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A week passed before James was able to look at Remus again without his fists balling up and all the blood in his body rushing to his face. This gave him a headache. You’d get a headache too if all the blood in your body was constantly leaving where it was supposed to be and congregating in your face.

The thing was, Remus was getting sicker and sicker as the full moon approached. He started slacking off in class and skipping meals. Every month’s change was different for him, and the stress of the past month seemed to be making this one extremely difficult.

Lily and Rini were starting to notice a pattern in Remus’s behavior, but neither suspected such a horrible secret to lie in their friend. Rini, although she was his cousin, had no idea about his condition.

“Hey Moony.” Sirius plunked down next to Remus at the table. Remus’s plate was bare and he had a green tinge to his face. The full moon was in two days. “You feeling all right, mate?”

Remus had enough energy in him to turn his head and glare at his friend.

“Right. . .stupid question.” Sirius stuffed a piece of bread in his mouth.

James wandered in and trailed over to the table, fighting a gaggle of simpering girls off him as he went. “That’s right, ladies.” His voice dripped with honey and echoed across the hall to them. Sirius rolled his eyes at his schmoozing friend. Once James had finally reached the table and sat down with a big sigh, he muttered, “Bloody hell. You’d think they’d get the idea already.”

“What are you mumbling about?” Sirius asked, mid-chew.

“Nothing. It’s just . . .”

“Who are you going to the ball with, James?” Remus asked quietly from the other side of the table.

James took a deep breath and looked at his friend. Remus was his friend after all. He didn’t want to lose him, but asking Lily out was crossing the line. He found that if he ignored that idea then he could be civil to him. “I’m not going with anyone.” He said to his plate.

Sirius choked on his piece of bread. “What?!” He finally managed to sputter . “You’re a marauder! The marauders always have dates!”

“I don’t want to go with anyone.” He loaded his plate up with butternut parmesan.

“What do you mean you don’t want to go with anyone?!” Sirius was dumbfounded. How could he show his face at a public event without a date?

“I think,” Remus said in his quiet voice, “that James had someone in mind and his plans were changed for him.”

Sirius looked dumbly at Remus before he remembered that Remus and Lily were going together. “Oh. . .” He said in comprehension.

There was a rather uncomfortable silence for a few moments and then James cleared his throat loudly and Sirius looked at Remus, stared at Remus rather, with his eyebrows knit.

Remus tolerated the staring for a few moments and then it reached an extremely irritating climax. “Is there something that you want to ask me, Padfoot?” He asked amusedly.

“Yeah . . . Why doesn’t Arianna know about you?”

James’s and Remus’s eyes met across the table and they grinned at each other knowingly.

“Hey Padfoot,” James said, forgetting about Sirius’s question, “who are you going to the ball with?”

Sirius laughed and shoved another piece of bread in his mouth.

“No, seriously, Sirius.” Remus smiled.

Sirius glared at Remus and swallowed his mouthful. “I hate it when you guys do that.” He looked form James to Remus and sighed in defeat. “I’m going with some Ravenclaw girl.”

“Does she have a name?” James smiled as desert appeared on the table.

“Not one that I know.” He admitted sheepishly into his pumpkin juice.

“Why aren’t you going with Arianna?” James prodded.

Sirius choked on his pumpkin juice and it sprayed across the table, splashing all over the second year on the other side of James. The little boy glared at him and then slunk off to the other end of the table.

“Moony’s cousin!?” He exclaimed, as if the idea had never come across him.

Remus smiled. “It’s o.k. I think she likes you too.”

Sirius looked away and pretended the news didn’t please him. “So why doesn’t she know about you?”

“About being a werewolf?”

Sirius nodded and James looked mildly interested.

“She’s not really my cousin.”

There was a long silence as both boys thought about this for a moment. “What?!” They both ended up yelling in unison. They had known Arianna as Remus’s cousin for so long. . . It was like finding out that Lily’s name was really Beatrice or something like that.

“What do you mean she isn’t your cousin?” James spat, spraying little bits of chocolate across the table.

“Chew your food James.” Remus replied.

“Is she really not your cousin??” Sirius spit.

“Does that mean you don’t like her anymore?” Remis smiled weakly. James and Sirius stared silently at him for a few moments before he sighed and began to explain. “Arianna was adopted by my aunt and uncle when she was a baby. Her real parents were muggles and abusive.”

“Arianna was abused?” James asked, unable to comprehend. “You mean . . .her parents abused her?”

“We don’t all have loving families, Prongs.” Sirius grumbled.

“But she’s so . . .happy!” James protested.

“That doesn’t mean that she didn’t have an unhappy childhood.” Sirius pointed out.

