Blaise, Katie Bell, and others have given us a touching picture of the tragically kind person Prof.Lupin is as an adult. But I imagine that he wasn't always as good at controlling the Beast Within; it's probably testimony to his powers as a wizard that he's able to repress his dark side so well. He's not DADA teacher for nothing... So what was he like before he ever went to Hogwarts? Here's some speculation... (His statement "My parents tried everything" has always intrigued me).
(Here's one more question for all of you: we all assume Moony , Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs were Gryffindors... but we don't know this FOR SURE, right? After all, the Hat wanted to put Harry in Slytherin!).
disclaimer: I made up Remus' mom, but all other characters are JK Rowlings'...
For May it was dreadfully hot. Too hot to think about homework, at least, and the sunlight streaming in through the window was making Remus' head hurt as he tried to concentrate on Great Expectations. When his mother entered, lugging the ingredients for some vile potion, he growled softly and ran upstairs to his room.
Cub ScoutPart I: The Pack
It was even hotter upstairs, of course—but at least it was private. Well, sort of. He'd torn the door from its hinges years ago, forcing his mother to spend the next month building a metal shed out back that his claws couldn't dent. Now he ran his finger along one of the scratches in the wall, amazed that he'd ever been so tiny.
His human shape was far from signs of puberty—scarcely four and a half feet tall and under 80 pounds, the second smallest kid in the class—but his canine adolescence was in full swing. He'd finally grown into his paws, his coat had turned from fluff to wiry adult grey, and he'd shed his puppy teeth for a gleaming set of inch-long fangs. Along with the physical changes came the urges: to run with the pack, to lead the pack, and most of all to hunt. But unless he did something about those metal walls, he'd never get anything bigger than a mouse--even though he knew that the nearest neighbors two miles away had twin babies. An easy lope from here, if he could only escape. Forget the babies, he was too big to be satisfied with such morsels; he'd eat the parents first. A child for dessert, if he was still hungry.
Head aching from heat and turmoil, he glanced at the lunar chart on the wall. Still three days till it was full. (What was left of the human inside him groaned: he was feeling this bad with three days to go? It was getting worse. Lord save him). The beast quickly took repossession: three days. If she was brewing a potion right now, he could climb out the window, sneak into the shed, and… and maybe there was something thumbs could do that paws could not. He could use a saw, at least.
He opened the window and gazed off into the countryside, glad of their isolation because of its proximity to the forest. How many of his kind would be running free this month? This time he would join them, would show them he was the biggest and strongest. Foolishly, he sniffed—but of course a human nose would tell him nothing. The useless lump of flesh people carried around didn't deserve the title of "nose." And the ears! Always pointed in one direction. Worthless at high frequencies, even a mouse's squeak escaped them. Inferior creatures. Given his choice, he'd be a wolf twenty-nine days out of twenty-nine.
He was just putting his foot on the windowsill when an object appeared in the sky in front of him. Human eyes were poor at motion detection, too, but their color vision was good, and he saw it was a tawny owl. He waited for it to dip down, to enter the lower part of the house where his mother was, but when it continued to hurtle straight towards him he jumped away in surprise.
The owl was almost as startled by him as he was by it, and it dropped the letter and disappeared into the bright afternoon. The letter lay on the scratched floor, face down, its seal huge and mocking.
He recognized the letter, of course. He'd seen his mother's own, years ago: more than half his life ago, when he was still a boy and not a cub. They'd been taking a walk in their old town, by the park, when suddenly a gang of nasty creatures had blocked their path. His mother had reached for her wand—"Red Caps," she whispered, "get behind me"—but in a wave of his hand they were gone, before he'd had a chance to realize what was happening.
She'd been terribly proud. It wasn't his first magic—he'd turned his rubber ducky into a real swan in the bath once, and escaped school bullies a dozen times—but this was when she'd been sure, had taken out her old Hogwarts trunk and shown him everything, describing the excitement that awaited him on his eleventh birthday.
What neither of them knew was that the Red Caps were there because, four months previously, a child had been killed and her parents bitten by a werewolf. Grief-stricken and ashamed, the couple had fled the village—to a deserted place much like this one, no doubt. They had told no one, and in less than a month's time it would be Remus' turn. The old witch who treated his bite told him about the others; he'd been much too young to understand why they had kept such a thing a secret.
