Nothing Would Ever Be the Same

With every step Remus took, his heart sank lower and the knot in his stomach tightened. The trip from the infirmary to Dumbledore's office through the early morning halls of Hogwarts had never seemed so long. He risked a glance at Poppy as she strode along grim-faced at his side. Something happened last night during the full moon, but Poppy refused to tell him what it was. He took this as a very bad sign. Whenever all you were told was that Professor Dumbledore would tell you everything you needed to know, you knew you were in trouble, and there was nothing you could do to avoid it.

As he walked along, Remus searched his own vague recollections of the night before for a clue as to what to expect from his meeting with the Headmaster, but he simply couldn't be sure of anything. Last night began just like any other night with a full moon. Poppy took him to the Whomping Willow after dinner, froze its movement, and waited while he slipped inside. Then she set the tree moving again and went away, and he made his way through the tunnel into the barren, lonely house at its end.

Nothing seemed awry. The Shrieking Shack was as empty as always. The moon rose on schedule, though he certainly wouldn't have minded if it hadn't. The pain was definitely the same, no better or worse than it usually was. Yet something else did happen. It must have. He had these fragmented images of leaving the house and going back down into the tunnel. He could vaguely remember there being movement and sound, but he couldn't dredge up a clear picture of what had occurred no matter how he tried.

Did someone else enter the tunnel last night? If they did, it would have attracted the wolf's attention and drawn him down to meet them. Did he hurt or kill someone after moonrise? Just the thought of it froze the heart in his chest and caused cold sweat to burst from every pore. It was the focus of every nightmare he'd had since he himself was bitten. That he might do to someone else what had been done to him weighed heavily on his soul, and he knew it always would.

He glanced down at his hands and arms. They looked a bit scratched but not any worse than usual after a full moon. No stains lingered beneath his fingernails, and he knew there hadn't been a body or any blood in the tunnel or in the Shrieking Shack itself when he awoke this morning. Could he have hurt someone badly and not left any traces behind? He didn't think so, but what else could make Poppy look so grim and pale, and send him up to talk to Professor Dumbledore even before he was allowed to have any breakfast?

When they reached the gargoyle that guarded the entrance to Dumbledore's office, Poppy turned to Remus and gave him a wan smile. No doubt she was trying to be reassuring, but if so, it was pretty obvious that her heart wasn't in it.

"You wait here for a moment, Remus. I need to speak to Professor Dumbledore alone first. It won't take long. You can go up when I return, all right?"

He nodded, not trusting himself to speak. What could he say anyway? No, I don't want to wait. If I'm going to be punished or expelled, I want to get it over with so I can go have some breakfast? It's not as if he could possibly eat anything. Though he was normally famished after the full moon, at the moment even the thought of food made him nauseous.

As Poppy opened the gargoyle and disappeared up the moving staircase, Remus leaned back against the corridor wall. There was a part of him that half expected James or Sirius to pop out from around the nearest corner and tell him what was really going on, but the corridor remained silent and empty. His friends were nowhere to be seen. They probably had no more idea of what was up than he did. How could they? They weren't in the Shrieking Shack last night.

Pushing away from the wall, he wandered over to the nearest window and looked out. The sun was just cresting the tops of the trees. Its fire was setting the dew ablaze on the lawn and turning the surface of the lake to molten gold. Dawn's insubstantial shades of grey were giving way to the vibrant colors of a new day. The world outside was coming to life, just as it did every morning, totally unaware and uncaring of the petty human dramas playing themselves out behind the castle walls. Remus smiled in spite of himself. No matter what might have happened last night, it was going to be a beautiful day.

Though to him, everyday at Hogwarts was beautiful in its own way. Each day he had here was a gift. A gift he never expected to possess. After all, werewolves didn't get to go to school. They didn't get to have friends, or do homework, or learn the intricacies of magic. They didn't get to mix with ordinary people and have ordinary lives, unless they were very, very lucky. Unless they had an Albus Dumbledore in their life.

