Pain, pain, pain. I scream, I flex, I snarl, I howl. Pain ends. But Moon burns. Moon always burns. Scents- rabbits, owls, prey of the dark. Me- hunter of the dark. But one scent missing. Human. No human scent. Moon burns. Moon only predator. Must escape moon. Must find pack. No pack. Hungry. Need food. Moon burns. I howl.

I run, towards trees, towards rabbit scent. Follow rabbit scent. Find hole- thrust snout in hole, growl, snarl. Smell fear. Rabbit flees, out escape hole. I follow. Chase, chase, chase. Catch. Grab rabbit- teeth around throat, shake, tear, rip. Rabbit stops wriggling. Eat rabbit. But no human. No human. Where human? Tear self, try to find human scent, no human scent, bite self, tear self, rip self. I howl

I hunt. Hunt, flee eye of moon, then hide from eye of sun. Hunt, for many darks. Then moon becomes smaller- pain, pain, pain. I howl, I snarl, I flex, I scream. The pain ends, and I am myself once more. But the pain never ends, and I doubt I'll ever be myself again. My wounds will heal, become scars, and be replaced by new ones after the next full moon. I know the cycle all too well.

I push my drab hair out of my eyes as I bend closer to the pages of the book. I'm seated cross-legged on my unmade bed, in my dark, messy room. I once named it my Den, in a fit of irony. Nobody calls it that, of course, but I know my parents think it when they refer to my room. The window is curtained and lets in little light, but I don't need it. My eyes are accustomed to seeing in the dark. I could light my wand, if I wanted to, but I don't really need it.

Books are my escape: I can lose myself in their fictional worlds, be a hero, an unflawed character, carry out amazing acts, and 'save the day'. My 'inside worlds' sit higgledy-piggledy on the shelves ringing my room, and I need no 'outside world'. And the outside world doesn't need me.

I can hear laughs from the boys outside, on the street. They look to be my age, children on the verge of being teenagers, but I've never made contact with them. I doubt they even know that I live here. I haven't had a friend for years and years, ever since… it happened, and we moved here. In that time, I've hardly been out of my Den, much less my house, and it's better this way. Better for everyone.

Then again, I don't know if I'm really a child any more. Not a proper child, in any case. My Aunt once called me an old man in a child's body- but I am neither. I'm not even properly human, not any more.

There is a knock at the door.

"Remus? Darling, may I come in?"

In her voice I hear the usual tone of uncertainty, uncertainty a son should never have to hear in his mother's voice, but there is also an unfamiliar tremor there: could it be excitement?

"Yes Mother, come in. I'm only reading."

She enters, and stands in the middle of the room, hands nervously patting her apron. Her eyes dart around my room, taking in the mess of clothes, books, and parchment. Normally, she'd ask timidly if I would please try and clean up a little, but today she licks her lips and quavers,

"An owl came today, Remus. An owl, from Albus Dumbledore. I don't know if you've heard, he's taken over Hogwarts, he's Headmaster now."

I nod. I hadn't heard that he was Headmaster, but I had heard of Dumbledore. Everyone has heard of Dumbledore. I wonder what he will have to say? Somewhere inside of me a flicker of hope flares, but I quell it instantly. He's probably just writing to express his support of Dippet's decision. Nothing new. No change.

"Really?" My voice is carefully expressionless, dull and uninviting as usual. "I would have thought he'd be Minister for Magic by now. What did he have to say?"

"Oh, well, he says- Oh, Remus- he says that, given the right precautions, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to attend school this year! You can go to Hogwarts!"