His father spent the next year traveling the world in search of a cure. All Remus remembered of him was a brooding silence, and constantly being made to swallow something reeky, or squirmy, or hissing from some dreadful vial labeled in Romanian. One of them made all his hair fall out. Another one made blood leak out from everywhere, even his eyes. The last one made him stay awake for three weeks solid, shrieking in pure terror at visions he even now shuddered to remember, and after that Mr. Lupin gave up and ran away with a pretty young witch from Transylvania.
Mum had been lonely and sad ever since, and Remus tried desperately to hide his relief at being spared the potions.
Their relatives, and they didn't have many, stopped talking to them too. His aunt was the worst; how was a muggle, who barely grasped that her sister was a witch, begin to understand that her cute little nephew had become a mythical creature she didn't even believe in? But not believing in him wouldn't stop him from having very sharp teeth. Apparently a cub's bite wouldn't transmit the curse—or was it because she was a muggle?—but she never transformed after Remus bit her, just became sick as a dog (if you'd pardon the expression) for a couple of full moons afterwards. His mother took him and moved to the country, never daring to discuss any of it: his father's departure, Remus' future, whether the transformations would become easier with time or whether soon he'd be a full-time monster. She tiptoed around as if he were an especially troubled ghost, even speaking in whispers.
He sniffed again, wondering at her whereabouts—and just managed to guess that they were having lamb for dinner. That must be for his birthday. She knew he wouldn't want a cake, not this time of the month. He thought about going downstairs and asking her not to overcook the meat this time.
But those were her footsteps on the stairs. She never came up here. He quickly remembered the letter and kicked it under the bed, then dove under the covers and pretended to be asleep.
She entered the room with its broken door and gashed ceiling cautiously. "I saw the owl," she said, her voice quivering with excitement.
She saw the owl. Which meant she could see the shed. What would she do to him if she caught him making holes in the walls as a human? Pull all his teeth and send him to Azkaban, no doubt. He growled, scarcely hearing her next words.
"But don't you understand, that means you're accepted!" she rambled. "I asked, a couple of years ago, they told me it was impossible—where's the letter?"
"Grrr," said Remus.
She sighed, and he poked his head out to see her glancing at her lunar watch. Fool! he thought. This time I won't change when the moon wanes.
"Don't you want to go?" she asked. "I mean, you don't have to, but you could be a very powerful wizard…"
"What do they do when a child dies?" he snarled cruelly. "Forget to cross their name off the list, too?"
"You're not--" her voice quavered—"dead, and you don't even know what it says if you haven't opened it. Please let me see it. You don't have to look at it if you don't want to."
He told her where it was and she retrieved it the way she might if it had dropped into the lions' cage at the zoo. Back in the safety of the doorway, looking at him nervously, she opened it up and began to read.
I'm going to Canada, he thought. To roam the plains and catch unsuspecting beaver-trappers by the throat…
He scarcely heard her words. "Look at this!" she cried. "Albus Dumbledore has become Headmaster! He was always my favorite teacher… always had a solution to every problem, even if he had to break the rules a bit…" From the thick envelope, she pulled two large pieces of parchment and one small one. She glanced at the smaller one, bit her lip, and read aloud.
"Dear Mr. Lupin,
I am aware of your special circumstances and am confident that we can accommodate them without compromising your safety or that of other students. If you wish to attend Hogwarts, please contact me by owl before August 1 to finalize the arrangements.
Remus was thinking about elk. He lay still and refused to answer, except for another quiet growl.
His mother sighed deeply and stuck the letter into the pocket of her robes. "Well, I'll give you a few days to think about it."
This euphemism was as close as she ever came to mentioning it.
Four days later, the moon was back to gibbous and Remus was back in school. (He'd started staying away entirely between first quarter and full, since the time he'd tried to bite someone and the principal had called his mother. She'd almost fainted when she'd heard some muggle kid call him "Dog Boy." And it was such a long bus ride to the nearest school, he couldn't take the risk of being caught out after dark).
Now he was finishing his book report on Dickens, the last assignment of the year, while she sliced fungi and arranged them on white paper to collect the spores. There were fresh strawberries from the garden and he nibbled on them while he wrote, trying not to blot too much. They had muggle paper but he always used a quill.
His mother's sigh made him startle and look up, spraying ink. He'd expected some problem with the mushrooms—but she was looking directly at him.
"Is something wrong?" he wondered, made a little nervous by her gaze.
