Prequel, Part 1: Moony

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1 - Prologue

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In the middle of the moors, there was a small wood. In the middle of that wood, there was a clearing. And on the edge of the clearing stood a house.

This house was not a house like any other house. In fact, it wasn't really a house. It was a cottage - but no ordinary cottage. It looked like something out of a fairy tale: A crooked, two-storied building made up of white bricks, with faded red shutters on its windows and almost as many chimney pots perched higgledy-piggledy on its thatched roof as there were flowerpots stacked in the tumble-down greenhouse.

The people that lived behind the little red door in the overgrown front garden, where a tabby cat lay sunning itself among the rose bushes, were not what most people would call 'ordinary' either. Instead of bicycles, they kept bristly broomsticks in the cellar for Sunday outings. They had no central heating, but a merry fire in the living room warmed the whole house. They had no telephone, but a pot of some strange powder stood on the mantelpiece. In the kitchen, the washing-up brush was scrubbing away at the pots and pans all by itself. A feather duster was dancing along among the many strange ornaments on the shelves, and a violin floated in the corner of the room, playing by itself.

This was because the owners of this cottage were the Lupins, and the Lupins were anything but ordinary people. They belonged to a hidden world of magic and mystery. Mr. John Lupin - a tall and handsome young man with black hair and clear blue eyes - was a wizard, and worked for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures at the Ministry of Magic. His wife, Faith Lupin, had wide brown eyes and light-brown hair, which she was at this moment stroking back over her shoulder to pick up their son Remus, aged three, who had his mother's eyes and hair colour.

"Say good night to Daddy," said Faith Lupin.

"Night, Daddy," said little Remus.

"Good night, son," said John, ruffling the boy's hair before sitting down in an old armchair and picking up his newspaper, the front page of which showed a moving picture of several people on broomsticks under the headline Wimbourne Wasps Win Once More - Seeker Sneaker Snatches Snitch.

His wife took the boy to bed and returned, smiling.

"I had to let him sleep in our bed, John," she said quietly, sitting down opposite her husband.

"Oh?" He looked up from the Daily Prophet. "He's not still on about last night, is he?"

"He had a bad dream," said his wife defensively. "About a monster coming for him in the dark. Honestly, John, I've never seen him so frightened."

John smiled at his wife's anxious expression.

"All right, dear. But I'm not having him in with us tomorrow night. He's got to learn ... What?"

He broke off, seeing the grin on his wife's face.

"I was just remembering who it was who went and brought him over to our room last night," she replied slyly.

John grinned back. Faith sighed.

"I'm going to miss you both this weekend," she said.

"You could come with us."

"You know I can't. I promised your mother ages ago that I would help her organise the Witches' Weekly summer fête. I can't turn round and say I'm not going, not now."

John laid aside his newspaper. "Poor Faith. My mother does make you suffer, doesn't she?" He smiled. "You paid a high price when you married me."

Faith smiled back warmly. "No price is too high for the best man in the world. Not even arranging bazaars for middle-aged witches and long- suffering local celebrities while you and my dear brother go off hiking with little Remus."

John got up and came over to kiss her on the forehead.

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2 - A Hike on the Moors

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So it was that, come Saturday, Faith was tying red woollen hat strings under her son's chin, dressed in her best maroon robes.

"Now you will look after him, won't you?" she said for the umpteenth time, looking anxiously at John and her brother. Aged thirty-one, Malcolm Marley was as tall as John, though broader shouldered and more muscular. His hair was the same shade of light-brown as his sister's, his face clean-shaven and roguishly attractive.

"Of course we will," said John.

Faith looked uncertain. "I do hope I've remembered to pack everything for you. You've got the sausages, and the bacon, and the sauce?"

"In the hamper," said Malcolm, his brown eyes sparkling.

"And the tent?"

"Outside with our brooms," John replied.

"And the magical mess remover?"

"In my rucksack."

"And Remus's spare trousers?"

"In the hamper with the sausages, bacon and sauce," Malcolm grinned.

Faith frowned at her brother.

"It's all right," John assured her. "We'll be fine. We're not going for ages, anyway. It's only for one night . and you're going to be late, if you don't hurry."

Faith looked uncertainly from one to the other of them, and shrugged. "Oh well, I expect you're right."

She kissed Remus on the cheek. "Be a good boy for daddy, won't you?"

"Yes, mummy."

Malcolm rose from his chair and gave his sister an affectionate hug. "He'll be fine. We'll look after him."

Faith's frown deepened.

"Goodbye, dear," said John, kissing her gently.

She smiled then and finally turned to go. Taking a hand full of floo powder from the pot by the mantelpiece, she stepped into the fireplace and, taking a deep sigh, she cast the powder to the floor and said, "Diagon Alley". The very next instant, she was gone.

John felt a familiar sadness at seeing her leave. But then he looked at his young son, and his mood brightened. This weekend would be fun. There would be just the three of them - a boys' outing.

