Dear Professor Dumbledore,
It is with great regret that I inform you that Remus Lupin will be unable to attend Hogwarts this coming school year, or any school year. Please remove him from the list. Thank you.
A mile or so outside of Dragon's Field (one of the smaller Welsh wizarding communities) stood a small cottage, nestled at the edge of some thick woods. It looked unassuming and quite average. The man standing in front of the garden gate, however, did not. His long white hair and beard belied his years, and he wore swishy bright blue robes with a rather sparkly pointed hat. He checked a piece of paper in his hand and then opened the gate, striding up to the door.
He stuck his hands in his robes pockets and smiled as he waited. A thin, exhausted looking middle-aged man opened the door and studied Dumbledore with narrowed eyes. "Yes?"
"Mr. Lupin? I'm Albus Dumbledore."
The man went white and he adjusted himself so the door was only an inch or so open. "Mister—ahh—Professor Dumbledore. Wh—what brings you here?"
Dumbledore pulled a bit of parchment out of his pocket. "This letter, Mr. Lupin. You sent it to me yesterday, about your son? That he won't be attending Hogwarts?"
"Er…" Mr. Lupin glanced behind him then back at Dumbledore. "Correct."
"You do realize he's had his name down since he was born," Dumbledore said.
"Yes, well, either way, he's going to be kept home," Mr. Lupin's voice trembled just slightly.
"Is there a reason why?" Dumbledore inquired, frowning. He knew Lyall Lupin's parents had sent him to Beauxbatons and, upon receiving the letter, wondered if that's where Lyall had been planning on sending his son. The information that the child was to be kept home took Dumbledore by surprise.
"Ahhh… y—yes," Mr. Lupin forced out. "It's my wife, you see, she's very ill, and... loves the boy dearly and wishes him to stay with her."
There was a movement behind Mr. Lupin and Dumbledore leaned a bit to get a better look at the tiny figure standing in the living room. He looked younger than his eleven years, and small. Light, tawny brown hair an absolute mess. He wore only a long nightshirt, and held a very thick book in one hand that didn't seem possible for him to even be able to hold up. Dumbledore took in the boy's sickly pale skin, the dark circles under his eyes… he looked fragile and delicate, like one touch could break him into pieces.
It isn't Mrs. Lupin that's sick, Dumbledore thought, wondering why Mr. Lupin would lie about that. The child being sick was a more logical reason to keep him from school so why didn't...?
"Remus!" Mr. Lupin snapped in an angry voice, following Dumbledore's gaze. "I told you to stay in your room!" A flash of fear went across the boy's face as he took a few steps back and then ran off out of view, bare feet pattering against the floor. Mr. Lupin turned back to look at Dumbledore. "Apologies for that. Now, er, was there anything else you needed?"
"He's the one who's ill, isn't he?" Dumbledore looked up at the house, taking in the sense of multiple protection spells placed on the building including one that gave off an air of 'nothing to see here'. Then he took in the look of fear that had entered Mr. Lupin's eyes. "May I come in?"
"I'm sorry, we're—"
But Dumbledore walked in past him, ignoring his protests. "What does he have?" he asked, looking around the room. He went over to the fireplace, knowing it wasn't connected up to the floo network, which Dumbledore thought was rather strange especially being in such a small community. It was as if the family was doing their best to keep everyone as far away from them as possible.
"Er, no, you're mistaken, it's my wife that's sick," Mr. Lupin mumbled.
There were pictures on the mantel, pictures of the boy growing from a tiny toddler to a tiny child. Almost all photographs of Remus showed him looking very sick and the few of Mrs. Lupin showed her looking very healthy. One picture stood out. Mr. and Mrs. Lupin with their son who looked perhaps two or three and perfectly healthy. Rosy-cheeked, even.
"Professor, really, I'm not sure right now is a good time!" Mr. Lupin said rather desperately, wringing his hands.
The picture beside it showed Remus Lupin looking around age five, now very ill as he sat under a flowering tree in his healthy mother's lap, beaming at the book she was reading to him. They used to live in Hollyhock Hollow, Dumbledore thought, the pieces falling together. They moved in… 1964? Around the time Remus Lupin grew sick? Hollyhock Hollow… 1964… something happened… Ah.
He turned around, the answer very obvious. "Lycanthropy," he said.
Mr. Lupin went pure white and his lips began trembling. "Professor, I d—don't know what you're talking about. It's time you go."
Dumbledore smiled rather sadly. "Remus is a werewolf, isn't he? Don't bother denying it. In 1964, where you used to live, there was a spot of werewolf trouble. He was bitten then, wasn't he? That's why you're not letting him come to school. I can understand that." Dumbledore didn't add he knew for a fact the boy wasn't registered as he knew all the names on the rather short list. He picked up the most recent picture of young Lupin: sitting on the couch, a book open in his lap, not even paying attention to the camera. He's had his name down since he was born. It wasn't extremely unusual for that to happen, however that typically only happened to purebloods. While the Lupin family was quite old, Remus's mother was Muggle and Lyall himself hadn't been put in the book until he was a year old. The fact their child was written down the second he was born proved he had immense talent.
Dumbledore knew he couldn't just abandon the child, couldn't let a light like that extinguish before his time. Most werewolves are turned when they're older... after they've had some time to live... this is taking everything away from that boy... to not even go to school... not get an education...
"Professor—" Mr. Lupin said anxiously.
Dumbledore just kept staring at the picture then up when he sensed someone else watching him. Remus was crouched in another room, peering around the corner of the door frame, gold-amber eyes locked on Dumbledore with curiosity. When Dumbledore looked at him, Remus gave a slight gasp and ducked back out of sight in a rather canine-ish manner.
"Professor—" Mr. Lupin tried once more.
Dumbledore set the picture down and went to the doorway. Remus was on the floor, still listening in. He scrambled to his feet, looking absolutely terrified of the wizard before him. Mr. Lupin came hurrying in and stood between the two of them. "Remus," Dumbledore said, acting as if Mr. Lupin wasn't there at all. "Would you like to go to Hogwarts?"
"Professor, really!" Mr. Lupin said.
Remus just stared at Dumbledore, eyes going even wider. He slowly looked at his father then back at Dumbledore. Then in a thin, frail voice tinged with regret he said, "Can't. M—mother's ill." Mr. Lupin put a hand on his son's shoulder and squeezed.
Dumbledore stepped forward and looked down into Remus's eyes. "If you could," he whispered, once more ignoring Mr. Lupin trying to cut him off, "would you like to come to school? Learn magic?"
"Learn?" Remus couldn't help himself but ask. Dumbledore easily read the eagerness in his face, and smiled at the child as he replied, "Y... yes...!"
"Remus!" Mr. Lupin snarled and Remus flinched. Mr. Lupin pushed his son behind him. "Professor, I think you've overstayed your welcome."
"Considering I didn't get one at all, that doesn't surprise me."
Mr. Lupin glared. "Stop filling his head with impossible ideas!"
"Impossible?" Dumbledore straightened up to full height. "Mr. Lupin that is not a word I like to hear. No, no. Remus can attend Hogwarts. It will merely take a few... additions to the school to make things safe. Every child deserves an education, Mr. Lupin; cursed or not." He took a swift step forward and knelt in front of Remus, taking the boy's small hands into his own and spoke the words that would forever resonate in Remus's heart.
"My dear boy... Hogwarts welcomes you with open arms."