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Camp Casanova

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Summer of 1971

"We're here."

Remus tore his eyes from the window to look at his mother that sat in the front seat next to his father that drove. The car pulled down to a stop and Remus felt his stomach churn from nervousness.

He didn't want to leave the car.

"Are you coming sweetheart?" His mother smiled at him before she opened the door to the car and stepped outside. Remus heard his father get out as well, walking over to the tailgate to pull out the duffle bag with Remus' belongings.

"Coming..." Remus mumbled, gulping down the growing lump in his throat.

When he opened his door and stepped out on the pebble on the parking lot he glanced upwards and felt himself gasp.

In front of him was a great, old, stony building with the text "Slughorn's Summer Camp for Boys" on it. Looking under it Remus could see a mass of men, women and boys passing in and out the entrance doors. Remus gulped when his eyes trailed the many boys that he would spend the next four weeks with.

Car after car pulled up on the parking lot, making his parents hurry with their goodbyes. Remus found himself getting enveloped in a tight hug by his mother as his father dumped his bag on the ground next to him. Remus felt his heart make an uncomfortable clench when he answered the hug.

He didn't want to be left alone.

"Be a good boy for us now, Remus." His father grunted before he gave Remus a light hug and pat on his back. Remus nodded, not trusting his voice to speak, afraid to start crying at the spot.

"Bye Remus. We'll miss you." His mother smiled at him as she reached out her hand to swipe over his cheek.

"Love you." She said as she ruffled Remus' hair before she turned around to walk back to the car with his father. Remus looked over his shoulder and watched them get in the car and leave. He waved his hand at them but didn't know if they saw it. They were probably happy to get rid of him since they finally could leave for their trip overseas.

Sighing, he crouched down and grabbed his bag by the handles, groaning when he felt how heavy it was.

He dragged the bag to the entrance where he walked inside with the crowd of parents and children. Looking around he saw many boys that looked older than him, but some seemed to be about his age.

Glancing to his left he saw a sign that told him that the camp was for boys of ages eleven thru fifteen. That explained why so many boys seemed older than him. He was only eleven.

He found a line to the check-in, placed himself by the end of it and waited. When it was his turn at the desk he found himself looking up at a chuckling, fat, middle-aged man with a broad mustache. Looking down at his nameplate he read the name Horace Slughorn.

"Hello, lad! How can I help you?" He asked with an encouraging nod.

"I'm supposed to stay here for the summer." Remus told him, feeling insecure under the gaze. "In the camp." Remus added.

"Oh! Well, I happen to be the director of the camp." He clapped his belly. "Tell me, my boy, what's your name?"

"Remus Lupin, sir." Remus said, voice almost as low as a whisper.

"Oh, let me see..." Slughorn reached for a folder on his desk and then swiped his index finger over the pages until he found something that he pointed at. He reached for a pen and scribbled something down before he turned his attention back to Remus.

"Alright, now you're checked in." He smiled. "Please follow the yellow signs along the corridor here outside and then head for cabin number 7. That's where you'll stay this summer. More information will be handed out later, but today you're only supposed to make yourself at home in your cabin and you’re your roommates." He motioned for the corridor on Remus' left, but before Remus started walking he realized something that made his stomach clench in worry further.

"Excuse me sir, but did you say roommates?" He piped.

"Well, of course?" Slughorn looked confused. "There are four beds in each cabin, which means that you will share it with three other boys. But don't worry. They're all your age." He smiled before he shifted on the place and told the family behind Remus that he could help them.

Remus slowly lifted up his bag from the floor and walked out of the way, stepping in to the corridor that led to the outdoors. He sighed sadly when he spotted the first yellow sign that pointed forward. He didn't want to be there. He wanted to be home, to read another book or bask in the silence of their house. He didn't like to be this exposed in a new environment.

He didn't look forward to sharing over four weeks with three strangers that were surely to turn out to bully, mock, or tease him for fun. Just like the boys in the village at home. Remus felt his stomach clench again. He wanted to go home to his room.

