Mia exited the common room early – she had decided to use the morning to study in the library, mostly because she had nothing else to do: Lily would be spending the day with Snape and Elizabeth, well, considering it was a Saturday, would most likely sleep until lunch time.
Mia entered a secret passage Sirius had once shown her that lead to the forth floor. The way though it was only faintly illuminated by a few lamps, causing Mia to feel sort of agitated when she was in it. Suddenly, she started hearing voices… a whispered argument. She wondered if she should go on or just turn back.
“… he could have died, Padfoot! What were you thinking?” The voice sounded familiar to Mia but she couldn’t really recognize it. She had heard the name Padfoot before. The curiosity was too much and she just kept walking, hoping whoever was in the secret passage wouldn’t notice her.
“I never thought he would be stupid enough to actually go there, Prongs!” Another familiar voice said. This one, Mia recognized immediately – it was Sirius. Of course… she had heard James calling him Padfoot once.
“You should have thought better! I could have killed him! Damn it! Can’t you use your brains for something other than snogging girls or pranking people?!” A third voice said.
Mia started hearing steps in her direction but she knew it was too late to run. Seconds later, Remus’s form came out of the darkness. She saw him shudder when he saw her.
“Remus, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hear…” she stated but then she noticed how he looked – pale, exhausted, sick. There were large shadows under his eyes like he hadn’t slept for weeks. “Oh, Merlin, are you alright? What happened to you? You need to go to the Hospital Wing.”
Lupin shook his head. “That is where I am coming from,” he said. “How much did you hear?”
“Not much. Just that Sirius did something bad. What did he do?” she asked.
Remus shook his head. “It’s complicated,” he told her. He looked around. “I’m not sure this is the right place…”
“There is an empty classroom right outside this passage if we turn back,” she offered. “Come on. You look like you need someone to talk to.”
He sighed. She was right, he needed someone to talk to. But he would have to tell her about his ‘furry little problem’ to get to what had happened in the previous night. Remus followed her to the empty classroom, unable to just tell her ‘no’.
They entered and he sat by one of the desks, Mia pulling a chair to sit in front of him.
“So, what did he do?” she inquired.
“I need to tell you something before I get to that part,” he told her. “I’m just not sure how you will react…”
“What do you mean?” she inquired in confusion. “Is it bad?”
He nodded. “I…” he started. There was no way around it. He just had to say it. “I’m a werewolf. There, that’s it.”
“Oh.” Mia just stared. Well, that explained a lot: the scars, why he got ill every month, what James meant when he said Remus had a ‘furry little problem’…
“So, aren’t you going to run away screaming?” he asked after a while.
“Am I supposed to?” she asked back in confusion. Weren’t werewolves only dangerous during full moon? Or at least when they were not in packs. Remus clearly wasn’t. “You don’t look that dangerous to me.”
Remus raised an eyebrow in surprise. “You’re just like them, aren’t you?” he asked. “Sirius, James and Peter acted more or less like you.”
“Why wouldn’t they?” she inquired. “Honestly, I’m sorry you have to go through that but you’ve been nothing but nice to me since we’ve met. Just because I know you have a problem, that doesn’t make you a bad person or anything.”
“Some people don’t think like you, Mia,” he told her. “That is why I keep it a secret. In this school, only Dumbledore, Madam Pomfrey and the guys know. Well, now you do too… and Snape.”
“Snape?” Mia asked. That was about the last person she would guess that knew about Remus’s… condition.
Lupin nodded. “That’s what this whole thing with Sirius is about. Look, what I’m about to tell you is illegal, so… don’t tell anybody, alright?” She nodded silently. “When he found out, James had this idea of finding a way to help me through the transformations – they are not very pleasant, as you can imagine – and last year he and Sirius found a way. See, werewolves are not dangerous to animals, so they had to become animagi.”
“What? That is impossible,” Mia said. “They are sixteen! How is it possible for them to master such a—”
“They did,” Remus interrupted her. “And Peter too. Back in November they managed to do it and now they spend full moons with me. It makes the whole thing a lot easier, you know? I feel more human and they are always around to make sure I don’t do anything bad.”
“But Sirius did something stupid tonight,” Mia guessed.
He nodded in confirmation. “There is a tunnel in the under the Whomping Willow that leads to the Shrieking Shack, which is where I transform. Snape asked Sirius where we usually sneaked to, you know, just to try to piss him off. But Sirius, in return, told him that we used the tunnel to sneak out to outside the castle. I’m not sure he thought Snape would believe it in the first place… the thing is that Snape did and he went there, trying to catch us and, if it wasn’t for James, I could have ripped him apart or transform him.”
Mia’s mouth was hanging open. She wasn’t sure who was the bigger idiot – Sirius or Snape. What had Sirius been thinking?! “What happened after?” he asked.
