July 24, 1971
The warm summer breeze blew lazily through the forest and out into rolling hills covered with long grass. There was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the only living things in sight were a few dopey brown cows, grazing a good distance away. Of course, if a wizard happened to look closer, he might see a small house tucked right against the trees, draped with vines and filled with the whistling of a slightly plump brunette as she strode through her garden and plucked honking daffodils from a bush--but no one ever did.
In this house--which was really more of a cottage, actually--a young boy sat in the window of an upstairs room with a book in hand. He had light brown hair and eyes of the same color, and a distinct sort of maturity that boys of eleven rarely possessed. His name was Remus Lupin.
Remus looked quite thoughtful as he skimmed through the book, trying to pick out the bird he had found in the trees that morning. It couldn't be an augury… a little too big. But he couldn't find anything else that fit the general description. With a slight frown, he tossed the book aside and started looking around his room, trying to find his book on Muggle birds.
Although Mrs. Lupin despaired of her son's sloppiness, Remus liked his room just the way it is. He knew where everything was; he could never lose his key, for instance, because his key had been resting on top of a framed picture of his grandparents for months, and every morning he woke up and thought about moving it. After a few minutes of scurrying, he located the book in question and sat back on the bed, flipping through the pages.
It was then that something out the window caught Remus' eye--a visitor. Puzzled, he immediately dropped the book and leaned closer. They were miles away from the nearest town, and the only visitors they ever got were family members. This was definitely no relative.
The stranger was wearing full robes even though it was summer, though they were a light, pale blue color that nearly matched the sky. He had a long white beard that gave the impression of a puffy cloud against his robes. For a split second, the stranger looked up and smiled at Remus, then Mum opened the door. She greeted him with a surprised voice.
"Professor! I didn't expect-- oh, but it's good to see you!"
"I must apologize for dropping by unexpectedly, Annie, but it appears the owl I sent ahead was waylaid in Kent. Something to do with a recent death omen and town wide panic--I didn't quite get the details. I see your garden is getting along charmingly."
Remus thought this was a bit of a stretch, considering half of the plants in Mum's garden were deadly, but the woman beamed and whisked the professor inside, happily detailing the growth of her new puffapods. Remus paused for a minute or two, just to see if she or Dad would call him down. When they didn't, he snuck downstairs anyway. It wasn't eavesdropping in your own house.
Besides, he reasoned, if I wasn't supposed to hear it, they wouldn't be in the drawing room, would they? They'd be in the garden, or… town, or something. Clearly, the adults had no qualms about the secrecy of their meeting. The professor had settled down in a plush purple armchair, while Dad sat on the couch and they chatted politely about Dad's job. As Remus watched, Mum came in with tea and joined Dad on the couch. Dad waved his wand briskly and the tea started pouring itself, humming pleasantly.
Remus was going to hang back and watch, but the professor saw him immediately. He had a very wise sort of smile, and blue eyes that twinkled from behind his glasses. It was the sort of face that was easy to trust, Remus thought, even though he didn't even know him.
"Ah, Remus. Join us," the professor invited. Clearly, he knew everyone.
For a second, Dad seemed to freeze, and Remus hesitated on the staircase. Then Mum smiled and conjured another tea cup.
"Well, come on."
All three adults watched him as he approached nervously, perching on a wicker chair that didn't match the rest of the décor. Nothing in the house matched.
"Remus, my name is Professor Dumbledore," the visitor introduced himself.
"It's nice to meet you, Professor," Remus rattled off automatically. Mum seemed excited; she rarely had someone new to show him off to.
"Thank you. I am Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." Immediately, Remus' heart sank. So that was what this was about. Mum and Dad had sat him down at the kitchen table a few weeks ago and told him about Hogwarts. He was under the impression that they were going to pretend it didn't really exist, so as to spare him the regret. Apparently, the school itself had other ideas. "You are aware that you've been accepted, correct?"
"Professor McGonagall--the Deputy Headmistress--informs me that you would prefer to be home schooled."
Not really, whispered a small voice. Remus loved his parents, but… it was a bit pathetic when your mum was your mother, teacher, and best friend. Still, he willed himself not to glance at the sofa as he said calmly, "That's right."
"Ah." Dumbledore's smile faded so easily that it took Remus a moment to notice that it wasn't there. The twinkle in his eye became less cheery. "May I ask why?"
"Oh, no-- no big reason, really," Remus said, trying to sound nonchalant. "I just don't really… want to go."