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After several hours of floating across the moors on their broomsticks, John and Malcolm decided it was growing too dark to continue. They set up the tent with the wave of a wand and lit a fire in the same way to fry their sausages and keep them warm. A full moon was shining and the moors were unusually bright for such a late hour. It was gone eleven by the time little Remus finally lay tucked up in the tent and the two adults sat back down outside. John sank down onto a log and opened a bottle of butterbeer.

"Little tyke asleep at last?" Malcolm asked.

"Yes. Our outing got him rather wound up, and I think he's still frightened about this dream he had recently."

"Dream?" Malcolm looked up from his plate, now holding the remains of his eighth sausage and sixth rasher of bacon.

"He woke up crying the other night, saying he'd dreamt about some monster coming to get him." John grinned. "At least that's how your sister interprets his babbling."

Malcolm laughed and took a long draught of butterbeer. Then he almost dropped it and his plate. A howl rent the night. John sprang to his feet, his face as pale as the moon above.

"What the hell was that?" Malcolm exclaimed.

"Shhh!" John hissed.

They waited in silence for another sound. Before long, they heard the blood- curdling sounds of a wild beast, a monster, and of another creature, probably a helpless moor pony. Judging from the sound, the beast was attacking the pony. They heard its final whinny before silence fell . and then another long, lonely howl followed.

"Quick," John urged, "pack the bags. Only the important things. Leave anything we don't need."

Malcolm came out of his momentary stupor and hurried to help John pack all their things together, not caring what a mess they made. John chucked the tea water on the fire, dousing the flames and hoping that the monster would not be able to find them so quickly without it. He was about to pick up the last of the bags and hitch it over the front of his broomstick when they heard the ripping of canvas. Malcolm froze.

"Remus!" John yelled.

He flew into the tent, Malcolm at his heels, and found a huge wolf-like creature bending over his son. It raised its shaggy head as they entered and snarled.

"Oh my god! It's a werewolf!" Malcolm screamed.

John didn't answer. He was staring at the unmoving shape of his son on the floor at the monster's paws. Whether he was alive or dead, he couldn't tell. But his left side was a sticky red, and there was a pool of blood on the floor beside him. Heedless of the danger, he charged forward and grabbed the boy, before the werewolf quite knew what was happening, while Malcolm drew his wand and used a spell to send sparks flying at the beast. It growled deep in its throat, and John heard it behind him as he raced out through the flap. He laid Remus down by the fire, and cursed his own wits for having doused it so hastily. He hated the thought of leaving his son lying there right now, but the continuing shouts and growls, the snapping and ripping from inside the tent made him take out his wand instead and rush back in. Malcolm had backed against the canvas and was gripping his wand frantically. Without hesitation, John raised his own wand and pointed it straight at the werewolf's back.

"Incendio!"

Flames sprang up along the creature's back, and it writhed and turned to try and shake them off, howling and setting the sheets and the canvas on fire in the process. Malcolm and John watched it warily. Finally, still howling in pain, the werewolf bolted through the hole in the back of the tent and vanished into the night. The two men fled from the burning tent and returned to where John had left Remus. But even as they drew close, the little boy, still lying unconscious on the ground, began to change before their very eyes. His face became elongated. Fur grew on his bloodstained hands. He had been bitten . and within moments, in his place lay a smaller version of the monster they had just chased away. John approached him slowly and dropped to his knees.

"No," he whispered, his trembling hand hovering over the limp shape. He made to pick him up, but Malcolm grabbed his shoulders and pulled him to his feet.

"No, John. Don't touch him. If he wakes up, he'll turn on you."

John was shaking his head desperately.

"No. No, this can't be true. It can't have happened."

He fought Malcolm, who had to hold John with all his strength to stop him returning to Remus's side.

"Remus!" John cried, pulling free at last. He stopped a few paces away from his son and stared from him up at the moon. "No!" he screamed. "Noooo!"

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3 - Father and Son

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Eight-year-old Remus Lupin sat with his back to a tree trunk, listening to the slow trickling of a small woodland stream and the twittering of the birds in the branches above. The setting sun shone through among the leaves, casting a green light on the boy's light brown head and on the thick pages of the book in his hands. He paused to stroke a rebellious strand of hair out of his eyes and turn the page. Somewhere in the deep forest a woodpecker was hammering at intervals.

Remus's brow was furrowed. This book was hard reading, even for a hungry young bookworm like him. Oh, he wasn't one of those pale, indoor boys who spent all day with their noses glued to the pages of some boring old story. No, Remus was as keen to be out of doors and climb trees, to build dams in woodland streams and design tree houses as any other healthy boy his age, and did so sometimes with his mother. But that wasn't the same as having a boy his own age to play with. The nearest he ever got to that was when Uncle Malcolm came to visit - Mum always said he behaved just like an overgrown child. But Remus didn't mind that. He liked Uncle Malcolm, in fact he sometimes wished his dad was more like that. But Dad was so close and quiet always. So Remus went outdoors alone, roving through the woods until he reached this spot, some fifteen minutes' walk from the house, where he would then settle down with a book, either leaning against the tree trunk, or up amongst the branches, where two of them created a fork that you could sit in quite safely, without falling off even if you dozed for a while.