He thought back to the first time he met Dumbledore. He'd been nervous then, too, but instead of leading to trouble, that meeting had turned out to be one of the best moments in his life.

He'd been at his cousin's house down the road. Edgar was three years older than Remus and the two of them had never been particularly close, but his parents didn't allow him to go far from home or associate with very many other children since he'd been bitten, so by default, he spent a fair amount of time with Edgar when the older boy was home from Hogwarts during holidays.

They'd been hanging around in Edgar's back yard skipping stones across a shallow brook and talking about nothing in particular when Edgar's neighbor, a fresh-faced girl named Greta, had burst out of the house next door waving a big envelope around like a flag and whooping with joy.

"It came! It finally came! Oh, Edgar, I'm going to Hogwarts! I can't wait. What's it like riding on the Hogwarts' Express? How long does it take to get there? What house do you think I'll get into? Is there any way to tell in advance? Oooh, this is so exciting!"

Edgar grinned at Remus before answering her. "So they decided to take you after all, did they? I guess they really will take anyone."

Greta stamped a foot and stuck out her tongue. "Oh, you're just horrid! Of course they took me. There was never any doubt, and you know it. I hope I'll be in Ravenclaw. That sounds like the best house to me." She raised her head and sniffed loudly. "Obviously Hufflepuff isn't very choosy, so I can't imagine I'll end up there."

Edgar, who was proud to be a Hufflepuff, frowned at Greta. "I wouldn't worry. Ravenclaw is the place for you all right. It's full of stuck up girls who think they know more than everyone else. You'll fit right in."

"Humpf! You're just envious because you weren't smart enough to get into Ravenclaw and had to settle for Hufflepuff!" Greta tossed her sleek dark head, turned her back on both of them, and marched straight back to her own house with her nose in the air and her envelope clutched tightly to her chest. As she disappeared back inside, Edgar turned to Remus with a grin.

"She probably will be in Ravenclaw. When she's not busy being an arrogant snot, she's okay and pretty darned smart. Dead easy to tease, though. Hey, I just thought of something. If Greta got her letter, that must mean you will, too, Remus. You're the same age. You should be in the same year at school."

Remus felt himself go cold and, not knowing how to reply, he remained silent as his cousin suddenly looked around as if expecting an owl to appear at any moment and drop a letter on Remus's head. When no delivery seemed imminent, Edgar turned back to Remus with a slightly puzzled frown. "They usually send all the owls out at the same time," he said.

Remus shrugged. He knew he wouldn't be getting a letter from Hogwarts, but Edgar couldn't. He didn't know that Remus was a werewolf. His parents had been very careful to keep that bit of family news a secret even from the rest of the family. Eventually they'd probably find out, of course, but his parents wanted to put that moment off for as long as possible and Remus certainly agreed.

"My letter is probably waiting for me at home, Edgar. I suppose I should go and see."

"Yeah, okay," Edgar said uncertainly. "You don't seem very excited, though. Don't you want to go to Hogwarts?"

Remus forced a smile for the older boy. "Of course, I do. I want to go to Hogwarts more than anything in the whole world," he said honestly.

As Remus trudged back across the fields that separated his house from Edgar's, he could think of nothing but how deeply he meant what he'd told his cousin, and how impossible a desire it was. Werewolves weren't admitted to Hogwarts. His parents had been very clear on that point. From this moment on, his life would diverge greatly from that of other kids his age. While they went off to school and learned to be capable wizards and witches, he would remain behind, trying to do the best he could on his own with whatever resources his parents could provide. It was just the way life was for people who'd been cursed.

When he reached home, he went in through the back door and headed straight for the stairs to go up to his room. He didn't feel much like talking to anyone at the moment, and he knew it would be futile to check the front hall table for a letter from Hogwarts. As he reached the stairs, he suddenly heard voices from the front parlor.