"Hm. You see, I find it odd. Very few students in Britain choose not to attend Hogwarts, and the majority of those who make the decision have parents who were once teachers, or older siblings who can give them the proper instruction. Forgive me, Annie," he added, turning to Mum abruptly. "But having heard you refer to yourself as a drunk gnome poking around with a pointy stick when it comes to wand magic, I have my doubts."
"Well, yes," she admitted. "But I can teach him Herbology and Potions, and John can take the rest."
"Hm." Dumbledore didn't seem satisfied with this answer, but he dropped the subject and turned to Remus again. "I noticed that you're fairly isolated out here, Remus."
"I don't mind," he said hastily. "There's a lot to do in the woods and stuff. I think I saw an augury this morning, and the other day Mum was showing me how to prune the puffapods, so we keep busy."
"Ah! Excellent, excellent." Dumbledore looked positively delighted for him, but Dad interrupted.
"I don't mean to be rude, Dumbledore, but why exactly--?"
"One cannot expect courtesy when one arrived so rudely." The professor waved it away. "Quite frankly, John I was very much looking forward to your son attending Hogwarts, and I am still puzzled as to why it is not so. Perhaps I may speak to Remus alone, for a moment?"
Mum and Dad exchanged glances and reluctantly exited into the kitchen. Mum made a big show about moving stuff around, banging pots and pans, but Remus was sure they were listening. The professor seemed unconcerned either way. He reached into his robes and pulled out two things: his wand, and a folded piece of parchment. He balanced the parchment on his knee and unfolded it carefully. Remus leaned forward unconsciously and saw a detailed sketch of a large building. Dumbledore tapped it with his wand smartly.
"This is Hogwarts."
Remus gasped. The building suddenly sprang up from the parchment and became a castle--a miniature, lifelike castle with little people scurrying around. Even the people in the tiny paintings moved.
"Now, would you perhaps like to explore for a day?"
"I don't--" Remus wasn't quite sure what he meant, but the professor waved his wand and one of the little people walked out onto the professors knee. The person walked onto Dumbledore's hand, and he held it out to Remus for inspection. Remus held out his hand and it marched right on. As he held it up, he realized that it was a small, living model of himself. Laughing, he watched as it waved up at him.
"Now then." Dumbledore flicked his wand again and mini-Remus floated down to the Great Hall. "Breakfast is served in the Great Hall every morning, after which students have two classes."
Mini-Remus ate quickly, laughing with a small group of indistinct friends, and set off through the castle--first to the dungeons, where it brewed a "potion" comprised of pink smoke, and walked out to greenhouses on the grounds, presumably for Herbology. After that, he returned to the Great Hall for lunch. There were three other classes that all looked pretty much alike; the little students cast a few spells, which the professor said were the Transfiguration, Charms, and Defense Against the Dark Arts classes.
"There is also an inter-house Quidditch Cup at Hogwarts, available to second years."
Remus had a feeling that Dumbledore didn't mean to linger long on the Quidditch aspect, but the fake game fascinated Remus. He had to keep himself from cheering along with the small audience. Even though it was only a spell, it was the closest he had ever gotten to a match. In any case, Dumbledore let them play for twenty minutes before the Snitch was caught.
After the match, mini-Remus entered the Entrance Hall, yawned, and promptly split into four people.
"Oh, I would never presume to guess what house a student would be in. That's a job for the Sorting Hat."
Each model went towards a different part of the castle, to the common rooms.
"What's the Sorting Hat, sir?"
"A very useful bonnet, indeed." And he refused to say any more on the subject.
Then, Dumbledore's wand twitched towards the edge of the parchment. A shadow was cast on the castle, except for a patch of the east tower, which was bathed in moonlight. A small tree grew on the grounds, a tree that threw its branches around like fists. Remus recognized it from his mother's description of a Whomping Willow--she had tried to plant one when he was younger, but Dad had put his foot down.
Mini-Remus suddenly appeared in the Entrance Hall, and was escorted out of the castle by a small witch, who let him up to the tree. He picked up a long stick and poked at the tree trunk, which froze the whipping branches. Remus watched, confused, as his counterpart crawled under the tree and disappeared. It re-appeared inside another miniature building, this one a small, creepy looking house on the very edge of the map. It curled up on the floor and shuddered violently. Remus gasped--the little spell person was transforming into a werewolf. Dumbledore knew.
"How--?" he started to ask.
"Wait," the professor said, holding up a hand. "Watch."