“Hey! Sirius, she’s a lot like you- . . .” James trailed off in sudden realization.

Remus cleared his throat. “My parents haven’t thought it necessary to inform the rest of the family what I am, so naturally, Rini has no idea.”

>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"Sirius. Sirius, it's time to go."

James was pulling on Sirius's arm. He had fallen asleep on the couch as they waited for the common room to empty out so that they could sneak out with Remus. Actually, they didn't sneak out with him. He was supervised by the school healer the entire day and then released into the passage under the large willow tree by the lake. They used the secret passage behind one of the statues, traveling under James's invisibility cloak, which he had spelled himself. Once they had reached the grounds Peter would normally disappear into the woods on some flight of fancy of his own. What good was a rat to help with a werewolf anyway?

Tonight, Peter was not in the common room so they left without him. It was much easier to fit just the two of them without Peter's girth under the cloak, they also reached the statue faster than they normally did.

"We should leave him behind more often." Sirius observed as they slid into the secret passageway.

They traveled down the passageway at a run. The passage came out on the other side of the lake from the willow tree. The first time they had attempted to follow Remus, they had both transformed here, but had then found that in stag form, James did not fit through the tunnel to the shrieking shack. They now had a system set up. Sirius would transform and James would take his wand. They would then travel down the tunnel, Sirius loping along in the front, until they reached the door to the shrieking shack's passage. Sirius would stand guard as James emerged and transformed, Sirius would then take both their wands in his mouth and stash them by the tunnel entrance. They would then go off to find Remus, which was not very difficult.

This system had worked for nearly four years now, without a problem once in all the full moons they had been through. But for some reason, tonight was different.

Tonight, when they emerged from the tunnel, Remus was crouched in the corner, and they did not see him until he had leaped at James. Sirius barked a warning, but it was too late. The werewolf had aimed it's spring well, and it had landed on top of James's chest.

James's shirt gave way under the beast's claws and ribbons of red trailed down his front. He looked down at them, panicked. He was fine, as long as he stayed way from the teeth there wouldn't be any lasting damage. As long as Remus didn't bite him, he wouldn't be cursed too.

But the werewolf had other ideas. He snapped at James, nearly taking his nose off.

"Sirius!" James called out as he wrestled to get the werewolf off him.

Sirius sprung at Remus and dug his claws into his back. Remus turned around, and howled in agony, then turned his attention on Sirius, who started up the stairs, barking and daring the werewolf to follow him.

Remus took the bait and loped off after the dog, giving James the time to drag himself into the tunnel again, and shut the door behind him. He leaned against the hard wood, breathing heavy.

He was worried for Sirius, but that was a small thought in the back of his mind at the moment. There was blood running down his chest and his shirt was torn and ragged. His arm had a large gash on the bicep that was bleeding freely. But he had stayed away from the teeth.

He leaned his head back. What had just happened?

His body was numb, and he couldn't move for a moment and then he realized he had to get back to the castle and to the infirmary. He struggled to stand and then slowly began his way back down the tunnel, using the wall as a support, and cursing Remus Lupin with every step he took.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Rini and Lily were sprawled out on her bed looking at the latest issue of Which Witch magazine and eating Fizzing Whizbees and Bertie Bott's when there was a sudden tap on the dorm window.

"I'll get it!" Rini sprung up and knocked all the candy off the bed as she sprang to the window.

"Rini!" Lily laughed as she tried to save the jelly beans that inevitably met their doom on the floor a few seconds later. There was silence and Lily looked over to see what was wrong. Rini was staring out the window with a terrified expression on her face as a small brown owl flew into the room and landed on the bed.

"What's wrong, Arianna?" Lily said, slowly untangling herself from the sheets.

"Oh Merlin!" Arianna finally gasped. "I think it's James!"

"What?" Lily asked as she slid off the bed, her legs surrounded in sheets. She landed with a hard 'oomf!'.

"Lily come quickly!" Arianna cried frantically.

Lily was frightened by the tone of hysteria in Arianna's voice and scrambled to her feet and to the window. She looked out into the darkness and could make out the limping figure slowly making it's way across the lawn. "Dear Merlin, I think it is."

"Lily, you have to go down and see if he's alright! You're a prefect, you can be out after hours without getting in trouble, and he looks like he's hurt!" She said as she took another look out the window. Lily looked out again, he was walking funny, and slow, and she was a prefect, it was her duty.

She sighed in frustration. "Oh alright. Alright." She said. She was curious why James was alone and out on the grounds so late, maybe she'd be able to give him a detention. She ran out the door and down the hall. Rini stared out the window, watching the one figure attempt to make it's way back up to the school.

