Summary: Second-year Remus Lupin has always been an independent person, always choosing to "go-it-alone" rather than ask for help. But his three best (and only) friends, led by Sirius, embark on a quest to help him...and figure out what he's keeping from them.

Disclaimer: What do you think?

Chapter 1 - Table Dancing and Burn Marks

Sirius Black had seen quite a few things in his lifetime. He'd seen his own father cursed by a Dark wizard, merpeople, a tarantula mating with a tortoise, and Professor Flitwick hex Professor Slughorn. He had gone on more adventures than any other Hogwarts student ever had, even more so than his best friend, James Potter; he had had a close shave with a vampire once in Knockturn Alley and just narrowly avoided a dementor during a visit to one of his imprisioned relatives in Azkaban. He even knew more spells than all the rest of the second-years combined, including the horrible curse meant to torture people, the Cruciatus Curse (he'd learnt it from his mother). But nothing, none of his knowledge, none of his morbid tarantulic memories, could have possibly prepared him for this.

"Look at me! I'm Lily Evans! I study so much that I sometimes forget to take showers! It's no wonder I have such hairy legs! I would charm the hair off, but I might get in trouble! And I would still smell like horse dung anyways, so I guess it doesn't matter!"

James Potter was wearing a dress. A frilly, purple dress that did not quite match with the long red hair he had conjured onto himself. He was standing on top of a table, now making obscene pelvic gestures while pretending to be his female classmate. The real Lily Evans was standing in front of the table, absolutely horrified. She screamed when the 12 year old James pulled some random Gryffindor boy up onto the table and started doing the obscene pelvic gestures on him. "And I'm a slut too! A hairy, smelly, disgusting, SLUT!"

Lily looked to be on the verge of tears. So did the boy when James had finally let him go.

The rest of the common room was not quite so somber, however. In fact, the laughter was so loud that Sirius was sure his other friend Remus had already cast some sort of silencing charm around himself so that he could study in peace. Remus loved to study; in fact, if Remus hadn't had friends like Sirius and James, he would surely be the top student in the whole school. However, frequent pranks made it difficult for him to get everything done perfectly.

Sirius went over to his said friend, who didn't even notice him approaching (due to the silencing charm). Sirius decided to have a little fun. He got out his wand, and, after levitating a medium sized black spider about four feet or so into the air, proceeded to position it above Remus' slightly open back collar. Sirius then whispered, "Finite Incantatem," and the spider dropped inside Remus' shirt.

Remus shrieked. Not a quiet shriek, or a timid shriek, or a shy shriek. No, he let out a full-fledged bloody murder scream. A manly bloody murder scream, mind you. He then proceeded to jump up and feel around inside his shirt to try and get the bug out. The closer Gryffindors, who were already doubled over in hilarity from James' Lily impression, fell onto the floor and started rolling. Sirius thought this to be quite funny, and set a cheering charm upon his already painfully laughing classmates just to see if it was possible for them to laugh any more.

Remus' silencing charm had effectively been punctured by the scream. Remus spun around and came face-to-chest with his friend, and was about to start yelling, but apparently, he thought better of it, and just shook his head, and sat back down.

Remus was an odd fellow in Sirius' opinion. Sure, he was nice, and bloody brilliant as well, but there was something off about him. Sirius did not know what it was, but whatever it was made Remus...well, shy. Remus was smart, he made funny jokes (when he worked up the courage to open his mouth in front of others), was incredibly nice and selfless, and even looked decent enough for a twelve year-old, so what did he have to be shy about? Sirius had often wondered if Remus was a Dark wizard in disguise. Or, if this was all an elaborate Slytherin prank - get a funky kid on the train to choose Gryffindor in the hat and then, as soon as he is strong enough, he can kill them all. (Sirius would have done this himself to all of the Slytherins if he had been put in that dreadful house).

But the more Sirius got to know Remus Lupin, the less he became worried about Slytherins and Dark wizards and the more he became worried about Lupin himself. Remus was an exceptionally independent boy. Even if Remus couldn't possibly do something on his own, he wouldn't dare ask for another's help. It was almost like he was afraid to ask anyone for their assistance. And from what Sirius was seeing, Remus seemed to need it - it appeared that something was going on with him.

At first, it seemed as if Remus was merely a somewhat ill and accident prone child. He was sort of clumsy (from what Sirius saw of him), and often ended up running into walls or tripping down the stairs. The bruises that often adorned his body seemed to almost always have an explanation: "Well, I was walking to the library, and all of a sudden, the staircase started moving, and it sort of startled me, so I tripped...lucky I fell forwards instead of backwards, huh?" Remus was so easy to trust that an explanation such as this was eaten up like chocolate by the other three boys. And Remus was often sick as well, and he had spent a total of six nights in the hospital wing during their first year.

