly to herself. "They've never ordered muggle drinks before..." The giggling turned into a near cackle as she imagined the boys trying to order a firewhiskey in Muggle London, let alone trying to figure out the muggle currency they had exchanged their gold for at Gringotts earlier. 

Lily and Remus exchanged a sly smile before they both sighed. 

 "Fine," Said Lily, lips almost painfully tugging into a grin, wishing to let the boys embarrass themselves.  "I'll help them."

 Lily ended up ordering for everyone, shocking them all with her extensive knowledge of liquor and mixed drinks as she rattled off names and brands with such ease that no one would ever to think question whether or not she was of age to be there. She brought her small clutch up onto the bar, pulling out several paper bills and handing it to the bartender. "I've got the first round." She smiled softly at the boys.

 James gaped at her, thoroughly impressed and in awe. "Er...thanks, Ev- er..Lily." 

She shrugged. "You lot got us in. Fair's fair." She lifted her glass, some bright red concoction with a cherry on the rim. "Cheers." And she hopped off the bar stool to join the other girls on the dance floor. 

 Remus' eyes were glued to James' face as the bespectacled boy watched the redhead run off. "Well, James Potter, if I didn't know any better I'd say you were actually trying to be a decent human being." He smirked and took a sip of the beer Lily had ordered for him. It wasn't all that bad, in fact he was relatively sure his father had let him have something of the sort earlier in the summer while they worked in the yard.

James huffed, looking down at his own drink and trying to hide his flushed cheeks. "Shove off, Moony. I'm just...y'know...trying not to bother her so much."

 "Well good on you, mate!" Said Sirius, who was already nearly finished with whatever was in his own glass. Remus couldn't tell exactly what Lily had ordered for him, but he could smell the alcohol, and it certainly wasn't weak. "It's about time you've moved on-" 

"I haven't ' moved on '." James grumbled irritably, swirling the liquid in his glass a bit. "I'm just...approaching from a different angle." 

 "Well...er...that's good too, then." Peter attempted to sound encouraging. 

The truth was, and none of them would ever tell James, they all had started to think that James' pursuit of Lily Evans had reached it's peak. It was funny in the beginning, to watch as James made a complete fool of himself spouting ridiculous sonnets over the breakfast table or yelling across the corridor his proclamations of undying love. They all got a kick out of how creative Lily's hexes and jinxes were, leaving no room to question her very firm and resounding 'Not on your life, Potter' each and every time. But now...well, they were getting older. They were about to enter their sixth year of school, they'd be asked to pick a career focus and start to plan their futures...perhaps it was time for James to throw in the towel. There were plenty of other, very eligible girls at Hogwarts who maybe wouldn't hex James' underpants two sizes too small if he asked them out to dinner.

 Knocking back the rest of his own drink, Sirius slid off the bar stool. "Well, I don't know about you lads, but I've had my dose of liquid courage." He turned and winked at Remus before taking his hand. "Come on, Moons. Dance with me."

Remus nearly choked on his beer, eyes popping out. He set his glass on the bar and wiped his chin on his sleeve. "No bloody way." He shook his head.

 "Why the hell not?" 

Laughing incredulously, the werewolf shook his head. "I do not dance, Padfoot. Especially not at a club. With people!"  He dropped his voice. "And besides, we're not exactly in the right part of town for two blokes to be dancing together." 

Peter and James both looked away awkwardly. Sirius' face fell and his eyes momentarily filled with disappointment. Remus' heart clenched with guilt in his chest, but then Sirius grinned and shrugged. 

 "No worries, Rem." He gave his boyfiend's hand a squeeze before letting go. "I'm actually going to step out for a smoke first anyway." 

Remus nodded, not fully convinced by Sirius' happy demeanor, and watched the other boy leave. 

 "Relax, Moony." Said James, sensing his friend's obvious distress. "He'll get over it when he starts spinning McKinnon round the dance floor later."

Remus bit his lip. "He seemed upset-" 

 Peter shrugged and sipped from his own glass. "You were right though, this isn't the best place for you two to...well..." He sighed. "I mean, not that you two shouldn't be able to be together wherever you are, but...well...not everyone-"

Remus sighed, picking his glass back up. "I know, Peter."

-

Logically, Sirius did know that Remus was absolutely right. The outside world wasn't like being at school, and even with icons like David Bowie and Freddy Mercury, not everyone was willing to accept two boys dancing, touching, kissing...

He sighed and lit his cigarette. It wasn't fair, he thought bitterly as he watched a girl, wearing thigh high white platform boots and a bright pink skirt that barely covered anything at all, pull her boyfriend close and kiss him right there in the streets. He should be able to kiss his Moony like that no matter where they were or who saw it.

 Then he heard it again, that low, growling, rumbling noise that he had heard in the alley before. He frowned and looked around, no one seemed all too concerned with the thundering sound. It must not be uncommon. But he couldn't help feeling drawn to the sound. Giving in to his own curiosity, he rounded the corner.

He nearly lost the cigarette dangling from his lips when his jaw dropped.

It wasn't as if he had never seen a motorbike before. He saw them all the time in the muggle rock magazines he collected, and he had always been very intrigued by them. However, he had never actually seen a motorbike before. There were two of them parked right there on the side of the road. And bloody hell were they beautiful. 

 "All right, mate?" 

Sirius nearly jumped, unaware that he had been staring until one of the bike's riders addressed him. They were both relatively young, though obviously older than Sirius, probably around twenty one, and they were both incredibly good looking in their leather jackets and ripped jeans. The one who had spoken took off his helmet, shaking out his shaggy, dark brown hair and grinning at Sirius. "Like what you see, then?" 

 Sirius swallowed, feeling embarrassed and oddly speechless. "Er...I mean...it's just-" 

"I know, she's blinding ain't she? Just bought her 'round a week ago. Been saving up nearly all my life." His blue eyes gave Sirius a very familiar once over, lingering for a moment just below the belt and he bit his lip before offering his hand. "Curt." 

"Sirius." 

Curt raised an eyebrow, just as Sirius figured he would being a muggle and probably not use to names like his, he was ready to explain his family's astrology tradition, but Curt shrugged it off. "So d'you ride at all, Sirius?" He asked.

 Sirius laughed and shook his head, much too enthralled by the shining black and chrome bike to notice the flirtatious tone of the older boy's voice. 

"Would you like to?" Asked Curt, and now Sirius' eyes shot up to meet his. 

He was very attractive, Sirius certainly couldn't deny that, and if he was completely honest with himself, of course he wanted to hop on the back of that bike and let this older, gorgeous man take him for a go on that brilliant monster of a machine. He bit his lip and sighed. 

 "I can't." He took a step back and flicked the ash from his cigarette. "Sorry. My mates are inside waiting for me." 

Curt shrugged and gave him a slightly disheartened smile. "Maybe next time then, eh?" He nodded to Sirius. "Could I at least bum a fag off you, then?" 

Sirius brought his own cigarette back to his lips and dug into his back pocket to retrieve the old cigarette case he and James had found in the shed. He pulled one out and handed it to the man before flicking his lighter. 

 "Fuck." He muttered as no flame appeared. He flicked it again. "Fuck, mate. It's dead." 

Curt smirked around the cigarette in his mouth. "No problem." And before Sirius knew what was happening, Curt reached up, gently cupped his chin and touched the end of his cigarette to the lit one of Sirius'. He pulled away and winked at him. "Have a nice night, Sirius." He put his helmet back on and mounted the bike, revving it up a few times before he and his friend sped off, leaving Sirius feeling like a blushing, smiling idiot on the sidewalk.

 Sirius took a moment to register what had just happened and ran a hand through his hair. Still grinning, he turned to head back to the front of the club.

His grin disappeared when he found himself face to face with a not-so-happy-looking Remus.

-

Lily had to admit, she was having an absolute blast. A few drinks in and the girls had managed to get both Peter and James to join them on the dance floor.

 "Stick to flying, Potter." Dorcas snickered, shaking her head at her team captain. "Clearly you don't have the same moves on the ground as you do in the air."

"Oh I have moves, Meadows!" James insisted, pulling the girl to him by her arm. "You just don't realize it because you're intoxicated." He spun her around. 

 Marlene laughed, coming up behind her girlfriend so she was now sandwiched between her and James. "I think you've got it a little confused, James. You're intoxicated and that's why you think you've got moves." 

 "You know what's bloody weird?" Said Dorcas, looking off to her left across the dance floor. "Peter's got moves."

They all looked over to Peter and Mary, who actually had a decent crowd around them as they danced together. The rest of them fell into a fit of laughter.

 Lily shook her head, grinning widely. "I'm not nearly intoxicated enough for this." She started towards the bar. "Anyone else?" 

The others declined and went on with their dancing.

 Lily slid onto a stool, smiling to herself as she watched her friends from afar and waited for the bartender. She couldn't believe she was actually having a good time out in public with James Potter who was currently shaking his groove thing and twirling both Marlene and Dorcas around. She laughed to herself, perhaps things were changing. They were getting older after all. Maybe James Potter was growing up. 

She ordered herself a vodka and cranberry juice. 

 "So?" 

She spun around. James was standing right there, smiling at her. She allowed herself to smile back. "So what, Potter?" 

 He took a seat beside her. "So, are you having a good time?" He asked, giving her a lopsided smile. It wasn't the smile she was use to from him, at least not when it was directed at her. She had seen it a few times in the corridors or the common room when he was goofing off with his friends. 

"I am, actually." She said honestly. "Thank you. I mean...we wouldn't have been able to do this tonight without you boys, so..." 

 James shrugged. "Well, thank you for inviting us. Or...I mean I suppose it was Marlene's invitation, wasn't it? I'm sure we weren't your number one choice of company." He ordered a water. 

Lily felt her cheeks grow warm with shame and she looked down. "Er...well, I-'

 The boy grinned and nudged her gently with his elbow. "It's fine, Evans. I get it. We're annoying. Hell, we even annoy ourselves."

Lily raised an eyebrow. "Do you?" 

James smirked. "Well, we annoy Remus, anyway." 

Lily laughed. An honest, amused and happy laugh. "No. Remus adores you. All of you."

 "Of course he does," Said James. "That doesn't mean we don't drive him 'round the bend. Sirius is his bloody soulmate and no one can annoy Remus better than that git." He took a sip of water. 

Lily frowned, tilting her head slightly and watching him. "D'you believe in that?" 

 "Hmm? In what?" 

"What you said? Soulmates?" 

 James' eyes met hers and he smiled, looking like he was trying to find the right words. "I do." He nodded towards the front door of the club where his friends had exited some time ago. "I've seen it. Believe me, those two idiots are meant for each other. No one else will put up with either of them." He smiled fondly and Lily couldn't help but return it. No one could deny that James Potter loved his friends. 

"Anyway," The boy sighed, chugging down the rest of his water. "If you'll excuse me, I have a dance floor to tear apart." His eyes lingered on hers for a moment. "See you, Lily." 

She smiled and waved him off. For the first time in over five years, she didn't want to hex James Potter's underpants just from talking to him. 

-

"It wasn't what it looked like, Moony..." Sirius said, nearly pleading as he rushed to keep up with his boyfriend's quick paced walk. 

 "Oh please." Remus growled, pulling his hand away as Sirius tried to take it. "As if you weren't just flirting with some bloke right there on the bloody street." 

"But I wasn't!" Insisted Sirius, finally managing to grab on to the taller boy's arm. "I was looking at his bike! We talked for a minute, I gave him a smoke and that was it!" That was it. Remus just had to believe him. "Fuck, Moony! Why would I flirt with some random bloke when I've done everything I bloody well can to make sure I have you! You think I'd risk that-" 

 Remus stopped short and turned on him. Sirius' breath caught in his throat as Remus towered over him, amber eyes filled with anger and hurt. "Yes! I do think you'd risk that, Sirius! You have risked it in the past! Or have you conveniently forgotten about that?" He shoved past the other boy and continued to walk down the sidewalk. 

Sirius stood, frozen in shock with his mouth agape. "Are you...? Fuck you, Remus!"  He ran to catch up again. "Seriously? You're going to use that against me right now? This has nothing to do with that, Remus! I haven't done anything wrong!" His fingers closed once again around the werewolf's wrist and before Remus could pull away, Sirius shoved him into the nearest space he could, a phone booth, and shut the door behind him. "That's completely out of order, Remus and you know it!" He kept his voice low, glaring at Remus who refused to make eye contact with him. "I know I hurt you last year. I fucked up. But you took me back and you forgave me for it! You can't just use it against me every bloody time we have a row! It's not fair!" 

 "It's perfectly fair, Sirius! It's about trust-!" 

"WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO BLOODY TRUST ME AGAIN!" Sirius shouted, kicking the wall of the booth. He ran both hands through his hair and let out a strangled, aggravated sound. "I didn't do anything with that guy, Remus! He wanted to, though! And I bloody well could have if I had wanted to as well, but I didn't ! He asked me if I wanted to go for a ride on his motorbike and you know what, yeah, I bloody did want to! And yes, he was bloody fit and he was flirting with me and that...that felt sort of good as well...But I said no because I've got you and I'm not going to fuck it up again! So he asked me for a smoke, I gave it to him, my light was dead and he used mine to light his! That's it! That's all that happened!" He stopped to take a breath. Remus still wasn't looking at him. He sighed and leaned against the wall. "Fuck, Remus..." He shook his head. "If you're never going to trust me again...if this is what I have to look forward to every time you think I've done something off..." He bit his lip. "...then I don't want it." As soon as he said the words, he wished he could take them back. But it was true. He would always have the night with Snape looming over his own head, he would always torture himself about it...but he couldn't stand it if Remus thought so little of him because of that one night, that he would honestly think that he would be so low as to cheat on him. Not after he fought so hard to get him back. 

Remus gasped when Sirius said it, and he finally looked up with fearful eyes. "W-what?" 

 Sirius cast his own eyes down and rubbed the back of his neck. "I just..." He sighed. "I love you, Remus. You know that, or at least I hope you do..." He licked his lips, his mouth felt dry. "But if you really do feel like you can't trust me, and you're always going to be questioning everything in the back of your head because of what I did last year...then how can you honestly say you love me as well? How can you love somebody if you don't trust them?" 

They were both silent and still for a very long time, until the tinkling sound of metal was the only noise that filled the tiny booth. Sirius frowned. 

 "What are you doing?" 

Remus didn't answer him. He pulled some muggle coins out of his pocket and picked up the receiver of the telephone, dropping a few coins into the slot and turning the odd little circle with all the little numbers on it. 

 Sirius watched in utter confusion. Neither of them said a word until. 

"Mum? It's me," Remus spoke softly into the phone. "N-no, nothing's wrong. I'm fine, really! No no one's in trouble..." He bit his lip. "We're out in London...yes we're being careful, er...our friend Lily's mum is with us." Sirius snorted at the lie. "Listen my...Sirius has never used a phone before, y'know...pureblood and all... and he won't stop pestering me about it so...thanks." His eyes finally met Sirius' and he smiled, holding the phone out to him. Sirius just blinked at him. 

Remus chuckled and took his hand, which he hadn't realized was shaking, and gently positioned it correctly. "You talk into this end," He explained quietly, then brought Sirius' hand, and the phone to the other boy's ear. "And you listen here." He nodded encouragingly. "Say hello." 

"Er..." Said Sirius, still unsure of how they went from fighting to this. "H-hello?" 

 "Hello Sirius," Mrs. Lupin sounded quite amused. "It's nice to finally meet you. Unofficially, of course." 

Sirius laughed nervously, his fingers fidgeting with the cord. "It's nice to unofficially meet you too, Mrs. Lupin." 

He had never met Remus' mother. Usually his dad, being the wizard in the family, brought him to the platform each september or dropped him off by floo or apparation at James' during the summer. He had seen pictures of her though. She had the same hair as her son and, although Remus' eyes were a wildly bright amber color as a direct result of his affliction, the shape and the warmth they held were very similar to the woman he was now speaking to. 

"Remus talks about you all the time," Mrs. Lupin continued, her voice light and gentle, making Sirius feel warm all over. "He's very fond of you, you know." 

Sirius' eyes flickered to the other boy, who was leaning against the glass window of the stall, watching him from beneath his eyelashes with an almost sheepish expression. Sirius smiled. "I'm very fond of him too." He saw Remus' cheeks turn pink. 

Another voice cut in, telling him to add more money or the call would be disconnected and he looked at Remus with confusion. Remus took the phone. 

 "Mum? Yeah, the call time is nearly up. Oh...er...yeah, he is. Okay. It was nice to talk to you too, mum. I love you." He hung the phone back up. 

Again there was silence between the two of them. 

 Finally Sirius smirked and looked up. "You talk about me to your mum?" 

Remus' face went from pink to bright red. "Er...well..." He stuttered. "I mean, I talk about all of you, of course and...well, I don't know, maybe I talk about you more than I talk abo-mmph!" Remus gasped as he was pushed up against the wall of the phone booth and his boyfriend's mouth covered his own. After a moment he relaxed, smiling against Sirius' lips and winding his arms around his waist, pulling him flush against his own body. They both moaned as Sirius' tongue ran across Remus' bottom lip and slipped into his mouth, deepening the kiss and sending sparks throughout the both.

 "I love you Sirius," Remus murmured against the other boy's lips. "I'm sorry for what I said..."

"I love you too, Remus." Sirius sighed happily, running his hands up Remus' arms to rest on the back of his neck, twisting his fingers in the curls there. He broke the kiss for a moment and looked up at him. "You believe me don't you? I didn't touch that bloke...I wouldn't-"

 Remus nodded, "I believe you," He bent his head to nuzzle against Sirius' neck, pressing kisses to his throat. Sirius felt him smirk against the sensitive skin there and suddenly their positions were flipped so that Sirius was the one against the wall. "Can smell him all over you, though." Remus' voice was a soft growl that sent shivers up Sirius' spine. 

"Oh?" Sirius' voice trembled with excitement, betraying the playful air he had hoped to have. "Well we can't have that, then..." He moaned when Remus' teeth gently nipped at his adam's apple. 

 "Oh absolutely not." 

-

"What bloody time is it?" Marlene yawned, shuffling barefoot down the cobblestone streets of Diagon Alley.

 "Half past fuck-it-all." Groaned Sirius. 

It was very late. Or, rather, it was very early, as the sun had just begun to come up, and they were just making their way back to The Three Broomsticks where James had had the sense to book them a room.  

 "Where d'your parents think you're all at tonight anyway?" James asked, his voice slurred from a mix of alcohol and pure exhaustion. 

Marlene giggled, the delusional kind of giggle from not having gotten any rest. "Told them we were spending the night 'round Dorcas'. Yours?" 

 "We're s'posed to be camping out in the woods a few towns down." Peter smirked, having thought of that part of the plan himself. James went to the desk for the room key and paid for it and all eight of them trudged, zombie like, up the stairs. 

"Girls get the bed." Lily insisted, leaning on Mary, who was leaning on the wall as James fidgeted with the key in the door. 

 "Bloody fight me for it, Evans." Sirius grumbled, though he himself was in no position to fight anyone, as he was being carried on Remus' back for half of the walk. 

Finally managing to open the door, they all stumbled into the room. The girls did get the bed, despite Sirius' whining protests. But it hardly mattered, as they were all so tired they would have passed out wherever they fell. And they all did, almost immediately after murmuring their good nights to each other. 

 "Wait," Lily said suddenly, her voice raspy and her mind only half awake. Everyone groaned, just wishing to finally sleep. "I just...No one else thinks it's weird that Peter can dance? I mean...Peter can dance!" 

 

 

  

Chapter Text

Platform 9 3/4 was just as busy as ever. Owls screeched, cats meowed and hissed, and the sound of parents and students hustling to catch the scarlet engine rang throughout the air as usual. 

 "And you've both double checked to be sure you've got everything, yes?" Mrs. Potter asked, raising an eyebrow at both James and Sirius. 

"Mum, we've got everything. We're not first years, you know. We're sixteen, practically grown." James impatiently waved her off, looking around to make sure no one, particularly no girls, saw him being fussed over by his mother. 

 Euphemia gave her son a knowing look before shaking her head and reaching into her bag. "Practically grown, eh?" She tutted softly as she pulled James' wand from her pocketbook. "Suppose you don't need your mum to double check for this then? Seems rather important." 

James' face turned bright red and he quickly snatched his wand, throwing Sirius a dirty look as the shorter boy howled with laughter. 

 Mrs. Potter chuckled softly with amusement as she rounded on her son's best friend. "Think that's funny, Sirius?" Sirius' laughter immediately died as the older woman handed him his tie and his new Potions text book. 

"Thanks mum." Both teenagers muttered quietly, their cheeks flushed pink with embarrassment and just glad that none of their friends had witnessed this particular moment.

Mrs. Potter sighed and kissed them both on the cheek. "You boys behave yourselves this semester, alright? I don't need another letter home, James Potter, I mean it."

 "Oh, we'll be absolute angels." Said James, who had spotted Lily Evans across the crowded Platform and was hardly paying attention to his mother anymore. "Won't we, Sirius?"

"The picture of innocence, really." Agreed Sirius, his eyes scanning through the hoards of students to try to find Remus and Peter.

 "I'm sure." Euphemia muttered flatly. "Alright, then. Off with you both, I can see you're both far too 'grown up' for proper goodbyes to your mother."

Neither of them needed to be told twice, and with one last quick hug they took off to find their friends.

 "See Moony or Worm anywhere?" Sirius asked as they pushed past a group of giggling third year girls who were crowded around a copy of Witch Weekly, fawning over some celebrity or another.

James craned his neck. "Nah. Bloody packed this year, isn't it? I feel like it gets more crowded each year, you know?" He sighed, taking his glasses off to clean them on his shirt. "Split up? It'll be easier to find them. Meet you back here, yeah?" 

Sirius nodded and James took off in the direction that Sirius was sure he had seen Lily and Marlene just moments ago. He rolled his eyes and headed the opposite way, shoving his way through the masses. James was right, it really did feel a lot more crowded every year. He supposed it was that more and more Wizards were marrying Muggles every day, and that meant more children being born with the chance of having magic, which meant more students being accepted into Hogwarts. He wondered if the castle somehow expanded itself to have enough room for the increasing numbers of students, and if-

A hand on his shoulder cut his thoughts short and he smiled to himself as he turned to face Remus.

 His stomach dropped and suddenly he forgot how to breathe, as the person standing in front of him was not Remus Lupin, but his mother. The hand on his shoulder tightened as Walburga's lips twitched up into a cold smile. 

 "Did you think you could just dishonor your family name and run off forever, Sirius?" 

Sirius' eyes dropped to the ground and he swallowed hard. He could feel himself trembling and he silently begged for it to stop. He wanted to run off, but his feet seemed to be glued to the spot. He wondered if maybe she had hit him with a leg locking curse. He started to panic.

"Walburga," The ever calm voice of Mrs. Potter made Sirius remember that he needed air in his lungs in order to live. He took a breath as her warm, gentle hand rested on his other shoulder. "Can I help you with something?"

Walburga's face twitched just slightly as her piercing grey eyes landed on the other witch.

 "Euphemia." Her lips barely moved as she greeted the woman before her with a forced sweetness in his voice that made the hair on Sirius' arms stand on edge. "I do apologize for any trouble my son may have caused you and your husband over the last few months. I understand what an inconvenience he can be."

 "Inconvenience?" Repeated Euphemia lightly, feigning confusion. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean, Walburga. Sirius has been nothing but a pleasure." Her hand squeezed reassuringly on Sirius' left shoulder in contrast to the nail-digging grip from Walburga on his right. Sirius remained silent, still too terrified to move or make a sound.

 "Well," Said Walburga, her tone hitting an octave higher than normal as her gaze rested yet again on her son. "I'm so very glad to hear it. Perhaps a little discipline was just what the healer ordered. No matter, he'll be returning home after this semester. Won't you, Sirius?"

 Sirius opened his mouth to speak, but still no words seemed to form. Luckily, Euphemia jumped in instead.

 "He certainly will be returning home." She agreed and for a moment Sirius felt like his heart was going to pound right out of his chest. "With me and Fleamont and James. Where he belongs." She took a step closer to Walburga, who looked positively livid. "Mrs. Black, Sirius is a wonderful, kind, intelligent young man and I love him like he's my own. He won't be returning to The House of Black, I'm afraid-" Walburga made a sound as if to argue but Euphemia cut her off. "And if I were you, dear, I wouldn't try anything further on the subject. I doubt the ministry has the same ideas as you seem to have on how to 'discipline' a child...one may even consider your actions unforgivable."

Walburga's eyes widened and the color drained from her face at what Mrs. Potter was suggesting. Euphemia's lips tugged into a smug smile as she saw realization and defeat wash over the other woman. "Now then, take your hand off my son, Walburga." Sirius gasped, his head snapping to look back at Mrs. Potter. It was one thing to say that to other people, as she had before, but to say it to Sirius' own mother...."You may think that being of the Sacred Twenty Eight makes you practically Royal, but it certainly doesn't put you above the law. And if you or your husband try to come in contact with Sirius again, I'm sure the ministry would have a field day with what I could tell them about what's going on at The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. And you wouldn't want that, now would you? In times like these" She sighed heavily for effect. "...a ministry raid would certainly put quite a stain on the family's reputation, wouldn't it?"