Once Lily reached the lawn she was able to make out the person's face enough to tell that it was indeed James, but she stopped in her tracks as he looked up at her. His face was pale and there was a large scrape down his cheek. He was dragging his feet and one looked as if the knee would not bend. One of his arms was cradled against his chest, which was covered by a shredded article of clothing that looked like it may have at one point been a shirt. There was blood trickling down his body.

"James!" She cried out in horror. He looked up at her and then his eyes rolled back in his head and he fell to the ground. "James!" She said again as she ran to him. "Good Merlin!" She cried as she reached his side and knelt next to him. "What happened to you?! You're bleeding!"

His head was swimming and some part of him numbly registered that it was Lily's voice floating above him somewhere. There was cold hands on his chest and then everything was dark again. A few seconds later everything would come back and he tried to say something . . . to reassure her that he was alright, but the words wouldn't form.

A small trickle of blood escaped the side of his mouth and he coughed. "James!" Lily threw her arms around him as she forced him to sit up. "Look at me James!" She demanded.

He fought very hard to open his eyes, but he felt so dizzy.

"Look at me James!" She grabbed his hands and after feeling how slippery they were she took his face gently but firmly. "We have to get you inside and to the infirmary. You have to help me James."

He closed his eyes tightly and scrunched them against the wave of pain as he let her help him back to his feet. She started walking slowly, one arm around his waist and the other holding his arm over her shoulders. It was a long, slow walk and the night was cold. She was shivering and for a moment his brain did not register why or even the fact that she was. He stopped and she tugged on his arm. "James, come on you won't make it much longer if we don't hurry. You're loosing a lot of blood. Oh, why didn't I bring my wand?"

He shrugged off his cloak and draped it across her shoulders and then started off towards the castle again as she looked at him, stunned. The cloak was warm, and there was blood on it, but it smelt good. It smelt warm and comforting, it smelt like safety and protection. It smelt like James. She closed her eyes against the warmth that bubbled up in her.

No. James Potter was an insufferable git. That was the end of it.

But she couldn't help but pity him anyways, at least, she thought it was pity, and she ran to catch up with him and slid her arm around his waist again to give him support. The rest of the walk was silent until they reached the hall of the infirmary, then Lily shouted for the healer until she came and took the bleeding James from her care and into her own.

She asked no questions, only pulled out her many potion bottles and bandages and began to work on the black haired boy as he began to slip in and out of consciousness. She stood there in shock for a moment, only able to watch, and he turned his head to look at her. She stared back. They stood like that for a moment, eyes locked, until the healer put a nasty potion on to the gash in his arm an he was forced to look away.

" Come now, Mr. Potter. You have had worse. It will only sting a minute. This is what you get for insisting to-" Then the healer rose and pulled the curtains shut around the bed, shutting herself inside with her patient, and shutting Lily off from the pain she had seen written on his face.

Rini was probably worried and wondering where she was. She had a lot of homework to finish and it was really late. She had classes tomorrow. She had an exam come to think of it, in Potions.

So she really wondered why, for some reason, she sat down in a chair on the other side of the room, and waited. Waited for what? She had no idea. But she stayed.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"Lily." A voice cooed in her ear. "Wake up Sleeping Beauty."

Lily swatted at the direction the voice was coming from and her hand made contact with someone's face.

"Ow! Hey now!"

She took stock of her surroundings before opening her eyes. There was something cold and hard under her arm and something equally hard against her back. There was a bright light shining in her eyes.

She opened her eyes to find a smirking Sirius standing before her, arms crossed and a large bandage on his forehead that was partially hidden by his long bangs. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes as she turned so that her feet were on the floor. She had been curled sideways in a hard plastic chair, her arms draped over one of the arms and her feet tucked beneath her. She looked around her confusion for a moment before she saw that the ray of light on her eyes was from a high window in the wall and then realized she was in the infirmary.

Sirius grinned at her. "You've been here all night."

"Have I?" She said, rubbing her palms over her eyes.

Sirius crossed his arms and leaned haphazardly against the wall next to her. "Yes indeed you have. Now I'm wondering, whatever is Miss Lily Evans doing in the hospital ward? Now see, when I got here, it was only dear Miss Lily. . . and James."

Lily stood from the chair and stretched, her back cramping in protest. "Was it?" She said as she started walking towards the door.

Sirius followed her, grinning. "It was. Now I'm finding this really interesting Lils, see I know how very much you hate James. You knew he was hurt and you stayed with him all night."

"I did not stay with him all night because he was hurt." The redhead protested, putting her hands on her hips and turning to face him.

