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.
"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..."
"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."