Remus Lupin sighed as he looked out at the gray morning sky. It was raining. Not the kind of delightful downpour that makes the summer air feel clean; no this was dripping, damp, warm rain that just made everything sticky. How perfect. Remus was rather pleased that the rain matched his mood.
He had decided that today would be one of his rare pity-party days. Remus’ eleventh birthday was coming up, and today was the day that he would have received his Hogwarts letter had he been a normal, happy half-blood wizard instead of a ‘monster’ as defined by the stupid Ministry of-
“Hey Kiddo. Made you something.” His mom interrupted his thoughts. She smiled at him, but Remus gave her his best scowl. He was determined to be grumpy, and his mom’s annoying smile, pancakes with chocolate chips, fried eggs, and steamy mug of hot chocolate weren’t going to cheer him up.
He was too grumpy for this.
He scowled even more fiercely. His mom kept smiling. The hot chocolate steam drifted to his nose. It smelled so good…. No Remus! He scolded himself, Stay Strong! But he couldn’t help it. It was his favorite breakfast, after all. He sighed, and took the tray. No one ever stayed mad while Hope Lupin was around.
Remus’s father looked up from his copy of the Daily Prophet. Lyall Lupin had premature wrinkles and worry lines around his mouth and eyes, and Remus was probably responsible for more than his share of them, but his father still smiled every day. Mr. Lupin was cheerful as could be, and sometimes he helped Remus learn spells to help him and Remus’ mom play tricks on each other.
“Don’t I get any?” Remus’ dad cried in mock indignation.
“I suppose you must.” His mother gave an over-exaggerated sigh.
“The hot chocolate was cheating,” Remus said. “You knew I wanted to be grumpy today.” He examined his sandy brown hair and distorted, pale-faced reflection in the back of the hot chocolate spoon. His mother folded her arms, still gripping the spatula, but her eyes started to sparkle.
“I thought we’d established this. When Remus is grumpy, anything is fair game.”
“It was still a low blow. What can I do when you know my weakness?”
“You can do nothing! My evil plan has worked!” She laughed maniacally and set down her spatula.
“Never!” Remus cried dramatically as he jumped out of his chair at the breakfast table and bolted for the stairs, leaving his half-eaten breakfast behind.
For the next twenty minutes, shouts and shrieks could be heard coming from the old dilapidated Lupin house. If any passersby had happened to walk down the secluded path in the trees and come upon the little cottage with the gardening shed and the chipped white paint, they would have wondered what on earth was happening to make such a racket. If they had happened to peek in the window, they probably would have wondered how the elder Mr. Lupin could possibly sit and drink his coffee calmly, as if nothing was happening.
Panting, Remus ducked inside his parents’ bedroom and shut the door just as his mom got there. “You can only hide for so long, weakling!” she cried through the door triumphantly, “I am stronger than you, and you have trapped yourself in a corner! You have nowhere left to go!”
She was right. Remus looked frantically around the room as he struggled to hold the door closed. Under the bed? But his mom would find him in an instant, and the bed would end up trapping him. Same problem with the closet. The window was locked, but Remus’s dad had shown him how to magically unlock things a couple of weeks ago. Maybe he could escape through… but this was the second story of the house. He’d have to climb very carefully onto the edge of the roof that stretched out underneath him, if he could even manage to get the window open before getting caught...
But just as he was about to go for it, his mom broke his grip on the doorknob, whooshed into the room, and grabbed him. “Aha!” She cried gleefully, “Now, weakling, your punishment for running away!” She dropped Remus on the bed and, somehow keeping an evil grin on her face, began to tickle him.
“No. NO! PLEASE!” Remus cried, but soon he needed all his breath just to get enough air while laughing. Remus was beginning to think that the breakfast he had eaten was about to make a less-than-pleasant reappearance. His mom laughed and snorted and held him down, tickling and tickling until-
On their door.
For the first time that Remus could remember, (at least in this house,) someone was knocking on the door.
Running down the stairs with his mother in tow, Remus tried to get a glimpse of the visitor. He had been kept away from outsiders for as long as he could remember, and was eager to see who it was. Remus’ father opened the door and then stood, shocked at whoever he saw. When he numbly moved aside to let in the visitor, Remus finally got a closer look.
The man had a waist-length beard that was almost completely white, though there were still signs that it had once been auburn. His hair was the same length as his beard, giving him an air of great age. He was very tall and thin, and wore sweeping midnight robes. Remus’s mother gasped behind him.
“-can’t let you raise any false hopes.” Remus’s father was saying, “Honestly there is no way possible. I have looked, we have tried, but-”
“Nonsense,” the stranger replied. Then he seemed to catch sight of Remus and his mom inside. “And this must be Hope! I have heard good things about you, my dear. And Remus too. Charming.” With that, he swept into the house and sat down on the living room couch.
“Are these your Gobstones, Remus?” he asked. When Remus shyly nodded, the man smiled. “Shall we play a game? I haven’t had a good game of Gobstones in a long time.”