Curious, he stopped and listened carefully. There shouldn't be anyone home other than his mum, and Tippy, of course, but they'd be far more likely to be talking in the kitchen than the parlor. He frowned as he tried without success to make out the words. Whoever was talking to his mother, it most certainly wasn't a house-elf. This was definitely a man's voice; though not one he could remember ever hearing before.

Turning away from the stairs, he crept nearer to the parlor door which wasn't quite closed. As he got within a foot of the crack, he heard his name mentioned and all thought of retreating to his room fled as if it never existed.

"I'm so sorry, Professor. I don't know where Remus has gone. He's usually somewhere around the house this time of day. More tea? How about a pastry?" said Mrs. Lupin.

"It's quite all right, Mrs. Lupin. I'm sure the lad will be along very soon. I'm not in any hurry. I believe I will have another pastry. They're delicious. Thank you." A cheerful voice answered her.

Remus applied his eye to the crack and saw an old man seated on the sofa reaching for a strawberry filled pastry and smiling quite happily at his mother. The man had a flowing white beard, a merry expression, and he was wearing the loudest peacock blue and gold robes that Remus had ever seen.

As Remus debated what to do, the old man turned twinkling eyes his way and smiled directly at him. "Ah, I believe young Remus has returned," he said jovially.

Remus's mother turned toward the door and got to her feet as Remus, having decided that since he'd already been spotted, it seemed rather foolish not to go in and satisfy his curiosity, pushed the door open wider and stepped into the room.

"There you are Remus! Where have you been! You have a visitor," his mother exclaimed with some exasperation in her tone as if he'd gone off and hidden on purpose just to be annoying. Remus thought this attitude was a bit unfair, it wasn't as if they had visitors looking for him everyday, in fact to his knowledge, it had never happened before, but he didn't think it would be prudent to remind his mother of that at the moment.

"I was down at Edgar's house," he explained.

"Oh, nevermind now, at least you're back. Remus," she held out her hand toward the man on the sofa, who was setting down his plate and getting to his feet. "This is Professor Albus Dumbledore. He's the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

Remus felt his eyes grow huge, his mouth drop open, and his breath catch in his chest. The Headmaster? Of Hogwarts school? THE Hogwarts? The school he'd just been dreaming of attending? That Hogwarts? What could the Headmaster of Hogwarts be doing visiting him?

Remembering his manners with his mother glaring a reminder at him, he closed his mouth and stepped forward, extending his hand. "H-how do you do, sir?" he said, grimacing as his voice cracked in sudden nervousness.

Dumbledore engulfed Remus's small, cold hand in his larger and warmer one and shook it firmly. "I'm very well, thank you, Remus. I'm glad to meet you. Your mother has been telling me some wonderful things about you."

"She has? I mean, that's good to hear, sir." Remus shot a glance at his mother, but she was just standing there smiling brightly. Were those tears in her eyes? He thought so for a moment, but then she moved, and it just seemed like a trick of the light.

"Well, I have some things I need to attend to. Remus, Professor Dumbledore is here to talk to you so I'll leave you two alone for a bit." She smiled reassuringly at her son and turned to Dumbledore, reaching out to shake his hand. "It's been a pleasure to meet you, Professor. Thank you so much for coming to see Remus."

"The pleasure is all mine, Mrs. Lupin. I've been hoping to meet young Remus for a long time. You go along and tend to your chores, we'll be just fine here, don't worry."

With a nod and a final smile, Mrs. Lupin turned and left the room, closing the door softly behind her.

Professor Dumbledore gestured for Remus to join him on the couch as he retook his seat. "Sit down and have some of these truly marvelous pastries, Remus. Your mother is a wonderful cook," he said happily, reaching for yet another strawberry filled delight.