Usually he would read an adventure story, but today Remus had sneaked something from his father's bookshelf, a heavy old volume with pages and pages of thick parchment, entitled A Study on Werewolves. Dad had many books with titles like that. He would often spend hours and hours poring over them, until Mum reproached him gently and reminded him that Remus wanted playing with. Then he would kiss her, and lay his book aside reluctantly. He would come to find Remus, and they would play together - quiet games. There was hardly ever any laughter to be got out of Dad. The rare occasions when he even smiled were when, reading in one of his many books, in papers like Medical Magic Monthly or on the wireless, John Lupin read or heard of yet another possible cure for his young son's complaint. They had tried many such miracle cures over the years, but they had all led to nothing. Yet John Lupin - and Faith, too, though she made a better job of concealing her concern - had still not accepted that Remus was destined to be a werewolf to the end of his days. Faith had tried to explain to her son, when they had returned from the most recent ineffective treatment that had robbed them of much of their savings and even more of their nerves, that his father's obsession with finding a cure for him was because he felt Remus's predicament to be his fault. Remus had not understood that. How could it be his father's fault that he was what he was? No. The way Remus saw it, his father was simply ashamed of what he was. After all, he always made such a fuss about people not finding out what had happened to his son. Yes, that was it. He was ashamed. And Remus couldn't bear his father to be ashamed of him.

So Remus had decided that he must be cured, convinced that it was the only way to win his father's true affection. And to find a cure for himself, he must read the books his father had read, to get an insight into the matter and hope against hope that he would spot some release that his father had missed.

But it was hard work for a child of his age. And the hour was growing late, which meant the moon would soon be coming out. Remus feared the moon. It made him shiver just to look at it. And tonight it would be a full moon, and that meant the now familiar though still unbearable pain. He sighed and looked up at the darkening sky. Yes, it was almost time. He bent forward and dug with his small fingers among the roots of the old tree, bringing a metal-bound chest to light. He opened it and carefully laid the book inside, then he closed and locked the chest. The last thing he wanted was to accidentally tear up Dad's book. When he had reburied the chest, Remus stood up and looked around him, taking in the peace of this place that he loved so much. Right now, Mum would be locking up for the night, as she did every month. The woods were as safe a place as any for Remus when he transformed. They were lonely and deserted. No one lived there but his parents, and they knew what precautions to take.

It was growing dark. Remus felt a burning sensation in his eyes. No, he would not cry. He knew it would hurt, as it always did, but that was just his lot, and it was no use weeping over it. He brushed a speck of dirt off his worn trousers and waited. Not long now .

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The next morning dawned bright and warm. Faith Lupin flung open the front door and hurried out onto the path, expecting her son Remus to come running to her as he always did on the mornings following his transformations. But he didn't come.

"Hiding, probably," she thought to herself, and smiled.

"All right, Remus!" she called out loud. "Don't come out of your hiding place. I'll give your breakfast to the cat then, shall I?"

There was no answer. Where had that boy got to? Frowning slightly, but still unconcerned, she walked further into the woods.

"Remus!" she called. "Come on, love, your cocoa's getting cold!"

Still no reply. Shrugging her shoulders, she turned back towards the house. Remus had probably just buried his nose a little too deeply in one of his books again. He'd be along when his stomach called. Boys!

She stepped back into the house and found John standing in the kitchen. He looked bewildered about something.

"What is it?" she asked casually.

"Have you seen Buttons this morning?"

"No. Why, isn't he under the table as usual?"

She pulled the cat's usual chair out, but there was no cat there. Puzzled, she looked under the kitchen table, checking all the chairs.

"That's strange," she said at last. "He always sleeps there. Malcolm was complaining only the other day about that time when he pulled the chair out and sat on the cat. He claims he's still got the scars ."

John looked around the house, but there was no sign of the cat anywhere. He returned to the kitchen, where his wife was still staring at the empty kitchen chair.

"No sign of him," he said. "Oh well, he'll come when he's hungry. What's the matter?" he added, seeing the distressed look on her face.

"I couldn't find Remus, John," she said.

"What?"

"He didn't come when I called him." She turned to face him, and the rims of her eyes looked reddened. "John . you don't suppose ."

John stared, but thought long and hard before he spoke. "I'll find him," he said at last.

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Remus climbed up the tree trunk and hid among the foliage. He had heard his mother call him, but been unable to go to her. He found the safe spot between the two forked branches and sat there, pulling his legs up in front of him and wrapping his arms around them miserably. His shirt was torn in several places and his eyes were red and swollen. There were damp patches on his cheeks. He peered nervously through the leaves to the ground below and, shuddering, closed his eyes quickly. There were still patches of blood and fur down there, all around his chest. Remus was miserable, more miserable than he could ever remember having been. With his eyes closed, he sobbed silently to himself for what felt like an age. Suddenly he heard a noise. Someone was coming through the undergrowth, walking on last autumn's dry leaves.

"Remus!" his father's voice called. He sounded quite near.

Remus scrambled up among the branches and lay flat on his belly. From this position, he could see his father come through among the trees below and stop close to the spot where . Remus swallowed hard. Below, John Lupin looked around him.

"Remus!" he called again. "Come on out. Remus?"

