[personal profile] marieldraconis
OK, so continuation of the "Harry's Secrets" storyline--I still have no better title for this one.


“What about silver, Professor?”
“No, I’m afraid that that one is a myth as well. There are a lot of misconceptions about werewolves, even in your textbooks, often simply because people do not take the time to research. They assume that all werewolves are monsters and that there is nothing more they need to know.” Despite himself, Remus was hard-pressed not to smile. He remembered his friends’s attempts at ‘research’ before he knew that they knew about him. They had probably covered most of the false myths before letting him know that they knew.
After answering a few more questions, Remus let his fourth year Gryffindor and Ravenclaw class go to dinner. This particular combination, he had found, would generally come up with the most interesting classes—combine Gryffindor fearlessness, Ravenclaw propensities to research more than necessary, and then half the class was covered in blue feathers because someone wanted to try a new countercurse. Most of their work was on dueling and the more interesting curses, but he had to do a few classes like this, as well. Because of their spotty Defense teaching in the past few years, the third and fourth years were behind where they should be, and the second years were not that far ahead of the first years. Perhaps it was for the best that this class was less critical than it had been in the past. If the departing students were launched straight into a war as Remus’s year had been, they would not be able to survive.
But they don’t need to survive the way we did, Remus reminded himself. That was still no excuse for fourth-years who had not covered werewolves. Remus had been dreading that lesson since he realized that he would have to teach it to them, but it had actually turned out well, and he had been able to counter some of the misinformation that the students had. In all, it had been much better off than the lesson in his third year....

“Do not be misled by their human appearance. Werewolves are equally dangerous at any phase of the moon. They merely hide it better the closer they are to the new moon.”
Remus was sitting quietly, pretending to take notes, and trying hard not to think about the fact that his professor was advocating killing him on sight. Dinwiddie didn’t know what he was, of course, but the realization that if he did know, he would—
“Silver bullets through the heart are the best method. When the moon is not full, however, most standard methods of execution will succeed. The only drawback to execution when the werewolf is in mortal form is that some will mistake the werewolf for a human, and show pity---“
Remus heard Sirius whisper. He couldn’t quite catch the words, but the effect was obvious—Remus suddenly burst into hysterical laughter. He fell on the floor, still laughing, and felt a hand help him up.
“Come on, mate. Professor? Do you mind if I take Lupin here to the hospital wing? I’m not sure he can make it on his own.”
Remus tried to say he was fine, but all that came out of his mouth was more laughter, and he nearly fell over again. James tugged him in the direction of the door even before Professor Dinwiddie gave his permission.
Once outside and a little ways down the corridor, James leaned Remus up against the wall. “OK, stay there for a moment, and don’t open your mouth. You’ll start laughing again if you do.” He waved his wand, and Remus recognized the spell this time—it was the counter-curse for the Cheering Charm.
“You planned this?” It was one of their standing rules—no pranking each other, no matter what. And they had hexed him in this class, in the middle of that particular lesson....
“Well, sort of. We know you get a bit sick, and you were looking peaky, so we thought we should have an excuse ready, should you need to skip for a bit. Don’t go back in there!” James snapped, as Remus had turned back towards the corridor. “We’ll get your stuff, and I had Peter take notes for us, although frankly I think Dinwiddie doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
He doesn’t, Remus thought, but he couldn’t say that. “Look, I miss enough class as it is, I really think I should—“
“I bet you could teach this lesson better than Dinwiddie could. And if you go back in there now, you’ll ruin all our hard work and Dinwiddie might catch on to the fact that we set this all up. So you go up to the Tower and have a nap, and we’ll bring you your books and lunch later, OK?”
There was something about James. Whenever he made a suggestion like that in his ‘reasonable’ tone of voice, Remus would find himself half-way to obeying before he even stopped to think about it. He was standing outside the Fat Lady’s portrait, giving the password (“Arcturus”) when it finally occurred to him to wonder why, exactly James had prepared for him to skip that lesson. He was in his bed before it occurred to him that, a week and a half after the full moon, he couldn’t still look ‘peaky’ enough to need an excuse to skip class.
Remus made a mental note to thank the other three when they got back. Either they knew and hadn’t decided to ditch him yet for some as-yet-unknown reason, or they didn’t know and just wanted to get perfect-Remus-Lupin to skip something when he wasn’t ‘sick.’ It didn’t matter. What mattered was that Remus had managed to leave the classroom without being sick, and James and Sirius had facilitated it. For that, he needed to thank them.