With nothing else to do he dragged his bag to the end of the corridor and pushed open the doors that led outside. When he'd walked outside he found himself gasping at the scene.

Behind him was the old, big stone building that seemed to function as a service center and perhaps a dining hall. But in front of him was a vast lawn that seemed to go on forever. It met with a big forest on the right, and to the left was a huge lake. Remus smiled when he saw a swing in one of the trees by the lake. He also saw a hammock close by. Perhaps his stay here wouldn't be so bad after all.

Looking forward again Remus saw boys walking to or running around the cabins. Remus could spot ten, dark brown cabins up front, each with its own small stair leading to the door and a number next to it. Remus spotted cabin number 7 and felt his chest constrict with nerves when he saw the door drift close.

There was already someone inside.

Remus crossed his fingers and looked up at the sky. He sent off a silent prayer that whoever was in the cabin wouldn't be mean to him as soon as he stepped his foot inside. For this once he wanted to be left alone.

When Remus heard the door behind him by the main building open he started walking toward the cabin again. He saw two older looking boys run past him, laughing all the way to cabin 1. Remus thought they must be regulars and perhaps fifteen years old.

When Remus was about halfway to the cabin he saw another boy walk past him, though this one looked to be about his age. The boy mumbled something angrily under his breath as he stomped his way to the cabins. He dragged on a nice looking trunk with the initials S.O.B, and he wore beautifully tailored clothes in dark green and silver. Remus felt his uneasiness return when he glanced down at his own clothes. They were old, torn and homemade. And there were several patches around his knees where mother had fixed them.

Remus heard the other boy grunt something and then Remus looked up to watch the boy send a stone flying with a kick. Glancing up at the boy's head Remus saw that the boy had black hair that was a bit too long for boys Remus' age. But he didn't complain; it was Remus' mother's opinion. Remus didn't care if the other kids made their hair long. The only thing he cared about was if they were going to be mean to him or not.

A set of red haired twins ran past Remus as he trailed the dark haired boy on his way to the cabins. Remus saw the twins run into cabin 8, and then watched as a dark haired boy with a crooked nose walked into the cabin as well. Remus scrunched up his nose in disgust when he saw the greasy hair of the other boy. It didn't look hygienic, and suddenly he was glad that he didn't have to share a cabin with him.

When Remus turned his eyes back to the ground in front of him he searched for the dark haired boy. He spotted him walking up the stairs to one of the cabins, but felt his heart jump when he saw which one.

He walked into number 7.

Remus gulped and wiped his sweaty forehead on his sleeve. Okay, so now the cabin was already occupied by at least two out of his three roommates. He didn't want to go inside. He didn't want to be here. They were going to bully him just like everyone else. He knew they would.

He desperately fought back the tears when he reached the first steps of the small stair that led up to the front door. He closed his eyes and breathed in deep. He would have to do this. Right now his parents were on their way to France and they wouldn't turn back only to retrieve him. He had to stay here, even if he desperately didn't want to.

He opened his eyes when he heard a loud laughter come from inside. He thought he heard something land on the floor and then bickering from inside. He didn't want to walk in but when he saw other boys stop to stare or point at him from the other cabins he gathered his courage and placed his hand on the handle and opened the door.

As the door slowly swung open he saw the fancy looking boy rise up from the floor to pat another boy on the back. Remus discreetly walked inside as he took in the new boy's appearance. He had messy black hair and wore rectangular glasses. Just like the other boy he wore expensive looking clothes, but they looked more comfortable and not as still and formal as the other boy's.

Remus turned his head to the side and saw a third boy sitting on the lower bunk of a double bed. He was chubby, had sand colored hair and round cheeks. He was munching on some candy from a bag he held onto with a secure grip as he watched the exchange between the other two boys in the room.

Remus looked above the sand haired boy's head and felt his stomach constrict painfully when he noticed that there only were two double beds in the room. He would have to share it with someone else. And he would probably end up with the top bunk, even though he is afraid of heights.