He broke off as his eye fell on the sticky brown patches in the grass. Bending down, he picked up a tuft of soft, long brown fur. Clinging to his branch high above, Remus trembled. His father was examining the fur.

"Good god," he muttered under his breath. He crouched down and examined the ground. He found an area of loose soil and scraped it aside with his hands, revealing a small chest with a metal lock and key. The initials R. J. L. had been scrawled on the lid in a childish hand. Slowly, John Lupin turned the key and began to raise the lid. But then he seemed to think better of it, and closing the lid, he relocked the chest and replaced it in its hole. He stood, looking around more urgently now.

"Remus! If you can hear me, come out, please!"

His voice was trembling, and he paced around the small clearing, crossing and re-crossing the stream. Finally, he stopped under the very tree in which Remus was perched and ran both hands through his hair. Remus caught just a brief glimpse of his father's face - it looked strangely worn and feverish, the eyes heavy and the cheeks hollow. Remus had never realised how anxious his father looked these days, until now. The boy gave an involuntary gasp. John Lupin looked up into the leaves, shielding his eyes from the rays of sunlight that penetrated the foliage with his hand.

"Remus?" he called.

"G-go away," the child stammered.

"Remus!" his father exclaimed, relieved. "What are you doing up there? You had us worried. Come on down, now."

"N-no."

"But ..."

"I can't come down," Remus mumbled. "Y-you'll only be cross with me."

"Don't be silly, Remus. Why should I be cross with you?"

The poor boy started to sob, and the branch he lay on shook so violently that John was quite alarmed.

"Remus, come down from there, before you fall."

"N-no," Remus sobbed. "I won't. I can't. I . I did something really bad last night, and I ... I ."

He burst into tears again. John looked up helplessly, then began examining the trunk. He found a few good holds and began climbing up slowly, cautiously.

"No!" Remus yelled when he realised what his father was doing. "Don't come up, don't come near me!"

He tried to get higher up among the branches himself, but he was already so high there was nowhere to go. And then his father reached the spot where the two branches forked.

"Remus," he said, and his voice was much softer than the boy had ever heard it. "Don't run away from me. Whatever's happened, it can't be as bad as all that. Come here."

"No. Y-you don't know what . what happened last night."

John looked down at the patches on the ground below. "I can guess."

Remus looked at his father then. He sat there, in his best work robes, perched among the leaves, with twigs sticking in his arms and legs from all angles, his blue eyes fixed on his son, and there was none of the anger there that Remus had expected to see, no reproach.

"Y-you'll hate me," Remus said slowly. "I know you will. I know y-you're ashamed of me anyway, and you . you hate me. You hate me for being a - a werewolf."

"Ashamed of you?" John looked truly upset. "Hate you? Is that what you think of me?"

He looked away. "My god, what have I done?" he sighed, raising one hand and burying his face in it. "How did this happen? Why? Why?"

Remus stopped sobbing with shock and stared at his father. His broad, strong shoulders were trembling, he looked lost and . and so very hurt. Slowly, the boy crept back down the branches, towards his father. He put out a trembling hand and touched his shoulder.

"Dad?" he whispered.

John turned towards him so suddenly that Remus nearly fell out of the tree.

"I was never ashamed of you, Remus," he said with a tremor. "Ashamed? Quite the contrary. I'm proud of you."

He gave a sad smile.

"I'll wager there aren't many kids your age who could go through what you've had to put up with these past five years and come through it none the worse in their nature and heart."

His smile broadened at the bewildered expression on Remus's young face.

"Hate you?" he went on. "I could never hate you, my boy. And I'm sorry if I created that impression. I know I haven't behaved well towards you. I've been too obsessed with finding a cure for you, perhaps, to do what really matters - to show you that whatever happens, whatever you are - I love you, son."

Tears started back into Remus's eyes, and suddenly he found himself in his father's arms, in the warmest embrace he had had from him in over five years.

"I love you too, Dad," he whispered. "I'm so sorry I upset you."

"It's all right," John laughed, stroking his back, and Remus leaned back to see that a change had come over his father's tired face. He looked much younger, somehow, and much friendlier.

"Come," his father said at last, "let's get back to your mother. She'll be worrying about you."

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4 - The Young Scholar

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Remus Lupin looked at himself in the tall mirror in his parents' bedroom. Like most things they owned these days, it was slightly cracked and worse for wear. What little money the Lupins had once had was gone, wasted on useless attempts at curing their son of being a werewolf. Remus smoothed out the new black robes his mother had sewn for him in the traditional Muggle manner she had learnt as a girl, using an old set of his father's. He ran a hand through his fringe, trying to smooth away a strand of light brown hair that would insist on falling into his eyes, no matter what he did. The sunlight streaming in through the window warmed the side of his face and caught a flicker of silver in his hair. The first of these grey hairs had appeared about a year ago, when he was ten. He had tugged it out quickly, before anyone spotted it. But another had grown in its place, and another, until by the age of eleven, he now had several such silvery strands. His mother had seemed concerned when she had first spotted them, but his father had said with a smile that he thought they suited him, and his mother had agreed quickly, and now indeed seemed to have grown quite used to them. Remus was glad. He didn't really mind them himself, and tugging them out was always so painful. He could use a Severing Charm, but that didn't last long enough. They grew back. Still, he was glad he hadn't grown any fresh strands like that for some time. He didn't want to end up completely grey-haired by the time he was twelve.