But that night, after the spider incident and James' impression of his "most mortal enemy besides Snivellus", Sirius noticed something on Remus that could not have possibly been inflicted by a moving staircase. Remus was changing into his pajamas, and instead of going into the bathroom to do so, he just changed rapidly in the dormitory. (This was the first time he had ever done so, Sirius had noted. Remus did not like the other boys to see his body in any way possible.) Remus had done it so fast that Sirius almost had not seen it. But on Remus' right arm, there was a particularly long slash.

"Hey, Remus, what's that gash on your arm?" Sirius asked.

"What gash?" Remus said, looking down at his now fully covered arm as if expecting to see it there.

"Well, it's underneath your sleeve, you dolt," Sirius said dryly.

"Oh, that's not a gash," Remus explained. "It's, uhm, it's a burn. I burnt myself badly on my kitchen stove a few years ago..." Remus blushed, seeming to be embarrassed about his clumsiness.

"Can I see it?" Sirius asked eagerly.

"You already did," Remus snapped, already seeming to have gotten over his bout of mortification.

"But I want to see it like, up close," Sirius asked, sounding even more keen.

"No. I am tired, I want to go to sleep," Remus said, and then pulled the curtains sharply shut.

Sirius didn't think the fact that he had never seen it before that night was important at all, because he had never seen Remus' bare arm at all before, so it wasn't like he could tell if it had been there or not before.

But a month later, Sirius and Remus happened to be catching a shower at the same time. Remus had been in there first, so Sirius completely expected him to be done first too. But, when Sirius got out of his stall, Remus was still showering. Sirius shrugged and, after wrapping a towel around his hips, went to the sink to do his bedtime regimen of teeth-brushing and facial cleansing. This took him about five minutes, and Remus still wasn't done.

"Hey, mate, you drowned in there or something?" Sirius asked.

Sirius did not get any response, and got worried. Instead of being sane and just saying Remus' name a couple times for a response, Sirius yanked the curtain open completely to confirm that Remus was alive himself.

Remus yelled and pulled the curtain shut. "Get the hell out of here!" Remus shouted.

But none of Remus' shouting would make Sirius forget what he had seen -- Remus, his second-best friend, was covered in marks, bruises, scratches...nothing that could have happened from a few miscalculations of self-direction. No, running into walls would not have done this to Remus.

Sirius tried to discuss it with Remus when Remus came up to the tower twenty minutes later.

"I'm a clumsy little freak, ok?" Remus supplied as explanation. "I run into a lot of things, especially at my mother's, because her illness distracts me from thinking about normal things..."

Ah yes. The most suspicious part of Remus John Lupin's existence at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. On the months where Remus was not staying in the Hospital Wing with some new malady that involved an overnight visit, he was seeing his mother, who was also sick. She didn't contract many illnesses like Remus did, though; she was terminally ill with Brain Cancer, and every month could have been her last. At least, that was what Remus had explained to them one time. "She's a Muggle, and doesn't have the magical power to fight things like that," he had said with a small voice.

Sirius couldn't help but noticing something a little fishy about the whole thing though. It wasn't as if he didn't trust Lupin -- no, in fact, Sirius trusted Remus the most out of all his friends. But the times that these things happened were weird; it was almost as if Remus' illnesses and motherly visits were on a schedule. Because, almost exactly a month after he visited his mother, he would then get sick. Then, he would sometimes get sick almost exactly a month after that. Or, after being sick, almost exactly a month later, he would go back to visit his mother. Sirius hadn't thought of it much until the end of their first year. Then, when he really noticed, he started making a calendar.

Remus had disappeared on the night of September 5th, right after they came back to school. Next, he was gone on October 4th. November 2nd. December 2nd. He went home for the holidays, and when he came back, he didn't disappear until January 30th. And now, it was February 17th, and if Sirius predicted right, Remus would be disappearing on either the 28th or the 29th (seeing as it was a leap year this year.)

Sirius had laid up late thinking about it. The whole schedule and the oddity of it. About Remus, and how freaky he was sometimes. About the bruises and scratches that covered him. There's no way that he's that clumsy, Sirius reasoned with himself. How could he possibly end up with all of those things? Maybe he's got some haters at his mum's house... Sirius tried not to think about Remus' abused body, as it made him want to vomit.

But that's when he realized something, something very important...

"His burn disappeared," Sirius whispered into the pitch darkness.

So, what do you think? This is going to be a kind of short story, I am only thinking like six chapters or something...but who knows where it will end up.

Anyways, I hope that this isn't too cliche or anything. I actually really like how it turned out, I can't believe I was actually able to write this :D