She wrung her hands. She looked much too old for her age, gray and worn—my fault, he thought guiltily. "Have you thought about—about the letter?"
"Not really," he lied.
"Sweetheart," she took a deep breath—she hadn't called him that in years!—"if Albus Dumbledore thinks it's OK, I don't think you have anything to worry about. You don't know him, but I do—he's always fair, he trusts his students to use their own minds…"
Sure, but Dumbledore's not the only one at the school, Remus thought. He couldn't imagine himself in a dormitory with children, human children, during one of his more beastly phases. "Mom, I'm a bloodthirsty ravening demon," he didn't say, desperately thinking of some other way to phrase it. "What if…" he began hesitantly. "I mean, you know how I get… for a full week, almost…" The years of not talking about it made it impossible to say anything stronger than this. Then he burst out, "I try to tear down the shed all the time! Even as a human! You can't trust me!" With the moon waning, the beast was so weak it didn't even yelp at this betrayal.
Diana Lupin smiled a sad smile. "I know, dear, I know. Why do you think the shed is right outside the window? And I'm sure Dumbledore knows, too."
He stared at his homework so as not to cry, knowing she understood more than he'd ever imagined. He wiped his eyes quickly. "Then what--?"
"They have some sort of room for you, far away from the school, where you can't get in or out yourself… Safer even than here, I'm sure."
The implication of her words finally sank in. "You've already spoken to Dumbledore," he realized, but with a small smile, rather than accusingly. In spite of himself he was starting to get excited. What would he be writing essays on this time next year?
"Of course. I just couldn't help it. He still want to speak to you, of course—I mean, if you want to--"
"I do want to," Remus admitted. "More than anything in the world." Another terrible thought occurred to him. "But do they—will they—will everybody know?"
"Dumbledore said it was up to you. You'll go far enough away that no one will know."
"Up to me?" Finally he smiled for real, starting to believe that maybe there could be someone on this earth who trusted him. "He really said that? Then of course it's a secret! I'll tell them--" he tried to think of something.
"Tell them I'm ill," she suggested almost immediately. He felt a pang of guilt, realizing how much she'd had to lie for him over the years. "And if they figure out that it's always at the, er, same time of the month, well then—tell them it's I who am the…"
"Mom! I couldn't tell a story like that." But they were laughing together.
"Oh, I wouldn't tell them anything," she corrected herself. "Let them guess, they'll make up what they want to believe."
Then she did something she hadn't done in six years: she came up to her son, ruffled his hair, and hugged him. "You'll be so good," she repeated. "I just know it." She wiped her eyes. "I'm proud of you."
"I haven't exactly been practicing, you know," he admitted. "I mean, I've read all your books, of course, but I haven't been on a broomstick in ages--"
"There will be students from muggle families who don't even know you can ride a broomstick," she promised.
They laughed again. His whole existence was so tied to the wizard world that Remus had never thought about what it would be like to be raised a muggle.
"And you know," she said solemnly, returning to her potion so she wouldn't have to look at him, "developing your powers will help you fight your own—darkness, I'm sure of it. You could even… oh, I don't know, find a cure or something. Although you'd have to be a better potion-brewer than I am," she added with a laugh, indicating the fungi. "I can't even keep slugs out of the garden."
Remus grew thoughtful. "You want Amanita calyptrata for that, don't you?" he suggested. "Those are ocreata."
"Yes, see the way the caps are smooth? They should be striated. I mean, I think so." He jumped up to get the book.
She put down her pestle and stepped into a pair of shoes. "Would you like to go for a walk in the forest, then? I'll show you where I picked them. We still have an hour or so of daylight."
"Sure," Remus agreed, knowing she wanted to talk about Hogwarts but afraid of becoming too excited. He hadn't even spoken to Dumbledore yet; some part of him feared the headmaster was more than slightly mad.
"If it gets dark when we're out, we can find some Armillariella and I'll try a luminosity potion," she suggested. "You can make any object glow in the dark. Last time it didn't work; but you know, I was terrible in that class. Mainly because Potions is always taught by a Slytherin…"
He listened as they walked, saying very little but enchanted by tales of the Houses, Hagrid the gamekeeper, the castle, and even Diagon alley which he'd visited once or twice before but didn't remember. She wouldn't tell how the Sorting worked: it was supposed to be a "delightful surprise" which, knowing his mum, could mean being chased over the grounds by a two-headed troll while riding a hippogriff blindfolded.