He sighed, gazing at his reflection.

"You look smart today, dear," the mirror said.

Remus frowned. A skinny, sickly-looking boy he thought he looked, though his mother frequently assured him there was no boy as handsome as him in the whole wide world. Personally, Remus thought it was just his mother's fondness for him that made her blind to his faults - he even suspected her of having bewitched or persuaded the mirror to offer such encouraging remarks. Though it was true he didn't usually look as bad as this, but he had had a rough night under the full moon two nights ago.

He left the bedroom and made his way slowly down the rickety old staircase, wondering secretly why his parents had insisted he should put on his best robes and manners today - and spend the day indoors. That last was a nuisance. He had planned to go to his favourite spot again today. He had a new - well, second-hand - book on ancient runes in his 'treasure chest', and was dying to learn more about them.

Remus was only halfway down the stairs when there was a knock at the front door. He heard the rustle of his father's newspaper as he laid it aside, and heard his mother's light footfall echoing through the hallway as she went to open the door. From his place on the stairs, Remus could see the bright sunlight stream in through the doorway, though he was half hidden from view himself, and stared in wonder at the strange man who now entered their little cottage.

He was tall and thin. Dressed from head to foot in long elegant robes of deep mauve, on his head was perched a tall wizard's hat that forced him to bend low in order to walk through the door. His hair and beard were long and white, but what most fascinated Remus were his eyes. Small and blue, they sparkled behind a pair of spectacles shaped like two half moons. They were bright eyes, and friendly, yet the boy at once felt that they were also very shrewd eyes, eyes that could 'see through' you in some way. He had the strangest feeling that even now, though he was still half hidden by the wall, those eyes were in some way penetrating him.

So this was Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Oh yes, Remus recognised him at once. His father often brought him home some chocolate frogs, though Remus could never bring himself to stuff the squirming, squiggling bits of chocolate in his mouth and bite them. But he did like to collect the cards. He had at least four Dumbledores in his treasure chest, but none of them had eyes quite like the real thing. He almost feared coming directly under their gaze, yet at the same time he felt curiously drawn towards them, as though he longed to trust the person behind them with all his innermost secrets.

"It's very good of you to come, Professor," Faith Lupin was saying.

"Not at all," said the professor in a soft, kindly voice. He sniffed the air. "Your cooking is always worth a visit, Faith."

Remus's mother laughed. "Thank you, sir. Though I'm afraid that praise is due more to my excellent pots than to my humble skills."

She led Professor Dumbledore through into the living room, and Remus heard his father's voice join the other two. He sneaked down the stairs, avoiding the creaking step, and crept quietly up to the half closed door. His parents and Professor Dumbledore were talking. It seemed quite casual talk, all about the Ministry's latest feats on international magical co- operation, the most recent game of the Wimbourne Wasps and the outrageous new witches' fashion of wearing knee-length robes.

"So," Professor Dumbledore said finally, when there was a lull in the conversation, "how is your son getting on?"

"Oh, he's doing really well," Faith said. "Would you like to meet him?"

"That is why I came," Dumbledore said simply.

Remus felt a rush of warm blood in his face. At the same time, he heard the familiar creak that meant his mother had just got up from the arm of Dad's chair.

"I'll go and call him," she said.

This was it. Remus would have to be quick, or he'd be discovered. He tiptoed back across the hall, then walked back normally to the door and knocked.

"Ah, here he is," his father said, seeming surprised to see his son's head pop round the corner right on call.

Remus stepped nervously into the room, and at once felt the appraising stare of those pale blue eyes as they studied him over the rim of Professor Dumbledore's half moon glasses.

"Remus, dear."

His mother came over and, laying a hand on his shoulder, led him towards the headmaster.

"This is Professor Dumbledore, Remus."

"I know," he blurted out. "Er. I mean, it's an honour, sir."

Apparently completing his scrutiny, the old wizard smiled at Remus.

"Well, young man. I have long been eager to make your acquaintance, you know."

Remus was puzzled, and it must have shown in his face, for Dumbledore chuckled.

"Oh yes, I have heard a lot about you, from your father for one. Very proud of you, your father is."

Out of the corner of his eye, Remus thought he could see Dad go slightly red at these words. Dumbledore went on.

"I hear you're something of a young scholar, Remus Lupin. Never far from a book or two, so I've been told. And not just simple children's literature, either. School books, many of them."

"I read some school books, yes, sir," Remus replied. "But not all of them. I tried a Potions book once, but that was ." He broke off, embarrassed.

"Rather boring, I suppose," Dumbledore guessed. Then he smiled again. "Never mind, Remus. We can't all be interested in the same things. Which subjects do you prefer?"

"I like ancient runes, and history of magic, and defence against the dark arts. I tried reading A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration once, but that was hard to follow without being able to try the actual spells."

