She had become a student of the moon. It was not unlike her other studies, potions, charms, transfigurations (at which she was miserably inadequate). Professor McGonagall had insisted, and Dumbledore agreed. While she might be perfectly qualified to teach Muggle Studies at Hogwarts, she needed to understand more than her history had allowed her about the realities of magic if she were to command respect and discipline amongst wizard students.

It still repulsed her a little. The entire concept of magic. She'd come a long way. Face to face with one's own mortality tends to do that to a person. She'd grudgingly, reluctantly allowed herself to know about her nephew's world, her late sister's world.

Each minute concession was a major strike to her relationship with Vernon, and less than two years after dementors had threatened her only son, she was seated across from Vernon and his...representation...haggling over furniture and property and joint funds.

Dumbledore's offer had seemed a reasonable concession. Room, board, a job. Protection from those followers of Voldemort who still sought revenge against the family that had helped to bring down their master.

Still, she cringed when that awful Filch glared at her from across the hallways. And moving stairways still gave her fits. But for the most part, she'd swallowed her bitter pride and taken her place in the world of magic, humbled by the realities she could no longer deny or escape.

Her sister had been a witch. Her nephew was a wizard. This, and her eventual acceptance of it, whether for blood or conscience, had left her divorced and penniless.

She had to admit, she'd never expected a welcome in this world.

She'd never expected, and was horrified in her weaker moments to admit it, that she'd enjoy parts of this world.

And moreover, she'd never, ever expected to find Remus.

He was "one of them." Not one of them, he was a freak even amongst the freaks.

Petunia gazed at her lunar calendar. Three nights to full moon.

He was quiet. Handsome in an odd way. So unlike Vernon. He didn't bluster or posture.

He knew how she'd treated Harry. Everybody, it seemed, knew how she'd treated Harry.

Petunia Evans, formerly Dursley, was not a very popular woman at times. Then again, the Slytherin seemed to like her, which only made her more uncomfortable.

Harry lost so many things. His parents. His freedom. His childhood. His godfather. But Lupin had been good to him, much better than she'd ever been.

She'd thanked him, shyly, over gillywater at the Three Broomsticks, one weekend. It was hardly unexpected. He'd been reinstated as Defense Against Dark Arts teacher, she was Muggle Studies. He'd avoided her; she'd avoided him.

Harry was in London, studying to be an Auror.

It was Petunia who needed the protection now, from her own guilt, from her own shadowed, hateful past. She didn't feel she deserved it, neither protection or forgiveness, but she'd already begun the long steep path to redemption and Lupin sitting quietly alone presented another opportunity to move forward.

This first step had provided an opening. A grudging , tentative opening. They spoke in the Great Hall, making polite conversation over dinner in front of hundreds of feasting students. She shared Harry's letters with him, letters she would have never expected to receive from him, even five years earlier. They were filled with news, and funny stories about his life and training in London. She began to read her return letters to Remus as well, finding a voice in the written words to express her wonder at this remarkable world of theirs, to show that she did love him by telling self- deprecating and sometimes wildly funny tales on herself. She never said the words, "I love you," outright in her letters. Such words were difficult even now. But she made sure her letters were warm, warmer than she'd ever dared to be under Vernon's roof, under Vernon's thumb.

And Lupin had shared with her, eventually. He recognized her for what they both were, oddities, misfits who didn't completely belong to any world. And slowly, over the course of that long first term, they'd found in each other sympathetic warmth, then cautious desire.

She'd never been with any man other than Vernon. And after that first time with Remus, that amazing, terrifying, electrifying time with Remus, she wondered why in hell she hadn't? Remus was everything Vernon was not-- passionate, demanding, exciting, innovative. He brought out a side in her she never knew existed, and forced her to delve deep into her own repressed sexuality.

Until that first full moon. Until it got too close, until they got too close. She could remember his frantic passion, the wild look in his eyes, the animal hunger that had both terrified and overwhelmed her. His body, strange and frightening, taking her over and over again as the moon grew fat in the midnight sky. His brutal, dangerous, amazing strength.

And to her amazement, to her utter stunned disbelief, she hadn't fought him. She'd sunk into him, reveled in his wildness. It was breathtaking, and she wanted nothing more than to lose herself completely in his madness.

And then he disappeared. Three days, gone, no word, no note.

Just Petunia in that dark castle, alone in her openness, wanting and confused and afire with sensations.

When he returned, three days later, with no excuse and no explanation, just that quiet, sad resignation, she lost it. Too much, too much, now, she let loose with a fury she'd never known herself capable of, screaming and swearing and calling him freak, bastard, crying, crying so her heart would break, all the tears of the past seven years pushing themselves outward in a massive assault against Remus Lupin.

To her stunned surprise, he did not retaliate. He did not scream, or make excuses, or try to console. He let her rage, a silent understanding allowing him patience.

One night later, as the December snows began to fall, he showed up at her door. He carried a heavy coat and led her out of the castle. A coach awaited, one of the horseless coaches that carried the students to class at the beginning of the year. And he helped her aboard, and off they drove together, bundled under the several blankets that piled over them.

And as the moon began its descent into nothingness, he told her. The truth about himself, the truth about his life, why he was how he was.

Petunia listened as the man who had brought her back to life told her of his own, the secrets, the fears, the terrible loss of self that occurred each month when the moon grew fat and the curse resurfaced.

And she made love to him, wrapped in those warm thick blankets, safe from the gently falling snow. Under the waning moon, she let go for a moment of her need for normalcy, and embraced the beauty of different.

After that night, Petunia Evans, formerly Dursley, became a student of the moon. She learned its phases, and through them, she learned her love. His careful, studied days, just after the moon was at its peak, when she needed to be tender, patient with him. His solitary days, when the moon sunk into darkness, when he seemed at most alone. On those days, she was gentle, generous, feeding him with love and sweet affection. Then as the moon began its growth, his own regeneration, his renewed strength, his humor, his quirkiness. She reveled in these days, when he gave back, when he pursued, when he laughed more than not.

And the night before the night before the full moon, when he was barely more man than animal, when he took her frantically, and she could become the darkness herself.

She treasured these cycles, not only for the birth and death and rebirth of the man she was quickly coming to love, but for the opportunity they gave her, finally, to explore more than fear, or shame, or embarrassment.

Remus Lupin was cursed by the moonlight. And as long as he bore that curse, Petunia would remain a student of the moon.