A dark room. Old, beaten furniture scattered about, a few books piled neatly on the floor beneath a broken bookshelf. In the corner sits a scratched wooden bed, with a few thin sheets draped over a cardboard-thin mattress, and a small boy atop his pillow, pushing his bare skin against the icy walls of the room as he gently rocks himself, hugging his knees tightly to his chest and wishing that he could fall asleep. He daren't. He daren't even close his eyes for a second.

Moonlight streams in through the yellowing net curtains, although the moon is not full, not yet. Right now it is hidden behind the think blanket of clouds which covers the sky, but the clouds are parting ways, and soon it will be out in the open, soon it will be fully illuminated. Soon the pain will come.

Something shifts in the air; the clouds are moving faster, drifting further and further apart and gradually beginning to reveal the great shining orb that hangs in the sky. The boy's eyes open wider in fear of what is to come, slowly filling with tears.

"No," he cries. "No, please, it's not time yet! Please, I'm not ready!"

Of course the moon doesn't respond. It continues to emerge, seeming to grow larger and larger, pulling the poor boy in for a night of torturous pain.

"Daddy!" He's screaming now, tears sting his eyes as he searches desperately for a way to escape the fear of the pain he knows is coming. "Mummy, help me! Please!" The strain is heavy on his weak throat, making every rasping breath he takes burn him and the cold air freeze his chest. "DADDY!"

He can't scream anymore. It's too painful to even try.

On the floor beside the bed, shapes are beginning to solidify over the floorboards, shadows in the light of the moon. The shapes are innocent, but to the boy they appear to be monsters, because that is what they are to him. They are the product of the moon, therefore they are bad. Like him. He is a naughty boy. He can't remember what he did, but he knows that he is being punished; he's always being punished. Nobody ever hits him, or shouts at him, and he never complains or throws tantrums. He always eats all of his dinner and clears up after himself. He takes a bath without complaint and says 'please' and 'thank you'. He always does as he's told and he says his prayers before he goes to bed. His mother tucks him in at night and tells him that she loves him, and that she and his father love him very much, and that he is a very good boy.

But he isn't. He can't be.

They don't love him. They can't do.

If they loved him, they'd help him.

With silent tears streaming down his face, he moves reluctantly to sit on the cold floorboards. Fear chills his stomach, keeping him sat rigidly still, waiting. Waiting for what he knows is fast approaching him now; he can feel it.

This is it. A final pull of the lunar cycle and it will start. He can already feel his muscles burning and ripping apart, and his bones restructuring. His heart pounds in his chest, then with one huge surge it expands, growing stronger and pulsing faster and faster. The pain is unimaginable. It feels as if his chest is on fire, or his entire ribcage is missing and something is feasting on his insides. But oh no, his ribs are there. He can feel them: they're being ripped to shreds, too. He can feel every inch of his body being taken over, and he knows that soon his mind will slip. Through the pain, he barely notices when he starts screaming again. He can't control it; his body is telling him how much this is hurting him and he needs medical attention. He won't get any, but subconsciously he's still trying. A sharp pain cracks across his face. It isn't regular to this process, and takes him by surprise, somewhat. He makes his best effort to turn his head to see who or what slapped him, but he's trapped in this painful state of mind that has almost paralyzed him. He's not himself anymore, he can barely remember his own name, and he doesn't care anyway. All thoughts of finding out whom or what slapped him are lost; they won't be alive for much longer anyway.

His screaming is growing louder, then as the final bodily changes are forced upon him, his screams morph into a howl.

There's that slap again. It's starting to sting his cheek, although he can hardly tell past the rest of the torment his body is enduring.

"Remus!"

A voice. Somewhere off to his right. Left? Right? Right, almost definitely.

"Remus, wake up!"

Who is that? It's familiar. He wants to shout at the person to run away before he completely loses his mind and rips her to shreds, but it's almost too late.

"Remus John Lupin, open your eyes this instant!"

Remus' eyes fly open. He's not in the cold, empty room. He's not lost his body or his power over his mind to the beast, and he's not a small boy. He's a man. He's Remus Lupin. He's in Grimmauld Place, in his bedroom in a double bed, next to Nymphadora Tonks, his dear and devoted girlfriend whom he loves intensely.

Slowly he sits up, looking into the worried green eyes of the petite woman next to him. His own eyes are still wide with fear, images of his nightmare still present and replaying through his mind. The difference in his surroundings comes as a shock to his system, and it is only when Nymphadora takes hold of his hand that he realises that his entire body is shaking.

"Are you alright?" she asks tentatively, rubbing gentle circles into his hand with her thumb. He nods in response, a barefaced lie that she sees straight through. She leans back against the wooden headboard and pulls him to her, holding him like a mother comforting a child. "Was it the same one again?"

"It always is." His voice is low and shaky, betraying him to show the true fear he still feels.

"They'll pass," she murmurs, "they'll stop soon. Nightmares don't last forever."

He takes some comfort in her words, not wanting to point out that he has been having this same nightmare on regular basis for the past twenty-five years. He will never escape this, for as long as he is a werewolf, he knows that this nightmare will plague him. The nightmare isn't just a nightmare. It's his life.


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