Albus Dumbledore nodded approvingly, and Remus found that he was suddenly much less nervous of the professor. As long as he kept on familiar ground, things that he knew - his books - he couldn't embarrass himself or his parents too much.

"And have you thought what you will be doing with yourself this coming year?" Professor Dumbledore asked.

"Well, er . I got my wand last year, and I've already been doing some basic spells with it. Mum said she'll try and teach me some more, the kind I'd learn if I were going to wizard school. Of course, I'll never be as good as your students at Hogwarts, sir."

"Ah, you've heard about Hogwarts, have you? And what do you think of it?"

"I think it the best wizard school in the world, Professor," Remus said enthusiastically. "I mean, both my parents went there, and if I'd been a normal boy I'd have wanted to go there too, but of course I can't. I've read some of the books used there, and Hogwarts - A History, though."

"Really?" Dumbledore chuckled once more. "Then you have done more than many a seventh-year Hogwarts student ever did, I dare say. Very well. Thank you, Remus, for showing me a little of what is in your mind. We will talk again, perhaps - later."

Surprised, Remus took this as a dismissal, and set out to find his chest, and the book he had tucked away inside it.

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The sun was high up in the sky and Remus was engrossed in his book, the world around him forgotten. His best robes were dusty with pollen and dry earth, and his brow was furrowed. He turned a thick page, then flicked back again. He turned the book, and let out an exclamation. Ah, so that was it. He had failed to see the connection before, but now all was crystal clear. This was a good book. It explained everything so well, and it was so fascinating. So fascinating, in fact, that he didn't hear anyone approach until a shadow fell on the page. He looked up with a start and found Professor Dumbledore looking down at him.

"Ah," he said, "so this is where you bury yourself with your books, is it?"

"I like to read here," Remus said, starting to get to his feet.

Dumbledore waved him back, and sat on a tree stump beside him.

"I have been talking to your parents about your future, Remus."

"Oh?" Remus replied politely, closing his book.

"Yes. They seem to think that it is a great burden for you that you must face the prospect of never going to a proper school and learning more than basic magic. Is that so?"

Remus thought for a moment. "I suppose so. I am eager to learn. But I know it would be too dangerous for me to mix with the other students. It wouldn't be safe for them. It's bad luck, but I have to make the best of it."

"You have an unusually gentle disposition for someone circumstanced as you are. Most boys would be bitter and angry. But then, you have your parents to bear it with you, and they love you very much."

"I know," Remus said earnestly. "And I love them."

Dumbledore smiled. "You seem to me to be both a very patient and an intelligent boy, Remus. It would be a pity to let your talent go to waste. So I have spoken to your parents, and we have come to an agreement. I have told them that I will make arrangements. We will make use of an old house that stands empty now in Hogsmeade. There you shall spend the night of the full moon each month. I have already sent an owl to our Transfiguration teacher, Professor McGonagall, who I am making my deputy headmistress this year, instructing her to begin preparations. A tunnel will be dug, leading from the grounds of the school to the house. Our Herbology teacher, Professor Sprout, has recently acquired a very rare seedling: a Whomping Willow. This we will plant over the entrance to the tunnel, to ensure that no one comes across you by chance while you are in your transformed state. If we take all these precautions, there should be no danger in your coming to Hogwarts."

Remus laughed dryly. "You're joking."

"No, I am not," Dumbledore replied.

Remus's mouth dropped open. "H-Hogwarts?" he stammered. "Me? Go to Hogwarts? But ."

"Do you approve of the plan?"

"Approve?"

Remus jumped to his feet, half laughing and half crying. "Approve? This is . it's ."

Lost for words, he looked down at the headmaster, now smiling up at him from his seat on the tree stump.

"Thank you, Professor," Remus choked. "I won't let you down, sir."

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5 - Journey to Hogwarts

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Remus Lupin wished his stomach would calm down. It felt like a hundred butterflies were dancing a jig in there, and there was a strange knotted feeling in his throat. He was going to Hogwarts! He didn't know whether to sing for joy or faint from nervousness. His mother stood beside him, and she looked very much on edge.

"Oh dear, I do hope I've remembered to pack everything you'll need. If there's anything else you find you need when you get there, you must promise to let me know, won't you?"

"Yes, Mum."

At that moment, his father came back from where he had been speaking to a porter. He smiled at his wife and son.

"Look, Remus," he said, "there she is."

Remus shot a nervous glance at the big red steam engine as it puffed into the station. The Hogwarts Express. He swallowed hard. It was magnificent, much better even than he had imagined it. He still couldn't quite believe it was real, though. It was the 31st of August, and he, eleven-year-old Remus J. Lupin, was travelling to Hogwarts today. All the other students would be arriving tomorrow, of course, but tomorrow night there would be a full moon, so it had been arranged that he would go a day early. He heard his mother sigh deeply.

She smiled down at him, though her eyes were damp.

"Well, Remus. It's time."