Something Sirius had never seen before flashed in his mother's eyes. Was it fear? Nevertheless, the bruising grasp she had on his shoulder was gone, and she took a step backwards, still staring at Euphemia as if the woman had physically slapped her. Sirius' lungs filled with air, finally able to breathe once again, and his body relaxed as Mrs. Potter pulled him closer to her side and she smiled kindly at him. "Say goodbye, dear."

 He lifted his gaze back to his mother, or at least the woman who had supposedly given birth to him, and the corner of his lips twitched up into a satisfied smirk. "Goodbye."
Walburga Black did not make a sound, nor did she allow herself to show any form of emotion, and her face resorted back to its usual stone-like appearance as she turned away sharply, her long, expensive cloak billowing out behind her. Sirius watched her walk away for the last time.

"Bloody hell, mum!" James shouted and Sirius turned to see him, Remus and Peter all staring, eyes wide and jaws dropped. When they saw him they immediately averted their eyes, pretending that they hadn't just witnessed the entire thing.

 "Language, James." Sighed Euphemia, smiling still but shaking her head.

But James didn't pay her any mind, grinning from ear to ear and regarding his mother with the utmost respect. "That was  bloody incredible! You dragged that bitch-" 

"James Fleamont Potter, that's quite enough." Mrs. Potter scolded firmly. "Now, on to the train, all of you."

Unlike their earlier, too-cool-for-mum hug, James flung his arms around his mother tightly and kissed her cheek. "Bye mum!"

"Bye Mrs. Potter." Both Peter and Remus waved from where they were standing before following a proudly chattering James Potter toward the scarlet engine.

Finally Sirius looked up at her. He smiled, biting his lip and feeling heat rise in his cheeks as he thought of everything Euphemia Potter had just said about him. Without another thought he stepped forward and hugged her tightly, which she returned with just as much enthusiasm.

 "Thank you." Sirius muttered against her shoulder, his voice very small for fear of getting too emotional right there on the platform.

 "You're very welcome." She kissed the top of his head and pulled away slightly, brushing some of the boy's hair back from his face. "Have a good term, dear. I'll see you at Christmas."

Sirius grinned and nodded. "Right. Of course..." He licked his lips anxiously. "Love you, mum."

 "I love you too, son." She held his gaze for a moment, then laughed lightly. "Go, or you'll be riding your broom to school!"

Sirius finally let go of her and took his trunk, quickly heading towards the train.

"And for the love of Merlin, behave yourselves! All of you!" Euphemia called after him. He didn't respond. He didn't want to lie to her, after all, and she knew it was a lost cause anyway.

-

 

Chapter Text

"Carefully...Caaaarefully...Carefu-" 

 "For fuck sake Prongs, would you shut up?" Sirius snapped, shooting a sideways glare at the other boy. The two of them were kneeling on James' bed, hunched over the antique mirrors they had found over the summer in the Potters' shed while Sirius held an eyedropper full of metamorphosis potion over the sleek glass. It had to be exactly one drop or it wouldn't work the way they wanted it to. 

"Sorry," Muttered James, though his anxious expression did not let up one bit. 

Sirius' eyes narrowed. "D'you want to do it yourself? Clearly I can't be trusted not to fuck it up."

"I never said-"

 "Then shut. up." 

James snapped his mouth shut and Sirius took a steadying breath before gently squeezing the dropper. He could practically feel James preparing to pounce and stop any excess potion from falling, and he couldn't blame him. They had been working on their latest project, a set of two way mirrors they could use as means of instant communication no matter where they were, since they returned to school over a month ago and they had already screwed it up twice. One time resulting in shattered glass all over dorm room floor and the other nearly leaving Sirius blind in one eye...

 The small drop of silvery liquid finally fell and they both let out the breath they were holding. Sirius leaned in further and gave the mirror in front of James the same treatment. Once that too went without a hitch, they sat back on their heels and waited, staring down at the mirrors. The glass shuddered slightly before shifting into what seemed almost like thick, rippling water. The two boys glanced nervously at each other.

 "That's meant to happen," Sirius' voice wavered a bit.

"Are you asking me or telling me?" 

 "Err..." The glass went solid again and emitted a soft, bluish glow and Sirius smirked. "Yes. Meant to happen." 

"Smug bastard." James shook his head, although he himself was grinning proudly as he cautiously tapped the glass of his mirror with his finger to be sure it had indeed taken its prior form again. "Right then, you've got that spell written down?" 

 Sirius reached into his back pocket for the scrap of parchment he had jotted the incantation onto. "Don't fuck it up." 

James rolled his eyes and snatched the parchment from him. He frowned. "This is it? Seems too simple..." 

 "No, I made it up just to bloody see what would happen." 

"Alright, alright. Sheesh. What's with the snippy attitude? Moony not putting out?" 

 "Our sex life is just spiffy thank you very much. How's your right hand?"

"Low blow, mate." James sighed, using his index finger to push his glasses up the bridge of his nose. He touched the tip of his wand to the glass of his mirror as Sirius did the same to his own.

 "Adversus Cogitatio."

The mirrors both flashed brightly, making James and Sirius flinch and shield their eyes. After a few seconds, the light dimmed and the two boys exchanged uncertain looks. James cleared his throat and lifted his mirror to eye level. "Er...Sirius?" He said clearly to his own reflection, feeling a little foolish with his best friend sitting only inches away from him. There was a moment of anticipated silence and then - 

 "HOLY FUCK!" Sirius' horrified scream made James jump and he nearly dropped the mirror in his hand. 

"WHAT! WHAT IS IT? WHAT'S WRONG?" He asked, panic stricken as Sirius gaped, wide eyed at his mirror while clutching at his chest. 

 "I...I just..." Sirius swallowed hard, regaining his composure. "Sorry, I'm just so use to looking in the mirror and seeing this beautiful son of a bitch, and now suddenly there's your ugly mug staring back at me." He snickered as James reached over and swatted him in the back of the head. 

"You prat! You made me think you- Wait, it's working?" 

 Still laughing, and wiping the corner of his eyes with his sleeve, Sirius nodded. "Yeah, mate. Take a look." He brought his mirror up again. "James." 

The glass of James' mirror rippled in a fluid like motion and suddenly his reflection was replaced with Sirius'. "Merlin's pants, it bloody works!" He laughed gleefully. "Oy, Pads, go down into the common room. I want to see if it stays connected." He waved his hand towards the door and Sirius practically bounced off the bed with excitement. 

 Sirius bounded down the stairs to the common room with the silver handle of his mirror clutched tightly in his hand, skipping several steps at a time and nearly knocking over a very confused Remus and Lily when he got to the bottom.

"Where's the fire?" Remus asked, one eye brow raised as he cautiously looked over his boyfriend's expression for any sign of mischief that may be his responsibility to clean up later on.

Sirius grinned. "James and I may have just figured out the mirrors." He turned his attention back to it. "Prongs can you still hear me?"

"FUCK YES THIS IS THE MOST BRILLIANT BLOODY THING EVER!" James' voice responded. "We can talk no matter where we are!"

"I know, mate. It's like we'll never even have to miss each other-"

Lily blinked a few times, her eyes wide and owl like before turning back to Remus. "You're sure it's you that he's dating and not Potter, right?"

 Remus sighed and shook his head. "To be honest, sometimes I really don't know."

Sirius scoffed. He was about to come back with a witty comment about Moony's arse being far better than Prongs' any day, but he was interrupted when the portrait sung open and a disheveled and guilty looking Peter stumbled through, tripping in his haste and falling flat on the ground.

Lily, Remus and Sirius all stopped to watch as Peter scrambled to his feet and brushed himself off, a rather silly grin plastered to his round face until he realized he was being stared at by his very amused friends. The grin faded slightly and the boy turned red.

One of Sirius' sleek black eyebrows quirked up and he smirked knowingly. "Alright Wormy?"

 Peter let out a nervous squeak of a laugh, his hand darting up to run through his damp, blond hair. "Me? Er...yeah! Great! I...I'm fantastic, really, uh-"

Remus and Sirius' eyes met briefly and they both bit their lip so they wouldn't laugh.

"Had a nice night with the lovely Miss Emmeline, then?" Asked Remus in the most conversational tone he could muster.

"Oh," Peter stuttered. "The breast- ah! Best!"

 There was a loud snort and Lily tried to cover it up with a fake sneeze, although both Remus and Sirius could see her grinning under her hand.

"FUCK, MATE, DID WORMTAIL HAVE SEX!?" Came James' flabbergasted voice from Sirius pocket. 

-

 "Y'know what's brilliant about this prank?" Hissed James excitedly. He and Sirius were under the invisibility cloak, which could no longer hold all four Marauders underneath. Not that it mattered, with Remus being busy with his prefect duties and Peter constantly running off to find an empty broom cupboard with Emmeline, it seemed to be just the two of them most of the time these days anyway. "It's inconvenient, but not dangerous. It's bloody hilarious, and to top it off, it will tick Snape off more than anyone else without him even being the sole target." The bespectacled boy snickered to himself as Sirius managed to unlock the door to the Potions supply closet, where they planned to charm the feet of the cauldrons to disappear  whenever someone tried to place them over a flame, causing the cauldrons themselves to roll away. Sirius made a undetermined sound that James took as agreement and he went on. "I've got to say, Evans not being friends with ol' Snivelly certainly made pranking the Slytherins a lot easier. Less chance she'll hex me for it, y'know?"

Again Sirius didn't give a committed answer. If James didn't know any better, he would think his best friend was getting annoyed with him. He ignored it.

 "I just sort of thought once that greasy git was out of the way she would be more open to maybe going out on a date with me. I mean she-"

This time Sirius sighed, loudly, and James couldn't ignore it anymore.

 "Alright, what's wrong?" He asked, folding his arms and staring hard at the back of his friend's head. He saw Sirius' shoulders slump slightly, clearly whatever was bothering him was something he didn't particularly want to say, but it had gotten to the point where he felt he had to. The shorter boy turned to face him.

"Look, James..." Sirius exhaled sharply, rubbing the back of his neck. "Don't you think enough is enough with this whole 'waiting around for Lily Evans' thing?"

James' face fell. His brows furrowed together and he seemed mildly affronted. He opened his mouth to argue but Sirius cut him off.

"It's just," Sirius said slowly, trying to find the right way to break what the rest of them all had been thinking to him. "We're all growing up and pairing off. Frank's finally asked Alice out, Dorcas and Marls are still going strong, Remus and I are...well...y'know...Merlin, even Peter is sticking it to his bird! Don't you want to experience any of it?"

 James scoffed and shook his head. "It's only a matter of time, Padfoot! I mean look at how far we've come-"

"Lily can tolerate having a conversation with you that doesn't involve screaming or hexing each other." Sirius said firmly, his eyes baring into James'. "With some more time and being forced to mingle, since the rest of us are close, you two may even eventually be friends. But you won't be if you keep hounding her for dates and writing love poems and acting like a prat."

 "Alright, so we become friends and then-"

"Mate, it took her six years to be able to even look at you without gagging. How long are you going to sit around and wait for something that may not even happen?"

James didn't say anything. There was nothing he could say. He knew, of course, that the way he had conducted his pursuit of Lily Evans had been foolish in the beginning. To tell the truth, it had started as a joke. The red head had regarded him with such disdain so quickly in first year, he had thought it was funny to get her riled up with his displays of faux affection.

Somewhere around third year, it had stopped being in jest. Lily was no longer a prissy, stuck up little school girl. She was becoming a smart, talented and fiery young woman who did not think twice before putting anyone, particularly James, in their place. And James found that he rather admired her for it. 

Obviously he was aware that if he ever wanted Lily Evans to reciprocate those feelings, he would have to modify his behavior. However, at thirteen, fourteen or even fifteen years old, James felt that there were more important things in his young life that came before trying to impress some bird. Even if he did believe her to be The One.

Sirius needed James more. He needed a partner in crime, a kindred spirit, a brother. He needed the pranks and the jokes to keep his mind off the problems at home.

Remus needed him as a reason to laugh and to feel included and accepted. He needed to be a part of something bigger, to leave his legacy at Hogwarts as more than just a werewolf.

 Peter needed him so he was reminded of how useful and smart he was. He needed to know that he was an equal and valued person, and that he could do things that others could not and he was appreciated for it. 

The Marauders came first, and growing up for the sake of Lily Evans' attention could certainly wait...couldn't it?

Again he heard Sirius sigh. He turned back around and put a hand on James' shoulder. "You're my best friend. My brother. I want you to be happy." The corner of Sirius' lips tugged up and his face went a very soft shade of pink. "Moony and I are happy. I want that for you as well, you know?" 

James snorted. "Sappy git." 

"Idiot." Sirius rolled his eyes. "Look, all I'm trying to say is...you don't even have to give up on Evans altogether. Maybe just, y'know, give some other girls a go? Plenty of kelpies in the lake and all that." 

James nodded silently and Sirius squeezed his shoulder. "You alright, then?" 

 "Yeah." Said James, forcing a smile. "I'm fine. You're right. I should try dating a bit, shouldn't I?" 

Sirius nodded, a smirk forming on his face. "Only if you don't want your right hand to break off from overuse." He laughed and ducked when James' hand swatted at him. 

 "You're such a prat." James grumbled. He sighed and took out his wand. "Alright, enough about my lack of a love life. We've got to charm the feet off these cauldron's eh?" 

 

 

Chapter Text

"We have been slacking, my fellow Marauders." James announced loudly, closing the door to the dorm room behind him with an echoing thud. There was no response from any of his friends, however. Frowning, he looked around the room. Peter was laying flat on his back on his bed, fast asleep and snoring loudly. No surprise there, considering none of them knew just what time he had returned to the dorm from his date the previous night, if he had returned at all. 

 Sirius' bed was, of course, untouched as he and Remus normally slept in the latter's. The curtains to Remus' bed were shut, and though there was no sound coming from it, James could see the slight, tell-tale movement of the cot.

Groaning in frustration, James pulled the curtain open. 

 Luckily his friends were both fully clothed, though by the way Sirius' hand was currently shoved down Remus' trousers, they hadn't been planning to remain so for long. The two boys reluctantly broke their, quite rough looking, lip lock to glare at James.

 "What the fuck, Potter?" Sirius asked, the annoyance in his voice faltering slightly as Remus, who merely growled at the interference before returning to the task at hand, sharply bit at his neck to draw the attention from the boy beneath him back. 

 "Would you two stop bloody pawing at each other for a minute?" James huffed, crossing his arms. "I'm calling a Marauder meeting."

 "Can't it wait?" Sirius managed before he gasped and moaned, hips arching to meet his boyfriend's. 

"It can and it will," Remus' eyes flashed dangerously at James and he reached to pull the curtains back around them, but James held it firmly open.

 "It cannot wait, you horny mutts!" He insisted. "Come on! Marauders come first, remember?" He was nearly whining now. He couldn't help it. He felt like his friends were hardly around anymore and none of them ever wanted to do anything but shag. 

 "Too right you are, Prongs." The low rumble of Remus' voice actually surprised James a little, although the full moon was drawing very close. "And as a Marauder, I cannot emphasize how important it is that we do 'come first'." 

 "Merlin, you're hot when you're like this Moons..." Sirius breathed in awe, gazing up at the other boy adoringly. Then they were snogging again, heedless to the fact that James was still standing there with the bed curtain gripped firmly in his fist.

 "Mate, unless you -ah!- want to watch, I suggest you close that back up and shove the bloody hell off." Said Sirius, failing to stay composed as Remus continued his assault on his neck and undid the buttons of his shirt. "I mean...myself, I'm an exhibitionist, but Moony..." James' face went hot as he automatically followed Sirius' gaze and saw that Remus was unzipping Sirius' fly, eyes yellow and glowing and locked onto Sirius' face. He looked nearly predatory.  Sirius chuckled, but his voice cracked just a little and he swallowed. "well, right now you couldn't stop him if you tried, but he'll be right ticked off when he comes to his senses." 

 With an aggravated sigh, James yanked the curtain closed and stormed over to his bed. Bloody moon making his bloody friends bloody insatiable...

 He glanced back at Peter, still out cold and drooling all over his pillow. He considered hitting him with a cold jet of water from his wand to wake up, but he thought the better of it. 

I'm being selfish, He thought, running a hand through his hair. My friends are all happy and I'm just feeling abandoned and sorry for myself.

 He flicked his wand towards Peter's bed and the curtains swung closed around the snoozing boy before quietly leaving the dorm. It was a fairly nice afternoon in late October. Maybe a little chilly, but the sun was shining and the Quidditch pitch wasn't assigned to any of the teams for practice. He decided he'd take out his frustration on some quaffles and work on some new moves on his broom. 

 The portrait swung open to allow him out of Gryffindor Common Room and he climbed through. He stopped short.

 "I just want to talk to her."

"Well she doesn't want to talk to you, as she's made perfectly clear." 

James stayed silent. Neither Snape nor Mary had noticed him standing there. He should just keep walking, but he didn't like the idea of leaving Mary alone with that creep either. 

 Mary made a move to walk away and Snape reached out and caught the sleeve of her blouse. Mary's brown eyes narrowed on the Slytherin and she yanked her arm away sharply. James' hand moved cautiously to his own wand in his pocket, ready to intervene.

 "Don't you-" Mary began to threaten.

"Would- ugh," Snape sighed. "Would you at least tell her I stopped by?"

Mary laughed sharply. "Stopped by? You've practically been sleeping out in the bloody hall! She doesn't want to see you, Snape. So give it up."

 Severus was just as stubborn as ever, and James had to wonder when that prat would learn to let things go and move on. How many werewolves would he have to accidentally stumble upon before he figured out how to stay away from people who didn't want him around? Regardless, he didn't seem to be taking Mary's words to heart. 

James cleared his throat loudly and the two of them spun around, surprised.

 "Alright, Mary?" He asked, his eyes remaining on Snape who's face fell immediately into a scowl at the sight of him.

 Mary nodded, smiling reassuringly at James before she too looked at the Slytherin boy. "Everything's fine. Severus was just-"

 "He was just leaving, I'm sure." Said James firmly, giving Snape a meaningful , if not just a little threatening, look.

Severus dark eyes glared sharply into James' and he slowly exhaled. "Yes." He muttered. "I was just leaving." He looked back at Mary. "Sorry to have bothered you, Miss Macdonald." He said, barely moving his lips as he spoke. He lingered a moment longer, his gaze falling longingly on the portrait as if he thought maybe he could see Lily right through it, and the he left. Both James and Mary watched him until he was completely out of sight. 

 "He can't take a bloody hint, can he?" James grumbled and he heard Mary sigh beside him. 

"Apparently not. He's been trying to get Lily to speak to him since the start of term. She won't have it though." She looked at James and smiled. "Thanks for intervening. I don't think he'd have let up as easily if it were only me."

 "Any time." Said James, returning the friendly tone. "Although I think you actually were faring pretty well on your own. I think you could've taken him of you had to." He smirked as the girl laughed in response. She had quite a nice laugh, he noticed. In fact, nearly everything about Mary was pleasant. She was quite petite, and her strawberry blonde hair fell in waves to about her mid back, with a wispy fringe that ended just before her large brown eyes. And he had never noticed the spattering of freckles along the bridge of her nose. 

Suddenly aware that he was staring, James cleared his throat. "Well, er...I'm off to the Quidditch pitch. See you around, then?"

 "See you." Said Mary, in her usual bubbly voice with a small wave of her hand as she headed back into the dorm.

 Maybe Sirius was right...there certainly were plenty of other girls at Hogwarts than just Evans. 

-

By the time James was able to get the Marauders together for a meeting, they all agreed to it too late to plan a successful prank by Halloween night.

 "Besides," Said Remus, his voice already sounding tired as he laid his head in Sirius' lap. "The timing is bad. We always get caught for our Halloween pranks, there's no getting around it, everyone knows it's us. You lot would end up in detention the following Friday and that's the full."

James let out a loud groan and flopped back onto his bed. "We never plan anything these days!" 

 "Careful," Peter snickered. "Any more dramatic than that and you may out-Queen Sirius." 

Sirius flicked his wand towards Peter, hitting him with a quick stinging jinx and he yelped. James didn't respond at all, he just folded his arms over his chest and pouted, staring up at his canopy. He was starting to feel childish in his jealous behavior, but something eventually had to give. Just because they were all in relationships and he wasn't, didn't mean they just all of the sudden had no time for him at all...

 "Well what if we threw a party instead," Suggested Sirius, eyeing James with mild concern as his normally much more collected best friend seemed to be throwing a temper tantrum more commonly displayed by...well...himself. "We haven't done that in a while, and as long as it doesn't make it to the wrong set of ears, no one could get in trouble and no one misses the full moon."

 After a second or two of consideration, James rolled on his side to face the other raven haired boy. "We could nick some firewhiskey from Rosemerta's. She's always easy to bribe into slipping us whatever we need." A slow grin was spreading across James' face and the aching jealousy in his chest started to ease up as Sirius' expression matched his own. 

 "I'm sure Peeves will be down to help us spook some of the firsties as well if we want to plan just a little Halloween prank." Sirius' eyes lit up before he even finished the sentence, ideas filling his mind. "Nearly headless Nick as well."

James sat up, perching on the edge of his bed as he and Sirius began to toss ideas back and forth, with Peter and Remus chiming in here and there with ideas of their own. 

This, James thought fondly, was what he was missing. It didn't matter to him that he was the only single, still-a-virgin Marauder. What mattered is that he missed the adrenaline he use to get when the four of them sat together in a circle to plot out their biggest and best ideas. The Marauders were suppose to be about each other first, and the rest of the world after. What was best for the group and not them individually or, in Sirius and Remus' case, as a couple. They were a family before anything on the side. And with the way the outside world was starting to look, and the supposed war on its way, James was determined to make sure they all remembered that golden rule. 

-

"So I was thinking about going out tonight after the Halloween feast," Said Lily, glancing up from her Transfiguration homework to address the other girls. "It'll be fun. There's tons to do in Hogsmeade on Halloween."

Marlene frowned up at her, looking confused. "Haven't you heard? The boys were throwing a party in the common room tonight."

 "Oh." Lily blinked back at her. "Er...No, I hadn't heard actually." She was surprised. Normally something like this would have been an opportune moment for Potter to ask her, in one obnoxious way or another, to be his date for the night. But he had done no such thing.

 In fact, now that she thought about it, Potter hadn't said much more than 'Pass the pumpkin juice' to her in over a week. Odd.

"We don't have to go, of course." Dorcas piped up as she noticed the conflicted look on Lily's face. "If you'd rather go out, we could-"

Lily shook her head. "No," She said quickly, forcing a laugh. "No, don't be silly. Of course we'll stay for the party here. I mean...For all the trouble those boys are worth, they do know how to throw a good bash, don't they? It's fine." She dipped her quill back into the ink well and went back to answering McGonagall's homework questions just as the portrait swung open.

In came Potter and Black themselves, loudly as usual, discussing the plans for the party that supposedly everyone in Gryffindor Tower had heard about, sans Lily. She watched with mild amusement as Sirius pulled bottle after bottle of alcohol from a book bag that did not look nearly large enough to fit all he had managed.  

 "Enough to spike the punch and then some, eh?" He grinned proudly at Potter.

"Merlin," Lily shook her head, laughing softly. "You two really can't go a day without practically committing a felony, can you?"

 James smirked, giving a small shrug. "We're Marauders, it's what we do."

"Bullocks." Said Lily, still smiling as she pointed to the over stuffed arm chair across the room. "Remus is over there, reading and not causing any trouble. He's a Marauder as well, isn't he?"

Both James and Sirius exchanged a look before they howled with laughter.

 "You think we should be more like Remus?" James chortled, nodding to his friend who was, in fact, sitting with his nose in a book.

"Remus is stoned out of his pretty little head right now, Evans." Sirius chuckled, eyeing his boyfriend with adoration as Lily's face fell and she stared at her fellow prefect in shock. "He's probably read the same bloody sentence in that book five times and still hasn't a clue what it said."

 There was a loud groan from behind the large book Remus was holding and the werewolf let it fall into his lap. "More like twelve times, and I still haven't the slightest idea how to answer this bloody transfiguration homework." He rubbed his already bloodshot eyes.

 Sirius snorted. "That would be because that's your potions textbook, Moony m'love."

Remus frowned and turned the book in his lap over. "Oh for bloody fuck- ugh. Fuck it. It's not due til Monday anyway." He tossed the book onto the table in front of him and stood up, stretching his arms over his head until something cracked loudly. "I'm bloody hungry. I'm going to the kitchens." He gave Sirius a significant look and the shorter boy grinned.

 "Sorry, Prongsie. We'll be back in a bit to help set up, yeah?" Sirius shocked the book bag into the arms of James, who looked slightly put off but sighed and waved him along. Sirius gave one last nod to the rest of them. "Ta, ladies. See you all tonight." And hurried off after Remus like a trained Labrador.