Remus sat down and nodded in agreement, though he didn't take anything to eat. His stomach was far too unsettled to even consider eating at the moment. He didn't think that throwing up on the Headmaster of Hogwarts would do anything to add favorably to whatever nice things his mother had said about him.

"Yes, sir. My mum makes the best pastries around. Everyone says so." Then he fell silent, not sure at all what else to say. What could he say to the Headmaster of the best school in the whole wizarding world? Please, sir, may I come to your school? I'll study very hard and behave myself really well. I won't be any trouble at all, except once or twice a month for a few hours…

Dumbledore smiled kindly at the nervous boy. "Well, Remus. I imagine you're wondering why I've come to see you, eh?"

Remus nodded. "Yes, sir."

Dumbledore reached into a pocket of his robe and took out a large envelope which he handed to Remus. "We sent out this year's set of acceptance letters to Hogwarts today, but I wanted to deliver yours personally," he said.

As Remus took the envelope and looked at his name neatly printed on the front in black ink, he realized that his hands were shaking.

He raised his eyes to the Headmaster in hope and confusion. "I don't understand. My parents told me that I couldn't go to Hogwarts. They said you'd know what I was and that the curse would disqualify me from acceptance to school." He hesitated slightly before adding in a small voice. "You do know that I'm a werewolf, don't you?"

Dumbledore nodded solemnly. "Yes, Remus, I know that you're a werewolf. I also know you're a bright and able young wizard, who should have the advantage of a Hogwarts education, and I believe that we can allow you that privilege and keep the school population safe at the same time."

Remus hardly dared to breathe. Could it be possible? Was there a way he could go to school like everyone else?

Dumbledore removed his glasses and began to polish them thoughtfully as he spoke. "You see, Remus, there's a great book in my keeping at Hogwarts, and whenever a child of magical ability is born to parents who live within the school's area of responsibility, his or her name appears in the book in bold, black ink. If the child should die before the age of eleven, his or her name fades to gray and no acceptance letter is sent out. But, if something else happens to them that would possibly disqualify them from acceptance into the school, the ink that records their name in the book turns a bright red and someone has to look into the circumstances that caused the change.

"It's my job to investigate whenever a name changes from black to red, as yours did several years ago, when you were bitten by Fenrir Greyback."

Remus winced as Dumbledore mentioned Greyback's name. He didn't like to remember either the cruel werewolf or the silver-edged night of terror that changed his life forever.

Dumbledore continued in a calm, understanding voice. "A change from black to red doesn't happen very often. Being inflicted with lycanthropy is one of the few things that will trigger such a change, not because the victim of the curse has become any less able to learn magic and benefit from what he or she would learn at Hogwarts, but because of the danger he or she now represents to the school population.

"When you were bitten, I looked into the circumstances, discovered that you had become a werewolf, and crossed your name off the list as I was expected to do, but I found that you weren't as easy to dismiss from my mind as that. You see, I'd had this same situation arise twice before during my years as Headmaster. In each case, I did as expected and revoked the child's admittance to the school and then watched from a distance as both of those children grew into bitter, disenfranchised adults who died young and alone, alienated from a society that feared them without ever trying to help."

Dumbledore sighed and replaced his glasses, staring seriously at Remus who stared equally seriously back. "Their fate has haunted me over the years, and I felt there should be a better answer. No young life should be so callously tossed aside because of fear and prejudice unless all other possibilities have been explored. When your name turned red, I saw another bright, able youngster, who, through no fault of his own, had been victimized by cruelty. I want things to be different this time."

"How?" whispered Remus. "How can it be different? If you're not supposed to admit me… If I'm still a danger…"

"My dear boy, I believe I've found a way to keep the population of the school safe if you join us. With the help of a couple members of my staff, we have devised a safe haven for you to retreat to before the full moon rises. You'll be escorted to and from this place every month, keeping you beyond reach of anyone at the school or the village nearby. You'll be confined and everyone around you will be safe."