Remus gulped when he darted his eyes from the left double bed to take in the rest of the room. He saw that the beds were at each side of the small cabin. Next to the beds were four wardrobes, one for each camper Remus supposed. There was only one window, at the far front behind the sofa and small coffee table. And  in front of that there was a shabby looking mat.

On both sides of the door Remus saw two tables with two chairs each. At the tables he found a small supply of papers, pens and rubbers. He sighed when he remembered that the camp wasn't only meant for the campers to have fun.

Remus noticed that the interior was all in a light wood and all the bedsheets were of a deep red color. The cabin looked dull, boring and like it hadn't been used for a long time. Turning his head to one of the corners he saw a spider's web and felt a shiver of fear run down his spine.

No, this cabin had definitely not been used for a long time.

Remus wanted to go home.

"BANG!"

Remus jerked at the spot and snapped his head around, eyes widening in fear when he heard the door slam shut from the wind behind him. He saw the heads of the three boys in front of him turn to look at him for the first time. They all looked a mixture between confused and surprised as they frowned at Remus' strange emergence.

Remus didn't like the attention. He didn't like the way they stared at him, or how they started walking towards him slowly. Remus felt his face heat up from embarrassment over his appearance and his stomach clench uncomfortably. They were going to bully him. They were going to hit him.

He closed his eyes, lips pursed together as he tried to keep control on the threatening tears. He didn't want to be here. He wanted to be alone in his bed at home. Be alone in the only place where he felt safe. The only place where he was free from the evil kids in his village.

"Hi, I'm James. James Potter. Who are you?"

Remus opened his eyes cautiously when he heard the kind but slightly arrogant voice greet him. He saw the boy with the glasses - James - stand in front of him, smiling with his right hand reached out.

"Eh," Remus managed, feeling very confused. Wasn't he going to mock him?

"What's your name?" James asked with an encouraging nod.

Remus wiped his sweaty palms on his worn trousers before he cleared his throat and extended his right hand to shake James'.

"Remus Lupin." He said, voice shaking but his hand firm as he shook James'. If it was one thing his father had taught him it was the importance of a firm handshake.

"Great." James grinned before he ruffled his already messy hair. "So you'll stay here for the summer as well, yeah?" He asked while he walked over to the  trunk that lay on the floor in front of one of the wardrobes.

"Yes," Remus trailed off as he watched the fancy looking boy from earlier walk towards him, steps confident and mysterious glint in his eyes. Remus watched him reach out his hand as he met Remus' eyes.

"Sirius Black." He spoke, voice determined before he blew a strand of dark hair from his face.

"Remus Lupin," Remus said as he took Sirius' surprisingly smooth hand and shook it. Sirius looked into his eyes and that's when Remus noticed the color of them. They were gray, almost silver. Remus had never seen gray eyes before. In his village they were either brown or going on amber like his own.

Remus couldn't stop staring at the eyes. They glistened in the light from the only lamp in the ceiling and looked a different shade of gray every second.

He felt Sirius let go of his hand but Remus didn't look away yet.

"You have golden eyes." Sirius suddenly stated.

"You have silver." Remus answered, feeling way too distracted by the peculiar color to care about anything else. He momentarily felt his worries disappear when he looked into those eyes. He didn't know what it was, but it felt like they reminded him of something...

"Hi, I'm Peter. Peter Pettigrew."

Remus tore his gaze away from Sirius to find the chubby boy standing next to them with his dirty hand outreached. When he saw Remus' frown he hurriedly wiped his hand on his shorts before he reached it out again, all while chewing on some kind of bubble gum.

"Remus Lupin." Remus said for the third time as he took Peter's dirty hand and shook it. Peter's grip was loose and weak. Remus suspected no one had taught him how to shake hands properly.

When their hands parted he watched as Peter walked over to the bed and sat down on it. Then he saw James sit down next to him with a slingshot in his hands. Remus guessed that both bunks of that double bed were occupied so he turned his head to the double bed on the right side of the room.

He felt the uneasiness in his chest return when he saw a jacket lie on the pillow of the lower bunk. It was taken. He would have to sleep in the top bunk.