Remus nodded tightly and looked at her. He had so often dreamt of going to Hogwarts, had longed to go away and meet new people, other boys his age, to study and learn . but now that it came to it, and he saw his mother and father standing there, half full of happiness for him, half aching to see him go, he found a horrible fear creeping into his heart. His mother kissed his cheek, and his father lifted his trunk and cauldron and carried them towards the train. Remus followed slowly, but just as he was about to get on, his footsteps faltered. He stopped, and ran wildly back into his mother's arms, tears running down his face.

"I can't do it, Mum," he sobbed, "I can't go to Hogwarts after all. I can't bear to leave you."

His mother hugged him, then she made him stand up straight and pushed his hair out of his eyes.

"Yes you can, dear. You're going to make lots of new friends at Hogwarts, and you'll study such a lot you'll be wishing you'd never set eyes on a book in all your life. You'll do fine."

"But - I'll miss you, Mum," he said.

Faith smiled. She had known this moment would be hard for Remus, who had never been away from his parents in his life so far.

"I know, my love," she said. "I'll miss you too. But it's not all that long until the holidays, and then you can come home and see us." She sighed. "Now run along, and have a good time."

She turned Remus around, and this time he got onto the train and followed his father into a compartment. John Lupin lifted the trunk up onto the rack.

"There," he said, "You'll be all right in here, I think."

"Thanks, Dad," Remus said uncertainly.

John smiled. "I never thought I'd see the day when my little boy sets off all on his own to be the first werewolf at Hogwarts."

He fumbled for something in his pocket.

"I've got a little something for you here. It's not much, but ."

Remus ripped open the brown paper eagerly. Inside was an old, but highly polished gold locket. He opened it. Inside it were the small smiling images of his parents.

"I know it's not the kind of thing for a boy to have, really. But your mother and I thought you might like it as a keepsake anyway."

Remus hugged his father. "Thanks, Dad."

"I'm proud of you, Remus," John said, ruffling his son's hair.

Then, with one last smile, he went back out onto the platform.

As the Hogwarts Express pulled out of platform 9 ¾, Remus stood with the locket clasped tightly in his hand, his face pressed against the window. His father stood with his arm around his mother's shoulders, and the last thing that Remus saw burned into his memory as the train gathered speed and chugged merrily northwards was her sweet face, watching him out of sight with mingled pride and sorrow.

The train had not trundled far and Remus had barely forced himself to tuck the locket away in a pocket of his robes when there were footsteps in the corridor, so heavy that for a moment he thought there must be an elephant on the train. Then the door was pushed open, and there stood a man so big he ought not to be allowed. His face was a shaggy mass of dark tangles and he wore a gigantic moleskin coat. But above the mess that was his beard two kindly eyes like black beads smiled at the young boy.

"'Ello," said the stranger, "you must be Remus Lupin. Professor Dumbledore told me you were coming ter Hogwarts a day early. 'E thought you might be lonely, travelling all by yerself, it being yer firs' time away from home an' all. Thought you might like a bit o' comp'ny. So I came along down ter London to see ye safe there. Mind if I join ye?"

Recovering from his first shock at the sheer size of the stranger, and discerning his strange countrified speech with difficulty, Remus at last muttered a polite "Please do."

"Arr."

Somehow, the huge man squeezed into the compartment and placed a pink umbrella on the rack over his head. He sat down, taking up at least three seats and making the compartment seem impossibly small. Remus seriously worried that, if he moved too quickly, he might cause the train to derail.

"Rubeus Hagrid's the name," his travelling companion said, "I'm Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts."

"Pleased to meet you," said Remus.

One of Hagrid's dinner-plate hands disappeared in a gigantic pocket and he pulled out about a dozen chocolate frog wrappers.

"'Ave a sweet?"

"No thank you," said Remus. "I don't eat them. I don't like eating things that act like they're alive."

Hagrid looked stunned. "But you collect the cards, don't ye?"

"Yes," Remus admitted.

"Ah, I thought so. Never met a boy in all me life as didn't. Tell ye what, I'll eat the frogs, and you can 'ave the cards. We never 'ad em when I was your age, and I'm sorta too old ter start collectin' 'em now. All right?"

For the first time since the train had left the station, Remus smiled. "Okay."

And so their journey continued with Hagrid eating chocolate frogs, three at a time, and Remus gathering a pile of Morgana Le Fays, Merlins and several other famous witches and wizards.

"Ah, now 'ere's a good un," said Hagrid, unwrapping the last frog. "Albus Dumbledore. You've met him, haven't ye?"

"Yes. He came to our house this summer. He very kindly let me come to Hogwarts although . although I'm a ."

"It's all right," Hagrid said quickly. "Ye don't have ter tell me anything. I know, ye see. Professor Dumbledore told me. 'E trusts me."

His huge chest swelled, if that was possible, to twice its size.

"That's the wonderful thing about 'im, see. 'E believes in people. Gives 'em chances. Even people as others would shun - people like you an' me."

Remus looked up sharply, but Hagrid became very preoccupied with some Every Flavour Beans he found in another pocket just then, and he didn't bring the subject up again.

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6 - Welcome to Hogwarts

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It was dark out by the time they finally pulled into Hogsmeade station. Remus was just wondering how he was going to get his trunk and cauldron up to the castle, when two large hands whipped the trunk from the rack and Hagrid tucked the cauldron under his arm as though it were a tiny vase.