Remus nodded. That didn't sound any different from what he went through now. "I'm always confined at the full moon," he said then he shook his head. "It can't be that simple though. You said you were expected to cross my name off the list when it turned red. If confining a werewolf every month was enough to satisfy everyone then why weren't those other kids allowed to attend the school?"

"In terms of practical reality it should be that simple. If you're kept isolated from others during the full moon, you will not be a danger to anyone, and that should be enough. However, you're right. Prejudice and fear are not that easy to overcome and simply providing a secure place for you to stay at school will not be all that's necessary to do.

"If you come to Hogwarts, Remus, you must not tell anyone that you're a werewolf. Not a single person must know beyond those few who already know your secret. With both of the other children on the rolls, it was generally known that they had become infected with lycanthropy. Too many people knew the truth to possibly allow them secret entry to the school, and secrecy is unfortunately what is necessary.

"Your parents have kept the knowledge of your infection closely guarded. Even when you were bitten, they didn't take you to St. Mungo's, but instead treated you at home. Quite frankly, this is the only thing that has allowed me to approach you now. I'm taking a risk by admitting you to the school. If the Board knew what I was doing, I would likely be severely disciplined, perhaps even replaced as Headmaster, but I firmly believe that what I'm doing is right. I have a duty to you as well as to the rest of the school. If I can keep Hogwarts safe while you attend, then you deserve the chance to obtain a good education."

Dumbledore paused for a moment and Remus was suddenly sure that he stood at yet another turning point in his young life. Just as his world was irrevocably changed on that night when he met Fenrir Greyback under the light of the full moon, this meeting in his front parlor would also send him down a different path than he'd imagined his life would take, but this time, hopefully it would be a change for the better.

"If your parents agree, Remus, will you be willing to abide by my rules as a student at Hogwarts? Will you submit yourself every month to the confinement that I have prepared for you, and will you faithfully promise not to tell anyone the truth about your lycanthropy? No exceptions."

Remus nodded. "I promise," he said in a small, clear voice.

Dumbledore smiled and held out his hand. "Then welcome to Hogwarts, Remus. I'm sure you'll do well."

Remus felt as if his heart would burst from sheer joy as he shook hands with the Headmaster and clutched his acceptance letter to his chest. For the first time since he was bitten, he could look toward the future and see something other than darkness in his life. He was going to Hogwarts! This was a moment he knew he would never forget.

And he never had. After all, how many moments of perfect happiness did someone have in one lifetime? Remus doubted that the number was very high, certainly it wasn't for him. Finding out that he could come to Hogwarts had been the happiest moment in his life. Not even actually arriving at the door to the Great Hall had meant more.

The smile that was stretched across his face faded as his thoughts returned to the present. Being at Hogwarts was an impossible dream come true. Was it time to wake up and return to cold reality? What happened last night? Trepidation crept back on silent feet, as he heard the gargoyle open once more, and he turned around to see Poppy emerge from the hidden staircase.

She nodded to him. "You can go up now, Remus. The Headmaster is expecting you."

His throat was suddenly too dry for speech, so he nodded silently at Poppy, climbed onto the staircase and let it carry him up to the Headmaster's office. Pausing in front of the door itself, he took a deep breath and knocked, receiving an immediate summons from Dumbledore.

Remus opened the door and stepped inside. Dumbledore was seated at his desk. He smiled at Remus and gestured for him to come closer.

"Come in, Remus. Have a seat," said the Headmaster kindly, nodding toward a large comfortable looking chair in front of his desk.

On legs that felt stiff and unnatural, Remus walked across the room and sat down, waiting for Dumbledore to begin.

"How are you feeling this morning?" asked Dumbledore.

"I'm fine," he answered automatically. Then because he couldn't keep his fears inside a moment longer, he added anxiously, "Something happened last night didn't it, sir? At the Shrieking Shack? Something that wasn't supposed to happen. Is… is everyone all right? Did I hurt anyone? Oh, please, tell me I didn't attack someone. Please…" He stared at Dumbledore in mute entreaty.