 "See if you can at least bring up some pumpkin pasties while your down there!" James called after them with a sigh. "Pete doesn't like them so of course he didn't get any. Always bloody thinking of his own stomach and no one else's..." He trailed off as Sirius and Remus were already gone.

The girls were all giggling at their antics when James turned back to face them. "Honestly, it's like those two can't keep their hands off each other for five damn minutes. They never use to be this bad..."

 Lily frowned, something about the way Potter spoke was different. Sad, almost. He had never seemed to have an issue with his two closest friends being together before. She almost wanted to ask-

"Are you alright, James?" Mary beat her to it.

 Potter's expression quickly changed back and he smiled charmingly at her. "Yes, of course. Sorry, just thinking of all I've got to get finished before tonight."

"Would you maybe like some help?" Mary asked, placing her quill and ink back in her own bag.

 James' hand darted up to his hair. But it wasn't in that obnoxious, purposeful way he usually did it that drove Lily up a tree. He gave a little shrug, his eyes lingering on Mary's for just a moment longer than necessary. "Well sure, if you girls aren't too busy?"

Marlene was already packing up her things. "Sorry, maybe later if you still need. But Dory and I actually have to stop down by McGonagall's office. The shower in the girl's quidditch lockers won't stop chanting Slytherin cheers ever since the last match we lost to them."

 "It's doing it on purpose to get a rise out of us, I swear." Dorcas grumbled, throwing her bag over her shoulder and waiting for her girlfriend. "But we'll see you lot tonight!"

Lily stared between James and Mary for a moment, suddenly feeling very misplaced. "Er...I've actually got to finish with this assignment...so I...I'll just be up in the dorm room then." She collected her things hurriedly. She had no idea why she felt so anxious, but the common room suddenly seemed stuffy and she quickly bolted toward the girl's dorm leaving behind a very confused James and Mary.

Chapter Text

Sirius Black knew James Potter like he knew himself. 

 He knew when James was plotting an ingenious prank because his hazel eyes would grow to nearly twice the size of his glasses. His lips would twitch up in a smirk and the tip of his tongue would poke out the left side of his mouth as he concentrated on the finer details. 

 He knew when James was about to make a fool of himself in front of Lily Evans. A hand shooting up to ruffle his already messy mop of hair and a cocky grin on his face. His voice would sink an octave lower and his gate would change from quick paced walk to a slow swagger, approaching the red head and preparing to blurt out whatever ridiculous poem, sonnet or speech he had prepared.

 He knew when James was angry. It took a lot to get James Potter angry, and once he was it would take days of avoidance tactics before the boy finally exploded. He'd pace a lot, and grumble under his breath. He'd be on the Quidditch pitch trying dangerous new moves on his broom or chucking a quaffle as hard as he could. Then eventually he'd confront whoever or whatever was angering him and finally there'd be yelling. But it wasn't yelling the way Sirius yelled. It wasn't insults and swearing and shit he would regret later on. It was more like when a parent yells, and they make you feel utterly guilty for disappointing them. 

 And Sirius knew when James was upset. It didn't happen often at all, but Sirius still knew. First he'd act indignant. There was pouting and whining and huffing as he tried to pretend that he really was okay, honest, and nothing was bothering him. Then he'd force a laugh and a smile and wave off any concern anybody expressed to him. But Sirius could see past it. Because the laugh never reached his eyes and it always ended in a forlorn sigh. 

 "Prongs needs to get laid." Sirius mused out loud as he leaned against the cold glass of the greenhouse. 

"Sirius," Remus growled, resting his forehead against his boyfriend's bare thigh and trying to control the urge to throttle him. "Are you really thinking about James when I have my mouth around your-!"

"No! I mean...well I guess that's not entirely true. Ow!" Sirius flinched when Remus pinched him and glared down at the boy kneeling on the ground in front of him. "No need to get violent, Moony!"

 "You were thinking about James while I was sucking you off, you prat!" Remus stood up and brushed the dirt off his knees. Sirius' eyes went wide. 

 "Come on, Moony! Don't stop!" He pouted, grabbing the werewolf by the wrist and pulling him close to nuzzle against his neck. "I'm sorry, love. I was distracted. Please keep going?" He pressed his lips to the sensitive skin of Remus' throat and one of his hands slid down, past the waist of the boy's jeans to give him a teasing squeeze through the fabric of his boxers. 

Remus sighed, pressing up against Sirius' hand despite his annoyance. He cupped Sirius chin with one hand, tilting his face up and smirking a little when their eyes met. 

 Sirius gave a small shudder as the bright amber eyes locked on his and moaned when he felt Remus' lips cover his own. Remus wasted no time at all before parting Sirius' lips with his tongue and exploring every inch of his mouth. He gave him a gentle but firm shove so he was pinned against the greenhouse and growled softly as he ground his hips against the other boy's. 

 Sirius had a feeling this was what was bothering James so much lately. Not that he and Remus hadn't always had a...very enthusiastic...sex life, but recently Sirius found himself being dragged off to broom cupboards or behind greenhouses more often than usual. 

 He certainly wasn't one to complain. He enjoyed every incredible, hot moment of his boyfriend's suddenly and mysteriously overactive libido. But he couldn't blame James for feeling like they had abandoned him. 

 Now, however, was clearly not the time to worry about James' abandonment complex. Not when Remus' mouth was leaving a hot, wet trail of kisses down the column of his throat, making him whine and writhe against the greenhouse glass. 

 "Moony..." He moaned, fingers tangling in Remus' soft curls as the werewolf kissed down his chest and continued downward. 

"Sirius..."

Sirius' eyes snapped open. That wasn't Remus' voice. He looked down to see Remus' eyes baring into him, looking irritated. He bit his lip.

"Sirius!" 

Remus sighed. "Answer it." He stood once again. "You're right. James is obviously going through...something. So go on and answer him before he has a meltdown." He smiled and pressed his lips to Sirius' temple in a sweet gesture that was only slightly contradicted by the possessive growl of "But you're mine later." Against his ear.

Sirius smirked. "One hundred percent yours, Moony. I promise." He reached into the pocket of his leather jacket and retrieved his two way mirror. "James?"

 James' face appeared where Sirius' reflection had been. 

 "Alright, mate?" Sirius asked.

"Er, yeah..." James said slowly, frowning a little and ruffling his hair. "I did what you said, Pads. I asked Mary out." 

-

"Alight," Sirius sighed, rubbing his temples and leaning against the post of James' bed where Remus and Peter were sitting on either side of James himself, who looked slightly panicked at what he had done.  "When I said you should go for any other girl than Evans, I didn't mean for you to pick her best bloody friend of all people!"

 "Technically Marlene is her best friend." James tried weakly to defend himself.

Sirius rolled his eyes. "Her best straight friend, then."

 "How did this happen exactly?" Remus asked, frowning a bit. "It just seems so...out of nowhere..."

James huffed and crossed his arms. "I was getting the common room ready for tonight and she offered to help. She asked me if I had some big elaborate plan to ask Evans to be my date for the night since apparently Evans didn't even know there was a party, and they all assumed she was kept out of the loop on purpose so I could do something big," He glared as his friends all snickered to themselves. "And I told her I wasn't planning to ask Evans at all. Then she said, and I'm not making this up, 'so you're planning to go stag then?'" The other three all snorted at the girl's brilliant use of a pun she wasn't even aware of. "And I laughed and she laughed, even though she didn't know why, obviously...and then I said I was actually wondering if maybe she'd like to be my date for the evening."

 "And she just said yes?" Peter raised an eyebrow. "Just like that?"

James frowned. "Why does it seem so unrealistic that a girl would say yes to having a date with me?"

 "Well because we've never seen it happen." Sirius smirked. "And because she's close with Evans and...I don't know, it's not like you two have ever even had a chat on your own before, let alone shown an interest in each other." 

 "How would you lot even know?" Said James coldly, making the other three stop laughing immediately and stare at him in surprise. "You've all been off snogging and shagging like bloody rabbits since September. How would you know how much time I've spent with Macdonald?"

Sirius, Remus and Peter exchanged guilty looks before their eyes dropped to avoid James'. He had a point. 

 "It's not like I've asked the bird to marry me! I didn't even ask her to be my girlfriend. I asked her to be my date for a bloody common room Halloween party. You're the ones who told me to put myself out there, so I've done it and now you're judging who I've chosen to put myself out there to." He ran a hand through his hair in frustration and stood up from the bed, turning to face the others. "I know Mary well enough to have things to talk about. She's a nice bird and she's good looking and easy to get along with and-" he paused, pinching the bridge of his nose. "You know what...why am I even explaining myself to you lot? I don't owe you an explanation. I certainly didn't ask you two for one when you were all but crying to me about your feelings for each other for two whole years," he glared at Remus and Sirius. "And I hid under the damn invisibility cloak and followed you and Emmeline around on your first date to make sure you didn't make a right fool of yourself, didn't I?" His eyes landed on Peter. "So why am I the one that gets a bloody interrogation?"

The other three gaped at him, completely speechless. Never had James Potter had an explosion like that, and especially not directed at any of them. And the worst part was, none of them could deny that they deserved it.

After a moment he took a deep breath and dragged both hands slowly through his hair, forcing a smile at them.

 "Er..." He laughed weakly. "Sorry about that, I just-" 

"No," said Remus gently. "Don't apologize. You're absolutely right, James. We've treated you unfairly. You've always supported all of us without a second thought and this is not the way we should repay you. We haven't been very good friends lately. I'm sorry." 

 Peter nodded along with Remus' words. "I'm sorry too, Prongs."

 "Yeah, mate." Sirius agreed. "You can date any bird you like, no judgement here. And er...Sorry for being so...you know...busy all the time." He glanced sideways at Remus, whose face tinged pink. 

 James bit his lip, rubbing the back of his neck anxiously. "I, ah...I mean, I get it, you know? We're sixteen, we've all got hormones raging and shit. I'm sure if I had someone to unleash all that on, I'd rather be off doing that than plotting silly pranks-"

 "Whoa," Peter's eyes went wide and he held up both hands. "'Silly Pranks'? James Potter is that really you?" 

"Yeah, Prongs." Sirius laughed. "Sure, we may have been getting a tad carried away with our personal lives, but we're still Marauders first." 

 "We're really sorry if you felt we abandoned you." Remus concluded simply. 

James nodded. "Er...right. Good...thanks." He cleared his throat, looking at his friends who were all still staring at him awkwardly. "So...I don't know, this feels oddly like one of those moments we're all meant to hug or something but...no offense, I love you all I just really don't want to."

 "Right, because we're grown men now. No group hugs." Sirius said in a mockingly solemn tone. "Shots then? To get the party started?"

James and Peter both excitedly agreed, but Remus shook his head with a soft chuckle. "I think, more traditionally speaking anyway, you're suppose to end an argument with a peace pipe, lads." He stood and crossed the room to his own four poster, opening the top drawer of his bedside table and returning with an already perfectly rolled joint. "Not a pipe exactly, but it's the same idea."

 "And that's why you're the smart one, Moony." James sighed happily, patting Remus on the back as they all headed over to the window and climbed out onto the roof.

-

Lily Evans was completely and utterly confused.

 "I'm sorry," She sputtered, feeling as if she must have simply heard wrong amongst all the excited chatter in the Great Hall. "Who did you say asked you to be their date?"

Mary sighed, clearly having expected this reaction from her friend. "James asked me. And I said yes, Lily."

 "Yes, I...I got that part. The part I don't really seem to grasp is why?" 

Dorcas rolled her eyes and leaned over to pile some more pudding onto her plate. "Lily, when are you going to give up on this whole 'James Potter is the bane of my existence' act? I thought you two were finally getting on well."

 "We are." Said Lily, poking at her own meal with her fork. "I just-"

"And," Marlene butted in. "Didn't you say the only reason Potter still got on your nerves were all those obnoxious date invites and proclamations of his undying love?" The blonde took a forkful of pudding off her girlfriend's plate. "So realistically, if he's dating Mary, haven't you gotten exactly what you wanted all along?"

 Lily blinked, her mouth agape as she realized that yes, that was what she wanted. But something about it just didn't seem satisfying whatsoever. "I just don't want to see you get hurt, Mary." She said finally, sitting up a little straighter.

Mary raised an eyebrow at her. "You think I'll get hurt?"

 "Well you know how much of a jerk Potter can be." Lily reasoned with her, looking at Marlene and Dorcas for back up, which they did not supply.

"I don't actually." Said Mary, folding her arms and regarding the redhead with a challenging stare. "He's always been nice to me. In fact, he's nice to almost everyone except Severus, and you two aren't even friends anymore. So what's the problem, Lily? Why are you so determined to hate James Potter for the rest of your life?"

And Lily realized she hadn't the slightest idea.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

What is wrong with me

Lily took a long sip from her third strongly spiked, and admittedly delicious, drink as she gazed across the crowded common room. 

 The party, like anything the Marauders set out to do, was loud and energetic and thriving. The common room was packed with what most definitely was every Gryffindor student, plus a great deal of Hufflepuffs and a handful of Ravenclaws. Music was blasting from the record player. The sound of Marlene and Sirius' combined, drunken voices carried over all of the party noises as they gave quite an entertaining, and slightly off key, performance of Queen's Somebody To Love, much to Dorcas and Remus' embarrassment. 

 Some first year girls were still shrieking after they had reached into a bowl of Ice Mice only to find that there was a live rat among the sweets, which quickly scampered across the table and disappeared. Now the girls, recruiting the closest elder student, Hufflepuff Emmeline Vance for assistance, were frantically searching for the rodent while Peter, who seemed to have shown up out of nowhere, looked on with amusement and a distinctly proud smirk. 

 And yet, above all the commotion (and the exceedingly dramatic duet from Sirius and Marlene) Lily couldn't stop staring across the room at Mary.

Mary had her shiny, reddish blonde hair pulled back in a high ponytail and away from her pale, lightly freckled, round face. She was wearing a slinky, black velvet dress with white knee high socks and a pair of black Mary Janes. She had very little makeup on, just some shimmer that made her look as if she were flowing in the light of the fireplace, some soft purple shadow that made her brown eyes pop, and pink lipstick. She looked very pretty tonight. Not that Mary wasn't always very pretty, but she looked somehow different while she laughed at Marlene and Sirius, her arm linked around James Potter's. 

 Potter, Lily noticed, wasn't watching the two drunk Freddie impersonators at all. He was watching Mary laugh, and he was smiling at her. Apparently he thought she was very pretty tonight as well. 

 Well, good then. She thought to herself, tearing her eyes away from the pair of them. It's about time Potter got out of my hair and became someone else's problem.

 She lifted her cup to her lips and frowned slightly, discovering that it was in fact empty. "Bugger." She muttered. She glanced back to the table where the punch bowl was set up. She had a feeling if she stood and walked over, the alcohol that Sirius had undoubtedly dumped into the refreshment would begin to take effect. She could feel the heat in her cheeks. 

 "Having fun?" 

Lily nearly fell off her chair. "Merlin, Remus!" She clutched at her chest. "I didn't know you were behind me!"

Remus chuckled and leaned on his elbows on the high top table that Lily was seated at. "Sorry. You seemed like you were off in your own world. I know how much of that punch you've had," He smirked knowingly at her. The same 'I can see right through your lies' look he used when younger students were caught out of bounds and trying to give him all sorts of excuses. "I just wanted to make sure you were alright."

 "I'm fine." Said Lily, her voice going an octave too high. She cleared her throat and told herself that the heat in her face was still completely alcohol related. "Sorry," she smiled at him. "I'm fine, Remus. Why wouldn't I be?" 

Remus shrugged, taking a swig from the beer bottle he was holding. "Sitting here all alone, staring off into the distance with this frustrated look on your face like you can't figure out some sort of complicated Arithmancy equation. It's a party, Lily. Mingle." 

She sighed, looking longingly down at her empty cup. 

 "...Lily?" Remus' deep voice sounded both amused and concerned. 

"Sorry," She mumbled. "S'empty." 

She heard him snort and knew without looking that he was rolling his eyes. "Now that is a problem, isn't it?" He offered his arm to her and she took it. As she stood she was pleasantly surprised that she didn't get nearly as bad a head rush as she thought she would have. She leaned on Remus' shoulder regardless as they crossed the room to the punch bowl. 

 A couple of second year boys that had been congregating around the refreshment table froze when they saw the two prefects approaching. 

 "It's a party, lads. We're off duty." Said Remus. "However, I strongly suggest giving it a second thought before you set off those fireworks...We may not be doling out detention tonight, but that would certainly draw Mcgonagall's attention. And you wouldn't want to face the wrath of your classmates if the party got cut short and the whole house got detention, eh?" 

 A guilty expression passed over the younger boys' faces and they mumbled an apology as Remus held his hand out and they reluctantly forfeited the explosives. 

Remus gave a smug smile as he watched the underclassmen run off, looking defeated and disappointed. 

Lily laughed softly. "You're so good at that." 

 Remus chucked and shook his head. "I've lived with James and Sirius going on six years. I can always tell when someone is planning to blow something up." He looked around for a moment. "Hey Pete," 

 A few feet away, Peter paused his snogging session with Emmeline to acknowledge Remus. "Yeah mate?" 

Remus grinned. "Catch." He tossed the firecrackers he had nicked from the second years to his friend, who caught them and gave a questioning look. "Just don't let Sirius have them unless you clear it with me first, yeah?" 

 "Right. No explosives for Padfoot, got it." Peter smirked. He excused himself from Emmeline and headed up to the dorm to hide them. 

 Lily watched as Remus busied himself with pouring her her drink. She hummed softly. "I'm surprised you're not over there watching Sirius' little show." She nodded to where Sirius and Marlene were still rocking out, adding ridiculous dance moves to their performance.

A strange look passed over Remus' face and he licked his lips as his eyes briefly locked on his boyfriend. Maybe it had been her imagination but she thought she saw him shudder. "Er..." Remus looked back down at the punch bowl. "I needed to get away for a moment I suppose." 

 Lily frowned. "Are you two alright?" 

"Yeah," It was Remus' voice that cracked and gave up his pretense this time. "Er...I mean...we are, really. I think I'm just...going through something personally, that's all. It's nothing he's done." 

 "Anything I could help with?" Asked Lily, feeling truly concerned with just how anxious Remus had become so suddenly. 

He shook his head. "I don't think so...I-I think it may be related to...y'know." 

"Oh." Lily said softly, her eyes drifting to the window where the nearly full moon was shining bright in the night sky. Remus cleared his throat for her attention and handed her drink to her. She accepted it wordlessly.

 "Can I ask you something?" Remus asked after a few moments, his eyes following her gaze which had at some point found Mary and James once again. They were no longer watching Marlene and Sirius, but talking quietly amongst themselves and standing too close to be considered casual. "Lil?" 

 Lily shook herself. "O-of course, Remus. Anything." She smiled. 

"Does it bother you that James asked Mary out tonight?" There was that bloody know-it-all-Lupin look again. "Humor me, I need a distraction." His voice rumbled low in his chest as his eyes locked back on Sirius. He was dancing quite provocatively, and was clearly doing it on purpose to get his boyfriend's attention. In the back of her mind Lily wondered just how the boy managed to move at all in such tight jeans. 

Remus took a deep breath and forced himself to look at Lily instead. 

 Lily sighed, perhaps it was the alcohol she had consumed or maybe Remus just had some sort of psychic ability to force people to tell the truth...

 "It does." She admit quietly, looking down at the liquid in her cup.

"Why?" Remus asked.

She shook her head. "I don't know." It wasn't a lie. She really had no idea what was bothering her about the whole thing. 

Remus took a moment to consider her answer. "Would you like me to ask him not to pursue it further?"

 Lily choked on her punch. "What?" She coughed. "N-no. Why? Potter can date whoever he wants, obviously! It's not like I want to date him or anything."

Remus raised an eyebrow. "Isn't it?" 

"Of course it isn't!" She insisted firmly. "Don't be ridiculous, Remus. Me and Potter? Could you imagine?" She laughed at the idiocy of it. "Besides, don't you think I've had plenty of opportunities to go out with him? If I wanted to, it would have happened already." 

 Remus nodded, a small smile playing at his lips. "Right. Of course." He shrugged. "I was only asking, because-" He stopped short, his words catching in his throat and his eyes going wide. Lily frowned and followed his line of sight.

 "What-? Oh...!" 

-

What is wrong with me? 

Remus thought desperately as Sirius sauntered over to him, his sharp grey eyes fixed on him and a devilish smirk on his face. The song had changed, but Sirius, ever the center of attention, was still singing along. 

"I can dim the lights

And sing you songs full of sad things

We can do the tango just for two-"

Normally Remus would find such a display completely embarrassing. Sirius was no stranger to dramatics obviously, but Remus usually had no problem either tuning them out completely or shooting them down, finding a guilty pleasure in the pout of disappointment he would draw from the other boy. But even as he told himself how ridiculously tacky Sirius' little seduction game was, he found himself unable to move or even breathe as Sirius got closer.

"I can serenade and gently play

On your heart strings

Be your Valentino just for you-"

 Remus swallowed hard past the lump in his throat, heat prickling up his neck to his cheeks as Sirius pushed him, with very little effort, against the wall of the common room. Everyone was watching them. How could they not be? 

"Ooh love Ooh lover boy

What're doing tonight hey boy

Set my alarm turn on my charm

That's because I'm a good old fashioned lover boy-" 

Remus could feel himself trembling, fighting to control the urge to flip their positions and pin the other boy down as Sirius pressed hotly against him, his too-bloody-perfect body moving against his own to the music. 

"Ooh let me feel you heartbeat

(Grow faster faster)

Ooh can you feel my love heat

Come on and sit on my hot seat of love-"

Of course Sirius had turned now, being sure to grind his arse, which was so wonderfully highlighted by those blasted tight jeans, against Remus. If this continued much longer, Remus was going to have a much more humiliating problem for the whole common room to see...or worse. Every fiber in his body vibrated with the need to throw Sirius down and-

"Sirius," He growled softly, his hands moving to grip the boy's swaying hips with an almost bruising pressure. "Enough."

 Sirius turned again in his arms to face him, a satisfied smirk playing at his lips. "Why? You've been ignoring me for hours. Had to get your attention somehow didn't I?" He was still moving along to Freddie Mercury's voice. 

 "Oh, you've got my attention." Remus uttered threateningly. His voice sounded distant and strange in his own head. It didn't seem to phase Sirius though. He pressed closer, his lips brushing against Remus' ear. 

 "You're loving it, Moons. Just let loose and enjoy yourself for once." 

Remus looked around quickly. Everyone else seemed to have gone back to their own business. Marlene had managed to drag Lily off to dance with her, having lost Sirius has her partner and unable to convince Dorcas to join. No longer in the spotlight, Remus grabbed Sirius' chin and kissed him roughly and with more force than he intended. 

Control yourself. He thought firmly. But as if by its own accord, his voice said: "Upstairs. Now." Huskily against Sirius' lips. 

Sirius moaned, pulling away slightly to grin victoriously up at Remus. "I don't know what's gotten into you lately, but it's sexy as fuck." He grabbed Remus' wrist and pulled him eagerly towards the stairs and up to the dorm, closing the door behind them. No sooner had the door's lock clicked before Remus shoved Sirius against the wall and continued the assault on this mouth.

Sirius gasped in surprise, but it quickly turned into a loud groan of pleasure as Remus' hips ground insistently against his own. Sirius began to fumble with the button on Remus' faded, low hanging jeans until Remus sharply nipped at his lower lip, grabbed both of his wrists with one hand and pinned them above his head.

 This was not unfamiliar to Sirius. With only three days until the full moon, he had come to expect a rougher and more dominant side of Remus. And even though he knew that it made Remus a little uncomfortable to allow himself to behave in what he viewed as an animalistic manner, Sirius couldn't help but enjoy it. 

A lot. 

So much that he often taunted and teased the werewolf until he could draw this side out of him. He figured it was good for Remus to give in to those urges and that trying to hold back too much was probably not healthy. Sirius trusted Remus, and he wanted Remus to trust himself as well. He was human, after all. He wouldn't hurt him.

 Remus had already pulled Sirius' black t-shirt over his head and tossed it aside. The hand not securing the shorter boy's wrists raked down Sirius' chest, leaving vibrant red marks that Sirius would secretly be proud of the following morning when he saw them in the mirror before his shower. 

 Sirius arched his back, his hips bucking to find friction against his boyfriend's as their lips and tongues continued to slide hotly together, swallowing every moan and gasp and breath from each other. 

 Remus popped the button on those ridiculously tight jeans that Sirius so shamefully wore, undoubtedly because he knew exactly what they did to the werewolf, and roughly yanked them down past his slim hips. No underwear of course. They probably wouldn't have fit under that bloody skin tight denim anyway...it took an extra few seconds to peel them down his legs and Sirius nearly tripped trying to kick them off.

 "Heh, sorry." Sirius muttered sheepishly as he finally managed to rid himself of the clingy denim. 