The werewolf tried to exit the house, howling and clawing at the walls, but the door refused to budge. After awhile, it gave up and sat on the floor, snarling and biting itself until the shadow lifted and it transformed back. Remus winced, his hand automatically reaching towards the scar of a werewolf bite on his shoulder. It was an old one, but he wasn't sure if it was self-inflicted or the first bite; his body was riddled with the same scars. It looked just as painful in spell form.
Tiredly, the mini-Remus stood and went into the kitchen of the house, looking through the cabinets. It found food and some jars of creamy-looking potion, which it started applying to various wounds. After an hour or so of rest, it disappeared again and crawled out from the trunk of the tree. It headed off back to the castle, little worse for the wear. With a wave of Dumbledore's wand, Hogwarts shrank back into a piece of parchment, folded neatly on his lap.
The professor looked up at Remus with serious blue eyes, and spoke as if he were an adult. "Remus, I believe that nothing should keep a young witch or wizard from receiving an education. If certain steps are taken to ensure safety, I see no reason why you shouldn't attend Hogwarts. Of course, it is you decision. If you still wish to be home-schooled, then I will apologize for wasting your time and depart."
Remus hesitated. Hogwarts was not possible, had never been possible. It was dangerous. One slip up was all it took, and he would ruin another kid's life. This one man couldn't eliminate the risk… could he? To buy himself time, he asked, "How did you find out?"
"Ah." Dumbledore looked faintly disgusted. "That was a very bad morning. You see, I was a teacher at Hogwarts when your father attended, and I must say I was rather pleased with him, he was an excellent student. Of course, Fenrir couldn't resist boasting a little, when we next met."
"Fenrir Greyback." When Remus still showed no sign of understanding, Dumbledore peered at him seriously over his glasses. "You never knew the name of the werewolf who bit you?"
A sort of queasy feeling settled in Remus' stomach. There was something off about Dumbledore's tone. Remus well understood the desire to bite when the full moon came; he had never cursed his unknown attacker, because it simply wasn't his fault. Sometimes, instinct overcame reason, but the professor clearly didn't think so. Silently, Remus shook his head.
Sighing, Dumbledore sat back a little.
"A most unpleasant man," he muttered. "Not quite human, even on days when the moon is new. For instance, he takes pleasure in the transformation. Yes," he added when he saw the horrified look on Remus' face. "Yes, Greyback would become a werewolf every night if he could. He likes to bite, you see, especially children. Greyback believes that, if enough werewolf children are raised to despise their "normal" families, then wizards will be overthrown and werewolves will rule instead. Quite the madman, and an effective tool for Lord Voldemort."
Remus was surprised at Dumbledore's boldness. He had rarely heard the name spoken; Dad said it was bad luck, and Mum refused to even think about the man, insisting he was little more than a rumor. Some people said he was just a madman, but they were more cautious. Despite her bravado at home Mum was nervous walking in Diagon Alley alone; she had been accosted by a Death Eater once, and Dad had nearly dueled him in the street to get him to lay off. Remus had a nasty feeling about this particular madman.
And Greyback. Fenrir Greyback. What sort of sick, twisted person would enjoy feeling every bone in their body burn, twist and contort, feeling as if they would pass out from the pain, feeling their thoughts dimmed and faded until all that was left was a dark, sickening instinct to bite-- to kill--? His stomach lurched at the very memory of it, and Dumbledore leaned forward again, speaking softly.
"It would be--very natural, for someone in your position to feel worried, even guilty, Remus," he said. "And I applaud for thinking of others. But consider this; too much time alone, thinking of yourself as flawed--cursed--can lead to bitterness. There is nothing wrong with you, Remus, nothing that should prevent you from leading whatever life you should wish. Forgive me, but I do not think that bitterness would suit you, and I am a very good judge of character. Whatever you choose, I implore you to think of yourself--don't let your decision be swayed by your lycanthropy, you parents' wishes, or even my own influence. It is entirely your choice."
Remus swallowed, staring at the pea-colored carpet. The risks would still be great. But--alone in an empty house he couldn't leave, surely that would be safer than spending the night in the basement, with his parents only a locked door away? Surely-- surely he wasn't a monster?
"I want to do it," he said brazenly, staring up into the professor's twinkling eyes. "I want to go to Hogwarts."
The professor smiled.
So, this is my first attempt at Marauder-era stuff. I've been trying to write a multichaptered fic for almost a year now, and, having decided I am too chapter-impaired to post, I'm going to suddenly write a lot of Remus oneshots...