Hogwarts? Me? Attend Hogwarts? Me, go to school? No, no, there was a misunderstanding, that couldn't be right, they wouldn't want someone like me, surely? But now Mother has taken a slightly crumpled letter from her apron pocket, and is holding it out to me. I take it eagerly, and see the Hogwarts coat of arms at the top, before phrases written in a spidery, slanting hand leap out at me: Suitable lodging whilst transformations occur…. Experts in related fields…. No different from other young wizards…. We would be delighted to offer Remus Lupin a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Something is welling up inside of me: not a bubble, not a balloon, there is an explosion expanding from my stomach up through my chest, and it rushes up my throat, erupting onto my face as a grin that is sure to tear my cheeks in half. It is the first time I have smiled in years, and it feels amazing. Before I know it I am leaping up, fiercely hugging my mother, and then I'm flying down the stairs and out the door. The Muggle boys on the street look up from their game of football, and I hardly have time to see the look of surprise and curiosity on their face before I'm past them, still running. It is overcast, yet I am unused to natural light and it almost blinds me, but I don't slow down. I can't remember running like this, ever, not on my two legs, and I don't think I'll ever stop. I'm going to Hogwarts! I'm going to school!

I've sprinted a good five blocks before I double over, panting for breath. I realise that I have been laughing ever since I left my Den, and start chuckling anew at what the boys must have thought of me. They'll probably be inventing stories about the crackpot boy who is locked inside all the time, to keep him from harming people. I sober slightly, realising that this is close to the truth, but no thought can rid me of my euphoria.

Hogwarts!

Jogging the rest of the way to a small park, I find a secluded spot between two flowering bushes, and sit down to read over the letter again. By the time I've studied the signature, Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to the point that I will never forget it, my excitement is fading. My grin slowly disappears as I think about what this will mean. Is it really possible? Can someone like me really live with other, normal, people? Can I honestly board in a castle, sleep every night in a dormitory with almost half a dozen boys without… things going wrong? Will I be able to disappear once every month without anybody realising what I'm really doing?

What if I make friends, then they figure out what I am, and they hate me for it? Or, more seriously, what if I get out of hand? What if I bite someone? What if I condemn another innocent person to being… what I am?

I learned to face it years ago: people like me - werewolves - are not fit to live with ordinary humans. We are not people, we are beasts. Dangerous, untrustworthy animals that should be locked away and kept from Muggles, witches and wizards alike, people who are pure and innocent and unbitten. This is why, every month, I take a Portkey to a deserted cottage in a deserted forest, miles away from humans, until I am safe. This is why I bear the scars, physical and mental, that prove what I am. This is why I shut myself away in my room for the rest of the month, barely making contact with my own parents except for food and lessons in magic. This is why me going to Hogwarts would never, ever work. This is why everyone, everyone, hates people like me.

But Albus Dumbledore doesn't hate me, says a voice in my head, the one that is all that left of who I was before. Albus Dumbledore thinks that I am no different from any other young wizard… he thinks I deserve the opportunity, the right, to be taught magic at a school, that I am safe with girls and boys, witches and wizards, my age. He thinks that I am a person.

As I think, the clouds break for a moment and a ray of sunlight streams down, bathing me in its warmth. I turn my face upward, drinking it in. Even when the sun is hidden again, I remain staring up at the sky- I had thought until now that I had had enough of that distant domain to last me a lifetime, but I had reckoned without the power of the sun. The sun will never be ruled by the moon, I realise suddenly.

I stand up, decision made. If Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of the modern age, trusts me, then I should trust myself. I will go to Hogwarts, and make friends, and learn more about magic. It will not be easy, but I'm used to that. I thrust my fears, misgivings, and self-doubts aside; I am ready to begin again, to start a new life - not as a werewolf, but as a young boy, a wizard. I am ready for this new adventure.

A/N: Again, thanks to Anna for doing a lovely betaing job on this fic! And thankyou also to the admirable mods that thought up this challenge, I had a lot of fun writing for it!

And, in editing this fic, my beta and I discovered some contrasting evidence in the books; drawing conclusions from HBP Dumbledore became headmaster decades before this fic was set, and this is the timelining that the Lexicon uses; yet, the Lexicon acknowledges that this contrasts with information from PoA. In chapter 18, Remus explains that he was allowed to come to Hogwarts when Albus became Headmaster. I have written this story according to the latter piece of information, so my story is not AU. It's simply based on a continuity error by JKR.