Alone is Never Lonely
It was dark, the way I like it. Thick clusters of trees hid the blue sky, still untouched by evening, and the density muffled all sound. There was nothing except for myself and the forest. I was keeping careful track of the time, but in my own mind, for my own pleasure, it was nearly twelve on a full-moon night, and I was sitting here on a moldy log, just a boy of fifteen.
Sirius would have called this a feminine moment, were he here. He didn’t understand me like James did; he didn’t understand that sometimes I had a very strong need to be alone.
“Er—Prongs, can I talk to you?”
“Sure, Moony. What’s on your mind?”
“Well...tomorrow is a full moon and....”
“Yeah, too bad the cloak is lost. Looks like you’ll have to have all the fun without us.”
Having their company during the full moon was a Godsend. Risking their lives to become Animagi…sometimes I tried to thank them, but often I found I couldn’t put my gratitude into words.
Then sometimes, like tonight, I felt I’d rather be alone. When I am, it’s easier to accept that I’m a monster—and that always makes my curse easier to bear.
“They’re monsters!” a Slytherin cried in answer to the professor’s question. “It’s mad, letting them run round in public like they do! They should be put into cages, the whole lot of them!”
“Werewolves are as human as you are,” snarled Sirius.
“Ignore him, Moony,” Peter said. “We know you aren’t a monster.”
I didn’t try to explain to them that there was nothing else I could be, that even a loved one could admit it. My father made sure to let me know what I was before he left my mother and I because of it. Could I blame him?
How are you, darling? I hope you’re well. Everything’s fine here. A family has just moved in next door, with a son about your age. Won’t that be nice? Someone to play with over the summer, besides your other friends. Tell them I say hi and extend invitations to visit during holidays.
Your father has sent you the birthday card I’ve attached. He says he unfortunately can’t see you in person, since he’ll be in Romania the whole summer, and wished to send this before he left. I told him you received second best marks in your year. He’s very proud of you, dear, as I am.
The signature in the card was obviously a forgery by her, yet it made me love her even more. We don’t need your father, she always said, her words drifting into my mind as I sat in the Forbidden Forest, watching a black owl that had nestled itself in a nearby tree. I love you enough for both him and me.
“Hello, Remus,” Dumbledore said, beaming at the young boy. “You enjoyed your train ride?”
“Yes, Headmaster,” Remus said quietly.
“Excellent.” The old man sat behind his desk, pulling forward a ceramic bowl filled with assorted toffees. “Would you like some? No? Well, if you don’t mind, I’d love some myself.”
Dumbledore sat back in his chair, sucking on his candy. His fingertips were together and he was staring idly at the ceiling, humming tunelessly. Remus was fascinated. Dumbledore was willingly in the same room, knowing quite well what Remus was. He could count on one hand the people who would do that.
“Yes?” said Dumbledore, looking at Remus again.
“Well...my mother said I should thank you, sir.”
“Oh! Whatever for?”
“For allowing me to attend Hogwarts. No other school would accept me.”
“Ah, it is my—”
The door burst open and a very strict looking woman walked in. She was breathing heavily through her nose; Remus guessed it had to do with the boy she was holding by the ear.
“Albus, this first year hooligan tipped three boats on his way across the lake! Three!”
The boy, who showed no sign of pain or discomfort, grinned at Remus. “A bit batty, isn’t she?” he said, as if the woman weren’t standing there. “I’m Sirius. Who’re you?”
“See,” said Dumbledore cheerfully, turning to Remus, “people love you already!”
Madam Pomfrey was pacing in the Entrance Hall when I walked back to the school. She sagged with relief when she saw me, but didn’t skip a heartbeat, yelling the moment I was in range. “Nearly gave me a heart attack! Don’t you have a watch?”
She led me to the Whomping Willow, where I handed her my cloak in return for the blanket I used to cover myself with after I undressed. We found this much more affective after my first full moon at Hogwarts, realizing I couldn’t keep shredding my clothes.
“I’ll be back for you an hour after daybreak,” Madam Pomfrey said, as if I had never done this before. She picked up a long stick and prodded the knot, freezing the tree. “Be dressed.”
I turned and went through to the Shrieking Shack.
“Remus, this is for your use during the full moon,” said Dumbledore gravely. He seemed...regretful. “The Whomping Willow was planted just for you, so I expect you to be plenty honored.” He smiled now, reassuringly.
“I do!” Remus said quickly.
“There’s a cabin inside, where you’ll remain during your transformation. And I hate to be a bother, so don’t worry about cleaning up after yourself.”
He grinned and so did I.
My skin began to prickle just as I undressed and sat in a corner. I suddenly regretted coming alone...the transformation would be much harder without my friends there to encourage me. Why had I acted so stupidly?
A flash of white-hot pain surged through me. I felt as though every limb of my body was expanding and contracting, burning and freezing all at once. My senses and instincts were sharper and I felt much shorter; it took me a moment to realize it was completed. No matter how many times I would suffer it, I would never grow use to the feeling.
When it was over with, and I picked myself pathetically off the floor, I looked round for my friends, ready and waiting for a night of adventure. The disappointment was overwhelming when I found I was alone. I thought it very hard that I could have ever wanted to be by myself.
Feeling forlorn but hungry, I turned in the other direction for the door that led to the village, loosened by the many times James had rammed it with his hooves. I pushed it open with my long snout and slinked out into the moonlight of Hogsmeade, where I found a stag, a dog, and a rat all waiting for me.
“James? Are—are you sure you want to do this?”
“Absolutely. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Well, becoming an Animagus illegally...I mean, are you really, really sure?”
“Of course. You’re my friend, Remus. I’d do anything for you.”