"I'll take those," said Hagrid kindly. "Come on."

Remus followed the Hogwarts gamekeeper out of the station and through the darkness until they reached the edge of the black lake.

"We go across by water ternight," Hagrid said. "It's traditional for firs' years ter enter Hogwarts that way, an' Professor Dumbledore wanted ye ter be able to have a welcome near as possible to what the others'll get tomorrow."

He dropped the trunk into the boat, and Remus climbed gingerly in after it. Then they set off across the silent lake. As they drew nearer to the castle, Remus saw lights twinkling in several windows, and the moon came out from behind a cloud, silhouetting the castle and its many turrets and towers against the briefly illuminated night sky.

"What d'ye think of it then, eh?" Hagrid asked.

"It's beautiful," Remus answered, awed.

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If possible, he was even more awed by the sight of the great staircase when they finally reached it, and the Great Hall - empty but for four long tables with candles floating above them, and the teachers' table up front - took his breath away. He gazed endlessly at the enchanted ceiling, which was far more magnificent than it had ever been described in Hogwarts - A History.

Hagrid left the trunk by the door and led Remus all the way along the Hall to the teachers' table, where two people stood waiting for them. One was Professor Dumbledore, dressed tonight in sky-blue. The other was a middle- aged, very stern-looking witch in tartan robes with thin lips, piercing eyes appraising him through her square glasses, her hair tied back in a strict bun.

"Ah, Hagrid. I see you've brought us our new pupil," Dumbledore said.

"Yes, sir, Professor Dumbledore. Professor McGonagall." Hagrid bowed slightly to the stern-looking witch.

"Excellent," Dumbledore continued. "Has Hagrid been keeping you well, Remus?"

"Yes, sir. Thank you."

Remus felt all the cheer and courage he had regained on the train journey dwindle under the sharp eyes of Professor McGonagall.

"Well now," the headmaster went on. "You must be tired, and I expect you will want to retire to your dormitory early tonight, since you will not get much rest tomorrow night. But first we must find out where to put you."

Remus looked slightly worried at that. Dumbledore smiled indulgently.

"Don't worry, we will find room for you somewhere. The question is where. Minerva, the Sorting Hat, if you please ."

Professor McGonagall stood aside to reveal a wooden stool and a battered- looking old hat. This she raised and motioned to Remus to sit on the stool. He did so, and immediately she dropped the large hat on his head, so that it fell over his eyes.

*What's this?* said the Hat in his head. *A student already? But the Sorting is not due until tomorrow, I prepared my rhyme especially. Ah . *.

It seemed to ponder something it had found in his mind.

*A werewolf, is it? So that's why you're a night early. Well, well. Whatever next? Now then, where shall I put you? Let me see . You have a lively mind, young Remus Lupin. An inquisitive mind. You seek to learn, but also to please. Now that does make it difficult. Your cleverness almost makes me think I'd better put you in Ravenclaw, and yet . the Hufflepuffs are keen to serve, but no, for that you are too daring, too fond of going your own way. I think perhaps . yes. Yes, I see it now. There is a lot of courage in you. You will endure much, but never falter. Yes .*

Remus trembled. He wondered how the Hat could claim to know so well what was inside him, when he did not know himself. And he wondered what the Hat would say. It seemed to be taking an awfully long time to decide. But then, at last, it said quite clearly, for all to hear.

"Gryffindor."

Professor McGonagall pulled the Hat off his head. Professor Dumbledore was nodding.

"Yes," he said, "I guessed as much. Very well, Minerva. That puts him in your care. I think you had better have a bite to eat now, Remus, and then go to bed. Good night."

And with that, Dumbledore turned and left, taking Hagrid with him. Remus was left with Professor McGonagall. She looked down at him, and for a moment it seemed to Remus as though she seemed slightly less stern than before.

"Well, Lupin, you had better come with me," she said in a voice that could have frozen glowing embers.

He followed her quick footsteps out of the hall and up several flights of stairs. Then they reached a hallway where hung a portrait of a fat lady in a pink dress. She looked mildly curious to see them approach.

"What's this? An early bird?" she enquired.

"Tiddlywinks," Professor McGonagall said.

Remus stared, but the lady in the portrait merely shrugged her amply proportioned shoulders.

"Very well, Professor," she said, and swung back on her hinges to reveal a hole in the wall.

Remus climbed through after the professor, and they came out in a circular tower room where a merry fire was crackling in the grate. A plate of cold ham, cheese, several slices of toast and jam stood on a table in front of it, along with a glass and a large pitcher of milk.

"This is the Gryffindor common room," the professor explained. "Your dormitory is through that door. Go right up the stairs until you reach the very top. You'll find your trunk is already up there. Enjoy your supper. Good night."

And with that, she was gone, and Remus was left all alone. Yet he found he did not mind so much. The fire was warming not only to the body, but to the heart as well. And tomorrow the other students would be arriving. He sat down in one of the large armchairs and drew the table closer to him. Suddenly he felt extremely hungry, and there was not a crumb left on the plate nor a drop in the pitcher by the time he finally made his way up the stairs to bed.