Hesitantly, Remus sat across from the strange man and looked him over. “Who are you?” he blurted out accidentally. Oops. Remus hadn’t meant to be quite so blunt.
“Of course,” said the Stranger, “I’m afraid I haven’t properly introduced myself to you, Remus. My name is Professor Dumbledore, and I am the headmaster at Hogwarts School of-”
“Hogwarts? You’re the headmaster of Hogwarts?”
“Yes indeed, my boy,” said Professor Dumbledore. “I assume by your reaction that you have heard of the place. I came here to offer you a place at my school.“
Remus stared at Professor Dumbledore, a wild hope beginning to spark. Hogwarts! The school where his father had gone! Remus could go to classes, be a quidditch star, whatever he wanted! He could have friends! Friends… his face fell.
Remus wouldn’t be able to tell them about his secret. And what if he hurt someone? Surely, this man was mistaken. No one would ever want him at Hogwarts. “I’m sorry Sir,” he began, “but I think there might be a mistake. I can’t go to Hogwarts.”
“And why is that, my dear boy? You are Remus Lupin, are you not?”
“Yes, but-” Remus closed his mouth and shifted awkwardly, then looked at his parents for help. They had both drilled into him that he should never tell this particular secret to anyone. Fortunately (or maybe not) Dumbledore answered his own question.
“Are you referring to the particular condition that haunts you every full moon?” The little family stared at the Headmaster as if he were mad.
“How did you find out?” Remus’s father asked in a hushed tone.
“Oh, I just put two and two together after you had that unfortunate incident with Fenrir Greyback in the Ministry, and then immediately started moving around from place to place quite frequently. Don’t worry,” he hastily added, “I do not know of any others that are aware of his condition.” Both Remus and his parents let out a sigh of relief.
“But then, are you saying that I can go to school anyway?” Remus suddenly whispered, all his previous hopes flashing before his eyes.
He imagined faceless friends, doubtlessly kind and popular, who would know about his condition and not care, who would never tell anyone, and who would have no faults. Then Remus shook his head at himself. That would never happen. No one liked werewolves, and no one was perfect. He was getting his hopes up for nothing.
“That is why I am here Mr. Lupin,” Dumbledore replied. “Normally I do not make personal visits to students’ homes, but this is a special case, wouldn’t you say?” Remus noticed that the man’s eyes seemed to twinkle when he smiled down at him. Dumbledore appeared to be thoroughly enjoying this meeting.
Before Remus and his parents could start to protest and ask questions, as Dumbledore must know they would, the old Professor began to tell them his plan. “We have created a safe place for him to go every month. Please note that myself and my colleague, Professor McGonagall, have put the strongest possible repelling charms upon it, and that no creature will be able to break through the walls, or get in or out in any way.”
“We were not expecting this,” Remus’ mother said glancing at his dad. “I’m not sure if we have many financial options at the moment, and-”
“It’s no problem at all, my dear,” Dumbledore cut her off. “Hogwarts has a fund for cases such as this, and I insist that you let us help you.”
Remus’ dad did not look happy. “Now see here, Professor Dumbledore. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I’m a respectable Ministry worker, and I pride myself on not being in debt to anyone. And we do not accept charity. I couldn’t possibly-”
“Of course,” Dumbledore inclined his head, “you may merely take this as a loan to be paid back at your leisure. You’ll find that we are much more accommodating for your interests than the goblins of Gringotts in this case.”
“Well,” Remus’ mom decided, “I suppose… if there really aren’t any other problems…”
“You’re going to Hogwarts, Remus!” his dad cried, grinning widely.
Remus was still in shock. “I’m going… to Hogwarts? Really?!”
“You’re going to Hogwarts!” Remus’ dad grabbed him in a hug, then let go and twirled his mom around the kitchen table. “Our little boy is going to Hogwarts!”
The rest of Dumbledore’s visit passed Remus by in a hazy blur of happiness and excitement. He could go to school! He could make friends! He could play quidditch or be a prefect or read through the whole library! Remus had never had good friends before, and he had never had as good an opportunity as this to learn things! Remus’s parents had already begun to teach him magic at home, assuming that he would not be allowed into a school. But now he could go! Remus had hardly ever looked forward to something more than going to school in September. The sun poked out from the clouds as Professor Dumbledore left the old Lupin house.
Maybe, Remus thought, the day would turn out alright after all.
The sights of Diagon Alley were about 14 times more exciting when one was buying school supplies for the most prestigious magical school in England than when one was just on a boring trip for supplies with one’s dad.
Remus had been to the Alley before, of course, but this time just felt different. They were buying things for him for school! On scholarship from Professor Dumbledore himself! Remus turned his head this way and that, trying to take in everything about the bustling street at once as his mom and dad led him along.
“Get the best dragon liver here, only 13 sickles an ounce!”
“Spider’s legs and fish eyes, buy one get one half-off!”
Remus saw signs for Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream and Ollivander’s Wands. He saw witches with screaming children trying to get their shopping done, and other kids buying Hogwarts supplies with their parents as well.
“Why can’t first years ever have brooms?” one kid complained, his nose pressed against the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies as his mother tried to get him into Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions.
