It was late. James had gone back to the dormitory for the night, and Sirius was now snoring very loudly. Remus stared at the Hospital Wing ceiling, a very blank ceiling. He wanted more than anything to fall into a dreamless sleep, he was so very tired. But if he fell asleep he would have that dream again, he just knew he would. That dream that had haunted for so long, of the day he had gotten bitten. Remus was always a good boy, usually obedient to his parents, occasionally straying as little boys do. His family and him had gone camping in the woods when he was about seven, and the many creatures fascinated him. His mother had told him not to wander off into the forest alone, for he could get lost. But he had seen this rare and unusual bird, and decided that it wouldn’t hurt to follow it for awhile. The bird was very colorful, but very hard to follow. With the thick foliage and the approaching darkness Remus soon lost sight of it, and the way back to the campsite. Now he was all alone, surrounded by the night and the trees, barely able to see a thing. He heard a strange noise rustling behind him, and he turned around quickly, his eyes trying to penetrate through the darkness. The next minute was a flash of fur, claws, and ravaging teeth. His screams as it bit him carried to the campsite, where his parents were searching frantically for him. They followed the sound of his screams, and the howl as the beast attacked him. They managed to rescue Remus from death, but it was too late to save him from the bite. From that day on, he had been a werewolf. He shuddered as he remembered that night in vivid detail. It made him nauseous. He hated what he became every full moon, even thought at the same time the adventures he shared with his friends were some of his greatest memories. He was so lucky to have his friends, the friends that hadn’t rejected him when they figured out his secret, the friends that had become animagi to hang out with him and make his transformations more bearable. James, Sirius, and Peter were the best things that had ever happened to him, well, not including Dumbledore allowing him to come to Hogwarts (where he had met his friends.) But you could have killed Sirius. A nagging voice in his mind reminded him, and Remus knew it was true. It had been bothering him all day, how one little slip up could have been made so easily. He could have killed Sirius, or James when he chased him into the forest, or Peter or the girls in the bushes. It had been a close shave alright. Too close, he decided. There was no other choice. He had to leave Hogwarts, and it had to be now. Slowly, stealthily, Remus got up from his bed and slinked towards the door. Luckily, Madame Pomfrey had unlocked it (thought she hadn’t told Sirius this, as he would have been out of there before she could have even said his name.) He would go to the dormitory, get his stuff, and send an owl to his parents. It seemed impossible to him that he would leave the only place he had ever found acceptance for what he was, the only place he had had true friends. But what had happened that night could never happen again, and he knew it. He turned the door knob and pulled the door open slowly so as not to make any noise. He paused for a moment, listening to the silence of the sleeping castle, then took a step. The next minute he found himself squashed against the floor under something heavy he had tripped over. He didn’t call out for fear of waking Sirius or Madame Pomfrey, but the thing that he had gotten tangled up with let out a strangled yelp. Remus recognized that yelp. “James?” Remus whispered, trying to get into a position so he could see (as he was still face down against the floor. “Remus?” came James’s voice, and even in the dark Remus could see him pull of the invisibility cloak and materialize in front of him. “What are you doing here, wearing that cloak?” Remus asked, very confused and slightly angered that his plan for running away would have to be set back. “Well, I had been sleeping before someone stepped on me.” He told him with a bite of annoyance in his voice. “I had expected Sirius to try and make a break for it, but certainly not you! What are you doing?” Remus didn’t answer. James continued to look at him, and Remus thought about how much he would miss his friends. He could at least tell James, James was the most trustworthy of the group. “Just as you said, making a break for it before I almost get another one of my friends killed.” Remus replied, avoiding James’s stare, sighing deeply as he tried to hold back tears. He was leaving Hogwarts. “You’re WHAT?” James asked in disbelief. “You heard me, I’m leaving. I can’t stay here and put you guys in danger. Dumbledore was wrong, a werewolf can’t be at a school like this. I could have killed any one of you that night, or bitten you and you would have become like me.” Remus said bitterly, just wishing James would let him go on. “It was a close one, but things like that happen. Sirius doesn’t blame you, Peter doesn’t blame you, and I don’t blame you either.” James told Remus reassuringly and truthfully. “And I know Dumbledore doesn’t. He has faith in a lot of people, and I have never known him to be wrong. And I know he is not wrong by letting you come here.” Remus listened to these words carefully. James had only gotten started. “He believes in second chances, and in my opinion you haven’t even blown your first one. I slept outside this door in my invisibility cloak to prevent one friend who tends to act rash from doing something stupid, but instead I am going to prevent my other friend who has too big of a heart from doing something stupid. I will not let you run away from Hogwarts. I know it means too much to you, and you mean too much to us. I don’t care if I have to lay in front of every door in Hogwarts to trip you up, but you will not be leaving. You think you are doing the right thing for us by putting us out of danger of you, but you do more for us by putting us out of danger from ourselves.” James paused for a moment, and was startled to hear Remus crying. “W-what do you m-mean by t-that?” he asked quietly, feeling ashamed not only for crying but for thinking his friends would let him get away that easily. James sighed. “I’ll admit it. Sirius and I, well, we can be assholes from time to time. You are like the moral voice of the group, preventing Sirius and me from doing more damage than we should, and giving Peter confidence in himself. We’d be the ones missing out if you left, and you would be hurting us.” James finished, meaning every word sincerely. The two boys sat in silence of one another, occasionally disrupted by the loud snoring of Sirius. Remus was at a loss for words. James was truly