Remus slowly made his way over to the bed. He felt Sirius follow him until he sat down on the bed, next to the jacket that probably was his. Remus glanced to the far top of the bed and then on the rickety ladder that led up to it. Then he glanced over at the sofa. Perhaps he could sleep on that...

"Where do you want to sleep?" Sirius voice broke through his thoughts and he turned his head to look at him.

"What do you mean?" He asked, voice uncertain.

"Well, we're supposed to live with each other for a month, and you and I have to share the double bed. So where do you want to sleep? Is it okay for me to take the lower bunk or do you want it?" Sirius asked.  Remus struggled to follow the conversation but when his brain caught up he found himself struggling for what to say. Of course he wanted the lower bunk, but if he told Sirius that he might get angry. And perhaps it was a trap. Maybe Sirius would tease him and take the lower bunk anyway even if he told him that he wanted it.

But then Remus remembered his fear of heights and decided to take a risk. He was going to voice his opinion.

"I-I would actually prefer to sleep in the lower bunk if that's alright." He asked, eyes staring at his feet.

"Okay, great." Sirius grinned. "I was actually planning on taking the top bunk anyway, I just wanted to tease you when I saw you glancing longingly at the lower bunk." He chuckled before he rose up from the bed and walked over to James.

Remus felt his cheeks heat up from embarrassment. Sirius had teased him already. Remus didn't understand. Why did so many want to make fun of him?

He felt the painful lump in his throat return when he heard Sirius, James and Peter rise up and walk out of the cabin. The sound from the door echoed in the small cabin and then in Remus' chest. He stared at his worn duffel bag, trousers and shirt and suddenly felt even worse than before. He didn't belong here. He didn't look like the other boys and was probably going to end up alone all summer. Like always.

Sighing, he opened his bag and walked over to the nearest wardrobe to tuck his clothes in it. He didn't even fill up half the space. He only had the shoes on his feet, four spare shirts, three spare trousers, swimming trunks, a towel, about eight briefs and socks, his most comfortable knitted sweater, his pajamas and a jacket. He hoped that the camp had some kind of washing machine since he was supposed to stay there for a month. He also hoped that he wouldn't have to dress up since he didn't own any fancy clothes. Every piece of clothing he owned was either worn out or started to feel too short at the feet.

He felt his curiosity about the other boy's clothes take over him and he sneaked over to James' wardrobe and opened it. He gasped when he saw the hangers and shelves that were filled to the brim with clothes in fancy, smooth and expensive materials. He saw at least five pairs of swimming trunks and three different jackets, but then he quickly closed the doors. Remus already knew that his family was poor. He did not need a reminder, or to compare himself to others.

Remus walked back to his bag and started to empty it. He brought out his hair comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, his supply of fifteen books and then lastly Teddy.

"Hi Teddy." He whispered before he gave the old teddy bear a long hug. He knew that he was a bit too old for toys or to sleep with teddy bears, but he had had Teddy since he was five and he helped him calm down when he was afraid, and helped him to fall asleep.

He released Teddy from the hug and proceeded to place him on his main pillow, underneath the covers. He gave the worn, dark gray fur a long stroke before he hid Teddy under the covers. Then he sat on the bed for a while, mourning the upcoming summer he was sure to spend all alone.

''''''''''

After Remus had ate a small lunch in the dining hall, walked around the whole area of the camp, read fifty pages of a book by the lakeside and then ate dinner by himself at a back table in the dining hall he found himself slowly heading back to cabin 7 to get ready for the night. It was only around eight and the sun was still out, the grounds full of activity, but Remus only wanted to sleep. Sleep and dream that he was back in his own bed, far away from other kids and mean bullies.

During dinner Remus had counted the many boys and got them to be around forty. He guessed about ten of the boys were his own age. The red headed twins had sat with James, Sirius and Peter at a table close to the door, but Remus had sat far back in a dark corner where he had eaten by himself. Like usual.