Remus’s things to be thankful for expanded rapidly over the next three weeks, as James and Sirius seemed to have declared war on Professor Dinwiddie. Thing #1: James and Sirius had Peter help them on occasion, but refused to let their fourth join in the ‘fun’ this time. Remus could sit back and watch his least-favorite professor get what he deserved, with no fear that he would be blamed. Any concerns he expressed that his friends would be blamed instead were brushed off with a ‘we know what we’re doing, Lupin, and could you give us the History of Magic notes? Peter and James spent the class planning our latest incident.’ Thing #2: Professor Dinwiddie arriving to class looking like some strange half-wolf, half-man creature. James and Sirius had a picture from the textbook prepared so that they could refute the professor’s claim that this was what a werewolf looked like. The rumor later was that Dinwiddie had consumed a badly-made Polyjuice potion, although why he would do so remained a mystery. Remus merely wondered how his friends had found a bit of wolf fur. Thing #3: Peeves took to appearing behind Dinwiddie at random moments, leaping out and shouting ‘boo’ during class, and generally disrupting everything he could find. When Remus asked the others about this, James calmly explained that Peeves was rather fond of Remus.
“He calls me ‘loony, loopy Lupin.’ How is that fond?”
“This is Peeves, remember. His idea of friendship involves dropping a water balloon on the person in front of you.”
“So he’s not that different from you three, is that it?”
“Ha, ha, Lupin. Anyway, we mentioned to Peeves that Professor Dinwiddie was bothering you and he figured the rest out on his own. We didn’t even need to egg him on all that much.”
Discovering that Peeves considered Remus an ally was, in its own way, rather intimidating. However, over the next few days things escalated, from the day that seventeen students, four teachers, and a ghost all declared their undying love for Dinwiddie, to the camel incident and the desks all turning into alpacas, to the week that random colors flashed and random sounds went off in the Defense classroom whenever anyone said the words “dark,” “jinx,” “monster,” or any of the house names. By then end of February, Dinwiddie had turned in his resignation and the four self-titled Marauders were being called in front of Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall for questioning.
“Boys, you realize this is very serious business.” McGonagall glared at James when he dared to snicker. Remus let out a relieved sigh when he realized that James wasn’t going to make the obvious pun, since then he might have to kill him before Professor McGonagall could.
“Driving a Hogwarts professor into an early retirement, especially when he has been with us less than a year....”
“It’s not like he was a very good professor,” Sirius interjected. “M—Remus here could have taught the class better than he did.”
“Nevertheless—“
“And he’s a bigot, too. I don’t think he ever read any real books on werewolves...or vampires...or you know, any Dark creatures. He just said they were monsters who needed to die.”
“That is the opinion of much of the wizarding world, Mr. Potter. Do you propose to change it?” Professor Dumbledore, now, staring over the tops of his half-moon glasses. James looked back defiantly, but it was Sirius who answered.
“Most of the wizarding world has their heads up their arses, Professor. It’s easier for them to feel comfortable in their own superiority than to actually think about what that superiority does to everyone else. It’s easier to think that something’s subhuman than to try treating it like a human.” Sirius paused for a moment, and almost shrank into himself when he realized that the rest of the room was watching him. More uncertain, he added “I mean...that’s what I think, anyway.”
Remus remembered something James had said, about how expressing these sorts of opinions at home got Sirius a severe hexing, and he realized why this particular Black ended up in Gryffindor. Not that he didn’t belong, but before this moment, Remus had not truly understood why.
“We should expel you for this—“
“Remus had nothing to do with it!” James cut in. “I don’t care what you do to the rest of us, we only did it because Dinwiddie was being horrid to him—“
“And encouraging the general idiocy of the rest of the world—” Sirius smoothly took up the flow of conversation.
“And you can’t expel us, not when we were only trying to help!” Peter finished, as if they had prepared their arguments for weeks instead of a massive emotional outburst. Remus had a feeling that, if the case were different, here is where he would cut in with a rational explanation to show that what they had done was really for the best after all.
But he was too much in shock, and this was about him. ‘Dinwiddie was being horrid to him’? Not overtly—they couldn’t know that unless they knew the truth about the rest. And if they did, then why were they trying to help him?
“I understand there are mitigating circumstances, but in the future, perhaps not quite so much zeal in the protection of a friend?” Dumbledore suggested. Professor McGonagall stared at the boys until the headmaster jogged her elbow. “We have interviews to conduct for the new Defense professor. Please try not to force this one out. Feel free to finish the biscuits. I believe the four of you have one more thing to discuss before you go.”
And then they were alone in the room. Remus reached for a chocolate biscuit, not knowing what else to do with his hands. The silence grew in the room, until finally James, always the active one, burst out. “We know, you know.”
“You...know?”
“About your...your...your Moonyness.” The word stumbled out of Sirius’s mouth. “Your being a—being a Moony?”
“Your furry little problem. What Professor Dinwiddie was torturing you about in class that day?” James seemed confused, as if he couldn’t quite understand what was taking Remus so long.
“I...oh.” Remus couldn’t think. They know, they know, they know....
“That was really nasty of him,” Peter added.
“He...he didn’t actually know about me. Doesn’t know about my—you won’t tell anyone, will you?”
“Of course not! You’re our Moony, not anyone else’s,” Sirius decreed.
Does he mean to call me Moony, or can he just not say—“I mean it, guys. If you tell, I’ll have to leave. Please, promise, I don’t care if you don’t want to be friends any more, but...”
James shook his head. “Sirius is right. You’re ours. We’re not ditching you, and we’re not telling, either. I promise.”
“Me, too,” Peter chimed in.
Remus felt himself turning towards Sirius, who grinned, held up the last biscuit, and nodded. “I promise...I promise, Moony....” But something was happening to the room. The portraits were disappearing, and the walls were white, and Remus wasn’t sitting on a chair but propped up against the headboard of a bed, and Sirius’s hair was longer and he was taller, and his grin was no longer that of a cheeky thirteen-year-old but of a man who could get any girl he wanted with that exact grin. “I promise, Moony. I’ll keep them safe from you. Very safe...you won’t have to kill them. I’ll do it for you, you see.” Something was changing—Sirius’s hair was growing longer and tangling, and his face was becoming skeletal and dirty, and all the while he kept talking: “You won’t need to hurt them. I’ll do it for you—unless you want to hurt them, after all.” And he was wearing rags that looked like prison robes and laughing and laughing and...
Remus woke up to the sound of a bell ringing. Dinner must be over. He was late for a staff meeting, and he had fallen asleep on his desk. Standing up and trying to straighten his hair, Remus glanced out the window. I know you’re out there, Sirius. I’ll find you and I’ll stop you. It was dark, and the full moon was only days away. I won’t let you hurt the children.
But in the back of Remus’s head, Moony was stalking, growling. And if it is a choice between us hurting our cub, and Him killing them?
We won’t hurt Harry. We can’t do that. Not again.

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