Remus quickly shed his own clothes and pressed against him again, nuzzling the scratchy stubble of his jaw and letting his hands roam all over Sirius' body. "Don't know why you insist on wearing such inconvenient things anyway..." 

 Sirius chuckled, melting into the touch. "Because they make you act like this when you see me in them..."

 Remus growled softly against his ear. "You haven't the slightest idea what makes me act like this." I don't even know what's making me act like this... He thought anxiously. It was just an echo, deep in the back of his mind and barely even coherent through all the lustful fog and the raw, predatory instinct that he normally only felt as the wolf. 

One of his hands reached around to give Sirius' arse a squeeze and he took a step back. "Get on the bed." 

 Sirius went happily without hesitation. He made quite a show of slowly crawling onto Remus' bed and laying across it, propping himself up on his elbows and smirking at the werewolf. To Sirius, this was just normal, sexy play. He had no idea how little control Remus had at the moment and how hard he was fighting to regain even an ounce of it. He didn't understand that for the last couple of months, every time Remus pulled him into a deserted class room to shag or sunk to his knees under the Quidditch stands to taste him, it was because he literally couldn't resist. He needed to feel, touch, smell, taste, fuck Sirius in those moments or he felt he may actually die...

He probably should have told Sirius what was going on...

But he hadn't wanted to admit it. It felt too...primal. Inhuman...

 He stood at the edge of the bed, eyes hungrily taking in the gorgeous sight that was Sirius Black, so willingly offering himself to him. 

 Take him. The low, snarling voice that Remus usually shoved into the deepest, darkest corner of his head demanded. 

 Remus crawled over Sirius' body, hovering above him and staring down into his lust filled, grey eyes. He licked his lips as Sirius' hips bucked up to find his own. Remus grinned. 

 "Eager, aren't you?" 

Sirius laughed softly. "Aren't I always?" He wiggled his hips teasingly. "C'mon, Moony...I'm all yours..."

Something about what Sirius said pushed Remus over the edge. His eyes narrowed and he reached up, grabbing a fistful of Sirius' long hair and yanking his head back, exposing his beautiful pale throat and making him cry out softly from shock. 

 "Are you, now?" Remus growled, ducking his head to lick the column of the other boy's throat and fuck, he could literally smell Sirius' blood. It made him dizzy, almost drunk with desire and hunger.

 Sirius moaned in response, his hands fisting the sheets under him. "You know I am, Remus." He breathed shakily. 

 Do it. The voice filled Remus' head again and he desperately wanted to shake it off. He wanted to stop. This wasn't him. 

But it is you.

He slid his free hand between their bodies to stroke and tease between Sirius' legs and reveled in the way his lover arched up to his touch. 

You want it. You want to taste him.

"Remus..." Sirius moaned as Remus' fingers entered his body. 

He's so willing.

Remus nipped softly at his neck, the scent of him too strong and tempting...

Do it!

"Remus...?" Sirius' voice wavered a little as Remus' teeth caught his skin again, a little sharper than usual. 

Mark him. Make him yours!

The hand in Sirius' hair tightened and pulled his head back again and Remus growled before sinking his teeth into the creamy, white flesh. 

His senses were in overload. His ears were ringing and his mind was completely blank. Everything around him seemed to have paused, or was at least moving very slowly.

The coppery taste of blood brought everything crashing back to reality. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 Remus jumped, almost falling off the bed as he quickly backed away from Sirius. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and felt like he was going to throw up when he saw the bright red staining his skin. 

Sirius slowly sat up, wincing from the stinging in his neck. "Remus...?"

Remus was violently trembling, his breath coming out in shaky gasps and he was staring at Sirius with wide, horrified eyes. 

 Sirius raised one hand to gingerly touch the place on his neck where Remus had bitten him. It was sore and sticky with blood, but that was the last thing he was worried about. He swallowed thickly, looking up at his panicking boyfriend. "...Remus, I-it's okay.." He said carefully, reaching out to him with his other hand. 

 Remus flinched. "D-don't." He recoiled into himself, shaking his head. "Sirius...I...what have I-?...no..." Both of his hands shot up, tightly gripping his hair as tears stung his eyes. 

 "It's okay, Moony..." Sirius said again, desperate to stop the downward spiral of emotions currently flickering over the other boy's face. "I'm fine-"

 "It's not okay!" Remus snapped. "Shit...I hurt you! I bit you, Sirius! You're bleeding!" He was breathing too fast, hyperventilating almost. Sirius grabbed him by the shoulders.

 "Hey! Stop that, alright? It's not a big deal!  Look, it's not that deep or anything. It was an accident, you just got a little rough-"

 "I couldn't control myself!" Remus shouted in anguish, refusing to look at Sirius. "You don't understand-"

 Sirius frowned, his eyes narrowing slightly. "You think I don't understand what it's like to lose control and hurt someone?" He asked, a little more coldly than he wanted to.  "I nearly got you, James and Snape killed last year because I lost control." He gently cupped the other boy's cheek. "Remus," he forced him to meet his eyes. "You didn't do anything wrong, love. I'm okay, you're okay...it was an accident."

 Remus stared at him, his body still shaking with terrified tremors. "I'm a monster-"

 "You are human." Sirius said firmly, holding Remus' distraught stare with his own steady gaze. 

 "I bit you, Sirius!" 

"With your very human teeth, Remus!" He sighed and scooted closer, pulling Remus into his arms despite the noise of protest he made. He pressed his lips to the top of his head. "It's not like you've gone and bitten me on the full moon and turned me or anything. You got a little too enthusiastic in bed, it could happen to anyone. I could've done the same thing to you..." He smirked and nuzzled Remus' cheek teasingly. "I can, if you want to even the score y'know..."

 "It's not funny, Sirius!" Remus protested, pulling away from him. He couldn't stand to be that close. The smell of Sirius' blood, still fresh on his neck, was so strong. "Something is wrong with me..." He said quietly, wrapping his arms around himself. "It's not just tonight. I've been having trouble controlling these...these urges..." He shuddered. "It's been like this since we got back to school."

 Sirius was silent. His heart ached far more than the mark on his neck as he watched the flood of self loathing wash over Remus. 

 "I should have told you," Remus admit shamefully. "I should have told you I was having these feelings...we could have figured out how to make it stop...or at least how to keep you safe...f-from me." Again Remus' stomach lurched. He licked his lips and gagged as he could still taste Sirius' blood in his mouth. 

 "Hey," Sirius said softly, his hand sliding over to cover Remus' own, thumb gently stroking over his knuckles. "We'll figure this out. I promise." He gave a small smile, but Remus looked away. He sighed. "Why don't you go clean up, alright? You'll feel better. I'll take care of myself. It's not as bad as you think-"

 "It's going to scar." Remus muttered, he looked disgusted with himself as he stood up to head into the bathroom. "Full moon or not...I bit you. Broke skin. It's a magical bite...if anyone sees, they..." He let out another slow, shuddering breath. "They'll know you've been with someone like me." 

 To Remus' surprise, a full grin spread across Sirius' face and he cocked his head defiantly. "You think I care?" Sirius stood as well, wrapping his arms around Remus' neck and pressing their foreheads together. "I love you, Remus. I would never be ashamed of you. Bugger what anyone else thinks. And besides," He brought one of his hands to Remus' chest, tracing over a scar lightly with his finger tips. He smirked. "Scars are pretty fucking badass, aren't they?" 

 Remus laughed softly, eyes downcast and sniffling a little. "You're crazy, you know..."

Sirius nodded. "I do." He pressed a kiss to Remus' lips, not caring that his own blood was still there, dry and sticky. "Go wash up. We'll figure this out, Remus. Whatever it is that's going on with you...we're going to be okay." He held his breath as Remus took a moment to let everything he was saying sink in.

 "Okay." Remus nodded, forcing the faintest of smiles. "I guess I'll...I'll be out in a minute." He muttered, walking towards the bathroom. Sirius waited until the door was closed and he could hear the shower running before he went to the mirror.

 "Shit." He breathed, tilting his head back a bit to examine the mark just below his Adam's apple. It wasn't actively bleeding anymore, having not been very deep, but it would certainly bruise. In fact, he saw once he performed a quick cleansing and disinfecting spell to rid the dried blood, it was already starting to turn purple. Now that he had successfully managed to keep Remus from mentally tearing himself apart, at least for the moment until he could formulate a proper plan, he admit to himself that it was in fact very painful...and scary. But there wasn't a chance in hell he'd let Remus know that.

He rummaged through his trunk for the small first aid kit he normally brought with him to the shack during the full moon and picked out a couple of tiny potion bottles, mentally patting himself on the back for learning as much as he could about healer magic. He sat cross legged on the floor in front of the mirror and began to dab some of the healing potion onto the mark, hissing as his skin burned and slowly stitched itself back together. Remus was right, of course. He could already see a faint, silvery scar beneath the bruise.

He'd have to find a way to hide it. His school uniform would cover it at least, but not his regular v neck t shirts...

He had meant what he said about not caring what people thought, but the real problem was that if people at school saw the mark on him and recognized what it meant, everyone already knew that Remus was his boyfriend...

There goes Remus' secret.

He groaned in frustration. This was his own fault really. He had pushed Remus, knowing that his behavior recently had been a little off. He had taken advantage of Remus' condition yet again, using it to fit his own desires. I am a despicable human being...

Now the question was, what was he going to do about it?

Should he tell James and Peter? He didn't want either of them to worry, yet again, about his and Remus' relationship and the drama they seemed to be unable to avoid. For Merlin's sake, why couldn't he and Remus just be happily in love for a bloody minute without all hell breaking loose?

He sighed and carefully poked at the mark on his throat with his finger. The swelling was going down at least.

Remus' reflection appeared in the mirror behind him, brown curls still damp from the shower and wearing a t shirt and loose sweatpants. Sirius smiled as convincingly as he could, jumping to his feet and turning to face him. "Feeling any better?" He asked, trying to sound as normal as possible and not allow his boyfriend to see just how anxious he was himself.

 Remus gave a little shrug. "A little." He was lying, Sirius could tell. His still-too-yellow eyes were glued to the purple spot on Sirius' neck.

Sirius cleared his throat for his attention. "Hey," He muttered, smirking just a bit. "My eyes are up here, you know."

 Another forced laugh from the taller boy and Sirius sighed. "Let's lie down, yeah? You look like you're going to fall over." He reached out for Remus' hand.

Remus hesitated, biting his lip. "Sirius, maybe...j-just for now...until I figure out what's going on...maybe you should sleep in your own-"

 "Like hell I will." Sirius refused, grabbing the werewolf's hand. "I'm not going to let you 'figure it out', because you're shit at taking care of yourself when it comes to things like this! You can't just mope around feeling bloody sorry for yourself because of this, Remus." He lead him over to the bed they shared, that they would continue to share. "I know you. You'll be up all night driving yourself mad with guilt. The moon is just a few nights away, you need to rest or you'll make yourself sick."

 "But Sirius-"

"No, Remus!" He gently, but firmly, shoved the boy so that he was sitting on the bed. "What happened tonight is between us. As a couple. We are going to handle it together." He sat down next to him. "I love you. And if there's something wrong with you, that makes it my problem as well. So I will not just leave you on your own. I'll sleep as Padfoot if it makes you feel better, but I will never leave your side when you need me. Do you understand?"

By the end of Sirius' little rant, Remus was just gaping at him. He blinked a few times and finally he nodded. "Yes." He said quietly, his eyes dropping to his lap again. "I...you're right. I'm sorry."

Sirius smiled triumphantly. "Good." He scrambled back onto the bed, resting his head on the pillows and extending an arm as an invitation. "Now come here and give us a cuddle, you prat..."

The first real smile fell across Remus' face and he carefully climbed into bed, curling up beside Sirius and resting his head on his chest. Sirius flicked his wand and the curtains swung closed around them. They were both quiet for a while. Sirius' fingers were carding gently through Remus' hair while Remus lazily traced shapes on Sirius' chest and stomach with his own, both trying their best not to let their energies become too anxious again.

 "Sirius," Remus said after a while.

"Yeah?"

 "I..." He sighed. "I don't want James and Peter to know."

Sirius took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "I don't either." He kissed the top of Remus' head. "Like I said, this is between us. We are going to get through it together, Moony. I promise."

 

 

Chapter Text

It was getting weird.

As if seeing Mary smiling at and holding onto the arm of James Potter at the party hadn't been strange enough, the following day was just bizarre.

At Breakfast Mary hardly gave the girls a second look before bypassing them completely to take the empty seat beside Potter, usually occupied by Black who hadn't bothered showing up at all, along with Remus.

It wasn't that it bothered Lily, really. It's just that she seriously questioned the boy's motives. Marlene and Dorcas didn't seem to share he concerns, however.

 "It sounds almost like your jealous." Marlene suggested later that day in Potions when Mary partnered herself with Potter.

 Lily scoffed and shook her head, crushing her bezoar as flat as possible.

 "Potter has harassed and pestered me for over five bloody years. Then one day he wakes up and decided to ask one of my best friends out instead? Sounds like Potter is trying to make me jealous, more like." She slid her ingredients into her cauldron, beaming proudly when a soft yellow glow emerged. "That, plus Mary is suppose to be my parter. Where's Black? He's normally with Potter...no offense, Peter." She added quickly to the boy sitting across from her.

 "Sirius and Remus had...Er...a little too much fun at the party, I reckon." Peter explained, his watery blue eyes glued to the wheat grass he was carefully trying to chop into even bits. "They wouldn't get up this morning. But for the record, I do appreciate you partnering with me, Lily." He bit his lip nervously. "I know I'm not that good..."

 Lily smiled warmly at him and shook her head. "Not at all, Peter. Here, there's an easier way to chop that. I'll show you..."

 She was happy to have a free period that day and had decided to spend it in the one place she was sure she wouldn't run into Potter and Mary. Tucking herself into the farthest corner of the library, she pulled a muggle book from her bag and relaxed in her chair.

"Evans,"

 She had barely even opened to her marked page when she heard the hiss of her name. She looked around, blinking in confusion when she saw no one there.

"Evans!"

"Er...hello?" She looked behind her. Nothing.

 Slowly she turned back around and nearly jumped out of her skin when she found herself face to face with Sirius Black.

 "Sirius!" She yelped, smacking the boy over the head with her book. "What the hell were you trying to do, give me a heart attack?" Catching her breath and composing herself, she sat up slightly straighter. "Where on earth did you come from, anyway? And-" she paused, frowning at his unusual fashion statement. "Why are you wearing a scarf?"


 Sirius stared at her for a moment, anxiously worrying his lip between his teeth and looking as if he were very seriously contemplating exactly what he wanted to say.

Finally he sighed. "I need your help." His eyes met her's pleadingly. "And I need you to promise not to say anything to anyone about it."

-

 "Where are we going?" Lily asked as Sirius dragged her quickly through the corridors, occasionally ducking behind a suit of armor to avoid a teacher whose class he may have ditched for the day.

 "Somewhere private." Sirius answered vaguely. He was hardly paying any attention to her, focusing instead on trying to remain unnoticed.

 "Well, why don't we just go back to the-"

"Shh!" He clapped a hand over her mouth as Professor McGonagall and Professor Sprout passed by. Once they were gone, Sirius roughly yanked on Lily's arm, pulling her into a closet and locking the door behind him.

 Lily scowled at him, placing her hands irritably on her hips. "Alright, now will you tell me what's going on that you couldn't tell me in a normal place like, I don't know, the common room or your dorm?"
 

 Again, Sirius sighed and gave her an apologetic look. "Sorry. I just...I promised Remus I wouldn't let anyone know what's going on...but I don't think we can handle this one by ourselves."

 Lily's entire demeanor softened. "Oh..." She whispered, remembering what Remus had said about something personal happening with him...something possibly to do with his lycanthropy. "Is he alright?"

 Sirius rubbed the back of his neck, adjusting the uncomfortable scarf he was wearing.

 "Er...he is. For now...physically anyway..." He licked his lips. He looked so different from the Sirius Black that Lily was use to seeing. He looked scared and unsure and very concerned and even a little lost.

 "Last night," his voice broke and he cleared his throat, trying to hide just how emotional he really was. "Well...you saw Remus and I last night...we left early to go...well...y'know..." He looked up at her to be sure she was following. She nodded to confirm. "Well...I mean, sometimes he can get a little...rough...when it's too close to the full moon and that's alright-brilliant, actually- but...this time he...well, he lost control."

Lily frowned. "Lost control, how?"

Sirius hesitated for a second, his fingers trembling as they found the scratchy fabric wound around his neck. He slowly unraveled it.

"Oh, Sirius!" Lily gasped as the boy's throat was exposed, along with the dark purple mark that was clearly a bite...and not at all like the hickies most other students flaunted around the castle. "Remus must be heartbroken..."

 Sirius nodded. "He is and he's really beating himself up for it. That's why I didn't want to do this back at the dorm, I finally got him to relax enough to get some sleep. He was making himself sick over it all night." He ran a hand through his hair and swallowed thickly.

 "Apparently he's been having trouble controlling himself in...that way...for months and he was too embarrassed and stubborn to say anything. He was trying to take care of it himself like the prat he is." He shook his head, rolling his eyes.

 Lily bit her lip, watching Sirius and feeling awful for him. He was obviously very upset about the whole thing. But not because Remus had hurt him, that seemed to be the last thing on his mind. He was worried for the other boy. He was in pain knowing that Remus was suffering and that he couldn't do anything to make it better. "Do either of you know why it happened?"

"No." Sirius leaned against the wall heavily. "He's always been so careful about controlling himself, controlling the part of his brain that's not...not human..." He said the last part very quietly and shuddered.

 "Sorry," Lily said softly. "I admit, I don't know much about werewolves other than what little we learned in Defense. That bite," She tried to choose her words carefully. "I mean, since he wasn't transformed when he did it...you won't-?"

 "No!" Sirius said quickly, his eyes going wide. "No, it's nothing like that. It's just...well that's what I needed your help with. You see, it's going to scar and...like I said, Remus -well, both of us really - we don't want anyone to know it happened at all." His cheeks went pink. "You're really good at charms and girls know all those glamours to hide blemishes and the like...er...I was wondering if you could..." He gestured wildly at this neck.

 "Oh!" Said Lily, finally understanding what he was trying to say. "Er, yes. Yes, of course. It shouldn't be too hard to cover up..." She slid her wand out from her belt loop. She paused. "But...what about Remus? What are you going to do? He has to tell someone. Mcgonagall or Pomfrey or Dumbledore...they have to know this is happening before he hurts someone." She looked pointedly at the bite on Sirius' neck. "Before he really hurts someone."

 Sirius didn't say anything right away, but Lily could tell that he knew she was right, but that it also wasn't that simple. "We're going to figure it out." He said, giving Lily a look that told her not to argue.

 "Alright." Lily conceded, taking a step closer to inspect the mark. She had to consciously stop herself from flinching once she had a better look at it. It must have been painful. She carefully touched the tip of her wand to it. "celaverimus maxima."

The dark purple bruise disappeared and Lily reached into her bag, fishing out a small compact mirror. She opened it and handed it over. Sirius took it, his shoulders slumping forward with relief as he saw clear skin there.

 "Thank you, Lily." He said quietly, forcing a weak smile that didn't meet his eyes at all. "I appreciate it." Again he chewed at his bottom lip. "I just...I couldn't stand seeing the look on his face when he looked at me and saw..." He let out a shuddering breath. "I need to protect him from himself. I need to figure this out before he decides he's too dangerous and he leaves me. I can't lose him. I won't." He finished fiercely.

Lily never really thought much about dating before. She had never been very interested in anyone herself, and she felt it was a waste of time and effort if the ultimate goal wasn't Marriage or at least a life time commitment. She thought that at their age, they were far too young to have found anything of the sort, so why would she bother?

 Watching Sirius, and listening to how passionately he spoke about protecting and keeping Remus, the boy he loved, Lily realized she was wrong. Love comes to you at strange times, in strange places and not always the way you expect it to...and when it does, you'd better fight for it. 

 "I'll help you." 

 

Chapter Text

 It felt just like any other full moon night. In fact, since the actual incident, Remus hadn't been having those strong, untamable urges at all. 

 Maybe it had just been some sort of momentary lapse of self control. After all, like Sirius said, that could happen to anyone. Sirius had trouble controlling himself all the time in highly emotional situations. James lost it every time he wanted to impress Evans, spilling out the most ridiculous things anyone had ever heard and immediately regretting it after. Peter...well, ask Peter to sit  in front of a plate of food and not finish every last bite. 

 Sometimes, everyone just loses control. 

"Alright Moony?" Asked James as he, Sirius and Peter entered the shack.

 Remus was standing by the open window, letting the cool November breeze wash over him, keeping him grounded and aware. He nodded. "Fine, Prongs. Thanks." His eyes met Sirius' for a brief moment, silently communicating his worried thoughts. 

 "Lie down, Remus." Sirius insisted, not breaking eye contact. 

 "Can't." Remus muttered, clenching and unclenching his fists. His muscles felt tight. He rolled his head from side to side. "Can't lay still..." 

 Sirius chewed his lip for a moment. He started to walk to the other boy but Remus shook his head.

 "Don't." He said sharply. "Please. Just...I don't want to be touched right now, alright?" He wanted Sirius to stay as far away as possible. He hoped he could somehow manage to get the wolf to play with the Stag and Rat and maybe not as much with the Dog, who was usually the focus of the Wolf's attention. 

 "So," Peter started awkwardly, trying to ease the obvious tension in the room and distract everyone. "James, what happened with you and Mary earlier? You were off on that...'walk' for quite some time, eh?"

 James grinned, taking a seat on the piano bench and looking proud of himself. "Snogged her brains out." 

 "Did you?" Sirius asked, raising eyebrow and smirking. "'Bout time, mate. How far did you get?"

 James shrugged, still looking quite pleased. "Just a little under the shirt, that's all. Nothing worth bragging about." He sighed. "She wanted to go into Hogsmeade tonight. I told her I had plans..."

 "Sorry." Remus said quietly, staring out the window at the darkening sky. "I'm sorry, you shouldn't be missing out on going out with Mary for me..."

  James snorted and rolled his eyes. "Give it a rest, Moony. It's just one night. You know I'd rather be here with you lot anyway." 

 "You all make far too many sacrifices for me." Remus shook his head, wrapping his arms around himself.

 James frowned and gave Sirius a questioning look, but Sirius only sighed and looked away in response. 

  "Don't say that kind of shit, Remus." James said firmly, when Sirius was of no help. "You know we're here because we want to be. All of us." 

 Remus let out a cold laugh. "Until I hurt one of you. Until you realize what I actually am-"

 "Remus, where is this coming from all of the sudden?" Peter finally spoke up. "We've been with you nearly every full moon for two years now, mate. You've never even come close to hurting us."

 "Yet." Remus muttered darkly.

 Sirius made a frustrated sound and pushed himself off the bed, crossing the room and grabbing Remus by the shoulder to forcibly turn him around to face him. "That's enough, Remus! Cut the shit, alright?"

  "Sirius," James warned, glancing out the window at the moon, but Sirius ignored him.

 "You can't just act like this, Moony! You can't just let one mistake define who you are!"

  "It is who I am, Sirius!" Remus shouted, shoving Sirius back with incredible force against the wall. "That's what you don't seem to grasp! Whether it's a full moon or not, I am a werewolf! I'm a monster and I will hurt you!"

  "Bullshit, Remus! You-"

 "Oy! Would you two get a bloody grip?" James had somehow managed to get between the two of them, one hand on each of their chests. "I don't know what this is about, but now is not the bloody time for it!"

 For a moment they continued to glare at each other over James' shoulder, both breathing heavily. Sirius was the first to concede. He sighed and took a step back.

 "You're right, Prongs." He glanced up at Remus again. Remus still looked angry and tense, but Sirius reminded himself that it was the moon and nothing more. "Moony, please..." He said softly, carefully reaching for his boyfriend's hand. Remus didn't flinch away, but he didn't relax either. "This is just another full moon, love. It's no different than the others, I promise. You aren't going to hurt me." His eyes, pleading and full of concern, stayed locked on the bright yellow ones. "You aren't going to hurt anybody. You trust me, yeah?"

 Remus swallowed hard, his eyes dropping. "It's me I don't trust..." He whispered shakily.

 "You don't have to." Sirius gently squeezed his hand. "I trust you."

 "Me too." James added.

  "And me." Peter didn't miss a beat. 

 Sirius sighed in relief as Remus allowed him to pull him into his arms and the werewolf's head dropped onto his shoulder. "It's okay, Moons." He said softly, running his fingers through the sweat-damp curls.  

 "I'm sorry." It was hardly a whisper, and Sirius wasn't sure if he meant for the way he was behaving or if he was once again apologizing for what had happened. Maybe both. He nodded.

 "I know." He lifted Remus' chin and kissed his lips. "I love you, Remus."

  "I love you, Sirius." 