"No, Remus, you didn't hurt anyone last night," Dumbledore said in a reassuring tone. "Please put your mind at rest on that score."

Remus felt a giddy weakness steal through his body, filling him with intense relief. He hadn't hurt anyone! No matter what else had happened, at least he didn't have that cloud hanging over his life.

"Something did happen, though." Dumbledore watched him seriously. "Something that shouldn't have. Can you tell me what you remember about last night?"

Tension returned with Dumbledore's words, and Remus nodded and pulled himself together, trying to concentrate again now that his greatest fear had been assuaged. "Uh, well… it started just like any full moon. I went to the infirmary, and Poppy took me to the tree. She let me in, and I crawled through the tunnel into the Shrieking Shack. I took off my clothes and waited for the transformation to begin. Just as it did, I thought I heard something, but before I could investigate, I transformed."

He paused for a moment and licked his dry lips before continuing, "Once I become the wolf, I don't really remember anything… usually. But this time, when I woke up, I had this nagging impression that someone had come into the tunnel after me last night. All I really have are these vague images in my mind, nothing clear, just a really uneasy feeling. I knew it had to mean something though when Poppy was so gloomy when she came to get me and said that you wanted to see me before breakfast."

He looked deep into Dumbledore's eyes. "What happened, sir? Did someone get into the tunnel last night?"

Dumbledore sighed. "Yes, Remus, someone did. You never told me that your friends James Potter and Sirius Black knew your secret. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that they found out." His gaze sharpened. "I am correct in assuming that they figured it out themselves? That you didn't, in fact, tell them what you are?"

Remus shook his head. "No, sir. I promised that I wouldn't tell anyone, and I didn't. James, Sirius and Peter figured it out on their own."

"Ah, so Mr. Pettigrew knows as well. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised."

"They've been my friends ever since I came to Hogwarts and, well, they couldn't help noticing that I went somewhere every month and often spent time in the infirmary afterwards. It would have been surprising if they hadn't noticed, really."

"I suppose you're right. They're very bright boys; having such a mystery unfold right beneath their noses every month would be almost irresistible."

Remus nodded his agreement. "I swear I didn't tell them the truth, but once they started wondering… Well, it didn't take long before they figured it out. I'm sorry, sir. I know I should have told you when they found out. I meant to, but I could never find the words. But they haven't told anyone else. They wouldn't! In fact, they've often covered for me so no one else would suspect."

Dumbledore nodded. "I imagine that they have been helpful covering for you now and then, but I'm afraid you're wrong in assuming that they wouldn't tell anyone else your secret."

Remus's already pale face, blanched even more. "They… they told someone? Why? Why would they do that?"

These were his friends, the people he trusted most in the world. The thought that they might have betrayed him and placed his life in jeopardy was almost too shocking for Remus to process.

"Apparently your friends aren't the only ones who've been curious about where you go every month. Another student has also been very persistent in his quest to discover the truth, and last night, for some unfathomable reason, Mr. Black decided that showing this student where you were would be a wonderfully amusing joke."

Remus's heart sank. Suddenly he understood, though he still found it almost impossible to believe that Sirius had actually done it.

"Severus…" Remus whispered, staring into nothing. Then he cleared his throat and looked up at Dumbledore. "It was Severus Snape that Sirius told, wasn't it?"

Dumbledore nodded and raised an eyebrow. "Yes, it was. May I ask how you were able to discern that so easily?"

Remus sighed. "James and Sirius are always after Snape about something. Usually he gives back as good as he gets, despite being one to their two, which just seems to enflame them more. I know that he's been curious about where I go every month. He's even come right out and asked me, though it didn't do him any good. I certainly wasn't going to tell him. Anyway, one night a few months ago, James, Peter and I were sitting in the common room waiting for Sirius to come back from the library.

