19. Remus's Secret
As classes resumed, the rift between Severus and I grew larger. The two of us weren't fighting or even growing less fond of each other, but with his time consumed with his relationship with Lily and my time spent with the Marauders we just didn't have time for each other. Even when we did, it was painfully obvious that he had been changing already. He now laughed with her strange half-giggle and now they both called me Red because of my Halloween costume from months ago. I would see them at breakfast at the Slytherin table and even Lunch at the Gryffindor table feeding each other of the other one's plate, even though they were both eating the same thing. Lily's hair was starting to get a grease film from doing extra-credit potions with him and they were both starting to make goofy inside jokes that no one else found funny. Hanging out with the two of them together was unbearable because they'd finish each other's sentences, talk at the same time, and double-team stories, adding pointless details for each other and making everyone who met them sick. On weekends they'd both show up in blue jeans and nearly identical sweaters, though they consistently swore it wasn't planned. People who didn't know them well thought they'd been together for years and people who did just rolled their eyes and moved an extra seat away from them.
The marauders and I were getting along better than ever before though. I was now invited to hang out with them in the RoR or on the grounds all the time. Sirius and James would tease me like we'd been friends for years. Peter and Remus would go out of their way to join my table in the library even when we just sat in silence. I still wasn't a part of the boy's secret looks or insides jokes, but we would spend hours laughing at the other Slytherins and sometimes even each other with no hard feelings.
A little over a month into our newfound closeness, Remus disappeared yet again. It seemed like every month he would disappear for three or four days and none of the boys seemed to be worried about it. They hadn't been worried when his aunt died or his mom got sick enough for him to go all the way home (which had happened at least twice since we'd started hanging out in October) or anything else that seemed to happen. Sometimes, he'd come back with new cuts on his arms or even his face. Finally, I cornered Peter in the stands while Sirius and James were in quidditch practice.
"So, where's Remus gone off to this time?" I asked, leaning my elbows on Peter's shoulders.
"His mom's sick." He said vaguely.
"Again?" I gasped. "Come on man, this is the third time she's been sick enough for him to go all the way home. They should really check her into St. Mungo's and see if there's a bigger problem of some kind."
Peter shrugged lightly. "S-she gets sick a lot. I-I think it's a weak immune system and with his dad out of the picture, Remus is the only one who can care for her when it gets bad." He stuttered awkwardly and I could see his eyes darting around, looking anywhere but at me.
"He's going to miss the big lesson on werewolves in Care of Magical Creatures tomorrow." I frowned. "Are you boys taking notes for him or should I? I wouldn't want him to get low grades on the essay just because he had to run home."
"I-I think James is actually." Peter shrugged looking up at his friends.
"Well, let him know he can borrow my notes too if he wants." I sighed, leaning back. Peter was a nervous wreck. He was definitely hiding something.
I slipped away from him and headed down to the changing rooms to talk to James before he got into the showers. I caught his arm just as he was walking by.
"Hey, I'm going to head up to the library to start on my Care of Magical Creatures essay a bit early. Meet you guys in the RoR later, or will you be busy?" I asked.
"Actually, Peter needs some help on his Astronomy homework, so Sirius and I were planning on staying in for the night." James shrugged. "With Remus at that funeral, Pete needs all the help he can get."
I nodded understandingly and headed to the library. I was halfway there before I realized that Peter and James had each told me a different excuse for why Remus was gone. I frowned and thought about that while I gathered my books for the essay. Instead of studying, I wrote down all the reasons Remus had been gone. November his mom had been sick. October his aunt died and he needed to attend the funeral. November his mother had been sick. December had been his grandmother's death. January had been his mom again. Now in February I had been told his mother was sick as well as a funeral for some unnamed relative. It was painstakingly obvious that they were lying, but why would they do that? What was so big of a secret?
I folded the list and put it in my pocket to remind myself to continue writing things down. I wouldn't confront them about it yet. We'd only been friends for a handful of months, so it was okay not to share everything, though I wished they'd just be honest and tell me that they couldn't tell me. I set to work on my research and couldn't help thinking of Remus a lot over the study session.