“Mum! Can I get this, PLEASE?” A little girl with curly hair yelled from across the street, brandishing a lollipop the size of a football.
Remus took it all in.
“All right, Remus,” his mother stopped and pulled out his list. “Where shall we start?”
“We need to visit Madam Malkin’s, and the apothecary,” his dad added, “but you can use my old cauldron. You’re also going to need your own wand and all your textbooks from Flourish and Blotts.”
“Can we start with wands?” Remus asked excitedly. He had been looking forward to getting a wand for his eleventh birthday for months.
“I knew you’d say that,” his mother laughed, ruffling his hair.
“Mom!” he groaned, trying to flatten it again as his dad laughed at him.
“Let’s go!” She started off, dragging his dad along for directions and not waiting for Remus to finish fixing his hair. He ran after them, bursting inside the wand shop just a little behind, and stopped.
The whole shop was still and silent, like a library. A little bell rang from deep inside the shop as the door opened, and Remus felt like the air was vibrating with the sound. Dusty boxes, long and thin, adorned the shelves, stretching to the ceiling for as far as he could see.
“Hello,” said a voice. Remus jumped, and so did his mother behind him, but his father seemed to have been expecting the man.
“Mr. Ollivander,” Remus’ dad said, “when I was a boy you gave me such a fright doing that that I fell and broke your chair. Do you remember?”
The old man fixed his unwavering blue eyes on Remus’ dad. “Yes yes, I do remember you, Lyall Lupin. Twelve inches, Rowan and unicorn hair, stiff and brittle, was it not? And who are these?”
“Got it in one,” his dad replied. “This is my wife, Hope, and my son, Remus.”
“Hello,” said Remus’ mom. Remus waved from beside her.
“You don’t look familiar, my dear,” Ollivander looked thoughtful. “Am I right in assuming that I have not sold you a wand?”
“Yes,” said she. “I’m a muggle, you see. But now we’re looking for a wand for my son, Remus.” Mr. Ollivander nodded. Remus’ mom nudged him forward, and Mr. Ollivander stared at Remus for a long moment. The man didn’t blink once.
“And which hand is your wand hand, Mr. Lupin?” Ollivander asked. Mutely, Remus held out his right hand and watched, a bit fascinated, as a tape measure began to take seemingly pointless and random measurements. Ollivander nodded once and began walking through the dusty shelves, white hair trailing behind him. Remus looked uncertainly at his dad, but the only reassurance he got was a slight nod. So much for fatherly support.
“Try this one, Mr. Lupin,” Ollivander was back. “Fourteen inches exactly, holly, dragon heartstring. Nice and whippy.” Not really sure what to do, Remus took the wand and gave it a little wave. Mr. Ollivander grabbed it back almost right away.
“No no no. How about this? Nine and a half inches, hawthorn, phoenix feather. Strong and flexible.” But this wand was taken away as well, almost before Remus waved it at all.
Remus tried several wands, none of which Ollivander seemed the slightest bit happy with. He seemed to be looking for a sign that Remus had the right wand, though what that might be, Remus had no idea. Soon, Ollivander brought back another armload of boxes for Remus to try.
“How about this one? Ten and one-quarter inches, cypress, and unicorn hair. Quite pliable.” Remus took the wand. It felt different from the others, as if the wand grew warm and content in his hand. Remus brought it swishing around in a little loop and a bunch of red and silver sparks came out of the tip. His parents clapped and Remus grinned.
“Oho! A match! That’s the one you’ll be wanting, Mr. Lupin.”
“How much?” his father asked a little hesitantly.
“Six galleons. Thank you for your service. Enjoy your wand, Mr. Lupin.”
After paying for his wand, Remus and his parents left the shop. Mr. Ollivander was a bit creepy, and Remus couldn’t help but feel like he was being x-rayed by those unblinking silvery eyes. He loved his new wand though, so Remus supposed that Mr. Ollivander couldn’t be all bad.
None of the other shops were as exciting as Ollivander’s. Remus was nearly jumping with anticipation to get his books in Flourish and Blotts, but he knew that he couldn’t buy anything else there. This was going to be hard for his parents as it was, with them already spending so much money on ways to help with his lycanthropy.
The apothecary smelled atrocious. Remus thought that his sensitive nose might nearly have collapsed in on itself from the stink alone, and the things they had to buy didn’t help. Frogs’ legs? Dead caterpillars? No thanks!
“So, how did you like your day of shopping?” Remus’ dad asked when they finally got home that evening.
“Perfect!” Remus grinned. “I’m going to Hogwarts, dad!”
“I know,” his dad smiled. “Just remember to send us some letters once in a while.”
“While we’re giving advice,” Remus’ mom added. “Make sure to get your head out of your books and make a few friends. You need to learn to interact with kids you own age.”
Remus looked down. “I’ll try.”
“That’s all I can ask for.” She folded him into a hug. “Try your best to get your good grades, make a friend or two, and write home sometimes. And Remus?”
“You’re going to Hogwarts!”