It had been what Remus Lupin was dreading since the moment he arrived at Hogwarts, but his dread had multiplied extraordinarily since the beginning of the week. He'd fallen so easily into a group of friends. He had never imagined that he'd be so lucky as to be liked by all of his dorm mates and yet they all seemed to be getting along better than anyone.
Remus had more or less expected himself to end up in Hufflepuff where he could blend in and concentrate on drawing as little attention to himself as humanly possible, especially to those in his dorm – who could not help but notice that he would be absent every so often. Instead he had been sorted into Gryffindor and, although he could not deny the idea of glory of being labelled 'brave' had thrilled him since he was eight years old, he hadn't thought for a second that he would be sorted there.
And to end up in such a noticeable group of friends! One of the boys he shared a dorm with was a Black – a Black in Gryffindor! Sirius hadn't been able to walk around without having eyes fixed on his back, or from the more audacious staring right at him wherever he went – Sirius seemed to have expected this. Remus doubted whether he'd expected the Howler from his parents, however, and he'd seemed very subdued after his mother had screamed herself hoarse with more profanities than Remus had known before this fortnight (although Sirius had made it his mission to make sure Remus was as well informed of swearwords as he was himself). James Potter, too, was of great interest to the rest of Hogwarts. Remus was vaguely aware that James's father held some highly esteemed position in the ministry and James wasted no time assuring them all that he was very rich and very spoilt by his elderly parents.
Peter Pettigrew, although being almost unknown by surname, had accidently made himself somebody by falling into the lake in front of the whole year, only to be dragged out by that large bearded man shivering slightly but otherwise perfectly okay.
Remus had meant to retreat away from the trio when he considered how much attention and scrutiny it could put him under, but had found himself unable to resist the charms of the three. He liked the way Sirius was teaching him swearwords and curses, and the way James arrogantly proposed to let them all stay at his mansion over Christmas and how Peter was so earnestly self-deprecating that Remus couldn't help but like them all. But the miracle was they liked him too.
Sirius appreciated his lack of judgement and comments towards his family (James had made several obtuse comments and Peter had asked things so ridiculous that Remus had tried not to laugh), James liked the way Remus was quietly unimpressed about his boasting (rather than voicing his distain, like Sirius, or the wide eyed wonder of Peter) and Peter like the fact that Remus was neither rich, or intensely arrogant which balanced out the effect of the other two.
But now came the time when Remus would have to lie to them. This was the end of their true friendship built on honest and truth, and was surely the beginning of the end. Remus couldn't comprehend the idea that they wouldn't ask question after question about his whereabouts, and why he was looking so sickly, or work it out and hate him for being a monster. Remus hated to lie. He hated that it was necessary.
"Are you okay?" Peter asked in concern, looking up from the game of exploding snap (which he'd chosen to exclude himself from).
Remus had been staving off their questions into his wellbeing by saying that he hadn't slept well last night (he hadn't, he'd spent the entire night worrying about the following night) but now his nerves were so tested that he couldn't help but give.
"No, actually, I think I'll walk to the hospital wing... I... I really don't feel very well," It was hours before he needed to be there. There was still a whole day before the sky would even consider the moon, but Remus was so fretful and worried (what if the shrieking shack idea didn't work?) that he hardly saw the point of attending the rest of the days classes.
"We'll walk you there." James said, dropping all his cards into the middle and seeming indifferent to the explosion that followed. Sirius nodded and got to his feet too.
"Really, it's unnecessary," Remus stammered, still unsure about how he'd managed to find such brilliant friends.
"You'll probably have to stay the night," was the matron's verdict upon Remus's arrival. Remus sent her a grateful smile and waved his new friends off as they returned to their classes.
The mornings after full moons were always terrible and this morning was no better. He could feel where he had torn his own flesh in the night and the irritating tickle of the material of his pyjamas over his cuts made him want to itch them till they bled afresh. He was weary, exhausted and every single one of his muscles ached with pain.
Still, the first full moon of his Hogwarts life was over. As far as he could tell he hadn't eat anything (except perhaps taking a couple of chunks out of himself) which meant that he'd harmed no one. He could stay. He wouldn't have to leave Hogwarts. He was safe.
"You have visitors," the matron said sternly. Remus pulled himself out of his covers slightly to look up... and there were his friends: Sirius, James and Peter carrying a tray with a full English breakfast upon it.
"We found the kitchens!" James whispered eagerly and then they all sat down together and ate. The meal was accompanied by the story of the discovery of the kitchens, one that James had fully embroidered and Sirius kept reigning in with a happy edge to his voice whilst Peter nodded enthusiastically, occasionally adding a few melodramatic statements about how he was sure they were all going to be expelled. Remus took it all in with a grin; maybe Remus had missed their first adventure, but surely there would be more and (providing they didn't coincide with the full moon) and Remus was as sure as hell that he was going to be involved.
"Hope you're feeling better, mate." Sirius added kindly.