 James and Peter, confused as they were, stayed silent and averted their eyes to give the couple as much privacy as they could manage. Remus' strangled sound of pain brought that moment to a too-sudden end, and both James and Peter backed away, preparing to transform. Remus' body shuddered and he cried out, but Sirius didn't budge.

 "We're going to be okay, Remus." He promised, still holding onto the werewolf tightly. "Understand?"

 Remus nodded quickly, his eyes screwed shut as white hot pain seared through him. Sirius reluctantly let him go and moved out of the way, transforming only seconds after James and Peter just before the wolf's piecing howl filled the air.

-

Cold. He felt so cold. 

 There was a ringing sound in his ears, but he could hear hushed, frantically bickering voices:

 "Sirius, you have to go-"

 "Fuck you, Potter! I'm not leaving him."

 "If he sees you like this-"

 "Then hurry the bloody hell up and heal me before he wakes up!" 

  "I'm not a damn healer, Pads! I'm doing the best I can!"

 "Well you'll have to do better than your best, I can't go to Pomfrey like this, obviously!" 

 What was happening? What was wrong with Sirius? Remus tried to speak but his jaw hurt like hell and his mouth was bone dry. He shifted uncomfortably from where he was lying in a heap on the dusty, hard floor.

 "Shit." Swore Peter quietly, his voice much closer than James' or Sirius'. "Prongs, Pads, he's waking up."

 "W-what's going-?" Remus managed, gritting his teeth and trying not to move his apparently injured jaw too much. He blinked his eyes a few times. He could see Peter sitting beside him, his small blue eyes filled with a mix of anxiety and concern. "What happened?"

 Peter licked his lips nervously, eyes flickering between Remus and what Remus assumed was James and Sirius on the other side of the room. "N-nothing, Remus. It's fine. Everything's fine." 

 "Don't lie to me, Pete." Remus pleaded weakly. Peter didn't reply, he just continued to worry his bottom lip, eyes looking anywhere but Remus'.  

 Ignoring the searing pain that shot through every part of his body, Remus struggled to lift himself up slightly. His eyesight was still a little blurry and his head was pounding, He must have gotten hit with something, but he could see Sirius sitting up against the wall and James hovering over him, doing something that Remus couldn't quite see.

 "Don't look, Moony." Sirius' strained voice demanded. Remus could tell he was trying to prevent him from becoming upset. "I'm fine, I promise."

 Remus shook his head, trying to stop the spinning, trying to come back into reality. 

 "P-Pads?"

 "Fuck." James said sharply, throwing his wand down in frustration. "Your bloody ribs are broken, mate. I can't fix this on my own, Sirius!"

 Remus' eyes went wide with panic. Broken ribs? How...?

  "Someone tell me what the fuck is going on!" His heart was beating so fast and hard in his chest he thought if he looked down he would surely be able to see it thumping right under his skin. 

  "Nothing!" Snapped Sirius, who was slowly getting to his feet with the help of James and the wall behind him. He was shirtless, and Remus could now see the horrible dark red and black bruising that covered his left side. 

 "What did I do?" Remus asked in barely a whisper, horrified at the site of the other boy's injuries. "S-Sirius, what-?"

  "You didn't do anything, Moony." Peter said quickly. He had moved to sit in front of the werewolf, purposely blocking his vision of the other two boys.

 "Peter," Remus breathed shakily. "Please don't lie to me." He said again, looking at the smaller boy desperately. To his surprise, crystal blue eyes steadily met his own. 

"Remus, I swear you didn't do that to Padfoot." Peter said firmly, holding his gaze, mouth pressed into a thin line. 

 Remus blinked a few times and swallowed past the lump in his throat. After a moment he nodded, believing his friend's words. But something still didn't feel right. 

  "Pete, stay with Moony. Help him get to the bed. I'm taking Sirius to Pomfrey." 

 Peter and Remus looked to James in shock.

 "Pomfrey! But-!"

 "You can't! She'll-!"

 "We'll come up with a story. Just take care of Remus. I'll meet you back in the dorm." James instructed, leaving no room for argument as he threw the cloak over both himself and Sirius.

 Once the sound of their footsteps had faded, Peter carefully helped Remus stand. Remus stumbled a bit, a rush going straight to his head as he stood, making the room spin. He was happy for Peter, who was able to catch him before he fell and allowed Remus to lean heavily on him as they walked to the bed.

 Remus laid down, staring blankly at the cracked ceiling of the shack. "Worm..." He croaked, voice still sore and scratchy. "Please tell me what happened last night?" 

 Peter didn't answer right away, but Remus heard him sigh as he searched through the drawers where they usually kept their belongings for the night. After a couple of seconds he felt the bed dip under the other boy's weight. Peter sighed and leaned against the headboard, opening the bag Sirius always packed for Remus and rummaging through it.

 "Here," He said, handing Remus a bottle of water which Remus gratefully accepted. Peter gave him a sheepish smile. "Sorry, I know I'm probably not as good at all this post-moon-Moony-care as Sirius is."

 Remus chugged down nearly half the bottle and shook his head, wiping his chin of some that had spilled. "Don't be silly. You're doing fine." he managed a weak smile, regardless of how badly is hurt to do so. "Although there are a few things Sirius does that I'm sure you aren't up for."

 Peter snorted and rolled his eyes. "Love you, Moony. But I think I'll leave that to Padfoot."

 There was a long, heavy silence as Remus drank the rest of his water and Peter seemed to purposely avoid eye contact with him. Something bad had happened, Remus knew that. Whether or not it had been him that had hurt Sirius, it was somehow his fault and the other three Marauders didn't want him to know. They didn't want him to feel guilty. They didn't want him to feel like a monster.

 "Peter," He said quietly. "Please..."

 He could practically see the gears in Peter's head turning as the boy debated what to say, or if he should say anything at all. Finally he took a deep breath and exhaled.

"A-at first everything was normal." Peter began, clearly uncomfortable being the one to have to tell. "You turned, took a sniff at us and we headed into the Forest."

 Remus closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on Peter's story, fishing his brain for any remembrance.

Rat. Stag. Dog. Pack.

Yes, that he remembered.

Wormtail sitting on top of Prongs' head and Padfoot sitting beside them, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth and tail thumping excitedly on the floor, kicking up dust and dirt.

Moony approached them, sniffing for their familiar scents. Prongs and Wormtail were always still as stone while Moony investigated them, but Padfoot...

Play. Play. Play. Moony, Play.

The dog laid down, rolling onto his back to expose his belly and neck in a submissive manner and barking happily for the Wolf's attention, which was granted to him as it always was. Moony nudged his snout against the dog's neck in the exact spot that Remus had bitten Sirius days before.  He licked him there.

Mine.

"We wanted to find that field that prongs had found a while back. The one with the wild Snidges." Peter continued. His voice sounded distant as the memories came flooding back to Remus.

Moony sat back and watched the bear-like black dog bound through the tall grass, successfully disturbing a nest of Snidgets. The small yellow birds scattered into the air, chirping angrily at Padfoot, who simply continued to jump up, snapping his teeth at them. The birds flew off, landing on a low hanging branch of a nearby tree, just mockingly out of the dog's reach. 

Padfoot whined, his head tilting to the side as he pawed at the trunk of the tree. He turned to his friends and yipped. He couldn't succeed on his own, he'd have to be taller.

"So of course Prongs goes to help him and, well you know how they are together. They got distracted and started chasing after each other instead..."

Prongs and Padfoot were play fighting. Not an unusual occurrence. Prongs, careful not to hurt the dog with his antlers, pressed his head against Padfoot's and the two of them pushed against each other for a while until Prongs managed to knock Padfoot off balance. 

Padfoot rolled onto his back, the signal for I Give Up. You Win. 

Moony's eyes narrowed. 

"It was weird, because it wasn't like they were doing anything out of the ordinary, but you just started growling. You didn't seem angry, though...it was a warning growl. Like when Padfoot tries to pin you down and you tell him off. You being the Alpha and all..."

Prongs held his head up high in victory, gently placing one hoof on Padfoot's belly. 

Moony's claws dug into the dirt beneath him. He could hear Wormtail squeaking beside him, concerned. He ignored the rat. The Stag and the Dog were of much more importance. 

"So you started calling for him. But y'know how Prongs and Pads are when they are off in their own world. He probably didn't hear you over whatever game they were playing..."

Padfoot was up in seconds flat, running circles around the stag and weaving between its long legs. He barked, pouncing at Prongs a few times before running off for Prongs to chase him. 

Padfoot skidded to a halt, head low to the ground and backside up, tail wagging enthusiastically. Prongs had caught up to him.

"One thing lead to another and Prongs had flipped him onto his back again...that's when you got...angry..."

Moony howled and ran forward, knocking Prongs away from the dog with incredible force. Prongs stumbled back in shock, looking at Moony who was standing over Padfoot and growling fiercely. 

Prongs took another step back and bowed his head in respect. He obviously hadn't been trying to hurt Padfoot. It was only a game. 

Padfoot, however, whined. He was confused at why Moony had stopped his and Prongs' fun. He huffed in annoyance and wriggled out from beneath the wolf.

"That was when you turned on Padfoot..." Peter's voice shook anxiously as he went on. "You pinned him again and you wouldn't let him up...you were getting a little rough so Prongs...he intervened..."

Moony yelped in surprise and pain as Prongs' front hooves pushed him off, sending him flying. He picked himself back up and shook off.

"You charged at Prongs, but Pads tried to get between the both of you so Prongs kicked him out of the way...I reckon that's where the broken ribs are from...You...you really didn't like that." 

Padfoot let out a pained cry as he landed in a heap, several feet away. 

Moony saw red. 

"Prongs...he had no choice, Moony. He didn't mean to hurt you, and he felt terrible about it after. But you were really after him, teeth and all..."

Remus raised a trembling hand to the back of his head, which was still pounding. He wasn't sure he wanted to hear the rest of this...

But he had to...

"You ran after him, but before you could attack he kicked you away. Got you right in the head and knocked you out." Peter swallowed thickly. "Probably hurt your jaw as well from the looks of it." He gave a nervous, sideways glance toward Remus. "We don't know what made you act like this. We've never seen you look so..." He trailed off.

Remus stared blankly ahead. He didn't know what to do or say. He had attacked his friends. 

"I can't do this anymore." 

-

"Mr. Black, what on earth were you thinking!" Scolded Madam Pomfrey as she and James assisted Sirius to the nearest bed. "Trying to get past the Whomping Willow, honestly! What could have possessed you-?"

 Sirius winced as he laid back, letting the nurse poke and prod at his bruised side. "Just wanted to surprise Remus." He lied through his teeth, just as he and James had discussed. "I thought I could make it past." 

Pomfrey shook her head disapprovingly as she poured a goblet of some nasty looking potion and shoved it at him. "Foolish boy! Couldn't have waited to come see him once I had him safe and sound in here..." She continued to mutter to herself as she fussed over him. 

"Well, you know me." Sirius sighed, averting his eyes from James'. "Fucking full of stupid ideas." 

 "Language, Mr. Black!" 

"Sorry." He muttered. 

 "Well," Sighed Madam Pomfrey, folding her arms impatiently. "You take that potion, Mr. Black. Mr. Potter, I trust you can look after him while I go retrieve Mr. Lupin, safely, from the shack." She hurried out, still talking to herself about Sirius' stupidity. 

Both James and Sirius were silent for a moment that seemed like forever. Sirius refused to look, but he could feel James' eyes piercing into him. 

 "So?" James said finally. Sirius could hear the frown in his voice.  

"So what?" He muttered, staring down at the goblet of thick green potion. 

 James folded his arms, glaring at Sirius over the rim of his glasses. "So are you going to tell me what the fuck is going on with you and Remus?"

Sirius didn't answer. He lifted the goblet to his lips and held his breath as he tilted his head back and chugged it down. Disgusting. He pulled a face and set the goblet down on the bedside table. "Nothing is going on. We're fine." 

"Fine?" James scoffed. "You expect me to believe everything is fine after the way you were both acting in the shack? Yelling about hurting someone? And then..." He shook his head, running a hand through his hair. "That wasn't normal, Sirius! He wouldn't let us near you and he almost..." He swallowed hard. "Sirius, what's wrong with Moony?"

 "I don't know!" Sirius shouted angrily, finally looking at the other boy. Both of his hands dragged through his long hair and tugged. "I...I don't know what's wrong with him, Prongs. He's losing control of himself! He's gotten possessive and...and you know how he's been dragging me off all the time to..." He made a very obvious hand gesture that, had the situation been any different, James would have laughed at. But James just nodded for him to continue. "Apparently it's because he can't help it! He gets these urges and he can't ignore them. And it's..." He paused, not wanting to continue. 

 "It's what, Pads?" James asked gently, shifting awkwardly on his feet. 

Sirius licked his lips. "He's just been a bit aggressive." He muttered, pulling his knees to his chest. He forced a laugh. "Not that I don't enjoy it, mind you. In fact, it's sort of my own bloody fault because I sometimes get him all worked up to get that way...but I never thought that..." He sighed and pulled his wand out from under his pillow, pointing it at his neck. "Finite Incantartum." 

James gasped as the glamour charm on Sirius' throat disolved, revealing a silvery pink scar. 

 "Remus bit you?"

"Don't say anything about it to him, Prongs. He feels badly enough and it wasn't his fault." Sirius grumbled, re-charming the mark and stuffing his wand back under his pillow.

 James gaped at him. "I..." He sat heavily in the chair beside Sirius' bed and took his glasses off to rub his eyes. "Sirius, that's...that's really serious..."

"It's fine, it's not like he's turned me-" 

"No, Sirius." James sighed. "It's not about that. Remus...he would never do that. If he lost control to the point where he's left a scar like that on you, something has to be really, really wrong with him." He shook his head. "I can't believe he didn't up and-" 

 "I know." Sirius cut him off sharply. He knew exactly what James was thinking and he preferred not to think the same way. "But that's why I don't want to make a big fuss over this. I don't want him upsetting himself and thinking that...that being with me is too dangerous..."

The doors to the infirmary opened and Madam Pomfrey ushered a limping, but still standing, Remus inside. She was prattling on to him as well. "Don't know what you've managed to do to yourself. You could very well have a concussion. Go on then, get to bed, I'll get your potions." She disappeared into the back storage room. 

Remus stood still, staring at Sirius in the bed beside the vacant one that was reserved for himself. He looked like one gust of wind could knock him right off his feet. James stood abruptly and hurried to his side to help him. 

 "Here, Moons..." He carefully put his arm around the werewolf for support. 

Remus shook his head. "It's fine, James. You don't have to help me." He was too weak to actually pull away though, and had no choice but to allow James to assist him to the bed next to Sirius'. 

 "I'm sorry." He muttered, his eyes blank and completely void of emotion as he settled back against the pillows. "I'm sorry, James...for what-" 

"Shut up, Remus." James said quietly, adjusting the boy's pillow for him. "It's alright. Everyone's fine, aren't they?" 

Remus didn't respond.

 "Moony," Sirius tried, carefully shifting onto his side, trying not to irritate his mending bones. "Hey, Moons, it's alright. No ones upset with you or anything. Everything's going to be fine, yeah?" 

Again there was no response. 

 Pomfrey was back, carrying a tray of different potions and salves for Remus. All three Gryffindors were silent as Pomfrey set about tending to Remus' cuts and scrapes. Remus took his potions without argument, still staring straight ahead. 

 "Mr. Potter, I'm afraid both Mr. Lupin and Mr. Black need rest. You and Mr. Pettigrew can come back after lunch to visit with them if you wish." Said the Mediwitch, not bothering to look up from bandaging Remus' arm as she spoke. 

James bit his lip, his eyes meeting Sirius' briefly. 

 "Yes ma'am." He sighed. "See you later guys. Feel better." And he reluctantly left the hospital wing. 

Pomfrey finished with Remus and turned her attention back to Sirius, poking and prodding at his aching ribs and muttering more spells and enchantments to ease the burning pain. Once she was finished she instructed them both to rest and she left them alone. 

 There was a long stretch of silence where Sirius thought Remus may have actually fallen asleep, but when he turned to look at the next bed he saw that Remus was indeed awake, eyes still glued to the stark white ceiling. 

 "Moony, it-" 

"It's over." 

Sirius' breath hitched. His mouth dropped and he stared over at the boy in the next bed. No...no he couldn't mean...

"W-what?" 

 "I'm sorry Sirius." Remus whispered. "I can't do this anymore..."

"You don't mean that." Sirius shook his head. "You don't, Remus!"

 "I do mean it. I-I'm so sorry-"

"No!" Sirius sat up, despite the sharp pain in his side, and faced him. "Fuck, Moony! You can't...you can't just-! We're going to figure this out! It'll be fine! We're going to be fine!"

"You don't know that, Sirius."

 "I do know that! Because we love-"

"Yes." Remus said, turning his head so he could look into Sirius' eyes. "I do love you, Sirius. And that's why I need to end this. I won't put you in danger anymore." He looked back at the ceiling. "It's over." 

Chapter Text

It had been three weeks since what they were all calling "The Bad Moon". None of them thought that anything could shake the dynamic of the group the way Sirius' prank had last year, but it seemed they had thought wrong.

It was as if Remus had completely disappeared over night. Aside from classes, where he strategically sat as far off on the opposite side of the room from his friends with his eyes trained on the parchment or text in front of him, he was no where to be found. He was never at meals anymore, either and he wasn't even sleeping in the dorm room.

It was driving Sirius crazy.
He barely ate, and if he did sleep it was usually in dog form under Remus' bed, although twice James woke up in the middle of the night to find a big, furry black head beside his own on his pillow.

If he wasn't chain smoking cigarettes on the roof, he was out roaming the corridors hoping to run into Remus. He never did, so instead he took his frustration out anyone that so much as looked at him the wrong way. Needless to say he was back to his old detention schedule.

James had made the executive decision to withhold the map from Sirius.

"He clearly doesn't want to be found, Padfoot. Give him space."

"This is fucking ridiculous." Sirius snarled, pulling on his leather jacket and fishing his cigarettes from his pocket. "I've given him space! It's been weeks and I haven't so much as spoken a word to him! Not that I could, considering he's practically gone and moved out." He kicked his trunk closed with unnecessary force. "I mean, if he doesn't want to be with me anymore, bloody fine! But does he have to just up and leave all of us? We're suppose to be a family, the four of us, aren't we? Wasn't that the promise we made? No matter what?" He took a deep, shaking breath and ran a hand through his hair.

"He's probably trying to make the transition easier for you, mate." Peter suggested gently.

"Yeah," James agreed. "It won't be so simple for either of you to go back to being friends after-"

"No. Fuck no." Sirius snapped, crossing the room to the window and sliding it open to let the chilly December air in.

"We don't have to go back to being anything because this is fucking stupid and he's going to see that!" He climbed up onto the window sill and swung his legs over the side. He sat there for a few seconds and sighed. "We just need to figure out what's happening to him, and then we can work on fixing it, right?"

James and Peter exchanged a look. They wanted to believe that that was true. They wanted Sirius to believe it. But they also wanted to be realistic. There wasn't much in the Hogwarts library about werewolves in the first place that they hadn't already read front to back, and nothing they had read seemed comparable to Remus' behavior.

"Don't worry, Sirius." James said at last. "We'll figure this out, mate. We always do."

Sirius sat for another second without a word before sliding off the windowsill onto the roof.

 James sat heavily on his bed and rubbed his temples. He hated seeing Sirius so upset after how far he had come from that downward spiral last year. And Remus' absence was taking quite a toll on all of them.

 "I'm going to check the library again, want to come?" He stood and opened his trunk for the map and cloak.

 Peter shook his head. "You're on your own this time. I promised Emmeline I'd study with her."

 "Fuck," James groaned. "Oh fucking hell. I forgot I told Mary I'd take her out to Hogsmeade tonight."

 Peter shrugged. "So go with Mary. The library will still be here later. You really should go and enjoy yourself. You can't put your life on hold because Padfoot and Moony can't go a school year without breaking up." He smirked, trying to lighten the mood a little.

 James looked up at him and frowned. "It's not about Pads and Moony breaking up, Worm. Something is wrong with Remus. Aren't you worried?"

  "Of course I'm worried," The humor in Peter's voice was gone as he took a more serious tone on the matter. "But we've been to the library a billion times and we still haven't found anything. Besides, there's a bunch of books on lycanthropy that are missing from the shelves. That means someone else took them out. Probably Remus! Think about it, Sirius never hides anything from you, but he didn't tell you about this. They wanted to figure this out on their own. It's between them." He slid off his bed and sat down beside James. "I know you don't like seeing Sirius so...bad...again, and you feel like you need to fix it for him. And Remus as well. But you are allowed to take a night off from being the hero, Prongs." He clapped James on the shoulder. "Go out with Mary."


-


The door to the sixth year girls' dorm shut just a little too loudly, making Lily jump. She threw her bookmark haphazardly into the library book she had been reading and stuck her head out from the bed curtains.

"Mary?" She frowned, having not expected to see the girl for a few more hours that night, let alone looking so disappointed.

Mary managed a small smile, sheepishly tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.

"Sorry, Lil. I didn't mean to slam the door like that. Were you studying?"

Lily shook her head, eyeing the other girl with concern. "Oh, no not at all. I was just reading." Without looking she quickly shoved the old book under her pillow.

 "Are you alright? I thought you had plans with Potter?"

 Mary nodded, humming and rubbing the back of her neck, eyes downcast. She bounced on her heels awkwardly a few times before sighing and plopping down on the side of her bed, facing Lily.

 "He canceled again." Her eyes stared down at her lap as she began to twist that permanently loose strand of hair around her forefinger. "I know you didn't approve of me dating him in the first place, so I don't want you to think he's just some jerk - well, I mean, no more than you already think that of course - because he really is very sweet and funny when we do spend time together, really Lily."

Lily opened her curtain the rest of the way and shifted to sit on the edge of her mattress as she listened to Mary, smiling and nodding encouragingly.

"Of course, Mary." She said. "Look, I don't...I don't hate Potter...Er...anymore," she laughed. "I just know that he can be a bit of a prat and I didn't want to see you get hurt, that's all. It's not that I don't approve."

 Mary's shoulders slumped forward in relief. "Good. I...I admit, for a while I thought you were really upset with me over it."

 Lily blushed guiltily. Her behavior had been rather embarrassing at first, but she had begun to get use to the idea. Mary seemed happy when she would spend time with Potter, and that's all Lily could want. "I'm sorry I made you feel that way, Mary."

 "No, that's alright...I mean, here I am, right? Hurting, just like you said I would." Mary huffed, resting her elbows on her knees and her chin on her hands.

"Well," Lily pressed on. "What was his reason for canceling?"

Mary sighed, laughing softly. "Oh it's always the same. His friends need him for one thing or another." She rolled her eyes. "Well, not that I can blame him this time around. Everyone knows that Sirius hasn't been doing well since Remus broke it off-"

"Remus broke up with Sirius!" Lily gasped, her eyes going wide.

Mary frowned. "You didn't know? It happened weeks ago. No one knows why, the four of them have kept it all pretty hush. But the rumor is that Remus isn't even sleeping in the dorm anymore. I thought you and Remus were close?"

"W-we are," Lily said softly, still shocked. "I just haven't seen him much..."

She hadn't. Even during rounds, he only said a quick hello to her before going off on his own. Lily was trying to give him space, knowing what she did about what had happened on Halloween between him and Sirius. But if the situation had actually gotten so bad that Remus had ended the relationship, it must be worse than she thought.

 Lily stood abruptly, grabbing her bag and throwing several books from her bedside table in, along with the one she had hidden beneath her pillow. "Sorry, Mary! I've just remembered I...prefect thing...very important. I'll be back later!" She slung her bag over her shoulder and darted from the room, leaving a very confused Mary behind.

 Lily sped down the stairs into the common room, skipping several steps at a time and for possibly the first time in her life, she was relieved to see the messy back of James Potter's head, just as he was about to leave through the portrait.

 "Potter!" She called, running towards him. "Potter, wait!"

James paused and looked over his shoulder at her. One eyebrow quirked up and frowning in confusion. "Evans?"

"I need to talk to you." Lily said breathlessly.

James' hazel eyes narrowed. "Look, Evans, if it's about me ditching Mary tonight, I apologize. I didn't mean to hurt her feelings, but I-"

"It's not about Mary." Lily cut him off, opening her bag and pulling out a book. "It's about Remus and Sirius."

She shoved a battered, dusty copy of Hairy Snout, Human Heart into his hands.

 James' jaw dropped and he quickly looked around to make sure no one else was within earshot. He leaned in closer to her. "How do you know about-?"

"Remus? I figured it out last year." She explained hurriedly, waving it off. She held her head a littler higher. "I know more than you think, Potter."

 James stared at her for a moment, mouth pressed into a thin line. He held the book up. "You're the one taking out books on Lycanthropy from the library?"

She nodded. "Yes. Sirius asked me for help hiding the..." She gestured at her throat and James nodded his head, understanding. "After that I started reading up on it as much as I could. I wanted to help."

"Have you found anything?" Asked James, his voice remained stern but his eyes became hopeful, silently praying that Lily would say yes and the mystery would be solved.