the greatest friend anyone could ever have. And he knew that James was right, as he always was. “I’m sorry James, I just didn’t want to endanger my best friends, even if two of them are, well, assholes.” Remus said after a long while, and James smiled. “This is the only place where I am accepted, and you guys are my only friends. I don’t want to destroy that trust Dumbledore has in me, and I don’t want to destroy that trust that you guys have in me. I know that my secret is safe with you , and I would rather die that destroy that trust.” “So would I, rather die than betray any of you. I’m sure we all would.” James said heavily, the word seem to weigh oddly on him, but he couldn’t figure out why. “So, going to stick around for awhile, or do I need to set up in front of the next doorway?” James said in a lighter tone, and Remus smiled too. Back in the hospital bed, Remus felt the consolation of James’s words soothe him, and he fell asleep dreaming of what wonderful friends he had. *** James slipped back under the invisibility cloak, still slightly in shock that Remus had been trying to run away from Hogwarts. Good thing I don’t trust Sirius! He thought to himself and chuckled, feeling very lucky he had been there. He was just about to continue his snooze outside of the hospital wing when he heard hurried footsteps coming from the end of the hall. James looked down the long corridor and saw Professor Rochem, of all people, striding at a rapid pace. “What’s he up to?” he wondered to himself as Rochem passed. James decided that it would be in his own interest to follow and see where he was going at this time of night. James almost had to run to keep up with Rochem, and could barely follow what corridors they were taking as a result from the darkness of the castle. Rochem abruptly stopped, and James also came to a halt a few feet away. They were outside of the stone gargoyle leading to Dumbledore’s office. This was very unusual, Jamed decided. He also noticed Rochem had a letter clutched in his hand, looking very similar to the one that James and Sirius had seen him receive while serving detention that day. “Sugar Quill.” Rochem muttered, and the gargoyles parted. Rochem stepped onto the moving staircase, and after a moment of hesitation, James followed. As they rode the staircase towards Dumbledore’s office, James held his breath, trying not to imagine what Rochem would do if he found him here, while he was in the middle of something so urgent. They reached the top of the staircase, and stepped onto the landing. Rochem entered the office, apparently Dumbledore had been expected. The door was hastily shut, but a small crack remained as it had not been shut properly. James crept up to the crack and concentrated on listening with every fiber in his body. “… What is so urgent, Randolph?” James heard Dumbledore say, his voice slightly muffled. “Another letter. I don’t think this time they’ll take no for an answer!” Rochem’s voice answered, sounding very tense. “I had a feeling this was coming. I have been noticing more muggle killings that are being traced to his name…” “You know for sure that he is behind it all, then?” Rochem interrupted, and Dumbledore sighed. “I do not know for certain, but I think we can assume that the Ministry is underestimating his rising power. They claim that a few muggle killings are not worthy of too much attention, but I think they may be more significant than they realize.” Dumbledore said gravely. James wondered who they were talking about. “What should I say to these people, these so called ‘death eaters’?” Rochem implored. “Best not to answer just yet. Being head of Slytherin, you are probably one of the first people they came to looking for support. You were right to come to me. If they got you on their side, his whole plan would be perfectly aligned for execution.” “Plan? For what? Why would this, what does it say….” James could hear the rustle of papers as if Rochem were consulting the letter. “This ‘dark lord’ want me on their side?” “This Dark Lord, or Voldemort as he is also called, used to be a student here. You probably would not remember him, he came after your time, but I do. And I also know that he remembers me, and knows that I am opposed to what he is up to. He would love nothing more than to get rid of that old Transfiguration teacher who saw right through him all those years ago. That’s why you would be such an asset to him, to get them closer to me.” Dumbledore said gravely. This was met with silence, as Rochem seemed to be at a loss for words. “What could he possibly be doing, killing muggles? I mean, what’s the point?” Rochem recovered after a moment. “That’s the sad thing, there really is no point to their killing except for they are out to kill muggles, muggleborns, and muggle lovers. Voldemort believes that purity of blood comes before all else.” Dumbledore informed him, and James heard a note of sadness in the old man’s voice that he had never heard before. “And the ministry is doing nothing about this?” Rochem asked in disbelief. “Not yet, at least. It will take them awhile to realize the enormity of Voldemort’s powers, of what this wizard is capable of doing. This is why it is so important to hope that he cannot get those followers he is looking for.” James was certain he had heard the sadness, and even tiredness, in Dumbledore’s voice that time. “So we’re just sitting here until he makes his move and the Ministry wakes up?” Rochem asked in disbelief again, almost sounding angry that the Ministry was turning such a blind eye. “We’re not exactly sitting, we’ve begun to form a secret order to prevent Voldemort from rising. Nothing fancy, nothing that elaborate just yet, but we’re beginning to tell others about what He and his followers are up to. It’s too risky to say more about that here, who knows if there is someone standing outside the door this very minute, listening to every word we say. But we can talk again, and I am happy to know that you are not going to join him and his supporters.” James could not believe what he was hearing. An evil wizard on the rise, the Ministry was unaware, and most importantly, a secret order. Why does no one ever tell him these things?!? A secret order sounded so cool. He heard Rochem and Dumbledore getting up from their chairs, and he realized that he had to get out of here, for Dumbledore always seemed to be able to see through invisibility cloaks. He hurried down the stairs and out into the hallway, hiding in a closet until he was sure that Rochem had passed. Someone more evil than Rochem, who turns out is on the good side! James thought incredulously. This had certainly been an interesting night!
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