Director Slughorn had told the campers that the next day was meant to get to know the camp. They were going to walk through the main building, grounds and other areas and then the day after that the activities would start. Slughorn had told them that the camp would offer football, swimming and running as hobbies. Then Slughorn had told them that they would get taught in survival skills, some math's and English as well.

Remus didn't know what he dreaded the most; the other boys or the activities. The only thing he felt confident about was his ability to read and research.

He glanced at his nightstand that was filled with books as he changed into his pajamas. His three roommates had been gone since midday.

Remus sighed.

They were probably off somewhere, playing games, taunting others or just having fun together. Having fun as friends.

Remus blinked away tears when he realized that he probably would end up alone for the rest of his life. For some reason other kids didn't like him. They tormented him, called him names or did other stuff that he didn't like to think about.

He lifted the covers on his bed and climbed in under them, hugging Teddy in the process.

"It's gonna be alright Teddy..." He whispered to the soft teddy bear, but it was mostly to himself. It didn't feel like it was going to be alright though.

He looked around the dark cabin, the only source of light coming from the setting sun outside, covered by the drawn curtains. Remus was thankful for the light, not wanting to think about the monsters lurking under his bed.

He shook his head when a tear finally spilled on his cheek. Big boys don't cry, he told Teddy, but the tears kept falling down to wet the soft fur of the bear.

He closed his eyes and turned to face the wall. It was dark, he was alone and he was afraid.

He realized that those feelings weren't uncommon at home, but he still felt homesick. At home he could play with his imaginary friends or build blanket forts with Teddy. Here he would end up having to act like at school; make himself as tiny as possible and try to blend in with the surroundings, not wanting to be offer to any mean bullies.

"Shh..." He patted Teddy slowly. "Just four more weeks..." He whispered as his voice broke out into a sob at the end. He didn't want to stay there for even one more day. He wasn't going to last four weeks. How could his parents do this to him?

He heard the door open with a creak and quickly silenced his sobs, drying his tears on his pillow as he hid Teddy under the covers. He strained his ears to hear who it was when he heard three loud voices all at once.

"You're mad!" A voice shouted.

"Thanks, I get that a lot!" Another voice sang confidently as they ran, or wrestled - Remus couldn't tell - into the middle of their cabin.

"Wait, shh…!" A third voice silenced the other two. Remus thought he heard footsteps walking his way.

"He's asleep." The last voice whispered, surprising Remus by its thoughtfulness.

The other two mumbled something as they pattered over to the other side of the room to fiddle with their belongings, probably searching for their toiletries or pajamas.

Remus closed his eyes, trying to fall asleep, but soon jostled awake when he heard someone rummage through the wardrobe by his head. Sirius.

When he heard Sirius whisper something to the others Remus recognized his voice as the one that had hushed the others. Remus wondered why Sirius had been so nice to him. If Remus would've been at a trip with the boys from school at home they would have been sure to scream, shout or jump around just to mock him right now.

While listening to the others as they got dressed, brushed their teeth and said good night Remus felt the bed shake as Sirius climbed up to the top bunk and then lied down with a thud.

Opening his eyes Remus saw that the sun had set - the room was pitch dark.

Feeling a sudden jolt of fear he desperately reached for Teddy with a small squeak.

"What was that?"

Remus stopped what he was doing and froze on the bed. Sirius had heard his squeak back then.

"Don't know mate, night." Someone, probably James if Remus recognized his voice right, answered Sirius that grunted before he dropped the subject. Remus relaxed back onto the bed, Teddy clutched tightly to his chest.

He curled into a ball, faced the wall as he closed his eyes again. He longingly thought of his cozy, warm bed back home, how he used to read on their balcony, and of how much he missed his favorite Citrus tea. He remembered the feel of the forest next their house, the smell of the leaves and the thumping of his feet when walking barefoot through the vegetation.

But when his mind wandered back to the incident he dropped all his thoughts about the forest. He didn't want to remember.

He turned around on the bed anxiously for what felt like hours before he finally felt sleep take him, Teddy pressed tightly to his chest and his mind stuck on a one desperate wish - he wanted to go home.