Lily bit her lip. "Not exactly...but...I think I may have an idea that could point is in the right direction. I just need to get into the restricted section."

A slow smile creeped across James' face and Lily felt her stomach drop, though whether it was from fear or something completely different, she wasn't sure.

"You really want to help, Evans?" Asked James.

She swallowed. "Yes, of course."

"And you don't mind a little rule breaking in the process? No questions asked?"

"I think the situation outweighs the consequences, yes."

James smirked, a mischievous glint in his eyes. "Do you solemnly swear?"

Lily blinked at him, utterly confused. "Uh...yes?"

"Excellent." He said briskly, once again checking the room to make sure they were alone. Once he confirmed that there was no one around, he pulled something from his bag and before Lily could even question it, she felt herself and James being draped with a soft, flowing material.

 "What is this?" She asked, feeling incredibly awkward standing in the common room with what seemed to be an impossibly soft blanket over her head.
James chuckled. "It's an invisibility cloak."

"A what!" Lily gasped in surprise, a little more loudly than she had meant to and James cringed.

"First rule of invisibility, Evans...be quiet. No point in being unseen if you can be heard across the castle, yeah?"

 Lily frowned and made an indignant sound, earning a warning look from James. She rolled her eyes and gestured with her hand for him to lead the way.

It was a very strange feeling to walk through the dark, familiar corridors at an unnaturally slow pace in order to remain covered by James Potter's cloak. Several times a Professor or a fellow prefect would pass them, unbeknownst to their presence and Lily would take in a sharp breath, her heart pounding as she fought the urge to run and hide, reminding herself that she was in fact invisible.

James on the other hand, was totally and completely at ease. He practically glided through the halls as if this were his natural element. It was like he knew every nook and stone of the castle as well as he knew himself. Occasionally he would grab Lily by the elbow and pull her around behind a statue or into a dark corner to avoid Filch or a house Ghost.
Peaking around a suit of armor they had ducked behind, narrowly missing Mrs. Norris' curiously sniffing nose, James cocked his head to the left and waved Lily along.

 Lily didn't move. She frowned and pointed in the opposite direction. What was he playing at? The library was the other way.

"Just trust me." The boy whispered with a cocky smile.

"But-?"

James tutted and shook his head. "No questions asked, Evans." He winked. "You swore."

She sighed in defeat. She had sworn, and she supposed Potter and his friends had spent enough of the last six years sneaking around the school to know what they were doing.

"Alright, your way then." She agreed.

James lead off to the left, staying close to the wall, running one hand along the stones. Lily watched with interest and curiosity as James' face became very focused. His brow furrowed, nose scrunched just slightly and the tip of his tongue peaked out the corner of his lips. She had never really taken a moment to look at him quite so closely, and she found the corner of her lip twitch upward as she observed him. She was so distracted that she didn't notice when James stopped short and she crashed right into him with a soft "oof!"

James snorted and looked down at her with a raised eyebrow. "Alright, Evans?"

Lily felt her face grow warm and she shook herself. "Er, yes. Of course. Sorry, I...tripped."

James' smirk widened. "If I didn't know any better I'd think you were just looking to grab my arse." He chuckled. "It's alright, Evans. I know the Quidditch pitch has done me some favors."

 Lily rolled her eyes. "Oh yes. You've caught me. Prat." She was glad that it was so dark and James could not see how red her face must have been. "So why've we stopped then?" She folded her arms.

 James' expression became more serious and focused once more as he turned his attention back to the wall. He scratched his chin thoughtfully, eyes narrowing as he gave the wall a once over. "Should be..." He muttered slowly, lifting both his hands. "This one." He placed both palms on one of the cold, gray stones and gave a small grunt as he pushed. Before Lily could ask what he was doing, she froze.
Her jaw dropped and she stared ahead in awe as part of the wall disappeared completely before her eyes, revealing a narrow, pitch black tunnel. "What the bloody fu-"

"Ooh, such language for little miss Prefect, eh?" James snickered, glancing over his shoulder at her.

"Please, Remus swears nearly every other word and you know it."

"Ah yes, but Remus isn't just a prefect. He is a corrupt rogue playing both sides of the law." He heaved a heavy sigh. "He makes me proud, that boy. He's come so far." He wiped a mock tear from his eye and Lily found herself smiling fondly at him.

 The hidden corridor was just wide enough for them to squeeze in, but they had to walk single file. It was so dark once the wall returned behind them that Lily couldn't see her own hand in front of her face. It was hard to follow Potter and stay hidden under the cloak when she felt as though she were blind. A hand on her wrist made her jump and gasp.

 "Sorry," James muttered, lifting her arm and placing her hand on his shoulder. "Here. Contact makes it easier to stay together. I forgot how bloody hard it is to take this short cut with another person...especially when they've never been down here."

"How'd you find this?" Lily asked, speaking as quietly as she could manage.

She felt James shrug. "Second year, I think... Sirius found it while we were running from Filch." His shoulders shook in a silent laugh. "We had just hexed his cousin Narcissa's lipstick to make her kiss this the nearest bloke every time someone said the word 'mudblood'."

Lily actually grinned. "Clever. So the rumor that Narcissa Black kissed Slughorn is actually true?"

"One hundred percent true." James said proudly. "She had said some nasty thing to Sirius about being a blood traitor and associating with the wrong sorts. Called Remus a bunch of names... Sirius nearly knocked her out, probably would have if I hadn't stopped him and told him we could get her back in a much better way without getting detention for punching a girl in the face."

Lily hummed softly. "You're a good friend...the way you protect Sirius...it's nice."

James shrugged. "Someone has to look out for that git or he'd get himself killed or...I don't know...incarcerated or something." He laughed and she smiled.

"You do a pretty good job of watching out for your friends as well." Said James, though there was a slight edge to his voice.

 "Er...I suppose?" She wasn't sure how she was meant to respond. It hadn't sounded like a compliment.

 James cleared his throat awkwardly. "Sorry...that was..." He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "Nevermind."

"No," Lily insisted, stepping closer. "What is it?"

 James took a second to think before he sighed again. "Do you hate that I've been seeing Mary?"

Again, Lily felt her face heat up and her heart leapt into her throat. She swallowed it down. "W-what? Of course not. Why would-"

"Because you think I'm some sort of jackass who doesn't care for anyone's feelings." James said bitterly. "What was it you called me that one time? An 'arrogant toerag'?"

Lily bit her lip, hanging her head in shame. "Look, James-"

"No, it's fine-"

"It's not fine," Lily argued. "I was-"

"No." James repeated firmly. "It is fine. I was an arrogant toerag." Their walking had slowed down and Lily wondered if they were nearing the end of the tunnel. "I was a jerk to certain people, and I was an annoying pain in your arse on top of it...but I wouldn't intentionally hurt a girl's feelings. I...I quite like Mary, actually."

 Lily suddenly felt very uncomfortable, like the tunnel was getting smaller, forcing her and James Potter closer and closer together when they shouldn't be so close at all. It was hard to breathe. "D-do you?" She managed.

"Yeah." James said simply. "She's a nice girl. She's fun...doesn't hex my briefs to give me wedgies when I tell her she's got nice...assets..."

Even in the dark, Lily could tell that James was giving her a pointed look. She laughed.

"Sorry for that."

 "What's done is done. I deserved it." James admit. Then after a moment he said, "can I ask you something?"

"Yeah..."

"Is she upset I canceled on her?" He asked earnestly. "I really didn't mean to, it's just with everything going on with Remus and the way it's making Sirius so crazy, I just...I forgot I had plans with her. I'm too worried about them...I do feel like a git for ditching her though."

 Lily was slightly taken aback by how sorry James really did sound. He really did like Mary. She felt guilty for having accused him of only dating the other girl to make her jealous. She sighed. "I...I think she'll get over it. She likes you quite a bit as well."

James exhaled in relief. "Brilliant. Thanks." Then he stopped walking. "Almost there. Just have to..." She felt James reach behind himself and pull out what must have been his wand. Her thoughts were confirmed as he quietly whispered. "Lumos." And a soft glow sprouted from the tip.

She could see now that they were standing at a dead end, another brick wall just like the one that had disappeared to allow them into the secret passage. James pushed on the wall just as he had before, only this time the bricks did not disappear, they swung open like a door on a hinge. Lily snorted to herself, remembering the cliche mystery films she and Petunia watched when they were younger, which always involved castles with doors disguised as walls leading to secret laboratories or chambers. She did not, however, expect this particular wall-turned-door to lead them directly to where they wanted to go, and she gasped - for possibly the twentieth time that evening - as they stepped out of the dark tunnel and into the far back corner of the Library's restricted section.

"Wow." She uttered, thoroughly impressed.

James turned and grinned at her. "Told you to trust me."

 "My apologies, Potter. I'll try not to doubt you again." She matched his grin with a smirk of her own.

"Nah," said James, shaking his head and closing the secret passage (a bookshelf from this side, of course) back up again.

 "You'll find more reasons to doubt me I'm sure. Now then," he rubbed his hands together. "You said you had an idea that may point is in the right direction?"

Oh, Lily thought, suddenly remembering why they had gone on this strange adventure in the first place. "Yes. Right. Well...it's only a hunch, mind you..."

"Hey, a hunch is more than what Pete and Sirius and I have got." James reasoned.

 "Well," Lily murmured thoughtfully, walking slowly along the aisle of books and carefully scanning their spines. "The thing is, there isn't much literature on adolescent lycanthropes..." As she walked, she dragged one long, thin finger along the shelves, waiting to grab the title once she found it.

 James chuckled. "What? You mean like werewolf puberty? Yeah, I'm pretty sure they don't teach that in school."

 Lily hummed and nodded. "That's exactly what I mean, actually." She plucked a book from the shelf and flipped through the pages. "The thing is, most werewolves weren't bitten until they were adults. And most children that are bitten, well..." She trailed off and James grimaced. They get put down. "So there just isn't much to go by about what happens when a young werewolf comes of age."
James frowned, blinking at her in confusion. "What do you mean?"

 Lily continued to flip through the book she was holding. "Like I said, I can't say for certain...I'm mostly going off what I know of actual wolves and some mythology, however..."

 "Myths are based on fact." James finished her thought exactly. "Facts that got twisted for years and years until they were merely used for entertainment or to teach kids a lesson."

 Lily smiled up at him. "Exactly."

 "So...what werewolf myth are we implying is real enough to have Remus losing his mind every time he's within ten feet of Sirius all of the sudden?" James frowned, craning his neck for a better view of what Lily was reading.

The redhead quickly flipped through a few more pages and her eyes lit up. "This one." She tilted the book for James to see. "Mating. Wolves have mates, James. And according to legends and myths, so do werewolves."

James sputtered and shifted awkwardly. "Er...well..." He coughed. "Th-that...um..."

 Lily raised an eyebrow. "Are you alright?"

"Er..." James let out a nervous laugh and scratched the back of his head. "Yeah, it's just...I mean, we're talking about my two best friends and...their sex life."

 Lily scoffed. "You expect me to believe you and Sirius don't talk about sex?"

"Of course we do! But...I mean, this...the whole mating thing...that's...it just seems a little...y'know...personal, I guess? Intimate..."

"Hmmm," Lily nodded, looking back down at the page. "I think it's actually quite sweet. You know, once you get past the aggression and possessiveness that comes with it at first..."

James stared at her, making a semi-disgusted face. "You are a strange bird, Evans." He looked over her shoulder.

"Er...so is Remus going to keep acting like a bloody maniac around Sirius forever or...?"

 Lily sighed. "Dunno. I don't think so. But I don't even know if this is the real answer. It's just the closest thing we've got." She closed the book and slipped it into her bag along with two others that she grabbed off the shelf. "We'll have to read up on it as much as possible before we can make any conclusions of course."

"Yeah," James agreed. He didn't seem as excited as Lily felt. She bit her lip, watching the boy's anxious expression.
"Potter?"
"I'm fine...I just wish we had more than just a hunch and some myths."

 "We'll figure it out, James." Lily smiled reassuringly, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "They'll be okay."

"I hope so."

"They will, James." Lily insisted. "They've got you, after all."

 

Chapter Text

Hey everyone,

 I am receiving a lot of messages here and on Tumblr asking if I’ve stopped writing this fic since its been an extended period since I’ve updated.


I have not abandoned this fic, nor do I plan to. It is my baby, and I plan to carry it all the way to the horrible, bitter end.


 It is currently…I don’t want to say “on hiatus” because that makes it seem like it’s going to be a while before I start up again, and I really don’t want that to happen. But it is on a temporary hold for the moment while I pull myself together.


As some of you know, I lost my job a few weeks ago. I wasn’t “fired” as much as I was aggressively forced to quit. I have been with this company a total of 7 years and my brother, step father and estranged mother all work for them as well so it was…very political, we’ll say…in the end.


 I’ve tried a few times to sit and write a new chapter while I’ve been unemployed and bored to death, but it’s like there’s a road block. I can take detours around said road block and write funny, fluffy, smutty one-shots like the Red Riding Hood fic, but the current emotions that are happening in the time line of this story don’t mash well with my own mental health, which is sort of hanging by a thread. 


 Hang in there with me, guys. You’ve all been really great about letting me know that there is no rush and that I should take my time. I just wanted to fill you all in and let you know that I have not dropped the fic and I will update it as soon as my brain decides to take away the damn traffic cones and let me through. 


Thanks for the love and support!
Xxx Tara

 

((@captofthesswolfstar on tumblr for those who don't follow!))

Chapter Text

"Remus, I think this has gone on long enough. I understand that you felt the need to separate yourself from us after what happened last month, but you can't just lock yourself away out here until graduation. You have to come back to the dorm."

 Remus bit down hard on his bottom lip and refused to look up from the potions essay he was trying to write. Admittedly, the shrieking shack was not the best place for focusing on homework. The creaking walls and howling winds were enough of a distraction, and he had to wear two jumpers since the bitter December air always found a way to creep in no matter how many warming charms he used. But he simply could not bring himself to return to Gryffindor tower.

"I don't belong there, James." He muttered, scratching away at the parchment with his quill. He was sitting on the bed with his text book propped up on his knee and his parchment laid across it. He had tried transfiguring the piano into a desk, but all he had managed to do was offend the instrument, which subsequently decided to play Dies Irae at top volume, repetitively until he apologized and moved his homework back to the bed.

 "That's bullshit, Remus." James argued. "Of course you belong there! You certainly don't belong here-"
Remus snorted and rolled his eyes.

 "Don't I? I'm the whole reason this place even exists, aren't I? I need to be alone."
Even though he wasn't looking he could practically feel James' eyes narrow irritably. He knew James' lips were pressed into a thin line, arms straight down by his aides and fists clenched as he became more disgruntled with Remus' stubbornness.

 "You need to be back in the castle. You need to be with me and Pete and Sirius-"

 Remus growled in the back of his throat and he controlled the urge to look at his friend. "I need to be far away from Sirius."

 James let out a frustrated sound and snatched the parchment from Remus' lap.

 "Hey-!"

"No! This is stupid, Remus! You're acting ridiculous and you're only hurting yourself and Sirius! Don't you care-?"

 "I'm protecting Sirius!"

"You're being selfish!" James accused angrily, folding his arms. Remus whined indignantly as his essay was crushed. "You're protecting yourself, Remus. If you were doing this for Sirius you'd be trying to find a solution, not hiding out in the bloody shrieking shack and avoiding your friends for weeks!"

 Remus pulled his knees to his chest and turned away, guilt building in his gut.

 "There is no solution, James. I hurt Sirius, I tried to hurt you-"

 "Then we'll figure out why, and-"

"Because I'm a monster!" Remus shouted, standing up so abruptly that James stumbled backwards. "That is the reason, James! No matter what, it wouldn't have happened if I wasn't a dangerous animal!"

 He was right in James' face, breathing heavily, heart racing. His chest ached. He wanted nothing more than to follow James back up to Gryffindor tower and crawl back into his warm bed, where hopefully Sirius would be waiting for him. He couldn't though. He couldn't trust himself, no matter how much his friends foolishly trusted him. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, taking a step back.

 "I'm sorry, James...there's nothing to figure out. Sirius and I are over...everything is over. At least for me. I'm going to get through the next two years completely under the radar, graduate and move on." He sat on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands. He felt like his world was crashing down all around him.

 "So that's just it then?" James asked tensely. "You're just giving up? On Sirius, on yourself...on all of us?"

"Yes."

 He heard James scoff. "We've all worked too hard to let everything fall apart just because you're too busy wallowing in self pity. So you can go ahead and give up, but I'm not."

 Remus frowned and looked up. "What d'you-?"

"I mean," James hesitated. He sighed and scratched the back of his head anxiously. "I mean that I've been looking into some things-"

 "This isn't your business to look into." Remus said firmly.

 "It is." James argued. "It is my business because it's tearing Sirius apart and it's making you lock yourself away from everyone and treat yourself like an animal and I won't stand for that. You're both worth more than that to me."

 Remus stared at his lap. He couldn't tell if he loved or hated James for being so fiercely invested. He chewed nervously on his bottom lip and fidgeted with the fraying blanket beneath him. "What is it you've looked into exactly?"

-

James had begrudgingly agreed to leave Remus alone, with Remus' promise that he would return to the dorm room when he felt he was ready. With the new information that James had given him, he had even more to think about.

Mating.

The idea churned his stomach. It sounded so primal, so inhuman.

 He had read about it before, but there wasn't much literature on it and what he could find wasn't exactly the most reliable, so maybe that wasn't what he was going through at all...

 Although it did make an awful lot of sense. The spike in his sex drive, being unable to keep his hands -and various other body parts - off of Sirius, his aggressive behavior towards anyone who got too close to him...

And of course there was the overwhelming urge to mark him.

 Remus shuddered at the thought.
All of those feelings would go away if he just gave in and allowed it to happen. That, however, was not an option in Remus' mind.

 It was a very powerful, magical bond, if what he had come across was true, and it would last until he or Sirius died. They would be connection, spiritually and mentally. If anything were to come between them, it would cause them both physical anguish to the point of near death or madness.

 He couldn't hold Sirius to that.

 What they were doing was fun and although Remus was completely and utterly in love with the other boy, he knew that eventually he would have to let Sirius go. Sirius deserved more than what he could offer and Remus was positive that he would realize that some day and want to move on.

 Grateful as he was to have experienced being in love, that love had an expiration date. Remus was destined to be alone, a fate he had accepted very long ago.

 It was the day before Christmas break that he decided to sneak back up to Gryffindor tower. His friends would all be at the feast, giving him the chance to hide away in his four poster and pretend to be asleep without the awkward apologies for his behavior and disappearance and without having to face Sirius.

 He held his breath, hands shaking anxiously as his turned the knob and opened the door to the dorm room. It was, as he had hoped, empty. With a heavy sigh of relief, he grabbed his pajamas from his trunk and headed into the bathroom to have a hot shower.

 The water felt amazing. He hadn't realized how cold he had been the last few weeks sleeping in the shack until he stepped into the steam. He had taken quick showers in the prefects lavatory, but just long enough to wash up and slip out again unnoticed. Now he allowed himself to relax, the feast wouldn't be done for quite some time.

 Once his muscles ached less and his skin became red from the heat, he stepped out and dried off and changed into clean, warm pajamas. His stomach growled, but he was much more concerned with getting a good night's rest and avoiding any possibility of confrontation.

 Padding across the room to his bed, Remus nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard the click of the dorm room door closing and a sharp gasp. He froze.

 "...you're back."

 Remus swallowed hard and slowly turned around to face Sirius.

He looked tired, like he too hadn't been sleeping nearly enough, and also a little surprised. Mostly he looked hurt.

 Grey eyes, cold and stone-like, looked him up and down and Remus felt himself shiver under the scrutiny of Sirius' gaze.

 "You look awful." Sirius commented flatly, taking a step closer. One sleek, dark eyebrow quirked up. "Are you alright?" He didn't sound like he was asking purely out of concern. Something in his tone made Remus feel even worse, vulnerable even. He wrapped his arms around himself and shrugged.

 "I'm fine." He lied.

"Good." Said Sirius lightly, taking another step forward so that he was only inches away, close enough that Remus thought he was going to kiss him, and he knew he wouldn't have it in him to stop him from doing so. But Sirius didn't kiss him.

He shoved him.

 Remus stumbled back in shock, gaping at him. "Sirius! What-?"

 "What the fuck is your problem!" Sirius demanded angrily, stepping closer again. "You just break up with me and you disappear for bloody weeks? You show up for classes and avoid me and James and Peter? I've been worried sick about you!"

 "I had to get away, Sirius!" Remus shouted in defense, his anger growing as well as he matched Sirius' glare. "I couldn't risk hurting you! I can't control-"

 Sirius pushed him again. "Oh yeah?" He laughed coldly. "You can't control yourself? Well then come on, Remus." Another rough shove and Remus was up against the wall. "Hurt me!"

 "Sirius, stop!"

"No! You you can't fucking control yourself, right?" He hit Remus' arm. "I don't know, you seem to be controlling yourself pretty goddamn well!"

"Sirius." Remus gritted his teeth, his hands curling into tight fists at his side as he continued to let Sirius come at him again and again until finally he couldn't take it anymore and he grabbed Sirius' wrist, mid swing. For a moment they were both still. Sirius' eyes bore into his own desperately.

 "Tell me you don't love me, Remus."

Remus let out a shaky breath and bit his lip. "I can't." Of course he loved him. He loved Sirius more than anything, that was the whole point.

 "Because it isn't true!" Said Sirius fiercely. "Tell me," his voice cracked a little and his piercing stare faltered. "Tell me you don't want to be with me."

 Remus closed his eyes, unable to stand the way Sirius looked at him. "You know that's not-!" he was cut off by Sirius' mouth pressed hard against his own. He wanted to push him away and pull him closer at the same time, but as Sirius' tongue ran across his bottom lip and slipped into his mouth, all resistance melted away.

 Sirius' hands came up to cup Remus' face and Remus wrapped his arms around his waist as the kiss became deeper, teeth clicking together and tongues hungrily searching each other's mouths.

 "Sirius," Remus broke away, panting and feeling Sirius' own breath, warm on his face. "You have to understand...I can't put you at risk. I can't put myself at risk!" He added as he saw Sirius begin to argue. It worked and Sirius' expression softened, appearing almost guilty as he took a small step backwards. "I just need some space while I figure this out, Padfoot. Please?"

 Sirius was quiet. His eyes dropped and he worried his bottom lip between his teeth as he took in Remus' words. Remus watched him anxiously, silently praying that he would see reason for once and not try to convince him, as he always did, to throw caution to the wind.

 "Alright," Sirius said it so softly Remus wasn't sure he had said anything at all.

 "Fine. I'll...Space, right." He cleared his throat, running a shaky hand through his hair.

 Remus' heart ached watching the emotions play over the other boy's face. At his side his left hand twitched, wanting to reach out and comfort him but he resisted. He knew if he gave in, he would just want to kiss Sirius again and he wouldn't be able to stop. He had to stick to his decision. "Sirius, I-"

 The door flung open and James and Peter came barreling in, laughing loudly and holding arms full of stolen Christmas treats from the feast.

 "Oy, Pads! What happened to -oh." James stopped short and both he and Peter stood frozen, staring at the other two. "Er...you two having a talk, then?"

 "Should we leave?" Asked Peter around the candy cane that hung from his mouth.

 Sirius shook his head. "No. It's fine. We're done."

 His eyes met Remus' briefly before he turned and went to his own bed.

"You alright, Pads?" James asked, though he gave Remus a questioning look. Remus looked away.

"Yeah. Just tired. Got to rest up for the ride back tomorrow, eh?" Before any other them could respond, Sirius closed his curtain and uttered a silencing charm around his bed. That was the last thing any of them said that night.

Chapter Text

The Blacks, like most old Pureblood families, were built on a solid foundation of traditions that could be traced back for centuries upon centuries. There were traditions for nearly every aspect of living when you were a part of the Noble and Most Ancient House Of Black, and they must be upheld with pride and dignity. There were traditions for meal times; Sirius knew how to tell his salad fork from his meat fork from his fish fork before he could hold said cutlery on his own. Proper posture was to be maintained and of course proper attire, and if his elbows hit the table, well...off to his room without supper to await a cane across his backside. There were traditions for social events, traditions for raising your children (if you could consider letting your house elf do all the work for the first five years proper child raising) and traditions for holidays.

 Until Sirius came to Hogwarts, he had never once seen a proper Christmas Tree, nor knew who Father Christmas was. In fact, he had no idea that children received presents at all for Christmas until James pounced on him the morning they were all meant to go home for the holiday, shoving a large, brightly colored parcel in his face and shouting "Happy Christmas, mate!" so loudly that Remus threw his pillow from across the dorm and him in the head. The end result was an all out pillow fight, followed by James, Remus and Peter explaining the exchanging of gifts to a very confused, and slightly heartbroken Sirius. After that, Christmas became one of Sirius' favorite times at Hogwarts. He enjoyed the decorations and how warm and cozy the castle seemed to be despite the bitter cold outside. There was something extra magical about the school during this time.