“Dumbledore showed up, gave Sirius detention and ordered Snape to keep his mouth shut,” he told her. “I’m more mad at myself that at Sirius. I mean, he shouldn’t have told Snape about the tunnel, but I’m sure he didn’t mean to get him killed. On the other hand, knowing that I could have killed him…”
“You couldn’t control yourself. It’s not your fault you are what you are, Remus. Snape went there trying to get you guys in trouble but ended up being bitten in the arse… well, figuratively,” she said. “The point is that you didn’t kill anybody and, even if you did, it wouldn’t be your fault.”
“I doubt that would matter,” he mumbled. “Anyway, James is probably lecturing him now. I hope this teaches him a lesson about why he is supposed to think before he acts.”
Mia sighed. “Stop thinking of it. I’m sure he’ll learn from this.”
She found him hours later, ironically enough, standing by the lake. That seemed to be the place where the two of them always ended up when they were upset.
Mia walked in his direction and stood by his side. She didn’t say a word, hoping he would be the first one to talk. She really didn’t know how to start a conversation like that.
He looked at her, his face expressionless. “What are you doing here?” he asked with no accusation in his tone.
“I talked to Remus,” she stated. “He told me.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “Told you what?”
“Everything,” she stated. “Starting with his… condition and ending with what happened last night.”
“Oh,” he mumbled in surprise. Remus had actually told her? He didn’t know if he should be thankful, because now he didn’t need to worry about letting it slip in a conversation, or angry, because now Mia knew how much he had screwed up. “So, what do you have to say?”
“Well, Remus being what he is doesn’t bother me. That thing you pulled on Snape… well, I’ve already told you what I think of this sort of ‘pranks’,” she said, trying not to sound too judging.
“They are stupid,” he repeated her words, trying to get where that conversation was leading into. “What about this one?”
“Ten times more stupid,” she told him in a natural tone. “What do you think about it?”
That had been a question nobody asked him so far. “I agree with you,” he confessed, lowering himself and sitting on the ground. “I wasn’t trying to get him killed – I’m not like that. I just wanted him to stop acting like a smartarse. I never thought he would get more than one hell of a fright from this joke. Turns out I was wrong. James said it was reckless and stupid and, honestly, I couldn’t agree more.”
Mia took a seat by his side and didn’t respond for a few minutes, opting to let him cool down. She could see the regret all over his face. “Look, good people do stupid stuff all the time. What is done is done. Now, all you have to do is go apologize to Remus, because, right now, he feels like a danger to everyone.”
He turned to her and gave her a small smile. “Thank you,” he said. “For believing me.”
“You’re welcome, Padfoot,” she said and saw his smile widen.
“He told you that too?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I heard them calling it to you. It’s a nice nickname but I think I’ll stick with Sirius.”
“It does sound weird coming out of your mouth,” he agreed. “You really think Remus will forgive me? James said he will let me off the hook when Remus does.”
“I think he will… if you promise not to be this careless ever again,” she stated. “Might take a few time, though.”
He took a deep breath and stared right into her eyes. The eyes he constantly dreamed of at night for some reason he couldn’t understand. She was like a magnet to him, a constant in his life. Maybe it was the place where they were – a place with a lot of meaning to them – or maybe it was something else… the next thing he knew, he was kissing her… again.
Mia didn’t even hesitate when she felt his lips on hers – the response was immediate. It was so similar, yet so different from the kiss – her first kiss – that they had shared three years earlier. Less awkward and more hungry. Was that snogging? She felt like they would choke before any of them would dare to put an end to that kiss.
But eventually they had to stop and, when their lips came apart, it felt like they had broke something that belonged together. She knew in that moment that she her crush on him wasn’t just a crush. She was in love with him.
“I needed that,” he mumbled.
“Hum… me too, sort of,” Mia responded, feeling awkward. “It was fun.”
“Yeah,” he agreed, trying to reason with what had just happened. Why did kissing her felt different than kissing other girls? “It was fun. I mean, we’re friends. Friends do… fun stuff.”
“Exactly. Kissing is fun, so… we kiss,” she offered. “No big deal.”
“None at all,” he stated.
The silence followed, with the two of them avoiding each other’s eyes – they feared the other would see the lie if their eyes met.
Sirius coughed. “We should go back to the castle,” he said. “I need to find Remus.”
“Yeah,” she agreed. “I need to… go do things.”
They hoped the awkwardness would disappear eventually because ‘kissing was no big deal’. Funny how both of them wanted that to happen again.
A/N: Sorry it took me this long - I went out for the long weekend and only had time to edit the chapter today. Hope you like it. Let's just say you are a couple of chapters away of the 'changing'. Review!