Everything seemed to remind me of him. Sick and tired? Check. Fear of water? Yep. I remembered his face of horror when I'd suggested going for a swim when the weather warmed up. Change in eye colour? I fondly remember his eyes changing from amber to a soft yellow, depending on his mood. Bad temper? Well, I'd occasionally see him snap at people right before he left for whatever funeral or whatever, but I had chalked it up to grief and stress. The tantalizingly beautiful scars? Yep, he's got those. Lack of appetite? Well, I noticed that he hadn't touched his dinner the night before he left….
Suddenly, I snapped out of my studying as I realized I was seriously comparing my crush with a beast I was studying in class. When had that started? I stood from the table and put all my books back, deciding that it was late and I needed some sleep to be able to deal with this. On my way back to the Slytherin dorms, I noted that it was nearly curfew and already well past sun down. I looked out and noticed that the full moon was hanging in the sky. The shock of my earlier thoughts came back to me and suddenly I was headed to a different Common Room than I had been before.
The fat lady who protected the Gryffindor common room and dormitories glared at me, but opened reluctantly when I told her the password. I slid my Slytherin tie into my pocket and folded my robes neatly before setting them on the floor next to the entrance. Hopefully, no one would pay much attention and I could get James out of there before anyone noticed that I wasn't a Gryffindor.
I let my hair fall into my face and walked right in, grabbing James's arm and basically dragging him to the darkest corner, which wasn't very dark in the first place. "James, we need to talk, immediately."
"Dez, what are you doing here? Someone could see you and you'd get in real trouble!" James hissed pushing me into a seat that halfway hid me from view. "What's so important that you'd risk detention for the rest of the year, just waltzing in here like that?"
"Not here, James. Grab the rest of the marauders and meet me…" I trailed off as I realized we didn't have time to get anywhere before curfew let alone get back.
"Just follow me" James groaned flashing his mirror at Sirius before leading me out into the hall. He held the mirror to his face and waited for Sirius.
"Dude, was that Dez?" Sirius's voice asked a second later.
"Shut up, Sirius. Grab the map, cloak, and Peter and meet us in the old hang out. The one from before we found the RoR." James snapped, not giving his friend time to reply before shoving the mirror in his pocket again and leading me to an empty room not far away. There was a stack of dusty pillows in the corner, but other than that the room was completely empty.
"This isn't good enough, James. I need somewhere that we definitely won't be overheard. I just… It's big, okay? Like expulsion big." I hissed under my breath.
James nodded tensely and half an hour later, the four of us had just pulled the door shut in the Room of Requirement. James and Sirius had lead us here with their map while Peter and I followed, both twitching nervously.
"Okay, we should be fine now. What the hell was that all about?" Sirius asked glaring at me as if it was a terrible inconvenience to be out after curfew.
"Okay, now with you all here, where is Remus, right this second?" I asked softly.
"Funeral." James said firmly at the same time that Peter squeaked, "With his Mum." All three of them looked at each other in horror for several tense moments before looking back at me.
"Yeah. That's what I thought. Since we've been friends, his grandmother and aunt have both died and his Mum has been sick three times. At least three of those five happened on full moons." I looked into each of their nervous eyes before continuing. "I know you guys already know, because you cover for him all the time. He's sickly, tired all the time, and none of you seem to be worried about dying family or constant wounds. Either the Lupin family has pissed of the big guy upstairs or he's a werewolf. Please don't insult my intelligence by lying to me again."
James looked helplessly at the other two before sighing. "Yeah, he's a werewolf. I can't believe you figured it out in less than six months. That took us two years to piece together and no one else has."
I sighed and sat on the bed that had randomly appeared in the corner of the room just moments before as if it knew I needed to sit down. "Guys, this is big, you know? I… I don't even know what to say from there."
"Are you going to tell anyone?" Sirius asked softly.
"I wouldn't, no. The teachers know, or he wouldn't be able to miss all these classes, and the students don't need to." I said staring out the window of the room. How there was a window, I didn't know since this room was in the middle of the castle, but staring out at the moon had always calmed my nerves.
"Are you going to stop hanging out with us now?"
I looked up at James helplessly. "I don't know, James. I… This is a lot to take in. Can you give me a few days before you tell him that I know?"
"Three days. That's all I can promise." James said ushering the other two towards the door. He set a weird shimmery cloth on the table by the door and looked back at me. "This is an invisibility cloak. You can borrow it to get back to your dorm… Think of it as an official invitation to the Marauders… now that you know."