 However, that was nothing compared to waking up Christmas morning at the Potters'. 

"HAPPY CHRISTMAS PADS!" Was James' war cry as he burst through Sirius' bedroom door and leaped into the other boy's bed. Sirius grumbled and shoved him off, pulling his heavy duvet over his head.

 "Sun's not even up yet, Prongs. G'back to bed." 

"No can do, Padfoot. Come on then, up we get." He roughly tugged the covers off of Sirius, who curled up into a ball with an annoyed whine. James groaned. "Sirius, you've been a grumpy little bitch since we got home. I'm not letting you lay about all sad and pathetic on Christmas of all days." 

 Sirius rolled his eyes and turned over to face his best friend. "I'm not planning to lay about all day, James. Just until I can look out the window and see day light."

"But-" 

 "James Potter I will hex you and you can't do shit to stop me." Sirius threatened with a slight upturn of his lips. 

James scoffed. "Merlin, a bloke turns seventeen and immediately takes advantage." He shook his head and hauled himself up. "Fine. You've got an hour before I come back here and drag you down to open presents."

Like a dog who had heard the crinkling of a food wrapper, Sirius perked up. "Presents?" 

"Well yeah, mate." Laughed James. "And if you don't get your arse out of bed, I'm taking yours as well. First come first serve." He smirked triumphantly and leaned against the door frame as Sirius scrambled out of bed.

 "Oh yeah?" Sirius grinned, shoving him out of the way. "Well then since I was on the planet first, I suppose your presents are mine, by that logic?" 

"Oy! Don't touch my presents you prat!" 

 The two boys rushed through the hall and down the stairs, pushing and wrestling each other the whole way until they quite literally stumbled into the sitting room, landing on top of one another in a laughing pile right in front of the tree with a loud crash. Once he managed to dislodge himself from James' long limbs, Sirius sat upright in a stunned silence. Since Remus' decision to end their relationship, Sirius had had very few positive feelings. However, he suddenly felt a warm tingling sensation growing from deep inside. He had seen the tree the night before, he had even helped Euphemia hang some of the ornaments on it, but with the dozens of colorful packages sitting beneath it and the hazy light of the slowly rising sun in the window from behind, it was breathtakingly serene. What really had his stomach fluttering were the stockings that hung from the fireplace, and the fact that there was one on the very end that had an 'S' embroidered on it. 

 "You boys had better not be opening those presents yet!" Mrs. Potter called from the top of the stairs, bringing Sirius out of his own head and back down to Earth. Both boys quickly got to their feet as Euphemia made her way down in a festive green dressing robe and slippers. She was greeted at the bottom of the steps by the Potters' house elf, Trinket who was holding a tray of tea and biscuits. "Thank you, Trinket dear." She smiled, gratefully accepting her cup. The elf bounced over to James and Sirius who both took their own mugs of hot cocoa. James frowned at the left over tea cup. 

 "Where's dad?" 

Euphemia sighed. "He's going to be a tad late, I'm afraid. Got called into the Ministry early this morning-" 

 "On Christmas?" Said James, clearly outraged.

"There was..." Mrs. Potter hesitated for a moment. "Well, let's just say it was very important. He'll be home soon, dear. In the meantime, you may both go ahead and open your presents." She took a seat on the sofa and sipped her tea.

 James and Sirius both were curious to know more about what had been so important on Christmas morning, but they decided against pushing the subject. They had plenty of ways to find out more information later on and there was the much more pressing matter of gifts to be unwrapped after all. 

 It had been quite a haul. Both James and Sirius received new personalized stationary kits ("Mum! I told you to stop putting my middle name on these bloody things!" James whined) and they had also both been given the newest racing broom on the market. Their stockings were full of candy and baked goods, and then there were the usual scarves and gloves and things they needed rather than things they actually wanted. 

Peter had sent James a stack of rare Quidditch trading cards and a guitar pick for Sirius with an excitedly scribbled note explaining that his muggle cousin had met Pink Floyd backstage after a concert and had managed to secure one of David Gilmour's picks. 

"Nothing from Remus." Sirius muttered, taking another look under the tree to see if he had missed anything. 

 "Nothing from Remus yet." James corrected him. "It's still early. Maybe his owl's just not made it here yet."

Sirius shrugged it off, trying not to think too much about it. Nor did he have to, because at that moment the fireplace glowed bright green and Mr. Potter stepped through, brushing floo powder and ash off his robes. 

 "Good morning all. Happy Christmas!" He smiled, despite looking exhausted. "Well, it looks like you've gone and started the festivities without me. I hope I haven't missed breakfast?" 

 Euphemia stood and greeted her husband with a kiss. "Just in time, I believe." 

 Breakfast was great, even though Mr. Potter declined several times to tell James and Sirius what his emergency meeting at the ministry had been about. It was nothing for them to concern themselves with, or so Mr. Potter insisted. Defeated, the boys excused themselves to the yard to try out their new brooms and enjoy the freshly fallen blanket of snow that was incidentally perfect for a snowball fight. They returned to the house hours later, sopping wet and frozen to the bone and laughing to hard to care as Trinket hurried towards them with dry clothes and more steaming mugs of cocoa.

 "Thanks Trink." Sirius shivered, peeling his soaked jeans off his legs with some difficulty and accepting the new pair from the elf. They were warm, he guessed they had been charmed.

 "Merlin that's nice." James sighed as he too pulled on his dry trousers. "Thought I was going to freeze a bloody bullock off." 

"Ah, what a shame that've been for Mary when you returned to school a eunuch." Sirius snickered, earning a swift smack to the back of his head. Sirius turned and pulled his wand out, sending little sparks at the other boy's feet and making him jump. 

 "AH! Shit, Pads!" Hissed James when one actually hit him. "No fair, mate!" 

Sirius was about to come back with a snarky remark, but Trinket gave a tiny cough and interrupted. "Trinket is sorry, Sirs. But Master and Mistress Potter wish for Trinket to fetch Master Sirius for them." 

 They both stopped dead in their fooling around and exchanged confused looks. Sirius felt his stomach drop. In his experience, parents wanting to speak with him never ended well. Were they going to tell him he had to find somewhere else to live by the summer? He was seventeen, an adult by Wizard standards, and no longer required guardianship. James must have sensed what he was thinking and he stepped closer, clapping him on the shoulder. 

 "No worries, mate." He smiled reassuringly. "I'm sure it's nothing. Mum and Dad love you." 

Sirius bit his lip and shook his head. "Your parents have done way more than they ever had to, Prongs. I can't expect them to let me stay forever."

"Don't be stupid, Sirius." Said James seriously, giving his shoulder a light squeeze as they both headed towards Mr. Potter's study. "You think they'd be kicking you out on Christmas? Come on, stop thinking the worst!" 

 "Can you blame me?" Muttered Sirius, wrapping his arms around himself anxiously. He sighed. "Sorry, it's just habit I guess. You're right, I'm being silly. I just don't know how much more bad news I can handle right now, you know?" 

James nodded solemnly. "Yeah Mate, I know." 

They were standing in front of the door to the study, James raised his hand to knock - 

"It's getting out of hand, 'Phemia." Said Mr. Potter's tired voice on the other side of the door and James and Sirius paused. "The Ministry can't keep up anymore. He gains more followers each day! The scariest thing is that a lot of them aren't much older than James and Sirius."

James and Sirius looked at each other with wide eyes before pressing their ears to the door to listen. 

"He's going to all of the Pureblood families to recruit. Most of them obviously join up without question-" 

 "And what if they refuse?" Asked Euphemia, sounding anxious.

Fleamont paused. "Aurors found the Bellrose's house blown apart last night." 

 Euphemia gasped, as did both James and Sirius. 

"Anastasia Bellrose? The Ravenclaw in our year?" James hissed, looking terrified. Sirius swallowed and nodded. 

 "There were no survivors." Fleamont continued. They could hear his foot steps as he paced back and forth across the floor. "I hope Trinket didn't forget to tell Sirius we needed to speak with him." 

 Sirius' stomach was in knots and he looked to James with fear. James shook his head and sighed. "It'll be fine. I'll wait out here for you, yeah?" 

Sirius nodded. "Yeah..." His voice shook, as did his hand as he raised it and knocked on the door. 

 "Come in!" Fleamont called. Sirius took a deep breath and opened the door. "Ah, there you are son! Come on in, sit down." The man smiled broadly, his tone holding no traces of the fact that he had just finished discussing the death of one of their classmates and her entire family. Sirius tried his best to appear as if he hadn't been listening. He closed the door behind him and managed a weak smile in return, slowly walking to the seat beside Euphemia. 

 "Are you alright, sweetheart?" Asked Euphemia as Sirius sat down. She frowned a little as she raised one hand and rested it on Sirius' forehead. "You look pale."

Sirius nodded quickly. "I'm fine, mum. Probably just from being outside, you know." 

Euphemia shook her head and sighed. "You boys are going to catch your death, flying around on those brooms in this weather." 

 "Nonsense, 'Phemia!" Fleamont laughed, taking his seat behind his desk and rummaging through the drawers. "They're strong lads. A bit of cold weather is good for them. Aha, here it is!" He produced a small, square box from the drawer and set it aside on the desk. "Now then, Sirius. I wanted to apologize-" 

Sirius frowned. "A-apologize? For what?" He couldn't imagine. The Potters had done more for him than anyone ever had in his entire life. 

 "For missing your Birthday, of course. Seventeen is quite a big deal for a young wizard!" Said Fleamont. 

"We should have at least written to you." Euphemia said regretfully. "We just wanted you to know that we certainly didn't forget, dear. We just thought this was better done in person and since you were coming home for Christmas, we figured we would just wait."

Blinking, Sirius looked from Fleamont to Euphemia in confusion. "I don't understand..." The confusion only grew as Fleamont slid the small box on his desk to sit in front of Sirius. He hesitated for a second, but with an encouraging nod from Euphemia, Sirius reached forward and took it. His fingers shook a little as he removed the lid and his breath caught in his chest. 

 "It is tradition after all," Said Fleamont. "For a wizard to receive a watch for his seventeenth birthday." 

Sirius' jaw dropped as he stared at the polished silver pocket watch in the box. He could feel his heart beating hard against his chest and, to his embarrassment, tears burning his eyes as he carefully ran his fingertips over the detailed carvings around the edge. He wanted to say something, anything, but he couldn't form the words for what he was feeling and he just kept sputtering, "I-I...Wh-..." As Fleamont explained that this watch had belonged to his great uncle.

He felt Euphemia's gentle hand on his shoulder. "Happy Birthday, dear." She kissed his cheek and that was about all he could take. Setting the box back down on the desk, he flung his arms around her in a tight hug that was returned with just as much enthusiasm. 

 "You've done so much for me already," Sirius said tearfully, slightly muffled with his face buried in the woman's shoulder. "Y-you haven't had to...I d-don't deserve-" 

"Shhh..." Euphemia's hand rubbed his back in slow circles. "Don't be silly, Sirius. We love you very much, don't you ever forget that." 

 "That's right, Sirius." Her husband added. "You are our son. Never doubt it, my boy. This is your family." 

When Sirius finally left the study, some time later after having to compose himself and countless Thank Yous to both Mr. and Mrs. Potter, James was still standing in the hall. He was leaning casually against the wall on the opposite side and picking at his fingernails. 

 Sirius rolled his eyes. "You can cut the innocent act, Potter. I know you were listening." 

James cracked a grin, his shoulders shaking with silent laughter. "You cried, mate."

 "You're such a prat." 

"You actually cried, Padfoot. Merlin, you're such a bird." James chuckled, throwing an arm around Sirius' shoulders as they walked back to his bedroom. "Really though, I told you not to worry so much. My parents will probably kick me out before they give you the boot." He kicked open the door to his room and flopped onto the bed, pulling the stack of Quidditch cards from Peter out of his pocket. Almost as soon as Sirius sat down beside him, a tap on the window made them both look up.

 "Might be Moony's owl." James said, poking Sirius in the side and giving him a hopeful smile. "Go let it in." 

Sirius crossed the room and pushed the window open, letting the large copper barn owl in. He frowned. That wasn't the Lupin family's owl, but it was certainly familiar. A slow smirk spread across his face as he took the letter from the bird's beak. "Well, hello there...Titania, is that right?" He heard James choke. "What's Lily Evans' owl doing delivering mail to James 'The Arrogant Toerag' Potter', eh?" 

 James was on his feet in under a second, making a desperate grab for the letter, but Sirius ducked and laughed. "Does Mary know you and Evans are corresponding, Prongsy?" 

"Sirius, give me the letter." James demanded, narrowing his eyes as Sirius hopped up onto the bed and held the letter above his head. 

 "No way in hell!" Sirius chuckled, opening the envelope and unfolding the parchment. "James, - Wow, first name basis, no insults. Off to a good start-" 

"I mean it, Sirius! Give that to me!" James sounded urgent, but Sirius paid him no mind and jumped out of the way when his friend made another lunge for him.

Sirius whipped his wand out and pointed it at James in a mock threat as he continued to read Lily Evans' letter out loud with a shit eating grin. "I've been going over everything we discussed that night in the library - The Library? James, you dog!-" 

 "Sirius, stop!" 

"And it seems that our suspicions about Remus' behavior were-" The grin faded from Sirius' face and he stopped reading the letter outloud. His eyes scanned over Lily's elegant script, his mouth falling open slightly and the color draining from his face. James held his breath. When Sirius finished, he dropped the parchment on the bed and refused to look at the other boy. "You were researching this behind my back?" He asked quietly.

 James licked his lips and took a breath. "We didn't want to say anything until we were sure. We were worried abou-" 

"Does Remus know?" 

 "Sirius-" 

"Does. He. Know?" 

 After a moment James nodded. "He does." 

Sirius sniffed and tried to cover it with a cough as he jumped off James' bed and stuffed his hands in his pockets. "So everyone's in on it but me, then?" 

 "Well...well, no. Not everyone. It's just me, Lily and Rem-" 

"And you didn't think I deserved to know as well?" Sirius snapped, glaring daggers at his best friend. "You didn't think I'd want to help? It's my boyfriend you're reading up on after all! Hell, it's my life!" He pushed roughly past James towards the door. 

 James sighed. "Sirius, it's not like that. What are you do-" 

"I just need a minute." Sirius mumbled, leaving the room and closing the door behind him. He crossed the hall to his own room, grabbing his leather jacket and searching his pockets for his cigarettes. Tucking one behind his ear he went to the large bay window and slid it open, swinging his legs over the edge and leaning against the side. He took the cigarette and placed it between his lips, lighting it with his wand and inhaling deeply. 

 It wasn't James he was mad at. He knew that it James and Evans had been trying to help and that keeping it from him had probably been to save him the exact emotions he was currently feeling. That dull, aching, heavy feeling in his chest. 

Remus knew. He knew what was happening to him, and he was still going through with this whole break up. Shouldn't this have been good news? The answer seemed so easy to Sirius. Something that would bond him to Remus, that made them stronger together and connected them...He would have jumped right on board with that if Remus had asked him to...

 And that could only mean that Remus didn't want it. Not with him. 

He heard the door open and close behind him and he quickly wiped his eyes with the back on his hand before James climbed up to sit on the opposite end of the window sill. Neither of them said anything and Sirius kept his eyes on the waxing moon. It would be full in just a few more days.

 Tossing the burnt out butt of his cigarette, Sirius reached into his pocket for the carton. 

"Could I get one of those?" James asked quietly. 

 Sirius glanced at him for a second then shrugged and held them out to him. He took one for himself and lit them both and they sat in silence once more.

"I'm really sorry, Sirius." Said James after a while. "You're right. We should have included you when we decided to do the research. If it helps, we didn't tell Remus either. I only told him to make him come back to the dorm. I thought it would fix things." 

 Sirius shook his head. "There's no fixing it." He muttered, flicking some ash. "Obviously he doesn't want to have that with me." He forced a laugh before taking another deep drag of his cigarette. "Can you blame him? After what I did to him last year, it's no wonder he wouldn't want to be stuck with me forever. He doesn't deserve to be..." 

James snorted and Sirius finally looked at him with a deep frown. 

 "Merlin the two of you are bloody stupid." Said James. "If you would both stop and see yourselves the way you see each other, you'd be set."

"What's that suppose to mean?" 

 James held up a finger as he tried, and failed, to blow a smoke ring. He sighed. "I mean you are both constantly putting yourselves down and claiming that you aren't good enough for each other." He shook his head. "You know Remus, mate. You know he isn't distancing himself from you because he doesn't love you. He's doing the exact same self pitying bullshit that you're doing. He's moping about and thinking 'Oh, Sirius should find someone better' and 'I can't make Sirius stay with me just because I'm a werewolf' and all that stupid Moony shit he pulls." 

Sirius pulled his jacket tighter around him and didn't say anything. James snubbed out the last of his cigarette and threw it into the cold, dark night. He pulled a small, thin, brightly wrapped box out of his jacket and held it out to the other boy. "Moony's owl came. I got the newest addition of Quidditch Through The Ages, special edition too." He shook the box when Sirius made no move to take it. "Sirius?" 

Sirius took it and stuffed it into his own pocket. He looked up, meeting James' questioning look. "I'm just not ready." 

"Right then. Want me to leave you alone?" James asked, preparing to stand up and give Sirius his space.

Sirius shook his head. "Not really, no." He glanced up again. "Stay?" 

"Yeah, mate. You know I'm here for you."  James smiled and put his arm around Sirius' shoulders. "'Til the very end, Pads." 

 

Chapter Text

The full moon happened to land on the day that students were meant to return to Hogwarts after their holiday break, so Remus was not on the train. Sirius was leaning his forehead on the window, only half listening to James and Peter who were throwing ideas back and forth for the first big prank of the new calendar year. Sirius himself made a comment here or there, but mostly he just stared out at the quickly passing scenery and the large glowing orb hanging in the sky, a mocking reminder of who wasn't with them. 

 He heard the compartment door slide open and was going to ignore it, but his stomach rumbled loudly and he sighed. 

 "Hey Worm, could you get me some cauldron cakes, mate?" 

 Merlin I even sound depressed, he thought as he didn't even bother to lift his head off the cool glass window.

 "Sorry Black," It was the voice of Lily Evans and not the trolley witch that responded to him. "I'm actually just here with some notes from the prefect meeting for Remus. I figured you lot would get to him before me." She slid the door closed behind her and took a seat next to James, handing him a sheet of parchment with neatly scribbled notes. "Is he alright?" She asked in a hushed voice. 

 James sighed. "Yeah, he'll be fine. He's just...y'know."

 "Pining." Peter supplied.

 Sirius scowled. "I can hear you, you know." He finally turned to face the others. "And I am not pining, thank you very much. I'm just-" His stomach growled again and he crossed his arms over it defiantly. "Hungry. I'm just hungry. I'll feel much better once I've had something to eat. I'm fine."

 Three pairs of eyes blinked at him and he knew none of them were falling for it. He rolled his eyes and returned to staring out the window. Beside him he felt the weight of the seat shift and a hand lightly touched his shoulder. In the reflection of the window he could see red hair.

  "I'm fine Evans."He said once more, gritting his teeth.

"So I've heard," Lily replied, her voice calm and quiet. He heard her searching through her bag and at the sound of some sort of wrapper, his interest peaked. He sat up slightly straighter, but kept his head facing stubbornly away...though his eyes were now focused on the reflection of the girl behind him rather than the moon.

 "My mum and I bake these the night before I return to school whenever I go home." Lily explained, opening a plastic bag and holding a very delicious smelling chocolate chip cookie out to the back of Sirius' head. "Since your hungry."

 With a quiet whine of defeat, Sirius flopped back in his seat to face forward. "Thanks." He muttered as he accepted the treat and took a bite. It did make him feel a little better.

 "Could I get one of those, Evans?" James asked, leaning in and reaching for the bag in Lily's lap. Lily slapped his wrist sharply.

 "Merlin, where you raised in a barn, Potter? I was going to offer you one, now I don't think I will." She handed one to Peter and took one for herself before closing the bag back up. James and Lily bickered for a few moments before Lily gave a frustrated sigh and handed the boy a cookie.

"Are you happy now?" 

 "Yes, quite." Said James around a mouthful of chocolate chips. Lily shook her head and put the cookies back in her school bag. 

 "So how will Remus get to school, anyway?" She asked.

 "Floo, probably." Peter shrugged. "I mean, no one can apparate onto the grounds, right?"

"Maybe a portkey?" James suggested. "He wasn't sure when I asked him, but I'm sure Dumbledore and his dad have set something up for him."

 As the conversation went on, Sirius began to feel restless. He tried to tune everyone else out, reciting lyrics to songs in his head or trying to come up with some clever pranks, but he couldn't sit anymore with that stupid moon there in the window. He stood up and everyone stopped talking to look at him questioningly. 

"I'm going for a walk." He said simply, pulling his jacket on. 

James and Peter glanced at each other and then back up at him. 

 "You want company, mate?" Peter asked, starting to get to his feet already. 

"Nah, it's fine. I'll be right back." He forced a smile as they watched him with disbelief evident on their faces. "What trouble could I possibly get into on the bloody train, guys? Seriously, I'm just going to get some air, relax." When no one made a move to stop him he left the compartment, closing the door carefully behind him. He wasn't sure exactly where he was planning to go or what he wanted to do, but he had felt as though he was being smothered back there.  

 As he opened the door leading to the next car, he dug into his pockets for his pack of cigarettes and his fingers brushed across the long, thin, still wrapped box Remus had sent for Christmas and his stomach dropped. 

  "Oooh! Planning to jump!" Squealed a sickening voice from behind that made the hair on Sirius' arms stand on end and his body went rigid. Taking a deep breath he turned around to face his cousin.

"Trixie, you're looking quite...well, quite like a banshee as usual." He smirked and leaned against the open door, feeling the cold air from outside wooshing past him. 

 Bellatrix pouted mockingly. "What's wrong Siri? The Potters wouldn't adopt you? They send you back to the pound with the rest of the unwanted mutts?" 

  Sirius rolled his eyes, plucking a cigarette from his carton and placing it between his lips. "You're not surrounded by your usual crowd of creeps either, Trix. Where are they at?Out torturing muggleborns? Maybe blowing up houses of Purebloods that won't conform?" 

 Bellatrix giggled, a high pitched, childish sound that made Sirius want to punch her in the throat like he did when they were six and she wouldn't stop calling Regulus names. He'd gotten quite a beating for that then...it was certainly worth a detention now...

 "They're all back in the compartment, of course." Bellatrix' lips twisted into a sick smile as she eyed Sirius up and down. "Rudolphus and Rabastian, Severus, Avery, Mulciber, of course...and Regulus." 

 Sirius' chest tightened at the mention of his brother. He narrowed his eyes, jutting his chin out confidently and sneering at Bellatrix. "Regulus wouldn't join your little club, Bella. You'll have to try a lot harder if you're trying to get a rise out of me, you know."

 "Wouldn't he?" Said Bellatrix, frowning at him. "You said yourself, purebloods who don't join up are being...dealt with, aren't they?" 

 She's bullshitting, He told himself. Regulus may be a little twat, but he wouldn't stoop to hanging around the likes of those arsehats.

 "Go suck a cock, Bella." Sirius growled, lighting the end of his cigarette with his wand and turning away from her to face the open door.

 "Oooh!" Bellatrix cackled, clapping her hands together. "Such language. Well, I'd tell you to do the same, cousin...but rumor around the school is your freaky little boy toy's gone and left you."

 Sirius choked on the smoke he had just inhaled. After a moment of hacking and catching his breath, his fists clenched at his sides and he started to count backward from ten in his head. 

 9, 8, 7..

 He heard Bellatrix chuckle to herself. 

 "What was that about needing to try harder to get a rise from you, Siri?" 

 6, 5,4...

 The sound of her foot steps began to walk away from him and he relaxed every muscle in his body. The foot steps stopped.

 "You really should just jump." 

 With a growl Sirius turned back around, ready to hex his cousin into oblivion, but she was nowhere to be seen. 

 Facing the open door once again, he tossed the butt of his cigarette off to the side, watching it quickly disappear as the train sped on. He took a few deep gulps off fresh air, bracing himself with a hand on both sides of the doorframe. He never realized how fast the train moved before...

 Bellatrix had to be lying, he told himself. Regulus was never interested in what Mulciber and those cult-following creeps were up to...was he? Now that he thought about it, he hadn't spoken to Regulus in over a year. A lot could have changed with his brother, especially with no one there to direct him the other way...

 It was Sirius' own fault if Bellatrix was telling the truth. He had abandoned Regulus without a second thought. He had been selfish enough to push his way into a different family, a family that could easily get tired of him, just as Bellatrix had said...most people did, after all....Remus sure seemed to have done so...

 You really should just jump...

Everything was happening so fast...

 "Sirius!"

 The sound of his name made him jump and turn, and he was surprised to find Lily standing there, her green eyes wide with concern. He swallowed past his suddenly dry mouth. 

