Remus got to Hogwarts and had no idea how to act like a normal kid.
He was intelligent... his parents had taught him at home, and learning was a distraction from his mundane every-day life. He ate it up.
But socially? Remus didn’t have a clue. He found himself watching the other kids interacting and couldn’t even begin to figure out how to hold a conversation... how to relate.
Remus had never had any friends... his parents were too afraid to let him get close to anyone... and suddenly he was in a school full of kids... and he was absolutely terrified.
He wasn’t like the other kids. He was strange... awkward... ugly.
When Remus was young, he used to take the markers that his mother had given him... and instead of scribbling on coloring books, he’d color over his scars.
He’d make patterns, make something “pretty” out of something hideous and wrong. But after the third time of finding Remus covered in ink, Hope scolded him, not understanding what her son was doing, and he stopped.
As the transformations got worse, so did Remus’ desire to cover each new scar. They were ugly and painful, and he hated them... he found himself wanting to scrape them off, do something... but that would only make them worse.
One day, he sat quietly, reading a comic book his mom had given him while she painted her nails, quietly humming “I want to hold your hand”.
Remus glanced up from his book, his eyes fixing on the nail polish. Hope applied it with a skill that left Remus in awe. It was perfect... not a single smudge. Perfectly smooth.
Remus felt a flutter in his chest. He waited for his mother to leave the room, busying herself with dinner, and then snuck over to open the little chest she kept her polish in.
Remus felt a thrill rush through him with the first stroke. He applied it well, but the next stroke left a smudge, and it just went downhill from there. Frustrated, Remus stopped after the first hand.
Hope noticed the nail polish, noticed Remus trying to hide his hand at dinner, but she didn’t say anything.
The next day, the other hand was painted. Very poorly.
Hope pulled Remus aside, washing off the polish, and then went about applying it again, tsk-ing. At least it wasn’t markers.
"You just need a little practice, Rem.”
Remus practiced after every full moon, when he was stuck in bed, too weak to stand. He practiced until he was perfect... it was pretty, and it helped him feel like he was in control.
So when Sirius entered the dorm one day to find Remus absent-mindedly painting his nails, Remus couldn’t understand why Sirius found it so strange... was this not a normal thing to do?
“W-want me to paint yours?”
Sirius stared, mouth going dry. “That’s for girls.”
Remus felt his face growing hot with embarrassment, realizing he must have done something wrong. “It’s not just for girls.”
Sirius shifted uncomfortably, unsure how to respond.
“Come here... let me paint them.”
After a brief hesitation, where Sirius listened to his mother’s harsh voice scold him in his head, Sirius threw caution to the wind and plopped down, holding out his hand.
The next day... Sirius, James and Peter all had different colored nails... and they wore them with excessive flair.
A week after that... half of the Gryffindor House followed in their footsteps.