"When he came in, apparently he'd had a run in with Snape, and he was furious. It happened to be the night before a full moon, and Sirius said that what he should do to get even is take Snape down to the Whomping Willow and introduce him to me in wolf form. But he swore he wasn't serious! I never thought he'd actually do it!" Remus exclaimed in agitation. "He knew how much even the idea upset me. How dangerous doing something like that would be. Why would he do it? Why?"

Dumbledore smiled sympathetically and shook his head. "Why do any of us do something that we know in our hearts is monumentally stupid? He stopped thinking and let his anger rule his actions. He never gave a thought to what would happen after Mr. Snape was faced with the wolf in the tunnel. Once he did, he regretted his actions, of course, and fortunately for all of us, he told Mr. Potter what he'd done before any harm could befall Mr. Snape."

"James?"

"Yes, he went in after Mr. Snape and dragged him out before he got more than a glimpse of the wolf at the end of the tunnel."

"But now Severus knows the truth."

"Yes."

"He'll tell…"

"No. I have already spoken with all three boys. Mr. Black will be doing nightly detentions for the rest of the school year, and all three of them have been forbidden to say anything about what happened on penalty of expulsion."

Remus frowned and shook his head. "That's really not fair to Severus."

"No, it isn't, but the alternative is to tell everyone the truth. That we have all broken the rules. Then you would be the one expelled. Is that what you want, Remus? If it is, I will do so and accept the consequences."

Remus bowed his head and stared blindly at his tightly clenched hands. He knew he should say yes. Better that he should be punished instead of Severus, who was no doubt terrified, and who didn't do anything wrong. But if he did, he wouldn't be the only one hurt. What would happen to Dumbledore and Poppy? They'd taken a huge risk in letting him come here and in protecting his secret. Wasn't it likely that they, too, would have to leave Hogwarts if his lycanthropy became known to everyone?

Suddenly he felt his guts twist with anger. Severus wasn't the only one who hadn't done anything wrong; he hadn't done anything wrong either. He couldn't help what he was, had never asked to be cursed! The one who should be punished was Sirius! How could he have betrayed him like that? And for what? Just to scare Snape? For petty revenge?

Remus blinked back tears as the surge of anger left as quickly as it came. No, that wasn't true. He had done something wrong. He hadn't told Dumbledore when his friends discovered his secret as he should have, and even more importantly, he'd put his trust in others, believing that they would be as true to him as he would be to them.

But could he stand everyone knowing what he was? Could he go back to the empty, lonely existence he'd led before Dumbledore showed up at his door and offered him a chance at a real life? Now that he knew what that was like, could he go back to being hidden away, an object of fear and shame? His parents would be devastated to have everyone know their son was a werewolf. Feeling like a miserable coward, he raised his head and stared across the desk at the Headmaster.

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Remus stepped into the dining hall and looked around. Breakfast was almost over, neither James nor Sirius was at the Gryffindor table, for which he was thankful. He didn't know what on earth he would say to Sirius when he saw him again, but he was glad to put off the meeting for awhile longer. The way he felt at the moment, quite frankly, he didn't care if he ever saw Sirius again.

As he began to walk toward his usual place, he glanced across the room at the Slytherin table and, with a shock, saw Severus Snape gazing back. The dark haired boy's face appeared even paler than usual and his expression was one of such utter loathing that it almost conveyed the pain of a physical blow. But the deep recesses of Snape's eyes held not hatred, but fear, and that was what shook Remus to his core.

As Snape got up from the table, turned his back and left the room, Remus knew that he'd turned a corner that he could never return from. He'd better get ready because for the rest of his life, every time someone else discovered what he truly was, this was the reaction he would get… one of hatred and fear. The golden time of friendship and belonging, of imagining that the future could hold wonderful possibilities even for the likes of him, was over forever. Reality had set in with a vengeance and nothing would ever be the same again.