"E-Evans..." He cleared his throat. "What are you doing here?" 

 Without taking her eyes off of Sirius' face, Lily took a cautious step towards him. "Peter went off to find Emmeline and then Mary came in looking for James and I..." She trailed off, something unrecognizable flickering in her eyes. She shook it off. "Well I figured they'd want their privacy of course." 

 "...of course..." Sirius muttered, staring intently back at the girl as she took another step forward. 

 "Are you alright, Sirius?" She asked as she finally stood just inches away from him, her left hand twitching at her side as if she was keeping herself from reaching out to him. 

 Sirius wanted to tell her that no, he was not alright. He wanted to tell her about what he and James had overheard Mr and Mrs. Potter saying about the war coming, and that he had reason to believe his cousins, and quite possibly his little brother, may have had something to do with it. He wanted to tell her how scared he was that this man leading them...Lord Voldemort...may come after him, asking him to join ranks like the rest of his family and that he may even go after James' family as well...and he was afraid of what would happen if they declined. 

 He wanted to tell her how badly he missed Remus and how empty and meaningless his life would be if the other boy refused to take him back because of this silly werewolf bonding thing...

 

  "I'm fine." He lied. He took a step away from the open door and saw Lily visibly relax. "I just needed some air, like I said before." He forced a smile and even though he could tell that Lily didn't believe him, she smiled back and offered her hand.

  "Want to come sit with me and Marley and Dorcas, then?" 

 "Yeah." He nodded, taking her hand and squeezing it gently. "I would." 

 

-

 The moon had been particularly tough on Remus this month. It was never easy on the nights he spent alone, without the other marauders to distract and entertain him, but this moon had been even worse. Besides his missing pack, there was the desperate, yearning pull at his soul to mate. The wolf howled endlessly, calling for the loyal black dog, wondering where he was and why he wasn't answering. He had scratched at the walls of his parents' cellar until his claws bled, trying to escape and find his companions. He threw himself at the concrete over and over until he had finally passed out in a heap on the cold stone floor. 

 He woke up feeling guilty as his mother and father fussed over his wounds and cleaned up the mess. 

 He barely made eye contact with his father, even after they arrived in the Headmaster's office through the Floo network Dumbledore had unlocked for them late the following night. He had hugged him goodbye, politely thanked the Headmaster, and slowly headed back to his dormitory without a word. 

 It was very late and when he opened the door to his dorm he could hear Peter's snores and James' mumbles and, if he listened close enough, Sirius' steady breathing. He kicked off his shoes and stripped down to his boxers, not bothering with pajamas, before slipping beneath the covers and drawing the curtain around his bed. The pull of the moon was still so strong, it was hard for him to rest his mind enough to sleep, especially when he could smell the dark haired boy in the bed next to his. The boy that belonged there in his bed with him...The one the wolf wanted... 

Sirius wanted it too, he could smell it on him...

He curled into a tighter ball and flipped over to face the other side, pulling the covers up over his face.

Absolutely not, He argued with himself. It's far too much to ask of anyone. And Sirius doesn't know what he wants for breakfast, let alone the rest of his bloody life.

Remus had made up his mind over the break. He and Sirius had to be done, or he'd risk ruining both of their lives. He couldn't put Sirius through that. He loved him far too much. He loved him just enough to let him go.

And with that, Remus fell into a fitful sleep. 

 

Warm, sticky, copper-tasting blood poured into his mouth as his teeth dug into the kill he had pinned under his paws. He had never felt stronger or more complete in his entire life as the poor creature below him stopped struggling, stopped breathing, stopped...being...

  Lifting his head he let out a triumphant howl before licking his blood soaked paws clean. Energy surged through him, he wanted more. He wanted to feel this powerful and alive always. He barked once, a call for his pack to join him. There was a bit of meat left on the animal, he assumed it was a bear or something, that Moony would be kind enough to offer to Padfoot if the dog wanted to take part. Moony, as the Alpha, would always share with the night's kill with his Mate...

 But the pack didn't respond. Padfoot didn't yip in return and come running to his side, Nor did Prongs or Wormtail return from whatever adventure they had run off to enjoy while Moony fed...

  He sniffed the air, trying to pick up on their scents but the smell of blood and carnage was overwhelming. He could, however, make out the scent of Padfoot somewhere under it all. He howled again for the dog, this time more urgently. Padfoot and Prongs did get easily distracted together, after all...

 Silence. 

 Confused, Moony turned back to the bear carcass. But it wasn't a bear at all. 

It was a big, shaggy black dog. 

 

-

Sirius woke up to a sound he hadn't heard in years, but would recognize in an instant for as long as he would live.

The quiet whimpers and gasps of breath, the incoherently mumbled words and dry sobs, and of course the creaking of the bed frame as his roommate tossed and turned in the bed beside his own.

  Sirius didn't move. He stared at the canopy of his own bed, holding his breath and counting the seconds that went by, praying that whatever nightmare was plaguing Remus would settle quickly on its own. It was no longer his place to stop them, was it? 

 But then he heard the whimper of "Padfoot..." 

 Without another thought, he swung his legs over the side of this mattress and tiptoed across to the other bed, carefully peeling back the curtain. 

 His breath caught in his throat, as for a split second Sirius could have sworn it was the quiet, eleven year old boy with the mysterious scars littering his tiny body that was tangled up in the sheets. Sirius shook his head quickly and that image was replaced with the taller, lankier version of the no-longer-a-boy-but-almost-a-man thrashing back and forth on the mattress. 

"No..." Remus moaned softly, eyes screwed tightly shut. Sirius' heart broke as he quickly debated the situation in his head. Remus might be angry with him if he slipped into bed beside him, as they were no longer a couple and trying to give each other space...but on the other hand...

 "Padfoot..." 

Fuck it. He thought. He knelt down on the bed, closing the curtains around them. Tentatively he reached up and brushed the sweat soaked curls from the boy's forehead. "Moony, it's alright..." He whispered desperately, but Remus didn't wake up. Rather, he let out an anguished cry and nearly lifted off the mattress completely. 

"No...no...Padfoot....please..." 

  "I'm right here, Remus..." Sirius' voice shook as he tried to gently wake the boy to no avail. He sat back on heels, watching Remus' distraught fit and feeling his insides crumble to pieces. "I'm here, Moony..." He whispered again, before he shifted into a dog and crawled forward on his belly, resting his large, shaggy head on the werewolf's chest and whimpering softly. 

 After a moment, everything went still and quiet. Remus' breathing evened out and Padfoot licked the sleeping boy's tear stained face. He felt familiar fingers lace through his fur and Remus' heartbeat slowed back to a steady, calm rhythm that quickly lulled Padfoot to sleep.  

-

The sun wasn't even up yet when Remus woke up to find himself in the all too familiar position, wrapped around the giant black dog with a face full of fur. 

 "Padfoot..." He croaked, his throat still felt raw from the moon the night before. He gently shook the dog until it opened one silvery grey eye. "Pads, change back..." 

 The dog sat up with a huge yawn, and he stretched and shook out his fur before obeying and turning back so that Sirius Black was now sitting in front of Remus. "Alright, Moony?" Sirius mumbled, rubbing his sleepy eyes. "'s early..." 

 Remus nodded. "I...Yes, I'm fine." He licked his lips. "Sorry if I woke you with...well..."

  Sirius frowned at him. "You don't need to apologize, Remus." He laid down on his side beside him, propping his head up on one elbow. "Do you want to talk about it? It seemed pretty-" 

 

 "No." Remus said a little too quickly, taking Sirius aback. Remus sighed. "Sorry. N-no...I just...I'd rather forget about it." 

 Sirius stared at him for a few seconds, trying to read into something that Remus was determined to keep him out of. "Remus-" 

 "You can go back to your bed now, Sirius. I'm alright." He refused to meet Sirius' eyes. 

 "I don't mind staying with you." Sirius whispered. One of Sirius' hands crept over Remus' own and his thumb stroked over his knuckles. "Please, Moony...Let me stay. Let me fix this...I love y-"

"I want you to see other people." The words spilled from Remus' mouth before he had the chance to stop them and he finally looked up to meet the shocked, hurt eyes of the other boy. 

 "R-Remus, you don't-" 

"I do, Sirius." Remus insisted, though his voice shook with emotion. "I want you to find someone else." 

Sirius sat up, his eyes narrowing. "This is because of that stupid mating thing isn't it?" 

"Yes." Remus breathed, looking away again. 

 "So-so you're telling me that you want me to go off and be someone else's boyfriend?" Sirius asked venomously. "You're saying, honestly, to my face that you want me to go around, I don't know, holding some other blokes' hand in the hall? Or kissing someone else behind the greenhouses?"

 "Sirius-"

"You're saying it won't bother you in the slightest to know I'm off fucking someone else in all the places we've fucked? That's what you're honestly saying to me, Remus! That you want that and it won't bother you-!"

 "It will kill me, Padfoot!" Remus said desperately, his eyes filled with emotions that Sirius had never seen before. Remus ran his hands through his hair, tugging in frustration. "Don't you understand, Sirius-?"

 "The only thing I understand is that we are meant to be together...and that you know it as well as I do." Said Sirius quietly, his hands finding Remus' and squeezing them gently. "You love me, Moony-" 

"It was never a question of whether or not I loved you, Padfoot." Remus sighed. "I'm sorry. I had a lot of time to think about this, and it's the right thing for us. You need to see other people-"

 "Why?" Asked Sirius. Merlin he was so stubborn. 

 "Because..." Remus started slowly. He slumped down slightly, staring at his lap. "Because we've only ever been with each other. I can't ask you to bind yourself to me permanently when you've never given a proper try at finding someone that's..." He trailed off. He could feel Sirius' eyes going right through him. 

 "Someone that's what, Remus?" Sirius pressed on, his voice dripping with disdain for what he knew Remus was trying to say. "Go on, tell me! Someone that's better than you, right? Someone who isn't broken or cursed? Someone more suited for a spoilt little pureblood like me that can give me things like a future and a house and a family and all that white picket fence nonsense, is that it?" 

Remus didn't answer. He simply hung his head in shame. Neither of them made a sound for a while. Then Sirius leaned forward, cupping Remus' cheek in his hand. "I love you." He said firmly. "And there is nothing that anyone else can give me that would make me love you any less. A future, a house, a family..." he shook his head. "They're nothing to me if you're not the one I'm sharing it with."

  Remus' breath hitched and he felt himself leaning in almost completely subconsciously, wanting so badly to kiss Sirius' lips. 

 "But if that's what you want," Sirius said, abruptly bringing Remus back down to earth and the plan he insisted on sticking to. "Then fine. I'll see other people." Sirius got up from the bed, straightening his clothes and avoiding Remus' eyes.

 Remus felt very cold at the sudden loss. 

  "And when it doesn't work out with these other people," Sirius went on, and Remus was shocked when he looked up to see a smirk crossing the boys lips. "Then we're doing things the way we both know we want them to be. Is that understood?"

 Remus nervously licked his lips. He wanted to argue, but he had no other plan to avoid this. He nodded. 

 "Good." Said Sirius, suddenly sounding much more upbeat. "And by the way, I have so dated other people." 

 Remus rolled his eyes. "You and Marley barely kissed and you both ended up as gay as could be. That doesn't count. And neither do the random shags with blokes in the broom closets."

  Sirius gave a dramatic sigh and shook his head. "So many bloody rules. Fine. We'll do it your way. But you're only hurting yourself, Moony." He walked back to his own bed.

 Merlin I hope you're right. Thought Remus 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Sirius Black was feeling very confident.

 Remus' request that he try to date other people had a whole different meaning in Sirius' mind. To put it simply: Make Remus Jealous. 

  That, he thought, would be relatively easy....

 Except there weren't as many male students that were interested in other men as he had thought. The Prewitt brothers had graduated last year and Sirius had already had his way with them both at one point anyway. There were a few 'curious' fourth year Ravenclaws, but Sirius had standards at the very least, and itty bitty fourth years were definitely one of them. He wasn't looking to be anyone's 'first time' and he definitely didn't need any of them growing attached. It also wasn't enough to just find a bloke to snog, he had to get Remus to catch him doing so.

  "I don't see why you can't just do what Remus told you to do." James sighed, struggling to hold a squirming niffler still as Sirius tried to paint a large, red number 1 on it.  

"I am doing what Remus said." Defended Sirius with a frown. "D'you reckon it'd be cruel to put a body bind on these guys while we do this?" 

  Peter rolled his eyes, his arms full with the other two nifflers they had stolen from Professor Grubbly-Plank's stables. "You're really concerned with animal cruelty at this stage in the plan, Padfoot? Besides, It's not like it will hurt them." 

 Sirius gave a small shrug and pointed his wand at the creature in James' arms. "Sorry little guys. Patrificus Totalus." The Niffler's eyes grew wide in shock, but the rest of it's body went rigid. He turned and gave the same treatment to the Peter's. 

"Hooking up with Benjy Fenwick behind a suit of armor during Remus' rounds to purposely get caught is not what Remus told you to do." James said pointedly, laying the inanimate niffler on his bed and taking one from Peter so he could paint a number 3 on it.

"No idea what you mean." Sirius lied, feigning an air of innocence. "What Benjy and I had was very real, thank you very much."

Peter snorted. "Right. All twenty minutes of it, I'm sure." The shorter boy ducked as Sirius swung at him, but ended up with a face of of red paint regardless. "Look," Peter spat out some paint. "All we're saying is that Remus isn't stupid. He knows you're not taking it seriously and you're only trying to make him jealous by snogging other blokes right in his face. You need to show him you're trying."

 "Right," Grumbled Sirius, painting the number 4 on the remaining niffler. 

 James gripped his shoulder, squeezing it reassuringly. "Come on, Pads. It's like you told me in the beginning of the year. 'There's plenty of kelpies in the lake', and Mary and I have been dating for a while now."  

 Sirius shrugged him off, shaking his head. "Yeah, except you're a bloke that likes birds. So you've got a whole lake full of kelpies. I've got a pond with some toads and a goldfish or two if I'm lucky." 

 "And what's that make Remus, exactly?" Peter chuckled.

"The bloody frog you kiss on a dare that turns out to be a damn prince."  Sirius muttered miserably. 

 Rolling his eyes, James grabbed Sirius by the arm and dragged him up. "That's enough of that, Princess. C'mon, we've got to get these guys down to the Great Hall before everyone heads down for dinner." He and Peter counter jinxed the nifflers before getting them back into their cages. Peter took the cages, placing a silencing charm on them as James threw the cloak over his head.  

-

 

Lily climbed through the portrait hole with an excited bounce in her step. She had spent the last few hours digging in the furthest corner of the library, determined still to find any information of the mating habits of werewolves. She was covered in dust and had been bitten by a particularly angry book, but it had been worth it for some of the things she had managed to find. Smiling broadly, she made her way to the sofa by the fireplace where Mary was curled up reading a battered copy of classic muggle poetry. 

 "Hey Mary, have you seen Potter?"  

Mary glanced up at her and blinked. "What's he done wrong?" 

  Lily frowned. "Wha-? Oh! Nothing! I mean...not that I know of, anyway. I'm sure he's up to something." She found herself laughing nervously and turned into an unconvincing cough that Mary raised an eyebrow at. "Sorry," Lily blushed. "Dust." She cleared her throat once more and tucked her hair behind her ear as her friend stared at her in confusion. "Anyway, I just had to talk to him about something, but it's not important. I mean, it's important but it can wait, you know..." 

Mary closed her book slowly, not taking her eyes off her flustered friend. "Is everything alright, Lily?" 

"Of course." Lily smiled. "Why?" 

 "You've just been acting a little strange, that's all...specifically regarding James." She gave a small shrug. "You're still alright with me and him being together, aren't you?" 

"Don't be silly!" Said Lily, laughing just a little too loud. "It's been, what? Three months? I think it's great that Potter has managed not to irritate you for that long. Keep at it, whatever it is you're doing. I...I have to go find Remus. I'll see you at dinner." Without waiting for a response, he hurried back out of the common room. Once the portrait swung closed behind her she took a deep breath. "What the bloody hell was that about?" She muttered to herself, running a hand through her hair. She found herself feeling like that more often around Mary lately, like she had to force herself to act normal and the harder she tried, the farther from normal she behaved. 

 "Lily?" 

Lost in her confused thoughts, she was surprised to find herself standing in front of the Great Hall, where Remus was leaning against the heavy, closed doors, seemingly keeping a lookout. For a split second Lily considered asking why, but she decided against it. "Hi Remus." She forced a smile once again. 

 "Bit early to be down for dinner, isn't it?" Asked Remus with a concerned look.

"I could say the same for you, couldn't I?" Lily countered, smirking a little.

Remus laughed. "You could, yes. But you and I both know I'm not standing here to be first in line for pudding." He rolled his eyes before cracking the door open just enough so he could peek inside. He closed the door again and looked back at her with a sigh. "I don't know how I continue to be dragged into their shit." 

 "Oh Please," Lily grinned, folding her arms. "Everyone knows it's you that plans half of their shit. No one's buying that sweet, innocent face anymore, Lupin." 

A smirk more worthy of James or Sirius crossed Remus' face and he shrugged. "Oh plenty of people still buy it. You just know me better." He gave her a quick once over. "Seriously though, are you alright?" 

"I was looking for James- Or...Or you, really." She added quickly as both of Remus' eyebrows shot up. "Either of you." 

 Remus nodded slowly, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips. "Uh huh...Well, you've found me." 

Lily stood there for a moment, staring blankly at him. What had she wanted to tell him? She had become so flustered earlier with Mary she couldn't remember what she had originally had to say. Mentally she retraced her steps...Ah

 "Well, it's...It's actually something you may want to discuss in private." She said with a meaningful look that Remus thankfully caught onto right away. 

"I see," He nodded, biting his lower lip. "Well...I-" He stopped speaking as he saw a group of students coming around the corner. He opened one door again, this time wide enough to see that James, Sirius and Peter were all seated innocently in their usual spots at the Gryffindor table and with a heavy sigh he opened the door the rest of the way. "We'll talk later, then?" 

She nodded, taking a step forward into the hall just to have Remus grab her by the wrist. 

 "Wait!" He dug into his school bag and pulled out a plastic fork, spoon and knife. "Take these if you actually want to eat dinner tonight." 

Lily frowned. "Do I want to ask?" 

"No." 

"Right..." 

It didn't take long to find out exactly what the boys had done. As soon as the feast appeared on the tables there was a loud clatter and a few screams as Nifflers, with the numbers 1, 3 and 4 painted on in red and gold, crawled over the tables, stealing all the silverware in their wake. Students and staff alike were driven into a panic, with the exception of course of the Marauders, who were calmly eating with their plastic utensils. 

Lily sighed and shook her head as Professor Grubbly-Plank frantically searched for the missing Niffler, much to the amusement of the boys sitting beside her. 

 "You four are never going to grow up, are you?" 

James snickered around a spoonful of pudding. "Not if we can help it, Evans." 

Whatever strange feelings Lily had been experiencing earlier about the boy were promptly forgotten. 

-

After a very stern and detailed lecture about the dozens of school rules they had broken with this particular prank, Professor McGonagall had assigned all four boys separate detentions for the night, with the exception of Remus who had prefect duties to attend to and would be writing a long letter of apology on behalf of the four of them instead. 

 Sirius was serving his detention by polishing the frames of the portraits in one of the second floor corridors, and instead of being under the supervision of a Professor, it was the Prefect that was on duty of that particular hall that he was suppose to answer to. 

Ravenclaw sixth year, Gilderoy Lockhart. 

This in itself was enough of a punishment in Sirius' opinion. The blonde prefect was an absolute narcissist to say the least and about as flamboyant as a pygmy puff on steroids. He was a bigger flirt than Sirius himself and on top of that, he wasn't even good at it. Although, his stereotypical good looks and irritatingly perfect smile seemed to do the trick, as he was never without arm candy when flouncing through the streets of Hogsmeade, and he wasn't picky about the gender of said arm candy. His very existence made Sirius want to stab his eyes out with his own wand.  

 "Bad luck, mate." James' reflection muttered quietly when Sirius had complained into the two-way mirror. "I'm sorting all the missing silverware with Grubbly-Plank checking in every ten bloody seconds..." 

"Rather that than this bubble headed nitwit." Grumbled Sirius. "As if his ego wasn't bad enough, now they're letting him watch over detentions..." 

 James snorted. "Maybe he'll go easy on you, Pads. Everyone knows he's a pushover for attention. Offer him a snog, maybe you'll get out early." 

Sirius gagged and shuddered. "You're a sick man, Potter."

James laughed, then let out an irritated groan. "Fuck, Grubbly-Plank's back. I'll see you at the dorm. Give Gilly a kiss for me, eh?" His reflection was gone before he could catch Sirius' rude hand gesture. 

 "I assure you, Black, you look just fine." A twittering laugh made Sirius' eye twitch and he turned around to face Lockhart. 

"What?" 

 Gilderoy nodded to the mirror still gripped in Sirius' hand. "I always wondered how you managed to look so good all the time." He flashed his irritatingly bright, white teeth as he leaned against the wall opposite Sirius. "Though I never took you for the type to carry around a mirror." He sighed and shook his head. "My image of you as a 'carelessly handsome bad boy' is shattered." 

Stuffing the mirror back into his jeans, Sirius rolled his eyes and turned back to the portrait of Beatrix Boxam to continue scrubbing at her frame. "Sorry to disappoint, I suppose." 

 "Oh, I'm certainly not disappointed." The Ravenclaw hummed in approval as Sirius bent to dip his rag in polish. "Not at all." 

Gritting his teeth, Sirius glared over his shoulder at the other boy. "Flattering. But I have a-" 

"A boyfriend?" Gilderoy finished for him, pushing off the wall and strolling over to stand beside him. "Sources say you don't, actually. Word travels around school, you know..." 

 "Nice try." Sirius smirked and took a threatening step forward, towering over Gilderoy, who's smile vanished immediately.  "But I was going to say, I have a few hexes I'd love to test out, and if you aren't interested in becoming my test-dummy, I suggest you keep your third year level flirting to a minimum and let me finish out my detention." 

Gilderoy huffed in disappointment and stepped away, leaning against the wall again and watching Sirius out of the corner of his eye. Sirius did his best to ignore him, putting all of his concentration into scrubbing the silver frames of Witches and Wizards he was probably related to in some way.

 "So what happened?" Asked Lockhart, sounding bored after the long, extended silence that Sirius had been thoroughly enjoying.

Sirius didn't look away from Xavier Rastrick's portrait. Mother's great uncle's second cousin, I think...

"Black?" 

 "WHAT?" 

"What happened?" Gilderoy repeated, unaffected by Sirius' outburst. 

Sirius stared at him, he must be dumber than he looked. "What do you-? Ugh. My friends and I let a bunch of nifflers loose in the Great Hall to steal the silverware, weren't you there-? 

Gilderoy rolled his eyes. "I mean between you and your boyfriend. That Lupin kid." He waved his hand dismissively at Remus' name, making Sirius want to punch him. "I mean, everyone knows you two have been practically married since first year. Though I can't imagine why..." 

Sirius' fists clenched so hard he heard his knuckles crack. He let out a slow breath. 

 "Remus decided that we should see other people." Sirius sighed. He wasn't sure why he was answering to that pompous oaf anyway, but he supposed it was better than letting any rumors fly around. "And it's only temporary." He added quickly.

Gilderoy hummed thoughtfully, once again braving a step closer to Sirius so that the Gryffindor's back was pressed against the portrait he had been polishing. "It doesn't have to be temporary, you know. You shouldn't sell yourself short, Black. You're the best looking boy in the school, well, besides me of course-" Sirius groaned inwardly, using every ounce of self control in his body to not pummel Lockhart to the ground and knock those ridiculously stark white teeth out of his pretty head. "Why limit yourself to Lupin when you can do so much better?" 

 Before Sirius could stop himself, he grabbed a fistful of the blonde's shirt and flipped them so that Lockhart was the one pinned against the wall. He drew back his fist, prepared to deliver what was sure to be a very satisfying punch when he saw someone rounding the corner in his peripheral vision.

"Sirius?"

Remus.

 This better work. He thought desperately, and he pressed his lips against Lockart's. 

For a second it felt like everything stopped. He heard Remus' footsteps stop short and he was sure the werewolf was staring at them. Might as well make it believable. 

Pressing himself fully against the Ravenclaw, Sirius moaned and parted his lips to allow Gilderoy to slide his tongue in with a little too much enthusiasm. He tasted too strongly of mint, like he carried mouthwash with him for just such occasions, and it gave Sirius an instant headache. In a very bold move, one of Gilderoy's hands slid down his back and grabbed his arse a little too hard and Sirius had to stop himself from biting down on the boy's tongue. 

 The sound of Remus clearing his throat loudly should have been Sirius' excuse to stop, but he was feeling spiteful and he kept going until finally;

"Sirius Black!" 

Success! Sirius thought smugly as he broke away from Lockhart with a smirk. "Hey Rem. I didn't know you were ther