"Then why did you stay?" He smirked.

"I fell asleep." She waved him off and started towards the door again, then turned around with a sudden thought. "Why are you hear Sirius?"

Sirius stopped and wore a shocked expression for a moment. "I-uh . . . I brought . . . Remus in." He stuttered out.

"Remus is here too?" She asked in shock as she pushed past him.

"They both are." He said quietly as he tried to grab her arm and stop her from walking into the room.

She stopped as the beds came into view. They were across from each other and both James and Remus were sitting up in the beds, propped up by pillows, each one glaring at the other. Remus, other than looking sick and tired seemed to be fine, with hardly a scratch on him.

James looked better than he had last night, but not by much.

"Look Lils, I think it might be best if you go." Sirius said gently as he came up next to her. "There are some things we need to talk about." He said nodding towards the other two boys.

Lily nodded numbly and left the ward. Rini met her in the hallway.

"I came down about an hour after you left to make sure you were alright. I sat with you for a bit and then left to find Madame to ask if James would be alright. When I came back Sirius was in there with you, you were still asleep. He said that I should probably go catch some sleep too." The way her friend blushed, Lily wondered what more had happened between her friends but said nothing on the subject.

She sighed. "I really want to know what happened last night. All three of them are in there now and Remus and James look as if they are ready to fly out of their beds and throttle each other."

There was the sound of something that had been very fragile crashing and the girls mutely decided it would be best to go get ready for class.

>>>>>>>>>>>>

"What happened last night?!" Remus yelled at James in an accusatory voice. "Why was Lily down here with you?!"

"Because you almost bloody killed me!" He yelled back.

Sirius stood between them and tried to calm both down. "Come on now mates, this is all just a big misunderstanding."

"Misunderstanding!?" They cried simultaneously.

"You know, I think I'll sit this one out." Sirius said as he found a chair on the sidelines and let them go at it. It would probably be best for them to get their anger out in the open while they were both in a state were they couldn't kill each other.

"I did not almost kill you." Remus continued.

"You bloody well did!" James said. "You think I did this to myself?"

Remus took a deep breath as the realization hit him. "I did that?" He asked quietly. He had never attacked anyone before in his werewolf state. The headmaster was careful to make sure that he was properly cared for and sent out where he could do no damage to anyone but himself. Only the professors knew what he was and the Marauders suspected the Headmaster as well as the school healer knew about James and Sirius's escapades every full moon.

James attempted to cross his arms against his chest but only ended pulling at healing wounds and bruised muscles. "Lily saved me."

Remus looked away, the guilt washing over him. He had attacked his best friend? Those scrapes on his face were because of him? He looked at his hands, seeing not the fingers, but the claws that were there every full moon.

James did not relent at the pained expression on his friend's face. "She found me out on the lawn and half carried me up here. She wouldn't leave me out there."

Sirius stood from his chair. "James." He said, holding out a hand as if he could stop James's words.

"But you, Remus. You're a monster." As the words left James's lips, the energy drained from him and the sight of his friend's face brought his heart crashing down to his knees. "I-I'm sorry Remus. . . I didn't mean that . . ."

"No." Remus said quietly. "You did . . . I understand." Then he turned his face away and would not look back.

"I'm sorry Moony." James said quietly, knowing how deep he had hurt his friend. "Remus, I shouldn't have said that. I didn't mean it." Remus's head was just visible enough so that they could see that he nodded, as if he heard him.

Sirius came to the edge of his bed, a disapproving look on his face. "You would have done the same thing," James said to his surrogate brother, his eyes clouded over, "if it had been Arianna." Then he closed his eyes and fell back against his pillows.


>>>>>>>>>>>>

"I can't believe the ball is in only four hours!" Rini was prancing around the dormitory, half in her dress robe and half in her pajamas, as Lily fought with her hair in front of the mirror in the bathroom that branched off their room.

"What's the bloke's name you're going with?" Lily called out as she opened her lipstick tube.

"Something Finnigan. He's in Hufflepuff. He's that red head bloke who sits next to me in Magical Runes."

There was a few seconds of silence and then Lily exclaimed, "You're going with Finnigan?!"

"Haven't we had this conversation before?" Arianna called back, rolling her eyes.

"I think I would remember if you had told me you were going with Finnigan!" Lily shuddered.

"Hey Lils, did you read the newspaper this morning?"

"No. Why?" She stepped back into the room, wiping her hands dry with a towel and raised her eyebrows at Arianna, who was now stuck in the straps of her gown.

"Help?" She asked meekly as Lily stifled laughter and came to her with a pitying look.