"We can go to London as soon as school's out and get all your stuff," she promised. "Let me tell you about Ollivander's…"
But he'd stopped listening. End of term was three and a half weeks—waxing gibbous again. "Er, maybe the week after that," he suggested, very quietly.
"Oh. Yes." She tried, but failed utterly, to hide the shock and (yes) disgust on her face.
The gulf widened between them again, and neither spoke as they went into the forest to hunt mushrooms.
Diana Lupin stood shivering in her muggle clothes at Platform 9 ("jeans"! what a terrible idea), watching the first students pop through the barrier for their Christmas vacation. Instinctively her eyes were drawn to the solitary children, the ones looking at their feet and hurrying to rejoin their parents. One boy was sobbing disconsolately, poor thing--she saw immediately why: his owl was lying stiff and dead in its cage. He'd probably been carrying it around like that for a week, too; it smelled. There was another boy who was covered head to toe in a thick green slime, but he was a tubby blond boy, definitely not her son.
She didn't even see the laughing, chattering trio until they almost plowed into her.
"Oh, geez--" Remus was giggling at something his companions were saying, still listening to them as he handed packages to his mom. "The box is a gift for you," he said at last, "and here-- carry Mousebreath, will you?" He handed her the owl. "I'll get the trunk. Mum, this is Sirius."
"What is?" she asked, slightly alarmed.
The tall boy in front of her laughed. "I am. Sirius Black, hi. This is James Potter. We're all in Gryffindor together."
There was something rather canine about this tall shaggy boy, she thought. It was easy to picture him as a huge black dog... but no, that wasn't fair. He was human and he seemed to be friends with Remus. "Funny," she commented. "Your dad and I were both Ravenclaws. Perhaps you're braver than I..."
"Or less clever," Sirius suggested.
She winced automatically, but although it was only three days until the full moon, her son didn't so much as growl but merely grinned. "Less clever?" he exclaimed. "Gee, Sirius, I thought that breadbox was supposed to turn into a rabbit... not a pair of bunny slippers!"
Sirius looked mildly embarrassed. "I told you, Severus jinxed me to get me back for the scabies! Besides, do you know what your worst subject is?"
"What?" Remus demanded.
"Defense Against the Dork Arts!" Sirius exclaimed, cackling.
"Speaking of which," James wondered innocently, "where is Peter?"
"Hey!" Remus scolded. "That's so mean. I don't know--Peter!" he looked around. "Peter!"
Green-Slime Boy dragged himself over, clearly fighting tears. "Oh--oh hi, guys. The Slytherins--"
The other three automatically put their hands on their belts, then realized they were in their muggle clothes and laughed.
"We'll get them in January," James promised. "I already have a plan."
Diana took her wand from the back pocket of her jeans and de-slimed Peter. She realized that the other boys' eyes were boring into her; too late, she remembered she was supposed to be deathly ill. Should've taken a Pox Potion or something, she thought. She looked at her son to see if she was making some terrible mistake, but he looked carefree and cheerful, stuffing loose objects into his trunk in preparation for the walk to their muggle train. "It was nice to meet you all," she said warmly, "but we have to run to Platform 3. I'll see you again, I'm sure."
"Come for Christmas or New Year's if you can," James told Remus. "We're having a huge party." He glanced at Diana with curiosity, but not the searing penetrating gaze that Sirius had. This one has more manners, she thought, and he doesn't remind me of a dog.
Amazingly, once they were settled into their compartment on the train that would carry them to their village, Remus' cheerful mood continued. Diana couldn't believe it, especially as the sun set and the moon, clearly nearly full, rose in the east. Was there going to be an eclipse?
He told her about everything that had happened, from the Sorting ("You scared me! It was just a hat!") to their classes and professors and having detention with Sirius five times. He talked more in two hours than he had in all of the past six years.
"And then--" he paused in the middle of a story he was telling. "And then we--" he yawned. "Oh. Geez. Where was I?"
"Er, James wants to be Seeker?" she guessed, only half paying attention to the story's content, so amazed by the difference a single term had made.
"Right, and when he went to try out, the Snitch--" he yawned again and lay down on the seat. When she brought a blanket and lay it over him, he mumbled, "Then let me tell you--" and was completely asleep.
Diana looked out the window: at the sky, the stars, the moon that she had learned to fear and loathe... And then back at her son, who was sound asleep with a smile on his face.
Her cub had found his pack at last.