"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.