"What was in the newspaper? You never read the newspaper." Lily smiled. "In fact, you can read?"

"Ha ha." Rini smiled despite the teasing. "There was an article about some rioting in Hogsmeade. I guess there was a group of people who went through the town spreading these ideas about muggle borns. . ."

Lily's hands slipped from her friend's shoulders. "All fixed."

Rini nodded in thanks. "I guess they think that our kind is less worthy than your kind. Something about them not wanting us being able to practice magic."

"That's a load of rubbish and you know it." Lily pulled her friend into the bathroom and picked up her brush. "Now. Let's do something with that hair of yours."

>>>>>>>>>>>>

Four hours later, Rini and Lily were analyzing themselves before the mirror.

"Are we ready?" Rini asked.

Lily took a deep breath. "Am I ready?" She said in a breathless whisper.

I never should have let this happen. Rini berated herself. No wonder James has been so distant this week. She looked over at her friend's reflection. She really likes Remus. With a sigh, she grabbed her friend's hand. "They'll be waiting for us." She said softly.

"Yeah . . ." Lily replied distantly.

They exited the dorm, passing groups of giggling girls in their multicolored gowns, and fought their way down to the portrait hole.

"Where are you meeting Finnigan?" Lily asked.

"Outside the Great Hall on the staircase."

"Well I guess I'll see you later then because-" She started.

"Lily?" A surprised voice came from behind them. The girls turned around quickly, the Marauders were standing before them, all attired regally.

"R-Remus." Lily stuttered, her eyes wide. He was standing at the front of the group, hands in his pockets and a crisp black dress robe on. Sirius and James were similarly attired in the black robe. Even that boy Peter that always hung around them could bee seen wearing one from where he sulked in the corner. Sirius was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed and his tie knotted loosely so it hung inches below the first few unhooked buttons of his shirt.

James would not let himself look at Lily. He hung back and acted as if the nearest painting was far more interesting and for once, he was silent. His words from the day before still haunted him, and he had come to a silent agreement with himself that he would not stand in Remus's way, no matter how much it hurt him. He owed it to Remus for what he had said. It had been an accident. It was common knowledge that werewolf's would attack anyone, that they did not recognize faces, nor did they care who the face belonged to. Remus had not known it was him. He had to keep telling himself that. Over and over again. Remus had not known. Meanwhile, he had to live with the guilt of causing his friend pain over something he could not control, and watching that friend walk away with the one girl he had always dreamt himself with. This night was going to be anything but fun.

Remus was smiling slightly at her. Now that the full moon had passed, he looked much healthier. The circles underneath his eyes had faded away with the full nights sleep he had had and his poise had returned. She stepped closer to him and he slipped a flower gently into her hands.

She looked down at the delicate orchid in her hand and said, "It's not a lily."

"You sound surprised." He noted.

She looked at him, a grin spreading across her face. "I hate Lilies. You would too if you were me. I don't think I have ever received any other type of flower. It's like people think my parents named me Lily just knowing I would love them."

Remus smiled back as he offered her his arm and Lily gently took it. They exited the dorm, leaving Arianna looking slightly put-down at having been ditched , Sirius with a plastered expression of "nothing's-wrong-and-I-don't-care" on his face and poor James looked so lost that he'd never know which way was up again, never mind how to find his way alone down to the Great Hall.

Sirius looked over at the black haired girl a few feet away from him and his stomach fluttered. Her dress was a deep crimson and dipped low in the back, her hair was down, as it always was, and the tips were died a dark red to match her dress.

James cleared his throat from the other side of the room and then left through the portrait hole, but not before giving Sirius a significant look.

"Arianna?" He said after a few moments of silence.

Arianna turned around and smiled at him. "Everyone calls me Rini, Sirius."

He cleared his throat. "Rini."

She smiled and nodded. Good Merlin he was handsome, did he have a date tonight? Would it matter if he did? She scolded herself. I already am going with someone else.

"You look really nice tonight." He said quietly. He was still leaning on the wall and his head was titled towards the floor so when he looked up at her it was through his dark bangs.

Her breath caught in her throat. "So do you." She said breathlessly.

There was an awkward silence for a moment and then the portrait hole opened up.

"You still in here, Sirius?" A voice called out. "Serena is out here waiting for you."

"Serena . . ?" Arianna's heart dropped. He did have a date.

Sirius pushed up from the wall and walked towards the door, and in doing so passed her. He stopped and looked down at her. "Have a good time tonight. . . Rini." Then he left.

Rini couldn't breathe for a moment. Gradually, her senses came back to her and she was able to move again, slowly, towards the portrait. Tonight looked like it was going to be anything but a good time.

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